The Harlot and “the Kings of the Earth”
CHRISTENDOM’S history is full of examples of influence peddling and of meddling in the realms of power. Let us consider a few of them. Charlemagne (742-814 C.E.) was a ruler who saw the benefits of consorting with religion and having the blessing of the clergy of the Catholic Church.
The New Encyclopædia Britannica explains that the pope anointed Charlemagne, his father, and his brother, in founding a new dynasty after the former reigning family had been ‘shunted aside.’ Then it adds: “The political alliance between the Franks [Charlemagne’s people] and the Pope against the Lombards was affirmed on the same occasion. . . . Charles [who became Charlemagne] early acknowledged the close connection between temporal power and the church.”
In the year 800 C.E., Pope Leo III, “determined to make Charles emperor” of the Western Roman Empire, crowned him at Christmas Mass in St. Peter’s, Rome.
A Greedy Harlot
But a harlot requires payment. What could Charlemagne pay Babylon’s representative, Rome? “Charles . . . reiterated, in St. Peter’s Basilica, his father’s promise to transfer to papal rule large sections of Italy.” The same source adds: “In his politically conditioned religiosity, the empire and the church grew into an institutional and spiritual unit.”
Another example of religion’s past powerful influence in rulership is Cardinal Wolsey of England (1475-1530). The Britannica states that he was a “cardinal and statesman who dominated the government of England’s King Henry VIII. . . . In December 1515 Wolsey became lord chancellor of England. . . . Wolsey used his vast secular and ecclesiastical power to amass wealth second only to that of the King.” Applying the symbolic language of Revelation, high-class prostitution demands high-class payment.
Another notorious example of religious influence in State matters was the cardinal and duke of Richelieu (1585-1642), who exercised great power in France and also accumulated wealth that was “excessive even by the standards of the age,” states the Britannica.
Richelieu was succeeded by yet another cardinal, Jules Mazarin (1602-61), who served as first minister of France during the reign of King Louis XIV. Although not an ordained priest, he was made a cardinal in 1641 by Pope Urban VIII. Cardinal Mazarin too was ambitious for wealth. The encyclopedia states: “Mazarin’s enemies reproached him for his greed. He had accumulated offices and benefices and had sometimes confused royal income with his own.”
In modern times false religion still amasses wealth and tries to influence and, if possible, control the political elements. One outstanding example is the secretive Catholic organization Opus Dei (Latin, God’s Work), which presently enjoys the pope’s favor and, according to author Lawrence Lader, is “totally committed to anti-communism and right-wing politics.” It has a policy of taking the intellectual cream of Catholic youth through its high schools and universities and then having its men placed in high positions of influence and control in government, finance, and the media. In Spain they had a heyday under Catholic Fascist dictator Franco when, during one period, 10 of his 19 cabinet members were associates of the elitist Opus Dei.*
In the United States, TV evangelists are noted for their ostentation of wealth and luxurious life-styles. Some Protestant clergy have proudly entered the political arena and have even aspired to the presidency. No doubt about it, although in a fallen state, the old harlot, under one guise or another, still enjoys the trappings and luxury of power and tries to rule the roost.—Revelation 17:4.
But what about the harlot’s name, Babylon the Great? How does that help to confirm the identification of the woman symbolized in Revelation?
For more information on Opus Dei and church involvement in politics, see the books Hot Money and the Politics of Debt, by R. T. Naylor, and Politics, Power, and the Church, by L. Lader.
[Pictures on page 6]
Cardinals Wolsey, Mazarin, and Richelieu amassed fortunes while serving the State
Photos: Culver Pictures