Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You Have to See This To Believe It

Bizarre. Pope Francis makes an iPhone pitch for Christian unity with Pentecostal Anglican sub-sect "Bishop" Tony Palmer and Kenneth "Name It and Claim It" Copeland, a Joyce Meyer type televangelist.

Palmer sets it up by saying since the 1999 accord between the Vatican and Lutherans that we are saved by grace alone, there is nothing left to protest, and can therefore be no Protestants. Palmer is hypnotically persuasive, but it was unclear how Copeland's followers liked being told the were really some sort of small-c catholics.

Of course, by this point, sola fide is only one issue. How about sola scriptura? What about those books of the Bible they decided to trash? The Real Presence? Papal infallibility? Mary's perpetual virginity; her Immaculate Conception, Assumption and coronation as Queen of Heaven; let alone any discussion of her as Mediatrix of grace? Then there is purgatory, and the Communion of the Saints. Holy Orders would put a lot of TV preachers out of a very lucrative business if all Protestants became Catholic.

So there are many obstacles to reunion, and I hesitate to imagine the brainstorming that goes on between Francis and Tony about this quixotic quest for unity. Because it had one reason at the beginning, and can only have one cure.

The reason for Christian disunity is pride. There is nothing stopping the return of all Protestants if they will, in all humility, simply come back to the Church of Peter, the Church of the martyrs and saints, the Church of Christ for 1500 years and today.

What do we give up? Why nothing! There is nothing we can give up if we possess the truth. Or, rather, nothing beyond the considerable concessions we already made after Vatican II. The Bear submits, in all humility, that the Pope, our "papa" -- even if he will not take on the paternal name for his own obscure reasons -- should re-read the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

The father, you will recall, did not follow his prodigal son into the mire and share his dissolute life among the pigs. The father was the fixed center. He preserved the family and its values without compromise. When the prodigal son took it upon himself to return, the father ran to meet him. He bestowed upon him the mark of their family, the ring, and the shared the family meal.

All previous popes have issued tender calls for their children to return to the Church. This pope has no history in him. He pretends that somehow both sides were to blame for wrecking the unity of Christ's Church. Luther boasted "Here I stand. I can do no other." Yet Protestantism did not stand. Like a house built on sand, it fell to pieces at once and is still falling to this very day. It is the Church that is still standing, centuries after Luther's bones have rotted and he has answered for his crimes.

Kenneth Copeland and his followers do not want to hear the truth. They do not want to listen to the saints. They do not want to be lifted up to the Catholic Church. They would have a union that cost them nothing, and that dragged the Church down to the level of televangelists. The Pope, with his Protestant sensibilities and Pentecostal background seems willing to make that deal, but is he really?

Right now, no one need answer that question. Perhaps the Pope is content just to talk. We don't know how much influence "Bishop" Tony Palmer has. Perhaps the Cardinals did not realize just how far away Argentina is from Europe, despite superficial similarities. The Church can survive the stunts and gaffes we've seen. Pray that is all we need worry about.


  1. Wow, have I ever been behind the curve. I'd never heard of Tony Palmer. My poor head is spinning: a quasi-Anglican boy wonder exhorting an Evangelical/Pentecostal (?) crowd to listen to the pope, and then the whole room going into LaLaLand at the prompting of a televangelist with a Southern twang. (I knew I was observing inhabitants of a different astral plane than mine when all those hands shot into the air.)

    There's no place like home...there's no place like home...there's no place like home...

    Monsieur Palmer hath charms that appeal to my maternal side, and I appreciated his pointing out the accelerated splintering of Christendom that was Luther's legacy...but I saw a teeny red flag poke its head above the horizon when he said " 'Catholic' means 'universal' -- it doesn't mean 'Roman'." The relative few who care enough to go deeper than the surface that is scratched with all those outstretched mitts, will have to confront the realities you have enumerated.

    As for the involvement of our Holy Father, I'm fine with Francis unsurprisingly going all warm and fuzzy with these folks -- afaic it's just more of the same old ecumenical schtick we've been seeing for a long time now, and will have no lasting impact, either positive or negative.

  2. I think the Pope should create the Bear his Special Ecumenical Envoy. Bishop Tony would really excite your maternal instincts without a lower jawbone!

    Why do I feel Missus Bear should be making hot chocolate for everyone today?

  3. Oh dear, at some point I'm afraid I'm going to have to explain the jawbone thing lest some innocent accidently wander into the enchanted woods and be horrified by visions of the Mephistophelian Bishop Tony with the talking part of his face torn off. I can explain. Seriously...

  4. Oh, let 'em wonder. :-D

    Otoh, the default assumption might be that it was the inevitable consequence of sporting that carefully-crafted Steve Reeves facial hair.


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