Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, “A Triumph and a Tragedy,” is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is the Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to Catholic Answers Magazine, and a weekly guest on “Catholic Answers Live.”
Many people have been talking about a woman who calls herself "Maria Divine Mercy." She has made dramatic claims in the form of alleged private revelations.
She claims to have predicted Pope Benedict's resignation in advance.
She also claims that he will be the last pope on earth, that the next pope to be elected will be the false prophet, and that the Second Coming is about to occur.
What should we make of these claims?
Here are 9 things you need to know.
1. Who is "Maria Divine Mercy"?
We don't know.
According to her web site, she is "a Roman Catholic married mother of a young family living in Europe [and] says she has been receiving from the Holy Trinity as well as by the Virgin Mary."
She writes anonymous, stating, "The woman wishes to be known by the name Maria Divine Mercy and says that it is the wish of Jesus that she remains anonymous to protect her family and to avoid any distraction from the messages."
"The messages have been received by her since November 2010 and are still ongoing. Over 650 have been received."
In a YouTube interview, she claims to have been a business woman and speaks with what appears to be an Irish accent.
2. What does she say about her own role in God's plan?
She claims a rather startling role:
Maria says the messages are also being given to help prepare the world for the Second Coming of Christ which will follow The Warning. . . .
Maria was told by Jesus that she is the 7th Messenger, the 7th Angel sent to reveal to the world the contents of the Seals in the Book of Revelation which can only be opened by the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. He will open the Seals and reveal, in advance, the contents. Maria has to publish them as each Seal is opened. He has told her she is the end time prophet.
3. How Popular is Maria Divine Mercy?
Her FaceBook page--Jesus to Mankind--presently has more than 17,000 "Likes," which is quite a substantial number.
She also promotes her message through a web site--www.TheWarningSecondComing.com--and she sells copies of her revelations in the form of books titled The Book of Truth (vol.s I & II).
She is apparently popular enough that there are knockoff web sites also repeating her messages. Her own web site contains a warning against the knockoffs.
4. What has Maria Divine Mercy said about Pope Benedict?
Among the more notable things she has claimed are the following:
- Pope Benedict XVI is the "last Pope on earth, Benedict XVI, chosen by Me [Jesus] to lead My Church during the last days" (source).
- Pope Benedict would be forced from office: "Pope Benedict XVI, will be ousted from the Holy See in Rome" (source).
- This will be due to a plan that was launched "within the corridors of the Vatican" (source).
- Now that he has resigned, "They will now try to kill him . . . They will say that he was guilty of a crime of which he is totally innocent" (source).
5. What has she said about the next pope?
My beloved Pope Benedict XVI is the last true Pope on this earth.
Peter the Roman, is My Peter, the original apostle who will rule My Church from the Heavens under the command of My Eternal Father. Then, when I come to reign, at the Second Coming, he will rule over all of God’s children when all religions will become one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.Prior to the Second Coming, she claims that the Catholic Church on earth will be governed by a false pope:
- In Pope Benedict's place, a new antipope will be elected: "The false prophet will now take over the Seat in Rome" (source). "[T]hey will bring God’s children under the rule of the little horn, who will sit in pompous splendour in the Seat of Peter" (source).
- This antipope will announce a plan to merge world religions: "Seated in the Chair of Peter, this imposter will shout aloud and proudly proclaim his solution to unite all churches as one. Hailed as a modern innovator, he will be applauded by the secular world because he will condone sin. He will bring in new laws, which will, not only contradict the Teachings of the Catholic Church, but which will go against all Christian laws" (source).
6. What does she claim about the future?
Maria Divine Mercy makes a number of claims. Among them are these:
- We are currently in the Great Tribulation: "My dearly beloved daughter the three and a half years remaining in the Tribulation period commences in December 2012" (source). This would put the end of the Great Tribulation in May 2016.
- The antichrist will soon appear: "The false prophet, while busy with his lofty ambitions to impress the world’s Catholics, will be pushed to one side, for a while, because the antichrist will now enter the world stage, as foretold. When you hear the media reports of the new, promising, skilled, peace negotiator, you will know who he is. He will be a very close ally of the false prophet and is under no illusion as to who he is – the son of Satan" (source).
- The antichrist and false prophet will set up a New World Religion: "He will be head of the New World Religion and he, and the False Prophet, who will head up the shell of the Catholic Church on earth will work closely to deceive all of God’s children" (source).
- There will be a supernatural event ("the Warning") in which God makes his presence known: "You must await now My Divine Act of Mercy, for it will weed out the good from the wicked. This great Illumination of Conscience will take place after My Holy Vicar [Benedict XVI] has left Rome" (source). "billions of people will convert during The Warning" (source).
- Afterward, the Second Coming will take place and there will be 1,000 years of peace: "This Era of Peace [spoken of at Fatima] will take place after the Second Coming of My Son and will last 1,000 years" (source). This is also the Millennium spoken of in Revelation, and its length is to be taken literally: "Know that the 1,000 years referred to in the Book of Revelation means just that. If it was meant to be something different then it would have been given a different time" (source).
- The Second Coming and the Millennium that follows it is distinct from the end of the world: "Many people believe that My Second Coming indicates that the END OF THE WORLD has come. THAT IS NOT THE CASE for, instead, it will mean the END TIMES when Satan and his followers who create untold misery in the world will be BANISHED FROM EARTH FOR 1,000 YEARS" (source, emphasis in original).
7. What should we make of all this?
There are also abundant reasons not to trust her prophecies.
8. Are her prophecies reliable?
No. We're fortunate that she's associated dates with them (e.g., the statement that the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation began in December 2012). That provides a short shelf-life for her prophecies. When they are proved false she will have the option of walking away from them (having conveniently kept her identity secret) or re-jiggering and re-interpreting them.
Even now, though, there are reasons not to trust them.
First, her main claim to fame is having allegedly predicted Pope Benedict's resignation from the papacy.
But she didn't actually do that.
She said that he would be forced out of office by a plot against him hatched in the Vatican. That might have seemed reasonable back when her "prophecies" were first being given, what with the VatiLeaks scandal of 2012 or the German and Irish paedophilia scandals before that, but it's not what happened.
Unless you want to accuse Pope Benedict of being a liar.
He wasn't "ousted" due to a plot. He freely resigned due to health reasons. Here's what Pope Benedict actually said:
I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter.
To buy Maria Divine Mercy's claim, you must set aside Pope Benedict's own claim. Although he is described in the messages by Jesus as "My innocent, beloved last Pope on earth, Benedict XVI" (source), he would have been lying in the very act of renouncing the papacy if he did not do so "with full freedom" and for age-related reasons but rather under coercision and because of a plot.
Her further predictions--regarding St. Peter reigning at first in heaven and then on earth during the Millennium, the Warning, the next pope being the false prophet, a coming world religion, before the Second Coming and an earthly Millennium before the end of the world--are a mishmash of other visionaries' material combined with Premillennial Protestant ideas (a form of what has historically been called "milleniarianism").
The latter ideas, in particular, have been rejected by the Catholic Church. The Catechism states:
The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgement. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism [CCC 676].
9. Should Catholics give credence to Maria Divine Mercy?
No. She is an anonymous, unapproved seer whose prophecies contain material that is both demonstrably false and contrary to Catholic teaching regarding the future.
Furthermore, to adhere to her prophecies can result in the grave sin and canonical crime of schism.
If, as soon as a new pope is elected, one were to regard him--as Maria Divine Mercy would have us regard him--as a false pope and the False Prophet, one would be in a state of schism.
According to the Code of Canon Law:
[S]chism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him [CIC 751].
This would have grave consequences for an individual, both spiritually and canonically, including possible automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication, since:
[A] schismatic incurs a latae sententiae excommunication [CIC 1364 §1].
Which includes, among other things the inability to receive the sacraments until one repents of the schism and is restored to communion with the Church.
Under no circumstances should a Catholic become involved with or give any credence to the "messages" of Maria Divine Mercy.
May she herself find the grace to repudiate them, take them down, and alert her followers of their falseness.
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In the meantime, what do you think?