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The age-old struggle between the Vatican and Jerusalem came to light over the past few weeks. Editorials and articles began to highlight the completely different positions of the Vatican to the Evangelical Christian community when it came to Jerusalem and Israel.
It was the Catholic publication Crux under the headline “Why Vatican won’t be joining U.S. on Jerusalem’s Embassy Row” that stated the following:
“Among several controversial aspects of Monday’s transfer of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem was the presence at the dedication ceremony of two high-profile American Evangelical pastors: John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, and Robert Jeffress, a Dallas-based Southern Baptist and major Trump supporter.
In contrast to this the article point out the absence of any Catholic presence:
Notably, however, there were no Catholic dignitaries on Monday’s line-up – no American Catholic leaders, no members of the local Christian community in the Holy Land, and certainly not Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the pope’s ambassador to Israel, whose embassy remains firmly ensconced in Tel Aviv. No Catholic gave a blessing, and no prominent Catholic figure was heard endorsing the move.
The article also pointed out not only where the no Catholic officials present, but the Pope was amongst the first world leaders to speak out against the embassy move when it was announced in December, when he stated:
“I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”
The Vatican’s Historic Opposition to the Jewish State:
The Vatican has long opposed a Jewish state, let alone the capital in Jerusalem. In 1904 Theodore Herzl sought the Pope’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He received the following reply from Pius X on January 10, 1904:
We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem – but we could never sanction it. The ground of Jerusalem, if it were not always sacred, has been sanctified by the life of Jesus Christ. As the head of the Church, I cannot answer you otherwise. The Jews have not recognized Our Lord; therefore, we cannot recognize the Jewish people.
Why would the Catholic Church be hostile to the downtrodden Jewish people in their struggle for a homeland and in their quest to move their capital to Jerusalem? It was the writer Avro Manhattan that answers this in his 1982 book the Vatican Washington Moscow Alliance where he stated:
The Vatican could not and would not tolerate the establishment of an Israel which claimed messianic privileges, or rather, messianic uniqueness and which, therefore, would compete with the Roman Catholic Church as the Centre of a future spiritual kingdom….
The spectre of the creation of such a theocracy has haunted the inner chambers of the Catholic Church from her earliest inception, and is still a dominant fear. Hence her equivocal role in world affairs surrounding the birth and existence of the State of Israel. Such a State was defined as a territorial entity erected upon racial and religious tenets….. (The Vatican Moscow Washington Alliance, Avro Manhattan, c1982.)
The Vatican fears a resurgent Jewish state because the Jews were God’s chosen people, and it erroneously views itself as the replacement of the Jews in God’s purpose. Jeremiah clearly states that the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and their seed would end:
Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.” (Jeremiah 33:25–26)
The Vatican fears this. It sees Israel as competition to its self-appointed role as God’s voice on earth. Manhattan went on to state:
In Vatican eyes… the millenarian yearning for a global Hebrew theocracy represents a deadly threat to the eschatological teachings of the Catholic Church. When translated into concrete political terms, such a view spells not only rivalry, but implacable enmity. (The Vatican Moscow Washington Alliance, Avro Manhattan, c1982.)
The enmity Manhattan talks about has been in existence from the beginning of time. It was in the garden of Eden that God pointed out a hostility that would exist between the kingdom of men and the kingdom of God when the angels said to the serpent:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)
The Church sees itself as the Kingdom of God on earth. In fact, the very word Christendom means Christ’s Kingdom. It was article 763 of the Catechism of the Church, penned by John Paul II, that it was stated:
To fulfill the Father’s will Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church “is the reign of Christ already present in mystery.”
Believing herself to be the “kingdom of God” any entity that might contest for the title is bitterly opposed.
The current opposition of the Vatican to the capital of Israel being in Jerusalem is nothing new. Chaim Weizmann discussed Catholic interference back to the Jewish state back in the 1920’s:
“The Catholics have been chiefly responsible for uniting the Muslims and the Christians against us, because what the Vatican really wishes to have is something which amounts to power in Palestine, and it has been using various Catholic members of the League, such as Spain, Brazil, Italy, Belgium and France, in order to achieve its object, and this is really the inner meaning of its attacks against us.” (During discussions with the League of Nations on the future of Palestine 1922).
The Vatican’s denial of Israel as God’s people
The fact is the Bible repeatedly speaks of the return of the Jews to the land of Israel as being God’s work – a message that has been reiterated by the Whitehouse repeatedly over the last year. Isaiah clearly states:
And it shall come to pass in that day, That the Lord shall set his hand again the second time To recover the remnant of his people, Which shall be left, from Assyria, And from Egypt, and from Pathros, And from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, And from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, And shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:11–12)
The history of the fulfillment of this is document by historian Martin Gilbert in his book From the Ends of the Earth.
Yet the Church remains defiantly in denial. In 1948 when the state of Israel was proclaimed, the Vatican stated:
“Modern Israel is not the true heir of Biblical Israel, but a secular state…. The Holy Land and its sacred sites belong to Christianity, the True Israel.” (Vatican Newspaper L’Osservatore Roman May 14, 1948).
At the more recent Synod on the Middle East held at the Vatican in 2010, the head of the Synod Commission, Archbishop Cyrille Bustros stated:
“The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands… For Christians, one can no longer talk of the land promised to the Jewish people. This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a favoured people, a chosen people; all men and women of every country have become the chosen people…
Statements from leading Catholic official make clear their stand:
“We do not believe anymore that the Jews are the Chosen People.” -Archbishop of Israel, Elias Chacour
“Do not believe their claim that they are God’s chosen people, because it is not true.” – Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III
“Israel has nothing to do with the Bible.” -Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal
These statements are reminiscent of another enemy of Israel, Adolf Hitler who said of the Jews:
“We are God’s people… there cannot be two chosen peoples.”
So the differences between the Whitehouse and the Vatican on the issue of Israel and Jerusalem are not just political – they are deeply religious.
An international city?
The concept of Jerusalem being a city with international status was also raised again. The previously mentioned Crux article went on to recall:
“…a Vatican diplomat speaking before the United Nations reiterated the Holy See’s long-standing position that Jerusalem is in a unique diplomatic category. Monsignor Simon Kassas, Chargé d’Affaires of the Vatican’s mission to the United Nations, said the Vatican believes Jerusalem needs an “internationally guaranteed” special status, in order to ensure freedom of religion for the city’s inhabitants, “as well as secure, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities.”
The UN partition plan is often referenced in this discussion. However, what is often neglected to be mentioned is that this was the Vatican’s idea. In 1949 Pope Pius XII (Hiter’s Pope), had stated:
“We have already insisted in Our Encyclical letter In Multi- plic-ibus, that the time has come when Jerusalem and its vicinity, where the previous memorials of the Life and Death of the Divine Redeemer are preserved, should be accorded and legally guaranteed an “international” status, which in the present circumstances seems to offer the best and most satisfactory protection for these sacred monuments.” (Pope Pius XII leter to Bishops: Redemptoris Nostri Crucitatus, April, 1949)
The same Catholic article in Crux highlighted the interference of the Church in political affairs in the middle east:
Over the years, the Catholic bishops of the Middle East have typically been strongly pro-Palestinian. Most have not gone as far as Greek Melkite Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, who was arrested in 1974 and later convicted by an Israeli court for smuggling guns to the PLO in the trunk of his Mercedes sedan, but many sympathized with Capucci’s aims.
The Vatican wants control of Jerusalem for itself. Eventually, it will launch another crusade to wrestle it from Jewish hands which will be momentarily successful:
And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.” (Daniel 11:45)
However it will ultimately fail when he does “come to his end”.
Therefore, America’s move of its embassy to Jerusalem is a direct threat to the Vatican as it legitimizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the eyes of the world.
There is no doubt that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government, because God stated it:
The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David; He will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy children will keep my covenant And my testimony that I shall teach them, Their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. For the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: Here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” (Psalm 132:11–14)
While the current government of Israel is by no means what God has in mind for Israel, Jerusalem is the place he has chosen as its capital.
Vatican: The Great Harlot
The division over Jerusalem is clear. Those who support it tend to be bible fundamentalists such as “American Evangelical pastors: John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, and Robert Jeffress, a Dallas-based Southern Baptist”. The publication Crux went on to state of Jeffress:
For the record, Jeffress also once suggested the Catholic Church represents “the genius of Satan,” and Hagee over the years has referred ambiguously to Catholicism as the “Great Whore of Babylon.”
This is most interesting because it is a reference to the Catholic Church as the “Harlot of Revelation” mentioned in Revelation 17. This has long been the protestant view of Catholicism, based on identification of the scriptures. We read in Revelation 17:
Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:1–2)
This woman has a name:
And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” (Revelation 17:5)
She is a political player who is involved with the political rulers of the world:
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:18)
The Vatican certainly fulfills this role. No other religion has a voice in the United Nations like the Vatican does. No other religious leader has the kings and rulers of the earth lined up for audiences. She has been a persecutor of believers:
And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.” (Revelation 17:6)
The Vatican is guilty of this charge with its history during the various inquisitions. She is a city geographical situated on 7 hills:
And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.” (Revelation 17:9)
The Vatican is situated in Rome, which has been identified as the city of 7 hills since the dawn of history.
So it was fascinating to see a Catholic publication highlight the fact that protestant Bible believers identify her with this harlot system or Revelation.
Europe – Under Vatican Influence when it comes to Jerusalem
What was equally as fascinating was to see the how a Catholic paper identified the influence the Vatican has played in shaping the European view of Israel and Jerusalem. The same article in Crux stated of the UN resolution:
Vatican diplomats at the time (1948) played a key role in having that language inserted, counting on the support of the “Catholic countries” of Europe. Jerusalem was envisioned as a corpus separatum, a place apart, though that plan was never implemented on the ground. The Vatican has softened its stance over the years, looking for vaguer “international guarantees,” but still sees the UN resolutions as the de jure starting point.
The fact that the Catholic Church exercised its influence over the “kings of the earth” when it came to this fundamental issue is quite significant. Indeed,
“…the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:2)
What was also significant this week was the controversy caused by one of Rome’s harlot daughters, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who made a very political statement about the European Union:
The EU has been the greatest dream realised for human beings since the fall of the Western Roman Empire. It has brought peace, prosperity, compassion for the poor and weak, purpose for the aspirational and hope for all its people.
The connection between the European Union and the Roman Empire is profound. In prophetic terms, the Christian Roman Empire and its successor the Holy Roman Empire are the Beast of the Sea and the Beast of the Earth in Revelation 13. The European Union is the beast that is directed by the great harlot in Revelation 17:
He carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” (Revelation 17:3)
The horns of the beast are identified with the nations who voluntarily come together – giving up their sovereignty to the beast:
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.” (Revelation 17:12–13)
Britain is in the throws of a messy divorce from this great system, as is required by scripture, even if her politicians would like it to be different. The EU is the successor of the Roman Empire, the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, and the beast which the Vatican harlot has and will control. This system, championed by the Vatican will challenge the Lord Jesus Christ for control of Jerusalem and the world when he returns:
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.” (Revelation 17:14)
So this week has been an exciting week, reminding us of the hand of God at work in the nations. Reminding us that we live on the knife edge of the kingdom. God has been at work restoring Israel to the land. Restoring Jerusalem to the Jews – 51 years ago this week during the 6 Day war. The nations will rise up in protest, and even beat their plowshares into swords… but the Lord will be victorious, and Jerusalem will be the centre of world worship once again when all nations will go up to Jerusalem to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…. Whether the world likes it, or not.
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.
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