The Two Lords of the World – and Us
Early in his pontificate, Pope Francis often referred to Lord of the World, a 1907 novel by Fr. Robert Hugh Benson about an apocalyptic clash between two opposing forces.
One is the Catholic Church, renewed and purified, surviving only marginally in small pockets of believers in various counties, but potently ruling over Rome and a large area around the Eternal City, where 6,000,000 Catholics have gathered – a concession by the Italian government in exchange for the Church giving up its claims in the rest of the country.
The other side is what we would now call “globalism,” which dominates the rest of the world with promises of peace and prosperity (both goods in their proper places, of course).
The book’s title cleverly raises a question: Which is the true “lord”? The God who made heaven and earth, or “the lord of this world,” a “humanist” ruler – actually a front for devilish forces – with his powerful machines and seduction of hearts and minds?
In 1992, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger also cited Benson (a brilliant writer and convert whose father had been Archbishop of Canterbury!) in a speech at the Catholic University of Milan. President George H.W. Bush had just called for a New World Order, following the demise of the Soviet Union. The future pontiff cited Benson about the sharpest threat to humanity in our time: “The anti-Christ is represented as the great carrier of peace in a similar new world order.”