The cardinal the London Times says is the leading contender to succeed John Paul II as pope, claims that the Antichrist is a man who lives on the earth today.

Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, Archbishop of Bologna, said the Antichrist will fool many people because he will be viewed as a humanitarian with a "fascinating personality" who espouses vegetarianism, pacifism, human rights, and environmentalism.

 Biffi made his comments during a lecture he gave discussing the writings of Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900), a famous Russian theologian and mystic.  Biffi said that Solovyov had said the Antichrist would appear after the 20th century, which would be marked by horrific wars and the demise of sovereign nations.

 Consistent with Solovyov's views, Biffi said, the Antichrist would espouse a world religion and ecumenism, replacing traditional religion with New Age spirituality.

He declined to say if he knows the name of the Antichrist.

Cardinal Biffi's remarks are viewed as important because they often reflect the thinking of John Paul II.