Pope Benedict and Europe’s Search for a New Identity
Bible prophecy for these times forecasts that a rising northern power—today easily recognizable as the German-dominated European Union—will ultimately comprise 10 kings, all yielding their power to one dominant leading entity. It is assumed that those 10 kings will lead 10 specific nations or regional blocs from within today’s European Union.
We do not yet know which EU entities will comprise those 10 nations or groups of nations. Bible prophecy is not that definitive. But it does indicate that half will comprise western European states and half those of Eastern Europe (Daniel 2:33, 41-42).
What is most apparent is that the European Union is today in the process of breaking up and reforming. European elites are searching for a new identity for this emerging northern superpower. Recent reports highlight this fact.
Reuters recently highlighted many of the challenges facing Europe:
[T]he EU must address its future if it is to maintain its integrity, according to Brussels-based think tank Bruegel, whose research laid the basis of the discussions in Copenhagen.
”We should try to find common ground as much as possible,” said Sweden’s Finance Minister Anders Borg in Copenhagen. … But if an overarching integration strategy emerges, it must also go beyond monetary and economic affairs.
That report also drew attention to the fact that “Many EU officials concede that things are getting unwieldy, even for experts who struggle to decipher the structures intended to unify the EU’s 500 million citizens. … Eurozone leaders will now hold at least two separate summits a year, only inviting the other signatories of the pact if issues that might concern them are to be discussed.
“In another division, only 23 of the 27 countries agreed last year to a Franco-German strategy aimed at improving competitiveness in European economies, the Euro Plus Pact.”
Reuters also reported Margrethe Vestager, the economy minister for non-euro member Denmark, as stating that “In addition to the EU of the 27 and the eurozone of 17, we now have the Europe of the 23 with the Euro Plus Pact, and the Europe of 25, the fiscal compact. We need to make sure that these formats don’t split us apart.”
In a separate report under the headline “We need to invest in a European identity,” EU Observer recently commented: “The European Parliament is trying to cultivate a ‘European identity,’ with top officials saying that it is the only way to ensure a lasting union between member states” (March 30).
This report further noted that Klaus Welle, the secretary general of the European Parliament, told an audience at the think tank Center for European Policy Studies on March 29: “If we want to build a lasting union of solidarity we also need to invest in European identity. We need to understand history as European history and not just as compilation of national histories.”
Welle used a few key words that hint at the direction from which that fresh identity will come—particularly the terms “solidarity” and “European history.” To the most astute observers of the history of the EU’s development, these terms immediately trigger a connection with Rome.
The “history of Europe” is essentially the history of the Holy Roman Empire. The term “solidarity” is deeply embedded in the social chapter of Vatican teaching. It was the mantra of the very movement created by Rome under Pope John Paul ii to promote insurrection in Poland in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The resultant resistance of the Catholic masses in Poland to the tyranny of Soviet rule became the wedge that eventually broke the hold of Russia over Eastern and Southern Europe. This led to the drawing back to mother Rome of millions of adherents to Roman Catholicism from ex-Soviet territory.
What the Roman Catholic Klaus Welle is promoting is actually a return of Europe to its historic Holy Roman identity. He is not alone in this. Influential Catholic elites in Europe, particularly in Germany, have intently promoted the unifying power of Rome as the one force that will unify the disparate members of the European Union.
One reason that German voices are calling for such a European identity was recently highlighted by an observer’s statement published in the Guardian newspaper that “‘a European identity is more comfortable than a German identity,’, given the bloody history” (March 16).
That fresh identity for Europe, reflecting its Holy Roman history, will soon come into vogue. Bible prophecy guarantees it.
Referring to this prophesied phenomenon for our times, Herbert Armstrong declared over 30 years ago (Good News, August 1978):
The Europeans are far more disturbed about their safety in relying on United States military power to protect them than Americans realize! The United States is not loved in Europe. European confidence in U.S. protection … has been lessening and lessening.
Europeans want their own united military power! They know that a political union of Europe would produce a third major world power …. They have made a real effort toward union in the Common Market. It has made them economically strong. United they could become stronger economically than the United States …. But they well know there is but one possibility of union in Europe—and that is through the Vatican.
Perceiving the rapid decline of American power that has taken place over the past few years, the motivation of European elites to obtain genuine, workable union within the EU is more tangible than ever.
The very pope who was to give the rallying cry for Europe to return to its Holy Roman roots, and place Rome’s weight behind the promotion of the Solidarity movement in his native Poland, was about to be elected at the time Herbert Armstrong wrote these words (ibid):
What kind of pope will the College of Cardinals elect now? (This is written prior to that election.) Some cardinals and bishops are saying they hope it will be another middle-of-the-roader like Paul—but then it seems agreement on that is not likely.
What does seem more likely to me, as an observer and one who understands what is prophesied, is that in the privacy of the locked-in Sistine Chapel there will be sharp contention—a heated power struggle from both liberal and conservative camps. It will threaten to split the church right down the middle. Neither side will, in the first few days, give ground. Then what seems prophetically likely is that a strong conservative leader will suggest a solution to save the church. Let the Vatican take the lead in uniting the nations of Europe into a political union.
Such a pope was elected, John Paul ii!
In a most prescient observation, Herbert Armstrong continued:
Two popes have failed to achieve ecumenical religious union. Why not now turn to lead in political union, on condition that the resurrected Holy Roman Empire be a union of church and state!
A political union, with a common monetary currency … with a common military force to protect not only political Europe but also Catholicism against encroaching communism! Communism is perhaps a bigger threat to Catholicism than to political Europe. But also, this political union will put the Catholic Church right back in the saddle as it was from 554 to 1814—with the power of police and military to enforce its decrees! At one bold stroke, this would solidify the Roman Catholic Church and its strife from within, protect it from Communist encroachment and elevate it to a position of pinnacle power, heading what may well become the greatest political and military power on Earth!
Pope John Paul set the scene for the Vatican to promote the unifying force of the religion of Rome as the singular influence that has any possibility of uniting Europe to achieve the EU’s full power potential.
John Paul’s successor, Benedict xvi, has continued tenaciously along that path, now leading the program of “new evangelization” in Europe, mounting a powerful drive to garner Europeans back to their Holy Roman roots!
Rome is currently gearing to accelerate this program of “new evangelization” most aggressively toward the end of the current year and on into 2013, the year of federal elections in Pope Benedict’s home country, Germany.
In the meantime, German elder statesman Edmund Stoiber and his wife, Karen, were invited to attend yet another private audience with Pope Benedict. This will be followed by a delegation of German representatives headed by Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehoffer on the occasion of the pope’s 85th birthday this week.
Such meetings are but a harbinger of increasingly closer ties between Berlin and Rome.
Watch for such ties between Rome and Germany to be strongly promoted by Pope Benedict and influential elites in Germany such as Stoiber. Watch for influential Catholic elites such as Klaus Welle in EU institutions such as the European Parliament to succeed in promoting the religion of Rome as the foundation and binding force for a Holy Roman “European identity.”