For many among us, the title would seem a little embarrassing. We have been with the one and only true Church of which Jesus Christ is the head. Though our Church had to face a number of schisms, heresies, splits, and erroneous teachings from the least expected corners in the course of her history, we had never in the past thought of something like a false Church acting against the true Church founded on the rock called Peter.
Four and a half decades ago, a little known cardinal spoke about the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church. Providence has it that he later became the Supreme Pontiff of the universal Church. During the Eucharistic Congress which ran from August 1-8 in Philadelphia, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla delivered a speech which many in the audience and outside couldn’t understand in its fullness. Many scholars attributed his words to the battle between atheistic communism and the Church. But it was not so. What did Cardinal Karol Wojtyla said?
“We are now standing 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, a test 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.”
Anti-Church was not a euphemism used to describe an atheistic philosophy. Had it been so, he would have stopped there. But he went on to say about a final confrontation of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. The crux of his statement lies here. The battle is fuelled by an anti-Gospel which is the antithesis of the true Gospel.
So, what is an anti-Church or false Church? In simple terms it is the religion of the anti-Gospel or false-Gospel. True Church upholds the gospel teachings whereas anti-Church denigrates it. Christ’s words are the lifeblood of the true Church while the anti-Church draws its power from worldly philosophies. The true Church knows what is right and what is wrong, what is virtue and what is vice. She always sides with what is right according to the words of her Bridegroom, Christ. For the false Church, the line demarcating good and bad, right and wrong or virtue and vice is non existent to such an extent that they never mind calling grave sins as expressions of human dignity. They march with pride in things that God abhors. True Church is led by true pastors, whereas for the false Church, there are innumerable false prophets who mix doctrine with the lusts of their own perverted minds and market the resultant concoction with the label of true doctrine. Finally true Church is a barque on the pilgrimage to eternal joy and peace, but the anti-Church is one drifting away from the port of peace.
Love and grace are the pillars of the true Church while the anti-Church thrives on deception. No wonder, the Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions that ‘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. 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’ ( CCC 675).
The Catholic Church believes that the persecution of the Church, the mystery of iniquity and religious deception are interconnected. The Church warns us that religious deception takes the form of offering a solution to the problems of mankind. But it comes at a price. It is called apostasy and is too heavy a price to pay for any christian. The Church further warns us that the supreme deception is that of Antichrist, which glorifies man in place of God and of his Messiah who came in the flesh.
Join together the dots and we will get the true picture of a false Church. It is human-centric, not God-centric. It is concerned about bread and butter and any mention about the true bread of life is absent there. The true Church places the family as its basic unit whereas its ape, the false Church lays emphasis on the individual and his/her freedom of choice.
Let us remember the words of the Fatima seer Sister Lucia where she warned that “there will come a time when the decisive confrontation between the Kingdom of God and Satan will take place over marriage and the family”. Today the true Church is battling to save the institution of family, whereas her opponents who are numerous, try to somehow destroy the very institution of marriage. Church always stands for life right from the moment of conception till the moment God calls back the soul. Her opponents support every action against life starting from attacks against the unborn. Church sees a divine purpose behind every sexual act, while the world permits every kind of promiscuity. Church adheres to the natural law that man and woman are complementary. Anti-church in its pride declares that man is match for man and woman for woman.
We know that such things did happen in the world during the past also. And the world has not been the best friend of the Church. In spite of this, the Church could cope with the world all through history. Then why should we worry about it at this time more than the past. The reason lies in the fact that in the past we could distinguish friend from foe. Enemies were identified by what they say or act. In our times, the enemy is not from outside but within the Church itself!
St Pope Paul VI warned us about a non-catholic philosophy infiltrating the Church. He went on to say that this non-catholic line of thought might become more and more powerful in the coming days. Nonetheless, it will never be a true reflection of the philosophy of the Holy Church. He concluded by saying that it is essential for a ‘small flock’ , however small it be, to persevere till the very end.
The false Church is not a separate entity. It is within the true Church. It consists of catholics from laymen to those occupying higher places in the hierarchy, who have deviated from true faith. It is like wheat and weed growing together. It is granted in divine providence. This is exactly what Cardinal Korol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) intended to convey when he said in 1976: “This confrontation lies within the plans of divine Providence”. In the parable of Weeds among the Wheat, what the master of the field sowed was good seed. But by the time plants came up and bore grain, the weeds appeared as well. Listen to what the master told his servants when they suggested to go and gather the weeds. “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds at first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn”( Mat.13: 29-30).
Yes, it is in divine providence that the false Church too grows with the true Church. It will continue to grow along with the true Church. Harvest time is the time to separate them. And for those who have ears to hear, we are nearing the harvest time.
The prophetic words of St Pope John Paul II not only reverberate in the Church even after four and a half decades but they seem more and more relevant in these days. True to his words, we are facing the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. Yet wide circles of the secular society or wide circles of the Christian community fail to realize it fully. He warned that it is going to be a test 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. Now what we see is that the world with all its power pitted against the Church. It is for the sole reason that the true Church defends the true faith founded by the true pastor on the true rock of Peter. The enemy, who has been outside the Church in yesteryears is now very much inside the Church. Those worldly people who infiltrated the Church is trying their best to take the Church along with them. This is evident in every discussion, debate or discourse about catholic doctrine.
They think that they will triumph. But we know that the ultimate victory will be ours through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. We know this too that the gates of Hades will not prevail against the true Church founded by Jesus Christ (Mat. 16:18). Let the weeds grow along with the wheat. They are reserved for burning in the end. As for us, we are to be gathered in the barns of our Father.
Having said this, we should be very careful not to fall prey to the false gospel propagated by the apostles of the false Church, who disguise themselves as angels of light. Know them by their fruits. Know the lies they spread. Know the falsities they profess. When we hear some ‘Catholic’ say that Jesus is only a prophet like many others, thereby denying his Divinity, remember the words of John; ‘Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22). When somebody adds something to or subtract something from the teachings of Jesus, remember the words of John; ‘Everyone who does not abide in the teachings of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God'(2 John 9). When the false prophets say that killing an innocent baby in the womb is justifiable, again remember the words of John; ‘All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them’ (1 John 3:15).
If any person – however higher in hierarchy he or she be – fails to confess the faith in Christ for fear of the world or for pleasing the world, again remember the words of John; ‘And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God'( 1 John 4:3). If somebody equates the Holy Eucharist with a simple ceremony of breaking the bread, denying its sacrificial and penitential value, John has written these words for them; ‘So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53).
When worshipping the celestial bodies or Mother Earth are presented as acceptable through the backdoor and churches are desecrated with all kinds of abominations, open your Bible and read from the book of Ezekiel; ‘Have you seen this, O mortal? You will see still greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord; there at the entrance of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty five men, with their backs to the temple of the Lord, and their faces towards the east, prostrating themselves to the sun toward the east’ (Eze.8:15-16).
Weeds are cleverer than wheat. They resemble wheat in all respect. That is why the master told his servants not to remove them then and there. Because of the similarity, even an experienced servant might take the weed for wheat. Total removal of the weeds and their consignment to fire is to happen only at the time of harvest. Till then our solace is the words of our Lord who warned us about the great apostasy due to happen in the end times when brother will fight against brother, children will fight against parents and the whole world will hate us because we uphold the true faith under the banner of the true Church.
Catechism of the Catholic Church summarises this in two sentences: ‘Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers’ (CCC 675). We are passing through this final trial and we are going to be betrayed by our own people. If Jesus was betrayed by his own disciple, the Church, which is the mystical body of Christ, will also be betrayed by her children.
Scripture hints at the appearance of a false Church at the end times. ‘Then I saw another beast that rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon’ ( Rev.`13:11). Two horns are understood to be the symbol of priesthood especially when the beast is likened to a lamb, which is definitely a pointer towards our Paschal Lamb, Jesus Christ. In the messages given to Fr Stefano Gobbi the Blessed Virgin explains more about the beast in the guise of a lamb. She says that they are in continuation to her prophecy in Fatima that Satan will occupy the top positions of the Church. It is the work of freemasons who infiltrated the Church with the ulterior motive of capturing her control. The Blessed Virgin says that the modus operandi of the mason group within the Church is to make Christians worship false Gods. Once this is achieved, they will create a false Christ and a false Church and install a new idol. Simultaneously these masons at the higher echelons of the Church will accomplish their task of annihilating the true Christ and true Church. Many saints have predicted the fall of angels from grace in the end times. While introducing the second beast with two horns like a lamb, the book of Revelation has warned that this beast speaks like a dragon. Some of those who are supposed to speak for and speak about the lamb will speak for the dragon in the end days!
Venerable Bishop Fulton J Sheen’s prophetic words are worth remembering here. During a radio programme in 1947, he described the state of affairs in the end times. Antichrist, as Satan’s agent will invoke religion to destroy religion. He will equate tolerance with indifference to right and wrong. He will explain guilt away psychologically as repressed sexual urge. He will speak about humanism, peace, prosperity and plenty not as a means to reach God but as an end in itself. He will proclaim the brotherhood of all humans, but without the fatherhood of God. His logic is simple. The humankind should make this world a paradise. Then there is no need of another heaven. If there is no heaven, there is no hell; if there is no hell, there is no sin; if there is no sin, there is no judgement; if there is no judgement then evil is good and good is evil. He will set up a Counter Church which will be the ape of the true Church because he himself is the ape of God.
Fulton J Sheen has drawn the picture of the future conflict for our benefit as ‘one between an absolute who is the God-man and an absolute which is the man-god, between the God who became man and the man who makes himself god and between brothers in Christ and comrades in Antichrist!
Not one word is to be missed from the prophecies of Fulton J Sheen. Everything is happening before our own eyes. The grand talks about universal brotherhood, the concern for the planet, the efforts to ensure common minimum wages, the push to embrace everybody to the detriment of national interests, the calculated moves to water down the doctrine of the Church, over-importance given to the words of the authorities neglecting the gospel truth, surreptitious moves to present wrong as right, open attack against those who stick to the true magisterium are all indicative of the invisible false Church living a parasitical life drawing water and nutrients from the Church even while destroying the true Church from within.
Be on our guard. Because our Lord has warned; ‘For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect’ (Mat. 24:24). To heed the warning of the Lord or not is up to each one of us. May the merciful God help us all with the gift of perseverance so as to withstand till the end.