“As you know, the duty of the conclave was to appoint a bishop of Rome, and it seems to me that my brother cardinals went to fetch him at the end of the world. But here I am.”
Those were the words of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who took the name Francis I upon being elected head of the Roman Catholic Church. While this election may have been, according to official Roman Catholic doctrine, guided by the Holy Spirit, it was no ordinary conclave. Ultimately, the Roman saying of “who goes in a pope, comes out a cardinal,” held especially true of this go around.
Indeed, the fact that Francis I, who didn’t even want the job, was selected suggests that the entire College of Cardinals may finally be realizing that the Roman Catholic Church needed a major course correction. Noted papal watcher Marco Politi told the Washington Post that this choice could not have been more unexpected, and could not have come at a better time.
“It’s a non-Italian, non-European, not a man of the Roman government. It’s an opening to the Third World, a moderate. By taking the name Francis, it means a completely new beginning.”
There were those who believed that Peter Turkson of Ghana would get the nod, while others saw Canadian Marc Oullett as the favorite. Still, there were those who saw potential from the European candidates, with several names being thrown out for consideration. Of course, there are those who believed that this conclave would select the much-heralded “Last Pope,” of both Nostradamus and St. Malachy fame.
Quite amusingly, the website Prophecy in the Making cites multiple references to the conspiracy theories, as well as Nostradamus and Malachy. However, it also smacks with racial undertones. But this passage may, indeed, be in need of a tune-up:
“As I have been mentioning and writing about online and in my books since 2005, the current pope Benedict will see the beginning of World War 3. This will be when the west attacks Iran initially. But shortly thereafter he will pass away, and then Peter the Roman will be placed as pope. This is the man that will also be known as the Black Pope. Perhaps both in a physical and in a spiritual sense this prophecy will be fulfilled if Peter Turkson becomes pope as I have written about since 2008.”
For those who are prophecy fans, Francis’ election is a mixed bag. While he doesn’t fulfill St. Malachy’s prediction of styling himself “Peter the Roman,” his charge is very Malachy-esque; minister to a church flailing from allegations of corruption and infighting, as well as restore faith in a Vatican rocked to its core. “The dreadful judge” prophesied by the noted Irish seer may not, in fact, be a literal, fire-and-brimstone apocalyptic scene, but instead may be the judge of either world opinion, a court handing down a massive, bank-breaking judgment, or a combination of both.
But hold on tight, papal watchers - Nostradamus’ prophecy of a “black pope” may, in fact, be right on the money because Francis I is of the Jesuit order, who are famous for their black frocks. Also, Malachy’s reference to the destruction of Rome in the Catholic apocalypse may be symbolic, rather than literal. While tribulationists may see this as a reference to the Endtimes, a much more possible, and mystically plausible, explanation could be that Francis I is gearing up for an internal bureaucratic Armageddon of sorts, having to bring to heel a Curia which appears out of control and beyond the reach of papal authority. Much like St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis I could put an end to this internal war, being a true instrument of peace, and do something which would turn the entire Catholic Church on its head: move the Holy See from Rome.
Much like former President George W. Bush sought relief from the beltway grind in Crawford, Texas, leading to its eventual nickname of the “Western White House,” so too could the Jesuit-turned-pontiff seek refuge from Vatican scandal and turmoil in his native Argentina, so much so that Buenos Aires could become a “Western Vatican,” with Rome being relegated to a ceremonial capital for the church, at best. While such a move may not be the result of Rome’s fall, it would be a symbolic destruction; the end of the Eternal City’s strangehold over a worldwide governing body.
That, in and of itself, would cause economic destruction akin to Rome being hit by an actual nuclear warhead; the Vatican pumps billions into the Roman economy through tourism, and the loss of prestige would be a shockwave from which Italy may never recover. It would be a metaphorical fulfillment of prophecy, ring true about Politi’s quote about his election marking an entirely new beginning for Catholicism, and it would fall right in line with the pontiff’s first public words.
Quite a burden for a man who didn’t want the job in the first place.