The Unifying Power
Surely no ambassador or public figure is more associated with man’s unending search for peace than is the pope.
Since October 1978, when Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected as Pope John Paul ii, every major event in Europe has reflected the rising politico-religious influence of this Polish pope. For nearly two dozen years now, he has been cavorting about the globe as the most visible and celebrated pope in Vatican history. In fact, the 81-year-old pontiff has logged more miles of travel than all 262 other popes combined.
Throughout his tenure, John Paul ii has held numerous high-level talks with world leaders about peace. He has visited with virtually all prominent presidents and heads of nations in power today.
Early in his term (1982), the pope met with the queen of England, striving to create a “spirit of peace and unity” between Rome and the Church of England. Since then, John Paul has made many inroads into England.
The pope has worked behind the scenes, carefully and methodically, to influence peace negotiations in the Middle East. He has met with Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat on ten different occasions.
John Paul ii’s papal administration is perhaps most renown for its contributions to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the breakup of the Balkan Peninsula in the early 1990s. Even so, many dismiss the Vatican’s role in current events. The question is, how does the Vatican figure in Bible prophecy? God’s Word is the only Source that can tell us whether its role will fade or, in fact, grow to even greater, world-changing significance.
An International Power
First let us better understand the precise role of the Roman Catholic Church in modern affairs. Only a few comprehend how the Vatican views its relationship to the governments of this world, and the nature of its commitment to world peace.
Vatican City has a civil government—patterned after the system of government of the ancient Roman Empire. It has been a separate, independent state—sovereign from Italy—since 1929. Vatican City has its own secretary of state and foreign minister, and is an international power in its own right.
Since the small principality (Vatican City is a mere 109 acres) is a legally constituted country, the pope sends and receives ambassadors just like the leader of any other country.
In his book European Union and the Roman Catholic Influence in Britain, David N. Samuel writes that this “world’s longest surviving international organization,” in addition to having ecclesiastical influence, is, at heart, an extremely political enterprise. “Wherever Rome is at work she seeks not only spiritual but also political power.”
Today, the Vatican exchanges ambassadors, called apostolic nuncios, with nearly 100 countries. Vatican diplomats are also assigned to the United Nations and other international organizations such as the European Union, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization.
Not many realize that the Vatican is one of the best-informed centers on international affairs in the world today. Millions are spent annually to keep this important “listening post” supplied with breaking news from around the globe.
A Call for Recognition
Unnoticed by most, the Vatican—as in centuries past—is again becoming an international force. It is manipulating world events in ways unrecognized by the average person. Indeed, the Vatican is well on its way to becoming recognized as a major power in international politics in the 21st century.
With its pro-integrationist stance regarding European Union (EU) politics and economics (the Vatican replaced the Italian lira with the euro as its official unit of currency this month), and with the pope’s reputation as a “peacemaker,” several top-ranking churchmen and politicians are beginning to feel that the future of the world may depend on the success or failure of the Vatican’s peace efforts in the geo-political arena.
Last November, the pope hosted a private meeting at the Vatican with Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission. During the meeting, the pontiff discussed the Vatican’s priorities regarding the EU, including “the reform process for the Union treaties and its expansion with new members. The two men recalled the engagement of the European Community in the fight against terrorism and the search for a just peace in the Middle East.” The pope also noted “the contribution which the church in Europe can offer and the need for an adequate legal recognition inside the Union” (www.cwnews.com, Nov. 30, 2001; emphasis mine).
The pope’s comments are of phenomenal importance—for they announce the Catholic Church’s present drive to support and prod the nations of Europe into a more fully integrated Union, which will soon be dominated by its own spiritual influence.
Without a doubt, the Vatican’s political activism reveals an effort that will radically alter the course of world history in the years ahead!
Master of Emperors
To fully understand the Vatican’s future also requires understanding the past. Let us briefly look at the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
In the Middle Ages, the church was the most powerful institution in Europe. Through a hierarchy of cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests, papal authority was diffused throughout the continent. The authority of the church crossed political borders unrestrained.
Pope Leo iii crowned Charlemagne emperor in a.d. 800. “The future of Europe was bound up in that event, and the alliance between the papacy and Germany has been of great significance ever since” (David N. Samuel, op. cit.). This watershed event formally linked the spiritual power of the pope with the secular power of the emperor. The church at Rome became considered God’s chosen instrument in spiritual matters. The empire became regarded as God’s chosen political organization over Western Christendom.
This marriage of church and state served the needs of both institutions. The empire exercised its political and military powers to defend religion and enforce religious uniformity (Sunday worship, for example). The church, in turn, acted as the glue for Europe, binding together the differing nationalities and cultures within the empire by the common denominator of religion. To this day, the Catholic Church views its greatest accomplishment to have been the Christianization of Europe.
Throughout the Middle Ages, pope and emperor were regarded as God’s vice-regents. The Vatican, however, never took this to imply coequality.
Pope Gregory vii (a.d. 1073-1085) stated, “The pope is the master of emperors.” Another pope, Innocent iii, asserted in 1198 that kings derive their powers from the pope, just as the moon derives its light from the sun. The Vatican declared that the “infallible” pope was above all nations and independent of every secular sovereign, which is, in ecclesiological terms, just one step down from God.
Despite their frequent wrangling, the empire and papacy worked in close association throughout the Middle Ages. Theoretically restricted to spiritual concerns, the Vatican—by the nature of its asserted supremacy over the civil powers—was a powerful force in the political realm, especially when it came to establishing and maintaining peace.
Medieval examples of the secular side of papal “peacemaking” are manifold. Not always, however, could political disputes in Europe be settled without military involvement. Under certain circumstances, popes were not loath to assume the role of power-broker, engaging in political concerns even to the extent of all-out, no-holds-barred warfare. The Crusades, for instance, were a series of Catholic “holy” wars to wrest control of the Holy Land from Muslims, which produced some of the bloodiest battles in history.
One reigning pope even promised absolution to anyone who would assassinate Elizabeth i, Protestant Queen of England.
Though the prestige and influence of the papacy had plummeted dramatically by the 16th century (due to the rise of nationalism and the advent of the Reformation), the Catholic Church never lost sight of its perceived right and duty to remain politically involved in European policies and peacekeeping efforts.
Though long reluctant to be seen reassuming a strong political role, the Vatican now feels that the time has come to make its voice heard more openly on the international scene as a promoter of world peace.
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the pope has been even more outspoken in his assertion that the peoples of Europe must act cohesively in the fight against terrorism to protect their existence and freedom by proportionate means against an unjust aggressor. John Paul’s discussions with Romano Prodi in November 2001 clearly demonstrated the Vatican’s goal of steering the EU toward full integration.
The pope has also repeatedly reminded Europeans to remember their heritage. Commenting on his native country’s bid to enter the EU, the pope said in December that in “becoming a member of the European community, Poland must not lose any of the material and spiritual benefits that generations of our ancestors defended at the price of blood” (Associated Press, Dec. 3, 2001).
As the aging pope approaches the end of his life, Vatican initiatives are not abating. A growing number of cardinals and other top Catholic churchmen are relentlessly pushing to increase the papacy’s strength. They want to see the diplomatic muscle of the next papal administration even more overt than that used by John Paul ii.
The Pope of Popes
As the Trumpet has reported over the past 12 years, this powerful papal drive to unite Europe was prophesied in the Bible thousands of years ago. The book of Revelation shows, in particular, that efforts toward full European integration will succeed in the near future.
In the 13th chapter of Revelation, the Apostle John wrote, under divine inspiration, of a powerful bloc of nations that would unite economically, politically and militarily in the last days. He used a wild “beast” to symbolize the strength of this government, which is none other than a revival of the ancient Roman Empire!
Verses 11-16 discuss a second beast that is “like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.”This is a religious beast closely allied with the political beast of verses 1-2. It deceives by miracles (v. 14) and causes men to worship the political beast and accept its mark or die! (vv. 12, 15-16).
Revelation 17 describes this same religious power as a woman—a powerful, wealthy but inherently evil woman—which is often a biblical symbol of a church (ii Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-27; Rev. 19:7). In verses 1 and 15, this church is pictured as ruling over many nations. In verse 2, we find that it has deceived those nations. Revelation 18:3 confirms that this church has deceived all nations to one degree or another.
The woman of Revelation 17 actually types the “Holy” element of the resurrected Roman Empire—the religious force that leads and influences the Eurobeast government!
Notice, verse 3 depicts this great false church as riding atop the beast—actually guiding and controlling it. Verse 5 identifies her as “Mystery, Babylon the Great.” And verse 18 shows us that the woman is “that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth”!
The prophetic events mentioned in the book of Revelation are certain to happen! Jesus Christ Himself said God’s word cannot be broken (John 10:35).
The astounding union of a German-dominated United States of Europe with a great church—and a pope above all—is prophesied to occur!
Once this powerful church-state combine fully emerges in the years just ahead, it will attempt to establish “peace” throughout much of the world—that is, converting people to its version of Christianity with the sword! As its history shows, when the Vatican puts its hand to establish peace, it can have terrifyingly bloody results.
The Lady of Kingdoms
Isaiah 47:5 describes this church as “The lady of kingdoms.” Verses 7-8 read,”And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever …. Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children.”
The Vatican and its right-wing leadership, working behind an ailing pope, have made unprecedented efforts recently to unify all religions with the “mother church.” Without question, John Paul has taken amazing strides to unify a divided Christendom.
What is ahead for the Vatican?Watch for it to make more radical steps toward religious unification in Europe. When it finally unites all of Europe under the banner of the mother church, it will bring about the worst war man has ever witnessed (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:15-22) as the resurrected Holy Roman Empire conquers theIsraelitish people (the U.S. and British nations) and the whole of the Middle East and northern Africa. In its crusade, it will show “no mercy” to those delivered “into thine hand”(Isa. 47:6).
Yet peace will come.
It will not be established gradually or slowly, by successive political stages. It will be established suddenly, divinely, and without the assistance of men (Dan. 2:44-45).
Jesus Christ is soon to return as the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). As the true Author of peace (i Cor. 14:33), He shall overthrow the warring nations of this Earth and forcefully impose peace on the nations (Rev. 19:15).
The Vatican’s reign of terror, as linked with a resurrection of the Roman Empire—a united, German-led Europe—will come to an end. Other verses in Isaiah 47 and the whole of Revelation 18 refer specifically to the church’s final fall.
After 6,000 years of human history, mankind’s problems will finally be solved at the return of Jesus Christ. That is the clear message of the Bible!
For full details on this subject, request our free publication Unveiled At Last: The Royal Book of Revelation. Also, you may obtain personal counsel and help in understanding the Bible by our own trained representatives all over the world.