by Ervin Taylor
As a consequence of the changes in Roman Catholic polity and forms of worship that were brought about as the result of the Vatican II Council, there was an upsurge in the number of Roman Catholic dissident groups. Some of these groups accused Catholic Church authorities, including all of the Popes since Pope John XXIII, as being heretics as defined by Roman Catholic canon law. As a consequence, since Vatican II, there have been several Roman Catholic groups which have declared that the office of the Pope vacant and several have ‘elected’ others to that office thus creating a number of modern “anti-Popes.”
One of these dissident groups gathered around a former French Roman Catholic archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991). In 1988, when Lefebvre consecrated four bishops against the express prohibition of Pope John Paul II, Lefebvre was excommunicated. On October 20, 2011, a member of the Roman Catholic clergy who is a supporter of Lefebvre held a press conference to make the following statement in conjunction with an upcoming ecumenical meeting in Assisi, Italy. The first meeting in Assisi was organized by John Paul II as a World Day of Prayer for Peace. The third meeting, Assisi III, will be attended by Pope Benedict XVI as well as the representatives of many other religions bodies both Christian and non-Christian:
Here is the statement by the supporter of Lefebvre:
“I declare, with the blessing of ten Catholic Bishops, that the ecumenical gathering in Assisi on October 27, 2011, is a crime that offends the divinity of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- God is One and has revealed one religion only, not sixty.
- The constant teaching of the Popes, most recently Pius XI [Pope 1922-1939] in his encyclical Mortalium Animos where he states that those who promote such meetings ‘completely abandon the religion revealed by God'.
- Ecumenism is a violation of human nature in its most noble part, the spirit. Instead of bringing souls to Jesus, Benedict XVI strengthens those who wander in error away from Christ, as he leads his own sheep to false religions and on to Satan. As Holy Scripture in Psalm 95 says, “All the gods of the nations are demons.”
- Canonical law at Canon 1258 prohibits any active participation in a non-Catholic rite.
- As Bishop Pivarunas recently said, "It's incomprehensible that someone could claim to be the head of the Church, the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ and blatantly disregard the First Commandment."
For these five reasons I agree with the words of Bishop Lefebvre when he said in Econe [France] on Easter Sunday, 1986: “Is the Pope still pope, if he is heretical?…(If we do not talk about it) to our faithful…they will lose faith…”
And on September 4, 1987 he said: “Rome lost the faith, dear friends, Rome is in apostasy…We cannot trust these people anymore. They have left the Church…”
“I am a simple priest. I do not declare that Benedict XVI be removed from his papacy. Not even Mgr. Lefebvre formally made this assertion. But I assert with the Bishops and priests I have visited, and the faithful, can assert it too, that it is not possible to recognize the hierarchy of the modern Church as legitimate without endangering one's own Faith. And without Faith we cannot be redeemed.”
It appears that conservative Catholics and conservative Adventists share certain views. Both groups are deeply suspicious of ecumenical dialogue, believe there is only one revealed true religion (the one they espouse), and agree that the Pope is leading people into error. We live in interesting times.