Excerpts from Chapter 1 of: THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION
The left wants a more liberal church without the formal majesty, more folk music Masses, a less regal and formal structure, a more liberal view on divorced people being able to receive Communion, relaxed teachings on abortion, contraception, immigration, homosexual marriage, and women priests. They see God as accepting all people regardless of doctrine that has been taught since the formation of the early church. They believe the Church is outdated and obsolete in its present form, and presently does not meet the needs of the people. Many groups leaning left want a Church without borders and less of a regal structure. This more socially liberal gospel can find its roots in the Age of the Enlightenment of France and Western Europe, prior to the time of the French Revolution (1789) and beyond. The left wishes to do away with the official trappings of the Church and Peter’s supremacy, while the right prefers the structure of monarchy and centralized control.
Who will win the short to medium term battle is unknown. However, with large governments and financed entities that are well organized continually chipping away at Church authority, the left is presently winning the battle. The decibel level of rhetoric rises when matters are brought up in the public square or the dining room table among friends and family concerning the direction of the Church, and what they think of any pontiff holding the Petrine Keys. Many may not be able to articulate the issues, but most people have an opinion where they want the Church to go.
Bishop Joseph Ratzinger in 1969 voiced an opinion where he saw the Church headed. It may have been a prophecy, prediction, or just insight based upon his knowledge of history. Nonetheless, here is what he said in 1969 four years after the final session of the Second Vatican Council:
“The Church will be restructured with far fewer members that is forced to let go of many of the places of worship it worked so hard to build over the centuries. A minority Catholic Church with little influence over political decisions, that is socially irrelevant, left humiliated and forced to start over. A Church more simple, and more spiritual.” Bishop Ratzinger said he was convinced the Church was going through an era similar to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. “We are at a huge turning point in the evolution of mankind. This moment makes the move from the Medieval to modern times seem insignificant.” Professor Ratzinger compared the current era to that of Pope Pius VI who was abducted by troops of the French Revolution and died in prison in 1799. The Church was fighting against a force which intended to annihilate it definitively, confiscating its property, and dissolving religious orders.
Today’s Church could be faced with a similar situation, undermined by the temptation to reduce priests to “social workers” and it and all its work reduced to a mere political presence. From today’s crisis will emerge a Church that has lost a great deal.
It will become small and will have to start pretty much all over again. It will no longer have use of the structures it built in its years of prosperity. The reduction in the number of faithful will lead to its losing an important part of its social privileges. It will start off with small groups and movements and a minority that will make faith central to experience again. It will be a more spiritual Church, and will not claim a political mandate flirting with the right one minute, and the left the next. It will be poor and will be the Church of the destitute.”
One must remember that this was said when Father Ratzinger was an esteemed and respected professor of theology in Regensburg, Germany. He then went onto become Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany from 1977-1982 when appointed a Cardinal in 1977 by Pope Paul VI, and then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) under John Paul II, and then on to Dean of the College of Cardinals from 2002-2005 before becoming Pope Benedict XVI. He was pope from 2005 to his unexpected resignation in 2013. This is no small thing to say about the future direction of the Church by a man of Benedict’s stature, and a Church that he was such an intimate part of his whole life. Benedict XVI is regarded as one of the greatest theologians of the Catholic Church in its history. The ramifications of his views have enormous implications for today and the direction of the church. In many alleged messages to mystics, the Blessed Mother has said that the Church would go through a tremendous trial and an ultimate outcome similar to what Bishop Ratzinger said in 1969. If Saint John Paul II spoke of a New Springtime coming to humanity, it indicates a major change is coming to the world and the Church.
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla (two years before becoming Pope John Paul II) said at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, Pa., August 3, 1976:
“We are now in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian Community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence; it is a trial which the whole Church, and the Polish Church in particular, must take up. It is a trial of not only our nation and the Church, but in a sense of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization, with all of its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations.”
Due to the general instability in society with so many people dependent on government largesse to some extent, people will welcome a savior who they will look to solve their problems. Venerable Fulton Sheen gives what he thinks will be the type of ruler we may accept willingly:
“The false prophet will have a religion without a cross. A religion without a world to come. A religion to destroy religions. There will be a counterfeit church. Christ’s Church (the Catholic Church) will be one, and the false prophet will create the other. The false church will be worldly, ecumenical, and global. It will be a loose federation of churches forming some type of global association. A world parliament of churches that will be emptied of all divine content and will be the mystical body of the Antichrist. The mystical body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot and he will be the false prophet. Satan will recruit him from among our Bishops.”
Persecution and the Church
Father Joseph Esper is a leading Catholic writer who understands the seriousness of our times and is articulate about the reality facing mankind. He writes of the stages leading to religious persecution:
“Persecutions, whether of religious, political or ethnic groups, generally unfold in five stages. First, the targeted group is stereotyped or stigmatized, making it an easier victim of bigotry, slander, or abuse. Secondly, the group is marginalized, or pushed to the fringes of society, so as to reduce its moral authority and influence, while emphasizing its members differences from everyone else. Thirdly, the group is vilified, or viciously attacked and blamed for society’s problems and accused of having a secret and sinister agenda. In the fourth stage, the group is criminalized by means of legal restrictions upon its membership and activities. The final stage is one of outright persecution, in which members of the group are subject to varying degrees of discrimination, repression, or imprisonment—and sometimes even harsher and more permanent measures. Many commentators claim America is in stage three of this process, and rapidly moving into stage four—and there is mounting evidence to support this assertion.”
To go into stage four or even five could happen with one significant event, and indeed happen very fast. We could see civil unrest escalating at a rapid pace bringing martial law. At that point anything is possible when people don’t go along with the agenda demanded by the state. A public health hazard or virulent virus of some sort would be a good guess.
As the state becomes more dominant in virtually every area of life, martial law at some point is inevitable. The believer will be forced to comply to obtain goods and services, and a decision will need to be made, whom do you Trust—Caesar or God? This has led Cardinal Francis George of Chicago to say, “I will die in my bed. My successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” As governments move to state supremacy over individual rights around the world, the war on Christianity will intensify.
Those thinking the days of comfortable and socially acceptable Christianity will continue are sorely mistaken. Throughout the world persecution of believers is taking place. There will be pain and costs to be a disciple. The esteemed German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book The Cost of Discipleship, said in the very first line of the book, “When Christ calls a man to Him, He bids him to come and die.”
Through Scripture we know the voice of the prophets is lonely and often difficult. We will show in this book many examples of that dynamic. The prophet Jeremiah is just one who reflects the emotion of proclaiming the truth amidst the majority of the people who refuse to listen. He laments his calling when he writes, “O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and thou hast prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, ‘Violence and destruction!’ For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. If I say, ‘I will not mention Him, or speak anymore in His name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:7-9).
Here is a major prophet in time of doubt, stress and marginalization, wondering if God is near. We too, often feel this same emotion due to the circumstances around us. Know this, historically, you are in good company, and the emotion is a natural one. But, as Jeremiah, we cannot turn away from the calling to proclaim the truth no matter the pressure around us.
One can tell if there is fear in the air by what people will not talk about. Until just recently, people chose to stay away from “politically incorrect” topics while in social gatherings. Today, that has escalated to outright fear, as people are staying distant from subjects that could make them an enemy of the state or something that can cost them their job. From here forward there will be a cost for your views if you choose to be a critic of tyranny and the anti-God agenda of the state. To be a witness for Jesus Christ in the marketplace will place a bulls-eye on your back, and there will be a cost to pay in the form of lost opportunities in personal advancement. Due to ungodly policies in many places of business, finance, culture and areas of interest for the individual, opportunities for personal success will be inconsistent with the gospel message. Personal advancement will be blocked if a person following the Lord will not go along in many jobs due to what employers are asking. It has always been so in history because it is the believer who is the light of the world speaking out against injustice. As Solomon said, “Nothing new is under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking to law students at the University of Hawaii on February 3, 2014, said, “Don’t fool yourself into believing that the Supreme Court will never again allow a wartime violation of civil rights like it did allowing internment camps for Japanese Americans during World II.” This is an incredibly loaded statement from the Senior Associate Justice and longest serving member currently (since 1986) on the U.S. Supreme Court. Why would he bring this up? How much of what he said is code for those who have ears to hear? He used a Latin phrase for the events of internment that translated into English, “In times of war, the laws fall silent.”
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
JESUS, I TRUST IN YOU