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Pope Francis next to a statue of Martin Luther placed in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. October, 2016.

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May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The “religious and moral crisis” that followed Vatican II was a worse chastisement than the two world wars and led logically to the “catastrophe” of Pope Francis’ pontificate, says Italian historian and author Roberto de Mattei.

“I hold, with all respect for the office which he holds, that the pontificate of Pope Francis has proven to be a catastrophe for the Church,” Professor de Mattei said during a question-and-answer session on day two of the virtual Rome Life Forum.

The coronavirus pandemic is a chastisement God is permitting “as punishment for our sins,” and there have been previous such punishments and more will come, said de Mattei, whose talk for the 7th annual forum, which was moved online because of the pandemic, was on “The Judgment of God in History.”

Although chastisements of this century included communism and two devastating world wars, de Mattei rated fallout from Vatican II as worse than the latter.

“The religious and moral crisis which followed the Second Vatican Council was a chastisement even worse than that of the world wars, and the pontificate of Pope Francis seems to be the logical consequence of these religious crises,” he said.

John-Henry Westen, co-founder and editor in chief of LifeSiteNews also referred to the confusion caused by Pope Francis during the May 21 question-and-answer session, when MC John Smeaton asked him if he wasn’t afraid of being condemned by God for speaking out against the current pontiff.

“I would be afraid of condemnation by God if I didn't speak my concerns about the pope,” replied Westen, adding that Canon 212 in the Code of Canon Law says the faithful have the right and even the duty to tell pastors their opinions on matters pertaining to the good of the Church.

“And I do this with love for the faith, and indeed love for the pope, whom I pray for every single day. And it’s out of concern for the pope’s own soul,” said Westen, who gave a talk on “The Pontificate of Pope Francis: why should we expect a divine intervention today.”

Westen related how the “confusing and even erroneous public statements of Pope Francis” have caused the older of his eight children suffering, citing as an example his daughter calling him from college when the Holy Father’s statement that “cohabitation is real marriage and has the grace of real marriage due to fidelity” went viral in 2016.

“I’m duty-bound as a father to correct the pope when he says things that are contrary to the faith publicly,” said Westen. “Or was I supposed to lie to my daughter? Or was I supposed to distort the truth? That’s impossible.”

Westen believes the coronavirus is a chastisement that has the loss of public Mass as its “essence” and that it will “get quite a bit worse before it gets better” so that people, particularly in the Church, “may recognize the need for repentance.”

“There is a grave need for the faithful to rediscover reverence at Mass with proper disposition for Holy Communion. There are today countless sacrilegious receptions of Holy Communion,” he said. 

Our Lady at Fatima warned “entire nations will be annihilated,” and “we have to pray earnestly it doesn’t come to that,” Westen added.

“We must commit ourselves to fulfilling the requests of Our Lady of Fatima, and for the laity that means the daily rosary, scapular, and the First Saturdays devotion of reparation, and our own personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

The pandemic is an opportunity for conversion and evangelization, Westen said.

“Countless people, when they are faced with calamity of all sorts, turn their hearts to God, many for the first time, some after a long time of rejecting God,” said Westen. “So there’s never been a better time to evangelize.”

That also holds true within the Church, he said.

“The truth is that the Catholic Church is in a battle like never before; it is an internal battle for the soul of the Church. And we have never needed reinforcements as we do now,” Westen said.

“So challenge those who feel called to the Church even slightly to come in now to join the battle.” 

De Mattei expressed similar thoughts, noting in response to questions that “as with all of the punishments of God,” the pandemic is, “in my opinion, a great act of mercy.” 

“The thing to fear above all is a situation of even greater confusion within the Church, in which even the best Catholics will risk losing their balance,” he said. “I believe we must make an effort to raise our gaze to God rather than lose ourselves in the labyrinth of the tactics of men.”

It is God “and not a man who will save the Church,” but Catholics can “collaborate” with Him by forming a “Catholic army” that is “small, humble, but faithful” and “distinguishes itself for the integrity of the faith and the purity of virtue,” de Mattei said.

“Whatever happens is willed or permitted by God. So we must always welcome His will with joy without ever renouncing the fight for His honour,” he added. 

“Our joy is in the fight.”

The Virtual Rome Life Forum is sponsored by LifeSiteNews and Voice of the Family. To see the schedule or view the talks, go here.