The Vatican's top astronomer has some assurances to offer: The world won't be ending next week, despite predictions to the contrary.
The Rev. Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, wrote in Wednesday's Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that "it's not even worth discussing" doomsday scenarios based on the Mayan calendar that are flooding the Internet ahead of the purported Dec. 21 apocalypse.
Yes, Funes wrote, the universe is expanding and if some models are correct, will at one point "break away" — but not for billions of years. But he said Christians profoundly believe that "death can never have the last word."
The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., marking time in roughly 394-year periods known as Baktuns. The Mayans wrote that the significant 13th Baktun ends Dec. 21.