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False Teachers – What is a Catholic to Do?

October 8, 2018 14 Comments

In the first reading at daily Mass for Monday of the 27th Week, St. Paul warns of perhaps the most damaging evil facing the Church: dissension from within.

I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-8)

St. Paul says that such false teachers pervert the Gospel. They once received it but now distort it. Sadly, there are many today, clerics among them, who mislead people into thinking that what God calls sin is no big deal or is something to celebrate. They are false teachers, false prophets. Let’s ponder this troubling truth in three ways:

There are false prophets.

Here are some of the many passages in which Scripture warns that deceivers, scoffers, and false prophets would inevitably arise:

  • Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. … Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Mat 7:15, 19-20).
  • I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them (Acts 20:30-31).
  • And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray …. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand (Mat 24:11, 24-25).
  • But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed, they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell … (2 Peter 2:1-4).
  • There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability (2 Peter 3:16-17).
  • But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit (Jude 1:17-23).
  • Children, it is the last hour; and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But their departure made it clear that none of them belonged to us (1 John 2:18-19).

Of particular concern are false prophets who come from within.

There is a special subtlety in this kind of deceiver, especially if he wears a collar or priestly robes; even more if he is of the rank of bishop. Great harm has been inflicted by wayward clergy over the centuries. The grief is especially deep because the faithful have rightly been encouraged to love and listen to the clergy.

Both Jesus and St. Paul call them wolves because they devour and scatter the flock. St. Paul’s language also indicates an especially sharp pain caused by this sort of betrayal. Other scriptures affirm this deep pain:

  • For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart (Psalm 55:12-15).
  • Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me (Psalm 41:9).
  • Even my trusted friends, watching for my fall, say, “Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him and take our revenge on him” (Jer 20:21).
  • The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with Me will betray Me (Mat 26:23).
  • Look! The hand of My betrayer is with Me, even at the table (Luke 22:21).
  • Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss? (Luke 22:48)

Yes, there is a special grief when error and sin come from within the Church. That the world hates and derides us is difficult enough, but internal wounds are the most painful of all.

Our Lady spoke to St. Agnes Sasagawa in Akita, Japan (an approved apparition) and said with sadness,

The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres … churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God (Message of Oct 13, 1973).

What are the faithful to do?

First, from the Scriptures above, we must understand the warning that such things would happen. Indeed, they have happened throughout history. False prophets arise, even from within. The Lord says through His apostles, Remember that I have told these things would inevitably occur. Therefore, we ought not to be dismayed, but rather sober.

  • Who is the liar, if it is not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son can have the Father; whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well. As for you, let what you have heard from the beginning remain in you. If it does, you will also remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He Himself made to us: eternal life. I have written these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you…And now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears, we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming. (1 John 2:15ff).
  • But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you embraced from us, let him be under a divine curse! (Galatians 1:7-9)
  • But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh (Jude 1:20-23).

Catholics today must remember that the faith is not simply anything uttered by a clergyman of any rank. The magisterium is more than that! Everything we hear is to be squared with the consistent teaching of the Church, back through the centuries, as articulated in Scripture and in the doctrinal and dogmatic teachings of the Church. Stay close to the catechism, close to Scripture, close to the Fathers of the Church!

We began with St. Paul’s lament about savage wolves who seek to mislead and scatter the flock he labored so hard to build. Mysteriously, the Lord allows some degree of dissent, but He has left us with warnings. Our task is to heed these warnings and judge everything we hear by the deposit of the faith as articulated consistently in the Church down through the ages. Look to the most certain sources: Scripture, Catholic dogma, the Catechism, the Fathers of the Church, and St. Thomas Aquinas. These are bulwarks for us.

I look to the faithful in the land
that they may dwell with me.
He who walk in the way of perfection
shall be my friend
(Psalm 101:6).

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Comments (14)

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  1. Todd says:

    One of my favorite scriptures from the last book of the Bible / Apocalypse is also a ‘hard saying.’

    2:9 “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10* Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

    A great priest explained to me anytime I see the word Jew in the Bible I can insert the word Catholic. “…Who say that they are Catholics and are not…” Have we arrived at this scripture, in our day? Either way, the advice is perfect – “be faithful unto death,” and Jesus will give us the crown of Life.

  2. Bruce Cyr says:

    Other prophecies for our time are available. Our Lady of La Salette, France in 1846 warned of and predicted this sexual abuse crisis that we are now in. She states: “Priests, my Son’s ministers, priests, by their evil life, by their irreverence’s and their impiety in celebrating the holy mysteries, love of money, love of honor and pleasures, priests have become sewers of impurity. Yes, priests call forth vengeance, and vengeance is suspended over their heads. Woe to priests, and to persons consecrated to God, who by their infidelities and their evil life are crucifying my son anew! The sins of persons consecrated to God cry to heaven and call for vengeance, and now here is vengeance at their very doors, for no longer is anyone found to beg mercy and pardon for the people; there are no more generous souls, there is now no one worthy of offering the spotless Victim to the Eternal on the world’s behalf.”
    “The chiefs, the leaders of the people of God have neglected prayer and penance, and the devil has bedimmed their intelligence. They have become wandering stars which the old devil will drag along with his tail to make them perish. God will allow the old serpent to cause divisions among those who reign, in every society and in every family. Physical and moral agonies will be suffered. God will abandon mankind to itself and will send punishments which will follow one after the other for more than thirty-five years. “ These events are clearly unfolding.
    A book and web site called, After The Warning To 2038. com, have many prophecies from credible, Catholic sources that are predicting many more future events.

    • Deb Brunsberg says:

      I would not point people to After the Warning. Focus on Jesus, here and now and not on the dubious claims of some of those featured on that website. Looking for signs is looking away from Christ. Who benefits from that?

      • RAY - PORTSMOUTH - UK says:

        Dear Deb
        I would agree with you wholeheartedly that we should focus on Jesus in the here and now and to ensure that we do all that He has commanded us.
        But – do not forget that Our Lord Himself also told us to watch for the ‘signs of the times’ – read Matthew Chapters 24 and 25 in full and then recall Christ’s own words recorded in the following excerpt from Luke’s gospel:
        “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” – Luke 21:36.
        Jesus, Our Lord, Himself gave us plenty of signs and portents to watch for – and I don’t think we dare call those ‘dubious claims’!!
        I feel also that Matthew 25 verses 31-44 need to be taken very seriously indeed by all of us who like to think ourselves followers of Jesus – because it makes it quite clear there how we will all ultimately be judged on that Great Day – maybe coming along much, much sooner than anyone might like to think . . . . . . .
        Pray, Pray, Pray . . . God bless all and give us the grace to obey His word!

  3. Debbie says:

    The Church does seem to find herself in a pickle… Ackward….an early word of thought has moved onto really Ackward to really, really Ackward to God Save The Church! When we’ve reached the height of ackward we know to dial O
    for Out of Options, wait for the music to stop playing to hear the recording, blessed are you when ackward for the Church, you shall be recorded in her annual as Faithful and True. Ackward as things might be and they have been with secrecy, with silence, with an oath to strict obedience outside the conclave/confession arena to safeguard evil if no other chose is available to the faithful because of the clerics involved is to treat the One, Holy Catholic Church as a Cult, exceptions should be well accepted by this group who lives and teaches their mercy of exceptions to those in hard places, let the prelates in hard places be assured of this exception and remember the words and curse of Paul and a **** off Church. The cardinals have alot of love for conclave rules and secrecy, mums the word.

    • Debbie says:

      Ah, Msgr. I see the P word is not to be used on your blog or the stars will appear, damn is my biggest problem, say that one way more then I like.

  4. Marie says:

    There are false prophets in the clergy. There are also false prophets who deem themselves prophets and attempt to stir up the faithful for their own ends (attention, money). The Church fails its people when it does not take action against the wolves who invade the flock; it especially seems unable to deal with those who set up internet ministries.

    One recent example is Charlie Johnston, against whom the Archdiocese of Denver issued two warnings, noting last year “…Mr. Johnston’s alleged visions were not accurate and the Archdiocese urges the faithful not to condone or support further attempts to reinterpret them as valid.”* Yet this man continues to push discredited prophecies online to this day, and works to get his followers to get active in right wing political crusades. Church leaders must learn to address the misuse of social media!

    Crux wrote about Johnston: https://cruxnow.com/analysis/2017/02/18/great-storm-trouble-tremendous/

  5. Im4truth4all says:

    “We shall find out at the day of judgment that the greater number of Christians who are lost were damned because they did not know their own religion.” – St. Jean-Marie Vianney

    “A priest goes to Heaven or a priest goes to Hell with a thousand people behind.” – St. Jean-Marie Vianney

    St. Athanasius who was excommunicated by Pope Liberius became the 1st Doctor of the Catholic Church and who was known as the Father of Orthodoxy stated “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of Bishops.”

  6. mulier says:

    Thank you for that, Monsignore. God bless you +

  7. RbM says:

    Look, Peter was not confirmed in the faith when Christ rebuked him…

    The Apostle Paul may have rebuked some fella named Simon, but it was NOT Saint Peter…!!!

    Jesus also prayed for Peter that his faith fail not. Now, either His prayer was answered or it wasn’t…!!!

    Peter’s faith NEVER FAILED. NEVER..!!!

    The Roman’s know full well what real papal infallibility truly is. And they are using it against an ignorant church of people who have no idea that the papacy has been taken away from them…!!!

    A Catholic CANNOT recognize a true Pope and then disobey him…

    !!!…THAT IS HERESY…!!!

    The papacy is infallible, all the time, every time. There has never been a time in all of Church history when a Pope has taught error, EVER…!!!!!

    Now, what I’m about to tell you will be rejected by EVERYONE..!!!

    We lost the papacy when we lost the Papal States..

    Pope Pius IX was the last true Pope of Rome…!!!

    To separate the temporal and spiritual authority of the Church is to DESTROY the very work of God…!!!

    And that’s exactly what these people have done.

    The whole world rejected God and His Vicar on earth with the death of the Angelic Pope, Pope Pius IX.

    RbM

    • Stephen says:

      So, if we deny a pope is Pope we can disregard him? Sounds like dangerous territory to me!

      • RbM says:

        INFALLIBILITY

        It is the naysayers of our time that would like to convince souls the conditions of infallibility must be kept in the minutest scientific detail and that Infallibility is very rare.

        This idea that the infallibility of the Pope is a rare event is false. The Pope is infallible was when speaking concerning faith and morals ALL THE TIME, EVERY TIME…

        The following quote from the first Vatican council is misinterpreted to support the “Recognize and Resist” faction of the traditionalists…

        First Vatican Council

        1869 to 1870 A.D. under Pope Blessed Pius IX

        The 20th of 21 Ecumenical Councils

        FIRST DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION
        ON THE CHURCH OF CHRIST

        “If then, any should deny that it is by the institution of Christ the Lord and by Divine right, that Blessed Peter should have a perpetual line of successors in the Primacy over the Universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff’ is the successor of Blessed Peter in this primacy; let him be anathema.”

        This is not saying that that there will always be a Pope on the Chair of Peter.

        It doesn’t say that. Read it again…

        It says that if anyone denies that Blessed Peter should have a perpetual line of successors in the Primacy over the Universal Church… let him be anathema.

        SHOULD DOES NOT MEAN WOULD…!!!

        Almighty God NEVER assured you that there would always be a Pope…

        Pope Pius IX said that no one should deny that there “should” be a Pope, not that there necessarily “would” be one…!!!

        The sin of presumption may get the best of you, if you don’t watch out.

        I sorry to tell you, but Our Heavenly Father very well may have seen fit to take the Papacy away from us. And there is nothing to stop Him from doing so.

        The gates of hell do not prevail over the faith if there is no Pope

        Yet Pope Pius IX declared in Dei Filius:

        “We therefore, following the footsteps of our predecessors, have never ceased, by the virtue of our Apostolic office, from teaching and defending Catholic truths and condemning doctrines of error.”

        Cardinal Manning continues to instruct us further on the definition:

        “In like manner all censures, whether for heresy or with a note less than heresy, are doctrinal definitions in faith and morals, and are included in the words in doctrina de fide vel moribus definienda.

        “In a word, the whole magisterium or doctrinal authority of the Pontiff as the supreme Doctor of all Christians is included in this definition of his infallibility.

        And also all legislative or judicial acts, so far as they are inseparably connected with his doctrinal authority; as for instance, all judgments, sentences, and decisions, which contain the motives of such acts as derived from faith and morals. Under this will come laws of discipline, canonization of Saints, approbation of religious Orders, of devotions, and the like; all of which intrinsically contain the truths and principles of faith, morals, and piety.”

        (“The Vatican Council”, page 94, 1871 edition)

        There are other fine works including:

        “When does the Church speak Infallibly?”, by Father Thomas Francis Knox (1870 edition)

        “Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine”, by Father Mueller (1875 edition.)

        THE TESTS OR NOTES WHEREBY AN EX CATHEDRA ACT MAY BE DISCERENED

        Excerpts from “The Dublin Review”, Volume 16, pages 193-196, 1871 (Read attentively)

        “It has been said e.g. that an Act, to be ex cathedra, must be formally addressed to the whole Church; or must anathematize dissidents; or must expressly state the obligation of assent, which it is intended to impose. . . that no universal criterion can be laid down; no cut – and – dry rule which can be applied to every instance: but that theologians are often left to judge from the circumstances of some individual case:

        This was (Cardinal Henry Manning’s) view which he expressed in his Pastoral (letter) and this is certainly the inference which would naturally be derived from the Vatican Definition.

        The Pontiff is infallible whenever “in discharge of the office of Pastor and Doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church”: but what are those particular instances in which he intends so to define, is to be decided by theologians, according to circumstance intrinsic and extrinsic, on each particular occasion.

        Some indeed have seemed to suppose, that one limitation has been expressed by the very word “define”: that to “define” necessarily implies some accurate and scientific expression of doctrine; and that no flowing and rhetorical exposition can constitute a “Definition.”

        But as (Cardinal Manning) points out (Page 88 of his Pastoral letter), “Definire is ‘finem imponere’ or ‘finaliter judicare:’” and such final determination may be made by a flowing and rhetorical, no less than by a scientific and precise declaration.

        The matter is beyond possibility of doubt by the case of the “Mirari vos” (Encyclical Letter).

        Never did a more rhetorical Act than this issue from the Holy See; and nevertheless three years afterwards, in his “Singulari Nos,” Gregory XVI informed the universal Episcopate, that in that earlier Encyclical he had “defined the Catholic doctrine” “which alone it is lawful to follow” on the various very important “heads” which he proceeded to enumerate.

        Nor, lastly, has the Vatican Council spoken expressly on the comparative frequency of ex cathedra Acts.

        At the same time we do think that one conclusion is readily deducible from its declarations; that such Acts are by no means “rare” – as a distinguished French theologian has said they are, – but on the contrary, that Pius IX alone has issued a very considerable number. We are here, however, referring not to the “Pastor AEternus,” but to the earlier “Dei Filius;” and therein to the following passage: –

        “We therefore, following the footsteps of our predecessors, have never ceased, by the virtue of our Apostolic office, from teaching and defending Catholic truths and condemning doctrines of error.”

        Now, the “Pastor Aeternus” declares that the Pope is infallible whenever “in discharge of the office of Pastor and Doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church.”

        But this is the very thing which, in the “Dei Filius,” the Council testifies that he “has never ceased” from doing…!!!

        The number of his ex- cathedra acts, then, must be very considerable.

        The same conclusion follows from a similar expression of Pius IX in the “Quanta cura;” and is also established, as we pointed out at the time (October issue, 186, pp. 529-532), by the episcopal address presented to him at Rome.

        At last, however, we admit that the number is not inconsiderable of those Pontifical Acts, in regard to which no absolute certainty is attainable, whether they are or are not ex cathedra. But we doubt extremely whether there is any one doctrine, taught in any one of those Acts, which is not also defined in others, of who’s ex cathedra character there can be no reasonable doubt.

        Such indubitable ex cathedra utterances e.g. are the “Unam sanctam,” which was republished by Leo X as dogmatic in the Fifth Lateran Ecumenical Council; and the “Mirari vos,” of which its author, three years later, testified the ex- cathedra character to the universal Episcopate.”

        Hope this helps…

        We have literally been lied to our whole lives, about everything…

        The brain cramp that results from trying to reconcile a reprobate clergy with the teachings of the Church is inevitable.

        The whole world turned its back on God and His moral government with the death of the Angelic Pope, Pope Pius IX.

        The Chair is not empty.

        The Chair, is not there…

        RbM

        • Stephen says:

          RbM, I accept that this is your belief!

          We are all on a journey to try and get to heaven. Best wishes and God bless!

          Stephen

  8. Tyler Lefebvre says:

    Monsignor, is Akita approved? I have read Bishop Ito’s letter and he only approved the statue, not the apparitions.

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