by Dr. Kelly Bowring
Dr. Kelly Bowring is a Catholic theologian and author of best-selling Catholic books such as “The Secrets, Chastisement, and Triumph” and “The Great Battle Has Begun”. This article is reprinted with permission from his website, Two Hearts Press (http://twoheartspress.com/the-great-battle-has-begun/concerning-maria-divine-mercy-pope-francis-and-the-false-prophet/)
The messages of Maria Divine Mercy (MDM), which she is reportedly receiving from heavenly sources, are plausible. I have examined all the messages, as well as all of the published evaluations and criticisms of her messages… and have not found them to establish a single error in her reported messages. And the negative evaluations of MDM posted by critics to date have been, at best, inconclusive and unconvincing.
I have not found that her messages contradict any doctrine, or that they contain an actual error. As of today, her messages are not condemned by any official Church authority with jurisdiction to do so (which would be the Irish Bishops or the CDF), though certainly they have not received Church recognition either.
On the other hand, several of her prophecies have been fulfilled, and her messages are congruent to the other related legitimate sources of prophecy being given in these times.
As well, the Crusader Prayers of Maria Divine Mercy are in the same status as her reported messages, as stated above, and thus, it would seem that it is permissible to pray them.
So, in summary, the Church faithful may read and spread MDM’s reported messages and pray her prayers.
Still, we must be cautious, and continue to discern with prayer and docility to the Church and the Holy Spirit, while remembering the words of Pope Urban VIII: “In cases which concern private revelations, it is better to believe than not to believe, for, if you believe, and it is proven true, you will be happy that you have believed, because our Holy Mother asked it. If you believe, and it should be proven false, you will receive all blessings as if it had been true, because you believed it to be true.”
One of the serious issues that are raised by the reported heavenly messages of MDM is regarding her message that Pope Benedict XVI would leave the papacy (before he died) and that his successor would be the false prophet (as discussed in Revelation 13). This is a difficult message and must be considered with delicate discernment. Whether this message is true or not, we do not know.
Even if this reported message is true, we must never take it upon ourselves to decide as such… we must wait for the Church to direct us in such matters. No matter what, we must remain faithful to the Church. We are never personally permitted to believe the Pope is invalid, unless the highest legitimate authority of the Church were to indicate that he is.
So, while we may meditate on and spread the messages of MDM… as practicing Catholics, we must also be cautious about (and even somewhat critical concerning) this message related to the new Pope, and in this situation we must personally declare the following:
1. I accept the teaching of the Universal Catholic Church that the Pope when speaking on faith and morals is infallible.
2. I accept, as legitimately elected by the recent conclave, Pope Francis (as the validly elected Pope).
This includes “all acts of the Magisterium [which] derive from the same source, that is, from Christ… For this same reason, magisterial decisions in matters of discipline, even if they are not guaranteed by the charism of infallibility, are not without divine assistance and call for the adherence of the faithful” (Donum Veritatis), which every member of the Catholic faithful is obliged to offer Pope Francis.
Time will make things more clear in this delicate matter, as to whether MDM’s messages deserve repudiation because she is in doctrinal error, her messages are inauthentic, or she is eventually rightly condemned by the Church. Otherwise, her prophecies will continue to validate themselves as events unfold and they come true.
The most common question people are asking right now about MDM is whether a validly elected Pope could even be the false prophet, as her messages are reporting. The answer is – YES.
Though, while it is possible, it would be quite improbable.
So, how could it happen that a validly-elected Pope could become the false prophet (an invalid pope or an anti-pope)?
Pope Paul IV’s Papal Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio teaches that if anyone was a heretic before the Papal election, he could not be a valid Pope, even if he is (validly) elected unanimously by the Cardinals.
As well, Canon 188.4 (1917 Code of Canon Law) states that if a cleric (pope, bishop, etc.) becomes a heretic, he loses his office, without any declaration, by operation of law.
St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Antonius, St. Francis de Sales, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and many other theologians all taught that a heretic cannot be a valid pope.
“If however, God were to permit a pope to become a notoriously and contumacious heretic, he would by such fact cease to be pope, and the apostolic chair would be vacant.” St. Alphonsus Liguori, Church Doctor
Here are some more citations on this possibility: http://www.protestanterrors.com/pope-heresy.htm
However, ecclesiastical law requires that the faithful must presume we have a valid Pope, unless the Church’s highest authority formally declares otherwise.
So, one may consider the possibility that an “anti-pope” could potentially come from a valid conclave, and this does not constitute a false or “heretical” position.
Thus, it is actually possible to remain faithful to the Magisterium AND consider that the messages of MDM plausibly might be authentic that the Pope is the false prophet… and even that the Church herself states that this IS at least possible.
We might ask whether it is ever acceptable to criticize the Pope. The answer is ‘yes’. An example of this was done in Scripture by St. Paul who confronted Pope St. Peter, writing about the encounter saying: “And when Cephas (Pope St. Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him, before everyone, to his face because he clearly was wrong” (Galatians 2:11-14).
St. Thomas Aquinas confirms, saying: “There being an imminent danger for the Faith, prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects.” Explaining the correctness of resisting wayward ecclesiastics, even popes, St. Augustine writes, “It is possible for subordinates to have the boldness to resist their superiors without fear, when in all charity they speak out in the defense of truth.” The Popes themselves teach this. Ven. Pius IX said: “If a future pope teaches anything contrary to the Catholic Faith, do not follow him.” Even if the many should follow the Pope into heresy, and “Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ,” says St. Athanasius. St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J., even wrote as follows:
“Just as it is lawful to resist the pope that attacks the body, it is also lawful to resist the one who attacks souls or who disturbs civil order, or, above all, who attempts to destroy the Church. I say that it is lawful to resist him by not doing what he orders and preventing his will from being executed.”
May the Lord continue to guide us in His truth and in faithfulness to His Church and loyalty to the Pope.
For a summary of the heavenly messages and signs of our times, including those from MDM, read “The Great Battle Has Begun” (www.TwoHeartsPress.com).
Dr. Bowring gives an interview about his position on MDM and a response to critics like Mark Miravalle and Jimmy Akin here: http://associationofcatholicwomenbloggers.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-great-battle-has-begun-part-one.html
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