The Gathering Storm
“Russia’s errors will spread throughout the world…” This is one of the many warnings Our Lady conveyed in the Message of Fatima as a consequence of failing to heed its requests. Despite the so-called “fall of Communism,” Russia’s errors continue to spread, and the world continues on a downward spiral of moral, spiritual and physical violence against the human person, made in the image and likeness of God. This is the very situation that so afflicted John Paul II, as he revealed in the sermons he delivered at Fatima in 1982 and 2000.
As you read these pages, the Middle East threatens to erupt into a conflagration, the carnage in Iraq increases by the day, and conflicts elsewhere result in bloodbaths, such as the one in Darfur in the Sudan, where 400,000 innocent civilians have been butchered over the past three years by Arab militias. Russia, with its financial and other links to Islamic terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere, has become a neo-Stalinist dictatorship under Vladimir Putin, whose authoritarian rule even The New York Times decries. A recent poll showed that the people of Poland consider Russia the greatest threat to their nation. More ominously, Russia is now militarily allied with Red China, whose economic power over the United States and other Western countries continues to grow.
While the forces of total war gather, the holocaust of abortion continues all over the globe, with the blood of every slain infant crying out for divine retribution. Women are now using cells from the bodies of aborted children for beauty treatments—a practice that began in Russia, as did legalized abortion itself.
In every nation of the once-Christian West, secularized governments, which call themselves democracies and boast of their “liberty,” are pressing their attack on religion and the natural law. In Russia, which some dare to say has been converted since 1984, the Catholic Church is barely allowed to exist. In China, the Church has been driven underground—Her priests and bishops arrested, imprisoned or harassed by communist brutes. In other countries of the Third World, Catholic minorities suffer violence and persecution at the hands of non-Catholic majorities.
Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and other natural disasters also batter our troubled world, with threats of even worse disasters to come. The tsunami of 2004 alone killed more than 213,000 people in eleven different countries.
In 1907, Pope Saint Pius X—the last Pope to be canonized— declared in his first encyclical that when he was chosen to ascend to the throne of Peter he was “terrified beyond all else by the disastrous state of human society today. For who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its innermost being, is dragging it to destruction?” He noted that the majority of the people of his time had “lost all respect for the Eternal God” and that “no regard [is] paid in the manifestations of public and private life to the Supreme Will—nay, every effort and every artifice is used to utterly destroy the memory and the knowledge of God.” “When all this is considered,” he concluded, “there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity may be as it were a foretaste, and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days; and that there may be already in the world the ‘Son of Perdition’ of whom the Apostle speaks…”
In 1922, Pope Pius XI lamented that with men in rebellion against God throughout the world and Christ excluded from the life of nations, “we behold with sorrow society lapsing back slowly but surely into a state of barbarism.” Humanity, he warned, was even then “tottering to its fall.”
In 1950 Pope Pius XII said that “The world now is worse than before the Flood.” What would great and holy Popes like Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII say about the state of the world today?
Even Pope John Paul II, for all his optimism about the modern world, was compelled to admit that all of Europe has succumbed to “a vision of man apart from God and apart from Christ” and that “European culture gives the impression of ‘silent apostasy’ on the part of people… who live as if God does not exist.” The results of this silent apostasy, said the late Pope, are “the diminishing number of births, the decline in the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the difficulty, if not the outright refusal, to make lifelong commitments, including marriage.”
John Paul II’s words reflect the awful reality that throughout the nations of former Christendom the great mass of the people practice contraception, which renders their marriages infertile. Living in this state of disobedience to the natural law and the infallible teaching of the Church against contraception, people lose the grace of God and His blessings on their families and put themselves unwittingly under the power of the devil. As the Old Testament noted, St. Raphael the Archangel taught, “they who in such manner receive matrimony as to shut out God from themselves and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power.” (Tob. 6:17).
Who can deny that in this age of contraception, abortion, divorce and “gay marriage,” the devil has indeed gained power over vast masses of people who were once Christian? The family is disintegrating and society is disintegrating along with it. The nations of the West are dying out for lack of children, while Muslim populations are threatening to overwhelm the last vestiges of Christian civilization.
At the same time, the Church is also undergoing a crisis that is perhaps the worst in her entire history: the collapse of faith and discipline, scandals everywhere, the loss of vocations, and mass defections from the True Faith into sects of all kinds.
The Vatican’s own statistics show that from 1978 to 2004 the total number of priests in the world has declined by 3.5%, the number of male religious by 27%, and the number of women religious by 22% all while the population of the world has grown by approximately 50%. Even if we accept the Vatican’s assumption that every student of philosophy and theology attending a diocesan and religious seminary is a candidate for the priesthood, worldwide there are only 28 “candidates” for the priesthood for every 100 priests now in service. Clearly, many of these “candidates” will not proceed all the way to priestly ordination. So where will the priests of tomorrow come from? Absent a miracle, there will be no priests. Even now, priests from Africa are being transferred to Ireland to minister to the faithful, because Ireland—the land converted by Saint Patrick himself!—has almost no vocations. The same situation is true throughout Europe, and even in the United States.
The proportion of the world’s population that is Catholic has stagnated at between 17 and 18 percent over the past 26 years, reflecting a marked drop in the Church’s missionary activities. Moreover, the majority of those who still call themselves Catholic no longer feel any obligation to adhere to any teaching of the Church with which they happen to disagree. Catholics are now largely indistinguishable from Protestants and Jews in their views of legalized abortion, contraception, divorce and other moral issues. No wonder John Paul II spoke of a silent apostasy in the Church!
Looking at the state of the world today, one can only come to the same conclusion as the one reached by all of the Popes over the past 100 years: The forces of rebellion against Christ and His Church have pushed the world ever closer to the brink of apocalyptic war and worldwide devastation, which will be a divine punishment for the sins of a world that is defying God as never before in human history. As even non-believers sense that the world is headed toward a calamity, what man of Faith today does not fear a chastisement of humanity even greater than the Deluge?
Fortunately, Heaven has not remained silent in the face of humanity’s rebellion. God sent His own Mother to Fatima to warn us to change our ways, and to offer the means of averting the divine punishment our rebellious world so richly deserves.