JOHN PAUL II – IS HE THE LAST POPE?
By Fr. Francois Turner, Blois, France
“After His Holiness Paul VI, there will be only two more popes before the end of the present period (el fin de los tiempos) which is not the end of the world. The Blessed Virgin told me so, but I do not know what that means.” Such are the words of Garabandal’s principal seer, Conchita, as reported by Fr. Laffineur in Star On The Mountain, p.95.
There are three questions that many readers may have already been asking the historians of Garabandal:
- What is the meaning of el fin de los tiempos?
- Will there be other popes after John Paul II?
- What will happen afterwards?
With due modesty I shall try to give my answer to the first two questions, but I do not feel I can answer the third with any degree of certainty. This should not surprise the reader. As a rule, prophecies are not clearly understood before their fulfillment. Besides, the Blessed Virgin did not tell us. Surmises can be made but they are hazardous and I feel it is not wise to put them into print.
I shall answer the first question this way: We must be very exact in translating correctly into English the phrase, el fin de los tiempos. Tiempos means epoch. I have established it by carefully reading a bilingual Franco-Spanish periodical published in Paris by professors of Spanish. Moreover, as three professors have told me that language avoids using the possessive adjective wherever it is not necessary. For instance, one does not say “my father told me,” but “the father told me.” So the Blessed Virgin would not be expected to say “nuestros (or vuestros) tiempos,” but “los tiempos.” In English, we should use the word “our.” The translation would then be, “the end of our epoch.” “The end of the present period” is also satisfactory.
The coming of a new epoch should not be surprising. There have been many in the history of the Church. The most striking change of epoch occurred in 66-70 at the time of the Jewish war that culminated and nearly ended with the fall of Jerusalem. Prior to this war, all indications were that the Church of Jerusalem was the Mother Church, The Christians of Jerusalem worshiped in the Temple, but they prayed elsewhere – that is, in the Synagogue. Collections were made throughout the Church of Jerusalem and there existed a Judeo-Christian theology. But after the year 70, Christians were officially banned from the Synagogue and a deep chasm opened between the Synagogue and the Church.
This was the first and most fundamental schism between what some have called, “the Old Israel” and “the New Israel.” The Roman Church then became the Mother Church. Why? Because it was there that Peter and Paul were martyred and where successive bishops have been rightly considered, both in the East and in the West, as the successors of St. Peter – the rock on which Jesus built His Church.
The beginning of the new epoch to come may not necessarily coincide exactly with the end of the present pontificate. Allowances should be made for certain flexibility-it could come several years before or after the pontificate. The change may be gradual as often happens in great historical events, but this change of epoch will have a religious character-even a theological character. It will be “one of the days of the Son of Man.” (Lk. 17, 22)
As to the second question, according to Star On The Mountain, this prophecy does not tell us whether or not there will be popes after John Paul II. It is possible that the role of the papacy will change in some of its modalities – some might be tempted to say that this is likely. But to say that the papacy will disappear does not seem to be in keeping with Paul VI who stated that the papacy is a permanent institution of the Church – a tenet that is traditional in the Catholic Church.
In summary, Conchita’s startling pronouncement made at Garabandal could signify the coming of a great epochal event around the end of John Paul II’s reign which could coincide with the close of an era.