Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bab 16 Dominion over Kings

The last identifying characteristic that John was given concerning the woman astride the beast was that she was a city "which reigneth over the kings of the earth" (Revelation 17:18). Could there be a city that actually reigns over the governments of the world? History bears witness that there was indeed such a city, and only one. That city was, of course, Rome after its bishops began to call themselves popes and, claiming to be the successors of the Caesars, took upon themselves the imperial powers of worldwide sovereignty.

Consider, for example, the arrogant imperialism of Pope Alexander III (1159-81). Declaring that "the power of the popes is superior to that of princes," Alexander excommunicated Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Germany and Italy. Attempting to chastise the pope, Frederick's forces were defeated by the pope's army. The chastened emperor came to Venice to beg forgiveness and absolution, promising to "submit always to the Roman Church." Imagine a church ruling the world by military might! Fortunatus Ulmas, a Catholic historian, enthusiastically described the scene:

When the emperor arrived in the presence of the pope, he laid aside his imperial mantle, and knelt on both knees, with his breast on the earth. Alexander advanced and placed his foot on his neck, while the cardinals thundered forth in loud tones, "Thou shalt tread upon the cockatrice, and crush the lion and the dragon

The next day Frederick Barbarossa ... kissed the feet of Alexander, and, on foot, led his horse by the bridle as he returned from solemn mass, to the pontifical palace....

The papacy had now risen to a height of grandeur and power which it had never reached before. The sword of Peter had conquered the sword of Caesar!4

As a swordsman, Peter had been signally inept: Aiming to cut off a head, he had instead severed an ear. Christ rebuked His erring disciple, healed the ear, and then allowed the armed band to lead Him captive on His way to the cross. The early church knew full well that Christians did not wield sword or spear in the defense of Christ. His kingdom, which is "not of this world," must first be established in the hearts of those who believe in Him as the Savior who died for their sins. These true disciples follow in His path of rejection, suffering, and death. How then did those who called themselves vicars of Christ reach such a worldly pinnacle whereby they could command emperors, defeat their armies with the sword, and place a foot upon the neck of a vanquished sovereign?

The Path to Earthly Glory

Some years after Constantine had moved the imperial headquarters to the East, the Roman Empire in the West broke up. The vacuum created by the absence of a central authority in Rome was filled by the Church, the only Roman institution capable of doing so. The Church played the major role in education and charity. Gradually, however, the popes took over the civil government of Rome and its surroundings; and then by fraud (as we have seen) they added the large territories of the Papal States to their domain. As their ambitions grew, the new Roman pontiffs took upon themselves the titles and much of the flavor and function of emperor.

The popes, some of whom were exceptionally capable military leaders, had armies and navies at their command to extend and to hold their territories. They wielded. However, a greater power than the force of arms: "The keys of heaven" were theirs. Temporal rulers were compelled, no matter how unwillingly, to bow the knee to the popes. Only the "heretics" (true Christians) doubted that the Church determined who entered heaven and could bar its gate to any who opposed her.5 The most powerful civil rulers trembled when threatened with excommunication, for it was almost universally believed that outside the Church there was no salvation. Historian Walter James writes:

The Papacy controlled the gateway to heaven which all the faithful, including their rulers, hoped earnestly to enter. Few in those days doubted the truth of this and it gave the Popes a moral authority which has never been wielded since.6

The fraudulent Donation of Constantine mentioned earlier was followed by a veritable library of forged documents. It was these false decretals that traced papal authority back to the early bishops of Rome and through them to Peter. Even Thomas Aquinas, the Roman Church's greatest theologian, was deceived by these fraudulent assertions into believing that "there is no difference between Christ and the Pope. . . ." So blinded was Aquinas by the pomp and power of the popes that he "made the Fathers say that in fact the rulers of the world obey the Pope as though he were Christ."7

On the contrary, Christ had nothing to do with the rulers of this world; and far from obeying Him, "the princes of this world ... crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8). Yet the Catholic heresy stuck and became the central principle of the popes in fulfilling John's vision by literally ruling over the kings of the earth.

Papal Dominion over England and Ireland

During the Middle Ages the awesome power which the popes wielded over the kings of the earth continued to grow. Gregory VI (1045-6) had declared that the pope commanded blind obedience to his every word, even from sovereigns. Alexander II (1061-73), with the counsel of the great Hildebrand (later Gregory VII), issued a decree declaring Harold, the lawful King of England, a usurper and excommunicated his followers. The pope decreed that William, Duke of Normandy, was the lawful claimant to the English crown.

With the pope's blessing, William the Conqueror killed Harold in battle, took England, and was crowned in London on Christmas Day, 1066. William accepted the crown "in the name of the Holy See of Rome." It was another triumph for the papacy and greatly increased Roman Catholic influence in England. Freeman, in The Norman Conquest, elaborates on the arrangement:

William was authorized [by the pope] to go forth as an avenger of Heaven. He was required to teach the English people "due obedience to Christ's Vicar," and, what the papacy never forgets, "to secure a more punctual payment of the temporal dues of his apostle."8

In 1155 Pope Adrian IV gave the crown of Ireland to the King of England. Thus, by his authority as "Christ's vicar," he subjugated Ireland to English rule and consigned Ireland's "peaceful and Christian people to the merciless cruelties of Henry II, upon the ground that it was a portion of 'the patrimony of St. Peter and of the Holy Roman Church.'"9 Subsequent popes affirmed this decree.

So long as England remained Catholic the arrangement was tolerable. But when England turned Protestant its continued control of Catholic Ireland and Protestant persecution of Catholics planted the seeds of a problem that continues to this day. While Catholic Ireland has many legitimate grievances too complex to relate here, she needs to remember that it was, after all, the Roman Catholic popes who gave Ireland to England in the first place.

In fact, the popes were to blame for many of England's trials and tribulations as well. The Roman pontiffs treated "its kings [as] their vassals, and its people as having no rights of any value whatsoever when they came in conflict with the demands of the papacy.... The Catholic clergy, as the popes' emissaries, ran England, disregarding the laws of the land, as though the popes were the sovereigns of the country. Civil courts had no iurisdiction over priests. Thompson elaborates:

It would be impossible to enumerate ... the outrages and enormities practiced in England during this gloomy period by kings and popes, who considered the assertion of any single popular right as a crime which God had appointed them to punish! More than a hundred murders were committed by ecclesiastics during the reign of Henry II, in which the parties were not even punished....

The clergy had absolute power over their own body, and no appeal was allowed from their decisions. A layman forfeited his life by the crime of murder, but an ecclesiastic went unpunished. This was called one of the immunities of the clergy! [When the king tried to change the law to deal with clergy] the pope refused his sanction and denounced it as "prejudicial to the Church, and destructive of her privileges!" 10

Looking back from today's perspective, such overt papal dominion over sovereigns seems inconceivable, but it was in fact the norm for that day. The popes literally ruled the entire known world for centuries, exactly as John's vision foretold.

Pope Gregory VII (1073-85)

Before he became pope, as the famous Hildebrand, Gregory VII was the manipulating genius behind five other popes, including Alexander II. Gregory began his pontificate "by asserting the right to dispose of kingdoms, in imitation of the example set by Pope Gregory I [the Great], nearly four hundred years before." He declared that the power to "bind and loose" granted by Christ to Peter gave the popes "the right to make and unmake kings, to construct and reconstruct governments, to wrest from those who disobeyed all the territory held by them, and to bestow it upon those who would hold it subject to papal authority." Had he not read Revelation 17:18?

Gregory was the first pope to literally dethrone kings. If he decided to depose the German emperor, Gregory simply said, "To me is given power to bind and loose on earth and in heaven." If he set his heart upon some property that belonged to others, Gregory simply declared, as he had at his Roman Synod of 1080: "We desire to show the world that we can give or take away at our will kingdoms, duchies, earldoms, in a word, the possession of all men; for we can bind and loose."11

Picture, for example, in 1077, the humbled Henry IV, supreme head of the Holy Roman Empire and heir to Charlemagne (whom Pope Leo III had crowned emperor in 800), crossing the Alps and forced to wait, in penitence, barefoot in a haircloth shirt in the snow outside the castle at Canossa to make his peace with Gregory VII! Claiming to be "King of kings," Gregory, because of a quarrel with Henry, had declared: "On the part of God omnipotent, I forbid Henry to govern the kingdoms of Italy and Germany. I absolve all subjects from every oath they have taken and I excommunicate every person who shall serve him as king." Henry had no defense against that superweapon of the popes.

Thus was established that magnificent "whore" portrayed by John in Revelation 17-headquartered in a city located upon seven hills (verse 9) and which "reigneth over the kings of the earth" (verse 18). One eighteenth-century historian counted 95 popes who claimed to have divine power to depose kings.12 There is no other city which meets these criteria. John's vision had been remarkably accurate.

The Bloodiest Pontiff

Of Innocent 111 (1198-1216), whom he says "encompassed Christendom with terror... for close on twenty years," de Rosa writes: "He crowned and deposed sovereigns, put nations under interdict, virtually created the Papal States across central Italy from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic. He had not lost a single battle. In pursuit of his aims, he shed more blood than any other pontiff."13 Desiring to put Otho of Saxony on the German throne, Innocent wrote:

By the authority which God has given us in the person of St. Peter, we declare you king, and we order the people to render you, in this capacity, homage and obedience. We, however, shall expect you to subscribe to all our desires as a return for the imperial crown.14

Innocent III's "proud spirit chafed at the thought that any earthly potentate should equal him either in greatness or authority. Therefore he required that `all disputes between princes' should be referred to him; and if either party should refuse `to obey the sentence of Rome, he was to be excommunicated and deposed,' and a like penalty was to be visited upon those who refused to attack whatsoever `refractory delinquent' he should point out."15 As Ehler and Morrall remind us, "The Papacy became not only the highest authority in respect of international jurisdiction, being entitled to judge kings and princes, but secular potentates also sought the Pope's sanction in major changes of their international position, such as acquisition of new territories or titles."16

John Lackland, King of England, made the mistake of having a violent quarrel with Pope Innocent III. "After attempting resistance he completely submitted to Rome, surrendered his royal crown to Pope Innocent III and received it back from him as a vassal of the Holy See."17 The document, dated May 15, 1213, is known as "King John Lackland's Infeodation to Pope Innocent III."18 (See APPENDIX C) R. W. Thompson adds his insight:

Forfeitures, interdicts, excommunications, and every other form of ecclesiastical censure and punishment were of almost daily occurrence. Even such monarchs as Philip Augustus and Henry IV quailed before him [Innocent III], and Peter II of Aragon and John of England ignominiously consented to convert their kingdoms into spiritual fiefs and to hold them in subordination to him, upon the condition of paying an annual tribute.19

Yet More Evidence

Gregory IX (1227-41), who established the Inquisition and the handing of heretics to the secular power for execution, thundered that the pope was lord and master of everyone and everything. Innocent IV (1243-54) agreed because, as he argued, the popes did not get their dominion merely from The Donation of Constantine but already had it from God. Boniface VIII went further and, in his Bull Unam Sanctam in 1302, in which he claimed authority over all temporal powers, made absolute obedience to the pope a condition of salvation.

By the time of the death of Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (upon whose neck Pope Alexander III had placed his conquering foot) it had long been understood that "nobody could acquire [the Imperial crown] without coronation by the Pope.... "20 "Emperor Charles IV secured peace and final harmony with the Papacy by renouncing any Imperial activity in the whole of Italy [leaving the popes to govern there] and this self-restriction was observed by subsequent Emperors until the end of the Middle Ages."21

Pope Julius II (1503-13), furious because Louis XII of France wouldn't support him in his military campaigns, drew up a papal bull depriving him of his kingdom and giving it to Henry VIII of England, provided he proved his piety by supporting the pope in his wars. Julius died before the bull was published. That pope's passion for fighting "holy wars" to extend the papal territories inspired Michelangelo, whom he hired to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, to pen the famous lines so apropos of Julius and many other popes:

Of chalices they make helmet and sword

And sell by the bucket the blood of the Lord.

In a recent article in a national Catholic newspaper, a priest confessed, "The church ... was subverted by the ambitions of such men as Gregory VII, Innocent III and Boniface VII into a politico-ecclesiastical institution wielding totalitarian power in both sacred and secular fields."22 He fails to mention that the dogmas and claims of Rome remain the same today as they were then. The Church has not changed; only circumstances force her to vary her tactics.

The open threats and aggression of a Gregory VII won't work in today's world. Though wielded more subtly, however, the Vatican's power is no less effective today than it ever was. One author who spent a lifetime analyzing and writing about the Vatican concluded:

The Vatican is ... the paramount superpower of our times. Its adherents ... nearing a billion, can be made to operate in every corner of the world.... Hence the importance [for every government] of having the Pope as a partner in the pursuance of any given world policy. ... Vatican policies are directed by the Pope ... [who] has neither Parliament, Congress or Senate, or any similar democratic body ... limiting his decisions, powers or policies. He is an absolute autocratic ruler, in the fullest meaning of that word.23

A Golden Cup in Her Hand

Kings dwell in palaces, are waited upon by servants, and, because of their absolute authority over their subjects, accumulate great wealth. It would therefore be expected that a city

which reigns over the kings of the earth would be the wealthiest of all. Such is the case with the woman astride the beast. That fact is surely signified by the "gold and precious stones and pearls" with which she is adorned as well as by the "golden cup in her hand" (Revelation 17:4).

That the golden cup is "full of abominations and filthiness" indicates that her wealth has been acquired through abominable means. Cardinal Baronius, though a defender of the papacy, confessed that in St. Peter's Chair have sat monsters "filled with fleshly lusts and cunning in all forms of wickedness [having] prostituted the Chair of St. Peter for their minions and paramours." In his sixteenth-century Ecclesiastical Annals he wrote:

The Roman Church was ... covered with silks and precious stones, which publicly prostituted itself for gold.... Never did priests, and especially popes, commit so many adulteries, rapes, incests, robberies, and murders ... [as in the Middle Ages].24

Petrarch, poet laureate of the empire, described the pap, court in Avignon scornfully as "the shame of mankind, a sin of vice, a sewer where is gathered all the filth of the world. There God is held in contempt, money alone is worshipped and the laws of God and men are trampled under foot. Everything there breathes a lie: the air, the earth, the houses and above a the bedrooms." Referring to Avignon as "the Babylon of the west,” Petrarch declared:

Here reign the successors of the poor fishermen of Galilee ... loaded with gold and clad in purple, boasting of the spoils of princes and nations. Instead of holy solitude we find a criminal host. .. instead of soberness, licentious banquets ... instead of the bare feet of the apostles ... horses decked in gold and fed on gold, soon to be shod with gold, if the Lord does not check this slavish luxury.25

Of Rome's wealth in the Middle Ages de Rosa says: "The cardinals had huge palaces with countless servants. One papal aide reported that he never went to see a cardinal without finding him counting his gold coins. The Curia was made up of men who had bought office and were desperate to recoup their enormous outlay.... For every benefice of see, abbey and parish, for every indulgence there was a set fee. The pallium, the two-inch-wide woollen band with crosses embroidered on it ... paid for by every bishop ... brought in ... hundreds of millions of gold florins to the papal coffers.... [T]he Council of Basle in 1432 was to call it `the most usurious contrivance ever invented....' " De Rosa continues:

Dispensations were another source of papal revenue. Extremely severe, even impossible, laws were passed so that the Curia could grow rich by selling dispensations ... [such as] from fasting during Lent.... Marriage in particular was a rich source of income. Consanguinity was alleged to hold between couples who had never dreamed they were related. Dispensations from consanguinity in order to marry amounted to a million gold florins a year.26

An Eyewitness Account from Spain

D. Antonio Gavin, author of A Master-Key to Popery, was born and educated in Spain at the end of the 1600s. As a Roman Catholic priest he had become thoroughly disillusioned by the evil in which he found himself entangled. Fleeing the Spanish Inquisition disguised in an army officer's uniform, Gavin made his way to safety in England. His book gives a cleat picture of Roman Catholicism in his day and has much to say about her incredible wealth and the part it played in the practice of Rome's paganized Christianity:

In the cathedral of St. Salvator [in Zaragoza] there are ten thousand ounces of silver in plate, part of it gilt, to adorn the two corners of the altar on great festivals [and an] ... abundance of rich ornaments for Priests, of inexpressible value. Eighty-four chalices, twenty of pure gold, and sixty-four of silver, gilt on the inside of the cup; and the rich chalice which only the Archbishop makes use of in his pontifical dress.

All these things are but trifles in comparison with the great custodia they make use of to carry the great Host through the streets on the festival of Corpus Christi:.. . [solid gold set with diamonds, emeralds and other precious stones it is] five hundred pound weight.... Several goldsmiths have endeavoured to value this piece, but nobody could set a certain sum on it.27

The most famous church in Zaragoza is called Our Lady of the Pillar because of an alleged appearance of the Virgin there. Gavin describes the crown on the image of the Virgin: "twenty-five pounds weight, set all over with large diamonds, so that nobody can see any gold in it, and everybody thinks it is all made of diamonds. Beside this rich one, she has six crowns more of pure gold, set with rich diamonds and emeralds.... " He goes on to say:

The roses of diamonds and other precious stones she has to adorn her mantle are innumerable; for though she [the image of the "Virgin"] is drest every day in the colour of the church's festival, and never useth twice [in a year] the same mantle, which is of the best stuff imbroidered with gold, she has new roses of precious stones every day for three years together, she has three hundred and sixty-five necklaces of pearls and diamonds, and six chains of gold set with diamonds, which are put on her mantle on the great festivals of Christ.28

A visitor to Zaragoza today may enter the treasure room to see some of the wealth. The Virgin has a different skirt for each day of the year embroidered with gold and set with diamonds and other precious stones. Another image of silver five feet high is set with precious stones and wears a diamond-studded crown of pure gold. In the early 1700s "the Right Honorable Lord Stanhope, then General of the English forces," was shown the treasure. Gavin was present and heard the General exclaim, "If all the Kings of Europe should gather together all their treasures and precious stones, they could not buy half of the riches of this treasury." Such was the wealth 280 years ago in one cathedral in one small city of Spain!

The Vatican's incredible riches have been accumulated at the expense of the people in even the poorest countries. At the time of Mexico's Civil War the Roman Catholic Church there owned "from one-third to one-half of all the land of the nation [and about one-half of all the property of Mexico City]. Its revenues from tithes, Masses, and the sale of devotional articles such as statues, medals, rosaries, and the like, amounted to between six and eight million dollars annually, while its total revenues reached the astronomical figure of twenty million dollars.... This drain on the poor country of Mexico was equal to the operating expense of the entire United States government during these same years."29

We bring this lamentable recital to a close. There can be no doubt that John's remarkable vision had come to pass: A city on seven hills sated with wealth, which claimed a special relationship to God and Christ, literally ruled over the kings of the earth. As with the other identifying criteria John provides, there is only one city in history (and only one today) which passes this test. Peter de Rosa reminds us of what must have shocked John:

Jesus renounced possessions. He constantly taught: "Go, sell all thou hast and give to the poor, then come and follow me." He preached doom to the rich and powerful.... Christ's Vicar lives surrounded by treasures, some of pagan origin. Any suggestion that the pope should sell all he has and give to the poor is greeted with derision as impractical. The rich young man in the gospel reacted in the same way.

Throughout his life, Jesus lived simply; he died naked, offering the sacrifice of his life on the cross.

When the pope renews that sacrifice at pontifical high mass, no greater contrast could be imagined. Without any sense of irony, Christ's Vicar is clad in gold and the costliest silks.

... the pope has a dozen glorious titles, including; State Sovereign. The pope's aides also have titles some what unexpected in the light of the Sermon on the Mount Excellency, Eminence, Your Grace, My Lord, Illustrious One, Most Reverend, and so on....

Peter, always penniless, would be intrigued to know that according to canon 1518 ... his successor is "the supreme administrator and manager of all church propel ties." Also that the Vatican has its own bank.... 30

The Vatican has gathered its incalculable fortune through the most abominable means: selling bogus tickets to heaven. Nino Lo Bello, former Rome correspondent for Business Week, calls the Vatican "the tycoon on the Tiber" because of its incredible wealth and worldwide enterprises. His research indicates that it owns fully one-third of Rome's real estate and is probably the largest holder of stocks and bonds in the world, to say nothing of its ownership of industries from electronics and plastics to airlines and chemical and engineering firms.31

In his September 1993 trip to the Baltic countries "the pope was an unusually stern critic of unbridled capitalism. In a speech that hinted of more to come, the pope said capitalistic ideology

was responsible for `grave social injustices'-and that Marxism's `kernel of truth' lay in seeing capitalism's faults."32 One marvels at the hypocrisy of such statements coming from the head of a Church which is the biggest capitalist in the world! Lo Bello suggests that the Church shed its "mantle of piety; then at last the Vatican will expose the full extent of its financial interests."33

The woman riding the beast has used her wealth and power to subdue kings and kingdoms and to slaughter millions who, though they were subject to civil authority, could not accept her heresies. To this day that gold cup overflows with the blood of those who, for conscience' sake, were martyred for their faith.

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