The European Dream and the Papacy
Pope Francis recently joined past popes in calling for Europe to unite and “rediscover its vocation.” What’s behind the pope’s dream of a united Europe?
“Together for Europe” is a grassroots movement that promotes a united Europe “from the Atlantic to the Urals” (a term used previously by Polish Pope John Paul II). It also promotes a “multifaceted Europe, with strong social cohesion and cultural diversity.”
Supporters of this movement recently met together in Munich, Germany. The event was attended by over 300 different communities and churches. The Irish Catholic quoted one church leader who said it was “great to realise there is a network of communities and movements around Europe who have a spiritual vision of Europe’s identity.”
The group even caught the attention of the pope.
Greetings from the pope
Just over a week after Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU), Pope Francis addressed “Together for Europe” in a video message and encouraged them to “extend it further.”
Pope Francis said, “I know that you are gathered in Munich … for your meeting called ‘Encounter—Reconciliation—Future.’ You are right. It is time to get together, to face the problems of our day with a true European spirit. Apart from some visible walls, other invisible walls are being strengthened which tend to divide our continent. [Was Brexit on the pope’s mind?] These walls are being built in people’s hearts. They are walls made of fear and aggression, a failure to understand people of different backgrounds or faith. They are walls of political and economic selfishness, without respect for the life and dignity of every person” (emphasis added throughout).
At the end of the message, Pope Francis affectionately concluded, “You are a precious seed of hope, so that Europe can rediscover its vocation to contribute to the unity of all.”
Earlier in the year, the Catholic News Service reported that Pope Francis called on Europe to recall the vision of the founders of the European movement and declared that “only a church rich in witnesses will be able to bring back the pure water of the Gospel to the roots of Europe.”
Earlier in the year, Pope Francis called on Europe to recall the vision of the founders of the European movement and declared that “only a church rich in witnesses will be able to bring back the pure water of the Gospel to the roots of Europe.”A biblical perspective through the years
For many decades, the Church of God has pointed out both religious and political interest in a united Europe. I came into contact with the Church of God in October 1968, and that month The Plain Truth magazine reported Pope Paul VI as saying, “The unification of Europe is undoubtedly one of the surest ways” to secure peace for Europe—of course, at that time he was thinking of security against the Soviet Union.
The same issue of the magazine reported the then German finance minister Franz Josef Strauss as saying, “We want more members in the Common Market [which became the EU], but members who are ready and prepared to join us on the way towards a political integration with the long-run goal of the United States of Europe.”
In another article of that issue, Strauss was quoted as saying the “only effective step” would be the ultimate creation of a European federal state in which the central government has all military power.
In 1973 Britain became part of the European Economic Community, later known as the European Union, only to vote to leave it in the “Brexit” earlier this year. The British never were “ready and prepared” for the United States of Europe nor the “ever-closer union” that was advocated for all member states. That ever-closer union has taken knocks along the way, but ultimately it is destined to be realized. Bible prophecy indicates it will be whittled down to 10 nations (or groupings of nations).
The beast and false prophet
Various revivals of the so-called Holy Roman Empire have already taken place within Europe in the centuries since the fall of the Western Roman Empire in A.D. 476. The seven heads of a wild animal in Revelation 17 symbolize these revivals. From Justinian to Hitler/Mussolini, the first six revivals have appeared, and each recognized the importance of the papacy in European affairs.
There is one final appearance of this great religio-political system yet to arise. It will be composed of a union of 10 European nations—or groups of nations. “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they [will] receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast” (Revelation 17:12-13).
These rulers (kings) over 10 nations will give their power and authority to one supreme leader (the beast) who will be closely allied to a religious leader based in Rome (Revelation 17:1-5). The false religious leader and the church he leads are portrayed in a number of ways in the New Testament: “the false prophet,” the “Antichrist,” “the harlot” and “Babylon the Great,” for example. This religious power will deceive the world into embracing a counterfeit Christianity—gaining support from its “protesting” daughter churches by performing signs and miracles (Revelation 17:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:9).
To learn more, read “Revelation 17: Who Is the Scarlet Woman?”
This system will end!
At the end of their rule, these two powerful leaders will have contributed to bringing the world to the brink of destruction (Matthew 24:22). They will make war with the returning Jesus Christ and will be quickly and easily defeated (Revelation 17:14). Jesus Christ will then rule the world “with a rod of iron” as “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:15-16).
Behind the bad news of today’s world, this is the great hope of the true gospel of the Kingdom of God!
To understand these prophecies better, please read our free booklet The Book of Revelation: The Storm Before the Calm.