There has historically been general agreement with non-preterists that the first systematic preterist exposition of prophecy was written by the Jesuit Luis de Alcasar during the Counter Reformation. Moses Stuart noted that Alcasar’s preterist interpretation was of considerable benefit to the Roman Catholic Church during its arguments with Protestants, and preterism has been described in modern eschatological commentary as a Catholic defense against the Protestant Historicist view which identified the Roman Catholic Church as a persecuting apostasy.
Due to resistance by Protestant Historicists, the preterist view was slow to gain acceptance outside the Roman Catholic Church.
“The above characteristics drawn from Scripture cannot be wholly found in the heathen Emperors of Rome, much less in the fanciful Danitish-Antichrist of popish writers, or the Armillus of the Jews, or the Daggial of the Mahometans. The Mahometan system may indeed be considered as a lesser antichrist, but neither contain all the characteristics applicable to it. It does not sit in the Church, nor appear to men to have a power equal to God’s. It allows no idolatry, nor is it notable for the persecution of the saints, nor was it established by lying wonders, but by the power of the sword. Actually, every characteristic is clearly found in the papacy.” – John Brown of Haddington, “Dictionary of Bible Characters”, p. 125
Francis Turretin on why the Church of Rome is not a true Church of Christ:
7. Because Antichrist sits in her.
XXI. Seventh, Antichrist sits in her, the author of the great apostasy described by the apostle in 2 Thess. 2 who, under the pretext of a vicar, professing himself be in the place of Christ (anti christou), by impiously usurping the authority of the Lord betrays himself to be really Antichrist (antichriston), the rival of him and an opposing and self-exalting enemy (antikeimenon, kai, hyperairomenon) who, sitting in the temple of God as if he were God, exalts himself above all that is called God (to wit, emperors, kings and princes of the earth, and departed saints in heaven) and shows himself that he is God. That all these criteria of Antichrist can be found in the Roman pope can easily be gathered from a comparison of both, as has been proved at length in our Disputation 7, “De Necessaria Secessione,” Opera (1848), 4:147-77.
8. Because she is Babylon.
XXII. Eighth, she is the mystical Babylon, from which the pious are commanded to come out (Rev. 18:4) as a most corrupt society diametrically opposed to the mystical Zion, the true church of Christ, and incompatible (asystatos) with it. Both the description of John proves and our opponents themselves do not deny that by Babylon is meant no other than Rome. John’s description (Rev. 17) belongs exactly to her alone, especially as to the two marks by which he distinguishes her: that she is a seven-hilled (eptalophos) city, who “sitteth on seven mountains” (v. 9); and that she obtains power over the kings of the earth (v. 10). It is evident that she is seven-hilled and in the time of John no other except herself was the mistress of the world, the head of the earth and the queen of nations, who on this account was called by the Greeks “the ruling city” (basileuousa polis).
–– Francis Turretin, “Institutes of Elenctic Theology” Vol. 3, p, 133
‘Simony’ (corruption and sale of ecclesiastical offices) and ‘nepotism’ (favouritism shown by the popes to their ‘nephews’) had long been in vogue but had increased greatly in the course of the preceding century. It was scarcely ever claimed any longer that any pope had been elected without simony; legation reports gave precise details of payments and promises of high honours made during the elections. The sales of ecclesiastical offices, of both high and medium rank, had become recognized practice; the cardinals themselves pressed the pope to resort to this well-tried means when money was short. A further well-known custom, and one that was bitterly contested, especially abroad, was ‘pluralism’ – the bestowal of three, four and up to as many as ten or fifteen high offices on a single favoured individual; it was forbidden under canon law but practised widely without compunction. In Luther’s day there was hardly a cardinal who did not enjoy the rich rewards of four of five highly lucrative offices, in many cases aboard; usage permitted these to be transferred to members of family, thus creating a further nepotism within the great nepotism of the popes. But the establishment of their nephews and cousins in high office by the popes, which had been going on for centuries, now developed on a really big scale; the papal families became great Italian landowners. Duchies and even kingdoms were demanded for the clan. These had to be wrested from someone and this necessitated wars and campaigns, which were waged with all the means of ‘ecclesiastical power’, including excommunication and interdict. Italy became a battlefield, above all when the foreign powers – France, Spain, Germany – were drawn in. Source: Luther by Richard Friedenthal