Religion and politics: They were the two subjects that people in polite society were told to avoid when I was growing up. Yet, when studying the history of the Holy Roman Empire in high school, I began to understand that politics and religion go together as naturally as butter goes with bread.
Since ancient Babylon, when Nimrod and his mother-wife, Semiramis, sought to establish the first imperial state under the control of a universal religion, each—church and state—has either sought to use the other for mutual gain and influence, or one has competed with the other to hold sway over entire nations or even whole empires. The Holy Roman Empire is the quintessential example in both the former and the latter sense.
Wars fought at the behest of, with the connivance of, or with the sponsorship of the state, in the name of religion, have splattered the pages of history with the blood of millions. The great Islamic sweep of the Ottoman Empire was enacted in the name of Mohammad. Similarly, in the Crusades, knights galloped into battle with the symbol of Roman Catholicism, a bright red cross, garnishing their flags, banners and breastplates. In more modern times, German troops went into battle in World War i sporting belt buckles inscribed “Gott mit uns”—God with us.
Constitutionally—despite the best efforts of those who would seek to separate the state from religion, as in the principal American documents of state and, more recently, the European Union constitution—the power of religion to influence the masses remains a constant to this day.
Throughout history, no religious institution has been more attuned to using its influence to sway public opinion in matters of state than has the Roman Catholic Church. More recently, no pope in modern times has had such powerful influence, internationally, over every strata of society than that Polish pope, Karol Wojtyla, the late John Paul ii.
In 1978, the pope took charge of what has been described as the world’s longest surviving international organization. He mounted the papal throne with a sense of universal mission deeply rooted in Roman Catholic prophecy and in certain key events in his life. These served to reinforce in his mind the conviction that his mission had divine authority. It was a globalist, evangelizing, religious mission on the outside with a deeply significant political vision at its core!
Crushing Latin Liberalism
Paul vi (1963-78) was the first pope since the Napoleonic wars to travel outside Italy. He spent 30 days of his papal rule in countries other than his home nation.
By contrast, John Paul ii was the most traveled pope in history, traveling for 822 days. Here was a pope with a real sense of history and of destiny. He truly believed that his mission was to garner back the wandering daughters of the church and to reassert the universal moral authority of Roman Catholicism as the only solution to this world’s ills. From the beginning, his global travels were geared to this end. He determined to crush liberal dissent that had bedogged the church during the time of his post-war predecessors since the death of Pope Pius xii. Latin America, the one continent on the planet dominated by one single language and one single religion, became a focus. It was here that the liberal intelligentsia had become embedded with a revolutionary zeal that threatened to spread in a destabilizing wave, internationally, to divide the Catholic Church asunder.
His very first international trip as pope was to Mexico. From then on, especially following Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s appointment as his enforcer, this pope doggedly worked to eliminate liberal thought within the priesthood. The church in Latin America was forced back on to its old “holy” Roman foundation.
Karol Wojtyla’s dream was, indeed, a grand vision of the revival of the Holy Roman Empire! That empire would once again incorporate Latin America.
Perhaps no other visit to that region demonstrated this more vividly than the pope’s call on Fidel Castro’s socialist state of Cuba. Unable to resist the power of John Paul’s charisma, Castro acceded to the pope’s request to reinstitute Christmas as a public holiday for the first time since the socialist revolution. Unprecedentedly, he permitted the live telecasting of John Paul’s papal mass delivered before an enthralled public, starved of religion, in Havana.
With the ground broken by this aging, political pope, the European Union soon opened an office in Havana! The rising EU empire was making ground right up to the back door of the U.S. superpower, something that a former empire, the Soviet Union, had once attempted to do. But it was this pope who was opening the doors!
Joining East With West
At the same time, Karol Wojtyla had a vision for Europe, that continental bastion of his ancient religion. He truly believed that Europe was destined to return to its former imperial grandeur under the aegis of Rome. But Europe, at his election as pope, was still divided, east versus west, by an Iron Curtain.
The watershed for this pope’s dream of European empire was his first journey back to his home country, Poland, in 1979. Flying in the face of the nation’s Soviet masters in his address to the Polish nation delivered at Gniezno during this tour, the pope publicly rejected the artificial divisions of Europe established by the victors of the Second World War at Yalta. The speech galvanized Polish resistance to Communist leadership and sent a shudder through the Kremlin. It encouraged Western leaders in renewed efforts to support the pope in his papal diplomacy. It marked the starting point for the rise of movements for radical political change that would mature over all of Eastern and Southern Europe a decade later.
Ten years on from that first catalytic visit of Pope John Paul to his homeland, a phenomenon that few would have predicted at the time of his election occurred: the resumption of full diplomatic relations between the Vatican State and the Soviet Union. Only two years later, the wedge the pope drove between Poland and the Soviet Union resulted in its political and economic disintegration. By 1991, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
With John Paul’s papacy came a renewed vigor within the European Community—an inspired drive to transform what had been publicly touted as a mere trading entity into a political union. The Community began to stretch its wings and commence a rapid evolution into the united Europe that the pope cried out for in his Iron-Curtain-penetrating speeches to the masses—a cry for a Europe that could breathe, as in the past, with two lungs: its historic eastern lung in addition to its already highly developed western one. He lived to see, just 11 months prior to his death, the consummation of that dream.
In May 2004, 10 nations from Southern and Eastern Europe joined their fellows in Western Europe to provide that eastern lung of a uniting Europe. At his death, another five nations waited at the doors of the EU to gain entry. Within a continent possessed of a history of revolution, John Paul had initiated the swiftest and the largest by far.
Yet this revolution, akin to all such in which the Vatican has been involved, was not to be achieved without the spilling of blood.
A Winning Team
At the conclusion of World War ii, the rapid rise of liberal-socialist thought came hand in hand with the spread of atheistic communism, and it seemed the Roman Catholic Church momentarily went to sleep. Then came Vatican ii.
An ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, this Second Vatican Council was opened under Pope John xxiii in 1962 and closed under Pope Paul vi in 1965. It brought the church back into the world spotlight and commenced the initiatives that continue to this day to garner the wayward Protestant and Orthodox daughters of the church back into its fold.
Behind the scenes, Germany—the nation that claimed to be the most Christian of nations in the first half of the 20th century, having lost face massively after starting two global wars—was gradually being prepared to regain its historic role as protector of Rome.
It was at this watershed council of the Roman church, Vatican ii, that two cardinals met: Karol Wojtyla the Pole and Joseph Ratzinger the German. The friendship they formed there would cement itself into one of the most powerful partnerships in Vatican history.
Three years after commencing his papacy, Wojtyla appointed Ratzinger, a pope-maker of renown, to the powerfully influential position as head of the church’s old Office of the Holy Inquisition, stylized now under its politically correct title, the Office of the Doctrine of the Faith. Simply put, Ratzinger became the pope’s strong arm—his enforcer. This partnership produced dramatic results, both politically and religiously, for the Vatican, the European Union, and the former colonies of the old Holy Roman Empire. In short, this partnership rocketed John Paul to political stardom. At the same time, Ratzinger’s fierce enforcement of traditional Roman Catholic dogma set Rome back on a strong doctrinaire foundation in preparation for its plans to offer the world the old Vatican cure-all for mankind’s moral and spiritual ailments—an enforced return to the universal faith of Rome. Despite the wishes of liberal Catholics and a liberal press to the contrary, this partnership of Wojtyla and Ratzinger set Rome, following decades of weakness after World War ii, firmly on course to regaining the power it once enjoyed in the hey-day of the old “Holy” Roman Empire!
“Step by step, in more recent times, with infinite patience, the Roman curia [papal government], gradually and without pause, regained the influence lost, at the same time placing at the service of Germany the spiritual ascendancy enjoyed by the Vatican among the Roman Catholics in Germany and the rest of Europe. Thus Germany the Great, like the Habsburg Empire, was to serve as the secular arm in order to annihilate the influence of Orthodox Russia in the Balkans and to restore the Holy See’s authority in secular France. That game was lost in 1918 but was resumed in 1939 with the Vatican pursuing the very same end that it is still pursuing today through the European Union” (David N. Samuel, European Union and the Roman Catholic Influence in Britain; emphasis mine throughout).
The Balkans and France—two traditional thorns in Rome’s side over the past century—both figured prominently on John Paul’s agenda throughout his papacy. Witness the flow of history on his watch.
Europe’s bloodiest war in 50 years began in April 1992 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Bound under the hammer and sickle for over half a century, the dormant nationalistic tendencies that traditionally fueled many a feud within the Balkan nations with hate-filled resentment and suspicion boiled over. Sensing the timing was right to begin extending its hegemony eastward into middle Europe, the European powerhouse, Germany, selected a comfortable pawn and went to bat for Nazi sympathizer Franjo Tudjman, Croatia’s president. In June 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared independence. By December of that year, against overwhelming opposition from the rest of the world, Germany moved to give Croatia and Slovenia its full backing via public recognition of these European states as separate nations.
Under John Paul’s leadership, the Vatican speedily followed Germany with diplomatic recognition of these two Roman Catholic states as sovereign nations separate from the nation of Yugoslavia.
This action lifted the lid on the seething bitterness that remained in Yugoslavia due to an only-too-clear and graphic memory of the horrors perpetrated on Orthodox and Islam adherents by the Nazis and Vatican henchmen in World War ii, in particular via the Nazi vassal state of wartime Croatia. Fearing a repetition, the Serbs reacted. A horrible, illegal war ensued in the 1990s, sanctioned by the United Nations, the EU and the Vatican, which readily stood by while nato won, and the U.S. largely paid for, their Balkan war for them. The end result was a neatly stitched-up Balkan Peninsula, handed over lock, stock and barrel to what some were starting to regard as a type of reviving Roman Empire in EU clothes.
Rome’s effort to “annihilate the influence of Orthodox Russia in the Balkans” was now significantly advanced—under the ever-watchful eye of Pope John Paul ii. Following hard on the heels of the revolutions in Eastern Europe that he had initiated in Poland within a year of gaining office, his dreamed-of eastern lung was now starting to take shape, with the vitally strategic crossroads of the Balkan Peninsula now being embraced by the Germano-Roman connections that had initiated the breakup of Marshall Tito’s old Communist Yugoslavia.
But what about France?
The Rechurching of France
Once a domicile of popes in bygone years, France slipped from the dominant religious grasp of the Vatican following the French Revolution. The establishment of a secularist republic, subsequent to the demise of absolute monarchical rule in the 19th century, meant that Rome lost one of its staunchest supporters on the European continent. Next to regaining what the Vatican has traditionally called “Mary’s dowry”—Great Britain—the rechurching of France remains high on the Vatican agenda, with, above all, the retaking of Jerusalem remaining the plum.
Step by step, since Karol Wojtyla spearheaded the collapse of Soviet influence in Eastern and Southern Europe, his papacy unswervingly maintained its course. With the Balkans in the bag, the stage was then set to lead France back into the Vatican fold. This was largely played out under Wojtyla’s sway using the highly publicized European Constitution as a vehicle for creating controversy within the EU over whether or not “God” should be written into that document. The idea was to create such a hue and cry from the Roman Catholic nations (in particular the 10 new Catholic nations that joined the EU in May last year) about the absence of any specific reference to a state religion, that the bureaucrats of Brussels would ensure that such a reference was later embedded in the document.
Akin to those men who drafted the foundational document of the European Coal and Steel Community, which has evolved into today’s European Union, the Frenchman who presided over the crafting of the European Constitution, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, is a staunch Roman Catholic. Frankish Catholic influence has been at the fore in the creation of this European superpower from the beginning. Its founding fathers, Jean Monnet, Alcide de Gasperi and Robert Schumann, were all very religious Catholics. In 1951, they crafted the foundational treaty within which the EU had its genesis. Small wonder that, 50 years later, Giscard d’Estaing conferred directly with Karol Wojtyla during the drafting of the EU constitution. The result was typical subterfuge.
Through steering clear of any reference to “Christianity” being integral to the European cultural heritage, the constitution’s drafters gave the impression that the document deferred to secularism, France being the chief secularist state within the Union. However, deeply embedded within the text, the clever bureaucrats inserted a key clause that gives the Vatican the right to adjudicate on matters of religion! Thus, Giscard d’Estaing was able to please the Vatican while, at the same time, Wojtyla’s pr machine gave the public the impression that the constitution maintained a secularist approach, thus keeping the controversy alive by hyping up the European Catholic nations’ demands for overt recognition of the Roman religion in its text. Thus it seemed that France was increasingly the odd man out when it came to giving the EU constitution a moral authority.
Upon the death of the pope, French President Jacques Chirac left no doubt as to where the loyalties of the French government lay. He directed that all flags be flown at half-mast. Liberals reacted. Such jingoism, they claimed, was tantamount to this “secularist” nation paying obeisance to Rome! The controversy continues.
Now, with Germany increasingly treading its own geopolitical and economic path separate from France, the French will soon find themselves facing a stark choice: They will either be pressured into sacrificing their precious “secularism” and bowing to Rome in order to survive politically and economically within a Union of their own creation—or, akin to Britain, they will have to either leave the Union or be booted out!
Karol Wojtyla died before seeing France officially return from its secularist platform to Rome’s fold. However, through his influence over Giscard d’Estaing, he died with the knowledge that Rome had the victory when it came to determining who would dictate the moral platform of the rising European superpower.
“John Paul ii spent his life challenging secular thought and culture, which have deepened, particularly in the Western world. It is possible to argue that he had gained an important position during the final days of his life. One of the pope’s major revolutionary successes, which has not been discussed very much or is not known yet, is Article  of the EU constitution .… That is, the one both France and Turkey have been opposing and saying, it ‘harms secularity,’—but in the end, they could not change it” (Journal of Turkish Weekly, April 4).
Here was the master actor Wojtyla at work. While deliberately adding to the brouhaha about the so-called absence of God from the EU constitution, this deflected attention from a most important piece of text Giscard d’Estaing had embedded in the document. “As soon as former president of secular France, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, was elected head of the assembly, the first thing he did was to visit Rome and discuss with the pope the possibility of a reference to Christianity in the constitution. The pope, who opened this subject to almost every EU delegation that visited him in 2½ years, and at times scolded … them, in the end, did not get what he wanted—there was no reference to Christianity in the constitution. The pope, however, achieved a silent but more important victory. The EU agreed to begin institutional dialogue with churches and other religious groups for the first time in its history” (ibid.).
Speaking of churches and religious associations or communities in the member states, the European Constitution states: “Recognizing their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organizations” (europa.eu.int/constitution).
How important was this “silent” victory? Canon law experts agree it is most profound, virtually assuring the Vatican has the final voice in the EU on matters of religion!
“The Vatican’s strategy was very wise. As the pope seemed to spend all his efforts trying to have a reference to Christianity included in the preamble of the constitution, he was in reality having a hard time on another front. Finally, the EU pledged to establish ‘open, transparent [and] regular’ dialogue with churches and religious organizations. Therefore, the churches will be the collocutors [representatives] of the EU on issues that concern the public, according to Paragraph 3 of Article . Consequently, churches can be collocutors of the EU on religious issues that concern citizens. If it is considered that an established institution is needed to be the collocutor of the EU, it is apparent that the biggest beneficiary will be the Vatican” (Journal of Turkish Weekly, op. cit.). It may indeed have been a “silent” victory for John Paul ii, but it will prove to be, in the hands of the newly enthroned Joseph Ratzinger, a powerful platform on which to build the Vatican goal of dictating the moral code for every single citizen of the European Union!
Thus, we shall see, in the not-too-distant future, the secular approach of France literally overwhelmed by the Catholic majority of the rest of the EU member nations.
Ensuring His Legacy
Yet, perhaps the greatest achievement of all was the way in which John Paul worked tirelessly to ensure that the legacy he established would continue under his successor and expand into the fulfillment of his grand vision.
Over time, he stacked the deck of the curia with right-wing cardinals of his own choosing. With the ready and willing support of Ratzinger, his was the vision of one who was determined that what he started—a revolutionary right-wing reform, a veritable revival of traditional “holy” Roman religion—would be continued by his successor. Any dissenting influential voices were simply silenced.
“The pope accelerated the downfall of communism in central and Eastern Europe through the people he incited. At the same time, he strengthened ties of Europe, which is moving from an economic union toward a political union, through the constitution that is expected to be adopted, with institutional religion” (ibid.). For institutional religion, read state religion! For that is what the new pope, Benedict xvi, has foreshadowed by unequivocally indicating that Turkey’s Islamic religion simply bans it from entry into the EU. John Paul prepared the way. Based on both reputation and record, this new pope will enforce it!
One Lone Voice
Forty-seven years ago, while listening to my Catholic history teacher expound on the powerful influence of the Holy Roman Empire throughout the past two millennia, little did I realize that I would witness, in my own lifetime, the rise of that ancient monolith to a size and extent at least on a scale equating with that under Charlemagne, if not, soon to be, even larger. My Catholic teacher, well versed in the turgid history of that old empire, fulsome in his praise of its impact on Western civilization, could never have envisaged the prospect of that Roman Empire becoming the dominant force in politics and religion in the 21st century. No one wrote on the subject. No publisher would have deigned to print a book on even the idea being a remote possibility. Holy Roman Empire in the 21st century? Laughable!
Ours was an age of reason, where religion was passé. Dream of the old Holy Roman Empire resurrecting to have an influence on global trade extending today from as far south as Australia, north to the Baltic, with massive investment and powerful influence from Japan to Mexico? Crazy! Unthinkable!
Yet—one man did.
As the one lone voice amid the confusion of anti-God intellectual ideology that poured forth within Western society following World War ii, Herbert W. Armstrong dared to have the courage to preach, teach and publish the most unfashionable of messages: that the time would come when state and religion would combine in Europe to impose the most powerful influence yet on the entire globe in the form of a final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire! The world largely scoffed at this message, delivered over the duration of his 57-year ministry.
Today, in this 21st century, those with eyes to see no longer scoff! In fact, unbeknownst to them, many of the headlines under which their concerned articles appear, and many of the phrases they use, are almost verbatim those that Herbert Armstrong used clear back 70 years ago when he first began to acquaint the world with this inevitable reality! You need to request the booklet he authored, with remarkable prescience, on this subject six decades ago—Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? Request your free copy now and wake up to the signs of the times! ▪