Recognizing his dedication and resolve to resurrect the principles and policies of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis has been described using the phrase “I am Vatican II.”1 Interestingly, Pope Francis was in a Jesuit seminary during the time of Vatican II (1962-1965) and was profoundly impacted by Pope John XIII who convened Vatican II, and is thus modeling his papacy accordingly. “From his first hours as pope, Francis has re-enacted or spoken of the great pastoral transformation of Vatican II as his own agenda.”2 A clear understanding of Vatican II offers an explanation as to why the Pope has been operating in such an aggressive manner and what he is trying to accomplish especially among the various denominations. Pope Francis’ embodiment of Vatican II, when carried to complete fruition, will bring about the healing of the Papacy’s deadly wound, the enforcement of the National Sunday Law, the subsequent reemergence of Papal dominion, and the persecution of those who oppose Papal law and supremacy, namely, God’s commandment-keeping people.
Vatican II was an ecumenical council that was gathered in an attempt to transform the administration of the Vatican and is oft times explained in the simplified manner as Catholicism’s adaptation to the modern world and its relation to protestant denominations. This is exactly what Pope Francis is carrying out. However, the wording used in the official documents that came out of Vatican II and there implementation are no admission that Catholicism has changed doctrinally, in principle or in character or ever will. True, there have been occasions when the Papacy has changed her strategies when old methods have proved ineffective, but she has never changed her nature.
From the onset of his Papacy, Pope Francis has encouraged interfaith, ecumenical dialogue and cooperation while endeavoring to “end” the protest and reunite the Protestant denominations to her fellowship and full communion, and he has been making his rounds, befriending his “brothers,” as he refers them, while emphasizing their commonalities and ignoring or downplaying their differences and strained history. In January of 2014, Pope Francis along with Anglican Bishop Tony Palmer, and Pentecostal pastor, Kenneth Copeland encouraged unity among denominations and to end the protest begun by Martin Luther. In March of 2015, Pope Francis met with a group of Pentecostal pastors, about 100 in number, the purpose of which was to encourage unity among faiths.3
And in January of 2016, Pope Francis continued his aggressive campaign for ecumenical partnership making plans to solidify unity among religions and denominations.
“Pope Francis will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation by attending an ecumenical service in Sweden as a guest of the Lutheran church, the Vatican said Monday. In a highly symbolic act of reconciliation that would even recently have been unthinkable for a Catholic pontiff, Francis will visit the Swedish city of Lund on October 31 for a commemoration jointly organized by his own inter-faith agency and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).”4
“Pope Francis apologized for Catholic mistreatment of other Christian traditions Monday, and called on Catholics to forgive followers of those traditions for any offenses of ‘today and in the past,’ as a step toward deeper unity. ‘As Bishop of Rome and Shepherd of the Catholic Church, I plead for mercy and forgiveness for non-evangelical behaviors by Catholics against Christians of other churches,’ Francis said, referring to conduct not in keeping with the Gospel of Christ.”5
Most recently, as of April 7, 2016, Pope Francis met with and addressed an audience of leaders of the World Methodist Council. “Pope Francis said on Thursday that Catholics and Methodists have much to learn from one another as they work together in loving service to the world. His words came in an audience with leaders of the World Methodist Council, the Methodist Council of Europe and the Methodist Church in Britain who here for the opening of a new ecumenical centre in Rome…Welcoming the opening of the new Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome, the Pope said it’s a sign of growing closeness and of our shared desire to overcome all that stands in the way of our full communion. Rev. Robert Gribben is a minister of the Uniting Church of Australia and chair of the World Methodist Council’s committee on ecumenical relationships. At this important moment in the life of the global community, he shared some thoughts on the importance of working for Christian unity and the significance – for Methodists – of this Jubilee year of mercy.”6
Pope Francis’ desire is full communion of not only the Methodists but among all other Protestant denominations, hence the apology tour that he went on asking forgiveness of members of other faiths for the Catholics’ past mistreatment of them. The question to be considered is “on whose terms can ‘full communion’ be accomplished?” History and prophecy provide the answer to that inquiry.
“The Papacy “has clothed herself in Christlike garments; but she is unchanged. Every principle of the papacy that existed in past ages exists today. The doctrines devised in the darkest ages are still held. Let none deceive themselves. The papacy that Protestants are now so ready to honor is the same that ruled the world in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up, at the peril of their lives, to expose her iniquity. She possesses the same pride and arrogant assumption that lorded it over kings and princes, and claimed the prerogatives of God. Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when she crushed out human liberty and slew the saints of the Most High.”7
“And let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes. The principles of Gregory VII and Innocent III are still the principles of the Roman Catholic Church. And had she but the power, she would put them in practice with as much vigor now as in past centuries. Protestants little know what they are doing when they propose to accept the aid of Rome in the work of Sunday exaltation. While they are bent upon the accomplishment of their purpose, Rome is aiming to re-establish her power, to recover her lost supremacy. Let the principle once be established in the United States that the church may employ or control the power of the state; that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured.”8
7. White, Ellen. The Great Controversy (1911), page 571
8. White, Ellen. The Great Controversy (1911), page 581