Author: Peter Bannister
How many conspiracy theories about Pope Francis have you heard? It’s likely that you have come across at least one, and if your natural reaction was to dismiss it out of hand, perhaps you’ve missed a trick. The author of a new book on the Pope’s ‘not-so-cultured despisers’ argues that such narratives have a sociological significance and require our attention if we are to understand the phenomenon of Pope Francis. (...)
First type ‘Pope Francis False Prophet’ into an internet video search engine. Sort results by number of views. You may well be surprised to discover the size of the audience for conspiratorial narratives concerning Jorge Mario Bergoglio. (...)
(...) There is, however, also a second major factor driving many of the promoters of the ‘Pope Francis as False Prophet’ narrative, and which is as much of a taboo subject for academic theology as is popular religion: eschatology. It is a fact that many of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s most vociferous critics are primarily appealing to tendentious interpretations either of Biblical prophecy, private post-Biblical ‘revelation’ (most notably the disputed ‘St Malachy’ prophecy or ‘Prophecy of the Popes’) or else a combination of both. Perhaps the most puzzling figure in this respect is Catholic theologian Kelly Bowring, whose unashamed assertion that Pope Francis is most probably the False Prophet of the Book of Revelation can be demonstrated to have been highly influenced by the now thoroughly debunked heavenly ‘messages’ of a self-proclaimed Irish seer known by the pseudonym Maria Divine Mercy. ‘MDM’ was recently exposed in the Irish press as a cynical hoax operated by Dublin PR professional Mary Carberry, but not before her supposed end-time revelations had been given credence by millions of Catholics from Switzerland to Nigeria, constituting what must rank as one of the biggest religious scams in modern history.
..questions of private revelation and mystical phenomena, once taken seriously by heavyweight Catholic intellectuals such as Hans Urs von Balthasar and Karl Rahner, Jean Guitton or Gabriel Marcel (not to mention a certain Joseph Ratzinger), have of late largely vanished from view in ‘highbrow’ theological circles. Partly because scandals such as that involving MDM have equated an interest in mysticism with the lunatic fringe...
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