Sunday, February 17, 2013

Don't panic--the anti-Christ is not about to become pope

The news of Pope Benedict's resignation has sent off shock waves in the world of private prophecy conspiracy theorists. Interestingly enough, while the Catholic world has its own share of these (and I admit I am intrigued by prophecies from reputable people like saints--"Do not despise prophecy" said St. Paul in 1 Thes 5:20), most of those speculating about Peter the Roman are Protestants.

A book was published last year about this by two Protestant authors. I heard part of a radio interview about this, and they are basing themselves on the famous prophecy of St. Malachy, who supposedly had a vision of future popes and described them in cryptic Latin phrases. Pope Benedict corresponds to "the glory of the olive." (The tie-in may be that the Benedictine order has also been called the Olivetans). The next and last pope on the list is Peter the Roman.

This is where the hysteria comes in, because if he's last on the list, wouldn't that mean the end of the world is around the corner? If you search for "pope resigns" on youtube or any search engine, you will see a huge list of end-times sites that think exactly that.  But don't panic or be disturbed. Keep a few things in mind:

1. The prophecy of St. Malachy may or may not be authentic, and has been the subject of much debate. But it's probably not really very reliable, even if it is fun to speculate about.

2. Even if it were true, it has been misquoted as referring to the final persecution of the Church. But the original Latin doesn't say that; it only refers to the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church. That has happened many times before, and will likely happen often again. For a good discussion of this point see here.
It actually reads:

"In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the terrible judge will judge his people. The End."

3.  Keep in mind that some of the fundamentalists are so excited about this because they think it will spell the end of the papacy and the Roman Catholic Church, which they consider to be the "whore of Babylon." They're wrong about that.

4. There's no indication in the prophecy that Peter the Roman is going to be a bad pope. On the contrary, he is said to pasture his sheep in many tribulations. So he's going to be a good pope (if the prophecy is even true, which we don't know).

5. My concern is that all this will distort some people's attitude toward the new Pope. They will only see him through the glasses of what they have already decided must be true. But God is with the Church and he will give us the good shepherd that we need.  My own view is that the next Pope will be a very holy priest and bishop. But whoever he is, he will be the vicar of Christ and our pastor and shepherd. That's enough for me!


Ruth Ann Pilney said...

Yes, Sr. Lorraine, I am with you on this.

A week ago, shortly after our Holy Father renounced his ministry as Bishop of Rome an Evangelical friend expressed fear that the next pope will be a bad one. Maybe her thinking was influenced by this prophecy, of which your post speaks. I have never heard of it.

The Lord promised to be with us until the end of time. So, come what may, I believe that.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thanks, Ruth, for your thoughts! Someone said that to me too, that the "next pope is supposed to be a bad one." But there is really no basis for thinking that. This morning our Mass intention was for Pope Benedict and the next pope too.

K T Cat said...

Isn't it sad how people rush to conspiracy theories and prophecies? Doesn't life have enough meaning in and of itself? God bless Pope Benedict. The guy is getting old he put the needs of the Church ahead of his own legacy.