War, Peace and Religion

Religion is becoming the most powerful force in international relations.

A distinct trend has emerged in international relations during this early 21st century. It’s a phenomenon as ancient as the Holy Roman Empire, as the Ottoman Empire of old. In fact, it tracks right back to ancient Babylon.

It’s the phenomenon of religion.

Despite all of the efforts of the post-Enlightenment secularists, of the rabid socialists who swamped our university campuses during the latter half of the 20th century, despite the aggressive efforts of that godless religion—communism—to trample the religious masses underfoot, competing theisms are back with a vengeance, strutting the world stage in a fashion not witnessed since, yet powerfully linked to, the First Crusade launched by Pope Urban ii in 1095.

To the historian, the history we are writing today has an all-too-familiar ring to it.

Holy Wars

The Trumpet declared, six years before 9/11, that war is “the tool down through history that religion has used to gain its satanic conquests” (March 1995, emphasis mine throughout). When al Qaeda hit New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, that historic reality brought 3,000 souls to their fiery deaths.

Ever since, religion has dramatically escalated its status in international affairs. Jew and Gentile, Christian and pagan, Islamist versus the infidel and “the great Satan”—all of these ideas have triggered movements of zealots who would seek to take over the world to install their version of world peace by imposing their religion.

The tragedy of 9/11 was a powerful witness to the resilience and strength of the undying nature of this zealotry and the hatred it breeds. Indeed, the holy wars of old still roil today.

Religion Is Everywhere!

The Nov. 1, 2007, issue of the Economist was devoted to an analysis of the phenomenon of the return of religion influencing world affairs. That edition led with the statement, “Not long ago most politicians, intellectuals and even some clerics assumed religion was fading from public life. Now it is everywhere.

“From Sri Lanka to Baghdad new wars of religion have appeared; from Washington to Delhi there are huge arguments about faith’s role in the public square. Religion has returned … it is hard to think of a subject that seems more relevant to politics this century.”

During this present decade of disorder, there appears to be such a dearth of governmental advisers who are truly wise in matters of foreign policy. Practitioners of international relations appear to be in the greatest need of appreciating religion’s powerful influence on international relations in the past, and recognizing the extent to which it has revived to once again become a prime influence on this world.

The Road to Rome

By way of example, a recent announcement from Rome, the old spiritual capital of the religion that spawned global Christianity, brought into fuller perspective the link between religion and politics. It came from the mouth of that arch-Europhile, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi.

Back in July, Prodi, a devout Catholic and ardent devotee to the great European unification dream, declared: “The pathways of our ancestors are a great heritage …. It really makes me angry that we do not have pilgrims walking towards Rome any longer. To rebuild the great pilgrims’ path we do not need great investments, but heart. I am pressing everyone to make it happen” (Independent, July 31, 2007). Prodi spoke of the old Canterbury road made famous in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Then, in October, Prodi declared the dream of restoring that old Canterbury road, the Via Francigena, one step closer to fulfillment. “Premier Romano Prodi on Monday unveiled the first of 1,544 signposts which will soon show modern-day walkers the paths used by medieval pilgrims traveling from Canterbury to Rome. … ‘It’s about the rediscovery of our identity: We need to revisit the itineraries of the past,’ the premier said at a ceremony held outside the gate of the Monteriggioni castle, which overlooks Sienese hills” (Italy Magazine, Oct. 30, 2007).

Now, let’s put this in perspective. The Via Francigena was a pathway used by Roman Catholic pilgrims who trekked from the city of Canterbury in southern England (site of the cathedral of the same name) to Rome, before the Protestant Reformation.

Under Henry viii, Britain became a Protestant nation, refusing to bow to Rome. Its religion then centered around the Church of England, not the Church of Rome. Thus Canterbury, long a religious center in Britain, whose Protestant religion calls its head the “archbishop of Canterbury,” from then on became a focus of the practice of a religion in opposition to Rome.

So what is Prodi doing indicating that the revival of this route established by Roman Catholic pilgrims traveling from England to Rome is about the “rediscovery of our identity”? And why should this devout Roman Catholic be angered that “we do not have pilgrims [presumably from Britain] walking towards Rome any longer”? Is there a hidden agenda here? This is the very man who, during his term as head of the European Commission, oversaw the slicing up of the European Union into regions ignoring national boundaries. On the eu map of Britain, England does not exist as a nation. The United Kingdom is simply carved up on the map into several innocuous regions, having no national identity! It’s just a component part of an empire, that which is progressively morphing into a literal resurrection of the old Holy Roman Empire!

Sooner or later, the British public must become aware that this eu monolith is intent on swallowing their nation whole and reclaiming “Mary’s Dowry,” as the Vatican has traditionally viewed the British Isles.

It is said that all roads lead to Rome. The very fact that the old Via Francigena, which starts in England and ends in Rome, is in process of being revived suggests that Britain is considered part of the European Union’s (Rome’s) imperial heritage. It is one further step toward Rome fulfilling its universalistic agenda to impose its religion from the British Isles to the Ukraine plain; from the Nordic nations to Africa and beyond, and, especially, given the Vatican’s diplomatic overtures to Israel, in Jerusalem!

That is an event about which we have been warning since this magazine’s inception, and our mentor, Herbert W. Armstrong, for more than 50 years before that! It’s part of a process that is increasingly bearing on international relationships within the eu and beyond.

The world’s eyes remain fixated on the rhetoric, the bullying and the carnage created by pan-Islamism. Yet the religion possessing the bloodiest history of all is resurrecting its power right before our eyes, and few there be that see the danger in it!

Papal Watershed

Under the papacy of John Paul ii, the Roman Catholic Church took on a new life not witnessed since John xxiii convened the council of Vatican ii back in 1962.

Karol Wojtyla, elected pope on Oct. 16, 1978, gave the Church of Rome a kindly, human face, one with which the public could readily identify, that of a shepherding patriarch who desired the best for all mankind. It helped that he had experience as an actor on stage in his more youthful years. This pope was schooled in how to project a persona to the media.

The sense of theater surrounded John Paul ii’s papacy right up to his death, when his body lay ensconced in the most simple of wooden coffins—a peasant’s box for the burial of the leader of the wealthiest institution in the world. Karol Wojtyla became one of the most revered popes of all time. But he was more than an actor, a personality with great public appeal. He was a quintessential politician.

From the outset, he was determined to achieve two major milestones during his papacy: Root out the liberalism that had pervaded the priesthood since Vatican ii, and motivate the Catholics of Eastern Europe to turn their gaze from their atheistic Soviet masters to their religious and cultural roots in Rome.

Appointing his confederate of Vatican ii, Josef Ratzinger, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the modern name for the old Office of the Holy Inquisition), John Paul readily achieved his goal of silencing the most influential of liberal voices within the priesthood. That done, he turned his attention to his main political goal.

I shall never forget the first time I saw and heard John Paul ii unleash the cry, “Europe needs her eastern lung to breath!” I was watching the pope deliver his weekly Sunday homily to the faithful amassed in St. Peter’s Square, via ewtn, the Catholic tv channel.

That cry sent shivers down my spine.

Instantly, the words of Herbert W. Armstrong came ringing in my ears, words he had been broadcasting and publishing for more than half a century by the time of his death on Jan. 16, 1986.

United Europe in Prophecy

Just one year before his death, Herbert Armstrong reiterated those words: “For more than 40 years now the Plain Truth [magazine] has been proclaiming an outstanding series of Bible prophecies of something due soon to occur in Europe that will change the whole world and shake up the lives of every one of us. Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 2 pictures 10 nations in Europe in our time right now as the 10 toes on the two feet of the great symbolic image. Five of those toes picture five nations in Western Europe and five in Eastern Europe. …This is further explained in the 17th chapter of Revelation, depicting those 10 nations of Europe uniting under the Roman Catholic Church. In the last decade certain leaders in Europe have been working feverishly to bring about such a reuniting of Europe. I have personally spoken to the principal leaders in this struggle, and to leaders in Spain, Greece and Austria” (co-worker letter, Feb. 25, 1985).

John Paul ii first used this “two lung” analogy in reference to the Roman church regaining its eastern lung during a speech in his native country, Poland, in 1991. He declared at that time, in reference to the Soviet Union’s collapse, that “the church in Europe can now breathe freely with both lungs!”

Herbert Armstrong had, during his 50-year broadcasting of the World Tomorrow radio and tv program, consistently publicized the prophecy of Daniel 2, declaring, even as Europe lay in the ashes of World War ii, that a united European power would arise through the joining of the eastern and western blocs that prevailed on the Continent following that war.

Consistently, during the 40 years of Cold War, as the U.S. and Russia stared at each other over the Berlin Wall, Herbert Armstrong broadcast and published the message that a great European superpower, standing on a western and an eastern leg (the western and eastern blocs of Europe joined in union), would arise to dominate the globe economically, politically and, in the end, militarily. He further declared that the mother church of Rome would garner back her wayward eastern daughters, and provide the spiritual glue to hold together the disparate nation-states of Europe in a great, though brief, final resurrection of the old Holy Roman Empire.

To John Paul ii, Europe could not function as a united entity without its “eastern lung.” To students of Bible prophecy, the prophesied superpower of the north could not march forward in its quest for global conquest without its “eastern leg.” The fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989, and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union on Dec. 31, 1991, paved the way for that eastern leg to be joined to its already functioning western counterpart.

The key to this becoming a reality was clearly seen, decades ahead of the event, by Herbert W. Armstrong. The two legs could not be joined unless the rising European power colonized the Balkan Peninsula.

The Crucial Balkans

Fully a decade before it happened, Herbert Armstrong indicated the probability of the Balkan Peninsula falling into eu hands. Not only that, but he fully expected Vatican involvement in the process! In a letter to those who were assisting him financially in his efforts to publicize the fulfillment of Bible prophecy through world events, Mr. Armstrong declared: “There will now be an effort to bring Yugoslavia into the Holy Roman Empire alliance! There will be strong pressure from the Vatican, in view of the pope’s visit to his native Poland, to bring Poland into the new United States of Europe. If Yugoslavia and Poland go in, then expect at least Romania also to go in. Prophecy says there will be ten nations …” (Feb. 18, 1980).

That the Vatican and Germany deliberately moved in 1991, through the recognition of Croatia and Slovenia as nation-states separate from greater Yugoslavia, to trigger a domino effect of Balkan states falling into the eu grasp is now a matter of documented history. (Request a free copy of The Rising Beast for some of that documentation.)

Yet fully 20 years earlier, the magazine that Herbert Armstrong helmed, the Plain Truth, forecast this very event! “There is strong feeling in Yugoslavia today for the need to integrate that country into a strong Europe in order to offset the Soviet threat.

“This is especially true in the northern republics of Croatia and Slovenia [which are] Roman Catholic by religion …. There is certainly the likelihood that Yugoslavia could eventually become part of a powerful, united Europe, whose nucleus today is the European Common Market” (November 1971).

Further reinforcing the prospect of an eastern and western division to the European Union, Herbert Armstrong wrote in a co-worker letter dated Aug. 27, 1980: “Will Poland free itself from Soviet domination and join with Yugoslavia, Romania and possibly Czechoslovakia—and with Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Austria—in a resurrected medieval ‘Holy Roman Empire’ to dominate Europe and equal the ussr and the usa in world power?”

Plain Truth News Bureau director Gene Hogberg, referring to this letter, commented, “The original Roman Empire was broken into two ‘legs’—the eastern empire in Byzantium (later Constantinople, today Istanbul) and the empire in the West in Rome. Thus it is very possible that the restored end-time system will be composed of two distinct yet cooperative parts: the first comprising some of the present Common Market nations of Western Europe, the second from Central and Eastern Europe …” (February 1981).

What vision Herbert Armstrong had to be able to predict so accurately the outcome of affairs in Europe! Under his guidance, the Plain Truth was able to see that the papacy had a political goal to fulfill closely adjoined to its perpetual religious goal: “The Vatican’s renewed desire to unite the Roman Catholic with the Orthodox churches—even extending overtures to the Muslim world—in a united front against atheistic communism could have a particularly interesting application in Yugoslavia, given its religious makeup.

“Europe—both in its eastern and western halves—could be in for tumultuous change” (April 1980).

Pope Goes on the Offensive

Tumultuous change indeed!

John Paul ii’s political goal was fulfilled through the unification of Europe’s eastern and western “lungs.” Since his death, his successor has launched a religious blitzkrieg to draw the Orthodox churches back into union with Rome and to unite Europe religiously. Rapid progress is being made on that front, as we have reported in past issues.

As to Benedict’s overtures to the Muslim world, that is a two-edged sword. He knows that the two religions, Roman Catholicism and Islam, are incompatible. Indeed, his speech given at his old university at Regensburg in September 2006 contained condemning words against Islam to the point that Islamic leaders were highly offended. The pope was careful in his response to the offended to not apologize for the words that created the offense. He only stated that he was sorry they had caused offense.

The most discerning Muslim clerics are reading this pope’s clever diplomacy. They know he meant what he said. Hence the letter that a collection of 138 Islamic clerics and academics sent to Pope Benedict in October seeking inter-religious dialogue, a dialogue that in fact they know cannot effectively take place. Notwithstanding the statements in their letter as to common beliefs and teachings that each of these proselytizing, universalistic religions share, there is, by clear admission of Islam’s central book, the Koran, simply no platform for dialogue.

But these Muslims know full well the history of crusading Rome. The most astute can already deduce the globalist crusading vision that was shared by Karol Wojtyla and his chief confidant, now Pope Benedict. They have seen the power of that vision drawing a host of Eastern European nations back into the very imperial configuration that threatened Islam at the time of the Crusades of old.

The Islamic clerics are simply playing for time, and time is all that their efforts to court Rome are likely to gain them. They run a high risk of going too far in taunting this rising superpower, an emerging united European power that possesses nuclear technology and already has the capacity to field the world’s second-largest combined military force against any enemy that provokes it to aggression.

The Power of Papal Authority

The fact is that since John Paul ii’s election in 1978, the papacy has elevated its political profile dramatically. Over the past almost 30 years, statesmen and community and religious leaders have flocked to visit the occupant of the papal throne as at no other time in history.

Speaking of John Paul ii’s adroit international diplomacy and its powerful effects in changing the world balance of power, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev declared, “I think that there has never been such an outstanding defender of the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden in various cases and in various situations, either historically speaking or in terms of ongoing conflicts.” He also said of John Paul ii, “[H]e did a lot to prepare for the end of the Cold War, for the coming together of peoples. He was a man who used his high position” (rve/rlNewsline, April 8, 2005).

Reviewing the brief history of Pope Benedict xvi, if ever there was a man who is demonstrating the power to use his “high position,” it’s this pope. The plethora of writings he has produced since gaining office—let alone before—leaves one breathless. Benedict’s vision is well advanced in its rhetorical form. All that remains is the action to follow the words. That will come once Benedict deduces that united Europe is in a mood to hear and respond, yet once more, with the collective voice of the crusader. And the very thing that is prophesied to cause that great reaction is Islamic provocation from south of Europe.

In this magazine we have written much warning of this coming lightning offensive by a combined European force against a provocative Islamic power and of the terrible consequences that strike shall inflict upon the free Western democracies, in particular the English-speaking nations.

It’s about time we sat up and truly listened to the rhetoric of Rome. Increasingly, it carries a political edge. It’s an edge that history has witnessed before—the edge of the crusading sword, most recently seen in the Balkan wars and honing itself right now for a future whirlwind reaction to the major thorn in its side, pan-Islamism.

A Coming Crusade

Truly, religion is back with a vengeance on the world scene! A formidable force is gathering to the north. An ancient crusading empire is rising steadily to power into a position of global dominance economically, militarily and religiously. When this power is challenged to jihad by the collective force of the Muslim nations in the future, it will not draw back as America has. That prophesied push by the king of the south will attract a retaliatory crusade that will thrust all previous crusades by the Holy Roman Empire into pallid insignificance (read Daniel 11:40).

And it will all consummate in Jerusalem—the “glorious land” of Daniel 11:41—that troubled, strife-torn city over which Muslim, Orthodox, Christian and Jew have fought for so long.

As our editor in chief has written, “We can see that religion is shaping both the king of the south and the king of the north. …

“These prophecies are exploding on the world scene right now at a dizzying pace. This world is about to be plunged into its greatest suffering ever! … It will all begin in the Middle East.

“Still, there is great hope” (The King of the South, 1996).

In 1994, Pope John Paul ii expressed the hope that at the dawn of the 21st century, “Jerusalem will become the city of peace for the entire world and that all the people will be able to meet there, in particular the believers in the religions that find their birthright in the faith of Abraham” (Parade, April 3, 1994).

Gerald Flurry commented in The King of the South on that statement: “The pope was very accurate in this statement: ‘Jerusalem will become the city of peace for the entire world,’ but not the way he believes. … The Bible says we are about to see a religious clash that will stagger the world! This prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. … Jesus Christ will be here in the very near future. And He will bring peace to the entire world! … What a glorious future man has. And all of that glory is going to emanate from Jerusalem!”