There is branch of Catholic prophecy that predicts a series of events prior to the rise of Antichrist that lead to a unified Catholic Europe. Generally speaking, the events that lead to this foretold conversion are horrendous. Economic collapse, civil war, more war, an Islamic invasion of Europe, pestilence, and natural disasters. Death on an unprecedented level. It is at the point that Europe (and the world) are forced to admit that this was all the result of the godless world of their own creation. In their desperation, they finally turn back to God. From this turmoil rises two great personages of the era that lead what remains of mankind back to the true faith. All forms of schism essentially disappear. There is a prophesied great military and civil leader who along with a Pope of incredible virtue reform the faith and eventually the world leading to a time of one flock, one shepherd.
This basic sequence of events has quite a pedigree in the world of private revelation but is frequently, perhaps unfairly, regarded as the result of hyperactive medieval imagination and nationalistic prophecy wars. After the reformation, the idea of one flock, one shepherd took on a whole new meaning. Some of the private revelation subsequent to the reformation makes direct reference to the elimination of protestantism. Much of this has been disregarded as nothing more than Catholic triumphalism.
This is why I was startled when I read about a coming unified Catholic Europe from a decidedly anti-Catholic source, theTrumpet.com.
To say in 2008 that the Anglicans will ultimately join the Catholic Church may seem a premature claim. But what about making this prediction in 1961? In the October 1961 Plain Truth, Herbert W. Armstrong made this bold forecast: “The pope will step in as the supreme unifying authority—the only one that can finally unite the differing nations of Europe. … Europe will go Roman Catholic! Protestantism will be absorbed into the ‘mother’ church—and totally abolished.”
But even that bold claim was not the first forecast of what is becoming today’s current events. That goes back to approximately 750 b.c. and the Prophet Isaiah’s words on which Mr. Armstrong based his statement. Isaiah foretold a time when a great mother church would experience a great rebellion but would ultimately bring her daughters back under her direction (Isaiah 47). Centuries later, we are seeing Bible prophecy come alive!
Of course, our brethren at the Trumpet think that a unified Catholic Europe is the Whore of Babylon and that this Catholic unity will be achieved at the point of a gun or some other future coercive mind changer. They also think that this will be the Roman Empire from which springs the Antichrist.
Remarkably, this branch of Catholic prophecy doesn’t see this as too far off. While Catholics would disagree that the Church is the WoB and will usher in Antichrist. But what does it say? Well, it is from this unified Catholic Europe that gives rise to the last and final Roman Empire whose collapse presages the rise of the man of sin. These private prophecies indicate that the faith, peace, and prosperity that follows the triumph of the Church and universal preaching of the Gospel will not last long. Mankind won’t allow it. This will be the great apostasy. The empire will be divided up among a number of rulers and well, you know the rest.
Now, the folks at theTrumpet are not the only ones who think that Europe will once again be Catholic, it is suspected by a number of groups, many protestant.
I hope the irony isn’t lost on anyone. It seems that the only Catholic triumphalism these days comes from non-Catholics. Many Catholics today act as if we only expect the situation to get worse as Catholicism withers on the vine. It seems that certain modern protestants and Catholic prophets of yesteryear are not so pessimistic.