Sees lightning strike on St. Peter’s dome as ‘sign from above’
Published: 24 hours ago
Many don’t take St. Malachy’s controversial prophecy suggesting Pope Francis will be the “last pope,” but his prefect says, along with a spectacular lightning strike atop St. Peter’s dome on the day his predecessor resigned, it gives him “the shivers.”
In an interview with the Catholic News Agency and EWTN News, Archbishop Georg Gänswein said about the lightning strike Feb. 11, 2013, that “nature had spoken.”
Gänswein, who served Pope Benedict as well, revealed he felt “compelled to cry” at his decision to retire. However, with three years having passed, he added, “there has been a lot of reflection, personal reflection included.”
“Pope Benedict was – and to this day all the more is – very much at peace with his decision to resign, and that it was the right step to take,” he said. “That helped me personally to overcome my initial resistance and accept what Pope Benedict truly realized after much struggle and prayer, what he found to be the right thing and then decided on.”
While some inside the Vatican were concerned with the precedent of having “two living popes,” Gänswein said: “Of course, Pope Francis is the legitimate and legitimately elected pope.”
“Any talk of two popes, one legitimate, one illegitimate, is therefore incorrect,” he added, dismissing any form of rivalry. “When applying common sense, faith and a little theology, that should be clear.”
The interviewer asked about an old prophecy that has recently gained traction in some clerical discussions: The “Prophecy of the Popes” – also known as the “Prophecy of Malachy,” which would suggest Pope Francis may be considered to be the last pope.
“Indeed, when looking at the prophecy, and considering how there was always a sound reference to popes mentioned in its history – that gives me the shivers,” Gänswein admitted. Although Catholics aren’t required to accept the prophecy, “speaking from historical experience, one has to say: Yes, it is a wake-up call.”
Category: False Prophet
Sees lightning strike on St. Peter’s dome as ‘sign from above’
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=8020
By Michael Snyder, on May 24th, 2016
When was the last time you heard a sermon about hell? Just think about that for a moment. Once upon a time in America, preachers all across the land regularly unleashed fiery sermons that directly confronted people with the reality of heaven and hell. But today, that has completely changed. In fact, there are some very well-known ministers in this country that purposely avoid ever using the word “hell” because it might offend someone. It turns out that “happy church” can be a very lucrative business model, and many people seem to love the “me first” prosperity gospel that has infected virtually all of the major denominations at this point. So there are countless messages about “blessing”, “breakthrough” and how God can make your life better, and very, very little preaching about sin, judgment, the cross and the urgency that we should feel to reach lost souls with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul wrote about a time when lukewarm believers would surround themselves with preachers that would tell them exactly what their itching ears want to hear. This is what 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says in the Modern English Version…
3 For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.
Is this not precisely what is happening in the western world today?
We have put the gospel on the back burner, and we have exalted preachers that endlessly fill our ears with messages that make us feel better.
Meanwhile, Americans are starting to turn away from the church altogether in alarming numbers.
To celebrate it’s 200th anniversary, the American Bible Society recently released a new report entitled “The Bible in America”. What this report had to say about the state of Christianity in the United States was not good news…
The research found the reasons included a decline in the number of Americans who believe the Bible is sacred literature from 86% in 2011 to 80% in 2016. Plus there’s a drop in the number of people who say the Bible is sufficient as a guide for meaningful living from 77% in 2011 to 67% in 2016.
In 2015, CBN’s Paul Strand reported how faith is losing its foothold in America.
Millennials in particular are driving these declines as the age group with the most respondents saying there were no books they considered sacred. Sixty-two percent said they have never read the Bible.
Our youngest adults, the Millennials, are far more likely to reject the Christian faith than any generation that has preceded them. Just consider the following information that comes directly out of a Pew Research Center report…
Millennials – especially the youngest Millennials, who have entered adulthood since the first Landscape Study was conducted – are far less religious than their elders. For example, only 27% of Millennials say they attend religious services on a weekly basis, compared with 51% of adults in the Silent generation. Four-in-ten of the youngest Millennials say they pray every day, compared with six-in-ten Baby Boomers and two-thirds of members of the Silent generation. Only about half of Millennials say they believe in God with absolute certainty, compared with seven-in-ten Americans in the Silent and Baby Boom cohorts. And only about four-in-ten Millennials say religion is very important in their lives, compared with more than half in the older generational cohorts.
We are steadily becoming less religious as a nation.
But even though that is the case, another Pew survey did find that 72 percent of Americans still believe in heaven and 58 percent of Americans still believe in hell.
So even though our society is moving away from God at a frightening pace, most people still acknowledge the reality of heaven and hell.
Most people still understand that God is going to hold them accountable for their actions, and that they are going to go somewhere when they die.
So why are so many preachers afraid to talk about these things in our day?
Where are the men like Charles Finney, D.L. Moody and Charles Spurgeon that won multitudes of souls for their Savior and literally changed the course of history with their fiery preaching?
Sadly, most churches in the United States have already gone apostate. You may not want to hear this, but it is true.
The good news, however, is that God is still moving. In a previous article, I discussed how a 40-year-old prophecy from David Wilkerson is literally coming true right in front of our eyes. He saw the rise of a “supernatural invisible church” that would include believers of all types and that would shake the world in the last days…
I see the rise of a super church, a supernatural invisible church, a union of deeply spiritual followers of Jesus Christ, bound together through the Holy Spirit and mutual confidence in Christ and in his word.
This supernatural church of true believers will become a kind of underground church. It will include Catholics and Protestants of all denominations, young and old, black and white, and people of all nations. While this visible super church gains political power this invisible body of believers will grow tremendously in spiritual power.
This power will come from persecution. The persecution madness that is coming upon this earth will drive these Christians closer together and closer to Jesus Christ. They will be less concerned about denominational ties and more concerned and emphasis on the coming of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will bring together as one people in all walks of life.
My wife and I talked about this “Remnant” that is arising during one of our recent television shows and I also discuss it in my new book entitled “The Rapture Verdict“. God is raising up an army, and there is no church, denomination or individual that is in charge of it. Instead, it is an organic move of God that is happening largely outside of the institutional church. In fact, if the institutional church does not wake up, it is in danger of being completely left behind by what is happening.
And I am completely convinced that we are going to see the greatest harvest of souls in the history of the church in these last days. God is raising up men and women of God that are going to preach passionately about the reality of sin, judgment, hell and the cross. They aren’t going to be afraid to offend people, because they are going to be consumed with a passion to help people find eternal life through Jesus Christ.
I want you to imagine something for a moment.
Imagine a line that stretches from one side of your computer screen to the other.
That is your life. Whether it is 20 years long or 120 years long, it had a beginning and it is going to have an end.
Now imagine that line continuing past the end of your computer screen and traveling out of your house and across the street. From there, imagine it traveling at a very high rate of speed from city to city, country to country, until it encircles our planet literally millions upon millions of times without ever stopping.
That is eternity.
If the Bible is correct, you have a choice to make.
You can choose Jesus and spend forever with Him, or you can choose to reject Him and be forever separated from your Creator.
Heaven and hell are both very real, and the Son of the Living God came to this planet and died an incredibly brutal death on a Roman cross so that eternal life could be offered to you as a free gift.
If you want to have a relationship with Him, it is very easy. Just repent of your sins and invite Jesus Christ to come into your life. He will forgive every evil thing that you have ever done, and He will give you a life that is never going to have an ending.
I pray that you will make that decision today.
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7979
By Michael Snyder, on May 23rd, 2016
When Pope Francis met with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb on Monday, he told him that “our meeting is the message“. So precisely what kind of “message” was Pope Francis attempting to convey? Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb is the Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque, and some have described him as “the highest figure in Sunni Islam“. The Daily Mail said that the meeting between these two men was a “historic bid to reopen dialogue between the two churches”, and as you will see below this is yet another in a long series of attempts by Pope Francis to build bridges between Catholicism and various other faiths. In the end, what are we to make of all of this? Could it be possible that Pope Francis is laying the groundwork for the “super world church” and the coming one world religion that David Wilkerson and so many others have warned about?
Pope Francis made sure that when he embraced Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb there would be plenty of reporters there to document the moment. The following is an excerpt from a Daily Mail article entitled “Pope embraces grand imam at historic Vatican meeting in a bid to bring the Catholic and Muslim churches together“…
Pope Francis today embraced the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the prestigious Sunni Muslim center of learning, in an historic bid to reopen dialogue between the two churches.
At a time of increased Islamic extremist attacks on Christians, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayyib was photographed hugging Francis during a visit to the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.
This meeting comes in the context of some very curious statements that the Pope have been making about Islam and Christianity lately. If you don’t know what I am talking about, here is one example…
“Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam,” he told French newspaper La Croix. “It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam, however, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”
The Pope also said he “dreaded” hearing about the “Christian roots of Europe” because, to him, they take on “colonialist overtones” and he called on European nations to “integrate” Muslim migrants into the continent.
“This integration is all the more necessary today since, as a result of a selfish search for well-being, Europe is experiencing the grave problem of a declining birth rate,” he stated. “A demographic emptiness is developing.”
On another occasion, the Pope declared that “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters“. Pope Francis seems to have a strong desire to paint Christianity and Islam as two sides of the same coin, and he has taken steps to reach out to Muslims that no other Pope in history has done. To illustrate this point, I want to share an extended excerpt from one of my previous articles…
Very early in his papacy, he authorized “Islamic prayers and readings from the Quran” at the Vatican for the first time ever. And as I documented in a previous article entitled “In New York, Pope Francis Embraced Chrislam And Laid A Foundation For A One World Religion“, during his visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan he made it very clear that he believes that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The following is how he began his address…
I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters: Firstly, my greetings as they celebrate the feast of sacrifice. I would have wished my greeting to be warmer. My sentiments of closeness, my sentiments of closeness in the face of tragedy. The tragedy that they suffered in Mecca.
In this moment, I give assurances of my prayers. I unite myself with you all. A prayer to almighty god, all merciful.
In Islam, one of Allah’s primary titles is “the all-merciful one”. If you doubt this, just do a Google search. And this certainly was not the first time that Pope Francis has used such language. For example, check out the following excerpt from remarks that he made during his very first ecumenical meeting as Pope…
I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you. I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity.
The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – I wish to repeat this: promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – it also attests the valuable work that the Pontifical Council for interreligious dialogue performs.
Are you starting to see what I am talking about?
There is a very clear pattern developing here. Pope Francis believes that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and he wants us to know that he considers Islam to be a perfectly acceptable way to seek God.
If you doubt this in any way, I want you to watch this video which was released by the Vatican in January 2016…
In this video, Pope Francis explains that people all over the world are “seeking God or meeting God in different ways” and that “there is only one certainty that we have for all: we are all children of God”. At about the 20 second mark, leaders from various major religions are shown declaring what they believe. First, a female Buddhist announces “I have confidence in the Buddha“. Secondly, a Jewish rabbi declares “I believe in God“. Thirdly, a Catholic priest tells us that “I believe in Jesus Christ“, and lastly an Islamic leader is shown saying “I believe in God, Allah“.
If you have not see this video, it is one of the creepiest things that I have ever seen on YouTube. It has become exceedingly clear that Pope Francis believes that all major religions are completely valid paths to the same God, and there is virtually no uproar over this.
This just shows how late in the game we really are. The one world religion that was prophesied nearly 2000 years ago in the Book of Revelation is starting to come to life, and we are witnessing the events of the last days begin to unfold right in front of our eyes.
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7974
Recently at a conference hosted by the Vatican, participants called for the Catholic Church to renounce its “just war” doctrine and “for Pope Francis to write an encyclical on nonviolence and ‘just peace.’” [i] Why is this issue of rejecting “Just War” raised now? Because of a secret that we spell out convincingly in the upcoming FINAL ENTRY to our 4-year investigation—The Final Roman Emperor, the Islamic Antichrist, and The Vatican’s Last Crusade—in which readers will discover how, among some Catholic hierarchy as well as mystics within Rome, it is believed the current pope is following an ancient scheme that will soon involve “Just War” theory.
Allow me to explain.
Over the last few years and on more than one occasion, Pope Francis as well as top Vatican diplomats and spokespersons have argued in favor of a coordinated international force to stop so-called Islamic State (ISIS) atrocities against Christians and other minorities throughout the Middle East. Recently this included Italian Archbishop Silvano Tomasi calling on the United Nations to “stop this kind of genocide.… Otherwise we’ll be crying out in the future about why we didn’t do something, why we allowed such a terrible tragedy to happen.”[ii] Pope Francis, himself, has tried to parse words between “stopping” ISIS and distancing himself from US-led bombing sorties, yet he, too, has used very specific language in recent days that has not gone unnoticed by this writer. These are hermeneutical efforts undoubtedly cultivated for theologians and knowledgeable persons to encourage them to see beneath his judiciously chosen phrases to his deeper sotto voce (“under voice”) communication, which clearly expresses his and Rome’s intentions to sanction a coming war, using terms like “unjust aggressor,” “genocide,” and even the very idiom, “Just War,”[iii] which are directly connected not only to specific activities of ISIS but are particular vocabulary extracted from the “Just War” theory” and “Just War” doctrine” (the latter is derived from Catholic Church 1992 Catechism, paragraph 2309, which lists strict conditions for “legitimate defense by military force”).
Both “Just War” traditions mentioned above (thoroughly examined in The Final Roman Emperor, the Islamic Antichrist, and the Vatican’s Last Crusade as it involves definitions by theologians, policy makers, and military leaders) repeatedly employ the very terms “unjust aggressor” and “genocide” for the purposes of ratifying those doctrines whenever “war is morally justifiable through a series of criteria, all of which must be met for a war to be considered just. The criteria are split into two groups: ‘the right to go to war’ (jus ad bellum) and ‘right conduct in war’ (jus in bello). The first concerns the morality of going to war and the second moral conduct within war,” which postulate that “war, while terrible, is not always the worst option. There may be responsibilities so important, atrocities that can be prevented or outcomes so undesirable they justify war.”[iv]
The fact that Pope Francis and other high-ranking churchmen have explicitly used precise “Just War” terms is telling and supports the predictions made in our FINAL ENTRY, a small part of which I summarize below. It also serves to clarify why Archbishop Tomasi, in his call to the UN for greater military action against ISIS, admitted his request for engagement was derived from “a doctrine that’s been developed both in the United Nations and in the social teaching of the Catholic Church.”[v] This is the dictum I believe certain power brokers at the Vatican (what Father Malachi Martin called the Masonic “Superforce”), and the pontiff will knowingly use to eventually engage the self-proclaimed caliph of the ISIS regime, who wants nothing less than a final, end-times Holy War leading to the arrival of the Islamic Mahdi (Messiah).
Once the proper balls are rolling as a result of what I predict in the upcoming final book, both ISIS and the Vatican will see themselves in the midst of specific unfolding prophecy. For their part, all the Vatican will need is the prophesied trigger events.
PREDICTION #1—Weapon of Mass Destruction
As detailed in The Final Roman Emperor, the Islamic State and their associates are going to use a weapon of mass destruction. It will be of such scope and impact as to raise the international outcry sufficient for Rome to play its first card, which, as noted above, has been primed by subtle references to the Just War theory in the lead-up to this predicted event. When this WMD (specific details and charts in the upcoming book) is used by ISIS, the Roman pontiff will call for the revitalization of the Christian rules for “Just War.”
Under a new US President working with NATO and non-NATO allies, the Pope and the UN, a coalition army similar to the 2003 invasion of Iraq will be formed to seriously engage the Islamic radicals. Geopolitics aside, the jihadist will see the Vatican’s sanction of war as a new and final religious crusade—indeed, an actual fulfillment of their thirteen-hundred-year-old Hadith, which allegedly quotes the sayings of the prophet Mohammed concerning a last-days caliphate that goes up against “the army of Rome” to initiate “Malahim”—the equivalent to Armageddon in Christian teachings, a battle that ISIS believes they will ultimately win. This war will, according to ISIS, provoke the coming of Mahdi (their Messiah), the Al-Masih ad-Dajjal (Antichrist), and Isa (Jesus), who spears the Antichrist figure and fights on behalf of the Muslim army.
We will reveal how the pope likewise will view himself—and Rome—as amidst unfolding prophecy, which Francis has alluded to on several occasions, including connecting ISIS terrorism with the end of the world.[vi] This final pope on Malachy’s list has even recommended that people read Lord of the World—a related 1907 book by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson that depicts the reign of Antichrist and the Vatican’s relationship to the end of the world, which both Francis and emeritus Pope Benedict have called “prophetic.” This is not surprising, as the reigning pope is an avowed prophecy believer and knows that he is “Petrus Romanus,” the final pope (#112) from the famous “Prophecy of the Popes” attributed to St. Malachy (that is, unless Francis was not canonically elected, which we discuss in The Final Roman Emperor, an intriguing possibility that presents additional strange and prophetic alternatives to the narrative). The best-selling work by Putnam and myself titled Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here thoroughly and critically dissected this mystical prophecy and found widespread support for the document from Catholics and even evidence that, down through the years, cardinals elected popes who could somehow be viewed as fulfilling their line in this prophecy. As it involves Pope Francis, here is what the final line in the prophecy says:
In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit Peter the Roman [Pope #112, Petrus Romanus], who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End.
When elected Pope #112, Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) immediately did several fascinating things to wrap himself in his “Peter the Roman” title:
• First, he took as his namesake St. Francis of Assisi, an Italian (Roman) friar whose original name was Giovanni but that was later changed to Francesco di Pietro (Peter) di Bernardone—a name that can literally be translated “Peter the Roman” from the final line of the Prophecy of the Popes.
• Second, Pope Francis knows that Francis of Assisi was a prophet and that he predicted this final pope would “be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavor to draw many into error and death…for in those days Jesus Christ will send them not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.” It is astonishing that Francis would pick as a namesake a man that foretold this of the final pope.
• Third, Pope Francis named Pietro Parolin as the Vatican’s new secretary of state—a man who could sit on the throne of Peter if Pope Francis retires (like Benedict did), dies, or is killed, and whose name can also be viewed as “Peter the Roman.” If Francis was not canonically elected, Pietro Parolin would actually become the real Pope #112 under that scenario.
And then there are those famous last words from the Prophecy of the Popes itself, which says: “When these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people.” As you will learn in our fourth and final book, this idea, that the city of Rome will be destroyed during the reign of pope #112 (and just ahead of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as Judge), is a vision repeated in numerous ancient prophecies from Greek, Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim cultures! This includes what ISIS draws from their Hadith—that they will go to war against the army of Rome and destroy the Vatican’s headquarters. As mentioned in a prior online entry to this short series, ISIS has even produced a movie that depicts this apocalyptic event culminating in the destruction of Rome.[vii] In tandem with the prediction, they have threatened to kill Pope Francis,[viii] and the pontiff has responded by saying he is willing to be assassinated if that is God’s will; he just hopes it doesn’t hurt.[ix] As this narrative continues unfolding toward the conflict predicted in The Final Roman Emperor, it will become increasingly clear to the readers that both Pope Francis and ISIS believe they are engaged in an end-times scenario, making some of what Francis has said and done since his “election” understandable within a larger oracular context.
For example, in addition to what the ISIS Hadith and the Prophecy of the Popes says about the destruction of Rome, shortly after he accepted the pontificate, Pope Francis consecrated the world to “Our Lady of Fatima” during Mass in St. Peter’s Square.[x] Francis knows the prophecies and controversies connected to Fatima, including the vision of the “Holy Father” (pope) walking among a destroyed city (the Vatican) when ISIS-like fighters run in and kill him. Francis believes in this prophecy (obviously why he dedicated the world to precisely this Marian apparition), and ISIS vows to make it happen. In Petrus Romanus, we noted:
The third part of the Secret of Fatima, which was supposedly released in total by the Vatican June 26, 2000, seems to echo the visions of Pius X. A section of the material reads:
…before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way…on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions.[xi]
It’s interesting, given the prediction from Fatima, that Pope Francis has also reached out to Kabbalist rabbis, whose Zohar (the most important work of the Jewish Kabbalah, which was written in medieval Aramaic over seven hundred years ago) also foretells this destruction of Rome (Vaera section, volume 3, section 34) in connection with “Messiah’s” secret arrival in the year 2013 (is this why top rabbis in Israel are saying the Messiah’s presentation to the world is imminent?). And, after this “Messiah” makes himself known to the international community, “the kings of the world will assemble in the great city of Rome, and the Holy One will shower on them fire and hail and meteoric stones until they are all destroyed.”[xii]
The depth to which Pope Francis can be thought of as a mystic and believer in such prophecy involving the coming destruction of Rome may also be connected to his knowledge of the Cumaean Sibyl, whose prophecy about the return of the god Apollo (identified in the New Testament as the spirit that will inhabit Antichrist) is encoded on the Great Seal of the United States,[xiii] as well as in Catholic art (from altars to illustrated books and even her appearance upon the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where four other Sibyls join her [Paul cast a demon out of one such prophetesses in the New Testament]), and the Old Testament prophets in places of sacred honor. Yet this Cumaean—who sits so prominently inside Catholicism’s most celebrated chapel—gave forth another famous and forgotten prophecy, which we examine in the FINAL ENTRY to show how she was quoted by early Church Fathers and actually connected the end-times Islamic Mahdi with a “Last Roman Emperor” (who arguably developed into the “Holy Pope” legend)—an eschatological figure whose time, and whose catastrophic war, is coming very soon.
Will Pope Francis be the one to play the role of the Last Roman Emperor? Or will it be another pontiff? Was there something strange about the conclave from which Pope Francis emerged to the pontificate? Something mentioned earlier in this entry that suggests he was not actually “canonically elected?”
Even some Catholics think “illegitimate” activity may have gone on behind closed doors during the last conclave[xiv] and that, for reasons we do not yet understand, Francis was put in as a temporary “placeholder” until the real pope #112 (Petrus Romanus) could be installed. This, too, might echo the choice of St. Francis of Assisi as a namesake, as the ancient friar did predict, “a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the pontificate.” The mysterious reasons surrounding a “placeholder” pope—a false pope—is largely unknown to the public, but was foresaw by such mystics as Father Herman Bernard Kramer in his work, The Book of Destiny. During an unusual interpretation he made of the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation concerning “the great wonder” mentioned in verse one, Father Kramer wrote:
The “sign” in heaven is that of a woman with child crying out in her travail and anguish of delivery. In that travail, she gives birth to some definite “person” who is to RULE the Church with a rod of iron (verse 5). It then points to a conflict waged within the Church to elect one who was to “rule all nations” in the manner clearly stated. In accord with the text this is unmistakably a PAPAL ELECTION, for only Christ and his Vicar have the divine right to rule ALL NATIONS… But at this time the great powers may take a menacing attitude to hinder the election of the logical and expected candidate by threats of a general apostasy, assassination or imprisonment of this candidate if elected.[xv]
Although we disagree with Kramer’s interpretation of the book of Revelation, his fear that “great powers” may have taken “a menacing attitude to hinder the election of the logical and expected candidate” echoes the sentiment of priests mentioned elsewhere in our book Petrus Romanus, who see a crises for the Church coming, and the Final Roman Emperor (Antichrist) rising as a result. As we move through 2016, Pope Francis is publically looking for a global political authority (such as the UN) to come alongside him to implement his religious and social agenda, President Barack Obama may set his eyes on becoming the UN Secretary General following the US Presidential election,[xvi] and Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu is very concerned about the ramifications of both. Will the pope or ex-president step forward to fulfill the Cumaean Sibyl’s prophecy…or are there others waiting in the wings? You will learn the shocking truth to these questions and why an ISIS WMD and a call by Rome to sanction war will soon result in both Muslims and Romans engaging in their own apocalyptica.
Oh…and as you will learn more extensively in The Final Roman Emperor, nearly a decade ago, a major Islamic website set the date on which this war and its Mahdi would unfold: “Based on our numerical analysis of the Quran and Hadith,” the Muslim scholars concluded, “the official beginning of the End of Time and the coming of the Imam Mahdi will most likely be in…2016
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7970
Is this the leader of a major Christian denomination? Could of fooled me……
TRUNEWS) Pope Francis said in an interview with France’s La Croix that Jesus’ call to spread the Gospel was no different than the jihad being waged by radical Islamists.
As part of the discussion published Tuesday, the pope told La Croix:
“I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”
Other than attempting to equivocate ISIS’s murderous jihad with Jesus’ call to peacefully evangelize the world, Pope Francis also claimed that the state of the global economy has widened a perceived gap between Christianity and Islam.
Pope Francis said:
“The initial problems are the wars in the Middle East and in Africa as well as the underdevelopment of the African continent, which causes hunger,” explained Francis. “If there is so much unemployment, it is because of a lack of investment capable of providing employment, of which Africa has such a great need. The great majority of humanity’s wealth has fallen into the hands of a minority of the population. … A completely free market does not work.”
Previously, TRUNEWS has reported on Pope Francis’ call for all faiths to come together under a One World Religion, and his criticism of GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump as “not Christian” for his immigration stance.
On February 18th, TRUNEWS President Rick Wiles dismantled Pope Francis’ hypocrisy in a speech titled, “Mr. Pope, tear down that wall!”
In response to public backlash, Pope Francis agreed on April 16th to house 12 migrants — including 6 children — inside Vatican City.
Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, praised the Pope Francis’ gesture, calling it “a powerful demonstration of solidarity. It must inspire governments and societies in a world where the desperate plight of record numbers of forcibly displaced is too often met by barriers, rejection and fear.”
Pope Francis has since doubled down on his open-borders immigration stance, saying at his acceptance speech for the Charlemagne Prize on May 6th from the Vatican:
“I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime, but a summons to a greater commitment on behalf of the dignity of every human being. I dream of a Europe that promotes and protects the rights of everyone, without neglecting its duties toward all. I dream of a Europe of which it will not be said that its commitment to human rights was its last utopia. We, the heirs of their dream, are tempted to yield to our own selfish interests and to consider putting up fences here and there. Their vision inspires us to build bridges and tear down walls. What has happened to you, the Europe of humanism, the champion of human rights, democracy and freedom? What has happened to you, Europe … the home of poets, philosophers, artists, musicians, and men and women of letters? What has happened to you … the mother of great men and women who upheld, and even sacrificed their lives for, the dignity of their brothers and sisters?”
Pope Francis’ interesting reference to humanism, highlights the increasing rejection of God throughout Europe, and coincides with President Obama’s quib that the Nordic states — home to Europe’s most secular, humanist, and atheist population blocks — would do a great job running the EU.
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7960
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [Jesus’ return] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2 Thess. 2:3, NASB).
Apostasy means to fall away from the truth. Therefore, an apostate is someone who has once believed and then rejected the truth of God. Apostasy is a rebellion against God because it is a rebellion against truth. In the Old Testament, God warned the Jewish people about their idolatry and their lack of trust in Him. In the New Testament, the epistles warn us about not falling away from the truth. Apostasy is a very real and dangerous threat.
The verse at the top of the page tells us that there will be an apostasy that is associated with the appearance of the Antichrist. Most Christians are looking for the arrival of the Antichrist, but very few are looking for “the apostasy” that must come first. The arrival of the Antichrist cannot occur until sufficient apostasy has happened in the world. The Antichrist, who is the ultimate of liars, cannot abide in a world where the truth of God’s Word is taught. This is why the Bible says that the apostasy will come first and then the Antichrist will be revealed.
Therefore, we must, as Christians, ask this question, “Is there an apostasy occurring in the Christian church today?” Some would say no and others yes. But, as we look for the arrival of the Antichrist, should we not also be looking for the arrival of apostasy? And where else should we first look but in our own house for the Bible tells us that judgment will begin in the house of the Lord (1 Peter 4:17).
If there is indeed an apostasy occurring in the Christian Church, we would not know it unless we first examined the Bible closely and then compared the present-day Church to the Word of God. It is only after a standard of truth is established that we would then have a measuring rod by which apostasy can be detected. Therefore, I propose the following list of Biblical truths as a sample of essential Christian and non-essential doctrines by which we might compare other teachings and phenomena. Note this is not absolute, and the nuances of several topics can be debated since not all will agree with the categorization of all points. Still, we need to use the Bible as our standard, and it gives us plenty of information by which we can know what the truth really is.
1. Primary Essentials (Nature and work of Christ)–Cannot deny and be Christian since they are explicitly stated as required in Scripture.
1. Jesus is both God and man (John 1:1, 14, 8:24, Col. 2:9, 1 John 4:1-4).
2. Jesus rose from the dead physically (John 2:19-21).
3. Salvation is by grace through faith (Rom. 5:1, Eph. 2:8-9, Gal. 5:1-5).
4. The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:1-4, Gal. 1:8-9).
5. There is only one God (Exodus 20:1-3, Isaiah 43:10, 44:6, 8)
2. Secondary Essentials–(Nature of God) Cannot deny and be Christian.
1. God exists as a Trinity of persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (See Trinity)
2. Virgin Birth of Jesus–relates to incarnation of Christ as God and man.
3. Primary Non-Essentials (Bible, Church ordinances, and practice)–Denial does not void salvation yet principles are clearly taught in Scripture. Denial suggests apostasy.
1. Male eldership and pastorate (1 Tim. 2:12-13, 3:15, Titus 1:5-7).
2. Fidelity in marriage in heterosexual relationships (1 Cor. 6:9).
3. The condemnation of homosexuality (Rom. 1:26-27).
4. Inerrancy of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16).
4. Secondary Non-Essentials–does not affect one’s salvation relationship with God. Debated within Christianity. Denial or acceptance does not suggest apostasy.
1. Baptism for adults or infants.
2. Predestination, election, and free will.
3. Communion every week, monthly, or quarterly, etc.
4. Saturday or Sunday Worship.
5. Worship with or without instruments, traditional or contemporary.
6. Pre-tribulation rapture, mid-tribulation rapture, post-tribulation rapture.
7. Premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism.
8. Continuation or cessation of the charismatic gifts.
Of course, the non-essentials are debatable (which unfortunately leads to denominational fragmentation). But by way of explanation, the Primary Essentials are those doctrines that the Bible states if they are denied, damnation follows. I have written on this in Essential Doctrines. For brevity, the Bible states that if you deny Jesus is God, you are dead in your sins (John 8:24, 58, cf. Exodus 3:14), if you deny Jesus’ physical resurrection, your faith is in vain (1 Cor. 15:14, cf. John 2:19-21), if you add works to salvation, you are not in Christ (Gal. 3:1-3, 5:1-4) and that if you preach a gospel contrary to what the apostles preached, you are accursed (Gal. 1:8-9, cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4). Therefore, to deny any of these doctrines, according to Scripture, is to be outside the camp of Christ and invited eternal damnation. This would obviously be apostasy.
The Secondary Essentials are essentials that further clarify orthodoxy, but there is no explicitly Scriptural statement regarding each (that I am aware of) which states that denying them results in damnation the way the Primary Essentials do. The Secondary Essentials deal primarily with the nature of God. The fact that there is one God who is a Trinity is clearly essential to Christian orthodoxy, but there is no Scriptural statement stating that to believe in the Trinity is necessary for salvation. However, that does not mean that denial of the Trinity is acceptable. A person can be saved without knowing about the Trinity. But, since the Trinity is a Biblical truth and the believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit who bears witness of truth, a true Christian will not openly denounce the Trinity once he has been taught it from Scripture. So, it could be said that the Secondary Essentials are essentials to the faith as well as the Primary Essentials are.
The Primary Non-Essentials are Biblical teachings that if denied do not affect one’s salvation. But, because the Bible teaches them, denying them is a sign of apostasy. The Secondary Non-Essentials do not affect one’s position with God, nor do they affirm or deny Biblical teaching since they are debatable. Having differing beliefs in these is not a sign of apostasy–just differences of opinion. Again, I am aware that the categorization of the non-essentials is debatable, but I must draw the line somewhere. Sadly, it is in Secondary non-essential doctrines that most denominational fragmentation occurs. This is a sad display that most division occurs over that which is least important. Furthermore, I believe that it is in the area of the Non-Essentials that apostasy can first be detected.
2 Thessalonians 2
As quoted above, there is a prophecy in 2 Thessalonians about a coming apostasy that is associated with the disclosure of the anti-Christ.
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [Jesus’ return] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2 Thess. 2:3, NASB).
Have you been looking for the coming of the anti-Christ? Are you waiting for him to pop up on the world scene? If you are, are you also looking for the related apostasy? Most Christians are looking for the anti-Christ but are not looking for signs of apostasy.
The Bible is God’s Word, and it tells us what is right and wrong. To the degree that anyone disagrees with the truths of God’s Word, to that same degree they are falling away from it. What, then, might be some of the signs of apostasy? I’ve compiled a representative list of issues. You may or may not agree with all of these, but I provide them as food for thought.
1. Denial of basic Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the deity of the Holy Spirit, salvation by grace, and moral absolutes as found in the Bible.
1. God’s Word is true. Deviation from the basics of its truth is surely apostasy.
2. Countless denominational divisions that contradict John 13:35 and 1 Cor. 1:10.
1. Of course, there are bound to be divisions in the body of Christ and differences of opinions are permitted (Rom. 14:1-12). But, the amount of divisions in the Church is ridiculous and contrary to Col. 3:14.
3. Ordination of homosexuals.
1. Homosexuality is clearly condemned in God’s Word (Lev. 18:22, 1 Cor. 6:9). To ordain homosexuals into ministry is clearly contrary to Biblical truth and clearly apostasy.
4. Women elders and pastors.
1. Whether people like it or not in this politically correct environment, the Bible does not support women as elders or as pastors (1 Tim. 2:12-14, 3:2, Titus 1:5-7). Men are called to be leaders in the church. The fact that women elders and pastors exist is a sign that men are not doing their God-given job.
2. Also, if you believe in women pastors and elders, do not dismiss this article. You must always examine yourself to see if what you believe is Biblical.
5. Not preaching the gospel per 1 Cor. 15:1-4.
1. The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for our sins. It is not a message of convenience or embarrassment. Do not be ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16).
6. Using the Lord’s name in vain, something a surprising number of Christians do.
1. God’s name and title are to be used only by Christians in a reverent and respectful manner and never in casual exclamation. Just because the sinners do it, does not mean it is okay for the Christians.
7. Not sending out or failing to support missionaries (or cutting back unnecessarily) in violation of Matt. 28:18-20.
1. Carrying out the Great Commission is the command of Jesus. Any church that is able to support missionary work and does not is in direct violation of Christ’s command in the Great Commission.
8. Marketing and merchandising.
1. Those in ministry should make a living from their labor. Churches should seek to spread the gospel best they can and selling things to do it is acceptable. But, how many trinkets and bobbles are offered in the name of Christ that do not honor God but are merely for the purpose of financial gain? Is the duty of the church business or the gospel? Remember how Jesus cleansed the temple?
9. Pastors who are more concerned with growing a church than preaching the truth.
1. Whoever and wherever they are, they need to repent. Pastors must stand on the truth of God’s Word even if it costs them financially and materially.
10. Pastors who don’t pray and seek God’s face.
1. Of course, this should be rare. But, any pastor who does not seek God’s face in humility is seeking to do a job, not a ministry, under his own power.
11. Pastors who cave in to pressures from the church in contradiction to the Word of God.
1. Any pastor who does this should repent now or step down from the pulpit. Pastors are to stand upon and for God’s Word, no matter what the obstacles or the cost.
12. Pastors who fail to equip their congregations according to God’s Word.
1. Pastors are called to equip the Christian for the work of the ministry in all aspects of life (Eph. 4:11): apologetics, evangelism, missionary work, prayer, service, love, etc. Far too many congregations are not being equipped with even the basics of Christianity and are instead being taught political correctness.
13. Pastors who don’t teach damnation.
1. We are not saying that you must preach fire and brimstone all the time. But the fact is the gospel that offends no one is not the gospel of the Bible. The truth of the gospel is that people will face damnation. This is part of the Christian message, and it should be part of Christian preaching.
14. Christians gathering teachers to themselves to make them feel good.
1. Is comfort or truth the primary objective for the Christians? Are we divine in nature or sinners saved by grace? Do we deserve to be saved, or are we saved by God’s free choice? Christians who want merely to be entertained and comforted from the pulpit are still children. They should be challenged to grow and take risks.
1. Denominations that either adopt evolutionary principles or refuse to take a stand on evolution.
Apostasy is all around us in varying degrees. As Christians, we need to be very sure that we are clinging to the truth of God’s Word and resisting the inclusion of liberalism, moral relativism, and the oncoming secularism that is all around us. We need to stand on the Word of God and never be ashamed of the truth of the Gospel:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,” (Rom. 1:16).
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7858
Al Mohler | President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary | Wednesday, January 20, 2016
While America’s evangelical Christians are rightly concerned about the secular worldview’s rejection of biblical Christianity, we ought to give some urgent attention to a problem much closer to home–biblical illiteracy in the church. This scandalous problem is our own, and it’s up to us to fix it.
Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: “Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.” How bad is it? Researchers tell us that it’s worse than most could imagine.
Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time. They don’t know what they are,” said George Barna, president of the firm. The bottom line? “Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate.” [see Barna Group’s web site]
Multiple surveys reveal the problem in stark terms. According to 82 percent of Americans, “God helps those who help themselves,” is a Bible verse. Those identified as born-again Christians did better–by one percent. A majority of adults think the Bible teaches that the most important purpose in life is taking care of one’s family.
Some of the statistics are enough to perplex even those aware of the problem. A Barna poll indicated that at least 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. Another survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham. We are in big trouble.
Secularized Americans should not be expected to be knowledgeable about the Bible. As the nation’s civic conversation is stripped of all biblical references and content, Americans increasingly live in a Scripture-free public space. Confusion and ignorance of the Bible’s content should be assumed in post-Christian America.
The larger scandal is biblical ignorance among Christians. Choose whichever statistic or survey you like, the general pattern is the same. America’s Christians know less and less about the Bible. It shows.
How can a generation be biblically shaped in its understanding of human sexuality when it believes Sodom and Gomorrah to be a married couple? No wonder Christians show a growing tendency to compromise on the issue of homosexuality. Many who identify themselves as Christians are similarly confused about the Gospel itself. An individual who believes that “God helps those who help themselves” will find salvation by grace and justification by faith to be alien concepts.
Christians who lack biblical knowledge are the products of churches that marginalize biblical knowledge. Bible teaching now often accounts for only a diminishing fraction of the local congregation’s time and attention. The move to small group ministry has certainly increased opportunities for fellowship, but many of these groups never get beyond superficial Bible study.
Youth ministries are asked to fix problems, provide entertainment, and keep kids busy. How many local-church youth programs actually produce substantial Bible knowledge in young people?
Even the pulpit has been sidelined in many congregations. Preaching has taken a back seat to other concerns in corporate worship. The centrality of biblical preaching to the formation of disciples is lost, and Christian ignorance leads to Christian indolence and worse.
This really is our problem, and it is up to this generation of Christians to reverse course. Recovery starts at home. Parents are to be the first and most important educators of their own children, diligently teaching them the Word of God. [See Deuteronomy 6:4-9.] Parents cannot franchise their responsibility to the congregation, no matter how faithful and biblical its may be. God assigned parents this non-negotiable responsibility, and children must see their Christian parents as teachers and fellow students of God’s Word.
Churches must recover the centrality and urgency of biblical teaching and preaching, and refuse to sideline the teaching ministry of the preacher. Pastors and churches too busy–or too distracted–to make biblical knowledge a central aim of ministry will produce believers who simply do not know enough to be faithful disciples.
We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live higher than our beliefs. The many fronts of Christian compromise in this generation can be directly traced to biblical illiteracy in the pews and the absence of biblical preaching and teaching in our homes and churches.
This generation must get deadly serious about the problem of biblical illiteracy, or a frighteningly large number of Americans–Christians included–will go on thinking that Sodom and Gomorrah lived happily ever after
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7731
Pope Francis’ Calls for Collaboration With World’s Religions, Those Who ‘Meet God in Different Ways’
By Heather Clark on January 9, 2016218 Comments
ROME — In his first-ever video declaring his “prayer intentions,” the Roman Catholic leader Jorge Bergoglio, also known as Pope Francis, called for dialogue and collaboration among those of the various world religions on Tuesday, asserting that they are simply “seeking or meeting God in different ways.”
“Most of the planet’s inhabitants declare themselves believers,” he states in the production released on the Feast of Epiphany. “This should lead to dialogue among religions. We should not stop praying for it and collaborating with those who think differently.”
The video then features clips of those from different world religions declaring belief in their various deities.
“I have confidence in Buddha,” a female lama announces.
“I believe in God,” a rabbi affirms.
“I believe in Jesus Christ,” a priest states.
“I believe in Allah,” an Islamic leader declares.
Francis contends that all the religions of the world simply represent mankind’s diversity in seeking God. He says that despite the differing beliefs, everyone is a child of the same God.
“Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways,” he states. “In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: we are all children of God.”
The video then provides footage of the pontiff meeting with and embracing those of various religions, including Buddhists, Islamists and Orthodox Jews. It again cuts to representatives of the world’s religions, who now declare the same statement: “I believe in love.”
“I hope you will spread my prayer request this month: that sincere dialogue among men and women of different faiths may produce fruits of peace and justice,” Francis states. “I have confidence in your prayers.”
But not everyone is supportive of the Vatican’s call for unity and common ground. Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries of Plano, Texas told Christian News Network that the pontiff’s assertions that all mankind is “seeking or meeting God in different ways,” and that all are children of the same God, are flawed.
“Tragically, those who do not know the Bible or who refuse to submit to it as the supreme authority for truth, will be deceived by the pope’s latest pronouncement,” he stated. “The pope’s assertion that all mankind meets with/seeks after the same God, just in different ways, is false according to the word of God. No one seeks for (the true) God (Rom. 3:11), but there are many who seek after false gods of their own imagination or false gods of their religious traditions. The only way to meet with the true God is His way, through the one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5).”
“The word of God reveals that the human race is made up of people who are either children of God or children of the devil (1 John 3:10),” Gendron explained. “The Lord Jesus soundly rebuked the religious leaders of His day for refusing to believe the truth of His Word (John 8:440-43). Jesus told them that their father was the devil, who is the father of lies (John 8:44).”
“This remains true today,” he continued. “The god of this world has created a variety of religions to blind all of his children from the light of the Gospel and the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4).”
Gedron said that in one sense—although not deliberately—Francis is correct as all are children of the darkness by nature, but man only becomes a child of God when he is reborn in Christ.
“Everyone is a child of the ‘god of this world’ until they exchange their religion for a relationship with the one true God through Jesus Christ,” he outlined. “Those who receive Jesus by believing in His name become children of God (John 1:12-13).”
Gendron, a former Roman Catholic, also opined that the pontiff’s ecumenicism is fulfilling prophesy about the formulation of a one world religion.
“As the pope continues to accelerate his ecumenical agenda to rebuild the religious tower of Babel, he will be fulfilling Bible prophecy. All the religions of the world already share a ‘works-righteousness’ salvation and they all are already united by a common spiritual bond,” he said.
“As we see the prophetic one-world religion forming, we know the children of the true God will have no part of it because they have been sanctified by the truth and sealed with the Holy Spirit (2 Thes. 2:13),” Gendron stated.
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7714
False Prophet Alert: Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
Michael Day | The Independent | Dec 26, 2015, 10.48 AM IST
In July, Francis signalled a more progressive attitude on sexuality as well.
In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis has written a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences.
Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7690
ROME — Sometimes it’s better to just stay silent rather than call attention to obvious flaws. That could certainly be considered the case when it comes to Rome’s readiness—or seeming lack thereof—ahead of the Vatican’s Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy that kicks off Dec. 8 with the opening of the holy year doors of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Not only is the city a veritable construction site with most Jubilee projects barely underway or slated for completion into the new year, but security forces admit there is no way they can possibly protect pilgrims from becoming prey for terrorists.
The previous Jubilee, under Pope John Paul II in 2000, coincided with the millennium celebrations, and the city took more than seven years to prepare. The church’s event this year follows one of the worst terrorist attacks in Europe, and the city has less than a month to somehow beef up its security enough to detect and deter any threat of attack. The gathering is expected to draw 25 million Catholic pilgrims over 12 months, during which they will have thrice-weekly opportunities to hear Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square, which has been described as something like rounding up sheep for a cull.
Since the Paris attacks, many hotels and tour groups have reported cancellations.
“We are preparing for a Jubilee in the time of ISIS,” Italy’s security czar, Franco Gabrielli, who has been given the daunting task of managing security for the event in Rome in the absence of a mayor, said at a press conference laying out the 128-page dossier of plans Friday. “We even have 2,000 extra men dedicated to security.”
Those 2,000 won’t be on duty all at once—“unless there is an event”—and include counterterrorism officials, undercover cops, and snipers who will be atop Rome’s churches during Jubilee-related events. Gabrielli says most of the city of Rome will also be a “no-fly-zone” zone for the entire year, blocking major air traffic from the city’s main airports along with drones and ultra-lite aircraft—the latter two categories, he says, are subject to being shot down if they are spotted.
He also says there will be “special patrols in the periphery of the city based on demographic concerns,” which is a not-so-subtle way of saying they are paying attention to areas where ethnic groups tend to live. Those areas include the city’s refugee centers, mosques, and squat houses. And there will be extra checks at airports and ports, though not if it interferes with the Schengen rules under which Europeans can travel unhindered, he says, making it unclear what extra checks will be in place.
But for all the security that is being touted, there’s much concern that it just won’t be enough. At the press conference Friday, the Jubilee security panel had to defend its readiness to such an extent that it sounded like they were trying to convince themselves, not the press, they are ready. After warning against reporting rumors and false alarms without “an extra check for validity,” they addressed questions like whether or not the Rome cops’ bulletproof vests are too old to be effective. (Apparently they are good for a full 10 years.) They were also held to the fire on whether or not the type of surveillance it would take to thwart an attack ought to already be in place by now to be effective and whether they had anyone under surveillance at the moment, after Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told RAI3 news earlier that authorities are actively searching for five jihadis whose names were given to them by the FBI. The Jubilee security team seemed caught unaware of the news.
One of the reasons that the country lags behind is that Italy, along with many other European nations, has had to tighten its budget over the last several years. At Rome’s Fiumicino airport, there are 40 percent fewer security personnel than there were for the last Jubilee, said Alessandro Di Battista, a member of parliament for the FiveStar movement, adding that “many of them aren’t even able to hit a moving target.”
It’s little wonder that the FBI warned Italian authorities (and Americans) last week that St. Peter’s Square is a high-priority terrorism target “to be avoided,” along with the Duomo and La Scala opera house in Milan. In an email alert sent to all U.S. citizens in Italy, the U.S. embassy in Rome warned of potential attacks on those popular sites along with “general venues such as churches, synagogues, restaurants, theatres, and hotels in both cities are possible targets as well.
“Terrorist groups may possibly utilize similar methods used in the recent Paris attacks,” the warning read. “The Italian authorities are aware of these threats.”
Not exactly a thumbs-up review for travel to Italy.
“It’s absurd to say that all Muslims are terrorists. But it is undeniable that all terrorists come from that context.”
What makes matters worse is a palpable sense of paranoia around the country that starts at the top. A La Stampa correspondent told The Daily Beat that on the island of Sicily, a woman was hauled into the police station for playing Arabic music loud in her car. Muslim-run businesses have reported a drop in business and racist graffiti on the walls.
On Thursday, Gabrielli stopped short of a blatant accusation when he asked the Islamic community in Italy to “take a position” on this month’s terrorist attacks. “It’s absurd to say that all Muslims are terrorists,” he said on camera to an Italian journalist. “But it is undeniable that all terrorists come from that context.” When pressed by the reporter whether all Muslims should be under surveillance, he first said Italy just didn’t have the manpower for that, before tempering his comments. “That would be discriminatory,” he said smiling slyly. “It can’t be done.”
Since the Paris attacks last week, there have been dozens of false alarms, including eight emergency calls in Rome on Thursday alone, which included the discovery of left baggage at Fiumicino, a forgotten suitcase at a bar near the Vatican, and no less than five suspect packages in the city’s subways, which caused police to stop the entire system four different times. On Friday, more abandoned packages were found in the city’s underground, prompting some to joke about why no one has noticed all the garbage before. A mentally ill man apparently waved a rifle at Rome’s San Giovanni hospital, which caused the U.S. embassy to send out another alert with the subject, “Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Armed Individual in Central Rome,” which is not exactly the kind of thing one likes to see in their inbox.
So nervous are the citizens that many are calling on the Vatican to cancel the Jubilee entirely. After all, the Vatican has been in the terrorists’ sights for quite some time. As The Daily Beast reported in October 2014, the ISIS propaganda magazine Dabiq put a picture of the black jihadi flag flying over St. Peter’s Square on its cover under the headline “The Failed Crusade.” “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted. If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market,” according to the Dabiq article accompanying the cover photos. “Every Muslim should get out of his house, find a crusader and kill him… And the Islamic State will remain until its banner flies over Rome.”
Making matters even more delicate, last week Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin said the Holy See supports military action against ISIS. “The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm,” Parolin said, quoting an old church teaching, and calling to mind the Crusades for some. “For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.”
For Francis, who long ago sold off the papal armored cars (and who refuses to wear a bulletproof vest because, as his spokesman said recently, what’s the point when he rides in an open-top vehicle), the show must go on. “Please, no security doors on the church,” he said at his general audience Wednesday, which had noticeably fewer faithful in the square and noticeably tighter security. “The church must be open.”
Other Vatican officials have said that a Jubilee is just what the world needs right now to give people hope. “Canceling the Jubilee would be totally mistaken,” said Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. “There absolutely must not be panic among the people, who must regard Rome, the pilgrimage to the Holy Door, with the usual serenity.”
Good luck with that.
In the meantime, the pontiff is planning to visit Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic on an increasingly risky five-day trip that starts Nov. 25. After that, he returns to Rome to kick off the Jubilee, which, quite hopefully, goes off without a bang.
Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=7623