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This is a timely and compelling account of the three-way, winner-take-all struggle for control of the first one-world government that could be our destiny, from Vatican insider and bestselling author Malachi Martin. "Provocative."-- Kirkus Reviews.
"Everything Must Change!"
On October 14, 1978, a new era began for the Roman Catholic Church and its nearly one billion adherents around the world. And with it, the curtains were raised on the first act of the global competition that would end a thousand years of history as completely as if a nuclear war had been fought. A drama that would leave no regions or nations or individuals as they had been before. A drama that is now well under way and is already determining the very way of life that in every place every nation will live for generations to come.
On that October day, the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church assembled in the Vatican from around the world for the second time in barely two months. Only in August, they had elected Cardinal Albino Luciani of Venice as Pope John Paul I. Still in shock at the sudden -- some said suspicious -- death of the man now sadly called the "September Pope," they had convened to settle on a new man from among their contentious and divided ranks who could lead this unique two-thousand-year-old global institution at a time when it seemed in immediate danger of painful self-destruction.
Before and after any papal Conclave, discretion is normally the watchword for every Cardinal Elector. But, on this day, Joseph Cardinal Malula of Zaire did not care who in St. Peter's Square might hear his views about what kind of pope the Church must have. A stocky, well-built man with brilliant eyes and expressive mouth, Malula gestured at the Vatican buildings all around him, then struck a sharp blow against one of Bernini's columns with the flat of his hand. "All that imperial paraphernalia," he declared, "all that! Everythingmust change.!"
At 6:18 P.M. on the second day of Conclave, fifty-eight-year-old Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Krakow emerged on the eighth ballot as the new ceremonial papal coronation, John Paul held a press conference for two thousand journalists in the Vatican. On the same day he addressed 125 members of the Vatican diplomatic corps representing over one hundred countries. If such a practice was not unusual in itself, the message on both occasions was certainly new in the all-encompassing international framework that was sketched out. "It is not our business," he said, "to judge the actions of government....But there is no way the dignity and the rights of all men and every human individual can be served unless that dignity and those rights are seen as founded on the life, death and resurrection of Christ....
"The Church seeks no privileges for herself," he went on, "but we do desire a dialogue with the nation." Even though the Church's diplomatic relations with so many countries "do not necessarily imply the approval of one or another regime -- that is not our business." Nevertheless, the Pontiff went on in a sort of summary preview of the scope of his interests, "we have an appreciation of the positive temporal values, a willingness for dialogue with those who are legitimately charged with the common good of society, and an understanding of their role, which is often difficult."
Clearly, this Pope portended more than a soft and appealing personal style in his pontificate; he was pointing early and with startling frankness to a new road of papal internationalism. But what -- or whose -- positive temporal values did he have in mind? And who among temporal leaders did he include among those "legitimately charged with the common good of society"? More pointedly, some began to wonder, who was excluded?
If those questions were not raised in public, they were surely raised in more than one political chancery and boardroom around the world.
Then there was the matter of his ceremonial coronation. Actually, it was not a coronation at all, for he refused to have the papal tiara placed on his head as the symbol that he was now, among other things and in the language of the ceremonial, "the Father of Princes and Kings."
That refusal was not entirely new in itself. His immediate predecessor, the "September Pope," had been the first to break with that ancient custom. Was John Paul II's behavior a sign of defiance? A sign that he had no fear of the fate of the "September Pope"? Perhaps. Was it a soothing democratic gesture after his unsettling policy speeches of a few days before? Surely, there were those who hoped as much.
Popes rarely explain such ceremonial behavior. In his own break with papal custom, however, John Paul gave the most public explanation imaginable. To all those gathered around him in St. Peter's, and to the estimated billion or so people around the world watching on television, the Pontiff gave a glimpse of his mind as Pope, and a look at the vigorous papal policies that would soon prove so troublesome to so many.
"This is not a time," he said, "to return to a ceremony and to an object" -- the tiara itself -- "that is wrongly considered to be a symbol of temporal power of the Pope."
Very soon, his actions and overt policies would illustrate over and over again the meaning of his words: John Paul's firm belief that neither tiara nor the power symbolized by such a thing was an adequate expression of the divine claim he did indeed have to exercise spiritual authority and moral primacy over all those who wield such temporal power in our lives.
About the scope of that authority and primacy he tried to leave as little doubt as possible, that October day. Speaking successively in ten languages, he gave to the world a message that was explicit and direct. "Open wide the doors of Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture and civilization and development. Do not be afraid....I want your support in this, my mission."
There were those in very high places who understood and winced at the global reach John Paul seemed ready to make his own as Pope. Some powerful leaders at the helm of those states whose boundaries the Pope wanted open to him would not be entirely happy to oblige. Hard-driving leaders of economic and political systems he referred to. with their own plans for development well along in the "vast fields of culture and civilization," would not willingly open those fields to this Pope or any other. And not least among those who took the point, and winced, were some among the highest of John Paul's own clergy, in and out of the Vatican.
John Paul anticipated those reactions, and later learned about them in some detail. What seemed more remarkable was the seeming lack of interest demonstrated by the media around the world in what was a stunning glimpse into the heart of the new papacy. Still, if he was worried about either the international concern or the seeming indifference in the media, he gave no sign of it.
Instead, shortly after his election, John Paul gave yet another clear notice of how sweeping he intended his policies to be.
His intention, he said, was "to start anew on the road of history and of the Church, to start with the help of God and with the help of man."
Lest anyone mistake his mind on the subject of temporal power, or perhaps in answer to a worried complaint or two, the new Pontiff addressed the same point again at his first papal Mass. With St. Peter's filled to the last seat by many of the leaders he most intended to reach, he declared: "We have no intentions of political interference, nor of interfering in the working out of temporal affairs....It is not our business to judge the actions of governments."
Fevered diplomatic brows were not soothed, however. The unasked question in many minds was obvious: "But Your Holiness does intend to insert yourself into our temporal affairs -- to cross our political and cultural and economic boundaries. But if not as a wielder of temporal power yourself, in what guise, then, Holiness?"
Apparently, the media at large could still
Posted December 10, 2000
A most engaging book focusing on the role of the Vatican and its influence on the geopolical realm. An excellent and authentic portrayl of the role religion plays in politics from behind the scenes, Well worth reading in this age.
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