According to Pope Benedict XVI, protestant denominations are not "churches" in the truest sense of the word. The former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (previously known as the Office of the Inquisition) acknowledged that Orthodox churches are true churches because they have apostolic succession. However, a document released by the Vatican stated that they are nevertheless defective because they do not recognize the primacy of the pope.
While sounding divisive to Protestants, the statement stressed that Pope Benedict XVI is committed to ecumenical dialogue:
"However, if such dialogue is to be truly constructive, it must involve not just the mutual openness of the participants but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith."
As one writer noted many years ago: "Let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes. The principles of Gregory VII and Innocent III are still the principles of the Roman Catholic Church. And had she but the power, she would put them in practice with as much vigor now as in past centuries . . . Rome is aiming to re-establish her power, to recover her lost supremacy." (Great Controversy, 581.)
The council given to the people of God is to lay any new idea before brethren of experience.
There are a thousand temptations in disguise prepared for those who have the light of truth; and the only safety for any of us is in receiving no new doctrine, no new interpretation of the Scriptures, without first submitting it to brethren of experience. Lay it before them in a humble, teachable spirit, with earnest prayer; and if they see no light in it, yield to their judgment; for “in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Testimonies, Vol. 5, 293.)
The ministers, in turn, have an obligation to honestly study the issues with a candid, open mind.
Our brethren should be willing to investigate in a candid way every point of controversy. If a brother is teaching error, those who are in responsible positions ought to know it; and if he is teaching truth, they ought to take their stand at his side. We should all know what is being taught among us; for if it is truth, we need it. We are all under obligation to God to know what He sends us. He has given directions by which we may test every doctrine, – “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” If the light presented meets this test, we are not to refuse to accept it because it does not agree with our ideas. (Gospel Workers, 300-301.)
Questions have come in asking if this council has been followed and, if so, what has been the response of the brethren to whom it was presented.
On December 10, 2007, a letter was sent to church leaders explaining the value of the research found in the Grace Amadon Collection and how it relates to the calendar reform proposed for implementation in 2012. Three hundred pages of documents from the Grace Amadon Collection were sent with the letter, along with a request that the church reopen an investigation into these issues.
The letter said, in part:
There is a rapidly growing interest among world leaders in establishing a new World Calendar. Therefore, it is vitally important for the Seventh-day Adventist church to establish an on-going study committee to again look into the issue of calendation principles. The Grace Amadon Collection is an invaluable resource that has been providentially preserved in our church archives. The documents it contains address issues soon to impact the church.
The leaders to whom this was sent were as follows:
Elder Jan Paulsen, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Elder Orville Parchment, Vice President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Dr. Angel Rodriguez, Head of Biblical Research Institute
Elder Don Schneider, President, North American Division
Elder Dan Jackson, President, Canadian Union Conference
Dr. Denis Fortin, Dean of Theology Seminary, Andrews University
Dr. Jacques Doukhan, Andrews University
Dr. Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, Michigan Conference
Elder Doug Batchelor, Amazing Facts, Sacremento, California
Pastor Stephen Bohr, Fresno Central SDA Church, Central California Conference
Pastor John and Beverley Carter, The Carter Report
Mr. Ty Gibson, Light Bearers Ministry
Elder David Kang, Light for Life
Elder Kin Jo, Shigehiro, Okinawa, Japan
In addition, a follow-up letter was sent on February 2, 2008 which contained copies of the Final Report of the Research Committee, parts I-VI, obtained from the Archives and Statistics Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as well as the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University.
In October, 2007, copies of The Great Calendar Controversy were sent to every pastor in Upper Columbia Conference (eastern Washington, northern Idaho) as well as conference officials in Upper Columbia Conference, Washington Conference, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alaska.
In December, 2007, copies of The Great Calendar Controversy were sent to the Conference Presidents in Canada, the Canadian Union-Conference President, and to every individual pastor.
Emails with a PDF of The Great Calendar Controversy attached have also been sent to various pastors and conference leaders in Africa and South America, asking them to investigate these issues.
A recent bill proposed in Israel could be a first step in preparing that country to accept the World Day/Year End Day of the proposed World Calendar. One of the peculiarities of the proposed World Calendar is that the last day of the year, World Day, not having any date attached to it, is considered a "second Saturday." This designation makes it palatable to some secular Jews who see no problem with having two Sabbaths in a row, as long as there is never more than six work days between rest days.
MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP) has proposed a bill that would make Sunday a second day of rest, while allowing places of entertainment to be open and public transportation to operate on Saturdays.
A poll headed by Prof. Yitzchak Katz found that 56% of the public support Orlev's initiative.
Reported February 23, 2008, Arutz Sheva, IsraelNationalNews.com.
On April 17, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI will meet with a number of influential ecumenical leaders in the United States’ Senate building in Washington, D. C. It will be a rather private meeting with only 22 persons invited to participate.
In attendance will be members of the Christian Coalition, Christian Churches Together, and Catholic Campaign for America. Some of the political dignitaries scheduled to appear are President George Bush; Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi; and Senator Robert Byrd, President pro tempore of the United States Senate – a position that puts him third in line to the presidency.
On April 18, Pope Benedict will address the United Nations in New York City. It has been argued that this appearance before the United Nations will be his most important trip in his pontificate thus far, as well as an excellent opportunity to speak to the nations of the world.
He clearly has something valuable to say, a message that focuses on what he has termed a “dictatorship of relativism” menacing not just the Catholic Church or institutional religion, but everyone . . . The question is whether he’ll be able to find a language to ensure that what he pitches is also what people catch.
At this stage, the odds that he’ll succeed seem, well, only relatively good. (John L. Allen, Jr., New York Times, 12/19/2007.)
Interest in calendar reform is spreading. Councillor Paul Tully, of Ipswich, Australia, is urging calendar reform that operates just like the World Calendar, only under the name Benedictine Perpetual Calendar. More information available at this website.
On April 18, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City. While the main thrust of his speech appeared to be focused on human rights, undercurrents of broader subjects appeared. According to Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, Benedict's speech possibly redefined what constitutes sovereignty:
"He stated that the moral basis for a government's claim to authority, to sovereignty, is its responsibility for, its willingness to, and effectiveness in protecting its populations from any kind of violation of human rights. While borrowing this expression from the Outcome Document adopted by Heads of State and Government in 2005, Pope Benedict outlined a broader concept: responsibility to protect covers not only the so-called humanitarian – military – interventions, rather, it could be used as the new name for sovereignty, which is not only a right, but above all a responsibility to protect and promote the populations in their daily lives."
Calls for "binding international rules" as well as warning against undermining the authority of the United Nations went largely unnoticed. One oblique reference was particularly curious. Speaking of the important, long-standing role of the papacy in world politics, the pope referred to a recent U.N. confirmation stating that the Holy See helps to define international law:
"Indeed, the Holy See has always had a place at the assemblies of the Nations, thereby manifesting its specific character as a subject in the international domain. As the United Nations recently confirmed, the Holy See thereby makes its contribution according to the dispositions of international law, helps to define that law, and makes appeal to it."
April 23, 2008 – A Seventh-day Adventist lay member who believes in calculating the seventh-day Sabbath by the luni-solar calendar, flew to the United States to meet with Dr. Angel Rodríguez, director of the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Silver Spring, Maryland. Having previously sent the BRI over 300 pages of documents from the Grace Amadon Collection on luni-solar calendation as well as a copy of the Final Report of the Research Committee, the lay member gave Rodríguez a copy of the book, The Great Calendar Controversy. Rodríguez was asked if the church would appoint a study committee to examine the research in the Grace Amadon Collection. The committee would investigate the evidence for the luni-solar calendar and its use in establishing Oct. 22, 1844, as the ending date for the 2300 day prophecy of Daniel 8:14. The committee's report should reconcile the problem of the crucifixion date and demonstrate which calendar was used to determine the seventh-day Sabbath in the time of Christ. Rodríguez assured the lay member that he would read all of the information given him.
August, 2008 – In the monthly magazine, "Adventist World", Dr. Angel Rodríguez wrote a one-page article stating his objections to calculating the seventh-day Sabbath by lunar calendation. Aside from a sweeping statement claiming there is no biblical evidence to support the lunar Sabbaths, Rodríguez did not offer any scriptural or historical documentation to support his belief in a continuous weekly cycle. It is hoped that a more in-depth answer with documented research will be forth-coming from the Biblical Research Institute.
August 23, 2008 – World Net Daily published "God’s true calendar not a 7-day cycle?" Overwhelming interest from around the world kept the story as the "Breaking News!" headline article at the top of World Net Daily’s homepage. Joe Kovacs, the reporter who wrote the article, later commented: "While we don’t disclose specific information on hits, I can tell you it was among the leading articles through the weekend, if not No. 1."
Lascaux, France – BBC News reported that Dr. Michael Rappenglueck of the University of Munich believes the prehistoric paintings in the famous caves of Lascaux actually may be the world’s oldest lunar calendar. Patterns of dots and geometrical shapes painted around the animals represent the phases of the moon. Rappenglueck says the ancients "painted the sky, but not all of it. Just the parts that were specially important to them." Having previously identified certain stars and constellations from the patterns left on the cave walls, Rappenglueck now believes that the 29-day lunar month is also represented in great detail. "They were aware of all the rhythms of nature. Their survival depended upon them," he says.
See additional informaiton on ancient lunar knowledge. (Used by permission of the BBC.)
Geneva, Switzerland – The EU Parliament deliberated the Second Reading for the revision of the Working Time Directive of 2003.
On October 22, 2008, seven members of parliament tabled amendments to the draft recommendation stating that the minimum weekly rest period "shall in principle include Sunday." They emphasized the contribution a work-free Sunday makes to the health of workers, stating: "The likelihood of sickness in companies that require staff to work on Sundays is greater than in companies that do not require staff to work on Sundays. The health of workers depends, among other factors, on their opportunities to reconcile work and family life, to establish and maintain social ties and to pursue their spiritual needs. Sunday as the traditional weekly rest day, contributes to these objectives more than any other day of the week."
The EU parliamentarians went on to add that Sunday "is the natural choice for family related activities, as childcare facilities and schools are closed."
A work-free Sunday is only part of the initiative. In the United Kingdom, employees had the ability to "opt-out" of the maximum 48-hour work week. On December 17, 2008, this option was denied by the European Parliament, to the distress of many European workers.
Liz Lynne, MEP, Shadow Rapporteur for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, stated: "This result is a bitter blow for businesses and workers alike. I have always argued that the opt-out should be retained so long as it is truly voluntary. Workers should be allowed to earn overtime if they wish to. Scrapping the opt would push people into illegal work where they are not covered by health and safety legislation including the dangerous machinery directive."
European Union law takes precedence over the laws of individual member states.
New Vatican legislation, signed into law by Pope Benedict XVI in October of 2008, emphasizes the supremacy of canon (church) law to Italian civil law. The Vatican, the world's smallest sovereign state, will now consider Italian laws on an individual basis before accepting them as the rule of law for the Vatican.
José Serrano Ruiz, president of the appellate court of Vatican City State, oversaw the preparation for publication of the new law. He says that the new legislation is intended to emphasize the autonomy and genuineness of Vatican City State as separate from Italy.
Since 1929, the Vatican has accepted Italian laws automatically unless there was an obvious disagreement with Catholic doctrine. Automatic acceptance of Italian civil law will no longer continue. Ruiz stated, "there is an ever greater contrast between these [Italian civil] laws and the principles that cannot be renounced by the Church."
This decision, which applies to international treaties as well, follows a recent refusal by the Vatican to approve a UN movement to decriminalize homosexuality.
Further developments will be posted.
“Truth is eternal, and conflict with error will only make manifest its strength. We should never refuse to examine the Scriptures with those who, we have reason to believe, desire to know what is truth as much as we do. Suppose a brother held a view that differed from yours, and he should come to you, proposing that you sit down with him and make an investigation of that point in the Scriptures; should you rise up, filled with prejudice, and condemn his ideas, while refusing to give him a candid hearing?
“The only right way would be to sit down as Christians and investigate the position presented, in the light of God's word, which will reveal truth and unmask error. To ridicule his ideas would not weaken his position in the least if it were false, or strengthen your position if it were true. If the pillars of our faith will not stand the test of investigation, it is time that we knew it. There must be no spirit of pharisaism cherished among us. When Christ came to His own, His own received Him not; and it is a matter of solemn interest to us that we should not pursue a similar course in refusing light from heaven.” (Councils to Writers and Editors, 44.)
“If a brother differ with you on some points of truth, do not stoop to ridicule, do not place him in a false light, or misconstrue his words, making sport of them; do not misinterpret his words and wrest them of their true meaning. This is not conscientious argument. Do not present him before others as a heretic, when you have not with him investigated his positions, taking the Scriptures text by text in the spirit of Christ to show him what is truth. You do not yourself really know the evidence he has for his faith, and you cannot really clearly define your own position. Take your Bible, and in a kindly spirit weigh every argument that he presents and show him by the Scriptures if he is in error. When you do this without unkind feelings, you will do only that which is your duty and the duty of every minister of Jesus Christ.” (Letter 21, 1888; CW 50)
“When new light is presented to the church, it is perilous to shut yourselves away from it. Refusing to hear because you are prejudiced against the message or the messenger will not make your case excusable before God. To condemn that which you have not heard and do not understand will not exalt your wisdom in the eyes of those who are candid in their investigations of truth. And to speak with contempt of those whom God has sent with a message of truth, is folly and madness. If our youth are seeking to educate themselves to be workers in His cause, they should learn the way of the Lord, and live by every word that proceedeth out of His mouth. They are not to make up their minds that the whole truth has been unfolded, and that the Infinite One has no more light for His people. If they entrench themselves in the belief that the whole truth has been revealed, they will be in danger of discarding precious jewels of truth that shall be discovered as men turn their attention to the searching of the rich mine of God's word.” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, pp. 32, 33; CW 51)