We’ve gotten a lot of questions from our Christian friends asking why we would bother to study a questionable Catholic prophecy. When we began researching the prophecy, we started with a healthy dose of skepticism. In light of the Counter Reformation and the Vatican’s well-documented trail of forgeries, one might suspect the prophecy of the popes to be some sort of manipulation. As we initially delved into the scholarship on the subject, our worst suspicions seemed to be confirmed. Early on, the evidence that the pre-1590 prophecies were written after the fact was so convincing that we considered shelving the project. However, there were a few remarkable twentieth-century fulfillments like Benedict XV, assigned the motto Religio depopulate, that merited serious pause. There is well-documented history of the prophecy in the sixteenth century, so any fulfilled mottos after that time demand serious consideration.
Even more, as our research progressed, unresolved issues fell into place and yielded unexpected results. We have uncovered a wealth of source material seldom mentioned in the popular literature. At worst, we have a Jesuit hoax or some papal propaganda. If that is the case, then at the very least this work provides a platform to refute some errors in Catholic theology. We have no illusions of grandeur. We do not fancy ourselves as end-time prophets with special revelation. Even so, there is something remarkable about the fortune we have encountered in the research. We still question ourselves, “Is this prophecy really genuine? Are we being led astray?” We believe there is strong chance Rome is intentionally promoting the prophecy, even though it seems most Jesuits have called it a forgery. We have to wonder if it is disinformation. We would not put it past Rome to arrange events in accordance with a Catholic prophecy and in some cases they clearly have. Even so, some of the fulfillments are beyond human control. While we believe demons can make educated guesses and manipulate events to give the illusion of prophecy, only God can inspire real prophecy (Isaiah 46:9–10). In light of all of the forgery and occultism associated with Rome, why would the God of the Bible inspire such a prophecy? We offer three considerations.
First, let us offer a very simple rationale. God uses the most unlikely events to accomplish His sovereign purpose. He is uniquely capable of turning the tables in unexpected ways. Think of how God used Satan’s diabolic designs against Jesus. Satan played right into to the Father’s hands, ensured his own defeat and surrendered the atonement for sins of the world (1 John 2:2). The cosmic inquisition was ended when Satan, the cosmic grand inquisitor, defeated himself. It seems just that his earthly counterpart (“grand inquisitor”) meet a similar fate. Through the cross of Calvary, God effectively, “spoiled principalities and powers [Satan and demons], he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). In the prophecy of the popes, Mystery Babylon and her Pontifex Maximi are similarly made a public horror as the City of Seven Hills is engulfed in flames. It is truly chilling to imagine.
Second, it seems from the Scriptures that God has a sense of irony that is second to none. Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament will yield God pouring out His emotions in the livid, sardonic tones of a jilted lover, “And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring” (Le 17:7a); and “Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation” (Judges 10:14). Consider how the Prophet Elijah taunts the priests of Baal, “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked” (1 Ki 18:27). However this is one of the places where the translators shielded the reader from an unsightly detail that is visible in the English Standard Version’s rendering of the Hebrew, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself…” (1 Kings 18:27a, ESV). The point is that God appreciates irony and often employs sarcasm. He also appreciates a clever riddle (Proverbs 25:2).
Third, God often uses the most unlikely people. From a Catholic perspective, we offer the words of Pope Benedict XIV: “The recipients of prophecy may be angels, devils, men, women, children, heathens, or gentiles; nor is it necessary that a man should be gifted with any particular disposition in order to receive the light of prophecy provided his intellect and senses be adapted for making manifest the things which God reveals to him. Though moral goodness is most profitable to a prophet, yet it is not necessary in order to obtain the gift of prophecy.”[i] While we are duly cautious to agree with a pope, it is helpful to recall Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from Daniel 2. God chose to reveal a prophecy spanning from 605 BC through the second coming of Christ to an arrogant narcissistic pagan king. Of course, it required God’s holy servant, Daniel, to interpret the dream. Similarly, God used Balaam, a sorcerer hired by Balak, a Moabite king, who was exceedingly fearful of the encroaching multitude of Israelites. Accordingly, the king sent for Balaam, a darkened wizard who now lives in prophetic infamy (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 11; Revelation 2:14). Despite Balaam’s incorrigible status, God used him to prophesy, “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult” (Numbers 24:17).
Ronald Allen, professor of Hebrew Scripture at Western Baptist Seminary writes, “In agreement with many in the early church and in early Judaism, we believe this text speaks unmistakably of the coming of the Messiah. That this prophecy should come from one who was unworthy makes it all the more dramatic and startling.”[ii] Thus, we see that God uses the most unlikely characters and situations to get His message across. This Pethorian prophecy was well over one thousand years before the birth of Christ and from a hostile source yet it is probably what led the Magi to Bethlehem. The nameless author of the allegedly lost La profezia used Balaam as an example as well, remarking that the gift of prophecy, “is essentially a free supernatural gift, in which God certifies the truth of His faith by communicating to different souls, sometimes even infidels like Balaam, in whom altered states have occurred inspiring them spontaneously to speak marvelously of the most sublime mystery of God.”[iii] If we conclude the prophecy of the popes is authentic prophecy, then it is so impossibly ironic and judiciously just that it must indeed be divine. So, we must decide where to draw the line between the authentic and the forged
To be continued next week.
Website for Petrus Romanus here: www.prophecyofthepopes.com
Limited time: Get a signed copy of Pandemonium’s Engine here for $10.00. Domestic orders only, first come first serve.
[i] Benedict XIV, Heroic Virtue III, 144:150.
[ii] Kenneth L. Barker, Expositorś Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition: Old Testament) (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 216.
[iii] La profezia dei sommi pontefici, 1794, p. 15. Translation CD Putnam.