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“… [S]ome authors do not grasp the true relationship between the papacy and the secular rulers during the 1260 years from 538 to 1798. This is a highly significant period, directly mentioned by seven prophecies. During those years, Catholicism dominated much of Western religion. It is not, however, accurate to say that throughout that time the medieval church also ruled the European nations in a secular sense.

Such, for instance, was the emphatic view of the Presbyterian minister Samuel J Cassels, more than 150 years ago. This notion is still being echoed by several present day writers of the Historical School.

One should therefore not overstress pontifical power to the extent of implying that for 1260 years the secular rulers of Europe were nothing more than papal puppets. It is true that the popes have persistently yearned for such domination and even made a dogma of it: Prima sententia est, summum Pontificem jure divino habere plenissimam postestatem in universum orbem terrarium, tam in rebus ecclesiasticis quam civilibus (‘The primary doctrine is that the chief pontiff possesses by divine right, plenary power throughout the whole world both in a ecclesiastical and civil matters).

Secular rulers have been only too aware of this claim and some like Germany's Bismarck and Britain's imperial Prime Minister W. E. Gladstone- have candidly stated it. The latter wrote in 1874 ‘individual servitude, however object, will not satisfy the Latin church. The State must also be a slave.’

But just like individuals, organizations are often thwarted in their designs and hardly any more so than the papacy. As several of our chapters will show, most of the time the popes were unable to dominate the secular rulers. Often it was the other way around. Emperors and kings appointed, ill treated, deposed and occasionally even killed the pontiffs who displeased them: for the European monarchs also claimed to rule jure divino (by divine right). When their political objectives clash with those of the pope, their armies not infrequently invaded and savaged the Papal State in Italy. At times their forces sacked and burned the city of Rome itself.” (Edwin de Kock, Christ and Antichrist in Prophecy and History, 2013, p.26-27)

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