Against the stark light of an Australian Royal Commission, it can be difficult to see the contemporary Catholic Church as anything other than an institution bedevilled by scandal and beset by accusers. The abandonment of the papal throne by Benedict in 2013, widespread immorality in the priestly order and revelations of institutional cover-up and deep financial irregularities in the Vatican have clouded the contemporary church. However, despite light being shed in dark places, the progress of the Vatican – the church’s nation state – and the papacy – the last great absolute monarchy of Europe – continues apace in its age-long quest for wealth and power. Whatever the current nature of her abominations, her destiny is certain and she will forever say in her heart “I sit a queen” till her sudden end come.

Abomination

As a teacher, I speak with many students on many top­ics and at the present time it might not be surprising that Australian young people have a growing fear of Islam. When I ask if they would ever visit a mosque, such as on an open day – just to have a look – they respond in general with fear. When I ask, subsequently, would they visit a cathedral or a church, they respond with anger. So disturbing and discredited is the church in the eyes of the vast majority of these young people that they lash out at priests, the church and, unfortu­nately, Christianity itself. Whereas it was once said by Christadelphians that ‘there is a generation growing up in Australia who don’t know the Bible’, it is now true to say that this ignorance has been transformed and now expresses itself as anger.

This attitude is reflected by many Australian adults who have been badly let down by an institution that was once widely respected in society. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia has uncovered abhorrent practices in many institutions as well as hypocrisy, institutional denial and occasions of systemic cover up in churches, especially the Catholic church. At the time of penning this article, Cardinal Pell, once the most senior catholic in Australia and former Archbishop of Sydney, is seeking (‘conspiring’ in the opinion of some) to avoid returning to Australia. He has been called to give evidence in person by the Commission regarding his handling of historical claims of abuse. At the same time, newspaper revelations have made allegations of his own inappropriate dealings with minors, allegations he has vehemently denied. Hounded by social media, the once distant and safe haven of the Holy See offers little refuge and his victims have appealed to the Commission for permission to travel to Rome to wit­ness his testimony.

Cardinal Pell

The Australian Catholic Church is not alone in its guilt. Historic acts of priests and bishops worldwide have indelibly affected the global standing of the church. As a global institution, the church is attempt­ing – albeit slowly and reluctantly – to acknowledge its actions. Yet interestingly, owing to his own personal charisma and appeal, the present pope seems to be more or less unaffected in his public standing by these controversies.

The Fruits that thy Soul Lusted After

So what are we to make of these things? What is the wider contemporary reality of the Catholic Church, especially under the already remarkable and significant three year old papacy of Francis? What is the modern global reach of the papacy (Rev 17:2; 18:3), her current geo-political influence and what of her wealth (Rev 18:17)? the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, for­bearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). However, rather than following after these, the chief aim of the church re­mains, as Revelation 18:14 puts it, the pursuit of “the fruits that thy soul lusted after”. The present uncover­ing of hypocrisy and consequent public backlash testi­fies to the grotesque nature of this abominable institu­tion, but as Scripture foresees, it will not stand in the way of her twofold destiny in the days that remain. Firstly, to be the queen and mistress of the world and then, in the moment of divine judgement, the marvel of the world as she disappears into the abyss.

All Nations, Kings and Merchants

The global reach of the papacy is undiminished and largely unaffected by present clerical scandals. If any­thing, the church’s capacity to re-shape the contempo­rary political and religious landscape is strengthening through the now commonplace globetrotting and international diplomacy of the papacy. The kings of this earth continue to commit fornication with her to achieve their own ends and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk thereby with the wine of her fornication.

The Americas

The Americas

 

Referring to Trump’s plan to deal with illegal immigration
by building a wall along the US-Mexico border, the Pope
said a person who would do that “is not Christian.”
Trump fired back that it’s “disgraceful” for a religious
leader to question a person’s faith.

The presidency of Barak Obama, like the presidency of Ronald Reagan, will be remembered for many things, but the remarkable work of their contemporary popes in reshaping the international political landscape around the United States is a common feature of both. Just as the Polish Pope, John Paul II, worked to open eastern Europe in the 1980s, Argentinian Pope, Francis, has worked in his pontificate to open up Cuba to the world and has thereby allowed Obama to redress the longest standing anomaly of US foreign relations. Following on from the Pope’s February visit to Havana, President Obama will become the first US President to visit Cuba in 88 years. Obama will gain an enviable legacy of foreign policy achievement in the last months of his presidency and the Pope will have engaged in a form of power politics that will bring the church yet greater international influence and more opportunities to make men drunk on the wine of her teachings.

Although Francis held a very successful visit to the United States in late 2015 and Mexico in early 2016, it must be noted that the Pope’s intervention in US domestic politics in late February was famously and notoriously rebuffed by Donald Trump. “The exchange, which would have been unthinkable in any but this increasingly bizarre election campaign, began as Pope Francis returned to Rome after a visit to Mexico’s vio­lent border with the United States” (Sydney Morning Herald). The papal rebuff at the hands of Trump reminds us that the papacy is not a king, but forever a mistress to the powerful and wealthy. She is a harlot queen who must court the favour of kings. A Trump presidency in 2017 would be an interesting prospect for all concerned.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches

The Great Schism that split Constantine’s Christianity in 1027 into east and west mirrored the political split that already divided the empire politically. The western church emerged in the middle ages under the leader­ship of the Bishop of Rome to become the powerful Western Universal Catholic Church, yet the Eastern Orthodox Church fractured, and the Egyptian Coptic, Greek and later the Serbian Orthodox and Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox daughter churches struggled in their realm, never demonstrating the capacity to subvert temporal power at which the papacy proved itself so adept. Yet the Catholic Church takes no joy in the millions of orthodox believers outside the influ­ence of its fold.

Pope Francis is widely recognised for his practical efforts “to further close the nearly 1000-year estrange­ment with the Orthodox Churches” (Hungton Post). In February he met for the first time with Patriarch Kirill, ‘Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’, head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Of interest, in light of the Pope’s work in Cuba, is the fact that they met in Havana. It is reported that two years of secretive plan­ning and months of detailed negotiation were necessary to arrange the meeting between Francis and Kirill. Francis was willing to meet the patriarch, reportedly having said in November 2014: “I’ll go wherever you want. You call me and I’ll go” (Associated Press). This was the first face-to-face meeting with the leaders of the two churches, who signed a thirty point joint declaration addressing global issues, including their hope for re–establishment of full unity between the churches. Unlike his predecessors, Francis’ecumenical-ism has an urgency and directness that is drawing the old imperial churches closer. When meetings such as these occur they are frequently reported in the media as a “meeting of brothers”, yet the power imbalance between the eastern patriarch and the Pope is clear and better characterised as it is in Revelation 17, as that of the relationship between a harlot mother and her daughters.

Pope Francis - Patriarch Kirill

Pope Francis & Patriarch Kirill

Gold, and Silver, and Precious Stones

We gain a very limited understanding of the Vatican’s financial state in its annual reporting: The consolidated statement for the Holy See for the year 2013 closed with a deficit of €24,470,549 (news.va). Yet under new reporting procedures adopted in 2014, the Holy See reported $1 billion in net assets that had, remarkably, never been reported before. Despite this the Vatican still posted a 2014 budget deficit (catholicphilly.com).

Whatever the wealth of the Holy See, the great global wealth of the Catholic Church is both unknown and unknowable as it is largely found in her material assets, as described in Revelation 18: “The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.”

Vatican Library

The Vatican library holds more than 1.1 million books,
along with coins, art, and other valuable artifacts.

Source:http://www.freemages.com/browse/photo-708-vatican-library.html. Author: Christophe EYQUEM

Every church-owned priceless artwork, golden chalice and silver object, collectively, is of untold price. What value could be placed on its collections of art, of fine and great paintings, of statues and furnish­ings? The value of these treasures is immeasurable and their volume unknown outside of the church (and reputedly inside as well). Not even Apple Corp with its high stock values, cash stores and brand value calculated at $145.9bn (2016) could come close to the immensurable value of the church’s possessions. None of these church items will likely ever see the fall of an auctioneer’s hammer, however. The church conveniently excuses their ownership of its treasures claiming that it sees itself as the “custodians of them for all humanity” (ignitumtoday.com). It is frequently alleged that the church hides its wealth behind tens of thousands of front companies, blind trusts, off-shore accounts and other financial loopholes to both avoid tax and the revelation of its wealth. The conclusion of Avro Manhattan in his book the Vatican Billions from 1983 remains as true as ever in 2016:

“The Catholic church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence. She is a greater possessor of material riches than any other single institution, corporation, bank, giant trust, government or state of the whole globe. The Pope, as the visible ruler of this immense amassment of wealth, is consequently the richest individual of the twentieth century. No one can realistically assess how much he is worth in terms of billions of dollars.”

Christ said, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matt 19:21). Despite its Christian profession and even the famous refusal of the present Jesuit Pope to accept the grandness of the papal palace, the age-long priorities of the church will prevent it from ever using its wealth productively. Whatever the liabilities of the Vatican or the outcomes of contemporary scandal, the unknowable riches of this harlot queen are clear. The power that grew from a seat atop the seven hills of Rome inherited Rome’s lusts for wealth and power. She cannot purchase any redemption: “For in one hour so great riches is come to nought” (Rev 18:17).

And the Souls of Men

The past century saw a massive increase in global population and between 1910 and 2010 the number of Catholics around the globe has been estimated to have more than tripled from approximately 291 million in 1910 to nearly 1.1 billion as at 2010. The present global population of the Catholic Church is 1.25 bil­lion. In 1910, Catholics comprised about half (48°x6) of all Christians and 17°x6 of the world’s total popula­tion (the World Christian Database). A century later, Catholics still comprise about half (50°x6) of Christians worldwide and 16°x6 of the total global population. “What has changed substantially over the past century is the geographic distribution of the world’s Catholics.

Catholic Population

Global Catholic Population Graphic, http://www.pewfo-rum.org/2013/02/13/the-global-catholic-population/

In 1910, Europe was home to about two-thirds of all Catholics, and nearly nine-in-ten lived either in Europe (65°x6) or Latin America (24°x6). By 2010, by contrast, only about a quarter of all Catholics (24°x6) were in Europe. The largest share (39°x6) were in Latin America and the Caribbean” (pewforum.org).

These shifts in the church, from a predominantly European following to a substantial Latin-American following, were a significant factor in the elevation of Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina to the papacy as Francis. His aforementioned work in the Americas is hardly surprising, given this demographic shift in church laity.

The ongoing work of the Catholic Church to bring the populations of the Eastern Orthodox Church, esti­mated in 2014 as between 225 and 300 million, under the Catholic influence would do a lot to add to the Catholic Church’s 257,160,000 adherents in Europe and overcome the 1000-year old split in Constantine’s pan-European Christianity.

The present Pope has continued the evangelising work of the papacy established by Pope John Paul II in maintaining personal ties with global Catholics through relentless travel.

And God hath Remembered her Iniquities

The present activities of the church continue her age-long quest for “the fruits that her soul lusted after”, showing herself to be in the image of the Roman imperial beast rather than producing the work of a true follower of Christ. The present revelations regarding her abominations only reinforce our understanding of the true nature of this harlot queen. With the sweep of her history and present deeds before us there can be no greater exhortation in our day than the words of the voice from heaven recorded by the Apostle John in Revelation:

“Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partak­ers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her” (Rev 18:4).