What is an anti-pope?

St. Malachy is noted for his prophesies regarding anti-popes and the end of the world. Any truth to the Malachy predictions?

An anti-pope is simply someone who falsely claims to be the Pope. Throughout history there have been false claimants who claim to be the successor of St. Peter.

The most famous early anti-pope was the 3rd century Hippolytus. Hippolytus did not feel the reigning Pope was sufficiently attacking heresy so his followers elected him “Pope” and the then declared himself and his followers the true Catholic Church. Eventually he did reconcile with the Church and recognize the true Pope.

Usually the way an anti-pope came about was similar to the situation with Hippolytus. A group of bishops and clergy would be in schism from the legitimate Church and Pope and would declare themselves the true Church and elect a “Pope.” Often times these anti-popes and schismatic groups would be aided by civil authorities and rulers who had issues with the reigning Pope or legitimate Church leaders.

As for the “prophecies” of St. Malachy, the purported prophecy only gives brief vague descriptions that the imagination can twist into anything it wants. The “prophecy” is also of dubious origins.

As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes: “The silence of 400 years on the part of so many learned authors who had written about the popes, and the silence of St. Bernard especially, who wrote the ‘Life of St. Malachy’, is a strong argument against their authenticity.”

And as Jesus said: “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:36)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.