UPDATE: I was contacted by email by James B. Toner to inform me that Toner has withdrawn his article, discussed below. He has asked OnePeterFive to remove that article, and they have done so. I’m not going to quote the email, but it seems clear to me that Toner has sincerely repented of the claims against the Pope stated below. My article remains online to caution the faithful against the position itself. That OnePeterFive was willing to publish that accusation originally indicates serious problems in the leadership of that online publication.
OnePeterFive has published an article which states the following heretical, schismatic, and blasphemous claim: “I believe Pope Francis to be in the possession of Satan.” The article is I Fear the Worst about Pope Francis by J.B. Toner and dated November 18, 2021. And the board members and editors at OnePeterFive are complicit in these sins. They have a moral obligation to remove the article and to publicly state that they do not agree with its claim. And their moral complicity is not removed by the statement in the article that this “view” is that of the author. For those who run OnePeterFive decided to publish the article with its wicked statement, and to present it to their many readers. Then any reasonable person could anticipate grave harm to the souls of faithful Catholics from this claim.
Here is the full context of that assertion:
J.B. Toner: “St. Paul states explicitly that ‘when the pagans offer sacrifice, it is received by demons’ (1 Cor. 10:20). In 2019, Pope Francis quite publicly and undisguisedly offered prayers to the pagan entity Pachamama, reverently processing through the Basilica to enthrone it on the altar of God. That he has been in communion with demonic beings is therefore simply a fact, a matter of public record, undisputed. And every back-bent word of his ‘A is not A’ elocution declares that he speaks not with the Mind of Christ but with the forked, self-masticating tongue of the Father of Lies. I’ll say it more plainly yet: I believe Pope Francis to be in the possession of Satan. He has followed the road of the worst of popes before him—John XII, Julius II or Urban VIII.
“Again, this view is my own. I offer it as the only solution to our generation’s darkest mystery—’Why is he doing this to us?!’—that seems to fit all the known data. On this hypothesis, the schismatic breakup of the One True Faith is exactly what he seeks, and he is going about it in exactly the right way.” [OnePeterFive.com, I Fear the Worst about Pope Francis, J.B. Toner, 11/18/21]
More than a few faithful Catholics have defended the use of the Pachamama symbol by Pope Francis and its earlier mention by Pope Saint John Paul II. The accusation of idolatry (or worse) against Pope Francis by various papal accusers is not “simply a fact” nor is it “a matter of public record”. Moreover, the Church has always taught that every Pope has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith, and that the Apostolic See is unblemished by any grave error, as proven here.
The claim that Pope Francis “followed the road” of John XII, Julius II, “or” Urban VIII seems to imply that they were also possessed. Yet no explanation or basis is given for this claim. But it follows immediately after the wicked accusation against Pope Francis of possession. Why those three Popes were chosen to share this unusual false accusation is not clear.
Now is the wicked accusation against Pope Francis no longer heretical, schismatic, and blasphemous, if the accusers says perhaps, or that he merely fears the worst, or some other equivocation? No, it is not. For both obstinate denial and obstinate doubt can be formal heresy. And the same distinction applies to schism and blasphemy. If you say Christ is [something wicked], it is blasphemy. If you say instead, I fear that perhaps Christ is [something wicked], it is still a vicious insult and attack on the Lord Jesus Christ. As for schism, to say that one thinks perhaps, or that one fears the Pope is possessed certainly destroys subjection to the Roman Pontiff. For no reasonable Christian would be subject to a person who is possibly possessed by a devil.
Refuting the Accusation
1. Pope Francis is the valid Roman Pontiff.
The Church is indefectible and apostolic. Therefore, the body of Bishops cannot go astray from the true Church by following a false or invalid Pope. Since Pope Francis has been accepted by the body of Bishops as the true successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ, his validity as Pope is a dogmatic fact. For the Church cannot have ceased to be apostolic by the Pope and the body of Bishops all going astray from the true faith. In addition, the universal peaceful acceptance of Pope Francis by the Church, including laity, clergy, religious, and the body of Bishops, both proves his validity and heals in the root any deficiencies (real or imagined) in the election of Pope Francis.
2. Every valid Roman Pontiff has certain papal charisms, and each of these is entirely incompatible with possession by Satan. I will list some of these charisms:
a. The Roman Pontiff is the Head of the Church. Possession by Satan would mean that Satan became the Head of the Church, causing the Church to lose her indefectibility, which is contrary to dogma and therefore impossible.
b. The Roman Pontiff is the Rock on which the Church is founded. But if the Pope were possessed, then the foundation would be wicked, like Satan, contrary to indefectibility.
c. Then both of the above points would be contrary to the dogma, stated clearly by our Lord, that the gates of Hell will never prevail over the Church founded on Peter and his successors (Mt 16:18-19). For if Satan ever possessed any Roman Pontiff, the gates of Hell could certainly be said to have prevailed over the Church. And this is not only because Peter and his successors are each the Head of the Church, and each Her Rock, but also because the Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Christ.
d. How can a Roman Pontiff, who is supposedly possessed, be the Vicar of Christ? He cannot. And this role as Vicar of Christ is not merely an office held by a fallen sinner. Rather, as taught by Unam Sanctam and Pope Pius XII, Christ and His Vicar are “one only head” of the one Church. But if the Vicar of Christ were possessed, then Christ would be one with Satan, which is impossible and blasphemous.
Pope Pius XII: “After His glorious Ascension into Heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter, too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory [Pope] Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.” [Mystical Body of Christ 40]
Since the Pope is one head of the one Church with Christ, it is impossible for the Pope to be possessed, or indeed to be an apostate or heretic or idolater.
e. Each Pope has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith, as taught by Vatican I. If a Pope were possessed by Satan, then he would be a liar and faithless, like Satan. But since this charism is never failing, that would be impossible and contrary to dogma.
f. Vatican I also taught that the Apostolic See is always unblemished, which we should understand to mean unblemished by any grave error. This dogmatic teaching is entirely incompatible with the claim that the Pope is possessed by Satan (or any devil). For then his See would be gravely blemished in the extreme, contrary to dogma.
g. Whatever the Pope binds or looses on earth is bound or loosed in Heaven. This authority is from Christ and is therefore divine. But if the Pope were possessed, then Satan would have the authority to bind or loose in Heaven, which is impossible and contrary to the authority of God.
h. The Pope has supreme authority over the Church. But if he were possessed by Satan, that authority would be given to Satan, which is impossible because the Church is the body of Christ, and Christ cannot be possessed by Satan.
For all of the above reasons (and many more reasons), God never permits any Roman Pontiff to be possessed by Satan, nor to be possessed by any devil. Such a claim is contrary to dogma, Sacred Scripture, and both faith and reason.
3. Heresy, Schism, Blasphemy
The accusation that any Pope is possessed is heresy because the claim necessarily implies the rejection of multiple dogmas of the faith, as explained above.
The same accusation is schism because no one would subject themselves to a Pope whom they thought were possessed by Satan. Thus, the claim, even when stated with equivocation, implies that the accuser rejects papal authority.
Then this accusation is also blasphemy, as it implies that the Church, which is the body of Christ with the Holy Spirit as Her soul, were possessed by Satan in Her Head and in Her foundational Rock. It is also blasphemy because Christ and His Vicar constitute one only head of the one Church. So to say that His Vicar is possessed is to accuse Christ of the same, since they are one head. Then, too, the authority of the Roman Pontiff is divine authority, and so it is blasphemous to claim that Satan has obtained this divine authority by possession of the Pope.
OnePeterFive has reached new depths of sinfulness and hatred of the Vicar of Christ with this accusation. And the culpability for this wicked claim cannot be borne solely by the author of that article, J.B. Toner. For in the article, Toner himself describes a previous article in which an editor of 1P5 edited a claim Toner made about Pope Saint John Paul II — so that the edited version said only that something was rumored to be true. But when Toner accused Pope Francis of being possessed, the accusation was not edited out, nor was the article rejected.
It seems that the only criteria for someone to be an author of articles at OnePeterFive is that he or she attack the Roman Pontiff or an Ecumenical Council in any way at all. They show no perceivable discretion in which articles to accept, with the exception of preferring articles that attack the Roman Pontiffs. The publication itself is openly schismatic and heretical.
Finally, making such a claim against Pope Francis causes grave scandal to the faithful — to say the least!! How many souls are being harmed in their path of salvation by the gravely erroneous faithless lying articles at OnePeterFive???
Ronald L. Conte Jr.