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Trad Catholic Freakout Time

This passage from a book by the Catholic nun, stigmatic, and mystic Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) is making the rounds among traditionalist Catholics who are alarmed by Pope Francis:

“I saw also the relationship between two popes … I saw how baleful 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…

“I had another vision of the great tribulation. It seems to me that a concession was demanded from the clergy which could not be granted. I saw many older priests, especially one, who wept bitterly. A few younger ones were also weeping. But others, and the lukewarm among them, readily did what was demanded. It was as if people were splitting into two camps.”

“I see the Holy Father in great anguish. He lives in a palace other than before and he admits only a limited number of friends near him. I fear that the Holy Father will suffer many more trials before he dies.

“I see that the false Church of darkness is making progress and I see the dreadful influence it has on the people. The Holy Father and the Church are verily in so great a distress that one must implore God night and day…”

You can well imagine why this alarms those traditionalist Catholics, like Steve Skojec, concerned over Pope Francis. It is hugely important to point out that there are very serious questions about whether or not the beatified nun ever said any of these things, which were supposedly transcribed by the German poet Klemens Brentano. In fact, doubts are so strong that the visions and statements attributed to the nun belong to her, as opposed to being a Brentano elaboration or fabrication, that the Vatican completely disregarded the book (which inspired Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ movie) in the beatification process.

Still, it’s going to be interesting to see how, if at all, the alleged vision of a beatified early 19th-century nun affects the present day among Catholics. Among the Orthodox, certain people are forever pointing to this or that holy elder’s prophecy of the Antichrist. There is one (now deceased) elder in particular whose writing and teaching on most things is wise and beautiful, but he went completely around the (anti-Semitic) bend on eschatology. You can hardly believe his prophecies of the End come from the same person as the other things. This stuff is catnip to many of us — certainly to me — but dangerous. Back in the 1990s, when I was a new Catholic, I was somewhat drawn imaginatively into the ooga-booga conspiratorial world of the traddish Catholic Malachi Martin. Once I traveled to New York and had lunch with him. I swear I still don’t know what to make of the man, but he was so theatrically mysterious and conspiratorial that day that I pretty much disregarded him. I suspect he was right about many things, but being with him over lunch did not inspire confidence in the stability of his judgment, to put it mildly.

I think this kind of paranormal prophecy thing can be real and true, but there’s so much potential for abuse, deception, and confirmation bias that one should keep it at arm’s length.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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