The Significance of the Pope’s Visit to Ukraine
The recent five-day visit by the Pope to Ukraine was of considerable significance for the expansion of the European Union. In his farewell address to Ukraine, the Pope stated, “My hope is that Ukraine will be able fully to become part of Europe, which will take in the entire continent from the Atlantic to the Urals”. The Ukrainian President, Leonid Kuchma, claimed that the Pope’s visit was a decisive step for Ukraine as it continued its efforts to join the European Union. Well do national leaders realise the influential part the Papacy plays in the revived Holy Roman Empire, which the EU really is. However, one obstacle to expansion to the east is the centuries-old enmity between the Roman and Orthodox Churches, despite many similarities in ritual and doctrine.
The Pope’s visit also had great significance for the relationship between the two religious systems. One of his main objectives in visiting Ukraine was to promote ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox, and he appears to have achieved some success. The Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, has indicated that this dialogue is continuing, despite disagreements over the papal visit to Ukraine.
However, there are severe tensions within Orthodox ranks, which the Papacy is skilfully exploiting. These stem from the situation in Ukraine, where three different groups are contending for authority. The Moscow Patriarchate claims that the only authentic group is the one which acknowledges its authority, while the other two are schismatic. But the Patriarchate of Constantinople is now fraternising with the two other groups, who are planning to merge and hoping to gain recognition from Constantinople as the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The Moscow Patriarchate warned that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is bringing the Orthodox world to the brink of “a schism identical to that of 1054” (the year when Constantinople split from Rome).
So confident is the Vatican of having overcome the opposition of Russian Orthodoxy that it is now talking of a papal visit to Moscow. One report says that the Pope has demonstrated in Ukraine his ability to appeal directly to Orthodox people, with or without the approval of their bishops.
Once again we see the Papacy’s naked ambition for universal dominion. May God in His mercy bring about its speedy and utter downfall. We must pray also that the liberating gospel of the grace of God would go forth throughout Ukraine and round about. Only the truth will set free those who are in bondage to those religions which dupe sinners into thinking they can obtain righteousness by the works of the law.
Rome’s Plans for the Future
Like all major influential institutions, the Church of Rome plans well in advance. At the end of May, about 150 cardinals convened in Rome from around the world ostensibly to discuss the future of their Church but in reality to prepare for the papal succession. Because of the Pope’s failing health, the three-day conclave was widely seen as a rehearsal for the conclave when a successor will be chosen.
The ideal candidate, said one newspaper, is someone who “speaks a couple of languages, knows well the problems of the Third World and the crisis of faith in the West, and is in favour of moderate reforms but without upsetting the traditionalists”. The Papacy is set to continue living up to its motto, Semper eadem, maintaining its heretical tenets, authoritarian rule and international influence. But the time of its predicted destruction will come.
As to Roman Catholicism in England and Wales, the man regarded as its next likely leader is Timothy Radcliffe, 55, a Dominican priest, who is Master of the Dominicans worldwide and described as “the most important Englishman in Rome”. A descendant of the Earls of Derwentwater and a cousin of the Duke of Norfolk, who is the leading Roman Catholic peer in Britain, Radcliffe would no doubt move with ease in high society and the corridors of power, and effectively promote Romanism.
As we wonder about the future, let us look in faith to Christ, the Head of His body the Church, who knows the end from the beginning. Not only does He know the glorious future of His Church in the world; He has promised, “Upon this rock [Christ] I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Popes and proud princes of papal Rome make their proposals for the future, but it is the King of saints who disposes all things according to the counsel of His will, for His own glory and the triumph of His Church.