Weak leaders become discouraged and overwhelmed in crisis. Strong, ambitious leaders become motivated and see opportunity in crisis. Pope Benedict xvi falls into the latter category.
Islamic terrorist networks span the Continent. Two of Europe’s largest cities, Madrid and London, have suffered bombings. A filmmaker in Amsterdam was shot eight times and repeatedly stabbed by an Islamist. As Muslim populations expand, they are becoming demanding and audacious. Tension between native Europeans and Muslim immigrants is thickening.
At the same time, Europe is being ransacked by moral relativism and secularism. Though the Continent was once defined by its Christian (Catholic) values and beliefs, since the days of the French Revolution these have been shoved aside by fervent anti-religious sentiment and politics.
Europe faces a crisis. If allowed to persist, the combined forces of Islam and secularism threaten to redefine Europe’s political, cultural and religious landscape. Europe’s failure to curb these trends highlights its greatest flaw: Economically, politically, socially, morally—Europe lacks leadership. Many European leaders are allowing themselves to be shoved around by these two foes.
The pope is not. To the contrary, he views these crises as an opportunity to augment Vatican influence over the whole of Europe.
As he surveys Europe’s landscape, the pope surely ponders the greatness of the Continent’s history, when it was heavily influenced and even dominated by the Roman Catholic Church. By contrasting today’s Europe with Europe of yesteryear, the solution to the Continent’s problems must ring clear in the pontiff’s mind: Europe needs a dominant Vatican!
In Europe’s crises, Benedict xvi sees a light in the gloom. The spirit of secularism and the rise of Islam present the Vatican with a tremendous opportunity.
Europe is groaning for a force that will restore European identity and wage war against the forces that erode its strength. Benedict xvi intends to make the Vatican that force! History tells him that if Europe is to withstand the threats of Islam and secularism, then the Vatican must once again become the primary guiding influence. In Europe’s most powerful periods, the Vatican has been the single greatest constant. Europe excels when it is influenced by a strong Vatican.
This is why restoring Europe to its Catholic roots lies at the top of the pope’s to-do list. No issue is more important. Read his books; read the lines and between the lines of his speeches; watch where he travels, track who he talks to: Pope Benedict xvi is on a quest. He seeks to fill the gaping religious, moral and spiritual void in Europe.
Pope Benedict xvi is not playing down or hiding this fact; he has clearly, publicly delineated that he wants the restoration of Europe to its Christian roots to be the defining theme of his papacy.
Culture War A: Secularism
Analyst and author George Weigel wrote a prescient article titled “Europe’s Two Culture Wars” for the May issue of Commentary. In it, he makes a thorough, convincing argument that Europe is in the midst of two interrelated “culture wars”—wars that threaten to redefine the Continent.
The first of these, Culture War A, is “a war between the postmodern forces of moral relativism and the defenders of traditional moral conviction.” The second, Culture War B, is “the struggle to define the nature of civil society, the meaning of tolerance and pluralism, and the limits of multiculturalism in an aging Europe whose below-replacement-level fertility rates have opened the door to rapidly growing and assertive Muslim populations.” To state it simply, Mr. Weigel believes Europe is under attack from two enemies: secularism and Islam.
The aggressors in Culture War A are “radical secularists” seeking to jostle Europe from its Christian underpinnings, while the aggressors in Culture War B are “radical and jihadist Muslims who detest the West” and seek to impose “Islamic taboos” on Western society; they see their assertive, even violent protest as simply “the first stage toward the Islamification of Europe.”
In Culture War A, secularism and moral relativism have waged an especially strong campaign in the affluent states of Western Europe.
During John Paul ii’s papacy, Roman Catholics in eastern and southern Europe were galvanized. In Western Europe, however, secularism is clamoring to stem the tide of the rising influence of Rome. Secularists are aghast at the early indications that the present pope, Benedict xvi, has a deliberate agenda to turn back the clock to pre-revolutionary days and impose Rome’s will (meaning its religion) on the whole European continent and beyond. As a result, they have rushed to enact liberal laws that counteract all that the Vatican is seeking to do in Europe.
Earlier this year, for example, the Spanish government, having already legalized same-sex marriage and adoption by homosexual partners, announced that the words “father” and “mother” would no longer appear on Spanish birth certificates. Rather, as announced in the Official Bulletin of State, “The expression ‘father’ will be replaced with ‘Progenitor A,’ and ‘mother’ will be replaced with ‘Progenitor B.’”
This ludicrous decision had to have spurred angry rumblings in Rome. The Vatican vehemently opposes same-sex unions; we can only imagine Pope Benedict xvi’s consternation over this decision to essentially reduce the traditional family to a mere breeding unit, common on your average animal husbandry farm.
Last October, legislators came up with a new ruling for the Netherlands stipulating that, beginning in August 2006, the Dutch word for “Christ” must be written with a lowercase “c.” As one of the most secular nations in Europe, the Netherlands has long been known for its liberal drug and prostitution laws; but it also led the way in legalizing same-sex unions and euthanasia. Earlier this year, a political party with an agenda to legalize pedophilia registered to take part in elections.
Secularist thinking increasingly permeates the laws and policies of many Western European nations. A French law passed in December 2004 banned “hate speech” against homosexuals. Soon after the law was enacted, a French parliamentarian was fined for making comments in parliament essentially saying that heterosexuality is morally superior to homosexuality. The Vatican has made comments about homosexuality that make this French politician’s comments seem extremely mild.
The anti-religion trend has also affected the EU at the federal level. In January this year, for example, European Parliament conceived a resolution that condemned as “homophobic” those states “which do not recognize same-sex marriage and referring to religious freedom as a ‘source of discrimination’” (Commentary, op. cit.). While debating the resolution, a member of European Parliament from Britain even suggested suspending EU membership to nations that opposed the resolution.
As Mr. Weigel noted, these anti-religion politicians and intellectuals are “using both national and EU regulatory machinery to marginalize the public presence and impact of Europe’s dwindling numbers of practicing Christians” (ibid.). In reality, their efforts illustrate the tussle between secularist bureaucrats and Vatican-endorsed political leaders. With the hot breath of Catholic conservatives on their necks, liberals are dashing to fend off the groundswell of support the pope and his predecessor have ignited among the masses in their efforts to return Europe to its traditional, Catholic roots.
The secularists are already in trouble. Their “dwindling numbers of practicing Christians” claim is a myth. Attendance at Sunday mass is rising in Western Europe, especially within Germany, as the public responds to the appeal of a German pope. European youth are undergoing a revival of faith in the papacy. But the numbers are skewed because of two phenomena: Europe’s inability to replace its native population, and the increase in Muslim immigration.
Culture War B: Islam
Multiculturalism is a by-product of secularism and political correctness. Renowned for its ethnic diversity and casual acceptance of immigrants, Western Europe is perhaps the most multicultural region on Earth.
Muslim immigrants have been burrowing themselves into Europe’s landscape for decades. Western Europe—with its known tolerance, its seemingly boundless opportunities and extremely generous and easily manipulated welfare systems—has been prime real estate for poor Muslims seeking shelter.
This situation is exacerbated by declining birthrates among European natives. No European nation has a replacement-level fertility rate; in fact, 11 EU countries display a negative natural increase, meaning there are more annual deaths than births. Europe is literally dying off. Thus, these nations need immigrants in order to replenish their populations.
Most attractively, Europe’s deep-seated multiculturalism means Muslims can set up shop, enjoying the benefits of living in France, Germany or the Netherlands, without pressure to concede their religion, ideologies or cultural practices. They never have to become European, embrace European religion, culture—or even, in many instances, European law.
Islamic immigrants have exploited European tolerance for decades. Only recently have some people in Europe really explored the ramifications of this decades-long Islamic tidal wave. With Islamists exciting crises across the Continent, many Europeans are beginning to sit up and take note of the potent force stirring in their midst.
In December 2004, Stratfor wrote that a clash between white Europeans and Muslim immigrants will likely be Europe’s next great conflict. “Europe’s growing Muslim population and a recent spate of events involving Islamist radicals are bringing tensions between the Continent and its largest minority to the fore. Clashes between a traditionally white, Christian Europe and the increasing tide of Arabs and Muslims are heating up, with several countries becoming veritable powder kegs. …
“In Western Europe especially, tensions between established Europeans and Muslim communities are threatening to escalate, and it is likely the next major conflict Europe experiences will be ideological rather than political” (Dec. 2, 2004). Some of Europe’s largest cities have Muslim ghettos so dangerous that policemen will not even enter. It is in these poor, deprived communities that radical Islamist sentiment takes root and thrives.
France in particular has dozens of Muslim-dominated areas that are ungovernable. In these suburbs, French law is non-existent and French police are afraid to enter. In a sense, these Muslim immigrants have established quasi-Islamic states within the borders of Western European nations.
In the last few years, as the war between Islam and the West has heated up globally, many Islamist groups have expanded their ideological battles. Groups in Europe that once had specific, issue-based goals—agitating for Palestinian statehood, for example—have evolved into more “broad-based, ideologically-oriented groups centered around radical interpretations of the Koran and perceived Western expansion into the Muslim world” (ibid.). Rather than simply wage war on Israel, these groups have expanded their operation to wage war on the West—particularly Europe.
The effects of the estimated 15 million Muslims in Europe are being felt. In France, which has the most Muslim immigrants, the visitors have refused to assimilate into French culture and society. This attitude has butted heads with the government’s insistence on secularism and deepened the schism between Muslim communities and the rest of the country. In the riots in France last year, for example, a majority of the rioters were young Muslim immigrants.
Europe’s Muslim immigrants are the greatest benefactors of the widespread political correctness in Europe’s politics and media. European governments have essentially handcuffed themselves with their own secular, liberal and politically correct policies. This has created a situation where “European authorities pay little or no attention to practices among their Muslim populations that range from the physically cruel (female circumcision) through the morally cruel (arranged and forced marriages) to the socially disruptive … and the illegal (‘honor’ killings in cases of adultery and rape—the rape victim being the one killed)” (Commentary, op. cit.). These immigrants flagrantly break European law, and the governments do nothing!
Consider two examples. In Belgium, the government recently sued a manufacturer of security gates because he kept his Moroccan employees working only in the factory and would not send them out to install the gates in Belgian homes. By contrast, the same government “explicitly decided not to prosecute” a Muslim who had started an anti-Semitic cartoon series “so as not to inflame the situation” (Brussels Journal, February 21).
Some experts assert that “21st-century Europe’s appeasement of Islamists amounts to a self-inflicted dhimmitude: In an attempt to slow the advance of a rising Islamist tide, many of Europe’s national and transnational political leaders are surrendering core aspects of sovereignty and turning Europe’s native populations into second- and third-class citizens in their own countries” (Commentary, op. cit.). It is not difficult to see how such policies would rankle native Europeans. In fact, the inability of European leaders to deal decisively with Muslim immigration is developing into a grave problem. Europeans are beginning to take the law into their own hands.
Rhetorical, political and even physical clashes are erupting between Muslims and native Europeans across the Continent. Witness the cartoon crisis earlier this year. In other instances, mosques are being firebombed, and attacks against Muslims and their religious leaders are becoming more common. The growing popularity of far-right political parties also illustrates that anti-Islamic sentiment among native Europeans is increasing.
Europe is in a precarious position: These incendiary elements could explode into far more serious violence between the two cultures. The situation is nearing a crisis point; still, Europe’s politicians have no definitive, comprehensive answers!
Enter the Vatican
With Europeans waking up to the cultural and religious transformation occurring before their eyes, an increasing number believe this trend must be reversed. Prominent Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict, top the list.
The Vatican lies at the heart of Europe’s historic status as a luminary of Western civilization. Historically, when the Vatican dominated, Europe prevailed. The Catholic Church has been Europe’s single greatest constant.
Don’t think for a moment this history has slipped the mind of the pope. Benedict knows that the only way Europe will ever defeat secularist and Islamic uprisings and regain its position at the helm of world affairs is if the Vatican resumes its leading role! With serious crises looming, the Vatican sees a pressing leadership void that it believes only it can fill.
Meanwhile, a conservative, pro-Vatican political force is emerging that is already joining forces with the Vatican to “save” Europe.
Pope Benedict’s book Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, published in early 2005, is a compilation of essays cowritten with Italian Senate leader Marcello Pera. In it these men explore the ramifications of secularism and Islam within Europe. Both men are aware of the destruction these two ideologies are inflicting.
Pera has been candid in his statements about Europe’s unwillingness to defend itself against Islam. Do Europeans understand, he asks, “that their very existence is at stake, their civilization has been targeted, their culture is under attack? Do they understand that what they are being called on to defend is their own identity? Through culture, education, diplomatic negotiations, political relations, economic exchange, dialogue, preaching, but also, if necessary, through force?” This call to arms comes from a high-ranking, agnostic politician!
On March 30 this year, the EU’s largest and most influential conservative group, the European People’s Party (epp), sponsored a conference in Rome at which the pope took center stage. The epp is comprised of 38 political parties from all over Europe, including several Christian Democrat parties. With such European heavyweights as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italy’s then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in attendance, the summit was not only a “reminder that the center-right dominates the EU agenda,” but that it also has the support of the Vatican (Financial Times, March 30).
The conference clearly sweetened the courtship between Europe’s conservative parties and the Vatican. The Times reported the pope had joined forces with leading European Union conservatives “to call for a restoration of Christian values at the heart of the EU” (ibid.). “Your support for Christian heritage,” he told the politicians, “can contribute significantly to the defeat of a culture that is now fairly widespread in Europe, which relegates [religion] to the private and subjective sphere” (Reuters, March 30). Put simply, Benedict wants Europe’s leaders to help purge society of moral relativism.
At the same time, the pope reminded epp attendees that the Catholic leadership has the right to join public policy debates “in order to educate people’s consciences and uphold justice” (Catholic News Service, March 30). According to Benedict, Catholic leaders should have a voice in European politics, and those voices must be amplified.
It is important in surveying Europe that we note this connection between the Vatican and the majority of Europe’s leaders: They are overwhelmingly center-right in their politics and Roman Catholic by religion. In other words, they are unified in their purpose in a way the secularists are not. The secularist dash to legislate Europe’s traditional god out of the picture will fail. In fact, it will provide the catalyst that will lead to their demise! Already the pope, supported by the vast majority of Europe’s political leaders, is shaping a powerful backlash against the secularists.
In a series of Good Friday meditations during Easter this year, the pope publicly lambasted the state of today’s Western society and the destruction of Christian values. The London Times called it “a blistering attack on the ‘satanic’ mores of modern society” (April 14). The tone of the prayers and meditations in both content and delivery was stern—and, as the Times put it, striking in its contrast to the “contemporary fashion for feel-good religion.”
In one prayer, Benedict stated, “Lord, we have lost our sense of sin! Today a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication. Lord Jesus, open our eyes: Let us see the filth around us and recognize it for what it is .…” (Catholic World News, April 14).
The pope attacked the various routes by which the traditional family unit is being maligned and destroyed. His staunch stance against homosexuality is widely known, but in his Good Friday meditations he also condemned “scientific advances in the field of genetic manipulation.” Benedict warned “against the move to ‘modify the very grammar of life as planned and willed by God,’” and led prayers “against ‘insane, risky and dangerous’ ventures in attempting ‘to take God’s place without being God’” (Times, op. cit.).
There is no mistaking that the most powerful religious leader on Earth seeks to once again cement Catholic values into the core of European society and culture.
It is clear that the pope is also turning his attention to the Muslim problem in Europe. The Los Angeles Times reported, “Another shift in this papacy is Benedict’s focus on Europe and his much harder line on Islam” (April 16). Zenit news agency reported that stories of persecution against Catholics in Islamic countries make the news almost daily, and that the “Vatican is concerned” (May 27).
A Nov. 9, 2004, article on FrontPageMagazine.com titled “The Vatican (Slowly) Awakens to Jihad” highlighted the growing concern over Islam even at that time. “Rome’s stance goes beyond a resigned acceptance of uncomfortable facts or the determination to influence the issue. It reflects a gradual yet increased awareness—and fear—of jihadism’s growing influence. …
“Rome also appears more willing to advocate a more assertive military presence against jihadist terror, within limits governed by international law. …
“[Cesare] Mazzolari [bishop of Rumbek in Sudan] stated what many Vatican officials are afraid to admit: The ‘clash of civilizations’ is here. ‘This is just the beginning,’ he said. ‘The church has defeated communism, but is just starting to understand its next challenge—Islamism, which is much worse. The holy father [John Paul ii] has not been able to take up this challenge due to his old age. But the next pope will find himself having to face it.’” This bishop was right; Pope Benedict xvi is facing up to Islam!
The article said that many bishops, even from Muslim countries, viewed the problem just as Mazzolari did. “[Vatican Secretary of State Angelo] Sodano, the Vatican’s second-most powerful cardinal, has been listening. ‘The big problem of the future will be our relationship with the Islamic world,’ he told the Italian daily La Repubblica on October 15 . ‘It is a challenge that does not only concern the church.’”
The article concluded, “Given the horrifying nature of jihadist imperialism, perhaps Rome is starting to realize that it doesn’t have centuries to act.”
Islam threatens to redefine Europe and marginalize the Vatican’s influence over its beloved Continent. Rome is becoming urgent. A great clash of civilizations looms.
The Beast of Revelation
Though only recently are many observers recognizing the likelihood of a renewed muscularity emerging from the Vatican, Herbert W. Armstrong warned about it for decades. As early as 1947, with much of the Continent still buried in the rubble of the Second World War, he prophesied that Germany and the Vatican would once again rise to dominate Europe.
This prophecy is coming to fruition today.
What is intriguing is the way it is unfolding. Despite their savage history, Germany and the Vatican are being encouraged to lead Europe.
Europeans increasingly acknowledge the reality of these two very serious and interrelated wars. With hardships mounting around them, people and governments alike are starting to look to the Vatican for answers. Watch for European nations to increasingly realign themselves with Vatican leadership.
History warns us of the dangers in this trend. Conspiracy, betrayal, bloodshed, intolerance, execution—these words best describe the “Holy” Roman Empire of the Middle Ages. The Roman and Spanish inquisitions virtually eliminated Protestantism in Italy and Spain! The world has probably never seen a more vile period than those dark and miserable centuries. Many millions must be counted as victims of the Holy Roman Empire throughout its thousand-year history.
This is why the world should be alarmed when it hears the Vatican talking about its next great adversary being Islam. It is true: This Middle Eastern power is rising and becoming a serious threat. But for the Catholic Church to speak out about the problem is to bring the specter of the Crusades to life!
The Trumpet and its predecessor, the Plain Truth, have warned for decades that Europe will unite under German and Vatican leadership. This warning comes directly from the Bible. Passages in Daniel 2 and 7, and Revelation 13, 17 and 18, discuss specifically the rise of a German-led and Vatican-influenced European superpower in this end time.
Called a beast by the Apostle John in Revelation 13, this German-led federation of European states is clearly motivated and guided by the Catholic Church. Revelation 17 shows this beast being ridden by a woman, the biblical symbol of a church. For a more thorough understanding of the link between Germany and the Vatican, please read our free booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.
Very soon now, 10 nations, or groups of nations, in Europe will band together in a union influenced by a great church. Everything about the union will seem right: the religion, the prosperity, the military might. But the final fruits of this union will be horrifying.
The historical fruits of this union between a powerful political beast and a great false church certainly have not been holy. To the contrary, they have been powerfully unholy. And when those rotten fruits are revealed one last time, the world will be shocked. How could something which seems so right—so religious—be so evil? That answer is written upon thousands of pages of history. More importantly, God prophesied it long ago in the pages of the book almost no one reads and studies: the Holy Bible. Perhaps it is time to grab that book from the shelf, blow off the dust and crack it open. You will be shocked at how accurately God predicts the future. ▪