By Richard Bennett
To recognize the dominant position to which the Roman Catholic Church aspires and which she has always desired, it is essential understand how she has acted in the past¾for the pattern is still the same. Her aspirations must be codified in law before they can be enacted effectively. Rome has always constructed the machinery of law within her own system before she is able to impose on others what she traditionally has called her "just penalties" for disobedience.
To the Church of Rome, external unity is of the utmost importance. She expects to achieve this unity by means of her law. In the Bible there is relationship between the members of a church and its elders because both members and elders are in the Lord Jesus Christ and share in that life through the Holy Spirit. By contrast, the Roman Catholic Church, having apostatized from the true Gospel, does not have and cannot have any such fellowship. Counterfeiting the true body of the Lord Jesus Christ, she must therefore find some effective way to bind all to her very visible and active pontifical throne. To this throne she undertakes to chain¾by law and through ignorance of Holy Scriptures¾priests, presidents, and people, in order to make her Pope the universal monarch. Seeking to obscure the clear light of Holy Scripture, she promotes her bond of union through the murky light of visibly active popes, archbishops, bishops, canon law, and ceremonies.
Citing tradition and her own authority, the Church of Rome claims to have "divine and catholic faith". When people believe this they are enslaved¾because once external religion is accepted as genuine, truth and the Gospel of salvation are no longer understood as flowing from the Bible. Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic Church claims she controls the means of salvation for everyone. She then imposes a system of works upon them for their entire lives. Her priests affirm their convictions by means of their sovereign Pope and a salvation conveyed by means of sacraments.
In past times all kings were supposed to tremble at her decrees. Woe to him who resisted! Subjects were released from their oaths of allegiance; whole states were placed under interdict. By deception regarding the Gospel and, subsequently, by force Rome has held her domain together. She has only external unity, as any one who has lived within her system and studied her decrees and history knows. It is of signal importance to realize that the Roman Catholic Church has no other way to maintain her life than by imposition of her external laws, for she lacks the life giving power of the Holy Spirit and unity of the One Body of the Lord Christ Jesus. She must legislate to exist, and she needs civil powers to enforce her decrees. It is crucial to understand that suppression and control are her main stratagems¾even if at the moment this does not appear to be the case. If persecution by her is to be avoided, her paradigm must be understoodthe Church of Rome demands submission of intellect and will to her claimed infallible authority, regardless of the fact that she contradicts the Word of God. Rome's claim¾that the obedience Holy God requires to His Word is due to her alone¾is always her basis for inflicting persecution on others. It is only as one understands her arrogant position that one can make any sense of the oppression that she has perpetrated throughout history, and what she is doing at the present time.
Today, it is imperative to know of the religious persecutions by the Roman Catholic Church against the Bible believers throughout the course of European history¾for the same Roman Catholic Church, still enslaving people worldwide to her false gospel, is gathering strength in this day. Her method, the Inquisition, has never been revoked nor has she ever apologized for the suffering caused by it. Although according to Vatican Council II documents, Evangelicals now are termed by her as "separated brethren"; she has never withdrawn her categorizing of them as "heretics". This is confirmed by Vatican Council II documents. The Jesuits are still in influential places, an example of which is the formulation of Evangelicals and Catholics Together (March 1994) and The Gift of Salvation (November 1997).
To understand Western history in the context of Biblical truth is to gain in our own time the foothold of a stabilizing perspective. To those who take the time to acquire this, the Lord's promise still stands, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Correctly using Biblical truth to interpret history, or "binding together", is an example of what it means to wait upon the Lord. The believers' purpose must be to know the truth while trusting the Lord for the freedom to proclaim the Gospel.
The heart and mind of the Roman Catholic Church is expressed in her Canon Law. This is how she has acted in the past, now conducts herself, and will conduct herself in the future. The face that Rome shows to the outside world has another side to it, one that is seen primarily by those inside her system when she enforces her law. For example, for twenty years the Pope has been proclaiming "peace, peace" from nation to nation. The newspapers give prominence to his continuing message calling for religious freedom and respect for each member of the human family. What is not proclaimed is Roman Catholic law and how it is implemented. Some of the smaller news services, such as News Network International who for many years carried information on how Rome applied her laws, have been shut down recently. An example of the contrast between public image and private practice was the wooing content of "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" (ECT), published in 1994. In March of the same year, the Roman Catholic Archbishop Bohn of Brazil announced at the 31st National Conference of Bishops in Brazil, "We will declare a holy war, don't doubt it the Catholic Church has a ponderous structure, but when we move we'll smash anyone beneath us." The article reporting on statement went on to comment,
"According to Bohn, an all-out holy war can't be avoided unless the 11 largest Protestant churches and denominations sign a treaty [which] would require Protestants to stop evangelization in Brazil. In exchange, he said, Catholics would agree to stop all persecution directed towards Protestants. Bohn called his proposal an ultimatum, and said it would leave no room for discussion."
Nevertheless, eighteen months later in an address to the UN entitled "The Global Quest for Freedom", Pope John Paul II stated,
"We will not be able to overcome it [our fear of the future] completely unless we do so together. The answer to that fear is neither coercion nor repression nor the imposition of one social model on the entire world. The answer...at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty. And the soul of the civilization of love is the culture of freedom: the freedom of individuals and the freedom of nations, lived in self-giving solidarity and responsibility...."
It should be noted that the same Pope who addressed these eloquent words to the UN had two years previously nailed down laws that forbid such freedom and peace. In the small print of the 1998 Catholic Almanac under the heading Pope John Paul II, the entry entitled Canon Law states,
"The Pope was deeply involved in the work of completing the revision of the Code of Canon Law which he ordered into effect as of Nov. 27, 1983. He called it, in effect, the final act of the Second Vatican Council...He promulgated the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches Apr. 18th 1990."
Examination of these laws shows them to be of the same absolute, unlimited, and tyrannical character as those of the past. The Code has the entire necessary legislature, jurisprudence, and laws for the purposes of control and coercion. The same Pope who splendidly addressed the UN on the need for freedom simultaneously effects in Roman Catholic law the following,
"The Church has an innate and proper right to coerce offending members of the Christian faithful by means of penal sanctions."
Clearly, official Roman Catholic law is the iron fist under Pope John Paul IIs velvet glove. That this is the RCC modus operandi can be learned from her history. The dissimilarity between the dictate of the present Pope and the apostle Paul is evident. The Pontiff's rule is "The Church has an innate and proper right to coerce... " The apostle states, "Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand."
In the latter half of this paper, contemporary RC canon law demonstrating Rome's present readiness to exert control will be documented. First, however, it is important to review the historical persecution of Christians by the Roman Church. All that is discovered must be measured in terms of the Lord Gods greatness and the truth of His gospel. The Lord Jesus Christ declares the truth concerning Himself, " thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." In Him is our faith and confidence, and all facts must be perceived in the wisdom of His written Word.
The historian, J. A Wylie, shows the beginning of corruption of the Christian Church, an apostasy which set in place the machinery for later persecution.
"From the fourth century the corruptions of the Christian Church continued to make marked and rapid progress. The Bible began to be hidden from the people. And in proportion as the light, which is the surest guarantee of liberty, was withdrawn, the clergy usurped authority over the members of the Church. The canons of councils were put in the room of the one infallible Rule of Faith; and thus the first stone was laid in the foundations of Babylon, that great city, that made all nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
"The beginning of this matter seemed innocent enough. To obviate pleas before the secular tribunals, ministers were frequently asked to arbitrate in disputes between members of the Church, and Constantine made a law confirming all such decisions in the consistories of the clergy, and shutting out the review of their sentences by the civil judges. Proceeding in this fatal path, the next step was to form the external polity of the Church upon the model of the civil government. Four vice-kings or prefects governed the Roman Empire under Constantine, and why, it was asked, should not a similar arrangement be introduced into the Church? Accordingly the Christian world was divided into four great dioceses; over each diocese was set a patriarch, who governed the whole clergy of his domain, and thus arose four great thrones or princedoms in the House of God. Where there had been a brotherhood, there was now a hierarchy; and from the lofty chair of the Patriarch, a gradation of rank, and a subordination of authority and office, ran down to the lowly state and contracted sphere of the Presbyter."
The Donatists, the Novatians, and the Paulicians are some of the groups that suffered grievous persecution by the growing power of apostasy. These groups present a long history in themselves. In this short paper these bodies are not dealt with for two reasons: (1) Roman Catholic authorities purposefully have smeared the Christian testimony of these groups. It is very difficult to discern what was authentic and what was in fact aberrant. (2) Rome had not yet brought the civil powers to sufficient degree of submissiveness to her rule, to allow her to eliminate, unhindered, those that she classified as heretics. While those persecutions were not fundamentally different from subsequent atrocities, her thoroughness in rooting out opposition was sporadic. The history of these persecutions is here left untold because it occurred before the system of the apostasy was clearly developed.
The Vaudois are a very interesting example of early apostolic Christians untouched by apostasy. Their teachings were very clear on the absolute centrality of Christ and His grace alone in regard to salvation; likewise, they saw in the apostate system of the Roman Church the one who was the antichrist. They suffered centuries of persecution from Rome. These are a story in themselves, documented minutely by Jean-Paul Perrin.
Rome, at the height of her power in the thirteenth century, depended on what had been laid as legal bedrock in the sixth century. The emperor Justinian was the main architect who established the foundation for Rome's ability to impose external unity. Hildebrand Pope Gregory VII (d. 1085) contributed greatly, rigorously nailing down all the applications of the legal power base. A brief summary of how legality was first given to Papal Rome through a codified law structure is found in Ewin Froom,
"Justinian I (527-565), greatest of all of the rulers of the Eastern Roman Empire...[achieved the] codification of the vast and confused mass of Roman Law. This was accomplished by 534, and resulted in the Code, or Codex, the Digest, or Pandects, and the institutes, which together formed the Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law)...."
"Justinians...great achievement was the regulation of ecclesiastical and theological matters, crowned by the imperial Decretal Letter seating the bishop of Rome in the church as the Head of all the holy churches, thus laying the legal foundation for papal ecclesiastical supremacy....
"Justinian had established the seat of government for the western part of his empire at Ravenna, thereby leaving the eternal city largely to the jurisdiction of its bishop. Further, the silent extinction of the consulship...which he accomplished in the thirteenth year of his reign, likewise had the same tendency¾that of establishing the influence of the bishop of Rome."
It is important to see how Papal canon law initially came to be incorporated into Western civilization. The official Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law: Text and Commentary explains, "During the ninth century, there was a concerted effort to renew society and centralize Western civilization. It is usually called the Carolingian Reform after its initiator, Charlemagne, who was crowned Roman Emperor by the pope on the feast day of Christmas in the year 800. Its intention was to stabilize the structures of Christendom, and one of its chief tools was reliance on church law." It is interesting to observe in our own day, the RCC through her political pronouncements and her Canon Law is jockeying to be a major influence in establishing what is morally right for the World Court.
The historian Lea shows how Rome initially used her "legal powers" to implement penalties.
"The decree of Lucius III. at the so-called Council of Verona, in 1184, commanded that all potentates [kings and princes] should take an oath before their bishops to enforce the ecclesiastical and secular laws against heresy fully and efficaciously. Any refusal or neglect was to be punished by excommunication, deprivation of rank, incapacity to hold other station, which in the case of cities they were to be segregated and debarred from all commerce with other places.
"The Church thus undertook to coerce the sovereign to persecution. It would not listen to mercy, it would not hear of expediency. The monarch held his crown by the tenure of extirpating heresy, of seeing that the laws were sharp and were pitilessly enforced. Any hesitation was visited with excommunication, and if this proved inefficacious, his dominions were thrown open to the first hardy adventurer whom the Church would supply with an army for his overthrow. Whether this new feature in the public law of Europe could establish itself was the question at issue in the Albigensian crusades. [Count] Raymonds lands were forfeited simply because he would not punish heretics...The triumph of the new principle was complete, and it never was subsequently questioned."
The Pope who had called himself "overlord of kings and princes", Hildebrand Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085), had laid the groundwork for Lucius III. The civil powers at this time in history were so weak that of necessity they feared to disobey the dictates of Rome. The king's crown was secure only if he participated in extirpating Rome's enemies.
William Shaw Kerr quotes from Lord Acton, who was among the most learned of the English Roman Catholics, regarding the basic nature of the Inquisition. Lord Actons conviction was that,
"The Inquisition is peculiarly the weapon and peculiarly the work of the Popes. It stands out from all those things in which they co-operated, followed or assented as the distinctive feature of papal Rome. It was set up, renewed and perfected by a long series of acts emanating from the supreme authority in the Church. No other institution, no doctrine, no ceremony is so distinctly the individual creation of the Papacy, except the dispensing power. It is the principal thing with which the Papacy is identified, and by which it must be judged. The principle of the Inquisition is the Popes sovereign power over life and death. Whosoever disobeys him should be tried and tortured and burnt. If that cannot be done, formalities may be dispensed with, and the culprit may be killed like an outlaw. That is to say, the principle of the Inquisition is murderous, and a mans opinion of the Papacy is regulated and determined by his opinion of religious assassination."
Following on from the Council of Verona, a type of persecution involving incarceration and confiscation of property was practiced at the parish level and at the Episcopal level in the Roman Catholic Church. The next more comprehensive level of persecution was reached with the establishment of the Inquisition in 1203 AD.
The year 1203 AD and the person of Pope Innocent III marks the start of the Inquisition as a distinctive papal creation. The year 1870 marks the end of it. In 1203 Pope Innocent III, in order to stamp out what he deemed "heresy" in southern France and in Italy, published a decree appointing the Abbot of Citeaux as his delegate, giving him power to judge and punish "heresy". It was by delegating to the Abbot the power to punish "heresy" that Innocent IIIs decree took to itself power which heretofore had been reserved to the Episcopal inquisition. While the Inquisition did not replace completely persecution of "heretics" by local bishops, it was an enormously powerful tool, the application of which was to be far more widespread.
"In 1233, Pope Gregory IX issued a bull, by which he confided the working of the Inquisition to the Dominicans. He appointed his legate, the Bishop of Tournay, to carry out the bull in the way of completing the organisation of that tribunal which has since become the terror of Christendom and which has caused to perish such a prodigious number of human beings...In the exposition made by the Bishop of Tournay, of the errors of the Albigenses, says Sismondi, we find nearly all the principles upon which Luther and Calvin founded the Reformation of the sixteenth century."
Because of the burning of Albigensian literature by the Roman Catholic Church, it is now very difficult to judge how Biblical were the teachings of these people.
The persecution of the Albigensians, who lived in Southern France, commenced in the thirteenth century. In her self-appointed role as "Lord of the conscience", Romes first tools of persecution were the crusades. These she employed first against the Muslims in Palestine and then, under Innocent III, she turned to persecuting the Albigenses. They were intelligent and prosperous. Their towns and communities were governed by municipal institutions that accorded much freedom to the populace. Wylie fills in the chilling history,
"The penetrating and far-seeing eye of Innocent III saw all this very clearly. Not at the foot of the Alps and the Pyrenees only did he detect a new life: in other countries of Europe, in Italy, and in Spain, in Flanders, in Hungarywherever, in short, dispersion had driven the sectaries, he discovered the same fermentation below the surface, the same incipient revolt against the Papal power. He resolved without loss of time to grapple with and crush the movement. He issued an edict enjoining the extermination of all heretics.
"Cities would be drowned in blood, kingdoms would be laid waste, art and civilization would perish, and the progress of the world would be rolled back for centuries; but not otherwise could the movement be arrested, and Rome saved."
It is important to recognize the system of law that Rome constructed to justify persecution. Today, the same Roman Catholic "Lord of the conscience" is continuing to cement in law similar decrees.
While the Roman Catholic Church held that it was her duty to judge every mans conscience, she held that it was the duty of temporal powers to implement her decrees. Therefore had she labored over several centuries to find a way to coerce the civil legal system to execute her "just penalties". The civil authorities had no interest in and no jurisdiction to convict and prosecute "heretics". (It is interesting to note that Pilate would not prosecute the Lord Jesus Christ nor would Pagan Rome prosecute Paul until the "spiritual authorities" presented the matter before their respective courts.) By the thirteenth century, however, the Roman Catholic Church had managed to secure her grip on the temporal sword enough to force the civil authorities to carry out the punishment she prescribed for heresy against any man. Lea explains the procedure.
"In prosecutions for heresy the ecclesiastical tribunal passed no judgments of blood. It merely found the defendant to be a heretic and "relaxed" him, or relinquished him to the secular authorities with the hypocritical adjuration to be merciful to him, to spare his life and not to spill his blood. What was the real import of this plea for mercy is easily seen from the theory of the Church as to the duty of the temporal power, when inquisitors enforced as a legal rule that the mere belief that persecution for conscience sake was sinful was in itself a heresy, to be visited with the full penalties of that unpardonable crime....
That this is Romes understanding of the necessity for corporal punishment is documented from her own sources. Thus in present day Sources of Catholic Dogma, Rome states,
"Chap. 27. As Blessed Leo [II, late seventh century] says: Although ecclesiastical discipline, content with sacerdotal judgement, does not employ bloody punishments, it is nevertheless helped by the constitutions of Catholic rulers, so that men often seek a salutary remedy, when they fear that corporal punishment is coming upon them."
The decree of the Council of Verona hypocritically established "ecclesiastical discipline" avoiding "bloody punishments". This camouflage was done away with in the middle of the thirteenth century when Pope Innocent IV devised in detail for the many inquisitors how torture was to be perpetrated.
"Innocent IV gave comprehensive instructions regarding how torture was to be applied in his bull At Extirpanda (1252). This was revised and reissued by subsequent Popes. Torture is prescribed, but it was to stop short of pulling off limbs or causing death...Ruinous punishments are enacted on all who harbour or give advice or favour to a heretic. How completely the abominable system was the direct achievement of the Papacy is show by the clause that no change could be made without the special authority of the Apostolic See."
Kerrs descriptions of the Inquisitions practices are important facts of history. A brief example of the kinds of details known is given here,
"The methods of the Inquisition were, from the start, an outrage on elementary principles of justice. Any one could be arrested on suspicion. The trial was secret. The prisoner was not allowed to know the accusers or witnesses. The judges were ecclesiastics with the most absolute power. The evidence of infamous persons, criminals or perjurers or heretics was admitted so long as it was hostile. Children from the age of twelve were required to bear testimony. The prisoner had not the help of an advocate....A person tried by the Inquisition was scarcely ever acquitted. In the register of Carcassonne from 1249 to 1258, comprising about two hundred cases, there does not occur a single instance of a prisoner discharged as innocent. Tanon, a French investigator, writes, There is scarcely ever an acquittal, pure and simple, in the sentence of the Inquisition."
"The numbers of those burned at the stake cannot be known."
"The minor penalties were sufficiently terrible. Gui sentenced nearly a quarter of those brought before him to wear the cross of infamy. This branded a person so severely that petitions show he could scarcely earn a livelihood...The inquisitors could leave people in their prisons indefinitely without trial....The inquisitor Eymeric in his famous Directorium instructs that a person believed guilty "shall be shut up in prison, strictly confined and in chains....If he shows no willingness to be converted there is no need for haste...for the pains and privations of imprisonment often bring about a change of mind...The durus carcer et arcta vita¾chains and starvation in a stifling hole¾was a favourite device for extracting confession from unwilling lips...It happens that there is definite information about some of these prisons. Clergy and laity complained about the prison conditions in some towns in the south of France. It was stated that the cells were fitted up with divers kinds of torments...Many through the severity of these torments lose the use of their limbs and are rendered utterly impotent. Some also, by reason of impatience and excessive pain, end their days by the cruelest death...The consuls of Carcassonne thus described the inquisitors' dungeons there...Some are so dark and airless that the inmates cannot tell night from day; and thus they are in perpetual lack of air and complete darkness. In others are poor wretches in manacles of iron or wood, unable to move, sitting in their own filth, and unable to lie except on their backs upon the cold earth, and they are kept for a long time in these torments day and night."
Peter de Rosa, a prominent Roman Catholic writer today, agrees with the non-Catholic historians and with Catholic Lord Actons assessment of the Inquisition. He states unequivocally,
"The papacy in particular likes to see itself as the champion of morality. What history shows is that, for more than six centuries without a break, the papacy was the sworn enemy of elementary justice. Of eighty popes in a line from the thirteenth century on, not one of them disapproved of the theology and apparatus of the Inquisition. On the contrary, one after another added his own cruel touches to the workings of this deadly machine."
In September 1870, the Italian troops took Rome. A decree of the New Regime ended the Inquisition as the papal persecution and death of its enemies.
Besides the present day general silence on the subject of the Inquisition, there still is no repentance and no apology on the part of papal Rome for what she did for 667 years. Rather, her laws have continued to declare arrogantly her position to judge state officials worldwide. Vatican Council II has done nothing to reverse her stance.
Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, associate professor of sociology at the University of Montreal, has written a book entitled, Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control over Lay Catholic Elites. After a perfunctory passing remark that the Inquisitions burning of heretics and the crusaders holy wars were "but two more of the extreme forms of hierarchic coercion during the late feudal period", Vaillancourt makes the salient observations,
"[After 1870 when the RCC was] no longer able to use the repressive power of the state, Church authorities became more and more interested in using the legal and ideological power of the state through the laws enshrined in the concordats, through education of youth in schools and universities and through welfare services such as hospitals and charity organizations. In fact, the Church increasingly became an ideological apparatus which fulfilled for the state and for the ruling class the functions necessary for their own growth and reproduction.
"Inside the Church, the bishops and priests became functionaries of the central organization, with little individual freedom of their own. An awakening laity was itself turned into a pawn in the papacys frantic efforts to retain its position of absolute power in Europe and especially in Italy."
While the papacy no longer has the military force by which to enforce its hegemony, it has in no way renounced its sovereign control over mens minds and bodies, as post Vatican Council II Canon Law shows. Of necessity then, to reintroduce persecution, there must first be enacted absolute laws and, second, it is necessary to ensnare the civil authorities in such a way that they are again subservient to her purposes.
The same Roman Catholic authority informs us that there are no checks and balances to her absolute power. In her commentary on her canon law is the following,
"In the United States, the three governmental functions¾legislative, executive (administrative), and judicial¾are carried out by separate authorities. Their relationship with each other is described as "a balance of powers." The system of checks and balances succeeds because of a complicated and flexible tension that exists among the three. Law is based on the consent of the governed. Governmental actions must never grow independent of the people. The balance of powers prevents any branch from deviating very far from this basic characteristic....
"The Churchs governmental system is vastly different from the notion of a balance of powers. In fact, the three functions are situated in the same office. Not only the pope but every diocesan bishop is legislator, administrator and judge...Unlike the American system, ecclesiastical law does not arise from the will of the governed¾nor does the Churchs juridic structure rely on a system of checks and balances to maintain its effectiveness...The Code promotes this system through a hierarchical structure that is more vertical than horizontal. Ultimately, the highest judge, the pope, is also the highest legislator and administrator...."
At the Council of Verona in 1184, it was by decree that Lucius III first brought the bishops and clergy "to heel". Later, the civil authorities were coerced into obedience. In our own day increasingly there is an insistent pressure on the bishops and clergy fall into line. Furthermore, believers who group together in Biblical faith are being classified as "a sect" so that civil law can be used against them. Stage one of the machinery is bringing the bishops, Religious, and all ranks of the structure into absolute obedience. Thus present day Roman law decrees,
Canon 752 "A religious respect of intellect and will, even if not the assent of faith, is to be paid to the teaching which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops enunciate on faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium even if they do not intend to proclaim it with a definitive act; therefore the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid whatever is not in harmony with that teaching."
In this official law Rome enunciates, in clearer terms than any cult states, the necessity of suppressing ones God given faculties¾that of mind and will. This is not only demanded, but in Canon 1371 she pronounces that the consequence for not obeying is a "just penalty".
The extent to which Rome claims a right to judge and impose chastening has not changed since the days of the Holy Roman Empire. In present day canon law she states,
Canon 1405 (Sect.1) "It is the right of the Roman Pontiff himself alone to judge in cases mentioned in can. 1401: 1. those who hold the highest civil office in a state;...
Canon 1401 "By proper and exclusive right the Church adjudicates: 1. cases concerning spiritual matters or connected with the spiritual; 2. the violation of ecclesiastical laws and all those cases in which there is a question of sin in respect to the determination of culpability and the imposition of ecclesiastical penalties."
The Holy Spirits admonition to believers is to be remembered as these decrees are certified into law, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
An article in the Catholic World Report, "Rome Has Spoken¾Again", shows of how wide spread is the interest among Catholics regarding the issue of tighter controls.
The Pope Moves to Stamp Out Liberal Debate on Heated Issues, headlined the New York Times in a front-page story, warning darkly of possible just punishment for dissenters in a sub-headline. In an attempt to stifle dissent by liberal theologians, the first line of the Associated Press story out of Vatican City read, Pope John Paul II has declared deviations from Catholicisms definitive truths a violation of Church law. In another front-page story, the Washington Post introduced its coverage with a headline reading, Papal Letter is Divisive, Critics Say¾nor did the Post fail to add the obligatory sub-headline about how Dissent on Dogma Risks Punishment...."
Believers outside the Roman Catholic Church ought to be interested, too, because the method of increasing subservience to the Pope is clearly illustrated in the article. The article explains,
"What was it, then, that the Pope actually did on June 29, 1998?...He issued a motu proprio, meaning a document issued on the Popes own authority, not following up a synod or council, or responding to a query. The Popes document will, according to the usual custom, be known by the first words of the text, Ad Tuendam Fidem ("To Defend the Faith"). The main purpose and effect of the document was to make formal and explicit in canon law a requirement which has already been in force since 1989 in a "Profession of Faith" issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [formerly known as The Inquisition and still housed in the same building in Rome as it had been during those horrendous centuries]....While subscribing to the basic Creed of the Church has always been a requirement for those holding certain official Church positions, the 1989 Profession of Faith...added the requirement of a special Oath of Fidelity which had previously been required only at the episcopal level."
This latest motu proprio has the tone of Hildebrand Pope Gregory VII. The comments of Rome's own writers on the new law explain very clearly that absolute obedience will be required in an area which previously had not been defined,
"When the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith got around to issuing its 1989 special Profession of Faith, a middle category of belief was included. This category, sketched out in the second paragraph of the Oath of Fidelity, consisted of those doctrines definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals. These doctrines were to be definitively held regardless of whether or not they were defined as divinely revealed...And what Pope John Paul II had now done in issuing his new motu proprio is simply this: he has incorporated the new, added second category of belief, as delineated in the 1989 Profession of Faith, into the Churchs Code of Canon Law."
The report undertakes to inform its readers of the seriousness of disobeying the Pope,
"By formally recognizing a second category of beliefs¾which might be ranked slightly below what is divinely revealed, beliefs in doctrines that are nevertheless to be definitely held¾and by incorporating this new category into canon law itself, John Paul II has also, in effect created another corresponding category of Church discipline¾a category slightly below that of formal heresy¾for those who continue to doubt or deny the Churchs teachings at this level....
It continues by clarifying the principle underlying the specific issue,
"The action that the Pope has now taken cannot be altered or abolished by a future pope. Anyone with any knowledge of how the Church, and specifically, the Holy See, functions, and has consistently functioned down through Church history, cannot reach any other conclusion but that the thing is now done....
"Those in the Church who continue to doubt and deny the definitive nature of the popes action...are still not guilty of formal heresy [italic in the original]...[T]his Pope is in fact still not putting any dissenters out of the Church....The Explanatory Note, for example, simply describes these dissenters as no longer in full communion with the Catholic Church. It rather pointedly also does not prescribe any specific just punishment or penalty for them; nor does the Pope himself; he merely warns of the possibility.
"Of course this papal warning is itself highly significant. Even though the Pope is not reading the dissenters...out of the Church at this point, he has, and rather dramatically, now established a firm legal basis for proceeding against the contumacious among them with more drastic disciplinary measures; the position they have taken is now excluded by canon law....According to the Explanatory Note, this teaching [on ordination] could even be the subject of a future definition¾which would immediately throw all of the dissenters from the Churchs doctrine into the ranks of formal heresy."
The writer of this report is writing in a Catholic magazine to Catholics. He has delineated for them what they can expect if they do not align with the Roman Catholic Church on any issue. The new category concerns faith and morals¾the same area about which the RCC spoke before the international court of law was set up.
The article in the Catholic World Report also observes serious consequences:
"Of course, it is also true that the significance of John Paul IIs Ad Tuendam Fidem goes far beyond the question of any single doctrine....There remains, for instance, the whole question of how our free-wheeling theologians in universities and seminaries are going to be brought into conformity with what is now the firmly established law of the church. However this does come about, we can at least state with some assurance that Pope John Paul II has laid down a very solid foundation for the renewal [read repression]."
It is expedient for one to think seriously about the censures on Catholics who are teaching in non-Catholic schools and universities. These people are included in the number of those who in the eyes of the RCC need to be in "conformity with what is now the firmly established law of the church."
In our own day Rome declares that there are "just penalties" for those who will not bend the knee to her. Present day canon law shows what offenses the RCC considers punishable.
Canon 1369 "A person who uses a public show or speech, published writings, or other media of social communication to blaspheme, seriously damage good morals, express wrongs against religion or against the Church or stir up hatred or contempt against religion or the Church is to be punished with a just penalty."
In an introductory article on these "just penalties" of Rome, official Catholic canon law commentator states, "While a certain type of diversity clearly enriches the Church, it simply cannot tolerate certain divergent patterns of thought or activity...." It is sobering when reading the account of history to remember that in present day Roman Catholic law, a "just penalty" is still required by Rome for deviating from her dictates.
The Roman Catholic Church is continuing to tighten her grip on those under her jurisdiction. An example of the legislative aspect of this process can be seen in the following addition to the present code of Roman Catholic canon law (and the Canon law for the Eastern Churches). Canon 750 of the current body of canon law, now has a second paragraph which reads,
"Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church."
Rome has been repressive through out her history; the "each and everything" clause in this canon law seems to introduce an unparalleled universal enslavement. Furthermore, this decree spells out the punishments that are to be enacted to ensure compliance. Under the heading in the papal code itself, Offenses against Ecclesiastical Authorities and the Freedom of the Church (sic), the pronouncement continues,
"Canon 1371, n. 1 of the Code of Canon Law, consequently, will receive an appropriate reference to canon 750, 2, so that it will now read:
Canon 1371, Para. 1 The following are to be punished with a just penalty:
1 a person who, apart from the case mentioned in canon 1364, 1, teaches a doctrine condemned by the Roman Pontiff, or by an Ecumenical Council, or obstinately rejects the teachings mentioned in canon 750, [Para.] 2 or in canon 752 and, when warned by the Apostolic See or by the Ordinary, does not retract;"
The Roman Catholic Church has increased its demand for the submission of mind and will to its decrees. This covers all members of the Roman Catholic Church in matters concerning faith and morals. While physical punishment is not prescribed, if it were added in, it would have to be accepted with a submissive conscience. The decrees that established the tortures enacted during the Inquisition have still not been rescinded. Rather, Canon 752 decrees
"A religious respect of intellect and will, even if not the assent of faith, is to be paid to the teaching which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops enunciate on faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium even if they do not intend to proclaim it with a definitive act; therefore the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid whatever is not in harmony with that teaching.
An official commentary on Canon 1371 states, " one may wonder whether those normally guilty of such an offence would be Catholics, on whom such a norm might have a beneficial effect." This statement and terms such as "the Christian faithful" may make one wonder who is being threatened in these canons. Is it Catholics alone or are others to fear as in the past? Canon 11 states that "merely ecclesiastical laws" binds those baptized in the Catholic Church. The commentary on Canon 11 makes it abundantly clear that ecclesiastical laws can at times be articulations of divine law. If Rome makes such a claim for some of her laws, then ipso facto they would bind all, in her mind, not simply Roman Catholics. This distinguishing and current enforcement of stricter interpretation of law makes one wonder if Rome is not quite likely to interpret her laws as divine when she has the power to do so. She alone is the interpreter of her laws, and the only one to say to whom and when they apply.
Under the above heading, the Code of Canon Law outlines the unbelievable Canon 1311,
"The Church has an innate and proper right to coerce offending members of the Christian faithful by means of penal sanctions."
Specified penalties are spelled out in Canon 1312,
Para 1. The following penal sanctions exist in the Church:
1o. medicinal penalties or censures enumerated in can. 1331-1333;
2o. expiatory penalties enumerated in can. 1336.
Para 2. The law can establish other expiatory penalties which deprive a believer of some spiritual or temporal good and are consistent with the supernatural end of the Church.
Para 3. Penal remedies and penances are likewise employed; the former especially in order to prevent offenses, the latter rather to substitute for or to increase a penalty."
The perverse vindictiveness of these canons contravenes the often-repeated scriptural commands to be not despotic as the world is. "But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."
Under the heading of Censures, the RCC spells out her denunciations of excommunicated and interdicted persons. Canons 1336-1338 lay out what she calls the "Expiatory Penalties". Canon 1336 provides a further example of "just penalties"; to quote just two of five paragraphs, "1o. a prohibition or an order concerning living in a certain place or territory; 2o. deprivation of power, office, function, right, privilege, faculty, favor, title or insignia, even merely honorary."
Under the heading, Penal Remedies and Penances, two canons explain these "remedies". It is of little comfort to learn that proof of admonishment is to be preserved in the secret archive of the curia, and that "A public penance is never to be imposed for an occult transgression."
In total contrast to the agitation and condemnation underlying Rome's "just penalties" is the Lord's Word, "For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people."
Rome is, in her own words, semper eadem, always the same. She claims that she is infallible and that to her is to be given submission of intellect and will. Her present day Code of Canon Law has not changed her penalties for crimes against her system; rather, they are now clearer than ever. As she is accepted by most civil powers in the present world she becomes more brazen. She is accepted as a recognized civil and religious body by most governments and in some nations by their very constitutions. The Roman Catholic Church is involved in every facet of modern life. This has been documented in the paper called "The Structure of the Roman Catholic State-Church".
As the Roman Catholic Churchs influence increasingly shapes civil law in the European Union, Biblically based churches there are being legally classified as sects; already there are reports of this from Europe. A glimmer of the true face of Rome does appear from time to time. One such time may have been in the Sunday Telegraph, 25th August 1991. The following was stated, "If European federalism triumphs, the EC [European Community] will indeed be an empire. It will lack an emperor: but it will have the Pope...it is difficult not to think that Wojtyla realises this." If the European Union succeeds, we may indeed have the restored Roman Empire; if so, all her laws showing her true mind regarding "peace and freedom" are already in place. Those in the Vatican who dictate propaganda are the same authorities that draft and execute Roman law. They clearly know the contradiction that exists between the image painted and the realty enacted. The same fountainhead which issues the human dignity and freedom encyclical letters simultaneously pronounces penalties on those who in exercising their conscience come under her curse. The words of the Lord apply in full force: "if ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."
While the media extols the acceptance by the Roman Catholic Church of Bible believers as "brothers and sisters in Christ", Roman Catholic law is quite different. It is a strict offense for an ordinary Catholic of any country to hand over of his children to be baptized or educated in a non-Catholic religion. The present Pope has enacted the following,
Canon 1366 "Parents or those who substitute for parents are to be punished with a censure or another just penalty if they hand their children over to be baptized or educated in a non-Catholic religion."
The Holy Spirit exhorts the believers, "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing." If Evangelicals are now defined by the RCC as "separated brethren", how can Canon 1366 be matched with I Peter 3:8-9?
Just as the penetrating and far-seeing eye of Innocent III saw clearly incipient revolt against the Papal power, so in our own day John Paul II sees clearly the need to establish law so that all revolt, spiritual or otherwise, against the RCC can be suppressed. His June 29, 1998, Ad Tuendam Fidem [To Protect the Faith], is a very clear example of his encroaching grasp for legal power. The Catholic World Report has clearly commented on this recent iron fisted decree. If all of this were not simultaneous with his approval of the International Criminal Court, one might lay aside a consideration of his ultimate purpose. But Bible believing churches are being labeled as sects, while the RC system itself in the USA is now being held to more rigorous standards of obedience. Europe is already for the most part won for Rome. The present reinforcement of canon law leaves very little to the imagination. While adding that "close Church-State relationships largely a thing of the past today" [sic], the official commentary tells exactly how Rome has implemented her penalties in the past. "Frequently the Church had recourse to the secular arm to enforce its own discipline, and at times Church authorities implemented distinctly secular or civil penal orders." Most of the precursors to persecution are already in place. Scripture warns believers to be ready for persecution. "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." The history and pattern of Romes tyranny in the past testifies to this.
The desire of the European Union to incorporate "Christian" influence into a "Europe undergoing unification" is shown by the following quotes from the Catholic International magazine,
"Commission chairman Jacques Santer said the EU had shown its readiness to recognize the specific role of Churches in its October 1997 Amsterdam Treaty. However, he added that this should be seen as only a first step towards strengthening the EU-Church ties.
"Churches are called to give sense to a Europe undergoing unification', the chairman continued. "Although we cannot really speak now of a Christian Europe as such, Christianity is still putting its mark on Europe, and a Europe without Christianity remains unthinkable.
"The address follows calls for a new quality in EU attitudes to Churches by the German head of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (COMCE), [Roman Catholic] Bishop Josef Homeyer, issued during a June meeting with Santer in Brussels.
"...Catholic leaders have complained that current EU-Church contacts still provide no input into policy making...Bishop Egon Kapellari, also cautioned that attempts to push Churches to the margins could impede the creation of a common, spiritual Europe.
"...[Jacques] Santer said Churches deserved to be a "privileged partner" of the EU..."
Three points are noticeable here. First, "Catholic leaders" desire input into "policy making". The historical analysis provided by this paper demonstrates that political involvement by the Roman Catholic Church in European State affairs may inevitably result in the persecution of Christians. Second, in the political statement made by Jacques Santer (the head of the European Union Governing Commission) on the "specific role of Churches", the term "Churches" probably means the Roman Catholic Church in partnership with the European ecumenical churches. The Catholic Church has been historically and still is today by far the largest church in Europe. Therefore its policies, including canon law, are likely to be the dominant influence in giving the EU "sense" in the "privileged" partnership. Third, the Amsterdam Treaty is now part of EU law and Jacques Santer envisages the treaty "as only first step towards strengthening the EU-Church ties". History seems to be repeating itself.
Torquil Dick-Erikson of the Critical European Group (CEG), a group of academics and students interested in scrutinizing the EU, writes,
"Corpus Juris" is a plan prepared by the EU Commission (XXth DG) at the request of the European Parliament, to tackle fraud against the EU budget. It will set up a European Public Prosecutor, on the continental inquisitorial model, who will have over-riding jurisdiction throughout Europe, to instruct national judges to issue arrest warrants against suspects, have these held in custody and transported to other countries in Europe for up to nine months pending investigation¾with no obligation to produce prosecution evidence and no right to a public hearing during this time.
"The cases are then to be tried by special courts, consisting of professional judges and excluding simple jurors and lay magistrates. They will be empowered to hand down sentences of up to seven years.
"It is the expressed intention of the EU Commission, and of the President of the EU Parliament Don Gil Robles, for this system to be an embryo European criminal code, later to be extended to all kinds of crime. On November 8th and 9th, 1998, there was an Inter-Parliamentary Conference in Strasbourg, where the Corpus Juris project was put forward for informal consideration. Fourteen member states expressed general agreement with the idea."
It is interesting to note that the European Union is considering legislation that seems to partially resemble historic Roman Catholic Church judicial practice. Is this a coincidence? Or is history repeating itself?
As in the past, so also now the Roman Catholic Church needs civil authorities to enforce her dictates. Thus it is no surprise to see her strongly endorsing the International Criminal Court. Catholic International magazine, in an article entitled "The Higher Goal of Reconciliation", reports on the remarks of Archbishop Renato Martino (the Holy Sees permanent Observer to the United Nations) made in Rome June 16, 1998, at the Diplomatic Conference for the Establishment of an International Criminal Court. Archbishop Martino pointed out nothing new but rather something to which all could seemingly agree,
"As Pope John Paul has stated, Within the international community the Holy See supports every effort to establish effective juridical structures for safeguarding the dignity and fundamental rights of individuals and communities. Such structures however can never be sufficient in themselves; they are only mechanisms which need to be inspired by a firm and persevering moral commitment to the good of the human family as a whole."
Although the Roman Catholic Churchs record is consistently one of absolute tyranny contravening rather than "safeguarding the dignity and fundamental rights of individuals", as the Archbishop undoubtedly knows, the RCC nevertheless sees herself as the only authority on morality. This position, so clearly codified in her extant canon law, implies that the Roman Catholic Church sees herself as the one whose right it is to define ultimately what is for "the good of the human family as a whole". Thus it is not difficult to see that her interest in an international court of law is a distinctly vested interest. It is noteworthy that the Holy See has a delegate to the World Association of Jurists. Thus Catholic canon law may be influencing the judiciary on a global scale. The article continues,
"Those who are responsible for violations of the most heinous crimes which offend the conscience of the human family, the crimes which will fall under the jurisdiction of this Court, must be made to accept their responsibility in accordance with universal norms Any structures or rules which could lead to decisions about guilt or innocence that are based upon political rather than juridical considerations have a questionable role in the proposed statute."
The Roman Catholic Church talks of "heinous crimes which offend the conscience of the human family", but nowhere in the statement does she see fit to mention that these "heinous crimes" offend the Holy and Just Lord God. Since the Church of Rome declares that her laws, including those defining heresy, are "irreformable", the statement that "those who are responsible for violations of the most heinous crimes which offend the conscience of the human family...will fall under the jurisdiction of this Court" is ambiguous enough to include eventually those things which offend the RCC regarding what she calls heresy.
The December, 1998, issue of the Catholic World Report carries an article entitled "Evaluating the Inquisition". A three-day conference was held in Rome during the final weekend of October, 1998, to which "experts from around the world were invited by Vatican officials to reflect on the history of the Inquisition." Whether only Roman Catholic experts were invited is not reported, but it was noted that "most of the conference was held behind closed doors, to encourage free discussion among the assembled scholars." The occasion for the conference is a "response to the challenge issued by Pope John Paul II for an examination of conscience by the Church in preparation for the coming millennium." The Pope remarked that the purpose was to "provide the Holy See with a complete and accurate understanding of the Inquisition."
In meeting with the participants, Pope John Paul II said, "The problem of the Inquisition belongs to a tormented phase in the history of the Church, which I have invited Christians to examine in a spirit of sincerity and open-mindedness."¾which invitation must be seen in the light of his latest motu proprio (June, 1998) that severely limits "open-mindedness", as does Canon 1369 (above). The Pope goes on to point out that the historians "are not being asked to make an ethical judgment¾which is beyond their competence¾ but to help reconstruct, as accurately as possible, the events, practices, and mindset of the Inquisition in its historical context." The Pope is unequivocally reserving to himself the domain of moral judgment¾perfectly aligned with Canon 1404, "The First See is judged by no one."¾so that in due season, the Pope will have the final pronouncement as to what one is to believe concerning the Inquisition, and the Reformation, it might be added.
The Pope continues in carefully chosen words when, in referring to his apostolic letter, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, he says that the Inquisition is "another painful chapter to which the children of the Church must return with a spirit of repentance over the acquiescence...to the methods of intolerance and even violence in the service of truth." About whom is he speaking? Dominican Georges Cottier, theologian for the papal household, also speaking at the conference, clarifies the matter by first stating that "the Popes call for an examination of conscience" is "a matter of seeking purification of memory." He counsels, "Requests for pardon [from God] are appropriate...whenever the faithful of the Church acted in ways that are inconsistent with the Gospel, in effect giving scandal rather than evangelical witness." Lest the Holy See should fall under the judgment of the world, however, the Dominican theologian explains, "It is critical to preserve a proper understanding of the distinction between the Church, which is holy, and her children, who are sinners. The Church herself need not ask for forgiveness; rather the Church asks forgiveness for her wayward children....In this respect the Church is quite different from the modern societies which, confronted by the collective crimes of our century show an amazing amnesia, as though the events...can safely be ignored." Clearly, the Pope plans by his conferences and papal judgments to put behind the RCC, if he can, the six hundred years of "the most heinous crimes which offend the conscience of the human family" or the Inquisition, and with it, the Reformation.
Roman Catholic leaders, then, are very clear in their assessment that the most serious threat to Romanism itself is the Biblical fundamentalist. In his book, Report on the Church: Catholicism After Vatican II, Richard P. McBrien states,
"The real challenge to ecumenism that affects Christians at the level of everyday life is that of biblical fundamentalism, embraced now by many thousands of Catholics and ex-Catholics...Biblical fundamentalism may be the single most serious threat to Catholic faith in the United States and in Latin America today..."
The bottom line is that while the RCC understands very well the position which is held by "biblical fundamentalists", many biblical believers today are totally unaware of who Rome is. The Bible speaks clearly on what Rome is; history fulfills the Bible message. Once Rome has civil power again, history will more than likely be repeated. To look elsewhere for the Man of Sin and the Son of Perdition is not simply to ignore the testimony of Scripture. The ramification of such error regarding Scripture is to render one dangerously unknowledgeable regarding history and therefore easy prey to deception.
All that has been outlined here must be measured in the light of who God is and His purposes in allowing apostasy and persecution. The true believer must compare everything to the Infinite All Holy, Unchangeable, All-Powerful, All Knowing, and All Wise God. The confidence believers have in the Lord is similar to that of David as he weighed the might of Goliath against the True God. "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied." It is the Lords task to consume the wicked with His power. "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming."
The Lord in His Word has foretold the destruction of Antichrists reign; the Word of the Lord will reduce it to nothing. The Antichrist will be completely and in every respect destroyed on the final day of the restoration of all things. Christ will be manifested from heaven as the Judge. In the meantime, the victory of the gospel Word is seen for those who wait on Him. His power has always been greatest in the day of utmost need. The character of God in His gracious Gospel is "the spirit of his mouth". This has been understood and lived out as "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." We see his power as we boldly proclaim His graciousness, every individual who is saved "being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
Our prayerful duty is to fear the All Holy God, to obey His great commission, and to trust His victory now and hereafter. "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
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