One of the most prophetic events of 2014 happened in late May. It was Pope Francis’s visit to Jerusalem, May 24 through 26. The news media failed to recognize its significance. Though most people are unaware of it, this visit was extremely momentous. It shed light on the future of Europe and of the world, and showed us where we are in Bible prophecy.
The pope’s visit took place amid some very disturbing acts of anti-Semitism in Europe. The day he arrived, four people, two of them Jews, were shot to death in a museum in Brussels. Hours later, two brothers were beaten badly as they left a synagogue in Paris. And these attacks came just after European Parliament elections, when Europeans alarmed people by electing many far-right members and even some neo-Nazis.
Some commentators talked about these elections in terms of the Fourth Reich. In Germany, the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party won 1 percent of the vote and will send a man who called Adolf Hitler “a great man” to the European Parliament. France elected the daughter of a convicted Holocaust denier and racist, even though many feel that she thinks very much like her father.
Israeli Knesset member Dov Lipman warned, “Make no mistake about it. There is a direct connection between the way European leaders speak about Israel and the rise in anti-Semitism.”
On May 26, the World Jewish Congress released this statement about Europe’s rising political extremism as revealed in the election results: “The future of European Jewry is at stake.” You can read more about this trend in our article “What 79 Million Europeans Think of Jews.”
During his visit to Israel, the pope addressed the murders and said he was sorry that things like this are happening. The Times of Israel also said he also discussed the elections. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said these events are happening because of noxious anti-Jewish sentiments and statements spreading all over Europe. Many Jewish leaders are expressing shock and rage because of this trend in Europe.
People looking only at the surface would view the pope’s visit as a sign of his support of Israel. But if you look closely at what the pope said and did in Jerusalem, you can see how, in reality, he is much more closely connected with the anti-Jewish attitudes simmering in Europe!
What Is the Vatican?
Here is something Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in an October 1951 Plain Truth article titled, “The Pope Plans to Move the Vatican.” I hope you’ll read it closely because it is profound. Under the subhead “The Great Unrecognized Dictatorship,” the article said, “How many have realized these staggering facts: The oldest political dictatorship on Earth is the Vatican! The Roman Catholic Church is far more than a religion. It is also politically a world power. … And how many people know that the real objective of the Catholic political power is precisely the same as the goals of communism and fascism—to gain dominance, control and rule over the whole world! … Of course it is generally known that most nations send ambassadors to the Vatican, and papal ambassadors are established in most world capitals. But it has not been generally grasped that this Roman system is much more than a church—it is a state, called in the Encyclopedia Britannica an Ecclesiastical World Empire—it is a political dictatorship—it is a world power whose influence in many respects outweighs that of any nation on Earth” (emphasis mine throughout).
The Vatican is a dictatorship. It is literally a state, with political interests, foreign policy, sovereign independence, recognition under international law, official relations, diplomatic immunity, administrative departments, ambassadors, a central bank, a capital, a very centralized government—and a man who dictates.
How many people really understand that? How many Catholics understand that? The Vatican governs 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, and it influences millions of other people, as well as national governments.
“I’m not here saying anythingabout, or against, Catholic people, either in the United States or elsewhere,” Mr. Armstrong continued. “Nor am I here saying anything about the Catholic religion, save that it is pagan, cloaking the original Chaldean mysteries in the garb of Christianity, falsely so labeled, and deceiving its own adherents, who are quite often sincere and devout, with its sense-appealing pomp, ceremony, mysticism and superstition.
“But what I am here concerned with is Catholic political power—the papacy as a world power, a dictatorship, bent on conquering and ruling the world!”
Where does the Vatican have its strongest power? Europe. And that is where the perfect storm of anti-Jewish sentiment is brewing.
What the Pope Did in Jerusalem
The pope did not fly straight to Israel for his visit to the Middle East. Instead, he flew to Jordan on May 24. He spent most of the next day in the Palestinian territories. It is significant that he visited the Palestinians first. And it was there that he made the most eye-catching and significant move of his visit to the Holy Land.
In between scheduled engagements, the pope ordered his motorcade to make an unexpected stop in Bethlehem. He got out of his popemobile and made his way to a section of Israel’s security wall. This is an often-photographed section of the wall with heavy graffiti that compares Palestinian Bethlehem to the Jewish Warsaw ghetto. Near a spot where someone had very recently sprayed “Free Palestine,” the pope touched the wall and began to pray. Of course, cameras were everywhere capturing that moment.
Why would the pope want to have a photo op there? These are images that will be shown from now on when people talk about the Jews and the Palestinians. This man took the eyes of the world and put them on this wall with “Free Palestine” graffiti.
The Jews had invited Pope Francis to Jerusalem. They were hoping he would use his power of symbolism to create a big photo op at their holiest site, the Wailing Wall. But it was this security wall outside Bethlehem that got all the publicity.
Why is this wall, which the Palestinians and the pope hate so much, even there? Britain’s liberal Guardian newspaper described it this way: “Built by Israel as a so-called security fence … [i]t has become an emblem of the Israeli occupation.” So-called? The government built this fence to limit the ability of Palestinian weapons smugglers and suicide bombers to travel into Jewish population centers! Palestinians and everyone else are still free to move about—they just have to pass through a checkpoint so Israelis have a better chance to stop someone from walking onto a bus full of innocent people and blowing them up!
“Reasonable people disagree about the contribution the security fence makes to the security of the Israelis,” Caroline Glick wrote in the Jerusalem Post on May 28. “But no one can reasonably doubt that it was built to protect Israelis from Palestinian terrorist murderers. And Francis ought to know this. Francis’s decision to hold a photo op at the security barrier was an act of extreme hostility against Israel and the Jewish people.” That is exactly right! Yet almost nobody criticized Francis for this provocative act.
Why would the Guardian and other news media label it a “so-called security fence”? What is its purpose, if not security? Well, it must be there to just pen those poor Palestinians in—like Nazis penning the Jews in the ghettos! Forget the fact that Palestinians are repeatedly attacking unarmed Jewish citizens.
And why call it “an emblem of the Israeli occupation”? What do they mean occupation? The Arabs came at the Jews and tried to destroy them in 1967. Israel fought back and conquered some of their land—but to the Guardian, the Israelis are “occupiers.”
“Surrounded by Palestinian children,” the Guardian wrote, “Francis’s progress towards the concrete barrier was followed carefully by photographers and television cameras as well as Israeli soldiers revealed in silhouette at the window of a nearby watchtower. ‘I know all about this,’ he is reported to have told one Palestinian official.” The Vatican spokesman said the pope planned this move the day before. I wouldn’t doubt that he planned it long before that.
This has nothing to do with religion, with Catholic doctrine or the Catholic people. But it has everything to do with political dictatorship! The pope knows how to use symbolism, and this is the symbol he created to show the world. It did not happen by accident! He created a photo op at that place for all it symbolized—a “symbol of division,” the Guardian calls it. That implies that it is a symbol of the Nazi spirit, with the Jews as Nazis.
The fact is, the pope wanted the world to see this image. Forget about what happened in World War ii, he is saying. Isn’t he implying that the Jews are the Nazis today? Many people will think so. Look around Europe: Many Europeans are starting to believe that about the Jews!
Prime Minister Netanyahu was troubled by the stop. “According to the prime minister’s office, Netanyahu said he ‘explained to the pope that building the security fence prevented many more victims [of] Palestinian terror, which continues today,’” the Washington Post reported. “A Vatican spokesman conceded that ‘some had difficulty understanding his act at the wall yesterday’” (May 26).
Francis clearly favors the Arabs, and he is projecting a distorted view of the Jews in the Middle East.
What Else Did Francis Do in Jerusalem?
On his trip to Bethlehem with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the pope made a prepared statement referring to “the state of Palestine,” and to Abbas’s office as the “presidential palace.” He also called Mahmoud Abbas “a man of peace and a peacemaker.”
Abbas is chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and head of the Fatah political party. He recently created a Palestinian unity government with Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization. Hamas is undisputedly engaged in terrorism against Jews as a way of life! Yet the pope apparently sees no problem with Abbas allying with this bloody group—calling him “a man of peace and a peacemaker.”
During Sunday mass on his trip, Pope Francis prayed with Fouad Twal, a Palestinian archbishop who serves as the Catholic Church’s Latin patriarch of Jerusalem. “In his sermon, Twal accused Israelis of being the present-day version of Christ-killers by referring to the Palestinians as walking in the footsteps of the divine child, and likening the Israelis to King Herod. In his words, ‘We are not yet done with the present-day Herods who fear peace more than war, and who are prepared to continue killing’” (Glick, op. cit.).
What did the pope do after hearing these violent and outrageous words? Not only did he not condemn them, he added to them! “Who are we as we stand before the child Jesus? Who are we standing as we are before today’s children?” the pope asked. “Are we like Mary and Joseph, who welcomed Jesus and cared for Him with the love of a father and a mother? Or are we like Herod, who wanted to eliminate Him?”
Apparently the pope really believes the Jews are “present-day Herods … who are prepared to continue killing”!
And remember, this was at a Sunday mass! Most in the media and politicians must think it’s all right for the world’s most visible religious leader to make such vile statements!
At best this is gutter politics!
On top of that, “Francis embraced the Palestinian mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein. Departing from his scripted remarks which called for the pope to refer to the mufti and his associates as ‘dear friends,’ Francis called them his ‘dear brothers’” (ibid).
Who is this Sheikh Muhammad Hussein? “In 2012 Hussein said it was the destiny of Muslims to kill Jews, who he claims are sub-human beasts, and the enemies of Allah. He has also praised suicide bombers and said their souls tell us to follow in their path. Francis didn’t condemn him” (ibid). Such people are the pope’s “dear brothers”?
The pope—whom so many millions view as a peaceful, religious man—didn’t condemn any of this when he was right there among these people so full of hate. He only increased their stature. Is he really looking for peace?
How could a man with normal human affection cozy up to people whose greatest passion is to wipe the Jews off of the map? That is what a political dictator with fearsome power can do. Everyone, including the Jews, is too intimidated to speak out against the pope and the Vatican.
Why aren’t more journalists digging into the truth? Ninety-nine percent of them don’t even get into these questions!
The pope’s words and actions on this Jerusalem visit are a dark sign for the future of Europe and the world.
The pope knows how to keep the media on his side though. He used his mastery of symbolism to divert criticism. Later in his visit, he prayed at the Wailing Wall, put a wreath at the grave of the founder of Zionism, and visited a memorial to victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks (but only after the Israelis requested that he add this unscheduled event to his itinerary to try to counterbalance what he had done in Bethlehem).
Pope Francis also spent 45 minutes at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where there were six Holocaust survivors. One by one he took the hands of these elderly people and kissed them.
Israelis applauded the pope for these gestures—even though he had just visited the wall that slows Palestinians down from trying to destroy the Jews! Even though he praised Palestinian leaders who have proclaimed that they do not want peace, and do not recognize Israel’s right to even exist. He called Palestinians, who are working toward another Jewish holocaust, “dear brothers”! Where is the goodness and the love of God in that?
Here is what Francis wrote in the Yad Vashem guest book: “With shame for what man, who was created in the image of God, was able to do. With shame for the fact that man made himself the owner of evil. With shame that man made himself into God and sacrificed his brothers. Never again!! Never again!! Francis.”
He also said, “Never again, Lord, never again. Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man created in your own image and likeness was capable of doing.”
Francis blamed the Holocaust on “man.” But the real culprit was the Nazis. The Nazis were responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews and 60 million people total in World War ii. And there is a mountain of evidence showing thatthe Vatican was complicitin that colossal Holocaust!
One Catholic author received access to Vatican records, and he was shocked at what he found and how anti-Semitic and hateful the Vatican was toward the Jews. It has been absolutely proved that even after the Nazis committed all these horrific crimes and then lost World War ii, it was the Vatican that helped almost all of the Nazi officers escape through the “ratlines.” For example, Adolf Eichmann, who probably killed more Jews for Adolf Hitler in World War ii than any other man, escaped to the pope’s home country of Argentina! And he did it with help from the Vatican. (We have an e-book you can download for free, proving this critical point.)
How could the pope go into Israel and not hang his head in shame for this history? Why didn’t he specify that the Vatican helped the movement that did such evil? Why didn’t he lament and repent of what his church did to cause that shame? He and the leaders of his church have never repented of what it did!
For the pope to kiss the hands of Holocaust survivors can only be viewed as a fraud! It was a symbol designed to keep people from focusing on the evil that church has been involved in.
Caroline Glick wrote, “Francis stridently condemned the anti-Jewish attacks in Brussels and Paris. And during his ceremonial visits to Yad Vashem, the Wailing Wall, and the Terror Victims Memorial, he said similarly appropriate things. But all his statements ring hollow and false in light of his actions” (op. cit.).
This is one of the greatest journalists in the Jewish state today, and perhaps one of the best in the world. She sees through what the pope did and is not afraid to speak out about it. She concluded by saying: “Israelis and Jews around the world need to be aware of what is happening. Francis is leading the Catholic Church in a distressingly anti-Jewish direction.”
This is really what should make headlines around the world! But none of the media picked it up. This world doesn’t want the truth.
Treatment of Israeli Officials
How did this man who carefully designed and stage-managed all of his symbolic moves in the Holy Land treat the prime minister of Israel? The Economist on May 28 characterized the pope’s demeanor as “standoffish.”
“In one of his blander pronouncements during the papal visit, Netanyahu mentioned on Monday that Jesus spoke Hebrew,” Glick wrote. “There was nothing incorrect about Netanyahu’s statement. Jesus was, after all, an Israeli Jew. But Francis couldn’t take the truth, so he indelicately interrupted his host, interjecting, ‘Aramaic!’ Netanyahu was probably flustered. True at the time, educated Jews spoke and wrote in Aramaic, and Jesus was educated, but the language of the people was Hebrew, and Jesus preached to the people in Hebrew. Netanyahu responded, ‘He spoke Aramaic, but He knew Hebrew’” (op. cit.).
Netanyahu ought to have reacted more strongly. But this is the pope—you just don’t do that to a dictator of his stature!
“Reuters’ write-up of the incident tried to explain away the pope’s rudeness and historical revisionism, asserting, ‘Modern-day discourse about Jesus is complicated and often political,’” Glick continued. “The report went on to delicately mention, ‘Palestinians sometimes describe Jesus as Palestinian. Israelis object to that.’
“Israelis ‘object to that’ because it is a lie.”
After discussing some success the pope has had with befriending Middle East leaders, the Associated Press reported, “The atmosphere was starkly different in Francis’s one-on-one with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has expressed anger with politicians who have reached out to Abbas at a time when the Palestinian leader is reconciling with the Islamic militant group Hamas. Israel considers Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, a terrorist group” (May 26). I would think so, since Hamas lobs missiles at Israeli cities time and time again.
The Washington Post wrote, “The pontiff had said his visit would be ‘strictly religious,’ but it was not. Francis on Sunday secured a promise from Israeli President Shimon Peres, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to meet with him at the Vatican next month to pray together and talk peace” (op. cit.). Francis’s invitation was unexpected, and everybody was buzzing about it. Both Peres and Abbas were eager to pray with the pope.
“‘The humility in your nature and the power in your spirit, raised a spiritual elation and a thirst for peace,’ Peres told him in a ceremony in the garden of the presidential residence. But the pope’s gesture seemed to send a powerful message to the region’s leaders not to give up, weeks after the latest round of peace talks collapsed” (Associated Press, op. cit.). The peace process has been a disaster for the Jews! Biblical prophecy describes it as a bleeding wound (Hosea 5:13—you can see proof of this in my free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy). A prayer meeting with the pope will keep that wound flowing with blood.
Francis does not have a normal sense of repentance or even shame for what his state did. He is hostile toward the Jews. Where does that hostility come from? Why is he siding with people who want to put the Jews through another Holocaust? Why does he call those people his brothers?
Symbolism—like the pope’s photo op in Bethlehem, or his warm gestures toward Abbas, Twal and Hussein—is one of the Vatican’s greatest tools. Why? Because of people’s ignorance. If people had the perceptiveness of Caroline Glick, for example—or if they just remembered history—there is no way the pope could get away with promoting Palestinian propaganda! Outside of terrorists and others who want to murder Jews, everyone else would scoff and jeer!
Look back in history. The fact remains that in the Middle Ages the Catholic Church killed about 50 million people in an Inquisition. That is the extreme to which it will go to increase its power. And it will do everything it can to blot out that history.
Look at the horrors the Vatican-guided “Holy” Roman Empire has committed throughout the ages. The Bible literally gives you a picture of it. God is the greatest and most masterful user of symbols, and He depicts the Holy Roman Empire very appropriately: as a beast—a great monster like you’ve never seen before! A political-military beast guided by a political-religious beast. That Holy Roman Empire is about to burst on the world scene, led by Germany and the Vatican.
This beast is ridden and guided by a woman. “With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Revelation 17:2). God uses these symbols to describe an entity that has intoxicating power over people around the world because it has had relations with the political leaders of many nations. In the Bible, God uses a woman to represent a church. This woman is very powerful. “[A]nd I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (verses 3-5).
The Bible is not silent about such a great and unique political power like the Catholic Church. Daniel 7:8 records a vision God gave that describes the history of the Roman Empire and how it became the “Holy” Roman Empire: “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” (Daniel 7:8). This little horn—a great false church—plucked up the Heruli, the Vandals and the Ostrogoths from ruling Rome. Then it proceeded to dominate multiple resurrections of the Roman Empire over a matter of centuries—all the way down to today!
God prophesied that this church-state combine would be resurrected seven times: “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space” (Revelation 17:10). When that verse was revealed to Mr. Armstrong around World War ii, five resurrections had come and gone; the sixth was on the scene. Now, the last one is upon us!
Historically speaking, since a.d. 554 this empire, through its secular agents, has routinelykilled people who don’t submit to its power, shedding more blood than any other church could even begin to do! Why? Not because of its doctrines or its people—but because it had political dictators who were out to control the world! Yet it has never repented of that evil. And according to prophecy, the seventh and final resurrection of that empire will be the very worst! Even as it talks about peace, that Holy Roman Empire is coming again!
Was this trip to Jerusalem about the Catholic people the pope rules over? Was it about the Catholic religion? No, it was about a political dictator who wants to rule the world.
Revelation 6:9-11 also talk about a time coming in the near future when this beast will kill God’s own people. This dictator will kill people who refuse to follow him and who follow God instead.
This beastly power is at work, and it is going to guide the destruction of the Jewish nation, which gives it such honor today. And it is going to destroy the rest of the modern descendants of Israel, particularly the United States and Britain.
Why would God let this evil empire do this? God says He actually puts it in their minds—because of Israel’s abominations (Revelation 17:17). God says the modern nations of Israel (the English-speaking nations, primarily), which had a history with Him, are committing such abominations that they must be punished! And He will use this beastly power to do just that.
Ezekiel 16 uses the symbol of a prostitute to represent our sin-drenched nations. Our nations are so full of sin that God sends this destroying machine of church and state to wreak the worst suffering and destruction ever on the modern nations of Israel.
God gives us one more symbol though—one of hope. “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1). Who is this? This is not a world-political-power church. This is God’s true Church. He says His people are clothed with the sun and have the moon as their footstool and a crown of 12 stars. That means they have all the power of God, the Creator of the universe, behind them. He gives this Church unstoppable power—if it obeys Him and exposes what Satan is doing. God’s true Church declares God’s warning about the abject evils our nations are committing that are bringing them down. It also declares His warning about the Holy Roman Empire that is going to leave us in its bloody trail. (For more information, request our free booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.)
“And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered” (verse 2). This is the Church Christ was born into. Verse 3 reveals “another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads” (verse 3). Satan is the head of every single one of the resurrections of the Holy Roman Empire, which worshiped him.
Verse 5 says that Christ is “to rule all nations with a rod of iron.” God is going to rule the world!That is where these epic and catastrophic events are leading!
“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (verse 12). This is terrible news: Satan has been cast down to Earth and is stirring up abominations and horrible sins inside the modern nations of Israel and around the world. He is stirring up his political-religious dictator. He is stirring up his beast power.
But he only has a short time—because Jesus Christ is coming to conquer that dictator and that beast and all of mankind and the devil, and He will rule all nations with a rod of iron!