The Infamous Harlot—Her Destruction
“Praise Jah, you people! The salvation and the glory and the power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous. For he has executed judgment upon the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged the blood of his slaves at her hand.”—REVELATION 19:1, 2.
1. How has the great harlot committed fornication with “the kings of the earth,” and in what has this resulted?
ALL that we have been discussing is serious enough. However, we should note that Revelation 17:2 speaks also of the great harlot’s fornication with “the kings of the earth.” Though she has suffered a fall, she is still very much a friend of the world, and she tries to manipulate worldly rulers to gain her ends. (James 4:4) This spiritual harlotry, consisting of illicit relations between Babylon the Great and the political rulers, has resulted in the untimely death of tens of millions of innocent people! It was bad enough that the great harlot was involved on both sides of the fighting in World War I. But her sins in relation to World War II have surely “massed together clear up to heaven”! (Revelation 18:5) Why do we say so?
2. (a) How did Franz von Papen help Adolf Hitler to become the ruler of Germany, and how did a previous German chancellor describe that papal knight? (b) In the Concordat between the Nazi State and the Vatican, what two clauses were kept secret? (See footnote.)
2 Well, to take one example, how did the tyrant Adolf Hitler become chancellor—and dictator—of Germany? It was through the political intrigue of a papal knight whom the previous German chancellor, Kurt von Schleicher, described as “the kind of traitor next to whom Judas Iscariot is a saint.” This was Franz von Papen, who marshaled Catholic Action and leaders in industry to oppose communism and unite Germany under Hitler. As part of a sellout bargain, von Papen was made vice-chancellor. Hitler sent a delegation headed by von Papen to Rome to negotiate a concordat between the Nazi State and the Vatican. Pope Pius XI remarked to the German envoys how pleased he was that “the German Government now had at its head a man uncompromisingly opposed to Communism,” and on July 20, 1933, at an elaborate ceremony in the Vatican, Cardinal Pacelli (who was soon to become Pope Pius XII) signed the concordat.*
3. (a) What did a historian write about the Concordat between the Nazi State and the Vatican? (b) During the celebrations at the Vatican, what honor was conferred on Franz von Papen? (c) What role did Franz von Papen play in the Nazi takeover of Austria?
3 One historian writes: “The Concordat [with the Vatican] was a great victory for Hitler. It gave him the first moral support he had received from the outer world, and this from the most exalted source.” During the celebrations at the Vatican, Pacelli conferred on von Papen the high papal decoration of the Grand Cross of the Order of Pius.* Winston Churchill, in his book The Gathering Storm, published in 1948, tells how von Papen further used “his reputation as a good Catholic” to gain church support for the Nazi takeover of Austria. In 1938, in honor of Hitler’s birthday, Cardinal Innitzer ordered that all Austrian churches fly the swastika flag, ring their bells, and pray for the Nazi dictator.
4, 5. (a) Why does terrible bloodguilt rest on the Vatican? (b) How did the German Catholic bishops give open support to Hitler?
4 A terrible bloodguilt therefore rests on the Vatican! As a leading part of Babylon the Great, it helped significantly in putting Hitler into power and in giving him “moral” support. The Vatican went further in tacitly consenting to Hitler’s atrocities. During the long decade of Nazi terror, the Roman pontiff kept quiet while hundreds of thousands of Catholic soldiers were fighting and dying for the glory of the Nazi regime and while millions of other unfortunates were being liquidated in Hitler’s gas chambers.
5 The German Catholic bishops even gave open support to Hitler. On the same day that Japan, Germany’s wartime partner at the time, made the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, The New York Times carried this report: “The Conference of German Catholic Bishops assembled in Fulda has recommended the introduction of a special ‘war prayer’ which is to be read at the beginning and end of all divine services. The prayer implores Providence to bless German arms with victory and grant protection to the lives and health of all soldiers. The Bishops further instructed Catholic clergy to keep and remember in a special Sunday sermon at least once a month German soldiers ‘on land, on sea and in the air.’”
6. The world might have been spared what great agony and atrocities if there had been no spiritual fornication between the Vatican and the Nazis?
6 If there had been no love affair between the Vatican and the Nazis, the world might have been spared the agony of having scores of millions of soldiers and civilians killed in the war, of six million Jews murdered for being non-Aryan, and—most precious in Jehovah’s sight—of thousands of his Witnesses, both of the anointed and of the “other sheep,” suffering great atrocities, with many Witnesses dying in the Nazi concentration camps.—John 10:10, 16.
A Close View of the Harlot
7. How does the apostle John describe his close-up view of the great harlot?
7 How fitting is the vision that next unfolds in the Revelation prophecy! Turning to Re chapter 17, verses 3 to 5, we find John saying of the angel: “And he carried me away in the power of the spirit into a wilderness. And I caught sight of a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast that was full of blasphemous names and that had seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and was adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls and had in her hand a golden cup that was full of disgusting things and the unclean things of her fornication. And upon her forehead was written a name, a mystery: ‘Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.’”
8. (a) What does the great harlot carry in her golden cup, thus identifying herself? (b) How is Babylon the Great figuratively “arrayed in purple and scarlet” and adorned with “gold and precious stone and pearls”?
8 Here John observes Babylon the Great at close quarters. She truly belongs in that wilderness, among the wild beasts that inhabit it. This great harlot is clearly identified by what she carries in her cup, though it is deceptively precious-looking from the outside. She drinks of a potion that is disgusting from God’s standpoint. Her friendship with the world, her false doctrines, her moral permissiveness, her philandering with the political powers—none of these things are tolerated by Jehovah, “the Judge of all the earth.” (Genesis 18:22-26; Revelation 18:21, 24) Oh, how beautifully she decks herself out! She is famed for her stately cathedrals with their imposing architecture and stained-glass windows, her bejeweled pagodas and wats, her time-honored temples and shrines. True to the stylized fashions set by the great harlot, her priests and monks are arrayed in costly robes of scarlet, purple, and saffron.—Revelation 17:1.
9. Babylon the Great has what long history of bloodguilt, and how does John appropriately end his description of her?
9 Most reprehensible, though, is her bloodthirstiness. Jehovah has a longtime account to settle on that score! She has sponsored bloodthirsty dictators of modern times, and her disgusting history of bloodletting stretches back through the centuries, through the religious wars, the Inquisitions, the Crusades, yes, back to the martyrdom of some of the apostles and the slaying of God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and beyond. (Acts 3:15; Hebrews 11:36, 37) Add to all of this the killings of Jehovah’s Witnesses in more recent years by firing squad, hanging, the ax, the guillotine, the sword, and inhuman treatment in prisons and concentration camps. No wonder John ends his description by saying: “And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus”!—Revelation 17:6.
‘THE MYSTERY OF THE WOMAN AND THE BEAST’
10. (a) How has the great harlot persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses down to this day? (b) What kind of leaders are the clergy of Babylon the Great?
10 John “wondered with great wonderment” at what he saw. Today, we also wonder! During the 1930’s and 1940’s, the great harlot used Catholic Action and political intrigue to persecute and ban Jehovah’s faithful witnesses. To this day, where she can exercise sufficient influence, Babylon the Great continues to hinder, restrict, and misrepresent the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who proclaim the glorious hope of God’s Kingdom. By keeping hundreds of millions captive in the great harlot’s religious organizations, her clergy serve as ‘blind leaders of the blind,’ leading these toward the ditch of destruction. Never, never could this infamous harlot say with the apostle Paul: “I call you to witness . . . that I am clean from the blood of all men.”—Matthew 15:7-9, 14; 23:13; Acts 20:26.
11, 12. What is the mystery of the “scarlet-colored wild beast” that is carrying the infamous harlot, and what enlightenment did Jehovah’s Witnesses receive on this mystery in 1942?
11 Noting John’s wonderment, the angel said to him: “Why is it you wondered? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the wild beast that is carrying her and that has the seven heads and the ten horns.” (Revelation 17:7) What is this “beast”? More than 600 years earlier, the prophet Daniel had seen visionary beasts, and it had been explained to him that these represented “kings,” or political rulerships here on earth. (Daniel 7:2-8, 17; 8:2-8, 19-22) John here sees in vision a combination of such rulerships—“a scarlet-colored wild beast.” This is the man-made League of Nations that appeared on the world scene in 1920 but plunged into an abyss of inactivity when World War II erupted in 1939. What, though, is “the mystery of the woman and of the wild beast”?
12 By divine providence, Jehovah’s Witnesses received enlightenment on that mystery in 1942. World War II was then raging at its height, and many thought it would escalate into Armageddon. But Jehovah had a different thought! There was still much work for his Witnesses to do! At their New World Theocratic Assembly of September 18-20, 1942, with the key city Cleveland, Ohio, tied in with 51 other locations in the United States, Nathan H. Knorr, president of the Watch Tower Society, gave the public talk, “Peace—Can It Last?” Therein he reviewed Revelation 17:8, which says of the “scarlet-colored wild beast” that it “was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss, and it is to go off into destruction.” He showed how the League of Nations “was” from 1920 to 1939. Then the “is not” stage was reached because of the League’s demise. But after World War II, this combine of nations would ascend out of the abyss. Was that Bible-based forecast fulfilled? Truly it was! In 1945 the international “wild beast” emerged from its abyss of inactivity as the United Nations.
13. How has Babylon the Great continued to pursue her harlotlike ways with the UN “beast”?
13 Babylon the Great, though weakened by her fall, has continued to pursue her harlotlike ways with the UN “beast.” For example, in June 1965, dignitaries from the world’s seven leading branches of religion, so-called Christian and non-Christian, said to represent one half of the world’s population, assembled in San Francisco to celebrate the UN’s 20th birthday.* In that same year, Pope Paul VI described the UN as “the last hope of concord and peace,” and later Pope John Paul II expressed his hope that “the United Nations will ever remain the supreme forum of peace and justice.” In 1986 the world empire of false religion took the lead in sponsoring the UN’s International Year of Peace. But did true peace and security come in response to their religious prayers? Far from it! More and more, member nations of the UN are showing that they have no real love for the great harlot.
Disposing of the Harlot
14. What special service has the UN “beast” to perform, and how is this described by God’s angel?
14 In due course, the “scarlet-colored wild beast” itself must go off into destruction. But before this happens, and even before its final beastly attack on God’s people, that UN beast has a special service to perform. Jehovah puts ‘his thought into the hearts of the wild beast and its militarized horns.’ With what result? God’s angel answers: “And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.” “She glorified herself and lived in shameless luxury,” but now all of this is reversed. Her imposing religious edifices and vast property holdings will not save her. As the angel declares: “That is why in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.”—Revelation 17:16, 17; 18:7, 8.
15. How will the harlot’s political paramours, along with big-business magnates, react to her demise?
15 Her political paramours will lament her demise, declaring: “Too bad, too bad, you great city, Babylon you strong city, because in one hour your judgment has arrived!” Likewise, big-business magnates, who made dishonest profits with her, will “weep and mourn, saying, ‘Too bad, too bad . . . because in one hour such great riches have been devastated!’”—Revelation 18:9-17.
16. What response will God’s people make to the great harlot’s destruction, and how does Revelation confirm this?
16 However, what response will God’s own people make? All of these are included in the angel’s words: “Be glad over her, O heaven, also you holy ones and you apostles and you prophets, because God has judicially exacted punishment for you from her!” With a swift pitch Babylon the Great will have been hurled down, never again to reproach Jehovah’s holy name. The destruction of the great harlot will call for celebration and victory songs in praise of Jehovah. As the first of a series of hallelujah choruses, the joyous refrain will sound forth: “Praise Jah, you people! The salvation and the glory and the power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous. For he has executed judgment upon the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged the blood of his slaves at her hand.”—Revelation 18:20–19:3.
17. After the disposal of the great harlot, how will God’s judgment acts continue to completion?
17 God’s judgment acts will run swiftly on to completion as the “King of kings and Lord of lords,” Christ Jesus, treads “the winepress of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty” at Armageddon. There he will dispose of wicked rulers and all other remaining ones of Satan’s organization on earth. Carrion birds will devour their carcasses. (Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11-21) How happy we should be that God’s appointed time is near for ridding our beautiful earth of everything that is unholy, filthy, and corrupting!
18. What is the grand climax of the book of Revelation?
18 Is that the climax of the book of Revelation? No, not yet! For with the completed resurrection of the 144,000 to heaven, the marriage of the Lamb takes place. His “bride,” adorned for her husband, is installed in “a new heaven,” and from there she descends, figuratively, as her Bridegroom’s helpmeet in carrying out Jehovah’s purpose to ‘make all things new.’ The bride’s spiritual beauty is that of the holy city, New Jerusalem, which Jehovah God the Almighty lights with his glory, and the Lamb is its lamp. (Revelation 21:1-5, 9-11, 23) So here Revelation reaches its grand climax, with Jehovah’s name sanctified and the Lamb, Christ Jesus, along with his bride, New Jerusalem, proceeding to bless obedient mankind with everlasting life in the earthly Paradise.
19. (a) Besides coming out of Babylon the Great, what else is essential to salvation? (b) What urgent invitation is still open, and what should be our response?
19 Have you awakened to the duplicity of false religion and come out of Babylon the Great? And have you taken the further step of coming to Jehovah God, through Christ Jesus, in wholehearted dedication leading to baptism? This too is essential to salvation! As the appointed time for Jehovah’s execution of final judgment draws near, the invitation echoes forth with impelling urgency: “The spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’” May all who heed that call dedicate their lives to Jehovah and be zealous in saying “Come!” to still others. Yes, “let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.” (Revelation 22:17) The invitation is still open. You will be happy indeed if you take your stand and maintain that stand before the throne of God and the Lamb as one of Jehovah’s dedicated, baptized people. The appointed time is nearer than you may think! Yes, the grand climax of Revelation is at hand!
As a conclusion to this week’s Watchtower Study, the conductor should call for the reading of the following Resolution and review it with the help of the questions that are provided. This is the Resolution that was presented worldwide at the “Divine Justice” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1988, at the close of the talk “The Infamous ‘Harlot’—Her Fall and Destruction.”
For obvious reasons, two clauses of the Concordat were kept secret at the time, these dealing with a common front against the Soviet Union and the duties of Catholic priests conscripted in Hitler’s army. Such conscription was a violation of the Treaty of Versailles (1919) to which Germany was still bound; public knowledge of this clause could have disturbed other Versailles signatories.
Franz von Papen was among the Nazis who were tried as war criminals at Nuremberg, Germany, in the late 1940’s. He was acquitted but later drew a stiff sentence from a German denazification court. Still later, in 1959, he was made a Papal Privy Chamberlain.
Commenting on this gathering, Pope Paul VI said: “How truly right and proper it is that a religious convocation for peace has been included among the ceremonies commemorative of the signing of the United Nations Charter twenty years ago.”
[Box on page 11]
THE POPE’S SILENCE
In his book Franz von Papen—His Life and Times, published in 1939, H. W. Blood-Ryan describes in detail the intrigues whereby that papal knight brought Hitler to power and negotiated the Vatican’s concordat with the Nazis. With regard to the terrible pogroms, which included the Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and others, the author states: “Why did Pacelli [Pope Pius XII] keep silent? Because in von Papen’s plan for a Holy Roman Empire of Western Germans he saw in the future a stronger Catholic Church, with the Vatican back again in the seat of temporal power . . . That same Pacelli is now wielding the power of spiritual dictatorship over millions of souls, yet scarcely a whisper was raised at Hitlerian aggression and persecution. . . . As I write these lines, three days of slaughter have passed and not a prayer has come from the Vatican for the souls of the contestants, quite half of whom are Catholic. Terrible will be the reckoning when these men, stripped of all their earthly influences, stand before their God, Who will ask for an accounting. What can be their excuse? Nothing!”
[Box on page 15]
The New York Times of March 6, 1988, reported that the Vatican expected a record budget deficit of $61.8 million for 1988. The paper stated: “One capital expense presumably involves a promise made in 1984 to pay nearly $250 million to the creditors of Banco Ambrosiano. The Vatican was deeply involved with the Milan bank before its collapse in 1982.” So deeply involved in that scandal, indeed, that the Vatican has steadfastly refused to hand over to the authorities three high Vatican officials, including an American archbishop, to stand trial in Italian courts!
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The Vatican shares a terrible bloodguilt with von Papen and Hitler
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Rather than advocate God’s Kingdom, the popes have proclaimed the UN to be ‘the last hope of peace’
Insets: UN photos