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The popes tried desperately to keep the Roman Church from its decline in power throughout the 1800's, but to no avail. The beast rising from the earth was a money power, but they appealed to the masses by advocating democracy and socialism. The people, of course, did not understand that they were being used in an epic battle between two despotic systems, each vying for power.
But Scripture records this quite plainly in Revelation 13, and a little knowledge of history reveals what Scripture had actually prophesied.
Much of the Church's decline is due to its insistence upon temporal (civil) power, instead of being content with spiritual authority. Secondly, the Church did little in those days to reform its priesthood, which was widely viewed as corrupt--even among Catholics themselves.
"One by one, therefore, these Italian provinces, filled with Roman Catholic populations, separated themselves by solemn votes from the temporal dominion of the pope, and left Pius IX to mourn over his rapidly-sinking fortunes. . ." (R. W. Thompson, Footprints of the Jesuits, p. 314)
As the Vatican steadily lost control of the Papal States in Italy--and with it, the loss of its revenue--the Popes fought back with anathemas. But the people increasingly turned a deaf ear to the papal decrees. In 1860 the people of Italy, who were mostly Catholics, united under King Victor Emmanuel. The Pope issued the usual anathemas against all who supported the king. No one cared.
It was not the king's intent to deprive the Pope of any spiritual authority, but after enduring ten years of anathemas, he finally took the city of Rome itself in 1870 and confined the territory of the Pope to the 70 acres of the Vatican itself. In the same year, the Pope issued its decree of Papal Infallibility, largely as an assertion of authority against Victor Emmanuel and all of his Catholic supporters.
Yet it seemed that the louder the thunder came from the Vatican, the less people listened. The Popes then largely withdrew from the world scene and pretended to be under siege for the next 70 years.
"Pius IX became a self-styled 'prisoner of the Vatican,' where the popes would remain until Pius XI came to terms with Mussolini in the Lateran Treaty of 1929. The treaty's most important provision recognized papal sovereignty over the ninety-acre enclave of Vatican City." [James Carroll, Constantine's Sword, p. 445]
The Pope's 70-year "captivity" was self-imposed, because Victor Emmanuel imposed no restrictions on the Church, the popes, or the priests.
Then in 1913 the Federal Reserve Act was passed in America and signed into law in February 1914. This Act gave the private international bankers the power to create money and to loan it to the government at interest. It removed America's economic sovereignty and set the nation on the path toward inevitable bankruptcy in 1933.
1913 was also the end of the next Jubilee cycle. It was 98 years (two Jubilee cycles) since the Holy Alliance in 1815. The power of the banking beast from the earth suddenly took a quantum leap forward. Meanwhile, the Vatican continued to sink into poverty.
"With the loss of land came the loss of taxation. By 1900 the annual budget of the Vatican was slightly less than $4 million and Leo XIII was struggling to make ends meet." [Paul Williams, The Vatican Exposed, p. 23]
On page 24, he continues:
"In January 1922, when Benedict XV died, the annual budget was cut back to $1 million. To meet expenses, the Church was forced to secure loans, mostly from German banks."
The Lateran Palace was in a serious state of disrepair. Rats were everywhere, and mounds of guano from pigeons covered the upper floors. After Benedict died, Pope Pius XI was determined to change things. He emerged from exile and began to negotiate with Mussolini.
In return for papal support of Mussolini's political party (by disbanding the Catholic Populist Party in 1923), the fascist state of Italy was assured. Vatican diplomacy culminated with the Lateran Treaty on Feb. 11, 1929.
"The final section of the agreement--called 'the Financial Convention'--provided a payment of $90 million in cash and government bonds and an undisclosed sum for the pope's 'privy purse' as restitution for the former papal principalities. The Italian government also agreed to pay the salaries of all parish priests in the country." [The Vatican Exposed, p. 26]
This fresh supply of cash was used to establish the Vatican Bank. Its first manager was Bernardino Nogara, the financial wizard who had reorganized the Reichsbank in Germany. Usury banking suddenly lost its historic status as a sin--the "most grievous manifestation of wanton greed." Sin had become a way to save the Church from irrelevancy.
By 1958 the Vatican controlled more than 90 out of 100 of Italy's credit, banking, and insurance companies. By the time Nogara died in 1958, the Vatican had come to be known as "Vatican, Inc."
The first Freemason Pope was elected in 1958 at the death of Pius XII. He called for a new Church Council known as Vatican II in 1963 about the same time that President Kennedy received his fatal head wound. It was the end of the third Jubilee cycle since the Holy Alliance and 50 years since the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. In his days the Vatican Bank was taken over by a quasi-Freemasonic lodge known as P-2.
Out of Vatican II came two main things: the Charismatic Movement and the P-2 lodge takeover of the Vatican Bank. The Church loosened its control structure, allowing a fresh wind to blow through the Church, but at the same time more sinister forces were at work, putting the Church fully under the dominion of the beast from the earth.
Because 1963 was the third Jubilee from the Holy Alliance, it was a very important year. Kennedy's fatal head wound reminds us of the Lincoln assassination a century earlier. Vatican II loosened papal power, not only by allowing the Holy Spirit to move among the people, but also by redefining the Church as "the people of God," rather than the institution itself.
Malachi Martin, a Jesuit priest at the time, was very much opposed to this alteration, as his books show. He writes with great irritation:
"The church herself had changed. Catholics since the Council had come to realize that the Church is 'the people of God,' not a hierarchical body." [Malachi Martin, The Jesuits, p. 90]
Martin did not understand that the Church is indeed the people and not the organization. He did not understand that the hierarchy was fulfilling the role of King Saul. It was the political expression of the Church during the Pentecostal Age, even as Eli was the priestly expression of the religious side of the same Church. Martin did not realize that God Himself had raised up this beast from the earth as a judgment upon the beast from the sea (church), even as God had raised up the Philistines to overpower both Saul and Eli on account of their disobedience.
We have now come to the Final Act of this drama, the fourth Jubilee since the Holy Alliance. It is the time when the beast from the earth itself is being brought into judgment. Mystery Babylon is bankrupt, and the Kings of the East are foreclosing on them.