Pope John Paul II  visits the Holy Land

Pope John Paul II - Leader of the Roman Catholic Church

During his trip to Israel and tour of the Holy Land in March of 2000, the first such visit made by any Pope in history, Pope John Paul II made an unprecedented attempt to heal the deep divisions that exist between the Roman Catholic Church and the other two Abrahamic religions of the world, Judaism and Islam.

In a statement that few seem to realize the true significance of, the Pope of Rome asked for the forgiveness of Jews, Muslims and others, whose peoples had suffered severe persecution at the hand of the powerful Roman Catholic Church through the centuries.

Though obviously weak and wearied with age, Pope John Paul II, the charismatic leader of more than one billion of the world's professing Christians, seemed revitalized by the trip that appeared to be the pinnacle of his Papacy, or even more - what the Pope perceives as the fulfillment of his personal destiny - to reconcile the divisions between, not only all the various denominations of Christendom, but the other main religions of the world as well.

Now understand, although we of True Christian Ministries don't consider the Pope to be the leader of Christ's True Church, we do respect him as a bold and capable world leader whose actions seem to be dictated by a caring heart and sincere desire to make a positive difference in the state of the world today -

Just such a person one would expect might make this unprecedented concession of Papal imperfection.

The reaction to the Pontiff's trip to the Holy Land and his bold appeal for forgiveness was mixed at best:

While many Jews, including (then) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, seemed satisfied with the Pope's broadly worded apology, others felt strongly that the Pontiff's words did not go far enough to heal the deep wounds caused by the Roman Catholic Church's failure under Pius the 12th, to denounce Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people during the
Holocaust - citing the Pontiff's neglect to specifically address this issue, as an insult to the victims and their families.

Palestinians, on the other hand, seemed to view the Papal visit to their newly forming state, borne from years of tense negotiations and carved from out of the Israeli occupied West Bank, as a sort of papal validation of their sovereignty over that territory. In fact, Time magazine quotes Yassir Arafat's wife Suha, who was a devout Catholic prior to her marriage, as saying that the Holy Father's very presence there was:

"a clear message for an independent Palestinian state". [Time - 4/3/00 pg36].

Muslim leaders were obviously disturbed by the Pope's concession to the Jewish people.

The chief Muslim leader in the Palestinian territory, The Grand Mufti, Ekrema Sabri, took the occasion to publicly accuse the Israelis of using the Holocaust forgiveness issue as a means for gaining world sympathy, stating to the press just a day before he met with Pope John Paul II, that:

"the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust was less than six million" and that "Israel is using this issue to get sympathy worldwide." [ibid -pg36]

Upon meeting with the Pope face to face the following day, the Grand Mufti remarked to the Pontiff:

"We request that you stand by justice in order to end the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem". [ibid]

So go the best intentions of healing the divisions amongst peoples and faiths.
Though most non-Catholic Christians and other spiritual leaders throughout the world applauded the pontiffs attempt for healing and unity - It was the reactions of Catholics themselves that is most significant in understanding the real implications of the Pope's apology.
You see, in actuality the doctrine of Papal infallibility is based upon the ancient Roman practice of emperor deification. Wherein the Emperor (just a man ) was elevated to the status of a living god and therefore considered infallible in his rulership. It is not hard to understand how this practice soon crept it's way into the Papacy as a handy tool wherein all future Popes could make any selfish whimsy decreed as church law.

Throughout the centuries the Popes made good use of this power. First, the Bishops of Rome decreed themselves "Popes," the Vicars of Christ, thus elevating themselves and their power above all other regional Bishops and leaders throughout the early Christian world - and so it has remained.

This would more than explain why no sooner the Pope had spoken his historical words of repentance, that many Catholic leaders back in Rome and around the world made statements that shockingly seemed to undermine the Pope's very words.

It is not hard to understand the reason for this backlash -

It's not hard to see why Catholic Leaders and paritioners alike, who have taught and been taught all their lives, that the head of their Church - The Pope - Vicar of Christ - is infallible, would not want to believe or have anyone else believe otherwise.

That's what made this apology so shocking!

The ramifications of his statement were earth shattering, yet so few seemed to realize it or even care.
Yet - by admitting to the world that he and his predecessors are capable of error, and as such, fallible human beings -

He is admitting that the Roman Catholic Church which built it's foundation from the ground up, using "Papal infallibility" as the authority by which it justified all it's actions and decrees -

In reality had no basis for doing so!

Just think of it:

All the Vatican councils - all the Papal Bulls, Edicts and Decrees - all the changes made by the (now admittedly) fallible Popes throughout the church's history, that brought about the syncretization of Christ's truth with the man made traditions and ceremonies that have so polluted the True Gospel of Christ that today, almost no one has so much as even heard it,

Were all enacted without any justification or authority!

And so it was prophesied -

For as Jesus foretold of these End Times, though a great false church and it's daughter churches that came out of her in protest (Rev17), would deceive the world with their false teachings, his little flock (Lk:12-32), would hold fast to his True Gospel message.

Now, reflecting back on the Pope's historic journey, I can't help but think to myself that along with his apology for the church's past
persecutions, the Pope should also have apologized for the church's usage of "Papal Infallibility" as a ploy, that for centuries, enabled his predecessors to change the True Word Of God into the great deception that prevails as traditional Christian teaching today.In fact, I just can't help but wonder if perhaps, deep in his heart, Pope John Paul II doesn't actually realize that the most important apology he should really make, for the lies and deceptions the Roman church has perpetrated as God's Truth throughout it's history -

Is to Christ Himself!

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A Papal Apology by Joseph Santora - - ©2001-2002 True Christian Ministries

Are You a True Christian?     Land of the Free?     The Great Falling Away
A Papal Apology     How Will The Antichrist Deceive the World?
Does God Speak to Us Through Our Dreams?     Is There a Holy Trinity?
Who is Yehovah?      Questions and Answers

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