Beneath the ornate ceiling of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel a gathering of Roman Catholic cardinals met to elect a new pope. It is fitting that the election of a man who represents all the earthly glory of Rome should take place in the monument that worldly Pope Julius II, papa terribile, built to outstrip all his predecessors in aggrandizing the Vatican, and that the profane Michelangelo decorated. The pomp and circumstance of the event—election and installation—are unmatched. The world waited and watched.
On March 14 the secret conclave elected an Argentinian archbishop and cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io), as the latest pope and idol of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). By the fanciful reckoning of Rome the man introduced from the balcony of the Basilica of St. Peter with the exclamation, Habemus Papam, and adored by thousands in the plaza below and millions the world over, is the 266th pope.
After the habit of popes, Cardinal Bergoglio took for himself the new name Francis, after the thirteenth-century ascetic, Francis of Assisi, and after the cofounder of the Jesuits and militant RC missionary, Francis Xavier, in order to emphasize his new focus on justice, poverty, and RC missions. Whereas his now emeritus predecessor earned for himself the moniker Rottweiler by ruthlessly enforcing the decrees and councils of Rome, this man is hailed as a pope of the people, by the people, and for the people. While bishop in Argentina he gave up his bishop’s mansion to live in an apartment. He cooked his own meals. He rode the bus instead of a limousine. He was called a pastor. Those looking for change are troubled by his conservatism, but he is an admitted outsider to the Vatican in whom many Roman Catholics place their trust to shake up the troubled and scandal-ridden Curia.
Parroting the press releases of the Vatican propaganda machine, newsmen and theologians alike generously apply to Pope Bergoglio adjectives such as humble, pious, ascetic, and conservative. The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), an apostate ecumenical organization that is in ecumenical talks with the RCC and represents over one hundred churches around the world, including the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and the Reformed Church in America (RCA), in its congratulatory letter to the pope wrote,
With gratitude to God for your election as Bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church, we congratulate you. We received the news of your election this evening with joy . . . . We also assure you of our continued prayers as you begin this major responsibility of your ministry in the Lord’s vineyard . . . .
We are touched by your humility. The name you have chosen is a sign for us that attention to the plight of the poor and justice for all people will be important for you . . . .
The World Communion of Reformed Churches looks forward to being represented at your installation when the time is determined . . . . We pray that you and the entire Roman Catholic Church will experience the best of God’s blessings during your papacy.1
According to Christianity Today, Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NEA), said about the pope, “American evangelicals will benefit from Francis’s conservative stance on issues such as abortion and gay marriage,” and he continued, “Perhaps Pope Francis can bring us back to the biblical and Christian care for the poor and vulnerable.” Thomas Schirrmacher of the World Evangelical Alliance said that he met the new pope last year at synod meetings and “he is humble and friendly.”2
The WCRC president Jerry Pillay wrote, “The WCRC is very much focused on Christian unity, mission, and justice and we would welcome further initiatives to work together on these issues in order to make a difference in the world.”3
Steve Van Zanen from the CRC news service wrote, “The kind of person who becomes Pope will have a profound effect in the overall fortunes of Christianity in our world.” Astoundingly he uses the word gospel in the same sentence as the word pope.4 He points his readers to former RCA leader Wesley Granberg-Michealson’s article on the kind of pope the world needs and in which he speaks of the pope as “called by God,” his election as “inspired by the Holy Spirit.”5
CRC missionary Adrian Helleman quotes favorably the description of the pope as a “very holy and spiritual person,” and he exhorts his readers to “pray for him and the Catholic Church.”
Pope Francis is not humble.
Pope Francis is not holy.
Pope Francis does not labor in the Lord’s vineyard
Pope Francis is a new antichrist.
As pope he has been revealed as one of the proudest, vilest, and most unholy men that have existed in the world, a man who opposes and exalts himself against God and Christ. This is the view of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) in chapter 25.6:
There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God.”6
Regardless whether one disagrees with the identification of the pope as the man of sin, the point remains that he is an antichrist.
He heads, too, along with the parliament of Roman Catholic owls that elected him, a religious organization that is not a church of Christ, certainly not the church of Christ, and cannot be graced with the name “the Lord’s vineyard.” The RCC is a false church, a synagogue of Satan. The marks of a false church according to the Belgic Confession are that she,
ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does she administer the Sacraments, as appointed by Christ in His Word, but adds to and takes from them as she thinks proper; she relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry.”7
Rome was the false church that Guido de Brés wrote about in the Belgic Confession and she remains the same today.
The interest of the secular world, which even Rome admits is uninterested in religious matters and which she is desperately trying to reach, is intriguing. Even the ungodly pay attention when one arises who is clothed like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon. Indeed, they must because he is instrumental in their worship of the first beast (see).
The interest of the apostate or apostatizing church world in the election of Rome’s newest idol is astounding. Instead of fleeing her so as not to touch that filthy thing, they flock to her and present themselves for her advances. It is exactly what Rome wants from the church world—especially the Protestant and Reformed church world—her interest first and her submission second.
The evangelical and apostatizing Reformed church world is itching to be with Rome. They are itching for a pope who will make this happen. They lament that the pope emeritus referred to Protestants as “a sect,” and they are crying for more dialogue and cooperation with Rome.8
They are itching to be with Rome because in their quest to be relevant and influential in the earth—in the language of WCRC president, “to make a difference in the world”—professing Christians have turned their attention and energies to a political victory on social issues. They are hanging their hopes on this man because he represents the might, earthly might and glory of Rome, by which they think it is possible to bring about their dream. The world, the apostate church world, too, is hanging its hopes on a man. They speak as the though the fortunes of Christianity depend on him. This is idolatry.
By a similar measure they despise the day of small things and the foolish means—the preaching of the gospel—whereby Christ is pleased to carry out His will for the coming of His spiritual—not earthly—kingdom. Whether or not everyone has a chicken in his pot is not the interest of the kingdom of Christ. Christ’s kingdom has no need of earthly might, to win earthly elections, to end earthly poverty, or to bring about earthly justice. His kingdom does not come this way. Indeed, through the gross injustice before the bema of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, the kingdom of Christ was coming.
With the election of this man of the people and his focus on poverty and justice come also the ignorant statements that Rome is changing, or that this pope represents a possibility of change for Rome. Rome proudly boasts that she never changes, and she has not, except that she has become more adept at beguiling gullible Reformed people with assurances that she does not teach what she in fact teaches. That some in Rome can admit to corruption and scandal and the need for some changes is nothing new. During the Reformation Erasmus of Rotterdam famously lampooned corrupt Rome. But Rome does not change her doctrine. Rome may be able to flush out her stable by redirecting the river, but she remains a stable for all that.
The idea that this pope is going to bring changes to Rome’s doctrine is preposterous. Even by the admission of his enemies, this pope is a conservative. For most people this means that he opposes the marriages of sodomites and the civilized butchery of abortion. But opposition to homosexual marriage and abortion is unremarkable. Even pagan Greece and Rome, themselves overrun with the vile sin of homosexuality, would not have dreamed of sanctioning homosexual marriages, if for no other reason than that the state needed children as grist for their military mills. To oppose abortion is to oppose murder. The fact that few in modern society are opposed to these sins shows the progression in man’s rebellion against God and the powerful presence of the spirit of antichrist that now works in the world and that will culminate in the rise of the man of sin. With all his talk about the poor, justice, and social issues, this pope shows his shrewdness, if nothing else. He evidently knows as well as any what language rings a bell for the evangelicals he will be courting.
But if he is a conservative, then for the Reformed man or woman this means that he is a doctrinal conservative. It means that this pope, more important than his opposition to the marriage of sodomites, opposes the gospel of grace. He opposes, and must oppose, and anathematizes all who teach and believe the gospel of the justification of the sinner by faith alone, apart from the sinner’s works, and on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. This pope is committed to the gospel that a man is justified by his works, a gospel that is no gospel, but is another gospel that the Holy Spirit opposes and anathematizes.
If he is a conservative, then he denies the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and while the world and the apostate church world, including Reformed men, were fawning over him and sending him congratulatory statements upon his accession to the office, he was officiating at the accursed idolatry of the mass and busying himself denying Christ’s one sacrifice.
If he is a conservative, then he is committed to the idolatry that the pope is the vicar of Christ, that he speaks infallibly, and that church tradition is equal to Scripture. If he is a conservative, then he is committed to the idolatry of Mary, and to the worship of and prayer to saints.
He is also a pope who shortly after accession urged his cardinals “to find new ways to bring evangelization to the ends of the Earth,” which for this pope means the militant proclamation of the gospel that is no gospel and the religion that is at its heart the accursed idolatry of the mass.9 He has a vision to catholicize the world, and in his vision there will be no room for Jesus Christ, His church, and His gospel.
Let none forget, either, that this pope is a Jesuit. They ran the Spanish Inquisition and slew Reformed believers for the sake of the gospel till the rivers ran red, especially in the Lowlands. Unique in the RCC, the Jesuits take the oath of obedience to the pope, which their founder Loyola famously summarized this way: if the church [the pope—NJL] defines something as black that our eyes perceive as white, then we will define it as black. Blind obedience to man: that is idolatry in its most blatant form. That idolatry leads to the coming of the beast from the sea, the deified state and its head, after whom the whole world wonders, and that leads to the death of those who will not worship him (see).
He is no Christian. He does not speak for Christians. He is not the most public face of Christianity. The Holy Spirit was not working in the Sistine Chapel, and Christ did not call him, except in the sense that nothing happens apart from the will of God and the One who sits on the throne opening the seven seals, not even the election of a wicked, antichristian pope.
Still more appalling than this deadly fascination with Rome, then, are the inexcusable calls for prayer for this antichrist and his false church by reputedly Reformed men.
In light of the election of this pope, I will be praying. What will I pray? I will pray this: that Jesus Christ, the only head of the church, will oppose him and everything that he does; that He will also rule in the corrupt council chambers of the Roman Catholic Church as they try to overthrow Messiah and His reign and have them in derision; that He will oppose, overthrow, and frustrate every council of Rome that opposes and exalts itself against God, Christ, and His little church, or else use everything that is decided and done for His own precious church, His church that is not Rome, but the company of the predestinated.
I will pray that Christ will take notice of all those meetings that professing Christians are having with Rome in which they sacrilegiously trample on the tombs of the prophets by giving up the very truth and doctrine that the fathers were willing to die for, and in many cases did die for, at the hands of Rome; that Christ will take notice of what wickedness is promoted in His own name and bring it to naught.
I will pray that Christ will cause through all this the coming of His own kingdom and preserve and increase His church; that Christ will do all this quickly, even as He promised; that He will also do with this antichrist what He will do with the man of sin, “whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” ().
I will pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly, on behalf of Thy faithful church that has not bowed the knee to this Roman idol, and whose mouths have not—and by Thy grace and according to Thy eternal counsel of election never will—kiss him.”