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November 27, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Popular blogger Father John Zuhlsdorf bluntly told a reader considering leaving the Catholic Church because of Pope Francis that doing so could lead to his eternal damnation.

“No. And NO! And HELL NO!” the priest wrote on his Fr. Z blog.

And Zuhlsdorf was equally blunt that leaving the Catholic Church would be a failure of courage: “Fast. Give alms. Pray. But don’t be a coward,” he wrote.

“Look, friend, popes come and popes go,” explained Zuhlsdorf, who is based in Madison, Wisconsin. 

“Only one thing is clear about popes, and the Romans get this right: Muore un papa se ne fa un altro … A pope dies, you make another. We make another until Christ returns. Somehow that’s the way Church will always be even if we don’t like the choice.”

But the Holy Catholic Church is “indefectible” as well as infallible and authoritative, he said.

Moreover, as Vatican II document Lumen Gentium confirmed:

14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved (emphasis added).

The reader admitted “utterly” rejecting Pope Francis “as a false prophet of the devil” and that he — or she — could not “continue to acknowledge him during Mass.” Nor did attending the Latin Mass “alleviate my doubts,” he wrote.

“I am seriously considering heading to the Orthdox Church or finding a conservative evangelical church,” added the reader. 

Zuhlsdorf did not address criticisms of Pope Francis but reiterated that “the Petrine Ministry is part of the fabric of the Church as the Lord designed. Somehow, until the ending of the world, the Church – and hence the papacy – cannot fail, even though we don’t know how.”

“If we believe Christ’s promises – and I sure do – then we hold that the Church will not fail even to the end of the world when He returns to take all things to Himself and submit them to the Father,” he said.

But “as necessary as the papacy is, a pope is Christ’s VICAR, not Christ himself,” and it is “dangerous to place too much emphasis on any pope.”

Moreover, the reader might have to “completely tune out of the larger churchy news and put your nose to your personal grindstone and live your vocation well,” Zuhlsdorf pointed out.

Because what the reader needed to do was  “pick up your Cross and your sword and get your — back to the lines,” the priest exhorted.

“These are hard times. Confusing. Fearful. Dangerous. But these are the times into which God called us to live. That means he offers us the graces we will need to live our vocations well,” Fr. Zuhlsdorf said.

“God didn’t call us into existence at random, but rather with a plan and a purpose for every one of us. He called YOU, friend, into this life HERE and NOW, not at some other time and place.  These are the circumstances of our lives. We are the soldiers of the Church Militant God wants NOW.” 

Read Fr. Z’s full column here.