The pope releases his most radical document yet.
Never has a declaration from the pope been more hotly anticipated. The leaking of an early draft of Pope Francis’s latest encyclical—an official addition to Catholic doctrine—certainly helped. The fact that it deals with global warming means that it has been discussed across many media outlets that rarely pay close attention to papal pronouncements. Britain’s left-wing Guardian newspaper even published whole sections of it and live-blogged its release.
This suits the pope’s purpose for the document perfectly. In his introduction he makes clear that, unlike his last encyclical, he is not just writing to members of the Catholic Church. Instead, he writes, “I would like to enter into dialogue with all people.” The Guardian called it “the most astonishing and perhaps the most ambitious papal document of the past 100 years.”
It’s a bold aim for a bold document. Following on from the pope’s earlier criticism of capitalism in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), it is a subtle bid for much greater Catholic control over the global economy, global politics and even the whole globe in general.
This new encyclical, called Laudato Si (Be Praised), is the pope’s plea to humanity on behalf of “our sister, Mother Earth.” A good chunk of it deals with global warming. But there is also much on the many other ways man is destroying his planet, through means like pollution, shortages of fresh water and the general “self-destructive” behavior of mankind—warnings that would not be out of place on the Trumpet website. This warning especially could almost have come from a Trumpet article:
It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars, albeit under the guise of noble claims. War always does grave harm to the environment and to the cultural riches of peoples, risks which are magnified when one considers nuclear arms and biological weapons.
The pope also warns that “people no longer seem to believe in a happy future; they no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities”—adding that it has become clear the science does not have all the answers. He addresses “the crisis of family and social ties”—calling family the “basic cell of society.”
But it is when Francis gets to the solution of these problems that his letter is most dramatic. Once again, Francis places the blame for both the coming environmental crisis that he foresees, as well as world poverty, on the shoulders of “the current global system, where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain.” There is some truth to this—man’s current system is far from perfect—though it ignores the fact that communism has had more than its fair share of environmental disasters and does much less to help the poor.
And the solution? As soon as Francis starts addressing this subject in Chapter 5 of his letter, he calls for a radical new power to be given control in the world.
This is the heart and core of this document’s message—not the global warming debate that has taken up so many newspaper columns. Francis writes that we must think of “one world with a common plan.”
Here he builds on the previous pope’s, Benedict xvi’s, radical call for a “world political authority” in one of his encyclicals. Benedict’s statement is dramatic and worth quoting in full—as Francis does:
To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration: for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John xxiii indicated some years ago.
This is the genius of Francis. He has exactly the same message as Benedict, but takes it to a much larger audience. Benedict never had his encyclicals printed in the Guardian or endorsed by left-wing journalists.
But Francis’s call goes beyond utopian dream. It is much more specific than some kind of airy-fairy new world order. He also uses language that is very practical. He says that “enforceable international agreements are urgently needed” and talks about “global regulatory norms.”
”The 21st century, while maintaining systems of governance inherited from the past, is witnessing a weakening of the power of nation states, chiefly because the economic and financial sectors, being transnational, tends to prevail over the political,” he writes. “Given this situation, it is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions.”
Last year, in his Evangelii Gaudium, Francis published what was referred to as his call for “the overhaul of the financial system.” He condemned “unfettered capitalism” and said that the world’s economic system had failed the poor. At the time we wrote about the radical nature of the pope’s letter, but noted, “Pope Francis has yet to present a detailed, overt action plan for the global economy.” Laudato Si is closer to being that action plan. Where do you start overhauling the world’s financial system? The pope’s answer is to empower international institutions and create new international regulation with teeth.
This is not simply the pope’s opinion. It is more like a declaration of intent: He plans to get straight to work building these institutions. In three months’ time, the pope will be a key speaker at the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Summit. During the same trip, he will also be the first pope to address a joint session of the United States Congress. The Guardian notes:
The rare encyclical, called Laudato Si, or “Praised Be,” has been timed to have maximum public impact ahead of the pope’s meeting with [President] Barack Obama and his address to the U.S. Congress and the UN General Assembly in September.
It is also intended to improve the prospect of a strong new UN global agreement to cut climate emissions. By adding a moral dimension to the well-rehearsed scientific arguments, Francis hopes to raise the ambition of countries above their own self-interest to secure a strong deal in a crucial climate summit in Paris in November.
Over the next few months the pope will be speaking to the most powerful national body (the U.S. Congress) and the most powerful international body (the UN) to try to put these goals into practice.
The global economy still has not recovered from the economic crisis of 2008. The situation in Greece could plunge Europe into more than just a financial crisis at any moment. There are a whole number of problems that could push the world into the abyss. And at this crucial decision point, the pope is driving his way forward.
Over the weekend, the pope exposed more details about the new world system he would like to create. He showed that he has nothing but contempt for the major powers that dominate the world today—mainly America and Russia.
On Sunday he condemned these “great powers” of the world for not bombing the Auschwitz supply lines during the Second World War. He also condemned the “great powers” for “looking the other way” during the Armenia genocide 40 years earlier.
These statements by Pope Francis are astonishing. He is the head of a church that looked the other way during the Holocaust. Actually, it is far worse than that: The Vatican sided with Hitler. Even the most ardent supporters of Pope Pius xii have to admit that he never spoke out against the Holocaust. (For more information on his role in World War ii, read our article “Was Pope Pius xii Pious?”) Yet his successor criticizes the Allies for the way they fought and sacrificed millions of lives to bring that Holocaust to an end, and accuses them of being too weak to speak out.
Pope Pius’s role in the war is controversial, and there is not space for a full discussion here. But to sum up, here is a statement that even the pope’s supporters would find hard to deny: Without the “great powers,” the Holocaust likely would not have ended until the Nazis had killed every last Jew within their reach. And here is another, perhaps more controversial but equally true: Without the Catholic Church, Hitler would probably not have come to power in the first place. Certainly Hitler would have had far less power without his alliance with the Catholic Church!
These “great powers” are the ones that built the current world order. It was the Allies—Britain, America, the Soviet Union and France—that received the first permanent seats in the UN Security Council. The UN itself and many other global bodies are of their design. Yet when the pope speaks from “the heart,” as he said he was doing over the weekend, his words are filled with hate and anger against these powers.
Pope Francis plainly wants a different order, with different nations in charge—guided by the Catholic Church.
Would a Catholic world government be better? The Catholic Church ruled Western civilization for hundreds of years, and during that time—to put it mildly—the plight of the poor was much worse than it is today. The Catholic Church quite plainly did not manage to solve man’s problems back then.
Six times in history the Catholic Church has dominated a major power; each time it ended in catastrophe. In the sixth century a.d., the Emperor Justinian revived the Roman Empire as a Catholic theocracy. The church’s ensuing crack down on heretics and its other enemies meant that the “the whole Roman Empire was a scene of massacre and flight,” as one contemporary writer put it.
As the Byzantine Empire dwindled, the Catholic Church formed an alliance with the Franks under Charlemagne, or Charles the Great. The result? The Encyclopedia Britannica notes: “The violent methods by which this missionary task was carried out had been unknown to the earlier Middle Ages, and the sanguinary [bloody] punishment meted out to those who broke canon law or continued to engage in pagan practices called forth criticism in Charles’s own circle.”
The Church struck a similar relationship with Otto the Great and his descendants in the 10th century. Once again, “[c]onversion was by the sword,” as Friedrich Heer wrote in his book The Holy Roman Empire. Shortly after this time the church began launching crusades in the Holy Land that ended in massacre after massacre.
Beginning in the 15th century, the Catholic Church held sway through the Habsburg Empire, where they killed, or caused to be killed, thousands upon thousands of Protestants and used the military might of the empire to spread its religion throughout the newly discovered Latin America. This time, the church’s power came crashing down in what is still one of the most destructive wars in Europe’s history—the Thirty Years’ War. Over 7 million died, and it is estimated that Germany lost around 20 percent of its population. Some may dispute whether the Catholic Church was responsible for the war, but its huge influence in Europe certainly failed to prevent it.
The next great European leader to strike a deal with the Catholic Church was Napoleon. The French emperor initially opposed the church, but quickly saw the benefit of an alliance. “Thus we have the paradox that the convulsion which threatened to engulf Roman Christianity ended by endowing a dying papacy with a new cycle of life,” wrote historian Paul Johnson. “And the papacy, thus reborn, returned to an ancient theme but with a modern orchestration—populist triumphalism.” Finally, after Napoleon’s fall, the Catholic Church aligned itself with Mussolini and Hitler with the catastrophic results that are obvious to all. That’s hardly an impressive track record as an international peacemaker.
Now, under Francis, this church is again bidding to play a role in world governance.
The Bible describes only one church with strong links to “the kings of the earth” and influencing all “the inhabitants of the earth.”
Historically, the Catholic Church has been a major power among kings. The Bible says it will have that role again.
It appears this is what Pope Francis is advocating. He is attempting to set up the church to rule over or influence nations and governments—to make rulings through new “enforceable international agreements.”
Toward the end of his encyclical, Francis goes off on what could look like an unrelated tangent. He starts writing about the benefits of Sunday and Catholic mass. But the pope sees Sunday worship as part of the solution to the problems he brought up. “And so the day of rest [Sunday], centered on the Eucharist, sheds it light on the whole week, and motivates us to greater concern for nature and the poor,” he writes.
The Trumpet, and before us the Plain Truth, has long warned that the Catholic Church would attempt to enforce Sunday worship on the world. Now, as the pope discusses world governance, he brings up Sunday.
The pope’s latest encyclical is bringing to light—and could soon prove to bring to pass—forecasts made by the Plain Truth and the Trumpet for decades, and by the Bible for millennia.
Yet this church will not dominate global politics endlessly. The same scriptures that tell of its great power and reach also say that this church will only rise up one last time.
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