The Washington Times is reporting on a poll conducted by the Barna Group which found that 41 percent of respondents agreed that "the world is currently living in the 'end times' as described by prophesies in the Bible."
The results become even more interesting when broken down by denomination and level of faith commitment.
For instance, 54 percent of Protestants and 77 percent of evangelicals agreed with the statement.
Catholics, on the other hand, had the opposite opinion. A full 73 percent said the end times "are not upon us". These numbers changed depending on how faithful the respondent was in adherence to Church doctrine. Of those Catholics who regularly attend Mass and abide by most of the Church's teachings, 45 percent believed the world was living out the end-of-times.
As per Colin Donovan, STL, of EWTN, the Catechism [No. 673-677] gives Catholics a general order of events that are believed to be signs of the approaching end-times.
1. the full number of the Gentiles come into the Church
2. the "full inclusion of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of the full number of the Gentiles" (#2 will follow quickly on, in the wake of, #1)
3. a final trial of the Church "in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth." The supreme deception is that of the Antichrist.
4. Christ's victory over this final unleashing of evil through a cosmic upheaval of this passing world and the Last Judgment.
He also points out that in the opinion of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI while still serving as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, we are not in the end-times. The Second Coming, which is the physical return of Christ on earth, cannot occur until the full number of the Gentiles are converted, followed by 'all Israel.'
"Approved Catholic mystics (Venerables, Blessed and Saints, approved apparitions) throw considerable light on this order, by prophesying a minor apostasy and tribulation toward the end of the world, after which will occur the reunion of Christians," Donovan writes. "Only later will the entire world fall away from Christ (the great apostasy) and the personal Antichrist arise and the Tribulation of the End occur."
While this is not Catholic doctrine because it arises from private revelation, it does conform to what is occurring in our time, especially in light of Our Lady of Fátima's promise of an "Era of Peace," Donovan writes.
"This 'Triumph of the Immaculate Heart' (other saints have spoken of a social reign of Jesus Christ when Jesus will reign in the hearts of men) would seem to occur prior to the rise of the Antichrist. The optimism of the Pope for the 'New Evangelization' and a 'Civilization of Love' in the Third Millennium of Christianity fits here, as well.
"This would place us, therefore, in the period just before the events spoken of in the Catechism, that is, on the verge of the evangelization of the entire world. Other interpretations are possible, but none seem to fit the facts as well, especially when approved mystics are studied, instead of merely alleged ones."
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