Apocalypse right now: What drives the Francis whirlwind?

Man on a mission

The Pope's agenda for 2015 is audacious and might even include a peace mission to an active warzone. But what's the rush? John Allen found clues in the Pope's most recent press conference on a plane.

- Crux

Pope Francis’ most recent airborne news conference, held coming back from Manila, was another sensation. It generated a couple of instant classic sound-bites, including why Catholics don’t have to “breed like rabbits” and his wish to kick a couple of corrupt bureaucrats “where the sun doesn’t shine.”

There were two other tidbits, however, that have been somewhat lost in the shuffle, both of which are important for understanding what is more and more a defining trait of this Pope — his sense of urgency.

One of those nuggets is about a book; the other, a trip.

Francis went out of his way to invoke an apocalyptic 1907 novel by an English convert from Anglicanism called Lord of the World, which lays out a dystopic vision of a final conflict between secular humanism and Catholicism, with the showdown taking place on the fields of Armageddon.

Marxism and secularism have run the table, culminating in a charismatic “saviour” figure, increasingly recognisable as the Anti-Christ, who arises to lead a one-world government. Attacks on Christian symbols and believers mount, and euthanasia is widely practiced.

Francis first praised the novel back in November 2013, in the context of a homily in which he denounced “adolescent progressivism.” He returned to Lord of the World in the recent airplane news conference, saying, “I advise you to read it” because it explains what he meant by a reference to “ideological colonisation” during a session with 20,000 Filipino families in Manila.

Some find the novel prescient, others a little ‘out there.’ For analytical purposes, the important thing is its keen sense that the world is reaching a turning point and there’s not much time left to set things right.

That’s not to say Francis believes doomsday is around the corner. However, his fondness for the novel seems to track with his belief that humanity is making some definitive choices today, from the economy to the environment, and that if we get those choices wrong, the consequences may be far worse than we realise.

All of which brings us to a second striking bit from Monday’s news conference, which was Francis’ overview of his pending travel schedule.

Aside from his visit to the USA, and three Latin American nations, the Pontiff said he intends to visit two African nations toward the end of 2015, saying they’ll likely be Uganda and the Central African Republic.

His intention to go to the Central African Republic stands out as especially audacious. The country is still an active war zone, with the conflict to some extent breaking down along Muslim/Christian lines.

Read full article: Apocalyptic beliefs may explain why Francis is a pope in a hurry (Crux)

MORE:

Church in Central African Republic prepares for papal visit (The Catholic Herald)

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