North Korea Launches Russian-Style Missiles

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversees weapons tests at an undisclosed location.
KCNA

North Korea Launches Russian-Style Missiles

After pausing for more than 500 days, North Korea has test-launched a different kind of nuclear-capable missile.

North Korea conducted a test of two short-range missiles on May 9, marking its second ballistic missile test in less than a week and showing that the period of relative calm on the Korean Peninsula may be ending.

The missiles were launched from the country’s northwest Kusong region and flew eastward before falling into the East Sea between North Korea and Japan.

The launch came just five days after a short-range missile was fired from North Korea’s east coast, under the personal supervision of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. This May 4 launch ended a pause of North Korean ballistic missile tests that started in November 2017 and lasted more than 500 days. The pause was a result of efforts between Kim and United States President Donald Trump to reach a deal to denuclearize the North in exchange for lifting sanctions on the country. But in February, a meeting collapsed after Trump insisted on full sanctions relief for full denuclearization, while Kim sought only partial denuclearization in exchange for partial sanctions relief.

Days after the unsuccessful Trump-Kim summit ended, Russia announced that it would host Kim for a landmark meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which took place on April 25 in Vladivostok, Russia.

The timing suggests that North Korea’s pause in missile tests ended with Russia’s blessing—possibly with its encouragement. Not only that, the actual missiles fired by North Korea bear a striking resemblance to Russia’s Iskander missiles. Marcus Schiller, an expert on North Korean missiles, told the Associated Press that the launch has “Russian technology fingerprints all over it.”

Russia’s advanced Iskander missiles are a major threat to Europe and were named by President Trump in February as the reason for his decision to suspend America’s participation in the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Speaking to npr on May 8, weapons of mass destruction analyst Melissa Hanham said North Korea’s new “Iskander-style missile is a thing we need to start worrying about.”

The Iskander can carry nuclear warheads and uses solid fuel, which makes it more rapid to deploy, easier to hide, and more difficult to strike preemptively. It is highly accurate, with in-flight maneuverability and an operating altitude of 30 miles that makes it difficult to intercept before it makes a sharp turn and strikes its target. This altitude is too low for the United States thaad and Aegis antimissile systems, and above the reach of its Patriot interceptors. “[I]t poses a serious challenge to theater missile defense,” Michael Elleman, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told npr.

Analysts are not yet certain if the missiles that the North fired truly were Iskanders, or if they were merely cloned or resembled them. But if the Russians have sold Iskanders to Kim, this gives North Korea additional capabilities for striking its enemies. The 38 North website wrote: “If North Korea did in fact import Iskanders from Russia, it has an existing capacity to deliver warheads to targets in South Korea with great precision, and an ability to penetrate existing missile defenses deployed in the South” (May 8).

Shortly after North Korea’s May 9 missile launch, the U.S. announced that it had seized a North Korean ship. The Wise Honest, the North’s second-largest cargo vessel, had been shipping coal in violation of United Nations sanctions and was stopped in April 2018. The Justice Department began the process of transferring ownership of the ship to the U.S. through a civil forfeiture, the first time the U.S. has taken such an action against a North Korean cargo vessel.

American officials said the timing of the disclosure did not come as a response to the North’s missile tests, but the announcement could further exacerbate the tension. These developments expose the fragility of the relative calm seen on the Korean Peninsula over the last year and a half and indicate that it could be short-lived.

The Russian fingerprints on the North’s new missile, as well as Kim’s meeting with Putin and his recent series of meetings with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, reveal the source of North Korea’s power. And they point to where the more serious threats lie.

In 2017, during a particularly provocative time for North Korea, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said Bible prophecy shows that the people of the world should be more wary of Russia and China than of North Korea. He pointed out that it is those two nations that allow North Korea to posture as belligerently as it does.

He wrote in a co-worker letter on Sept. 13, 2017:

The Bible’s prophecies show that, in a sense, the North Korea crisis is a massive distraction from the real threat posed by China and Russia. These powerful Asian nations are the only reason North Korea is able to operate so freely. And Bible prophecy shows that they pose a threat many times greater than the one from North Korea! Nevertheless, nuclear technology from North Korea could still play a major role in events during the time ahead.

The prophecies that Mr. Flurry’s analysis is founded on are recorded predominantly in Ezekiel 38 and 39, Daniel 11 and Revelation 9:16 and 16:12. These passages reveal that Russia will lead a mighty pan-Asian military conglomerate in the end time, with China in a position of secondary leadership. The Bible shows that smaller Asian nations, likely including North Korea, will be absorbed into that Russian-led bloc and lend their military power to it. But North Korea will not be a lead player.

In his free booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia,’ Mr. Flurry shows how these various scriptural passages are linked. And he explains that this bloc, with Vladimir Putin in charge, will soon play a key role in the most violent conflict in mankind’s history.

But Mr. Flurry also shows that some unprecedentedly good news lies at the core of these prophecies.

He writes:

Vladimir Putin is a sign, literally a sign, that Jesus Christ is about to return! This is one of the most inspiring messages in the Bible. What we are seeing in Russia ultimately leads to the transition from man ruling man to God ruling man! And it is almost here! It is just a few short years away.

Putin’s leadership, including his outreach to Kim Jong-un and possible exports of Iskanders to North Korea, is destabilizing the world and laying the groundwork for a time of worldwide catastrophe. But it is also “literally a sign” that righteous godly leadership for the whole planet is “just a few short years away”!

To understand more about both the perils and the hope in these prophecies, order your free copy of Mr. Flurry’s booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia.’

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Europe Developing Airlift Capacity Independent of U.S.

An A400M of the German Air Force at Berlin Tegel Airport
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Europe Developing Airlift Capacity Independent of U.S.

European nations fighting European wars will need European military transport aircraft.

The A400M is the world’s most technologically advanced military transport aircraft. Since 2013, Europe has been filling its storehouses with this new engineering development. This plane fills a major strategic capability gap that allows Europe to conduct warfare abroad without the United States.

For decades, Europe has lacked the necessary airlifters to operate independently. Without enough modern military transport aircraft, European forces cannot range far afield very quickly or in very large numbers.

“EU military ambitions will also be dependent on adequate strategic airlift, and this remains a notable capability gap,” Yvonni-Stefania Efstathiou, program coordinator and research analyst for Defense and Military Analysis, noted this past January.

Until 2001, Europe had zero strategic airlift capacity, and only a limited number of smaller, shorter-range tactical airlifters, such as the Transall C-160 and Lockheed C-130 Hercules. nato created the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (sais) in 2001 and the Strategic Airlift Capability (sac) in 2008. This gave European nato members access to—and dependency on—U.S. Air Force airlifters.

In 2001, the British Royal Air Force began flying the Boeing C-17 and became the first nato country, besides the U.S., capable of conducting strategic airlifts. The same year, the British and six other European nato members agreed to manufacture their own strategic heavy-airlifter, the Airbus A400M. Germany ordered 53, France 50, Spain 27, the United Kingdom 22, Turkey 10 and Luxembourg 1. Other nations have since also expressed interest.

By 2018, France, Germany, Spain and the UK operated 63 military airlifters (A400M and C-17A Globemaster iii models). The U.S. operated 264 C-17A and C-5M Super Galaxy models. Over the course of the next few years, Europe will quickly catch up.

In 2014, the Joint Air Power Competence Centre Journal wrote: “The fulfillment of A400M orders will not only help European nations become a global contingency enabler but will allow them to act and operate on their own for strictly European operations.”

The A400M excels in air-to-air refueling, can operate on unpaved runways, and can drop paratroopers or loads from the air. It fills the capability gap between the C-130J-30 Super Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster iii. Some have even argued that the U.S. military should buy some A400Ms.

Military officials say the A400M is a technological masterpiece with game-changing capabilities. It can deliver heavy-lift helicopters or 32-ton infantry fighting vehicles faster to more remote regions. Airbus noted:

Previous generation tactical airlifters have good tactical performance but cannot carry the outsize military and humanitarian relief loads because their cargo holds are too small. Current strategic aircraft are good outsize-load airlifters but are costly and have limited tactical capability as they cannot operate from soft fields. The A400M is a larger, more modern, truly versatile aircraft specifically designed for today’s requirements and those of the future.

The late Herbert W. Armstrong, editor in chief of the Plain Truth, predicted in 1980: “You may be sure the West European leaders are conferring hurriedly and secretly about how and how soon they may unite and provide a united European military force so they can defend themselves!” (Plain Truth, April 1980).

Mr. Armstrong based his forecast on Bible prophecy. He died in 1986, but world events have proved his forecasts about Europe and other regions around the world to be accurate. For more information, request our free booklet He Was Right.

The key to understanding these biblical prophecies is revealed in The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Mr. Armstrong. In this book, Mr. Armstrong explained the biblical identity of nations, as well as the fact that most prophecies are indeed for our time—right before the return of Jesus Christ.

Many biblical prophecies refer to the rise of a militaristic leader in Europe who will lead an empire to war. This man will command an army that will surprise and utterly destroy many nations.

Daniel 8:23-24 state: “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.”

Daniel 11:40 prophesies of a sudden European military attack against Iran and its allies. This attack will be followed by a European military intervention in the Holy Land. Other prophecies also indicate European military involvement in North Africa, Asia and America.

Such global destructiveness far surpasses even Adolf Hitler’s military ambitions. A prophecy in Revelation 9 shows that military aircraft will play a decisive role in these coming wars. The January 2011 Trumpet stated that the Apostle John used “the symbolic term of locusts to describe the terrifying war machines that would be invented by scientists and used by the military in this final world conflict! Notice that these symbolic locusts, or grasshoppers, are driven by men and are able to fly (verses 7, 9). They will make a tremendous noise and are protected by armored plating.”

This could describe military aircraft that Europe is currently producing.

Without strategic and tactical airlift capacity, Europe would not be capable of conducting such warfare. But Mr. Armstrong not only prophesied of a coming unified European military force, its break from the U.S., and the almost utter destruction of this world in a global conflict (Matthew 24), he also prophesied of a coming wonderful world that will follow today’s horrors.

To learn more about Europe’s pursuit for military independence and the devastating consequences it will have, request Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry. Also request a free copy of Mr. Armstrong’s booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like to learn why mankind has to suffer such terrible conflict and how and when God will intervene in world affairs.

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Why the New Gold Rush?

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Why the New Gold Rush?

This time, it’s not prospectors looking for precious metals—it’s central banks.

A new gold rush is on. This time, though, it’s not prospectors panning for grains in the stream. It’s central banks buying per ton.

Governments are buying gold. Those whose gold holdings are overseas are nervously trying to bring them back. Why are nations craving this precious metal?

Last year, central banks bought 74 percent more gold than they did the year before. It was the second-biggest year for gold purchases on record, bigger than any since the United States left the gold standard in 1971. They purchased over 700 tons of the precious metal—more than the weight of two jumbo jets—and, at current prices, valued around $27 billion.

Russia led the way, boosting its holdings by about 15 percent—after several years of increases. In December, China bought gold for the first time in two years. Since then, it has bought more every month.

In 2017, Turkey started buying gold for the first time in 25 years, and it continued purchasing gold in 2018. Hungary, which once owned little gold, increased its gold reserves 10-fold. Poland boosted its holdings by 25 percent. Countries as diverse as India, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Mongolia and Azerbaijan all bought gold. No central banks sold any significant amounts.

They are the latest in a long list of countries. Germany brought home its large gold reserves from the U.S., the United Kingdom and France. Then the Dutch, Austrians and possibly the Turks brought their gold back. Now Hungary has brought its minor gold reserves back from the UK, and Romania is working on repatriating from the UK its 100-plus tons of gold.

It’s not just central banks that are concerned about gold. A study published by the Steinbeis Research Centre for Financial Services last month found that private German citizens hold a record amount of gold—nearly 9,000 tons of it. The figure had risen by 246 tons since 2016, and by 1,360 tons since 2010. At today’s prices, that’s worth just under $340 billion. The survey concluded that 38 percent of the German population owns gold bars or gold coins. When private and government holdings of gold are combined, Germans hold approximately 6.5 percent of global gold reserves.

Meanwhile the eurozone is fighting over its gold reserves. Italy is pursuing a new law that would allow the government to take over the Bank of Italy’s gold reserves, sell them, and spend the money. The European Central Bank opposes the move, saying that European Union treaties give its European System of Central Banks sole authority over the gold. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi says that his bank must approve any large-scale sale of Italian gold. So Italy and the EU are in a struggle for control over the world’s third-largest gold reserves.

But why all this fuss over gold? Partly it is distrust of America and the dollar. Countries want to dump the dollar, but there aren’t any good alternatives right now. The euro is still a shaky currency, and China is known for cheating on its valuation of the yuan, so gold is one of the only safe options.

Another reason is uncertainty. Buying and storing gold is a security risk, and it’s often not as profitable as holding other assets, like currencies and complex financial instruments. But if major currencies finally succumb to the mounting pressures against them, gold is still worth something. More and more are deciding gold is worth it. “The move by global central banks to repatriate their gold may be a sign that an economic crisis could be looming in the near future,” noted Gold Telegraph. Countries, central banks and everyday Germans fear that it could all come crashing down.

They want not only to own gold, but to physically secure it. These countries apparently believe the risk of a crisis is so high that they cannot trust the Bank of England or the U.S. Federal Reserve to continue holding gold, even though repatriating their reserves is complex, risky and expensive. Generally, countries have been happy to store their gold in major trading hubs, like New York or London, so that it could easily be bought or sold, as needed.

The Trumpet warns that the world is entering major economic, political and even military turmoil. The gold-buying trend is hard evidence that governments and individuals around the world recognize the threat. They are taking real, practical steps to prepare for this kind of emergency.

So what can you do to prepare? Buy gold?

On some news sites, you will see ads from companies trying to sell gold to you. You will see ads from companies trying to sell you freeze-dried food. You will see ads from companies trying to sell you guns.

Spending your cash on such things is not the solution.

With so much at stake based on what happens in the future, central banks make their forecasts based on huge amounts of financial and economic data, complex algorithms, intelligence on societal stability, inside political knowledge, and vast amounts of other information. The Trumpet forecasts the future based on a source that is much more comprehensive and much more accurate: the prophecies of mankind’s Creator. These prophecies, recorded in the Bible, specify that world events will become so bad that people will discard their gold on the streets (Ezekiel 7:19). Food will become so scarce that people won’t trade it for any amount of currency or gold.

So what should you do? When gold prices soared in 2013, here is how the Trumpet answered that question:

Invest in God. Invest in your relationship with Him. Store up treasures in heaven, where moths and rust—and quantitative easing—can’t destroy them (Matthew 6:19-21). Put your heart in God’s work today. This is the only sure investment you can make. God doesn’t need your money; He can support His work in all kinds of ways. But God is concerned about your priorities—where you are spending your time and energy. God wants to know what is important to you. What do you put first in your life? What do you spend your money on? What do you sacrifice for?

Invest in gold if you wish. But if you really care about your future, invest in the one true source of protection. Invest in God.

If you’re relatively new to our website, here’s one suggestion on how to do that. To invest in your relationship with your Creator, read our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. Don’t just skim it online—get your own free print copy. This will give you an outline of God’s plan. It will show you that God is active in the history and in the current and future events affecting real-life, real-time nations. It will explain why a loving God will allow suffering to become so bad that no amount of gold can buy a morsel of bread. It will explain God’s plan in world events—and what you can do about it.

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China’s Navy Becoming a Global Force

The Guiyang destroyer of the Project 052D takes part in a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Navy.
Getty Images

China’s Navy Becoming a Global Force

Report sheds light on the pla Navy’s plan to control two oceans.

The United States Department of Defense released its annual report on the Chinese military on May 2, emphasizing the transformation of China’s People’s Liberation Army (pla) Navy into “a global force.” The report reveals decisive steps forward in China’s naval power, its plan to control two oceans, and its successful deployment of credible sea-based nuclear forces.

Analysts say China’s submarine fleet now possesses the ability to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack in the event of a nuclear attack on the Chinese mainland. As stated in the report, China currently has four operational Jin-class submarines that can launch ballistic missiles, representing “China’s first credible, sea-based nuclear deterrent.” The U.S. military has closely monitored China’s use of Hainan Island over successive years, and reports that it is equipped with extensive facilities for Jin-class ballistic-missile submarines. Submarine activity there has sharply increased in recent months.

The report shows that China has been focusing on expanding its sea power in several key regions: the South China Sea, the East China Sea and, increasingly, the Indian and Arctic oceans.

The vast majority of China’s exports to Europe pass through the Indian Ocean, as do vital energy imports from the Middle East. As a result, Geopolitical Futures wrote, “Chinese naval doctrine now calls for a permanent carrier presence in the Indian Ocean.”

China is also developing intermediate-range anti-ship missiles. It has already tested and deployed the DF-26, a precision-strike anti-ship missile, which can carry conventional or nuclear payloads. With a range of over 3,500 miles, it is designed to discourage the U.S. Navy from sending its own aircraft carriers into conflict zones.

China is already working on the next generation of its carrier fleet, modernizing its attack submarines, and preparing to build a new fleet of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines. Chinese carriers still lag behind the U.S. Navy in terms of technology. They are not nuclear-powered and lack modern equipment to launch and recover aircraft, resulting in greater wear on each plane and fewer missions flown. Training is also a limiting factor: The first group of naval aviators trained fully in China graduated only in 2015, and China has operated carriers only since 2011, when it acquired a second-hand vessel from Ukraine.

Since then, China has built one carrier of its own, planned to officially enter service this year. Another one appears to be in the early stages of construction and is expected to further narrow the technology gap with the U.S. These carriers are increasingly necessary to secure China’s immediate region of interest. Although not yet up to the standard of global force projection that the U.S. has, and limited by inexperienced crews, they are adequate for China’s current operations and are rapidly improving. Chinese experts have called for at least six carriers to be developed to protect strategic regions such as the South and East China seas and as far out as the Indian Ocean.

China has also shown increasing interest in the Arctic. According to the report, China operates research outposts in Norway and Iceland. In 2017, the Chinese icebreaker Xuelong became the first official Chinese vessel to traverse the Northwest Passage. China has since built a second icebreaker, the only one in the world that can break through ice while sailing backward. It has also attempted to expand into Greenland: A plan to buy an abandoned naval base in Greenland prompted complaints from Denmark; the Department of Defense report also cited evidence showing China wants to build satellite facilities in Greenland. Currently, the only other major power active in the Arctic is Russia.

China is also enhancing its coast guard. “This year’s report placed heavier emphasis than past years’ on China’s use of its coast guard and so-called ‘maritime militia’ in gray zone operations in the South and East China seas,” wrote Geopolitical Futures. The tactic of swarming contested islands with Chinese Coast Guard vessels and fishing boats has prompted the U.S. to warn China that these armed vessels will soon be treated as combatants. China has pursued a strategy of making numerous aggressive but unarmed provocations, all of which “fall below the threshold of provoking armed conflict,” said the report.

What is China’s strategy? Why the extensive focus on islands in the South China Sea and gaining control of the oceans around China and beyond?

In a time of war with another major power like the U.S. or Europe, China will need to bring its ships out far enough from the mainland to attack its enemies. This means passing through the South and East China seas and having a secure zone from which to launch strikes. To do this, China is focusing on dominating and controlling strategic choke points. Whoever controls these points holds the keys granting access to the broader Pacific Ocean, where China can hide its nuclear ballistic-missile submarines.

These choke points are mentioned in Bible prophecies written thousands of years ago. And China’s control of them is prophesied to have grave effects for the U.S. and Britain. In his article “China Is Steering the World Toward War,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote:

God delivered a sobering warning to the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 28. If the people disobeyed Him and turned to sin, He would give the strategic sea gates of the world over to their enemies. These enemies would use these sea gates to besiege and enslave biblical Israel: “And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trusted, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee” (verse 52).

This warning is not just for an ancient nation. It is a prophecy for the modern-day descendants of Israel! Two nations in particular represent Israel in this end time: America and Britain.

Although many analysts watch China closely today, none could have predicted China’s meteoric rise as far back as one man did. His name was Herbert W. Armstrong, the founder and editor of the Plain Truth newsmagazine. In December 1959, he wrote:

Lenin wrote that the way to Paris, London and New York is via [Beijing] and Delhi. [P]art of the Communist plan [is] to place India and Pakistan in a giant vice between Russia and China. … Red China insists it has a legal right not only to Tibet but [also] to many parts of India and Southeast Asia. … Their constant dream for centuries has been ultimate world conquest! … China knows, however, that in this highly industrialized age she can accomplish this dream only as an ally of Russia. … China is now ready to begin devouring the rest of Asia with Russia’s secret military backing.

Mr. Armstrong predicted China’s rise, based on prophecies in Ezekiel 38. In combination with other Asian nations, this superpower will be involved in crucial end-time events, eventually helping to field an army of 200 million men (Revelation 9:16). China’s increasing sea power is only one example pointing to their prophesied militarization.

In “Why the Trumpet Watches the Rise of China as a Superpower,” we wrote:

It is amazing to see how God’s prophecies about China for our day coincide with China’s recent activity. God gave China its unique geography and influenced world events enough to ensure they would unfold according to His prophecies. Now this Asian giant is coming out of its isolationist ways. It has gained tremendous economic clout that poses a considerable threat to the United States. Its capability as a military power is also rising to levels commensurate with those foretold in Scripture.

But that doesn’t get to the heart of why the Trumpet reports on China’s rise. We follow this trend because of what will happen after the siege. All of these major events prophesied in the Bible are part of a series of events that lead right up to the return of Jesus Christ.

China is a nation you must watch if you want to understand the world around you. China’s rise as a superpower already impacts the world, and will continue to do so as more prophecies are fulfilled. Though it means war in the short term, it ultimately will lead to the best news you could ever hear: the return of Jesus Christ. To read more about China’s rise, request your free copy of our booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.

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Pope Revamps Vatican to Gain Converts

Pope Francis waves to worshipers at St. Peter’s Square on April 24, ahead of his weekly general audience.
VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Revamps Vatican to Gain Converts

The Vatican’s imperial spirit and desire for dominance revives with a new evangelical crusade.

Pope Francis is overhauling the way the Roman Catholic Church is governed. In 2013, his first major move after being elected pope was to appoint a panel of cardinals to advise him on how to reorganize the Roman Curia (the administration that governs the Vatican). Now these cardinals have finished a new Vatican constitution. Titled Praedicate Evangelium (Preach the Gospel), this constitution is currently being reviewed by bishops’ conferences around the world. Significant changes to the text are unlikely, meaning the constitution may be published as early as June 29.

Praedicate Evangelium could be one of the most radical shakeups of the Roman Curia in a generation.

Pope Francis and his panel of cardinals propose restructuring all Curia activities under one simple mission: converting people to Catholicism. According to the Spanish newspaper Vida Nueva, the new constitution will create a new “superdicastery” for evangelization. This Dicastery for Evangelization will merge the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which coordinated Catholic missionary activities, with the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization, which is tasked with reversing the secularization of Western countries. The new superdicastery will supersede all other Vatican departments, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is the body responsible for defending Catholic doctrine.

“Pope Francis always emphasizes that the church is missionary,” Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga told Spanish media in April. “That is why it is logical that in first place we have put the Dicastery for Evangelization and not the Doctrine of the Faith. This way, the pope sends a significant signal of the reform to the entire people of God.”

Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias agreed, telling Vida Nueva, “The main point of the new Apostolic Constitution is that the mission of the church is evangelization. It puts it at the center of the church and everything the Curia does. It will be the first dicastery. The name of the text shows that evangelization is the principal objective, ahead of anything else.”

Some traditionalist Catholics are concerned that prioritizing evangelization above doctrinal orthodoxy will liberalize Catholic doctrine. While it is unlikely that the Vatican will make any sweeping doctrinal changes, the church may make some strategic compromises—standing firm in one area while compromising in another—to attract more converts.

During the papacy of John Paul ii, the late Herbert W. Armstrong predicted that the Vatican might issue a new and more flexible moral code for Catholics. “The moral and spiritual trend in the world is toward more liberalism—more permissiveness,” he wrote in 1983. “Now even the Roman Catholic Church, in order to keep alive in an immoral and unrighteous world, is relaxing and giving people what they like to call ‘their rights.’”

The Vatican’s push for new converts comes from its imperial spirit and desire for dominance. The word “Catholic” means universal.

The Bible often uses a woman to symbolize a church (e.g., 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-27; Revelation 19:7). Isaiah 47 describes a “woman” called the “daughter of Babylon” and the “the lady of kingdoms,” who says, “I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children.” This woman is a church that is unique in history: It descended from the ancient Babylonian mystery religion; it holds a vast amount of power; it has relations with political leaders; it seeks to reestablish its authority over its daughter churches. This description can apply to only one church.

The Catholic Church is striving to increase its influence by making concordats with nations around the world and revamping its own constitution to bring more converts into (or back into) Catholicism.

For more information on where this is leading, and why Mr. Armstrong made these forecasts, read our article “Returning to the Fold.”

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Video Game Addiction: A ‘Battle Royale’—for Your Mind

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Video Game Addiction: A ‘Battle Royale’—for Your Mind

Have you let technology enslave you?

The boy was desperate. Gripping a hammer, he smashed the windshield of a family’s car. Over shards of glass, he clambered inside.

Why? The car was his own family’s car, and he thought his parents had locked his gaming device inside. He really, really wanted to keep playing the video game Fortnite: Battle Royale.

After this incident, the boy’s parents took their young son to the hospital. He received therapy for 11 days and gave up the game for good. This boy is now 13, and even he doesn’t understand why the game once had so much power over him. He told the Boston Globe, “It’s hard for me to understand why I got to the point where I was playing it so much and what I’d do to be able to play.” Now that he is free from the game’s grip, he realizes how much of a hold it has on his peers: “The little kids on the school bus have gone from Pokeman cards to Fortnite. They’re in third and fourth grades, and that’s all they talk about.”

Many parents deceive themselves into thinking that this wildly popular video game is fine because it isn’t as violent or gory as other games on the market. However, Fortnite is so addictive that one British behavioral specialist likened the game to heroin.

Often described as a cross between Minecraft and The Hunger Games, the premise of the game is that 100 competitors are dropped onto an island, and they gather weapons and build structures for protection while killing off the other competitors. The last player or team standing wins. This extremely popular game has had more than 250 million players, with more joining every day.

In 2019, just under a third of Fortnite users played the game 6 to 10 hours per week. The most hardcore players spent 21 hours or more playing the game. In one study, 15 percent of players said they had skipped “a lot” of school to play Fortnite. Children have been admitted to hospitals for malnutrition because they refuse to eat while playing the game for hours on end. The game is breaking up marriages; parents are fighting about who allowed it in the house in the first place. Desperate parents bring their children to psychiatrists and hospitals in a last-ditch effort to break the habit.

There is a reason why Fortnite is so addictive. Modern game designers study slot machines, which are designed to make gamblers keep coming back for just one more chance to win. This is called a variable reward system. Fortnite capitalizes on the human brain’s love of rewards and exploits the lack of self-control in adolescents, which makes them particularly susceptible to this reward system.

The designers of these programs aren’t the only ones to blame. The parents of tech-addicted children should have put restrictions on them to prevent them from becoming addicted in the first place. Whenever I read stories of children playing video games until 4 in the morning, I wonder, Why aren’t the parents making them go to bed?

Children want no limits. Even parents believe that limits are generally bad. But children without limits are miserable!

If you are a teenager, you are especially vulnerable to addictive technology like this game. Are you allowing yourself to become enslaved to the virtual world?

How did the boy who smashed his parents’ windscreen get into playing Fortnite? After changing schools, he struggled to fit in. Fighting loneliness, he discovered that he could make “friends” through the online world of Fortnite. The more time he spent playing the game, the more he improved, and the more “popular” he became in the Fortnite community. In time, the video game became his reality, and real life was secondary. He pulled away from his family and former friends and delved deeply into the online world.

Because you play with other people in the Battle Royale mode, Fortnite is promoted as a way to develop friendships. Surviving on your own in Battle Royale is difficult, but if you make a team with other players, you are more likely to win. But are these virtual friends on Fortniteor Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat, for that matter—really your friends?

Studies show that although this generation is the most connected generation in history because of modern technology, young people today are lonely and depressed. Teens today have everything they could ever want, but still they are depressed. Young people who use social media constantly feel more socially isolated than those who don’t. Even those who have many online friends or video game pals feel very lonely in real life.

Young people today get out less, spend less time together with other teens, and often simply don’t know how to talk to each other, unless it’s through a headset, looking at a screen, alone in a dark room.

At Trumpet headquarters in Edmond, Oklahoma, staff members and Herbert W. Armstrong College students are preparing for this year’s Philadelphia Youth Camp. I once gave a lecture at camp titled “Dare to Be Square.” A square is balanced: All four sides are equal. We need to be balanced in our physical health and fitness, our education, our spiritual lives and our social lives.

People have all sorts of reasoning, explanations and arguments for how they should live their lives. And whether it’s a middle-school child addicted to gaming or a real-life violent gang member or a middle-aged woman living in the suburbs, it almost always gets down to this: The right way for me to live my life is whatever I think is best.

We all tend to think that way, even though absolutely nothing in the universe would function or even exist without law, without cause and effect.

In reality, the right way to live your life is to live how your Creator designed you to live. God is the master designer, architect, builder, Creator, life-giver. We are His creations. The way of life that works for humans is the same way of life that works for our Creator. It’s the way of life that He Himself lives, and He reveals it to us in the Bible. It’s a law of cause and effect.

What is that life-governing, powerful, unchangeable law? It’s actually even simpler to describe than the simplistic gameplay of Fortnite. Herbert W. Armstrong summarized it in The Incredible Human Potential: “God’s law—the basis of God’s government—is the way of love—outgoing concern for the good and welfare of others, love toward God in obedience, humility, and worship—the way of giving, sharing, helping, cooperating.”

Whether it’s a physical, mental, spiritual or social aspect of your life, whatever situation you’re in, compare your mentality to that law. Obeying that law will lead to balance, success, purpose and happiness, every time. It’s cause and effect, just like the laws of biology or physics.

In the case of video games, it’s obvious that those sitting in front of a screen and interacting with others in such a limited, imbalanced way does not follow the law of love. Giving, sharing, helping, serving and cooperating are actions—you have to get up from the couch to do them. In 1 Corinthians 9:19, the Apostle Paul said that he worked hard to be a “servant unto all.” The word “servant” here means “bondslave.” Paul tried to serve everyone that he came into contact with. That required vigorous action on his part, not engaging in frivolous self-entertaining pleasures for hours at a time.

What will really make you happy? Serving. That requires human interaction. Develop deep and lasting friendships with others in the Church. Learn to share yourself in human relationships. Share your warmth, your love, your plans, your interests, your dreams. Listen to others as they share these things too. Offer kindness and encouragement when others are down. You can never give away too much love!

Everyone wants a lot of friends. Even the most introverted person craves social interaction. Proverbs 18:24 shows that you can have a lot of friends—if you give of yourself first. Unless you help others grow socially, you won’t grow socially. Giving is the only way to build lasting friendships.

Even if you don’t play Fortnite, you are very likely addicted to some degree to electronic technology: Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix and surfing the Internet in general all have addictive qualities. The companies that design social media applications, games, video streaming services and even television have spent decades and millions of dollars learning to design their products to make them as addictive as possible and as profitable as possible. The result is your attention is snatched away from what really matters.

Every day, there is a real “battle royale” raging. Its objective is not only your attention, but control over your mind. Satan exists, and he wants to control your attention and your time. He wants you to break the laws that lead to success, balance and happiness. He wants to addict you to electronic technology and other pursuits that waste your time and distract you from what really matters in life—developing your relationship with God and His Family.

Don’t let yourself be programmed. Dare to be different—dare to be square. Dare to learn God’s laws of success and happiness, and lead a balanced life of purpose and incredible potential.