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Ethan Reed
Ethan Reed

The Papal Conspiracy Exposed..

Vatican conspiracy theories are conspiracy theories that concern the Pope or the Roman Catholic Church. A majority of the theories allege that the Church and its representatives are secretly controlling secular society with a Satanic agenda for global domination.

The Papal Conspiracy Exposed..


Pope John Paul I died in September 1978, only a month after his election to the papacy. The timing of his death and the Vatican's alleged difficulties with ceremonial and legal death procedures have fostered several conspiracy theories. British author David Yallop wrote extensively about unsolved crimes and conspiracy theories, and in his 1984 book In God's Name suggested that John Paul I died because he was about to uncover financial scandals allegedly involving the Vatican.[1] John Cornwell responded to Yallop's charges in 1987 with A Thief In The Night, in which he analyzed the various allegations and denied the conspiracy.[2] According to Eugene Kennedy, writing for the New York Times, Cornwell's book "helps to purge the air of paranoia and of conspiracy theories, showing how the truth, carefully excavated by an able journalist in a refreshing volume, does make us free."[3]

In September 2018, Your News Wire -- a website known for distorting and sensationalizing news stories, as well as publishing conspiracy theories -- claimed that Pope Francis had described efforts to uncover child sexual abuse within the Catholic church as "Satan's work."

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses against papal indulgences, or the atonement of sins through monetary payment, on the door of the church at Wittenberg, Germany. Within less than four years, the Catholic Church would brand Luther a heretic, and the Holy Roman Empire would condemn him as an outlaw. These were the early years of the Protestant Reformation, a turning point in history that would transform not only the Christian faith, but also the politics and society of all of Europe.

When he posted his theses, Luther was a thirty-four-year-old priest and professor of theology at Wittenberg University, a provincial institution that had been founded only fifteen years earlier. Most depictions of Luther posting his theses show a defiant monk swinging his hammer against the church door, but the scene depicted here is probably more accurate: an assistant posts the theses while Luther discusses them with a colleague. Luther composed his theses in Latin and intended them as the basis of a disputation, or scholarly debate, on papal indulgences. Posting a notice for such an event on the doors of the church, which was affiliated with the university, was a common practice at the time.

Luther's critique of indulgences was not just academic. The Catholic Church had granted indulgences since the Middle Ages to penitent Christians as a form of absolution after they fulfilled proscribed conditions such as prayer or fasting, but by Luther's time the church was selling indulgences outright as a source of revenue. The indulgence document shown below includes a space to fill in the name of the "contributor." As a priest, Luther thought selling indulgences weakened his flock's personal motivation to seek divine grace and exploited their sacred quest for salvation for the profane ends of power and wealth. Luther was especially angered by the flagrant hawking of indulgences in German lands by the papal agent Johannes Tetzel, who is credited with the phrase, "When the coin in the coffer rings/the soul from purgatory springs." For Luther, this monetization of faith was an abuse of church practice in his jurisdiction that he was duty-bound to report to his superiors. He did so on the same day he posted the theses, including a copy of them with a letter to his archbishop, Albrecht of Mainz.

The Roman Church's initial response to Luther's theses followed the scholarly and deliberative pattern he had established. Rome dispatched high-ranking clergy and theologians to debate Luther in disputations and offer him the opportunity to retract or mollify his views. The debate at Leipzig in July 1519, documented here, was a turning point. In debates with the formidable theologian Johannes Eck, Luther stood his ground in what was interpreted as a direct challenge to papal authority. Eck was later instrumental in urging Pope Leo to issue the papal bull, or edict, condemning Luther's views as heresy and threatening him with excommunication.

Shortly after Luther's disputation with Eck in Leipzig, rumors circulated that Rome was preparing a papal bull, or decree, condemning Luther's reformism as heresy and threatening him with excommunication. Luther was not sure whether the rumored bull was a ruse concocted by Eck to threaten him into submission, or a genuine papal edict. In the text Against the Bull of the Antichrist, Luther launched a preemptive attack and condemned "whoever wrote this bull" as the Antichrist. He challenged Eck and his other critics to "show that I am a heretic, or dry up their spittle."

A work that vividly displays Luther's growing estrangement from the Catholic Church, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church was published only a few months after To the Christian Nobility. With the papal bull looming, The Babylonian Captivity marks Luther's shift from reform to a revolutionary break with Rome. Luther abandons the moderate tone of the earlier work and aims an embittered and angry attack against the foundation of the church's authority. Comparing the church to the infamous biblical city of Babylon, Luther argues it has abused Christ's sacraments in the interest of maintaining its power as an intermediary between God and the faithful. The prominent woodcut portrait by Hans Baldung Grien is an example of the importance of artists in the growing popular awareness of Luther as an individual facing the arrayed powers of church and state.

The freedom of the individual is a thread running through much of Luther's work and endowed his theological arguments with a political and social force both church and state were quick to recognize. Luther drafted On the Freedom of a Christian with an accompanying letter to Pope Leo shortly after receiving the papal bull. A manifesto of individual freedom in faith, On the Freedom of a Christian would become one of the most important documents in the establishment of a new, reformed church. Facing the threats of excommunication and execution, Luther makes an impassioned plea for the individual liberty of the Christian in his personal relationship with God and his fellow man, unmediated by earthly powers. In his letter to Pope Leo, Luther takes a conciliatory tone toward the pontiff, but only to distinguish him, "a sheep among wolves, like Daniel among the lions," from the "godlessness" of the Roman curia, which he compares to Babylon, Sodom, and Gomorrah. Although addressed to the pope, Luther published his message in German as an open letter intended for a national audience. By the time Pope Leo received it, in a language he could not read, it had already become a bestseller.

Thanks to the medium of print, Luther was arguably the first "celebrity" in history outside of Europe's royal dynasties, and his likeness was among the most well known in Europe. Luther made shrewd use of this status by reinforcing his written disdain for the papal bull with a dramatic act of defiance: on December 10, the pope's sixty-day deadline to recant or be excommunicated, Luther burned the papal bull in public. Surrounded by students and colleagues outside the gates of Wittenberg, Luther cast the bull into the bonfire along with other anti-Luther works and editions of canon law. In Luther's time, burning a person's works was a powerfully symbolic act akin to burning the person himself. Luther's gesture was partly in retaliation for the church's burning of his works as instructed by the papal bull. With this mutual consigning to the flames, the split between Luther and Rome was now irrevocable. Less than four weeks later, on January 3, 1521, the pope formally declared Luther a heretic.

Luther's appearance at the Imperial Diet of Worms was a media sensation. He had already attracted crowds during his two-week journey there from Wittenberg, preaching to massive congregations in defiance of the papal bull. In Worms, the assembly hall was overflowing, supporters and opponents of Luther clashed in the streets, and reports on the proceedings were quickly rushed to the presses and spread throughout Germany. Standing before the emperor and surrounded by the glittering elite of the Holy Roman Empire, the monk from Wittenberg was confronted with stacks of his writings and ordered to retract them. Instead, Luther renewed the themes of individual liberty and personal faith in his earlier work: "I cannot and will not recant anything, for it is dangerous and a threat to salvation to act against one's conscience." Luther's defiant words would become a declaration of independence for generations of Protestants the world over: "Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me. Amen."

The anti-Masonic movement of the late 1820s and the 1830s took up and extended the obsession with conspiracy. At first, this movement may seem to be no more than an extension or repetition of the anti-Masonic theme sounded in the outcry against the Bavarian Illuminati. But whereas the panic of the 1790s was confined mainly to New England and linked to an ultraconservative point of view, the later anti-Masonic movement affected many parts of the northern United States, and was intimately linked with popular democracy and rural egalitarianism. Although anti-Masonry happened to be anti-Jacksonian (Jackson was a Mason), it manifested the same animus against the closure of opportunity for the common man and against aristocratic institutions that one finds in the Jacksonian crusade against the Bank of the United States.

Important changes may also be traced to the effects of the mass media. The villains of the modern right are much more vivid than those of their paranoid predecessors, much better known to the public; the literature of the paranoid style is by the same token richer and more circumstantial in personal description and personal invective. For the vaguely delineated villains of the anti-Masons, for the obscure and disguised Jesuit agents, the little-known papal delegates of the anti-Catholics, for the shadowy international bankers of the monetary conspiracies, we may now substitute eminent public figures like Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower, secretaries of State like Marshall, Acheson, and Dulles, Justices of the Supreme Court like Frankfurter and Warren, and the whole battery of lesser but still famous and vivid alleged conspirators headed by Alger Hiss. 350c69d7ab

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