Would you have thought that such a situation could ever arise? Keeping in mind that the ape religion was similar enough in external form to the Catholic Church that it would “deceive even the elect,” what would you have thought the new religion would look like? Would you have been confident that you would not be deceived by such a new religion?
Whether we call it an ape church or not, the reality is that we have a situation tragically similar to the one Bishop Sheen foretold.
Imagine that as you were pondering these questions in 1948 you were given a vision of the state of the Church in 2021:
- The Holy Mass that you knew could never change has been changed to something that looks like a Protestant service
- The majority of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
- The pope and his closest collaborators suggest that hell might be empty and that all souls, and certainly all Christians, are saved
- The pope praises all religions (other than traditional Catholicism), praises Martin Luther, and has a special devotion to Judas
- Catholic schools and universities openly and freely teach heresy
- The pope reverenced a blasphemous idol (Pachamama) in St. Peter’s
- The pope and most of his closest collaborators show public support for homosexual priests
- The pope and most of his closest collaborators show open disdain for those Catholics who hold to the Catholic Faith that had been practiced throughout the centuries
- In the midst of a so-called global pandemic, most of the world’s Catholic churches were closed and sacraments denied because the bishops were concerned about the spread of a virus with a 99.9% survival rate
- The pope and his collaborators preach that taking an experimental, abortion-tainted vaccine (that does not prevent one from getting or transmitting the virus) is an “act of love” and closes churches to those who are unvaccinated
Would you have thought this corresponded with what Bishop Sheen described as the ape church? If not, what would need to be worse about the 2021 state of the Church to convince you that an ape religion had supplanted the Catholic Faith in the eyes of most?
Whether we call it an ape church or not, the reality is that we have a situation tragically similar to the one Bishop Sheen foretold. So we are now faced with the question of what we must do about it. Regardless of our individual roles within the Church (as laity, religious, or clergy), every Catholic must consider whether God is pleased if we support the current initiatives promoted by Francis and his collaborators.
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As an initial matter, does it honor God if we act as if there simply is not enough information to properly discern the difference between the two religions? Perhaps in the decades immediately following Vatican II one could legitimately claim ignorance, and yet Pope Paul VI publicly spoke of the crisis:
“The Church finds herself in a period of anxiety, of self-criticism, one could say of self-destruction. It is like an internal upheaval, serious and complex — as if the Church were flagellating herself.” (December 7, 1969)
“The smoke of Satan has entered by some crack into the temple of God; doubt, uncertainty, problems, restlessness, dissatisfaction and concentration have come to the surface.” (June 29, 1972)
Along with these warnings came disastrous fruits. And with the disastrous fruits, Rome and the bishops considered how to respond: should we return to tradition or double-down on the innovations? With few meaningful exceptions, they consistently doubled-down on the anti-Catholic innovations year after year, leading to increasingly grotesque fruits.
Almost any person who seriously contemplates the state of the Church understands that Rome proclaims a religion that no longer resembles Catholicism.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre saw the implications of the Spirit of Vatican II immediately and was persecuted for courageously speaking out when few others saw the problems and even fewer took steps to combat them. In his 1986 Open Letter to Confused Catholics, he already spoke of the need to choose between two religions:
“I do not accept that new religion. It is a liberal, modernist religion which has its worship, its priests, its faith, its catechism, its ecumenical Bible translated jointly by Catholics, Jews, Protestants and Anglicans, all things to all men, pleasing everybody by frequently sacrificing the interpretation of the Magisterium. We do not accept this ecumenical Bible. There is the Bible of God; it is His Word which we have not the right to mix with the words of men.”
The signs of the new religion were not as clear thirty-five years ago, and its fruits were not nearly as toxic as they are now. So we can excuse those who opposed Archbishop Lefebvre in good faith at that point.
But today is much different than it was when only a few heroic bishops and priests stood for tradition. Almost any person who seriously contemplates the state of the Church understands that Rome proclaims a religion that no longer resembles Catholicism. God, in His infinite mercy, has made it unmistakably clear that there are now two different religions, even if many Catholics attempt to bridge the gap between them simply because Francis has not formally declared his schism with the Catholic Church. This too matches Bishop Sheen’s description of the “ape church”: if in all externals the ape church will resemble the Mystical Body of Christ, we should of course expect that its hierarchy would not openly declare that it was separated from the Catholic Church. If the false religion declared that it was false, how would the elect be deceived?
Because of the apparent indifference of priests and bishops to the scandals in the Church, the faithful have also become indifferent to the scandals.
So we no longer have any legitimate ability to plead ignorance about the state of the Church. But perhaps we can still argue that it would be too hard for us to follow the true religion, especially when it is so easy to follow the new one? If we are inclined to think that God could not possibly expect us to experience some inconvenience for the Faith, we ought to consider that the Church Triumphant is full of saints who have given their lives in support of the authentic, untainted Catholic Faith.
Moreover, the difficulty of following the Faith often corresponds with great blessings for those who persevere. In his Christus Vincit, Bishop Athanasius Schneider describes the sacrifices his family made to attend the Mass:
“My parents went to look for the Catholic church; they were searching almost the entire day and finally found it. It was an old Catholic church in the Gothic style, which the government had allowed to remain open, and there was a priest there. They came home and said to us, ‘Oh, children, we are so happy! We have a church so close to us. Only 100 kilometers!’ I remember this. ‘So close to us. Only 100 kilometers!’ We were all so happy. . . . We went in the morning by train while it was still dark, and then we came back at night, once evening had fallen and again it was dark. This is also one of the most beautiful memories of my life, these Sunday Mass trips. I remember them so well.”
It is a great blessing to be able to make sacrifices for our Faith, for it teaches us to value it as we should. Prior to the great flourishing of Traditional Catholic churches, particularly after Summorum Pontificum, it was much more common for families to travel well over an hour to attend the Tridentine Mass. We should take note that the tremendous ease of the Novus Ordo lifestyle has led to abysmal fruits, whereas the comparative difficulty of the traditional Catholic lifestyle has led to glorious and abundant fruits. Is this mere coincidence?
The world faces such grave dangers today because of the “cowardice and weakness of those who are good.”
Every Catholic must weigh these matters in light of how God will judge his or her soul, but Catholics in positions of leadership within the Church have even greater need to seriously contemplate their response to the new religion. In his October 13, 2017 address to a Fatima convention in England, Cardinal Raymond Burke had these words on the need for faithful clergy today:
“The message of Fatima makes clear that the pastors of the Church who in some way cooperate with apostasy, also by their silence, bear a most heavy burden of responsibility. . . . Their failure to teach the faith in fidelity to the Church’s constant doctrine and practice, whether through explicit declarations and actions, or through a superficial, confused or even worldly approach, or through their silence, endangers mortally in the deepest spiritual sense the very souls for whom they have been consecrated to care spiritually.”
It may seem unfair that bishops and priests have such an awesome responsibility, but it is absolutely certain that God will give them the graces they need if they remain faithful.
In his 1841 sermon on the duties of priests, Cardinal Louis-Edouard Pie provided a vital explanation of why priests and bishops have such tremendous responsibility now, as the enemies of the Faith have ostensibly taken control of the Church’s hierarchy:
“If I were indifferent to error, the faithful could easily imagine that to pass into heresy is something indifferent. If the world presents before his eyes some great benefit with the condition of a change in his beliefs, this man, seeing my lack of passion against the separated sects, will say to himself: ‘God is on both sides, my choice is of no importance whatsoever; this diversity has been introduced simply by human quarrels; God can be equally honored on every side.”
So it is today. Because of the apparent indifference of priests and bishops to the scandals in the Church, the faithful have also become indifferent to the scandals. Thus, the laity have learned from their priests that: they do not need to worry about going to Mass; they need not worry about mortal sin; there is no problem with the pope endorsing homosexual unions; there is no problem with politicians who support abortion; and one may belong to any religion they wish, so long as it is not that of the rigid traditional Catholics!
If we cower for fear of losing the ephemeral comforts we still have, we are like the unprofitable servant who buried the single talent his lord had given to him (Matthew 25:25-30).
Despite these great horrors, all is not yet lost. We have many faithful Catholics today who still know the truth — surely God has given us all we need to restore the Church if we cooperate with His grace. But this takes Catholics willing to give everything for the Church. We ought to learn the words of St. Pius X from his December 13, 1908 beatification of Joan of Arc:
“In our days more than ever the main strength of evil men is the cowardice and weakness of those who are good, and all the backbone of the kingdom of Satan lies in the weakness of Christians. Oh! if I were allowed, as the prophet Zechariah did in spirit, to ask the divine Redeemer: what are these wounds in the middle of your hands? The answer would not be doubtful: these have been given to me in the house of those who loved me; given by my friends, who have done nothing to defend me and who in every meeting have become accomplices of my opponents.”
The world faces such grave dangers today because of the “cowardice and weakness of those who are good.” But God has given us a great blessing in letting us now see the consequences of that cowardice. God has made it clear not only that Francis leads an anti-Catholic religion but that there is absolutely no enduring benefit to “going along” with the new religion. The new religion path leads to eternal damnation and, importantly, hell on earth. It would be one thing if Francis could promise his followers something appealing for their apostasy, but God allows us to see that the innovators can offer only filth.
Catholics must now be devoutly and heroically Catholic.
We cannot possibly hope to fix the crisis in the Church through a process of denying ever more problematic realities. Yes, there are obviously weighty questions about Rome and the papacy — and God will answer and solve them in due time — but Catholics must now be devoutly and heroically Catholic. If we cower for fear of losing the ephemeral comforts we still have, we are like the unprofitable servant who buried the single talent his lord had given to him (Matthew 25:25-30). We need courageous saints. The laity should be willing to risk their lives for their faithful priests and for the true Catholic Faith. Priests and bishops should be willing to give everything for the true Catholic Faith, and they should be horrified by the prospect that anyone would ever think they supported the ape religion promoted by Francis.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, who received the power to crush all the heresies throughout the world, obtain for us the grace to serve Her Son and His Church as true soldiers of Christ. Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!