Tag Archives: Pope Francis

THE NEW HEART OF DARKNESS

Pope in CAR

Bangui is the capital of the Central African Republic, one of the worst failed states on a continent of failed states!   Most world leaders are not likely to even think about going there. But Pope Francis has just been there for two days.

It’s one of those African countries that is on the fault-line between Christianity and Islam, a fault-line that runs west to east across the continent, dividing the Islamic world to the north and the Christian world to the south.

After spending Sunday in the Christian half, today the pope ventured into the volatile Muslim half of the capital.  He delivered a message of reconciliation to the city’s main mosque and observed that Christians and Muslims have long lived peacefully together.  He described Christians and Muslims as “brothers.”

Unfortunately, it’s not really true, not in the CAR or anywhere else for that matter.

In point of fact, the opposite is the case.   For 1400 years, since the birth of the Islamic religion, the two dominant religions in the world have been in conflict.   Occasionally, those conflicts have exploded into major warfare between the two.   It looks like we are heading in that direction again!

Marco Rubio, one of the people running for President of the United States at this time, referred a couple of weeks ago to “the clash of civilizations” that has developed between radical Islam and the Christian West.   His comment has been much maligned.   One newspaper dismissed the whole concept of a clash of civilizations by pointing out that ISIS is not civilized, so it doesn’t qualify.

But that’s just the point.   ISIS has a view of the world, which is totally at variance with the view in the West.  We may consider them barbaric, but that does not make it any easier to defeat them, thereby heralding a new kumbaya world order!

Besides, ISIS isn’t the problem so much as Islam.   ISIS is relatively new.   It simply exploits a hatred that’s already there, the hatred of Muslims toward all other religions.   The intellectual elite are fond of saying that all religions are religions of peace, but where is the evidence of this, particularly when it comes to Islam?

Islam means “submission” – the very word is antithetical to what the West stands for.   Salman Rushdie warned more than a decade ago that when a Muslim moves to the West (he said “Detroit”), he is not looking to take advantage of our way of life to better himself; rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard to spread Islam to his new country.   This is why migrants want “sharia” law, rather than to live under the legal system of their new country.

The Hungarian prime minister made a profound comment last week, when he observed, that “not all migrants are terrorists, but all terrorists are migrants.”   That comment was immediately condemned, with people pointing out that many of the terrorists in Europe are home grown.   Yes, but the home-grown terrorists are Muslims.   Some are first generation, some were raised in Europe by migrant parents. The prime minister is right – the Paris attacks and the threat of further attacks stem from a seismic shift in demographics across the continent – whereas six decades ago there were very few Muslims, now there are tens of millions.   This simple equation changes everything.

So long as Europeans and westerners in general see Islam as a peaceful religion comparable to Christianity, it will not be possible to deal with the problem we now face.

Donald Trump is another presidential candidate who has come in for a lot of criticism, especially for claiming that, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he saw Muslims celebrating in New Jersey.   I have to say that I do not remember that.   What I do remember is a brief video of people on the West Bank (Palestinians) celebrating.   I also know that we were not shown that a second time.   In an interview a few weeks later, the chief of the CNN News Bureau that day, was asked why it was only shown briefly.   Her response was that she knew the celebrants were only a few people, that the majority couldn’t possibly feel that way, so she wouldn’t show it again.

Now the video has been recovered from the archives to expose Mr. Trump as a “liar.”   How convenient!   How typical of the liberal media.

Yesterday, one of the Sunday morning news programs interviewed Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who were in Baghdad. Both were advocating 20,000 US troops be sent to Syria to fight ISIS.   The same morning, a one-hour documentary produced by Fareed Zakaria, interviewed the German journalist who is the only known westerner to have spent time in ISIS territory.   He said that ISIS wants US troops in Syria, that’s what they have been hoping for. Once they have western troops in Syria, their home turf, they will have a fulfillment of their long held dream, the apocalyptic battle between Islam and the West, the clash of civilizations liberals deny.

Amongst other things, western forces will boost the number of ISIS volunteers.   Before the US invasion of Iraq, there was no ISIS or al-Qaeda in either Iraq or Syria.   It’s impossible to predict the outcome in the region of western coalition “boots on the ground.”

It’s not just US politicians who do not know how to deal with ISIS.   In Paris today leaders from around the world are gathered to discuss climate change.   Rather than agree a plan to defeat the immediate threat of terrorism, they are talking about the long-term threat from climate change.   They have even tried to link the two, when there is no link.

A century ago, Africa was often referred to as the “Heart of Darkness,” after a novel of that name published in 1899.   Although the story was set in Africa, it wasn’t just Africa that had a heart of darkness; the white hero Kurtz, representing imperialism at its height, was also guilty.   Today, Islam is the heart of darkness, with ISIS, a fundamentalist resurgence of primitive Islam, threatening the peace and prosperity of the world.

But Islam does not have the exclusive patent on violence.

The other major religion in the news with the pope’s visit, is Roman Catholicism. Pope Francis is currently reaching out to Muslims, claiming that Christians and Muslims are brothers.   But that approach could suddenly change.

In 1095, faced with violent attacks on Christians by Muslims, Pope Urban II called on the nations of western Europe to launch a “crusade” to free the holy places from Islamic rule.   The crusades that followed lasted two hundred years.

Far from being ancient history, the Islamic world sees today’s western nations as “crusader states” and Israel as a revival of the twelfth century Kingdom of Jerusalem.   Their medieval mindset has not moved on from that struggle.

It was the Catholic Church that galvanized the nations of western Europe to fight militant Islam.   Jesus Christ warned His followers that “false Christs” would appear before His second coming:

“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”  And Jesus answered and said to them:   “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matt 24:3-5).

In Revelation 6 we see false religion as the first of the four horsemen that bring destruction upon the earth.

The medieval Christian church could be just as barbaric as ISIS.   Beheadings and burnings were common punishments for dissent.

It’s well to remember these lessons of history in the hope that we can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

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THE POPE AND THE PRESIDENT

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis (R) during their meeting at the Vatican March 27, 2014. Obama's first meeting on Thursday with Pope Francis was expected to focus on the fight against poverty and skirt moral controversies over abortion and gay rights.
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis (R) during their meeting at the Vatican March 27, 2014. Obama’s first meeting on Thursday with Pope Francis was expected to focus on the fight against poverty and skirt moral controversies over abortion and gay rights.

The Founding Fathers of the United States could not have imagined such a scene ever taking place in this country.

The scene was played out this morning on the White House lawn. The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, together with a US president of African heritage with a Muslim father and other definite Muslim connections.

Whereas the US was 98% Protestant at its founding, today there are arguably only two faiths that matter – Catholicism and Islam.

Certainly, these are the only two that dominate news headlines.

Just a few days ago, the leading Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump was asked a question by a man who believed that President Obama is a Muslim.   Because he did not correct the man, it is assumed he believes the same way and he has been greatly criticized for it.   Of course, if there’s nothing wrong with Islam, why should anybody get upset if described as being Muslim!

A day or two later, Ben Carson, another Republican candidate, a quiet, reserved and respectful man who is a double minority, both black and a Seventh Day Adventist Christian, was asked what he thought of having a Muslim president.   He was not in favor of it and has since been accused of racism!

Fifty years ago, when Senator Edward Kennedy sponsored the bill, which became the new immigration law, he said Americans would not see any noticeable change in the fabric of the country.   Here we are five decades later in a very different religious landscape thanks to that immigration act.

It doesn’t take a Donald Trump or a Ben Carson for Islam to make the news every day.   Migrants moving into Europe from the Middle East and Africa underline the dysfunctionality of Islamic countries, racked with ethnic, ideological and religious strife.   Under international law, when people flee one country they should register for refugee status in the first country they come to; but international laws are being broken every day as people push their way through borders and barriers toward their number one goal, Germany or Sweden.   None seems to want to go to any oil rich Arab country, which speaks the same language.   One migrant made it clear when he said: “Europeans have more compassion!”

That compassion stems from Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant.   For centuries, monks and nuns provided the only hospital care available for travelers and locals alike.   They also provided food and drink to the poor.

Yes, Christianity and Islam are very different.   Only the Hungarian leader, Viktor Orban, seems to be pointing that out, saying his country does not want the migrants.   Hungary suffered for almost two centuries under Islamic rule, so it’s not surprising that they don’t want Muslims back.  Mr. Orban has said that the massive movement of migrants into the country threatens the nation’s Christian heritage.   For this realistic comment, he is being condemned by the emotional majority more influenced by television images of people pushing further into Europe.

It is doubtful the enthusiasm for Muslim immigrants will last long. Then what?

Catholicism and Islam have clashed repeatedly throughout history – and could do so again.   People in the West have largely forgotten this past history or don’t care.   But that’s not the case in the Islamic world where the term “crusaders” is often used to describe westerners, a reference to the Crusades between Catholic Europe and the forces of Islam that began in 1095 and lasted for two centuries.

There were other less famous clashes between the two.   In the eighth century Muslims invaded Spain and France, until they were defeated in 732 by Charles Martel. His grandson Charlemagne was still fighting the North African invaders decades later.   After the Crusades ended, there were other clashes as the Ottoman Turks advanced westward, conquering islands in the Mediterranean and moving fairly rapidly into the heart of Europe.

The historic rivalry between Rome and the Islamic world will likely be a part of the prophesied clash between the King of the North and King of the South in the last verses of the Book of Daniel, chapter 11.   Earlier this year the leaders of ISIS threatened to invade Rome and kill the pope.

Islam has certainly succeeded in dividing the West in the early years of this century, as both Americans and Europeans hold different opinions on how best to deal with the migrant crisis.   Some are fearful about security while others just want to help, not realizing there are a number of rich Arab countries, which could take the Syrians in.   Not all the migrants are Syrians – a British newspaper revealed last Saturday that only 1 in 5 migrants is a Syrian refugee.   The others are economic migrants and could be sent home under international law.

Is this the end of western civilization, as Mr. Orban fears?   That’s not likely.   What is more likely is that westerners will change their thinking when they experience the reality of greater numbers of Muslims.   Anti-immigrant parties are likely to come to power, promising to do something to restore their countries to what they were.

Islam means “submission,”   In spite of denials by national news presenters, this makes the religion incompatible with the US Constitution, which is based on freedom.   And just as Islam is incompatible with freedom, so is Roman Catholicism, a religion that dominated Western Europe for over a thousand years, until the Protestant Reformation introduced an element of religious freedom.   It was English Protestants who founded James Town and Protestants of mostly British descent who founded the United States.   Today’s Protestants seem to have very little influence in the country, a fact that increasingly threatens religious freedom.

What we saw today on the White House lawn was, in a sense, a profile of three religions – Catholicism, represented by the Pope; Islam, represented by the American son of a Muslim Kenyan father; and Protestantism, represented by the White House itself, the US Constitution, and the soldiers in early American uniforms.

The first two are on the rise – the Church of Rome and Islam!

INTERESTING DEVELOPMENTS IN EUROPE THIS WEEK

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with US President Barack Obama outside the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Monday.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel with US President Barack Obama outside the Elmau castle in Kruen near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Monday. (Reuters)

The week began with the 41st G7 summit, held this year in the Bavarian town of Krun.

The former G8 is now down to 7 since Vladimir Putin started misbehaving himself and invaded Ukraine.   He never really belonged anyway.  The group is made up of the seven biggest industrial powers in the world – Russia was never the eighth.   Even the Belgian economy is bigger than Russia’s.   At the same time, Russia under Putin can hardly be described as a model democracy.

The leaders of the seven seem to have had the usual amicable two-day session, during which they discussed Russia and Ukraine, global warming and ISIS.   President Obama was more than candid when he said that the US does not have a “complete strategy” when it comes to dealing with the terror group.  One year after ISIS captured the city of Mosul, the Administration still doesn’t know what it’s doing!   It’s a good thing the president wasn’t in power at the time of Pearl Harbor – Hitler and Tojo would have won!

Fortunately, there are leaders out there who do know what they are doing and who seem to have a clear strategy.  Unfortunately, they live in Moscow and the Vatican.

Today, the leader of Russia, no doubt sore at being barred from the summit and all that Bavarian beer, met with the Pope in the Eternal City.   This was the second time the two men have met, the first since the Russian annexation of Crimea.   Note what Russia Today had to say:

“The two men champion similar conservative values in a rapidly changing world, as well as concerns for emerging threats to Christianity.  During their last meeting in 2013, Putin and the Pope discussed the danger Christians face in the Middle East at the hands of radical Islamists.

“The meeting is expected to touch upon Ukraine and the civil war in the east of the country.  Pope Francis has been rejecting calls from the Ukrainian Catholic Church to condemn Russia over allegations that it’s fueling aggression, and instead called on all parties involved to cease hostilities.”

Today’s meeting was a test of the pope’s diplomatic skills.  Fresh from a visit to Cuba, which was appreciated in both Washington and Havana, the pope was instrumental in breaking the ice between the US and the communist country.  Can he help break the logjam over Ukraine?

Perhaps more important to the pope is the state of Christians in the Middle East.  Extremists throughout the region are killing Christians at an alarming rate and in a most alarming manner.  Russia’s president has said that Russia will protect them.  The pope has called for world leaders to intervene and use force against those persecuting Christians.  The US president is on record as saying that the US is a “post-Christian” country – he will not be seen to favor Christians over Muslims, reminding people a few weeks ago that Christians did some terrible things to Muslims during the Crusades. At the same time, Christianity is a thing of the past to most western Europeans.

So, what next in Europe and particularly Germany, Rome and Moscow?

Bible prophecy shows that prior to Christ’s Second Coming, there will be a revival of the Roman Empire, in which Rome and Germany will play major roles.   You can read about the revived Roman Empire in Revelation, chapter 17.   History students will know that this union is not improbable.   In 1922, Mussolini proclaimed a revival of the Roman Empire.   After his plans failed, six European nations came together to sign the Treaty of Rome in 1957, pledging to form “an ever closer union”, in effect a nicer Roman Empire, not built by force.

For this revival of the Roman Empire to come into its final form, a German led Europe and America are set to go their separate ways. Clearly, there are already differences between Washington and Berlin, the only European capital that counts.   Germany is witnessing increasing anti-Americanism, which is likely to get worse with the publication of “Schindler’s List.”   Gerhard Schindler is the president of Germany’s BND, the equivalent of America’s National Security Agency (NSA).   He has in his possession a list of people in Germany that his BND has been spying on at the behest of the NSA.

“This list has become a potential time bomb both for Germany’s ruling coalition and for the transatlantic relationship.  It refers to the documentation of millions of “selectors”— search terms for phone numbers, e-mail addresses and so on — that America’s National Security Agency (NSA) has over the years fed into the computers of its German equivalent, the BND.   The Germans monitored these and passed the intelligence back to America.  Under a 2002 deal, the selectors may not point to German citizens, European firms or European Union governments.

“But for years the BND failed to check the selectors, according to parliamentary testimony by Gerhard Schindler, its president. It began doing so properly only after revelations of American mass surveillance by Edward Snowden in 2013.  The BND then rejected thousands of search terms as impermissible, apparently because they aimed at European firms and governments, including France’s. A big question is just how many problematic selectors had got through.   Mr. Schindler says he was informed of the situation only in March.  How much Chancellor Angela Merkel knew is unclear.” (“Germans are angry not only with America’s spies but also with their own,” The Economist, June 6th.)

There is likely to be considerable fallout when the list is revealed.   In turn, this could affect transatlantic relations.

Add to this a growing disillusionment with a do-nothing Washington that is no longer committed to Europe and seems averse to doing anything significant in the Middle East.   This leaves a vacuum in the Western world.   Europe is not ready to fill the vacuum yet, but if the West is to be saved, it must do so.   And do so soon.

Rome will also play a role here.   A revived Roman Empire is not possible without the papacy.   Note the following comment in Time Magazine one day before the pope met with President Putin.

“The Bishop of Rome may not represent the United States or Germany, but he is increasingly a superpower in his own right, and the Wednesday meeting is a diplomatic test of how Francis will use his influence.”

(“Vladimir Putin Tests the Limits of Pope Francis’ Powers,” Elizabeth Dias, Time Magazine, June 9th.)

Little attention is given to Berlin, Rome, or Moscow on American television news programs, but developments in these three cities could affect America’s future and very soon.

POPE CONDEMNS GENOCIDE

Crucified  Christian girls, Turkish Armenian Christian genocide, 1915
Crucified Christian girls, Turkish Armenian Christian genocide, 1915

In a few days, it will be exactly one hundred years since the Ottoman Turks started a genocidal program to eliminate their own Armenian citizens.   An estimated 1.5 million Christian Armenians died in a persecution that continued until well after World War One.   It wasn’t just Armenians.   Assyrians and Greeks, both Christian communities, also perished.

Yesterday, in a mass attended by the Armenian president in Rome, Pope Francis referred to the Turkish action as “genocide”.   Naturally, the Turks see things differently, claiming a smaller number died and that they were simply casualties of war.   There was no deliberate policy to wipe out Christians.   The Turkish Ambassador to the Holy See was quickly recalled yesterday following the Pope’s comment.

Popes have been around a long time, almost 2,000 years in fact.   And the Vatican has a long memory.

One thousand years ago, it was Turks killing Christians that provoked Pope Urban II to call western Europe to arms, launching the Crusades that led to two centuries of conflict between Muslims and Christians.

In 1453, the Turkish conquest of Constantinople ended the Roman Empire in the East.   Persecution and discrimination against Christians followed in Asia Minor.  During a tour of Turkey three years ago, I asked our tour guide three times what happened to all the Christians when the Turks took over.   I never got a straight answer.  My own research concludes that many fled the country, others were slaughtered, and many more were sold into slavery.  Only a small number were allowed to continue to practice their faith.

In 1529 and again in 1683 it was Catholic troops that saved Vienna from conquest by the Ottoman Turks.

Although relations have been much better in recent decades, it was a Turk who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II on 13th May, 1981.

And now the Vatican risks tension between Rome and Ankara by bringing up the Armenian slaughter of a century ago.

The reason for this is probably more due to recent and ongoing events in the wider Middle East.   All over what used to be the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, Christians are being murdered by Islamic extremists.   In Syria, Iraq and Libya the slaughter of Christians continues unabated.

Furthermore, Turkey has not condemned this.

Western leaders have chosen not to address this humanitarian crisis.

Could a pope once again call the West to action against Islamic atrocities?

21 CHRISTIANS BEHEADED IN LIBYA

21 beheaded

Islamic terrorism continues to frighten and horrify the world.

On Saturday, two terrorist attacks in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, reminded the world that Islamic militants don’t like free speech or Jews.

At the same time, video of the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya was posted to the ISIS website, emphasizing that the terror group does not like Christians, either.   An accompanying message warned that ISIS will soon conquer Rome.

The video production was titled: “A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross.”

Pope Francis responded with the following words:  “The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians!”

Francis added: “The martyrs belong to all Christians.”

Almost one thousand years after the Crusades, militant Islam seems set on another major clash with the “Christian” world.   In 1095, following the massacre of 3,000 Christians by Turks in the Holy Land, Pope Urban II rallied western countries to launch a “Crusade” against Islam, to ensure continued access by Christians to the holy sites in and around Jerusalem. The Crusades lasted almost two hundred years, finally ending in 1291.

What is happening now is a build-up to a major clash of civilizations, similar to the Crusades of a millennium ago.

Italy should feel particularly threatened.   The country is only 450 miles from Libya, across the Mediterranean Sea.   It is a gateway into Europe.

The southernmost point of Italy is the island of Lampedusa, which has been in the news a lot recently. Tens of thousands of migrants from North Africa and further south have landed on the island in search of asylum.   From there, they seek admission into other EU countries.   It is quite likely that, hidden amongst genuine refugees, are ISIS terrorists planning on further terror attacks in Europe.

The Director of the FBI warned at the weekend that terrorists could enter the US this way, pretending to be refugees. The same can happen in Europe.

The headline in Monday’s Independent newspaper (UK) sums up the situation:   “The mass beheading of 21 hostages on a Libya beach sees the West’s worst fear made reality: Isis on the doorstep of Europe.”

The beheadings in Libya and the terror attacks in Copenhagen, which seemed to copy those in Paris last month, are a reminder that this is the “new normal.”

They come at a time when the West has no effective strategy to deal with radical Islam and when western civilization is effectively leaderless.

INTERNATIONAL REPORT

Lindt Cafe

Katrina Dawson was 38-years-old. She was described by the London Daily Mail as a “brilliant young barrister (lawyer) and mother of three.” She was one of the hostages who died in the Sydney café that was held up by a deranged cleric from Iran. Another hostage, Tori Johnson, 34, the café manager, also died, shot while trying to wrestle a shotgun out of the hostage-takers’ hands.

The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott apologized to Australians for the failure of security services, in not preventing the incident. The man had a history of violence and was known to be an Islamic extremist.

The perpetrator of this awful crime was an immigrant from Iran, given refuge through the generosity and benevolence of the Australian government and people. Australia’s immigration policies are the root cause of the problem here.   Not even the very conservative Mr. Abbott was ready to call for change.

That means more Australians will die at the hands of Islamic extremists.

Quick to capitalize on the situation, left-wingers started a twitter campaign.

#Illridewithyou was the hashtag, in a campaign to encourage Australians to “adopt” a Muslim on the way to work, so they wouldn’t be attacked by angry mobs.

But . . . there were no angry mobs.

Australians are, in the main, an easy-going people who welcome strangers, including Muslim immigrants. There was absolutely no need for a campaign to accompany Muslims to work.

There is, however, a serious need for changes to immigration policy – and not just in Australia!

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There seems to be a greater awareness of the threat posed by Muslim immigration in Germany, where another demonstration took place last weekend, this time in Dresden. Fears of “Islamization” prompted the demonstration, which some claim was driven by neo-Nazis.

At this point, that is questionable.

But one thing is for sure – if nothing is done to curtail Muslim immigration, modern day Nazis will capitalize on the public’s anxiety and we could see a repeat of the 1930’s.

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The 1950s were very much in the news in the United States this week, as news programs remembered the Cuban revolution and Fidel Castro’s coming to power.

It’s been 55 years since Castro came to power, presiding over the first communist government in the western hemisphere. In 1962, tension over Soviet plans to place nuclear weapons on the island, only 500 miles from Florida, led to a major confrontation between Washington and Moscow and threatened a nuclear conflict.

In 1960, economic sanctions were placed on Cuba by the United States. Those sanctions remained in effect for over 50 years. This week, President Obama announced his intention to restore diplomatic relations with the island nation and request Congress to lift the embargo. Pope Francis had used his influence to broker a deal between the two countries, which included the release of long-time prisoners by both nations.

The sanctions have not made sense for a long time. If the US can trade with communist China and communist Vietnam, then why not Cuba?

However, the president seems to have missed out on an opportunity to push for some concessions from Cuba. Although American companies may benefit from investment and trade opportunities, the greater benefit will be to the Cuban people, who should see greater job opportunities and an eventual rise in their standard of living.

 

RICK WARREN’S CALL TO BACK THE POPE

Rick Warren and PopeRick Warren clearly does not know his history.

The Protestant evangelist and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Church, recently called on protestants to unite with Pope Francis, whom he has referred to as “the Holy Father.”  This news came in the same week as the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Istanbul expressed his commitment to church unity during a papal visit to the former capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

“Christiannews.net” began its report on Warren with the following words:

“In a new video, megachurch leader and author Rick Warren is calling for Christians to unite with Roman Catholics and “Pope Francis,” who Warren recently referred to as the “Holy Father” – a move that is raising concerns among Christians nationwide and is resulting in calls for Warren to repent.” (December 2nd)

In the article, Warren defends the Catholic practices of worshipping Mary and a myriad of saints, saying that Protestants just do not understand what the church is really teaching.

America’s founders would be appalled.

At the time the United States was formed, 98% of Americans were Protestants. Only 1% were Catholic and 1% were of other faiths, including Judaism. Colonial America was “Protestant and virulently anti-Catholic.”  (The King’s Three Faces, by Brendan McConville, 2004, page 7)  The fourteenth colony, Quebec, chose not to join the American rebellion against the crown because they perceived America would be a “protestant republic.”

This anti-Catholicism did not end with the formation of the United States. Anti-Catholic riots continued well into the twentieth century. In 1960, anti-Catholic feeling was a factor in the presidential election, which resulted in the first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy. Concerns were expressed that his loyalty would be to Rome rather than the American people.

Does all this matter any more?

Yes.  It matters for this reason:

For more than a thousand years, the Church of Rome ruled despotically over the nations of western Europe.  The beliefs of the church were and remain unbiblical and even anti-biblical.  The Bible was a forbidden book, denied to all but the priests and most priests could not read.  The struggle for religious freedom and for the Bible itself took centuries.  Brave men like William Tyndale, were put to death by the Church for trying to give the people access to the scriptures.  Even repeating the Lord’s Prayer in English was punishable by being burned at the stake.

There was a gradual proliferation in the number of church denominations after the Protestant Reformation.  The greater number of denominations eventually led to religious toleration, especially in Britain and its colonies.

In addition, the Church was corrupt at every level, partly because it had no competition and there was no free press to keep it in line.  The pope, the cardinals, the bishops and the clergy were all corrupt at times, a direct result of the claim that the pope was appointed by God and that the Church organization was the only way to salvation.  Even today, the official position of the church is that other churches are “deficient.”

Our ancestors on both sides of the Atlantic fought for centuries to be free of Catholic despotism.  The first British settlers chose to settle in what they named James Town as it was hidden from the sea, from Catholic navies that would kill them all if they could find them.  Eventually, it was the British Royal Navy that secured the Protestant ascendancy and guaranteed religious freedom.

We should all be thankful for competition in the religious marketplace.  If there were only one supermarket chain, the price of everything would go up.  If there was only one church organization, human nature being what it is, we would pay an awful price in loss of freedom and the despotism that would follow.

The Church of Rome may appear to be an angel of light but in the right circumstances it could revert to its old ways.  II Corinthians 11:14 warns:   “And no wonder, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”   Our ancestors understood this.

I hope Rick Warren (and the Pope) will do a rethink on church unity.