The prophetic list of then-future Popes, attributed to Saint Malachy, ends with three Popes:
* From the Labor of the Sun
* From the Glory of the Olive
* and then a paragraph, rather than a phrase: “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.”
What is the labor or work of the sun? To travel around the world constantly. Pope Saint John Paul II was the most traveled Pope in the history of the Church. He was a light to the world, as he traveled to many nations. He stood before so many crowds, in so many different places, that it is estimated that he saw, in person with his own eyes, about an eighth of the world population. So this prophetic phrase fits John Paul II well. Prophecy fulfilled.
From the expression “glory of the olive”, I was able to correctly predict (in an earlier edition of my book, The Bible and the Future) that the next Pope after John Paul II would take the name “Benedict” and that he would choose this name after Saint Benedict [my post on this point].
Does the final prediction about “Peter the Roman” refer to Pope Francis?
Though Peter the Roman is the last pope on the list, he does NOT represent the last pope ever. The description quoted above refers to the tribulation. But the tribulation unfolds in two parts, with an inter-tribulation period between, over a period of a few hundred years.
The “seven-hilled city” is Rome. So this prophecy is saying that Rome will be destroyed during the tribulation. But as the tribulation has two parts, we need not assume that the complete destruction of Rome is in the near future.
The term “Peter” in “Peter the Roman” refers to the office of the Pope, since every valid Pope is a successor of the Apostle Peter. The term “Roman” refers to the office of the Pope, since every valid Pope is the Bishop of Rome and the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Peter the Roman will “feed his flock”, which is the role of every Pope.
So then, which pope, during the tribulation, is called “Peter the Roman”? All of them. In my interpretation, the expression “Peter the Roman” refers to every pope, from the pope who reigns at the start of the tribulation (Pope Francis) through all the popes who follow after him during the first part of the tribulation, and the inter-tribulation period, until the last pope before the Return of Jesus Christ. And that last pope before the Return reigns in the early 25th century. So Peter the Roman is not any one pope, but all the popes from now until Christ returns, at the end of the tribulation, in the distant future.
The conclusion that Pope Francis is not the last Pope ever is easy to explain. Consider the prophecy of Daniel, about the rise and fall of several kingdoms, prior to the reign of the Antichrist. These kingdoms have not yet had their reign, one after another. We know this because the kingdom of the ten kings, predicted in Daniel, Revelation, and at La Salette, has not yet occurred. And that is the last kingdom before the reign of the Antichrist. So at least a few hundred years must pass to fulfill all of these events.
The prediction of Jesus that Christians will be hated by all nations has not yet occurred. And Jesus himself, in describing the start of the tribulation, says: “the end is not so soon” and “all these things are just the beginning of the sorrows.” (Mt 24). So the end times do not unfold in just a few years, as some claim.
Given that there must pass many generations before the Antichrist, Pope Francis cannot be the last Pope. Moreover, in my interpretation, the last Pope before the Return of Jesus Christ is a Pope mentioned in Sacred Scripture. Daniel says: “And after sixty-two weeks of years, the Christ leader will be slain.” Another translation is “the Anointed leader”. This refers to the Pope of that time, who is the Vicar of Christ, the Anointed leader of the Church. He is slain at the start of the Antichrist’s reign. Then, during his reign, the Church is without a Pope, as the wicked leaders of the world, led by the most wicked leader, the Antichrist, do not permit the Church to elect a Vicar of Christ. For they wish to establish the Antichrist as their Messiah.
Revelation 2:13 speaks of “Antipas” (a name which means ‘facing the father’), who is God’s “faithful witness”, being slain. This reference, too, refers to the last Pope before the Return of Christ, the very same Pope who is killed just before the Antichrist takes power.
Then, in 2 Thess. 2:7, Saint Paul tells us that the arrival of the Antichrist, “that iniquitous one”, “the man of sin”, is held back by something (2:6) and by someone (2:7). That which holds back the Antichrist is the holy Eucharist. He cannot take power until the Eucharist is replaced by the abomination of desolation (a false Eucharist). But that person who holds back the Antichrist is each successive Roman Pontiff. “And only one now holds back, and will continue to hold back, until he is taken from our midst.” Thus, before the Antichrist takes power, the last Roman Pontiff before the Return of Christ will be slain by the supporters of the Antichrist. But that event is in the distant future, after several kingdoms have risen and fallen, and after the kingdom of the ten kings has ruled over the whole world for a few generations more.
Thus, we do not live in the time of the Antichrist, nor in the time of the Return of Jesus Christ. We live on the threshold of the first part of the tribulation. Then, when this set of sufferings ends, there will be a long inter-tribulation period, followed by the second part of the tribulation and finally the Return of Christ. So the Antichrist is not in the world today, nor is the false prophet who is said to assist him.
Moreover, the Antichrist, when he does arrive in the distant future, does not wish to rule over the one holy Church of Jesus Christ; he does not wish to be Pope, nor does his false prophet take the position of Pope. Instead, these two attempt to destroy the true Church, and to replace it with a false Church, led by the false prophet, which worships the Antichrist instead of Christ. So no Pope, however foolish or sinful he might be, is the Antichrist or the false prophet. And Pope Francis certainly is neither person. He is simply a holy but liberal Vicar of Christ.
What else needs to be said on this topic? If you disagree with Pope Francis, fine; you are free to disagree. But it is absurd and rather self-serving to try to paint the Vicar of Christ as if he were exceedingly evil, just because he disagrees with your point of view. You are not infallible; we all are fallen sinners. We should not be so sure of ourselves, especially when we have an opinion different from that of the Successor of Peter.
Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.