The world was stunned this week by Pope Benedict XVI’s abrupt announcement that he is stepping down from the papacy on February 28.
It has been 600 years since a pope has left office alive. Traditionally, he dies at his post.
Pope Benedict cited failing strength as his reason for resigning. He said that the duties of the highest office in the Roman Catholic church demand strength of mind and body. Apparently he feels that both of these are rapidly declining in him.
Of course, the pope’s surprising announcement has enormous repercussions. Not only has it set in motion the top-secret, mysterious, and rigidly ceremonial machinery for choosing his successor, but it may set the stage for a struggle over the future direction of the Roman church.
Further, it may signal the start of the countdown to the end of the Church Age.
Why do I say that? As you know, I believe and preach that there are no prophecies left to be fulfilled before in the Rapture of the Church. There is nothing to prevent Him from calling us up to be with Him before I finish writing these words, or before you can read them. So why do I say Benedict’s resignation may signal a countdown?
Simply because an “extra-Biblical” prediction by a Catholic bishop almost nine centuries ago implied that the next pope will the last before the Roman Catholic church is destroyed. I call this an extra-Biblical prophecy because it is not included in the canon of scripture and I do not believe or suggest that it rises to the level of true Biblical prophecy. But that doesn’t make it any less interesting. And it may further serve to impress upon us the lateness of the hour in which we live.
I have discussed these predictions three times in the last four years. This week, I’m going to play for you a short clip from November, 2011, to acquaint you with “The Prophecy of the Popes.” Here’s how I described it then:
Almost 900 years ago, Pope Innocent II summoned Malachy O’Morgair, the Bishop of Armagh, in what is now Northern Ireland, to come to Rome. While there, this Bishop purportedly experienced a vision in which he saw the popes from that time until the end of the Roman Catholic church. He recorded his impression of each of the remaining 112 popes in a series of cryptic phrases.
Today, Saint Malachy’s vision is called “The Prophecy of the Popes.” Written in 1139, it was rediscovered in the Vatican’s archives in 1590, and first published in 1595.
I do not believe Saint Malachy’s predictions rise to the level of the Bible’s prophecies in either their detail or accuracy. However, his predictions have been remarkable in their own way and bear relevance to the times in which we live.
You see, Saint Malachy’s prophecy seems to predict that the current pope, Benedict XVI, will be the next to last pope of the Roman church. After him will come a pope called Petrus Romanus, or Peter the Roman. Malachy appears to indicate that he will be the one who cooperates with the Antichrist, then will be turned upon and destroyed by the leader of the confederacy that rises out of the old Roman Empire.
When you consider the fact that Benedict XVI is almost 86 and in declining health, the world might not have to wait very long to learn if Saint Malachy’s final prediction comes true.
Obviously, when I wrote that description in 2011, I didn’t consider the fact that Benedict might choose to step down rather than die in office. This week’s announcement further heightens the intrigue surrounding Saint Malachy’s predictions and the uncertainty facing the leadership of the Roman church.
This week, I’m also going to discuss the role I see for the pope in the Bible’s prophecies regarding the end-times. I believe he will be a major player in the rise of the Antichrist, a player whom the prophet says will meet a disastrous end.
The question now is: Will the next pope — who will be chosen in the coming few weeks — be that man?
Tune in this week and I’ll discuss these Biblical prophecies and how Saint Malachy’s extra-Biblical predictions may shed some light on them.
God Bless, Hal Lindsey
mail: HLMM, P.O. Box 470470, Tulsa, OK 74147
Saint MalachyWikipedia: Saint Malachy ( Modern Maelmhaedhoc Ó Morgair) (1094 – 2 November 1148) was an Irish saint and Archbishop of Armagh, to whom were attributed several miracles and an alleged vision of 112 Popes later attributed to the apocalyptic list of Prophecy of the Popes. →