Anyone accepting this “prophecy” as genuine (or even partly genuine) is building a house on sand; again, as I said, even apart from the definitive arguments against it – that it was the work of a Papist, not a Christian, and that prophets and prophecy are gifts which the Lord has not given since the close of the apostolic age.
It is not insignificant that through the centuries (even apart from the fact that biblically this is most assuredly a false prophecy) there have even been many Papists who have seriously questioned the authenticity and the accuracy of this “prophecy”. The Catholic Encyclpaedia, for example, declared the document to be a sixteenth-century forgery. And among its most severe critics have been the Jesuits from the nineteenth century onwards. This is not surprising, as the Jesuits have so often been on the radical left wing of the Papal system, ever willing to reject even Papal teachings if it suits their own purposes. A Jesuit named M.J. O’Brien wrote An Historical and Critical Account of the So-Called Prophecy of St. Malachy Regarding the Succession of Popes, in the nineteenth century, in which he pooh-poohs the entire thing. Another nineteenth-century Jesuit named Herbert Thurston wrote: “not one scrap of evidence has ever been adduced to show that St. Malachy’s prophecy about the Popes had been quoted, or even heard of, before it was published by Wion in 1595.” Indeed there may be a single reference to it prior to then, but that is hardly much.
One reason for the doubts is because Malachy’s friend, the Papist “saint” Bernard, who wrote an account of Malachy’s life, did not mention the “prophecy”. Yet another reason, and a very important and conclusive one, is that some of Malachy’s interpreters have had to really stretch his words to make them “fit” the various popes through the centuries. In other words, his words were sufficiently ambiguous that only with a lot of imaginative effort could they supposedly be applied to the popes he claimed they should be applied to. Well now, even apart from the finality of the biblical fact that prophets and prophecy have ceased, and that besides, Malachy was not a true Christian but a faithful servant of the Papal system, if it is only with a great deal of stretching and imagination that some of Malachy’s statements can be applied to the Roman popes he claims they must fit, then how could this be a true, divine prophecy, issuing from the Lord? How then does it differ from the false “prophecies” of various other men, who were also so ambiguous that their words could be made to fit almost anyone – or no one?
Horn and Putnam claim that the first part of his manuscript, containing the first 70 predictions or so, was probably a forgery, altered in the sixteenth century; and they do indeed give solid historical reasons for believing so. Horn writes, “It appears that somebody had altered the original medieval document from 1590 backward to promote a particular cardinal to the College of Cardinals to be the fulfillment of what at that time was still a secret list of popes.” He said an advocate for a cardinal named Girolamo Simoncelli probably “tinkered with the document to make it look like it was pointing toward Simoncelli.” For this reason, Horn and Putnam disregarded, in their book, everything in the “prophecy” prior to 1590 as being partially or fully tainted. However, after 1590 Malachy’s manuscript was open to public scrutiny. As Horn, doubtless correctly, points out: “While we can see ample motivation for the redactor to modify the pre-1590 phrases, there is no logical reason that a sixteenth-century forger would craft a list so long into the future. Even more so, there is no good reason he would forecast the destruction of Rome when the papists have an obvious vested interest to the contrary. This is a powerful argument that the post-1595 prophecies are indeed an accurate representation of the original document.” Of course, Horn believes there is a compelling case for accepting that the “prophecy” is “a real supernatural prophecy”, which is incorrect; but it does appear that the original document concerning the post-1595 predictions is not a forgery.
“Glory of the Olive” and “Peter the Roman”
While most Jesuits dismissed the document, not all of them did so (at least not officially; the Jesuits always play both sides). One who believed it was a genuine supernatural prophecy was a Belgian Jesuit priest named René Thibaut, who wrote a book entitled La Mystérieuse Prophétie des Papes (“The Mysterious Prophecy of the Popes”), published in 1951. Among many other things, he calculated that the author of the document had an average 11-year pontificate for the forty popes prior to the final one, “Petrus Romanus”; and in this way he reached the year 2012 for the end of the world and the judgment of God.
Now of course 2012 has passed, here we are in 2013, and the world did not end and Christ the Lord did not come in judgment. It does not matter where men find “prophecies” of the world’s end and attribute it to a certain year – we all know how many were in a froth over 2012 because of a misreading of the Mayan calculations – the fact remains that no date can ever be specifically set for Christ’s return. Malachy’s was a false prophecy, and therefore was bound to fail.