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Chapter 50

Who Will Succeed John Paul II?

 

God alone knows. Even the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church does not know. They do not even know if Christís Coming will intervene and the long line of popes will forever be extinguished.

Absurd theories abound. A search of the Internet would verify this assertion. Our popular view, held by many, occupied the thoughts of Roman Catholics in the early part of the twenty-first century as Pope John Paul IIís health deteriorated and the effects of advanced Parkinsonís disease were all too evident. The Sydney Morning Herald, January 3, 2001, recorded the impact of a prophecy, not inspired by God, but cunningly devised by an ambitious cardinal.

The 900-year-old prophecies of an Irish saint have suddenly become new yearís reading among Roman Catholics wondering who might be the next Popeóand worried about Armageddon.

Bishop Malachy OíMorgair had a vision on a pilgrimage to Rome in 1139 which prophesied that the successor to the current pontiff, John Paul II, would be the second last to reign before the world ends.

Although not as widely known as Nostradamus, credited with foreseeing major events including the rise of the Beatles and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Bishop OíMorgair has developed a huge following, including several Web sites.

The current Pope is the 110th nominated in the Malachy Prophesy, in which Bishop OíMorgair named 112 popes, the last of whom would reign as the world came to an end.

Adherents say the prophecy is moving into its final phases, triggered by plans by John Paul to prepare for his successor.

He will appoint 25 new cardinals as early as next month, bringing the number of "red hats" to 120óthe number required to elect a successor to the 80-year-old Pope, who has Parkinsonís disease and may be forced to step aside.

Each pope identified in the prophecy had a mystical title, with the 110th described as De Labore Solisó"from the Labour of the Sun"óand is taken by many to allude to the fact that John Paul II is the son of a labourer, or a reference to his globe-circling missions, or even that he was born on a total eclipse.

John Paul IIís successor was described by Malachy as Gloria Olivae, The Glory of the Olive. Wags link this with one of the front runners for the next election, the 73-year-old Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini (Martini and Olive on the Rockóof Peter, that is).

But some who believe in the prophecy relate it to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and hence point to the Jew who is Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean Lustiger, 74.

Others claim it indicates an olive sprig bearer, a peacemaker, such as John Paulís global troubleshooter, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, another Frenchman, who is 78.

Still others see it as a reference to the Olivetan branch of the Benedictine religious order.

The Prophecy says the 112th pope will be named Peter II and his reign will coincide with Armageddon.

Malachy was a 12th-century monk who reformed the church in Ireland, linking it more closely with Rome.

He presented his vision to Pope Innocent II, but the prophecy was suppressed or forgotten and was first published in Venice in 1595. Like those of Nostradamus, it is in code, and sceptics claim they are fake.

John Hillís response the following day exposed the subterfuge. The sixteenth century cardinal certainly receives high marks for originality in promoting his suitability for clerical advancement, but in this amateurish effort he did not succeed in his aims. His very act of subterfuge disqualified him from an ecclesiastical office of whatever rank.

Hill explained,

St Malachy had nothing to do with the prophecies attributed to him by Desmond OíGrady (Herald, January 3). They were first published in the 16th century, because that was when they were written.

A certain cardinal, anxious to be elected pope, had a series of "prophecies" written that accurately described previous popes, gave a nice description of himself (the would-be pope), and then had to run on for a few centuries to make the whole thing look authentic, with fanciful predictions that have absorbed a certain kind of mind ever since.

They were associated with Malachy because of his high standing in Rome. He was not the sort of man to indulge in this sort of thing; his journeys to Rome began because he was said to have "usurped" the See of Armagh, when his real concern was the reform of the Irish church.

There are others who, on tenuous grounds totally devoid of Scriptural support, cite the return of temporal power to the Vatican with the establishment of nationhood for the minuscule popedom as a significant point from which the seven heads of the beasts of Revelation 13 and 17 will be counted. They point to the fact that there have been six popes since that date, February 11, 1929óPius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II.

Those proposing this view state that John Paul IIís successor will be the seventh and last pope and "he will continue a short space" (Revelation 17:10). If such a scenario does occur it will owe nothing to Scripture, for proponents of this view have forgotten the eighth head.

Of the eighth head Scripture has stated,

And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. (Revelation 17:11)

It would require the resurrection from the dead of one of the previous six popes in order for an "eighth" pope to rule jointly with the seventh. None should hold their breath awaiting such an event.

Even when Eugenio Pacelli was crowned Pope Pius XII in 1939, John Cornwell reported that:

According to the bogus prophecies of Malachy, this, the 262nd Pope since St. Peter, would be known as ĎPastor Angelicusí, the Angel Shepherd. Pacelli, it was said, had personally endorsed this appellation; by the day of his coronation, ĎPastor Angelicusí was on everybodyís lips. (Hitlerís Pope, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 214)

History and Godís Judgment will pass a verdict on this claim.

When Pope John Paul II in a single week in January 2001 created forty-two new cardinals and revealed the names of two cardinals who had secretly been created in 1998, he did set in place a group of cardinals of a conservative bent whom, no doubt, he desired would continue the Papal succession with a pope of conservative convictions. Such men, as we have stated in the previous chapter, are never too far removed in sentiment from the medieval Papacy. Let this fact not be lost in our thinking, especially as we review the prophecy of Revelation 13. As John Omicinski, a columnist in the Melbourne Sunday Herald-Sun wrote, February 25, 2001, these new cardinals "are not big fans of experimenting with a 2000-year old institution."

In increasing the number of cardinals to 185, the largest in history, John Paul has also increased the number under age of eighty eligible to vote in Papal conclave, to 135, exceeding Paul VIIís limit of 120.

In 1939 when Pius XII was elected, the percentage of cardinals from the various regions of the world differed greatly from that in February 2001. The percentages of cardinal-electors were:

Percentage of Cardinal-electors in Two Papal Elections

  1939 2000
Italian 56.5 17.8
Western European 25.8 19.3
Eastern European 6.5 11.1
United States & Canada 6.5 9.6
Latin America 3.2 20.0
Asia 1.6 9.6
Africa 0.0 9.6
Pacific Ocean Including Australia and New Zealand 0.0 3.0
     

 (Melbourne Sunday Herald-Sun, February 25, 2001)

John Paul demonstrated just how important he regarded communication by elevating Roberto Tucci, a common priest, who headed the Vatican Radio, to the cardinalate. He demonstrated the importance of Latin America, for no less than one-quarter of the forty-four new cardinals, came from that region. They included the charismatic Archbishop of Lima, Peru, Julio Terrazas Sandoval.

When those forty-four cardinals, dressed in their scarlet cassock gown with scarlet sash, their mozzetta, the scarlet elbow-length cape which is worn over the rochet, a white surplice-like garment with three scarlet lines and scarlet crosses upon it covering the upper portion of the cassock, received their golden rings, their zucchettos (scarlet skull caps) and their scarlet birettas, they received in addition the possibility that one of them could succeed the man who bestowed this honor upon them. We wonder if any one of them gave a thought for another scarlet entity, the scarlet beast of Revelation 17 and the woman dressed in scarlet, seated upon the beast.

Serious Christians would be far better employed in searching the Scriptures in order to make their "calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10) than in speculating concerning the Papal succession. The Bible is plain in its mandate to "Come out of her [Babylon], my people." (Revelation 18:4) We are instructed to "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness," (Psalm 29:2) not in extravagant form and ritual.

Scripture reminds us that at the close of earthís history just prior to Christís return, our characters will be fixed for eternity.

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11)

Only the justified and holy will be accorded a place in Christís eternal kingdom.

It is our desire that those who study this book will direct their minds to Scripture, where alone the path to salvation is set forth. Christ explained to Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, that Godís salvation is bestowed upon condition of belief (John 3:16). Salvation is not unconditional. God in His own handwriting, engraved in stone, wrote in the second commandment,

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:6)

This commandment has been expunged from Roman Catholic catechisms. Godís mercy, His grace, is freely given to all; we ourselves contribute nothing to the grounds of our salvation. We are utterly impotent to secure our own salvation or provide the least merit of our own, for we are all sinners and have blighted Godís glory (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is eternal destruction (Romans 6:23). The inspired counsel and instruction of Paul to the believers in Thessalonica in Macedonia, is pertinent to us today.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:7ó9)

This book was designed to encourage true belief. As Paul and Silas, setting forth the condition of salvation, admonished the Philippian jailer who questioned the path to salvation,

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, (Acts 16:31)

so do we speak to the reader and to our own hearts.

Once more we would emphasize that

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)

But many embracing this passage fail to read on to verse 10 which states:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

What is the quality of this belief which is the condition upon which Christ chooses to bestow His grace? We pose this question for Satan has counterfeited every divine virtue. There is a counterfeit belief, one which in nowise meets the condition for salvation. This is evident foró

The devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)

Fortunately John in his first epistle plainly sets forth the nature of genuine belief.

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1ó5)

We notice no less than seven qualities inherent in true belief.

1. The new birth

2. Love for God

3. Love for those "begotten of God"ó[our neighbors]

4. Keep the commandments

5. Overcome the world

6. Have victory [over sin]

7. Have faith [in God]

What a challenge! Only in the power of God can we measure up to such belief.

The whole may be summed up as deep love for Godó

If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

In view of this we should not be startled that Christ described his last day saints in terms of obedience.

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)

If such a standard appears beyond your reach, pray for faith to accept, believing Christís assurance,

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. (Jude 24)

He is able to take weaklings such as we and keep us from falling into sin. We must claim that promise every day, remembering that if, and God forbid, we do fall into sin,

We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)

He will lift us up once more and restore our repenting hearts.

The great purpose of this book is not to denigrate Roman Catholics or Protestants whose doctrines are contrary to Scripture, followers of non-Christian faiths or atheists. Rather, it is, through the mighty infallible prophecies, to seek to open the eyes of all to Godís call for us to seek the pure faith of the Bible in these last days of earthís history.

If this book, under Godís blessing, leads one reader to follow Christ in His pure faith, it will indeed ensure that all our efforts and hours of research will have been time profitably spent. We will enjoy, through Godís grace, spending eternity with that brother or sister.

 


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