Every time a conclave comes around the so-called "prophecies of St Malachy" get an airing, and many people get worried as each successive Pontiff seems to fulfil the next prophecy and the feared "Petrus Romanus" gets closer. Well now we've hit him: according to the prophecies the next pope will be "Peter of Rome" who will heroically lead the Church in a time of bitter persecution and the end of the world will come.
Well, as regards the end of the world, let it come. As I say to those who speak fearfully about the "three days of darkness", I say, "bring them on!" We could do with a bit of chastisement. And if the Lord comes today, let us raise our heads and greet him, for our liberation is at hand; then let us kneel before him, ask mercy, and may he triumph!
Now let's get things right: first of all there is no historical evidence that St Malachy, one of most revered and dynamic saints of our land, ever wrote these prophecies. Jimmy Aiken has a very good article explaining this - if you're worried read it and then make yourself a nice cup of tea (no bikkies, it's Lent) and relax.
However, as you all know one of my favourite book series is The Bad Catholic's Guide To..... and I have a rather sick sense of humour. So in that context I would like to point that there are at least two Cardinals who would accurately fulfill the "Petrus Romanus" figure. We all know about Cardinal Peter Turkson, and there is Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest. But there is another - Cardinal Bechara al-Rahi, the recently elevated Maronite Cardinal. He is the Patriarch of Antioch and so is already the successor of St Peter - St Peter was Bishop of Antioch before he was Bishop of Rome. Also, when Cardinal al-Rahi was elected Bishop of Antioch, by custom he had to add Boutros to his name - Boutros means Petros - Peter.
Scared? Have another cup of tea.