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Rome to Regain Control of the World

The Elusive Constitution

Lord John Acton, a Roman Catholic, wrote toward the end of the nineteenth century, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." He was speaking of the papacy, whom he called "the fiend skulking behind the Crucifix."

"The papacy contrived murder and massacred on the largest and also on the most cruel and inhuman scale," he wrote, referring to the Inquisition. "They were not only wholesale assassins, but they made the principle of assassination a law of the Christian Church and a condition of salvation."—"Lord Acton—Political Power Corrupts."

Strong words coming from a Roman Catholic, but he was by no means alone in holding these sentiments. Many Catholics felt this way.

Have things changed in the last 120 years? Does the Vatican now have a constitution that guarantees freedom of conscience to all, and does it avoid placing absolute power into the hands of a single individual? If so, then perhaps we can discount Ellen White's prediction of the Vatican's eventual world supremacy and a revival by it of the persecutions of the past.

CIA Factbook on Vatican Constitution.
The CIA World Factbook's entry for Vatican City says that the Vatican has a constitution, namely the "Apostolic Constitution of 1967 (effective 1 March 1968)." Many web sites out there say the same, getting their information from the CIA. But we are unable to find such a constitution anywhere, not even on the Vatican's web site. Where is it, and what does it say?

The closest thing we can find to the "Apostolic Constitution of 1967" is the 1967 Apostolic Constitution entitled "The Doctrine of Indulgences." But an ecclesiastical endorsement of a doctrine that teaches that you can get an early release from purgatory in exchange for certain works is hardly the type of constitution we are looking for.

Before continuing, we need to take a look at a little more of Ellen White's prediction. At the time the following was written, Protestants were seeking to enforce Sunday rest, and were asking for the help of Rome in accomplishing this:

And let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes. The principles of Gregory VII and Innocent III are still the principles of the Roman Catholic Church. And had she but the power, she would put them in practice with as much vigor now as in past centuries. Protestants little know what they are doing when they propose to accept the aid of Rome in the work of Sunday exaltation. While they are bent upon the accomplishment of their purpose, Rome is aiming to re-establish her power, to recover her lost supremacy. Let the principle once be established in the United States that the church may employ or control the power of the state; that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured.—Great Controversy, p. 581.

"It is the boast of Rome that she never changes." This is acknowledged to be the case even by the ecumenically minded, who have chosen to put past opposition to the papacy behind them:

Roman Catholic practice is not to take back what the Church has said in the past, but to update teaching and to give new interpretations of doctrine. Hence we cannot expect that a pope or council will rescind offensive statements made in the past.—"Is the Pope the Antichrist?"

It is interesting to note to what extent the present form of American government is a reaction to the abuses of the papacy of years gone by:

  1. The U.S. has a constitution that protects the rights of the minority.
  2. Its government is of the people, by the people, and for the people.
  3. All public offices are filled through either free elections or appointment by duly elected officials.
  4. Its government has a separation of powers, so that a single person or entity is not the absolute executive, legislative, and judicial ruler.
  5. The laws of the U.S. include impeachment proceedings for officials gone awry.

Have the principles of the papacy changed? Does it now have a constitution that protects the minority? Does its system of government now have a separation of powers, impeachment proceedings, and free elections? If not, if there have been no changes and no reforms, what impediment exists to prevent a revival of the abuses of the past? Just a promise? Can it really be so that in this modern era of civil and religious freedoms that the head of Vatican City is still an absolute dictator for life, accountable to no one, unelected by the people?

The very fact that after so many centuries there are still no safeguards in place to prevent the abuses of the past from occurring again gives us no assurance that Ellen White's prediction will not take place.

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