This news story from Charisma Magazine about Mike Bickle’s account of meeting Pope Francis caught my eye, as well as some pictures of Bruno Ieullo, a minister with Catch the Fire Ministries in Toronto, with Pope Francis I saw on Facebook.
Bruno has come to Ottawa a couple of times to be the translator for Matteo Calisi, a Catholic leader in charismatic renewal and a movement to find unity in the Body of Christ through yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit to bring it about. Here’s a story I wrote of a visit by Calisi to Ottawa for the Fire and Fusion Conference here in 2014.
Matteo Calisi, a leader in the worldwide Catholic Charismatic renewal and former member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, described reconciliation to the estimated 300 Catholic and evangelicals who participated as “the heart of the Gospel.”
“Jesus died to reconcile us to the Father and for us to be reconciled to each other,” he said.
But Calisi warned the road to unity would not be easy, that it was a way of the Cross.
Speaking in Italian with translation by Bruno Ierullo, pastor of Toronto-based Catch the Fire’s Newmarket, Ontario campus, Calisi said Jesus “knew he would be rejected before he was crucified. He was rejected, insulted, spat upon.”
Love gave Him the power to go on, he said.
“What is really scandalous is the sin inside of the Church,” Calisi said. “If we ignore the reality of sin and of division, this is the true scandal.”
“If we leave people in division, if we tolerate division, it is like a gas that invades and makes you go to sleep and in the end you die,” he warned.
Jesus is the only way to salvation, he said, but it’s the absence of His love among Christians that prevents the message from getting out the world.
Here’s an excerpt of Mike Bickle’s account of the meeting from Charisma Magazine:
Some of the most recognizable names in the charismatic movement had a private meeting with Pope Francis on Friday. Mike Bickle, Che Ahn, Kris Vallotton, Stacey Campbell and dozens of other Protestant leaders from North America and Europe gathered at the Vatican.
According to Bickle, director of IHOP in Kansas City, the purpose of the meeting was to engage in an on-going dialogue about the pontiff’s views on Jesus and Christianity.
“The meeting lasted a couple of hours. They gave us the opportunity to ask questions. The meeting was very warm and personal,” Bickle told Charisma News. “I asked him about his views on the serious error and deception of universalism that claims that ‘all paths lead to God’ and other religions being saved without receiving the grace of God that only comes through Jesus. He assured me that he believes that Jesus is the only way of salvation.”
Bickle asked him again pointedly, “Is Jesus the only way of salvation?” He described Francis as “very strong” in his agreement on Christ as the Savior of the World and emphasized his love for Jesus and the Scripture.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about the first meeting of this kind with Pope Francis, organized by Bishop Tony Palmer whom I interviewed via Skype only a few weeks before his death in a motorcycle crash. Palmer was a good friend of Pope Francis.
“We met Pope Francis; we are accepting his call and trying to put an end to division,” Palmer said in a July 1 interview from South Africa.
“We are already one in Christ, but we’re not in visible unity,” the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) bishop said. “We need to demonstrate that.”
The unprecedented three-hour private meeting over lunch at the Pope’s residence at Casa Santa Marta was not on the Pope’s official agenda and took place with no Vatican secretaries present.
In addition to Palmer, the leaders meeting with Francis included World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) head Geoff Tunnicliffe, who divides his time between Vancouver and New York City; WEA’s theological commission chair Thomas Schirrmacher; WEA’s global ambassador Brian Stiller, a former president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) and Tyndale University College in Toronto; Toronto-based Catch The Fire founding ministers John and Carol Arnott; and popular American televangelists James and Betty Robison, founders of Life Outreach Int. and Kenneth Copeland, founder of KCM Ministries.
At the meeting, the leaders “expressed our common desire to work toward the visible unity,” Palmer said. “Because we all agree that [Martin] Luther’s central protest of salvation by grace through faith was accepted in 1999 in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Catholic and Lutheran Churches, we today, as evangelicals, can make a public statement that we are united in faith in a common understanding of the justification of salvation and secondly we agree on the same definition of salvation. That means we can also agree to announce together the salvation message.”
“So we asked Pope Francis, as a delegation, to offer us further insight into how we can make a common declaration –a public visible joint-declaration of our unity in the faith and unity in mission,” Palmer said.
“While I facilitated a meeting, I made sure everyone had time to speak to Pope Francis about their own personal agendas,” he said.
“Pope Francis very clear in stressing the unity we are speaking of is a reconciliation of diversity,” Palmer said, noting the concept of reconciling diversity comes from Lutheran theologian Oscar Cullman who was an observer at the Second Vatican Council and influential on Catholic thought regarding ecumenism.
“Pope Francis agrees with me when I say diversity is divine, but division is diabolic,” Palmer said. ” Pope Francis is fully aware of the necessity for diversity. We need each other. Together, united, we represent the fullness of Christ through our reconciled diversity.”
Anyway, all very interesting.