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  • Godwin Cotter

Trigger Warning: Blog Maintains the Pope is Catholic

Repentance is about changing one's self. In the above comic, each character is working out their own repentance. Often, personal repentance has to compete with the intoxicating dream of changing the world instead. As PJ O'Rourke lamented, "Everybody wants to save the earth; nobody wants to help Mom do the dishes". The temptation to change the external environment rather than the interior one is always there, but it is a most convincing lie in times of rapid technological advancement. In Genesis 12, people discovered how to construct bricks and bake them hard, and then decided to build a tower up to heaven and make a name for themselves. It failed. Repentance and calling on God's name has always the surest stairway to heaven.

Flash forward to the 1500's. The Roman Catholic Church was weighed down by the burden of clerical sin. Both Lutheran apologists and the Council of Trent readily attest: "the wrath of God [is] assuredly hanging over our sins." It was a time with many similarities to today with the continuing unmasking of sex scandals due to predator priests, and cover-ups by clerical authorities. At both times lay people were angry--very angry.

There are more parallels between now and then. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis on the doors of a Wittenberg Church on All Hallows Eve (Halloween) 1517. The printing press had been invented in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg. By 1500, printing presses in Western Europe had produced over 20 million volumes and searched for new content to further finance their businesses. Within only two months of the Wittenberg incident, every major city in Western Europe was flooded with copies of Martin Luther's declaration. By 1525 half a million copies had been printed. Luther had gone viral. The owners of the printing presses had found their golden egg.

Flash forward 500 years and 10 months later. Internet journalism was challenging print media and conventional news stations. The new technology was turning the whole news industry upside down. News was fueled more on adrenalin than by balance. Enter Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, gifted with the ability to read minds and know the contents of conversations occurring behind closed doors. Pope Francis was on a flight returning from a rescue mission to the Church in Ireland. The Catholic church in that country was on life support from the after-shocks of Ireland's home grown sex-abuse scandals. Viganò air-dropped his 11 page screed accusing Pope Francis of coddling McCarrick and ignoring the secret disciplinary measures imposed by Pope Benedict years earlier. Few people knew of Benedict's secret sanctions. Viganò was an exception due to his capacity as Papal Nuncio to the United States. Even Viganò seemed to have forgotten about the mysterious private restrictions with his frequent hobnobbing with McCarrick at various public events. Thirty years ago I heard a priest describe the Canada's bishops as the worst group of back scratchers in the nation. He then pondered his words and felt it necessary to clarify that he wasn't speaking literally. It any event there is evidence of Viganò doing the old school clerical back-scratch on Cardinal McCarrick at a gala Washington event during the time of the alleged restrictions.

However, the timing of the ambush was perfect for those elements wanting to give the church a black eye; LifeSite News fired the opening shot. Within hours, America's bishop, Joseph Strickland, demanded all his priests read Viganò's 11 page diatribe from the pulpit at Sunday morning mass. This was in spite of almost everyone having no idea what this clerical cat fight was all about. Not many North American Catholics get up in the wee hours of the morning to read the latest pop-up news on LifeSite. But in the MSM and blogosphere, there was new content, enough to get the clicks necessary to boost revenue. Thousands of keyboard warriors had new reasons to click away on thoursand of keyboards. The culture of outrage was in full swing by now. There was a race to achieve superhero status; faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than logic, able to leap intellectual chasms in a single bound, fighting for peace, justice, and the American way (plus 10's of thousands of clicks).

In 1521, Luther hid out in Wartburg Castle, fearing for his life if his whereabouts were known. He continued to guide his followers spiritually, translating the Bible into German as well as writing the occasional manifesto. In like manner, Viganò has gone into hiding and is guiding his followers spiritually via LifeSite News, EWTN's World Over and a myriad of fawning blogs that dutifully published and provided positive analysis of the increasing sensational manifestos. Not only that, Archbishop Viganò was quite possibly, like Luther before him, hiding out in castle. At least, given his share in his father's estate, he could easily afford one. In 2018, a settlement was reached in the Italian courts on the matter of his father's 20 million Euro estate. A ten year legal battle had pitted Vigano against his siblings, most particularity against his wheelchair-bound brother who also is a priest. Fr. Lorenzo has accused the good archbishop of being a liar and a fraud. Perhaps the trauma of such accusations from a brother priest is why the archbishop has become camera shy and unwilling to face the press. (Note to self: Father Lorenzo Viganò making a wild and damning accusation on a brother priest.... where have I heard something like that before? Darn it brain, think)

The Protestant reformers of yesteryear and Pope Francis' critics of today display a parallel evolution in tone as time progresses. In a cover letter to his 1518 argument against indulgences, Martin Luther insisted on his willingness to listen to Leo X "as to the voice of Christ who presides in him and speaks through him". To be fair to Martin Luther, the text of his argument did some serious backpedaling on the issue of papal authority. However the tone was nothing like Luther's more evolved position in the 1520 address, "To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation". In it, he writes: "If we punish thieves with gallows, robbers with the sword and heretics with fire, why should we not all the more assail with arms these masters of perdition, these cardinals, these Popes, the whole dregs of the Roman Sodom, who have been corrupting the Church of God without intermission, and wash our hands in their blood?" In 1527, within ten years of Luther's 95 thesis, mutinous Lutheran troops sacked Rome (or the Whore of Babylon depending on your spirituality.) They did their Visigoth and Vandal forefathers proud who accomplished sacks of their own in 410 and 455, 1000 years previous.

There has been a similar evolution of tone for many Catholics today. Catholics have long associated the words of Christ to Peter as applying to the papacy. Matthew 16:18-20 records, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus says to Peter, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31-32. In John 21, following His resurrection, Jesus tells Peter three times to feed His sheep.

It is curious, therefore, how many who identify themselves as the most traditional or scrupulous of Catholics adopt the most radical polemical tone with regard to the papacy. They don't seem to think what Peter shall "bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven". While such Catholics often make "their phylacteries wide and make their tassels long" Catholic style, one wonders why their rhetoric is so like Martin Luther's. Lately many have had their tone evolve so far as to identify the Pope as a minion of the Anti-Christ. On twitter, Archbishop Bishop Strickland has accused Pope Francis of having a program of undermining the faith and shared a shared a video that called Francis a “diabolically disoriented clown”. At the LifeSite sponsored Rome Life Forum, Strickland read a letter from an unnamed "dear friend" (possibly Viganò?) The letter brands Pope Francis as "an expert at producing cowards" and concludes with the question, "Would you now allow this one [Pope Francis] who has pushed aside the true Pope and has attempted to sit on a chair that is not his define what the Church is to be? As for the beast, it was and is not. It is an eighth but it belongs to the seventh, and it goes to destruction.’" Most recently, Viganò has branded the Pope a "servant of Satan" and John Henry Westen of LifeSite News is discussing "Is Pope Francis the False Prophet of the Anti-Christ?" Peter Kwasniewski, another member of the "in crowd" that many traditional Catholics are setting up as their personal magisterium, rivals Martin Luther's flamboyant anti-papal rhetoric on a regular basis, calling ordinary Catholics who trust the magisterium "hyperpapalists" and accusing the pope and those who follow him of sodomy, etc. These internet influencers seem to be experts at reading a subtext of papal documents even when the plain reading gives no evidence of being crafted by demons in hell. Sometimes one may wonder if they even bother to read the plain text, and just focus on their percieved subtext. Even today, for influencers and the news industry, there are deadlines...

Please check out the other comics on the FearoftheLordcomics  website:

Repentance                      The Refining Fire           The Christmas Present 

The NROP Glasses           The Rise of Nothing  

 Comic Websites I Follow:

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Jan 02

It is good to look at both sides of this situation in the Church today. It is confusing and definitely the media , LifeSite News, Taylor Marshall & cancelled Priests who show millitancy

toward causes like abortion or parental rights etc are speaking against & encouraging others to speak against Pope Francis. Caution & enlightenment is needed.

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