«Satan can even clothe himself in a cloak of humility, but he does not know how to wear the cloak of obedience»

— St. Faustina Kowalska, Diary, Par. 939


Besides Fatima, the most popular Marian apparition in dissident circles is the one that allegedly took place in Akita, Japan. According to what has been reported, a nun named Agnes heard a voice coming from a wooden statue of Our Lady, and these messages were accompanied by an array of miraculous signs (like the statue bleeding and sweating on numerous occasions).

These Marian communications to Sr. Agnes were very ominous, warning about various calamities that would afflict the Church if men didn’t repent and offer penance. One of such misfortunes would be an apostasy that would affect even the higher clergy. Here is the passage most frequently quoted in favor of the Great Apostasy narrative:

«The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres…churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.»

Since Amoris Laetitia (AL) is seen as “accepting compromise” with the world on the matter of divorce and remarriage, and since this document has led to some heated discussions among bishops and cardinals, conspiracy theorists feel vindicated in assuming Pope Francis’ reforms to be “the work of the devil” infiltrating the Church. According to this logic, dissent from AL is, therefore, justified.

Is there any merit to this interpretation, though?


Now, first of all, it bears saying that, contrary to what is popularized in more traditionalist media, this apparition has not been officially approved by the Holy See. See here and here. Even EWTN states: «Despite claims that Cardinal Ratzinger gave definitive approval to Akita in 1988, no ecclesiastical decree appears to exist, as certainly would in such a case.»

But let us suppose Akita is worthy of belief and engage this apparition on its own terms. Can it be used to support dissent from the Pope and a magisterial document?

My contention is that no. It can’t. Just like in every other apparition I have dealt with, the dissenters assume too much, projecting their own predetermined narrative into the texts of the apparitions, leading to conclusions which are obvious and univocal for them, but not for anyone who doesn’t share from that narrative.

They assume the apparitions are talking about Pope Francis. They assume that AL is heretical or, at least, a compromise from the Devil. They therefore assume they are the ones on the right by opposing the Pope. However, if we look at Akita without that deterministic lens, we can get a very different picture.

Now, it bears saying that it is unquestionable we have cardinals opposing cardinals and bishops opposing bishops nowadays. However, there is one key element missing from the prophecy: though it speaks of bishops and cardinals, there is no mention to the pope. Of course, we could be very technical and claim the pope is indeed a bishop… but I think that if the apostasy would involve the pope himself, then this would be explicitly mentioned. It is not an insignificant detail. Remember: Our Lady said “bishop against bishop” and not “priest against priest”, even though bishops are technically priests, because saying bishop instead of priest highlights the gravity of the situation. And what situation could be more grave than the pope himself falling into apostasy?

I have said elsewhere that any private revelation speaking about an apostasy involving the papacy can’t be true, since private revelations are not required belief for a Catholic, while assent to the magisterial utterances of the Holy Father is. Therefore, my salvation can’t hinge on me accepting a private revelation urging me to disobey the pope.

Therefore, if there are cardinals opposing cardinals and bishops opposing bishops, then a fortiori, the cardinals and bishops who are on the right side are the ones who remain in communion with the pope.


However, let us not take this for granted. Let us assume that the pope is just another bishop, and that he is one of the bishops opposing bishops.

If we do this, we can see that there are two factions. Supposing the faction in communion with the pope does not automatically have any higher moral standing, which one of these factions is Our Lady warning us against?

The conspiracy theorists will tell us: “The ones in the Church who accept compromises”. The term “compromise” has entered the lexicon of the Catholic apologetic community as referring almost exclusively to those (be them clergy or laymen) who adopt a lukewarm position regarding the Church’s stance on sexuality. It is according to this definition that AL is seen as a “compromise” on matters of divorce and remarriage.

However, I would like to note that no sector of the Church is exempt of compromises. Can it not be said it is a compromise to reject huge chunks of Catholic Social Doctrine to earn the support of certain political forces, with the intent of winning a Culture War?

No, the “compromise” hint is not as straightforward as it seems. If we are to know which faction is wrong, we must find the answer on a proper exegesis of Akita. Namely, we must see what the overall tone is, what the overarching theme is, what the context is.

Fortunately, the interpretative key may reside in the previous elocution from Our Lady (emphasis mine):

«Is what you think in your heart true? Are you truly decided to become the rejected stone? My novice, you who wish to belong without reserve to the Lord, to become the spouse worthy of the Spouse, make your vows knowing that you must be fastened to the Cross with three nails. These three nails are poverty, chastity, and obedience. Of the three, obedience is the foundation. In total abandon, let yourself be led by your superior. He will know how to understand you and to direct you».

Please note, obedience is the foundation, even greater than chastity itself. We know this to be the true interpretation of Akita, since in it Our Lady never tires to urge Sr. Agnes to be obedient to her superior.

Now, I must be very clear: Chastity is a fundamental virtue. It is paramount for any true Christian to exercise it. It is true that chastity is under attack nowadays and we must strive to preserve it in the midst on an adverse culture. However, certain sectors of the Church seem to take a disproportionate view of chastity, as if chastity was the only virtue, or the most important one, to the detriment of every other single Christian virtue… namely obedience. They use chastity, not as an essential expression of the virtue of temperance that may help the soul attain salvation, but rather as a weapon to throw against those who they deem as sinners, or against a pope they dislike, or magisterial teachings they dislike, or an alleged “apostate” Church. To do so, they will spare no compromises with extra-Catholic forces, as long as they help them win the Culture War for chastity.

If we must try to know what the dangers Akita is warning us against are, we must see who is practicing obedience to their superiors… and who is using every possible justification and pretext to excuse acts of disobedience.

Since the Pope is the Vicar of Christ here on Earth, judged by no other earthly authority, and the true interpreter of the Magisterium, to whose teachings every faithful must give assent of will and intellect… we can easily conclude that “the work of the devil infiltrating the Church”, to the point of having “cardinal opposing cardinal” and “bishop opposing bishop” is, in fact, the sowing of widespread disobedience, which finds its ultimate expression in the disobedience against the Holy Father.


I do not wish this article to be viewed as an endorsement of the Akita’s apparitions. I have many reservations to accept them. However, if the reader is so inclined to trust them, I have to suggest an accurate framework to properly interpret its message. The foundational virtue in Akita is obedience.

This is fitting. Mary and the Devil are waging a war since the Proto-Evangelium mentioned in Genesis 3:15. As mortal enemies, Mary and the Devil have two diametrically opposed mottos: Hers is “Fiat!”, let God’s will be done through me; Satan’s motto is “Non Serviam”, I shall not serve. It was the Devil’s disobedience that brought forth misery, sin and death unto this world, for he propagated his own disobedience to our humanity, by enticing Adam and Eve to disobey God. On the other hand, it was Mary’s obedience, more than her virginity, that allowed the Messiah to come forth and save this fallen world… and He did so by obeying the Father unto death.

Let us, therefore, not use Mary to postulate any kind of disobedience. If you do so, bear in mind that the person you are supposedly emulating or heeding cannot ever possibly be Mary. But the Other One can cloak himself even under the guise of light…

[Photo credits: Icon of the Virgin of Silence, Kiko Arguello]
Pedro Gabriel

Pedro Gabriel, MD, is a Catholic layman and physician, born and residing in Portugal. He is a medical oncologist, currently employed in a Portuguese public hospital. A published writer of Catholic novels with a Tolkienite flavor, he is also a parish reader and a former catechist. He seeks to better understand the relationship of God and Man by putting the lens on the frailty of the human condition, be it physical and spiritual. He also wishes to provide a fresh perspective of current Church and World affairs from the point of view of a small western European country, highly secularized but also highly Catholic by tradition.

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  1. jong ricafort says:

    Great Article and I’m thankful for your reference on diary of St.Faustina in the cloak of obedience..
    This phrase is affirmed by satan & his demons in the Book “Warnings from Beyond”
    it said “OBEDIENCE in heaven is written in CAPITAL LETTERS” this phrase comes from demons forced confession by the Exorcist.

    Regarding Akita prophecy….let me share with you my thoughts as an MMP member…
    Pope Francis is clearly guided by the Holy Spirit and truly a Great Master in the Art of War. Why?
    Pope Francis role is to embraced painfully the CCC675 & CCC677…St.John Paul had a clear vision on this that’s why He gave us the Luminous Mystery as WEAPON in this Age of Darkness.
    This is our Weapon Luminous Mystery as with Albigensian and Lepanto the Holy Rosary will be our Strong & Powerful Weapon to combat forces of Darkness.
    And Pope Francis is living the Luminous Mystery itself by being a Transparent/Luminous Pope.
    The painful job of Pope Francis as guided by the Holy Spirit in these End Times is how to reveal and expose who are the Disobedient Clergy and those Clergy that had an alliance with Church enemies.
    If you are Pope Francis how can you reveal the hearts of the Clergy?
    As I said Pope Francis is a Great Master in the Art of War…Pope Francis magnify a Gray/Not yet Expounded Teaching in Familiaris Consortio and expound it in Amoris Laetetia(a Great Move to stir-up the Clergy)..the results the Clergy are EXPOSE….who belong and obey Church Authority when it comes to “Gray Teachings”…
    Proud Intellectuals are exposed.
    And Pope Francis counters the Filial Correctio and Dubia Cardinals with the words…if they want to clear the DUBIA they have to seek the LIGHT of TRUTH to the Holy Spirit, how? by accepting humility and seeks CONVERSION of heart & mind…The Word is SUPERNATURAL CCC1860, the Clergy has no faculties to see the interior conscience except thru the Light of the Holy Spirit.Pope Francis is Great on this TRUTH.
    This happened to Apostles in John6:50-ff…when it comes to hard teaching that arises DUBIA comes in….we just have to remain faithful that the Light of the Holy Spirit will not abandoned His Church.
    The Akita Prophecy will heighten even more on the Decentralization of Mass…the purpose of this in my reflections is to prepare the Church for Final Confrontation with the devil.
    As OBEDIENCE vs. DISOBEDIENCE and PRIDE vs, HUMILITY is the Key Weapon in battling with Satan, his demons and human cohorts.
    So devotion to the Holy Spirit is the Key in this Age of Darkness and Confusions…
    Remember CCC675 & CCC677, the Remnant Church will be compose of Clergy and Faithfuls loyal to Pope Francis and Church Authority.
    STAY IN THE ARK.
    The Second Pentecost is coming!
    Godbless.S&IHMMP4us.Amen

  2. Anne Lastman says:

    I have looked and read about the visions of Akita many many times. I have also been struck by the words which have uttered by Our Lady.
    The prophecy about Cardinal against Cardinal, Bishop against Bishop, priest against priest and even so called learned laypersons against brethern.
    What has consoled me and helped me to cope with the cofusion caused by the Cardinal against Cardinal etc is the fact that the Holy Father has remained silent just like Jesus standing before Pilate. Manacled and silent.
    He could have responded with mighty words or even called upon his father to show signs of who he is but instead he remained silent against all accusations. The holy father pope Francis has also remained silent against the maleficent racous noise of the lying spirit.
    The the Holy Father has remained silent and obedient to the work of the Holy Spirit and words uttered by Holy Spirit in AL
    In these days and times when the voice of Jesus through the Church is most needed to be heard, and obedience called for, the voice is muffled by the loud noise of the one who bellows “non servium”
    Through the lips of certain cardinals, bishops, priests and laity the confusion is spread to the children and I am further reminded of one of the few “woes” Jesus declares about lost children and rope tied and cast into the sea.

    • carn says:

      “the Holy Father has remained silent just like Jesus standing before Pilate. Manacled and silent.”

      Pope Francis is not “silent”; he tries to not directly reply to criticism; but in my view he says a lot of things indirectly; mostly stuff about people being to legalistic and thereby forgetting mercy, etc.

      “the voice is muffled by the loud noise of the one who bellows “non servium””

      The loudest “non serviam” (think it is “am” and not “um”) the last few days came from Ireland. A happy and joyful and massive proclamation, that unborn humans are worthless nothing no matter what biology, logic, the Bible, the Church or even God might have to say in that regard.

      And it is even disobedience in respect to Pope Francis, whom – as long as he does not alter or develop or whatever statements by his predecessors – has to be presumed to agree with some of his predecessors statements, for example:

      http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html

      “73. …

      In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”.98″

      But i know, the problem are not millions of catholics acting in direct contradiction of an explicit “never” of the Pope to enable the killing of thousands of innocent and defenseless human beings,

      but instead the ones trying to understand how people continuing and intending to continue to be intimate in a presumably non-marriage can have a valid confession, as that usually requires intent to sin no more usually requiring intent not to be intimate outside of valid marriage, the valid confession being a requirement before they could present themselves for communion.

      The latter are clearly the main problem of catholicism.

      (No, sin of other people does not justify one’s own sins; but if one faces a “Which catholics do i call out today for acting in the spirit of Satan by being disobedient? The one potentially being to dumb to get the details of communion for divorced and remarried or the one voting for abortion by the millions?” one should probably at least opt for an “maybe i should call out the latter at least as much as the former”)

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        No one here is contesting that Ireland just issued a massive “non serviam” to Pope Francis’ consistent opposition to abortion. In fact, your reply was addressed to Anne Lastmann, who is a pro-life activist. I myself, though not an activist, have now finished campaigning against euthanasia in my country, which fortunately was voted today on my country’s parliament and lost.
        ***************************************
        Now, regarding your contention that we should focus on abortion and not on those who are disobeying the Pope on Amoris Laetitia, I have some comments:

        1. As much as this may shock some readers, it is a hard truth that saving a soul is more important than saving a life. Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life and should be opposed, but as Catholics our priority is the salvation of souls. Dissenters from Amoris Laetitia, by disobeying the Pope, may be pushing away people who are divorced and remarried and who could, otherwise, start a path of conversion away from sin and towards salvation. If these people end up in Hell because of it, they will experience a much worse fate than the unborn child who got killed, for they will suffer for all eternity.

        2. Complementing on no. 1, it is also paramount for the salvation of souls that the Church may remain One… and that Oneness means communion with the Vicar of Christ. It is not as innocuous as you say, to have Cardinal opposing Cardinal and bishop opposing bishop on account of dissent from a magisterial document, especially when they are validating quasi-protestant arguments that undermine the same papal authority that speaks against abortion

        3. Those that are now dissenting publicly from Amoris Laetitia were the mouthpieces for Catholic orthodoxy just some years ago. These were supposed to be the ones who would be the salt of the earth and light of the world, re-evangelizing a world that lost the gospel through their obedience to the Church. If those that were deemed as faithful do not obey to one single and simple teaching that confuses them, how are they to demand that uncatechized folks turn away from a deeply engrained pro-choice mentality? Do you think their double talk goes unnoticed? Don’t you think their scandal clearly undermines the pro-life message?

        4. There are many pro-life sites and organizations and institutions decrying Ireland’s vote. As far as I know, we are the only blog out there dedicated exclusively to defending the Pope from these dissenters. It seems like even this is too much?

        5. There is a case to be made that Ireland’s vote can be largely attributed to the Irish Church being “too legalistic” and “forgetting about mercy”, so that people stopped listening to Her. It is my firm belief that only by fighting the rigorist mentality that took hold of the Church can we make our pro-life message more effective to the world. Therefore, everything is interconnected

        6. You have said it. “No, sin of other people does not justify one’s own sins”. It is wrongheaded to claim that we should only address other evils when the abortion issue is finally resolved. Or that any talk about sins other than abortion should inevitably include the caveat: “Oh and BTW, abortion is even more wrong”
        *************************************
        So, regarding your question:

        “Which catholics do i call out today for acting in the spirit of Satan by being disobedient? The one potentially being to dumb to get the details of communion for divorced and remarried or the one voting for abortion by the millions?” one should probably at least opt for an “maybe i should call out the latter at least as much as the former”

        I unhesitangly say that I’ll call out the former. Of course, I would love to tackle the latter. If you want me to do that, you can stand down and ask all other people who rail against Pope Francis to stand down too. If they do so, I’ll have much more time to fight abortion on your side.

        • jong ricafort says:

          Great reply Pedro…pondering the words of both of you I see clearly the contradictions of two spirit forces.
          As the scriptures say “from the fullness of the heart a mouth speaks”
          And I love to correlate the DISSENTERS insistence that their orthodoxy opinion is the Truth contrary to Jesus Authority where it resides only to the Pope & Church Magisterium.
          The Dissenters difficulty to Assent to the Truth can be paralleled to John Chapter 6 Jesus discourses…when it comes to unclear teaching or no reference to norms & orthodoxy, a believer’s loyalty is tested even those faithful that are in the inner circles/Apostles were confused and tempted to leave…But who STANDS TALL on the Confusions?
          The contemplative heart of St.Peter, Stands Tall by uttering “to whom shall we go”…Peter gave us a contemplative character when in the midst of Confusions a troubling heart has no where to go but to STAY CLOSE to Jesus…
          Pope Francis Wisdom is so Great like Jesus, that His response to DUBIA & Dissenters is CONVERSION?
          Why Conversion?
          The Apostles only understood the Mystery of Jesus Missions in the Upper Room…
          And so Pope Francis, answer the DUBIA will be cleared not by orthodoxy but by the Light of the Holy Spirit….
          going-away and turning our back on the Church is like imitating the believer’s attitude in John6:66…in the midst of Confusion don’t left the Church…
          As Pope Benedict said “Do not lose the Vision, God always guide His Church”.

          Sweet Heart of Mama Mary be my salvation.S&IHMMP4us.Amen

          • carn says:

            “pondering the words of both of you I see clearly the contradictions of two spirit forces.
            As the scriptures say “from the fullness of the heart a mouth speaks”
            And I love to correlate the DISSENTERS insistence that their orthodoxy opinion is the Truth”

            Since you seem to draw a connection between my words and some dissenters insistence on knowing the truth, i will give a list of things i consider to be true beyond any doubt, in case you think i am one of those people:

            1. Intentionally killing innocent and defenseless human beings is at least nearly always wrong.

            2. 2+2 is at least nearly always 4.

            3. In the very end, there is no contradiction.

        • carn says:

          “Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life and should be opposed, but as Catholics our priority is the salvation of souls. Dissenters from Amoris Laetitia, by disobeying the Pope, may be pushing away people who are divorced and remarried and who could, otherwise, start a path of conversion away from sin and towards salvation.”

          I am skeptical that we are capable of answering the question whether as a society enabling, abetting and helping in the killing of unborn children or whether mishandling divorced and remarried will have more souls end up in hell.

          “It is not as innocuous as you say, to have Cardinal opposing Cardinal and bishop opposing bishop on account of dissent from a magisterial document”

          In my view we have also a bishop vs bishop on abortion, though it less visible. And there were some priests in Ireland saying in public, that the vote is a conscience issue
          which is code word for “feel free to disobey the church in this matter”.

          “Don’t you think their scandal clearly undermines the pro-life message?”

          The situation is certainly not helpful; though i suspect you’re analysis of the so called dissenters motives and reasons might be wrong for some of them.

          “There is a case to be made that Ireland’s vote can be largely attributed to the Irish Church being “too legalistic” and “forgetting about mercy”, so that people stopped listening to Her.”

          If playing the blame game, why not blaming some of AL defenders or Pope Francis for dissenters to stop listening to Pope Francis?

          I do not think blame game is a real good idea, but if one wants blame game then one also has to look whom is to be blamed for the dissenters action; i personally prefer to treat adults as adults and therefore while looking also at the reasons for some motives, catholics disobeying the Pope are usually responsible for doing so, being the issue the killing of children or barring divorced and remarried from communion.

          “It is wrongheaded to claim that we should only address other evils when the abortion issue is finally resolved.”

          A claim i have not made; both should be criticized; and its certainly fine to share the duty between different people; since we already have bishops and indirectly the Pope calling out the AL dissenters for their disobedience, i can just start holding my breath till some other bishops call out the pro-abortion-voting-catholics for their disobedience.

          • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

            Glad to see you disagree with my prioritizing of issues. I’m not being ironic here. Our Church is diverse and needs a lot of charisms. I sure don’t want the pro-life fight to be left without people to defend the unborn babies’ right to life.

            However, even if I can respect that, there’s something I can not and will never agree.

            You asked me whether we should prioritize calling out dissenters from Amoris Laetitia or pro-choicers. I gave you my reasons. You have yours. We disagree. Fine.

            However, my main question is, why should a person who prioritizes calling out pro-choicers spend so much time and energy on a pro-life blog, that never once has spoken in favor of abortion, trying to justify those that commit a different sort of evil other than abortion.

            You’re trying so hard to comment on every blog post here and many times (like your address to Mom on the Humanae Vitae article) you just talk about the divorce and remarriage issue, not abortion.

            So, yes, why prioritize rebutting posts defending Amoris Laetitia instead of calling out pro-choicers is the real question here.

            Again, I told you… if you want me to direct my energy into the pro-life fight (something I would like to do), then stand down and ask dissenters to stand down. But you didn’t stand down. You doubled down. So yeah, I’m staying right here, thank you very much. I’m needed where I am.

          • carn says:

            “So, yes, why prioritize rebutting posts defending Amoris Laetitia instead of calling out pro-choicers is the real question here.

            Again, I told you… if you want me to direct my energy into the pro-life fight (something I would like to do), then stand down and ask dissenters to stand down.”

            The probably usual reaction of dissenters/”dissenters” being asked to stop dissenting would be – even after discussing all the details – an honest “What dissent are you talking about? And what should i assent to?”

            From my POV it is nearly as if the two “camps” speak completely different languages. It constantly reminds me of Babylon.

            “So, yes, why prioritize rebutting posts defending Amoris Laetitia instead of calling out pro-choicers is the real question here.”

            Cause i might need both groups and must be capable of handling any tests by one or the other group whether i belong to “their” camp; and that is difficult, if there is a language barrier i do not understand.

            And i do not spend much energy here. Time maybe a bit too much.

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