After the white-smoke “fumatta” signaled Argentina’s Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Bergoglio now heads the Catholic Church, the attention turns to significant, if subtle, signs surrounding the naming of the new Pope.
As soon as Msgr. Bergoglio was chosen, in the privacy of the Vatican Cardinal Giovanni Battista’s first question to him was, “What name would you like to be known by?” to which he replied “I shall be called Francis I”.
Moments later, when presented to the world from the Basilica overlooking St. Peter’s Square Pope Francis announced to the world, “You know that the duty of the conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world to get him. But here we are.”
An interesting and significant phrase filled with foreboding in these troubling times, many perceive of apocalyptic worldwide turmoil. Particularly to those lending credence to the prophesies of Irish Saint Malachy, a 12th century Archbishop of Armagh who had a vision when visiting Rome of 112 future popes that the Church would supposedly have from his days onwards.
Malachy wrote down short emblematic and symbolic descriptions for each which have been fulfilled with uncanny precision to this very day.
According to that vision, the 111th pope was Benedict XVI, whom he described as “The Glory of the Olive” which makes him the next-to-last pope.
Malachy could have very well been way off the mark by whole centuries when you consider that some popes like Pius IX in the 19th century reigned for a full 34 years, whilst others like last century’s John Paul I only reigned for 33 short days. And yet, as we enter 2013 – just months after 2012 with its symbolic End-of-Time aura – we suddenly have a new (the last?) pope being chosen.
Even if Francis I is not the last pope, he certainly makes an interesting list of Catholic firsts: the first non-European pope in almost 1500 years; the first Jesuit; the first to choose Francis as his name; the first to succeed an abdicating pope in six centuries.
Why all the expectation? Because for the 112th pope on Malachy’s List he wrote these ominous words: “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End.”
If Malachy’s List continues to hold in its uncanny precision to the very end, then Pope Francis I is the last pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
On the very same day that Benedict XVI shocked the world with his unprecedented and unexpected resignation, a bolt of lightning struck St. Peter Cathedral’s Dome, an image that went around the world. “The hand of God” many thought, only this time not alluding to an Argentine football player but rather a sign of the times to come for the Vatican: the coming of an Argentinian pope.
The monsignors are said to take this and other prophecies – notably the Vision of Fatima – quite seriously, which might help to explain why other possible papal candidates who either carried the name Peter or came from Rome were discretely left aside so as not to tempt Destiny.
Either way, Francis I is as he himself unwittingly said, an “end of the world” pope coming as he does from far off Argentina.
Opposition Cardinal in Argentina
As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio championed the plight of the poor in a very hands-on manner, which set him at loggerheads with the now ten-year-old, increasingly left-wing Nestor and Cristina Kirchner Regime.
His criticism of their government got stronger as the years went by, specifically targeting the Kirchner government’s corruption, political mismanagement and hypocrisy.
Since Msgr. Bergoglio would persistently lash out at the Kirchners during the solemnities of the Te Deum marking the anniversary of Argentina’s 25th May 1810 Revolution in Buenos Aires Cathedral which is traditionally attended by the President, his family and cabinet. Starting in 2005 the Kirchners decided to celebrate this anniversary elsewhere in the country to avoid Msgr. Bergoglio… In fact, President Cristina Kirchner has not met with him in almost three years now.
Though a moderate in many aspects – especially in his drive for Ecumenical inter-faith relations (he was just invited to visit Israel), and in his embracing of Second Vatican Council reforms – he has, however, systematically opposed same-sex marriage which became legal in Argentina in 2011, and strongly opposes abortion laws that are being promoted by both the left and the “liberal” right.
Msgr. Bergoglio is an ardent devotee of the Virgin Mary whose protection he invoked in his very first message urbi et orbi. The first place he went to pray as pope was the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin at Santa Maria Maggiore.