Thursday, March 14, 2013

It's a Fraud: St Malachy's Prophecy of the Popes

Well, according to St. Malachy's famous (one might say infamous) Prophecy of the Popes, the final pontiff has been elected. There are just two problems: his name (birth or papal) isn't Peter and he isn't a Roman. Oops!

As anyone who has visited this website for the past year and a half knows, I have a like of debunking prophecy, especially in light of the astronomically-inspired Maya doomsday prophecy that some held meant that the world would end on December 21, 2012. Well, the Maya doomsday 2012 prophecy didn't pan out (obviously) and, come the end of the papal conclave, the Prophecy of the Popes missed the mark, too.

So, how could this be?

For starters, many Catholic scholars dismiss the prophecy as a hoax. Reportedly written by St. Malachy, who lived in the 1100s, the prophecy never came to light until 1595, when it was published by Arnold de Wyon, a Benedictine monk, who 'discovered' it. More evidence against the prophecy? St. Malachy's biographer, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, never mentions any such prophecy (though he does detail several miracles attributed to Malachy) nor, for that matter, did St. Malachy himself.

As another, interesting observation, consider this: the prophecy was startlingly accurate about the popes until the time of its discovery but the predictions become so vague thereafter that the short descriptions can be twisted to apply to any pope should someone look hard enough for a connection. Implication: a late 1500s forgery bolstered by the attribution to a famous saint.

As for the (unusually long) description of the last pope, it reads as follows: “In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will nourish the sheep in many tribulations; when they are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The end.” The implication: after the reign of this pope ends, the world will be destroyed.

Now the reality.

Yesterday, the College of Cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio pope. Bergoglio took the name of Francis, thus ending the speculation of a Pope Peter II. Additionally, the new pope's birth name is missing 'Peter' as well. As for his place of birth, Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is thousands of miles from Rome.

However, that hasn't stopped the prophecy proponents from going out of their way to twist the prophecy to the breaking point in order to fit it to the new pope, noting that St. Francis of Assisi, in whose honor Bergoglio chose his papal name, had a middle name of 'Pietro' (Peter in English). Talk about tenuous.

Throughout history, people have always been trying, and failing, to predict the future. Whether the prophets be religious or secular, the results have always been the same in that they have often missed the boat, whether by being specific and wrong or being so ambiguous that the meaning of a particular prophecy could be debated until the real end of time itself.

The only real question that we should have here upon the election of Pope Francis is this: why do we continue to believe the 0 for your guess prophets of doom, anyway?

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