In a most unusual message to five newly-minted Cardinals, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had a few short, yet powerfully-relevant words: “The Lord wins in the end.”
The pope emeritus received the new cardinals along with Pope Francis, in the presence of media cameras, which are rare for the retired pontiff. Benedict XVI received each of the new cardinals and spoke to them in their own native tongue. After speaking with each of the cardinals, he left them with highly-relevant words, taken within the context of today’s crisis within the Church: “The Lord wins in the end. Thank you all.”
These six short words have rich meaning in today’s context, and we can glean from them these important points:
- First, it is an acknowledgement that the Church – and the Faith – is in the midst of a major, important struggle. Although the Church has always been beset by crises and challenges, today’s crisis far outweighs many of the past crisis. We see today bishops publicly sparring with fellow bishops, cardinals against cardinals. We see the papal encyclical Amoris Laetitia splitting the Church. Some bishops conferences have interpreted Amoris Laetitia in a heretodox manner, opening up access to the Holy Eucharist to people living in sin (divorced and remarried), redefining the Catholic understanding of hell and eternal punishment (“No one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the gospel”), and many other issues. On the other side, we have loyal bishops conferences and cardinals who have remained true to the perpetual Magisterium of the Church. Five cardinals have even publicly asked the Pope for clarification amid the doubts raised by Amoris. The Church is in the midst of a creeping schism that threatens to grow wider and wider.
- Second, Benedict XVI’s words give us the impression that the Lord doesn’t seem to be winning, at least at this point in time. Highly-liberal, radical bishops and cardinals have rapidly taken over key positions in Church leaderships. Faithful cardinals who are loyal to the traditional teaching of the Church have been slowly eased out. Many of the key leaders in the Pope Benedict XVI era have been pushed out of key roles, such as Cardinal Raymund Burke, and now reportedly even Cardinal Muller, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
- The last point is that Benedict XVI gives us words of hope amid the dark clouds that we face in the Church. He is telling faithful clergy and lay faithful – do not worry, God is in control, He will always win in the end.
The times we live in are unprecedented. As Cardinal Muller said, it is the first time in history that we have two legitimate popes living.
Archbishop Ganswein, papal secretary to both Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, has called the situation of two popes a “wake up call”. During an interview, Ganswein was referred to an old prophecy that has recently gained traction in some clerical discussions: The “Prophesy of the Popes.” Also known as the “Prophesy of Malachy,” the prediction is attributed to Saint Philipp Neri – according to which, Pope Francis may be considered to be the last pope. Ganswein said:
Indeed, when looking at the prophecy, and considering how there was always a sound reference to popes mentioned in its history – that gives me the shivers,” Archbishop Gänswein admitted. Although Catholics aren’t required to accept the prophecy, “speaking from historical experience, one has to say: Yes, it is a wake-up call.
We cannot help but recall here as well Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich’s prophecy of the two popes, wherein there would be a false pope in the end times who will lead the Church into error:
I saw also the relationship between the two popes. . . I saw how baleful (harmful) would be the consequences of this false church. I saw it increase in size; heretics of every kind came into the city (of Rome). The local clergy grew lukewarm, and I saw a great darkness…
The Lord wins in the end! May the words of Benedict XVI inspire us to carry on the fight to proclaim the Truth and the Gospel to the ends of the earth.