China has denied that its navy locked its radar against Japanese forces last month. Japan alleges that Chinese vessels locked their radars onto a Japanese destroyer and helicopter in two instances in the East China Sea. But China’s Foreign Ministry rejected that accusation at a news briefing in Beijing on Friday, saying “Japan has been deliberately spreading false information” against China.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned China on February 7 for what he described as “one-sided provocative action” by its military.
The U.S. State Department expressed concern over the alleged incident, saying such actions “escalate tensions” and could “undermine peace, stability and economic growth” in the region.
China and Japan are involved in a territorial dispute over a cluster of tiny, uninhabited islands called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. The islands are controlled by Japan, but also claimed by both China and Taiwan.
Although the United States admits these islands are Japanese-controlled, Washington has not taken a stance on their sovereignty.
As Japan’s long-time ally, the U.S. is obliged to defend Japanese interests. However, Bible prophecy says America has lost the will to use its military power. This incident could be one way for China to put America’s shattered will on display. For more information on this subject read, “Will China Call America’s Military Bluff?”
After only eight years on the papal throne, Pope Benedict xvi resigned his post as the head of the Catholic Church earlier today.
The resignation, the first by a pope in nearly 600 years, caught the world by surprise and set off a frenzied international debate about why exactly the pope resigned, why the Vatican and even Benedict’s closest aides were left in the dark about the impending resignation, and who the next pope will be.
The Trumpet doesn’t have specific answers to these questions. We can, however—thanks to what the Apostle Peter termed the “more sure word of prophecy”—set the pope’s resignation in a broader context. Here are two key expectations from the next pope and from the Vatican in the weeks and months ahead.
First, expect the next pope to be conservative, and probably even more conservative, than Pope Benedict xvi.
Under Benedict, the Vatican experienced a renaissance of Catholic tradition and conservatism. Benedict’s Vatican, as many have noted, has a special affection for medieval doctrine and practices, and has emerged as perhaps the most notable defender of tradition, including marriage only occurring between a man and woman. Together, Benedict and the Vatican have waged war on moral relativism, compromise and secularism. Nothing will change under the next administration. In fact, the next pope may be even more conservative, and forceful in his implementation of Catholic doctrine and tradition.
How do we know? Because the next pope will be installed by a Vatican infrastructure created entirely by Pope Benedict xvi and his predecessor, the similarly conservative Pope John Paul ii.
As Trumpet columnist Ron Fraser has explained extensively, over the last few decades Pope John Paul ii and Joseph Ratzinger (now Benedict xvi) have craftily and viciously rooted out liberalism of the Vatican. Together, these men have banished numerous liberal cardinals and officials and replaced them with conservatives cut from the same cloth as John Paul and Benedict. John Paul and Benedict have ensured that the leadership of the Catholic Church—especially those in key positions inside the Vatican—share their own staunch affection for conservative Catholic dogma.
You’ve probably heard that a college of cardinals will be responsible for electing the next pope, apparently before the end of March. Get this: Every last cardinal in this select group was installed by either Pope John Paul ii or Pope Benedict xvi.
Benedictxvi alone is responsible for installing more than 50 percent of the Cardinals that will vote for the next pope!
It’s also interesting that the latest batch of cardinals, hand-picked by Pope Benedict, takes office next week—just days before Pope Benedict xvi resigns.
Did Pope Benedict make this last-minute tweak to secure control and thereby ensure the speedy installment of a specific individual as his replacement? Someone, no doubt, who will continue Benedict’s campaign to create a conservative, traditional Vatican?
Second, expect the next pope to be a staunch advocate of a world-dominating, Catholic united states of Europe. This means he will more than likely be European, and most likely Italian or German.
The financial crisis has left Europe in disarray. Germany leads, but is not loved. Europe knows it needs to unite, but there just isn’t the glue to bring it together. Only the Vatican, as Herbert W. Armstrong explained for years, has the power to weld this divided, cantankerous group together. It’s exactly as Mr. Armstrong described in the August 1978 Good News (emphasis his): “Europeans want their own united military power! … They have made a real effort toward union in the Common Market. … But they well know there is but one possibility of union in Europe—and that is through the Vatican.”
Two years later, Mr. Armstrong delivered a similar prophecy in the June 1980 Worldwide News, one that describes Europe’s current condition perfectly: “World conditions [like a global financial crisis] may force European nations … to unite, bringing to pass the revived ‘Holy Roman Empire’ …. [European nations] have wanted to unite politically, with a common currency and common military force, for some time—but have been unable. It can be accomplished only through the Vatican.”
Pope Benedict xvi was a devoted Europhile and did his part in laying the groundwork for the Vatican to intervene in European affairs. We should expect the next pope to be a much more ardent and energetic advocate of European unification behind Germany! He will also more than likely be a close friend of Germany, and almost assuredly have healthy relationships with German leaders and officials.
Consider one last quote from Mr. Armstrong: “Bible prophecy says this European unification will be also a union of church and state (Revelation 17). Many European political leaders do not want religious domination, or even participation. But they are coming to realize they cannot be welded together into one great European supernation without the unifying power of the Catholic Church” (Nov. 22, 1982). Again, whoever the next pope is, expect him to emerge as a vocal and powerful force in European politics!
In the coming days and weeks, speculation will abound about who the next pope will be and what the Vatican will look like under his stewardship. Although we don’t yet know who this man will be, we do know that he will be conservative, and that he will be a powerful advocate of European integration. We also know, thanks to Bible prophecy, that this man and the Vatican will play a key role in instigating events that will culminate in the greatest event in human history: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
It has shocked the world. The reason for it is unclear. Reuters reported that the reason was not because of illness nor to external pressures that Pope Benedict xvi suddenly decided to resign. The pope gave February 28, four days following the Italian elections, as the operative date for stepping down from office.
“Pope Benedict has no specific illness and his decision to resign was taken with no outside pressure, the Vatican spokesman said on Monday after the pontiff’s shock announcement that he would step down at the end of this month. Father Federico Lombardi said the 85-year-old pope’s decision was not due to an illness, but to a progressive decline in his strength, which was normal in a man of his age” (Reuters, February 11).
Yet, previous popes have ruled from their deathbed, as was the case with his predecessor, John Paul ii.
The very suddenness and the timing, within days of the Italian elections, and only months away from federal elections in his home country, Germany, is most intriguing. Also, coming so early within his launching the Vatican’s great crusading Year of Faith, adds to the apparent illogic of the timing.
So what is really behind Josef Ratzinger’s resignation?
As Stratfor opined, “The selection of the next pope, especially at a time when the power of the Catholic Church has stalled in Europe but has increased elsewhere, will determine the geopolitical relevance of Benedict xvi’s resignation” (February 11).
Reviewing the 21st century geopolitical relevance of the Vatican, it is most evident that, as Herbert Armstrong declared, John Paul ii prepared the way for the final unification of Europe—East and West. His work in office prepared for Rome’s final act of ideologically fusing its fractious member states into the 10-nation combine at the peak of the prophesied seventh and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire.
It did seem that the ascendancy of a Bavarian pope to the throne in the wake of John Paul’s death would bring that final act of Rome to fruition. That, it now appears, is not the case.
So what role did Pope Benedict xvi play in the grand scheme of rapidly unfolding events prophesied for Europe and the world, in these end times?
We shall have to wait till the mystery of Benedict’s resignation is exposed and his successor appointed to comment more on that. In the meantime, rest assured that Bible prophecy marches on to its inevitable consummation with the return of the Savior of all mankind!
Britain officially protested the incursion into Gibraltar’s waters of a Spanish armed patrol vessel, which ignored repeated warnings to leave, February 2. This is the most serious in a series of provocations over the past few months.
The 94-meter-long patrol boat is far bigger than the light ships the Royal Navy keeps in Gibraltar. “There has not been an incursion such as this since the mid-1960s when General Franco ruled Spain,” said Gibraltarian lawyer Charles Gomez.
“The current situation is very similar to that recently involving the Falkland Islands where an unpopular government in Argentina has seen a territorial dispute as the best way to bury bad news at home,” he continued, according to Britain’s Daily Mail. “However, the major difference is that Spain is supposed to be an ally within nato and a partner in the European Union.”
The people of Gibraltar are becoming increasingly frustrated with Britain’s weak response to Spain’s aggression. Last year, 10,000 people signed a petition calling on the British government to stand up to Spain. On Friday evening they began a 48-hour protest vigil outside the governor’s official residence.
“We are not happy about the continuous lack of action by the Royal Navy in protecting our waters,” said a spokesman for the protesters.
But unfortunately for the people of Gibraltar, Britain is prophesied to lose control of this vital sea gate. For more information on this, see “Changing of the Guard” from our free booklet He Was Right.
Japan scrambled several jets on Thursday after two Russian fighters entered Japanese airspace over Rishiri Island near the tip of Japan’s northernmost Hokkaido Island, according to reports by the country’s Defense Ministry.
Although the Russian jets left Japan’s airspace without incident after a little over a minute, the incursion was significant in both its location and its timing. It happened near the Kuril Islands (called Northern Territories in Japan) which have been disputed by Moscow and Tokyo since the end of World War ii, when Russia took them from Japan. The incident occurred on Japan’s “Northern Territories Day,” when Japanese nationals traditionally rally to call for Tokyo to wrest the islands from Russian control, or for Russia to simply give them back.
Russia’s provocative incursion into Japanese airspace follows a string of breaches by Chinese forces into separate territories that both Tokyo and Washington recognize as being administered by Japan.
Defense and security agreements between the U.S. and Japan would require Washington to back Tokyo in the event of a military confrontation with either Russia or China. But the Obama administration has shown that it is eager to be known as the government that brought America’s troops home. The idea of being drawn into a conflict with China and/or Russia is nearly too unbearable for the war-weary U.S. to contemplate. Understanding this reality has fueled these provocations first from Beijing, and now from Moscow.
Many of the policymakers steering these Asian giants view the outcome of any potential confrontation a question of will more than of military might—and rightly so. On this front, the bloated U.S. is at an overwhelming disadvantage, so the Eastern powers may use the situation as an opportunity to expose America as an unreliable ally to Japan, and to show the world that the U.S. military is a force that can be countered. Such an exposure would send profound geopolitical reverberations across the world.
To understand the long-term significance of the increasing power, belligerence and cooperation of Moscow and Beijing, read Russia and China in Prophecy.