The Pope and New Babylon

Have Catholic leaders ever called Rome "Babylon," or is that term used only by Protestants?

W. W. Prescott [Veteran editor, Washington, D.C.]

Have Catholic leaders ever called Rome "Babylon," or is that term used only by Protes­tants?

Before the Reformation, and especially since that revolution in religious thinking and interpretation, those who have rejected the unscriptural claims of the Papacy, have spoken of papal Rome as the Babylon of Revela­tion 17:5, but few may be aware of the fact that a regularly elected and recognized pope has applied the same term to Rome. The fol­lowing extract translated from the ecclesiastical annals of Baronius, the well-known Roman Catholic historian, testifies to this interesting fact:

The Discourse of Gesalius to His Own Concerning His Departure

"We follow our fathers, since it is especially good for the venerable to follow their parents. Nonethe­less do we follow the gospel, seeing that we are unable to live in this state, we flee into another. We flee from Sodom, we flee from Egypt, we flee from her who according to the prophetic word is new Babylon [Fugiamus nevam, juxta verbum propheticum, Babylo­nolomil,* we flee from a bloody state. The time will come, believe me, the time will come sometime, when either we will all return on an equal footing, or those whom God may have permitted, the south wind blow­ing, and better times will return. In the presence of God and the church I say, if it might ever be pos­sible, I would prefer one ruler, rather than so many. One worthless one would at least destroy the more worthless, until as to that one also the ruler would make manifest the justice of all the rulers."--"Baronii Annales Ecclesiastici," Vol. XII, Anno Christi 1118, Gelasil Payee II, 1.

Pope Gelasius II occupied the pontifical chair in 1118 and 1119. The following information concerning him may be of interest:

"A few days after the death of Pascal, John Cajetan, another Benedictine monk from the monastery of Monte Cassino, and chancellor of the Roman Church, was created pontiff, and assumed the name of Gelasius II. In opposition to him Henry set up another pontiff, Maurice Burdin, archbishop of Braga in Spain, who chose the name of Gregory VIII. Gelasius, therefore, finding himself not safe at Rome, or in Italy, retired into France ; and soon after died there, at Cluny."—"Institutes of Ecclesiastical History," John Laurence Von Mosheim, Vol. II, pp. 418, 419.

"He [Gelasius II] had to fight for St. Peter's chair, and to abandon Rome."—Id., p. 443.

It thus appears that Roman Catholic writers cannot justly claim that Protestants are solely responsible for interpreting the Babylon of Revelation as representing the apostate church of Rome, since a pope of Rome has made this same application of the designation himself. It cannot, of course, be claimed that Gelasius II spoke ex cathedra when he uttered this sig­nificant statement, but it is nevertheless of much interest, and the statement may be used as registering the opinion of one who in 1118 and 1119 occupied the papal chair.

W. W. Prescott [Veteran editor, Washington, D.C.]

*"It is evident that papal Rome (and not pagan Rome) was termed Babylon by a pope, in accordance with the prophecy, more than four hundred years be­fore Luther."—Note appended to the above extract by the editor of "Sketch of the Rontish Controversy," Vol. I, p. 199.


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W. W. Prescott [Veteran editor, Washington, D.C.]

December 1937

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