SANTIAGO, Chile — Bishop Bernardo Bastres Florence of Punta Arenas, Chile has an interesting suggestion for those convinced that the world will end Dec. 21, as predicted by the Mayan calendar.
According to local newspaper La Prensa Austral, the bishop said that those who believe the Mayan prophecy should donate their worldly goods to the Church.
“If there are many who believe the world will end on Dec. 21, as the Church, we have no problem with them naming us as the beneficiaries of their possessions in their wills,” he quipped in a Dec. 9 interview.
Doomsday predictions about the end of the world, as prophesied by the Mayans, have circulated in recent years and grown in popularity. The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., which accounts for time in 394-year periods known as Baktuns.
The Mayans allegedly believed that the last, or 13th Baktun, ends Dec. 21, 2012.
To those who are convinced that the world is ending next week, Bishop Bastres said, “I assure them that after Dec. 21, we will eternally pray for them.”
“Because I am sure that we will all be alive after that date. If they wish to pass on, they could do enormous good by donating their properties to the Church.”
Adding to criticism of the prophecy, Father Jose Funes — who directs the Vatican Observatory — wrote in the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano that “it’s not even worth discussing” the predictions.
In his Dec. 12 piece titled, “The end that won’t come — at least for now,” he countered doomsday scenarios by stressing that the “Word of God reminds us that we are heading toward a fundamentally good future, despite the crises of every kind in which we are immersed.”
“That’s because we are assured that, in Christ, there is a future for humanity and for the universe,” the Jesuit priest added.
“In the depths of the human being is the fundamental belief that death cannot have the last word.”
Although cosmology asserts that the universe will — billions of years from now — go into “a final state of cold and darkness,” he noted, the Christian message “teaches us instead that in the final resurrection, the last day, God will reconstitute every man, woman and all the universe.”