It has taken me a few days to absorb the news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. As I continue to process it, I have noticed that the traffic on my blog has risen dramatically from people searching for information on St. Malachy, Fr. René Thibaut, S.J. and the Prophecy of the Popes. My posts on these topics are HERE. This surge in curiosity is due to the last phrase of St. Malachy's Prophecy which says: "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people.” Fr. Thibaut, a Belgian Jesuit, believed the Prophecy to be authentic and wrote a work of scholarship about it called La Mystérieuse prophétie des papes. Fr. Thibaut surmised that the prophecy about "Peter the Roman" does not signify a future pope calling himself “Pope Peter II” but rather Petrus Romanus symbolizes all the Roman pontiffs since St. Peter, for the Church has continually undergone persecution of some kind.
For Fr. Thibaut and other scholars, the final pope mentioned on the list is given the mysterious title Gloriae olivae, “The Glory of the Olive.” Fr. Thibaut says that the olive represents the people of God whom His judgment will glorify. It is then, as Fr. Thibaut interprets, that the kingdom of God will be manifested in an extraordinary manner. Benedict XVI is De gloria olivae, the last pope on the list. Fr. Thibaut makes it clear that this does not indicate the end of the world but the end of an era. He also believes there will be other popes to follow. He claims that many factors point to 2012 as being the pivotal year for the start of the unfolding of a new era for the Church. It is cause for hope rather than trepidation, hope which inspires reverence, prayer and vigilance.
As to be expected, all kinds of rumors are flying around the internet. (Please be so kind as to remember that just because I link to something does not mean I agree with everything on the other side of the link. I merely want to share something that others may be interested in reading.) Many people, who have not had the blessing of reading Fr. Thibaut's book, think that the next pope will be the last pope and that he will have the name "Peter." And they are free to have an opinion since it is all speculation anyway. Spirit Daily shares the prophetic pulse, HERE.
In the meantime, Ronald Conte of Improperium Christi has studied prophetic literature for years and believes that Petrus Romanus will indeed be a single individual. Mr. Conte also thinks there will be many more popes after Petrus Romanus and he constructed a list inspired by St. Malachy's, based upon his own research on the subject. Written in 2011, some dates have since been revised, for obvious reasons. I do not think we can ever try to guess the time of the end of the world, since the Gospel makes it clear that it is known only to God. (See the blog post, HERE.)
Last summer, an article by Pat Archbold appeared in the National Catholic Register on Catholic prophecy and in the light of current events it is worth reading.
UPDATE: Terry Nelson on the next pope.
Why did Pope Benedict resign? Of course, there is loads of speculation, along with the Holy Father's assertion that due to his age it is for the good of the Church for him to resign. According to The Catholic Herald:
During his papacy Benedict XVI has rebuked his Curia several times, reminding officials that the Church should not seek power and richness, and that priests should not enter politics. But those who know about the Vatican cannot deny that power is a core business there, and seems to remain so despite Benedict XVI’s struggle. The Pope is, in his own mind, too old now, and passes on the torch to somebody younger, who will have the strength to continue his battle. (Read entire article.)Pat Buchanan assesses the state of the Church in America:
In 1965, three in four American Catholics attended Sunday mass. Today, it is closer to one in four. The number of priests has fallen by a third, of nuns by two-thirds. Orders like the Christian Brothers have virtually vanished. The Jesuits are down to a fraction of their strength in the 1950s.Fr. Mark Kirby offers words of consolation:
Parochial schools teaching 4.5 million children in the early 1960s were teaching a third of that number at the end of the century. Catholic high schools lost half their enrollment. Churches have been put up for sale to pay diocesan debts.
And the predator-priest sex-abuse scandal, with the offenses dating back decades, continues to suppurate and stain her reputation and extract billions from the Sunday collections of the abiding faithful. The highest-ranking Catholic politicians, Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, support same-sex marriage and belong to a party whose platform calls for funding abortions to the day of birth. Catholic teaching on contraception, divorce, and sexual morality is openly mocked. (Read entire article.)
The Holy Father has freely renounced his place on the Chair of Peter. Being on the Chair of Peter gave him a unique perspective on the world and on its transient glories, and on the Church universal and her sufferings. Obedient to the Spirit of God in him, he has chosen to forsake the public eye in order to live now "hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:2-3). This is the very essence of the monastic life: to be, like the Host, hidden, silent and, for all of that, intensely present.
Blessed John Paul II, in the public eye until the end, showed the Church and the world the power of suffering, frailty, and old age, assumed in union with the Cross of Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI, by disappearing from the public eye, will show us the inestimable value of silence, of separation from the world, and of remaining hidden with Christ in God.
Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered, I think, as the Pope of the Face of God. He has, from the very beginning of his pontificate until as recently as February 2nd, enjoined the faithful of the Church to fix their gaze upon the Human Face of God, the countenance of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Read entire post.)