Saturday, October 20, 2007

St. Malachy And The Papal Prophecies

This question came in the mailbox today:

Q: "what is the Church's stand on St. Malachai's prophecies? if there is faith in these prophecies, i say "yikes", because after Benedict, the final pope in this civilization's history would be seated!"

A: St. Malachy was an Irish saint who supposedly made a prophecy that described all the popes from Celestine II to the final pope (being a total of 112 popes), who was to be named Peter the Roman. After this second pope to be named Peter, Christ would come again in Glory. There has been speculation by some that Benedict XVI is number 111, and thus the next pope will mean….THE END OF THE WORLD!

The Church has no official opinion on these prophecies. As with all private revelation, the Church emphasizes that not only must the utmost discernment go into their authenticity, but also into their interpretation as well. In my opinion, many have tried way too hard to find a way of connecting the descriptions of the future popes with each successive pope that sits in the Chair of Peter. It really is quite ridiculous. So ridiculous in fact, that it is said that Cardinal Spellman of New York, in 1958 before the Conclave that elected Pope John XXIII, in a tongue-in-cheek manner hired a boat filled with sheep and sailed up and down the Tiber in order to show that he was “pastor et nautor”, the description of the next pope in the prophecies!

The problems with this supposed prophecy are two fold (at least):

1) The 142nd Pope, Sergius IV, was born with the name of Peter. And guess where he was born….Rome! So, even before Malachy’s prophecy, there is already a “Peter the Roman.”

2) The last pope is supposed to be the 112th pope from Celestine II who was the 165th Pope. Benedict XVI is the 265th Pope. Unless my math fails me, there have only been 100 popes, so the next pope is only 101 from Celestine II. You only reach 112 with the next pope if you count anti-popes, who are not real popes to begin with!

For info on the speculation concerning Pope Benedict and Malachy’s prophecy, see this article.

For info on discerning private revelation see here.

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