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Vatican II Popes

Many schismatics claim that all of the Popes from John XXIII to John Paul II have time and time again departed from Catholic truth in their actions and sometimes in their teachings. Members of the SSPX criticize John Paul II for some of his ecumenical efforts, which they say is foreign to pre-conciliar teaching, and some of the more radical schismatic traditionalists, such as those from the group falsely called the "True Catholic Church" make the claim that John XXIII and all the popes since were and are heretics.

One of the main charges made is that John XXIII was a Mason. It is claimed that John XXIII, then Angelo Roncalli, joined the Freemasons in 1935 as a papal nuncio in Turkey. However, no proof exists of this ever happening. It appears as though someone hostile to the post-conciliar church came up with a list of Masons in the Roman Curia, and included the Pope in the list, but without proof that he was a Mason. Two proofs that are offered for the claim that John XXIII was a Mason include a number of Freemasons who hail Pope John as a fellow member, and the book "The Broken Cross" by Piers Compton. As to the Masons who claim John XXIII to be a fellow member, it cannot be taken at face value. Masons have proven themselves to be great enemies of the Church, and when they caught wind that John XXIII may have been a Freemason, they no doubt did everything they could to support the claim, for the sole purpose of causing trouble within the Church. As for the book by Piers Compton, it is pure fiction. Along with the charge that John XXIII was a Mason, Compton also claims that Paul VI, during his pontificate, was replaced by an impostor, and that John Paul II fathered a child. Such wild and unsupported claims reduce his credibility to zero.

Usually a charge made by Fundamentalists, some schismatic traditionalists claim that Paul VI, and even John Paul II, is the Antichrist. According to the argument, the registry of Paul VI's ordination contains the number "666", if you combine the number from his name (VI), with the date of his election and coronation (both taking place in June–the sixth month). Of course, this is nothing but sheer coincidence. The numbers "666" can be found in hundreds of other places. Furthermore, the Antichrist, as the Bible makes clear, will be a single person (not a series of post-conciliar popes) and will appear at the end of time, which puts that theory to rest.

Some radical Traditionalists claim John Paul II is the Antichrist because the crucifix on his staff consists of a bent cross, which, they say, was once used by satanists. However, there is no proof of this, and research into satanic sources reveals nothing. Even if this is true, it does not prove what they think it proves. Remember, Satanists also use an upside-down cross, which is a symbol that the Popes use as well. The upside-down cross is not used because the Pope is the Antichrist, but because Peter was crucified upside-down, and the Pope holds the Petrine office. The upside-down cross is a symbol of Peter, and hence also a symbol of the papacy.

More sober traditionalists, those who do not make such outlandish claims, accuse John Paul II of illicit actions, including kissing the Koran, being anointed by a Hindu priestess, celebrating Mass in which a topless woman was lector, and getting far too cozy with those of other religions at the ecumenical gathering at Assisi. These are usually in the form of pictures, and there is usually more to the story than meets the eye.

First, as far as kissing the Koran, the Pope may have never done this. In the photograph, the Pope is standing by a man whose ethnic origin appears to be Middle-Eastern, which may explain why some believe he is a Muslim. Actually, he is the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch. The book in the photograph could be the Koran, but could just as easily be a Bible or Lectionary. Even if the Pope did kiss the Koran, it would not be an endorsement of all the errors contained in its pages, but rather an acknowledgment of the partial truths found therein, and even more so, an expression of love for the Muslim people, who, despite their errors, we are called to love as children of God. When the Pope arrives at a foreign country, he kisses the ground as an expression of love for the people there, even if the country is communist and has many atheistic people residing there.

Second, John Paul II was never anointed by a Hindu, nor by a priestess. The woman who "anointed" the Pope was in fact a Catholic. Rather than performing some pagan ritual, she was giving the Pope an East Indian greeting known as aarti, (similar to receiving a lei in Hawaii) by placing a mark on his forehead. It is customary to greet a celebrant this way at Mass, and is no more a pagan practice than decorating a tree at Christmas.

Third, it was in Africa that John Paul II presided at Mass in which a woman read the reading topless. This may scandalize those from the West, and if it happened in Europe or America, it would be immodest, but in the African culture, this is typical of the way people dress. The Church is universal, and Western ideas should not apply in other cultures. Even if the woman was an American, as some claim, it is wise to remember the old saying: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do".

Fourth, as for the ecumenical gathering at Assisi, John Paul II was granting the good people of other religions the chance to get together and pray, with as much darkness as they may be in, for intentions they have in common with those of Catholics. Is their prayer acceptable to God? It may or may not be, but the Pope gave them the benefit of the doubt and held this gathering. Some claim that a statue of Buddha was placed on the altar. If this did happen, it was certainly not done by the Pope, and if it was done by a Buddhist, it was wrong, but the Pope cannot be held accountable for someone else's erroneous actions, just as a house guest cannot be held accountable for an invitee who comes to the party drunk and ruins the evening.

Finally, there is a list, written by an Ultra-traditionalist called "The 101 Heresies of John Paul II". The list consists of two columns–listed on one are the "heresies of anti-pope John Paul II", and listed on the other are the "truth[s] of divine and catholic faith". One column gives the "heresy", and the next column gives the "true Catholic teaching". These statements are paraphrases of papal writings, and list the source from whence they were derived. It is true that the paraphrases are in stark contrast to one another, but the paraphrases are misleading, and do not seem so contradictory when the actual sources are read in context. Most of these issues concern ecumenism and non-Christian religions. We must keep in mind that the developments in our understanding, in our doctrine, shed considerable light on statements of Popes from long ago, and that when a Pope is quoted to contradict the teachings of another Pope, often enough one or both of the Popes was teaching on a matter of discipline or practice, not doctrine, or were addressing different questions.

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