EWTN Catholic Q&A
The Holy Father
Question from Wendy Winkler on 04-02-2005:

I love the Holy Father very much. I am saddened by his death. I have heard about a apparitions in Garabandal where it is said that Pope John Paul 2 is going to be the last pope before the end times. What does that mean and how should we prepare ourselves? What should we do?

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 04-02-2005:

A number of things can be said about this. First, Garabandal was not accepted as supernatural by the Church. While the results of two commissions and two episcopal decrees are not infallible decisions, unless new evidence occurs to change things, such as the occurence of the prophesied events, these decisions are likely to be the Church's last word on the matter.

Two, even if it were true, as I understand the expression used at Garabandal it only suggests that the pope (JP2?) will usher in "the end of times." For the Church we have been in the "end times" since Jesus. Obviously, we get closer and closer to the end itself, thus theologians speak of the ultimate, or very last, things (ultissimi) -- the great apostasy, the Antichrist, the Lord's Return, Last Judgement, New Heavens and New Earth (cf. CCC 678ff). This expression may only mean that the world is entering the ultimate phase of history in some sense.

In addition to the binding doctrinal content presented in the Catechism, and which is derived from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, there is also a mystical tradition, which while not binding on Catholics, is credible according to the credibility of the mystics who provide it. Among these are saints and blesseds, who like Our Lady of Fatima, suggest a new era, variously called (Era of Peace, Social Reign of Jesus, Reign of the Two Hearts, Eucharistic Reign of Christ and so on). An example of this is the prophecy of St. John Bosco's two pillars, and the era of Christian re-union which will follow the death of a particular pope (one who was shot, fell, arose, and finally died).

So, while the alleged prophecies of Garabandal, and the certainly credible prophecies of Saints, Blesseds and Venerables, suggest that such an era will indeed occur, we have no way of knowing if the reign of Pope John Paul II will be the last of the "old era," as it were. We can only hope so.

See my FAQ Endtimes, Millennium, Rapture



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