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Pope Paul VI in New York 1965

by Eugene Rose [Fr. Seraphim]
from The Orthodox Word issue #5, September 1965
(in video format at the end of article)

Perhaps no other event in recent history has been so clear a “sign of the times” as the visit to New York of Pope Paul VI, on Oct. 4 of this year, and his address there before the United Nations. For the world, first of all, it was a sign: the universal longing for “peace” has been given an unmistakable “religious” sanction and the age of “universal peace,” the dream of generations of Utopian thinkers has been brought almost within reach.

But what, one wonders, have Utopian dreams to do with Christianity? Did not Paul VI come to speak for Christianity? An examination of his address reveals a singular fact: the purpose of the Church of Christ is not mentioned, and the name of Christ appears in it only once, in an ambiguous final sentence. It is perhaps assumed that the audience knows for what the Pope stands; he said, indeed, “you know our mission.” But later, when characterizing the “aspiration” of the Church of Rome, he said only that she wished to be “unique and universal” — in the spiritual field”!

For a single moment only in his address did it seem that the Pope might be about to speak a word of genuine Christianity. Citing the commandment of our Lord to His Disciples to “go and bring the good news to all peoples,” the Pope announced that he indeed had a “happy message” for “all peoples” represented at the United Nations. For Christians, this can only mean one thing: the good news of salvation, of eternal life in God. The Pope, however, had a different, an astonishing message: “We might call our message … a solemn moral ratification of this lofty institution.” This is what Rome offers today in place of the Christian Gospel!

Rome aspires to be “universal.” But there is one universality of the true Church of Christ, which is called to preach the Gospel of salvation to every creature; and there is quite another universality that springs from the world and seeks to conform itself to that world by preaching another more “acceptable” message. The very words of her Popes make it too clear which of these Rome has chosen. Paul VI very accurately presumed in his address “to interpret the sentiments of the world.” John XIII before him had even more ingenuously justified his own program of “adaptation” to the modern world: “The voice of the times is the voice of God.”

Thus speaks the voice of Rome, today even more than in ages past, in its aspiration to a “spiritual authority” over the entire world — no longer over all Christians, but over men of every religion and of none. Paul VI in his address spoke no word of genuine Christianity; not once did his words rise above a merely worldly idealism. The Pope’s ideals come not from our Lord, not from the Apostles and Fathers of the Church of Christ, but rather from rationalistic dreamers of the modern age who have revived the ancient heresy of chiliasm — the dream of an ancient millenium. This heresy was explicit in the Pope’s evocation of the “new age” of humanity, and of a “new history — peaceful truly human history as promised by God to men of good will.” The Church of Christ has never taught this strange doctrine; it is, however, one of the cardinal doctrines of Freemasonry, of occultism and numerous related sects, and even [without mention of God] of Marxism. For adopting this sectarian fantasy into the body of Latin doctrine the Pope was acclaimed by the press as a “prophet.”

Involuntarily one calls to mind the last work of the 19th-century Russian philosopher, Vladimir Soloviev, — the “Short Story of Antichrist” [from Three Conversations], in which, basing himself primarily on the Holy Fathers, he draws a chilling picture of Antichrist as a “great humanitarian” and superman, accepted by the whole world as Messiah.

This “Messiah” wins the world by writing a book, The Open Way to universal Peace and Prosperity, which was “all-embracing and all-reconciling, combining noble reverence for ancient traditions and symbols with broad and bold radicalism in social and political demands… It brought a better future so tangibly within reach that everyone said: This is what we want… The wonderful writer carried all with him and was acceptable to everyone.” Those who were concerned because the book did not once mention Christ were given the assurance that this was not necessary since it was “permeated by the truly Christian spirit of active love and all-embracing benevolence.” Swayed by the great man, an “International Assembly” was formed to create a world government; he was unanimously elected world ruler and issued a manifest, proclaiming, “peoples of the world! My peace I give unto you. The ancient promises have been fulfilled; eternal and universal peace has been secured.” Finally he calls an Ecumenical Council and unites all Churches under a Pope-magician who dazzles the multitudes with false miracles…

Such a picture is quite in harmony with the Orthodox teaching on Antichrist, who is indeed to come at the end of time to reign not [at first] by force but by deception with a show of “goodness” that will deceive all those who, through the apostasy that precedes his coming, no longer will be able to distinguish Christ from Antichrist. [A number of Fathers, drawing chiefly from the Holy Scriptures, have discussed the Orthodox teaching on Antichrist in detail, among them St. Efraim of Syria, St. John Chrysostom, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, St. Cyril of Jersusalem. St. Hipplytus of Rome, and Blessed Augustine. Even in the Catholic Church the teaching is not entirely dead, as witness the recent defense of it by a Thomist, J. Pieper, The End of Time.]

The visit of Paul VI was received by at least a part of America emotionally, almost hysterically. One wonders: what was the purpose of a visit that could produce such an effect? One searches in vain for a rational purpose; the intent was simply, as the press put it, to ‘dramatize” the world’s aspirations, which have become the Vatican’s policy. Everything the Pope did and said was intended to appeal, not to reason, but to the emotions. Everyone was particolarly struck by the Pope’s expert use of gestures, which were more expressive than his words; and everywhere he went he was received with applause, cheers, whistling — even in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, for it has long been the Latin custom to applaud the Pope in church. If the Pope’s visit was a great drama, he himself was received as a consummate actor.

Both the Pope’s manner and the content of his address reveal a man in the state called by Orthodox ascetic writers prelest: spiritual deception. [See Orthodox Word No.4p. 155] Addressing the nations of the world, which find themselves in a state near anarchy and total moral collapse precisely because they have abandoned or will not receive the Christian Gospel, the Pope spoke no word of reproach, made no call to repentance, said nothing of Christian faith, gave no hint of the Christian message of salvation; he utilized rather a skillful combination of Utopian idealism and — simple flattery. Addressing the unrepentant nations of the world — including many who are today persecuting and killing Christians — the Pope could only “praise” and “congratulate” them, offer them “gratitude,” “homage,” and “tribute,” and ended by giving them that which should be offered to God alone: “glory to you.”!

Paul VI is not Antichrist; but in the whole “drama” in which he was the chief “actor” something of the seductiveness of the Antichrist is already present. To be sure, it is nothing original with him; it is rather the culmination of centuries of apostasy, just as the enthusiastic response of the world was the result of a spiritual blindness, owing to ignorance of the nature of Christianity, which has been growing ever since the separation from the Christian East.

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