Very few remember that there have been antipopes throughout history. An antipope is a man who claimed to be pope while not being pope. There have been many in the history of the Church and Theologians disagree about how many.
Case in Point
For various reasons stated by Church historians (hard words by Urban VI, violent Romans wanted a Roman Pope, etc.) the same cardinals who elected Urban VI went into a false conclave and faked the election of Antipope Clement VII.
Antipope Clement VII wore the papal colors, lived in the papal palace, rode in the papal carriage, administered the Church, but he was not the pope. Urban VI had been exiled, had not resigned and was still alive. Who do you believe?
Detections of St. Catherine of Siena
However, Saint Catherine of Siena was alive (1347-1380). An infallible Mystic, St. Catherine was a proven miracle worker. She was the Saint who moved Pope Gregory XI to move back to Rome.
Through persuasion and prophetic threats, she inspired Pope Gregory to move back to Rome, despite opposition by the Entire Sacred College and the King of France.
“If you [Pope Gregory XI] not do this, you will be censured by God. If I were you, I would fear that Divine Judgment might descend on me…” (St. Catherine of Siena, Letter to Pope Gregory XI).
Much has been made of Francis. Hundreds, if not thousands of cardinals, bishops, theologians, priests, canon lawyers and deacons have accused Francis of Heresy, fomenting Schism and most especially Apostasy.
Even Vatican Judge Cardinal Burke, said that Francis could be an Antipope. Vatican judges determine whether apostasy has been committed.
We have had Antipopes in the past. The Church through the promise to Peter has always made it through. The question is as many have said, is Francis claiming to be pope, leading people astray. Antipopes in the past have, so of course, antipopes in the present would.
Through many miracles, Francis is indeed an antipope. For beatification, a testimony of heroic virtue and a miracle are required. For canonization, a confirmation miracle is also required.
This is what proves a prophetic statement – “most certain” miracles (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 156). With them no authority can go against them. Without them, all words are mere hearsay, with them an Apostle was made (see Acts 9:1-22; 14:14).
Absolutely Certain & Infallible Special Revelations
There is a way to infallibly know a prophetic communication is absolutely certain – through a special revelation (Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon 16). By its nature such revelations are miracles (Angelicum Pontifical Roman College Manual, Three Ages of the Interior Life, Section 5).
“An absolutely certain and infallible special revelation” (Trent, Session 6, Canon 16).
Trying to dissuade a person from such a revelation is sacrilege. Never should this be done.
Scenario: A young girl says she had a vision of an angel. She is emphatic, and will not stop asserting it. She does not let go of the revelation. Do you try to dissuade her given that she is so young?
Yes?: You just tried to talk the Blessed Virgin Mary out of the Annunciation. You judged by appearances and not by the wisdom of God and the Holy Spirit.
No?: You have faith. You realize that God does miracles, and judge not because you did not experience the Revelation and were not present.
You left the case to a relevant authority. This is humility.
If you are not a bishop and the local authority, you have no authority to say one way or another. You are, however, entitled to your personal belief (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 67).
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our passing. Amen.
Popes & Antipopes (Podcast).