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Miles McKee Ministries

Is the Pope in Jeopardy?

By Richard Bennett


Amidst pictures of the ailing condition of the Pope, news of an intense power struggle within the Vatican has overflowed publicly.  The serious difficulties reveal ongoing financial corruption amidst ruthless infighting.  These latest revelations regarding the affairs of the Vatican Bank are not startling as the Papacy has a long, long history of financial scandals.  The current one was reported in The Australian on June 18, 2012,


In the latest scandal to engulf the Pope a church official has warned that a ‘time bomb’ is about to explode over mafia money allegedly invested in the Vatican bank.  Prosecutors are investigating claims a Sicilian mafia godfather laundered cash through the Institute for Religious Works [IOR], as the bank is officially known.  The move follows the arrest of the Pope’s former butler and the leaking of files outlining Vatican corruption, cronyism and infighting, in the worst crisis of the Pope’s seven-year papacy.”


Many in the Catholic hierarchy understand the seriousness of the scandal in regard to human life.  For example, the Financial Times noted,


“Three weeks after he was dismissed as president of the Vatican bank and with a secret dossier he wrote now in the hands of Italian investigators, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi is said to be afraid for his life ... A veteran observer and friend of Mr Gotti Tedeschi confirmed reports that he feared for his life - not unjustly, the person said, given the bank’s murky history and mysterious death 30 years ago of Roberto Calvi, former chairman of Banco Ambrosiano, a bank partly owned by IOR that collapsed as a result of fraudulent bankruptcy.  Mr Calvi - the so-called ‘God’s banker’ - was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London, a presumed victim of the Mafia.”  


The real life drama that is happening has been called a time bomb about to explode.  Yet, it is reported that the Pope seems not up to meeting the crisis, an opinion that recent photographs of him corroborate.


“The mood at the Vatican is apocalyptic.  Pope Benedict XVI seems tired, and both unable and unwilling to seize the reins amid fierce infighting and scandal.  While Vatican insiders jockey for power and speculate on his successor, Joseph Ratzinger has withdrawn to focus on his still-ambiguous legacy.”  


The Pope’s Depleted Legacy


The portrayals and descriptions of Vatican City and its Pope leave much to be explained.  For example,   


“Here are a few excerpts from the Reuters’ story: Call it Conspiracy City. Call it Scandal City. Call it Leak City. These days the holy city has been in the news for anything but holy reasons.  ‘It is a total mess,’ said one high-ranking Vatican official who spoke, like all others, on the condition of anonymity.”


On June 5, 2012, the UK Telegraph reported that,


“Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State and the Pope’s right-hand man, said the theft and leaking of compromising documents by unidentified whistle-blowers seemed to be part of a concerted campaign against the 85-year-old pontiff.  ...Exactly who is behind the theft of the papers and letters remains a mystery, but there is widespread speculation in Rome that they are part of Machiavellian machinations at the very highest levels of the Catholic Church hierarchy.”


Some news sources speak of various mysterious scheming against the Pope as the reason why these calamities have come upon Benedict XVI while others are adamant that the Pope should be using his power more actively by taking charge of the situation.  The Australian reports that “…Benedict XVI, 85, implicitly denounced the leaks as the work of the devil.”  The Pope is undoubtedly right on that score, but not primarily from the causes that are presently being named.  Rather from a biblical perspective, the real starting point and reasons for the Pope’s woes are to be found elsewhere.


Some Basic Reasons for Pope’s Afflictions


A basic reason for the Pope’s woes is to be found in his compilation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1994.  Under the authority of Pope John Paul II, as Cardinal Ratzinger at the time, Benedict XVI held the office of Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  In that capacity, he was responsible for oversight and publication of the official Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994).  This was the first universal Catholic catechism in nearly five hundred years, and in it is clearly stated the following dogma that Catholics must believe,


“…the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”


Thus, the eleventh century claim of Pope Gregory VII that the Pope is Christ’s Vicar has been newly expanded in the 1994 Catechism.  What Ratzinger has added is the claim for universal, absolute power for the Pope.


The Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the universal care of redeemed souls into the safekeeping of the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit.  That Ratzinger should lay claim to the office of Vicar of Christ is totally absurd and blasphemous.  The Holy Spirit alone is the Vicar of Christ.  Because there is a direct connection between the redemption of Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, it is a soul-damning lie to credit the role of the Holy Spirit to the Pope of Rome.  Nevertheless, Ratzinger spoke and taught publicly against the Holy Spirit when he claimed that the office of the Holy Spirit as Vicar of Christ is the office of the Roman Pontiff.

 

Also in his Catechism, Ratzinger allowed an immensely significant statement concerning the grace of the Holy Spirit. The exact words of the salient statement are the following,


“The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. ‘Sacramental grace’ is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament.”  


This identification of “Sacramental grace” with the Holy Spirit of God is a formal and explicit sin against the Holy Spirit and must therefore bear the consequences of such a sin.  Ratzinger not only published the statement, he has taught the same publicly.  For example, when he as Pope gave a message for World Youth Day in 2008, he said, “[T]he Holy Spirit is the ‘soul,’ the vital breath of Christian life itself, through the sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.”  Thus instead of teaching that salvation of God is directly given by grace alone, received through faith alone and in Christ alone, the Pope formally ascribed salvation as coming circuitously from the Catholic Church through three papal sacraments.  In attributing to these three papal sacraments the Holy Spirit’s life-giving power of grace, the Pope has again blasphemed the Holy Spirit.  The consequence of such an official dogma is inevitable.  Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is by its very nature an eternal, damnable sin.  


Who is this Pope in so much Turmoil?


Joseph Ratzinger was born into a traditional Bavarian farming family in 1927.  At the age of 14, he joined the Hitler Youth, as was required of young Germans of the time.  Later he was drafted into an anti-aircraft unit in Munich.  He deserted the German army towards the end of the war and was briefly held as a prisoner of war by the Allies in 1945.  He was ordained a priest of Munich in 1951. Later, he taught at the University of Bonn from 1959, and in 1966, took a chair in dogmatic theology at the University of Tuebingen.  In 1969, he moved to Regensburg University in his native Bavaria and rose to become its dean and vice president.  In March 1977, he was appointed Archbishop of Munich.  Then in June 1977, Pope Paul VI appointed him Cardinal of Munich.  


In Rome, 23 years later, he was appointed the head of The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  In that position, Ratzinger issued an official Papal decree called “Dominus Iesus.”  In Section 16 of “Dominus Iesus,” he asserted that, “[T]he fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery belongs also to the Church, inseparably united to her Lord.”  And, “The Lord Jesus, the only Saviour, did not only establish a simple community of disciples, but constituted the Church as a salvific mystery: he himself is in the Church…”  Ratzinger’s claim that Christ’s salvation belongs to – and is “in” the Catholic Church – is a damnable lie.

  Moreover, Ratzinger had already alleged that, “Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.  It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy.”  Such a concept of a supposed inner righteousness by means of a physical sacrament is a lie.  The risen Christ proclaimed, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned.”  Faith is absolutely necessary for salvation; baptism is an ordinance that follows it.  Thus, Ratzinger’s dogma in “Dominus Iesus,” that the “fullness of Christ’s salvific mystery” belongs to the Church of Rome, was and is a soul-damning lie.  He was again attempting to substitute the Catholic Church for the Person and saving work of the Lord Jesus.


Finally, at age 78, Ratzinger was elected Pope.  Thus, on April 19, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI.  From the position of Supreme Roman Pontiff, he continued to decree dogma, while at the same time upholding the dogmas he had already published in the Catechism.  One of these key dogmas is his alleged claim that the Catholic Church can forgive absolutely all manner of sins, no matter how serious.  The exact words of his decree are, “There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive.”  While he still claims that his Church can forgive all offenses no matter how serious, a most pertinent question must be answered: can his Catholic Church forgive his own sin against the Holy Spirit?  Or asked differently, can Ratzinger’s sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit be forgiven by his decree that the Catholic Church can forgive all sins?  


Dilemmas and Hazards Abound


Serious major problems have been stirring up intense turmoil within the Vatican.  Many ask the question: how will Benedict XVI be able to survive?  It may be that he is fearful for his life in a number of ways.  Regarding corruption in financial matters, it is undoubtedly on his mind that Pope John Paul I was only one month in office when he died while addressing Vatican bank corruption charges at the time.  Investigative reporter, David Yallop, alleges in his book, In God’s Name, that Pope John I, Albino Luciani was killed.  Authors of books and articles continue to investigate his death.  For example it is recently reported that,


Yet another book has been written on the suspicious death of Pope John Paul I, this time by a Spanish priest named Father Jesus Lopez Saez.  Building upon the work of David Yallop, Father Saez [states] ‘the precise circumstances attending the discovery of the body of John Paul I eloquently demonstrate that the Vatican practiced a disinformation campaign.’ The Vatican told one lie after another: ‘Lies about little things, lies about big things. All these lies had but one purpose: to disguise the fact that Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I, had been assassinated.”


The Catholic New service Zenit reported that Ratzinger at the time said that, “his death was totally unexpected....at the time of his election, John Paul I seemed to enjoy good health.” Ratzinger was a key figure in the Vatican at the time and certainly knows the facts.  He would also know of strange deaths of other popes.  For example, just a few of the many alleged murders of popes include Stephen VII (896–897) strangled; Stephen IX (939–942) mutilated; John XII (955–964) murdered; Benedict VI (973–974) strangled; John XIV (983–984) starved or directly murdered; Gregory V (996–999) poisoned; Clement II (1046–1047) poisoned; Damasus II (1048) murdered; Pope Pius XI (1922-1929) assassinated.

 

It is reported that Benedict XVI has withdrawn himself from the infighting and power struggle in order to write his book on Jesus.  One would hope that in doing so, he would find the true and living Lord Jesus Christ.  In the meantime, on June 10 2012, the Salon Website reported that,  


“A “reform of the Curia” is probably a contradiction in terms. Its hierarchical, essentially medieval organizational model is incompatible with modern management. The Vatican is an anachronistic, albeit surprisingly tenacious system, in which pecking orders and an absurd penchant for secrecy and intrigue prevail.”


The 605 years of the Papacy’s Inquisition shows the true character of the Papacy.  The  murders – even of its own popes – over the horrific years of its history demonstrate its moral fiber.  The Vatican system has never brought even one soul to Christ.  Rather Christ Jesus’ words are as true for Catholic prelates as it was for the Pharisees to whom He said, “ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”


Conclusion


The Lord withstood the fanatically devout Pharisees with a very strong warning.  They were looking to their own traditions and self-righteousness as ground for acceptance with God.  Because they did not believe that the Lord Jesus was the Savior, He confronted them with the words, “ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”  Like the Pharisees, present-day Catholics keenly believe in the traditions of their Church and its dogmas, such as the dogmas of Pope Benedict XVI.  Thus, like the Pharisees of old, the Lord’s warning applies to Catholics and all other unbelievers.  


By the grace of God alone, true faith alone in Christ Jesus alone saves lost sinners from their sins and transforms their lives.  If you do not have this true faith, you will die in your sins.  Without true faith, which only God can give, you cannot be saved from the power of sin; therefore, most certainly, you will die in your sins.  Your biggest question, therefore, is how can anyone be right with God since everyone is born with a sin nature?  The answer is to trust on Jesus Christ’s perfect life and sacrifice as the only remedy for your sin problem.  The Lord Jesus Christ died in place of those who are trusting on Him alone.  His life and finished sacrifice alone are the only ransom for the believer.  “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”  Jesus Christ was the supreme example of one who manifested true greatness.  He who is God’s Messiah, “the Son of Man,” might well have asserted His right to be ministered to by men.  Instead, He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.  This was the price demanded by the All Holy God in order that justice might be satisfied for the forgiveness of sins.  As a result of this payment, the believer is freed from the bondage of sin and given everlasting life.  The gift of God is the sheer love, mercy, and grace of God.  Because, as the Scripture so clearly states it, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”


The Lord Jesus Christ was personally All Holy; yet as the substitute for the believer’s sin, He rendered Himself legally responsible to the wrath of God.  The purpose of Christ’s faithfulness in all that He did, culminating in His death on the cross, was that His righteousness might be credited to the believer.  God legally constituted Christ to be “sin for us.”  He was “made sin” because the sins of all of His people were transferred to Him.  In like manner, God reckons to the believer Christ’s righteousness.  Quite clearly, salvation is a judicial and gracious act of God, whereby a believing sinner has legal right standing in Christ Jesus.  Thus, by the abundant grace given in Jesus Christ, we are not only redeemed from sin, a believer can live without fear and experience daily joy and thanksgiving.  More and more the believer realizes that he or she is a new creation in the Lord; as His word proclaims, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.


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