THE POPE INVITES CLOSE
FRIENDS TO ASSISI
General Conference of SDA's on
The following news release comes to us
courtesy of Domus Enterprises, which calls itself "an international
news organization, staffed by lay Catholic journalists, dedicated to
providing accurate world news, written from a distinctly Catholic
VATICAN, Jan 17, 02 (CWNews.com)-
The Italian daily newspaper Avvenire has published a list of the
religious leaders expected to participate in the January 24
inter-religious observance at Assisi.
The Vatican has not yet
released an official list of the participants, explaining that the
list will not be considered complete until all those invited have
responded. An estimated 300 people are expected to be involved,
representing 44 different religious bodies.
Avvenire reported that
33 cardinals are expected, led by the Vatican Secretary of State,
Cardinal Angelo Sodano; the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops,
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re; the president of the Pontifical Council
for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan; the
president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Cardinal
Walter Kasper; and Cardinal Etchegaray, who organized the original
inter-religious ceremony in Assisi in 1986. Also present will be
representatives of the Episcopal conferences of Algeria, Angola, the
Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria. Rwanda, and Sudan--
countries where inter-religious dialogue is particularly important.
churches of the world will send 11 patriarchs to Assisi, led by the
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. But no
representative of the Moscow patriarchate is expected. About 50
Islamic leaders will attend, coming from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,
Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, the Philippines, and Jordan. And Jewish rabbis
will come from Jerusalem, France, and the United States-- along with
Elio Toaff, the former chief rabbi of Rome. Protestant bodies will be
represented by Konrad Kaiser, the secretary-general of the World
council of Churches; Anglican Bishop Richard Garrard of Rome; Setri
Nyomi of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches; George Freeman of
the World Methodist Council; Cecil Robeck of the Pentecostal church;
Alvin Jackson of the Disciples of Christ; Theodor Angelou of the
European Baptist Federation
and Bert Beach of the
The Vatican also
expects representatives of Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Hinduism,
Zoroastrianism, and traditional African faiths. The Italian government
will be represented in Assisi by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
All these participants
are expected to be aboard a specially chartered train that will leave
Rome for Assisi on the morning of January 24, returning that evening.
CW News DAILY NEWS
BRIEF for JANUARY 17,2002 C>
Copyright 2002 Domus
Enterprises, An international news organization, staffed by lay
Catholic journalists, dedicated to providing accurate world news,
written from a distinctly Catholic perspective
in any important organization—whether it be political, corporate,
governmental, or religious—have a short list of close friends that
they make sure they invite to special meetings.
To this, they then add
other names and organizations, which will be invited. The secondary
list consists of representatives of organizations to which they have
not had close ties over a period of time or which do not ordinarily
attend their meetings-but should attend this one.
From time to
time, the Vatican, one of the most headline-hungry organizations in
the world, decides to convene an ecumenical gathering in Rome or
The resultant assembly accomplishes little
other than grabbing media headlines throughout the world for a few
days. It is remarkable that the other denominations and world churches
willingly cooperate in this magnifying of the papacy, yet they happily
accomplish two objectives: First, they demonstrate that the Vatican is
still a world power, able to call together key representatives from
various governments and denominations throughout the world. It is thus
shown to be an international organization, with close ties to power
brokers everywhere, able to convene meetings which no one else seems
Second, in rank, the
Vatican is careful to stand a little above the other organizations
attending those gatherings. Its leader sits in the middle of a row of
a few topmost leaders and at the front of an assembly of hundreds of
them. He is always the featured speaker. His organization makes all
preparatory and session arrangements, scheduling, and press releases.
By papal standards, all other organizations and religions are thus
shown to be subservient to the man the Italians fondly refer to as
If you stop to consider
the matter, what do other denominational headquarters normally do?
They spend their time quietly tending to their own church affairs.
Not so with the Catholic Church; it is different. The little horn
power is always anxious to speak great things and show the world it is
very important. It is always at work, planning ways to express its
pomposity. The very word, "pontificate," which comes from one of
the names of the pope, is defined in the dictionary as "to speak or
act with haughty, pompous self-importance or authority." That is the
description, etched in history, of the "horn that had eyes and a mouth
that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his
fellows" (Daniel 7:20; cf. 7:8).
In 1986, the Vatican
appointed Cardinal Etchegaray to organize the first inter-religious
meeting. Assisi, Italy, was selected as the location for the
gathering; as the home of the founder of the Franciscans, it savored
of historical Catholic significance. As John Paul II papacy draws to a
close (due to his gradually weakening health) , a second worldwide
interfaith assembly at Assisi was scheduled for Thursday, January 24.
In preparation for it, a short list of
close associates and friends in important positions most likely to
respond favorably was drawn up. Vatican leadership was so certain that
they would attend that those few names were released in advance.
The longer list of
Roman Catholic leaders included very many lesser, unnamed Catholic
leaders from all over the world, including eight nations in which Rome
is trying to obtain a stronger grip: Algeria, Angola, Philippines,
Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Sudan.
This short list
of Catholic dignitaries included only five men, all of them cardinals:
. Cardinal Angelo
Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State.
. Cardinal Giovanni
Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, President afilie Pontifical Council
for Justice and Peace.
. Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the
Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.
. Cardinal Etchegaray,
the organizer of the 1986 Assisi conference.
The longer list
of non-Catholic representatives to the gathering
included representatives from many specific denominations, world
religions, and secular governments throughout the world. Yet specific
names were not given, for it was the offices that counted; the men
filling them apparently did not have a close, ongoing, relationship
to the Vatican. This longer list included:
patriarchs, 50 Islamic leaders from seven nations, and Jewish rabbis
from four nations. This long list also included representatives of
Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and native
African faiths (ie., witch doctors, etc.).
Next, we consider the short list of
non-Catholic invitees. We want to pay close attention to these men and
the offices they fill. All have, in the past, been key men in ongoing
ecumenical contacts carried on by the Vatican. If you have any
question about the fact, just consider who is included.
It is a striking fact
that, aside from five Catholic cardinals, only eleven other men were
specifically named. These were extremely important non-Catholic
contacts that the Vatican has regularly worked with.
Here is the list of
these 11 very special people:
. Konrad Kaiser,
Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches.
. Setri Nyomi, an
officer of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.
. George Freeman, an
officer of the World Methodist Council.
. Theodor Angelou, an
officer of the European Baptist Federation.
. EUo Toaff, former
chief rabbi of the city of Rome, Italy.
. Richard Garrard,
Anglican Bishop of the city of Rome, Italy.
. Cecil Robeck, an
officer of the Pentecostal Church.
. Alvin Jackson, an
officer of the Disciples of Christ.
. Bert Beverly Beach,
an officer of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
. Carlo Azeglio Ciampi,
President of Italy.
. Silvio Berlusconi,
Prime Minister of Italy.
Let us carefully
consider the above list. The few very important persons specifically
named is clearly of peculiar significance.
The Catholic news
release specifically states that "an estimated 300 people,"
"representing 44 different religious bodies," were expected to attend
this international ecumenical conference, hosted by the pope of Rome.
Yet, out of 300 people,
only five Catholic cardinals, nine Protestant leaders, and two
movement leaders are specifically named.
Who are the five named
. The Vatican Secretary
of State is the second most influential individual in the Vatican. If
you have read my book, The Murder of Pope John Paul I, you learned
that, in my opinion, it was his secretary of state who murdered him.
. The Prefect of the
Congregation for Bishops is the Vatican's liaison with Catholic
bishops throughout the world, including missionary districts where the
hierarchy has not been established, a very important position indeed.
. The President of the
Pontifical Councilor Justice and Peace works with non-Catholic
organizations and governments throughout the world. Ostensibly
organized by Pope Paul VI on January 6, 1967, to promote international
social justice, aid underdeveloped nations, and seek ways of
encouraging peace among all peoples,—the PCJP is actually used to
increase Catholic influence and control in nations throughout the
. The President of the
Pontifical Council for Christian Unity oversees all contacts with the
World Council of Churches in Geneva, national ecumenical councils in
every country on earth, and religious organizations worldwide. This is
the ecumenical arm of the Vatican, and was established as a result of
Vatican II in the mid-1960s. It is the PCCU's connections with the WCC—and
those of our General Conference with the WCC; both started in
1967-which have unfortunately linked us so closely together. It is as
a result of such contacts that we gave the gold medal to Pore Paul VI
. The organizer of this
and the preceding (1986) ecumenical conference at Assisi—would, of
course, be one of the few people specifically named.
Those are the only five
men on the Vatican's short list for this ecumenical gathering.
Next we turn our
attention to the 11 non-Catholics which were specifically named:
. The President and
Prime Minister of Italy would, of course, be named.
. Nine important
religious leaders, each one representing a major segment of
Christendom would, of course, be named. These nine would be expected
to be key contact men between the other churches and Rome. Look over
the list; it is significant:
. The chief rabbi and
Anglican bishop of the city of Rome, both contact men between the
Vatican, world Jewry, and the Anglican Church. You would expect that
neither the Jews nor the British would want to work quietly with the
Vatican through a representative in the city of Rome.
. Key ecumenical
liaisons representing the four major, international, ecumenical church
confederations: The World Council of Churches, The World Alliance of
Reformed [Calvinist, Presbyterian] Churches, The World Methodist
Council, and The European Baptist Federation.
In addition, three
other men were mentioned. Out of 300 delegates to the convention, why
were these three singled out for special mention?
They are obviously
closely involved in ecumenical relations, on behalf of their
denominations, with the Vatican. Can there be any other reason?
One might reply, "Yes,
because those three had already accepted the invitation." Not so, we
know that Beach had not yet accepted.
The 16 men on the short
list (five of whom were cardinals) were named because they ranked very
high in maintaining Vatican relations with other churches and
They were named because
they had worked so closely with Rome in the past; it was fully
expected that they would accept the invitation to attend, so their
names were released in advance.
. The remaining three
non-Catholics on the short list were: Cecil Robeck, a Pentecostal;
Alvin Jackson, of the Disciples of Christ; and Bert B. Beach, an
officer (recently retired) of the General Conference of Seventh-day
Why was Beach named?
SimpIe enough: He has
been the Seventh-day Adventist Church contact man with the WCC and the
Vatican for decades. Indeed, he has probably been a liaison with the
WCC and Rome longer than any other man named on the entire
list—Catholic, Protestant, or governmental!
Who is Bert B. Beach?
He is the son of Walter Beach, Secretary of the General Conference in
1950s, when I attended our Seminary and worked on the night crew at
the General Conference. Bert Beach is a European who speaks several
languages fluently and has been the General Conference representative
to the WCC since 1967—the same year that Pope Paul VI appointed its
first Vatican representative to the WCC.
Now you can understand
why Bert Beach was our denomination's representative in kneeling
before the pope on May 18,1977, and offering him a gold medallion on
behalf the people and organization of Seventh-day Adventists.
He was in Rome that day
as leader of the World Confessional Families (now called Christian
World Communions), an interfaith organization of several Protestant
denominations, organized by the WCC in 1968. How did he get appointed
to that position? It carne as a result of his year-after-year contacts
With Protestant church leaders at WCC headquarters in Geneva,
Ignore this talk that
our church does not have a representative at the World Council of
Churches! We have had one there for 35 years! Is he voting member? He
most assuredly is. He is a voting member of the most important
ecumenical and interfaith doctrinal committee of the WCC, representing
a broad range of Protestant denominations (The Faith and Order
Commission). On that committee has sat a Vatican representative since
1967, the same year that Beach carne on board.
In fact, Beach has been
the chairman of that WCC ecumenical committee for at least two
Why was he so
influential? First, he is at ease in so many European languages.
Second, he has been on the committee longer than anyone else. Third,
he is so friendly, that he sets all the newcomers at ease. He is an
extremely congenial person. Fourth, he knows all the background of
ecumenical activities of the committee and the WCC, going back further
than anyone else. So it has been natural for the representatives to
elect this friendly, astute, knowledgeable man of affairs, year after
year, as committee chairman.
If you ask our church
leaders about this, they will reply that the General Conference is
not, and has never held membership in the World Council of Churches.
Very true. Instead, the General Conference used two ruses to maintain
its very close connections with the WCC.
First, our General
Conference appointed Bert Beach as a voting "personal representative"
to this key WCC interfaith Faith and Order Commission, especially set
up for the purpose of cooperating With the Vatican II objective of
sending representatives to the other churches and to the WCC, but not
joining the WCC.
It is significant that,
of all the denominations in Christendom, only two chose to send
representatives without joining the WCC. Everyone else either joined
it or stayed out of it entirely. Those two were the Roman Catholic
Church and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They send "personal
Why did the Catholic
Church do that? It wanted to deepen its contacts and alliances with
the other churches; but, because its doctrines taught that it was the
only true church of Christ, it did not want to lower itself to full
membership in the WCC.
The Adventist Church
followed the same route because it knew its members (most of whom were
still conservative back then) would be extremely upset if it openly
joined the WCC.
So both organizations
used the device of joining a committee, giving them access to the WCC
and other churches without accepting the problems, which would result
from, what the WCC calls, a "full membership." Second, our General
Conference also appointed several Bible teachers at Andrews to the WCC,
on a rotating basis, as additional "personal representatives." This
fiction was originality used by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early
1940s, when he appointed Myron Taylor as ambassador to the Vatican.
RooseveIt well knew the American public would not tolerate a U.S.
ambassador to the Vatican, so he announced that Taylor was "a personal
ambassador"-i.e., representing himself!
One more detail: If
Beach was expected to attend the ecumenical function, why did he not
do so? He has attended similar gatherings at the WCC and Canterbury
for years; why not this one? It was slated to be given too much
publicity. According to Kermit Netteburg, General Conference
spokesman, after carefully discussing the invitation, General
Conference leadership decided that Beach had better not attend after
all. One person on the Vatican's short list of papal fawners had
For a very large
collection of historical and documentary evidence relating to this,
see our Seventh day Adventist Vatican Ecumenical Involvement set of
two books: Book 1: History, 80 pp. ($6.00 + $2.50); Book 2: Documents,
146 pp. ($11.00 + $3.00).
to Pilgrims Rest, PO Box 300, Altamont, TN 37301
"The SDAC is regularly
represented through observers or advisers at WCC and other church
meetings. For many years, an SDA has been a member of the WCC Faith
and Order Commission in a personal capacity. The SDAC has participated
in dialogues with the WCC and various religious bodies and since 1968,
has been represented at the conference of secretaries of Christian
World Communions. More recently, the SDAC has been represented
at the annual conference of U.S. church leaders. Christian World
Communions and various churches have responded to the SDA invitation
and sent observers to the quinquennial General Conference Sessions."
-Article, "Seventh-day Adventist Church," in Dictionary of the
Ecumenical Movement, published by WCC Publications, Geneva,
Switzerland. 1991, p. 919 [abbreviations theirs].
Read Great Controversy,
445:0-1, 592:2-3. An ecumenical coalition of the churches will bring
on the National Sunday Law!