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Pope Francis has been rocking the boat a little in the last few weeks, suggesting no criticism for those living a homosexual lifestyle, distancing himself from church leaders, whom he called “narcissists,” and affirming that “clericalism should not have anything to do with Christianity.”

But jaws are falling open at word that “People’s World,” a descendant of the “Daily Worker” with a “special relationship with the Communist Party USA,” is openly praising him.

Commentator Paul Kengor at The American Spectator discovered the praise and wrote, “Imagine my shock, as a Catholic convert drawn to the church initially in large part because of its stalwart anti-communism across centuries, when I did my regular perusal of ‘People’s World’ and found not one but two pieces exalting the bishop of Rome.”

He noted that the Communists have found the pope’s social thought agenda very “pro-worker and pro-union.”

“Yes, it is,” wrote Kengor. “It is also pro-property, which communism is not. The first principles of Karl Marx, stated unequivocally in the ‘Communist Manifesto,’ preached ‘the abolition of private property.’ … Ownership and property are sacred ideals defended by the Catholic Church for millennia. It goes back to the Mosaic Law and God’s commandments, beginning with ‘Thou shall not steal.”

So what’s attractive about the pope to communists?

“It appears they prefer the words and emphasis and intentions of this particular pope. They trust him to take a stance closer to theirs,” Kengor wrote.

One of the articles was headlined, “Welcome Pope Francis, campaigner against corporate greed!” and said, “After hearing stories from the jobless on the Italian island of Sardinia, the leader of the earth’s one billion Roman Catholics threw away his prepared text and denounced galloping globalization that impoverishes the masses of people worldwide.”

It quoted Catholic News Service, which reported on the pope’s statement, “We want a just system, a system that lets all of us get ahead. We don’t want this globalized economic system that does us so much harm. At its center there should be man and woman, as God wants, and not money.”

“Catholic Social Thought, we should note,” agreed the Communist publication, “is very pro-worker and pro-union.

Is a 900-year-old prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes? See the fascinating DVD movie, “The Last Pope?”

The Communists continued, “Pope Francis has provided a moral bully pulpit to rally the world’s workers in the ongoing crusade against corporate greed, in all its manifestations that beat us down.”

They cheered him.

“If Francis’ words can marshal more people into the streets to stand up for ourselves and against the capitalist chieftains who rob us of our money, dignity, self-respect, right to organize and right to keep the fruits – all the fruits – of our labor, all the better.”

In a second article, the Communists called Francis “a breath of fresh air.”

His remarks, the article said, have pointed out a new atmosphere and attitude in the church, “and an implicit rebuke to some U.S. bishops who have allied themselves with the political right.”

The pope had said, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods … We must find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards…”

“Catholic (and other) right-wingers, including, lamentably, some bishops, have latched on to this narrow set of issues to promote a broader right-wing agenda,” the Communists said. “If the essence of being Catholic is to oppose abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, then faithful Catholics (and some other Christians) can easily be hoodwinked into supporting rightist candidates who line up with this agenda, disregarding flagrant violations of other aspects of Catholic teaching.”

The publication continued, “While it is obviously too early to discern for sure the direction Francis’ papacy will take, there are signs that he gives the pursuit of social justice priority over enforcement of secondary points of church doctrine.”

The publication called for “progressives” to “take advantage of this to reinvigorate the relationship between the church and organized labor…”

It continued, “Finally, there is one aspect of this interview that I think progressives, and especially Communists, should take to heart and ponder, transposing it from the religious to the political realm. Following a discussion of ‘discernment’ – that is, of making choices and determining one’s path – -the interviewer asks the pope if ‘we can make mistakes.’ Francis responds, ‘Yes, in this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an air of uncertainty. There must be’; and he goes on to say ‘our life is not given to us like an opera libretto, in which all is written down, but it means going, walking, doing, searching, seeing’ — to which I would add, for progressives, ‘struggling.’”

The ascendancy of Francis has led to an examination of some of the prophecies about the Catholic church, too.

There is even some speculation that Francis could be the “Last Pope,” as detailed in an old prophecy.

The author who predicted Pope Benedict XVI would be the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to resign believes the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff lines up with a medieval prophecy that would make him the “final pope” before the end times.

Tom Horn, co-author with Cris Putman of the book “Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope is Here,” told WND in May that Bergoglio’s selection was a “fantastic fulfillment of prophecy.”

His book examines St. Malachy’s “Prophecy of the Popes,” said to be based on a prophetic vision of the 112 popes following Pope Celestine II, who died in 1144.

Malachy’s prophecies, first published in 1595, culminate with the “final pope,” “Petrus Romanus,” or “Peter the Roman,” whose reign ends with the destruction of Rome and the judgment of Christ.

Horn has said a pope of Italian descent would fulfill the prophecy, noting Bergoglio is the son of Italian parents and a Jesuit.

“Being a Jesuit is a very important aspect of our prediction in our book,” Horn told WND in an email.

Citing his book, Horn said the name “Petrus Romanus” in the prophecy “implies this pope will reaffirm the authority of the Roman pontiff over the church and will emphasize the supremacy of the Roman Catholic faith and the Roman Catholic church above all other religions and denominations, and its authority over all Christians and all peoples of the world.”

Horn pointed out the Jesuits order was organized “to stop Protestantism from spreading and to preserve communion with Rome and the successor of Peter.”

He also sees significance in Bergoglio naming himself after Francis of Assisi, an Italian, or Roman, priest whose original name was Francesco di Pietro (Peter) di Bernardone, “literally, Peter the Roman.”

As WND reported, Horn and his co-author predicted in their book Benedict would step down, making way for history’s “final pope.”

Their work was documented in the recently released film “The Last Pope?”

“The Last Pope?” is a documentary from WND that travels to Rome, Geneva, Belfast and the U.S. to discover the story of venerated Irish prophet St. Malachy.

Lost inside the Vatican archives for 400 years, Malachy’s “Prophecy of the Popes” emerged in the late 1500s at a time of great papal upheaval. Heralded at the time as a miraculous development, the origin and early years of the prophecy are cloaked in murky mysticism.

According to “Prophecy of the Popes,” a time of vast biblical significance is now at hand.

“The Last Pope?” calls on medieval historians, Vatican-affiliated experts, authors (including Tom Horn and Chris Putman, co-authors of “Petrus Romanus: The Last Pope Is Here”) and others. From Ireland to Italy, “The Last Pope?” tells a riveting story of eschatological intrigue.

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