I find the prophecies and the pro-and-con arguments regarding their validity to be intriguing. That means I don’t subscribe to any of the theories that they are absolutely and without question the work of St. Malachy (more on that later), or that they are absolutely a pious forgery. It also means that I firmly reject and repudiate the particularly malicious and absurd “Christian” speculation (i.e., from Protestants who claim to be Christians) that the prophecies were purposely written due to an evil “scheme” of the “papist” Church. (If you’re a Catholic reading this, please take a moment to pull down your eyebrows from the ceiling and pull up your jaw from the floor.) The sophistries (meaning “false reasoning”) involved to reach the latter, nefarious conclusion are (literally) devilishly clever imitations of reason to anyone who confuses reason with rationalism. They might even be amusing, if the growing number of “Christians” who subscribe to it were not seriously duped but deadly serious.
--“Clement XIII (reigned 1758-1769) is described as Rosa Umbriae (‘The Rose of Umbria’). This pontiff had been governor of Rieti in Umbria, and the symbol of that district was a rose.”
If this list is correct, it means that the current pope, Benedict XVI, is “the glory of the olive” and the next pope is Petrus Romanus, or “Peter the Roman.”
Anti-pope means a pretended pope. The anti-popes were men who by the aid of faithless Christians or others unlawfully seized and claimed the papal power while the lawful pope was in prison or exile. (Baltimore Catechism #3, Q&A: Regarding Anti-Popes, 1891)
Since the second century, the list of anti-popes ranges from a total of 37 to 42. However, if we began to remove a subjective number of alleged anti-popes (starting in 1139 A.D., the year St. Malachy allegedly wrote the papal prophecy list), then what? It would mean that, while we cannot be sure of the number of anti-popes, there is enough lee-way to ascertain that we have not yet arrived to the prophesied reign of Petrus Romanus.
Is it possible that anti-popes do appear on the list (but who are not yet investigated by the Church and definitively judged to be anti-popes)? After all, only a true pope (following an anti-pope) or a valid Church council can make that judgment. So how would Pope Innocent II know simply by reading the list which popes of the future were true Sovereign Pontiffs and which were not? The bottom line is that we simply cannot know if all of these interpretations of St. Malachy’s list are “on the mark.” For example, O’Connor doesn’t explain why “Stag of the Siren” fits John XXIII (especially since John XXIII was a 20th century pope; he did not reign between 1410-1415, as O’Connor’s list shows as the first time that pope appears on the list. Perhaps "XXIII" was a misprint?) Without any hint of explanation, I can find no reasoning which supports the allusion that John XXIII twice appears on the papal list.
Or we could remove John XXXIII from fitting one of the two supposed spots and then move each pope one slot up on the list. If that is the case, the last two popes before Benedict XVI were “Flowers of Flowers” (Pope John Paul I, who died within a month of becoming pope, dying in the flower of his onset to the papacy) and “From the Half of the Moon” (Pope John Paul II). One could just as easily fit circumstances during John Paul II's pontificate to the alleged Malachy description.
Whatever we may think of the St. Malachy prophecies, I do want to add one thing. When objectively considering the alleged prophecy of Petrus Romanus, he is not an anti-pope or the anti-Christ (as a great number outside of the Church claim).
So let’s look at the prophecy of Petrus Romanus itself. This is the older version, as provided by Fr. Culleton in 1941:
“During the last persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit upon the throne Peter the Roman, who will feed the sheep amid great tribulations, and when these are passed, the City of the Seven Hills will be utterly destroyed, and the awful Judge will then judge the people.”
There are important differences to the version above and a modernized version, which states: “In extreme persecution, the seat of the Holy Roman Church will be occupied by Peter the Roman, who will feed the sheep through many tribulations, at the term of which the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the formidable Judge will judge his people. The End.”
The largest contrast is the time of persecution. The first version says Petrus Romanus will reign during the "last persecution" of the Church" (which is a particular time frame, already prophesied in the Holy Scriptures) while the second version only says he will rule "in extreme persecution" (the Church has always been persecuted, but these words do not necessarily indicate the "last persecution"). So even here, we have evidence of possible “tinkering," according to someone's past interpretation! For that reason, I’ll address only Fr. Culleton’s earlier rendition.
When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved, because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep.” (John 21: 15-17, The Holy Bible, Douay-Rheims translation)
--“the city of seven hills” – Most definitely the Roman Catholic Church, which “sits” on the “seven hills of Rome.” Rome became the earthly center of Christ’s Church for many reasons. St. Peter, the first pope, was martyred there. He was in Rome to succor the first Christians, to succor Christ’s sheep, who were suffering extreme persecution and martyrdom. Due to the Latin language (the common language at the time), Christianity was further spread throughout all of Rome’s territories. God over-turned pagan Rome and made it Catholic Rome, Christian Rome.
As for the rest of the alleged prophecy, it is clear enough. It is true that, in the end times, the world and the material universe will be destroyed. After all, Our Lord did say, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word shall not pass away.” (Luke 21:33)