If you type "is Pope Francis antichrist" into Google, you'll get about 425,000 results in .37 seconds. By way of comparison, if you ask Google the same question about Pope Benedict you only get 137,000 and it takes a little longer—.47 seconds.
So why do so many people think—or at least ponder—that the Latin American pontiff is the Antichrist (or at least the end-time False Prophet mentioned in Revelation 19:20)? It could be for some of the same reasons his popularity is declining. His approval rating in the United States has dropped from 76 percent a year ago to 56 percent today, according to Gallup.
Indeed, even Roman Catholics are cooling off to Francis, the first-ever Jesuit pope who emerged as a darling among the evangelical community when he took over for the retiring Benedict. Some Pentecostal onlookers suggested he was Spirit-filled. And Kenneth Copeland and James Robison met privately with the pope in Rome and exchanged high-fives.
So what gives? Reuters' Scott Malone points out: "The decline comes as Francis has changed the focus of his public remarks from that of his immediate predecessors, concentrating less on the Church's opposition to abortion and gay marriage and spending more of his time discussing social inequity and poverty."
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Francis has been vocal about the evils of capitalism while backing off conservative views about homosexuals, asking, "Who am I to judge?" He's even called for a New World Order more than once. Some predict he will usher in this New World Order on Sept. 25, just 10 days after the end of the Shemitah year, which has a swirl of speculation about economic collapse around it.
Meanwhile, Francis has warmed up to Islam like no other pope before him. In a historic first, Francis opened the door to Muslim prayers and Quran readings at the Vatican last year. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres joined the pontiff in the Vatican gardens for a prayer meeting.
At that time, Francis said: "It is my hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a new journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide. Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict." Some saw this as a precursor to the one world religion.
Protestant feathers really got ruffled when the washingtonpost.com.co and others falsely reported that Francis said the Quran and Holy Bible are the same:
"Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world. For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths. This, however, should be the very concept which unites us as people, as nations, and as a world bound by faith. Together, we can bring about an unprecedented age of peace, all we need to achieve such a state is respect each others beliefs, for we are all children of God regardless of the name we choose to address him by. We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now. No longer shall we slaughter our neighbors over differences in reference to their God."
Although it seems unlikely that the pope actually said that (I could not independently confirm it from mainstream media sources, only Internet rags that tend to publish misleading information) the fact that so many Christians took it as truth without a second blink is telling. He's said and done enough other shocking things to make this statement believable in the ears of many believers.
Could Francis be the final pope before Christ's return? Could he be the Antichrist? Is he the False Prophet? The chatter continues.
Here's what we know: More than 50 years ago, a Jesuit priest predicted the resignation of Pope Benedict—to the day—and now Tom Horn, who worked with Cris Putnam to unveil a 900-year-old prophecy buried in the library at the Vatican that describes a series of 112 popes, and others are looking at his research. "Was he divinely inspired? Was he demonically inspired?" Horn asks. "Because we know demons know things about times and dispensations, too."
These are strange days in which we live. How do you feel about the Pope's stand on homosexuality, Islam, capitalism and the New World Order?
Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of several books, including The Next Great Move of God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual Awakening; Mornings With the Holy Spirit, Listening Daily to the Still, Small Voice of God; The Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. She is the co-founder of AwakeningTV.com and a leader in the New Breed Revival Network. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and on Periscope @propheticbooks.
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