Pope Benedict XVI:
Most Powerful Man In The World?
I said of Pope John Paul II that he was the most powerful man in the world, but is that true of all Popes? Was it true of Saint Peter? The answer may surprise you? No! In a religious sense he is the most powerful because he has the keys to heaven and hell, but in a worldly sense Saint Peter was not. If he was he would not have been crucified. Same with Christ, although He could have used His power, but chose to die instead. In fact, most of the first popes had little earthly power until Constantine accepted that the seat of Peter was greater than the power of the Emperor. Constantine bowed to the power of the seat and this deference lasted until the two great splits in the Church.
Why then are some popes very powerful and others not? John Paul II possessed the Holy Spirit. In other words, outside of his Papal authority, his prayer life with God shone clearly in public. He was clearly a man who was respected but not just respected, his word was authoritative. Why? Because the Pope spoke to the heart. He spoke to it of heavenly things in a world torn apart by the ravages of sin.
The purpose of government is to serve God and the people. In the case of Church governance, it is God who established the power of the hierarchy and thus the people are obliged to obey that authority. Not only this but there is a level wherein it can be said that the power of the Pope must respect that of the people. If there was only the Pope in the Catholic Church, and no one else, his authority wouldn't matter. It has to be recognized on a human level and to do so the authority of the Pope is to be a Catholic. In the case of a beloved Pope, such as John Paul II, that love and respect shines clearly to others who don't understand the role of the Pope. This provides a means for non-believers (and regrettably some Catholics) to come to the truth.
The world believed that 1,400,000,000 people might be obedient to John Paul II and although we Catholics know that few are obedient, the world cannot take a chance that (in at least major things) these people would stand behind the Holy Father.
Will this Pope also be powerful? I think he will be more powerful by winning more obedience than Pope John Paul II did. I also think that for short periods of time the Church, under Benedict XVI, will become smaller. He himself said this about the Church in his book God and the World before his election to the Papacy. Now, under his Papacy, I think his prediction will be more true as people come to grips with his use of authority. But just like every other period of history where people left the Church, God sent others into the Church in droves. The two fastest growths of the Church were the ten years after the Eastern schism and the ten years after the Protestant Revolt. As Benedict XVI shows his authority, many will leave the Church. The flip side is that those who left for alleged 'liberal changes' will return and more will return than left. Then there is a question of welcoming 300,000,000 Orthodox back with Rome, which I think Benedict XVI will do by ridding the Catholic Church of the liberal and disrespectful worship that most Orthodox cannot take.
Of course to a true Catholic, the Holy Father is the boss but how many true Catholics are there who obey him? We Catholics can guess that this is not a big deal if we speak of faith and morals. Outsiders, however, do not have and understand the infallible facet of the Faith, and that makes them cautious. If you see a billion man army, will you say, "I do not think they will all fight." You will assume that they will because that is the most pragmatic approach to the problem. Same is true of the outside world. Hitler wanted to kill all Catholics after the Jews but out of fear he did not.
When King Henry VIII took over the Church in England and began to kill Catholics and tear down churches, if the other Kings of the world were obedient to the Holy Father they could have stopped him. But they would not get together for the job and this left the Holy Father without the power to stop him.
What then gives any Pope power? It is the people who give that power and there is 'people power' when people are united on anything. If this pope can unite Catholics in obedience, then Catholic 'people power' will be the greatest power in the world.
WHAT WILL BENEDICT XVI BE LIKE?
I am proud to say that Ratzinger was my first choice to be pope and published this before he was elected. I also predicted that if the white smoke came out in the first four days it would be Ratzinger. When it came in only the second day, I cried and went to the shrine of Fatima to thank Our Lady. The bells in Fatima were ringing right away and kept ringing as thousands of people started for the Shrine for the same reason I was going, to thank Our Lady. This quick election was also a sign to me that no one would doubt his being a true pope and fulfilling a prophesy of Don Bosco, which I will get into shortly.
Most people believe that Benedict will do what John Paul II did not do--enforce the laws of the Church and enforce them quickly. They were exactly right. What pressure a pope puts on successors is never known publicly but look at what is happening in only a few weeks of being pope:
Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of an Austrian bishop whose diocese
was at the center of
complaints about widespread liturgical abuse. Canon 401/2 of the Code of Canon Law, which refers to "illness or
other grave reason" for a bishop's resignation.
2. American Jesuit resigned under orders from the Vatican as editor of the Catholic magazine America because he had published articles critical of church positions.
3. William Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore strongly condemned Loyola University for inviting PRO-ABORTION New York former Mayor Rudy Giuliani to be its commencement speaker on May 20. To the interim President of Loyola, he made it clear that no member of the diocese could attend and reminded him, "… by now, you understand many of the consequences that spring from an invitation having been extended to former Mayor Giuliani to receive an honorary degree at Loyola."
4. Carlos Urrutigoity and Eric Ensey, of the now suppressed Society of St. John in the Diocese of Scranton, have "fled" to Argentina because of the pedophile scandal.
5. Benedict XVI's pre-Papal remarks on Relativism and Nihilism give hope that he will fight against these things with gusto.
6. In speeches in Germany and Austria, Ratzinger (as Cardinal) lamented some of the changes in the Mass and said openly that the priest facing the people is wrong as is communion in the hand. C.f. The Spirit of the Liturgy.
7. His first Masses have been in Latin for the first time in the Vatican in over 20 years.
8. He stopped the practice of Beatifications in the Vatican to give countries the right to honor their saints at home.
9. He brought back the original length of the Roman pontifical vestment. It is now longer.
10. He appointed Cardinal Levada of San Francisco as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Levada's outspoken courage in the most liberal Diocese in the nation, on issues like protection of marriage, homosexuals, right to life, etc. He has extensive experience with the CDF (having studied under Ratzinger). Having an American is a good sign that the new Pope wants to clean house in America, we pray especially with regards to the sex scandals.
The new Pope will firmly guide the Church but no one should think him a very hard and harsh man. On a personal level he is gentle, kind, soft spoken, very attentive to others, a good listener, a lover of music and a man of prayer. But this very love of prayer makes him a passionate defender of the Truth who will give a valuable service of clarifying and defining, in addition to firmly guiding his people.
Is Benedict XVI the Next To The Last Pope?
The most asked question by emails to me is regarding the prophesies of St. Malachy. Although St. Malachy's prophesies, naming all the popes from his time to the end of the world, are not approved by the Church since they were not found until many years after his death, I must consider them real. Real, because (even since they were found) the accuracy of them has been quite remarkable. When Ratzinger picked Benedict as his name everyone who is in the know, saw this as Malachy's prophesy come true. Not only that but they compare very well with the prophesies of another Saint, Abbot Merlin Joachim, however Merlin says that the Angelic Pastor will really be four popes in a row in the same spirit of the first, whose name shall begin with an "R." Ratzinger?
This also eerily parallels Don Bosco's dream of the next pope being elected so quickly that hardly a time is shown between the death of the one and the election of the other. Cardinals started going to Rome before John Paul II died and were there for the funeral. Unprecedented in history! The fact that John Paul II does not seem to have been killed leaves me somewhat at a lost on Don Bosco's vision and on Fatima's third secret but I will probably contemplate that to my death and never know the real answer unless someone could prove that his death was not natural.
Bosco visioned a pope shot and not die and then shot again and die. This would have fit John Paul II except that his death seemed very natural. Also Fatima envisioned a pope killed but John Paul II does not seem to have been killed.
Nonetheless, even if it is one or four popes in a row being the next to the last pope, the time seems to be short for the end of time. The last Pope, Peter II, is the pope who will fight the antichrist, see the second coming of Christ and the end of the world.
Usually I do not give my opinion on these prophesies because they are hard to figure out until fulfilled. This is why my section on end times prophesy is offered only as a guide and it was not written by me. In it there are things I do not agree with and state as much but the section is written very well and deserves to be read.
My favorite book on end times prophesy is Trial, Tribulation and Triumph by Desmond Birch. In it he not only references the teaching of the Church that we must believe, for example, that the antichrist is a real flesh and blood person, but he also references all the bible passages that deal with end times. He makes it simple in the end by outlining what must happen from now to the End.
So without going into great detail, I will say that we have little time left but not as little as you might think. I believe this pope (or four popes with the same title) will last longer than expected. I believe he will unify the Orthodox and Catholics world wide. I believe he will bring us into the period of peace promised at Fatima but not without world wide pain like childbirth.
Not to put to much a damper on those looking forward to this peace, I will simply say that I do not look forward to it. I believe this peace will be sweet in the mouth and bitter in the stomach as mentioned in Revelation. It will be so perfect that people in just one generation will become lukewarm in the faith. This almost perfect world will not be good for weak souls, who will leave off prayer and sacrifice for fun and frolic. This lukewarm faith will give rise to the antichrist who will then take over the world. This will be a time for the last pope, Peter II and the return of Henoch and Elisa (4 Kings 2-11).
How long before the antichrist? Just my thoughts but based on 35 years of study - at least 33 more years (2038) and maybe 60 to 100 more depending on how long a period of peace is.
Right now all I can say for sure without any hesitation is that this will be a great pope and I suspect that he will still be pope when I die. Thus, I leave Benedict's successors and the antichrist to the next generation.