|Pope John Paul II
VATICAN CITY – A spokesman for the Vatican has released a statement
denying that Pope John Paul II had high praise for "Glorious Appearing"
— the 12th and final installment of the wildly popular "Left
Behind" end-times fiction series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B Jenkins.
The controversy started after an unnamed female Vatican staffer claimed
she overheard the Pope say, "It is as it will be" upon finishing
the book – an autographed prerelease copy of which he received from
the authors in the mail earlier this month.
The comments were taken by many as an unequivocal Papal endorsement of
the book, which sent ripples of anxiety and confusion through the ranks
of the Catholic Church, largely because the "Left Behind"
series is fiction written from a pre-tribulation standpoint, meaning that
the rapture happens before seven years of tribulation, after which Christ
returns to reign over all the earth for 1,000 years. This interpretation
of scripture's account of the end times is diametrically opposed
to the traditional Catholic view, which asserts that the rapture will
be immediately followed by the second coming, and that both events will
happen after seven years of tribulation (a post-tribulation view).
"When I first heard these comments, I was absolutely dumbstruck,"
said an American Catholic Bishop speaking on the condition of anonymity.
"I knew the Pope was getting old, but if he's now basing his
theology on hackneyed Christian fiction, then I'm afraid it is officially
checking out time at the Vatican. Next thing you know, he'll be
naming Pat Robertson as his successor! Man, this anonymity stuff is the
bomb. I can say whatever I want! Fart! Butt! Weiner!"
Following a flurry of calls, letters and e-mails from concerned Catholics
around the world, the Vatican released a statement saying, "Pope
John Paul II has no recollection of making the favorable remarks widely
reported in the press about 'Glorious Appearing' or any other
book in the 'Left Behind' series. Furthermore, neither the
Pope, the Vatican, nor the Catholic Church have any official opinion on
But that statement has done little to quell the controversy, and speculation
in the press and in the rank and file of the Catholic Church about whether
or not the Pope actually spoke those words about "Glorious Appearing"
"It seems like they're just trying to distance themselves
from the whole thing. The denial is pretty soft, and it doesn't
even come directly from the Pope. He has no recollection? At his age,
I think he has no recollection of a lot of things," said Lenore
Rohn, a lifelong Catholic from Boston. "Besides, the statement doesn't
even bother to deny that the Pope read this book. That's probably
the most disturbing part to me! Why is the Pope reading this crap to begin
For their part, Lahaye and Jenkins are just happy that the culminating
book of their collaboration is getting so much international media attention.
"We really feel that this series hasn't gotten the play in
the press that it really deserves," Jenkins said. "We just
hope that this controversy will get more people around the world to read
this book…and the Bible, of course."