A city built on seven hills is accused of committing fornication with the kings of the earth! We have noted that the term "fornication" is used often in the Bible in a spiritual sense signifying unfaithfulness to God. Ezekiel 16 is devoted entirely to denouncing Jerusalem for her unfaithfulness to God, likening her to "a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband" (verse 32). Jerusalem had violated her spiritual relationship to God through idolatry and alliances with pagan nations. That meaning is clear from many passages in Scripture.
Jerusalem, however, can't be this woman because, as we have seen, she isn't built upon seven hills and doesn't meet any of the other criteria. Obviously, then, the city which this woman represents must claim a faithful relationship to God similar to Jerusalem's. In fact, Rome claims to have replaced Jerusalem in God's affection. And she has violated that relationship by entering into unholy alliances with godless earthly kings. Rome alone meets this and the many other criteria that John sets forth.
History is replete with the record of unholy alliances between the Vatican and secular governments. Much of the evidence remains today in Rome's churches and monuments.
For example, the Vatican museum is filled with priceless ancient paintings, sculptures, tapestries, gold, and jewels once worn or treasured by despotic rulers. Most were given to popes by kings, queens, emperors, or governments in token of papal partnerships with these worldly figures-relationships which the Bible condemns and which would be unthinkable for the true bride of Christ.
The Witness of History
Driven from Rome by a popular uprising against his oppressive reign, Pope Leo III fled to the Frankish court of Charlemagne to enlist his help in recovering those territories over which the popes reigned. That bloodthirsty warrior's armies recaptured Rome and, in the name of Christ, restored Leo to the papal throne. While Charlemagne knelt at Mass in St. Peter's on Christmas day of A.D. 800, the pope placed a crown on his head and proclaimed him emperor of the West. The title was eventually recognized by both the eastern emperor in Constantinople and the Caliph of Baghdad. As Maurice Keen reminds us, "The restoration of the worldwide dominion of Rome was the dream not only of medieval popes and emperors but also of many of their subjects and servants."2 This dream will be fully achieved at last under Antichrist.
The pope's move was a shrewd one. Charlemagne's power had threatened to overshadow the authority of the papacy. After his coronation by the pope in St. Peter's, however, Charlemagne, in solid partnership with the papacy, "worked for some forty years to create a Christian commonwealth such as St. Augustine had earlier outlined."3 The emperor's brutal military campaigns in northern Europe were accompanied by the forcible conversions of the heathen. Charlemagne was the popes' secular arm that Christianized the pagans with the sword and thereby enlarged the Roman Catholic domain as the Spanish conquistadors would later do in America.
Charlemagne's father, Pepin, as we have previously noted, on the basis of a fraudulent document, The Donation of Constantine, had subdued and turned over to the popes the huge territories thereafter known as the papal states and ruled by the papacy. Charlemagne, too, was deceived by this fraud. Based upon the Donation, he formally drew up a charter which acknowledged the papacy as both spiritual and temporal ruler over "all the regions of Italy and the West." Thereafter Charlemagne acted as the popes' protector and partner, much as Constantine had at the very beginning of the developing coalition between Church and state. Such an arrangement, totally contrary to the teachings of Christ, is only one example of the spiritual fornication which this woman would be involved in, exactly as John foresaw it in his vision.
Eventually the Church and the state became so closely allied that there was scarcely any distinction between them. Emperors convened and presided over the great councils of the Church and looked upon the popes and the rest of the Church hierarchy as their partners in governing the masses. Such unholy papal alliances, soon to become commonplace, would have been anathema to the early church; they made a mockery of Christ's rejection and crucifixion by the world. Consider another excerpt from the shamelessly flattering speech by Eusebius (a different portion of which we previously quoted) in praise of Constantine. He attributes to the pagan emperor the very spiritual qualities and ecclesiastical authority and functions now claimed by the popes:
Our Emperor, His [Christ's] friend, acting as interpreter to the Word of God, aims at recalling the whole human race to the knowledge of God; proclaiming clearly in the ears of all, and declaring with powerful voice the laws of truth and godliness to all who dwell on the earth.... invested as he is with a semblance of heavenly sovereignty, he. .. frames his earthly government according to the pattern of that Divine original ... the monarchy of God.4
There can be no doubt as to the amazing accuracy of John's vision of a city that claims to belong to Christ yet prostitutes herself to the kings of the earth. To have pagan rulers enforcing "Christianity" by military might upon an ever-widening papal empire was a blasphemous travesty of the truth that Christ proclaimed. It was such a gross misrepresentation of the gospel and such a confusing identification of the state with the Church that eventually Christ was considered the true ruler of Byzantium! Coins depicted Him wearing the Imperial crown and icons represented Him clothed in the vestments of the emperor. The emperor's own throne sat next to another one, empty except for a copy of the Gospels, indicating that Christ was the coemperor of Byzantium. Such was the spirit of the times that prevailed in the West as well.
Eventually, as we have already noted, Pope Innocent III abolished the Roman Senate and placed the administration of Rome directly under his control with a single senator as his deputy. In 1266 Clement IV gave this function to Charles of Anjou, who founded the University of Rome. The papacy continued to be at the heart of almost every political intrigue; and its armies were allied with the forces of many a king in the continual wars that plagued Europe.
In the New World the Church was the partner of the Spanish conquistadors and of the Portuguese in Africa. Recently Native American activists called on Pope John Paul II to formally revoke a papal bull, Inter Cetera, issued in 1493, which declared that "barbarous nations discovered and yet to be discovered should be subjugated to the Catholic faith in order to propagate the Christian empire."5 Examples of "fornication with the kings of the earth" from ancient history could be multiplied, but we need to move on to modern times.
The 1929 Concordat with Mussolini
We have already referred to the fact that in 1870 the independence of Italy was declared and what remained of the Papal States was absorbed by the new united nation. We have also noted that the Italian people voted overwhelmingly against the pope's rule and for the new independence. The temporal powers of the popes were ended, including their prestige and alliances with earthly regimes. The popes' civil authority was limited to the Vatican, where they remained in self-imposed exile for nearly 60 years until, in 1929, Mussolini and Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty.
This Concordat made Roman Catholicism once again, by national law, "the sole religion" of Italy. Neither Peter nor Paul, and surely not Christ, would ever have entered into such an arrangement with any government, let alone with a Fascist dictatorship. The Vatican, which claimed to be the true and only Church, the bride of the Christ who said His kingdom was not of this world, was acknowledged once again as a sovereign state with the status of a secular nation able to send and receive political ambassadors.
For having seized the papal territories in 1870, Italy paid to the Holy See 750 million lire in cash and 1 billion lire in state bonds. Some of these funds would be used to start the Vatican Bank, now infamous for its corruption. Some would end up in rather strange investments for Holy Mother Church, such as "an Italian firearms factory and a Canadian pharmaceutical company that manufactured contraceptives."6
There is no doubt that the Roman Catholic Church put Mussolini in power. In order to obtain the Lateran Treaty, the pope required Catholics to withdraw from participation in politics (many had been socialists actively opposing Mussolini and his Fascist party) and gave the Church's backing to Il Duce. The pope made public statements so strongly in support of Mussolini-e.g., "Mussolini is the man sent by Providence"-that Catholics had no choice but to support the aspiring Fascist dictator. Without that help Mussolini would not have been voted in and history might have been much different.
Quid Pro Quo
On his part, after the Concordat was signed, Mussolini declared: "We recognize the preeminent place the Catholic Church holds in the religious life of the Italian people-which is perfectly natural in a Catholic country such as ours, and under a regime such as the Fascist." All the cardinals in Rome, in an address to the pope, hailed Mussolini as "that eminent statesman [who rules Italy] by a decree of the Divine Providence." Looking back, one wonders how men who claimed to be the emissaries of the Holy Spirit could have been so wrong. There was, however, a selfish reason for their folly.
It was a quid pro quo that promised much for both parties. Mussolini needed the Church to establish his hold on Italy, and on its part the Church was willing to support him in exchange for restoration of at least some of its former prestige and power. With the solid backing of the Church, Mussolini was established as dictator. And with the Treaty, the Roman pontiff once again achieved the status of right-hand man to the emperor, a position which the popes had earlier enjoyed, beginning with Constantine and continuing with his successors. "Fornication with kings," after a brief interruption, had begun again.
The Church remained, throughout World War II, the loyal partner of an oppressive dictatorship which had been only too happy to give the pope what he wanted: the suppression of basic human rights. With Catholicism now the state religion, religious education was made compulsory in the schools, teachers and textbooks had to be approved by the Church, religious marriage became compulsory, and divorce was forbidden. Criticism of Catholicism either oral or in print was made a penal offense.
As Avro Manhattan puts it in The Vatican and World Politics, "Thus the Church became the religious weapon of the Fascist State, while the Fascist State became the secular arm of the Church." No such arrangement with any secular government could be entered into by any other church (Baptist? Methodist? Lutheran?) even if it so desired. Only Vatican City is capable of spiritual fornication, and surely its concordats with Mussolini, later with Hitler and with a variety of other governments, are exactly that. There is simply no mistaking this woman's identity.
On June 3, 1985, the Vatican and Italy signed a new concordat that ended "a number of privileges the Catholic Church had in Italy, including its status as the state church.... the new treaty guarantees religious freedom for non-Catholics and ends Rome's status as a `sacred city' [but] still recognizes the `particular significance' of Rome to Roman Catholicism."7
The 1933 Concordat with Hitler
One of the key figures in negotiating the 1929 Concordat with Mussolini was Solicitor Francesco Pacelli, brother of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII. The latter, as the Vatican's Secretary of State, would play a key role in negotiating the lucrative (for the Church) 1933 Concordat with Hitler. One of the benefits of the Concordat was the hundreds of millions of dollars that would flow to the Roman Catholic Church through the Kirchensteuer (church tax) throughout the entire war. In return, Pius XII would never excommunicate Hitler from the Catholic Church nor would he raise his voice to protest the slaughter of 6 million Jews.
Leading Catholic prelates and theologians were ecstatic at the signing of the 1933 Concordat. Catholic theologian Michael Schmaus wrote in praise of the authoritarianism of the Nazi regime and compared it to that of the Church: "The strong emphasis on authority in the new government is something essentially familiar to Catholics. It is the counterpart, on the natural level, to the Church's authority in the supernatural sphere. Nowhere is the value and meaning of authority so conspicuous as in our holy Catholic Church." Of course that was true. The papacy had for centuries worked in close partnership with autocratic kings and emperors in the suppression of basic human rights.
Today's Catholics need to face the fact that the totalitarianism of their Church was a major factor in preparing German Catholics to embrace the Nazi regime. Catholic professor of church history Joseph Lortz "never tired of speaking of `the fundamental kinship between National Socialism and Catholicism, a kinship which runs amazingly deep....' " In the same year, 1933, a well-known prelate from Cologne, Robert Grosche, wrote in Die Schildgenossen:
When papal infallibility was defined in the year 1870, the Church was anticipating on a higher level the historical decision which has now been made on the political level: a decision for authority and against discussion, for the pope and against the sovereignty of the Council, for the Fuehrer and against the Parliament.8
Drawing upon years of study of secret documents in the Vatican archives, its curator of some years, August Bernhard Hasler, noted: "Both in Italy and in Germany the Curia took the opportunity to secure from a dictatorial regime what seemed impossible under parliamentary government, namely, a concordat." He then quotes German Catholic leader Ludwig Kaas: "The `authoritarian state' necessarily understood the basic principles of the `authoritarian church' better than others had." Indeed, they were partners who were made for each other. Hitler received the following warm note of congratulations from Cardinal Michael Faulhaber six months after he came to power:
What the old parliaments and parties failed to achieve in sixty years your broad statesman's vision has made a reality of world history in six months. This handclasp with the papacy, the greatest moral force in the history of the world, signifies a mighty deed full of immense blessing and an increase in German prestige East and West, in the sight of the entire world.9
Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist John Toland points out that the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church were eager to curry Hitler's favor. After an audience with Pope Pius XI, even though Hitler had just outlawed the Catholic Party, its leader, Monsignor Ludwig Kaas (in words obviously intended to impress the Fuehrer), told the press: "Hitler knows how to guide the ship. Even before he became Chancellor I met him frequently and was greatly impressed by his clear thinking, by his way of facing realities while upholding his ideals, which are noble." Toland goes on to explain:
The Vatican was so appreciative of being recognized as a full partner that it asked God to bless the Reich. On a more practical level, it ordered German bishops to swear allegiance to the National Socialist regime. The new oath concluded with these significant words: "In the performance of my spiritual office and in my solicitude for the welfare and the interest of the German Reich, I will endeavor to avoid all detrimental acts which might endanger it."10
Drawn into the Maelstrom
When Hitler, over the objections of Mussolini, announced that Germany was withdrawing from the League of Nations, a telegram came quickly from Catholic Action pledging its support. Shrewdly, Hitler made this move subject to a vote of the people, then put pressure upon them to back him. The Catholic Church gave him its enthusiastic support and made it clear to Catholics that they were to vote in favor of Hitler's decision. Cardinal Faulhaber, with the approval of every bishop in Bavaria, declared that by voting yes, Catholics would "profess anew their loyalty to people and fatherland and their agreement with the farsighted and forceful efforts of the Fuehrer to spare the German people the terror of war and the horrors of Bolshevism, to secure public order and create work for the unemployed."
When Hitler moved his troops into Austria, after the usual promises that he wouldn't, he was astonished at the enthusiasm of the crowds of Austrians, almost all Catholics, who greeted him. After addressing a crowd of about 200,000 in the Heldenplatz, he led a parade past the Winter Palace with Austrian generals joining on horseback. Later Cardinal Innitzer greeted Hitler "with the sign of the cross and gave assurance that so long as the [Roman Catholic] Church retained its liberties Austrian Catholics would become `the truest sons of the great Reich into whose arms they had been brought back on this momentous day.' "Der Fuehrer shook the Cardinal's hand warmly and "promised him everything."11
On Hitler's fiftieth birthday "Special votive masses were celebrated in every German [Roman Catholic] church `to implore God's blessing upon Fuehrer and people.' The Bishop of Mainz called upon Catholics in his diocese to pray specifically for `the Fuehrer and Chancellor, the inspirer, enlarger and protector of the Reich."' Nor did the pope fail to send his congratulations.12
The Catholic press throughout Germany almost unanimously declared that Hitler's narrow escape from the 1939 attempt upon his life was the miraculous protection of God. Cardinal Faulhaber instructed that a Te Deum be sung in the cathedral of Munich "to thank Divine Providence in the name of the archdiocese for the Fuehrer's fortunate escape." Having failed to condemn Germany's liquidation of Poland, the pope did not neglect to send his special personal congratulations to Hitler for his miraculous survival of the assassination attempt.
Even when Hitler's evil had been fully revealed, the Church continued to support him. When German troops launched their offensive against the Soviet Union, the pope again "made it clear that he backed the Nazi fight against Bolshevism, describing it as `high-minded gallantry in defense of the foundations of Christian culture.' A number of German bishops, predictably, openly supported the attack. One called it `a European crusade,' a mission similar to that of the Teutonic knights. The pope exhorted all Catholics to fight for `a victory that will allow Europe to breathe freely again and will promise all nations a new future."'
We could go on with page after page of documentation. However, this should be enough to establish the fact that from the pope and bishops on down Roman Catholics felt a kinship with Hitler and backed him even after his ruthless expansionist ambitions and crimes against humanity were well known. Unholy alliance? Spiritual fornication? There can be no doubt.
Today's Continuing Alliances
The cover of Time magazine of February 24, 1992, carried the pictures of former President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II together with this startling caption: "HOLY ALLIANCE: How Reagan and the Pope conspired to assist Poland's Solidarity movement and hasten the demise of Communism." The lead story told how Reagan had "believed fervently in both the benefits and the practical applications of Washington's relationship with the Vatican. One of his earliest goals as President, Reagan says, was to recognize the Vatican as a state `and make them an ally."'
And allies they became in one of the most amazing exploits in history. It brought down the Berlin Wall, ended the Cold War, and completely unraveled Soviet Communism. It was a story of intrigue and cooperation between the CIA and the apparently even more effective agents of the Vatican. Reagan and John Paul II, both survivors of assassination attempts, shared "a unity of spiritual view and a unity of vision on the Soviet empire: that right or correctness would ultimately prevail in the divine plan."
A five-part strategy emerged during the first half of 1982 "that was aimed at bringing about the collapse of the Soviet economy, fraying the ties that hound the U.S.S.R. to its client states in the Warsaw Pact and forcing reform inside the Soviet empire." In the outworking of the plan, former Secretary of State Alexander Haig acknowledged that "the Vatican's information was absolutely better and quicker than ours in every respect. [The] Vatican liaison to the White House, Archbishop Pio Laghi, kept reminding American officials, "Listen to the Holy Father. We have 2000 years' experience of this."13
That the pope played a key role, both Reagan and later Gorbachev frankly admitted. A major newspaper article coming out three weeks after the Time story reported: "'Pope John Paul II played a major political role in the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe,' said Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev predicted that the pope will continue to play `a great political role' in the current `very delicate transition' taking place in Europe.... the events in Eastern Europe `might not have been possible without the presence of this pope, without the great role-including political-which he knew how to play on the world scene,' said Gorbachev."14
At this point we will leave it to the reader to consider the Vatican's motivation in such heavy political intervention. The fact remains that such a role on the world scene, with its unholy alliances, political intrigues, and earthly goals, would be anathema to Christ's true bride.
The Vatican has long been involved in clandestine activities and self-serving partnerships with many nations. According to the Knights of Columbus magazine, "the history of diplomatic ties between the United States and the Holy See goes back nearly 200 years." The article pictured the then American ambassador to the Vatican, Thomas Melady, and his wife, Margaret, with the pope and quoted Melady:
Pope John Paul II is at the high point of respect as a world leader ... our government is cooperating as one government to another government, the government of the Holy See. It is a great honor for me to be there, representing our government to the Holy See, at this significant time in world history.
Apparently Christ, whose kingdom at the beginning was ` not of this world," had changed His mind. He who commissioned His disciples to call converts out of the world to heavenly citizenship with His gospel of redemptive grace has apparently decided to work with the nations of this world to create a paradise down here. The Knights of Columbus article went on to exult in the fact that -
Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Holy See began in the 18th century when the Papal States (before their absorption into Italy) agreed to open several Mediterranean ports to U.S. shipping. In 1797 John B. Sartori, an Italian, was named U.S. Consul....
In 1847, at the request of President James K. Polk, the U.S. Senate established a diplomatic post in the Papal States ... until 1867 when anti-Catholic elements in the United States succeeded in getting the diplomatic mission eliminated.
Informal relations resumed in 1939 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Myron C. Taylor as his "personal envoy" to the Holy See....
In 1981, President Reagan named William A. Wilson, a Catholic, to the post. Wilson served until 1984, when the Vatican and the U.S. began full diplomatic relations and Wilson was made the first U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.15
Consider the following from a recent brochure advertising "The Catholic Event of the Year": "Pope Leo XIII compared the proper relation between Church and State to `the union of the soul and the body in man.' Imagine a nation without a soul! As recent events have confirmed with frightening clarity, America today is such a nation. America was discovered by a Catholic [Columbus], who claimed her for Christ the King. If America is to be rediscovered and reclaimed for our King-if she is to find her missing soul-it is Catholics who must act, and act now."16
Rome has not changed. Her ambitions remain very much of this world. Of course, it is in Christ's name that she wants to reestablish her "reign over the kings of the earth." It is for "the good of mankind and the glory of Christ," as she perceives it, that "the Catholic Church ceaselessly and efficaiously seeks for the return of all humanity and all its goods"17 back under her control. Vatican II couldn't be clearer on this point.