That’s the message to attendees at a Pentecostal conference from Anthony Palmer, bishop and international ecumenical officer for the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, following a heartfelt recorded message from his long-time friend, Pope Francis.
Pope Francis met January 14 with Anthony Palmer; but at the time the Vatican release no details regarding the meeting. Today, though, YouTube shows Pope Francis in a newly-released video which was captured by Palmer via his iPhone.
In the video, which has not been released by the Vatican, Pope Francis says to the Pentecostals at a meeting of Kenneth Copeland Ministries in the United States, “Let’s give each other a spiritual hug.”
The Pope speaks first in English, apologizing as he slips into the more familiar Italian, but explaining that he speaks with “the language of the heart.” He asks them to pray to the Lord, that he will unite us all. “Let us move forward,” Pope Francis entreats the Pentecostals,
“…We are brothers; let us give each other that spiritual embrace and allow the Lord to complete the work he has begun. Because this is a miracle: the miracle of unity has begun.”
Remembering Joseph’s reunion with his brothers in Egypt, Pope Francis says that we—like Joseph—cry tears of love. Through Palmer, the Pope sent greetings “both joyful and full of longing”: joyful, because we know that the Lord is working all over the world; yet full of longing, because Christians are still “separated because of sin, our sins.”
Pope Francis expresses his longing for the day when “this separation would end and there would be communion.”
“Let’s allow our longing to increase,” he says, “so that it propels us to find each other, embrace each other and to praise Jesus Christ as the only Lord of history.”
In a longer video from the Kenneth Copeland conference, Anthony Palmer tells the Pentecostal gathering about the necessity of Christian unity, if we are to preach salvation in Christ to the world. Palmer said that the divisions between Catholics and Protestants have had no reason to exist since the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. In that agreement, both Catholics and Lutherans recognized that “by grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”
“We are not protesting the doctrine of salvation [taught] by the Catholic Church anymore,” Palmer said. “We now preach the same Gospel.”
Listen at about 40:00 as Kenneth Copeland and the congregants join in prayer for the Holy Father; then watch as Anthony Palmer videotapes a return message to Pope Francis from Kenneth Copeland himself.
An interesting note: Reverend Copeland calls him “Sir”–then says he’s available to come to the Vatican. Who knows what the future holds?