“The Future of the Papacy:

Will the Next Pope Be the Last One?”

Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D.,

Retired Professor of Theology and Church History,

Andrews University


                  Greetings from London, England, where I am spending 10 delightful days speaking at three rallies. During the past few years I have been invited to present my seminars in London over 30 times, and each time the reception and response has been  heartwarming.


                  What makes my visits to London a pleasant experience, is also the warm hospitality of a gracious  Adventist couple, Gary and Araxi Keshishian. I have stayed with them a  dozen of times. They always go out of their way to make me feel at home. They provide me with a lovely room overlooking their manicured garden, a delicious breakfast, and a  wireless internet service that enables me to keep in touch with people around the globe. If your plans ever call for a stay in London, feel free to contact Gary and Araxi at 020 8866 8821 or email them at g.keshishian@cwcom.net. Click here for a picture of the house and room: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/Promotions/BED&BREAKFAST.htm




                  During the past few weeks I have received several messages from ministers of different denominations who are reading my Sabbath books and are interested to learn more about the Sabbath. For the sake of brevity, I will share an experience I had in Las Vegas, UT, at the Paradise Valley SDA Church last February 26, 2005.


                  After the Friday evening meeting, the first Elder told me: I want to go to invite a pastor of a church 300 yards down the road.  I gave him one of your Sabbath book. The Pastor, Wally Smith, of the Foursquare Gospel congregation, attended the meeting on Sabbath morning. He promised to come back on Sabbath evening after officiating at a wedding. He came for the last part of the meeting.


                  During the questions/answers period, I asked him if he wanted to share his experience with the congregation.  He stood up and said that accepting the Sabbath has been costly for him. He lost some members and his congregation is now divided into two groups, one worshipping the Sabbath and the others on  Sunday. Then he asked me if I would preach to his congregation next day, Sunday morning.  I declined the invitation because I was scheduled to fly home on Sunday morning. But I promised to spend a weekend with his congregation in the Fall. After sunset, he purchase the complete set of my books and recordings. Let us remember Pastor Wally in our prayers.


                  In recent weeks I have received similar invitations from ministers of different faiths who are rediscovering the Sabbath.




            As a service to our subscribers, I am listing the date and the location of the upcoming seminars for the months of March and April 2005. Every Sabbath it is a great pleasure for me to meet subscribers who travel considerable distances to attend the seminars.



Location: 1633 N. Central Avenue, Ceres, California 95307.

For information call Pastor Keith Mulligan at (209) 538 1024 or (209) 537-0601.



Location: John Loughborough School, Holcombe Road, Tottenham, London  EN N179AD.

For information call Pastor Emmanuel Osei at  020 8699 7881



Location: Devenshire Drive, Greenwich, London SE10 6JZ.

For information call Pastor Terry Messenger at 020 8262 6535



Location: Mt. Zion A. M. E. Church, Whale Bay Road, Southampton, Bermuda.

For information call Pastor Mike Faison at (441) 234-0888.



Location: 2301 Rohnerville Road, Fortuna 95540

For information call Pastor Garry Genser at (707) 768-9600 or (707) 725-6164



Location: 297A Thompson Road, Singapore 307647

For information call Pastor Matthew Yuen or Elder Danson Ng.



Location: Balestier Road SDA Church, 120 Balestier Road, Singapore 329680.

For information contact Elder Danson Ng.



Location: Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Penang, Malaysia.

For information call Dr. Dicky NG Teik Kee at 012 5623 884



For information call Dr. Dicky NG Teik Kee at 012 5623 884




          The timely book THE PASSION OF CHRIST IN SCRIPTURE AND HISTORY (208 pages), came off the press few weeks ago.  3ABN invited me to share the highlights of this book in the two hours 3ABN TODAY  program. The response has been overwhelming. Thousands of people have called from all over the world to order copies.  The first printing was sold out in few weeks.


          You will be proud to have copies of this timely book for your personal study and your witnessing outreach.  It is designed to help many people to recognize the fundamental Catholic heresies embedded in Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. More important still, the book present in a clear and compelling way the unique Adventist understanding of the redemptive accomplishments of the Cross, within the context of Protestant and Catholic teachings.


            To make it possible for many to benefit from this timely study, we offer the book by the case of 30 copies at the special offer of only $5.00 per copy, postage paid, instead of the regular price of $20.00. You can order a single copy or a case of 30 copies online at http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/passionoffer.htm, or by emailing us your order at <sbacchiocchi@biblicalperspectives.com>, or by calling us at (269) 471-2915,  (269) 978-6878.




            The large volume of HITACHI  projectors purchased by Adventist churches and schools, has led HITACHI to reduce their price for the fourth time on most of their projectors. For example, the new price for the award winning 2000 lumens HITACHI CP-X328 is now only $1,695.00, including 3 years of 24/7 replacement warranty, instead of the factory suggested retail price of $7,495.00. The new price on the 2700 lumens HITACHI CP-S420 is only $1995.00, instead of the factory suggested retail price of $8,495.00.


                  If your church needs a powerful projector to throw the image from the balcony (80’ to 100’ feet away from the screen), HITACHI has just come out with an outstanding 4500 lumens projector CP-X1250  High Resolution,  that  will project a very bright picture from far away  even with the flood lights on.  The projector has many new features like shift lens and four interchangeable lenses that can throw a picture from 10’ to 100’ feet away.  The special price to our churches and schools is only $4,400.00, instead of the factory listed price of $14,995.00.


            For specific information on all the complete series of HITACHI projectors, visit the new BP Projectors website at:  http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/projector.html.  If you have a problem accessing the NEW website, just email us your enquiry  or call us at (269) 978-6878 or (269) 471-2915.  We will be glad to give you all the information about the special HITACHI offer.




                  If your church is looking to buy a screen, the DA-LITE SCREEN COMPANY, one of the largest in the world, has agreed to offer to our churches and schools, their line of screens at 30% discount. To view the various models and their factory prices, visit  the DA-LITE SCREEN COMPANY website at www.da.lite.com.  For special prices call us at (269) 471-2915 or email us your request about the size of the screen  to: sbacchiocchi@biblicalperspectives.com. The screen will be shipped to you directly by DA-LITE SCREEN COMPANY.




                  If your church needs an AUDIO CASSETTES or a VIDEO TAPES duplicator, I will be glad to offer you either of them at a bargain price.  The RECORDEX cassette duplicator consists of four units, capable of copying 15 audio cassettes at one time.


                The 16  SONY and MITSUBISHI VCRs are practically new and can copy 16 video tapes at one time. They come with a special sound splitter and enhancer.  Since I am no longer duplicating audio or video tapes, I am prepared to let this excellent  equipment go at a bargain price. For details, call me at (269) 471-2915.




            At this time you can order the complete package of all my recordings for ONLY $100.00, postage paid, instead of the regular price of $490.00.   The package includes the latest 3ABN two hours interview on a DVD disk,  ONE CD-ROM with all my research (over 7000 pages), ONE CD-ROM with all my PowerPoint lectures, TWO MP3 AUDIO disks with 22 popular lectures, and the  FIVE DVD DISKS or FIVE VIDEO TAPES with 10 live PowerPoint lectures of my SABBATH/ADVENT seminars, taped few months ago by a TV crew at Andrews University. 


            The special offer is ONLY $100.00, postage paid, instead of the regular price of $490.00.  Read the details at my website: http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/Promotions/SPECIALPACKAGEOFFER.htm. If you have a problem ordering the package through my website, just email us your order or call us at (269) 978-6878 or (269) 471-2915.  We will be glad to take your order by phone and mail you the package immediately.


“The Future of the Papacy:

Will the Next Pope Be the Last One?”

Samule Bacchiocchi, Ph. D.,

Retired Professor of Theology and Church History,

Andrews University


                  The death watch over Pope John Paul II has been going on for sometimes, but the recent hospitalization and surgery that have left the Pontiff speechless, has heighten the expectation of his imminent death. In addition to his infirmities, silence will now be more pronounced in the remaining days of his life.


                  The fast deteriorating health of Pope John Paul II, is raising unavoidable questions, not only about his possible immediate successor, but also about the broader question of the future of the papacy. 


                  Some of the questions discussed by Vatican observers are:  Will the new pope continue to exercise so strong worldwide influence in the Church and in the world? Will the Italian cardinals be able to recapture the Papacy or will the new pope be chosen among Third World cardinals?  What qualities is the new pope expected to have to meet the new challenges facing the Catholic Church in the twentieth first century? Will the new pope be the last pope in accordance to the papal prophecies of Malachy, a twelfth century Irish Catholic saint?  What is the nature of the present and future power of the papacy? What method is  the pope using today to become the leader of a new world order?


                  These questions have more than a passing interest for Seventh-day Adventists, because they believe that the papacy will play a major prophetic role in the endtime showdown described in Revelation 13 through the imagery of a beast. The prophecy envision a beast suffering at first from what appears to be a mortal wound, “but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder” (Rev 13:3).


Objectives of the Essay


                  In this newsletter we take a fresh look at the wounding, healing, and emerging worldwide influence of the papacy in the light of the recent history and the future prospects of the papacy. The question in the back of my mind is: How does the present unfolding of the power of the papacy fits into our Adventist prophetic understanding of the endtime resurgence of the power of the papacy?


                   What is being presented in this newsletter represents, NOT A FINAL WORD, but initial tentative reflections, which are designed to stimulate further study of our Adventist prophetic understanding of the endtime prophetic role of the papacy. Our prophetic endtime scenario of the papacy was largely developed by our pioneers over a century ago, but since then significant changes have occurred in the strategy used by the papacy to become the most influential religious and political power in the world today. In the light of these changes, it is imperative for us to reexamine our prophetic scenario and make whatever improvements deemed necessary.


                  This is essay is divided in three parts. The first part looks at the election of the new pope, considering especially qualities  the College of Cardinals will be looking forth, and suggesting four potential candidates. 


                  The second part looks at the surprising papal prophecies of Malachy, an twelfth Irish Catholic saint. Under symbolic titles, Malachy lists the proper succession of 111 popes, starting from Pope Celestine II in 1143, to the “end of the world.”  According to such “prophetic” listing the next pope is the last pope that precedes the end of the world. In view of the considerable discussion of these prophecies, even in the Osservatore Romano (Vatican newspaper) and The Times of London, I feel justified to make a few observations on their trustworthiness and relevance for today.


                  The last part of this essay will look at how the Pope exerts his power today. We shall see that the wound inflicted on the papacy first by Napoleon in 1798 when his General Berthier took Pope Pius VI prisoner to France, and later in 1870 when the Italian nationalists took over all the Papal States of central Italy, has been healing in unexpected way. The papacy has found new ways to achieve political effectiveness without the normal instruments of political power at its disposal. This new scenario calls, as we shall see, for a reappraisal of the endtime prophetic power of the papacy.




                  In approaching the election of the new pope, the members of the College of Cardinals–the electoral body of the Catholic Church–will start with an ideal vision of a man capable, not only to build upon the foundation laid by John Paul II, but also to address the unfinished business of his pontificate.


The Legacy of Pope John Paul II


                  The new pope will face the formidable task of building upon the political, social, ecclesiastical, and ecumenical achievements of Pope John Paul II. We noted in the previous newsletter, that politically, John Paul II  played a major role in the collapse of Soviet Communism, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Eastern and Western Europe.


                  Ecclesiastically, John Paul II has worked tirelessly to restore unity, and identity to the Catholic Church. To accomplish this goal, he has used a twofold strategy. First, he has endeavored to win the confidence of Catholics to himself by utilizing effectively all the modern means of communication. Second, he has sold with holy conviction to Catholics his unpopular stand against divorce and remarriage, artificial birth control, extramarital sex, homosexuality, abortion, optional celibacy and ordination of women as priests.


                  Ecumenically, John Paul II has fostered his role as the moral and spiritual leader of mankind.    To achieve this goal, he has traveled more than all the previous popes of history put together, in order to promote ecumenical understanding and cooperation among people of all religions under the moral and spiritual leadership of the papacy. To gain global acceptance, John Paul has willing to ask forgiveness for the past sins committed by the Catholic Church against the Moslem, Protestants, Jews, and Greek Orthodox.


The Challenges of the New Pope


                   The new pope is expected to continue to boost the political and religious leadership of papacy, while at the same time deal with the “unfinished business” of his predecessor. Vatican observers speak of several major challenges the new pope must address: the internal administration of the church which calls for greater power-sharing;  the internal problems of doctrinal dissent and sexual immorality; the growing secularization that is causing an alarming decline in Catholic membership in Western Countries; ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue  between the Catholic Church and other religions, especially Islam; biotechnology and abortion; globalization and economic justice; a greater role of the laity in the church, especially women.


                  To address these issues the new pope will have to build upon the achievements of the present  pope, while at the same time putting the stamp of his own personality in handling each challenge. In many ways this has been the history of the papacy of the twentieth century. There has always been an element of continuity and discontinuity with the election of each new pope. For example, John Paul I, in taking his papal name, intended to show solidarity with his two nearest predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI. In the same way, by calling himself John Paul II, the present Pontiff expressed his intentions to continue in the direction of his two predecessors. Yet, in many ways John Paul II departed from his predecessors, especially in the way he used his moral persuasion to achieve political effectiveness. This point will be expanded in the third part.


                  The fact that John Paul II has appointed all but five of the 135 cardinals who will elect his successors, does not guarantee that the new pope will be a carbon copy of the present one. This is born out historically.  Pope Pius XII appointed all but two of the 51 cardinals who elected his successor. Yet the next pope they elected, John XXIII, was strikingly different from Pius XII.


                  Most likely this scenario will be repeated in the election of the new pope. The College of Cardinals will start with an ideal vision of the kind of pope needed to lead the church in the twenty first century—a pope capable of building upon the foundation laid by John Paul II, while at the same time contributing in creative ways to finish the unfinished business of the present pope. Their vision will be constructed on the basis of five major criteria.


Criteria For Electing the New Pope


                  Age. An important factor in the election of a new pope is his age, because popes serve until they die. The 27 years long pontificate of John Paul II, may convince the cardinals to look for an older candidate this time. A long pontificate can be a bane or blessing for the Catholic Church, largely depending upon the health and the agenda of the pope.


                  John Allen Jr. Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter notes: “It is likely the cardinals will opt for an older man, considering that the pope serves until death and the present pope was only 58 when elected in 1978. A shorter shelf life is probably something that will be favored.”


                  A strong conservative pope who resists any change in the administration and life of the church, may be perceived by liberals as a stumbling block to the progress of the Catholic church. The paradox is that an older pope may not be able to provide the kind of energetic leadership needed at this time to polish the image of the papacy,  which has been tarnished by the prolonged deteriorating health of the present pope. We can assume that most cardinals will likely elect a pope between 65 to 75 years of age.


                  Nationality. Demographic will be an important consideration in the papal selection process, because since the last papal election  27 years ago, the distribution of the Catholic membership has changed. In 1955 there were 16 million Catholic in Africa; today there are 120 million. Forty-six per cent of the world’s Catholics are in Latin  America. Most likely Cardinals will consider when voting: Shall we pick a Third Worlder to reflect the new demographic of the church or an European to shore up the crumbling Catholic Church in Western European countries?


                  One thing that seems to be certain is that the next pope will not be from the United States. “The Vatican prizes its diplomatic neutrality too much to elect a superpower pope,”  says Mr. Allen. The cardinals may also fear that an American pope might be perceived as a puppet of the United States, thus making him and the Catholic Church a terroristic target and creating new security challenges for the Vatican. The sexual scandal of Catholic priests, which is regarded as an American problem, will further weakened the candidacy of American Cardinals.


An Italian Pope?


                  Some Vatican observers maintain that the major choice facing the cardinals in the next conclave will be whether to elect an Italian or Latin American pope. The reasons given for electing an Italian Pope are both historical and practical. Historically the papacy grew out of the influence of the Bishop of Rome, who was elected by the local bishops during the first millennium. Even during the second millennium, with very few exceptions, the Pope has always been an Italian. Pope John Paul II is one of the most notable exceptions.


                  Some believe that to be true to the “Roman” roots of the papacy, the pope should be Italian, because Italian Cardinals understand better the “Roman”  nature of the papacy. John Allen notes “Italians are assumed to have a natural genius for running the church. (‘It’s not called the Roman Catholic church for nothing,’ as more than one cardinal has ruefully observed’).”   The problem is that the 23 Italian electoral cardinals represent only 17% of the electoral body.  Even taking all the European cardinals together, including the Italians, they still account for only half of the voters.


                  If the Italian cardinals succeed in rallying support for an Italian pope, a most likely candidate is Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the archbishop of Milan. He  headed the archdiocese of Genoa, before being promoted to Milan in 2002. This new assignment moved him into the most powerful archdiocese in the world before the next papal election.


                  His record indicate that he is most conservative on doctrinal questions, but liberal on social issues. For example, in a pastoral letter, Tettamanzi downplayed the Catholic Church's condemnation of homosexual acts by comparing them to heterosexual promiscuity outside of marriage. By edging toward homosexuality, Tettamanzi is reassuring the liberal cardinal electors that he is not overly conservative.


A Third World Pope?


                  While a few cardinals may lobby for an Italian candidate, cardinals from developing countries may wish to vote together for a candidate from the Third World for at least three reasons. First, the Catholic Church is growing the most in the developing countries of the Southern hemisphere, namely Africa and Latin America.


                  Second, in these developing countries the Catholic Church is facing serious competition; in Latin  America the competition comes primarily from Evangelical churches, while in Africa and Asia from Islam.


                  Finally, just as the election of a pope from behind the Iron Curtain played a major role in healing the East/West split that existed in 1978, a pope from the Third World could help address today the socioeconomic divide between North/South. Such pope could dramatically challenge the social injustices of globalization.


                  “There's a feeling that it is Latin America's turn,” says Tom Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine America. The reason is not only that there are more Catholics there than any other continent, but also because the Pentecostals and other evangelical churches are converting Catholics by the thousands, causing a massive exodus out of the Catholic Church.


                  Cardinals from the Third World make up about 38 per cent of the electors, with the largest block coming from South America, where nearly half of the world’s Catholics live. If they choose to vote together, they could play a decisive role in choosing the next pope. This scenario excludes the possibility of electing a Pope from North America or Northern Europe.


                  The issues in Third World countries are not so much doctrinal or sexual morality—frequently debated in Western countries—but social justice and human rights, largely violated in developing countries. A Pope from the Third World could serve as a powerful symbol of solidarity and support for the victims of globalization.


Third World Papal Candidates


                  Among the cardinals from the Third World, three are frequently mentioned as papabili, that is, as candidates to be the next pope. We shall mention briefly their  characteristics.


                  Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil.   The 69 years old Cardinal Hummes of San Paulo, is a strong Latin American Candidate. At 69 he is neither to old or too young to be pope.  He comes from the Third World, where the future of Catholicism lies. He is a pastor rather than a Vatican insider. This means that his fellow cardinals can trust him to know how to deal with problem in the real world. He is conservative on doctrine but extremely strong on social justice issues.


                  He is a member of the Franciscan order and in a typical Franciscan tradition, he has devoted himself to defend the right of the poor and dispossessed. He actively  supports the Movimento dos Sem Terra (The Landless Movement), arguing that people have the right to organize themselves to defend their rights.


                  Under John Paul II, Hummes has adopted a more traditional theological stance and has distanced himself from political action. When a Brazilian priest justified the use of condoms to fight AIDS, Hummes threatened him with disciplinary action.


                  A key sign of Vatican favor is the invitation extended to him to preach from February 17 to 23 at the 2002 Lenten Retreat for the immediate members of the papal Curia. It is noteworthy that Karol Wojtyla, as archbishop of Krákow, gave the Lenten Retreat for Paul VI in 1976, and two years he became John Paul II. Could the same be true for Cardinal Hummes? We must wait and see.


                  Hummes could well be perceived by the electors as the man with the right mix of doctrinal caution and social engagement.


                   Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina. Cardinal Bergoglio is 66 years old and belongs to the Jesuit order.  He is a soft-spoken intellectual, and a respected theological and philosophical thinker. He has served as Jesuit provincial for Argentina and as Grand Chancellor of the Catholic University of Argentina.


                  If  Bergoglio were to be elected Pope, his  simplicity and humility would impress the world.  For example, in Argentina people admire the fact the he takes public transportation rather than a chauffer-driven limousine.


                  What militates against his election, is the fact that he is a Jesuit. The idea of a Jesuit pope is not readily acceptable because Jesuits are not supposed to receive ecclesiastical honors. Moreover, Jesuits have a troublesome history of insubordination to papal authority.


                  Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras. Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga is 60 years old and serves as archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He is widely seen as a rising star in the Latin Catholic church. Until 1999 he served as president of the federation of Latin American bishops’ conferences. He speaks fluently Spanish, Italian, and English, and less-fluently French, Portuguese, German, Latin, and Greek.


                  David Gibson, author of The Coming Catholic Church , offers this description of  Rodriguez's qualities: “A polyglot, media-savvy Latin American who knows everyone in the College and would represent a powerful statement on behalf of the huge and poverty-stricken Latin American church, as well as the rest of the developing world.”


                  Maradiaga is passionate about social justice issues. With a small group of Catholic leaders, he met German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in Cologne to hand over to him personally the Jubilee 2000 petition for debt relief. He said: “Neo-liberal capitalism carries injustice and inequality in its genetic code.”  He has a reputation for being unusually open on ecumenical questions, encouraging interfaith dialogue. His warm smile and a quick  sense of humor, could make him an attractive candidate to the College of Cardinals.


                  There is no guarantee that the next pope will be picked among the four above-mentioned cardinals. We can only assume that these four papabili—potential popes, will be seriously considered for the most influential job in the world.


                  Qualities of a Papal Candidate. In looking for a papal candidate, the College of Cardinals will focus on a candidate who has a clear vision of the internal and external challenges facing the Catholic Church. On doctrinal issues, he must be conservatives, determined to uphold historical Catholic dogmas, but on social issues he must be progressive, committed to promote social justice around the world.  In other words, he must be capable to address the internal social, doctrinal, and ethical issues the Catholic Church faces today, while at the same  time able to boost the papal authority in the religious and political world today.


                  He must be broad minded enough to appeal across the “party lines” of the Catholic hierarchy. He must speak several languages and a good grasp of the cultural and political trends of our times.  He must be a decisive and tough leader, commanding respect for his stand on unpopular moral and doctrinal teachings, while at the same time exuding a compassionate personality.


                  Of course, the problem is that there is no candidate that possesses all these qualities. This means that the College of Cardinals will eventually have to choose the candidate who offers most of the ideal qualities.




                  The time of the election of a new pope, seem to provide an incentive to dust off the Papal Prophecies of Malachy (1094-1148), archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, whose name O’Morgair, was latinized to Malachy. Few private prophecies have captured the popular imagination like the Prophecies on the Popes ascribed to him. A search for “St. Malachy” in Google shows 73,800 entries—an indication of the widespread interest in Malachy’s Papal Prophecies—interest sparked by the approaching election of a new pope.


                  Malachy was a notable reformer of the church in Ireland before the Anglo-Norman invasion. He was canonized as saint in 1190 by Pope Clement III. In 1139 he went to Rome to give an account of the condition of the Irish church to Pope Innocent II. While in Rome, he supposedly received a  strange vision of the future 112 popes who were to rule the Catholic Church until the end of time. He wrote down a description of each pope in two to four Latin words and gave the list to Innocent who was deeply troubled at the time.


                  The nature of these prophecies is well known. They consists of 111 mottos in Latin, followed by a concluding statement about the destruction of the papacy and the final judgement. Each motto consists of two to four Latin words, which are supposed to be a short prophetic description of each pope, beginning from Celestine II, who was elected in 1143, until the end of the world.


                  The Catholic Encyclopedia explains that “Those who have undertaken to interpret and explain these symbolical prophecies have succeeded in discovering some trait, allusion, point, or similitude in their application to the individual popes, either as to their country, their name, their coat of arms or insignia, their birthplace, their talent or learning, the title of their cardinalate, the dignities which they held etc.” (Under “St. Malachy.”).


                  Malachy’s papal prophecies were first published in 1590  by Benedictine historian, Arnold Wyon, and have become part of a Catholic tradition that will not go away. They are similar to the prophecies of Nostradamus, who lived 40 years before Malachy. There is some debate  about the historicity of Malachy’s prophecies. Some argue that the list was fabricated by Jesuits in the 1600’s. In spite of the dubious origin of the list, there is an undying interest in Malachy’s papal prophecies, partly because  some mottos of popes, seem to match to a tee the pontificates of the popes listed. Let us look at a few examples.


                  Pope # 96: “Peregrinus Apostolicus” — Pius VI (1775-1799). The legend for Pope # 96, which corresponds to the papacy of Pius VI (1775-1799), reads: “Peregrinus Apostolicus,” which means “an apostolic wanderer” or “a pilgrim pope.”  It is interesting that in a medallion struck in 1782, Pius VI describes himself as “Peregrinus Apostolicus.  The medallion commemorates the trip the pope made to Vienna to persuade Emperor Joseph II to respect the papal power and territories.


                  The description of “pilgrim pope” fittingly applies also to the forced expatriation from Rome of Pius VI at the end of his pontificate. In 1798 the armies of French General Berthier took the old pope prisoner to  France. His health gave way at Valence, where he died as a prisoner in exile, on August 22, 1799. In this instance, the motto “pilgrim pope,” finds an apparent application, not only in Pius VI’s self-description, but also in his exile to France.  As Adventists we see the exile and imprisonment of Pius VI, as the fulfillment of the wounding of the beast portrayed in Revelation 13:3.


                   A striking correspondence can also be seen between some of Malachy’s mottos and the popes of the twentieth century. Let us look at a few of them.


                  Pope # 104: “Religio Depopulata”— Benedict XV (1914-1922). The motto 104, which corresponds to Benedict XV, reads: “religio depopulata,” that is, “religion depopulated,” or “religion laid waste.”  The fulfillment of this motto can be seen in the devastating impact upon Christianity by Communism and World War I.  Communism laid waste  Christianity in Russia, and World War I killed millions of Christians. The motto could also apply to the fact that for the first time in Christian history, Western European culture was no longer predominantly Christian, as a large slice of Christendon declared itself atheist.


                  Pope # 105: “Fides Intrepida”— Pius XI (1922-1939).  The legend of motto 105 “fides intrepida—unshaken faith” fittingly describes Pius XI’s courage to face the dictators of Italy and Germany.  He was an outspoken critic of Fascism, Nazism,  and Communism.   He came to terms with the Mussolini regime about the status of Vatican City by signing the 1929 Concordat—an event interpreted by our Adventist church as the healing of the wound (Rev 13:3, 12).


                  He also signed a Concordat with Hitler in 1933 which would have provided some protection to the Catholic Church, had Hitler honored it.  His outspoken criticism against Fascism and Communism upset the ruthless plans of the dictators. He is remembered especially for stirring up Nazi’s ire with his encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge,” With Burning Sorrow,” in which he criticized the Nazi’s regime.


                  Pope # 106: “Pastor Angelicus”­—Pius XII (1939-1958).   The legend “pastor angelicus—angelic pastor,” of motto 106 is applied to Pius XII. Such an application stirs up the passion of many people today, who accuse Pius XII of indifference toward the plight of the Jews, antisemitism, and pro-Nazi sympathies. Others dispute such charges and view Pius XII as an Angelic Pastor who cared for all those who suffered. The application of this legend is controversial and must remain an open question.


                  Pope # 107: “Pastor et Nauta”– John XXIII (1958-1963). The legend of motto 107 “Pastor et Nauta—pastor and mariner” aptly describes John XXIII, because he was loved as pastor of the world by Catholics and non-Catholics more than any other pope in history.  The legend “nauta—mariner,” point to the maritime city of Venice where he served as Patriarch before being elected pope.


                  Pope # 108: “Flos Florum” —Paul VI (1963-1978). The legend “Flos Florum—flower of flowers” appears to be an  allusion to Paul VI coat of arms which had three fleurs-de-lis (iris blossoms) on it.  This motto does not shed any light on the nature of his pontificate.


                  Pope # 109: “De Medietate Lunae”— John Paul I (1978).  The legend “De medietate lunae—From the half-moon” or “From the middle of the moon,” describes the likeable but very short-lived pontificate of John Paul I. He was elected Pope on August 26, 1978, when the moon was in its last quarter, that is, half of the moon was visible in the sky. He died 33 days later on September 28, again when the moon was in its last quarter.


                  The cryptic phrase “from the half-moon,” could also refer to the shortness of his pontificate, which was a little more than a lunar cycle.   Some see a possible connection with his name Albino Luciani, since “Albino”  can mean “white light.”  He was born in a town called “Belluno,” which means “beautiful moon.” Malachy’s prophecy matches well John Paul I’s pontificate.


                  Pope # 110: “De Labore Solis”—John Paul II (1978 to present). The legend  De labore solis” can be translated “From the Labor of the Sun,” or “Of the Solar Eclipse.” The corresponding pope is John Paul II who was born on May 8, 1920, during an eclipse of the sun—a possible connection to the legend “Of the Solar Eclipse.” According to the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Eclipse home page, the solar eclipse of May 8th, 1920, was the largest of the twentieth century with a magnitude of 0.9734.


                  Like the sun, John Paul came out of the East (Poland).  In his native city, Krakov, Copernicus (1473-1543) labored for years to challenge the heretical theory that the earth evolves around the sun.  Like the sun, John Paul II has circled the globe numerous times, preaching to large audiences everywhere. His pontificate has been marked by constant travels around the world.  Malachy’s phrase “From the Labor of the Sun,” matches well both the day of birth and mission of John Paul II.


                  Pope # 111: “Gloria Olivae”—Next Pope after John Paul II. The legend of motto 111 “gloria olivae—the glory of the olive,”  describes the future pope who will succeed John Paul II. In what sense will the next pope be the “glory of the olive”?  Since the olive branch is a well-known symbol of peace, presumably the glory of the olive is peace. Thus, the phrase suggests that the pope who will succeed John Paul II, will be a man committed to promote peace.


                  Presumably, he will seek to establish peace among the nations, peace among the Catholics, and peace between Catholics and followers of other religions. Malachy’s prophecy, then,  suggests that the pontificate of the next Pope after John Paul II will be distinguished for seeking to promote peace around the world.


                  If Malachy’s prophecy for pope #111 “gloria olivae—the glory of the olive” is correct, we can expect the next pope to build upon the political and ecumenical accomplishments of John Paul II.  He will be known as “the Pope of Peace,” helping to resolve outstanding political conflicts among the nations. His peacemaking efforts will be directed especially to the religious world, leading Christian and non-Christian religions, especially Islam, to accept the Pope as the symbol of the religious unity of mankind. When this happens, the words of Revelation 13:3 will be fulfilled: “the whole earth followed the beast with wonder” (RSV).


                  Pope #112 “Peter the Roman”—Second Pope After John Paul II. The last pope in Malachy’s list of  papal prophecies is  given, not a motto, but an unambiguous name “Petrus Romanus—Peter the Roman.” The name is followed by a brief description of his pontificates that ushers in the final judgement and destruction of the earth. “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there shall reign Peter the Roman who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the terrible judge will judge the people. The End.”


                  Who is “Peter the Roman”? Why is he given such a name, instead of a motto like the previous 111 popes? Will Peter the Roman be someone born and brought up  in Rome or a church leader who spent most of his life in Rome, serving in the Vatican Curia? We do not know. We need to wait and see.  But I think it is more likely that the phrase “Peter the Roman” is descriptive of the nature of his Pontificate.


                  As a description of his Pontificate, the phrase “Peter the Roman” suggests that this Pope reaffirms the authority of the Pope over the Roman Catholic Church. The expression could also indicate that this Pope will reaffirm Rome as the proper seat of authority in the Church and require the faithful to acknowledge “the holy, Catholic, and apostolic Roman Church as the mother and teacher of all churches” (as expressed in Vatican I’s profession of faith).


                   His predecessor, the Pope of Peace, will emphasize the good in other faiths and foster the religious unity of mankind under the spiritual leadership of the Pope.  But Peter the Roman will labor to enhance the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Faith and the Roman Catholic Church above all other religions and denominations. Its authority will be over all Christians and all peoples of the world. It would seem that the peace promoted by  the 111th pope, will be followed by the storm unleashed by the last pope.


Reflections on Malachy’s Papal Prophecies


                  What are we to make of Malachy’s papal prophecies? It would be a serious mistake to attribute to them canonical authority similar to biblical prophecies. First, because their origin is dubious and second, because some of them are inaccurate. Furthermore, the overall intent of these prophecies is to promote the authority of the pope as the religious leader of mankind.  Such an authority is negated by Scripture and can only lead to an idolatrous form of worship, as evident in the Catholic Church.


                  What makes Malachy’s papal prophecies unusual is the fact that they do not reflect the Catholic view of the End, though they were allegedly written by a canonized Catholic saint. The traditional Catholic view of the End, was formulated in all essentials in the fifth century by  Augustine, and it has remained unchallenged to our day. Augustine's view of the End is closely associated with the modern idea of historical progress. Simply stated, the Kingdom of God will be established on this earth, not by the coming of Christ to establish a new order, but by the gradual improvement of the world under the leadership of the Catholic church.


                  By contrast, Malachy’s prophetic scenario does not allow for the gradual establishment of the Kingdom of God on this earth under the leadership of the Catholic Church. Instead, the Pope of Peace #111, is followed immediately by Peter the Roman, who  will labor to enhance the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church. The reign of this last pope is suddenly terminated by the destruction of the final judgement.


                  This apocalyptic scenario contradicts the traditional Catholic view of the End. This explains why some Catholic leaders are warning their members against accepting Malachy’s view of the End of the world. For example, in an article entitled “The Papal Prophecies of Saint Malachy of Ireland: Can we really believe them?”  Sean Hyland warns Catholics not to misinterpret prophecy by “starting to think that the end of the world is just around the corner. Not only is this extremely unwise, and cautioned against by Christ Himself, but the unanimous testimony of centuries of Catholic saints would appear to indicate an era of peace which is yet to come before the end of the world” (http://www.angelfire.com/ms/seanie/papacy/malachy.html).


                  Understandably, the Catholic Church repudiates Malachy’s last papal prophecy, because she likes to believe in a glorious future during which the papacy will lead the world to an age of peace and prosperity. But the biblical vision of the End is radically different. Peace and prosperity are established , not by the Catholic Church before Christ’s Coming, but by Christ Himself at His Coming.


                  Summing up, according to Malachy’s papal prophecies, the next pope will be the last pope before the destruction of the final judgement that will occur during the pontificate of Peter Romanus. The origin of Malachy’s papal prophecies is dubious and its authority questionable. Yet, their endtime scenario resembles to some extent that of the book of Revelation. Could it be that the Lord is using these prophecies to warn people about the impending Day of Judgement?  Some of the comments of those who study these prophecies suggest a positive answer.


                  For example, in his book The Prophecies of Malachy, (TAN Books and Publisher, 1969), Peter Bander states: “What disturbs me and should disturb the reader to an equal degree is that after ‘Flower of Flowers,’ that is to say after Paul VI, there are only three more prophecies. Whoever he turns out to be, Petrus Romanus will be the last. Time is running out. It’s later than we all think. The end of the world is at hand.” 


                  This is an important message that the world needs to hear. It is the prophetic message that God has called our Seventh-day Adventist Church to proclaim to the world: “Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come” (Rev 14:7). Providentially the Lord may be using Malachy’s prophecies on the last popes to predispose people to accept the message of a soon-coming Savior.




                  Historically, the pope has been an actor on the political stage.  At various times, the pope has commanded armies, ruled territories, collected taxes, and humbled (as well as been humbled by) secular potentates. Even today the pope is the head of a tiny state that enjoys full diplomatic exchange at the ambassadorial level with 172 countries.


                  But since 1870 when Pope Pius IX was forced to give up the Papal States that consisted of central Italy, the papacy has lost its temporal political power. The pope resisted to the bitter end the loss of the temporal sovereignty over the Papal States. Pius IX refused to recognize the loss of temporal power and became a “prisoner” in the Vatican.  His successors followed his example until the Lateran Treaty of 1929, which restricted the papal sovereignty to the Vatican City.


A New Method of Papal Engagement with Political Powers


                  But as the old edifice of papal temporal power was crumbling, a new method of papal engagement with political powers began to emerge. This new development can be traced from the end of World War I through the pontificates of Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXII, Paul VI, and, especially, the present pope John Paul II. In essence, the new method consists in achieving political effectiveness through the charisma of moral persuasion, rather than through the normal instruments of political power.


                  A good example is the pontificate of John Paul II.  The impact of his pontificate is evident throughout the new democracies of east central Europe, Latin America, and East Asia. His critique of capitalism has helped define the moral issues facing developed western democracies.


                  In an insightful article “Papacy and Power,” George Weigel, author of Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, notes that “one must return to the early thirteenth century, to Pope Innocent III, to find a pontificate with such a marked influence on contemporary public life.”  For the sake of those less informed about papal history, Innocent III was such a powerful pontiff that he was able to control the election of two German emperors, Otto IV and Frederick II, besides excommunicating King John of England, who was forced to submit to the pope in 1213.  Weigel compares the achievements of John Paul II to those of the most powerful Catholic pope who ever lived.


                  But, Weigel continues, highlighting the contrast between the two popes: “ Yet there is a paradox here: the ‘political’ impact of this pontificate [John Paul II], unlike that of Innocent III, has not come from deploying what political realists recognize as the instruments of political power. Rather, the Pope’s capacity to shape history has been exercised through a different set of levers.


                  “As Bishop of Rome and sovereign of the Vatican City micro–state, John Paul has no military or economic power at his disposal. The Holy See maintains an extensive network of diplomatic relations and holds Permanent Observer status at the United Nations. But whatever influence John Paul has had through these channels simply underscores the fact that the power of his papacy lies in a charism of moral persuasion capable of being translated into political effectiveness.”


                  Weigel explains how John Paul II through the power of moral persuasion ignited in Poland a moral revolution that made the 1989 Revolution possible, which ultimately resulted in the collapse of Communism. He argues that John Paul II has shown that profound moral conviction can be translated into effective political power.


From Political Ruler to Moral Teacher


                  But, John Paul II is not the originator of the new method of moral persuasion to influence powerful nations. This trend has been underway in the papacy during the past two centuries. As the papacy gradually lost its political influence and territorial sovereignty, it became necessary for popes to find new ways to influence the political powers. As Weigel puts it: “In the paradoxical public potency of John Paul II, we are seeing played out, in dramatic form, trends that have been underway in Catholicism for two centuries: trends that were waiting, so to speak, for a new kind of pope to forge a new kind of interaction between the papacy and the world of power.”


                  Simply stated, for one thousand years, from 756 to 1870, the popes influenced world affairs as the temporal rulers of a large part of central Italy, known as the Papal States. As temporal rulers, the popes played the political games of their times, often resulting in compromise, betrayal, and coercion.


                   “The worst of these,” writes Weigel, “were in the realm of the human spirit and involved attempts to coerce consciences (as Pope John Paul II acknowledged on the First Sunday of Lent last year [2000], when he asked God’s forgiveness for the times in which the Church had used coercive state power to enforce its truth claims). But there was another, perhaps less familiar, dimension to this aspect of the problematic of entanglement: the fact of the Papal States and the pope’s position as a temporal sovereign could lead the papacy into alliance politics that set the universal pastor against part of the flock. In 1830–31, for example, Pope Gregory XVI, because of the complex web of European alliance politics and then–regnant Catholic theories of the rights of constituted sovereigns, sided with Czarist Russia as it suppressed a rebellion of independence–minded Poles.”


                  The loss of the Papal States in 1870 liberated the papacy from the burden to exercise its political power in the social, economic, and political life of nations, and created the conditions for the popes to influence nations, not as temporal rulers, but as moral teachers.


Gradual Shift from Political to Pastoral Leadership


                  The shift from a political to a pastoral model of the papacy has been gradual. After all the Vatican maintains diplomatic relationship with 172 countries and uses diplomatic channels to negotiate agreements favorable to the Catholic Church. But John Paul II has deliberately adopted a dual strategy.  On the one hand, he uses the diplomatic corp to achieve whatever they can, but on the other hand he appeals directly to the people, arousing them to a new, nonviolent form of action.


                  Weigel offers two examples to illustrate John Paul’s strategy. These examples show the different mentality between  John Paul and his Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli, a traditional diplomat and the architech of the Ostpolitik, that is,  the Eastern Politic.”  “Just before John Paul’s address to the United Nations in October 1979, Cardinal Casaroli, the cautious diplomat, systematically went through the draft text of the speech, eliminating references to religious freedom and other human rights issues the Soviet Union and its satellites might find offensive; John Paul, the evangelical witness, just as systematically restored the cuts.


                  “Then, on a trip to Poland in 1983, shortly after the Pope had what diplomats refer to as a ‘frank exchange of views’ with General Wojciech Jaruzelski over martial law (those outside the door heard fists being pounded on desks inside), John Paul, standing at the window of the dining room of the archbishop’s residence in Kraków, engaged in some banter with students clamoring outside while several guests, including Cardinal Casaroli, tried to continue their dinner. Finally, according to another eminent guest who was present, Cardinal Casaroli exploded, saying to the startled dinner table, ‘What does he want? Does he want bloodshed? Does he want war? Does he want to overthrow the government? Every day I have to explain to the authorities that there is nothing to this!’”


                  The answer to Casaroli’s questions is that the pope wants both: secret diplomatic negotiations and open dialogue with the people to ignite their consciences to fight for their freedom. Paul Griffith notes this contradiction in the strategy of John Paul II. Writing in a symposium on “The future of the Papacy,” he says: “Under–the–table negotiations with Jaruzelski in Poland, Honecker in East Germany, and other Communist potentates continued during this papacy [of John Paul II] much as they had under Paul VI. Such negotiations assume a lack of open public criticism of one another on the part of the principals. But this is just what John Paul II provided: his public speeches confronted the ideology of those with whom diplomatic negotiations were simultaneously under way, and as a result countered the acts of his diplomats even without halting them.”


The Future Power of the Papacy


                  We have reasons to believe that the ambiguity of private under-the-table diplomatic negotiations, on the one hand, and public moral persuasion, on the other hand, will be the halmark of the future power of the papacy. There is no possibility of turning back to the Constantinian model of the papacy, when the pope functioned as a political leader, maintaining his power through political alliances. The loss of the Papal States in 1870, has liberated the papacy from the burden of direct political involvement in world affairs and has created the condition for the pope to function as a pastoral leader.


                  The future power of the papacy will lie in the charism of moral persuasion used by the pope to achieve political effectiveness. The political alliances that have plagued the papacy in the past, will no longer exist. The pope will engage with world powers with his own instruments of moral persuasion.


Adventist Reappraisal of the Prophetic Role of the Papacy


                  The evolution of the power of the papacy discussed above, calls for a reappraisal of the Adventist understanding of the endtime prophetic role of the papacy. Our Adventist pioneers lived at a time when the Papacy was perceived  to be  a powerful political and religious power. Consequently the “wounding” of the beast of Revelation 13 was interpreted to be the taking of Pope Pius VI prisoner by the French General Berthier and the healing of the wound, the 1929 Concordat that delimits and protects the Vatican State.


                  Looking back into the history of the papacy during the past century, it would seem more logical to me to view the “wounding” of the papacy as a process that began with the imprisonment of Pius VI in 1798 and continued until the taking over of all the Papal States by Italian nationalists in 1870. The loss of the Papal States impacted the papacy far more than the temporary humiliation of Pius VI.


                  Similarly, the healing of the wound could be seen as a process that began in 1929 with the juridical delimitation of the Vatican State, but it has continued until our time with a revival of the power of the papacy. Such a revival, however, has taken place, not through political alliances as perceived by our pioneers, but through the pope’s charisma of moral persuasion capable of being translated into political effectiveness.


                  In the light of recent developments, it would seem that the future power of the papacy will depend, not so much on the political backing of the USA government (as perceived by our pioneers), but on the capacity of the Pope to influence the thinking of the American people. Note should be taken of the fact that John Paul II has condemned, not only the evils of Communism, but also in the evils inherent in a capitalistic system devoted to consumerism, greed and profit. He has spoken emphatically against what he calls the American culture of death: a culture in which widespread violence breeds war, abortion, euthanasia, poverty, and homelessness. Such a criticism of the American culture, hardly suggests that John Paul is courting the political support of the USA government.


                  Most likely, the new pope, like the present one, will seek  to win the heart of the American people, especially the evangelicals. Though evangelicals cannot agree with the pope on such points as the role of the Virgin Mary, the Mass, the intercession of the saints, masses for the dead, priestly celibacy and so on, they admire his strong commitment to the authority of Scripture, to the sacredness of marriage, to a Biblical sexual ethics, to protect the life of unborn babies, and to discipline the most blatant opponents of evangelical faith. To many evangelicals  the Pope has become, as Prof. Martin E. Marty puts it, “a walking fortress of faith” (TV Guide, Sept 5, 1987, p. 34) in the midst of a godless society.


                  Unintentionally, perhaps, liberal Protestantism has contributed to enhance the authority of the Pope by eroding confidence in the authority of the Bible. One might say that to the extend that Protestantism weakens the authority of the Bible for defining Christian beliefs and practices, to that same extend it strengthens the authority of the Pope. The reason is simple. Most Christians resent tyranny but welcome the voice of authority, certainty and assurance. They want to hear from their church leaders, “This is the way, walk you in it!”  When they fail to hear this voice of authority from the Scripture as proclaimed by their pastors, they become attracted to the Pope who claims to offer the infallible interpretation of Scripture.


                   The new pope, especially if he comes from the Third World, will most likely seek to endear mainstream Americans and people in general, through his advocacy of social justice, respect for the rights of all people, even of the unborn, a more equitable distribution of resources, peace based on justice, an end to the arm race, and especially, love toward the poor and downtrodden. By championing these legitimate human aspirations with zeal, dignity and devotion, the new Pope will become for many the symbol of the noblest aspirations mankind must struggle to achieve.




                  During this past century we have witnessed the “wounding” and “healing” of the papacy. The “wounding” began in 1798 with the temporary exile of Pius VI to France and continued until 1870 with the dispossession of all the papal territories of Central Italy. The “healing” began in 1929 with the Concordat that delimited and protected the Vatican State and it has continued to our times with the resurgence of Papal authority and worldwide influence.


                  In many ways the “wounding” of the papacy, which resulted in the loss of its territorial sovereignty, proved to be the beginning of the healing, as the popes were freeded from the burdens of political entanglements, and could serve as moral teachers, rather than temporal rulers.      


                  Pope John Paul II has shown in a compelling way that the papacy can achieve political effectiveness through moral persuasion, without the two main instruments of political power: armies and money. By igniting the human spirit world-historical changes can take place. The new pope is expected to use his charisma to promote the social changes needed in the world today.


                  Let us never forget that the new pope will follow the footprints of John Paul by standing for both social progress and doctrinal  conservatism. While in the area of social justice Rome has changed , in the area of church doctrine and discipline, Rome is still the unchangeable Rome. By promoting successfully the cause of social justice, the new Pope will predispose people around the world to more readily accept those teachings that have divided Protestantism from Roman Catholicism.