Yes, the weekend is here! A chance to do some yardwork, continue painting those cabinets in the basement (argh!), worship at church tomorrow morning (yea!), and present all the news items I’ve collected over this past week:
- Pope’s Teaching on Divorce Divides Bishops
- Plea to the Pope: Life and Family Leaders Call on Pope to ‘End the Confusion’
- The vast majority of Catholic priests are facing the wrong way
- On Mass facing East or the people, both camps are right
- Cardinal Sarah’s very public slap-down shows Pope is willing to use his authority
Catholic conservatives and traditionalists continue to voice their increasing displeasure with pope Francis. The plea by Catholic “life and family leaders” for Francis to “end the confusion” is a brazen step. Perhaps emboldened by the swelling conservative outcry, cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, called on priests to return to the pre-Vatican II posture of facing the altar instead of the congregants during mass, eliciting a swift reproval from Francis. This issue of whether the priest should face East (ad orientem – in the same direction as the congregants) or towards the congregants during mass is a perfect example of how Catholicism is hopelessly entangled in the weeds of pharisaical ritualism and liturgical details rather than leading people to Jesus Christ.
While Francis is busy gathering all the “separated brethren” under his wings, these traditionalist Catholics act like it’s still 1950. Actually, every Catholic who is in Heaven is there in spite of their church, which teaches salvation by sacramental grace and obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules. Some Catholics become so exasperated with their church’s legalism they finally just throw themselves at the feet of Jesus Christ and ask Him to save them. See Luke 18:9-14, the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
Not all Catholics think Francis is doing a bad job. This leader of Catholic charismatics in Italy is even quite complimentary. Francis’s mission is to position Catholicism at the top of an increasingly ecumenical world. That rankles conservatives who see a weakening of Catholic orthodoxy but Francis says so be it.
The big ecumenical event in the news is “Together 2016” taking place in Washington D.C. today and featuring the pope, Ravi Zacharias, Hillsong United, etc., but smaller gatherings of this type are occurring more frequently all over the world. Note that one of the participants in this Filipino ecumenical praying of the Catholic “Divine Mercy Chaplet” cites “prominent American Evangelical pastor and author Rick Warren” for praying the chaplet “everyday.”
Southern Baptist, Timothy George, the author of this article, calls the Reformation a tragic necessity, but has spent a large portion of his career working for the cause of Catholic-Protestant reunification.
I have a very strong suspicion that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
They’re not. In fact, Pew Research shows that it’s the other way around; Catholics are leaving Roman Catholicism in large numbers for Jesus Christ and joining evangelical churches. This author cites an unusual case where nine students at an evangelical college joined Roman Catholicism but somehow the nine have disingenuously become “so many.” See my review of the same book here for my take on the compromise and betrayal of the Gospel at Southern Evangelical Seminary.