Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us (2 Tim. 1:13-14). ⧾
The lessons of the Mass today exhort us to steadfastness, fidelity and prayer that our faith be strong. The Apostle exhorts us to guard the good treasure that has been entrusted to us. This treasure is our faith in all its content guarded and cherished by the standard of sound teaching or what we also term orthodoxy. This exhortation to fidelity and endurance echoes the prophecy we heard in our first reading form the Prophet Habakkuk: For there is a vision for the appointed time: it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay… but the righteous person lives by faith (Hab. 1:3). In our faithless age, as we struggle to prevent the eclipse of religion by relativism, we must all the more live by faith. The challenges we are facing are great for we have entered into the time of trial.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, published by Pope St John Paul II in 1994, contains this sober reminder: Before Christ’s second coming the Church must 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 and 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 (675).
Today in Rome, the Synod on the Amazon begins. Perhaps this is the first you hear of this. If so, it is very important that you pay close attention to what I am about to explain to you. A synod is described in the Code of Canon Law as a group of bishops who have been chosen from different parts of the world, who meet together at specified times to promote the close relationship between the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops. These Bishops by their counsel, assist the Roman Pontiff in the defence and development of faith and morals and the preservation and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline. They also consider questions concerning the mission of the Church in the world (342). As defined, a synod should foster the defence and development of faith and morals. Prior to a synod, a working document or agenda for discussion is published. The working document of the Synod on the Amazon has generated a great deal of controversy. Raymond Cardinal Burke has published a declaration against six theological errors and heresies in the working document. I will limit myself to mentioning only two of these errors because they are an example of the religious deception that the Catechism speaks of: An implicit pantheism identifying God with nature and the universe, and the view of man as a mere link in nature’s ecological chain. This second error taken to extremes, views human beings as little more than parasites who greedily use up the earth’s precious resources. It gives rise to what some are calling climate hysteria. These are dangerous ideas with potentially tragic consequences.
The other errors are: the notion that paganism is a source of Divine Revelation and an alternate pathway to salvation, the idea that natives already received divine revelation and that the Church in the Amazon needs a missionary and pastoral ‘conversion’, granting ministries to women and turning married local chieftans into second-class priests, considering man as a mere link in nature’s ecological chain and economic development as an aggressor against ‘Mother Earth’, calling for a ‘integral ecological conversion’ which includes the adoption of the collective social model of natives where individual personality and freedom are undermined.
Environmentalism as an ideology has become for many people a rallying point, a universal cause – there is nothing as universal in scope as the environment – and eco-theology as it is termed, seeks to bring people together in a common cause; but at what cost? Is it possible that in making common cause with environmentalism we risk betraying the standard of sound teaching regarding the nature of the human person? How is the human person viewed by those who espouse the ideology of environmentalism? What is of greater value, the human person of ‘the environment’ – whatever this term may mean? Is it possible that this ideology may be used to violate the Catholic teaching that the human person is inviolable and free? Divine revelation clearly teaches that the created order is at the service of humanity. When the established natural order is upended the result is perversion.
A synod by strict definition is a gathering of bishops. One hundred and eighty-five bishops are participating in the Synod on the Amazon; yet there are many representatives of international secular organizations and NGOs also in attendance whose stated goals and manner of operation directly oppose Church teaching and praxis. Why are they there? How will their presence further the defence and development of faith and morals and the preservation and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline? Could their presence in fact have the opposite effect? Some of the synod participants and organizers have already said that nothing in the Church will be the same after this Synod. This statement alone should shock us. The Church thinks and acts theologically; not politically, not sociologically. Political thinking is all too often concerned with what is expedient, not what is true or good in itself. In our time the use of political labels such as conservative, and liberal have been applied to practically everything in the Church, and they have caused division, confusion and a literal collapse. The Church is Catholic and a member of the Church is catholic; not liberal or conservative or progressive; simply catholic.
These political labels and the imposition of secular ideologies on the doctrine of the faith from within the Church are evidence of a destructive infiltration which aims at the destruction of the Church and her mission which is to preach the Gospel of salvation. Historically there have been many attempts on the part of secular rulers and movements to take control of the Church or to make her subservient to the state. It may be a surprise to you that in 1798, Pope Pius VI was kidnapped by Napoleon and taken prisoner to France for his refusal to renounce the Church’s independence. He died in exile. Pope Pius VII, his successor was also taken to France as a prisoner though he was later released and returned to Rome. In 1848 Pius IX was forced to flee from Rome and the violence of revolution. The Nazi Dictator Hitler intended to kidnap Pope Pius XII. Pope John Paul II was nearly killed in St. Peter’s Square. Pope Benedict abdicated the papal ministry of Bishop of Rome (Declaratio, 10 February, 2013). Is there a pattern here?
Is it in the realm of possibility that the enemies of Christ and the Church have in our day succeeded in infiltrating the Church from within so that what could not be done by force may now succeed by stealth? On October 13, 1977, on the 60th anniversary of the last apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, Pope Paul VI observed: The tail of the devil is functioning in the disintegration of the Catholic World. The darkness of Satan has entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit. Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into the highest levels within the Church. These are very sobering words spoken by a pope. A few years earlier, this same pope who had brought the Second Vatican
Council to a close had observed: We believed that after the Council would come a day of sunshine in the history of the Church. But instead there has come a day of clouds and storms and of darkness of searching and uncertainties…It is as if from some mysterious crack, no it is not mysterious, from some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God (Sermon of June 29, 1972). The spiritual erosion witnessed and experienced by many of us when these frightening words were spoken and since, has now reached a critical mass. The prophecies of Our Lady at Fatima are being tragically fulfilled in our time. For there is a vision for the appointed time: it speaks of the end, and does not lie (Hab. 1:3).
We must heed the call to conversion and pray the Rosary for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of our Holy Mother and Church (The Leonine Prayers). Tomorrow, the first working day of the Synod on the Amazon, we will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and will observe a Day of Prayer and Reparation with a continuous recitation of the Traditional Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in our Chapel. Let us pray that the Bishops will endeavour to assist the Holy Father in the defence and development of faith and morals and the preservation and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline. Let us join in fervent prayer and supplication; that Our Lady may obtain for us a victory over the Church’s enemies and that we may remain faithful to our Traditional Catholic Faith. May Our Lady of Fatima who manifested herself as the Lady of the Rosary safeguard her little remnant in the safety of her Immaculate Heart, whose triumph we fervently implore in this time of trial. ⧾