Marks of the Catholic Church.
1. My point of departure.
My point of departure in the process of reasoning begun with a traumatic experience. When the Abbot General of the Benedictines came for a visitation to my monastery and declared that the monastery is to be closed and the monks disbanded for 'not being monastic enough.' Now, being monastic and being 'Catholic' had been synonymous since the beginning of Christian times. In other words we were being accused of not being 'Catholic enough."
How can we know if we are Catholics or not? Since I was head of the Catechetical Division of the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP), the association of all private Catholic schools in the Philippines, it was a serious question for me to answer since my committee was in charge of Catholic catechesis. So I did what I should had done earlier. I mastered the Apostles Creed. Specially that part that states; 'I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.' Maybe if I can prove that our Benedictine Monastery was One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.....the Abbot General Gabriel Brazo, OSB would not close our monastery and disband the monks.
I could not. And all the Catholic Schools I visited as part of accreditation to CEAP , could not, also, show the visible signs of Catholicity. Neither the nuns, brothers, priests, bishops whose retreats I handled had the four visible signs of the Church. That was a shocking revelation.
2. A singular experience.
Under the new constitution of the Benedictines, we were encouraged to experiment with monasticism. Though that is a very dangerous thing to do, to forestall the closure of our monastery an experiment was suggested; to get a group of lay people and practice the rule of St. Benedict in its primitive observance. I was chosen to organize and head it.
Unlike my previous job as head of the commission of the catechetical program of all the Catholic schools where the students were exposed to countless worldly experiences, this new job was to get a group and I was responsible for everything; from deciding what tooth paste to use to how to save one's soul. It was a very serious job. I cannot experiment, I had to do things right.Too much was at state. So I begun to study how to attain the four visible signs of the Catholic Church. The way to attain it coincided with the Rule of St. Benedict and the Fathers of the Church. We stuck to that and discovered that the Fathers of the Church simply interpreted Scriptures. So it was the easiest way to learn both Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church. To my surprise, the four visible signs of the Church begun to appear; gradually, not immediately perfect. But slowly and surely.
This was something I did not see in my monastery nor in the Catholic schools under CEAP. So we shared this with the CBCP as a model for the renewal of Diocesan priests. This program was, also, accepted as a model curriculum for seminaries in the Philippines. This schema was, also, presented by the Pontifical Council of the Laity and accepted by the Bishop's Synod during Pope John Paul II as their topic for discussion. And it gave us great joy when Pope Benedict, again, insisted on this topic ' the Call to Holiness' during the Bishop's Synod on the 'new evangelization'.
3. Pope Benedict confirmed that the Catholic Church should have the four visible signs which we were aiming at. And Pope Benedict gradually showed the world through his talks and books that he and the Vatican had the four visible signs. The Benedictine experiment was in the right direction. Deeper study of Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church deepened the belief that the four visible signs can only be found in the Catholic Church.
4. Now, the question is; which is the Catholic Church? Is this parish, Diocese, religious order, religious organization,.... are they Catholic? And, of course, it was important to ask; is this priest, bishop, cardinal and is this Pope Catholic. Pope Benedict showed ample, incontrovertible proofs that he had all the signs of the Church, both the four signs from the Creed and the 14 signs of St. Bellarmine. The world was at ease during his Papacy. Then, he left the scene. Now, we have to re-check everything again. Is this parish and Diocese Catholic. Is this priest, bishop and cardinal Catholic. And though fearful to tread on holy ground we have to check; is this Pope Catholic.
The Catholic Church has a teaching on the four visible signs of the true Church of Christ. Only the Catholic Church has these signs. The Fathers of the Church have their own signs, usually, just repeating these four. St.Bellarmine elaborated the four signs into 15 signs making it more exciting to analyze who is Catholic.
To be able to use the four signs on any person or community needs knowledge of it's dynamics; i.e. how the four signs work. And St. Augustine described the dynamics of at least three signs joining St. Thomas who said that knowing the dynamics of two signs, One and apostolic, is sufficient to know the four signs.
During Pope Benedict's Papacy, though he showed all the visible signs of Catholicity through his writings and speeches, the Vatican as the main office of the Catholic Church, gradually lost the visible signs of Catholicity. Gradually, the Bishop's Synod in the Vatican were not showing the visible signs neither. Then the National Bishop's Synod, like Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada, Philippines by their declarations were not showing the visible signs of Catholicity. We had no way of knowing other national Synods because there are no sufficient news to base our analysis.
6. The most critical subject is Pope Francis.
He is the head of the Catholic Church. Where he leads, the Church will follow. Is it too much to demand for his credentials? Your Holiness, are you Catholic? Even if he does not answer, visible signs are visible signs. He does not have to answer. Just from his actions and statement it is easy to see if he has the visible signs of the Church or not. Is he a Catholic?
First; basing it on the four visible signs of the Creed, no. From his very first talk on 'Charity without dogma' up to his 'global warming' he had not shown a single visible sign of the true Church. Neither has the Vatican.
Second; basing it on the 15 signs of the Church according to St. Bellarmine, Pope Francis is not a Catholic. And his Jesuit apologist will find it impossible to disprove it. Because they one who can prove he is not, is also a Jesuit, but a saint and doctor of the Church. And St. Bellarmine's treatise shows, in fact, that Pope Francis and many bishops are protestants.
Thirdly; basing it on the Liturgy of the Mass, specially the 33 Sundays in Ordinary time that explains the development of Faith, Pope Francis has no Faith and, therefore, cannot be Pope. St. Bellarmine repeated this in his 'controversiis'. That without Faith Pope Francis is not even a Christian; so much more so he cannot be a Pope.
Fourthly; basing it from the 'Treatise on the Theological Virtues' by Garrigou Lagrange, Pope Francis does not have the three theological virtues. And, therefore, is not a Catholic.
Fifthly; basing it on the fact that he has introduced a new gospel, described as the Church of Compassion, different from the one Christ, Sst. Peter and Paul preached, he is anathema, i.e. cursed.
Sixthly, basing it on the Words of Christ who said; 'If you love me keep My commandments,' Pope Francis, by proposing disobedience to Christ's command to send adulterers to repent before receiving Holy Communion shows he does not love any body except himself ....which is a description of the bishops and priest during the end times. 'Lovers of selves.'
Seventhly, he has not taught any teachings of Christ up to now. He has, only, taught, his own personal teachings no one knows where it came from. Though a few clearly came just from Cardinal Kasper, while Kasper got it from Luther.
7. A few signs.
A few Cardinals and bishops are correcting Pope Francis. But the news are unable to show whether they have all the visible signs of Catholicity. Just that they go against Pope Francis but not necessarily showing the visible signs. There is great probability that they have the visible signs but the news had not mentioned them. But the public announcements of the German Bishop's conference show they do not have any visible sign of Catholicity.
8. Catholics should effortless show the visible signs of the Catholic Church.
These are signs which are the consequences of the presence of the theological virtue of Faith. So it should show without any effort on anyone. For anyone not to show it simply means he does not have it. In which case, the one who knows the visible sign, out of fraternal charity, should sit down with the one who do not know the visible signs and discuss the probable reason why he does not have the signs.
9. In this confused era, it is of the utmost importance that we all dwell on the visible signs of the true Church of Christ. The world is filled with errors. And these errors are being preached all over. They are even being imposed on others. These errors are even shutting up those with the truth. We are living in an age where it has become impossible to know the truth. Is this the chastisement for an age that does not believe? The Gospel said; Christ could not teach and could not perform miracles because of their unbelief. Man cannot find the Catholic Church today because of man's unbelief.