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Devils of the Air and
the Change of the Papacy


Marian Therese Horvat

At a certain moment after their creation, the Angels, the first of God’s creatures, had to choose between the will of God and Satan’s seductive proposals. A great battle was fought, in which the good angels stood with St. Michael, and the revolted angels were thrown into Hell to suffer eternal damnation. However, there was also a third category – those angels with the base characteristic that St. Pius X called “vile neutrality.” Unwilling to intervene or enter battle, they stood apart in a kind of “moderate” position, unwilling to take a definitive side in the struggle. It is said that instead they sang songs, diverting other angelic spirits from the battle by creating an atmosphere of false peace.

A devil of the air

Devils of the air stimulate the "moderate" position
According to Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich, God also punished this category of angels, who became the demons of the air. She explains that while these angels are not the source of strong temptation of men, they create atmospheres in the air, which dispose men to temptation – or distract them and cause them to lose vigilance.

The First Category: The Irritating Demons of the Air

Let me say a word first about the first category, those demons of the air that are expert in creating chaos and disturbing the peace and tranquility of men. I don’t know how many times they have tried to thwart or alter something in the everyday events of life to disrupt souls. Traffic lights, slow-moving traffic, an interminable wait on the phone or in a line, a disputed bill already paid, an unkind word or look taken wrongly – it is these small irritations that can throw us off balance and make us lose our patience and abandon our resolves to practice virtue. That’s when the demons of the air rejoice in their small victories. But the victory can belong to us if we recognize their methods and refuse to be their victims.

I was reminded of this fact a few weeks ago when a dear friend and his young family who had been visiting were stranded at LAX after a security snafu delayed all flights for five hours. Traveling with children is never a picnic, and they had a sick toddler in tow. It was the ideal situation for the demons of the air to ignite short tempers and intensify the agitation of a long wait. Amid this consternation, our friends took it in stride. “I think we are going to have an opportunity to get a lot of souls out of purgatory,” the young mother told her four-year-old daughter. As the adage goes, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. An admirable example of how to keep the demons of the air at bay.

There is no way to avoid these small irritations. In fact, sometimes it seems that the more we are trying to practice virtue, the more the little trials increase. The car breaks down unexpectedly. Another computer problem. A plumbing break. It’s natural these irritating demons of the air will concentrate more on those who are trying to fight the good fight. As Pope St. Leo the Great affirmed, “The tempter, ever on the watch, wages war most violently against those whom he see more careful to avoid sin.”

The More Dangerous Category

Now, a word about the more dangerous demons of the air – the one who would distract men from real dangers and cause them to lose vigilance. One might say that it was this category of demons that invaded the air of Vatican II, where most of the “moderate” and even the conservative Prelates approved almost every one of its decrees without dissent – distracted, so to speak, from questioning the motives and aims of the progressivist leadership. One might also say that this category of fallen angels has been more than usually busy in face of the novel events of the Jubilee activities and recent days, Assisi being the most obvious.

Let me focus the lens here on just one such novelty: the reform of the Papacy. The call was made – a “revolutionary” call, as Archbishop John Quinn admitted in his book The Reform of the Papacy. It was an invitation to theologians and leaders of other false religions to “dialogue” on new ways the Papal Primacy might be exercised in order to make it acceptable to Schismatics and Protestants.

Now, this invitation was not issued, as some might expect, by avowed leaders of the progressivist wing – such as Cardinal Carlo Martini, for example, who has called for a Vatican III. Nor was it made by newly promoted Cardinal Karl Lehmann, who only last month told the Italian daily La Stampa that the Papacy is “the principal obstacle” to ecumenical progress and demanded “greater collegiality” among the world’s Bishops (Catholic World News dispatch, May 3). The novel request was not made, as might be expected, by the new head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is actively promoting “decentralization in the Church’s government” (America, April 23-30, 2001). Rather, the invitation to rethink the Petrine office was issued by none other than by Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Ut Unum Sint (1995).

It was foreseeable that the progressivists, motored by democratic principles, would sooner or later strike out against the monarchic institution of the Holy Church. That the first blow should come from the hands of the supreme lord of the Church himself would seem to be a topic that would raise a ruckus, or least concern, among conservative Catholics. But there was no such ruckus.

Pseudo-conservatives seemed to dismiss the evidence that any damage could come to the monarchic institution at the hands of John Paul II. Nothing seems to be able to move them from such a conviction, even the recent statement by Cardinal Franz König who said that he believed Pope John Paul II was prepared to accept moves to decentralize the structure of the Church “on a national, regional, or continental basis.” However, the 95-year-old former Archbishop of Vienna added, it would be the next Pontiff who would have the main responsibility for carrying out any major reforms. That is to say, taking advantage of the credibility of this “popular” Pope, the first thrust would be made against the monarchic structure of the Petrine Primacy. To the next Pope would fall the next and stronger action of destruction. The plan was revealed, perhaps to see if there would be any reaction. And all the while, the demons of the air furiously strum their tunes to distract the faithful from taking note of this further step toward the democratization of the Church.

Even traditionalists had been diverted from realizing how far the progressivists have gone in responding to the Pope’s invitation for dialogue. It is not difficult to understand how this could happen. The top priority of so many traditionalists has become that of trying to keep the meager fittings and privileges that have been doled out to us. When one is exhausted from the strains of making a living, raising a family, home-schooling the children, it can become very tiresome keeping track of the latest antics in the progressivist milieus. When one has the solace of attending a sacral Latin Mass and being part of a like-minded community of souls who want to preserve tradition, it is easy for the eyes to stray from the latest advances that the progressivists relentlessly launch from within.

An Invitation Issued, But No One Seems to Take Note

These, then, are the facts. The Pope issued an invitation to find a “new way” to exercise the Petrine Primacy to make it acceptable to Schismatics and Protestants. To date, the most detailed and developed plans have come from the progressivist milieu. The clog in the wheel of all these plans is the push for greater collegiality among the world’s Bishops. That is to say, the role of the Bishops in Church government would increase, while that of the See of Peter would decline. Call it what you may, it translates to a step further in the democratization of the Holy Church.

Cover for An Urgent Plea: Do Not Change the Papacy

A plan to change the Papacy
Therefore, it seems urgent that the voice of the Catholic loyal to tradition and the perennial Magisterium be raised in the discussion to clear the air of those demons who would distract the attention of the faithful away from any impending change of the Petrine Primacy. There are still many Catholics who reject, or are suspicious of, the much-vaunted collegiality of the Bishops in relation to Church government. There are still many who defend the perennial teaching of the Church that the Pope is her supreme lord, governing and teaching with or without the College of Bishops. The plenitude of the power to govern, teach or sanctify resides in him and only in him. There are many who would not accept the suppression of the Pope as King in order to establish a Pope-President. There are still more than a few who would stand as a body to oppose a change in the Papal Primacy to accommodate the false religions.

This, then, explains why the four authors of We Resist You to the Face felt an obligation of conscience to object openly to the proposed measures and alleged motives for a change. In a statement issued exactly one year later, An Urgent Plea: Do Not Change the Papacy (The Remnant April 30, 2001, Catholic Family News, May 2001, book form, Tradition In Action, Inc. May 2001), the co-authors showed that there is in fact a plan to change the Papacy and set the design in its historical context. Such a change would oppose the perennial Magisterium of the Church. Finally, among a great number of faithful, there is a quiet but deep resistance to this proposed reform of the Petrine Primacy.

There could be no more important or pressing topic. Further, there could be no greater urgency in addressing the matter, given that this was the primary topic of the consistory called by the Holy Father for last May. Since John Paul II has issued a friendly invitation to dialogue on the topic, the four authors of An Urgent Plea have responded with this plea: Do not change the Papacy. It is our hope and prayer that this alert may help to thwart the action of the demons of the air who rejoice to see the Church Militant lulled to sleep and off guard in the face of danger.


Posted March 14, 2002


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