"I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death ; and his deadly wound was healed : and all the world wondered after the beast." Rev. 13 :3.
The "wound" could not have been inflicted alone by the capture and deposition of Pope Pius VI by General Berthier in 1798, otherwise the election of Pius VII in 1799 would have constituted its healing.
Rather, the Papacy was wounded by a series of stabbings over a period of 300 years, beginning with the Reformation and culminating with the imprisonment of the pope in 1798.
What Wounded the Papacy?
There were five significant developments in the process:
1. The discovery in the Bible of the true way of salvation—justification by faith—and the growth among the common people of implicit confidence in the Bible as the word of God.
2. The gradual alienation of its one-time political friends—such as, Austria, the German States, France, and England—through both political and religious causes.
3. The passing of penal laws against its followers and the proscription of its secret societies.
4. The growth of democracy.
5. The final violent overthrow by the armies of France.
How Will the Wound Be Healed?
Obviously by the reversal of the conditions that brought about its wounding:
1. By loss of faith in the Bible as God's word through the rise of evolution, materialism, and the new paganism, and thus the passing of the "protest" from Protestantism.
2. By the renewal of its political friendships.
3. By the repeal of the penal laws against its members and secret agents.
4. By the passing of democracy.
5. By the restoration of the kingship of the pope.
It is scarcely necessary to demonstrate that these five happenings rank among the supreme events of the last 130 years. But how have they occurred? Suddenly or gradually? A study of the history of this period reveals-
Four Phases in Papal Recovery
1. 1798-1870. Condition Serious. During this period the Papacy suffered continual buffetings. Pius VII, for instance, was taken prisoner by a French general in 1809—and did not see Rome again until 1814. Moreover, there was the gradual loss of the Papal States, and finally of all temporal power. Nevertheless from time to time it revealed definite signs of renewed life. Referring to 1798, Hayward's "History of the Popes" says: "From this time onward the history of the popes enters upon a new phase, which by a logical sequence of events has brought the Papacy to the position it holds today."—Page 334.
Among the signs of life during this period might be mentioned the reestablishment of the order of Jesuits in 1814 by Pius VII, the Catholic Emancipation Act in England in 1829, followed by the Oxford Movement, and the revival of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
Then in 1870 came the Vatican Council, the Decree of Infallibility, and the dawn of the next phase.
2. 1871-1917. Stow Convalescence. During this period the Papacy was quietly regaining influence, encouraged by the increasing deterioration of Protestantism, but its progress was retarded by the World War, when tens of thousands of Catholics were slain in all armies.
3. 1918-1928. Rapid Recuperation. The Papacy now seized the opportunity created by the spiritual confusion caused by the Great War, and posing as the one true church, marched on to many victories, pressing its claims with its old-time audacity. To this end it inaugurated Eucharistic congresses in several strategic centers.
4. 1929-1934. Vigorous Health and Power. This has been evidenced by a series of extraordinarily important events:
1. The settling of the Roman question, leading to-
2. Proclamation of the Pope as king;
3. Recovery of temporal power in the creation of the Vatican State; and,
4. Receipt from Italian government of millions in cash.
5. Inauguration of intense propaganda in Protestant countries, and in all mission fields.
6. Exchange of diplomatic representatives with almost all civilized countries.
7. Signing of concordats with many nations.
8. Removal of almost the last of Catholic disabilities in England.
9. Overthrow of socialism in Austria by a Catholic caucus.
10. Rise of theories of government favorable to Catholic principles.
Looking over this amazing catalogue of events, one cannot but admit that the "deadly wound" is now so completely healed that the Papacy is able—when it deems the hour propitious—to accomplish the final acts predicted of it in the prophetic word.
* This summarization will be followed later by expansion of the various points tabulated, with side lights and factual evidence that will be of great value to all workers.—Editors.