Sunday, July 27, 2014

POPE FRANCIS' ECUMENISM WITH THE EVANGELICALS--SHOULD WE ENGAGE THEM ECUMENICALLY?

Pope Francis has a good friend who is an Italian evangelical minister. The Holy Father will visit his good friend near Naples on Monday. He will speak to Italian evangelicals as well.

As you can imagine, those Catholics longing for the good old days prior to ecumenical dialogue are alarmed that the pope seems enamoured with evangelicals and Pentecostals.

Fr. Z has a post on this topic at his blog and one of the commenters there, Sid Cundiff of North Carolina, caught my attention as I thought his comment reflection was spot-on. Here it is:

I am unfamiliar with the people with whom Holy Father is visiting, and with their churches. Yet I have lived for 61 years in a region where most Christians are Evangelicals.
The churches with whom Catholics should be talking are, in order of importance, (1) The Eastern Orthodox Church, (2) the Oriental Churches, and (3) Evangelicals.
Far too little time has been devoted to working with Evangelicals; far too much time has been spent “dialoging” with the dying: the “mainline” Protestant Churches, among whom I include Latter-Day Anglicans. These churches are ultra-Liberal; indeed it was with them that Liberalism was born, first the Latitudinarians of the 18th C, then the Liberals of the 19th C – Thomas Arnold, Charles Kingsley, F. D. Maurice, Albert Ritschl, and the man who cost Nietzsche and Feuerbach their faith: David Strauß, and the Lutheran midwife to Modernism: Adolf von HaWith the establishment of the Anglican Ordinariate, Holy Father Benedict stopped “dialoging” and sent out a lifeboat. Mother Church ought to consider if this can be done for Lutherans who have grown weary of Liberalism. Ditto to Low Church Anglicans of the N.T. Wright type. And we should be joining hands with Evangelicals, and for four reasons.
First, many of them have been told lies about us. 30 years ago in a barber’s chair, I was reading a tract on the Rosary. The barber, who attended a Fundamentalist Fortress of a Baptist church in my town, said to me “I’ve always wanted to ask a question of a Catholic.” I asked him what it was. “Can Catholics pray to God?” I strongly assured him that we can and do. He replied “Well, I always heard that Catholics had to go first to their priest, and the priest would pray to God for them.” Clearly someone had told him wrong. And this isn’t an isolated example. These people need to get to know us, and we them.
Second, no other Protestant group is so close to us in moral theology. They don’t think highly of the Sexual Revolution’s issues: Killing children, homosexual marriage (or homosexuality at all), and of the desert of Transgendered-stan.
Third they are with us with religious liberty issues. A former student of mine, now a Baptist minister, led a rally in front of the local Federal Building supporting Christian prayer at the local County Commissioners’ meetings (he invited a Catholic priest to participate in the rally). They oppose the restrictions on religious liberty in Obama Care. They want prayer in schools and have even set up their own parochial schools. (And, Priam1184, they not only have nothing in common with Moslims, but also they are Israel’s strongest supporters. )
Finally, we Catholics need to know Scripture just as well as the Evangelicals know it. Call them in this matter Role Models.
Folks, these are the people with whom we should be talking and with whom we should be marching. So I’m not upset at what Holy Father is doing. He knows we have much common ground with Evangelicals.
Fr. Z, be upset if Holy Father were to have tea with John Shelby Spong.

My question: Bishop John Shelby Spong is a post-Christian Episcopal bishop in New York. 
What do you think of Sid's reflections above?

12 comments:

rcg said...

Is ecumenism, from the Catholic understanding, a dialog with churches that originated and have fallen away from The Catholic Church? If so, the dialog with most evangelicals is something besides ecumenism and potentially bears more fruit, as this writer claims.

Anonymous said...

The "problem" with this particular visit is that the pope intends to apologize to the Evangelicals for the Church's strong presence in Italy in general and Rome in particular.

Another very real problem is that the pope said he doesn't want to convert anyone to Catholicism but would rather they stay in their respective communities and find God there.

If the pope believes that the one, true Faith established by Christ Himself is the Catholic Church then why would he not want everyone to become members of the Body of Christ? Why wouldn't he want them to have the grace of the seven sacraments? I'm not saying he has to go and actively try and convert people to Catholicism, that's best done by example, but he certainly shouldn't be making statements like those I've already mentioned.

He is again causing unnecessary confusion and scandal. He is good at that. This has to be intentional because it keeps happening time after time after time. Instead of worrying about cars and not wearing mozettas and putting on clown noses, and being worried over offending evangelicals, he might want to concentrate of the Catholic Church which is in ruins.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church is not in ruins. Some bloggers here sound, to me, as if they wish it would go to ruin because they wish things were like they used to be, and they never will be again. If the whole thing crashes, then they can say "I told you so.". It reminds me of those who want President Obama to fail.

The Liberal formerly known as Sgt.

Gene said...

Obama has already failed…and he is certainly an enemy of the Church.

The Church is not in ruins…only in a New Babylonian Captivity.

JBS said...

I think Mr. Cundiff makes a good point. I find it much easier to have a faith conversation with a thoughtful (they're not all thoughtful), Evangelical pastor than with an Episcopalian clergyman. And with such pastors, even in regard to our differences, there's a mutual understanding that one of us is right and the other wrong. Not so with the Mainline Denominations.

JBS said...

rcg, the Catholic Church regards ecumenism as a search for unity between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, and between the Church and the ecclesial communities of the Reformation. All ecclesial communities of the West, with the notable exception of the Polish Old Catholics, are considered sons of the Reformation, even if several generations removed from the first divided community from which they sprang.

The split with the SSPX is not yet definitive, but it may become necessary to treat them as a subject of ecumenism.

Anonymous said...

John Shelby Spong is the retired TEC Bishop of Newark, New Jersey. Not New York.

Spong denies the virgin birth, the resurrection, Jesus is the only way to the Father. He is STILL is good standing in the TEC.

I agree with the poster at Fr. Z's blog. Why oh why is the Roman Catholic Church even giving the time of day to the Episcopal Church and other liberal protestant groups that deny the basic dogmas of the faith.

Lutherans and Anglicans who are orthodox, and they outnumber the apostates by the way, are virtually ignored by the local Catholic Bishops. As an Anglican Priest I have watched joint services with the TEC and Roman Catholic Church. At first I thought the Roman Catholic Church believed all the Episcopalians teach. Now I know, or pray, it is just plain ignorance for the most part.

I have attended Roman Catholic Mass and have watched priest commune known, in clericals, male and female Episcopal ministers. Not young priest who maybe confused, but a Chancellor of the Diocese.

In the US about 80 non TEC Anglican missions, parishes and even a diocese interested in discussing or joining the Ordinariate. Hundreds of priests, deacons and religious journeyed to San Antonio to attend an event discussing the Ordinariate. Seminary trained, educated, orthodox with parishes, interested in rejoining the Catholic Church. Thousands of Anglicans.

How were they treated by Rome and the former TECers place in charge of the Ordinariate? Ignored. Letters not returned, told all sorts of mis-information. I attended a meeting where a diocese had former TEC priests and a current TEC priest on a panel discussing the proposal from Pope Benedict. Their mis-representation was too much for a retired Arch Bishop who stood up and said in his dealings with the TEC, nothing they agree too is worth the paper it is written on. Arch Bishop Lipscomb was his name.

If you are interested in reaching out, people who are closer than evangelicals to your theology would be the Missouri Synod Lutherans, Anglican Church in North American, in certain locations the Reformed Episcopal Church, Anglican Catholic Church etc. The Anglican Catholic being probably the closes.

They range in size of a few thousand, 10's of thousands to hundreds of thousands. They are growing as the liberal protestants are dying.

You are not going to get many Episcopalians, Methodists or Presbyterians USA to pray at abortion clinics. The CREC would,

Who is the CREC? Conference of Reformed Evangelical Churches. They are moving toward catholicism as a group. Maybe not this generation but the next they could rejoin the Church. Why does not the Church reach out to them instead of the Epsicoplian who are hell bent on embracing every kind of abomination possible to imagine.

As for as Pope Francis apologizing to Evangelicals. Both Protestants, Anglicans, Romans and the Orthodox have done things to apologize for doing to each other. We all have sinned and fallen short.

If we do not want to end up like the Christians in Africa or Mosul, we better start truly talking and mending our relationships.

The Anglican Priest (Mark)

George said...

The Eastern Orthodox churches do have valid apostolic succession, Holy Orders and sacraments.
There is not the disaffection among their members that exists with some Anglicans,Lutherans,Episcopalians and others however. With the Orthodox, even though they are much closer to us, since they are a conciliar church there is the challenge of getting enough of their leadership to agree to re-unite with us.

Marc said...

George, you'd have to do more than get enough of the Orthodox leadership to submit to Rome. You'd have to get all of the bishops in the Orthodox Churches to submit and all the people. Remember Mark of Ephesus. And remember that the laity can undo what the leadership decides.

As long as there are monks on Mt. Athos, there won't be a submission to Rome.

Stavrophore Charalampos said...

Let us now praise the monks of Mt. Athos:

"THESSALONIKI, Greece — A group of monks on Greece's monastic sanctuary of Mount Athos who are facing eviction attacked court bailiffs with rocks and petrol bombs Monday, according to civilian authorities on the peninsula in northern Greece.

About 100 monks in the 1,000-year-old Esphigmenou monastery have been involved in a years-old dispute with the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, over his efforts to improve relations with the Vatican."


Marc said...

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2013/07/the-truth-about-occupation-of.html

Also, Patriarch Bartholomew isn't the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians.

George said...


Marc:
There is the Union of Brest as a model. If a majority of bishops were to approve a decision to re-unite, I could see some Churches splitting off and coming back in full communion (although retaining their liturgy and religious customs).