Thursday, May 10, 2007

Is the Pope Catholic?

Well...he's certainly not Evangelical. According to several news agencies, his recent trip to Brazil was prompted primarily by concerns that Catholics in that country were abandoning the RCC and flocking to Evangelical churches. Here's a link to a BBC story and an excerpt:

"Talking to journalists on the flight [to Brazil], the Pope said his main concern in the region was the loss of millions of disaffected Roman Catholics to evangelical churches."

I find this very fascinating for two reasons. First, what about "Evangelicals and Catholics Together," a document signed by members of both groups in 1995? This document stressed commonalities between Evangelicals and Catholics and discouraged proselytizing. It was also said to have the current pope's fingerprints all over it.

Second, I would like to know...what are the primary concerns he has with Evangelicals? Is it doctrinal? Practical? Financial implications for the RCC? Political ramifications? Having a pope like Benedict, who I believe is a man of true doctrinal and personal integrity, could be very beneficial as it helps more clearly distinguish the crucial theological differences between Catholics and Evangelicals. My difficulty with ECT was that it failed to really address the crucial issue that separated the two groups: the essence of the Good News, the gospel.

One Other Issue:

Of course, there are many things I like about his pope, even though I believe we preach different gospel messgaes. Though he lamented the growth of Evangelical churches on the plane ride over, I have to admire what he did almost the moment he stepped off the plane: deliver a clear warning to RCC politicians who were seeking to enact pro-choice legislation:

"Pope Benedict XVI began his first trip to Latin America Wednesday by laying down church law on abortion, suggesting that he agrees with bishops who said Catholic politicians in Mexico had excommunicated themselves by legalizing abortion in that nation’s capital."

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