Game Changer: Secret Vatican Diplomacy
By Pastor Hal Mayer
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The pope has emerged as the hero in the surprise change in the relationship between the United States and Cuba. The warmer relations between the U.S. and Cuba are the result of 50 years of papal diplomatic work, much of it secret. But the covert diplomacy behind the scenes comes to light every once in a while when something important happens. And these days, the Vatican is quite happy to tell about its involvement when it increases the stature of the church in the geopolitical arena. They are very proud of themselves, to say the least, though they try to talk in pious terms. Nevertheless, their enthusiasm for their own success is palpable. After all, they want the world to view them as the peace broker and the “go-to place” for sage diplomatic negotiations.
Let’s start with a familiar verse of scripture, starting with Revelation 17:1. “And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”
Friends, this is spiritual prostitution. The woman represented here is a church. That’s the meaning of a woman in Bible prophecy. But this is not a pure woman, like you find in Revelation 12. It is an evil woman who is sitting on many waters. What is water in Bible prophecy? We can read about that in verse 15. It says, “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”
Notice too that the woman is riding on a beast. Here it is in verse three of chapter 17. “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy having seven heads and ten horns.”
A beast in Bible prophecy represents a civil government. So here we have a church that is controlling a nation state, and also sits on, or controls multitudes of people.
The woman riding the beast is also sitting on seven mountains. And the Bible in Revelation 13:3 tells us that “all the world wondered” after this church-state entity.
Notice too that the beast has seven horns. Those horns represent kings or powers of the earth. Here is it in verse 12. “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which… receive power as kings one hour with the beast.”
Friends, there is only one entity on the planet that meets this description. And that is Rome or the Papacy. But how does Rome gain this kind of power? How does the Vatican get to the place where she can manipulate and control nations, people, families and language groups?
Proverbs 5:3, 4 has some very specific practical counsel for individuals, but also for nations. Think about these verses in a little different way than what you are used to. “For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”
Don’t you think this is the way the nations get entangled with the Papacy? She kisses them with friendship. She entices them with her charms, political stature, voters that elect her products into positions of power, etc. Yes, it may have sweet benefits at first, but the end is slavery to an evil woman. And the end is bitter and sharp and it leads to perdition. Isn’t that what Revelation 18:9-11 and 15 say will happen to the kings of the earth and the merchants of the earth? They all stand afar off when Rome receives her punishment.
Listen to these verses “And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment… And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more… The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing…”
This is the mystery of her secret diplomacy. It is the mystery of mixing church and state. It all is going to end in one great disaster for Rome and for the nations in collaboration with her. Today, I want to show you something of how this works. I’m sure that we will only scratch the surface, but the pope has many, many tools he can use to manipulate the nations. He has the international influence and power of his office, both as head of state, and as head of a church. His nation state gives the Papacy stature among the community of nations. He speaks in pious terms as if he speaks for God. He has an army of men who secretly work their way into positions of power and influence. He has intelligence-gathering services, which include the confessional as well as his diplomatic corps stationed around the world with almost every nation under the sun. He has at least a billion followers many of whom are more loyal to him than to their own national leaders, and will help him accomplish his goals by their votes, their voices and their actions. He has the ecumenical movement, which brings other churches and religions under his influence and power. No ruler on the planet has as much power and influence at their disposal. There is no earthly power quite like Rome.
Yet it is a tribute to the power of the word of God that Rome hasn’t gained control of the whole world quite yet, like she did in medieval times. Without the clear testimony of scripture against her, she would have had a much easier time of getting to the place where she is now. Her resurrection to the heights of power has been gradual and painstakingly slow (or so it has been until now). Rome can only progress so far as God allows. It is the angels of God who hold back the winds of strife that prevents Rome from immediately regaining all that she has lost during the Protestant Reformation. But progress she has made.
Listen to it from the book The Great Controversy, page 573.
“In the movements now in progress in the United States to secure for the institutions and usages of the church the support of the state, Protestants are following in the steps of papists. Nay, more, they are opening the door for the papacy to regain in Protestant America the supremacy, which she has lost in the Old World. And that which gives greater significance to this movement is the fact that the principal object contemplated is the enforcement of Sunday observance–a custom which originated with Rome, and which she claims as the sign of her authority. It is the spirit of the papacy–the spirit of conformity to worldly customs, the veneration for human traditions above the commandments of God–that is permeating the Protestant churches and leading them on to do the same work of Sunday exaltation which the papacy has done before them.”
Rome has a vested interest in retaining strong support and positive relations with the United States. The Bible predicted this in Revelation 13:11-17 which we’ll read in a moment. Rome’s union with the United States is one of the foundations of her power. If she has the strong support of the United States, she will use it to influence other nations. Even if there are some things that she dislikes about the agenda of America’s leaders, such as unrestricted abortions, same-sex marriage, etc., she can still emphasize things in which they have a mutual interest and that suit her plans and agendas. For instance, Rome strongly supports the new health care law in the United States, dubbed Obamacare, even though there are certain aspects of it that she doesn’t like. The reason the Vatican likes the new Obamacare law is because it centralizes and socializes health care. It is designed to provide more welfare on a grand scale and make the United State more like a welfare state. Rome knows that a welfare state is the best way to control the people and keep them in poverty and under control by fear of their welfare check being cut off. Most goods and services in a welfare state are either provided or controlled by the central power of the government.
The practical outcome of this system is that through the government, the Vatican can then control the people. When the time comes for her to strike, she will have all the power of the state, which will then control everything concerning the national social life, to enforce her plans and worship. She will work on sorting out the things she doesn’t like when a more favorable political climate exists. In the mean time she will work on things that are favorable. Since socialism is part of her agenda to undo the U.S. constitution, she will encourage the administration to press ahead while waiting for a better time to deal with things she considers to be social ills.
But the United States is high on the Vatican’s list of priorities. Just look at Revelation 13:11 and 12. These verses are speaking of the United States of America and how it changes from a lamb-like beast or a gentle nation, to a major world power that eventually enacts laws forcing people to worship the other beast, or Rome, who recovers from the deadly wound. More precisely, the United States eventually forces people to worship in Rome’s way, or on Sunday. That’s where Sunday blue laws come into the picture. They have been on the books for more than two centuries in the United States in many places, but right now they are not enforced. One day they will be and more will be added.
Let me read the verses involved. “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he excerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”
This prophecy is really saying that Rome and the United States work together to achieve Rome’s purposes, namely global compliance with Rome’s religious worship, or Sunday worship.
So, when the Vatican can collaborate with the United States and actually move it, under whatever political motivation, to make an important geopolitical shift to match her goals and then take credit for it, Rome is very satisfied with herself. Plus she has solidified her relationship and influence with the United States more firmly.
Throughout the last half century, Cuba is the only communist nation with which the Vatican did not break diplomatic relations even though Cuba was officially an atheist nation and strongly repressed and restricted the Catholic Church, other churches and Jews. The nation was officially atheist and communist, but the people are mostly Catholic.
But Vatican diplomacy with Cuba and the recent changes in its relationship to the United States has its roots all the way back in 1961 and 1962. Just before the second Vatican council opened, the United States invaded Cuba in what is known as the Bay of Pigs invasion. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion was a weak-hearted attempt by the CIA to put down the revolutionary communist leader Fidel Castro who had been responsible for forcing President Fulgencio Batista, a strong U.S. ally, to resign at the end of 1958. Castro took power in February 1959. Americans were terrified of communism and communists and were in what was known for decades as a “cold war” with Russia.
Russia, on the other hand, was actively seeking to increase its sphere of influence and control from West Berlin to the Caribbean. So, when Cuba became a communist nation, the Americans were afraid that Cuba would provide Russia with an opportunity to threaten the United States from merely 90 miles off its shoreline. The Eisenhower administration and the CIA thought that Russia would never send its nuclear missiles to Cuba. So the CIA hatched a plan to overthrow Castro in 1960 by invading Cuba using 1400 paramilitary fighters. For whatever reasons, the CIA bungled the invasion, which was defeated by the Cuban military. This embarrassed the United States, and at the same time greatly strengthened the hand of Castro who openly proclaimed his intention to adopt socialism and strengthen ties with the Soviet Union.
Now it was Cuba that feared another invasion of the United States. So, it strengthened its diplomatic ties with Russia. In July of 1961, Fidel Castro met secretly with Nikita Khrushchev and asked for missile support from Russia as a deterrent to further U.S. action. Russia agreed to send help in the form of medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. Cuba needed to build a number of missile sites to handle them. Nuclear experts from Russia were sent to Cuba under the cover of agriculture experts, and they went to work building a facility for the nuclear arsenal. The missile sites were eventually discovered by a U.S. U2 spy plane. In addition the soviets had also secretly sent 100 tactical short-range missiles, also capable of carrying nuclear warheads, which the United States didn’t even find out about until well after the crisis was over.
When U.S. President John F. Kennedy learned that the missiles were being sent to Cuba from Russia and set up only a short distance from the USA, within range of most of the United States, he was furious. On October 22, 1962 he went on television to explain the situation to the American people who were frightened of communist expansion. He also moved the U.S. defense readiness condition to Defcon 2, for only the second time in history. He also demanded that soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev remove the missiles from Cuba. Khrushchev refused to do so and Kennedy established a naval blockade against any ships bringing more missiles or supplies for missiles to Cuba. Khrushchev then authorized his commanders to launch strategic missiles should the U.S. attack Cuba.
The standoff was tense, and the tension was palpable as the U.S. and the Soviet Union edged to the brink of a nuclear disaster, which some estimated would have killed up to 100 million people in Russia and 100 million people in the U.S. Millions around the world were glued to their television sets as the showdown unfolded right before their eyes. The U.S. Defense Secretary later estimated that the opening salvo of nuclear war would have killed 2.5 million people.
Meanwhile, the Vatican was busy opening the second Vatican council, which had started on October 12, 1962. The second Vatican Council was going to change the way the Catholic Church related to other churches and religions. It was the Papal council that would establish the ecumenical movement, which would be used as a way to reduce prejudice against the Catholic Church and bring other churches and faiths into close and often personal connection with her. It would change the world and give the pope much more influence and power through the political support of hundreds of thousands through their voices and votes. It would eventually bring many back into the bosom of Rome. But back in 1962, as the geopolitical tension mounted, Pope John XXIII watched with growing anxiety.
When it became clear that the Soviet leader had escalated the crises by issuing launch authority, John F. Kennedy, the first, and still the only Roman Catholic president, who had openly described his vision of an America where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the pope, knew he had to do something desperate.
John F. Kennedy needed something higher, something more powerful than his own nuclear arsenal and political muscle. He needed an over-arching moral appeal; an agency that would speak to higher objectives than mere human passions, and in so doing would give his Soviet opponent an opportunity to compromise without losing face. He needed something that would resolve the crisis and quickly. His only remaining option was the Vatican. When Kennedy realized he had no more tools in his arsenal to use with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, he wrote a note to the pope on October 23, 1962 and appealed for help. Though technically he was not seeking instructions on public policy, he was seeking help. This would bring the United States much closer to Rome’s influence, particularly when the Papacy had extended a helping hand.
The Holy See lays claim to being the oldest continuing international organization in the world. Its Secretary of State was established in 1486. That year it also began to send permanent representatives to Venice, Spain, France and even the Holy Roman Empire. Today, it has diplomatic relations with 176 nation states around the world. It is also the only Permanent Observer State at the United Nations where it is officially neutral, though not silent. The Holy See has the right to address the assembly and make proposals, etc.
The Vatican’s Secretary of State gives it great power with nation states. The fact that the Catholic Church is the foundation of the Holy See gives the Papacy stature above the nation states of the world because it claims to be speaking for God. And the leaders of those nations approach the Vatican for counsel regularly. The diplomatic tie between them makes this possible and provides the Holy See with legal standing between them. No wonder the Bible calls it “fornication.” It is a relationship that has been created by the enemy of souls to sweep billions into the influential orbit of the Vatican to support its global purposes and to eventually establish and enforce Sunday worship on a global scale just as the Bible predicts.
It was the Vatican that influenced the soviet leaders to back off from the 13-day brinkmanship of nuclear war. But it is very interesting how the pope did it way back in 1962. This will give us some clues as to how the Papacy works among the nations of the world.
In spite of strained and tense relations between the Vatican and the Soviet Union, the pope still had influence with the soviet leaders to a considerable extent. They understood that the Holy See had great influence and had to be very careful how they handled such a powerful entity. And all through the cold war, the Vatican played a crucial role in keeping the world at peace. This is a strong demonstration of the powerful religious (or moral) influence of the Papacy. Even atheists respond to it.
After reading Kennedy’s note, the pope began to formulate a message to the two leaders. It had to be something delicate, yet powerful. It had to give Khrushchev a way out. It had to appeal to his higher nature.
During the wee hours of the night of October 23 and 24, 1962, Pope John XXIII shuttled back and forth between his desk and his private chapel. He was attempting to compose a message that would bring Kennedy and Khrushchev into agreement and to avert the use of weapons of mass destruction. The timing was perfect. It was a very still moment, the eye of the hurricane. He knew that his words now would make a huge and decisive impact.
Pope John XXIII wrote a message to both the U.S. President and the Russian Premier and publically read his message on Vatican Radio on October 24. Here is part of what he said.
“We beg all governments not to remain deaf to this cry of humanity. That they do all that is in their power to save peace. They will thus spare the world from the horrors of a war whose terrifying consequences no one can predict. That they continue discussions, as this loyal and open behaviour has great value as a witness of everyone’s conscience and before history. Promoting, favouring, accepting conversations, at all levels and in any time, is a rule of wisdom and prudence which attracts the blessings of heaven and earth.”
These words also made headlines in papers around the world including the official communist daily Pravda. And with his plea, the pope had “given Khrushchev a way out. By withdrawing now, he would be seen as a man of peace, not a coward.” Two days later, October 29, Khrushchev, an atheist, agreed to withdraw the missiles. Kennedy also secretly agreed to withdraw American missiles from Turkey, which the public knew nothing about.
Crisis Magazine, a Catholic journal wrote, “Pope John’s role in the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis is often overlooked, but it was very important…”
Norman Cousins wrote, “Khrushchev recognized that it was very courageous of the pope to act the way he did, given that he has problems within the church just as Khrushchev does in the Soviet Union.” The way the Vatican handled the Cuban crisis apparently improved the attitude of the Soviet leader toward the Vatican. The new element to emerge from the crisis was that Khrushchev wanted regular though private or secret contacts with the Vatican. The Cuban emergency had shown how necessary this was.
The new relationship between the Soviet Union and the Vatican was described as follows. “There was to be give and take in this new relationship: The Vatican should recognize the separation of church and state, and the Soviet Union should recognize that the Catholic Church wishes to serve everyone.”
Khrushchev liked John XXIII. As a result of the resolution of the Cuban missile crisis, it became apparent that the Vatican was the hands down winner. It gave the Holy See a better footing with the Soviet Union. It improved Papal contacts and relationships within the U.S. administration and it gave access to the Cuban leaders in Havana, some of whom are still alive today. In fact, only Fidel and Raul Castro span the whole period. The Vatican’s role averted a devastating war, giving it enormous stature among the nation states of the world.
Because of the pope’s public appeal and the resolution of the conflict over the missiles in Cuba, the Vatican is also credited with the signing of a Soviet and American pact banning nuclear tests on July 25, 1963. President Kennedy called that pact “the first step down the path of peace.” The two nations also established a “hot line” between Washington and Moscow for emergencies.
Pope John XXIII knew he was dying of stomach cancer during the Cuban emergency. Yet he was motivated during the next five months after the Cuban crisis to write and publish an encyclical called Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) in which he tried to appeal to the two superpowers to deescalate the arms race. That encyclical carried considerable influence on many nations. An encyclical is one of the tools the Vatican uses to insert itself into geopolitical tension and conflict. Encyclicals are influential because they are usually used to speak to issues of public concern like the economy, international conflicts and social issues, and draw public support for papal principles, even when their own countries are engaged against them. Encyclicals can, at times, hold the nations in check to a certain extent.
While it is claimed that Rome’s involvement is for a good purpose, and often it is, the Papal voice, used in many different ways and many different settings is still a prophetic marker of Papal power, that “higher power” that claims to speak for God. It is through the appeal to peace that Rome gains credibility and stature with the nations. National leaders know that war is fundamentally wrong. But often their political circumstances keep them engaged in conflicts with other nations. Rome transcends all these and treats them as if she is a higher power. But ultimately, in spite of the humble appearance, Rome is arrogant and is working to bring the nations under her management and control. The Bible tells us that it is not just about peace. Daniel 8:25 says that “by peace he shall destroy many.”
Vatican diplomacy is incredibly powerful. When you think about it in recent years, it was the “grand alliance” between the United States and the Vatican that brought down the Berlin Wall and Soviet communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Germany is united today and is playing a major role in resurrecting the Holy Roman Empire in Europe largely because of Papal diplomacy. And the Vatican continues to press for Europe to conform to its principles through diplomatic backchannels, direct intervention and public appeals. It is no secret to anyone that is paying attention that Rome wants to recover her lost patronage.
As for Cuba, through the last 50 years, the Catholic bishops, particularly from the United States, have provided a bridge between the two nations. The U.S. bishops were continually in touch with the Cuban bishops, who were actively dialoging with both governments. But mostly, the United States remained at odds with the communist nation run by Fidel Castro.
But a change took place in the 1980s. Pope John Paul II ramped up Vatican diplomacy regarding Cuba during his Puerto Rico visit in 1984. Then the Catholic Church, particularly through Archbishop Bernard Law of Boston, began strongly advocating with U.S. government officials against the embargo in place against Cuba. Law also visited Cuba in 1985 and 1989, and began a Catholic aid program to Cuba. This started easing tension between the church and the communist nation. After all, when the Catholic Church with its top echelons of power gets involved, it carries quite a bit of weight.
Then the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Etchegaray made his first trip to Cuba in 1989 and spent nine days there. Etchegaray became the main actor in the warming relations with the Catholic Church. His tour ended with an intimate meeting with Fidel Castro during Christmas week, underscoring the easing of tensions between church and state. Keep in mind that it was important for the Catholic Church to establish its credibility with the Cuban communist regime before the church could insert itself in the negotiations or conduct any intervention with the United States. This process meant that the church had to take the side of Cuba in its dispute with the United States to build friendship and trust. The Catholic Church had such good relations with the United States that it obviously felt that it could manage any fallout over its friendly relations with Havana.
The meeting between Cardinal Etchegaray and Fidel Castro effectively opened the way for John Paul II to visit Cuba, a very bold move, right under the watchful eye of the USA. No doubt there were plenty of diplomatic interchanges with U.S. officials before the visit to calm any fears and clear any objections. Many people thought that perhaps a visit by John Paul II to Cuba would involve a clash with the communist regime like he did with the solidarity movement in Poland some years before. But he didn’t. Pope John Paul II treated Fidel Castro like a legitimate head of state, not a rogue or a pariah. The pope projected an image of friendly dialogue, which was probably as much aimed at the United States as it was to Havana. For his part, Castro wanted to burnish his fading international image and he saw the Papal visit as a very good way to do it, especially with U.S. Cubans. He even wore a suit instead of combat fatigues when he encountered the pope. After the pope left Cuba, Castro restored Christmas, the holiday in which most Christians commemorate the birth of Christ as a public holiday. And five years later, the Catholic Church was permitted to open a convent. The Catholic Church argued that its engagement with Havana was steering Cuba down a more moderate path. And the Vatican was certainly steering Cuba’s future.
In 1992 Havana took a next step that demonstrated a major change in its attitude. It involved a relatively quiet change made to its constitution, perhaps in an effort to let the Catholic Church know that it wanted better relations. The government removed references in the constitution that characterized Cuba as an atheistic nation. This sent a powerful signal to Rome that Cuba was “open for business,” not only with Christianity in general, but with the Papal politic.
Little did Castro realize that he was laying the foundation for Cuba’s part in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Little did he understand that he was being managed and manipulated by a show of friendliness into a position to do exactly what the Bible says he would do, engage in an illicit relationship that the Bible condemns. He did not comprehend that he was being brought into the Papal compass of nation states under the strong influence of Rome.
The Bible characterizes the nations of the earth, and the “kings of the earth,” of which Castro was one, as committing fornication with the wicked woman of Revelation 17 and 18, the Catholic Church. After all, prostitutes are very friendly with their clients. Their clients don’t think there will be anything bad that will come of their illicit intimate activity. And the Bible uses this metaphor to explain the addictive way in which nations are drawn into the orbit of Papal management and control. Rome gives the nations what they want, and in the case of Cuba, Rome was preparing to deliver to Cuba recognition and greater stature on the world stage, and eventually a softer, kinder posture of the United States, in spite of its socialistic and communist policies. Rome was also going to provide Havana with contacts and connections that would bring it back into friendly relations with western states, while continuing its socialist principles.
And the time was right. Soft-glove socialism was soon going to even begin to change the United States into a more socialist society and a welfare state. So, why shouldn’t relations with the United States become friendlier? After all, they were starting to track along the same social path.
Friends, if you want to see where socialism ends up, take a look at Cuba. Not that every socialistic nation ends up in such dire straits. But you can get the idea. Also, all you have to do is look at what East Germany looked like in 1989 at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Look at all the eastern European nations that lived under socialism. Look at Russia itself. Russia would not have power without its oil revenues. Even then, life is far more difficult in Russia than in western nations.
During 1993 the Cuban bishops released a message entitled “Love Endures all Things,” which proposed an open dialogue for national reconciliation. They used this religious message, to make a political statement, a common practice of the Catholic Church. Such statements are designed to influence the people, as well as political leaders into agreeing with the Papacy.
Another meeting between Etchegaray and Castro during Christmas week that year apparently changed the attitude of Castro toward the Catholic Church. Urging an end to the U.S. embargo signaled to Castro that he could trust the Catholic Church as a credible ally and partner in dialogue with the United States. Castro reduced restrictions on the Church.
Then in 1994, the Vatican began a high level, secret diplomatic process between the Holy See and the Cuban administration and progress began to accelerate. In July, Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, then Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Central America, had a private meeting with Fidel Castro in the Holy See Nunciature in Havana. Castro spent two hours chatting with Cuban bishops. It was clear to Cardinal Gantin that Castro would welcome a Papal visit to Cuba. But that was still four years off. Then in 1996 Castro made a personal visit to Pope John Paul II at the Vatican, further strengthening the dialogue, and which finally prepared the way for the pope to visit Cuba in 1998. John Paul was the first pope to set foot in Cuba.
The Papal visit did more than merely disclose the new, friendlier atmosphere between Rome and Havana. It openly revealed the new partnership between Papal diplomats and the communist leaders, with the obvious intent to impress the United States that Rome is far better in healing diplomatic wounds than the only remaining superpower. And thirdly, it made clear to the American administration that the Vatican would work independently of the United States in its relations with America’s enemies. It would take its own tack, which would eventually lead to the collapse of the diplomatic wall between Washington and Havana.
Let’s think about this for a minute. The Vatican continually calls for solutions to global national problems that are fundamentally socialist, such as wealth re-distribution, immigration reform, universal health care, etc. Papal history is clearly in support of keeping the masses poor and collaborating with a very few rich, to keep the people under control through social programs and consequential regulation.
Linking up with Cuba would not be contrary to Papal principles, even though Cuba was officially and legally an atheistic nation until 1992. Rome still had the support of nearly 60% of the population, which is Catholic, perhaps more, if other ecumenical churches are included.
Then in 2008 Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, visited Cuba and met with Raul Castro, who had replaced his brother Fidel. Bertone spoke very kindly to Castro flattering him as in previous meetings with Papal leaders. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba in 2012, he continued the friendly policy toward Cuba, criticizing the U.S. embargo and by refusing to meet with anti-Castro groups. Raul Castro was often at his side publically signifying the importance of the visit.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Cuban-American and a Catholic, rightly observed that the Catholic hierarchy had “negotiated themselves a space of operation” in Cuba.
When Pope Francis was elected to the Papacy, he reignited the work of bringing Cuba and the United States together. What seemed like a surprise to the world in December of 2014 in which the United States and Cuba agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations was not a surprise to the Vatican and should not have been a surprise to students of prophecy. Pope Francis had been secretly and actively engaged in bringing the two sides together.
President Obama had called for normalizing the U.S. relationship with Cuba shortly after he took office in 2009. But most people forgot about it. However, the Vatican had been laying the groundwork for decades.
In early 2013, U.S. President Obama authorized secret talks between the United States and Cuba, which he assigned to one of his most trusted aides, Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser. He also appointed Ricardo Zuniga, the senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs on the National Security Council staff to join him. Initial contacts were made through diplomatic interest sections in Havana, which are managed by the Swiss, communications through the U.S. and Cuban missions to the United Nations, etc. There were seven secret meetings mostly in Ottawa, Canada, but the final one was at the Vatican itself.
The memorial of the famous South African socialist leader Nelson Mandela in December of 2013 drew socialists from all over the world, including Raul Castro of Cuba and U.S. President Barack Obama. During the proceedings, Castro and Obama met and shook hands, in what the media described as a chance encounter. There was no hint that anything bigger was afoot between the United States and its cold-war enemy. Ben Rhodes tried to downplay the matter and dismissed it as nothing more than a hand-shake. Of course, that was untrue. Lying is the nature of politics, particularly when secret things are going on. What the world didn’t know and what Ben Rhodes was trying to cover up, was that negotiations between the two nations had been secretly going on for months, under Vatican guidance. President Obama was attempting to change a difficult relationship that had powerfully challenged American hegemony and had been fraught with complicated issues for 53 years.
Between the 1980s and 2012 Cardinal O’Malley of Boston visited the island nation 13 times to keep up the quiet diplomacy. In March of 2014, at the request of a group called “Beyond Conflict,” Cardinal O’Malley was urged to ask the pope to discuss Cuba with President Obama when they met on March 27. O’Malley agreed and the pope was receptive.
Then in May Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, one of the Catholic Church’s most outspoken advocates for immigration reform, met with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough in May 2014 to press the White House to act on Cuba. As you can see, the Catholic Church knew that the time was near for rapprochement and kept the issue in the forefront of the minds of political leaders in the U.S., Cuba and in Rome.
When President Obama visited the pope on March 27, 2014, they discussed the embargo and the easing of tensions with Cuba as one of the key points in their 45-minute discussion. This was the catalyst for getting Pope Francis directly involved in the negotiations and for making his very rare personal appeal. After that meeting the pope took an active role behind the scenes, stepping in from time to time to preserve the negotiations. He even hosted the final meeting at the Vatican that hammered out the final details of the deal.
During the early part of the summer of 2014 Pope Francis sent personal letters to Obama and Castro urging them to “resolve humanitarian questions of common interest,” especially in regard to the exchange of some contested prisoners. “We haven’t received communications like this from the pope that I’m aware of other than this instance,” said a senior Obama Administration official.
The pope’s secret role in the backchannel talks was crucial because he had the confidence of both sides, which had been nurtured for decades. The Los Angeles Times pointed out that it was because the pope is a religious leader that he was able to “convince both the Obama and Castro administrations that the other side would live up to the deal.”
Finally, in October, 2014, the negotiators met at the Vatican for final negotiations. Key Vatican players directly involved in the final talks included Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, as moderator and Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the archbishop of Havana, who is close to Francis. The pope and his aides again urged the Cubans to go along with the prisoner swap. They also reviewed the steps both sides would take to normalize relations and expand business, travel and other opportunities.
The closing of the deal came off smoothly. On Tuesday, December 16, 2014 President Obama and Raul Castro spoke on the phone and agreed on the steps to be taken to start normalizing relations, which included the exchange of prisoners. This was the first extended conversation between leaders of the two nations since the 1959 revolution that eventually brought communists to power.
“These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” Obama said in Washington when he announced the agreement. “It’s time for a new approach.” The agreement involves an exchange of spy prisoners, the setting up of reciprocal embassies, and the easing of restrictions on American’s travel, money transfers and commerce with Cuba, etc. He said, “[we are] turning a new page in our relationship with the Cuban people.”
John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State and a Roman Catholic, has been tasked with negotiations on re-establishing diplomatic relations with Havana for the first time since 1961. Kerry has also visited the Vatican three times in 2014 and met with his counterpart Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State. During these visits Kerry was pointedly asked to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay where suspected terrorists are kept. And the Obama administration is already following the instructions of the Vatican by renewing its effort to transfer the remaining prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay.
Austen Ivereigh, a British biographer of Francis, called the pope’s mediation “the clincher” that brought the two adversaries together. “It reflected the determination to work on the issue Francis had shown when he became pope in 2013,” he said. “Francis is a genius at breaking through and building bridges across boundaries.”
The Vatican and the United States are far better friends than most people think. “The Support of Pope Francis and the support of the Vatican was important to us given the esteem with which both the American and Cuban people hold the Catholic Church,” one church official stated. “President Obama has enormous respect for Pope Francis and his personal engagement was important to us,” the official continued.
Significantly, the Vatican was the only other nation involved in the discussions between the U.S. and Cuba. And President Obama publically thanked the pope and the Vatican for its assistance in facilitating the start of normalization of the U.S. relationship with the communist nation. He said the pontiff sees “the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is.”
Perhaps President Obama didn’t understand the prophetic nature of his statement. Popes work to change the world and bring the nations under their influence. Keep in mind that the Bible informs us that the Catholic Church wants to sit as a queen atop multitudes of people. Normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba leads to this very result. Let us remind ourselves of Revelation 17:1, which tells us that the “great whore… sitteth on many waters.” Revelation 18:7 tells us that “she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.”
Rome provides stature for national leaders through diplomatic ties and by siding with them on key secular issues. Once there are friendly relations, the Vatican can mediate key differences with other nations and urge them or even pressure them to reconcile. This was the path to the re-opening of U.S.-Cuba relations. And the timing was right. Pope Francis’ letters to both Obama and Castro urging reconciliation prompted the change. Francis key role in the final chapter of the cold war was merely reaping 50 years of diplomacy with Cuba.
“Pope Francis did what popes are supposed to do: Build bridges and promote peace,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, who met with White House chief of staff Denis McDonough in May 2014 to press the President to act on Cuba. The deal was “a real game changer,” he added. Wenski’s statement is really meant to make the pope and the Catholic Church look good. But if you look at the history of the Papacy, it paints quite a different picture. Historically, popes don’t promote peace really. They actually promote war so they can promote peace and thereby impose their own plans on the conquered people.
The Archbishop went on to say that Francis “acted much like his namesake, Francis of Assisi, who during the fifth crusade, went to Egypt to meet with the Sultan al Kamil in the interest of peace.”
But that isn’t what really happened. Pope Innocent III, himself, promoted the fifth crusade, which took place from 1213 to 1221, in an effort to use a united Europe and Catholic Europeans to reacquire Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land. He first tried to conquer the powerful state in Egypt. But the crusade was a disaster. The armies of Pope Innocent were defeated. The peace agreement was really a surrender in order to get captured troops returned.
Rome likes to distort history when it can be done to advantage. So, let us think about Papal peacemaking for a minute. It was the popes that organized many of the crusades against the Muslims in the Holy Land in the middle ages. Those crusades went from 1096-1272 and were an attempt to control Jerusalem. It was the popes who gathered Christian nations together to war against Islam. It wasn’t the popes who built bridges and promoted peace. They were actually the war mongers. In addition, it was the popes who initiated crusades against humble Christians like the Waldenses and the Albigenses and flooded the land with blood. It was the popes who initiated the massacre of St. Bartholomew against the Huguenots in Paris and the rest of France. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives at the hands of ruthless and brutal Papal crusaders.
The archbishop’s remarks are utterly false. However, his words put prophecy in different words than the Bible, but they mean the same thing. Roman Catholic popes intend to meddle in international affairs so that they can be seen as the peacemaker. Bringing Cuba under the geopolitical management of the Vatican is going to help Cuba rebuild its stature in a post-communist, but increasingly socialistic Western world. But it is also bringing Cuba and its people under the control of the Vatican.
Vatican diplomacy has been around a long, long time, my friends. And the Vatican-Cuban diplomacy paid off in a major way as Rome was able to take public credit on the global stage for being the peace broker between the two nations. The New York Times said that “for Francis, the breakthrough burnished his efforts to reposition the Vatican as a broker in global diplomacy.” Do you think Rome wants more of this kind of publicity? Of course she does. Rome wants to associate herself with nations in any way that will increase her stature and credibility in the eyes of other nations.
“Today we are all happy because we have seen how two peoples, who were far apart for many years, yesterday took a step to get closer,” said Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, at the Vatican. Francis’ Latin American heritage no doubt gave him advantages in dealing with Cuba. The Cuban bishops said the change “opened ‘new horizons of hope’ for the Cuban people.”
Whether the change in policy will bring freedom from oppression remains to be seen. It may be that the influx of money, commerce and trade, will only strengthen the Castro regime to do its work of oppression, but now it would be with the help of the United States government. Cuba is not likely to change just because President Obama extends the hand of peace. The Castro brothers aren’t going to unclench their fists.
It is the United States that is changing, not Cuba. The Vatican knows this, the Obama administration knows this and the Cuban leaders know it. As the United States becomes more socialistic, it can now align with Cuba without danger to its political leaders. As I have said earlier, the Papacy itself is socialistic by its very nature. To promote peace between the United States and Cuba is also promoting more interaction with socialism.
What conflicts will Pope Francis try to fix next? Well, there are several in the works actually. The pope recently invited heads of state Shimon Peres of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine to the Vatican for a prayer meeting. Together they also planted an olive tree in the Vatican gardens. This unprecedented and bold move was designed to promote goodwill between the warring Israelis and Palestinians. And both men spoke glowingly of the pope. Though there was no direct or immediate outcome of the meeting, the Vatican improved its stature among the people of both nations who hate each other.
Then there is China. The Vatican has put a priority on its very difficult relations with China, an anti-religious state. In an effort to strengthen relations with China, Francis turned down a meeting with Tibet’s Dali Lama. Beijing publically applauded the pope for this. Taking sides with China may well be a harbinger of warmer relations, similar to the way the Vatican worked with Cuba.
Then there is Islamic extremism. Pope Francis recently visited Turkey where he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He called on all Muslim leaders to condemn ISIS. He recited prayers with the Grand Mufti of Istanbul.
The pope has made efforts in Syria too. He travelled to neighboring Jordan to press for peace. He called for a “global day of fasting and peace” ahead of air strikes.
Pope Francis also travelled to South Korea after being refused a visit by North Korea to advocate for peace on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea is only 10% Catholic. “Think of your brothers in the North,” he said in remarks largely aimed at North Korea. “They speak the same language and when, in a family, the same language is spoken, there is a human hope.”
Friends, everywhere you turn it seems, the pope and the Papacy are working with the nations to bring about Rome’s objectives. Collaborating with Rome will bring the nations under her supervision eventually. They may not feel that they are being supervised by Rome. But the very nature of their collaboration, and by the fact that Rome sets herself above the nations of the earth in her diplomacy, and by the fact that the leaders of the nations continually consult with Rome either directly, or through their designated diplomats, reveals that they are under her command.
Friends, we are nearing the culmination of Bible prophecy. We are getting very close to the climax of the ages. This is the time to build your relationship with Christ so strongly that your every thought and action is according to His will. You cannot watch these developments without being impressed with the significance of the times in which we live. Yes, the pope is popular, but where will this lead? That very popularity is the agency by which Rome gains more and more stature.
Have you noticed how the priestly child-sex scandal disappeared almost immediately after Jorge Bergoglio became pope? Rome’s abominations were exposed almost continually for a time in the secular press. The whole world had a glimpse of the corruption and wickedness of that institution for a few years. It was as if God wanted to give any sincere person who might have been deceived by Rome, the opportunity to be undeceived. Then the window of time closed, and now Rome is as popular as ever. Most people have forgotten about the awful scandal. And many choose to remain in their blind and deceived state as Rome becomes more and more admired in the eyes of the world. Do you think God will give another opportunity for all to see Rome for what she is? Maybe, maybe not. But you and I must also do this work, perhaps from now on and in spite of Rome’s esteem in the eyes of the world.
Friends, the way in which the Vatican works with the nation states of the world, which the Bible identifies as spiritual fornication, can be seen clearly in its diplomacy with Cuba. Let us rejoice that the Bible reveals what is going to happen with pinpoint accuracy. May the Lord help us to be faithful to give the message as far and wide as possible.
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, thank You for revealing the broad strokes of end-time geopolitical affairs through the Holy Scriptures. We can now see in the public press the revelations of what goes on behind the scenes to fulfill prophecy like never before. Please help us to prepare our lives for the coming conflict. May we always have the Holy Spirit present in our lives. May Christ rule our hearts and give us courage to do the work we must do in these last days. In Jesus’ name, amen.