Contra Kelly Bowring on Pope Francis

Heresy and Schism —

Kelly Bowring, Ph.D., writes mainly in the subject area of Catholic eschatology. But Kelly Bowring’s writings in eschatology are heretical. He proposes, repeatedly and emphatically, that the Church is not indefectible, and that She will go astray from the Faith. This claim is abject heresy, believed and taught by Bowring. Furthermore, Bowring’s rejection of Pope Francis and his refusal of submission to the person, authority, and teaching of the Pope is the grave sin of schism.

Furthermore, since Bowring is a theologian with a Ph.D. in theology, his public obstinate promotion of heresy and schism cannot be dismissed as mere material heresy and mere material schism, due to ignorance. Thus, I can reach no other conclusion, but that Dr. Kelly Bowring has publicly committed formal heresy and formal schism, and he is therefore excommunicated automatically (latae sententiae) under Canon Law. Therefore, his claim to be a Catholic theologian “in good standing” is false. He is not in good standing, and he is not a faithful Catholic, but an heretical and schismatic Catholic — if such persons can still be called Catholic at all.

Can. 751 “Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

Canon 1364 §1: “an apostate from the faith, a heretic, or a schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.”


In truth, it is an infallible dogma, taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, that the Church is indefectible. She cannot go astray from the Faith. She cannot teach heresy. She cannot be taken over by the devil, or by evil forces (howsoever they may be described). She cannot be corrupted at the highest levels of the hierarchy. The Pope and the body of Bishops, who exercise the gift of the Magisterium by the work of the Holy Spirit, cannot be corrupted in their teachings. Such a claim would imply that the Holy Spirit himself has been corrupted, and that the promise of Jesus, to keep the Church indefectible, has failed.

{16:18} And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

{22:32} But I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail, and so that you, once converted, may confirm your brothers.”

{14:26} But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will suggest to you everything whatsoever that I have said to you.

“It arises from the necessity of salvation that all the faithful of Christ are to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” — Fifth Lateran Council

Pope Francis is:
* Our Holy Father
* Supreme Head of the whole Church
* Father and Teacher of all Christians
* Supreme Pontiff
* True Vicar of Christ
* Supreme and Universal Pastor
* Ruler of Christ’s whole fold
* Supreme Judge of the faithful
* Successor to Saint Peter
* Supreme Teacher of the Universal Church
* Rock on which the Church is founded
* Pilot and Helmsman of the Ark of Salvation

“This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine.” — First Vatican Council

It is the sin of heresy and the sin of schism to believe or teach anything, regardless of the explanation, which contradicts the above teachings on the indefectibility of the Church and on the gift of truth and of a never-failing faith given to the Pope.

No Pope can teach material heresy, nor commit the sins of apostasy, heresy, or schism. No Pope can become invalid or become an antipope by teaching heresy, nor by any other sin. And God never permits an antipope or heretic to become accepted by the body of Bishops (whose faith each successor of Peter confirms by his own never-failing faith). Pope Francis cannot possibly be an antipope, nor an invalid pope, nor a teacher of material heresy, nor an apostate, heretic, or schismatic.

Since the Pope is the head of the Church and the head of the Magisterium, the indefectibility of the Church implies the indefectibility of the Pope. And since Christ did not appoint only one Apostle, Peter, but 12 Apostles (Matthias replacing Iscariot), the indefectibility of the Church is not based solely on the indefectibility of the successor of Peter, but also on the indefectibility of the body of Bishops (as a body only, not individually). For the Bishops are the successors to the other Apostles. Judas Iscariot went astray, betraying Christ — a grave sin which foreshadowed all future sins of apostasy, heresy, and schism. Therefore, a Cardinal, even a Patriarch or Primate, can go astray. But a successor of Peter can never go astray.

When I read any Catholic’s claim that Pope Francis has taught heresy or has gone astray from the true faith in any way, I reject such claims on the basis of the theological virtue of faith and the teachings of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium on the indefectibility of the Church. No explanation, however scholarly or clever, will cause any Catholic, from the least to the greatest, to depart from communion with the Roman Pontiff, if that Catholic stands on the basis of the theological virtues of love, faith, and hope given at baptism and nourished by all the other Sacraments and by the teachings of the Church.

Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi

Rev. Joseph L. Iannuzzi, STD, Ph.D. writes faithful Roman Catholic theology in the subject area of eschatology. He rejects the claims of Bowring that Pope Francis and the Church will go astray. See his articles:
* Can a Pope Become a Heretic?
* Is It Wrong to be Critical of this Pope? [PDF file]
* Is Criticizing the Pope a sin? [PDF file]

Fr. Iannuzzi proposes, and I agree, that:

The word “automatic” is pivotal in this sentence of excommunication, as it indicates that no written document is required to impose excommunication. For said excommunication takes effect automatically, i.e., at the precise moment the individual makes a false public criticism against the Roman Pontiff that is grave in nature and that results in the public moral and spiritual harm to the members of the Body of Christ. As for examples of a grave criticism against the Roman Pontiff that may result in automatic excommunication, consider the accusation that the Roman Pontiff is a false pontiff whose teachings are to be ignored; the Roman Pontiff is a validly elected Pope but he is leading the Church into heresy…. [Is Criticizing the Pope a sin?]

Some limited respectful criticism or disagreement with any Pope’s personal opinions and prudential decisions can be faithful. Even non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium or specifically of the Pope, allow for a limited degree of licit theological dissent.

But accusing the Pope of teaching material heresy, or of committing formal heresy, or of becoming an invalid Pope (or antipope), or any type of severe accusation which implies a rejection of the indefectibility of the Church, of which each Pope is the head, is not faithful. The sins of formal heresy and formal schism each carry the penalty of automatic excommunication.

Bowring’s Eschatology

At, Bowring’s book The Great Battle Is Unfolding has two quoted “editorial reviews” from The aforementioned blog is a paid service that gives books on Amazon glowing reviews in exchange for money. This type of review is prohibited by Amazon’s terms of service. It is also unethical. A Catholic author who has to pay a company to put positive reviews of his books on Amazon is not someone whose writings I could recommend.

The same book repeatedly quotes the discredited claimed private revelations of Mary Carberry, who calls herself Maria Divine Mercy (MDM). Her claimed private revelations openly accused Pope Francis of being an evil antipope associated with the Antichrist and of being the false prophet of the book of Revelation. She is guilty of the sins of heresy and schism for rejecting the indefectibility of the Church (a formal dogma) and for rejecting the Roman Pontiff. And the claims proposed by Kelly Bowring are essentially the same types of claims. In his book “The Great Battle…”, Bowring repeatedly cites and quotes Maria Divine Mercy to support his accusations against Pope Francis. But subsequent to her discrediting, Bowring continued to teach and promote the very same heretical and schismatic ideas, without mentioning her.

Bowring’s book The Secrets, Chastisement, and Triumph of the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary claims to have the imprimatur from Cardinal Vidal of the Philippines. The imprimatur on this book is invalid. Only the local ordinary can give the imprimatur. An author cannot shop around to find a Bishop in another diocese or another country who will give the imprimatur.

Also, the book is about 275 pages, but the lines are very generously spaced, double spaced or close to it. There are many long quotes in the book, and a large section of devotional material that is not eschatological. As a book of eschatology, the work is very thin. The small portion of the book that does contain some eschatology has significant errors. For example, he claims that the two prophets of Revelation are the two hearts of Jesus and Mary. This interpretation is absurd; it flies in the face of numerous plain statements in the text of Scripture itself. Also, at La Salette, Mary said that the two prophets are Enoch and Elijah. St. Thomas agrees.

In another example, he claims that the ten kings are not ten rulers, but ten ‘anti-commandments’. Again, this interpretation is contradicted by the words of the Virgin Mary at La Salette, and by the interpretation of a number of Saints, e.g. Saint Irenaeus. It is also contradicted by the text of Daniel 7:24. Scripture explicitly says that these ten horns are ten kings.

I’ve very offended by that book. The author quotes my translation of the secret of Melanie, without proper attribution, and he plagiarizes my notes from the translation. My notes, which he plagiarizes on pp. 159-160:

“Melanie also commented on this point, as follows:” (plagiarized word for word)

“The Blessed Virgin showed her other cataclysms without naming them” (slightly rephrased)

“Abbé Combe, the editor of the 1904 edition, adds the following note after this paragraph.” (plagiarized word for word)

He also quotes extensively, not only from my translation of the secret of Melanie, but also from my translation of Melanie’s comments and Abbe Combe’s comments on the secrets, without attribution to me. He cites only “Le Secret De Melanie (1904)”, which is in French. But the quotes he uses are from my translation into English, taken without attribution. This is a type of plagiarism.

Bowring on Pope Francis

At his website, Two Hearts Press, Bowring publicly promotes heresy and schism.

“Pope Francis, are you the wolf in shepherd’s clothing that Catholic prophecy has warned us about? Are you the prophesied false prophet of lies and deception who will lead the Church into schism? Are you the anti-John the Baptist and precursor of the antichrist who will rule over the world?” [Bowring, Letter to Pope Francis]

Since writing the above “open letter”, Bowring has continued to accuse Pope Francis, so much so that his claim is no longer presented as a possibility, but an actuality, that Pope Francis has gone astray. The accusation that Pope Francis, or any other Pope, is a wolf in shepherd’s clothing, or a false prophet, or is leading the Church into schism, or is associated with the Antichrist are all heretical and schismatic claims.

“The Catholic Church will now be toppled and broken into little pieces. It is up to us to salvage the remnants of the Church. We must fight with bravery, through our love for Christ, against all obstacles. The true Church will remain, but only among the faithful remnant.”

The idea that the true Church will become nothing but a remnant, apart from the Pope and the body of Bishops, is contrary to the indefectibility of the Church, founded on the Rock that is Peter and his successors. It is abject heresy to say that the Catholic Church will be “toppled and broken into little pieces”, and that She will be separated from the Pope and the body of Bishops.

“the official Catholic Church is eventually sucked into the new One World Church in the name of unification, after the world war, by the Antichrist and the false prophet pope.” [Timeline of End Times according to Bowring]

Again, this claim is contrary to the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ and the Pope is the head of that body on earth. So the Pope can never be a false prophet, nor can the Church led by the Pope go astray and become a false Church, or be “sucked into” a false Church of any kind.

“Some protest saying that we should remember that the pope is infallible. But, does the charism of infallibility and the corresponding duty of obedience belong to an invalid pope? And hasn’t it been established that a pope can indeed invalidate himself by abandoning the faith or changing doctrine itself? Is this one about to do so, or has he not done so already?” [Taking Offense at Pope Francis]

As I explain at length in my other posts and in my book (In Defense of Pope Francis), a valid Pope is validly elected, accepts his election, and is an ordained Bishop. Those are the only three criteria. And a valid Pope can never become invalid, because such a claim is contrary to the promise of Jesus and the teaching of His Church that each Pope is the Rock on which the Church is founded. But if each Rock can become invalid by teaching the wrong thing, then the Rock and the Church would not be secure and could not withstand the gates of Hell. So it is not possible for any Pope to “invalidate himself” by some sin or false teaching. As the First Vatican Council infallibly taught, each successor of Peter has the gift of truth and a never-failing faith.

The idea of a remnant Church, such that the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops have departed from the true faith, is abject heresy. For the Church cannot be said to be indefectible, if her head, the successor to Peter, and the leaders within her body, the Bishops, have gone astray. And even if the claimed remnant Church includes a few Cardinals and Bishops, the claim remains heretical. For Jesus taught that the Church is founded on the Rock that is Peter and his successors, and Tradition and the Magisterium have confirmed repeatedly that this is the correct understanding of the teaching of Jesus. Our Lord founded the Church on Peter, and also on the other Apostles, and their respective successors: the Pope and the body of Bishops. So anyone who claims that any Pope has taught heresy, or has committed apostasy, heresy, or schism, thereby rejects the teaching of Christ in the Gospels and the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church. And the same is true for the body of Bishops, who as a body are indefectible. Individual Bishops can go astray, like Judas Iscariot, but the body of Bishops cannot.

The rejection of Pope Francis and of the body of Bishops by Bowring is based largely on claimed private revelation. Some of these claimed private revelations are false (See my list of true and false private revelations here). They claim to present messages from Heaven, but in fact the messages are heretical and schismatic, filled with one doctrinal error after another. Whoever follows these false private revelations is rejecting the warning given by Christ himself:

{24:24} For there will arise false Christs and false prophets. And they will produce great signs and wonders, so much so as to lead into error even the elect (if this could be).
{24:25} Behold, I have warned you beforehand.

Bowring also quotes some true private revelations, such as La Salette and Medjugorje and Fatima, in support of his own heretical and schismatic ideas. But in this case, the problem is not with the claimed private revelation, but with its interpretation.

The Council of Trent infallibly condemned the idea that a person may propose an interpretation of Sacred Scripture which is contrary to the teachings and interpretation of the Magisterium.

“In addition, in order to restrain insolent clever persons, [the Synod] decrees that no one, by his own ingenuity, in matters of faith and morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, shall dare to interpret the same Sacred Scripture, conforming the meaning of Sacred Scripture to his own mind, contrary to that sense which holy mother Church, who is to judge the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, has held and does hold” [Trent, Decree On The Edition And The Use
Of The Sacred Books]

If we are instructed by the Church not to trust any interpretation of Sacred Scripture which is contrary to Church teaching, how much more so should we reject any interpretation of a claimed private revelation, even if that private revelation were truly from Heaven, when said interpretation is also contrary to the teachings of the Church. And it is absolutely clear that any private revelation, true or false, errs gravely when its interpretation proposes that any Roman Pontiff or the body of Bishops has departed from the true faith by teaching material heresy, or by committing apostasy, heresy, or schism, or in any other way, regardless of the explanation. For the Lord Jesus and His Church have clearly taught that the Roman Pontiff has the gift of truth and a never-failing faith, and that he is the Rock on which the Church is founded. And his never-failing faith confirms, that is strengthens, the faith of the body of Bishops, so that, as a body, they too are indefectible.

There will never be a remnant Church in the sense that the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops have been corrupted, and the true Church is found thereafter only in a small number of Bishops and a small number of the rest of the faithful. Such a claim contradicts the infallible teaching of Jesus in the Gospels, and the infallible teaching of Ecumenical Councils (as quoted above).

There is, within faithful Catholic eschatology, a sound opinion, which proposes that, in the future, the Church herself, including the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops and their faithful subjects, will be small, as compared to the sinful world around Her. And that is the correct understanding of any proposed remnant Church. The early Church was similarly small, in comparison to the sinful world around Her.

I should also point out the same type of error regarding one’s own understanding or interpretation of magisterial teaching. Many persons today are accusing the Pope of contradicting magisterial teaching, when in fact either they have misunderstood the meaning of the Pope’s words, or the Pope is only contradicting their misunderstanding or misinterpretation. Bowring makes the same mistake as other papal critics, by assuming that his own understanding and interpretation cannot err.

Saint Augustine said that, if Scripture seems to contain an error or a contradiction, then we must conclude, based on faith, that the error is only in our understanding or interpretation, not in Scripture itself (Augustine, City of God 11.5). And the same is true for papal teachings and magisterial teachings more generally. In humility, we must consider that, if the Pope seems to have erred, perhaps there is a plank in our own eye, rather than a speck or a plank in his eye.

See my previous posts:
* Kelly Bowring versus Pope Francis
* What Saint Bellarmine really said about Popes and Heresy
* The Pope, the body of Bishops, and the Church are Indefectible
and my recent post:
* A Rebuke of the False Eschatology of Kelly Bowring

[1 John 4]
{4:1} Most beloved, do not be willing to believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are of God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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2 Responses to Contra Kelly Bowring on Pope Francis

  1. Matt says:

    Thank you for defending the Catholic faith and calling out those that claim to be “Catholic.”

  2. Mikey says:

    I’m in complete agreement about this . Well said ….

Comments are closed.