Posted by: the watchmen | April 4, 2009

(1) Papal Absolutism- Rev. Angus Stewart.

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Rome and Politics
Rev. Angus Stewart

(Slightly modified from a series of articles in the Standard Bearer)

(1) Papal Absolutism

(2) Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom

(3) Rome’s Political Positions Today

(4) Rome’s Political Power Today

(5) Rome’s False Ecumenism with Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism

(6) Rome’s False Ecumenism with Protestants

(7) Rome’s Ecumenical Methods with Protestants

(1) Papal Absolutism

Papal Absolutism

The key to understanding the political pretensions of the church of Rome lies in her understanding of herself as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church headed by the pope who is not only the “Successor of Peter the Prince of the Apostles” and the “Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church” but also the “Vicar of Christ” and the “Holy Father.” Is not the Triune God the absolute sovereign of the universe? Has not Christ been invested with all authority in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18) as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16)? Therefore the pope, as the supreme representative of Almighty God and Jesus Christ, exercises this divine authority—the “plenitude of papal power.” Thus Leo XIII in his 1894 encyclical The Reunion of Christendom (and referring to himself using the pontifical and capitalised “We”) stated, “We … hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.”

The papal bull, Eger Cui Levia (c. 1246) declares,

Whoever seeks to evade the authority of the vicar of Christ … thereby impairs the authority of Christ Himself. The King of kings has established us on earth as His universal representative and has conferred full power on us; by giving to the prince of the apostles and to us the power of binding and loosing on earth not only all men whatsoever, but also all things whatsoever … The power of temporal government cannot be exercised outside the church, since there is no power constituted by God outside her … They are lacking in perspicacity and incapable of investigating the origin of things who imagine that the apostolic see received from Constantine the sovereignty of the empire, whereas it had it previously, as is known, by nature and potentially. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, true man and true God … constituted to the benefit of the holy see a monarchy not only pontifical but royal; he committed to the blessed Peter and his successors the reins of the empire both earthly and celestial, as is indicated by the plurality of the keys. Vicar of Christ [i.e., the pope] has received the power to exercise his jurisdiction by the one over the earth for temporal things, by the other in heaven for spiritual things.1

The sixteenth-century Council of Trent proclaimed the pope’s temporal authority, perhaps even more emphatically,

The pope is … not responsible to any earthly tribunal or power. He is the judge of all, can be judged by no one, kings, priests, or people. He is free from all laws, and cannot incur any sentence or penalty for any crime … He is all in all, and above all, so that God and the pope, the Vicar of God, are but one … He hath all power on earth, purgatory, heaven, and hell, to bind, loose, command, permit, dispense, do, and undo. Therefore it is declared to stand upon necessity of salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff. All temporal power is his; the dominion, jurisdiction, and government of the whole earth is his by divine right.2

The Dogmatic Decrees of Vatican I (1870) declared that “all the faithful must believe that the holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff possesses the primacy over the whole world.”3

As F. V. N. Painter put it, “The Roman Church is now working out its destiny. It is the purpose of the Papacy to secure universal supremacy.”4

Boniface VIII (1294-1303)

Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctam (1302) is probably the most famous statement of papal absolutism. Boniface claims that the visible, institute church of Rome alone possesses “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” for it is the church built on Peter (appealing to Rome’s self-serving interpretation of Matthew 16:18-19).5 Rome is “that seamless shirt of the Lord which was not rent” and “the single ark of Noah which prefigures the one Church.” Just as there is “one fold” so there is “one shepherd,” the pope (John 10:10). The papal bull concludes, “we declare, say, define and pronounce it to be altogether necessary for salvation for every human creature be subject to the Roman pontiff.” Boniface invalidates the whole Eastern Orthodox Church (called here “the Greeks”), for it did not submit to his office, and, by extension, all Protestants.

Building upon these lofty ecclesiastical claims and turning to what are clearly political and civil matters, Unam Sanctam appropriates Jeremiah 1:9 to the pope: “And to the Church, and the Church’s power, Jeremiah’s prophecy, i, 9, applies: See I have set thee this day over the nations and the kingdoms to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” If Rome and a civil power differ, the pope judges the state but the state may not judge the pope. Here Boniface applies I Corinthians 2:15 to the pontiff: “He which is spiritual judges all things but he himself is judged by no man.” He also cites Romans 13:1, not in support of the civil authorities but of Rome’s political dominion: “Whoever, therefore, resists this power ordained by God, resists God’s ordinance.” The pontiff’s outrageous Scripture-twisting, staggering claims and overweening vanity are simply breathtaking!

Boniface brings in another piece of politically-motivated exegesis: the two-swords theory:

… in this Church and within her power are two swords … the spiritual sword and the temporal sword. For when the Apostle said, Lo here— that is in the Church—are two swords the Lord did not reply to the Apostles, It is too much, but It is enough [Luke 22:38]. For, certainly, he who denies that the temporal sword is in Peter’s power, listens badly to the Lord’s words Put up thy sword into its sheath. Matthew xxvi, 52. Therefore, both are in the power of the Church, namely, the spiritual sword and the temporal sword,—the latter to be used for the Church, the former by the Church; the former by the hand of the priest, the latter by the hand of princes and kings, but at the nod and instance of the priest. The one sword must of necessity be subject to the other, and the temporal power to the spiritual power.

Triple Tiara

Boniface VIII also played a part in the development of the papal tiara. By the middle of the Middle Ages, the popes wore a crown to symbolise their temporal power over the Papal States (754-1870) in central Italy. Boniface VIII added a second crown to show that his authority was superior to any temporal authority. Soon after, a third crown was added, as a sign of the pope’s authority over all secular monarchs. At the pope’s coronation the three crowns were placed upon his head with these words, symbolizing his triple power: “Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father of princes and kings, Ruler of the world, Vicar of our Savior Jesus Christ on earth.”

Albert Lévitt states,

The “triple tiara” with which the pope is crowned at his coronation has not only a symbolic but also a practical political significance. It represents the threefold nature of the pope. He is (1) the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church; and (2) he is a temporal ruler, free and independent of every other temporal, secular ruler upon earth; and (3) he is the supreme temporal ruler who reigns over all other temporal rulers, states, and nations by divine command. Thus it is that all spiritual powers and all temporal powers are brought together in one person, an absolute monarch of the entire world, the Vicar of Christ, the Bishop of Rome, the sovereign of the state of Vatican City.6

Others claim the triple tiara signifies the pope’s authority as “Universal Pastor” (top), “Universal Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction” (middle) and the “Temporal Power” (bottom) or his sovereignty over the celestial, human and terrestrial worlds or his rule over the church militant on earth, the church suffering in purgatory and the church triumphant in heaven. However, more recently it is suggested that the three crowns symbolise the pope as teacher, lawmaker and judge or as priest, prophet and king.

At the end of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and in keeping with its more liberal and modernizing spirit, Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) descended the steps of the papal throne in St Peter’s Basilica and laid the tiara on the altar. His successors, John Paul I (the September Pope) and John Paul II (1978-2005) were inaugurated without a coronation ceremony, with the latter declaring, “This is not the time to return to a ceremony and an object [i.e., the triple tiara] considered, wrongly, to be a symbol of the temporal power of the Popes.” Pope Benedict XVI (2005-) even removed the tiara from his Coat of Arms, replacing it with a mitre. However, the symbolism of the tiara is still in use in the Holy See’s coat of arms and, just like in other kingdoms of this world, Rome retains the papal crown as a symbol of the pope’s authority.

Aggiornamento

This relatively recent setting aside of the papal coronation ceremony is one of the most visible instances of aggiornamento, an Italian word meaning “updating.” In today’s modern, democratic, liberal, secular world, the papacy faces great challenges. It is widely regarded as an outdated, traditionalist, male-dominated, monarchical, religious institution. Whereas in the nineteenth century, Rome was publicly and loudly opposing “progressive” ideas like capitalism; democracy; the separation of church and state; freedom of religion, worship, speech and press; higher criticism of the Bible; ecumenism; and the salvation of unevangelized heathen; etc.—most famously, in Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors (1864)—now it has either muted its criticisms or done an about-face. Traditional papal theocratic claims to universal political sovereignty are especially offensive to the humanistic spirit of the age, and the Roman hierarchy feels them to be counterproductive, so they are either dropped or down-played.

Outside pressures have also resulted in internal divisions within Roman Catholicism. Alongside of, and much more serious than, for example, the centuries-old divisions between the various monastic orders (Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits, etc.) have arisen liberal theologians (especially in N. America and Europe), like Hans Kung, and liberation theologians (especially in Latin America), like Leonardo Boff.7 Such men and such theologies have gained a significant number of followers. International Roman Catholic movement, “We are Church” (founded in 1996) advocates progressive ideas like the effective discipline of paedophile priests, married male priests, women priests, greater involvement of the laity, greater theological freedom, etc. Humanistic, western Roman Catholics want a Roman Catholicism with less clerical authority and fewer absolutes. Conferences of bishops complain about the centralization of power in Rome. Many third-world clergy resent Rome’s western-style theology and ideology, and want a greater openness to syncretism. Malachi Martin (1921-1999), Roman Catholic priest and former Jesuit, wrote in his own lively and dramatic way of the “superforce” or “anti-Church” within the hierarchy working for the overthrow of traditional Romanism.8

The Roman Catholic Church in the twenty-first century is a “broad” church, with the “faithful” now ranging from staunch advocates of the sixteenth-century, Counter-Reformation Council of Trent (with a few even maintaining a geocentric universe!) all the way to western humanists who still reckon themselves “good” Roman Catholics, despite disregarding all church teachings that they find inconvenient.9 How strong these various factions are within Roman Catholicism is very hard to say, and it would require great foresight to judge how Rome will continue to adapt to the spirit of the age. But rash would be the analyst who would write of Rome’s impending demise or of the end of her political influence and desires.

1Quoted in Henry T. Hudson, Papal Power: Its Origins and Development (USA: Evangelical Press, 1981), p. 38; italics mine. This papal bull is usually attributed to Innocent IV, though there are some who doubt this.

2Cf. John W. Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church (USA: The Trinity Foundation, 1999), p. 131.

3Quoted in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1877), vol. 2, p. 262.

4F. V. N. Painter, Luther on Education (Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1889), p. 34.

5All quotations from Unam Sanctum are taken from Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, vol. 2, pp. 605-607.

6Albert Lévitt, Vaticanism: The Political Principles of the Roman Catholic Church (New York: Vantage Press, 1960), p. 41. Lévitt continues, “In a country where a papal state does not, or cannot, exist, the Roman Catholic Church says that the state should be by divine law a ‘Catholic state.’ In a ‘Catholic state’ the temporal sovereign of that state acknowledges that the Roman Catholic religion is the only true religion, that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church, that the pope is that spiritual head of that state, that the temporal head of that state should be, and is, a communicant in the Roman Catholic Church, and that the temporal head of that state owes his political allegiance to the pope in all matters that come within the meaning and functioning of ‘faith and morals’” (pp. 41-42).

7Jesuit Thomas J. Reese states, “The relationship between theologians and the papacy is worse today than at any time since the Reformation. The number of theologians investigated, silenced, or removed from office is at an all-time high, even exceeding the numbers during the Modernist crisis at the beginning of [the twentieth] century. The rhetoric used by theologians in response to Vatican actions has been bitter and biting. The chasm between the two appears to be getting wider, not narrower” (Inside the Vatican [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996], p. 260).

8E.g., Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood: The Struggle for World Dominion Between Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev, and the Capitalist West (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990).

9As Robert L. Reymond puts it, “… within Roman Catholicism today may be found Tridentine conservatives, crypto-Lutherans, moderate liberals, and outright syncretists, with Rome’s over-all drift being toward total religious pluralism” (The Reformation’s Conflict with Rome [Christian Focus Publications: 2001], p. 140).

(2) Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom

Declaration on Religious Freedom (1965)

According to Pope Paul VI (1963-1978), the Declaration on Religious Freedom, produced at Roman Catholicism’s Vatican II (1962-1965), is “one of the major texts of the Council.”1 American Jesuit, John Courtney Murray goes further: “the document is a significant event in the history of the Church” (p. 673).2 Of all the 16 documents of Vatican II, the Declaration on Religious Freedom is the one which most clearly evinces the spirit of “updating” (Italian: aggiornamento)—Rome’s “opening its windows” to modernity.3

The very first line of the Declaration on Religious Freedom indicates that Vatican II was well aware of, and seeking to respond to, the modern political climate: “A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man” (p. 675). Chapter 1 begins with a ringing affirmation that has all the hallmarks of an echo from the United Nations: “This Vatican Synod declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom” (p. 678). This decree came over 400 years too late to save English Bible translator, William Tyndale, from burning at the stake at the behest of the Roman Catholic Church. So much for his “right to religious freedom.”

Rome’s Declaration on Religious Freedom requires the civil magistrate to act justly and without partiality on account of religion: “government is to see to it that the equality of citizens before the law, which is itself an element of the common welfare, is never violated for religious reasons whether openly or covertly” (p. 685). A Roman Catholic editorial footnote at this point observes, “This statement about equality before the law has an accent of newness in official Catholic statements” (p. 685, n. 18; italics mine). John Courtney Murray states,

A long-standing ambiguity has finally been cleared up. The Church does not deal with the secular order in terms of a double standard—freedom for the Church when Catholics are in a minority, privilege for the Church and intolerance for others when Catholics are a majority (p. 673).

What Murray euphemistically calls an “ambiguity” is actually Rome’s historic theory and practice—she pleads for equality in a state in which she is in a minority, but claims supremacy in a state in which she is in a majority.4 Murray’s adjective “long-standing” is more accurate; just ask the French Huguenots.

Later, the Declaration on Religious Freedom declares,

It is one of the major tenets of Catholic doctrine that man’s response to God in faith must be free. Therefore no one is to be forced to embrace the Christian faith against his own will. This doctrine is contained in the Word of God and it was constantly proclaimed by the Fathers of the Church (p. 689).

What utter disingenuousness! First, free or unforced faith is declared to be Roman Catholic teaching, even a “major tenet,” while no indication is given of this being a 180-degree turn. In fact, given Rome’s claim that she is unchangeable, the unwary might think that this was always her position. Second, what about the Protestant martyrs who were tortured in an attempt to make them recant and confess Roman dogma! What about the pagans in central and eastern Europe in the Dark Ages who were forced to submit to baptism at the edge of a sword!5 Third, in support of free or unforced faith, Rome (rightly) appeals to the Bible and the (early) Fathers. But the real issue is Rome’s theology and practice from the Middle Ages onwards, until modern, humanistic states no longer permitted her coercing of “heretics” and pagans.

The Declaration on Religious Freedom becomes even more duplicitous:

The Church … recognizes, and gives support to, the principle of religious freedom … Throughout the ages, the Church has kept safe and handed on the doctrine received from the Master and from the apostles. In the life of the People of God as it has made its pilgrim way through the vicissitudes of human history, there have at times appeared ways of acting which were less in accord with the spirit of the gospel and even opposed to it. Nevertheless, the doctrine of the Church that no one is to be coerced into faith has always stood firm (pp. 692-693).

An unsuspecting reader might think from this that the Roman Church “has always stood firm” on “the principle of religious freedom” and that “throughout the ages” this doctrine has been “kept safe,” “handed on,” “recognized” and “supported” by her! The part of the quotation above which suggests some contrition (“there have at times appeared ways of acting which were less in accord with the spirit of the gospel and even opposed to it”) requires closer examination. First, no examples or specifics are given as to the denial of religious freedom, never mind any indication of the horror of Rome’s terrible persecution of the people of God. Second, such things were apparently not frequent (“at times”). Third, the possibility of an excuse is raised, because the saints were passing “through the vicissitudes of human history.” Fourth, whatever wrong was done was performed by “the People of God” (i.e., members of the Roman Church) but not by the Church of Rome itself—Rome’s standard way of merely appearing to confess sins while still maintaining its claim to infallibility.

“Development” of Roman Catholic Political Doctrine

John Courtney Murray’s remarks on the development of Rome’s political doctrine in her Declaration on Religious Freedom bear quoting at some length:

It was, of course, the most controversial document of the whole Council, largely because it raised with sharp emphasis the issue that lay continually below the surface of all the conciliar debates—the issue of the development of doctrine. The notion of development, not the notion of religious freedom, was the real sticking-point for many of those who opposed the Declaration even to the end. The course of the development between the Syllabus of Errors (1864) and [the Declaration on Religious Freedom] (1965) still remains to be explained by theologians. But the Council formally sanctioned the validity of the development itself; and this was a doctrinal event of high importance for theological thought in many other areas (p. 673).

We should note, first, that Vatican II and all its 16 documents were designed to promote aggiornamento or “updating” in the Roman Church. Second, because Rome’s historic political theory was the aspect of its theology most out of step with the modern, democratic, liberal world, and therefore in greatest need of “updating,” the Declaration on Religious Freedom “was, of course, the most controversial document of the whole Council” (p. 673; italics mine). Murray states, “The debate was full and free and vigorous, if at times confused and emotional” (p. 672). Third, the controversy was not so much whether people should have religious freedom (though there were differences as to the model of religious freedom), but how this could be reconciled with earlier Roman Catholic teaching and practice. Fourth, the council decided that the idea of the development of doctrine was the best way of accounting for the changes. The Declaration on Religious Freedom “intends to develop the doctrine of recent Popes” on religious freedom (p. 677), but it wisely does not mention here the (contradictory) teaching of earlier popes or the traditional Roman Catholic position. Fifth, the problem is that no one can explain how the “new things” of Vatican II “are in harmony with the things that are old” (p. 676), that is, how Rome’s opposition to democracy, the separation of church and state, religious freedom, etc., turned (or “developed”) into endorsing what look like their opposites! As Murray delightfully understates it, “The course of the development between the Syllabus of Errors (1864) and [the Declaration on Religious Freedom] (1965) still remains to be explained by theologians” (p. 673; italics mine)! They certainly have their work cut out for them:

Here are a few of Pius IX’s own words stating in a positive way some of the principles of [his Syllabus of Errors]: 15. No man is free to embrace and profess that religion which he believes to be true, guided by the light of reason … 23. The Roman Pontiffs and Ecumenical Councils have never exceeded the limits of their power, or usurped the rights of Princes, much less committed errors in defining matters of faith and morals. 24. The [Roman] Church has the power of employing force and of exercising direct and indirect temporal power. 34. The doctrine which equalled the Roman Pontiff to an absolute Prince, acting in the universal [Roman] Church is not a doctrine which merely prevailed in the Middle Ages. 54. Kings and Princes are not only not exempt from jurisdiction of the [Roman] Church, but are subordinate to the Church in litigated questions of jurisdiction. 55. The [Roman] Church ought to be in union with the State, and the State with the [Roman] Church … 77. It is necessary even in the present day that the [Roman] Catholic religion shall be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship. 80. The Roman Pontiff cannot and ought not reconcile himself to, or agree with, progress, Liberalism, and Modern Civilization.6

Also one has to ask, What fellowship or communion or concord or agreement is there between the political theory of Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom (1965) and that of Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctum (1302)? One of Boniface’s “two swords” (the temporal one) appears to have been sheathed. The triple tiara, in which he marked an important development, seems to have been laid aside. Boniface’s “biblical exegesis” and arguments have been “updated,” such that they are now practically stood on their head.

All these changes and yet Rome boasts that she is unchangeable (semper eadem)! All this “updating” (or “reforms”), yet Rome is, by her own definition, unreformable!7 How, despite all these contradictions in her political doctrine—as well as in other areas of dogma—Rome still maintains that she is infallible, it would take a canon lawyer to work out!8

Yet all this does not spell the end of Rome’s political influence and desires. Much more remains to be said on this score. Machiavelli, that most wily of Italian political theorists, is the de facto (though no de jure) patron saint of that most resilient of Italian religious (and political) institutions: the holy Roman Catholic Church.

1Quoted in Walter M. Abbot (gen. ed.), The Documents of Vatican II (USA: The America Press, 1966), p. 674. Henceforward, pages in parenthesis refer to this book.

2By “Church,” Roman Catholic authors mean the Roman Catholic Church; by “Catholic,” they mean Roman Catholic.

3The Roman Catholic Church in America in general and John Courtney Murray (1904-1967) in particular were the staunchest advocates of liberalising Rome’s political theory. It is also significant that John Courtney Murray belonged to the Jesuits, probably the most left-wing Roman Catholic order.

4Cf., e.g., the relatively recent treaty and concordat between the Holy See and Italy (1929), with Benito Mussolini acting as the Italian king’s plenipotentiary, and the concordat between the Holy See and Spain (1953), in Appendices II and III in Albert Lévitt, Vaticanism: The Political Principles of the Roman Catholic Church (New York: Vantage Press, 1960), pp. 116-141, 142-155. In the very first article, the treaty with Italy states, “Italy recognises and reaffirms … [that] the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion is the sole religion of the State” (p. 117). Likewise, article 1 of the concordat with Spain declares, “The Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion continues to be the only religion of the Spanish nation, and shall enjoy the rights and prerogatives that correspond to it in keeping with Divine law and Canon Law.” Article 2 begins, “The Spanish State recognises the Catholic Church as a perfect society …” (p. 143). In two later articles in this concordat, Spain promises, “The State shall take care that in the institutions and services which form public opinion, and more particularly in radio and television programmes, a proper place shall be given to the exposition and defence of religious truth by priest and religious, by agreement of the respective Ordinary” (pp. 152-153), and “The State shall endeavour to give financial aid, as far as possible, to the training houses of religious Orders and Congregations, especially to those of a missionary character” (p. 153). Amongst the privileges granted the Church of Rome in the 1929 Italian accords are the following: “All cardinals shall enjoy in Italy the honours due to Princes of the blood” (p. 123); “The use of the [Roman Catholic] ecclesiastical or religious habit by … [unauthorised persons] shall be prohibited and punished by the same penalties and punishments as those provided in the case of abuse of military uniform” (p. 137); “Instruction in Christian doctrine according to the form accepted by Catholic tradition is regarded by Italy as the foundation and crown of public instruction. She therefore agrees that the religious teaching now given in the public elementary schools shall be further developed in the secondary schools according to a program to be settled between the Holy See and the State” (pp. 139-140).

5In Vatican II’s Declaration of the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (1965), the church of the Inquisition now declares, that she “repudiates all persecutions against any man” (p. 666).

6John W. Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church (USA: The Trinity Foundation, 1999), pp. 143-144.

7Robert Zins declares, “The Roman Catholic religion is an enigma in many ways and utterly maddening in its remarkable ability to speak out of both sides of its mouth. On the one side, there is an almost radical insistence on the unchanging dogmas of the ‘Mother Church.’ But on the other side, there is an outright contradiction and rapid departure from days gone by.” Zins goes on to contrast “the unchanging doctrines of Rome” with “the Roman propensity to expand and mature doctrine,” that is, to “deny the old in favor of the new” (Romanism: The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! [USA: White Horse Publications, 1994], p. 197; italics his).

8The Roman Church headed by the pope claims to be infallible in its teaching on “faith and morals.” Albert Lévitt complains of the practical difficulties involved in identifying Rome’s infallible statements, because the Vatican (deliberately?) does not clearly define or delimit them: “I have been unable to find, in Roman Catholic writings, an inclusive, or even a partially satisfactory, definition of the phrase ‘faith and morals.’ The phrase usually occurs in connection with a discussion of the dogma of the ‘infallibility of the pope.’ It is constantly declared that the pope is ‘infallible’ only when he speaks ex cathedra in matters of ‘faith and morals,’ but the subject matter concerning which his pronouncements are ‘infallible’ is not delimited or defined” (Vaticanism, p. 46).

(3) Rome’s Political Positions Today

Images from Rome’s Political History

The Roman Church’s rise in, and exercise of, political power through the ages has been detailed in many books. For our purposes, though, we shall just mention some of the most outstanding instances and images, before moving on to Rome’s current policies.

Pope Leo I’s saving the city of Rome from Attila the Hun by his last-ditch mediation (452).
the Donation of Constantine, a forged Roman imperial edict (c. 752-767), granting Pope Sylvester I (314-335) and his successors dominion over lands in Judea, Greece, Asia, Thrace and Africa, as well as the city of Rome, Italy and the entire Western Roman Empire, thus justifying the Papal States (754-1870)
Pope Leo III’s crowning of Charlemagne on Christmas Day (800).
Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV standing for three days bare-headed in the snow doing penance before Pope Gregory VII in the castle at Canossa (1077).
the crusades—the nine main ones against the Muslims in the Middle East (1095-1272) and others against the pagans in the Baltic, the Mongols in the east, the Ottomans in the Balkans, etc.
the only English pope, Pope Adrian IV’s giving Ireland to the Norman King of England, Henry II, in order to gain “Peter’s pence” from the Irish (1155).
Pope Innocent III’s excommunicating King John of England (1209), placing the country under an interdict (1207-1213) and threatening England with a crusade led by Philip Augustus of France (1213).
the inquisition, classified by historians as the Medieval Inquisition (1184-1230s), the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834), the Portuguese Inquisition (1536-1821) and the Roman Inquisition (1542-1860).
papal bulls (1481, 1493 and 1506) dividing newly discovered lands to the west and south between Spain and Portugal.
the papal deposition of King Henry VIII (1535) and Queen Elizabeth I (1570) and the absolving of all allegiance owed them by their subjects.
the persecution of the Waldensians (around the Alpine regions), Lollards (England), Hussites (Bohemia) and Protestants (Europe and around the world).
the Counter-Reformation (1560-1648), which was especially “successful” under the Roman Catholic Austrian Habsburgs in central and eastern Europe.
the rise in political power of the Jesuits; their suppression in Portugal, France, the Two Sicilies, Parma and the Spanish Empire by 1767; and their subsequent restoration.1
papal compromise with Hitler and Mussolini around World War II (1939-1945), including the genocide perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Ushtasi in Croatia and the Vatican “ratlines” through which they smuggled war-criminals out of Europe, often to S. America.2

Nineteenth-century English Roman Catholic historian, Lord Acton’s dictum, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is well-known. What is not so well-known is that he was referring to the power of popes and kings (in that order). The above list merely points to, and is far from exhaustive in dealing with, Rome’s pride, greed, lies, intrigue, manipulation, torture, war, genocide, abuse of the keys of the kingdom and persecution of God’s people.3

Rome’s Political Positions Today

Rome’s “updating” (Italian: aggiornamento) of her declared political policy—a euphemistic “development” according to her apologists; “contradiction” would be more accurate—should not be seen as ending her political activities or aspirations. Jesuit Thomas J. Reese summarises some of the Vatican’s political positions and gives examples of its power:

Papal teachings on birth control and abortion have demographic and environmental effects that are widely condemned by those supporting population control and “reproductive freedom,” and widely endorsed by conservatives espousing “family values.” Vatican diplomats successfully opposed the inclusion of abortion rights language in a UN document at the 1994 Cairo conference on population and development. Papal opposition to the Persian Gulf war angered some and pleased others. Vatican opposition to economic sanctions against Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Cuba has gone against American foreign policy goals. Vatican views on arms control, Third World debt, capitalism, religious freedom, and refugees are an integral part of the international discourse in which the Catholic church is a unique participant. The impact of papal actions on the world has led practically every nation except China and Vietnam to exchange ambassadors with the Holy See. Catholic and non-Catholic nations alike believe it is in their self-interest to have representation in the Vatican. And when popes speak at the United Nations, it is an event of major international importance.4

The Church of Rome loudly proclaims the sanctity of human life and human rights, as if everyone is ignorant of its long, bloody history (cf. Rev. 17:6).

The Vatican is opposed to birth control and abortion.5 Yet current Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and other Roman Catholic politicians in the US and elsewhere, who promote abortion are allowed to come to the mass and are not effectively disciplined.

At the other end of earthly, human life, the Roman Church opposes euthanasia and suicide, yet it is (basically) against capital punishment (contrast Gen. 9:6; Rom. 13:4).6

Concerning the origin of life, Rome believes theistic evolution and so does not support teaching creationism or even intelligent design as an alternative to evolutionism in state schools. In Roman Catholic schools, evolution is taught in science classes and theistic evolution in religion classes.7 Rome has not only embraced Galileo’s heliocentrism—another about turn—but also Darwin’s theory of single-cell organisms becoming apes becoming humans. Billions of years after the “big bang” and evolution from the first life forms, a pre-human became a man when the Creator immediately created his soul and he became able to think of God. One can easily imagine the sort of fancy footwork required to “fit” this with the opening chapters of Genesis and the rest of the Bible—akin to that in Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctam (1302) which argues for papal, political primacy from the Bible!8

The Holy See is against homosexuality, though supposedly celibate Roman Catholic priests are, to say the least, in a profession where sodomy and paedophilia have long been among the highest. Former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, passed a raft of pro-homosexual legislation, all the while preparing himself for conversion to Rome after he left office. He was received in the Roman Church without any word of penitence. Despite initial, loud opposition to new civil laws giving homosexuals the right of adopting children in the UK, the largest Roman Catholic adoption agency in England and Wales has now decided to allow homosexuals to adopt.

Rome’s political philosophy is (broadly speaking) right-wing on moral or bio-ethical issues (e.g., on abortion, in-vitro fertilization, euthanasia, suicide, embryonic stem cell research and sodomy, though not on capital punishment and teaching creationism in the schools) but left-wing on labour, economic, environmental and “peace” issues.

The Vatican calls for the right of all workers to a minimum wage and to organize in trade unions.9 Rome supports debt relief for poor nations, affordable housing for all and the welfare state.10

The Roman Church declares its support for refugees.11 For instance, 30% of the (legal) refugees admitted in the US during the fiscal year that ended 30 September, 2008, came through the American Roman Catholic Migration and Refugee Services. The Holy See also defends illegal Mexican immigrants in the US, gaining thereby a greater Roman Catholic presence in the world’s most powerful nation.

The Vatican is increasingly vocal (and politically correct) on “green” issues.

The Roman Church supports arms control, and hopes for, and works towards, a day when there will be no more war.12 It is against the Iraq War. One would never think from this that Rome herself started dozens of wars and that the likes of Julius II, the warrior pope, sat on the papal throne (1503-1513).

Rome’s Social Teaching

Rome’s political philosophy flows from her social teaching. Building upon the ideas of Aristotle (a Greek philosopher) and Aquinas (a medieval theologian), and stated officially, for example, in such papal encyclicals as Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (Of New Things, 1891) and Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno (In the Fortieth Year [after Rerum Novarum], 1931), Roman Catholic social teaching has been instrumental in the formation of Christian Democratic parties in Roman Catholic countries in Europe and Latin America.13

Roman Catholic social teaching may be summarised very briefly under a statement of its three key terms. First is the principle of “solidarity,” the essential unity of all human beings, irrespective of race, colour, nationality, class, gender, etc.14 Second, there is “subsidiary,”

according to which “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”15

Third, the “common good” is the welfare of all, which includes the maintenance of human rights, a more equal distribution of wealth and social justice. If you ask, “Who is to decide what the common good is in a particular instance?” or “What is that organization in which the common good is most truly obtained, solidarity most faithfully expressed and subsidiarity best exemplified?” the answer would undoubtedly take one back to the “Holy Father” (the pope) and the “perfect society” (the one, holy, catholic, apostolic and Roman church).16

1The suppression of the Jesuits in the Spanish Empire at this time explains the name San Francisco in California, because this mission field was given to the Franciscans and not the out-of-favour Jesuits (cf. Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, vol. 5 [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999], pp. 356-357).

2This is denied by Roman Catholic apologists. See, however, e.g., Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1994), pp. 264-326; John W. Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church (USA: The Trinity Foundation, 1999), pp. 161-173.

3Cf. Belgic Confession 29: “As for the false church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ … she relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry. [The true and the false church] are easily known and distinguished from each other.”

4Thomas J. Reese, Inside the Vatican (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), pp. 3-4.

5These are two key factors in the modern “culture of death,” a term popularised by John Paul II (1978-2005).

6To state Rome’s position more precisely, it holds that the death penalty should be avoided unless it is the only way to defend society from the offender in question, and that, given today’s penal system, such a situation requiring an execution is either rare or non-existent. Two advantages of this fine distinction is that it enables apologists to argue that they do not disagree with Thomas Aquinas (Rome’s number 1 theologian) and that the execution of Protestants and others in the past and future may be justified.

7Rome claims that the Bible is inerrant when dealing with salvation, but not when it speaks on scientific or historical matters. As well as denying Scripture’s infallibility, Rome also denies its canonicity (Rome’s approval makes their 73—not 66—books canonical), sufficiency (Rome’s tradition is necessary), perspicuity (the Roman magisterium alone can interpret it aright) and authority (the Bible yields to science, Roman teaching, etc., where they clash with it).

8Cf. “Evolution and the Roman Catholic Church.”

9See, however, David Engelsma’s pamphlet against trade unions: “Labour Union Membership in the Light of Scripture” (Peace PRC, 2003).

10From this and subsequent paragraphs, it will be evident that Roman Catholic political theory necessitates and supports big government and state interventionism: the “nanny state” (cf. Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania, pp. 81-94).

11The bedraggled Huguenot refugees, who left France for Geneva, the Netherlands, Britain, Ireland, America, etc., because of Roman Catholic persecution, received little support from the Holy See.

12Cf. the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (1965), in Walter M. Abbot (gen. ed.), The Documents of Vatican II (USA: The America Press, 1966), pp. 289-297.

13Examples of Christian democratic parties include the German Christian Democratic Union (led by Konrad Adenauer, 1950-1966), the Christian Democrat Party of Chile (the most influential Christian democrat party in S. American history), the Christian Democratic People’s Party of Switzerland and Fine Gael in the Republic of Ireland. In many countries, the Roman Catholic ethos of the Christian democratic parties has been diluted by secularisation.

14It is no accident that the Soviet bloc’s first independent trade union, Solidarity, co-founded by Lech Wałęsa in Roman Catholic Poland, was so named.

15Catechism of the Catholic Church (USA: Doubleday, 1995), 1883 (pp. 512-513), quoting from Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno (1931).

16For further discussion and a critique of Rome’s teaching on “solidarity,” “subsidiary” and the “common good,” see Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania, pp. 151-160.

(4) Rome’s Political Power Today

Vatican

The logical place to begin a discussion of the political power of the Roman Catholic Church today is, of course, the Vatican, a sovereign city-state within the city of Rome. Established in 1929, the Vatican City is the world’s smallest state, both by area (108.7 acres) and population (c. 800). Its citizenry is 100% Roman Catholic, its highest functionaries are Roman clergy and its non-hereditary, elected monarch is the pope. Jesuit Thomas J. Reese mentions several other remarkable features of this unique state.

The … Vatican City is a sovereign state recognized under international law … As ruler of Vatican City the pope is the last absolute monarch in Europe, with supreme legislative, judicial, and executive authority. He also controls all the assets of the Vatican, since this is a state economy without private property other than personal possessions of the employees and residents … its purpose is to provide an internationally recognized territory where the Holy See can operate in total freedom, without political interference.1

The Holy See claims the oldest continuous diplomatic service in the world, going back at least as far as the Council of Nicea (325). It also possesses one of the world’s most capable diplomatic corps.

Nuncios [i.e., papal ambassadors] … speak for the pope to local governments and local churches. As professional diplomats who know their business, they are given high grades by their secular counterparts because of their training, experience, and extensive contacts in the country. While most embassies have few contacts outside government circles, nunciatures through contacts with the local church have sources of information unavailable to most embassies many times their size. The newsgathering potential of these contacts would be the envy of CNN or the CIA. This is one reason governments find it valuable to have embassies to the Holy See. “If you want to know what’s going on in Mozambique” or other countries, Ambassador Flynn [America’s official representative to the Holy See, 1993-1997] reports, “there’s any one of a thousand Catholic workers that are in there administering to the poor, out in the villages, out in the boondocks, out in the grassroots, and they report back to the Vatican. I can have conversations with the Vatican, and the Vatican can tell me what’s going on there or in Libya.”2

Rome’s political power rests upon her nominal membership of about one billion, some one-sixth of the earth’s population, making it the largest multinational organization in the world. Many voters and powerful people around the world are Roman Catholics. All of them are under the authority of the “Holy Father” and “Vicar of Christ,” owing (but not always giving) the pope complete obedience.

… the “subjects” of the state of Vatican City … live in every part of the world. Every person who has been baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, and who has not left the Church or been excommunicated by the Church, is a subject of the state of Vatican City. These subjects owe to the sovereign of the state of Vatican City absolute, complete and unquestioning spiritual and political allegiance no matter where they may be living and no matter what the laws of the nation within which they are living may be.3

United States

Although many are not aware of it, Rome has significant political influence in the United States. For example, Roman Catholic social teaching, enshrined in Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891) and Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno (1931), as well as liberal Protestantism’s social gospel, facilitated the election and subsequent re-elections of the longest-serving U.S. President, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945), and the implementation of the New Deal, which promoted government interventionism, state redistribution of wealth and trade unionism.4

Although formal diplomatic relations between America and the Holy See only began in 1984, since then the U.S. has called upon Vatican ambassadors for help on various occasions.

The Vatican has … been secretly used to convey messages to governments that the United States has poor relations with, such as Iraq, Iran, and Libya. The nuncio in Iran visited the American captives at the U.S. embassy, and the nuncio in Iraq helped in getting two American prisoners released in 1995.5

Today, Roman Catholicism accounts for a higher percentage of the population of the United States than ever before and is, in fact, the largest church in the world’s most powerful nation.6 This would have gratified John Ireland (1838-1918), Archbishop of Saint Paul, Minnesota, who famously declared,

Let me state, as I conceive it, the work which, in God’s providence, the Catholics of the United States are called to do within the coming century. It is twofold: to make America Catholic, and to solve for the Church universal the all-absorbing problems with which religion is confronted in the present age … The work defines the measure of the responsibility … The work is to make America Catholic … The Church is triumphing in America, Catholic truth will travel on the wings of American influence, and encircle the universe.7

Republican George W. Bush is probably the most openly pro-Rome U.S. President in history.8 He repeatedly referred to John Paul II as a great spiritual and moral leader. The 43rd President even hosted the eighty-first birthday party of the 265th pope, Benedict XVI, in the White House (16 April, 2008).

Presidential hopeful, Democratic Senator Barack Obama significantly chose for his running mate Senator Joe Biden, an Irish-American Roman Catholic. The number 1 and the number 3 most liberal politicians in the 100-member Senate subsequently won the 2008 election and about half of the Roman Catholic vote.9 Some Roman Catholics voted against Obama on the basis of their church’s right-wing bio-ethics; others—much to the disgust of their staunch pro-life co-religionists—voted for Obama because of the broad agreement between his left-wing socio-economic ideology and that of their church or because of the liberal media hype, etc. American Roman Catholics, always amongst the most “progressive” in global Romanism, are both increasingly left-wing and increasingly divided. This would not have been so gratifying to Archbishop John Ireland.

European Union

The name changes from the European Economic Community (EEC, 1957) to the European Community (EC, 1979) and the European Union (EU, 1992) are significant, reflecting progressively greater integration towards a European superstate.10 Adrian Hilton points out,

The [EU, as it is now called] started under the inspiration of [Roman] Catholic politicians—such as [Konrad] Adenauer of Germany, Paul-Henri Spaak [of Belgium], Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman [both of France]. They were all Christian Democrats. They were all deeply influenced by Catholic social teaching.11

Robert Schuman, the “Father of Europe,” was an especially devout Roman Catholic, strongly influenced by the writings of Pius XII, Thomas Aquinas and Jacques Maritain. He, Adenauer, and Alcide de Gasperi (founder of the Italian Christian Democratic Party), three of the pioneers of European unification, are in the process of being made into “saints” by the Vatican as a reward for founding the new Europe on Roman Catholic principles. The European Union’s “single market,” “social chapter” and “subsidiarity” are concepts of the Vatican’s social teaching. Rome is a strong advocate of increasing European integration (as are the liberal Protestant churches), though it is not keen on the possible inclusion of (Islamic) Turkey.

But Rome is not having everything its own way in the increasingly secular European Union. Despite John Paul II’s placing Europe in Mary’s hands and urging that the final draft of the European Constitution (2004) should explicitly recognize the Christian roots of the continent, the Vatican’s representatives failed to secure any mention of Europe’s “Christian [i.e., Roman Catholic] heritage”—one of the papacy’s cherished goals.12

In 2004, the European Parliament refused to ratify Rocco Buttiglione, a Roman Catholic and an Italian Christian Democrat politician, as a European Commissioner because he held that homosexuality is a sin. Since then the European Parliament has called for the compulsory recognition of same-sex unions across the whole of the EU. The European Union funds stem cell research and it is increasing its funding of abortion.

Rome claims that John Paul II, the Polish pope, was instrumental in bringing down communism in eastern Europe, by being the spiritual inspiration behind its downfall. But whether this is so or not, he was disappointed in his hope that Poles and other Roman Catholics would emerge from behind the iron curtain to revitalise Romanism in western Europe. Secularisation proceeds from the Atlantic to the Urals. In part through the scandal of paedophile (i.e., homosexual) priests, Roman Catholic vocations are well down in Europe.13 Even in the Republic of Ireland, a very Roman Catholic country, and despite much pressure from the hierarchy, in a national referendum (24 November, 1995) a (narrow) majority voted to repeal the constitutional prohibition of divorce.

United Nations

The League of Nations (1919) was formed after, and in response to, World War I (1914-1918), as an international governing body designed to prevent war through disarmament, collective security, negotiation and diplomacy. The United Nations (1945) was founded as its more powerful successor after World War II (1939-1945), which the League of Nations had been unable to stop.

“From the very beginning,” writes Thomas Reese, “the papacy has … been a strong supporter of the United Nations, despite its problems, as the best hope for peace.”14 Rome repeatedly calls for the strengthening of its powers and even appeals for one world government as the most effective way of ending all war. Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (1965) issues this impassioned plea, for what will be, in effect, the global kingdom of Antichrist in whose day war (Matt. 24:6-7) will come to an end (cf. I Thess. 5:3; Rev. 13:3-4, 8, 12, 14-17):

It is our clear duty, then, to strain every muscle as we work for the time when all war can be completely outlawed by international consent. This goal undoubtedly requires the establishment of some universal public authority acknowledged as such by all, and endowed with effective power to safeguard on the behalf of all, security, regard for justice, and respect for rights. But before this hoped-for authority can be set up, the highest existing international centers must devote themselves vigorously to the pursuit of better means for obtaining common security. Peace must be born of mutual trust between nations rather than imposed on them through fear of one another’s weapons.15

Rome’s Way Forward

Power is a notoriously difficult thing to measure and this perhaps especially applies to the political power of the Church of Rome, which is centrally an ecclesiastical institution. A brief, outsider’s sketch like this can never do justice to such a big subject. Nevertheless, it is more or less clear that Rome has significant geopolitical power though, to say the least, not all is going its way. However, popes think in terms not of years but of centuries, as it is often said.

Today, the Church of Rome is numerically stronger than it has ever been but more doctrinally divided than at any time. Beyond the biblical framework of predictive prophecy, no one knows what the future holds except the sovereign God. But we can consider where the Vatican wants to go from its current labours and policy statements. As it casts about for a “winning combination” to restore its fortunes in an aggressively secular and pluralist world, the major factors in Rome’s push for greater religious and political power are false ecumenism (with other Christian churches and communities) and syncretism (with pagan religions). The Holy See desires one world religion with the pope at the summit of the earthly kingdom of god/man.

1Thomas J. Reese, Inside the Vatican (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), p. 16.

2Reese, Inside the Vatican, pp. 266-267.

3Albert Lévitt, Vaticanism: The Political Principles of the Roman Catholic Church (Vantage Press: New York, 1960), p. 23.

4Cf. John W. Robbins, Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church (USA: The Trinity Foundation, 1999), pp. 46-47, 81-84, etc. Roman Catholic priest, socialist and radio personality, “Father” Charles Coughlin of Oak Royal, Detroit, famously proclaimed, “The New Deal is Christ’s deal!” When, however, Roosevelt “rehabilitated rather than expropriated the banks,” Coughlin announced, “I am in favor of a New Deal,” for even more radical left-wing policies (David M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1999], pp. 231-232).

5Reese, Inside the Vatican, p. 267.

6There is a Roman Catholic majority in the U.S. Supreme Court. The top governorship in America, that of California, is held by Roman Catholic Republican, bodybuilder and movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

7Quoted in Lévitt, Vaticanism, p. 12; italics mine.

8Roman priest and apostate from Lutheranism, Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009), a leading instigator (along with Charles Colson) of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT), tutored George W. Bush in Roman Catholic social teaching and helped build the political coalition which saw Bush win two presidential elections.

9Results from the various exit polls vary.

10The Treaty of Rome (1957), the founding treaty of the EEC (now the EU), focused on economic co-operation, but it also called for “an ever closer union” to “eliminate the barriers which divide Europe.”

11Adrian Hilton, The Principality and Power of Europe (England: Dorchester House Publications, 1997), p. 18.

12John Paul II’s Ecclesia in Europa (2003) is a statement of key contemporary Roman Catholic theology and political theory applied to modern Europe. This “Apostolic Exhortation” presents Christ (through His vicar, the pope, as the head of the Roman Church, of course) as the hope of Europe and closes with a prayer to Mary, “Mother of hope and consolation,” to whom is entrusted “the future of the Church in Europe and the future of all the women and men of this continent.”

13Over 90% of the sexual abuse victims are teenage boys rather than girls or prepubescents.

14Reese, Inside the Vatican, p. 272.

15Walter M. Abbot (gen. ed.), The Documents of Vatican II (USA: The America Press, 1966), pp. 295-296.

(5) Rome’s False Ecumenism with Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism

Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism (1964)

The most official, systematic and widely accessible statement of the Roman Catholic Church’s false ecumenism is Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism (1964). The Latin name of this decree, Unitatis Redintegratio, is revealing, for it means “Restoration of Unity.” The unity the Roman Church wishes to see restored is that original oneness which it claims all professing Christians and churches had with the “Mother Church” (Rome) and the “Holy Father” (the pope).1 This will also serve Rome’s geopolitical goals with all the world united in the one, holy, catholic and Roman religion.

As Unitatis Redintegratio itself declares, Roman Catholic ecumenism can have only one outcome:

The result will be that, little by little, as the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion are overcome, all Christians will be gathered, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, into that unity of the one and only Church which Christ bestowed on His Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, dwells in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time (p. 348).2

Lest anyone within or without the Roman Church think that Rome’s ecumenism implies any openness to the truth of God’s Word or to forsaking its false doctrines, the Decree on Ecumenism states, “Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false conciliatory approach which harms the purity of Catholic doctrine and obscures its assured genuine meaning” (p. 354).

In case Roman Catholic laity notice that this statement is particularly addressed to their clergy and theologians (and that this might provide them with a loophole), the “faithful” are told,

Their ecumenical activity must not be other than fully and sincerely Catholic, that is, loyal to the truth we have received from the apostles and the Fathers, and in harmony with the faith which the Catholic Church has always professed, and at the same time tending toward that fullness with which our Lord wants His body to be endowed in the course of time (p. 365).

For Roman Catholics, ecumenism—efforts to bring all professing Christians into the papal fold—must be a priority. This is the first line of the Decree on Ecumenism: “Promoting the restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the chief concerns of [Vatican II]” (p. 341). Similarly, at the end of Unitatis Redintegratio, the council “urgently desires that the initiatives of the sons of the Catholic Church, joined with those of the separated brethren go forward … [in] the holy task of reconciling all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church” (pp. 365-366). This is the “full and perfect unity which God lovingly desires” (p. 350) and the “divine summons” (p. 342)—that all return to the papal embrace.

“The seamless robe of Christ” (p. 355), a historic image of the church’s unity, is appealed to and “rifts” in the church are said to be “damnable” (p. 345). All this must, of course, be read from Rome’s perspective that Christ builds the church on the pope, the successor of Peter. John XXIII’s prayer for the success of Vatican II includes this petition that all non-Catholics return to the Rome:

We pray also for those sheep who are not now of the one fold of Jesus Christ [i.e., not in the Roman Church], that even as they glory in the name of Christian, they may come at last to unity under the governance of the one Shepherd [i.e., the pope] (p. 793).

In its introduction (pp. 341-342), the Decree on Ecumenism alludes to the World Council of Churches (cf. p. 342, n. 5) and other ecumenical efforts involving liberal Protestants and the Eastern Orthodox: “among our separated brethren … there increases from day to day a movement … for restoration of unity among all Christians.” Amongst “divided Christians,” there is “remorse over their divisions and a longing for unity.” Rome attributes this to “the grace of the Holy Spirit,” rather than to apostasy, its proper source. The Vatican “gladly notes all these factors” (p. 342) because it understands that all the roads of false ecumenism ultimately lead to Rome.

Eastern Orthodoxy

For Rome, of all the various Christian bodies, the Eastern Orthodox Churches occupy a “special position.” They are treated before, and given more space than, the Protestant churches in the Decree on Ecumenism. The decree emphasises that Rome and Constantinople (the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch who ranks as primus inter pares, first among equals, in the Eastern Orthodox communion) have a lot in common. Apostolic succession (viewed as the succession of bishops, in uninterrupted lines, back to the original twelve apostles), priesthood, eucharist, true sacraments, liturgy, spiritual tradition, jurisprudence, veneration of Mary (mariolatry), prayers to saints, etc., are all mentioned (pp. 357-361). Rome magnanimously acknowledges that the seven ecumenical councils (325-787) were all held in or not far from Constantinople (p. 357) and that monasticism originated in the East, adding that “Catholics are strongly urged to avail themselves more often of these spiritual riches of the Eastern Fathers” (p. 359).

Both Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy are well aware of their disagreements but these are not specifically brought up.3 Instead, historical and cultural factors are mentioned as occasioning and/or maintaining the differences (pp. 357-358, 360). Unitatis Redintegratio advocates “legitimate variety” and reckons that their “various theological formulations are often to be considered as complementary rather than conflicting” (p. 360).

Vatican II hopes to use the Eastern Catholic Churches to provide a bridge to the Eastern Orthodox Churches.4 The Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches (1964) states,

The Eastern [Catholic] Churches in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome have a special role to play in promoting the unity of all Christians, particularly Easterners, according to the principles of this sacred Synod’s Decree on Ecumenism (p. 383).

Since the agreement between Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy is “very close,” Vatican II reckons that “given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, some worship in common is not merely possible but is recommended” (p. 359).

It is the Council’s urgent desire that every effort should henceforth be made toward the gradual realization of this goal [of full communion between Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy] in the various organizations and living activities of the Church, especially by prayer and by fraternal dialogue on points of doctrine and the more pressing pastoral problems of our time (p. 361).

This would certainly add to the size, prestige and power of the Vatican, for there are at present between 225 and 300 million Eastern Orthodox church members, found especially in eastern Europe and Russia, as well as (increasingly) worldwide. However, more needs to be done, for to this day both churches claim to be the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church and each denies the other’s right to that name. Rome expects this unification to be “gradual” (p. 361).

Anglicanism

For Rome, “the Anglican Communion occupies a special place” (p. 356) among those churches that separated from it at the Reformation. The reason is obvious. Anglicanism’s compromised Reformation left it with a hierarchical structure (referred to as “the historic episcopate” in ecumenical circles) and an unhealthy advocacy of early church tradition. The Church of England even considers itself a via media or middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Anglicanism’s high-church sacramentalism (prominent especially in its Anglo-Catholic wing) facilitates its restoration to Rome which sees the church largely in terms of hierarchy, sacraments, liturgy, etc.5 Moreover, the Anglican Communion is the third largest communion in the world (behind Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy) with about 80 million members, making it quite a prize for the papacy.6

The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), which arose out of the Joint Preparatory Commission (1967-68), has been discussing ordination, the doctrine of salvation, the eucharist, Rome’s teaching authority, the role of Mary, etc., on and off for about four decades. In approving the statements from ARCIC’s First Phase (1970-1981), “The Church of England has effectively ratified the doctrine of the Council of Trent [1545-1563] on Scripture and Tradition, and on the Lord’s Supper, and it has accepted in principle the primacy of the pope.”7

Since then, ARCIC has continued its labours to bring Canterbury back to Rome. In 2007, ARCIC issued Growing Together in Unity and Mission which declared,

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the ministry of the Bishop of Rome as universal primate is in accordance with Christ’s will for the Church and an essential element of maintaining it in unity and truth … We urge Anglicans and Roman Catholics to explore together how the ministry of the Bishop of Rome might be offered and received in order to assist our Communions to grow towards full, ecclesial communion.8

Queen Elizabeth II, Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith, and various Archbishops of Canterbury have visited the pope many times. In 2008, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams became the first (symbolic) head of the worldwide Anglican Communion to visit the Roman Catholic shrine of Lourdes in southwest France. There he took part in an international mass celebrating the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary to Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year-old peasant.

Ironically, ecumenical relations between Anglicanism and Romanism have slowed, not because of opposition from orthodox Anglicans but because Anglicanism is too liberal for Romanism, especially concerning the ordination of women and homosexuality. John Paul II (1978-2005) suspended official talks between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion due to the consecration of Gene Robinson, a practising homosexual, as a bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States.9

We do not know the future (only God does), so we do not know if and when Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism will join with Rome and submit to the pope. But this is the earnest desire and stated goal of the Vatican, something for which it is working very hard. Such a union would bring the first, second and third largest Christian communions under the “Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church.” With current population figures, this would take Rome from one-sixth to one-fifth of the world’s population and it would greatly strengthen her hand in eastern Europe, Russia, Africa and the Caribbean.

Next, we shall consider Rome’s false ecumenism with Protestants, those closer to us and with whom we are more familiar. The anti-Christian kingdom and the return of Jesus Christ are drawing near!

1Thus the Decree on Ecumenism states that all the other groups “separated from full communion with the [Roman] Catholic Church” (Walter M. Abbot [gen. ed.], The Documents of Vatican II [USA: The America Press, 1966], p. 345). Henceforward, pages in parentheses refer to this book.

2By “Church,” Roman Catholic authors mean the Roman Catholic Church; by “Catholic,” they mean Roman Catholic.

3These would include the filioque clause on the procession of the Spirit, the role of the papacy, the lawfulness of married clergy, the dating of Easter, etc. The western and eastern churches had been drifting apart for centuries before 1054, the date usually assigned to the Great Schism when Leo IX’s representative, Cardinal Humbert, and Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, excommunicated each other. Over nine hundred years later, the excommunications were rescinded by Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople when they met at Vatican II (1965).

4The Eastern Catholic Churches are autonomous churches in full communion with the pope which preserve the liturgical, theological and devotional traditions of the various eastern churches with which they are associated.

5Over the years, a lot of Anglican members and clergy (especially those in the high-church wing) have apostatised and joined the Church of Rome, including John Henry Newman (1801-1890), who was made a Roman cardinal (1879), and, in 1900, Mabel Tolkien and her young son, John Ronald Reuel (1892-1973), whose writings include The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

6Interestingly, the 18 million Anglicans in Nigeria outnumber all their co-religionists in the whole of Europe and N. America. There are about 9 million Anglicans in the Church of Uganda.

7David N. Samuel, The Church in Crisis (Reading, England: The Church of England [Continuing], 2004), p. 129.

8Quoted in “Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.”

9Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams approves of sodomy and his view of Scripture descends to the lowest depths of liberalism: God is “a spastic child who can communicate nothing but his presence and his inarticulate wanting,” and John’s Apocalypse is filled with “madness and vengefulness” (cf. Samuel, The Church in Crisis, pp. 131, 141-144). Rowan Williams was in New York on September 11, 2001, the day of the Islamic terrorist attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Holding the free-will heresy, the Archbishop remarked that God is “useless” at such times, for Williams’ idol does not decree and govern human actions. Apostate churches and church leaders are far and away the most blind and deaf of fallen mankind (Isa. 42:19-20); they have been “bewitched” (Gal. 3:1).

(6) Rome’s False Ecumenism with Protestants

Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism (1964) is the Roman Catholic Church’s blueprint for restoring all professing Christians—especially the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants—to the papal fold. This will also serve Rome’s geopolitical goals: one world, one religion, one pope.

Early Protestant Ecumenism and the Edinburgh Missionary Conference

The ecumenical movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries involved Protestants with various backgrounds (Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Reformed, Lutheran, etc.) who were typically either Arminian or modernist (or both). Creedal subscription was lax. Few cared much for their church’s historic teaching, whether true or false. Besides, the common wisdom—both then and now!—was that doctrine divides whereas service unites.

The service that especially united them and led to further false ecumenism was missions. According to many scholars, the Edinburgh Missionary Conference or the World Missionary Conference, held in the Assembly Hall of the United Free Church of Scotland (14-23 June, 1910), was especially important in this regard.1

The spirit of the Edinburgh Missionary Conference is captured by this catchy slogan: “The Evangelization of the World in this Generation,” itself the title of the conference chairman’s best-known book (published in 1900). But this spirit was hardly the Holy Spirit. A century after the World Missionary Conference, the world has not been evangelised, but man-centred Arminianism is very much to the fore and apostasy and false ecumenism continue apace.

The Edinburgh Missionary Conference decided to establish a Continuation Committee, through which the International Missionary Council (IMC) was established in 1921. The IMC furthered ecumenism and was closely related to the World Council of Churches (WCC; founded in 1948) until it became the Division of (later Commission on) World Mission and Evangelism (1961) of the WCC.

One man sums up this unification of the missionary movement and the ecumenical movement: John R. Mott, an American Methodist layman and leader of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and the World Student Christian Federation.2 Mott chaired the World Missionary Conference and was intimately involved in the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948, which elected him as its first honorary president.3

No Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox missionary organizations were invited to the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, but there was an Anglo-Catholic (and even a women missionary) presence. Moreover, “aspirations repeatedly surfaced” at its meetings “for the inclusion of Roman Catholic and [Eastern] Orthodox” in ecumenical endeavours.4

The World Council of Churches and other ecumenists will celebrate the centenary of the 1910 World Missionary Conference at “Edinburgh 2010.” Meetings will be held throughout the world with the main venue being, as in 1910, the Assembly Hall, Edinburgh (2-6 June, 2010). John Mott would be delighted that the participants in 2010 will be drawn from the whole range of Christian traditions, including Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal and even Seventh Day Adventist. The organisers assure us that “Edinburgh 2010” will “show a better gender and age balance” than the conference of 1910. Political correctness (not biblical correctness) is very important for false ecumenists.

Roman Catholic Principles of Ecumenism

Many liberal Protestants foolishly hope that in their ecumenical relations with Rome that both sides will make concessions and meet somewhere in the middle. After all, this was and is a major part of ecumenical relations between doctrinally indifferent Protestants. Surely in their dialogue with the Roman Church, there will also be give and take?

There is also the issue of momentum. Why stop with ecumenical relations merely between Protestants? If one can compromise with other Protestants for the sake of missionary labours or greater numbers and political power, why not sacrifice the truth for greater communion with Rome? If Protestants can reject God’s sovereign grace for Amyraldianism and Arminianism; and can accept evolutionism, higher criticism and political correctness; and can play down their denominational distinctives for ecumenism with other liberal Protestants, why should not they compromise with the Roman Church?5 And may not Rome, grateful for their approach, be open to finding some mutually acceptable middle ground?

Such naïve Protestants should carefully read Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism (1964).6 Its section on Rome’s principles of ecumenism is clear (pp. 343-350). Jesus’ prayer for His church’s oneness (John 17:21) (p. 343) is perverted into unity under Peter (i.e., “Peter’s successor,” the pope), upon whom Christ builds His church and to whom He gave the keys of the kingdom and “entrusted all His sheep” (p. 344). All who are “separated from full communion with the Catholic Church” (p. 345) must return to the pope and the hierarchy of the “bishops” (p. 344) with their false sacraments—especially baptismal regeneration (p. 345) and Rome’s blasphemous “Eucharist” (p. 343).7

“Common Ground” is Roman Ground!

In its section on the churches of the Reformation (pp. 361-365), Unitatis Redintegratio seeks to establish common ground and build bridges—to use the ecumenical (and political) buzz words.8 With a striking use of “spin,” its opening sentence declares that the Reformation churches “are bound to the Catholic Church by a special affinity and close relationship in view of the long span of earlier centuries when the Christian people lived in ecclesiastical communion [with Rome]” (p. 361; italics mine). Yet the Reformation was a breaking of bonds with a false church in order to serve Jesus Christ!

Reformed truths are likewise stood on their head. Protestants who confess Christ as “the sole Mediator” are thereby led to Rome! “Inspired by longing for union with Christ, they feel compelled to search for unity [i.e., with the pope] ever more ardently” (p. 362).9 The Protestant “love, veneration, and near cult [sic!] of the sacred Scriptures” (p. 362) can be used by Rome in ecumenical dialogue, for “the sacred utterances are precious instruments … for attaining … unity” with the Vatican (p. 363). The fact that Rome has added to, and horribly adulterated, the two sacraments Christ has given us does not deter the Decree on Ecumenism from urging them as a starting point for “dialogue … concerning the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper, the other sacraments, and the Church’s worship and ministry” (p. 364). Even elements of the “ancient common liturgy” in Protestant worship (p. 364) may be urged as reasons to return to the idolatry from which God graciously delivered us.

Why should this be? Unitatis Redintegratio answers, “the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all the means of grace” (p. 348; italics mine) and the Holy Spirit uses the “separated churches” as “means of salvation” because they “derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church” (p. 346). According to Vatican II,

the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, along with other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit and visible elements … which come from Christ and lead back to Him, belong by right to the one Church of Christ [i.e., Rome] (pp. 345-346; italics mine).

Rome’s arrogance is unbounded. Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are brought into a certain, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church” (p. 345). All the grace received by Protestants comes through the Roman Church and our baptisms (if Rome reckons them “proper”) unite us to the papacy.10 What a pronouncement! Better be anathematized by Rome than a recipient of its “blessings!”

Robert Zins sums it up,

Rome has unilaterally declared itself to be the judge of whether one’s religion does or does not have the necessary elements to qualify as a Christian religion. This absorption by decree does two things. First, it attempts to legitimize Rome since Rome is making the proclamation as though it were the official judge in the matter! Secondly, it minimizes the opposition to insignificance should anyone disagree.11

Millions Slain

Like its fiery persecutions, though in a different yet no less deadly way, Rome’s false ecumenism is slaying millions.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Council of Churches (WCC), an international ecumenical grouping of about 350 churches, denominations and church fellowships, encompasses over 560 million people in more than 120 countries.12 Its ranks include Eastern Orthodoxy, the Anglican Communion and many Protestant denominations but not the Roman Catholic Church. Yet Rome has worked closely with the WCC for more than three decades and sends observers to all major WCC conferences and assemblies. The Vatican also nominates twelve full members to the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission.13

The headquarters of another liberal, ecumenical body are also located in Geneva: the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), consisting of 75 million people in 107 countries. Over 45% of the 214 denominations in the WARC also belong to its neighbour, the WCC. Both the WCC and the WARC work with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.14 St. Pierre’s Cathedral in Geneva has been used frequently for their false ecumenical services, as if to spit in John Calvin’s face.15 Calvin’s Geneva is now the seat of apostate Reformed churches as they fraternise with the See of Rome!16

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), consisting of 140 member church bodies in 78 countries and representing 66.7 million of the world’s 70.2 million Lutherans, is headquartered in Geneva, like the WCC and the WARC.17 In 1999, the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church issued the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Luther would have turned in his grave at this denial of justification by faith alone! To use his own terminology, in denying the truth of justification, these Lutherans declared themselves fallen churches and fellowshipped with a fallen church, the Roman whore.

In 2006, the members of the World Methodist Council, comprising 76 member denominations in 132 countries and representing about 75 million people, met in Seoul, South Korea, and voted unanimously to adopt the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.18

But it is not just the World Council of Churches and global ecumenical bodies of the Reformed, Lutherans and Methodists, etc., who are fraternizing with Rome. Many Protestant denominations and parachurch organizations are also engaged in this spiritual fornication. If Rome were to be successful in bringing all the Protestants (with the Eastern Orthodox and the Anglicans) back into the papal fold, this would further Rome’s geopolitical goals, for it would place one-third of mankind under the sway of the Vatican.19

We need to look next at the methods (or weapons) of Rome’s false ecumenism with Protestants.

1The meeting place was ideal, since the United Free Church was basically non-confessional, for at its formation (1900) it incorporated into its constitution the Declaratory Acts (1879 and 1892 respectively) of the two denominations which formed it: the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church. Thus the United Free Church constitution, proceeding on the basis of a universal love of God (common grace), a desire of God to save everybody (free offer) and the existence of the image of God in all men, overthrew the doctrines of grace (sovereign predestination, particular atonement, total depravity and irresistible grace) as taught in the Westminster Standards, and allowed for liberty of opinion “on such points in the Standards not entering into the substance of the faith,” specifically mentioning six-day creation. (For the two Declaratory Acts, see Ian Hamilton, The Erosion of Calvinist Orthodoxy: Seceders and Subscription in Scottish Presbyterianism [Great Britain: Rutherford House, 1990], pp. 192-195.) As N. R. Needham puts it, the United Free Church’s “liberal Evangelicalism” blended “a moderate higher criticism, an acceptance of the findings of contemporary science, and a commitment to evangelism and missions.” Ecumenical discussions with the Church of Scotland had begun the year before the Edinburgh Missionary Conference and when the two parties were united (1929) only a tiny minority (about 14,000) of the United Free Church remained outside. The United Free Church Continuing (the “Continuing” was dropped in 1934) was the first Scottish Presbyterian church to ordain a woman minister (1935) and the first British Presbyterian church to elect a female moderator (1960) (I Tim. 2:11-14). The United Free Church is a member of the apostate World Council of Churches (“United Free Church,” in Nigel M. de S. Cameron [org. ed.], Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology [USA: IVP, 1993], pp. 838-839).

2The seed for the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions (established in 1888) was planted in 1886 at a conference in Mount Hermon, Massachusetts, with D. L. Moody as the principal speaker.

3Mott was highly esteemed around the world and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1946). Jesus said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you” (Luke 6:26).

4Cf. D. F. Wright, “World Missionary Conference,” in Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology, p. 894.

5Contrast Proverbs 23:23: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”

6This decree (Latin: Unitatis Redintegratio, “Restoration of Unity”) is found in Walter M. Abbot (gen. ed.), The Documents of Vatican II (USA: The America Press, 1966). Henceforward, pages in parentheses refer to this book.

7By “Church,” Roman Catholic authors mean the Roman Catholic Church; by “Catholic,” they mean Roman Catholic.

8Rome has a certain reluctance to refer simply to the Reformation, even in its Decree on Ecumenism. Instead, it uses torturous circumlocutions: “a series of happenings commonly referred to as the Reformation” (p. 356) and “the very serious crisis that began in the West at the end of the Middle Ages, or during later times” (p. 361). Historically, Rome spoke of “the so-called Reformation.”

9Calvin rightly states the exact opposite: “it behoved us to withdraw from [Rome] that we might come to Christ” (Institutes 4.2.6).

10This easily leads to a re-interpretation of the famous dictum, “Outside of the Church of Rome, there is no salvation,” for Protestants are in the Church of Rome though they may not know it.

11Robert Zins, Romanism: The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (USA: White Horse Publications, 1994), p. 199.

12The World Council of Churches’ building, the Ecumenical Centre, is also home to several other ecumenical organizations including the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Student Christian Federation, the Conference of European Churches (CEC), Action by Churches Together (ACT) and the Ecumenical Church Loan Fund (ECLOF). Youth With A Mission (YWAM) has its headquarters in Geneva, though not in the WCC’s Ecumenical Centre.

13If Rome were to become a member of the WCC, it would only be the most powerful church in a very large ecumenical body. Thus Rome sees it as serving its ecclesiastical and political interests not to join the WCC but to remain as the WCC’s most important dialogue partner.

14The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is a very busy body, engaging in international theological dialogue not only with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Communion, the World Council of Churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, but also with the Lutheran World Federation, the World Methodist Council, the Baptist World Alliance, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), various Pentecostal groups, etc.

15A golden calf has been erected in Bethel!

16Commenting on Jeremiah 32:39, Calvin declared, “But as it is necessary for us to separate from the Papists if we wish to follow God, it is better a hundred times to separate from them than to be united together, and thus to form an ungodly and wicked union against God. Agreement or union is, indeed, singularly a good thing, because there is nothing better or more desirable than peace. But we must ever bear in mind, that in order that men may happily unite together, obedience to God’s Word must be the beginning. The bond, then, of lawful concord among us is this—that we obey God from first to last; for accursed is every union where there is no regard to God and to his Word.”

17It is striking that Calvin’s Geneva, the centre of the Reformation, which proclaimed the spiritual kingdom of God, has become not only the centre of apostate Protestantism but also a centre for the carnal, political kingdom of man apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. There the Geneva Conventions were formulated (1864, 1906, 1929, 1949), requiring decent treatment of non-combatants and prisoners of war. Geneva was the seat of the League of Nations (1919-1946) and is the European headquarters of the United Nations (UN), as well as five of the UN’s sixteen specialized agencies: the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), plus three other UN agencies: the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). Many other inter-governmental organizations, such as the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), are also based in Geneva. The world headquarters of non-governmental organizations based in Geneva include the Red Cross/Red Crescent; the Boy Scouts; various bodies dealing with airports, roads, cancer, heart disease, AIDs, etc.; as well as the International Baccalaureate program and the World Wide Web Virtual Library.

18All around the world, Methodists were among the first to play the harlot with Rome. The reasons are obvious: their lack of a creed (to help moor them to any doctrinal formula) and their free-willism (for Rome is Semi-Pelagian), as well as John Wesley’s high churchism.

19Cf. the on-line “World Fact Book” of the CIA.

(7) Rome’s Ecumenical Methods with Protestants

Having considered Rome’s false ecumenism with Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism and Protestantism, as well as the principles of Roman ecumenism, it remains to examine the methods of its ecumenism. For this, the prime source is, once again, the Decree of Ecumenism (1964), produced by Rome’s last “ecumenical” council, Vatican II (1962-1965).1 Some examples shall also be given of the use of these methods (or weapons) in the slaughter of careless, apostatising Protestants. Remember too that Rome’s labours to bring all of Christendom—indeed those of all religions—under its sway also serve its geopolitical goal to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth with its headquarters in the Vatican.

Change of Names

To those not unaware of Rome’s persecuting past, the most striking of the various “helps, pathways and methods” (p. 342) of Rome’s ecumenism is the new terminology used for Protestants. Dropping all references to “heretics” or “dogs” and ignoring the dozens of anathemas hurled by the Council of Trent (1545-1563), Unitatis Redintegratio refers to Protestants as our “brothers” or “brethren” (pp. 345, 346, 354) or, more frequently, our “separated brethren” (e.g., pp. 342, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 365).2 This change in nomenclature is an important step in Rome’s aggiornamento (Italian for “updating”) and has been eagerly received by liberal Protestants. However, Robert Zins’ warning is appropriate:

This new terminology [of “separated brethren”] is a change, but for the Christian, it is also dreadful and dangerous. It appears that Rome wants to label Christians as brothers in hopes of lending credibility to Romanism. It also appears that Rome wishes to hide or minimize the eternal chasm which separates Rome from the gospel of Christ! Christians need to reject such manipulative language and stick to their faith that Christianity and Romanism are absolutely contradictory … For Rome to call Christians separated brethren is similar to Mormons or Hindus calling Christians separated brethren. We say, “No thank you!”3

Even Martin Luther has been re-evaluated by the modern Roman Church. He is no longer a “wild boar” ravaging the Lord’s “vineyard” (as in Leo X’s famous, 1520 bull Exsurge Domine); he is a “prophet of the [Roman] Catholic Church” with many fine things to say. His breaking with Rome was a “tragedy.”

Change of Style

Whereas those who broke with the papacy used to be viewed and treated by Rome with contempt and mistrust, now the “[Roman] Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers” (p. 345). The order of the day is “mutual respect” (p. 359) and “mutual esteem” (p. 362). According to the Decree of Ecumenism, “every effort [must be made] to eliminate words, judgments, and actions which do not respond to the condition of separated brethren with truth and fairness and so make mutual relations between them more difficult” (p. 347).4 In Rome’s ecumenical endeavours, it realises that if it wants to have friends, it must show itself friendly (Prov. 18:24). This ploy was enough for Ahab to deceive naïve Jehoshaphat (II Chron. 18:1-3). The affability of a priest was a large factor in a formerly Reformed friend of mine “re-evaluating” the mass.

With this Unitatis Redintegratio “facelift,” not only has the old style of dealing with Protestants changed, but even Reformed language has been misappropriated, further to wrong-foot the unwary. Now Rome talks about undertaking “with vigor the task … of reform” (p. 347) and even the need for “continual reformation” (p. 350)!5 Yet Rome’s historic doctrine is that she is unreformable, semper eadem (always the same), whereas the Reformed position is semper reformada (always reforming).

Moreover, the Decree of Ecumenism makes a confession of sin (of sorts): “at times, men of both sides were to blame” (p. 345) and “in humble prayer, we beg pardon of God and of our separated brethren, just as we forgive those who trespass against us” (p. 351). However, “both sides” are said to have sinned and the specific sins, such as Rome’s heretical doctrines and persecution of Christ’s church, are not mentioned. Significantly, it is only “men of both sides” who have trespassed and not the Roman Church itself.

These are all changes in style and tone, but not in substance, for there is no reformation of Rome’s doctrines, sacraments, discipline, government or worship. But in our age of tolerance, “niceness” is seen as of great value, while biblical truth is little esteemed.

Common Activities

In keeping with Rome’s re-evaluation of, and new approach to, (liberal) Protestantism, comes a spirit of cooperation (within limits). Unitatis Redintegratio recommends “common prayer, where this is permitted” by the Roman hierarchy (pp. 347, 352) and even “common worship” (p. 352), though only “after due regard has been given to all the circumstances of time, place, and personage” and with Roman episcopal authority (pp. 352-353).

Vatican II appreciates the opportunity that “missionary work, in the same territories as other Christians,” provides for its false ecumenism (pp. 353-354). Many are the Protestant missionaries who have been seduced by Rome’s wiles while labouring in far-off lands: “Should we not cooperate with Roman Catholics in order to face the common enemy of pagan religion?” This was also the ploy that fooled Jehoshaphat and saw the true church (Judah) teaming up with the false church (Israel) to fight against the pagans (Syria) in II Chronicles 18.6

The Decree of Ecumenism puts a lot of hope in “cooperation in social matters” (p. 354) for the “common good” (p. 347), a key concept in Rome’s social teaching. The decree advises to “start” with “discussions concerning the application of the gospel to moral questions” (p. 365). “Social cooperation” between Roman Catholics and Protestants will show “how the road to the unity of Christians may be made smooth” (p. 355)—a “unity” under the pope’s “Petrine office” (pp. 344, 346)!

Here one thinks of the co-belligerency of evangelicals and Romanists in the culture wars with secular humanists in the political realm over, for example, abortion, euthanasia and sodomy.7 It was out of this milieu, and with these concerns, that Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT) was spawned. Among the prominent evangelical signers of both ECT I, “The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium” (29 March, 1994),8 and ECT II, “The Gift of Salvation” (12 November, 1997), are Chuck Colson, Bill Bright, Os Guinness, Richard Mouw, Mark Noll and J. I. Packer.

Dialogue

Underlying all of these activities, and looming large in Unitatis Redintegratio (e.g., pp. 347, 353, 358, 361, 362, 363, 364), as well as in all Roman Catholic ecumenical directives and dealings, is dialogue. This deserves highlighting. Twenty-first century Romanism does not use interdicts or the stake against the recalcitrant. Nor are preaching or debates its favoured methods. Worldly-wise Rome copies the means most favoured for conflict resolution in the modern political realm: dialogue.

The Decree of Ecumenism recommends that Roman Catholics take the initiative, “making the first approaches” towards their “separated brethren” (p. 348). Present at Vatican II were some eighty observers invited from Eastern Orthodox and “mainline” Protestant churches. Included were “Mr. Pentecost,” David du Plessis (1905-1987), one of the leading founders of the charismatic movement, and neo-orthodox theologian, Karl Barth (1886-1968). Protestant ecumenist, Samuel McCrea Cavert enthuses that Paul VI joined with “Protestant and [Eastern] Orthodox participants in a service for prayer for unity in Rome during the last week of the Council” (p. 368). The Roman laity and clergy that have followed the instruction and example of Vatican II have discovered that many Protestants are so ignorant of the gospel and of Roman Catholicism that their advances have been welcomed.

Unitatis Redintegratio emphasises not only the role of grass-roots Roman Catholics and the priests (pp. 348, 349-350) but also that of Rome’s bishops and theologians in dialogue. The priests and these “heavier guns” must especially be trained in “theological and historical studies” (p. 350) and “other branches of knowledge” (p. 353). This includes “study” in the “distinctive doctrines” of various Protestant churches, “as well as of their own history, spiritual and liturgical life, their religious psychology and cultural background,” so that the Roman apologist is “truly competent” and can engage in theological “dialogue” with those of a particular Protestant tradition on “an equal footing” (p. 353).

Dr. Eduardo J. Echeverria is the sort of man envisaged by Vatican II’s Decree of Ecumenism. He gained his PhD in philosophy from Abraham Kuyper’s Free University, Amsterdam, and is well read in the thought of Herman Bavinck (1854-1921), former Professor of Theology at that institution. Invited by John Bolt, Echeverria spoke on “The God of Philosophy and of the Holy Scripture: Herman Bavinck and John Paul II” as part of the conference, “A Pearl and a Leaven: Herman Bavinck for the Twenty-First Century,” at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan (18-20 September, 2008).

The way of Rome’s ecumenical dialogue is carefully stated. There may be “variety” “in the theological elaborations of revealed truth” (p. 349) and “terminology” should be used which is easily understood by the “separated brethren” (p. 354). The “formulation” may be modified but Rome’s dogmas must be preserved (p. 350). Moreover, it is “highly important” that the clergy present Rome’s theology, especially as it concerns said “separated brethren,” sensitively and “not polemically” (p. 353). One wonders what that bellicose, papal controversialist Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) would have made of this!

The “prudent ecumenical action” (p. 357) advocated by the Decree of Ecumenism is to be characterised by “prudence,” “patience” and “vigilance” (p. 348). It is to be under the “skilful promotion and prudent guidance” of “bishops everywhere in the world” (p. 350), so that “all the Catholic faithful … participate skilfully in the work of ecumenism” (p. 347) and all the clergy have “mastered” their ecumenically sensitive theology (p. 353). Clearly, Rome reckons that “prudence” is the key to its ecumenical dialogue continuing with greater speed and success.

Rome’s Progress

Despite setbacks, Rome is making progress in its false ecumenism through dialogue on every continent with leaders and members of Christian bodies (at varying speeds): Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, Baptist, Waldensian, Pentecostal and Charismatic, as well with as cultists and others. Key to this is the establishment of common ground. For example, with Pentecostals and Charismatics, Rome’s commitment to ongoing revelation, miracles and mystical experiences is stressed.

This is not to deny that there are some Roman Catholics who take the more traditional approach to converting Protestants. Two examples are Scott Hahn, a former minister in the Presbyterian Church in America who (with his wife) wrote Rome Sweet Home (1993), and Robert Sungenis, author of Not by Faith Alone (1997), attacking sola fide (faith alone); Not by Scripture Alone (1997), attacking sola Scriptura (Scripture alone); and Not by Bread Alone (2000) advocating the mass.9 In our day, Rome’s polemics have slain their thousands, but its false ecumenism has slain its tens of thousands.

Rome sees all this as one of “the signs of the times” (p. 347). In this it is right, but not in the way it thinks. Rome’s false ecumenism is not included in the spread of the gospel (Matt. 24:14); it is part of the rearing up of the abomination of desolation (v. 15). Apostasy features prominently in the signs of the times (e.g., vv. 4-5, 11-12, 24). Increasing unity between (liberal) Protestants and Rome is not the fruit of God’s grace but the mark of His judgment. God sends “strong delusion” upon those who receive “not the love of the truth” so “that they should believe a lie” (II Thess. 2:10-11), including the lie that is the Church of Rome.

Rome has high expectations that more and more Protestants will come under its sway: “it is our hope that the ecumenical spirit and mutual esteem will gradually increase among all men” (p. 362) and “we confidently look to the future” (p. 365). Moreover, Rome anticipates not only further progress in its false ecumenism but also success from its interfaith dialogue with pagan religions, thus further strengthening its hand as a geopolitical power.

Increasing Roman Catholic membership would bring with it greater representation and influence in national and inter-governmental bodies (e.g., US, G8, EU, UN). The kingdom of man (Dan. 2), which is the kingdom of the beast (ch. 7), is drawing nearer. The good news is that Christ will destroy it and give the everlasting kingdom to the saints (vv. 13-14, 22, 27)!

1This decree (Latin: Unitatis Redintegratio, “Restoration of Unity”) is found in Walter M. Abbot (gen. ed.), The Documents of Vatican II (USA: The America Press, 1966). Henceforward, pages in parentheses refer to this book.

2″The Good Pope,” John XXIII (1958-1963), is especially noted for referring to non-Catholics as “our separated brethren.”

3Robert Zins, Romanism: The Relentless Roman Catholic Assault on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (USA: White Horse Publications, 1994), pp. 198-199.

4This message is not being heeded, e.g., in the southern Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, where Evangelicals are being persecuted by Roman Catholics.

5In his “A Response,” Protestant ecumenist, Samuel McCrea Cavert, foolishly sees this as “especially gratifying” (p. 368).

6For more, listen to an eight-sermon series, “Jehoshaphat, the Ecumenical King” (II Chron. 17-20; II Kings 3).

7Co-belligerency with Roman Catholics against humanists proceeds on the fallacy that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

8Cf. Kevin Reed, Making Shipwreck of the Faith: Evangelicals and Roman Catholics Together (Dallas, TX: Protestant Heritage Press, 1995).

9Sungenis is a geocentrist, who has persistently been charged with anti-Semitism, one element in his conflict with his bishop.

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