This Open Letter was written before the 2014 Synod began. It is not recorded if Dr. Bowring received a reply – or a ‘phone call but the questions raised might be considered to have some significance for Synod – Part 2. whether you agree with Dr. Bowring – or not.
October 1, 2014 (www.TwoHeartsPress.com)
By Dr. Kelly Bowring,
Dear Pope Francis, As a Catholic theologian, the Church teaches that I am permitted to raise questions regarding the content of your interventions (On the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian 24). Thus, I would like to do so in this open letter. Since becoming Pope, many of your actions and statements have raised concerns among not a few Catholic Cardinals. I too have raised some issues previously, particularly about how your words and actions seem to fulfill the credible Catholic prophecies of our times. The center of the growing concern is focused on what seems to be your intentions to change or alter Catholic doctrine and to possibly make pastoral concessions in regard to the doctrinal teaching of faith and morals.
Just Raising Questions I begin by asking whether Benedict XVI was referring to you and your cohort when he famously stated at the beginning of his pontificate: “Pray that I don’t flee for fear of the wolves”? Are you planning to mislead many, by first focusing on the family (changing the meaning of marriage, compromising sexual morality and life issues), as it is the foundation of society and the domestic church? Why have you been deemphasizing the doctrines of homosexuality, cohabitation, abortion, and contraception? Why are you strategically placing Church leaders in key places that promote doctrinal compromise and change, and thus are already causing confusion? Are you about to direct the Catholic Church to make a number of alarming statements, regarding why it has to change and amend various parts of its structure and beliefs? Why does it seem the changing laws in our countries are being instigated in unison with the changes being proposed in our churches, with both sets of new laws blending together, to redefine and welcome every kind of sin?
Could This Become A Question of Papal Validity? It is objectively impossible to change, dismiss, or compromise even one doctrine of the Faith. As I have discussed in another article, the Church teaches that even a pope can enter into personal heresy if he refuses to believe in even one doctrine, and if so, he de facto invalidates himself as Pope. (Here is another good article that discusses whether the Church can depose a heretical Pope). Is there a single doctrine of the Faith that you refuse to believe in? Or are trying to change? Or will in fact soon change? St. Thomas Aquinas confirms that any member of the Church who obstinately disbelieves even one doctrine of Faith loses all the grace of theological faith; and thus willfully maintaining only a kind of opinion in accordance with his own will, makes himself a heretic. It becomes more a matter of scandal when Church leaders treat doctrine as if it were not doctrine, claim a doctrine has been hitherto controverted, and then make efforts to redefine it by treating it as an open matter of questions of opinions or of discussion among experts. This is at its core the work of deception. Further concern occurs when members of the Church’s hierarchy say they do not intend to change a Church’s doctrine, while they then set out to make seemingly merciful but in reality damning pastoral concessions with the secretly intended effect of making a doctrine obsolete.
You Cannot Change Any Doctrine in the Catechism While all the doctrines in the Catechism are not infallibly defined, the Catechism teaches only truth, the truth that was “once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). Significantly altering any teaching in the Catechism, which is the Source of sacred doctrine, “the sure and authentic reference text for teaching Catholic doctrine” (FD 3), which without error “synthesizes normatively the totality of the Catholic faith” (GDC 120) and the “fundamental salvific truths” of the Faith (GDC 124), leads objectively to heresy and apostasy. Whether you change a doctrine or simply sanction breaking it in the name of making a pastoral concession (for no matter how seemingly noble a reason) or simply replace it with new laws of tolerance, all of this would amount to heresy. Changing Church doctrine even under the guise of pastoral innovation does not validate the change. Today there is a widespread radical liberalism of misguided compassion, false mercy, and excessive tolerance in the name of being pastoral and up-to-date. But only what is pastorally true can be truly pastoral. Mercy can never be cited as an alternative or counter to doctrine. Doctrinal truth cannot be adapted to the believer and age, but the believer and age must be invited to adapt to doctrinal truth. A new or revised Church teaching or allowance that overrides or changes any article of Faith, or even gives it a different interpretation from the traditional and true one, would necessarily be heretical. Is this what you are planning? Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and there is no salvation through anyone else. He is the fullness of all divine Revelation, which subsists fully only in the Catholic Church. The Catholic faithful must believe as true all Church doctrine. This faith “is necessary for salvation” (CCC 183) for those who are aware of it. And while the pope “has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church” (CCC 882), this applies only when he is and remains valid. Your office as pope commissions you to dutifully safeguard and authentically interpret the doctrines entrusted to the Church’s authentic Magisterium by our divine Redeemer (Matthew 16:18, 18:18), but which are not for you as an individual to subject to the play of power and agenda. And while the Church’s teaching on the ‘development of doctrine’ allows genuine progress in articulation and understanding of Revelation, it never sanctions changing, abandoning, or rejecting any Church doctrine. The Word, as given to us in Scripture (the Bible) and Tradition (the Catechism), cannot be changed. The whole divine truth of the Faith, handed down to us in the form of sacred doctrine, is “wisdom above all human wisdom” and only understood and accepted through a profound and authentic “fear of the Lord”. It is the duty of the Church’s hierarchy to call the faithful to an “obedience of faith” to the whole truth of sacred doctrine in Scripture and Tradition with a freedom of conscience that is never freedom ‘from’ the truth but always and only freedom ‘in’ the truth. And all work of genuine plurality must safeguard the unity of the faith in its doctrinal integrity. Instead of calling humanity to conversion to Christ and the truth of doctrine while fulfilling Christ’s great commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all the truths” for conversion through Baptism, some see your approach is that of seeking to adapt and compromise doctrine to current trends in secular thinking and behavior and bend it to accommodate other religious orientations. Pope Francis, we must hold fast to what has been entrusted to us by Christ and His Apostles, that is, the whole deposit of faith found in sacred doctrine (1 Tim 6:20). We are called to let the supernatural truth of Christ speak for itself, for “what makes us believe (doctrine) is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason (especially from within the context of a morally corrupt society), we believe because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived” (CCC 156). But while God cannot deceive, a pope can, especially with a deceptive badge of (false) humility and (false) love for humanity that is displayed and not genuinely practiced. Some have expressed concerns about your true intentions in this regard. To reiterate my main point – Pope Francis, you may not change, alter, or dismiss even one doctrine without dismantling the whole deposit of Faith itself. “For whoever keeps the whole law, but fails in one particular point, has become guilty in respect to all of it” (James 2:10). Even if only the smallest and most insignificant doctrine is (at first) rejected, compromised or changed, then the whole of God’s truth is compromised. Pope Francis, you may update or change Church traditions, as many in the hierarchy have done validly, but you cannot change the Church’s doctrine, not even one iota, not even regarding the least significant doctrine (e.g., communion for the remarried, a Church blessing for same-sex couples, changing the meaning of the Holy Eucharist), without de facto invalidating your pontificate. For a Church leader to allow any substantial pastoral change to a doctrine would be impossible because it would necessarily make such revised pastoral accommodation incompatible with doctrine, which again is akin to heresy and apostasy. Make a compromise with even one Catholic doctrine and you open Pandora’s box in effect delegitimizing all Catholic doctrine.
Are You Leading the Church Toward the Great Apostasy and Schism? Pope Francis, are you organizing a new evangelical movement, which will be announced in stages and with a strategy of gradualness, so as to avoid creating too many questions, but which will be received as a breath of fresh air by many? Are you forming a false ecumenical fellowship as part of a newly renovated church, seeking to unite the churches of the world in a New World Church, which will lead to new rituals and abominations? The Church cannot be made to suit the modern world, nor can her doctrine be changed to become inclusive, in order to suit other denominations and religions and fashions. And no matter what other good you do, no matter what other humanitarian engagement you promote, or popularity contest you win, if you lead the faithful astray, you will be nothing more than a false pope. Just like all of us, you have two choices – to remain loyal to the Truth of Christ or embrace lies as a substitute for it, which is heresy, and spread those lies through deceit and cunning apostasy, thus dividing the Church into schism. Pope Francis, whatever your plans, the fact is that it seems to many that you are already adding to the spiritual confusion of our times. Your focus seems to be more on man than on God, on pleasing or impressing man more than God, on seemingly helping man in his sin more than on rightfully serving and obeying God in His Commandments. If this is so, then where are you going with this? And where are you taking the Church?
Is the False Prophet Among Us? Pope Francis, there are many biblical teachings and prophecies about the false prophet, some of which you seem to be fulfilling. Why are you vigorously supporting dissenting bishops who are proposing heretical pastoral concessions and in effect seeking to tamper with sacred doctrine, while you are ruthlessly dismissing, demoting or disempowering other Bishops who are known to be faithful to doctrine? Why do you offer tremendous pastoral sensitivity to people who don’t even want to practice the Faith and are bent on offending it, while you have directed massive antagonism towards those who do? Why does it seem more and more to some that a diabolical though intentionally nebulous disorientation of the Church’s doctrine is afoot under your leadership? The Bible warns of false teachers who lead God’s people astray with their lies and their recklessness. St. Jude says they will pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness. Our Lord too repeatedly warned about the false teachers who will lead many to spiritual ruin. Jesus tells the parable about the weeds and the wheat, whereby the cockle-seeds of false doctrine so resemble the wheat that even farmers (theologians/apologists/bishops) have difficulty distinguishing them, for the devil likes to mask falsehood with truth, to use virtue to justify vice, and twist doctrine to justify heresy so that even the faithful are deceived. Jesus indeed warned to beware of false prophets, who come to us in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. And St. Paul declares about such villains: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that of Christ, let him be accursed.” Pope Francis, are you the wolf in shepherd’s clothing that Catholic prophecy has warned us about? Are you the prophesied false prophet of lies and deception who will lead the Church into schism? Are you the anti-John the Baptist and precursor of the antichrist who will rule over the world? Will you soon be at death’s door, as the Book of Revelation prophesizes, only then, just as if a miracle has taken place, seem to have risen from the dead? Two sources of approved private revelation are particularly worth considering here. First at La Salette, Our Lady warned that Rome would lose the faith and become the seat of the antichrist, the Church will be eclipsed, and we won’t know who the true pope is. And second at Akita, Our Lady warned that the deceit of Satan will infiltrate into the Church to such an extent that we will see (good) Cardinals divided against (bad) Cardinals where the Church will be caught up in a revolution. And there are many other credible Catholic prophecies that give insight, warning, and direction about our times, ones that every Catholic should be aware of. They tell us that a Church leader is coming and that through him the world will be deceived by his many acts deemed to be works of great charity, but done behind an exterior false façade of humility and sweet words presented with a wonderful and loving external charisma. By his teachings, he will encourage humanity to an exalted humanism in place of God. It is quite possible for a master deceiver to fool the Catholic faithful: Fr. Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, with his seeming orthodoxy, humility and displayed holiness, successfully deceived even a pope saint (St. John Paul). The Catechism even states that in the latter times a great part of the faithful will be misled, specifically through a religious deception. Pope Francis, are you an imposter who will compromise the Church’s doctrine, proudly proclaim your solution to unite all churches as one, and lead the Catholic Church into schism? Will you be applauded by the secular world and hailed as a modern innovator because you condone sin? Will you soon hold a referendum that will adapt the Laws of the Church and condone new practices of sin sympathetic to twisted human rights and then force a new oath pledge upon the Church to this new false doctrine? Are you going to make a mockery of Catholic faith and morals in the name of changing discipline, pastoral action, and popular vote and follow through with the agenda to make supreme the place of individual conscience over Catholic doctrine? In our times more than ever, Satan wants to cause great spiritual damage to humanity through deception. We know that the false prophet will be masquerading as a friend to Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims. Instead, he is the false one who has entered the house of God to deceive and destroy souls through what will be the greatest religious deception in history. Pope Francis, if you are the false prophet, seeking to steal souls through deceit, then you will lose. The Book of Revelation says that both the false prophet and the antichrist will be thrown into the lake of fire where they will suffer forever. “Evil may have its hour, but God will have His day” (Ven. Fulton Sheen). Much of what will happen to the Church in these times has been foretold, and we know that God will allow these abominations for a good reason. The Church, like Christ, will suffer her passion, crucifixion and death, only then to enter her resurrection into the new Era of Peace (Fatima). And we know there will be no defeat for the faithful, who will stand firm in the Faith and uphold the Truth – the Word of God – even in the face of adversity, heresy, apostasy, and schism. Pope Francis, to whatever defense you may have or make about the questions I have raised, time will tell the truth of things.
To the Catholic Faithful To the Catholic faithful I say this: We live in dark and dangerous times, where our faith and morals are being attacked and repressed on all sides, most sinisterly from within the Church herself. St. Paul warned in his first letter to Timothy “that in the latter times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and (false) doctrines of demons through the pretensions of liars” (1 Timothy 4:1). You must now be alert to the signs of the times that were prophesied in Scripture, including in the Book of Revelation, and in credible Marian and modern prophecy. Solid Catholic prophecy indicates the time of the great battle foretold in Scripture to take place in the latter times is in fact upon us today. No matter what is to come, Jesus’ Catholic Church will remain intact, though a remnant. Jesus promised that the Truth could never change or be defeated. Those who separate themselves from the Church in these times by compromising doctrine, even if following a pope, will no longer be united to the true Church. Pray for the grace to discern the Truth. The victory is the Lord’s. All you need to do is trust in the Truth, so that you can avoid the traps which may be laid down to steal your souls. Do not allow a false doctrine to be imposed on you, even if you are (wrongly) accused of lack of tolerance, lack of compassion, lack of love, lack of respect for human rights, and for being unjustifiably judgmental. May Jesus open your eyes to any possible deceit that is at hand or to lies that may be presented with half-truth, with double-talk; and may the Lord not allow any false leader to divide the Church. Pray for the grace of discernment, so that you will never deny the Truth. Be firm in your belief in the divine Word, the Church’s Teachings, and the Sacraments. No matter how much Jesus’ Church is attacked, God will never permit it to be destroyed (St. John Bosco’s famous dream of the war within the Barque of Peter comes to mind here). There may be a devious plan unfolding to mislead you into the great apostasy, the first seal of the Book of Revelation, and it will be the greatest deceit in history; so examine everything you are told from this point forward, even by Pope Francis. For man can never live on bread alone, but only on the true Word of God. To deny or abandon even one doctrine of Faith is to deny and abandon Christ Himself, as Judas did. The faithful must be alert to any possible agenda to alter or dismiss doctrine to the whims of modernity and relativism. To the Catholic faithful and people of good will, I declare, vigilance is now required! Do not allow lies from any Church source to deceive you, and do not wrongly maintain misguided loyalties. Follow the Word of God as it was laid down from the beginning. Do not fall for the false, charitable appeals being made for the rights of those who seek acceptance for their own sinful lives, while they defy the Laws of God and now may soon receive Church sanction to continue doing so. And know this: if the pope takes the Church into heresy, the doctrines of the Church will remain true. And how can the faithful tell what is what – if any new teachings claim that Jesus condones sin, then you will know this is a lie. The truth is that Jesus always and clearly detests all sin, unequivocally, though loves the sinner. And Jesus would never compromise His truth!
In Closing Pope Francis, if you intend to accommodate any doctrine of faith to today’s profane and secular world or even to de-emphasize a certain doctrine such as to produce a new tolerance to sin, the Church will not join you, nor the faithful concede. For such apostasy would invalidate your pontificate. I instead invoke you to take up your true calling to more actively safeguard and clearly promote sacred doctrine and with it to form evangelizers who are authentic living witnesses of the Faith to form the saints of the third Christian millennium. At this time, I only encourage all Catholics to love and obey you, Pope Francis, and in all matters of the true Faith; but I also encourage the faithful to become more aware and alert to the signs of the times. Pope Francis, if you should still yet decide to allow any change in doctrine, then the Church’s legitimate hierarchy will make the faithful aware of such matters clearly at that time and how we should best respond in good faith. Otherwise, only love, obedience, and prayers for you Pope Francis, while remaining rightly alert and vigilant as to the prophetic signs of the times at hand.
Sincerely in Christ,
Dr. Kelly Bowring wrote his doctoral dissertation on the nature and meaning of “sacred doctrine” within the teachings of the Church, which was later published as “To Hold and Teach the Catholic Faith” (St. Paul’s/Alba House).