The Roman Empire integrated the religious practices of conquered nations into its own religion. The emperor Constantine merged the Babylonian and Christian religions and made the resulting Roman Catholic Church preeminent. Declaring himself the Pontifex Maximus (supreme pontiff), Constantine claimed authority over the entire Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church continues to regard its ancient traditions as being coequal with scripture in authority.
Revelation depicts a Roman Church that shares in the corruption of the Roman Empire. It depicts this Church (woman) and Empire (beast) as entwined. The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:18) Yet few people connect the corruption of the Roman Church with the Roman Empire, this connection basically remains a hidden secret. And the angel said to me, “Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast (Revelation 17:7a). Rome is a mystery with two components. The first is a woman who is a prostitute (Roman Church) and the other is a malicious beast (Roman Empire). While one seeks dominance in religion, the other seeks world conquest.
Because religious practices from Babylon were incorporated into the Roman Church, it is referred to as Babylon. The relationship Babylon has with world leaders is based on adultery—a shared disloyalty to God. With Babylon the kings of the earth committed adultery (see Revelation 18:3; NIV). Babylon commits adultery against God by being faithful to the kings, the leaders of this world, but not to the king of heaven. An example is the funeral of Pope John Paul II. This event was the largest gathering of statesmen in history. Attendance included four kings, five queens, and at least seventy presidents and prime ministers.
Countless people, even many believers, continue to think highly of the Roman Church. Instead of widespread condemnation for the thousands of priests worldwide who have molested children, the inhabitants of the earth are intoxicated with her religion and traditions. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” (Revelation 17:2; NIV)
Babylon is dressed like a prostitute in purple and scarlet with gold, precious stones and pearls. However, what really offends God is contained inside a golden cup, which is her chalice. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. (Revelation 17:4; NIV) Babylon worships the contents of the golden cup.
Catholic sacraments are the supposed ability of priests to perform miracles. For example, priests are supposedly able to transform bread into the body of Christ. Catholics call this transformation transubstantiation. Catholic doctrine says through transubstantiation, its chalice contains the literal Body of Christ—and therefore this bread is worshiped as being God. Catholics venerate this bread; they routinely kneel before this bread as if it were God. (Exodus 20:4)
The Wrong Rock
The position of Pontifex Maximus, thought by many to have started with Peter, actually began hundreds of years before Christ. Julius Caesar became Pontifex Maximus in 63 BC. Caesar Augustus became Pontifex in 12 BC, and held that position at the time of Christ.
The idea that there should be a Christian pontiff resulted from the misinterpretation of a single scripture. Jesus said, I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (Matthew 16:18) However, the “rock” upon which the true church was built was Jesus, not Peter (Isaiah 26:4).
Peter identified Jesus as the primary rock, the cornerstone of the Church.
For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6; NIV)
God sends a message to people in this false Church. Many are authentic believers who have been deceived.
Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
“‘Come out of her, my people,’
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes. (Revelation 18:4-5; NIV)