Ecumenism & Catholicism
By Dave Hunt
We have noted that the ecumenical movement plays a key role in forming the Antichrist's world religion, which will be a paganized Christianity such as was developed under Constantine and became Roman Catholicism. It is therefore not surprising that behind the scenes, the Catholic Church has been pushing ecumenism for years. It is not only drawing the "separated brethren" of Protestantism back into the fold, but uniting all religions under Rome, as Revelation 17 indicates.
The current pope is the leader of worldwide ecumenism. As such he presents an altogether different picture from the inflexible dogmatist determined to convert the world to Catholicism that most people imagine a pope to personify. On the contrary, John Paul II has taken the initiative in contacting leaders of the world's religions, accepts them as working toward the same goals of social justice, ecological wholeness and world peace, suggests that their prayers are as effective as those of Catholics, and has not attempted to convert any of them. He seems content to be acknowledged as the spiritual leader of the world's religions uniting for peace.
Such a stance on the part of the Pope is entirely consistent with the religious system he represents. As we document in Whatever Happened to Heaven?, Catholicism was formed through a union of "Christianity" and paganism and has always adapted itself to whatever religion it Christianized. Haiti, for example, is said to be 85 percent Catholic and 110 percent Voudun. Every voodoo ceremony begins with Catholic prayers. Likewise the deadly spiritist cult of Santeria is a blend of African witchcraft and Catholicism carried on in the name of "saints" who front for African gods. In Rio de Janeiro, Catholic faithful visit cemeteries to petition the spirits of their ancestors along with the Catholic "saints," etc.
Catholicism's paganized Christianity was developed by Constantine to unite his empire. His genius was knowing the value of religious concord in bringing political unity. He seems to have been the first to understand the necessity of ecumenism in arriving at such harmony. Gorbachev apparently has the same insights and, like Constantine, has found a willing partner in the Roman pontiff.
John Paul II has traveled the world to promote Catholicism's traditional tolerance of pagan religions. At the Universities of Calcutta and New Delhi in his 1986 visit to India, the Pope told huge Hindu audiences that he had not come there to teach them anything but to learn from their "rich spiritual heritage." As worldwide ecumenism's diplomat-at-large he went on to declare,
India's mission...is crucial, because of her intuition of the spiritual nature of man. Indeed, India's greatest contribution to the world can be to offer it a spiritual vision of man.
And the world does well to attend willingly to this ancient wisdom and in it to find enrichment for human living.1
Such praise of Hinduism by the leader of world Christendom seems inconceivable. Yet such tolerant acceptance of all religions is exactly what will be required to unite mankind under Antichrist. We cannot stop the ecumenical movement, but we must rescue as many individuals as possible before it is too late. The Pope has repeatedly made his intentions clear. Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland to leaders of the World Council of Churches representing 400 million Protestants worldwide, John Paul II declared,
From the beginning of my ministry as bishop of Rome, I have insisted that the engagement of the Catholic Church in the ecumenical movement is irreversible.2
The Pope also makes it clear that there can never be any "compromise on the issue of papal authority." Yet this fact seems not to deter Protestant participation in the Pope's ecumenical movement. Nor has it diminished the praise heaped upon him, even by prominent Evangelicals, for his "spiritual and moral leadership."3
John Paul II continues to openly promote New Age pantheistic ideas. Although the New Age movement has been thoroughly exposed by a number of writers, its basic tenets continue to gain an ever wider acceptance, even among evangelicals, and will play an important role for Antichrist. As early as 1961, James I. McCord, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, urged Christians to accept as a gift from God the New Age, with its accompanying syncretization of Christianity and other religions. McCord was pleased to note that "Our most widely read historian, Arnold Toynbee, is an apostle of an amalgam of Christianity and Mahayanian Buddhism."4
The energetic Pope is several steps ahead of both McCord and Toynbee in his personal diplomacy with Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and the adherents of many other religions. Nor is he out of line with such New Age events as The World Instant of Cooperation and Harmonic Convergence. As we have earlier pointed out, John Paul II openly promotes the same belief: That united prayers for peace of every kind, from yoga to witchcraft rituals, are releasing powerful "spiritual energies" to heal our planet. The Roman Catholic Church, like the World Council of Churches, has been promoting global cooperation among all religions for many years.
Toynbee's penchant for a Buddhist-Christian partnership is shared by many prominent religious leaders. Consider the following from Newark's Episcopalian Bishop John S. Spong:
In the fall of 1988, I worshipped God in a Buddhist temple. As the smell of incense filled the air, I knelt before three images of the Buddha, feeling that the smoke could carry my prayers heavenward. It was for me a holy moment for I was certain that I was kneeling on holy ground....
I will not make any further attempt to convert the Buddhist, the Jew, the Hindu or the Moslem. I am content to learn from them and to walk with them side by side toward the God who lives, I believe, beyond the images that bind and blind us.5
"His Holiness" the Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism has long been the Pope's trusted friend and has been well received by Roman Catholic leaders around the world. In 1979, at the start of his first U.S. tour, the Tibetan God-king-in-exile was feted at Roman Catholicism's New York City landmark, St. Patrick's Cathedral, where he participated in a "prayer service" described by Time as "an extraordinary interreligious festival." New York's Terence Cardinal Cooke was the host. The Dalai Lama, who declared that "all the world's major religions are basically the same," was given a standing ovation by the overflow crowd of nearly 5,000.6 Said Cardinal Cooke, who "shared his sanctuary with a rabbi and a Protestant minister as well as his Buddhist guest":
This is one of the dramatic movements of the Spirit in our time. We make each other welcome in our churches, temples and synagogues.7
Which "spirit"? The Cardinal could not have meant the Holy Spirit, whom Christ said would lead His own into all truth (Jn 16:13). Another ecumenical cardinal was Augustine Bea, a Jesuit and 19 years rector of Rome's Pontifical Biblical College. Along with Rome's Pro Deo University, Bea annually co-hosted "Agapes of Brotherhood," attended by hundreds of guests from scores of countries representing the world's major religions from Buddhists and Muslims to Shintoists. Typical of Cardinal Bea's speeches was one at the 7th Agape in which he "stressed the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God, which, he said, embraces all men...."8
Cardinal Bea was Pope Pius XII's personal confessor, close advisor to several other popes, and president of the Secretariat for Promotion of Christian Unity until his death in 1968. He sought out David DuPlessis (known as "Mr. Pentecost"), whom he invited to the third session of the Second Vatican Council.9 Bea saw the blossoming charismatic movement as a vehicle for Rome's ecumenical goals. DuPlessis and other leading Protestant charismatics fell like ripe fruit into his hands. Bea's supporters included such wealthy and influential Americans as Henry Luce of Time, Life and Fortune and shipping magnate J. Peter Grace.
Another guiding hand behind the Charismatic movement,10 who likewise used it to further Rome's ecumenical aims, was Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens, recipient of the 1976 Templeton Award for Progress in Religion. He called Cardinal Bea one of "the 'prophets' of our own age."11 Suenens was given a special mandate to oversee the worldwide charismatic "renewal movement" in the Catholic Church, an assignment that was reconfirmed by John Paul II.
The Cardinal was influential in the General Council formed in the early 1970s by Shepherding and Protestant/Catholic charismatic leaders. This Council guided the ecumenical charismatic movement for years from behind the scenes. The minutes for its May-June, 1977 meeting reveal that a "covenant relationship" was entered into with Cardinal Suenens, which included the following:
We, as a Council, are committing ourselves to work together with the Cardinal for the restoration and unity of Christian people and world evangelization in projects to be mutually agreed upon. In each project, headship, authority and method of functions will be mutually determined by the Cardinal and the Council in the light of the requirements of each situation.
"World evangelization" with Suenens? What naiveté! Cardinal Suenens hosted and gave the opening speech at the Second World Conference on Religion and Peace in Louvain, Belgium in 1974, which received Pope Paul VI's blessing. Delegates were particularly impressed with the important role that religious unity will play in establishing the coming world government. A continual call was sounded for "a new world order." Under Catholic leadership, the Louvain Declaration stated,
Buddhists, Christians, Confucianists, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Shintoists, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and still others, we have sought here to listen to the spirit within our varied and venerable religious traditions...we have grappled with the towering issues that our societies must resolve in order to bring about peace, justice, and ennobling quality of life for every person and every people....
We rejoice that...the long era of prideful and even prejudiced isolation of the religions of humanity is, we hope, now gone forever.12
We appeal to the religious communities of the world to inculcate the attitude of planetary citizenship ....13
The World Conference president for many years was a Catholic archbishop from India. The Third World Conference, held in Princeton in 1978, concluded "with a worship service at [New York's] Saint Patrick's Cathedral, where Cardinal Terence Cooke [was] the host"14 to members of dozens of religions "worshiping" together.
Even the prayer breakfasts bringing political and religious leaders together across America and patterned after the one which began in Washington, D.C.—originally conceived by evangelicals as opportunities for a clear witness to Jesus Christ—have largely deteriorated into ecumenical platforms for the acceptance of all religions. "Participating groups" at Los Angeles's annual Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, for example, "range from the Board of Rabbis and the Buddhist Sangha Council to...the Bahai faith."15
An entire volume could be filled with similar examples. The Pope's gathering of leaders from 12 world religions at Assisi in 1986 to pray for peace inspired similar efforts worldwide. Typical is the North American Assisi: A Multi-Religious Meeting, sponsored by the North American Interfaith Network, started by The Temple of Understanding. North American Assisi's promotional material boasts of bringing together on an equal footing "Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, Native North Americans, Shintoists, Sikhs, Unitarian Universalists, and Zoroastrians."
At such gatherings it would be in very bad taste, if not forbidden, for Jesus Christ to present Himself and declare, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (Jn 14:6). Such dogmatism is not tolerated by those who preach tolerance for all beliefs. Yet who is the more dogmatic—the One who made this true statement, or those who ban it?
The proper Christian attitude toward such gatherings is easily ascertained. Try to imagine the Apostle Paul's reaction if he learned that Timothy was sponsoring an "interfaith" prayer service to which he invited participation by the Jewish Sanhedrin, excommunicated "Christian" heretics, and priests from pagan temples!
The confusion when those who call themselves "Christians" go along with such compromise for the good cause of world peace is illustrated by the third annual World Instant of Cooperation as it was celebrated in Wichita, Kansas, December 31, 1988. This worldwide "prayer service" was held simultaneously "in over 70 countries and in cities throughout the United States." The official program, which included talks and prayers by Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Christians, opened with the hymn "Amazing Grace" and concluded with "a song by the Community Baptist Choir."
Jesus warned that "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth to life," but "broad is the way that leadeth to destruction" (Mat 7:13). The Apostle Paul was so concerned for the truth that while at Ephesus he "by the space of three years...ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." (Acts 20:31). Jesus told those who claimed to believe in Him, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn 8:31-32). Let us be lovers of truth, and disciple others in the pure Truth of God.TBC