A Conservative branch of theologians are trying to argue that the Pope is not in fact a Catholic.

For many years the Pope’s views on Catholicism have been as concrete as the probability of a bear taking a dump in the woods, but now his commitment could be in question following accusations that there has not been a true pope since the death of Pope Pius XII and the subsequent implementation of Vatican II – which ushered in a wave of liberal reform – in 1959.

Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has implemented a series of reforms, which have updated the Catholic Church’s official doctrine and practice.

Among his more notable changes are a softer stance on homosexuality and allowing divorced people receiving Communion.

But now the Tradition In Action group, based in Los Angeles, have pointed to a prophecy reportedly made by a vision of the Virgin Mary which appeared to a group of children in the Portuguese village of Fatima in 1917 on their website.

They claim the third section of a prophecy made by the apparition said there would one day be a rise of apostasy which “will begin at the top”, The Times reported.

The website also claimed the apparition – now known as Our Lady of Fatima and is a venerated image within the church – referred to a fake Pope with a “devilish gaze” – including 12 photograph close ups of the Pope’s eyes.

But Pope Francis’ rule has also provoked the fury of more mainstream conservative circles – particularly in the Curia, the administrative wing of the Vatican.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, the American conservative who has spearheaded much of the opposition to the Pope’s reforms, told a Kentucky conference that it was important to note the differences between Francis’ teachings as a man and his teachings as the Bishop of Rome.

Update: 

In response to the accusations the TIA declared that:

  • Neither Tradition in Action nor any of its writers subscribe to the thesis that there have been no Popes since Pius XII. On the contrary, we believe that from John XXIII to Francis, all the Popes were validly elected Popes;
  • Therefore, TIA has never called Francis or other conciliar Popes impostors, antipopes or fake Popes;
  • These positions are those of the sede-vacantists, which are opposed to the positions defended by Tradition in Action and its writers, as can be verified on our website here, here, here, here and here.
  • The three mentioned newspapers fail to distinguish that a Pope can be an apostate and even a heretic and not lose his pontificate, i.e., he is still a valid Pope. In this case, Catholics should resist his bad teaching and obey him while he continues to rule the Church. This position of resistance is the one that TIA adopts here, here, here, here and here.
  • TIA has made no alliance with Card. Burke to attack Pope Francis. On the contrary, we have serious reservations about the positions taken by Card. Burke and other conservative Cardinals, as can be read here, here, here, here and here.
  • Although TIA respects and agrees with the Letter to the College of Cardinals on Amoris laetitia signed by 45 scholars on June 29, 2016, we took no part in that initiative. We made no formal or tacit agreement with them.
  • TIA has made no agreement with Mr. Riccardo Cascioli. Although some of his reported opinions seem reasonable, TIA does not agree with the affirmation that the crucial battle to resolve the crisis in the Church centers around the concept of the real presence in the Eucharist. We believe that the whole Catholic Faith is being destroyed based on a new theology that reinterprets God, Creation, sin, the Redemption, grace and all the Sacraments as well as Hell, Heaven and the Final Judgment.

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