A Desmond Birch Commentary:
THE IMPLICATIONS OF
JOHN LEARY’S WRITINGS BEING
"HUMAN IN ORIGIN, NOT DIVINE"
Several weeks ago, part of a news story about John Leary was posted on the Tribulation Times. That story related the fact that on July 7, 1999, Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, N.Y. issued a formal statement which declared that Leary's 'alleged' messages, or "locutions", did not come from God, that in fact they were "human in origin, not Divine".
For several years, Bishop Clark has been beset with requests from Catholics for a ruling on John Leary’s writing—was it orthodox? -- could it contain authentic messages? These requests came from all over the United States. Those numerous requests are what led to the formal investigation of Mr. Leary’s writings. That in turn led to Bishop Clark's declaration on Leary's alleged "locutions". I.e., Leary's messages are not from God.
SINCE BISHOP CLARK MADE THAT RULING, MR. LEARY HAS BEEN PUBLISHING SOME NEW 'ALLEGED' MESSAGES. These new 'messages' implicitly call Bishop Clark's ruling into question.
One of the main reasons Bishop Clark cited for his ruling, that Leary's "locutions" were "human in origin, not Divine", is that there ARE a number of theological errors in Leary's alleged "locutions". The Bishop's statement singles out two of the most flagrant errors for special comment. They are "Millennarianism", and "Antipapalism". The Bishop's statement makes it clear that these two are NOT the only "doctrinal errors" contained in Leary's writing when it says;
" various doctrinal errors in the (Leary's) works, such as his teaching about an upcoming thousand-year reign of Christ on earth or that the next pope elected should not be obeyed."In Catholic teaching, these are two grave theological errors.
The Church (and ALL her Bishops) know that authentic revelations, prophecies, visions, do not contain theological or doctrinal errors. Why? Because God does not reveal theological error or doctrinal error. God, who knows everything, could not reveal a theological or doctrinal error, because in order to do, God would have to reveal something He knows to be untrue, to lie. God would never do that. IT FOLLOWS THEN THAT ANY 'ALLEGED' REVELATION OR MESSAGE CONTAINING DOCTRINAL ERRORS CANNOT BE FROM GOD.
That is why one of the first tests any Bishop puts to an alleged revelation or message is; Does it contain doctrinal error? If it does, then the Bishop knows that revelation or message cannot be from God. Bishop Clark applied that rule to the writings of John Leary. As the reader has just seen, one of the main reasons Bishop Clark put forth for declaring John Leary's messages to be of "Human Origin, not Divine", is that they contain "doctrinal errors". Bishop Clark declares that the two most prominent doctrinal errors identified in John Leary's writings are; "Millenarianism", and "Antipapalism".
Ever since the Tribulation Times ran parts of that news story about Bishop clark's declaration, I have continued to receive numerous questions from a wide range of religiously diverse readers as to the following:
Subsequently, I was asked to prepare the following document(s) addressing these questions from a Catholic perspective. We will answer the questions in the order listed above.
QUESTION 1. Why Leary’s Bishop did what he did?
While the "Millenarianism" issue received prominent attention in both the report of the Diocesan Commission, and Bishop Clark's declaration about Leary, it is very important for Catholics to understand that "Millenarianism" is not the only "theological error" in Leary’s books.
[Leary has (as of this date) written/published fourteen volumes through his current publisher. Those volumes contain messages Leary alleges were from "Jesus, Mary and various saints". The fifteenth volume will be published shortly. They are published by Queenship Publishing Co. in Santa Barbara, CA.]
The Rochester Diocesan newspaper, "Catholic Courier", ran an article discussing Bishop Clark’s final ruling on Leary’s alleged "messages". Therein they quoted from an interview with Fr. Joseph A. Hart, Vicar General of the Diocese of Rochester. That article quotes Father Hart as saying,
"the commission unanimously found that Leary’s writings were riddled with doctrinal errors and that they were of human origin. He said the messages themselves were the basis for this finding." (that Leary's writings were of "human" and not Divine "origin".)Subsequently, several people have written me questioning whether the Commission had a bias toward's Leary, asking me if in fact Leary's writings contained theological error. So, here is my answer:
In 1996, I was independently asked to perform a "doctrinal review" of one of John Leary's manuscripts. [This manuscript was eventually published as Vol. #7 of Leary's 'books'.] I was asked to review the manuscript by people who had read pre-publication manuscript copies of "Trial, Tribulation and Triumph". One of these individuals had a very serious "need to know" if there was doctrinal error in Leary's writings. It was primarily for that individual that I performed the review. I had no "bias" towards Mr. Leary. I knew virtually nothing about him. After studying the manuscript (and several earlier books of Leary's), I came to the conclusion that they were full of theological errors. I quite coincidentally chose exactly the same verb which Fr. Hart later utilized to describe the depth of doctrinal error in ALL Leary’s volumes. That verb is "riddled". In 1996 I reported back to those who had asked for the review;
"This manuscript is riddled with many theological errors."I did not go public in 1996 with any statement on Leary. I had confidence that his Bishop would ultimately confirm that Leary's messages contained doctrinal errors, and therefore could not be coming from God.
I have said nothing publicly prior to this. The main reason I'm saying something now, is because I know that certain individuals have publicly stated that Leary is the victim of a biased commission. I have gone public with Leary in order to demonstrate that is not the case. I cannot tell you whether any member of the commission was biased against Leary. What I can tell you is that their finding that there is "false doctrine" in the writings of John Leary -- that "finding" IS based on clear glaring facts, not upon bias. There may be some who wish not to accept that fact. That will be their decision. But, it will be a decision in which they cannot later claim ignorance of the Church's teaching on Millenarianism -- not if they have read the article on Millenarianism.
SINCE GOD (who is truth) CANNOT "REVEAL" AN ERROR, THE CHURCH, IN THE PERSON OF BISHOP CLARK, CAME TO THE VERY LOGICAL CONCLUSION THAT LEARY'S MESSAGES WERE NOT OF "DIVINE ORIGIN". That decision was NOT based solely on the "millenarianism" issue (though that would have been sufficient). Bishop Clark also specifically mentioned the following:
"The preface (of the commissions findings) also points out that Leary’s books counter church doctrine on the office of the pope."
[After Millenarianism] "The second error is ‘anti-papalism’...," the preface continues. "Mr. Leary’s locutions select Pope John Paul II to be obeyed but his successor to be ignored as an ‘imposter (sic) pope.’ This erroneous teaching is found in all the volumes."The report continues:
"his locutions warn of the coming of the anti-Christ, a political leader who will forge an alliance with the next pope. According to Leary’s diaries, this next pope — whom Leary calls a false pope — will replace Pope John Paul II after the current pontiff is exiled. Leary writes that the false pope will undermine church teachings and support persecution of religious and political opponents of the anti-Christ’s regime."Thus, it is clear that John Leary’s Bishop did not act independently using his own theological interpretation, but that he did nothing more nor less than what any other loyal and true Catholic Bishop should have done. He applied the teachings of the Church to Leary’s various ‘revelations’, and saw that they are in clear opposition with many formal teachings of the Church. Therefore, they could not be of "Divine origin." The "Millenarian" and "anti-Papalism" issues were only two amongst MANY doctrinal errors found in Leary’s writings.
So, herein lies the answer to Question #1 (Why Bishop Clark did what he did in relation to John Leary’s "alleged" messages.) There are a whole host of theological issues involved here (not all of which are even mentioned in the official news items about the Commission’s final report). For any Catholic, that assessment by his bishop (of multiple doctrinal errors in Leary's writings) should answer the question as to why Bishop Clark had to take the stand he did on Leary’s alleged messages.
Again, here is the process which led to Bishop Clark's decision. It is commonly understood that God does not reveal theological or doctrinal "error". Leary's alleged messages contain theological error. Therefore Leary's "messages" cannot be from God. When 'alleged' messages or 'locutions' are not from God, then there are only two possible sources left, which are -- human or demonic origin. Bishop Clark assures us that in Leary's case they are "human in origin".
[The entire copy of the news article being quoted is available by clicking here.]
Originally, Mr. Leary appeared to be cooperating with the spirit of the directive from his Bishop, Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester. Since Bishop Clark made his ruling public on July 7, 1999, some sad events have occurred. Mr. Leary has been publishing other 'alleged' locutions on the Internet—'alleged' locutions which appear to call into question the ruling of his Bishop.
As one such example, we quote from Mr. Leary’s 'alleged' message of July 7, 1999. What follows are several passages of that ‘alleged’ vision, which make our point. Leary claims:
"Jesus said: The messages I have given you concerning the Antipope and the Era of Peace will be vindicated in their own time ... You have gone through the first trial of the distribution of My messages. Now, you are facing a second trial that will again threaten the timing of your messages going out. You are to face continuous problems and criticisms because your work is bringing souls to Me. Satan will be attacking you with many roadblocks designed to silence you."Leary now claims that attempts to "silence" him in propagating his 'alleged' messages, they are attacks from Satan. Are we to believe that the Bishop’s action when he declared Leary’s messages to hold "false doctrine" that those actions of Bishop Clark are "attacks" from "Satan"?
By publishing such alleged 'new messages', Leary himself has again raised the issue of the orthodoxy of his 'alleged' locutions. We shall now delve into the questions, "Do Leary's 'alleged' messages contain false doctrine or don’t they?
One of the key points of the condemnation of Leary was his claim that it was revealed him that a literal "Millennium" is coming. That carries to us Question #2.
Question #2; What is Millennialism/Millennarianism? [The terms "Millennialism" and "Millenarianism" are virtually synonymous.] The following definition of "Millenarianism" comes from the document prepared by the American Catholic Bishops for the anticipated Third Millennium and its celebrations in the year 2000. The following is the Bishops definition of Millennarianism:
"Many ‘end of the world’ beliefs arise from views of Millennialism. Millennialism (or millenarianism) is the belief that Christ will establish a kingdom on earth for a 1000-year period. It is based on a literal reading of Revelation 20:1-10. Millennialists believe that while Satan is chained for this 1000-year period, resurrected martyrs and all who have been faithful to Christ will come to life and share in His reign."Millenarianism" (as described immediately above by the U.S. Bishops) is, amongst many other things, what Bishop Clark (and the Diocesan investigatory "Commission") saw clearly described in Leary’s alleged "revelations" from "Jesus, Mary, and various saints." And that was one of the main reasons that they declared Leary’s "revelations" to be of "human origin". In plain English, they said that Leary is not receiving revelations from God. [All the quotes in this paragraph are from the official diocesan press release sent to me by Rev. Kevin E. McKenna, Chancellor of the Diocese of Rochester. This document is posted in its entirety at the end of the article]
At the end of this 1000-year reign, Satan will be allowed to resume his activity until the Last Judgment, at which time the faithful will enter into eternal happiness in heaven and all who have rejected Christ will be plunged into hell. This is not the pope’s view of the year 2000."
[The reader can find this text at the NCCB (National Conference of Catholic Bishops) website, in its article "Third Millennium and Jubilee Year 2000" at http://www.nccbuscc.org/jubilee/media/q&a.htm]
THE 1994 "CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH"
It is a well established point of Catholic teaching that the Catholic Church rejects Millenarianism. As the 1994 "Catechism of the Catholic Church" teaches.
"#67 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of Millennarianism.John Leary claims that "Jesus, Mary and some of the saints" revealed to him as truth, that which the Church regards, and has ever regarded as theological error. Therefore, Leary's messages cannot be from God.
BISHOP CLARK HAS DONE NOTHING MORE THAN ADHERE TO THE TRADITIONAL TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH IN DECLARING THAT THERE IS FALSE DOCTRINE IN LEARY'S 'ALLEGED' MESSAGES.
Since there is false doctrine in Leary's alleged messages, those messages cannot be from God.
But at the same time we also note, and in all fairness acknowledge that; neither did Bishop Clark determine that Leary’s theologically disordered messages were derived from a demonic source.
THUS, THE ONLY OTHER LOGICAL CONCLUSION OPEN TO BISHOP CLARK, SINCE THE MESSAGES ARE CLEARLY OPPOSED TO GOD'S TEACHINGS (yet are not determined to be demonically inspired) IS THAT THE LEARY MESSAGES MUST BE OF HUMAN ORIGIN – MEANING THAT THEY ARE NOTHING MORE THAN OFTEN-PIOUS (BUT GENERALLY UNORTHODOX (doctrinally erroneous) THOUGHTS EMANATING FROM JOHN LEARY'S OWN MIND.
Bishop Clark was consistent in this matter in that, he also ordered Leary to post a warning on his published materials, stating that Leary's alleged messages contain "doctrinal errors". When we put these two things together we come to the following logical conclusions;
We still must deal with basic point of question #(3) If the Church rejects "Millenarianism", why does it do so?
THEREFORE, FOR ANY READER (CATHOLIC OR NON-CATHOLIC) WHO HONESTLY WANTS
TO KNOW WHAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHES IN THIS AREA—AND MOST IMPORTANTLY,
WHY, THEY WILL FIND A REASONABLY THOROUGH ANSWER IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE
ON MILLENARIANISM. (Available Soon!)
Permission given to freely distribute in its entirety provided that the following copyright notification is included "Copyright 1999 by Desmond Birch. All rights reserved."
Editorial Assistance: Richard Hubbell and William Zambrano MD