The Next Pope?
Vol: 30 Issue: 1 Monday, March 1, 2004
The Next Pope?
On March 14, Pope John Paul II will surpass Pope Leon XIII as the Pope with third longest papacy in history after St. Peter and Pius IX, according to a Vatican press release.
Having been elected on October 16, 1978, on March 14, Pope John Paul will have led the Catholic Church for exactly 9,281 days, 25 years, six months and two days.
The current Pope is 83 years old, suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and has knee and hip ailments that make it hard for him to either stand or walk. He is so frail that there was talk at the Vatican about his resignation. It is unlikely, however.
Popes are elected for life, but given John Paul’s condition, the Vatican is already buzzing about who will succeed him. Indeed, TIME Magazine ran a recent story asking the question, “Who Will Be the Next Pope?’ before supplying some of the answers.
TIME listed some of the leading contenders, and one name in particular caught my eye. The Archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger.
Here is TIME’s snapshot of Archbishop Lustiger:
“Archbishop of Paris, Lustiger was born of a Polish Jewish family in France. After his parents were deported during the Nazi occupation, he lived with a Christian family in Orl ans and converted to Catholicism at the age of 13. He has been criticized by Israeli rabbis and may be a long shot if the cardinals decide his nomination would anger the Jewish community.”
I know that I have Catholic readers, and I am myself a former Catholic. I am not a Catholic-basher, although I disagree strongly with Catholic dogma.
That said, the Bible pictures a global religious system in the last days that John describes as having ‘two horns like a Lamb but who speaks as a dragon.’ (Revelation 13:11)
There are lots of theories about the identification of that global religion, but the most widely accepted is that it will be the post-Rapture Catholic Church.
This makes Catholics go ballistic, but they shouldn’t. I believe that saved Catholics will be Raptured with the rest of the believing Church.
Revelation’s global religious system will be made up of religionists practicing a counterfeit Christianity. John said it has the appearance of a lamb (Christ, the Lamb of God) but that its doctrine is that of the Dragon (Satan).
There are NO Christians mentioned after Revelation 4:1 — only Tribulation Saints, (all of whom are martyred).
That isn’t the believing Christian Church of the Church Age. Even the antichrist couldn’t track down and martyr a half-billion people in only seven years.
Any church in the Tribulation Period, according to Scripture, will be an apostate church devoid of Christians.
It is no coincidence that the description of that religious system described in Revelation 17 fits the Vatican like a glove. It is pictured as a woman dressed in purple and scarlet, (colors of the Vatican) decked with gold, precious stones and pearls (the Vatican’s wealth is immeasurable) and drunken with the blood of martyrs.
Thousands of Christians were burned at the stake or otherwise martyred during the Papal Inquisitions. That is an historical fact.
Finally, Revelation 17:9 completes the identification, saying, “here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.”
Is there any other global religious system headquartered on seven hills, apart from the Vatican, which is seated in the Eternal City on the Seven Hills of Rome?
According to John, there are two beasts who share power during the Tribulation Period. The first beast is the political beast, the one who rises up out of the ‘sea’ – symbolic of the ‘sea’ of nations. Israel is always symbolized by ‘the land’ — a picture of Israel as a spiritual island surrounded by a sea of Gentile powers.
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.” (Revelation 13:1) This is the first beast — the political beast — the one we personify as the antichrist.
John pictures a second beast in verse 11; “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth. . . ” The word ‘earth’ is translated from the Greek word ‘ghay’ which means, ‘ground’ or ‘land’ in the sense of a region. From this one can almost certainly assume the false prophet will be a Jew.
This is where it gets complicated.
John’s identification of the antichrist’s religious system only fits one existing religious system, headquartered in Rome. But it says the false prophet will be a Jew.
Now, we return to the Archbishop of Paris — and from here, let me caution you that this is partly speculative.
Lustiger is an ethnic, converted Jew. If he were to become Pope, he would be the first converted Jew ever elevated to the papacy. It has never happened before.
If Lustiger is elevated to the papacy, it is unlikely that another Jew will succeed him as Pope, making Lustiger the odds-on favorite for the office of false prophet, Scripturally speaking.
Even if he isn’t elected immediately following John Paul II, remember that John Paul II came to the papacy after John Paul I died 77 days into his reign.
Here’s where it gets really interesting. Cardinal Lustiger is 72 years old. The Tribulation Period is of seven years’ duration.
I don’t usually get this speculative, but this is dynamite. I am not date-setting, but Lustiger’s age is a pretty narrow time frame. And Jesus DID say that we would know ‘when it was near, even at the doors’.
The Scriptures indicate the false prophet will head an apostate counterfeit, global ‘Christian’ religion, but that he himself will be a Jew.
The papacy has existed since Pope Clement in the 4th century. From then until now, there has never been a Jewish candidate for the office.
Until this point, in this generation, when one of the leading contenders to replace an aging Pope is Jean Lustiger, a converted Jew.
What are the odds?