Question: I disagree with your stance regarding Rome being identified with Catholicism. Vatican City is a separate entity from Rome. Rome itself is associated with Catholicism, as you state, but they are not married. The Vatican is married with Catholic dogma for sure. You have stated that the responsibility is upon Catholics to disprove the premise that Revelation 17-18 is speaking about the end-times religious system called the harlot. I immediately thought of the rebuttal that Catholics have made.
Response: The “rebuttal” the Catholics have made is of no value at all, particularly since Catholic eschatology teachers and commentators recognize the identification of the Great Harlot with an “apostate Rome” in comparison with today’s supposedly non-apostate variety. Catholic “apologists” have a problem with any supposed rebuttal.
We would suggest that some critical points have been missed regarding Rome. You said, “Rome itself is associated with Catholicism, as you state, but they are not married.” That’s not true. Many of the titles used in the Vatican are taken from Roman sources. “Pontiff” and “Vicar” are derived from Imperial Rome. Note the following: “Pontifex - (Latin: ‘bridge builder’)…member of a council of priests in ancient Rome. The college, or collegium, of the pontifices was the most important Roman priesthood...”(Britannica.com).
Catholic sources note: “[Pontifex maximus] borrowed from the vocabulary of pagan religion at Rome...designated...members of the council of [pagan] priests forming the Ponti?cal College, which ranked as the highest priestly organization at Rome and, was presided over by the pontifex maximus” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XI).
Catholicism has always been identified with Rome, and its “borrowings” are but further evidence of the linkage. As Dave Hunt noted, “Though it is built on seven hills, there would be no reason to accuse Rio de Janeiro of spiritual fornication. It makes no claim of having a special relationship with God. And though Jerusalem has that relationship, it cannot be the woman riding on the beast, for it is not built on seven hills. Nor does it meet the other criteria by which this woman is to be identified.
“Against only one other city in history could a charge of fornication be leveled. That city is Rome, and more specifically Vatican City. She claims to have been the worldwide headquarters of Christianity since its beginning and maintains that claim to this day. Her pope enthroned in Rome claims to be the exclusive representative of God, the vicar of Christ. Rome is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, and in that too she is unique” (Hunt, “A City on Seven Hills, A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church in the Last Days,” p. 69). From time immemorial the Catholic Church has been referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, not the Vatican Catholic Church.