As Pope Francis prepares for a meeting with a Pentecostal pastor next week, Sandro Magister lists the other meetings he’s had with charismatic leaders in recent weeks, in addition to the one I have reported on:
The meeting with Pastor Traettino in Caserta is not, in fact, an isolated episode, but part of a broader effort that Pope Francis is making to win the favor of the worldwide leaders of those “Evangelical” and Pentecostal movements which especially in Latin America are the most fearsome competitor of the Catholic Church, from which they are snatching enormous masses of faithful.
“Evangelical” and Pentecostal Christians, who emerged a century ago from Protestant circles, have seen spectacular expansion. It is estimated that today they are almost one third of the approximately two billion Christians present in the world, and three fourths of Protestants. But they are also found in the Catholic Church. Last June 1 Pope Francis met in the Olympic stadium of Rome with 50,000 members of Renewal in the Spirit, the most important Catholic Charismatic group in Italy.
Three days later, on June 4, the pope had a long meeting at his residence of Santa Marta with some “Evangelical” leaders of the United States, including the famous televangelist Joel Osteen, California pastor Tim Timmons, and the president of the Evangelical Westmont College, Gayle D. Beebe.
On June 24, another meeting. This time with Texas televangelists James Robinson and Kenneth Copeland, with Bishop Anthony Palmer of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, with John and Carol Arnott of Toronto, and with other prominent leaders. There were also Geoff Tunnicliffe and Brian C. Stiller, respectively the secretary general and “ambassador” of the World Evangelical Alliance. The meeting lasted for three hours and continued through lunch, in the refectory of Santa Marta, where the pope, amid loud laughter, gave Pastor Robinson a high five (see photo).
Copeland and Osteen are proponents of “prosperity theology,” according to which the more faith grows the more wealth grows. They themselves are very wealthy and live an extravagant lifestyle. But Francis spared them the sermon on poverty.
Heh heh heh. Which reminds me of a post by Fr. John Hunwicke about whether the Pope would say to ecumenical partners the same things he would say to a small, Catholic group. A Hunwicke Test:
An example. The Holy Father is unofficially reported to have described himself as the guarantor of Orthodoxy. This has an engagingly ancien regime flavour to it. One thinks of the Sun King saying L’etat, c’est moi; of Pio Nono saying Io sono la Tradizione. I think Louis XIV was one of Europe’s great monarchs; and earlier this year I did a few enthusiastic posts upon B Pius IX and the Syllabus of Errors. I have, personally, no trouble with this sort of talk. And there is a sense in which our Holy Father’s aphorism is totally bang on. The Roman Pontiffs, speaking ex cathedra, do without the tiniest doubt have the assistance of the Holy Spirit ut traditam per Apostolos revelationem seu fidei depositum sancte custodiant et fideliter exponant.
I just wonder whether what Pope Francis said, the way he said it to the seminarians of the FI, is something which he would say to an audience including Orthodox. And I wonder this because I do not think the Magisterial officers of the Church ought to impose upon humble subjects of the Catholic Church a doctrinal formula of which they would not also be prepared to say to the Orthodox “This is part of our core belief and if you are to be in unity with us, you must of course accept it”. There is not a single formulation of Catholic Truth which is good-enough to be heavily dumped onto some lowly, vulnerable, and bullyable group, but which we would never be so silly and insensitive as to try to unload upon our partners in ecumenical dialogue.
And, as for the report that our beloved Holy Father also used the old Loyolan topos about the Magisterium being able to declare black to be white, I can only say that if he goes around saying that sort of thing to Anglicans such as his chum Archbishop Welby, it will have the result of reawakening in their minds a whole lot of dormant anti-Catholic prejudices.
Well, back in the day St. Paul tried to be all things to all people so that he might win some to Christ, there was no Internet, no pesky international media, no speed-of-light reporting to get in the way!