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POPE GIVES APOLOGY TO ALL INJURED BY CHURCH
Pope John Paul II has made over a hundred confessions of Christian failure. Both Catholics and non-Catholics are a little weary and wary of all this apologizing. John Leo, in March 27, U.S. News & World Report, said, "Thatís nice, but can you please be a bit more specific?" Perhaps John Leo and many like him do not understand the present Popeís dilemma. It is hard to apologize for some sixteen centuries of very cruel and terrible history. This is especially difficult when one must apologize for those who were supposed to be the vicegerents of Christ on earth. How could Christís representatives have such a bloody and merciless history? His task is even more difficult when he must confess this long and dark history without acknowledgment of guilt. Somehow sins just happened but there are no specific sinners. Everyone of sound mind is sorry that these terrible things happened, but how does this help?
A historic confession in a formal theological statement, "Memory and Reconciliation," made by the pontiff at St. Peterís Basilica in Rome and various cardinals was built into the liturgy of a papal mass. The church has begun to face up to the sins its members have committed through the centuries. However, those that committed many of these sins are long since dead and as far as anyone knows never acknowledged their sins. Some have been canonized as saints. What difference does sin make anyway? Can the present pope cast a mantel over the centuries past that will cover all the churches sinful acts?
An apology is better than no apology. At least there is an admission of wrong doing that injured, perhaps more correctly, killed, maimed, tortured, persecuted and relentlessly pursued those stalwart souls who stood apart from the corruption and vice of enthroned papal splendor. In some countries the persecution was so terrible that the Protestant Reformation could not take root. Spain under Muslim rule was an advanced nation in medicine, science, and cultural freedom.
When the Catholic Church came to power in Spain this all changed into a totalitarian state, driving Jews and Muslims out. The Holy(?) Inquisition, the most cruel and diabolical torture ever devised by man flourishedólet no man call this Christian love. Science and freedom of every kind withered, while the church and state exercised totalitarian control over every aspect of society. This brought about the Dark Ages as all of Europe succumbed to the same authoritarian rule.
In 1160 Peter Waldo, the earliest reformer, started the movement that became known as the Waldenses. The papal authorities drove the Waldenses, women and children, out of their homes in mid-winter without food or sufficient clothing. Anyone who sheltered them or offered them refuge would be killed. Later, Wycliff, Huss, Zwingli, Tyndale, Luther, etc. provided the momentum to start and consummate a reformation in Europe.
The Catholic Church is painfully aware of its very dark history. Let no one think this applies only to ancient times. In our lifetime, we saw the Catholic Church in league with the Nazi-Fascist regimes that overran Europe while trying to raise the Nazi flag over the whole world. The Naziís deliberately murdered some six million Jews and Gypsies in death camps. Did the Catholic Church protest the death of innocent people? No! Yet the present pope intervened to save a murderer from a death sentence. They also operated the
"Ratlines" after the war that provided false passports to countless thousands of Fascist criminals who then were sent to South America to escape prosecution for their war crimes. When the Naziís invaded Russia they made no provisions for the captured Russians. Their homes were burned and destroyed and thousands and tens of thousands were left to die without shelter or food in open fields. Did Pius XII protest against this inhuman treatment? Pius XII signed the Lateran Treaty with Italy and the axis powers in 1929 and never renounced it. Over fifty million people died because of Axis aggression.
Does the present pope really own up to the churches responsibility? Does Confession of Sin Release from Punishment? Somehow, the idea is promoted that confession of sin automatically brings forgiveness with an automatic release from all punishment. When a man confesses to murder does society release him from punishment? No! When God passed before Moses he proclaimed, "The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty" (Ex. 34:6, 7). As Abelís blood cried out for retribution, so all the righteous blood that has been shed cannot go unrequited.
When David sinned by coveting his neighborís wife, by taking his neighborís wife, and by killing his neighbor it did not go unnoticed by God. While the Lord did forgive David and he did not die for these sins, yet his punishment may have been worse than death. God said, "therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house" (2 Sam. 12:1-14). David lived to see his son, Absalom seek his life, the nation leave off following him; his kingdom divided and experienced continual warfare. David showed greatness of character in living down his sin and showing a lifetime of contrition. Godís forgiveness in no wise cleared the guilty.
"Garnishing the Tombs of the Righteous"
The religious leaders in Jesusí time came under his scathing criticism. He said, "Ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up the measure of your fathers" (Matt. 23:29-33). The very arguments they used to show themselves above the vices of their fathers was the very same argument Jesus turned upon them. They were the "children" of those who killed the prophets and in line for punishment. God has kept record of all the righteous blood spilled, and not one drop will go unrequited.
In Revelation we read about souls under the altar, that is in the ashes, crying out, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, doest thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth" (Rev. 6:9,10)? In Revelation 16:4-7 we read of when finally the righteous blood is brought into account. "Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shall be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. Ö Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments."
The present confessions of the church will not absolve centuries of spilling righteous blood. They are only admitting that they are the children of those who spilled all this blood and caused all this pain to so many for so long. If they are truly penitent, they should be willing as was David to take humbly and graciously the punishments of the Lord, which will surely overtake them.
Three Crusades to Take the Holy Land
Referring to the Crusades and the Inquisition, the papal, "Memory and reconciliation, says, "Isnít it a bit too easy to judge people of the past by the conscience of today Ö almost as if moral conscience were not situated in time?" John Leo says, "Correct answer: No. Many of the valiant crusaders used to warm up for their long trip to the Holy Land by butchering some local Jews, just for practice. The Christian moral conscience should have judged acts like these just as clearly in 1099 as the pope and most of the world would today." One of the definitions of love is: "Love is kind." We should never hold anyone who claims to be the vicegerent of Christ to a lesser standard. Let us never forget that the papal Crusades against the Holy Land were driven by the express purpose of securing Jerusalem. Every Bible student, even a neophyte, knows that the Kingdom of God must be founded in the possession of Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:3 says, "For out of Zion [the place of Davidís throne] shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Rome will not do. The Bible never ever associates Godís Kingdom with Rome. Remember, Jerusalem "is the city of the great King" (Matt. 5:34,35).
After three crusades that failed to gain Jerusalem for the papal powers, we now find the present pope trying to wrest the Holy City away from the descendants of Abraham. If the papal powers had taken the Holy City in their Crusades, it is doubtful if they would be eager to share the Holy City with Arabs and Jews today. However, if they canít possess that city they do not want the Jews to have it, even though never has there been greater religious liberty in that city than now. Every Bible student knows that when the Jews possess the Holy City the Kingdom of God on earth cannot be far off. The Catholic Churchís claims to be Godís Kingdom on earth are hollow unless they possess Jerusalem. Consequently the pope is trying to wrest Jerusalem from Israel by making it an international city. If they canít have it, they are desperate to take it away from the rightful heirs of that city.
Three Crusades failed to take Jerusalem and the present popeís Crusade to take the Holy City by diplomacy will also fail. Jesus said, "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). The real reason why the papacy has bitterly persecuted Jewry is out of fear of the truth that the Kingdom of God is to come through the Jews. What happens to the papal claims to be the Kingdom of God? Rome just doesnít cut it as the Kingdom of God. Even Jesus said, "Swear not all, neither by heaven; for it is Godís throne: nor by earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King [Jehovah]" (Matt. 5:34, 35).
When King David finally confessed his sin, he said, "I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Sam. 12:13). All sins are against God, but sins of murder are sins that cannot receive acquittal by a mere confession of guilt much less by a general apology for wrongdoing somewhere at sometime. The present pope means to show that the Catholic Church is not presently engaged in mass murder and torture of those who possess another faith. That is welcome. However, it is in vain for him to think that tens of thousands, yes, even millions who have died because of the Catholic Church's involvement, to expect acquittal by God. If there is a God in heaven righteous blood must be accounted for with just punishment. It is not in the power of people or nations to grant the Catholic Church acquittal from their sins. Only God can do this, and he has said he "will not clear the guilty"ónever. The Lord chose to allow guilt to accumulate to avoid blotting out whole generations. As the Israelites were destroyed in the wilderness over a forty year period, allowing them to raise their families as the next generation. Jesus said to the Jews, "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom he slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation" (Matt. 23:35, 36). God simply tallied up the total bloodguilt as an adding machine, and required payment of the Jews in the overthrow of nation in CE 70. This is the pattern that will be followed at the end of this age as well.
This is not what many want to hear, but God will not be mockedórighteous blood spilled must be at last be accounted for. Not only has the pope been making a lot of apologies lately, but also he has set the stage for greater ecumenical movement between Catholics and Protestants and among Protestants themselves. What will come of all this activity? Read this online twenty-one page booklet, Church Union and the AntiChrist: The Ecumenical Movement in Godís Plan, available from our Literature List.
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