The Vatican has added another costume to its array of disguises – the Harlequin or traditional buffoon of the commedia dell'arte – and the actor looks the part.
A conservative candidate who is a leading contender for the Papal office has warned that the Antichrist is already among us, but of course he does not identify him with the Pope!
Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, 71, says that the modern Antichrist, identified in the Book of Revelation as a seven-headed beast, is most likely now disguised as a philanthropist supporting creeds like vegetarianism, animal rights or pacifism, or advocating dialogue with Orthodox or Anglican believers, but that his true aim is to undermine the Roman Catholic Church. Well, the Cardinal had better watch out, because the Pope himself claims to be the greatest pacifist and philanthropist on earth! Is not his own Church vigorously engaged in ecumenical dialogue, and did it not introduce lent, vigils and ember weeks?
Biffi is the Archbishop of Bologna, one of Italy's most populous and richest dioceses. His fellow-Cardinals may well decide to select him as successor to the present Pope, John Paul II, because rumour has it that they want an Italian this time. The Cardinal is deeply conservative in his views, and the Italian press says that his remarks are likely to offend some 'progressive' Roman Catholics.
Speaking at a conference of academics in Bologna in March of this year on the 19th-century Russian mystic Vladimir Solovyov, who predicted horror and disaster in the 20th century, Biffi reminded delegates that the 20th century had seen many massacres, including six million Jews in the Nazi holocaust, millions of Armenians in Turkey, and Stalin's purges in the former Soviet Union. He conveniently forgot, of course, to mention Pius XII's attitude to Hitler's genocide!
The Cardinal also said that the 20th century had witnessed what he called a selfish, unwise, sexual revolution, as well as unparalleled vulgarity and shamelessness. No mention, of course, of the Vatican's own unsurpassed financial and moral corruption, including that of its Popes, or of the exposure of its monastic vice and its string of paedophile priests! It would appear, to listen to Biffi, that the Pope's current 'apology' was superfluous.
Here we have the typical stance of a deeply reactionary Roman cleric adopting a Jesuitical pose calculated to fool Christians into believing that the Vatican sees the Antichrist as the enemy of its own Church. It is equivalent to a warning from Adolf Hitler about the dangers of Nazism!
Who is the real Antichrist?
Even the predecessors of the great Reformers, such as the Waldensians, the Lollards, Wycliffe, Huss and the Moravian Brethren, were already unanimous in describing the Pope as the Antichrist. The English Reformers, without exception, including Tyndale, Ridley, Latimer, Cranmer, Bradford and Jewell, held the Pope of Rome to be the Antichrist. So did John Knox in Scotland. So did Luther and Melanchthon in Germany, and Calvin in Switzerland. The translators of the King James Bible in their Preface regarded the dynasty of Popes as the Antichrist of Scripture. So did the Declaration of the Westminster Assembly of Divines. So does every Protestant Confession of Faith. John Wesley, after a lifetime of study, concluded and taught uncompromisingly that St. Paul's Man of Sin of II Thessalonians and St. John's Ten-Horned Beast and Scarlet Woman of Revelation 13 and 17 are the Dynasty of Popes and the Church of Rome respectively; but Wesley's ministerial sons have long since embarked on their ecumenical jaunt and abandoned the Reformers and Wesley himself for the Jesuit interpretation which is now being bandied about by Biffi.
Rome will stoop to any dissimulation to prove that she is something other than what she really is, but her real identity is utterly changeless. Biffi's buffoonery will deceive no one.