Since the election of Pope Francis, certain factions on the fringes of the Catholic Church, in particular extreme traditionalists and quasi-sectarian groups gathered around spurious and patently false private revelations have been exploiting the Internet for the propagation of bogus prophecies attributed to Saints and Blesseds of the Church. The claim is made that these “prophecies” have foretold the election of Pope Francis and its dire consequences for the Church.
(1) A bogus prophecy falsely attributed to St Francis of Assisi which foretells the coming of an uncanonically elected “destroyer pope” has been widely circulated. This “prophecy” is not found among the writings of St Francis, nor is it mentioned in the Life of the Saint by St Bonaventure. It first appears along with other spurious material in a compilation of Franciscan writings by Luke Wadding (1588-1657) a Franciscan friar who showed little regard for scholarly rigour concerning his sources. From circumstances and internal evidence of the “prophecy”, it is almost certainly the work of a breakaway group of “Fraticelli”, or Franciscan Spirituals who were condemned for heresy by Pope John XXII in 1317.
This “prophecy” is being quoted as proof that Pope Francis is the uncanonically elected “destroyer pope” and the False Prophet of Revelation. The real False Prophet in the case, the Church-condemned “Maria Divine Mercy”, contradicts this claim. Her “message” of 7th June 2011 says:
“It is important that My followers keep alert to any new Pope that may come forward for he will not be from God.”
A Pope is, by definition, a canonically elected Bishop of Rome.
Her “message” of 12th April 2012 says:
“The pope [who comes after Pope Benedict] may be elected by members within the Catholic Church but he will be the false prophet.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict has, of course, confirmed the validity of his resignation and the election of Pope Francis.
(2) Another favourite exhibit from schismatic groups is “Blessed Anne Catharine Emmerich’s Prophecy of the Two Popes”. The keywords quoted are:
“I saw also the relationship between the two popes…I saw how baleful would be the consequences of this false church.” Websites quote these words under a picture showing Pope Francis with Pope Emeritus Benedict, apparently engaged in friendly conversation.
The authors of these websites cannot have read Blessed Anne’s account of this vision. The key parts read like this:
“Then I had a wonderful vision. Rome suddenly appeared in the early ages, and I saw a Pope (St Boniface IV, who reigned 608-615), and an emperor whose name I knew not. I could not find my way in the city, even the sacred ceremonies; but I recognized them as Catholic…I saw a great round building like a cupola – it was a pagan temple full of beautiful idols.
“When I had witnessed this vision even in the smallest details, I saw again the present Pope (Pope Pius VII; this was 1820) and the dark church (Freemasonry? Or liberal Protestantism?) of his time in Rome.
“Then I saw the connection between the two popes and the two temples. The picture was favourable to the early ages, for in them idolatry was on the decrease, whilst in our days it is just the contrary.”
Clearly this has nothing whatever to do with our present Pope or the Pope Emeritus. But why let the truth get in the way of a sensational “prophecy”?
(3) So who is the False Prophet?
Those who have read the Book of Revelation with alert minds will have noticed that it contains no reference to the Antichrist. Let’s see what it does say.
Rev. 13:1-10: – The beast rising out of the sea is identified (Rev. 17:9-10) with the Roman imperial power, which was persecuting Christians to the death and had sent St John into exile. The beast has some features of Antichrist’s reign, but it is impossible to identify it with the “man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians, 2:3.
Rev. 13:11-15: – The second beast rises from “the land”. This phrase, still used by Israelis today, refers to the Holy Land. This beast is later identified (Rev. 19:20) with the “false prophet”. A false prophet betrays or corrupts a true prophetic ministry. This false prophet also serves the first beast, Roman power. Both facts fit the corrupt Jewish leaders of the time. They had a prophetic calling, to prepare the people of God for the messianic kingdom. When the Messiah came they condemned him to death and handed him over to the power of the Roman procurator, with the blasphemous words, “We have no king but Caesar,” thus allying themselves with the Roman imperial cult of Caesar-worship. The claim that the “False Prophet” refers to a man in the world today is utterly groundless.
(4) So where is Antichrist?
A pertinent question, since the real False Prophet in the case, “Maria Divine Mercy”, alleges that the Great Persecution/Tribulation of Antichrist is nearing its end. This is plain from her own words:
20th July 2012: “My dearly beloved daughter, the three-and-a-half years remaining in the tribulation period commences in December 2012.”
25th December 2012: “My Plan of Salvation for the world, began in My Time, on 22nd December, 2012.”
But don’t forget: 3rd March 2011: “ The Great Persecution will follow the Warning.”
The three-and-a-half years ends in June, 2016. Antichrist has not appeared. The Warning didn’t happen as foretold. So far her “prophecies” are running true to form.