VATICAN CITY, March 1, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Papal watchers are wondering what message Pope Benedict XVI was giving when he selected retired Bologna archbishop Cardinal Giacomo Biffi to preach the annual Lenten retreat to the Pope and the top members of the Vatican.
Rocco Palmo, expert Vatican reporter for The Tablet, the international Catholic weekly published in London, England, has noted the significance of the selection of the Lenten retreat preacher. "Since time immemorial -- or, at least, the retreat's heightened profile over the 20th century -- the selection of the preacher has become a closely-watched indicator of the prevailing winds in the papal apartment," said Palmo on his blog. "(T)he choice often falling to a voice the Pope might like to tout... and not just for a higher prominence on the preaching circuit."
Palmo added weight to his remarks noting that "Before their respective elections to the papacy, both Joseph Ratzinger and Karol Wojtyla were tapped to lead the annual exercises."
This year's selection when it became known created a stir since Cardinal Biffi, while he is known for orthodox faith and frank words, is most well known, at least in the secular media, for his preaching on the Antichrist. In fact, the Times of London reported in 2004 that the Cardinal described the Antichrist as "walking among us".
The Lenten retreat did not disappoint. Cardinal Biffi picked up on his oft repeated theme of the Antichrist, basing his remarks on the works of Vladimir Soloviev, a Russian theologian who has received praise from Pope Benedict prior to his elevation to the pontificate.
Quoting Soloviev, the Cardinal said "the Antichrist presents himself as pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist."
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THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: It may surprise many Catholics to know that Evangelicals have held a similar view for decades. But then, it would appear some were about a hundred years ahead of the everyone else. John Henry Cardinal Newman thought that liberalism (or modernism) was a figure of Antichrist, and gave such sermons before his conversion to the Catholic Church in the 19th Century. Personally, I've always held to this view, and here is why? The term "antichrist" literally translated means "against Christ." It means to oppose Jesus of Nazarene as the Christ (Messiah). So what this literally means is that anyone who directly opposes the Messianic identity of Jesus Christ is a type of Antichrist's. History has been full of such personalities, and some have even gone so far as to set themselves (or another) up as an alternative Messiah (Christ) to Jesus Christ. For example; at the end of the 1st century, Nero Caesar set himself up as a Pagan "god" and demanded to be worshipped. Here we have an example of a Pagan form of antichrist, who opposes Christ by virtue of claiming to be deity and persecuting those who follow Jesus. In the early second century, the Pharisees hailed Simon Bar Kohba as a militaristic "messiah" while simultaneously rejecting Jesus as the authentic Messiah (Christ). In this case we see Simon Bar Kohba representing a type of antichrist appealing to the Jews of 2nd century Palestine. (Incidentally, modern Jews do not hold to this view at all and reject all messianic claims of Simon Bar Kohba.) So the point I'm making here is that an "antichrist" doesn't have to be somebody seen as evil or destructive. All he has to do is set himself up in direct opposition to the messianic claims of Jesus of Nazareth. Once that happens, you've got an antichrist. The New Testament Scriptures allude to a great and final Antichrist in the last days before the Second Coming (Parousia) of Jesus Christ and the End of the World. Now modern day Liberalism is based in the concept of modernism and relativism, which ultimately results in nihilism (discussed in a previous post). These philosophies, once politically activated, resulted in the regimes of Communism and National-Socialism (Nazism) during the 20th century. Both of these godless regimes espoused the state as a type of deity, and Nazism in particular, elevated a single man (Adolf Hitler) as the embodiment of the state, and thus a type of "messiah" himself. When people think of regimes such as Communism and Nazism, they sometimes attribute them to right-wing hysteria run amuck. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both Communism and Nazism were based entirely in socialism, though they each approached it in different ways. The Communist approach was to deny the existence of God entirely, put the state in his place, and then indoctrinate the people accordingly. Nazism, on the other hand was slightly more tolerant of religious persuasion (believe it or not), but in doing so became more insidious. Nazism permitted the believe in any religion one so desired, so long as deity of such religion was subordinate to the state. In other words, you could worship any "god" you wanted, so long as you acknowledged that the state was higher than your god. Both regimes fell into the ash heap of broken ideas and failed systems, but their foundational ideologies live on in the form of modern Liberalism. The latest manifestation is the global-warming environmentalist scam, coupled with the traditional "there are no moral absolutes" and "can't we just all get along" mantras. Global-warming environmentalism is really nothing more than "ecofacism" - a socialist scheme based on the idea that if you create a crisis, you can get governments to force everyone in the world to surrender their prosperity and personal property rights. "The Greens are Red!" That's all we need to know. What we have in modern-day Liberalism is little more than a socialist agenda, based on pure relativism, resulting in nihilism in which the state is God and we mortals must subject ourselves to it. The only thing lacking is a global charismatic figure to drive the message home, and rally the world's population into a unified crescendo that rejects the message of Jesus Christ in favor of this new messianic hero. Then we will have the greatest Antichrist the world has ever known.