Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fatima, Pope Benedict and a Bishop in White

"The Lord is calling me 'out to the mountain' to devote more time to prayer and meditation, but this does not mean I'm abandoning the Church."

--Pope Benedict XVI, in his final Sunday Angelus address as Pope, at noon in St. Peter's Square, February 24, 2013


It was recently announced that Benedict XVI will be "Pontiff emeritus [1]" or "Pope emeritus", as Fr Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, reported in a press conference. He will keep the name of "His Holiness, Benedict XVI" and will dress in a simple white cassock. Another report says it was suggested that he be called “Bishop Emeritus of Rome,” but adds that Benedict XVI did not prefer that title. Despite the decision, it seems that the retired Pope could be “a bishop dressed in white,” who was seen in “an immense light that is  God” during the Third Secret Vision at Fatima. I’m not alone in that conjecture, since Mr. Robert Siscoe recently wrote a short article on that very subject.

The Pope’s retirement has raised much speculation about his “real” reasons, about who the next Pope will be or should be, and loads of interjection about how we need a more liberal Pope – one who will allow women priests, one who will redefine marriage, etc. As I wrote in my last (blog) article, during all the media speculation over the Pope’s announcement, what is not seriously considered is this one fact: Benedict XVI was the first and only pope to ascend the throne of stewardship of the Catholic City already possessing full knowledge of the Third Secret of Fatima. He has known this Secret for at least 29 years, if not longer.

The Vatican website features this Third Secret Vision, including scanned graphics of Lucia’s handwriting. After a somewhat lengthy introduction, including the personal theological interpretations of what the Secret may mean (interpretations which are not binding on the Church, as Cardinal Ratzinger also stated), the document “The Message of Fatimafinally reaches the Third Secret, for which the Church and the world long-awaited. However, a careful perusal of the Vatican document reveals that a pertinent line is missing, which is the Virgin’s introductory sentence to the Third Secret: “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, ETC.”

An Immense Light that is God

By not including all that Our Lady said as She revealed the Third Secret, what the Vatican ultimately released is only the description of what the three children saw. In all of my articles, then, I inevitably refer to it as the Third Secret Vision. (To explain in the simplest of terms: In an Apparition, the heavenly visitor speaks. In a Vision, something supernatural is seen but no words are heard.) This alleged lack of the Virgin Mary’s words, which would explain the Third Secret Vision, is the subject of ongoing debate. For example, immediately following the Vision of Hell, Our Lady spoke of it, even though the children grasped what they were seeing. In addition, Our Lady offered a spiritual solution to help poor sinners avoid the fires of hell – and that solution is devotion to Her Immaculate Heart.

It is therefore beyond the scope of reason to accept that Our Lady did not further elucidate upon a very disturbing Vision of an angel with a flaming sword, the lines of people from all walks of life ascending a steep mountain, the half-ruined city, a bishop dressed in white (who may or may not be a reigning pope), a cross made as of a cork-tree bark, the soldiers with guns and arrows, etc.

Furthermore, the Virgin’s words about “the dogma of the Faith” and Portugal (although evident in meaning) also need further clarification, which had to be given in words since Sr. Lucia ended that sentence with “etc.” The Third Secret Vision, in itself, does not qualify as a continuation, and it is quite clear that something is missing from the following sentence uttered by Our Lady: “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved, etc.

With that said, the following is taken verbatim from the English version on the Vatican website (all bolded words are my emphasis):

“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God. “

Is Pope Benedict XVI the one seen in the Third Secret, “a bishop dressed in white”? This past Sunday, after Mass, my family and I discussed this very topic. I freely admit I’ve always wondered at the punctuation of this sentence, and I’ve discussed it with many people, including other Catholic writers.

Since June 2000, I’ve seen this sentence published with either quote marks or parentheses surrounding the words, as follows:  “we thought it was the Holy Father” or [We thought it was the Holy Father]. The Vatican translation has the sentence rendered ‘we had the impression it was the Holy Father’ as though it is a quote within a quote. If that is the case, who is being quoted? Scholars like to point out that Lucia sometimes made errors in punctuation, since she didn’t learn to read and write until she was in her teens. Be that as it may, she did not make such glaring errors when writing the first Two Secrets. In the Vatican's description of the Third Secret Vision, the changing structure of punctuation (since its release in 2000) is  definitely unusual, bringing questions to one’s mind. Why was the punctuation changed over the years, using quotes inside quotes and other times using parentheses? “Who” thought the bishop in white was the Holy Father? The three shepherd children or a group of clerics who much later read this description of the Third Secret Vision and added the sentence as their own note?

After all, Lucia and her cousins recognized the Holy Father in their vision. By the time she wrote the Third Secret Vision (in 1944), there is good reason to believe that Sister Lucia definitely knew whether or not “who”  she saw as a 10 year old child was a bishop or the Holy Father. During the time of the Fatima apparitions, the children did not know that the Holy Father was also called “Pope,” until one day a priest taught them to pray for the Pope; it was then that they learned “the Holy Father” and “the Pope” were one and the same person.

In addition, Blessed Jacinta was granted at least two visions of “the Holy Father” which her cousin Lucia and her brother Francisco did not see. Her visions, as later recorded by Lucia, are further evidence that the children recognized a particular “Holy Father.” Jacinta’s vision also proves that there are words to the Third Secret and that a future Holy Father (who may or may not be the same person as “a bishop dressed in white”) is a part of the Third Secret.

In her memoirs (written under obedience), Sr. Lucia wrote:

One day we spent our siesta down by my parents’ well. Jacinta sat on the stone slab on top of the well. Francisco and I climbed up on a steep bank in search of wild honey among the brambles in a nearby thicket. After a little while, Jacinta called out to me:

"Didn’t you see the Holy Father?"


"I don’t know how it was, but I saw the Holy Father in a very big house, kneeling by a table, with his heard buried in his hands, and he was weeping. Outside the house, there were many people. Some of them were throwing stones, others were cursing him and using bad language. Poor Holy Father, we must pray very much for him."

In this letter to her bishop, Lucia immediately continues:

“I have already told you how, one day, two priests recommended to us to pray for the Holy Father, and explained to us who the Pope was.  Afterwards, Jacinta asked me:

"Is he the one I saw weeping, the one Our Lady told us about in the secret? "

"Yes, he is," I answered.

"The Lady must surely have shown him also to those priests. You see, I wasn’t mistaken. We need to pray a lot for him."

At another time, we went to the cave called Lapa do Cabeco. As soon as we got there, we prostrated on the ground, saying the prayers the Angel taught us. After some time, Jacinta stood up and called to me:

"Can’t you see all those highways and roads and fields full of people, who are crying with hunger and have nothing to eat? And the Holy Father in a church praying before the Immaculate Heart of Mary? And so many people praying with him?"

Some days later, she asked me: "Can I say that I saw the Holy Father and all those people?"

"No. Don’t you see that’s part of the secret? If you do, they’ll find out right away."

"All right! Then I’ll say nothing at all."

The Third Secret Vision

To return to the Third Secret Vision as the Vatican supplied it in 2000, nothing of what Jacinta later saw is mentioned or addressed in any way. Yet Lucia wrote, years ago in her memoirs, that Jacinta's vision  - of highways, roads, and fields, all full of people crying with hunger, and the Holy Father praying in a church before the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with so many people praying with him - is "part of the secret." So, as we read the description, it must be realized that every word of this vision is important, as are the missing text of Our Lady's words that clarified or explained it. Before any mention of a bishop dressed in white, it is clear that some great devastation will occur. An angel appears with a flaming sword – but that is usually overlooked. In the Holy Scriptures, a sword is a sign of God’s justice. It is the sign of a chastisement, a punishment, to correct an erring nation or the world. The Virgin Mary deflects him with light from her right hand, and so he cries out, three times, in a loud voice (so like the voices in the Apocalypse): “Penance! Penance! Penance!”

Recalling Pope St. Pius X’s prophecy about one of his successors “by name,” one of my earlier (2008) articles Fatima and the Great Et Cetera: Traces of the Third Secret Message already made the connection between the fate of a pope (possibly Benedict XVI) and the Third Secret. After describing St. John Bosco’s famous dream of a ship and two columns in the sea, my article continued:

“The fate of a future pope was also related by none other than Pope St. Pius X: ‘I saw one of my successors by name fleeing over the corpses of his brethren. He will flee to a place for a short respite where he is unknown; but he himself will die a cruel death.’ ”

“In the Third Secret Vision, the pope walks ‘half trembling and with halting step,’ indicating advanced age. As for Pope St. Pius X’s vision, it may be that a future pope will take the name of Pius, but there is another consideration, which may or may not be of significance: Pope St. Pius X’s baptismal name was Giuseppe Sarto; in Italian, Giuseppe means Joseph – the baptismal name of Pope Benedict XVI.’”

 Please consider: Even as a retired pope, Benedict XVI still qualifies as a papal successor. This once more brings to mind the words of St. Pius X, uttered in his last year of life (1914): “I saw one of my successors by name, fleeing over the corpses of his brethren.” The saint’s vision of 1914 certainly aligns with the Third Secret Vision of Fatima of 1917.  So does an earlier (1909) vision of St. Pius X’s:
“What I have seen is terrifying! Will I be the one, or will it be a successor? What is certain is that the Pope will leave Rome and, in leaving the Vatican, he will have to pass over the dead bodies of his priests!”

As I stated earlier, it was announced a few days ago that, after his formal abdication, Benedict XVI will dress in a white cassock, which is part of the usual attire of a pope. He will, however, forego the red shoes (sign of the martyred fisherman, St. Peter, the first pope). Now, since Pope Benedict XVI is abdicating, Fatima – specifically, the Third Secret of Fatima – is attracting some attention. But is it attracting the right kind of attention?

It must be repeated: Pope Benedict XV knows “all” of the unreleased details of the Third Secret of Fatima. As Cardinal Ratzinger, he revealed the Six Themes ofthe Third Secret of Fatima. When he became pope, he made a universal plea to pray for him so that he would not flee from fear of wolves. In May 2010, the Pope momentarily revealed that the Third Secret is spoken, words that (for whatever reasons) the mainstream media in the U.S. mis-translated from the original Italian report.

Since announcing his abdication, Benedict XVI has made other remarks that make one wonder. In his final Sunday Angelus homily, the Pope mentioned a “mountain”  -  The Lord is calling me 'out to the mountain' to devote more time to prayer and meditation, but this does not mean I'm abandoning the Church.” These words seem almost prophetic, considering that “a bishop dressed in white” makes his painful way to the top of a mountain and there kneels before a great Cross, only to be killed; however, before he even reaches this mountain, he was preceded by “[o]ther Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain.”
Specifically, many people from all walks of life were ascending the mountain before “a bishop dressed in white,” who is still making his way through the half-ruined city. After he reaches the summit, he is killed by guns and arrows. Those who were already ascending the mountain before the bishop then die: “and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.”

Sobering. That’s the only way to describe this Vision of the Third Secret. In no way does it seem symbolic, as so many try to claim but rather, it seems literal. Everything else Our Lady of Fatima said (or showed) was literal and all of it (except the Third Secret Vision, which may include "the annihilation of nations") literally came to pass.  Perhaps the reason why people are so fascinated by “a bishop dressed in white” is because the Third Secret of Fatima still intrigues our minds. Somehow we know that, despite all the claims to the contrary, Fatima is not finished. It is not a matter of the past.

Pope Benedict XVI knows this to be true. After all, he knows the entire Third Secret; it is he who said that Fatima’s prophetic mission is not complete. Whatever the Third Secret fully reveals might greatly contribute to the reason(s) that he is abdicating.  We cannot be certain of that, just as we cannot be certain that Benedict will be the bishop in white. However, we cannot deny the coincidences: In the year 2013 (just four years before the centenary of the Fatima apparitions), an aged pope who has long known the entire Third Secret of Fatima, who shares with Pope St. Pius X the baptismal name of “Joseph,” announced his retirement. He will remain in the Vatican, living a reclusive life of prayer and sacrifice (which makes one think also of the spiritual ascent of Mt. Carmel), and he will dress in white.

What we do know is that God is immutable – i.e., He doesn’t change, and His Will and His decisions are unalterable. The same can be said of His angels, which explains why Lucifer and the fallen angels can never again be holy or reign with God in Heaven. Their places are forever lost but they are to be filled up with human beings who live the life of saints. On the other hand, Hell eagerly awaits us, wishing to take our souls which rightfully belong to God.  It is the place “where poor sinners go,” as Our Lady of Fatima said of it.

What the Fatima Virgin requested is the will of God. If those requests are not heeded – if people do not stop offending God and repent of their sins and stay on the “strait and narrow” path, if the future pope does not obey Our Lady of Fatima by commanding the bishops to join him in the collegial consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, if he does not promulgate the Five First Saturdays of Reparation throughout the world - the Third Secret Vision will become the reality of the very-near future.


[1] Retired and holding an honorary title. That’s the definition of “emeritus” in my older copy of the Oxford American Dictionary.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Benedict XVI and the Prophecy of Petrus Romanus: Is the Last Pope Here?

by Marianna Bartold

On Monday, February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation of the papacy. Starting in the morning, I received phone calls and texts (all of them from people who were surprised, some shocked, and some feeling panicked), asking if I had heard the news, what could have happened, and did this mean Petrus Romanus is here – could he be the next pope? As we discussed these questions, the media outlets were furiously buzzing, and those to whom I spoke or wrote expressed a sense of wonder when I added one consideration that I’ve yet to see deliberated even in the Catholic media: Benedict XVI was the only pope to ascend the throne of stewardship in the Catholic City already possessing full knowledge of the Third Secret of Fatima. 

That is why I mentioned on Facebook the Third Secret of Fatima in conjunction with Pope Benedict XVI's announcement to resign , adding, “Let's ponder that *fact* today.” ---- “Let's all remember that this is not the time to panic. It *is* the time to pray and sacrifice that God's will is accomplished in the upcoming papal election.” ---“Pray for this pope and also pray to God that, undeserving as we are, the Church is finally given the Pope who will fully comply with Our Lady's commands at Fatima.

As fellow Catholics expressed a variety of emotions, I found myself repeating to them something else I also wrote on Facebook: “Let's turn to the Mother of God and remember that the Church always will exist, no matter how hard-pressed, and that Stewards (the popes) of the Catholic City play their part for the time they must.” Later in the day, another Catholic writer seemed to echo a view similar to mine, writing: “The papacy is not a mere person, it is not a great man, it is certainly not a bloodline or earthly principality. It is the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter. It is a sacred office entrusted to the entire Church. It is an enduring stewardship through time. Behind the Vicar stand the Kingship of Christ and the enduring nature of His Church, yesterday, today, and forever.”[1]

Meanwhile, inquiries seem to persist about Petrus Romanus - a touchy subject sure to elicit a variety of reactions. Among Catholics who are even aware of the (alleged) St. Malachy prophesies of popes, the main reactions seem to be belief, disbelief, or total indifference. (There’s also a somewhat ambiguous group who excuse their disinterest by stating that Christ said no one knows the day or hour of the last day, except God the Father. What they forget is that Christ also provided certain signs of the beginning of the last days, and this He did for the good of souls.) 

What is even stranger is the reaction of various Protestant sects. Especially in the last few years, vehemently anti-Catholic “religious groups” who consider themselves “Christians” are having a veritable field day with the Petrus Romanus prophecy. (This, although they reject Christ’s true Church, reject her saints, and only accept biblical prophecy -from a severely edited Bible, which they interpret privately, pretending their own views are inspirations from the Holy Ghost. These poor souls don’t realize the breadth and width to which they are tragically deceived.)

My personal view, objectively based on currently-available facts, is that it is possible St. Malachy did write the prophecies, that it is possible that they were put away for safe-keeping and, in the vast Vatican archives, it is possible the Malachy prophecies were for centuries overlooked. It is just as possible that they were later edited or even (alas) seriously tinkered with. 

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.

St. Malachy and the Papal Prophecies: A Brief History
Since 1941, the three main Catholic books on prophecy, which include some part of the St. Malachy “list of popes,”  are the following:  The Prophets and Our Times (Rev. R. Gerald Culleton), Catholic Prophecy (Yves DuPont), and Prophecy for Today  (Edward O’Connor). They are not included in the more recent (1996) title Trial, Tribulation, and Triumph (Desmond A. Birch), since the author stated in a footnote that there was sufficient evidence of “interpolation” [meaning interruption] in the papal list.

According to Edward O’Connor (mentioned above): “Few private prophecies have captured the popular imagination like the prophecy on the popes ascribed to St. Malachy O’Morgair, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, who died in 1148. Tradition has it that when Malachy visited Pope innocent II in Rome in 1139, he was granted a vision of all the Holy Fathers of the future. He wrote down a description of each in two to four Latin words and gave the list to Innocent, who was deeply troubled at the time and who is said to have derived great comfort from the prophecy. Nothing more is heard of the list until 1590 when a Benedictine monk, Arnold de Wyon, discovered it in the Vatican archives. It was published, promoting a controversy that has continued to this day.”
O’Connor continues: “Since Malachy was a good friend of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (in whose arms he died), it is asked why the latter did not mention the prophecy in his famous Life of Malachy. Why was the list lost for so many years? Of the 112 popes described in the prophecy, 74 had already reigned when the list was discovered, and opponents of the prophecy claim that the descriptions of these are far more exact than those of subsequent pontiffs. Was not the list the work of a forger who simply used hindsight to describe the popes of the preceding 450 years, and clever ambiguity for the popes of the future?”
“Proponents of the prophecy, however, stand on the fact that the prophetic utterances did fit all the popes after 1590 with uncanny aptness. Here are some in detail:

--“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.”
--“His successor, Clement XVI (1769-1774) appears as Ursus Velox (‘The Nimble Bear’). His coat of arms showed a bear in flight.”
--“The next pontiff, Pius VI (1775-1774) is described as Peregrinus Apostolicus (‘The Apostolic Wanderer’). During his reign, this pope went to Germany to confer with the Emperor Joseph II. In the last years of his pontificate, he was forced by revolutionaries to flee Rome. After an arduous journey over the Alps, he died in Valence, France.”
--“His successor was Pius VII (1800-1823), and he appears on Malachy’s list as Aquila Rapax (‘The Rapacious Eagle). Since this pope was the most gentle and dove-like of men, the inscription has presented difficulties which some have tried to circumvent by applying the prophecy to Napoleon at whose hands Pius suffered much.”
--The prophecy of Gregory XVI (1831)-1846) reads De Bailneis Etruriae (‘From Bainea in Etruria.’) This pontiff belonged to the religious order of Camaloli, whose seat is at Balnea in Etruria.”
--“Coming to the [latter] popes of the [19th] century, Pius IX (1846-1878) is Crux de Cruce (‘Cross from a Cross’).  The House of Savoy, which caused this pope so much suffering, had a cross on its coat of arms.”
--“Leo XIII (1878-1903): Lumen in Caelo (“Light in the Heavens’). His coat of arms showed a shooting star.”
--“Pius X (1903-1914): Ignis Ardens (‘Burning Fire’).”
--“Benedict XV (1914-1922): Pope of the first World War: Religio Depopulata (‘Religion Devastated’).”
--“Pius XI (1922-1939): Fides Intrepida (‘Intrepid Faith’).”
--“Pius XII (1939-1958): Pastor Angelicus (‘The Angelic Shepherd’).”
--“John XXIII (1958-1963): Pastor et Nauta (‘The Shepherd and Sailor’). Since he was formaly Patriarch of Venice, this pontiff came from a city of canals.”
--Paul VI (1963-1978): Flos Florum (‘The Flower of Flowers’). His coat of arms displayed the fleur-de-lis.”
--John Paul I (1978-1978): De Medietate Lunae (‘From the Half of the Moon’). The first two letters of his family, Luciani, form half of ‘luna,’ the Latin word for ‘moon.’”
--John Paul II (1978-_____): De Labore Solis (‘From the Labor of the Sun’).” [Please Note: at the time O’Connor wrote his book on Catholic prophecy, John Paul II was still alive, and I am quoting his book verbatim.]
“Only two more popes remain on Malachy’s list:
--De Gloria Olivae (‘From the Glory of the Olive’) and Petrus Romanus (‘Peter the Roman’).

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.”

To continue with Mr. O’Connor’s observations, “Mention might also be made of the Monk of Padua who in 1740 added his own observations to the prophecies of Malachy, even indicating which name each future pope would take. In this regard he was correct until Benedict XV who, according to the Monk, was to be Paul VI.” From that point, there were subsequent errors, which means beginning in the early 20th century, the list of predicted popes described in the Malachy prophecies may have been edited, toyed, re-interpreted, or moved around - that is, if the saint wrote any part of them.

O’Connor concluded: “A study of the entire prophecy shows that fulfillment is made possible only by including anti-popes - almost a death blow to the integrity of the prophecy since Malachy’s vision of all popes of the future could hardly have included those were not to be pope at all, and Innocent II would have derived much ‘comfort’ from a prophecy involving ten anti-popes. We are also presented with the unique problem of John XXIII appearing twice on Malachy’s list: No. 50. ‘Stag of the Siren’ and No 107, ‘Shepherd and Sailor.’”
While mentally digesting that information, there exists the counter-argument that the interpretations of these prophecies are simply off the mark. None of the commentaries I’ve so far seen identify who these anti-popes could be. That is because, for many reasons, there are disagreements on the exact number of anti-popes. To clarify:

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.

--“During the last persecution of the Holy Roman Church” – this aligns with the Holy Bible, which does foretell the “last” things, the last great battle between the earthly kingdom of God (which is the Roman Catholic Church) and the Dragon, who gives his power to the Anti-Christ and his precursor (an anti-St. John the Baptist).
--“Peter”: Viewing the prophecy objectively, it does not prove that an alleged future pope’s baptismal name will be Peter or that he will choose Peter as his papal name. Since the martyrdom of the first pope (St. Peter), none of his successors have taken his name. Rather, it could mean that, like St. Peter who was appointed by Jesus Christ as the rock upon “which I will build my church” (meaning one church, not many assemblies claiming to be a part of Christ’s church), the pope who fits this prophecy will lead Christ’s very small flock through many persecutions. (Such a scenario also fits the Third Secret of Fatima vision.)
--“the Roman” could mean he is a traditional Catholic in the old and best sense of the word. It also could mean that he will be an Italian from the region of Rome. It is possible he is called “the Roman” after a succession of non-Italian popes.
--“the sheep”: an allusion to Christ’s flock. Still, it is interesting that the term “sheep” is used, and not “flock.” Neither are “lambs” mentioned.  The allusion to sheep could refer to well-catechized Catholics from all walks of life, but they, too, need an earthly shepherd to keep them safe from spiritual harm. That office (with all of its duties, responsibilities, and rights) was rendered to Peter and all of his successors.  After the Resurrection of Our Lord, thrice did He ask a question of Peter, as St. John the Evangelist relates in his Gospel:  

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)

Now, as you may remember, I began this article and referred to the fact that Pope Benedict XVI already had the knowledge of the Third Secret of Fatima when he became the Pope. Might that have anything to do with his decision to abdicate? That is a subject to later address.


[1] William Fahey, “The Reason Benedict Resigned,” Crisis Magazine []