This is the Bible in the News, brought to you this week by Paul Billington. And among the many news items deserving our attention this week, comes a horror story from Ireland - a horror story that the Catholic Church has kept locked up in secret archives for many decades, and one which demonstrates the of a system predicted in by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians of the first century.
The apostle wrote about a system of wickedness: "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thess. 2:9-12).
Well, if ever there was a system possessed of "all deceivableness of unrighteousness" - we see it in the one which news stories have brought before the world's attention this week. A report released on Thursday, says the Associated Press:
"analyzes the cases of 46 priests against whom 320 complaints were filed. The 46 were selected from more than 150 Dublin priests implicated in molesting or raping boys and girls since 1940. Eleven priests convicted of child abuse are named in the report, but 33 are referred to by aliases and two have their names blacked out because they have yet to face justice. The report rejected past bishops' key claim that they were ignorant of both the scale and criminality of priests' abuse of children - showing that the Dublin Archdiocese negotiated a 1987 insurance policy for future legal costs of defending lawsuits and compensation claims."
According to London's Daily Telegraph "The structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated that cover-up." The paper says that: "Authorities enjoyed a cosy relationship with the Church and did not enforce the law as four archbishops, obsessed with secrecy and avoiding scandal, protected abusers and reputations at all costs, the report said..."
As we read this dreadful news, we are brought to consider not only the cover-up, but the "cosy relationship" existing between authorities (including police and other public figures) and the Catholic Church. This is expressed in the symbolic language of Revelation 17:1-2,
"... the great whore that sitteth upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication."
So what does this system keep locked away in its secret archives? Child abuse in Ireland and other countries is now known - but other secrets remain, especially those relating to Church crimes associated with the Holocaust. In a recent interview discussion with Sir Martin Gilbert, the well-known historian, I raised this question. Here is part of our discussion:
"I read in the paper the other day that you had made an appeal to the Vatican to let go of their wartime archives. Any luck?"
Martin Gilbert: "I was put in a very difficult position, The late pope asked me to come and see him to talk about the potential canonization of Pius XII which he very much believed in. But I thought it over and I discussed it with some of my close friends and my wife, and I felt that it would be quite wrong for a Jewish person to become involved in what is essentially a Catholic theological debate - canonization - whatever my views on Pius XII. You know, that really is not something what a Jewish person could do. And I replied to the pope and reminded him of when I had approached him for help when I was collecting material for my book on the Righteous Christians - the Christians that saved Jews during the Second World War. And I asked him if it was true - the story which I had been told by an American Jewish person, that his parents had been murdered in the Holocaust, and his mother had given him to a Roman Catholic couple near Krakow. And after the war when the pope was a young priest, this mother had come to him and said, I am a Catholic, this is my son, but he is in fact the child of two Jews, can I bring him up as a Roman Catholic?
"I asked the pope - I wrote to him and said, can he confirm this, as I would like to tell the story - And the Cardinal Secretary of State wrote back to me and said that the pope had the letter and he read it and he was very interested in my work and wished me well; he knew my work but he couldn't answer the question because the advice which he gave to the woman was given in the confessional and were he to reveal it, he would be subject to excommunication. So I thought, well, I don't think a Jewish lad should be responsible for the excommunication of the pope of Rome - I mean, that would be an unpleasant and historical first, so I reminded him of that, and said I feel the same is true in regard to the canonization of Pius, but, and I can't as a Jew answer - but I became - did a lot of work in the course of my book on the Righteous and I wrote about Pius, and some of the things were positive and so the Vatican took me up - if you like - they liked it and they made a lot of it, and they even gave me some bizarre - I mean I appreciated it, but it was a strange - one of twelve people of the year because of what I had written. And then they started quoting something from my book which was accurate in itself, but not in the full context. So I felt I have to say something - and then Just as I was about to make a statement, pope Benedict said that this subject should be held in abeyance, should be dropped for a while, and that in due course the archives would be opened, but not - I think he said thirteen years - some very long period. I am already 72 and you know, by 85 I may not be quite as vigorous a researcher as I may now still be. So I decided to write and say that this really is an absurd situation. You have the archives, make them available now."
So the archives remain hidden from public view, while the Catholic Church continues to enjoy her glory in the eyes of a deceived world.
The Bible has told us all about it of course, but people don't want to believe it.
This corrupt and wicked world in which we presently sojourn is to be swept away by Jesus Christ upon his return. In that day we are told that the peoples of the world will be enlightened by the Truth, as we read in Jeremiah 16:19-21.
"...the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is The LORD (Yahweh)."