From our understanding of Bible prophecy we  have expected the influence of the Roman Catholic Church to rise again from her  decline, loss of prestige and power that developed  after her loss of temporal power in 1870. The Scriptures make it clear that at the time of the  end the Catholic Church will wield considerable  influence in the affairs of nations, not only from  the religious perspective but also from the political  (particularly European) perspective as well.

The influence of the Papacy in the European  nations forming the beast that opposes Christ is  well documented in Revelation 17. “So he carried  me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw  a woman [the papacy] sit upon a scarlet covered  beast [made up of European nations], full of names  of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns”  (v3). “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the  Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords,  and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (v14).

On the broader perspective the worldwide status  and apparent invincibility of the Roman Church and  the Papacy just prior to her destruction at Christ’s  coming is captured by the words in Revelation 18:7,  “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.”

The latter day rise of the Papacy from the ashes  of the 19th century is quite breathtaking and recent  moves by the current Pope, Benedict XV1, and his  standing in world affairs have indicated that the  Papacy’s drive for increased power and influence  is continuing unabated. It is fascinating to read and  watch the ever increasing influence of the Papacy  both on the political European front and the broader  religious front exactly as predicted in the Scriptures  of truth.

Let us consider some of these developments  from recent newspaper articles.

1.“Putin in landmark Vatican Visit”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has met Pope  Benedict XV1 for the first time during an official  visit to Rome. They discussed ways to improve  relations between the Roman Catholic and Russian  Orthodox Churches, dogged by long-standing  differences. Pope Benedict puts great emphasis on  healing the churches’ divisions and some say this  [ie the meeting with Putin] is helping to mend the  1,000-year schism between Rome and the eastern  Christian Churches” (BBC News 13/3/07).

“Mr Putin, who came to the papal audience  with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov,  has close ties with the Orthodox Church and has  favoured improved relations with the Vatican” (The  Australian 14/3/07).

2. “Moscow-Rome Warming likely”

“The Russian Orthodox Church has chosen an  advocate of improved relations with the Vatican  as its new spiritual leader, raising the prospect  of a reconciliation between Rome and Moscow.  Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad  was elected yesterday as Patriarch in the church’s first  leadership election since the collapse of the Soviet  Union. Kirill enjoys good relations with the Vatican  and has met the Pope numerous times. He told an  interviewer soon after Benedict XV1’s elevation that  co-operation was ‘absolutely necessary’.

‘I think the place of Christian values in the  world will in many ways depend on the character of  Orthodox-Catholic relations, at least on the European  continent’, he said” (The Australian 29/1/09).

3. “Churches confront 1000-year schism”

Are the Catholic and Orthodox branches of  Christianity at long last about to settle their  differences? According to Catholic Archbishop  of Moscow Paolo Pezzi, “it is possible, indeed  it has never been so close”. In an interview with  Corriere della Sera that appeared on Monday, he  said the end of the schism (which occurred in 1054) “could happen within a few months”. “Now the  path to rapprochement is at its peak and the third  millennium of the church could begin as a sign of  unity” (The Weekend Australian 19–20/9/09).

4. “Vatican says evolution compatible with the Bible”

As part of the worldwide celebrations honouring the  anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth 200 years ago  and the 150th anniversary of the publication of “On  the Origin of Species”, the Vatican did not want to  be seen “off-side” of world trends and had this to  say: “The Vatican said that the theory of evolution  was compatible with the Bible but planned no  posthumous apology to Charles Darwin for the  cold reception it gave him 150 years ago” (Sydney  Morning Herald 17/2/09).

Whatever happened to Papal Infallibility on this  and other matters?!!

5. Anglicans welcomed back into the fold

In recent times the worldwide Anglican Church has  been racked with internal problems over the issues  of the ordination of women priests, homosexual  priests and same-sex partnerships. The Papacy  has moved to capitalize on the dissensions and  weakness of the Anglican Church. Firstly, the  developments in the Anglican Church: “A formal  split in the Anglican Church worldwide has moved  closer after clergy and laity in the US voted to  allow the consecration of openly gay bishops” (The  Australian 15/7/09).

“Bishops in the US dealt a death blow to hopes  for unity in the worldwide Anglican Church when  they approved in principle services for same-sex  partnerships” (The Weekend Australian 18–19/7/09).

“Archbishop admits Anglican Church is split.”  “The Archbishop of Canterbury has acknowledged  for the first time that the Anglican Church is in  schism in all but name” (The Australian 28/7/09).

The Pope makes his move!!

In the midst of all this dissension Pope Benedict  XV1 without any major forewarning or discussions  with the Archbishop of Canterbury made his  lightning move!! “Pope in attempt to lure Anglicans  to Catholic Church. As many as 1,000 priests could  quit the Church of England and thousands more may  leave churches in America and Australia under bold  proposals to welcome Anglicans to Rome. Entire  parishes and even dioceses could be tempted to  defect after Pope Benedict XV1’s decision to offer  a legal structure to Anglicans joining the Roman  Catholic Church” (The Australian 21/10/09).

“The legal structure laid out by the Pope will  allow married Anglican clergy to be ordained  Catholic priests, and will preserve Anglican  traditions under the umbrella of Catholicism” (The  Australian 22/10/09).

This is a major spiritual ‘coup’ by the Pope. The  Papacy has made it clear that the way to salvation  is only through the Roman Church and this latest  move in encouraging Anglicans to defect to the ‘true  church’ can only greatly embarrass the Archbishop  of Canterbury. Whilst there is no question that the  Anglican Church’s position on women priests (quite  apart from male priests also), homosexual priests  and same-sex relationships is contrary to Scripture,  and the Roman Church of course also has many  teachings contrary to the Word of God, the Pope  has made no secret of his desire to become more  powerful on the spiritual scene worldwide.

The Papacy sits supreme as a queen with  more of the disaffected from other branches of  Christianity flocking back into the fold. After the  disasters of the 19th century, she is a widow no more.

A few more newspaper paragraphs paint the scene!  “More roads lead to Rome as divine divide diminishes.”  “Already there are stories circulating that the Patriarch  of Moscow has urged his ecumenical negotiators in the  Vatican to hurry in order that the Anglicans do not get  too far ahead. They’re probably apocryphal, but we do  know that the Russian Orthodox Church is very close to  achieving unity with Rome” (The Weekend Australian  24–25/10/09). Archbishop John Hepworth, Global  Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion has  indicated that the Traditional Anglican Communion  will switch en masse to Rome.

“Pope blesses Anglican converts”

“The Pope has made it easy as possible for  traditional and ‘continuing’ Anglicans to convert to  Roman Catholicism while retaining key elements  of their ecclesiastical heritage. The eagerly awaited  Apostolic Constitution, published by the Vatican  this week, will enable hundreds of thousands of  disaffected Anglicans to become Catholics” (The  Australian 11/11/09).

Brothers and sisters, the rapid, worldwide growing  influence of the Roman Church is one of the most  exciting fulfilments of Bible prophecy in our times  and we thank God for this further impetus to our faith.

The Lisbon Treaty

“These have one mind, and shall give their power  and strength unto the beast.”

Whilst the papacy has been busily shoring up  its position on the religious front as part of “the  beast” of Revelation 17, a significant development  has occurred in the EU on the political front as well  which paves the way for a further consolidation  and strengthening of “the beast” power as foretold  in Revelation 17:12,13: “And the ten horns which  thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no  kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour  with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give  their power and strength unto the beast.”

The Apostle John saw by way of sign and symbol  a position whereby the European “horn kingdoms”  would see the expediency of surrendering some  of their national powers to a consolidated “beast  power” where the Roman Church (“the woman” of  v18) would yield great influence and power.

The stage is set for what is known as the Lisbon  Treaty to come into effect in Europe by the end  of November. This Treaty will have far reaching  effects in European affairs and certainly will be in  line with the fulfilment of the prophecy above. The  collapse of the Berlin Wall on the 9th November  1989 not only paved the way for the eventual reunification  of Berlin and Germany but also the  collapse of communism in Soviet Russia and many  of the previous communist regimes in the Soviet  satellite States in Eastern Europe.

In the past few years many of these Eastern  European countries have since become member  states of the broadened EU and/or NATO. The  EU now consists of 27 member States with others  waiting in the wings to join. In the past some EU  members had hoped that the EU would become a  federal single super state but this has not occurred as  there was never total agreement from all to go down  this path. Remarkably the prophet Daniel predicted  that such would not occur 2,500 years ago. “And  whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they  shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but  they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron  is not mixed with miry clay” (2:43). And a recent  article in The Australian 5/11/09 using ‘Revelation  type’ language captures the structure of the new  EU, “The new EU is a loose-boned beast [our  emphasis], far removed from the federal animal  desired by the last generation of enthusiasts, at the  time of Maastricht in the early 1990s.”

The object of the Lisbon Treaty signed by  European member States in 2007, but needing  ratification by all States, was to obtain agreement  from the European countries that whilst there would  not be the creation of a federal state there would  nevertheless be agreement to a number of common  areas (such as climate change, energy security,  terrorism, common immigration policy) and in  particular the creation of two new high-powered  diplomatic positions – an EU President and Foreign  Minister that would be able to represent the EU on  the world stage. Initially there was reaction against  these propositions from some States but with the  Lisbon Treaty now ratified by both the Republic of  Ireland and Czechoslovakia all obstacles have been  overcome and the stage is now set for the political  appointments.

This is a very exciting development in Europe  because what we are now seeing developing is  exactly as foretold in Revelation 17 – a grouping  of independent States who despite wishing to retain  some national identity (“horn” powers) nevertheless  would see the wisdom of ceding “their power and  strength” (v13) to the EU such as in an EU President  and Foreign Minister.

A paragraph in a recent article in The Australian  Financial Review 5/10/09 could not have presented  more clearly what Revelation 17 predicted would be  the case in the last days: “The Lisbon Treaty, signed  by European leaders in 2007, is the result of years  of painstaking negotiations among countries trying  to maintain their national identities and hang onto  power while ceding some control to an ever more  integrated Europe” (our emphasis).

Already there is talk of creating a European  army. “Italy is to push for the creation of a European  army after the ‘new Europe’ takes shape at this  week’s EU summit following the adoption of the  Lisbon Treaty. It was a ‘necessary objective’ to have  a European army”. (Franco Frattini, Italian Foreign  Minister, The Australian 17/11/09).

With the strengthening position of both the  Papacy and Russia in European affairs it is not  difficult to see how much easier it will be in the  future for the Papacy and Russia to deal with only  an EU President and Foreign Minister instead of  representatives from 27 member States!!

“Benedict may be right that the Catholic Church has  a world-historic chance to transform Europe and bring  about change” (The Weekend Australian July 14–15, 2007).

The position of the UK

One final point of interest from the Lisbon Treaty  is the position of the UK. Interestingly the former  Labour PM, Tony Blair, was lobbying for and  hoping to get the ‘plum’ appointment of the first EU  President. However his popularity for the position  amongst member States went cold after the initial  flush of enthusiasm, particularly from Germany  and France who made it clear that Britain’s Euro  scepticism would not sit well with the appointment  of Tony Blair. The position of President finally went  to the Belgian Prime Minister, Herman van Rompuy.

This suited the current Conservative opposition  Party in the UK who were very much opposed in  any event to Tony Blair’s lobbying for the position.  Little is known of Mr van Rompuy except that in  2004 he fiercely opposed Turkey’s entry to the  EU, saying that as an Islamic nation it would not  fit Europe’s “Christian values”. Both Germany  and France also oppose Turkey’s application to  join, and we are sure that Pope Benedict would  also fiercely support Mr van Rompuy’s views.  What is interesting is that Britain’s EU Trade  Commissioner, Lady Catherine Ashton, has been  appointed as the first EU Foreign Minister.

The Euro-sceptic Conservatives are expected  to win power in the UK elections next year and  they had promised a referendum on Britain’s  involvement in the Lisbon Treaty if it was not  formally ratified by the EU by the time they are  elected. (The UK parliament was able to ratify the  Treaty without the need for any referendum.)

Now that the treaty has been ratified by the EU  before any UK elections, that scenario will not  occur but most commentators believe that any UK  referendum would clearly reveal that UK citizens  are firmly against Britain’s involvement in the Treaty and would vote a resounding “NO”. What  the conservatives will do with the treaty if they are elected remains to be seen but certainly interesting  days lie ahead. God rules in the kingdoms of men  and He raises up into power whoever He wills. So whatever the current position is of the ruling Labour Government, our understanding from prophecy, of course, is that Britain will not be with Europe and  Russia in the invasion of Israel.

The current European scene certainly is extremely  interesting in the outworking of Bible prophecy.