She told me that the devil is about to wage a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin, and a decisive battle is the final battle where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Also, from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the devil; there is no in between.
– Sister Lucia dos Santos speaking about Our Lady of Fatima in 1957
In today’s Mass reading from Saint Matthew’s Gospel (3:1-12), Saint John the Baptist says the Messiah “will gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Other recent Mass readings, especially from the Book of Revelation about the final days, talk of separating sheep and goats, the worthy from the unworthy.
In fact, it is not God, but people — you and me — who will choose who enter heaven and who go to hell. That’s what free will is all about.
And a raging controversy in the Catholic Church may point to how the faithful might have to choose between God and the devil in the final battle mentioned by the late Sister Lucia dos Santos, seer of Our Lady’s 1917 apparition in Fatima, Portugal, in her 1957 interview with Fr. Augustine Fuentes.
Fifty years hence, Sister Lucia again talked of the last confrontation. In her letter to then-Bologna Archbishop Carlo Cardinal Caffarra before she died in 2005, the 97-year-old nun declared: “The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.”
She also reassured the newly appointed head of then-Pope Saint John Paul II’s institute on the family: “Don’t be afraid, because anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family, will always be fought and opposed in every way, because this is a decisive issue. However, Our Lady has already crushed its head.”
Fast-forward one decade: In the 2014 and 2015 Synods of Bishops on the family, and Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love) apostolic exhortation based on the deliberations, marriage and sexuality are now the big issues dividing the hierarchy and segments of the faithful. Could this be the final battle Sister Lucia spoke about?
Keen followers of Marian and other Catholic prophesies may also recall the 1973 apparition of Our Lady of Akita to Agnes Sassagawa. The Blessed Virgin told the Japanese nun: “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way you will see Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops.”
Divided over the ‘dubia’
Those prophesies do seem too close for comfort in the intensifying verbal tussle among the global Catholic hierarchy over questions raised by four senior Cardinals over Francis’ apostolic exhortation.
The red-hatted prelates — Caffarra, now archbishop emeritus of Bologna; Raymond Burke, former head of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican supreme court; Walter Brandmüller, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; and Joachim Meisner, archbishop emeritus of Cologne — made public their five questions or “dubia” (Latin for “doubts”).
They had asked if certain Church doctrines were no longer absolute in light of “Amoris Laetitia.” After receiving no direct reply since sending the letter in September, the Cardinals released it two weeks ago < http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/full-text-and-explanatory-notes-of-cardinals-questions-on-amoris-laetitia >.
The dubia are on top of a July petition signed by 45 theologians and clergy worldwide and send to all 218 cardinals and patriarchs of the Church, pointing out theological issues in “Amoris Laetitia” and decrying “grief and confusion” as well as “grave danger to souls” <http://2n613ar7ekr056c3upq2s15c.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/45-theologians-censure-AL.pdf >.
While the men in red garb had largely ignored the July missive, several have taken sides over the dubia.
At least three prelates expressed support for the Cardinals’ call for clarity: Jan Watroba, president of the Council for the Family of Poland’s conference of bishops; his fellow Pole Jozef Wrobel; and Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan.
Meanwhile, a retired Greek prelate, Frangiskos Papamanolis, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Greece, accused the four Cardinals of apostasy and scandal, two of the worst sins Church leaders can commit.
Seemingly matching the opposing numbers, Archbishop Pio Vito Pinto, head of the Roman Rota, the Vatican’s marriage tribunal, took issue with the dubia and Cardinal Burke’s idea of formally correcting Pope.
“This is crazy,” Pinto retorted, insisting that “Francis is not only in full accordance with the teaching [of the Church], but also with all of his predecessors in the 20th century.” The dubia had asked if certain encyclicals and other positions taken by past pontiffs, including St. John Paul II, were no longer valid always.
This past week, South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier defended Francis’s silence on the dubia, despite the prelate’s past defense of traditional teachings on marriage, sexuality, and the sacraments.
Indeed, since “Amoris Laetitia” appeared in April, Napier had posted problematic passages on twitter. But last week, in an exchange of tweets, he said Catholics who “negatively analyse” Francis do so “without checking what the Pope actually said.” Both the four Cardinals and 45 theologians and clergy did, in fact, cite specific passages in the exhortation.
Where is this going?
Certain circles are now speculating whether there would be full-scale open debate among cardinals and bishops, or even schism, with one faction breaking away or being expelled from the Church. Archbishop Pinto was initially reported to have called for removing the red hats of the four Cardinals, but he later denied it.
Well, if indeed, God and the devil are in battle, there may indeed by a division of the house, or rather the Church.
Open discord plays into satanic hands not only by undermining the Church — the Mystical Body of Christ and His paramount instrument of salvation. Division would also make souls choose sides after being counseled by contending prelates.
Thus, when souls choose, they would act with full knowledge. That may well lead to mortal sin — and a harvest of souls for the devil.
Pray that our Lord and His Blessed Mother grace us to take heaven’s side against the blandishments of hell.