The New Pope


[image_frame style=”border” align=”left” alt=”Pope Francesco” title=”Pope Francis”][/image_frame]

[dropcap4]R[/dropcap4]OME HAS BEEN THE CENTER OF ATTENTION these past weeks, as the Roman Catholic cardinals have elected the new Pope, who has chosen the name, Francis I.  All the world is wondering what this new personage on the world scene may mean.

HE IS OF ITALIAN BACKGROUND, BUT WAS UNTIL his election, the head of the Catholic church in Argentina, where he was born. According to the press, he is known as a humble, caring “pastor”.  He proved himself an avid follower of the Virgin Mary in his first few hours as Pope.  When he was first presented publicly on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, he offered a prayer to the Virgin Mary, sent a greeting to the ex-pope, asking that the Virgin Mary comfort him, and announced that the next morning, as his first action as Pope, he would visit and pray in the most important church in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary, called the Basilica of St. Mary Major.


The fact that he is the first Pope from the “Americas”, reveals a clear line of separation between himself and the Curia, the central administration of the Roman Catholic church, made up of the heads of all the various departments and activities of the church, where the leadership, in spite of the recent non-Italian popes, has been strictly Italian. The Curia, led by priests, bishops and cardinals, has always been considered a secretive, immensely powerful, little-known body. There have always been whispers about its plotting and manipulating the life of the Roman church, often in direct opposition to the Pope’s wishes. But, lately, those whispers have become major thundering public problems.

ONE WAS THE ARREST AND TRIAL OF THE RECENT POPE’S BUTLER,  his most trusted servant. He was accused of stealing secret documents from the Pope’s private apartment, and boxes of them were found in his rooms. No one could believe that he stole them for himself, but that he was paid or pressured by the Pope’s enemies in the Vatican to secure documents to be used against the Pope or against his plans. After the butler’s conviction in a secret Vatican trial, the Pope pardoned him, and the whole matter was hushed up.

AT ABOUT THE SAME TIME, A NEW CHIEF OF SECURITY for the Vatican was appointed. He was an Italian secret police (Italian FBI-type) agent, and immediately it was rumored that the Vatican offices were being equipped with video cameras recording every person who entered or passed through, or visited, the offices. Secondly, hidden microphones were placed in the Vatican, so that no one could talk, or confide in anyone else. without being overheard. Even email messages and other documents were controlled. These were the rumors. What was learned, nobody knows.

THIRDLY, THE POPE (NOW THE FORMER POPE) appointed three Curia long-timers, whom he trusted, but who were not considered to be part of any plots, to prepare a detailed secret report on the Curia’s activities. They were authorized to examine everything and to interrogate anyone. The report was delivered to the Pope for his eyes alone, so no one can say what may be in it. But two theories of rumors travelled through the Vatican and to the press. One talked of top officials who were involved in financial manipulations of the great sums of money that pass through the Vatican, making some very rich. Another rumor spoke of a network of homosexual officials in the Vatican who favored each other in their careers. And the report may have contained much more.

[pullquote1 quotes=”true”]While the new Pope has acquired a reputation in Argentina as being open to ecumenism, the Jesuits have been historically in the forefront of the battle against Protestantism (and evangelicals).[/pullquote1]

NO ONE CAN SAY WHAT, IF ANYTHING, THESE events may have to do with the former Pope’s stress and resignation. But his resignation took everyone apparently by surprise, as it was not considered normal that a Pope resigned no matter how stressed, or even ill, he might be. One thing that the Pope did say was that the secret results of the his investigation would be passed on privately to the new Pope.

SO NOW THERE IS A NEW POPE, COMING FROM the other side of the Atlantic ocean and therefore considered to be an outsider to the problems and plots of the Curia. Could it be a part of his new responsibilities to clean up the Curia, as well as the Vatican bank, called the IOR, which has also been questioned by the Italian government on illegal use of funds?

VERY LITTLE ATTENTION HAS BEEN PAID SO FAR to the fact that the new Pope is a member of the order of the Jesuits, who have often been considered the secret police or army in the service of the Pope, and, of course, he has not explained what that may have to do with his papacy. But it would be naïve and pulling the wool over your own eyes to think that his high position in the Jesuits (even before his papacy) will not develop into a more or less secret program of changes and house-cleaning with far-reaching results. And, while the new Pope has acquired a reputation in Argentina as being open to ecumenism, the Jesuits have been historically in the forefront of the battle against Protestantism (and evangelicals). They were major actors during and after the Reformation, in the service of the Pope.

THINKING OR ACTING AS A JESUIT has become a common way of saying: “That person is crafty or dishonest” and the phrase, “The end justifies the means” (If you have a good purpose or aim in what you do, the means you use do not matter), has often been applied to them. This, in its simplest meaning, would suggest that whatever may be the deep meaning of this man’s election to the papacy, it will certainly be well covered up and difficult to foresee, or even to see clearly, while it is happening!

HIS FIRST STEPS IN THE VATICAN have been hailed as the surprising, unorthodox mistakes of a man ignoring the Vatican’s highly honored treatment of the Pope, always hid behind many barriers of separation from the people. They say he doesn’t use the Pope’s limousine, and that, in Argentina he rode the subway. For the moment, he has decided to not to move into the Pope’s spacious, luxurious apartment in the Vatican, but to continue living in a two-room apartment in “the House of Martha”, a small residence for priests in the Vatican. So he is considered “a man of the people”, but you must consider that this is window-dressing, even if sincere. It has nothing to do with his loyalty to Roman Catholic doctrine.

should look forward to positive changes in the Vatican regarding the things which are most important to him. The Roman Catholic church, even through the period of winds of ecumenical propaganda and meetings of the last decades, has never been in any way a friend to Biblical truth regarding its doctrines, traditions or practices. Unfortunately, many Christians have been less than prudent, in taking at face value the flood of well-known words that issue from the Vatican and from the Pope, considering their meaning to be exactly what their own pastor means when he uses those words.


Only by careful study of the many errors and heresies of Catholicism, and the understanding of the definitions that the Catholic church gives to the words it uses, can one know what is really being said. For instance, a Catholic may say sincerely, “We are saved by God’s grace!” How normal that sounds. And how comforting. By “grace” we mean “God’s unmerited favor” which means that man can add nothing to what God has done for his salvation. In Catholic doctrine, being saved by God’s grace means that God has given through a sacrament, like baptism, confession or the mass, his “grace”, the extra push or energy that man needs to have in order to be able to do the works necessary for his salvation.


In the evangelical mind, the Gospel is that man is saved by grace alone, In the evangelical mind, the Gospel is that man is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, with no contribution by him. But in the catholic mind, man is saved by “grace”, dispensed to him by the church, which permits him to do the works which help him merit salvation. Do we need to train more “experts” in Catholic doctrine, as well as in biblical doctrine, so that our churches can be saved from confusion? It may be that a few “experts” are needed, but the major part of leading a congregation to doctrinal clarity, regarding heresies and false doctrines, is merely that its own doctrinal position be patiently, clearly taught, defined, explained from the Bible itself.

MANY TIMES CONGREGATIONS ARE DOCTRINALLY CONFUSED, or naïve and easily misled, only because they have not understood their own doctrine. “Doctrinal” preaching is often considered too technical, too theoretical, too intellectual, too boring for the average congregation. As one person who has worked for years with an evangelistic organization recently said, “We don’t need to talk about doctrine. The center of Christianity is love, and if we talk about love, people will understand and want to become Christians.”

ONLY BY PASSIONATE, JOYFUL, CONVINCING doctrinal teaching and faith in God’s Word as infallible and complete, in Christ’s work for our salvation as infallible and complete, in the Spirit’s convincing and regeneration as infallible and complete, can Christians be fully prepared to face the hurricanes of seduction and error coming against them at every turn, and thus march on triumphantly in faith.

Information gathered by Bill Standridge, Rome, Italy