If the Church is doing the Devil’s will, why does he attack it?

In case you didn’t know, the Internet is full of videos bashing the Catholic Church. Most of these are produced by fundamentalist or born-again Christians, some of whom are ex-Catholics. They insist that they do not hate Catholics. Their only concern, they say, is to help Catholics learn the truth.

You probably know most of their complaints: the Catholic Church is unbiblical; it elevates tradition over scripture; it encourages Catholics to worship Mary; it teaches that we are saved by works not by faith; and it falsely posits the existence of purgatory.

While watching one of these videos it struck me that the presenter seemed to have no idea of what’s been happening in the Catholic Church over the last 10 years. And this seemed to be the case with other such presentations. Either they were ignorant of recent events in the Church or they didn’t quite know how to handle them.

Instead, they merely rehash criticisms that go back to the reformers—criticisms that have been thoroughly rebutted by Catholic scholars and apologists over the years.

So, it was refreshing to come across a video that was actually up-to-date about what’s wrong with the Catholic Church. The video which is entitle “The Pope Francis End-Time Apostasy,” is produced and narrated by Jonathan Cahn who is described as a Christian pastor and a messianic Jew.

The occasion for his observations was the publication of Fiducia Supplicans, the controversial document that allows for the blessing of same-sex couples.

Along with many Catholics, Cahn sees the document as representing a complete break with the Church’s teaching and traditions. It’s a “prophetic sign,” he says, “when the Vatican reverses itself,” and falls away from its own biblical stand.

Moreover, says Cahn, this reversal has “massive implications” because the Roman Catholic Church is “intimately connected to the health of Western civilization and much of the civilized world is now at risk.”

More specifically, he says, the Catholic Church has acted as a restraint on sinfulness through much of history. For example, the Catholic Church played a major role in ending paganism and the various sinful practices that went with it.

Even in the modern world the Church has been looked upon as the only institution that could be counted on to hold the line. Long after other Christian Churches had thrown in the towel, the Catholic Church did not yield on contraception, divorce, abortion, and same-sex “marriage.”

In addition, the Church played a major role in trying to keep popular culture wholesome. Largely because of pressure from the Catholic Church, the Motion Picture Production Code (The Hays Code) put limits on Hollywood’s penchant for sex and violence. According to film curator Chelsey O’Brien, “the code prohibited profanity, suggestive nudity, graphic or realistic violence, sexual persuasions and rape.”

What Cahn calls the “Protestant Mainline Apostate Churches” were largely unable to hold the line. They capitulated to secular culture on several fronts. But the Catholic Church, despite pressure to get with the times, did hold the line (although with difficulty.) However, as Cahn argues, with the coming of the Francis papacy the restraints were loosened considerably, and then, with the publication of Fiducia Supplicans, the “floodgates were opened.” Among other things, the Church which had done so much to eradicate paganism is now presiding over a “rebirth of paganism” (witness the Pachamama ritual in the Vatican Garden, Pope Francis’s participation in a North American Indian smudge pot ritual, and the recent sacrilegious funeral service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a transexual prostitute who was eulogized as the “Mother of the Whores” and who also happened to be an atheist.)

Cahn ends his presentation by advising Catholics to separate themselves from the institutional Church (and from any other religious institution that has drifted away from the Gospel.)

I can’t go along with that, of course. Humans need institutions to keep them on the straight and narrow. For example, attempts to replace the institutional justice system— courts, police, prisons– with the spirit of justice never seems to work. Campaigns to eliminate bail, defund the police, and hire more social workers only result in more crime.

So, the choice is not between an institutional church and a spiritual church. There is no such thing as a purely spiritual church. The question is, to which institutional church should we turn. In the course of his presentation, Cahn makes such a good case for the Catholic contribution to the health of civilization, that the logical conclusion is not that Catholics should separate from the Church, but that Catholics should stay with the Church, throw out the apostates, and strive to bring the institutional Church back in line with the will of God.

To his credit, Pastor Cahn appreciates the Catholic Church’s historical role in Christianizing society. And judging by his video presentation, he locates the point at which the Church really goes off the rails, not in the distant past but in recent times—specifically during the papacy of Francis when the Vatican suddenly reverses itself on key moral issues.

The implication of his analysis is that, contrary to the standard Catholic-bashing view, the Church has been a faithful guardian of the Gospel of Christ up until very recent times. By contrast, some of the Catholic-bashing school of Protestants seem to locate Satan’s “takeover” of the Church as having happened in the reign of the emperor Constantine.

Of course, many Catholics also believe that Satan would like to take over control of the Church, and they believe that his attacks have been escalating in recent years. Why? Because Satan, being a highly intelligent creature, also understands the important role that the Catholic Church has played in restraining sinful impulses. Now, that the “floodgates” have been opened by Francis and others within the Church, he sees the opportunity for a final all-out assault on the Church.

But, if that’s the case, it raises an urgent question for anti-Catholics to ponder. If, as some say, the Catholic Church has been doing the work of Satan for centuries why would he continue to attack it? If the Church has been serving Satan, even if unconsciously, why not leave it alone?

I’m not suggesting that Satan doesn’t attack other Christians and other denominations, but much of his ire seems focused of the Catholic Church.

As Cahn seems to suggests, the Catholic Church has, until recently, offered much more resistance to Satan’s campaign of temptation than the mainline Protestant Churches have been able to muster. Moreover, many of the non-mainline denominations are having trouble resisting the lure of popular culture.

Christ predicted that the powers of Hell would attempt to overthrow his Church. What is happening now in the Church certainly seems like just such an attempt. It looks very much like the smoke of Satan has entered the Church. This may be taken as a sign that the Catholic Church has been rejected by God. But it may also be taken as a sign that the Catholic Church is the true Church, the ultimate bulwark against the wickedness and snares of the Devil, and the chief target of his hatred.

Pictured above: The Archangel Michael defeating Satan

Picture credit: Pixabay