Pope Watch: Buckle Up for the End Times

Keep your eyes on Pope Francis the next few days.

You may have noticed two dominant stories on the pope this week. One concerns his visit to Mongolia, arriving on Aug. 31 and staying through the weekend, returning to Rome on Sept. 4. The other involves controversial statements he made praising the “Great Russia” of the traditional past, which led to a mass media meltdown. Those statements were received positively by the Kremlin, which called them “very gratifying,” much more so than Francis’ comments last year critical of President Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine invasion, which were condemned by the very sensitive Kremlin.

I submit to you here that these two stories are very much related — that is, Francis going to Mongolia and Francis saying what he said about Russia this week. Here’s why.

Francis’ trip to Mongolia makes little sense from a Catholic perspective. You could fit in a sandbox the tiny number of Catholics living in the massive land of Mongolia. There are less than 1,500 Catholics in the entire country, or about 0.04 percent of the population. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Francis in a few hours could shake the hand of every Catholic in Mongolia if they were in one place.

Some Vatican watchers say that Francis going to Mongolia is consistent with his papal message of reaching out to the so-called “periphery,” as he has done since 2013. Point taken.

But to other Vatican watchers, Francis’ long plane ride to Mongolia is a mere pretext to stop in Moscow along the way and get an audience with a prominent official from the Kremlin or the Russian Orthodox Church to plead for peace in Ukraine. He will pray to the heavens that the official would be the level of President Putin or Patriarch Kirill, but he will take whoever he can get.

Continue reading at American Spectator