The Wolves, the Anti-Christ, the Man of Lawlessness, the Anti-Church

05-12-2020Weekly ReflectionExcerpts from a Homily of Cardinal Ivan Dias at Lourdes 2007

Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI recently caused a stir on the occasion of the appearance in Germany of a book by Peter Seewald called, Benedict XVI: A Life (Benedikt XVI: Ein Leben). It’s due to come out in English in November 2020. Referenced in the book was a remark Pope Benedict made when he was elected Pope: Pray for me that I do not flee in the face of the wolves. Benedict XVI resigned in 2013. Who are the wolves?

The question addressed to the Pope by Peter Seewald was: Did you forsee what would be waiting for you? Maike Hickson in Life Site News summarized the Pope’s response in this new book this way:

Benedict stated that the generally perceived scale of problems that a pope can be “afraid of” is much too small.” “Of course,” he went on to say, “events such as 'VatiLeaks' are a nuisance and not understandable for the people in the world at large and deeply disturbing  But the real threat to the Church and with it to the Petrine Office does not come from such things, but from the world-wide dictatorship of seemingly humanistic ideologies.” To contradict this dictatorship, Benedict explained, “means the exclusion from the basic consensus in society.”It was within this context that Benedict mentioned “Anti-Christ.”

The Catholic Church teaches that before Christ's glorious second coming, the Church will pass through a “final trial” that will “shake the faith of many believers.”“The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  “The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh,” it added. 

Author Antonio Socci highlights another example from the Pope in answering Seewald’s question: …(A) hundred years ago everyone would have considered it absurd to speak of homosexual marriage. Today if you oppose it you are excommunicated from society. Similarly it’s the same for abortion and producing human beings in laboratories. Modern society is formulating an anti-christian faith, which you cannot oppose under penalty of excommunication. Hence it’s natural to fear this spiritual force of the Anti-Christ and really there should be prayer in the diocese and the entire Church universal to oppose it.

In confirmation of his point about excommunication by the modern secular religion, there was outrage directed at the Pope-Emeritus from the usual suspects. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights noted the outrage.

Recently a group of Christians operating a medical tent in Central Park to assist Corona-Virus victims were attacked that they should not be allowed to care for sick because they were not in favor of same-sex marriage. This world-wide dictatorship noted by the Pope often bills itself among other things as the paladins of tolerance and diversity, unless you disagree with them on their iterations on sexuality and gender.

The term Anti-Christ can have a number of meanings. Recently Msgr. Charles Pope did a reflection on the term in St. John’s Letters in the Scriptures and St. Paul’s use of the phrase, “man of lawlessness.” St. John notes the Anti-Christ already appeared; there are many Anti-Christs; and anyone who denies the Incarnation that God became Flesh is the Anti-Christ. St. Paul speaks about the opponent at the end of time when the Church would pass through her great trial as the “man of lawlessness.” Msgr Pope’s essay can be accessed here:

There are those in later Christian tradition, who give the name the Anti-Christ to the man of lawlessness who would presage the end of the world and the final judgment. The reality is that from the very beginning the great warfare between God and Satan, between God and the rebels against God, in the world, existed in the Church and was highlighted by great saints. For example, St. Augustine’s masterpiece, Concerning the City of God, highlights the struggle between the City of God and the City of Man. St. Ignatius Loyola emphasizes it in his Spiritual Exercises as “The Two Standards:” the Standard of Christ versus the Standard of Satan.

The occasion of this new book about Pope Benedict and his quoted remarks was also the occasion to recall a famous sermon by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen preached in 1947 on the Anti-Christ. (See Life Site News) He lists the following characteristics:

  • 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. 
  • He will write books on the new idea of God to suit the way people live.
  • [He will] induce faith in astrology so as to make not the will but the stars responsible for our sins.
  • He will explain guilt away psychologically as repressed sex, make men shrink in shame if their fellowmen say they are not broadminded and liberal.
  • He will identify tolerance with indifference to right and wrong.
  • He will foster more divorces under the disguise that another partner is “vital.”
  • He will increase love for love and decrease love for persons.
  • He will invoke religion to destroy religion.
  • He will even speak of Christ and say that he was the greatest man who ever lived.
  • His mission, he will say, will be to liberate men from the servitudes of superstition and Fascism, which he will never define.
  • 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. And 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 be the mystical body of the anti-Christ that will in all externals resemble the Church as the mystical body of Christ. In desperate need for God, he will induce modern man, in his loneliness and frustration, to hunger more and more for membership in his community that will give man enlargement of purpose, without any need of personal amendment and without the admission of personal guilt. These are days in which the devil has been given a particularly long rope. 
  • The actual homily of Bishop Sheen can be accessed here:

**NOTE regarding the “counter-church” referenced by Bishop Sheen

An offensive against the forces of the Evil one

Here, at Lourdes, as everywhere in the world, the Virgin Mary is weaving a enormous web of her spiritual sons and daughters in the whole world in order to launch a strong offensive against the forces of the Evil one, to lock him up and thus prepare the final victory of her divine Son, Jesus Christ.

The Virgin Mary invites us once again today to be a part of her combat legion against the forces of evil. As a sign of our participation at her offensive, she demands, among other things, the conversion of the heart, a great devotion to the Holy Eucharist, the daily recitation of the rosary, unceasing prayer without hypocrisy, the acceptance of sufferings for the salvation of the world. Those could seem to be small things, but they are powerful in the hands of God, to whom nothing is impossible. As the young David who, with a small stone and a sling, brought down the giant Goliath who came to meet him armed with a sword, a spear, and a shield (cf. 1 Sam 17,4-51), we will also, with the small beads of our rosary, be able to heroically face the assaults of our awesome adversary and defeat him.

The struggle between God and his enemy still takes place, even more so today than at the time of St. Bernadette…. Because the world finds itself stuck in the swamp of a secularism that wishes to create a world without God; of a relativism that stifles the permanent and unchangeable values of the Gospel; and of a religious indifference that remains undisturbed regarding the higher good of the matters of God and the Church.

This battle makes innumerable victims within our families and among our young people. Some months before becoming Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla said (November 9, 1976):

"We are today before the greatest combat that mankind has ever seen. I do not believe that the Christian community has completely understood it. We are today before the final struggle between the Church and the Anti-Church, between the Gospel and the Anti-Gospel."

One thing remains certain: the final victory belongs to God and that will happen thanks to Mary, the Woman of Genesis and of the Apocalypse, who will fight at the head of the army of her sons and daughters against the enemy forces of Satan and will crush the head of the serpent. Excerpts from a Homily of Cardinal Ivan Dias at Lourdes 2007