Shepherd of Prophecy?

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. " (Hebrews 4:12 )

One of the titles used by the Roman pope is "Vicarius Christi," Vicar of Christ. This speaks volumes of the way the RCC hierarchy views the man who sits on Peter's throne. A vicar is one who stands in for and acts in the place of another. In other words, the Roman pope is considered to be standing in the place of and acting for Christ Himself. How's that for presumption? Here's a Catholic definition of the term:

"Vicar of Christ . . . Title used almost exclusively of the Bishop of Rome as successor of Peter and, therefore, the one in the Church who particularly takes the place of Christ; but used also of bishops in general and even of priests. First used by the Roman Synod of A.D. 495 to refer to Pope Gelasius; more commonly in Roman curial usage to refer to the Bishop of Rome during the pontificate of Pope Eugene III (1145-1153). Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) asserted explicitly that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ; further defined at the Council of Florence in the Decree for the Greeks (1439) and Vatican Council I in Pastor Aerternus (1870). The Second Vatican Council, in Lumen Gentium, n.27, calls bishops in general "vicars and legates of Christ." All bishops are vicars of Christ for their local churches in their ministerial functions as priest, prophet, and king, as the Pope is for the universal church; the title further denotes they exercise their authority in the Church not by delegation from any other person, but from Christ Himself."--Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ed., Catholic Dictionary,"\ Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, (1993) pp. 484-5

Another of the titles claimed by Roman Catholic popes is "Vicarius Filii Dei," or "Vicar of the Son of God." Those words are on one of the many crowns a pope might wear when dressing up, and are spoken by the cardinal who places the crown on a new pope's head during the coronation ritual. Pope Innocent IV, who reigned from 1243 to 1254, took this Vicarius Filii Dei business one giant step farther. He actually declared that he was Praesentia Corporalis Christi, the bodily presence of Christ.

There can be no doubt that the Pope rules over the administrative affairs of the Roman church with the authority of a temporal monarch. Few would argue that the reigning pope is not the controlling force in governing the religious activities of Roman Catholicism. However, I wonder how many people, Catholic, Christian, or Pagan, are aware that, at least in some of the rituals of the RCC, the pope literally takes the place of Christ and is worshipped with all the ceremony and obeisance due to deity.

In reading the above, I can just imagine that some of the Catholic faithful, those who adhere to the teachings and proscriptions of the RCC without troubling themselves to learn their true nature or checking them against the Word of God, may have suffered an apoplectic reaction. "Never!" they cry. "The Church has always taught that we are to worship only God," and in so saying uphold the words of the RCC, while denying the practice. Let's see if there is any truth to my statement.

In Cum Apostolatus Officio, Pope Paul IV (1555-1559) claimed to be Pontifix Maximus, God's representative on earth, thereby declaring the pope to hold unlimited power. In the pagan days of Rome, Pontifix Maximus was the title accorded to the Chief priest of the cult of Mithras and also to the Roman Emperor. Interesting title for the leader of the world's largest so-called Christian cult.

Innocent IV (1243-1254) took the gradual deification of the Catholic pope another step when he described himself as the bodily presence of Christ (Praesentia Corporalis Christi). Anyone who failed to render to him appropriate respect was, ipso facto, a heretic.

Boniface VIII (1294-1303), a monster that Dante consigned to the 8th circle of Hell with his head in a rock fissure, wrote Unam Sanctum, in which he declared his authority over all humanity: "Every human being must do as the pope tells him." In his supreme arrogance, he continued: "We declare, announce and define that it is altogether necessary for salvation for every creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff."

Pope as Supreme High Priest. Pope as Lord over all mankind. Pope as Christ on Earth. Pope as the dispenser of salvation. Now, tell me. Is that arrogance, or what?

Today, as he has for centuries, the Catholic pope lives, as do many of the other "Princes of the Church," in regal splendor rivaled only by that of the courts of the richest kings, sultans and maharajas of bygone times. This worldly high priest, this Catholic Christ on earth, proclaims a false humility by sometimes referring to himself as "Servant of the Servants of God."

One of the emblems of the papal office is the crosier, modeled on the shepherd's staff. It is a sign of a bishop's pastoral care of souls. We know that Christ referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). The good shepherd, as Christ taught and exemplified, subordinates his own comfort and wellbeing to that of the flock under his charge. What kind of shepherd occupies the papal office? Perhaps the kind prophesied by Zechariah:

And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.--Zechariah 11:15-17

The Holy Scriptures are replete with warnings concerning false teachers, wolves in sheep's clothing and false shepherds who will deceive the elect of God. In this passage, Zechariah warns of a particularly rotten shepherd utterly incompetent to the task of spiritual leader and, actually, one who stands in opposition to the true Gospel. This shepherd, rather than looking to the needs of the broken and the spiritually starving, instead concerns himself with satisfying his own needs and the desires of his own heart. In fact, this evil shepherd turns upon the flock under his care and devours them.

Did you notice that reference to the "idol shepherd?" This prophecy speaks of the principal shepherd of an adolatrous and apostate religious system; of a shepherd who actually is established as an idol or object of worship within that religious system. In short, the prophecy appears to refer to the Catholic pope!

Let us examine more closely the words of the Prophet to see if indeed they can be referent to the Romish popes. Can any deny that the popes have eaten and yet eat the flesh of the fat? Those rich robes, gorgeous appliances, wonderful churches and opulent palaces did not just appear out of thin air. They were paid for as a consequence of the hopes and fears of the flocks that the popes claim to be watching over. How many millions over the years went to bed hungry because they gave their food money to the ministers of the Roman cult? How many were cajoled into buying indulgences rather than necessities of this world? How many popes, in their royal apartments, dining on sumptuous meals served on golden plates, paused to give a thought to the masses who at the same moment were giving thanks for the gruel or plain potatoes which constituted their meager meals?

Where did the popes get the money to fund their regal lifestyle? To raise their great basilicas and lofty cathedrals? From whence came the gold and precious stones to cover their altars and construct the reliquaries that hold the human remains used in their ghoulish rituals?

It cannot be denied that the top-heavy infrastructure of the Roman Catholic juggernaut exists in a world of incredible elegance and ceremonial opulence. Nor can it be denied that the gears of this great predatory system are greased with a continual flow of cash. Rome, of course, denies her incalculable wealth, pretending instead that she exists in a state of humility, even as does her humble sovereign, the Servant of the Servants of God. I recall reading, a few decades ago, that the Roman Church, pressed to make known the extent of her great wealth and to explain why she had not played a greater roll in the feeding and maintenance of the multitudes of starving people in the world, responded by conducting an inventory of her holdings. The final figure released as the RCC's net wealth was, as I recall, something like $50 million US dollars. Everyone I knew who had an opinion on the matter thought the figure a ridiculous caricature of the truth.

Whatever the true wealth of the Roman church may be, that is not the issue. The source of those riches is what I wish to examine here. Of course, it cannot be denied that great gouts of money, lands and goods came to the Catholic church as gifts from kings or wealthy nobles. Some were spoils of war. At one time, the Roman Catholic church was the greatest landowner in all of Europe. There can be little doubt that the rich and powerful gave to the Catholic Church in the hope their "good works" not only would earn merit for them, but would be added to from the storehouse of merit the RCC claims to watch over.

Enormous riches filtered to the Church through other processes. The Inquisition was, of course, a wonderful tool for not only eliminating opposition to the papal monarchy, but also for extorting land, castles and other forms of worldly riches from those unfortunate enough to fall into its bloody hands.

Another enduring money well was the sale of indulgences.

The RCC began selling indulgences in earnest in 1190 AD, but it was not until the Council of Florence (1449) decreed the doctrine of Purgatory as an article of faith that the sale of indulgences really took off. In 1548, the Council of Trent confirmed the doctrine of Purgatory, which is that all who die at peace with the church but who are not perfect must suffer purification in Purgatory (A mythical place not even hinted at in Scripture).

In the creed that bears his name, Pope Pius VI declared:

I constantly hold that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful.

Can Purgatory be such a bad place? After all, Rome teaches it is just a stopping off point on the way to Heaven. Let's see what Catholic sources have to say on the matter:

"Thomas Aquinas held that the least pain in purgatory was greater than the worst in this life. Bonaventure said the worst suffering after death was greater than the worst on earth, but the same could not be said regarding the least purgatorial suffering.

Most Catholic theologians hold, with Bellarmine, that in some way the pains of purgatory are greater than those on earth.--John A. Harden, S.J., The Catholic Catechism, Doubleday (1981), with Imprimatur, Nihil Obstat & Imprimi Potest, p. 279

How did the doctrine of Purgatory develop? Well, here's the opinion of one Catholic writer:

Now the Church … instituted, by God's authority, Sunday as the day of worship. This same Church, by the same divine authority, taught the doctrine of Purgatory… We have, therefore, the same authority for Purgatory as we have for Sunday.--Martin J. Scott, Things Catholics Are Asked About, P. J. Kenedy & Sons, New York (1927), p. 136

Actually, the origins of purgatory are pagan:

In Egypt, substantially the same doctrine of purgatory was inculcated. But when once this doctrine of purgatory was admitted into the popular mind, then the door was opened for all manner of priestly extortions. Prayers for the dead ever go hand in hand with purgatory; but no prayers can be completely efficacious without the interpostion of the priests; and no priestly functions can be rendered unless there be special pay for them. Therefore, in every land we find the Pagan priesthood "devouring widow's houses," and making merchandise of the tender feelings of sorrowing relatives, sensitively alive to the immortal happiness of the beloved dead. From all quarters there is one universal testimony as to the burdensome character and the expense of these posthumous devotions.--Rev. Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, Loizeaux Brothers, Second Edition (1959), p. 168

Reckon that is one of those archaic teaching that Rome has permitted to languish, apparently in the hope people will one day forget about it? Not likely.

1032 This teaching [Purgatory, ed.] is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."(607) From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.(608) The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:--Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed., (C) 1994/1997 United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

Life as a Catholic is tough and the outcome is never certain. One can be baptized, participate as appropriate in the Sacraments, do the sacramentals, live a good life, and more, yet still not escape the flames. Can nothing be done, if not to ease the suffering at least to shorten the duration? Of course. The Roman church can always find a way, and money finds the quickest way.

Purgatory has proved to be a cash cow for the Roman church. People with money are able to pay for special Masses to bring about the release of their dear departed from the torments of Purgatory. It was not and is not unheard of for wealthy Catholics to set aside large amounts of money while alive to be used after their death to facilitate their quick passage out of Purgatory's flames. Another way to "earn" merit favored by Catholic faithful is to make pilgrimages to idol-shrines and supposed holy places. Such travel can be expensive and the cost often includes cash offerings and the purchase of "holy" artifacts at the pilgrimage site. As always has been the case, Salvation is for sale in the Roman church and the cash cow that is the doctrine of Purgatory has surely been the source from which billions of dollars have flowed into the treasury of the Idol Shepherd, the Roman Papacy.

The above methods for curtailing the time the departed Catholic faithful must spend in the purifying flames of Purgatory have always been pretty much available only to those who had the financial wherewithal to foot the heavy expense. For centuries, the little guy had but limited opportunities to reduce his sentence. And, then, the RCC came up with the idea of THE INDULGENCE. What a money maker this was.

An indulgence ... is a remission of the whole, or part of the temporal punishment due to forgiven sin, granted by the Pope and the Bishops out of Church's spiritual treasury, which is made up of the infinite redemptive merits of Jesus Christ, AND, the superabundant merits of the saints.--Rev. Bertrand L. Conway, The Question-Box Answers, Catholic Book Exchange, New York (1903)

The RCC has provided a multitude of ways for gaining indulgences. One might intone the the seemingly endless decades of the Rosary, or recite one of the dozens of other similarly rewarded ritual prayers listed in the Enchiridon of Indulgences. Or, the seeker of indulgences might wear the Agnus Dei or the Brown Scapular of Blessed Simon Stock. He might gain indulgences through membership in such bodies as the Confraternity of the Miraculous Medal or the Society of the Perpetual Novena. There was a time when Catholics could earn a plenary indulgence for killing Protestants` (Hussites, Albigenses or Waldenses).

Spending money or giving some to the RCC has always been a reliable way to gain indulgences. "Holy Years," jubilees and pilgrimages have been good for the Roman Catholic treasury, all of which are boons to tourism, sales of relics, other idols and pseudo religious knickknacks, as well as cash offerings. Is it a coincidence that Pope John Paul II timed his announcement of the Y2K Jubilee two years in advance? Or did he do that to give Catholic faithful time to save up the necessary money to travel to Rome or Jerusalem and to sustain the costs of the extended stay necessary in order to gain that "special" indulgence that comes only in jubilee years?

It seems clear the Roman popes eat the flesh of the fat. It can be shown that, over the centuries since the Bishops of Rome first arrogated to themselves authority over not only the church but the world itself, they have failed miserably to heal the broken, feed the flock or minister to those who are cut off (a reference to Israel). Often, they have turned their wrath inward and "devoured" their own flocks through the Inquisition and other ecclesiastical devices.

Worse even than all these crimes against the example of the Good Shepherd is the manner in which the Catholic popes actually have made themselves into idols, to be revered and worshiped – even in the place of the Catholic Christ. It is for this reason, if for no other, that the Roman Pope must be viewed as the Idol Shepherd who figures in Zechariah's prophecy.

Once again, I seem to hear the shouted cries of RCC apologists. "No! Never! Catholics are forbidden to worship idols," they declare. Sure they are. Like so much of RCC doctrine, the difference between what is written and what is practiced is as between night and day.

Time and again, the Lord God punished Israel and the peoples she encountered for worshipping idols and false gods. It is so important to the Father that He included a prohibition of such worship in the Decalogue. Conveniently, the RCC made that particular proscription a non-commandment. It was when Constantine began to favor Christianity over other religions practiced in the Roman Empire that Christianity began to morph into Catholicism. The ancient pagan temples were transformed into Christian churches. The pagan idols were given the names of "saints" and soon were being venerated. The Babylonian mother-goddess Semiramis, known in Rome as Cybele, became Mary, the perpetually virgin Queen of Heaven. In Ephesus, that city so well known as a center of worship of Diana, a Church Council in 431 AD declared Mary to be "Mother of God." The cult of Mary grew and spread like wildfire, and was legalized in 788 AD by the Second Council of Nicea.

Like a child caught with its hand in the cookie jar, Rome tries to hide her idol worship, but the effort is given the lie by the many decrees which remain in force.

Besides honouring the Saints directly in themselves, we also honour them indirectly in their relics and images ... the Church requires the relics of the Saints to be inserted in all altars where Holy Mass is offered."--Hart, Charles, The Students Catholic Doctrine, Burns Dates & Washbowne, London (1930)

The Catholic doctrine teaches, 'That the saints reigning together with Christ are to be honoured and invoked, and that they offer prayers to God for us.'--Canon Cafferata, The Catechism, p. 104.

"I most firmly assert that the images of Christ, and the mother of God, ever Virgin, and also of the other saints, are to be had and retained; and that due honour and veneration are to be given to them.--Creed of Pope Pius IV, Art. 8)

It is also right to honour the sacred images of Jesus Christ and of the Saints ....We also honour the relics of the Saints.--Pope Pius X, Compendium, p.46)

Roman idolatry peaks in the cult of Mary. On March 25th, 1984, John Paul II consecrated the entire world to Mary, in a special ceremony held in Rome. Of course, the knee-jerk reaction of Romanists when it is suggested the RCC worships Mary is to declare that Mary is worshipped only with hyperdulia, which is not the same degree of worship rendered to Almighty God. Semantics. Catholic "saint and Doctor of the Church Alphonsus Liguori wrote, in The Glories of Mary:

We often obtain more promptly what we ask by calling on Mary than on Jesus.

That is all well and good. Certainly the RCC clearly violates the express will of God in its pagan worship of idols and ghosts and body parts. This is bad enough, the worshipping of the dead, but the Catholic church has yet another, and even more blatant, affront to God in its bag of pagan tricks. The Roman Catholic hierarchy, sometimes publicly but certainly in private, actually renders worship to its pope as though to deity.

My Catholic dictionary defines Adoration as:

An outward act of giving worship to a person or object. Both the Old and New Testaments give clear indications that God requires exclusive adoration from His creatures. The most perfect for of worship is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because it is the re-presentation of Christ's Sacrifice on Calvary. Adoration may also be internal (e.g. contemplative prayer)--Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ed., Catholic Dictionary, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington (1993), p. 39

Once again, it would appear that what Rome says and what Rome does are quite distinct:

Behold the wood of the Cross ... Come let us adore ... We adore thy Cross .... Sweet wood, Sweet nails ... Hail then, O Cross!--The Missal, Service of adoration of the Cross on Good Friday

When a new pope is enthroned, the ceremony is known as the Adoratio, or Adoration. The famous Triple Tiara used to figure prominently in this coronation ceremony. It would be placed on the new pope's head as these words were spoken to him:

Receive this Tiara, adorned with three crowns, and know that Thou are Father of Kings and Princes, Ruler of the World and Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth." --

Paul VI was the last of the Popes to receive the Triple Tiara, which for centuries symbolized the pope's threefold role as the Servant of the Servants of God. When Vatican II ended, this pope descended the steps from his papal throne in St. Peter's Basilica and, in an ostentatious and theatrical gesture of humility, placed the tiara on the altar. We are told, by Catholic spin doctors, this was a sign of his renunciation of human glory and power –in keeping with "renewed spirit of Vatican II.

The tiara was presented to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, D.C.) by the Apostolic Delegate to the United States on February 6, 1968 as a "gesture" of Pope Paul VI's affection for the Catholic Church in the United States. The proceeds from this "gift" supposedly were to benefit the poor of the world.

During the papal coronation, the new pope is lifted by the Cardinals and made to sit upon the High Altar in St. Peter's Basilica. The Cardinals, all decked out in their scarlet and purple vestments, then kneel before their new pontiff and kiss his feet, his hands and his face, worshipping him as a god. This ritual occurs several times during the Adoration.

Did I write, "worshipping him as a god?" Yep. I sure did. Did I mean it? Yep. I sure did. Like so many of the rituals of the Roman church, this practice can be traced back to the Babylonian worship of her pagan gods. Kissing idols, or blowing kisses to the sun are very ancient religious practices. Why even today, it is not unusual to see a Catholic kiss his Rosary, or to see a Catholic kiss her hand after making the sign of the cross. I personally have seen many a Mexican Catholic kiss one or another of the "holy" plaster statues in their churches. That kissing and idol worship have a long history of offending God can be seen in the Bible. Look to Job 31:27, where we see the prophet declaring he has not been guilty of participating in the pagan practice of kissing his hand to the sun. In 1 Kings, we read God's words on the subject, spoken to Elijah:

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.--1 Kings 19:18

"Well," says the Catholic apologists, "a kiss means little. Just a sign of affection and love."

Let's look at that kissing for just a moment. Specifically, let's look at where it takes place. The High Altar of St. Peter's is precisely the spot where the Reserved Sacrament, that cookie which Rome proclaims contains really and substantially the body, blood, soul and spirit of Christ, is kept and adored. In those moments when the new pope is enthroned ABOVE the High Altar and the Tabernacle, he no longer is just a false shepherd. He becomes the IDOL SHEPHERD that Zechariah spoke of, for he is seated above the Catholic Christ, receiving the highest honor, veneration and worship that can be given to a mere mortal. He has become an idol!

No doubt there still will those who would argue that placing the pope on the High Altar and having Cardinals kneel before him to kiss his feet, hands and face is not really worship. Well, then, how about these words, addressed to Innocent X at his Adoration?

Most holy and blessed father, head of the church, ruler of the world, to whom the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven are committed, who the angels in Heaven adore, and the gates of hell fear, and all the world adores, we especially venerate, worship and adore thee.

And the Lord God says:

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.--1 John 5:21

2 Corinthians 6:14-18, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.--2 Corinthians 6:14-18

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