Pope Francis to his “brother bishop” and charismatic evangelical Protestants

Here is Pope Francis speaking to a gathering of charismatic evangelical Christians. Tony Palmer, whom Francis addresses as “my brother bishop,” is a semi-independent clergyman in the Anglican tradition.

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28 comments

    1. @Christopher Queen – comment #3:
      Father Longenecker is a sad and disturbed man who demonizes most people who disagree with him. He, for example, believes that gay people are responsible for the sex abuse scandal, and that homosexual rape is a greater moral evil than heterosexual rape. He’s probably so threatened by anyone who disagrees with him that he instinctively needs to conceive of them as being somehow less than human. In many respects, he is completely opposite of our current wonderful pope.

  1. He’s also not part of the Anglican Communion, at least the one in communion with Canterbury. According to Eurochurch.net, he’s a bishop in the Anglican Episcopal Communion of the CEEC (Celtic Anglican Tradition). http://www.eurochurch.net/about-us/tony-palmer/ The CEEC is the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, and he is the Ecumenical Officer for it.

  2. @Damian Duczmal – comment #3:
    Longenecker suffers from the same syndrome as Cdl Burke:

    http://ncronline.org/news/politics/us-cardinal-raymond-burke-pope-francis-opposes-abortion-and-gay-marriage

    It is sad when a basic, simple gesture of hospitality and welcome has to be parsed via negativity and sarcasm to death. Why this need for the Burkes and Longeneckers of this world to be convinced that their truth is the ONLY truth or way to God? What is the fear that is at their core?

    One could make the case that there isn’t much difference between Bishop Tony’s decisions (per Longenecker, his schismatic offshoot church) and Longenecker who justifies his abandonment of Anglican Church by claiming that all truth resides in his decisions (what arrogance and self-righteousness).

    The Burkes and Longeneckers of this world don’t get what this former Jesuit provincial recently preached and posted:

    “……yet, for many in that first community around Jerusalem, to release Gentiles from the strictures of the ancient covenant was to surrender to the culture of the day, to abandon the practice of faith in which Jesus himself was known to engage. It seemed, to these Jewish-Christians, that the church was being asked to surrender to the desires of the world, to become “politically correct,” all for the sake of not offending its new converts. On the other hand, there stood in their midst those who worked among the Gentiles or who had gone to them, and testified to the power of the Spirit within them. Peter, Paul and Barnabas spoke forcefully for a new vision and a new understanding of the faith.
    What is most amazing about this moment in the church is how the community comes to decide, together, what is to be done. There is debate and disruption, but it is not seen as division; rather, it is the way the Holy Spirit is working within the community. Further, this debate is grounded on human experience, and not on tradition or on the power of office. Rather than beginning with Scripture—the Torah or the Prophets—the community begins with the experience of the faithful: the testimony of Peter, Paul and Barnabas, none of whom claim special authority in the face of the communal discernment, the Gentiles touched and filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Only then does James, in response, note that “the words of the prophets agree with this” (rather than “this agrees with the prophets”). The understanding of God and the meaning of the tradition comes not from a measured and disengaged reflection by those in authority, but in the noisy, messy and (some might say) undignified uproar of the community of faith. Here is diversity without division, complexity without separation, debate and dissent without the need for punishment or condemnation.”

    Note – his comment…..”meaning comes not from a measured and disengaged reflection by those in authority, but in the noisy, messy and (some might say) undignified uproar of the community of faith.”

  3. Thanks to Christopher Queen and Kevin Montgomery for the further information. I have changed the post to indicate that Bishop Palmer is in the Anglican “tradition” (rather than “communion”). BTW, I took “semi-independent” from Damian Thompson at the Telegraph:
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100260643/pope-francis-opens-his-heart-to-protestants-were-into-new-territory-here/
    Maybe it’s not the best word.
    awr

  4. Tony Palmer in his own words:

    http://soltsisters.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-miracles-of-god-and-bishop-tony.html

    “I’ve come to believe that diversity is divine, it’s division that is diabolic.”

    I’m not hot on the prosperity gospel, which Kenneth Copeland preaches and represents. But Tony Palmer has a strong message concerning Christian unity — much stronger than I would have expected. The surprises of Pope Francis’s pontificate are many!

  5. @Steve Kusterer – comment #1:

    It is fascinating to watch, and so not my cup of tea. 🙂

    No matter, the Pope is, as usual, lovely and amazing.

    @Bill deHaas – comment #5

    About that long-ish L’Osservatore Romano column by Cardinal Burke, it kinda sorta feels like he’s saying, Well, what am I supposed to do? I mean, I’m not gonna be ignored, Francis!

    Which is also very fascinating to observe, but likewise, so very not my cup of tea.

    Thank God for diversity.

  6. Interesting comments on YouTube by the evangelical protestant Bishop Tony Palmer, paraphrasing him (if you didn’t see the whole thing):

    1. The “Protest” is over, the Catholic Church signed the document in 1999 with the World Lutheran Foundation, Luther’s protest is over.

    2. Now what do we (Protest-ants) call ourselves now that the 500 year old protest is over?

    3. To the stunned Evangelical group he then stated several times:
    “We are all Catholics now!”
    and:
    We are no longer Protestants, we are Catholics now!

    Brave, brave man! So is Francis for his genuine words to the group.

    Unfortunately, they will get slammed by certain camps from both the Catholic and Evangelical sides.

    btw Bill deHaas +1

    1. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #10:

      Dale

      The standard social science survey question about religious preference has gone something like this one from the General Social Survey

      What is your religious preference? Is it Protestant, Catholic or Jewish, some other religion or no religion?

      What Frank Newport of the Gallup organization reports is that “Protestants” are disappearing. If you are a non-Catholic Christian over age 60, you are likely to say yes to Protestant. However if you are a non-Catholic Christian under age 40 you are likely to say no to Protestant.

      This has a lot to do with the rise of non-denominational churches, since the next question(s) in most surveys try to figure out the person’s denomination. Rather than answering Protestant, many people now say they are “some other religion” and when asked further questions will say something like “Christian” or “Evangelical.”

      Newport has begun to use the word Protestant as simply equivalent to a Christian that does not identify as Catholic. He does not see much use in the word as a positive indicator of anything, and predicts it may disappear! “The word has simply gone out of fashion.”

      Has Vatican II caused Protestantism to disappear?

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #19:
        Thanks Jack, very informative.
        I guess the short answer to your last sentence is yes.
        Interestingly, I think the “Protestant Episcopal Church” dropped the “Protestant” in their ordination rites in 1979. It had been debated since 1964. Some actually wanted to change it to the “American Catholic Church” but the evangelical wing refused.

  7. About the prosperity Gospel — unless you have known a goodly number of desperately poor people, you cannot understand why they consider prosperity such a very great good. People who have next to nothing often see great security and comfort and a modicum of beauty as what they need most for themselves, and even more importantly, what they need for their children. Small wonder that people who are or who have been terribly poor are inspired by preachers who inspire them to work hard to overcome their poverty.

    And what is so wrong with that? The problem is when material goods are over-valued, especially at the expense of other poor people.

  8. Regarding the prosperity Gospel, another comment Tony Palmer made to the assembled group got a mixed reception. Paraphrasing, he said “We’re not called to build an empire, but to build the Kingdom of God.” The initial reaction included some throat clearing type sounds, then the applause picked up.

    1. @Steve Kusterer – comment #12:
      Steve, I think that Tony Palmer blew them all away, they didn’t expect his frank comments. And the stunned reaction of the group when Tony Palmer said they were all Catholics now was respectful and priceless. Can you imagine if he stood up in a Roman Catholic meeting and said we are all Evangelicals now? The reaction would undoubtedly been much much different.

      1. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #13:

        “Can you imagine if he stood up in a Roman Catholic meeting and said we are all Evangelicals now?”

        Sure can: the reaction would have been a roar of laughter, accompanied by thunderous applause, of course.

        Too much? Well, you did say imagine.

        Anyway, at least this Catholic thought his framing of Jesus being this, that, the other and then some was brilliant.

  9. Elizabeth and Dale – contrast what Francis did with this sad and deplorable story about Benedict & ecumenism:

    http://ncronline.org/news/people/look-back-dupuis-skirmish-vatican

    Key highlights:
    – particularly astonished and scandalized at the poor quality of much of the 14 theses prepared by the CDF, which repeatedly attributed to him views that he had not only never expressed in the book but also had in several passages explicitly rejected: for example, the bizarre notion of different heavens for the followers of different religious traditions. Thesis one attacked him for interpreting the Bible along the very lines recommended by the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” (1993), the document for which [CDF head] Cardinal [Joseph] Ratzinger had himself written the preface!

    – Benedict stated: “CDF’s action “had consisted simply in sending some confidential questions to Fr. Dupuis and nothing more than that.” He rejected König’s statement that the CDF “may well suspect him [Dupuis] of directly or indirectly violating the Church’s teaching.” I read these assertions with both sadness and astonishment. What Dupuis had received from the CDF included much more than “some confidential questions.” It began with fierce charges about the orthodoxy of Dupuis’s book; he was explicitly accused of directly violating church teaching. It made me sad that Cardinal Ratzinger (or, presumably, someone at the CDF writing in his name) could be so economical with the truth.

    – Cardinal Ratzinger had never met Dupuis nor contacted him personally by phone or letter, let alone asked to sit down with him for a discussion. They never met until September 2000, and they lived less than 3 miles from each other!
    – “But I have already sent you 260 pages of answers to your questions,” Dupuis protested. He looked amazed when the cardinal then retorted: “You can’t expect us to read and study all that material.”
    – A CDF meeting on June 10, 1998, included a number of cardinals including one who admitted afterwards of having never read the book.

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #16:
      Hi Bill,
      Not surprised definitely sad and deplorable. Didn’t B16 state tell the sex abuse victims he met with in N.Y. that he would meet with them again? Of course never happened either.
      I think many will look back at the past 8 years and shake their heads.

    2. @Bill deHaas – comment #16:

      Heartbreaking.

      Seeing Pope Emeritus B16 at the Consistory today, however, one would never have guessed that the same man, looking so humble and meek — as has been widely reported, he was the only one who removed his zucchetto while greeting Pope Francis — was once so cold and ruthless in his ways.

      Regardless, I think he is a different man now, and that he, like Pope Francis, now understands — he must! — that his old, authoritarian ways had many faults, hurt many people, and did much harm, “independently of [his] intentions.”

      Or so I would like to believe, because otherwise, it’s just too darn sad and indeed, deplorable.

    3. @Bill deHaas – comment #16:

      The fact that they couldn’t be bothered to read 260 pages of refutation of their baseless charges indicates either complacency or incompetence. I think in fact both of these are true. The CDW still thinks that if it says something that makes it true, and Charles Curran demonstrated unanswerably that there was no one at the CDW who was actually competent to understand the arguments of the theologians that they have been busy squelching. No, not even Ratzinger.

      I am fond of telling the (true) story of a wily Jesuit friend who was summoned by Ratzinger and who came out on the winning side. At the end of his interview with Ratzinger, the cardinal uttered the unbelievable words: “Very interesting, Father! I must think about this.” In the end, no response or condemnation was ever received or published.

      That friend is still working in the Jesuit Curia where he is indirectly advising, among others, “Papa Bergoglio SJ”.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #24:
        Great story, Paul…..good for him. Hope you enjoyed Beaumont – where I attended minor seminary for four years and taught for two until CMs closed the seminary.
        Looks like you made the CF and got to meet up with Rory Coonery et alii.

  10. No, “we” aren’t all Catholics now. Pentecostal groups are growing rapidly in Latin America (and among Latin American immigrants here), and their members are almost all former Catholics. They may not call themselves Protestants, but they emphatically aren’t Catholics.

    Nor is Joseph Ratzinger “cold and ruthless in his ways.” He wasn’t when he was Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and he wasn’t as Pope.

    1. @Tom Piatak – comment #22:

      1. No, “we” aren’t all Catholics now… they emphatically aren’t Catholics.

      You know, if this is all you came away with after watching that video clip, then you really don’t get it at all.

      2. Nor is Joseph Ratzinger “cold and ruthless in his ways.”

      I believe Joseph Ratzinger as a person is neither cold nor ruthless, and never has been. However, in his role as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and to a lesser extent, as Pope, he most certainly did things in ways that could justifiably be described as such.

      With that said, I also have no doubt whatsoever that when he partook in writing such sad stories as the one cited earlier (@ comment #16), he truly believed he was doing the “right” thing, that his ways were the only “right” way in accordance with God’s will.

      So there’s also that.

  11. Very interesting that the pope, on what I think is a personal level, referred to an independent anglican as a brother bishop. It is a shame that the Rev’d Longnecker tries to belittle this friend of the Holy Father by calling him Mister.

    I think that most people want to be in communion with Pope Francis while avoiding like the plague such narrow minded minions.

  12. I was elated — so filled with the joy of the Lord over this. May Christ bless all those involved in this beautiful dialogue. We can all have our opinions but Jesus’ truth will prevail no matter the cost.

    Sandy Bunch

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