Pop benedict XVI shocked the world when he became the first pope to step down since the Middle Ages. After the pope’s butler leaked confidential documents to the press, exposing power struggles within the Vatican bureaucracy, Benedict decided he was too frail to implement the reforms needed to fix the Roman curia. Pope Francis was therefore elected with a mandate to reform the Vatican.
Francis got to work and appointed a panel of cardinals to advise him on how to reorganize the Roman Curia (the administration that governs the Vatican). Now the pope and these cardinals have completed their constitution. Title Evangelium Predicate, this new constitution was published in Italian on March 19 and entered into force on June 5. But the official English translation (preach the gospel) was only released on June 29. It reveals the most radical overhaul of the Roman Curia in a generation.
Most news stories about the Vatican’s constitution revolve around the pope’s decision to allow lay Catholics (including women) to run departments in the curia and around his decision to incorporate a commission on clergy abuses. in church government. But these developments are far from being the most significant reforms implemented in Evangelium Predicate. The most important reforms restructure all the activities of the Curia around a simple mission: to support the pope in his attempt to convert all nations.
The preamble to the constitution says:[Preaching the gospel] is the task that the Lord Jesus entrusted to his disciples. This mandate constitutes “the first service that the Church can render to each individual and to all of humanity in the modern world”. To this end, she was called to proclaim the gospel of the Son of God, Christ the Lord, who thus awakens in all peoples a listening ear to faith.
With this mission statement established, the rest of the document is a map of the hierarchical structure of the Roman Catholic Church. Regarding the curia, the document explains: “The Roman curia is at the service of the pope, who, as successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful . … The Roman Curia is not placed between the pope and the bishops, but is at the service of both….
Over the centuries since Pope Paul iii created the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an idea arose that the pope is the head of a curia that leads the church. Evangelium Predicate restores the fact that each diocese is headed by a bishop who reports directly to the pope. The offices of the curia do not direct the church and only exist to help both the pope and these bishops with certain tasks. The pope’s vaunted decision to let lay Catholics lead curial departments is meant to underscore the fact that the Roman curia does not exercise ecclesiastical authority.
After pointing out that the pope is the head of the church, Evangelium Predicate establishes a powerful Secretary of State to oversee the temporal management of Vatican City. It also stars a new Dicastery for Evangelization. This dicastery merges the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which coordinated Catholic missionary activities, with the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, responsible for reversing the secularization of Western countries. The Dicastery for Evangelization replaces all other departments, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is responsible for defending doctrine.
Some Catholics worry that prioritizing evangelism over doctrine will liberalize the Church, but Francis condemns their rigidity. In comments posted on June 14, Francis told a rally of Jesuit publishers that “restorationism has come to gag [Second Vatican Council]before adding that he knew priests for whom the 16th century Council of Trent was more memorable than the Second Vatican Council.
However, François is perhaps more of a restorer than the restorers. For the past 500 years, the Vatican has been mostly run by bureaucrats determined to defend Catholic dogma against Protestantism and secularism at all costs. But the sixth-century Pope Gregory the Great wrote a letter advising Augustine of Canterbury to compromise with pagan beliefs to bring the Anglo-Saxon tribes into the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was built by fusing pagan practices with Christian doctrine.
In 1983, Herbert W. Armstrong predicted that the Vatican might issue a looser moral code. “The moral and spiritual trend in the world is towards more liberalism – more permissiveness,” he wrote during John Paul’s pontificate. ii. “Now even the Roman Catholic Church, in order to stay alive in an immoral and unjust world, is relaxing and giving people what they like to call ‘their rights’.”
Mr. Armstrong understood the pagan history of Catholicism. “Where Does Sunday Observance Come From?” he asked in Who or what is the prophetic beast? “Not with the church, but with the pagan religion of the Roman Empire!” This is the day the ancient pagans gathered at sunrise, faced east (as they do today on Easter Sunday morning), and worshiped the rising sun. It was Constantine, Emperor of the Roman Empire, not a pope, who made Sunday the official Christian day of rest. But it was forced-the people were cause to accept it universally – through the church!
After explaining the origins of Sunday worship, Mr. Armstrong explained how the Catholic Church adopted the governmental structure of Rome. “From where, then, does the government of the human church derive its present form?” he asked elsewhere in his book. “‘The first pope, in the truest sense of the word, was Leo I (a d 440-461),’ says the Cyclopedia of biblical, theological and ecclesiastical literature, Flight. 7, page 629. To him, the form of government of the Roman Empire was the most wonderful thing on earth. He applied his principles to the church, organized the church into a government, formed the papacy.
In The incredible human potential, Mr. Armstrong explained how the gospel preached by Jesus Christ about the coming of the Kingdom of God has been replaced by a substitute “gospel”. on the person of Christ—proclaiming the Messenger but suppressing the message.
The provinces of the Roman Empire were called dioceses long before the bishoprics of the Catholic Church were called dioceses, and the chief high priest of the ancient Roman College of Pontiffs was called Pontiff Maximus long before Pope Francis adopted @Pontifex for his Twitter account.
The new constitution of the Vatican comes from its imperial spirit and its desire for domination. The word “catholic” means universal-the pope wants to bring all peoples under the Roman government.
The Bible often uses a woman to symbolize a church (eg 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-27; Revelation 19:7). Isaiah 47 describes a “woman” called “daughter of Babylon,” “daughter of the Chaldeans,” and “lady of kingdoms.” This woman says, “I will not know… the loss of children.
It is a well-established fact that the Chaldeans of the Neo-Babylonian Empire migrated to Italy during and after the reign of Caesar Augustus. The book New Testament Survey, by Merrill Tenney is used as a textbook at Herbert W. Armstrong College, and it describes the Eastern mystery religions that spread to Rome as Chaldean immigrants poured into the Italian peninsula. Many of the doctrines of these Eastern mystery religions were adopted by the early Christian Church; therefore, Roman Catholicism is the “daughter of Babylon” against which the prophet Isaiah spoke.
When this church says:[N]neither will I know the loss of children,” she means that she will not allow the various Protestant denominations that have rebelled against her to remain independent. The pope’s new evangelical crusade is an attempt to win them back. While the Vatican is unlikely to make sweeping doctrinal changes, the church can make strategic compromises — standing firm in one area while compromising in another — to attract more converts. But everyone under Rome’s rule will be forced to adopt Sunday worship when the Vatican gets enough power to enforce its dictates.
To understand what the Bible says about the religion that will dominate the Western world in the last days, request a free copy of Mr. Armstrong’s booklet Who or what is the prophetic beast? as well as a free copy of The true history of the true Church of God, by Trumpet editor Gerald Flurry.