Tsar Canonised in Moscow
One of the largest-ever declarations of saints by the Russian
Orthodox Church took place in mid-August. By far the most prominent of the
hundreds who were canonised was the last of the Tsars, Nicolas II, shot with
his family at the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917.
The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad had already canonised Nicolas
in 1981, following reports of miracles associated with him, and the Church
in the homeland was following that lead. These miracles included icon portraits
of him weeping beads of fragrant liquid. Publicity is also being given to claims
that some have received help through "the intercessions of the Tsar-Martyr
Nicolas". (He is claimed as a martyr because he and his family were shot
by atheist Communists.)
The fact is that the Russian Orthodox Church is similar to the
Roman Catholic Church in doctrine, and likewise has a predilection for persecuting
those who adhere to the Scriptures. In fact, Tsar Nicolas was himself a persecutor.
Russian Orthodox authorities accept that he was not an ideal ruler; he oversaw
the Russian troops who in 1905 opened fire on peaceful strikers carrying his
portrait. But the crucial factor in the eyes of those who promoted his canonisation
is the fact that he was primate of the Church.
The fact is that, no matter how holy God’s children may be in
this life, they cannot attain to any higher category of sainthood than other
believers. Their confession must be the same as Paul’s, "O wretched man
that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom 7:24).
Paul would have been shocked at the thought that he, or any other of God’s
true saints – and all believers are saints – would be credited with being,
after their death, workers of miracles or intercessors in heaven. No one should
doubt that, in this life, "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous
man availeth much" (James 5:16), but the idea that any of God’s creatures
are making intercession for us in heaven is totally without scriptural authority.
It is false.
The canonisation ceremony took place in a prominent cathedral
rebuilt in the 1990s at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds, the previous
building having been demolished by Stalin. The lavish style of the cathedral
is utterly in line with the sheer outwardness of Russian Orthodox worship.
Two Popes Beatified in Rome
Popular opinion among Roman Catholics is that Pope John XXIII,
who died in 1963, was a saintly man, and worthy of beatification by the present
Pope last month. (This is the step which leads eventually to being pronounced
by Rome to be a saint). But informed Protestants believe that only those who
are justified by faith in Christ alone (which the popes are not) are saints.
Nor will they forget that John XXIII, who called the Second Vatican Council,
did more to advance ecumenism and draw uninformed Protestants into the papal
net than did any of his predecessors. Some conservative Roman Catholics are
of the opinion that he went too far in that direction.
If this beatification won the approval of Roman Catholics generally,
beatifying the other pope, Pius IX, was an entirely different matter to most
of them. He was strongly against the Jews and denounced democracy. He was also
ultra-conservative, resolutely reactionary, and the most autocratic pontiff
since the Middle Ages. So unpopular was he that, at the time of his death in
1878, an attempt was made by the citizens of Rome to throw his dead body into
the River Tiber. At the beatification ceremony his continued unpopularity was
indicated by the scattered applause which greeted the announcement of his name
by the Pope, in contrast to the roar of approval which greeted the announcement
of the name of John XXIII.
It was Pius IX who in 1854 pronounced the completely unscriptural
dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary – that she is the only
person apart from Christ who was born free of original sin, and as a consequence
was able to live a sinless life. In 1864 he published the Syllabus of Errors – a
list of 80 propositions confirming, and adding to, Roman Catholic doctrine.
For example, Proposition 17 states, "The eternal salvation of any out
of the true Church of Christ [meaning, the Roman Catholic Church] is not even
to be hoped for". Proposition 77 says, "It is necessary even in the
present day that the Catholic religion shall be held as the only religion of
the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of religion". The Syllabus
continues to be an important part of Roman Catholic policy. Pius IX also convened
the First Vatican Council of 1870, which pronounced the dogma of Papal Infallibility – that
the pope, when ex cathedra defining doctrine regarding faith and morals,
does so infallibly, and that "therefore such definitions of the Roman
Pontiff are irreformable".
Why then beatify Pius IX? The German newspaper Die Welt says
that "it was not the politician Pius IX who was beatified on Sunday, but
the devout Christian who strengthened the Church in the aftermath of nineteenth
century national revolutions". What the present Pope is publicly acknowledging
is the fact that Pius IX did so much to undergird papal power. His beatification
is a clear signal to the watching world that Rome is indeed semper idem – always
the same, essentially – and that she is determined to maintain and increase
Arrogant Claims from the Papal Antichrist
In the recent Vatican declaration Dominus Iesus, the Church
of Rome asserts that other Churches, apart from the Eastern Orthodox Churches, "suffer
from defects". The principal defect, according to this declaration is
the refusal to accept the supreme authority of the pope: other Churches "do
not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will
of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church".
Only the Roman Catholic Church, the document continues, has been entrusted
with, and possesses, the "fulness of grace and truth".
The document also claims that Protestant churches "are not
Churches in the proper sense" because they "have not preserved the
valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic
mystery" – that is, they are not under papal episcopacy nor do they have
the Romish mass.
The document, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, formerly known as the Inquisition, is addressed primarily to Roman
bishops and theologians, and appears to be a shot across the bows of those
among them who have been sailing too fast in their ecumenical voyage. We doubt,
however, if the document will dampen the ardour of some professedly-Protestant
ecumenists. The Archbishop of Canterbury, while taking exception to some of
the exclusivist language of the document, stated, "It is important that
we recognise and celebrate ecumenical progress. It is a task to which I remain
fully committed." Meanwhile, a Methodist spokesman, while disappointed
by the tone of the pronouncement, does not think that "it will jeopardise
the good relationships at either local or national level".
The document confirms (if that were necessary) that the Church
of Rome continues arrogantly to claim that it is the only true Church.
Its proud and preposterous assertion that it alone possesses the "fulness
of grace and truth" is patently a lie. The Church of Rome in fact peddles
a most dangerous concoction under the label of truth – a mixture which is all
the more dangerous because it contains a measure of orthodoxy, and appears
to many to be genuine.
The Queen’s Proposed Apology to the Pope
It is reported that the Queen will visit the Pope this month
and that she will hear his proposed expression of regret about religious conflicts
of the past. It is believed that his apology will be along the lines of the
statement of the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in
1998: "It must also be acknowledged that in the name of the Catholic religion
terrible wrongs were done, for example, to Protestants at the time of the Reformation
in Great Britain as elsewhere."
A Buckingham Palace source indicated that the Queen would reciprocate
any expression of sorrow made by the Pope. Considering that our pro-Roman Catholic
Prime Minister will play a part in drafting the Queen’s message to the Pope,
we may surmise that her statement will satisfy the unnamed senior Roman bishop
who, in commenting on the proposed meeting, said, "There has never been
an acknowledgment of the wrongs done to the Catholic population and such a
gesture would be very welcome." The Bishop, we are told, was probably
referring, among other things, "to the suppression of Catholicism in England
after the Reformation".
The Pope’s apologies may be viewed, to quote the BBC, as "part
of a wider effort in the jubilee year for the Catholic Church to reconcile
itself to its often turbulent history", but we cannot view them as anything
other than politically-motivated actions intended to pave the way for the further
advancement of papal influence in the UK. And never can the Pope atone for
Rome’s murderous treatment of large numbers of Protestants in England, Scotland
and Ireland (at least 100 000 perished in 1641 in Ireland).
As for suppressing Roman Catholicism in England in the reign
of Queen Elizabeth, it is conveniently forgotten that Pius V in 1569 excommunicated
the Queen, and later that year declared that she was deposed and her subjects
absolved from their allegiance. Counter-Reformation activists such as Edmund
Campion were not Christian missionaries and martyrs, as claimed by Rome, but
were political agents sent to destabilise the English throne and impose a foreign
Roman Catholic monarch on the nation by force. It was altogether just that
such men should have been punished. They were loyal servants of Rome and enemies
of England and its sovereign. It would be shameful indeed if our Queen were
to apologise for what one of her predecessors did in justly punishing such
enemies of the nation.
In any case, it alarms and saddens her loyal Protestant subjects
in Britain that our Queen should not only visit the Pope (for the third time)
but also dress in the penitential black of a non-Roman Catholic sovereign.
We fear that such deference to the papacy bodes ill for Protestantism in Britain.
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