- Todd Strandberg - http://www.raptureready.com/
One of our greatest fears about writing for the "Nearing Midnight" page is that some breaking news events will invalidate or trump the articles we have prepared each Monday. Last week, the news of Pope Benedict XVI's decision to step down was one such event. Terry quickly wrote a flash update for this page. I decided against doing a full article because NM is designed to be a more thought-out news update. We have Rapture Ready News for daily news events.
The retirement announcement generated a huge amount of interest in the prophetic community. The traffic to the site instantly doubled, with over 50,000 unique individuals logging in to our server. What brought people to the site was a prediction by Saint Malachy that says the next pope will be the last one.
This prophecy is not related to the book of Malachi in the Bible. It was given by an Irish saint and archbishop of Armagh. He had a vision of the next 112 popes, producing an apocalyptic list that gave a brief description of each pope.
The "Prophecy of the Popes" is claimed to have been written in 1139 A.D. The manuscript was deposited in the Roman archives, and was forgotten until 1590. It wasn't published until 1595. Without any way to verify the Malachy prophecy, the validity of the first seventy-four predictions is in much doubt.
Our friend Tom Horn has a book about the subject, and even he has determined that the earlier predictions were probably altered in the late sixteenth century.
"It appears that somebody had altered the original medieval document from 1590 backward to promote a particular cardinal to the College of Cardinals to be the fulfillment of what at that time was still a secret list of popes," Horn explained.
The prophecies that can be proven to be written before the popes took office have their own problem to ponder. The predictions are very brief, with most only being less than three words in Latin. Many are also very general in nature. Here are four examples: "Lover of the cross," "From a great river," "Lofty column," and "Religious man." They could be applied to any pontiff.
There were a few cases where Malachy hit the bull's eye. The one for Innocent XII described him as a "Rake in the door." His full name was Antonio Pignatelli del Rastrello. "Rastrello" in Italian means "rake." Pope John Paul II was given the prophecy, "From the labor of the sun." Writers see a fulfillment in that he was born (18 May 1920) on the day of a solar eclipse and entombed (Friday 8 April 2005) on the day of another eclipse.
For the last pope, Saint Malachy broke from his pattern of brevity and offer more length description:
"In extreme persecution the seat of the Holy Roman Church will be occupied by 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 or fearsome judge will judge his people. The End."
Theorists have already, due to the nature of their names, placed heavy odds on Cardinal Tarcisio Pietro Bertone (Italy) and Peter Turkson (Ghana). Some have speculated that the next pope may take on the name Peter, but since it would invite "extreme persecution" and the obvious destruction of Rome, any knowledge of the prophecy would certainly cause him to avoid the name.
Pope Benedict XVI's resignation has caused the Rapture Index to surge to a new record high. This is the third time in a year that the index has set a record. I think the driving force behind this surge of prophecy-related events is our nearness to the end times.
The real reason to watch the next pope is to see how he may fit the role of the False Prophet. The head of the Catholic Church has almost no competition for the job. He is the one the liberal media turns to for religious commentary. He has name recognition that spans the globe. I doubt that even 10 percent of Protestants could name the head of their religious order.
Right now, the vote for the new pope is scheduled for the 15th of March. Since it is very likely that the new guy will be in office for at least a decade, we may soon see a key Tribulation player step onto the world stage.
"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live" (Revelation 13:11-14).