Pope Benedict XVI approved a document stating that non-Catholic Christian communities are either defective or not true churches. It affirms that the Roman Catholic Church provides the only true way to salvation. By approving this document, the pope has reasserted the primacy of Roman Catholicism. What is the prophetic significance of this?
The Vatican declared that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church founded by Jesus Christ. Moreover, Pope Benedict XVI has issued a decree allowing priests to say the old Latin Mass.
This decree, a nod to traditionalists, has made some within the Roman Catholic Church unhappy. They claim it is a blow to the reforms which the church introduced in the 1960s with Vatican II.
This is not surprising at all. While Vatican II introduced many reforms into the Roman Catholic Church, they were basically cosmetic and superficial. In a sense, this return to traditional Roman Catholic orthodoxy is a blessing to those who are interested in the truth about the Roman Catholic Church. The reforms made it look like the Roman Catholic Church was changing and becoming more friendly to evangelicalism and more open to giving Scripture and Bible-based beliefs more prominence in its belief system.
However, many were not fooled. Nothing has changed. The Roman Catholic Church is still the Roman Catholic Church. The fact that the pope has clearly articulated his beliefs makes it harder to avoid the fact that the Roman Catholic Church is not at all the true church. How could an organization that contradicts the Bible and adds to the Bible be the true church?
Prophetically speaking, I think this is all very significant. Revelation 17 speaks about “the great whore that sitteth upon many waters.” This chapter tells us of a woman that had a name written, “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS.” The words “mother of harlots” means “the source of spiritual infidelity.” She represents a religious system growing out of ancient Babylon and involving the deification of the mother-goddess—Semiramis, Ishtar, Venus, and Mary.
Down through the centuries Mary has assumed an increasingly significant role in Roman Catholic thought. Doctrines such as the immaculate conception and the assumption of Mary are really rather recent innovations.
Historically, popes have given decrees and approved papal documents. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that papal documents are completely authoritative and binding on the conscience of the faithful. Pope Benedict’s recent statements put the Catholic Church on a collision course with the Word of God—which is what we would expect.