Why a slow election might mean a dark-horse candidate, and other clues from past conclaves.
On Thursday, February 28, at 8:00 P.M. local time, Pope Benedict XVI resigned. For now, the seat of St. Peter is vacant. But soon, the Cardinals will
enter the Sistine chapel and the master of the Papal Ceremonies will cry, “Extra Omnes!” — everybody out, and seal the door.
In the wake of the Pope’s sudden announcement, medieval historians on both sides of the Atlantic have been all over the news. Pope Benedict, of course, was
not the first pope to retire. Using Benedict’s own veneration of a 13th-century pope, Celestine V, who also retired because of age, historians have
initiated a discussion of papal history to explore the context of this nearly unprecedented abdication. Each of the papal resignations over the last
thousand years has set the stage for major changes, for good or for ill, in the history of the Catholic Church.
It’s easy to characterize the Conclave as an authoritarian relic. But it’s part of the democratic tradition that permeates modern American and European life.
What changes will mark the Catholic church of tomorrow? Just as the past helps us understand Benedict’s resignation, we can use our knowledge of history to
shed some light on what the Cardinals might be doing behind those sealed doors.
1) Voting is medieval.
Voting is a quintessentially medieval activity. Sure, popular representations of the Middle Ages focus on kings and knights, princesses and peasants, but
medieval people, especially in cities, loved to vote. They organized themselves into groups – guilds, religious fraternities, charitable organization,
drinking societies – and wrote complicated bylaws governing elections. Many cities embraced various kinds of representative government during the High
Middle Ages. Even the army outside the walls of Constantinople in 1204 took time to develop a voting system to elect the next emperor.
It’s easy to characterize the Conclave of Cardinals as an authoritarian relic of the past. It’s not. It’s the same kind of democratic tradition that
permeates modern American and European life, from board rooms to union halls to church groups to town councils.
2) Papal elections have had all sorts of rules, but when the rules were inconvenient the cardinals either changed or ignored them.
In the city of Viterbo in 1271, the cardinals elected Pope Gregory X. At the time, Gregory (then still Teobaldo Visconti) was off on crusade and wasn’t
even a priest. He was elected because the cardinals had spent the last three years arguing about who should be pope. Finally, the citizens stopped feeding
the cardinals anything but bread and water and even removed the roof from the papal palace. Gregory thought these extreme measures might help in the
future, so institutionalized the procedure of denying food to the electors after 5 days without electing a pope. This law, however, was overturned within a
year of Gregory’s death. The cardinals, it seems, were determined to get their way or stymie the whole process.
In 2013, it’s hard to imagine that this group of powerful men will feel too beholden to the rules if they become inconvenient. For example, the cardinals,
“from the beginning of the election until its conclusion and the public announcement of its outcome, are not to communicate — whether by writing, by
telephone or by any other means of communication — with persons outside the area where the election is taking place.” If the election goes quickly, then
perhaps the prohibitions against receiving or sending information will hold. But do we really think that in the age of Twitter, we can keep cardinals from
reading their email, communicating with trusted allies, and otherwise breaking the information seal? I find it unlikely, if these men are anything like
3) Wildcard candidates for pope get elected only when no consensus candidate emerges quickly.
The church has changed directions radically from time to time through papal elections, but it’s hard to find an example of such a change as a planned
event. In 1294, for example, after competing factions among the cardinals failed to reach consensus for over two years, they decided to elect a pious
hermit who was, at the time, isolated in a mountain retreat. He took the name Celestine V. In 1958, John XXIII was elected after the cardinals decided that
the consensus pick, Giovanni Montini, Archbishop of Milan, should be made a cardinal before he was chosen as pope (Montini succeeded John as Paul VI). Far
from being a mere aged caretaker pope, Pope John called the historic Second Vatican Council.
When Pope Benedict decided to resign, he presumably had a plan. He has stocked the College of Cardinals with like-minded individuals, but he also changed
the rules to require a two-thirds majority. A lot can happen once the doors are sealed. One would expect the traditionalists who dominate the College to
pick a candidate and propel him forward, but this will require other powerful men to step aside. A quick election will suggest that this process happened
smoothly. A slow one opens the door for a surprise candidate to emerge.
4) Sometimes the cardinals elect intellectuals and sometimes they elect administrators. When one doesn’t work out, they might switch directions.
After Celestine, a man of unquestioned piety, resigned, the Cardinals quickly selected his canon lawyer to become the new Pope Boniface VIII. But
Boniface’s papacy was anything but a return to a well-managed stable machine. Rather, his papacy was marred by bitter conflicts with King Phillip IV of
France among others. Dante, notoriously, placed Boniface in Hell, and he may have put Celestine there as well.
Pope Benedict XVI is, at heart, a theologian and intellectual. Even those who support his agenda have criticized his limitations as an administrator. Some
are predicting the elevation of the best bureaucrat in the room, rather than the smartest guy. In his resignation announcement, Benedict described the
modern world as, “subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith.” There’s no guarantee a bureaucrat will
be more successful than a theologian at leading the Church to address these changes and questions.
5) History education still matters.
In America, we are in the midst of an ongoing debate about the value of different types of education. We see STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math)
pitted against the Humanities; vocational training pitted against the Liberal Arts. But Catholic history tells us to reject “either/or” in favor of
“both/and.” We need both specific expertise and the fruits of contemplation. We need passionate commitment to both job training and liberal learning,
especially when they seem to clash in opposition, so that we are ready to respond to the unexpected events that life generates. Who knew on February 10
that the public square would require the expertise of so many historians and theologians? Who knows what kind of experts we will need for the next
The long-awaited papal conclave in Rome will officially begin tomorrow when the cardinals chant an ancient hymn, called Veni, Sancte Spiritus. One of the most solemn of Catholic chants, it is used infrequently, and means “Come, Holy Spirit.” With this hymn, the cardinal-electors pray for the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the “Third Person” of the Trinity, or more commonly, God’s spirit, to help them in their deliberations.
But does the Holy Spirit choose the pope? If so, how does that work?
Ironically, one of the most famous comments about the actions of the Spirit in a conclave came from the person who is now the Pope Emeritus. In 1997, when asked on Bavarian television whether or not the Spirit chooses the pope, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger answered:
“I would not say so, in the sense that the Holy Spirit picks out the Pope…I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us. Thus the Spirit’s role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that he dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined.”
Then the German theologian got to the heart of the matter: “There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit obviously would not have picked!”
I’ll say. It’s difficult to read the long history of the Catholic Church and not come to that conclusion. Two examples of “not-so-holy” popes will suffice. The first is the Pope Emeritus’s namesake, Benedict IX (1032–1048) a thoroughly corrupt pope whom St. Peter Damian described as “feasting on immorality.” The second, Alexander VI (1492–1503) a Borgia pope, who with his several mistresses and children acted, well, like the stereotypical Renaissance Borgia. Did the Holy Spirit choose them for pope? I doubt it.
Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit guides our actions and can help lead us make good decisions. This can happen in several ways. We believe that the Holy Spirit works first through Scripture, that is, through the Old Testament and, especially, through life, death and resurrection of Jesus, as recorded by the four Gospel writers in the New Testament. (The writings of St. Paul play a part here as well.) Thus, we learn about the right ways to act by reading, above all, the life of Jesus and following his commands. Throughout its 2000 year history, the church has also taught certain ways of acting in particular areas that guide us and inform our conscience, and Catholics believe that this tradition is overseen by the Holy Spirit. An “informed conscience” is one that is not only free but also nourished by Scripture and tradition. Thus, the Holy Spirit helps in moral decision-making.
In other times, when the choice is not between morality and immorality, but between “two goods,” as theologians say, the Spirit can act by inclining our hearts towards decisions that seem more in accord with God’s will for us. And what is God’s will? That we lead loving and generous lives. Catholics believe that the Spirit will help us choose paths that are for the benefit of ourselves and the community. To take one example, we choose to go to a funeral of a relative and give up two tickets to a coveted concert or sporting event because it “feels right.” That “small still voice” that the Old Testament talked about still helps to guide us.
An important qualification: we are free to listen or not listen to that voice, and act or not act on it. God gives us free will. We are never “forced” to make a decision, moral or not.
The process of listening to the Holy Spirit, often called “discernment,” is more art than a science. And it takes practice. But most people versed in Christian spirituality, myself included, believe that a person can gradually begin to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit in his or her life. St. Ignatius Loyola, the 16th-century founder of the Jesuit Order, said that the voice of the Spirit consoles, encourages and strengthens; while the voice that comes from elsewhere causes anxiety, worry, fear. Sometimes when I’m counseling people I say, “Listen to what gives you a sense of hope; ignore what leads you to despair.” In time, sometimes by inadvertently choosing the wrong path and seeing where it leads, a person can learn better to recognize that “small, still voice” within. It has the sound of authenticity and the ring of truth, and it leads to life-giving choices.
Everyone, cardinals included, know the basic requirements for picking a pope: a person who is holy, an effective evangelizer and someone who can manage a multinational organization. At the same time, there are the more practical concerns, equally well known: the sexual abuse crisis, the feeling in many parts of the West that the church is irrelevant, mismanagement in the Vatican curia.
As I see it, the Holy Spirit can move the cardinals to choose those persons who are most able to meet these needs and respond to the “signs of the times.” How can Catholics think otherwise? Jesus Christ promised to be with the church “until the end of the age,” and guides it through the Spirit. “We believe in the Holy Spirit,” say Catholics every Sunday. And we believe that whoever is chosen, the Spirit will offer him guidance.
Here’s the rub: Each of the cardinals, devoted men of the church who recognize that voting in a conclave may be the most important thing they do as cardinals, desire what’s best for the church. (In case they forget, they are obliged to say as they cast their ballot, “I call as my witness Christ the Lord who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I think should be elected.”) But since they may disagree on “what’s best,” their choices for pope will differ. Other, more human, considerations may also enter into their discernment. (Which candidate do I know the best? Who will take an interest in my country? In my Vatican office?) None of us, cardinals included, are perfect conduits of the Holy Spirit — only Jesus was. So, as I said, human considerations may intervene.
So we listen, but imperfectly. Cardinal Ratzinger was right: it’s false to say that the Spirit will simply dictate to each cardinal what name to write down on the ballot.
Finally, a word about the various “factions” or “camps” within the Vatican that are increasingly coming to the fore. When I ran a book club several years ago in a Jesuit parish in New York, we read John L. Allen, Jr.’s Conclave, first published in 2002, which gave a detailed overview of papal conclaves, and served as a primer for the conclave that would elect Benedict XVI in 2005. Allen identified several “factions” around which the cardinals (at the time) cohered. “It’s so political!” said one horrified book club member. “Of course,” I said. “It’s a human organization.” But that doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit cannot work through that, and with that.
So does the Spirit choose the next pope? The best answer may be: Yes, No and It Depends. As the Benedict said, the Spirit guides us, but leaves us free. As in any part of life, we are free to listen or not, and human considerations will always get in the way.
All I know is that when the cardinals begin singing Veni, Sancte Spiritus, I know they’ll mean it. And I’ll be singing right along with them, and praying that the Holy Spirit will indeed come.
The lack of a clear front-runner for the papacy and the Vatileaks corruption scandal looming in the background could make the upcoming conclave of cardinals a longer and difficult process, according to some Vatican analysts.
The 2013 papal election is the 75th conclave in the history of the Catholic church since 1295. At that time, Pope Boniface VIII ruled that cardinals to elect a pope had to stay in a locked room — cum clave (Latin for “with a key”).
Breaking with tradition, the 115 crimson robed cardinals who will elect the 266th pope in the history of the Catholic Church and the secular sovereign of the Vatican City, won’t be locked all day under Michelangelo’s painted ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.
They will eat meals and sleep in the nearby Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse, which has rooms equipped with queen-size beds, high speed Internet connections, telephones and large screen televisions. However, the cardinals won’t enjoy the electronic amenities as all connections with the outside world will be cut off.
To ensure cardinals are not tempted to check their email, the Vatican has installed sophisticated jamming devices around the chapel to prevent any leaking.
In the unlikely event that a cardinal disobeys the vow on secrecy, he will be excommunicated, according to one of the last edicts signed by Pope Benedict before his abrupt resignation.
In the past, a conclave offered much more severe conditions. Cardinals had to sleep in open dormitories — curtains between beds were not introduced until 1351 — and if no election was made within three days, only one meal a day was served.
If after eight days no pope was elected, the cardinals were to receive only bread and water.
The longest conclave ever took two years, nine months and two days and ended with the election of Gregory X on Sept. 1, 1271.
Since the turn of the 20th century, the longest conclave lasted five days and produced Pope Pius XI in 1922. The shortest, a day, elected Pius XII in 1939 and John Paul I in 1978.
In 2005 it took four ballots to elect Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, while his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was elected following eight rounds spaced out over three days.
Up to four ballots are held each day. Each ballot is cast on a slip of paper, and then placed into a small plate which is used to tip the ballot into a silver and gilded bronze urn.
The votes are then read aloud to the cardinals, and recorded in a ledger. They are then placed in another urn to be burned. Two stoves serve the purpose.
The one where the ballots will be burned was first used in 1939 to elect Pope Pius XII in just three ballots. Another, more modern stove was introduced in 2005 to augment the smoke, as the paper used for the ballots didn’t produce enough smoke to send a clear signal out into St. Peter’s square.
If there is no result, chemicals are added to produce black smoke. If a pope is elected, a cartridge is used to make white smoke, which floats up the chimney above the chapel to announce the “habemus papam” (we have a Pope) moment.
In order to avoid misunderstandings, bells will ring along as the white smoke puffs out of the chimney.
From that time, it will take about 40 minutes for the Pope to give his blessing from the Basilica’s balcony.
“The Pope must accept the papacy, change wardrobe and obtain obedience from the cardinals. He will also take time to pray,” Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said at a press conference today.
The new Pope will be announced by the French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran with the famous Latin formula “Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus papam” (I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope!). Tauran will then announce the elected cardinal and the papal name he has chosen.
To avoid interminable conclaves, John Paul’s rules established that if no one has been elected by a two-thirds majority after about the first 12 days, the pope can be elected by a simple majority.
But Benedict issued an amendment in his last decree, eliminating the possibility of election by a simple majority and ruling that “the provision of a two-thirds majority of the cardinals present and voting for a valid election will remain.” In this case, at least 77 votes are required to be elected the 265th successor of St.Peter.
According to Vatican expert John Allen, Benedict’s new rules may affect the cardinals psychologically.
“This time, the cardinals know that whomever’s elected has to draw support from two-thirds of the college under any circumstances, which may mean they’re less inclined to simply jump on a bandwagon when someone gets half the votes in a given round,” Allen wrote in the National Catholic Reporter.
A first ballot may take place Tuesday after the 115 voting cardinals have entered the Sistine Chapel. Smoke is expected between 6:30 and 8 p.m.
“Most likely, it will be black smoke,” Father Lombardi said.
Image: Getting ready for the conclave in the Sistine Chapel. Credit: Rossella Lorenzi
“One can hear the screams of people having maggots tweezered from their
open wounds without pain relief.”
Did Blessed Mother Theresa actually withhold relief for the sake of
In the annals of charity and good works, Mother Theresa stood tall among the
Gospels’ Good Samaritan, Christianity’s St. Francis of Assisi and Father Damian
of Molokai’s Leper Colony. But that standing may change as she approaches the
last lap on the track to sainthood.
It’s highly likely that one day, the
Catholic Church will officially recognize Mother Teresa as a saint, a position
she’s held in the popular imagination for years. A new study in the religious
studies journal Religieuses, however, says that the late Mother Teresa’s
reputation is mostly hype — a result of a church declining in popularity trying
to boost its image.
It was the atheist curmudgeon Christopher Hitchens who questioned the
“saintliness” of Mother Theresa in his book, Missionary
As Edward Gibbon observed about the
modes of worship prevalent in the Roman world, “They were considered by
the people as equaly true, by the philosopher as equally false, and by the
magistrate as equally useful.” Mother Theresa descends from each element
of this grisly triptych. She has herself purposely blurred the supposed
distinction between the sacred and the profane, to say nothing of the line that
separates the sublime from the ridiculous. It is past time that she was
subjected to the rational critique that she has evaded so arrogantly and for so
The Road To Sainthood … And An Industry
It began with Sister Theresa’s Home for the Dying in Calcutta, India: it was
ecumenical in nature, caring for Muslims, Hindus and Christians alike, even
keeping their own religious rites and scriptures. Then came hospices for
lepers, and orphanages for children. In 1979, she was the recipient of the
Nobel Peace Prize. She had become the face of altruism and the head of a
multinational charitable concern that took in millions. Her power was such that
she was able to broker a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians to rescue
children in a front line hospital. Numerous awards and honors piled up in
addition to her Nobel Prize: Order of Australia, Order of Merit (UK), The
Albert Schweitzer Interntaionl Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom (US) and
Golden Honor of the Nation (Albania – her homeland). Upon her death, she was
given a state funeral in India.
With Mother Theresa, altruism had become an industry of huge proportions: by
2007, Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity numbered approximately 450
brothers and 5,000 sisters worldwide, operating 600 missions, schools and
shelters in 120 countries. And it had become an industry of some political
influence and a symbol of social justice.
The Duvalier and Keating Affairs
Perhaps the primary blots on the character of Mother Theresa during her
lifetime were the relationship she had with “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the
Haitian dictator and Charles Keating, the principal in one of the largest
banking scandals of the 20th century. The Duvalier family gave untold fortunes
to Mother Theresa as well as Keating. When asked by the district attorney of
Los Angeles to return some of the Keating money to repay swindled investors,
Mother Theresa did not reply.
Missionary Machine – Where The Money Went
But building missionary empire with an allegiance to the Vatican
and Jesus may have been primary over relief of suffering and true altruism.
According to the study published in Studies in Religion:
Largely unexamined have been questions about how millions in
donations were spent, the hygiene and lack of care in her hospices and why the
woman herself supported corrupt regimes such as the Duvaliers in Haiti.
Even the “miracle” ascribed to her is
questionable, the study says, citing doctors who treated the woman who found no
cancer and no miracle, but instead a tuberculosis repaired by traditional
The patients are treated with good words and insufficient (sometimes
outdated) medicines, applied with old needles, washed in lukewarm water. One
can hear the screams of people having maggots tweezered from their open wounds
without pain relief. On principle, strong painkillers are even in hard cases
not given. According to Mother Teresa’s bizarre philosophy, it is “the
most beautiful gift for a person that he can participate in the sufferings of
Christ”. Once she tried to comfort a screaming sufferer: “You are
suffering, that means Jesus is kissing you!” The man got furious and
screamed back: “Then tell your Jesus to stop kissing!”
Canonization or Bust
The trail to sainthood has also been under scrutiny: it is the
fastest track to sainthood in the history of the Catholic Church. And the
“miracle” attributed to Mother Theresa’s beatification has also been
debunked: a woman attributed the disappearance of an abdominal tumor to prayers
to Mother Theresa, but doctors who treated her found no cancer …and no
miracle, stating that it was a tuberculosis repaired by traditional medicine.
So will the Vatican
proclaim sainthood for Mother Theresa despite the new charges made against her?
Perhaps the answer lies in one of the latest canonizations and its recent
predilection for pain: Jose Maria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei.
I hate to get in to Austin’s discussion but this is a serious matter
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).
The following twenty-five Old Testament prophecies deal with events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ including His betrayal, trial, death and burial. They were uttered by many different voices and over a period of 500 years, yet they were all fulfilled within twenty-four hours on the day that He died for the sins of the world.
Prophecies Relating to Christ’s Crucifixion
1. Sold for Thirty Pieces of Silver
Prophecy: Zechariah 11:12 And I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.
Fulfillment: Matthew 26:14-15 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?” And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver.
2. Betrayed By a Friend
Prophecy: Psalm 55:12-14 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear it; Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. 13 But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend. 14 We who had sweet fellowship together, Walked in the house of God in the throng. (See also Psalm 41:9; Zech 13:6).
Fulfillment: Matthew 26:49-50 And immediately he went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 50 And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.
3. The Money Cast to the Potter
Prophecy: Zechariah 11:13 Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:5-7 And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” 7 And they counseled together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers.
NOTE: Notice that in both prophecy and fulfillment we find stated that (1) it was silver; (2) there were 30 pieces (Matt. 27:3); (3) they were thrown down; (4) they were cast down in the House of the Lord; and (5) the money was used to purchase the potter’s field.
4. The Disciples Forsook Him
Prophecy: Zechariah 13:7 “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate,” Declares the LORD of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones.
Fulfillment: Matthew 26:56 “But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled. (See also Mark 14:27)
5. Accused by False Witnesses
Prophecy: Psalm 35:11 Malicious witnesses rise up; They ask me of things that I do not know.
Fulfillment: Matthew 26:59-60 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, in order that they might put Him to death; and they did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, . . .
6. Smitten and Spit Upon
Prophecy: Isaiah 50:6 I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:30 And they spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head.
NOTE: Note here the details that correspond in both prophecy and fulfillment (1) He was to be smitten, (2) He was to be smitten on the face (as well as the other parts of the body). See Luke 22:64. (3) He was to be spit upon, and (4) He was to be spitten upon in the face.
7. Dumb Before His Accusers
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:12-14 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so that the governor was quite amazed.
8. Wounded and Bruised
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:26, 29 Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified. . . . And after weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
9. Fell Under the Cross
Prophecy: Psalm 109:24 My knees are weak from fasting; And my flesh has grown lean, without fatness.
Fulfillment: John 19:17 They took Jesus therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. Luke 23:26 And when they led Him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus.
NOTE: Evidently the Lord was so weak that His knees gave way under the weight of the heavy cross. So they had to put it on another.
10. Hands and Feet Pierced
Prophecy: Psalm 22:16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.
Fulfillment: Luke 23:33 And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
NOTE: Christ was crucified in the customary Roman manner, the hands and feet being pierced by huge spikes which fastened the body to the wooden cross. See John 20:25-27 “ . . . except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails . . . Then said He (Jesus) to Thomas, reach hither thy finger and behold My hands,” etc.
11. Crucified with Thieves
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
Fulfillment: Mark 15:27-28 And they crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 (And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.”)
12. Prayed For His Persecutors
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. (emphasis mine)
Fulfillment: Luke 23:34 But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.
Here Jesus, as foreseen by Isaiah, “interceded for the transgressors” who nailed him to the cross.
13. People Shook Their Heads
Prophecy: Psalm 109:25 I also have become a reproach to them; When they see me, they wag their head.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:39 And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads.
14. People Ridiculed Him
Prophecy: Psalm 22:8 “Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:41-43 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him, and saying, 42 “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we shall believe in Him. 43 “He trusts in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He takes pleasure in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
15. People Astonished
Prophecy: Psalm 22:17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me;
Fulfillment: Luke 23:35 And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.”
16. Garments Parted and Lots Cast
Prophecy: Psalm 22:18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.
Fulfillment: John 19:23-24 The soldiers therefore, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. 24 They said therefore to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”
NOTE: How exact the inspired prophecy! The garments were to be parted among them, but the vesture was to be awarded to one by lots. These were statements that would appear almost contradictory unless explained by the record of the scene at the cross.
17. His Forsaken Cry
Prophecy: Psalm 22:1 For the choir director; upon Aijeleth Hashshahar. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? “that is, “ My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me ?”
18. Gall and Vinegar Given Him
Prophecy: Psalm 69:21 They also gave me gall for my food, And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Fulfillment: John 19:28-29 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop, and brought it up to His mouth.
19. Committed Himself to God
Prophecy: Psalm 31:5 Into Thy hand I commit my spirit; Thou hast ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.
Fulfillment: Luke 23:46 And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit.” And having said this, He breathed His last.
20. Friends Stood Afar Off
Prophecy: Psalm 38:11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; And my kinsmen stand afar off.
Fulfillment: Luke 23:49 And all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee, were standing at a distance, seeing these things.
21. Bones Not Broken
Prophecy: Psalm 34:20 He keeps all his bones; Not one of them is broken.
Fulfillment: John 19:33, 36 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; . . . 36 For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled,” Not a bone of Him shall be broken. “
NOTE: It is profitable to notice two other prophecies concerning His bones which undoubtedly had an exact fulfillment, although such is not stated in Scripture in so many words. We draw our conclusions from honest inference. (1) Psalm 22:14 “All my bones are out of joint.” Hanging on the cross by the hands and feet would easily disjoint the bones, especially when we remember that the body was fixed to the frame while lying on the ground. (2) Psalm 22:17 “I may tell all My bones.” He was left hanging on the cross naked (John 19:23) and all His bones could thus easily be seen. The extension of the body and the wasting pangs of crucifixion would make the bones more prominent than usual.
22. Heart Broken
Prophecy: Psalm 22:14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me.
Fulfillment: John 19:34 but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.
NOTE: The blood and water running out of the pierced side presented an evidence that the heart had literally burst.
23. His Side Pierced
Prophecy: Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
Fulfillment: John 19:34-37 but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water. 35 And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled,” Not a bone of Him shall be broken. “ 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”
24. Darkness Over the Land
Prophecy: Amos 8:9 “And it will come about in that day,” declares the Lord GOD, “That I shall make the sun go down at noon And make the earth dark in broad daylight.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.
NOTE: The Jews reckoned twelve hours from sunrise to sunset. This would make the sixth hour about noon, and the ninth hour near three o’clock.
25. Buried in a Rich Man’s Tomb
Prophecy: Isaiah 53:9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
Fulfillment: Matthew 27:57-60 And when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given over to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.
Old Testament Prophecies
Relating to the Person of Christ
1. His first Advent
The Fact: Gen. 3:15; Deut. 18:15; Psa. 89:20; Isa. 2:2; 28:16; 32:1; 35:4; 42:6; 49:1; 55:4; Ezek. 34:24; Dan. 2:44; Micah 4:1; Zech 3:8.
The Time: Gen. 49:10; Num. 24:17; Dan. 9:24; Mal. 3:1.
His Divinity: Psa. 2:7, 11; 45: 6-7, 11; 72:8; 102:24-27; 89:26-27; 110:1; Isa. 9:6; 25:9; 40:10; Jer. 23:6; Micah 5:2; Mal 8:1.
Human Generation: Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 21:12; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; 49:10; 2 Sam. 7:14; Psa. 18:4-6; 50:22-23; 89:4, 29-30; 132:11; Isa. 11:1; Jer. 23:5; 33:15.
2. His Forerunner
Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1; 4:5.
3. His Nativity and Early Years
The Fact: Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14; Jer 31:22
The Place: Num. 24:17, 19; Micah 5:2
Adoration by Magi: Psalm 72:10, 15; Isa. 60:3, 6
Descent into Egypt: Hosea 11:1
Massacre of Innocents: Jer 31:15
4. His Mission and Office
Mission: Gen. 12:3; 49:10; Num. 24:19; Deut. 19:18; Psa. 21:1; Isa. 59:20; Jer. 33:16
Priest Like Melchizedek: Psalm 110:4
Prophet Like Moses: Deut. 18:15
Conversion of Gentiles: Isa. 11:10; Deut. 32:43; Psa. 18:49; 19:4; 117:1; Isa. 42:1; 45:23; 49:6; Hosea 1:10; 2:23; Joel 2:32.
Ministry in Galilee: Isa. 9:1-2
Miracles: Isa. 35:5-6; 42:7; 53:4
Spiritual Graces: Psa. 45:7; Isa. 11:2; 42:1; 53:9; 61:1-2
Preaching: Psa. 2:7; 78:2; Isa. 2:3; 61:1; Micah 4:2
Purification of Temple: Psa. 69:9
5. His Purpose
Rejection by Jews and Gentiles: Psa. 2:1; 22:12; 41:5; 56:5; 69:8; 118:22-23; Isa. 6:9-10; 8:14; 29:13; 53:1; 65:2
The year is 632 A.D., and Muslim hordes have set their sights on the Mideast and North Africa — the old Christian world. And the Caliphate, as the Islamic realm is called, will not be denied. Syria and Iraq fall in 636. Palestine is next in 638. And Byzantine Egypt and North Africa, not even Arab lands, are conquered by 642 and 709, respectively. Then, just two years later, the Muslims cross the Strait of Gibraltar and enter Iberia (now Spain and Portugal). The invasion of Europe has begun.
And the new continent seems no impediment to Islam. After vanquishing much of Visigothic Iberia by 718, the Muslims cross the Pyrenees Mountains into Gaul (now France) and move northward. Now it is 732, and they are approaching Tours, a mere 126 miles from Paris. The Western world — what’s left of Christendom — could very well be on its way to extinction.
Europe is currently easy prey, comprising disunited, often belligerent kingdoms and duchies recently decimated by plague. In contrast, the Islamic world is a burgeoning civilization; so much so, in fact, that it views the Europeans as barbarians. The Muslims also command enormous battle-hardened military forces and have enjoyed almost unparalleled breadth and rapidity of conquest, while Europe no longer has standing armies. It largely relies on peasants to do its fighting, men available only when crops aren’t beckoning. Yet the Christian Europeans do have one great asset: Charles of Herstal, grandfather of Charlemagne.
Sensing the coming storm as early as 721, Charles realized he was going to need a professional, well-oiled fighting force if he was to tackle the Moorish wave washing across Christendom. So, using Catholic Church resources, he set out to train just such an army. And now, 11 years later, it will be put to the ultimate test.
With a horde of 80,000 men, the Muslims once again start moving north in 732 under the leadership of Emir Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi. And after defeating Odo the Great and sacking his Duchy of Aquitaine, there is nothing standing between Al Ghafiqi and Paris – except Charles of Herstal and his Frankish and Burgundian army. The two leaders would lock horns in October, on a battlefield between the towns of Tours and Poitier.
When the fateful day arrives, Al Ghafiqi is shocked by what lies before him. The “barbarians” have mustered a force the size of which he isn’t used to seeing in these European backwaters. He nonetheless enjoys a great advantage, outnumbering the Christians by perhaps as much as two to one and possessing heavy cavalry, while his adversaries are limited to infantry. The outcome should still be favorable.
But Charles routs the Muslim forces, stopping their advance into Europe cold. He will eventually chase them back across the Pyrenees Mountains, saving Gaul — and perhaps all of Western civilization — from the sword of Islam. His miraculous 732 victory becomes known as the Battle of Tours (or Poitier), and it wins him the moniker “Martellus.” Thus do we now know him as Charles Martel, which translates into Charles the Hammer.
Yet the Abode of Islam would not stop hammering Christendom. It is now 1095, and the Muslims are threatening Europe from the east. After seizing most of the Byzantine Empire’s territory 400 years prior, they have now, just recently, subdued Anatolia (most of modern Turkey), thus robbing the Byzantines of the majority of their remaining land. The Muslims are now poised to move west into Greece itself or perhaps north into the Balkans — Europe’s “back door.” And Byzantine emperor Alexius I in Constantinople knows that his realm is too weak to resist. What is he to do?
Alexius decides to approach the Church. Although he and current pope Urban II have been rivals, the pontiff recognizes Islamic expansion to be a clear and present danger. So he decides to address the matter at the Council of Clermont in 1095. In a rousing sermon in front of more than 650 clerics and Christian nobles, he appeals to Europeans to stop bickering amongst themselves and rally to the aid of their eastern brothers. What follows is an excerpt of his words as recorded by the Fulcher of Chartres:
Your brethren who live in the east are in urgent need of your help, and you must hasten to give them the aid which has often been promised them. For, as the most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George. They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire. If you permit them to continue thus for awhile with impunity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them. On this account I, or rather the Lord, beseech you as Christ’s heralds to publish this everywhere and to persuade all people of whatever rank, foot-soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians….
And thus was born the 11th-century Hammer writ large: the Crusades.
Like Martel’s campaigns before them, the Crusades were defensive actions designed to stave off Muslim aggression. Oh, this isn’t what you learned in college, I know. It’s not what we hear from the media. It isn’t what’s portrayed by Hollywood. But it is the truth. And it was explained well by Thomas Madden, Chair of the History Department at Saint Louis University. In “The Real History of the Crusades” he wrote:
The Crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general. A breed of proto-imperialists, the Crusaders introduced Western aggression to the peaceful Middle East and then deformed the enlightened Muslim culture, leaving it in ruins.
… [But] Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War…. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece.
… [The Crusades] were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
And that is why I defend them today. No, they weren’t perfectly executed, nor could they achieve all their objectives any more than the Cold War truly vanquished the left. Evil is always afoot. But note that the Mideast and North Africa had more Christians than Europe at the time of the early Muslim invasions — but no one to Crusade for them. Thus, it’s easy to imagine that, were it not for our hammering medieval heroes, we could well be what the Mideast is today. And unless we shelve multiculturalism and become what those crusaders were yesterday, we may not have a tomorrow.
The announcement of Pope Benedict XVI resigning his post—the first pope to do so in nearly 600 years—sets in motion the traditional and sometimes arcane process of choosing a new pope. Pope Benedict will officially leave office Feb. 28 amid recent controversy, and the conclave to choose a new leader for the Church will start soon after, according to Tom Ryan, Ph.D., director of the Loyola University New Orleans Institute for Ministry. Ryan said this is an historic time for the Catholic Church, which has suffered controversy and is in a period of transition.
Ryan, whose academic background includes history of the Catholic Church, its theology, structures and hierarchy, is available for media interviews. Contact Mikel Pak in Loyola’s Office of Public Affairs for arrangements, email@example.com or 504-861-5448.
“The Church is growing in parts of the developing world, but it’s shrinking or staying constant in the developed world,” Ryan said. “The selection of the next pope is important; it could determine the course for the Church for decades. It would have implications here in New Orleans—it’s not something that is distant and of no consequence to us.”
Cardinals under age 80 are eligible for the conclave, which means some 117 cardinals worldwide will be voting for a new pope. That process will take place in Rome where the group could go through multiple ballots until one candidate receives a final two-thirds vote and is selected pope, according to Ryan. The whole process is guided by rules developed over centuries and by obscure traditions that address matters ranging from the posture a cardinal takes and the Latin words spoken as he votes to the meaning of the smoke color that emanates from the Vatican after each ballot. Black smoke signals a failed ballot, and white smoke signals a successful ballot.
He added that because the Catholic Church has grown so much recently in developing nations, cardinals will likely consider candidates from Africa, Latin America and Asia. There are also candidates from the U.S. and Canada with several likely candidates from Europe.
“The new pope will be chosen for his vision,” Ryan said. “Is the person elected going to be charismatic like Pope John Paul II, or more of a manager charged with getting the ship back on course? I would hope that the new pope will have both qualities.”
Ryan received a Masters of Arts in Religion from the Yale University Divinity School and a doctorate in theology from the University of Notre Dame. He taught at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Fla., where he was chair of the religious studies department and taught in the university’s Institute for Pastoral Ministries. He became director of the Loyola Institute for Ministry in August 2007.
I was born and raised an evangelical Christian in my grandfathers church. My father continued the tradition by founding a church organization that is now led by one of my uncles who is its bishop.
Yet most of my life, I have stayed close to the Catholic Church because I have studied its history and have seen my immediate family become devout Christians in the Catholic tradition. My wife and her family come from that tradition.
My daughter was raised a Catholic as are her children. My son was raised an evangelical Christian but chose Catholicism as an adult.
His belief and commitment to God has seen him through two tours to Iraq and three to Afghanistan. Military life allows for very little wiggle room when it comes to acting on those things that are most important to being right with God and family.
It is the belief of my children that runs uppermost in my mind as I seek to understand the nature of a church in times challenging to everyone. Religion has always been the first institution to paint the rules of a civilization and the last to understand its own limitations.
When a religion begins to fail that civilization, it is for the community to question the acts of its leadership that appear to require renewal. The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI creates a major question about divine leadership that is at the core of what the church offers its following.
The Catholic Church traces its origins to the apostolic group headed by Jesus Christ in a rebellious Roman region called today the Holy Land. The bible tells us that Christ gave the keys to the future of the belief system he preached to Peter his most important disciple.
That sacred and direct appointment gave Peter a nature of infallibility that to this day has been part of the trappings of a pope. Being part of a line that leads back to Christs choice for leadership of the Church tends to back the notion of heavenly authority.
The 265 popes that have marked the 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church have been through every possible situation of leadership, personal and social indiscretion, political manipulation as well as piety. Throughout all of these changes the Church has been able to maintain the concept of the divine nature of a popes actions on earth.
That concept is now in question because the circumstance that defines the current situation with the papacy goes against the nature of his divine appointment. That is: can a pope resign his heavenly appointment and/or does a pope lose his power to speak for God because he no longer wants to hold the position?
Can a pope elected by a college of cardinals also be appointed by divine authority? Although I am sure that if a pope is elected by a group of people he can resign, what happens if he is appointed by God as has been claimed by the church since the appointment of Peter?
A church is the source of divine inspiration and the repository of what is holy in the life of a people. We seek its protection in times of stress and unresolved problems.
The voice of God speaks to us through those things in which we believe. Its leaders console our souls when there is no other way.
When a heavenly appointed authority resigns it leaves a hole in what we believe. It also diminishes an institution that is already very weak.
Unlike Pope Benedict, hidden away from the world, Mario Conti, the emeritus archbishop of Glasgow, has refused to move out of Archbishop’s House or resign his position as president of the Scottish Catholic Heritage Commission and has damaged the finances of the church with his grandiose scheme for an unnecessary Bishops’ Conference centre in Glasgow and Scottish Catholic historical research. As Professor Ian Campbell wrote (Letters, March 5), these might not seem as important as sexual abuse. True – but history is rightly a subject not for ivory tower academics, but for all.
It matters that the history of the Catholic Church in Scotland should be made open to all. Thanks to Archbishop Conti, archives which were freely available 10 months ago are now denied to the scholars who can open up that history. But heaven help those who suggest that the hierarchy might listen to the academic community’s concern that it is failing in its role as trustees for Scottish Catholic heritage. Archbishop Tartaglia has declined to answer the pleas of three leading Scottish historical academic bodies.
St Augustine said that sexual sin (though not, of course, child abuse) was the easiest for the Lord to forgive, because it was the easiest for the human to commit. Dante left the sexual sinner in the highest circle of hell. It was the proud whom he consigned to the torments of the lowest. That does not mean that Catholics in Scotland are not deeply and rightly disturbed. It does mean that Archbishop Tartaglia and his fellow bishops – and the papal nuncio – have a duty to go beyond the sermon about Cardinal O’Brien and show us that our heritage is safe in their hands, and that they realise that arrogance and pride in members of the hierarchy are every bit as damaging to the church as sexual sin.
I do want another humble Pope, like the one we have just been so privileged to have. I would like to encounter a lot more humility in the Scottish hierarchy.
Dr Jenny Wormald,
School of History, Classics and Archaeology,
University of Edinburgh,
PERHAPS this is the time for some sober reflection.
The Catholic Church should:
n Establish a Truth Reconciliation Commission that would allow for a full and frank disclosure of past and present issues;
n Allow the church in Scotland to follow the example of the Church of Scotland whereby lay people have a much greater say in the running of their church;
n Initiate Vatican 3 to discuss how the church should respond to issues of the 21st century;
n Expand the role of women in the church;
n Dispense with all the pomp and ceremony and return to more pastoral matters.
Perhaps if some of the above were initiated the church would be in a much healthier state.