A Question for Pope Francis: Which is It? High Five Ecumenism or Ecumenism of Hate?
I was not going to write on the insulting and uninformed article by a Jesuit Priest named Antonio Spadaro and Presbyterian Pastor Marcelo Figueroa. They referred to the alliance between American Catholics and Evangelicals as an “ecumenism of hate.”
“After all,” I thought, “it’s been well refuted and critiqued by some of the best minds in the Christian world.” Included among them, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Jesuit Priest Drew Christiansen and my colleague at The Stream, the pugnacious John Zmirak.
But the editorial was written by a priest Pope Francis respects and a Presbyterian pastor from his native land. So, it keeps floating around the web. It’s also making the rounds of secular news sources such as the New York Times. They welcome the idea that Pope Francis does not agree with “conservative” Christians.
Also, it was published in an Italian news source with an aura of Vatican approval. That allowed opponents of conservative Catholic and Protestants to strike. They could act as though they were speaking for Pope Francis.
“Clearly there is an enormous difference between [this ecumenism of hate],” they contended, “and the ecumenism employed by Pope Francis with various Christian bodies and other religious confessions.”
Do the Authors Speak for Pope Francis?
I’ve been involved in building this alliance between Catholics and evangelicals for over four decades. I did so in a response to the High Priestly prayer of Jesus Christ (John 17). From the trenches of the early pro-Life movement, Catholics and Evangelicals rediscovered one another as brothers and sisters in the One Lord. We heard the cry of our first neighbors in the womb. These are the poorest of the poor, as St. Teresa of Calcutta, called the preborn. The leadership of the Catholic Church encouraged our efforts.
And our response led us to recognize one another as Christians, together.
We defended the dignity of every human person. We stood for the primacy of the Natural Law. We defended true marriage. We stood in solidarity with those whose rights were denied. We reached out to Jesus who reveals Himself in the poor. (Matt. 25)
In all of this, we’ve prayed, fasted, acted and suffered, together. For our common Savior and His ongoing mission.
I believe the alliance between Evangelicals and Catholics is one of the greatest works of the Holy Spirit of the last 100 years.
Until recently, I thought Pope Francis shared that assessment.
An Ecumenism of Hope
I remember historic days in August of 2014. Pope Francis met in Rome with my Evangelical friend, James Robison. James was with several other Evangelical leaders. Francis and James exchanged a “High Five.” It occurred after they agreed on the importance of every Christian encountering Jesus Christ personally.
In an article for the Huffington Post entitled “The Pope’s High Five,” James wrote:
The enemy has kept many Christians from loving one another as Christ loves us. We have failed to recognize the importance of supernatural unity even with all of the unique diversity… . We know it is God’s will for those who have been born from above to become bold witnesses for His glory and Kingdom purpose and to go into all the world and make disciples of Christ.
What happened at that meeting was an ecumenism of hope.
James expressed his hope,
This week I was blessed to be part of perhaps an unprecedented moment between evangelicals and the Catholic Pope. On Tuesday, for nearly three hours, a few of us were blessed to meet in an intimate circle of prayerful discussion and lunch to discuss not only seeing Jesus’ prayer answered, but that every believer would become bold, joy-filled witnesses for Christ.
That meeting was what Pope Francis recently called “reconciled diversity.” He used the phrase in a Pentecost Message on Christian unity to over 50,000 charismatic Christians in Rome. I wrote about that message here.
A Question From a Catholic Deacon to Pope Francis
So, I have a question for my Pope. I ask it with respect. I hold a deep affection for the Holy Father. I am an orthodox, Magisterium-following Catholic. I’m also committed to Christian collaboration and unity.
Pope Francis, do you encourage the Catholic faithful to follow St. John Paul II in his encyclical letter entitled May They Be One? Do you want us to pray, work and walk together with other Christians? Or, do you agree with the writers of that editorial? Do you view our efforts as an ecumenism of hate?
What I am addressing is true ecumenism, that is, the promotion of Christian unity.
Pope Francis, is the collaboration between Evangelicals and Catholics true ecumenism? It cannot be both an ecumenism of hate and an ecumenism of hope.
Which is it?
Please, speak out publicly on this vital question.