THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Around Easter time, Pope John Paul II angered Protestant Christians worldwide when he prohibited a common celebration of the “Lord’s Supper” or “Eucharist” between Catholics and Protestants. The Catholic Church expressly clarified that Catholics are not permitted to participate in such a “common” celebration. As NEWS-Networld reported, the Catholic Church does not consider the Protestant “communion” valid, as Protestants reject the Catholic concept that during the “communion,” the bread and wine literally change into the body and blood of Christ.
An additional distinction has recently been emphasized – the perceived role of the “Virgin Mary” during the “communion.” As Zenit reported on May 5, 2003, it is Catholic belief that Mary is present during each “Eucharist,” stating, “The relation between the Eucharist and the Virgin is an integral part of the whole Tradition.” It was pointed out that the Ethiopian liturgy includes this prayer during the “Eucharist”: “O Virgin, who brought to fruition what we are about to eat and who made to gush forth what we are about to drink. O bread that lives in you: life-giving bread and salvation for the one who eats it with faith.”
In light of these distinctions, one must ask whether the Biblically prophesied unification between the Catholic and Protestant churches could ever come about in a peaceful way.
…Pope’s Trip to Spain
As Zenit reported on May 4 and May 7, Pope John Paul II emphasized during his visit to Spain the need for Spain “to lend its Catholic values to a new Europe.” In his opening address upon his arrival last Saturday, he stated, “Europe, return to yourself. Be yourself. Revive your roots… I am certain that Spain will contribute to the rich cultural and historical legacy of its Catholic roots and values to the integration of [ ] Europe.”
Upon his departure on Wednesday, the pope stated, “The old nations of Europe retain a Christian spirit, which constitutes a whole with the genius and history of the respective peoples… The Church is determined to work continually to maintain alive this spiritual and cultural tradition… ” He “exhorted the Christians of Spain… to preserve and renew continually the Catholic identity that is the nation’s source of pride.” He also stated, “From the moment of my arrival, I had the opportunity to express the esteem that the Successor of Peter has for that Portion of the People of God who – for almost 2,000 years – have been pilgrims in Iberian land and have played an important role in the evangelization of Europe and the world.”
In light of the pope’s and the Catholic church’s recent advocacy for peace regarding Iraq (see below), one must wonder how to understand the laude and honor for the “evangelization” of Europe, that the pope bestowed on a country that has been largely responsible for the brutal murder of Christians during the terrible times of the Spanish Inquisition.
…Serious Concerns Regarding War Against Iraq
As Zenit reported on May 4, the Catholic Bishop Conference of England and Wales adopted the following resolution, “We remembered and prayed for those who have died or have been wounded in the war in Iraq, and for those innocent civilians who have suffered so terribly in the military action and its aftermath… We have serious concerns about the use made of weapons which have an inheritantly random or enduring impact, such as cluster-bombs and weapons incorporating depleted uranium… The Coalition must be no less committed to the ‘waging of peace’ than it was to the waging of war.”
… the Middle East
In the same resolution, the Catholic Bishop Conference of England and Wales addressed the situation between Israelis and Palestinians, as follows:
“Resolution of the crisis in Iraq will be successful only if the international community also devotes itself to promoting the stability of the entire region. No settlement can secure this goal unless the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is justly resolved. We affirm and will continue to support the special mission of the Church of the Holy Land to bring both sides to reconciliation and to assist in the search for a just peace.”
The Bible strongly indicates that the Catholic Church will be instrumental in uniting Europe and in bringing about a temporary “peaceful” situation in the Middle East. The above-quoted comments show that the Catholic Church is indeed aware of, and driven by this goal to bring about those prophetic events.
…Encourages Polish Vote on European Union
As Zenit reported on May 5, the Polish episcopate encouraged the nation to participate in the June 7-8 referendum on Poland’s accession to the European Union. It is stated in a letter that Poland must be “conscious of the role” it “must play within Europe.” Parishioners were also reminded that “during John Paul II’s last trip to Poland he encouraged his countrymen to join the European community. Clearly, the Pope wants a place for Poland in European structures; in defense of the faith, of religion and of Christian morality; in a united Europe.”
It is perhaps somewhat ironic that many Austrian Catholic priests encouraged their parishioners to welcome the Anschluss and Adolph Hitler. The results were, of course, devastating. The Bible prophecies that the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire — the final establishment of a “unified Europe”– will become even more devastating for Europe and the world.