The Holy See has taken the unprecedented step of releasing the meditation delivered to the cardinal-electors, behind the closed doors of the Sistine Chapel, immediately before the start of the voting that concluded in the election of Pope Francis. Only the Holy Father could have given permission for the publication of Cardinal Prosper Grech’s meditation. The Cardinal’s hard-hitting meditation includes a warning to the future pope about the schisms being created in the Church by priests:
‘No less easy for the future pontiff will be the task of keeping unity in the Catholic Church itself. Between ultratraditionalist extremists and ultraprogressive extremists, between priests who rebel against obedience and those who do not recognize the signs of the times, there will always be the danger of minor schisms that not only damage the Church but also go against the will of God: unity at all costs. Butt unity does not mean uniformity. It is evident that this does not close the doors to the intra-ecclesial discussion present in the whole history of the Church. All are free to express their thoughts on the task of the Church, but they should be proposals in line with that “depositum fidei” which the pontiff together with all of the bishops has the task of guarding. […]‘
[Protect the Pope comment: It is important to underline that Cardinal Grech blames the schisms within the Church as being caused by two groups of priests,ultratraditionalist extremists and ultraprogressive extremists. Though Cardinal Grech divides these priests into two camps, those priests who 'rebel against obedience' and those priests 'who do not recognize the signs of the times', both ultratraditionalist extremists and ultraprogressive extremists have these two faults in common. They are both disobedient and both fail to read the signs of the times in harmony with revelation, safeguarded by the Magisterium].
Cardinal Prosper Grech also warned Pope Francis about the infiltration of evil within the Church:
SMOKE OF SATAN IN THE CHURCH
‘The evil spirit of the world, the “mysterium iniquitatis” (2 Thes 2:7), constantly strives to infiltrate the Church. Moreover, let us not forget the warning of the prophets of ancient Israel not to seek alliances with Babylon or with Egypt, but to follow a pure policy “ex fide” trusting solely in God (cf. Is 30:1; 31:1-3; Hos 12:2) and in his covenant. Courage! Christ relieves our minds when he exclaims: “Have trust, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). […]‘
[Protect the Pope comment: It is encouraging that Pope Francis is heeding Cardinal Grech's warning about the 'smoke of Satan in the Church', seen in his many references to Satan in his homilies from day one of his pontificate, and his dedication of a statue of Saint Michael the Archangel in the Vatican gardens. It is interesting that Cardinal Grech references Pope Paul VI's famous 'smoke of Satan homily'. No doubt Pope Francis will have reminded himself of its prophetic content. Here is an excerpt:
‘from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” There is doubt, incertitude, problematic, disquiet, dissatisfaction, confrontation. There is no longer trust of the Church; they trust the first profane prophet who speaks in some journal or some social movement, and they run after him and ask him if he has the formula of true life. And we are not alert to the fact that we are already the owners and masters of the formula of true life. Doubt has entered our consciences, and it entered by windows that should have been open to the light. Science exists to give us truths that do not separate from God, but make us seek him all the more and celebrate him with greater intensity; instead, science gives us criticism and doubt. Scientists are those who more thoughtfully and more painfully exert their minds. But they end up teaching us: “I don’t know, we don’t know, we cannot know.” The school becomes the gymnasium of confusion and sometimes of absurd contradictions. Progress is celebrated, only so that it can then be demolished with revolutions that are more radical and more strange, so as to negate everything that has been achieved, and to come away as primitives after having so exalted the advances of the modern world.
This state of uncertainty even holds sway in the Church. There was the belief that after the Council there would be a day of sunshine for the history of the Church. Instead, it is the arrival of a day of clouds, of tempest, of darkness, of research, of uncertainty. We preach ecumenism but we constantly separate ourselves from others. We seek to dig abysses instead of filling them in.
How has this come about? The Pope entrusts one of his thoughts to those who are present: that there has been an intervention of an adverse power. Its name is the devil, this mysterious being that the Letter of St. Peter also alludes to. So many times, furthermore, in the Gospel, on the lips of Christ himself, the mention of this enemy of men returns. The Holy Father observes, “We believe in something that is preternatural that has come into the world precisely to disturb, to suffocate the fruits of the Ecumenical Council, and to impede the Church from breaking into the hymn of joy at having renewed in fullness its awareness of itself. Precisely for this reason, we should wish to be able, in this moment more than ever, to exercise the function God assigned to Peter, to strengthen the Faith of the brothers. We should wish to communicate to you this charism of certitude that the Lord gives to him who represents him though unworthily on this earth.” Faith gives us certitude, security, when it is based upon the Word of God accepted and consented to with our very own reason and with our very own human spirit. Whoever believes with simplicity, with humility, sense that he is on the good road, that he has an interior testimony that strengthens him in the difficult conquest of the truth.
Protect the Pope comment: There can be no doubt that Cardinal Grech’s warning about schisms being caused in the Church by two groups of priests includes the priests of the SSPX and the priests led by Fr Helmut Schüller and the Austrian Priests initiative and their ‘Call to Disobedience’. Both groups of priests are breaking the communion of the Church through their disobedience and misreading the signs of the times. The priests leading A Call to Action in this country should also pay heed to Cardinal Grech’s warning because even though he emphasizes the need for unity not uniformity, he is clear that proposals on the future of the Church must be ‘in line with that “depositum fidei” which the pontiff together with all of the bishops has the task of guarding.’ A Call to Actions demands for married priests, women priests, and radical changes to the Church’s doctrine on sexual morality are definitely not in line with the ‘depositum fidei’.