1. What does one of the seven angels reveal to John?
JEHOVAH’S righteous anger must be poured out to completion, seven bowls of it! When the sixth angel emptied his bowl at the location of ancient Babylon, it fittingly symbolized the plaguing of Babylon the Great as events move swiftly toward the final war of Armageddon. (Revelation 16:1, 12, 16) Likely, it is this same angel that now reveals why and how Jehovah executes his righteous judgments. John is struck with wonderment at what he next hears and sees: “And one of the seven angels that had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying: ‘Come, I will show you the judgment upon the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, whereas those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.’”—Revelation 17:1, 2.
2. What evidence is there that “the great harlot” (a) is not ancient Rome? (b) is not big business? (c) is a religious entity?
2 “The great harlot”! Why so shocking a designation? Who is she? Some have identified this symbolic harlot with ancient Rome. But Rome was a political power. This harlot commits fornication with the kings of the earth, and this evidently includes the kings of Rome. Besides, after her destruction, “the kings of the earth” are said to mourn her passing. Therefore, she cannot be a political power. (Revelation 18:9, 10) Additionally, since she is mourned also by the world’s merchants, she could not picture big business. (Revelation 18:15, 16) We read, however, that ‘by her spiritistic practice all the nations were misled.’ (Revelation 18:23) This makes it clear that the great harlot must be a worldwide religious entity.
3. (a) Why must the great harlot symbolize more than the Roman Catholic Church or even all of Christendom? (b) What Babylonish doctrines are to be found in most Oriental religions as well as in the sects of Christendom? (c) What did Roman Catholic cardinal John Henry Newman admit regarding the origin of many of Christendom’s doctrines, ceremonies, and practices? (See footnote.)
3 Which religious entity? Is she the Roman Catholic Church, as some have maintained? Or is she all of Christendom? No, she must be even larger than these if she is to mislead all the nations. She is, in fact, the entire world empire of false religion. Her origin in the mysteries of Babylon is shown in that many Babylonish doctrines and practices are common to religions around the earth. For example, belief in the inherent immortality of the human soul, in a hell of torment, and in a trinity of gods is to be found in most Oriental religions as well as in the sects of Christendom. False religion, spawned more than 4,000 years ago in the ancient city of Babylon, has developed into the modern monstrosity that is called, appropriately, Babylon the Great.* Why, though, is she described by the repugnant term “the great harlot”?
4. (a) In what ways did ancient Israel commit fornication? (b) In what outstanding way has Babylon the Great committed fornication?
4 Babylon (or Babel, meaning “Confusion”) came to its peak of greatness in Nebuchadnezzar’s time. It was a religio-political state with more than a thousand temples and chapels. Its priesthood exercised great power. Though Babylon has long since ceased to exist as a world power, religious Babylon the Great lives on, and after the ancient pattern, she still seeks to influence and mold political affairs. But does God approve of religion in politics? In the Hebrew Scriptures, Israel was said to prostitute herself when she got involved with false worship and when, instead of trusting in Jehovah, she made alliances with the nations. (Jeremiah 3:6, 8, 9; Ezekiel 16:28-30) Babylon the Great also commits fornication. Outstandingly, she has done whatever she deems expedient in order to gain influence and power over the ruling kings of the earth.—1 Timothy 4:1.
5. (a) What limelight do religious clergymen enjoy? (b) Why is a desire for worldly prominence a direct contradiction of the words of Jesus Christ?
5 Today, religious leaders frequently campaign for high government office, and in some lands, they share in government, even holding cabinet posts. In 1988 two well-known Protestant clergymen ran for the office of president of the United States. Leaders in Babylon the Great love the limelight; their photos are often to be seen in the public press as they consort with prominent politicians. In contrast, Jesus shunned political involvement and said of his disciples: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.”—John 6:15; 17:16; Matthew 4:8-10; see also James 4:4.
6, 7. (a) How did Hitler’s Nazi Party come to power in Germany? (b) How did the concordat that the Vatican made with Nazi Germany help Hitler in his push for world domination?
6 Through her meddling in politics, the great harlot has brought untold sorrow to mankind. Consider, for example, the facts behind Hitler’s rise to power in Germany—ugly facts that some would like to expunge from the history books. In May 1924 the Nazi Party held 32 seats in the German Reichstag. By May 1928 these had dwindled to 12 seats. However, the Great Depression engulfed the world in 1930; riding in its wake, the Nazis made a remarkable recovery, gaining 230 out of 608 seats in the German elections of July 1932. Soon after, former chancellor Franz von Papen, a Papal Knight, came to the Nazis’ aid. According to historians, von Papen envisioned a new Holy Roman Empire. His own short tenure as chancellor had been a failure, so now he hoped to gain power through the Nazis. By January 1933, he had mustered support for Hitler from the industrial barons, and through wily intrigues he ensured that Hitler became Germany’s chancellor on January 30, 1933. He himself was made vice-chancellor and was used by Hitler to win the support of Catholic sections of Germany. Within two months of gaining power, Hitler dissolved parliament, dispatched thousands of opposition leaders to concentration camps, and began an open campaign of oppressing the Jews.
7 On July 20, 1933, the Vatican’s interest in the rising power of Nazism was displayed when Cardinal Pacelli (who later became Pope Pius XII) signed a concordat in Rome between the Vatican and Nazi Germany. Von Papen signed the document as Hitler’s representative, and Pacelli there conferred on von Papen the high papal decoration of the Grand Cross of the Order of Pius.* In his book Satan in Top Hat, Tibor Koeves writes of this, stating: “The Concordat 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.” The concordat required the Vatican to withdraw its support from Germany’s Catholic Center Party, thus sanctioning Hitler’s one-party “total state.”* Further, its article 14 stated: “The appointments for archbishops, bishops, and the like will be issued only after the governor, installed by the Reich, has duly ascertained that no doubts exist with respect to general political considerations.” By the end of 1933 (proclaimed a “Holy Year” by Pope Pius XI), Vatican support had become a major factor in Hitler’s push for world domination.
8, 9. (a) How did the Vatican as well as the Catholic Church and its clergy react to the Nazi tyranny? (b) What statement did the German Catholic bishops issue at the start of World War II? (c) In what have religio-political relationships resulted?
8 Though a handful of priests and nuns protested Hitler’s atrocities—and suffered for it—the Vatican as well as the Catholic Church and its army of clergy gave either active or tacit support to the Nazi tyranny, which they regarded as a bulwark against the advance of world Communism. Sitting pretty in the Vatican, Pope Pius XII let the Holocaust on the Jews and the cruel persecutions of Jehovah’s Witnesses and others proceed uncriticized. It is ironical that Pope John Paul II, on visiting Germany in May 1987, should glorify the anti-Nazi stand of one sincere priest. What were the other thousands of the German clergy doing during Hitler’s reign of terror? A pastoral letter issued by the German Catholic bishops in September 1939 at the outbreak of World War II provides enlightenment on this point. It reads in part: “In this decisive hour we admonish our Catholic soldiers to do their duty in obedience to the Fuehrer and to be ready to sacrifice their whole individuality. We appeal to the Faithful to join in ardent prayers that Divine Providence may lead this war to blessed success.”
9 Such Catholic diplomacy illustrates the kind of harlotry that religion has engaged in over the past 4,000 years in wooing the political State in order to gain power and advantage. Such religio-political relationships have fostered warfare, persecutions, and human misery on a vast scale. How happy mankind can be that Jehovah’s judgment upon the great harlot is at hand. May it soon be executed!
Sitting on Many Waters
10. What are the “many waters” that Babylon the Great looks to for protection, and what is happening to them?
10 Ancient Babylon sat on many waters—the Euphrates River and numerous canals. These were a protection to her as well as a source of commerce producing wealth, until they dried up in one night. (Jeremiah 50:38; 51:9, 12, 13) Babylon the Great also looks to “many waters” to protect and enrich her. These symbolic waters are “peoples and crowds and nations and tongues,” that is, all the thousands of millions of humans over whom she has dominated and from whom she has drawn material support. But these waters are also drying up, or withdrawing support.—Revelation 17:15; compare Psalm 18:4; Isaiah 8:7.
11. (a) How did ancient Babylon ‘make all the earth drunk’? (b) How has Babylon the Great ‘made all the earth drunk’?
11 Further, Babylon of old was described as “a golden cup in the hand of Jehovah, she making all the earth drunk.” (Jeremiah 51:7) Ancient Babylon forced neighboring nations to swallow expressions of Jehovah’s anger when she conquered them militarily, making them as weak as drunken men. In that respect, she was Jehovah’s instrument. Babylon the Great, too, has made conquests to the point of becoming a worldwide empire. But she is certainly not God’s instrument. Rather, she has served “the kings of the earth” with whom she commits religious fornication. She has gratified these kings by using her lying doctrines and enslaving practices to keep the masses of the people, “those who inhabit the earth,” weak as drunken men, passively subservient to their rulers.
12. (a) How was a segment of Babylon the Great in Japan responsible for much bloodshed during World War II? (b) How were “waters” in support of Babylon the Great withdrawn in Japan, and with what result?
12 Shinto Japan provides a notable example of this. The indoctrinated Japanese soldier regarded it as the highest honor to give his life for the emperor—the supreme Shinto god. During World War II, some 1,500,000 Japanese soldiers died in battle; almost to a man, they looked at surrender as dishonorable. But as a consequence of Japan’s defeat, Emperor Hirohito was compelled to renounce his claim to divinity. This resulted in a notable withdrawing of the “waters” supporting the Shinto segment of Babylon the Great—alas, after Shintoism had sanctioned the shedding of buckets of blood in the Pacific war theater! This weakening of Shinto influence also opened the way in recent years for more than 200,000 Japanese, the great majority of whom were formerly Shintoists and Buddhists, to become dedicated, baptized ministers of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.
Indicating the non-Christian origin of many of apostate Christendom’s doctrines, ceremonies, and practices, 19th-century Roman Catholic cardinal John Henry Newman wrote in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine: “The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on the fields; sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison [the song “Lord, Have Mercy”], are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church.”
Rather than sanctify such idolatry, “Jehovah the Almighty” admonishes Christians: “Get out from among them, and separate yourselves, . . . and quit touching the unclean thing.”—2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
[Box on page 237]
Churchill Exposes ‘Harlotry’
In his book The Gathering Storm (1948), Winston Churchill reports that Hitler appointed Franz von Papen as German minister to Vienna for “the undermining or winning over of leading personalities in Austrian politics.” Churchill quotes the U.S. minister in Vienna as saying of von Papen: “In the boldest and most cynical manner . . . Papen proceeded to tell me that . . . he intended to use his reputation as a good Catholic to gain influence with Austrians like Cardinal Innitzer.”
After Austria had capitulated and Hitler’s storm troopers had goose-stepped into Vienna, Catholic cardinal Innitzer ordered that all Austrian churches fly the swastika flag, ring their bells, and pray for Adolf Hitler in honor of his birthday.
[Box/Picture on page 238]
This item appeared in the first edition only of The New York Times, December 7, 1941, the same day Nazi Germany’s ally Japan attacked Pearl Harbor
‘WAR PRAYER’ FOR REICH
Catholic Bishops at Fulda Ask Blessing and Victory
By Telephone to THE NEW YORK TIMES
FULDA, Germany, Dec. 6
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.”