The decision by the Vatican to grant diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine has reignited speculation in the biblical end-time prophecy blogosphere about supposed evidence identifying Pope Francis as the end-time “False Prophet” and the Vatican as the “Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots” described in the Book of Revelation.
Many biblical evangelical end-time pundits are saying that the move by the Holy See to grant diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine gives support to longstanding speculation that the Catholic Church is the “Great Harlot” described prophetically in the Revelation 17: 15-17.
“And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.”
“And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
What this means in the eschatological scheme of evangelicals is that Pope Francis and the Roman Catholic Church will play a role in the coalition of the forces of evil against “true” Christians (that is, evangelical Christians) and the state of Israel during the period of the “Great Tribulation” preceding the Second Coming of Jesus.
Evangelical Christians believe that the state of Israel is central to biblical end-time events that will usher in Armageddon, the final apocalyptic battle between the cosmic forces of good and evil. Biblical end-time conspiracy theorists also believe that left-leaning progressives who support the statehood of Palestine and criticize Israel’s policy in the Middle East are part of the coalition of the New World Order (NWO) forces of evil that will fight Israel and Jesus at the Second Coming.
However, many end-time pundits say there aren’t any clear indications yet about the identity of the “Beast” or “Antichrist,” the major player in biblical end-time events. While some have speculated that it could be President Barrack Obama, others deny it, saying that the Beast, identified cryptically by the number 666, is yet to be revealed.
Regardless, evangelical analysts of Middle East affairs say that the latest move by the Holy See will lend legitimacy to the struggle for statehood by the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.
The Palestinian authorities have embarked on a strategy to move beyond the stalled U.S.-sponsored peace negotiations with Israel by seeking international support. The Palestinian Authority (PA) won a nonmember observer state status for Palestine in the U.N. in 2012.
Palestinian analysts described the Vatican announcement as a significant victory because of the international stature of Pope Francis and the global influence of the Catholic Church.
The New York Times quotes a senior Palestinian official saying that “The Vatican is not just a state. The Vatican represents hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide, including Palestinians, and has vast moral significance.”
Meanwhile, the Israeli authorities watch with growing concern the widening acceptance of the legitimacy of the Palestinian quest for statehood by the international community. The United Nations and several European states have made clear their acceptance of the legitimacy of the aspiration of the Palestinians for independent statehood.
Several European parliaments passed resolutions supportive of Palestinian statehood last year.
Israel’s foreign ministry expressed disappointment at the decision by the Vatican and said it would not “advance the peace process.”
Salon reports that David Harris, head of the American Jewish Committee, said the decision by the Vatican to recognize Palestine, “a state that, in reality, does not yet exist, is a regrettable move, counterproductive to all who seek true peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the March 17 elections that he would not support a peace agreement that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state has only helped to increase skepticism in the global community about the commitment of his government to the two-state solution.
Following Netanyahu’s statement, the Obama administration threatened to “reassess” U.S. relations with Israel, while several European countries increased pressure on the Israeli authorities to end the occupation of the West Bank.
However, the Vatican announcement did not come as a surprise to those who have followed the development of the relationship between the Holy See and the PA since 2012 after the U.N. officially recognized Palestinian statehood.
Negotiations that culminated in Wednesday’s announcement have been on since 2012.
The Vatican announced the new treaty only days before Pope Francis was due to canonize two Palestinian nuns, Marie Alphonsine Ghattas and Mariam Bawardy.
[Images: Wikimedia Commons/’Hooded Obama’:History Channel via The Huffington Post]