World Youth Day in Lisbon, a gathering of young Roman Catholics in the presence of Pope Francis was hailed as a great success and a landmark in preparing young people for a world without war. The Pope told the gathering of 1.5 million for the Mass at the gathering
The Pope then went to the Fatima shrine where he said he prayed in silence before ‘Our Lady in the Chapel of Fatima’. He said,
The message of Fatima was supposedly given by an apparition claiming to be Mary, mother of Jesus, to three young shepherdesses in 1917 in Portugal. It contained three messages, one affirming Roman Catholic doctrine, the second containing a warning that World War I would be followed by a far worse conflict unless people stopped “offending God” with a reference to an error coming out of Russia, a reference to Communism.
There is controversy about the Third Secret of Fatima which has not been publicly revealed by the Vatican. It was to be revealed on the death of one of the visionaries, Lucy, who died in 1960. After reading the Secret, Pope John XXIII decided not to reveal the contents publicly, and there has been growing speculation concerning what it contains. The Third Secret was identified with all sorts of cataclysms and disasters, connected to the Apocalypse and the rise of the Antichrist. Some have claimed it points to an apostasy within the Roman Catholic Church bringing in the Antichrist and prophesies the widespread chaos, confusion and loss of faith that has gripped the Roman Catholic Church in recent times.
Traditional Catholics say Pope Francis’ liberal teaching is paving the way for this, promoting heresy and apostasy in the church. Archbishop Vigano claimed that the Lisbon event was part of Francis’ plan to ‘provoke a schism’ in the church by foisting this kind of teaching on the young people gathered there.
He deplored the presence of James Martin, a Catholic priest who affirms homosexuality, at the Lisbon rally. He says Martin came ‘to propagandize the acceptance of LGBTQ ideology by young people, affirming the Pope’s recent statement to a transgender person:
Vigano also claimed Francis is stacking the church with progressive Cardinals who will ensure that the next Pope will also be a liberal. He does not accept Francis as a legitimate Pope and always refers to him as Bergoglio, his real name, before he became Pope.
In May 2019 a group of 19 Catholic priests and academics accused the Pope of heresy over a range of topics and giving rise ‘to one of the worst crises in the history of the Catholic Church.’ The letter attacks Francis for allegedly softening the Church’s stance on a range of subjects, including abortion, homosexuality and family issues, and relations with Protestants and Muslims.
A significant part of the letter concentrates on “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love), a 2016 papal document that is a cornerstone of Francis’ attempt to make the 1.3 billion-member Church more inclusive and less condemning. Critics say he has not condemned abortion strongly enough and is too lenient with homosexual Catholics and that the document undermines traditional teaching on the sanctity of marriage.
The letter criticised Francis for signing a joint statement with Lutherans in 2016 in which the pope said Catholics were grateful for the “theological gifts” of the Reformation (some traditional Catholics refer to Luther as Lucifer!). It also attacked the pope for a statement with a prominent Muslim leader in Abu Dhabi, which said that the pluralism and diversity of religions was “willed by God”. Conservatives say the Roman Catholic Church is the only true one and that members are called to convert others to it.
There has also been criticism of the Pope for making climate change a priority issue over teaching Church doctrine. On this issue it is interesting that the pope has called for a global government to be set up to deal with this issue and other related ones. In his 2015 encyclical Pope Francis wrote
In other words we need a one world political system with rules that nations must submit to in order to save the world.
From a biblical point of view the Roman Catholic church has been in error for centuries and the Fatima prophecies and worship of Mary are the product of this error and confusion.
However it is interesting that Roman Catholics themselves are now seeing a departure from Roman Catholic doctrine and practice in their church and fearing that their Pope is not leading them to Jesus Christ, but to Antichrist. Some relate this to the Third Secret of Fatima, but the biblical place to look for an explanation is Revelation 17 – the Woman rides the Beast.
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”
3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written:
MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS
OF THE EARTH.
6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marvelled with great amazement.
7 But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel? I will tell you the [mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
9 “Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. 10 There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. 11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.
12 “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”
15 Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. 16 And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to fulfil His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth.”Revelation 17