John 17 records that, after praying for His first disciples, Jesus asked His Father,
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me…”
It’s fitting for us to bear that prayer request in mind as we continue our conversation on the new Pope Francis and the alleged Malachy prophecies of the Popes.:
As we get a fresh Cuppa I introduce a friend who’d joined us at the start of our chat. Bill’s an itinerant preacher, teacher and author (of Feasting on The Father). We met years ago at a weekend’s worship and fellowship in Portsmouth for those blessed by the Toronto Refreshing, or associated with the Toronto Airport fellowship. ln turn, I introduce Kenny, who convened our chat, as well as a regular contributor to my blog, Tony from Tucson.
Bill and I have kept in touch and he admits to not being a great ‘end times’ follower. He tells us his priority is to,
“…follow the desire of my heart to go into all the world and disciple the nations. To see the church of which Jesus is the Head, grow in the reality of righteousness and holy, joyful separation from the spirit of this age and world. To see us become more blatantly passionate pursuers of King Jesus, passionate lovers and servants of one another and healers of a broken, fear-filled world. From this, I believe, will come the unfolding of the end times, however that unpacks.”
“Yes agreed,” I reply, “Along with many others I believe the worldwide Church is moving fully into doing the greater works Jesus indicated; and in our becoming ‘Sons of God’ at the same time persecutions intensify. We can’t be too literal and precise in dating end-times but simply watch for the signs, as Jesus said. [Luke 21:36]
“We both know many within the Roman church who are truly born-again, faithful lovers and followers of Jesus. Unlike a number of non-Catholics I’m not against Rome, the Papacy or its new …”
“My spirit,” interjects Bill, “Registers that despite all the man-made stuff, this beautiful, compassionate man is of God for this time, and I pray he grows in demonstrating the reality of the Gospel before the eyes of the world”.
“Amen!” we all say…
Kenny adds, “In your first mention of Pope Francis, Richard, you blogged about having read of this Roman Catholic prophecy in your ‘old life’. Tell us more!”
“Well I must admit,” I reply, “That and some other things have put me in a bit of a spot – an unusual one. And it could prove God wastes nothing in our lives, even our days as unbelievers. Everything gets redeemed. So here goes…
“In 1970s I read a book on the possibility of getting outside time. One chapter covered the Prophecies of the Popes, or visions that came to the Archbishop of Armagh, later canonised as St Malachy. If it were an accurate prophecy, I guessed it would place the reign of the pope sitting at the end of his list as being about 60 years in the future. So, I probably wouldn’t be alive at that time. BUT the future has arrived – much sooner than anticipated. Hence, my personal interest. Also, my experience brings some insights for you.
“For those who’ve just brought their first Cuppa, let’s briefly…
“The whole thread of posts about the new Pope was triggered by a friend’s email which gave the 12th alert about God doing a new thing. I had a mental image of God putting a piece of an invisible jigsaw into place. ‘Invisible Jigsaw’ was my blog’s original name! But that didn’t happen ’cause I couldn’t find, or create, a suitable graphic design.
“Having been ‘redirected’ from what I’d intended writing, I had a distinct sense this ‘new thing’ may be related to the change in popes. Furthermore, I wondered how it might apply to St Malachy’s mottos. Then whilst writing, an insight suggested the Roman catholic church is to be returned to Jesus’ original purpose – back to the blueprint! I had a sense, therefore, of a huge cycle but not returning to exactly what it was 1,980 years ago – more like a progressive spiral turn…
“So, what I was getting is radically different to anything sensationalist conspiracy or the doomsday merchants presume the Malachy prophecies mean. After writing that blog, I was amazed to immediately come across an analysis that lent some credence to my notion…and more stuff came to open up a broader perspective…”
Bill leans forward, “Nevertheless, the first thing that struck me about Shane Schaetzel’s piece was the ‘error of isolation’. His emphasis on it being a catholic word for catholics alone flies in the face of us being one body, one people, one building, one bride…”
“Yes, that’s so, but maybe the fire in a Catholic in the Ozarks is that of a relatively new, fervent convert, as well as being brassed off with the sensationalist hype displayed in the video that opens his piece. I didn’t bother watching it ’cause I wanted Shane’s own ideas and not be distracted.”
“I don’t want to cover Shane Schaetzel’s detailed examination of the prophecies in great depth, but here’s my ‘take’ on several points..:
1. Shane is reasonably well-informed and tries to be objective. Some of his argument, however, is confused and biased by Roman Catholic exclusivity. He fails to understand non-Catholics’ interest in an ‘obscure’, ‘alleged’ and unverified prophecy. But in fairness, his claim of their inconsistency in rejecting the more legitimate aspects of Catholicism is quite reasonable.
2. I agree in his stressing context – ‘You simply can’t pluck out one particular prophecy, isolate it in a vacuum, and then come up with your own interpretation that has no connection to the overall narrative of all Catholic prophecies’.
There must be not only a witness in our own spirit of what is from Holy Spirit but also a confirmation, or thread, of similar from other prophets and fits the tenor of scripture. [For example, see review prophetic words on new move of God.]
3. To put the Malachy prophecies into proper context, therefore, Shane provides an example from 14th Century’s remarkable ‘Worthy Shepherd Prophecy’.
This speaks of an unexpected, major restoration for the papacy “by about twelve years after the millennium have passed”, and closes with reference to a renewal in faith and restoration of the Church. Shane also notes, “As coincidence would have it….They both coincide perfectly with the time period we have just entered”.
This priest displays unfamiliarity with God-incidence in a prophetical perspective! He does not grasp its importance and brushes it aside as simple ‘coincidence’. ‘By the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established’ [Deut 19:15 NKJV] may also be applied to prophecy. This must have been in Paul’s mind when directing believers in prophesying, per 1 Cor 14:29-33.
4. After this consideration, Shane proceeds to discuss the attributes, character and work of ‘Peter The Roman’. I’m especially interested in his perceiving a return of that church to its first purity, as surmised in my 4th point on Pope Francis – and which took me by surprise. And this harmonises with prophecies about new, historical moves of God in Europe. [See prophecy #11 herein.]
5. I’ve commented on Shane’s blog about the Petrus Romanus prophecy’s reference to judgement, and he kindly replied. [Comments at the foot of his analysis refer.]
I disagree on two counts with his conclusion that an archbishop such as Malachy would have plainly stated the ‘dreadful judge’ is ‘Jesus Christ’, if that’s who he meant. First, the description ties in with and thus may allude to the scripture about all believers standing before the ‘bema’ judgement seat of Christ in 2 Cor 5:9-11, namely:
9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. (NKJV emphases added)
Secondly, the reference reminds me of the Orthodox concept of Christ Pantocrator, or almighty judge. The typically Roman concept of a Christian secular leader rescuing the church is inappropriate, as may be surmised from Europe’s current state. Furthermore, the Malachy motto is about persecution, which accords with OT prophet Daniel’s ‘little horn’ waging war against, not judging, the saints. [Daniel 7]
6. Shane draws to a close by taking issue with ‘Fundamentalists’ and mainline media’s translation of ‘persecutione extrema’ as ‘final persecution’. He claims they’re wrong to do so:
It’s supposed to be translated as “extreme persecution,” but for some reason people are mistranslating it as “final persecution,” which changes the entire meaning of the text, giving the reader the impression that Saint Malachy was talking about the end times, when the Church is supposed to go under the “final persecution” of the Antichrist. But that isn’t what this text says!
He implies they’re using Malachy’s prophetic motto to support their own particular brand of Biblical prophecy. Let’s look at the text again, courtesy of Wikipedia:
In perſecutione extrema S.R.E. ſedebit – Petrus Romanus, qui paſcet oues in multis tribulationibus: quibus tranſactis ciuitas ſepticollis diruetur, & Iudex tremẽdus iudicabit populum ſuum. Finis. This translates as follows:
In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit – Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills [i.e. Rome] will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End.
Shane also provides a photocopy of this part of the original for scrutiny purposes, and to make his point. [I note this copy’s omission of ‘er’ from ‘pfecutione’, and correct printing of letter ‘s’ in its regular, medieval typeface.]
Now here’s where I part company with Shane. As a child I hated Latin – got it at church and in class at grammar school. But I can now appreciate it and show Shane’s ‘coup de grace’ translation is, at best, not iron-clad and, at worst, incorrect. He attempts to use Latin to demolish end-times proponents’ claims that the Malachy revelations fit in with their eschatological opinion.
However, Shane mistakenly confuses the meaning of Latin ‘extrema’ by translating it from English, instead of from Latin. That is, he states ‘extrema’ means ‘extreme’ and, thus, is not the same as ‘final’, as supposed by Protestant eschatologists.
Now, Online Etymological Dictionary defines ‘Extreme’ as early 15c, from Old French extreme (13c), from Latin extremus “outermost, utmost, farthest, last”. Oxford English Dictionary also has the origin of ‘extreme’ in Middle English, via Old French from Latin extremus outermost, utmost. [My pocket-size Collins Gem Latin Dictionary has the very same definitions.] Can’t these translations of ‘extrema’ (feminine ‘extremus’) of ‘utmost’ and ‘last’ also be taken as meaning ‘final’? Shane Schaetzel thinks not!
Therefore, ‘final persecution’ is a correct translation of ‘persecutione extrema’.
This does not change the entire meaning of the text, as he thinks, but gives legitimacy to an ‘end-times’ description. That is, the St Malachy prophetic mottos may well refer to the closing days of this era in history. [See comments on Shane’s blog about this point.]
“In my opinion, Shane Schaetzel’s analysis is worth perusal by students of eschatology. There is a seventh aspect over which he makes much ado that I want to address – ie. Catholic prophecies. In view of my earlier connections, I’d like to offer an insight or two over a Cuppa sometime soon.
“It seems we’re reaching a conclusion that the ‘Petrus Romanus’ prophecy could be of God…How say you?
“Perhaps we could discuss the other indicators on a later date?”