Brothers without Borders: Pope Francis’s Quasi-Humanitarian Manifesto

Pope Francis has repeatedly claimed that he is “only” reiterating Catholic social teaching when he moves that teaching in an emphatically leftist direction. That claim is hardly credible in light of the new encyclical.

Pope Francis accepts a program from Iman Khalid Latif, executive director of the Islamic Center and chaplain to students at New York University, during an interreligious gathering on Sept. 25, 2015, at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York. (CNS photo/Ray Stubblebine, pool)

Pope Francis has written an encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on “fraternity and social friendship” that is unique in the history of the genre. It is not addressed to his brother bishops or the universal Church per se, but rather speaks to universal humanity in a manner befitting its broadly humanitarian message.

A cross between an encyclical and a humanitarian manifesto, it invokes the authority of Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and the 2019 Abu Dhabi declaration at least a dozen times, as if to say that the Holy Roman Pontiff is just one religious partisan of global humanity, among others. The encyclical’s presentation of the requirements of fraternal love partakes of humanitarian ideology as much as any distinctive Christian teaching. I say this without polemical intent. In proclaiming “fraternity without borders” and a “politics of love” (#180-182) in recognizing “local flavor” (#143-145) and global humanity as the twin poles of human existence, Pope Francis seems to bypass or overlook the familial and national expressions of fraternity and social friendship, that is to say the common good of a free and decent society.

Pope Francis’s identification of fraternity with humanity as such largely ignores the naturalness of love of one’s own and the dangers of embodying fraternity or social friendship at the level of unmediated Humanity. One critic at Crisis magazine has rightly faulted the pope’s enthusiastic adoption of the French revolutionary slogan “liberty, equality, and fraternity” (#103-111) in seeming abstraction from the totalitarian import of that revolutionary slogan. Pope Francis is surely no friend of totalitarianism, but he never acknowledges that politically enforced fraternity, grounded in abstract sentimentality, can give rise to new and inhuman forms of despotism. A prominent French aristocrat turned revolutionary once famously proclaimed “Be my brother, or I will kill you.” Those words continue to chill the soul and to reveal the essence of revolutionary terror.

The lesson is clear: Brotherhood, devoid of a sense of moral reciprocity and a deep appreciation of the capacity of fallen men for evil, is capable of giving rise to the antithesis of true fellow-feeling and, indeed, to truly monstrous forms of political oppression. But sin and evil are barely acknowledged in this encyclical other than the predictable attack on the “hidden powers” that are alleged to manipulate markets and a liberal economic order. The words are barely mentioned.

Pope Francis’s genuine love of the poor is evident on every page, but he is too quick to elide the crucial biblical distinction between the “poor” and “poor in spirit.” The poor as a political category can be as despotic, self-seeking, and rapacious as the rich. In addition, the “people’s movements” (#118-120) that the pope lauds are often demagogic and sympathetic to political and socio-economic models that promote envy and that eliminate precious political, intellectual, and religious liberties. For example, Peronism, Castroism, Hugo Chavez’s “Bolivaran revolution” in Venezuela, and Evo Morales’s despotic mix of socialist and indigenous ideologies in Bolivia, hardly speak for liberty, human dignity, and the defense of the poor as our Lord enjoined us to do.

And in each case, these Left populist revolutionaries threatened the freedom of the Church to preach the Gospel and to defend fundamental human liberties. The Pope’s failure to see this is perplexing, to say the least. Given his broad intellectual and political orientation, it is difficult for him to acknowledge enemies on the Left.

Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has repeatedly claimed that he is “only” reiterating Catholic social teaching when he moves that teaching in an emphatically leftist direction. That claim is hardly credible in light of the new encyclical. He never repeats the Church’s longstanding opposition to socialism in its various forms. Encyclicals such as Pope John Paul II’s Centesimus Annus (1991) and Pope Benedict XVI’s Spe Salvi (2007) that persuasively and authoritatively expose the inhumanity of utopian and revolutionary ideologies in theory and practice are barely mentioned by the pope, and if they are, they are distorted or taken out of context.

When the Vatican celebrated the 25th anniversary of Centesimus Annus in 2016, Francis’s acolytes invited Bernie Sanders and Evo Morales to speak, in open contempt for the principal themes and emphases of that great anti-totalitarian encyclical. No reasonable or faithful Catholic can quarrel with Pope Francis’s claim that the right to private property must serve larger “social purposes” (#118-120). But his affirmation of the right of private property is so tepid and qualified that it distorts the very body of teaching it claims to represent (compare it on this point to Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum with its emphatic defense of private property as a natural right). Despite an occasional (and welcome) rhetorical nod to the nobility of business as a vocation (#123), Francis generally sees economic initiative and the market order as realms dominated by “hidden powers” and criminal machinations. A more capacious defense of private property as necessary to human dignity and to the free economic initiatives that enrich civil society are simply absent from the pope’s thought.

And when Francis defends seemingly limitless “rights without borders” (#121), he ignores the crucial role of self-governing political communities in sustaining social friendship, and the rights and obligations of a free society, at the only level where social friendship is politically viable. That cannot be done by effacing the morally necessary distinction between citizen and non-citizen. We must love our neighbor whomever he may be, but we are not obliged to become citizens of an amorphous and non-existing global community. Humanity, so understood, is not the theme of the Gospel, because “Humanity” as such does not exist. As a personalist, as an impassioned defender of human dignity, Francis should grasp that essential truth.

In perhaps his most impressive book, Memory and Identity (published in English in 2005), Pope John Paul II, a patriotic Pole and the most faithful of Christians, argued that “Catholic social doctrine holds the family and the nation are both natural societies, not the product of mere convention.” And he added, in words most worthy of Pope Francis’s attention, that “therefore, in human history they cannot be replaced by anything else” (my emphasis). John Paul II proceeded to theologize about the dignity of the self-governing nation, committed as it once was to Western and Christian ideals, in a most impressive way. He refused, too, to conflate or identify the “essential function of the nation” with “unhealthy nationalism.”

But he defended a firm yet moderate and self-critical conception of the nation that he identified with the virtue of patriotism: “Whereas nationalism involves recognizing and pursuing the good of one’s nation alone, without regard for the rights to all others, patriotism, on the other hand, is a love for one’s native land that accords rights to all other nations equal to those claimed for one’s own. Patriotism, in other words, leads to a properly ordered social love.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a passionate Russian Christian and patriot, much maligned as an extreme nationalist, said much the same thing in almost identical language. But when the nation arises in Francis’s discussion, it is almost always associated with pathologies: “narrow and violent nationalism, xenophobia and contempt, and even the mistreatment of those who are different” (#86).

Only the local and the global appear to have genuine ethical validity, or moral substance, in Francis’s account. He forgets that the nation was the natural home for the fruitful coexistence of what the French Catholic political thinker Pierre Manent has called “the pride of the citizen and the humility of the Christian.” And as Manent added in his book Beyond Radical Secularism, “the nation understood as an exclusive valorization of one’s own people and homicidal aversion for people from elsewhere” only arose when Europeans “were subjected to regimes that explicitly rejected the God announced in the Bible.” And as Father Gaston Fessard, S. J. argued in his magisterial 1936 book Pax Nostra, the nation is a dignified collective and moral personality without which the vocation of humanity as creatures under God cannot come to fruition. Pope Francis, to his credit, greatly admires Fessard’s book on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, but seems wholly unfamiliar with his equally profound theology of the nation.

Pope Francis’s explication of the parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10: 25-37) is a moving call to solidarity and love of neighbor (#56-87). Yet he gives the parable an exclusively ethical reading. Where Augustine, Origen, and others of the Fathers read it theologically so that Christ is the central character, Pope Francis places us at the center of the narrative. Thus, he emphasizes the need for all of us to exercise “our innate sense of fraternity, to be Good Samaritans who bear the pain of other people’s troubles rather than fomenting greater hatred and resentment” (#77).

That call is most welcome. Yet the face-to-face encounter with our neighbor in need is hardly a call for replacing political distinctions that serve the cause of social friendship and the civic good with sentimentalized global humanitarianism. Francis’s lucid appeal to solidarity and brotherly love could be fruitfully supplemented by reflection on the moral and political advantages of decentralized authority, subsidiarity, and national self-government. Alas, subsidiarity is mentioned only in passing in Fratelli Tutti. This is a shame since it provides a form of community and self-governance conducive to liberty and human dignity, but having nothing in common with the desire for unmediated access to Humanity as such. Subsidiarity is the great jewel of Catholic social teaching without which appeals to “solidarity” become thin gruel, indeed.

In the later sections of the encyclical, Pope Francis increasingly relies of what I will call his “private judgment” or personal opinions, and less on the inherited weight of Christian wisdom.  His inspirations are figures such as Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and Mahatma Gandhi as the pope himself notes in section #286. These final sections drift markedly toward humanitarianism, sentimentality, and a kind of bien-pensant leftism of the soft rather than the hard, tyrannical kind.

Let me provide some revealing illustrations. Pope Francis forthrightly condemns terrorism on both humanitarian and Christian grounds (#285). But he links it to an ill-defined “fundamentalism” and once again invokes the authority of his shared declaration with Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb (#284). The massive threats to the lives and liberty of Christians in the Islamic world from Indonesia to Azerbaijan, and the prohibitions against evangelization and conversion in even many “moderate” Muslim countries is passed over in silence. The Pope rightly calls for historical memory of great crimes and injustices that “must not be forgotten” (#247). He speaks with dignity and moral gravity about the monstrous crime of the Shoah, the war against the Jewish people “spurred by false ideologies” that failed “to recognize the fundamental dignity” (#247) of the human person—often justified by accusations of “hidden powers” behind free markets and free societies, one might add.

Yet Pope Francis is silent about the criminal character of another “false ideology,” Communism, that was responsible for the death of 100 million people globally in the twentieth century and that waged war on the Christian Church with unparalleled atheistic fanaticism and cruelty. Francis rightly invokes the memory of the use of atomic weaponry at Nagasaki and Hiroshima (#248) without any mention of the fact that a semi-fascist Japanese imperial regime killed ten million innocents or more in its rapacious march through Asia. To remember Nagasaki and Hiroshima outside this larger context is to criminalize peoples and governments that resisted naked aggression and an openly racist disdain for other peoples and nations by the criminal Japanese regime.

Historical memory, precious as it is, must be informed by the arts of moral and political reasoning. Shorn of that moral and intellectual discipline, it risks giving way to ahistorical moralism and an ideological perspective bereft of balanced judgment.

The most problematic and troubling section of the encyclical deals with “war and the death penalty.” Are Christians really obliged to take their bearings from the Charter of the United Nations (#257), an organization long dominated by authoritarian and totalitarian states, and hardly friendly to the Church?  Pope Francis cites the Catholic Catechism on the legitimacy of national defense against aggression and the accompanying legitimacy of just war reasoning (#258). He is obliged to do so. But he quickly and unilaterally declares that war can never be a solution to aggression or injustice. He claims without evidence or argument “that every war leaves our world worse than it was before” (#261).

For all intents and purposes, Francis, against the full weight of the tradition, identifies peace with the absence of war, and not Augustine’s “tranquility of order.” Who is to resist the terrorism that Francis rightly condemns? Was Churchill right to fight a regime that would have destroyed liberal and Christian civilization and universalized the Shoah or Holocaust in the process? Francis’s semi-pacifist arguments and affirmations owe far more to sentimental and utopian secular humanitarianism than they do to specifically Christian arguments and understandings. They ignore the presence of evil, of radical evil, in this fallen world of ours. St. Francis was a saint, but so was Joan of Arc. Charles Péguy, the great French Catholic poet and philosopher, rightly took aim at those who confused Christian love with an indulgence to “peace at any price.”

The Church should always be a voice for just peace even more than just war. But Francis is the first pope to identify peace with pacifism, however dishonorable or incompatible with our obligations to our fellow citizens. Francis’s humanitarian version of Christianity lacks the realism of the truest and most faithful Christian thought.

As for the death penalty, Pope Francis believes that those who advocate it are simply succumbing to vengeance and thus deny the dignity of the one to be punished by execution, even for a truly heinous crime. But Kant believed that such a punishment reflected deep respect for the moral agency and responsibility of a murderer, for example. And St. Paul, St. Thomas, and almost every previous pope denied that capital punishment is always and everywhere “inadmissible” (#263). Pope Francis gives the game away when he comes out against life imprisonment which he calls “a secret death penalty” (#268).

With all due respect to the Holy Father, he has confused our religion with what C.S. Lewis called in God in the Dock “the humanitarian theory of punishment.” C. S. Lewis says very well what half-humanitarian Christians have forgotten: “(T)he Humanitarian theory wants simply to abolish Justice and to substitute Mercy for it.” Whatever this replacement is, it entails a radical and disturbing departure from age-old, sober Christian teaching which knows that mercy and justice “must meet and kiss.”

I make no apology for responding respectfully but critically to those parts of Fratelli Tutti that partake of humanitarian categories and assumptions incompatible with a Christian anthropology and conception of natural justice. Our Holy Father is a good man and bishop, a precious witness to the Gospel, who rightfully reminds us of the priority of neighborly love and “social friendship” for all Christians and men of good will. But when he departs from a specifically Catholic-Christian understanding of these imperatives he relies more on “private judgment” than the “truth about man” that is the source of the Church’s exquisite expertise about how human beings ought to live together. As his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI never ceased to insist, Christianity is never reducible to a humanitarian moral and political message. To do so is to “falsify the Good,” in the pregnant words of Vladimir Soloviev.

Editor’s note: This is the fifth of several CWR essays on Fratelli Tutti and related topics. The other essays are:
• “Fratelli Tutti is a familiar mixture of dubious claims, strawmen, genuine insights” (Oct. 5, 2020) by Samuel Gregg
“An encyclical filled with tensions and omissions” (Oct. 8, 2020) by Paulo Futili
Fratelli Tutti and its critics” (Oct. 9, 2020) by Larry Chapp
“Culture, dialogue, religion, and truth in Fratelli Tutti (Oct. 9, 2020) by Eduardo Echeverria


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About Daniel J. Mahoney 3 Articles
Daniel J. Mahoney holds the Augustine Chair in Distinguished Scholarship at Assumption University. For the 2020-2021 academic year, he is the Garwood Visiting Fellow in the James Madison Program at Princeton University. His most recent book, The Idol of Our Age: How the Religion of Humanity Subverts Christianity (Encounter Books, 2018), was recently released in paperback.

26 Comments

  1. Another symbolic and providential image above ..
    as in the Divine Mercy image – the Lord ‘s left hand , to His Heart and the call – ‘ bring them to Me ‘.., by helping all to know better what the Divine Will is , the blessed role , to bring to The Father , the love and adoration due Him , on behalf of all and everything ..in the unity in the Divine Will as has been manifested and given to us through the Sacred Humanity of The Lord and that of His Mother , to restore to us as well as to creation itself , the order that was lost by The Fall , in the desire of The Lord , to make the yoke easy , the burden light ..
    ‘ what you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven ..’ – Holy Father discerning the times , the dangers around too , from sinister ‘brotherhoods ‘ that are about power and greed , secretiveness and plottings …

    He , as a good Father , desires all to enter in , to the true brotherhood , given us , as the Father ‘s Will , explicitly evident for us Christians as The Incarnate Lord… for others who are searching for that same Will , more hazy , yet the sharing of what it is by the Holy Father to help persons to trust in same more to look into same as a means of having depth and meaning in life , even in the midst of poverty , to also escape the deeper poverty of alienations /confusions and the related evil choices , instead seeing the dignity , thus the brotherhood as being persons who are willed by God – from the littlest to the oldest .. migrant workers who may not be allotted property rights , yet ,the dignity and dream of eventually returning home ..

    https://spiritdaily.org/blog/news/pope-urges-catholics-to-pray-the-rosary-amid-looming-threats – warning words of the Holy Father , on looming threats as well ..
    unsure if his prophetic heart sees what we may not ..
    and hope that his blessing to take in the brotherhood in The Divine Will would be accepted by those who esp. owe same , to The Mother ..and all else might fall in place ..

    • And your basis for believing there is no possibility he is deluding himself for reasons that pander to egocentric reasons of obtaining a phony prideful sense of moral superiority for himself, and those who give him a favorable interpretation like you, are what exactly?

  2. We read: “A cross between an encyclical and a humanitarian manifesto, it invokes the authority [!] of Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and the 2019 Abu Dhabi declaration at least a dozen times, as if to say that the Holy Roman Pontiff is just one religious partisan of global humanity, among others.”

    The Grand Imam’s Al Ahzar University in Cairo is a Sufi institution (although all four Islamic schools of law have a prominent place). The revered Sufi al-Ghazali (1056-1111 A.D.) remarked on the mere coincidence (not as in the coherence of faith and reason) of points between philosophy and theology: “It is not farfetched that ideas should coincide, just as a horse’s hoof may fall on the print left by another . . .” (Al-Munqidh min al-Dalal, translated by R.J. McCarthy, Al-Ghazali’s Path to Sufism: His Deliverance from Error, 1999). This is the famous Islamic position that CONTRADICTORY PROPOSITIONS of theology and philosophy can both be true…

    Does the QUESTION present itself, whether in the 21st-century, post-Christian and post-rational West, we now have a drift toward a conflation of contradictions that drinks from the same well as did 7th-century Islam?

    In its worst interpretation, and as with a sinicized religion of hero worship in China (Xi Jinping replacing Christ), is a culture of universal fraternity indistinguishable from the House of Islam—-a natural religion wherein the ummah is its transnational and trans-state culture of “brotherhood”?

    In its best interpretation, as Christian humanism, might future interreligious “dialogue” re-establish, explicitly, the difference between Islamic monotheism and the eternal Triune Oneness of Christianity? (e.g., the Qur’an understands the Trinity to be simply another pagan triad—-Allah [not at all the Father], Jesus, and Mary!). Before Christianity possibly regresses further to becoming a de facto dhimmi enclave, future papal documents might clearly affirm a distinction from only twenty years ago. Instead of a “pluralism” of RELIGIONS, Cardinal Ratzinger clarified:

    “Equality, which is a presupposition of interreligious dialogue, refers to the equal personal dignity of the PARTIES in dialogue, NOT to doctrinal content [or lack of content?], NOR even less to the position of Jesus Christ—-who is God himself made man—-in relation to the founders of the other religions [Xi Jinping, Muhammad]” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, 2000, n. 22).

  3. Daniel Mahoney, whom I greatly admire after having just completed a read of his book “The Idol of our Age”, asserts that Pope Francis is a “good man.” I’m wondering how he knows this.

    As for Francis himself I will not read his encyclical since I am making an attempt in these final years of my life to shield myself from poisonous ideology. I am more interested in writing that reflects my Catholic faith whose essence focuses on sin, repentance and God’s redemptive love through Jesus Christ. This Francis does not provide me.

    As for this pontificate, my prediction is that orthodox Catholic historians will not treat it favorably at all.

  4. “An appalling and horrible thing
    has happened in the land:
    the prophets prophesy falsely,
    and the priests rule at their
    direction;
    my people love to have it so,
    but what will you do when the
    end comes?”

    Jeremiah 5:30-31

  5. Why is nobody mentioning the incredibly problematic statement in this encyclical that men and women have “identical” rights. There are many different senses this can be interpreted in but I don’t believe the Church has EVER taught that men and women have IDENTICAL rights. Despite how unpopular this opinion is it is divine revelation that the family is hierarchical and patriarchal institution and wives are subject to their husbands. Is this not outright heresy to claim they have identical rights then?

    • Pardon me for daring to answer , even if not an expert in all these by any means ..
      Having not read the Encyclical yet, find the attention given to the various themes in same interesting ..
      The above mention of ‘identical ‘ rights – have to love and thank the Holy Spirit for the wisdom in those words alone ..
      That is the diligent use of the keys to the Kingdom ,of Divine Will ..how men and women are to live in / under the Divine Will ,as the very heading of the words of St.Paul on the topic – ‘be subject to one another , as unto The Lord ‘ and The Divine Will that He came to bless us to live in , set free from the ways of the self will and its rebellions with its lusts and greeds and all .
      The varies issues faced in families and persons ,related to the above thus to be done away with , in the manner that The Reign alone can ..

      https://bookofheaven.com/three-fiats/

      Glory be !

  6. ? Providential connection with the beatification of Bl.Carlo Acutis as well , Holy Father blessed with the occasion to have visited the place too ..
    The easy access to computers now world over , thus spread of info , bible too , through lands that have cultures that are alien to The Heart of The Gospel ..

    Surprised to have come across the conflicting passages –
    D. Rheims bible – Samuel 2- 12: 31 – http://www.drbo.org/chapter/10012.htm

    ? a cruel side of David , the fallen , self willed side , after the death of the child with Bathsheba , the capture of pagan lands and putting on the crown of their king –

    ? an occasion where in he has fallen under related spirits ..afflicting the family as well , setting off the whole saga with Absalom ..

    Interestingly , a different narrative on same here – how the captives are only put to work –

    https://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/r/rsv/rsv-idx?type=DIV1&byte=1243950

    The need , desire and responsibility to guide vast lands to take in The Truth as the Divine Will being about protecting and cherishing life and creation , in deeper
    Oneness in same , to help set free lands and persons from the spirits of the fallen human nature ..
    and if it involves enough discourse , the prayerful attitude to go with it , as suggested in the wise counsel on same , to help others too to live in The Brotherhood more fully –
    https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-10/fratelli-tutti-encyclical-kevin-irwin-commentary.html

  7. Christianity is not humanitarianism, and humanitarianism is not Christianity. I often get the impression that this pope subscribes to a different religion from the one that followers of Christ adhere to.

  8. This is another excellent contribution to the analysis of the encyclical. I would like to thank the authors (including Mr. Chapp) for writing their essays and CWR for publishing them.

  9. God the Father thru His Word, Jesus Incarnate, clearly stated a “definite border” as regards who are His brothers. Jesus’ response to the man who told Him His mother and brothers were outside asking to speak with Him — “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?. Who ever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister and mother.”
    Why did not the Pope include this in his writing?

  10. An outstanding review by Prof Mahoney. I would hope some day to read more by him on the Church’s silence on Communism from 1960-1979, and 2013-2020. It was near criminal neglect that V2 failed to condemn the butchers behind the iron curtain then, and it is criminal what Francis is doing today to the Chinese Catholics. There is a common thread that runs between John-23, Paul-6 & Bergoglio that warrants the attention of Prof. Mahoney.

  11. “[Satan] will set up a counter church, which will be the ape of the [Catholic] Church … It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. We are living in the days of the Apocalypse, the last days of our era. The two great forces — the Mystical Body of Christ and the Mystical Body of the anti-Christ — are beginning to draw battle lines for the catastrophic contest. 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 and religions, forming some type of global association. A world parliament of churches. It will be emptied of all divine content, it will be the mystical body of the anti-christ. The Mystical Body on earth today will have its Judas Iscariot, and he will be the false prophet. Satan will recruit him from our bishops.

    The Antichrist will not be so called; otherwise, he would have no followers. He will not wear red tights, nor vomit sulphur, nor carry a trident nor wave an arrowed tail as Mephistopheles in Faust. This masquerade has helped the Devil convince men that he does not exist. When no man recognizes him, the more power he exercises. God has defined Himself as “I am Who am,” and the Devil as “I am who am not.”

    Nowhere in Sacred Scripture do we find warrant for the popular myth of the Devil as a buffoon who is dressed like the first “red.” Rather, is he described as an angel fallen from Heaven, as “the Prince of this world,” whose business it is to tell us that there is no other world. His logic is simple: if there is no Heaven, there is no Hell; if there is no Hell, then there is no sin; if there is no sin, then there is no judge; and if there is no judgment, then evil is good, and good is evil. But above all these descriptions, Our Lord tells us that he will be so much like Himself that he would deceive even the elect — and certainly no devil ever seen in picture books could deceive even the elect.

    How will he come in this new age to win followers to his religion? The pre-Communist Russian belief is that he will come disguised as the great humanitarian; he will talk peace, prosperity and plenty, not as means to lead us to God but as ends in themselves.

    The third temptation in which Satan asked Christ to adore him and all the kingdoms of the world would be His, will become the temptation to have a new religion without a Cross, a liturgy without a world to come, a religion to destroy a religion or a politics which is a religion — one that renders unto Caesar even the things that are God’s. In the midst of all his seeming love for humanity and his glib talk of freedom and equality, he will have one great secret, which he will tell to no one: he will not believe in God.

    Because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect. He will set up a counter church which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all its externals resemble the mystical body of Christ.”

    Everything you have just heard came from the mouth of Venerable Abp. Fulton J. Sheen in 1948.

    • jp an interesting parallel is found in the Scivias of Hildegard of Bingen declared by simple acclamation [1st in history] a saint and doctor of the Church by Benedict XVI 2012. “Scivias by Hildegard of Bingen 1098-1179 is the source of one of the most startling and daring images of Antichrist in medieval art. A tripartite miniature presenting an apocalyptic nightmare, it visualizes the seer’s vision of the Last Days [Scivias 3.11]. According to Hildegard, Scivias originated in 1141 when, at the age of forty-two, she was instructed by a Voice from Heaven to record the prophetic visions she had experienced since childhood. Receiving first the support of her monastic magister, Volmar d. 1173, and then-according to medieval tradition-the encouragement of the most respected mystic of her time, Bernard of Clairvaux 1090-1153, as well as the endorsement of Pope Eugenius III at the Synod of Trier 1147/48, Hildegard completed Scivias in 1151” (Richard Emerson Medievalists.net). Emerson was startled by Saint Hildegard’s painted image of the Antichrist being born in demonic form from the womb of a woman depicted as Mother Church. We don’t take private revelation as irrefutable truth. As Aquinas said of prophecy, it may be from the heart of the prophet not necessarily revealed. Added to that the Apostle Paul counselled that we shouldn’t repudiate all prophecy. Take it for what it’s worth.

    • And Sheen was really talking about communism. That is precisely what communism tried to do – they tried to ape the church, set government up as the source of all morals and to whom you owe all your allegiance. You see, the name of the book from which you quote is “Communism and the Conscience of the West”.
      I often wonder why people always fail to note that Sheen was talking about communism. They prefer to tell stories about prophecies and try to pretend Sheen was talking about something else. Weird.

  12. https://spiritdailyblog.com/spiritual-warfare/what-exorcists-say-about-yoga-potter
    For those who are fearful of being misled in matters of faith , thank God that there are enough articles such as above , that helps to point where the false church is , often as fragmented domestic churches , where in those who are to be in the role of the priest is instead serving the enemy , its values and ways as depicted in the above article .
    Those who might be serving such powers , hence the nudge of conscience , struggling to see where the falsehoods are ..and often not free enough to see and hear the invitation …

    May the effective and powerful prayers of holy persons , Holy Father on down help to set free such , from being used by the enemy as targets to spread his agenda of pride and contempt , just as he used the temple authorities to fear and deny The Lord .
    May the Bl.Mother who is ardently invoked by The Church , as advocated by the Pope be the one to help break the walls around the hearts …to help discern The Way and The Will as she did , as the First creature after The Fall , to live in The Divine Will .

  13. This article says “With all due respect to the Holy Father, he has confused our religion….” If a man who has been priest, bishop, cardinal, and now pope “has confused our religion,” what hope is there that any living person might attain a non-confused understanding of the Catholic faith? It the approach of this article is credible and legitimate, it seems like we all have no choice but to “throw in the towel” (i.e., give up). I for one do not plan to take that route. I’m sure this article was written with the best intentions. But I respectfully submit that we need a better way than this. I suspect that there are theologians and saints out there who are finding ways to receive the teachings of Pope Francis without going haywire.

  14. I often think if someone can actually get Francis to read the documents that are published under his name, even he might have misgiving about the pretzel logic to be found and start to question his ghost writers.

  15. You write “With all due respect to the Holy Father, he has confused our religion”

    I would say with all due respect to you, that you are showing a lack of proper humility in saying this. From one article to the next on this site I see articles with statements of this kind and very few articles showing proper deference to the holy father. This is the road to schism. Let’s keep in mind the statement of St. Ignatius, who said: “What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines.”

    Ignatius was carried to heaven by his faith, and I wish these critics of the pope would show the same obedience. You don’t have to understand everything. When the father says something you don’t understand or agree with completely, you should begin with the presumption that the error is on your end. You should not place your own interpretation of church history on the same level as his. When you say 2000 years of history are on your side, and the pope says 2000 years of history are on his side, believers must inquire in the spirit that the weight of probability is with the pope. And even if as a theologian you feel you have some right to voice improbable opinions, an open news site like this is not a proper forum for that. As the weight of probability is always with the pope, opinions voiced in a general sense to the laity should be first and foremost in compliance with his judgments.

    Let us all pray together that we all come into conformance of faith with the Church, which is headed by his holiness Pope Francis.

15 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Brothers without Borders: Pope Francis’s Quasi-Humanitarian Manifesto - Catholic Mass Search
  2. Has Pope Francis betrayed Catholics and Christianity in his latest encyclical: “Fratelli tutti”? The pope has a primary responsibility to lead Catholics and not to pander to current notions of humanity. Why is he so close to islam and Grand Im
  3. Brothers without Borders: Pope Francis’s Quasi-Humanitarian Manifesto – On God's Payroll
  4. An encyclical filled with tensions and omissions – Catholic World Report
  5. Fratelli Tutti and its critics – Catholic World Report
  6. Culture, dialogue, religion, and truth in Fratelli Tutti – Catholic World Report
  7. Reading Fratelli Tutti on Mars Hill - Catholic Daily
  8. Pope Francis’s Latest Attack on Property: It’s a “Secondary Right” – NewsWars
  9. Pope Francis's Latest Attack on Property: It's a "Secondary Right" | Alternative News Network
  10. Pope Francis's Latest Attack on Property: It's a "Secondary Right" - Libertarian Guide
  11. RELIGION - Géraldine Claise
  12. Pope Francis's Newest Assault on Property: It is a "Secondary Proper" | Alice Salles - daxsenbusiness.com
  13. Pope Francis Says That Property Is A "Secondary Right". He's Wrong | INDIAN LIBERTY REPORT
  14. Pope Francis’s Latest Attack on Property: It’s a “Secondary Right” – Liberty Apex
  15. Bergoglio’s Latest Attack on Property: It’s a ‘Secondary Right’ - Libertarian Guide

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