According to my research in biblical chronology, this spring in 2019 is the 2000th anniversary of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The period from fall of 2015 to spring of 2019 represents the 2000th anniversary of the ministry of Jesus. I expect something momentous to occur in the months leading up to the anniversary of the Crucifixion. It might be that the tribulation could begin in 2019, or we could see the start of the great schism, which prepares for the great apostasy during the first part of the tribulation. Based on current events in the Church, especially the growing criticisms of Pope Francis, I expect the schism to begin soon.
Pope Francis will teach a new definition of doctrine, perhaps under Papal Infallibility, which will be contrary to the majority opinion of the conservative Catholic subculture, and yet a truth found implicitly in Tradition and Scripture. The conservative leaders will reject the teaching, will accuse the Pope of heresy, and will depart in the great conservative schism.
Subsequently, the conservatives will disagree among themselves on many matters of doctrine, and so they will become fractured into different splinter groups. When the branch is cut off from the vine, it withers. They have already accepted many different heresies. They have already opposed the Roman Pontiff so much as to constitute the formal sin of schism. But with one more push they will fall off the cliff and publicly admit that they are departing from communion with the Pope.
I expect very many Catholics to depart from the Church due to this next controversy. It will either be a teaching on salvation theology, perhaps issued at the Youth Synod. The Pope will teach that non-Christian believers and non-believers can be saved, without converting, by love of neighbor. That doctrine is true, is found in Tradition and Scripture, and is consistent with past magisterial teachings, as I explain in my book Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone.
The Pope might also teach that the Church has the authority to ordain women as deacons. This teaching would also be controversial, and could be the reason or part of the reason for the schism. I believe that the Church does have the authority to ordain women deacons, and I have long argued this position.
I don’t think the tribulation will begin until the schism begins. That is the first event, which prepares the way for the later apostasy, during the tribulation, when the schismatics leave the Church entirely. When the branch is cut off from the vine, it withers. Then Pope Francis will resign, and his conservative successor will not contradict or change the teachings that caused the schism. But the conservative Pope will issue decisions on discipline and doctrine which upset liberal Catholics. Then they too will depart from communion with the Pope.
Within a very short period of time, perhaps only a year or two, most Catholics will leave the Church. The pews will be empty. The parishes and diocese will be bankrupt. Closings of parishes and even whole diocese will happen, one after another in rapid succession.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian