By Richard Bennett and Stuart Quint
The propaganda machine of the Roman Catholic Church is ramping up in 2017. Rome continues to execute its grand strategy geared toward ignorant evangelicals defined at Vatican Council II over 50 years ago:
“…little by little, as the obstacles to perfect ecclesial communion are overcome, all Christians will be gathered in a common celebration of the Eucharist…” Pope Francis has continued to minimize the differences between Rome and those who believe the Bible. Some evangelicals have fallen in line with the Pope. The truth is that the reasons for those loyal to the Gospel of Christ to protest now remain just as valid today as they were 500 years ago. One major area of dispute is the insatiable ambitions and claims of the Pope of Rome.
On October 31, 1517, the Reformer Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church doors at Wittenberg. He was protesting the departure of the Roman Catholic Church from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This event marked the start of the great Reformation. Eventually, Luther’s call for reform turned to separation from Rome because of its intense resistance to the teachings of Holy Scripture. This call for separation widely spread throughout Germany and across Europe. The nature and validity of the Papacy remain a major thorn of contention. Rome claims the Pope is the Vicar, or substitute, of Christ. Luther and other Bible believers through the centuries view the Pope as enemy of Christ. Has Rome changed its position on the absolute power of the Pope? What does God’s Word say about the issue?
The True Vicar of Christ
The Holy Spirit is the true Vicar of Christ. Before His return to God the Father in Heaven, Jesus Christ promised His disciples another would come and serve as His substitute on earth to instruct them in all truth and remind them of all He had already taught them. The Lord Jesus Christ’s words were; “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Concerning this third Person of the Trinity who was to be His substitute, the Lord promised that, “when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” The Holy Spirit convicts people of sin as He makes sinners realize their lost condition and their need for God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit brings a soul from a state of deadness and rebellion in sin to forgiveness and life in Christ. This is because our innate dispositions are prone to sin; nothing but divine power can bring about our salvation. This miracle of grace is spoken of in Scripture as, “the exceeding greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.”
In the believers’ lives, the Holy Spirit has full, immediate, and universal influence. The Scriptures teach that “now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” The work of the Spirit is transforming; we are changed from one degree of glorious grace unto another, until by that same grace one day we will be perfect in Him in glory forever in heaven. How much therefore should we as Christians prize the full and complete ministry of the Holy Spirit!
Francis’s Blasphemous Claim as the Vicar of Christ
Even 500 years after the commencement of the Reformation, Rome has not backed down from its inflated assessment of the Papacy. Contrary to the words of Jesus, Rome insists that the head of her church is that substitute, or “Vicar”:
“The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, ‘is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.’ ‘For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise.”
Despite the clear teaching of Scripture on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Vatican still attempts to usurp His role. Rome dogmatically states: “The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls.”It is impossible for a mortal man such as Pope Francis to enjoy such “supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls”! Such absurd claims would imply that the Pope were endowed with divine power!
The Pope’s central authority, by which he judges all things, is officially called by the term “Holy See” rather than “the Vatican.” The term Holy See stands for the central authority of the Church, which encompasses the tiny sovereign State of Vatican City. However, the “universal” scope of the above citation also reveals Rome’s ambitions beyond Vatican City. Indeed, the Holy See claims to represent a worldwide community and not only the citizens of Vatican City. The Pope is the head of a sovereign state and at the same time a central authority to a worldwide community! Furthermore, Rome’s Code of Canon Law defines its view of the authority of the Holy See: “The First See is judged by no one.”
The Papacy declares itself to be supreme, accountable to no one! Only the Pope is the sole judge of what is right and wrong, while simultaneously demanding that no one can judge it. The audacity of the Holy See reaches its zenith in the civil and political arenas as it proclaims, “It is solely the right of the Roman Pontiff himself to judge…those who hold the highest civil office in a state….” In other words, the Pope sits above all world leaders and has the right to judge those who govern nations!
One should not be deceived by the small physical size of the Vatican State. While Vatican City by area is the smallest independent state in the world (108 acres), The Roman state has reemerged as one of the greatest in political intrigue. To quote Catholic historian Lord Acton, the Vatican is “the fiend skulking behind the Crucifix.” This stems from the fact that Rome has been reestablished as a sovereign state with civil power, wielding much sway in national and international law, particularly in the nations in which she has papal nuncios as ambassadors.
At present, she maintains civil relations with 174 countries at embassy level. According to the Catholic Almanac, “An apostolic nuncio has the diplomatic rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary…a nuncio has precedence among diplomats in the country to which he is accredited and serves as dean of the diplomatic corps on state occasions.” Papal Rome’s history, i.e., her apparent demise in the past and her current resurgence in modern affairs, appear to parallel the description of the harlot of Babylon after whom the world marvels revealed in Revelation 17.
The Papal Apparatus for Controlling People’s Souls
In contrast to the Holy Spirit caring for souls by His own power, Pope Francis by himself is incapable of administering “universal power in the care of souls”. Consequently, Pope Francis requires a vast hierarchy of henchmen to control the people. This hierarchy of power, also known as “the Magesterium”, consists of Cardinals, Titular Patriarchs, Archbishops, Metropolitans, Coadjutor Archbishops, Diocesan bishops, Bishops, Episcopal Vicar, Eparches, Apostolic Vicars, Apostolic Prefects, Apostolic Administrators, and Vicars General. The authority of this hierarchy extends to priests, who seek to exert Rome’s dominion over local members of the parish. Pope Francis elaborates on instrument of control wielded by the Roman clergy:
“However, it is not enough to simply ask the Lord for forgiveness in one’s own mind and heart because Jesus himself entrusted to the Church the ministry of the forgiveness of sins. It is necessary humbly and trustingly to confess one’s sins to a minister of the Church. In the celebration of this Sacrament, the priest represents not only God but also the whole community.”
Contradicting Francis, the Bible states, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”Time does not permit for an extensive discussion of the numerous carnal scandals committed by Catholic priests and hierarchy. The outcome of Pope Francis’s deception is “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” Such apostasy is marked, not by open hostility, but by hypocrisy and deceit, which to the world appears righteous and holy. Apostasy is a withdrawal from the true Gospel and true godliness.
Conclusion: The Roman Pope Continues to Resist Christ 500 Years Later
An examination of the office of Pope Francis clearly reveals his association to Christ. He is not “the Vicar of Christ”. Rather, he exalts himself “in the place of”, or “Anti”, Christ. Roman Catholics refer to the Pope as “His Holiness.” Such a title exclusively belongs to God. God is the only Being whose very nature is holy. Concerning the Pope’s assumed title, “His Holiness,” the Roman Catholic Church claims the following divine attribute, “The Supreme Pontiff, in virtue of his office, possesses infallible teaching authority when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful…he proclaims with a definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held as such.” The Papacy’s claim to infallibility conflicts with God’s position as truly infallible. Thus, Rome’s official claim in reality exalts the Pope “above all that is called God.” Likewise, the earned righteousness of Christ Jesus after the Resurrection gave Him “All power…in heaven and in earth.” Yet, as stated earlier, the Pope takes upon himself the unlimited authority for the “universal care of souls” and is judged by no one.
While time remains before Christ returns and vanquishes His foes, let us flee from the false religion of the Popes opposed to Him. Instead, let us humbly learn and obey the Lord Jesus Christ’s counsel and command; “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.”
- Vatican Council II, Document No. 32, Unitatis Reintegratio, Decree on Ecumenism, 21 November 1964, Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, 1981 edition, Austin Flannery, Gen. Ed., Ch.1, Para.4, 457. ↑
- See our article “Vatican Fake News: The Reformation Is Over” on www.bereanbeacon.org . ↑
- See Luke Coppen, “The Pope’s Great Evangelical Gamble”, Catholic Herald (July 23, 2015) on http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/july-24th-2015/the-popes-great-evangelical-gamble/accessed on August 11, 2017. Popular author and minister Rick Warren vehemently defends his cooperation with the Roman Church. See Mark Woods, “Rick Warren on Roman Catholicism: ‘We have more in common than what divides us.”, Christian Today (December 5, 2014) on https://www.christiantoday.com/article/rick.warren.on.roman.catholicism.we.have.more.in.common.than.what.divides.us/43942.htm accessed on August 11, 2017. ↑
- John 14:26. ↑
- John 16:8 ↑
- See Romans 3:9-20 and Ephesians 2:1-6. ↑
- Ephesians 1:19, 29 ↑
- 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ↑
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition (1994: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City), Paragraph 882. Authors’ emphasis. ↑
- Catechism, Para 937. ↑
- Code of Canon Law, Latin-English Edition (1983: Canon Law Society of America, Washington D.C.), Canon 1404. ↑
- Ibid., Canon 1405. ↑
- John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, Vol. 1 (Cardinal Newman, Lady Blennerhassett, W.E. Gladstone) (1917: Longmans, Gree and Co., London), 55 as quoted in Gertrude Himmelfarb, Lord Acton: A Study in Conscience & Politics (2015: Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, Grand Rapids, MI), 151. See also our article “Vatican Prepares to Control Through Civil Law” on www.bereanbeacon.org ↑
- Matthew E. Bunson, Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Almanac 2001 Edition (2000: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN), 277. ↑
- For more details, see Matthew E. Bunson, Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Almanac 1998 Edition(1997: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, IN), 141-142. ↑
- “The Beauty of Mercy: Pope Francis and Confession”, Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops(2016) on http://www.cccb.ca/site/images/stories/pdf/The_Beauty_of_Mercy_-_Francis_and_Confession.pdf accessed on August 6, 2017. ↑
- I John I.8,9 ↑
- See Madison Park, “Timeline: A Look at the Catholic Church’s Sex Abuse Scandals”, CNN (June 29, 2017) on http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/29/world/timeline-catholic-church-sexual-abuse-scandals/index.html accessed on August 11, 2017. For the latest scandal on orgies within the upper Roman hierarchy, see Jason Horowitz and Laurie Goodstein, “Vatican Sex Abuse Scandal Reveals Blind Spot for Francis”, The New York Times (June 29, 2017) on https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/29/world/europe/cardinal-pell-charges-australia.html accessed on August 11, 2017. ↑
- 2 Thessalonians 2:10 ↑
- See https://va.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/vatican-visit/writing-to-his-holiness/ accessed on August 10, 2017. ↑
- Revelation 15:4, I Samuel 2:2 ↑
- Code of Canon Law, Canon 749, Section 1. ↑
- The Greek word for “above” can mean “in a place of” or “as much as.” This latter meaning appears more applicable to the position of the Pope as “in the place of”, rather than “above”, God, cf. James Strong, Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary of the Bible, #1909. ↑
- Matthew 28:18 ↑
- Matthew 23:4-9 ↑