And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of His mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.—2 Thess 2:6-12
It was believed in the first millennium of Christianity that the final antichrist would appear 6,000 years after the creation of the world, which would put him around the year 2,000 if you (like me and almost every Christian for the first millennium of Christianity) believe the world was created around 4,000 BC. During that time of the antichrist, the Restrainer (see the first Scriptural line in bold above) would hold-back a large chunk of the evil. Many Catholics have believed this was St. Michael or St. John the Baptist. They are probably correct.
However, many in the early Eastern Churches believed the Restrainer against the antichrist in the above quote from 2 Thess 2 was going to be the Emperor of the Roman Empire who held back evil. But many in the Western Church believed the Restrainer had something to do with the papacy. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the presage to the final antichrist would be a great revolt against papal authority. Perhaps we think that revolt must be violent, but what if such a revolt were a silent deposition of the true Pope? Could this not constitute what St. Thomas Aquinas said would accompany the final times, again, a great revolt against papal authority? Indeed, such would be the Western interpretation of 2 Thess 2 even long ago. It’s worth reading again the bold quote above from St. Paul, as every verse is packed with meaning for the 21st century, especially the current state of events where most Catholics now “refuse to love the truth and so be saved” and even choose to live under “a strong delusion,” namely, this coofidocracy of health-tyranny.
So, what if this new Roman Empire were the United States? Could not we be the Babylon of the Apocalypse by pumping sterilization, abortion, contraception and now COVID-globalization across the entire planet? Now, I know this next assertion is going to make me look like a 3am Televangelist crunching Bible numbers for my own proof-texting and eisegesis, but if you grant me the premise that the USA is the new Rome or new Babylon, then this question is not a huge leap: Could not a final “emperor” who held things together be interpreted as Trump, especially as our once-great country collapses under current unelected leadership?
I am not saying that Pope Benedict XVI or Donald Trump have ever been canonizable-material, but I believe they were putatively-removed because a world obsessed with darkness can not even endure two dim lights. Dim? Yes, Pope Benedict has taught more theological errors as both Cardinal and Pope than probably any Pope who lived before 1950 (but probably less than most after 1950.) Donald Trump has had more “wives” than any Christian Roman Emperor in either Rome or Constantinople and even encouraged the abortion-tainted COVID-serum. But relatively speaking, both are very good men. In fact, the Western (papacy-based) or Eastern (Emperor-based) view of the Restrainer could lead me to believe that one of these two men was meant to be the final Restrainer of evil.
The Restrainer in the final days would be placed to hold back a good chunk of the evil. What if the Restrainer were illegally removed? Would even more evil be released at his death than his removal? Even if you find this all a stretch, have a read of Matthew 24 to see that much of the final events of the world have come to pass in exclusively the past 100 years in ways that have not happened in previous centuries. I don’t think it’s irresponsible to expect the glorious return of Jesus Christ and Final Judgment. Either way, we must live every day in sanctifying grace if any part of our “conservative” leadership allows such illegal hijacking of Church and State.