A Warning From the Pope

What Benedict XVI’s visit to France reveals about the future of Europe

America’s tanking economy and presidential election have saturated the news in recent months. But one of the most alarming statements in the New York Times last September had nothing to do with either of those things.

“This pope is looking to reconquerEurope,” wrote Rachel Donadio, “if not in numbers, then at the political table” (Sept. 19, 2008; emphasis mine throughout).

The Catholic Church has been Europe’s single greatest and bloodiest constant for nearly 2,000 years. History books overflow with examples of the Vatican exploiting political relationships in order to fulfill dark papal ambitions. They also prove that European leaders seeking military and political dominance always seek sanction and support from the pope. Have we forgotten Justinian’s imperialistic restoration or Charlemagne’s astounding but bloodstained accomplishments? Can we forget the Crusades, Napoleon and Hitler’s Third Reich? The Vatican was complicit in each of these events.

Now Pope Benedict xvi is, as the Times put it, trying to “reconquer Europe” and lock down church-state relationships across the Continent.

History is screaming at us. It’s saying we ought to be alarmed when a pope goes on a personal crusade to conquer Europe!

Donadio began her article by asking, “Is the Catholic Church a beleaguered underdog, fighting for a voice in secular Europe, or a still-mighty power, wielding its influence on European law through friendly center-right governments?” That question, she wrote, “has been building momentum throughout Pope Benedict xvi’s three-year-old papacy ….”

Donadio recognizes, as many in the mainstream now do, that Pope Benedict xvi is on a personal crusade to restore Catholicism to the heart of European politics. But while many recognize the ambitions of this pope, few, including Donadio, are concerned. We ought to be: It would be foolish to underestimate the power and craft of a 2,000-year-old institution with more than a billion adherents and a long legacy of empowering tyrants, slaughtering enemies and dominating Europe.

History tells us that the harder the Vatican works to establish Catholicism at the heart of Europe, the closer it ought to be watched.

Undermining France’s “State Religion”

With this in mind, let’s evaluate the pope’s jaunt to France last September. That trip—made during a tumultuous period for Europe—was a significant event for France and the whole Continent.

When Benedict’s plane touched down on September 12, President Nicolas Sarkozy rejected the tradition of greeting leaders at Élysée Palace and actually welcomed the pope at the airport. Sarkozy escorted Benedict to Élysée Palace, where the two quickly laid the groundwork for what could be the biggest change in France since the French Revolution.

The dominant theme of Benedict’s trip was that France needs to rethink and redraw its church-state relations.

Speaking first at Élysée, the Catholic president added to remarks he had made to the pope during a visit to the Vatican in December 2007, where he advocated a “positive secularism” that allows religion to play a greater role in government and improve society. Speaking before fellow politicians and a delighted Benedict, Sarkozy said blatantly that it would be “madness” for France, which “accepts its Christian roots,” to “deprive ourselves” of religion.

If a French president made that statement a few decades ago, he would likely have been roundly castigated by the French press and politicians.

France is a deeply secular state. In France, secularism, as Henri Astier observed, “is the closest thing the French have to a state religion” (bbc News Online, Sept. 1, 2004). The law of laïcité, or secularism, strictly separates church and religion, and has been the backbone of French political thought since the French Revolution and the foundation of the current political and legal system established in 1905. Religion in France is strictly a private matter. It is kept completely out of public life, is not taught at all in schools, and the government is forbidden to subsidize any religion.

For 200 years, the principle of secularism in France has been the untouchable. It is the one uncompromisable issue in French politics.

Or it was—before Nicolas Sarkozy and Pope Benedict xvi came along.

Here’s how the pope responded to Sarkozy’s flattery: “At this moment in history when cultures continue to cross paths more frequently, I am firmly convinced that a new reflection on the true meaning and importance of laïcité is now necessary. In fact, it is fundamental … to become more aware of the irreplaceable role of religion for the formation of consciences and the contribution which it can bring to—among other things—the creation of a basic ethical consensus within society.”

France, redefine laïcité now! Strip away the subtlety and Orwellian doublespeak, and that’s essentially what Benedict was saying. Pope Benedict xvi basically told France to rethink arguably its most culturally definitive law! Together, the pope and the French president waged a spectacular assault on the political and legal underpinnings of the French state. The pope’s visit may well represent France’s first steps away from secularism.

Sarkozy Plagiarizes the Pope

The intrigue doesn’t end there. Agnès Poirier, writing for the New Statesman, revealed the high level of strategic cooperation Benedict has extracted from the president of France. Sarkozy’s notion of “positive secularism,” said Poirier, is a carefully concocted “Trojan horse” designed to result in the eventual redefinition of French politics and France itself. Now here’s where the story gets especially gripping: “The term ‘positive secularism’ was actually coined in 2005 by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, whose views have inspired two of President Sarkozy’s close aides and speechwriters, the practicing Catholic, Emmanuelle Mignon, and the Dominican friar, Philippe Verdin” (Sept. 18, 2008).

Imagine that! Sarkozy’s notion, even his phrasing, of “positive secularism” was originally concocted by Joseph Ratzinger, former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the man he now affords unprecedented state honors and key compromises: Pope Benedict xvi.

“So what we have witnessed,” continued Poirier, “is Nicolas Sarkozy pretending to have an idea that originated at the Vatican, while the pope, its delighted author, sits back and waits for the president to implement ‘his’ idea.” That’s impressive foresight on Benedict’s behalf. It appears he’s been making plans to undermine the secular French government and society for at least three years. “A few days ago,” concluded Poirier, “in an interview with the Catholic French daily La Croix, Benedict’s private secretary clearly stated that the holy father expected the president of France to diligently transform this idea into acts. Machiavelli would be impressed.”

If Sarkozy comes through, we could very well see a Catholic revival in France!

Peter O’Neil, European correspondent for the Canwest News Service, agrees: “Analysts say French Catholics, with the lowest church attendance rate in Europe, feel threatened by the growing number of Muslim immigrants and might therefore be more open to greater recognition of the Catholic Church’s role in French culture and history” (Sept. 12, 2008).

We should also realize that the pope designed this church-state campaign in France for a wider audience. Like everything this pope does, his push for improved church-state relations in France was intended to resonate with political leaders and citizens across Europe.

Pope Benedict xvi is concerned about a “progressive secularization of European institutions,” said John Allen Jr., a National Catholic Reporter columnist (New York Times, Sept. 19, 2008). Benedict is deeply concerned about and in the process of addressing the secularism rooted in societies throughout Europe. The reason he went after secularism in France is that he believes the rest of Europe, as Allen expressed, is being “heavily influenced by the French model.” Benedict knows that if he can stem secularism’s rise in France, the bastion of European secularism, he can do so across Europe.

And be assured, if the pope is prepared to confront secularism in France, he’s more than prepared to tackle it elsewhere on the Continent!

“Let’s not make mistakes, there are laws in Europe that the Vatican would like to change,” said Allen. The pope’s remarks to France were “not an apolitical reflection,” he said. Benedict makes no pretense of being above or clean from political matters. Allen is absolutely right: Benedict’s remarks were a cannon shot across the bow of European national governments—and even the now-forming European supranational government!

“… Benedict’s insistence that religion and politics be ‘open’ to each other,” explained Rachel Donadio in her Times article, “coupled with his strong renewal while in Lourdes of the church’s opposition to same-sex couples, communion for the divorced and euthanasia—sends a direct message: The church doesn’t want European law to be at odds with church teaching, and he wants Roman Catholics to make some noise about it.”

Truly, as Donadio said, Pope Benedict xvi is on a crusade to “reconquer Europe”! That’s what his trip to France was all about. That’s what his remarks about the need for France to rethink its secular underpinnings were all about. He was warning France, and all of Europe, that he is on a quest to reestablish Catholicism at the heart of Europe.

If you haven’t studied much European history lately, dust off those history books and look into the Vatican’s historic relationship with Europe. It’s a truly frightening relationship.

Nothing is more alarming, more brutal, more devastating, than the Continent when it has been conquered and steered by Roman Catholicism!

How long will we ignore the terrifying ambitions and cunning actions of Pope Benedict xvi? How much longer can he get away with craftily attacking secular governments and encouraging Europe to return to its Catholic heritage before the world realizes that he intends to resurrect the Holy Roman Empire?

Pope Benedict xvi is looking to reconquer Europe! This is the context in which we must analyze news as it unfolds on the Continent. The Trumpet can give you both historical and prophetic insight into Benedict’s actions. For nearly 20 years now the Trumpet, under the stewardship of Gerald Flurry, has upheld and declared the words of the late Herbert W. Armstrong, the editor in chief of the Plain Truth, and a man who for 40 years, beginning in World War ii, declared the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire!

To learn more about the prophesied future of Europe, request a free copy of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.