The Lure of Secrets and Conspiracy

While following some of the trails of Catholic conservatives on Pope Francis, more than once a curious strain has popped up. Twice this past weekend, I found reference to prophecies/stories of Clemens Brentano/Anne Catherine Emmerich.

I will tell you honestly: I find it very, very difficult to take this material seriously. The CDF position on the Mel Gibson material:

It is absolutely not certain that she ever wrote this. There is a serious problem of authenticity.

But naturally, when a person or group is convinced there is a conspiracy afoot, it is often accompanied by a firm belief that special knowledge is being suppressed. The reader has been enlightened by a near-hidden truth. And if anyone dissents, they are in on the fix, too.

That third prophecy of Fatima, whichever one we’re talking about this year, this decade. That one never seems to go away. The Blessed Mother has to be spinning over the detours from her Son. Guadalupe was simple and straight talk. Lourdes, well that was okay. Spinning suns are a human adaptation to looking at bright light. If I were a huckster, I could reproduce the effect. But that would be biology, not Fatima2.

What do you make of this passage, now attributed to the Pope and Emeritus living in the Vatican?

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…”

If I were a conspiracy hawk, I might just as well attribute this passage to JP2 and B16. Certainly those two men had a professional relationship lasting well over two decades. The older priests weeping, the two camps, an aged pope in physical anguish. Recasting reform2 as a consequence of a pre-conciliar “false church.”

The difference, of course, is that I don’t see people with whom I disagree as outside of the Church. Before Pope Francis, it was easy enough to dismiss people who didn’t fly in the St Blog’s flock. Define a Catholic as someone who swallowed the Catechism whole, and without question. Dissent on one point and you are out. Wrap oneself in the mantle of orthodoxy and faithfulness. And if special messages help the cause, so much the better. Until the CDF asserts. Naturally, they are right on LCWR and wrong on Medjugorje.

What’s the sense I get from this? Those corner tables in the parish hall after Mass. Gossip about parishioners is delicious. But online, there are no tables as such. Facebook pages. Messages, instant and e. Thread sites. Blogs. Like-minded people easily and readily congregate and sort out the goats quickly enough.

People don’t like Pope Francis. Or they don’t know what to make of him. I get that. I didn’t always enjoy the popes of the past twenty years either. I don’t interpret the investigation of women religious, poor grammar in liturgical translations, or the disinvitation of speakers as the material of religious fulfillment.

People don’t like Pope Francis? Fine. Read somebody else. I suggest starting at the source, not the derivative stories of a German novelist picked up by one of Hollywood’s elite. Take a lot of time with encountering Jesus in one of the Gospels. Lectio Divina, and take your time–several weeks to see where the Lord is speaking.

It’s a heaven of a lot better than gossip and stories, secrets and conspiracies.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to The Lure of Secrets and Conspiracy

  1. Bravo Todd, bravo. Thank you for this post. Double super secret knowledge always seems a harbinger of division and evil. And always removed from the not superstitious, secret, or conspiratorial love of Christ.

  2. I’m really interested by the comment about how the sun phenomenon at Fatima could be a natural phenomenon. I’ve never heard that before.

    I agree though, and the whole conspiracy, Masonic type secret knowledge aspect of Fatima is a real turnoff. I don’t feel any attachment to Fatima at all, and it really scares me how devoted some of the people are to Our Lady of Fatima. I swear, for them, the apparition seems more important than the Incarnation or the Resurrection. (I also prefer Lourdes, and Guadalupe.)

    • Todd says:

      When I was a kid, I looked up at the sun. When the “blue correction” of my retina kicked in, I saw the sun in silver rather than white. Small movements in the human eye cause that silver to appear shimmering or spinning. That’s what I saw. The effect is more pronounced when there is a high layer of clouds that doesn’t block much of the sunlight, as was reported on that day in 1917.

      To me the real miracles are when addicts recover, estranged people reconcile, non-professionals produce great art or wisdom or teaching. In other words, a miracle has a point that’s not about spectacle or showmanship.

  3. Oh that “prophesy” reminds me of the fake Nostradamus 9/11 prediction.

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