Vatican to the Rescue?
On Monday Rome issued a bold 18-page response to and proposal for the burgeoning financial crisis engulfing the world. According to the Reuter news agency it calls “for sweeping reforms of the world economy and the creation of an ethical, global authority to regulate financial markets as demonstrations against corporate greed continued to spring up in major cities across the globe” (uk.reutres.com/article/2011/10/24/Vatican-economy-idUKL5E7LO1LS20111024). While a Vatican spokesman clarified that the document is not an expression of the pope or the papal magisterium and does not carry the weight of church dogma, it nevertheless bears “an authoritative note” from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (http://www.newsmax.com/EdwardPentin/Vatican-Global-Finance-Plan/2011/10/25/id/415693). I have reviewed the document, posted at the official Vatican news website (www.zenit.com). It is laudable that Rome raises her voice over the plight of the economically disenfranchised. In doing so she sympathizes with the populist Occupy Wall Street movement that has gone global over the last few weeks. And it certainly is within the purview of a church body to call the world to economic equity. But central to this Vatican proposal is the formation of a “supranational authority” (also called the “world Authority” in the document) to guide and lead the world toward a more equitable banking and economic policy and practice. And it is precisely the language of a “universal jurisdiction” and a “central world bank” that concerns me and should concern others who are watching for the apocalyptic endgame. The document proposes that the United Nations become the initial vehicle for economic reform, “on the way to creating a world political Authority.” Who or what that world Authority is beyond the U.N. is not identified in the proposal. But for students of Revelation 13, the prediction that at the end of time there will be a resurgence of the geo-religio-political power of the Dark Ages gives cause for pause. “And all the world marveled and followed the beast” (Revelation 13:3). Those who suggest the Vatican’s proposal is simply an economic policy recommendation need to reread the document: “In this process, the primacy of the spiritual and of ethics needs to be restored and, with them, the primacy of politics—which is responsible for the common good—over the economy and finance” (Zenit, emphasis supplied). So whose definition of “spiritual” do you suppose Rome envisions for the world, whose “primacy” does she seek to restore? Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson concludes this document, surprisingly for apocalyptic watchers, with a discussion of Babel! “The image of the Tower of Babel also warns us that we must avoid a ‘unity’ that is only apparent, where selfishness and divisions endure because the foundations of the society are not stable. In both cases, Babel is the image of what peoples and individuals can become when they do not recognize their intrinsic transcendent dignity and brotherhood” (ibid). But apocalyptic watchers know that Babel is in fact the image of “confusion,” of the human attempt to replace God with itself, of Babylon’s fateful amalgamation of pagan self-worship with a vestige of divine truth. It is that Babylon that Revelation warns will rule the world in the end. And for that reason we who live in the Fourth Watch of history should hardly be surprised with the Vatican’s offer to the world this week. As Jesus warned, “Let those who have ears hear” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 19; 3:6, 13, 22).