Bleak Omens: The Pope Warns of Greater Destruction and Desolation Sounding somewhat like a fiery Protestant preacher proclaiming the world’s end, Pope Francis created quite the stir when, during Mass in the Vatican on December 11, he painted a disturbing picture of a future that includes, he warned, “still greater omens of greater destruction and desolation.” [1]

Omens of greater destruction and desolation? It’s not so much the gloom-and-doom of the statement but the fact that it was the pope who said it that made his words international news. The phrase “omens of destruction” provided tantalizing fodder for media outlets and for those interested in end-time prophecy. The UK’s Daily Mail, for instance, headlined the article: “Pope warns he has seen ‘omens of even greater destruction and desolation’ for mankind.” [2]

Touching a Nerve

Other than being a message by the pope, why all the global interest?

Perhaps because so many people can relate to the pessimism. Given the present state of the world, one doesn’t need to be a pope or even religious for the warning message to resonate. Between worldwide droughts, floods, famines, wildfires, pandemics, and military conflicts, it certainly has been a rough few years. And, outside of the occasional respite, who really expects things to get better?

Washington Times journalist Mark Kellner wrote that the “85-year-old pontiff’s remarks come on the heels of a Pew Research Center survey that revealed nearly two in five Americans believe humanity is living in the ‘end times,’ including 29% of non-Christians and 23% of the religiously unaffiliated.” [3]

In short, the pope’s dire words touched a nerve.

Mary in Mexico

The pope’s forecast of destruction and desolation came during a Mass being held for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom the church deems the “Patron of Mexico.” In Roman Catholic lore, Our Lady of Guadalupe, also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, was the Virgin Mary herself.

According to Catholic tradition, in 1531 apparitions of Mary appeared four times to a Mexican peasant named Juan Diego and then once to his uncle, Juan Bernardino. As a result of her visit and in obedience to her words, a basilica was built in her honor and remains there to this day.

The Insigne y Nacional Basílica de Santa María de Guadalupe is the most visited Marian shrine in the world; however, much of the story behind the events contradicts the biblical teaching that the dead “sleep” until the resurrection. [4]

Bleak and Disconcerting

Such theological issues aside, because Mary told Juan and his uncle in the supposed apparitions that she came to their area to alleviate the people’s suffering, Pope Francis used this Mass in her honor to comfort people today, people who are suffering from the evils of our present world: war, poverty, disease, dislocation—even if his emphasis was on what was happening specifically in Latin America.

According to Vatican News, “The Pope connected the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe to our own troubled times. He recalled the ‘rumbling of war, growing injustice, famine, poverty and suffering,’ which makes our horizon seem ‘bleak and disconcerting.’” It was with this background in mind that he uttered the warning about “greater” troubles ahead.

While the pope’s context was not the end times, for those interested in that topic, his statement was still meaningful because Scripture does indeed predict that there will be—to use Francis’ words, not Scripture’s—“still greater omens of greater destruction and desolation” and that things will be “bleak and disconcerting” before Christ returns.

For example, in Jesus’ famous Matthew 24 discourse about the end of the world, He painted what could be described as a “bleak and disconcerting” picture of what things would be like. He said, for instance, that “you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (v. 6). These things were, Jesus emphasized, only “the beginning of sorrows” (v. 8).

The book of Revelation, meanwhile, warns of impending troubles, replete with images of natural and supernatural disasters (6:12–17), as well as worldwide persecution against people who refuse to worship an end-time political-religious entity called the “beast.” As Revelation warns, “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (13:15).

In short, whatever the pope meant exactly, his words did strike a chord in many, for they do portend signs of the end. Of course, as many argue, Christians have been talking about the end of the world for a long time now—for centuries, actually. And yet, somehow, we are still here chugging along—all things being mostly as they have been for a long time.

However, the apostle Peter warned almost two thousand years ago, “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:3). Peter’s words imply that we might be here for a long time, but that doesn’t mean the Lord isn’t coming back.

Though we don’t know when it will happen, Jesus will return—and before He does, “still greater omens of greater destruction and desolation” will come. Are you ready? [5]






Papacy Watch

Words of Care and Concern
If anyone should think that we are attacking fellow Christians, please keep in mind that the prophecy is aimed at a system and not individuals. There are sincere, devout Christians in all churches, including the Catholic faith. Bible prophecy simply gives a message of judgment and correction upon a large religious institution that compromised with paganism, as many other churches have also done.