Joel Osteen Attends Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Meets With Holy Father

“Warm, personable and full of joy.”  That was Joel Osteen’s description of Pope Francis, after meeting with him at the Vatican on June 5, part of a visit to promote interfaith understanding and ecumenical prayer.

According to the Deseret News, Osteen was part of a delegation organized by The International Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to world-wide development.

The delegation included political and religious leaders from the United States including Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), former U.S. Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne, pastor and author Tim Timmons from Newport Beach, and Westmont College president Gayle D. Beebe.  Their meeting was cut short, Osteen reported, because a Cardinal had died that morning.  (He was speaking, no doubt, of the funeral for Indian Cardinal Simon Lourdusamy, former prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Oriental Churches and former Archbishop of Bangalore, whose funeral was held in St. Peter’s Basilica June 6.)

Osteen was, according to the Houston Chronicle, representing the pastors of America at the meeting.  In remarks on Friday, June 6, Osteen said of Pope Francis:

“I like the fact that he’s trying to make the church larger, not smaller.  He’s not pushing people out but making the church more inclusive.  That resonated with me.”

Osteen also reported that Pope Francis had asked the delegation to pray for him, and to pray for peace in the Middle East.

The day before the meeting with the pope, Osteen had attended Mass with the Holy Father with 100,000 pilgrims gathered in the heat in St. Peter’s Square.  Osteen reflected on that experience,

“Afterward, (the pope) spent an hour and a half going through the crowd with the Popemobile, greeting people. It was very heartwarming to see him caring for people.”

Osteen told the Houston Chronicle that he met the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and had dinner with another cardinal in a stone house on the Vatican grounds.  The small structure with magnificently painted ceilings served as the pope’s home 600 years ago, he said.

During the busy week, the 15-member group also had the opportunity to tour the Vatican and attended the Convocation of Renewal at Olympic Stadium in Rome, where more than 50,000 charismatic Roman Catholics had prayed for the pope as he knelt on the ground.

According to a Westmont College statement, the pope had

“…invited the Protestant leaders to discuss the question:  “Can we find common ground in order to advance the life and ministry of Jesus so more people can experience the joy of Christian faith?”

And Westmont’s President Beebe, in his own reflection on the meeting at the Olympic Stadium, wrote,

My whole adult life has been devoted to advancing the purposes of God in the world, but nothing could adequately prepare me for what I experienced.

Recently, Pope Francis has clearly stated that he wants to invite Christians everywhere to seek unity in Christ. His recent trip to the Holy Land included a visit with Bartholomew, patriarch of the Orthodox Church. Why does he desire to dissolve the long factions dating back hundreds of centuries? He believes that our post-Christian world has developed not simply indifference to Christianity but outright hostility, which corrodes the life-giving power of the Gospel. If we are to combat it, we will have to learn how to work together.

Of course, this appeal is not new. Catholics and Protestants in America have been working together for decades. But the desire that we do so as equals and not as adversaries is new.

 *     *     *      *     *

 A CLARIFICATION:  The June 5 assemblage of 100,000 faithful in St. Peter’s Square, described by Mr. Osteen in the Houston Chronicle as a Mass, was actually the Wednesday General Audience.

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  • onearmsteve

    pray for their conversions to the One Holy Catholic Church which outside of there is no salvation

  • johnnyc

    So there is no need to be concerned when protestants lead people from the One True Church?

    • Rob VH

      I think the hope is that this will stop the misguided poaching of Catholics so that all Christians can focus on evangelizing those who need it most. By stopping such destructive behaviour, all parties can seek instead to engage in productive dialogue which will hopefully lead to reunification.

      • April Spring

        Reunification will happen through the true and correct theology.

        • Rob VH

          Which gets shared through dialogue.

      • johnnyc

        I understand why Pope Francis has to do it this way but it is a much different story on the ground so to speak. The problem is protestants don’t think it is misguided. They are spreading their false gospel on mission trips while we are being told the way to evangelize is to live your Faith…..keep it down now we don’t want to offend anyone. All you hear is the mantra attributed to St. Francis (which apparently he did not even say) ‘spread the Gospel and if necessary use words. We seem so afraid of offending. The Truth itself is polarizing but that doesn’t mean we avoid proclaiming it.

  • JohnServorum

    The only true ecumenism and unity in Christ is for those who are separated from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to return to full communion with the Church and the Roman Pontiff and therefore with Christ himself.
    Joel Osteen regularly preaches a false gospel of prosperity that is recognized as false even by his fellow protestants.
    I truly hope Pope Francis is not reaching out to protestants from a position of simplistic naivete.

    • T.A.George

      Mr. John Servorum I full agree with you let us pray for it !

    • 1dudette

      Pope Francis is anything but naive he is a clever and gifted leader who understands and has no illusions about human nature. In the midst of the culture war we are in and the savage attacks on Christians around the world particularly the ME, it is right for the pope to extend a hand of unity in this theater. He is not attempting to co-opt the Protestants but seeks to be unified with all Christians as we are facing grave threat.

      • JohnServorum

        What matters here is true ecumenism vs. false ecumenism.
        I am not portraying Pope Francis as a practitioner of false ecumenism but at the same time he must be firm in his message that those who are separated from the Catholic Church – the only Church founded by Jesus Christ – must return to communion with the Church, the Roman Pontiff and in so doing, with Christ the Lord.
        I mean no disrespect to the Holy Father, but we cannot presume to be making any progress toward true Christian unity by simply smiling at everyone, inviting everyone to ecumenical meetings at the Vatican, shaking hands, and taking an “I’m okay, you’re okay” stance.
        These are very perilous times we live in.
        Make no mistake, the forces that oppose the Catholic Church and are committed to her destruction are very real and very determined.
        Only in union with Jesus Christ through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the one true Church can we hope to continue to carry out Our Lord’s work in the world.

        As the late Father John Hardon said many times –
        “In this extraordinary time in Salvation History, ordinary Catholics will not survive. Only heroic Catholics, men and women willing to share the Cross of Christ, will survive to share in His Resurrection to eternal life.”

        • Jim Dailey

          While I tend to agree with you, second-guessing the Pope on the whole “be firm in his message” thing smacks of someone who wants to beat misguided souls into submission rather than gently point them toward truths you and I have been lucky enough to recognize by the Holy Spirit’s intervention. I am sure the more exposure they have to true Catholics like you and I, the more they will be convinced of the propriety of our theology.
          Let’s invite them to “discover” the truths on their own, sahll we? No need to ram a catechism down their throat.

          • JohnServorum

            I most certainly understand your point, but again this is not about
            ramming the catechism down anyone’s throat, nor did I intend that notion
            in anything I have written.
            Rather it is about approaching those who
            are separated from the Church with the understanding that Christ
            ultimately wants their conversion.
            If we truly love them we will calmly, but in a determined fashion, work for and pray for their return home to the Church.

            We all long for true Christian unity but in the end we want what Our Lord prayed for at his Last Supper –
            prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in
            me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as
            you are in me and I am in
            you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

            who are faithful and devout sons and daughters of the Church should not be afraid to boldly
            testify to the fullness of truth that has been given through and only through
            the Holy Catholic Church that was founded by Jesus Christ and not by

            And finally, this is also not about “second-guessing the
            Pope” as you gently suggested. St. Peter and all of his Successors were
            more than willing to listen to the voice of the faithful, because often
            it has been through these respectful voices that the Holy Spirit has
            spoken the truth to power.
            May God bless the Holy Father Pope Francis and may God bless the Holy Catholic Church.

          • Hugh

            What would “false ecumenism” look like?
            How would it differ from what happened on Pentecost Sunday @ the Vatican?

  • Interesting way to view unity, “…we will have to learn how to work together.” I have been thinking about it this way for several years. It is the only way to really apply John 17:20-21, in my opinion.
    Thanks for the report.

  • profling

    Osteen’s prosperity gospel and the Pope’s asceticism? Hardly a basis for a Christian rapprochement.

    • decoda

      For man – impossible! But with God All things are possible through Christ.

  • That is promising, and I too pray for them to understand and see the beauty of the Catholic Church. I pray for unity and conversion.

  • db

    They are not equals in faith. We have one teaching authority, the Scripture that we canonized, and the oral traditions that predate the Gospels by hundreds of years. Osteen doesn’t even know what Mass is. He thought he was at one! What does treating Protestant heretics as theological equals accomplish for the one true Faith? The answer is nothing. These kinds of events enshrine Freemasonic concepts of a humanist Church.

    • Morrie Chamberlain

      The gospels were written in the first century, tens not hundreds of years, after Jesus ascended. Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture are both primary in certain aspects.

  • Pardon my curmudgeonly ways, but it’s fascinating that the President of a Christian college would, as Dr. Beebe does above, call Patriarch Bartholomew “patriarch of the Orthodox Church.” He is, in fact, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, not the leader or patriarch of all Orthodoxy. First among equals though he may be, there are other patriarchs. One would think Dr. Beebe would know this or, if he does, characterize Orthodoxy and the Ecumenical Patriarch with a little more care.

    That is to say (as the codger I often am of course), that if we’re talking about finding unity and what-have-you, a good place to start is knowing and accurately stating at least the basics of the other churches you are having a conversation with or hoping to. That’s why I find it a bit … odd.

    • AnneG

      Virgil, I thought your comment was amusing. Many of the Protestants I know have never heard of Orthodoxy, that there are many Orthodox Churches or anything else. Most of them see Orthodox as Protestants because they aren’t Catholic. Maybe Dr Beebe falls along those lines.

      • A Baptist successionist once told me that the Orthodox were the real Protestants. She was into that whole Trail of Blood nonsense. It is difficult enough to speak across differing spiritual or religious understandings. If two groups see two radically different histories, or if people just don’t know Christian history, how can there be understanding of our commonalities and differences? I doubt Dr. Beebe has so fictional an understanding of history as the person who called me a Protestant, mind you. Seems he just doesn’t understand quite who Patriarch Bartholomew is in Orthodoxy or doesn’t care to bother with a few extra words to state it accurately for his audience, which is a shame, since very likely the vast majority of them have, as you surmise, little knowledge of the Orthodox Church.

  • AnneG

    This is a great and humble step for our Holy Father. We would do well to follow his example, to evangelize those who don’t know anything about the Catholic Church and what they think they know is wrong. You have to draw people in, speak a language they can hear and tell the Truth, but, first you have to pray for them and sometimes, with them.
    Thank you, Kathy, for the tone and coverage of this story.
    Btw, y’all, I’ve never seen anybody brought to the Church or to know God and His Son by criticism.

    • johnnyc

      “pray for them and sometimes, with them. ”

      Just curious because I’ve never been to one but can Catholics, for all to hear, call on the Blessed Mother and the saints to pray for us at these things or do we have to tuck them away.

      • AnneG

        I talk about the Blessed mother like I talk about my own mom, like I just talked to her this morning. Same with the saints. One of my favorites is St Ignatius of Antioch who I talk about like I know him, because I feel like I do. I just ask them to pray for us. Probably would not use the Hail, Holy Queen till I really knew the person. But, the Hail Mary is straight out of scripture and the two most important times in a person’s life are right now and at the hour of death. It takes a while. Be gentle. If they see how much you love God in your life, they will listen.

  • Mike

    Why the apathy towards evangelization? I believe the Roman Catholic Church still teaches that we are the only church with the FULLNESS OF THE TRUTH. Why do we prefer them to stay in error?

  • Lane

    The Bibles says in Exodus 34:12-15 “Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land that you are to enter; lest they become a snare among you. Tear down their altars; smash their sacred stones, and cut down their asherahs. You shall not bow down to any other god, for the LORD—“Jealous” his name—is a jealous God. Do not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land; else, when they prostitute themselves with their gods and sacrifice to them, one of them may invite you and you may partake of the sacrifice” -NABRE Exodus 34:12-15.

    After reading this do you really think

  • BTP

    Osteen though he was at Mass? And these guys talk like we’re working together as equals.

  • Mack

    Oh, goody, these two millionaire 501C3 reverends (the USA is full of ’em) approve of their own confused fantasy-projections. They will be most unhappy when they realize that the Holy Father was merely being polite to them.

  • Episteme

    Not to disagree with *any* of the theological points made prior by others, but the Catholic Church making inroads with Low Church Protestant groups in terms of social doctrine issues now makes sense. These groups are currently two divergent for ecumenical unification at *this* point as groups. Therefore, the Church should focus on the Orthodox and Oriental churches (along with possibly the Anglican, Episcopal, and High Lutheran churches) between now and NIcaea 2025 for degrees of ending or reducing schisms (or at least a plan/timetable coming from that) between those bodies with apostolic succession and real presence. By creating a relationship of reciprocal ties with Western Low Protestantism, the RCC can direct those “churches'” doctrines back toward a proper direction and attract converts to Catholicism. Presuming that Francis’s work *does* lead to the beginnings of the High Churches moving back toward Rome, that should begin the longer game with the Low Churches and their related groups in the universities and nonprofits organizations like Olsteen (who, with some direction, can still nevertheless still do much social good in a hurting country that can use Gospel-focused social aid from these various bodies, even if that aid isn’t following precise theology).

  • chrismarklee

    There is so much anti Catholic ideas from Protestants that are totally untrue, Hate the catholic church for what it stands for not what it does not stand for. We worship Mary is a big one. mention to a protestant their Bible is a Catholic Book and they are clueless.

    Owner CEL Financial Services .

    • Episteme

      Which is still why I think that outreach is a good idea. We have common platforms in politics, social reform, charitable aid, et alia that the RCC and Low Church-affiliated groups in the hinterlands can work together on (for maybe the first time, in this country at least NOT with one or the other at a ethnic or economic disparity to the other). You’re unlikely to see much in the way of religious ecumenism between such distinct Christian traditions at this point, but the point being made (for all of the smaller errors, e.g. Is it a Mass? Is the Orthodox Church one thing?) by Orsteen here on what commonalities are held in Christ on doing good *is* apt and is precisely the sort of point that Francis was certainly looking for in inviting such men to that sort of impressive gathering.

      The first step to any evangelization (which, remember, literally means “I bring a [good] message”) is communication. Pentecost specifically teaches us that. Consider how Catholics and High Church Protestants imagined each other even a few decades ago, or think of Catholic-Jewish imaginations of each other before each religion became better exposed to each other and shared their ideas with each other. In each case, we might not understand all the premises each other believe, but we have the basic gist and an acceptance of the benevolence of their doctrine (even if we believe that their theology is invalid, we no longer believe that they have evil beliefs, just ones rendered incorrect over time). We have a certain evangelical responsibility to make deeper contact with those denominations and groups tied to the Low Church Movement with whom we do *not* share such a mutual understanding and who have *not* yet recovered from Reformation-era biases and myths about the RCC, both to potentiate the eventual return of all Christians to the One Holy and Apostolic Church and to, in the short term, better coordinate the good work of the population of global believers in doing Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

      So, I understand why this meeting with Orsteen, Timmons, Beebe, and others is of the same genus — if not the same species — of Francis’ meetings with Bartholomew, John X, or Welby (or his discussions with the likes of Kirill). However, I still think that there’s an apostolic and missionary purpose behind it and similar interactions with far-schismatic groups — look at how surprisingly successful such interactions with Pentecostal churches have been over recent years at drawing those isolated groups close to (and sometimes into) the Catholic fold?

  • chrismarklee

    Exactly. I remember the wacko 60s and Vatican 2 being totally implemented wrong. At that time the Catholic church was in chaos and protestant churches had their act together. Now I think it is the opposite. Our enemy is the culture.

    Owner CEL Financial Services

  • Hugh

    Why does the title of this piece [still] erroneously say that Osteen attended Mass?

    • Hugh

      The article states, “The day before [Jun 5] the meeting with the pope [June 6], Osteen had attended Mass with the Holy Father with 100,000 pilgrims gathered in the heat in St. Peter’s Square.”

      Is this not incorrect? Since when does a non-Catholic false teacher get to take the Mass?!

    • kathyschiffer

      Sorry for that, Hugh. I added the clarification after publishing the initial report (in which Osteen said that he’d attended Mass). If I change the title, it would break the link and inconvenience all of those who’d already linked to the article. Since you read through to the end, you understand the problem…. Let us move on.

      • Hugh

        Thanks, Kathy!

  • sgosher

    O joey boy has made 10’s of MILLIONS off his followers. And what does he do with all that money? Look at his suit, his watch, his shoes, his wife’s dress. He’s got a mansion, drives fancy cars. He’s in this for the money. This guy makes me sick. If he’s God’s messenger, helper, he needs to spread his money around a lot more.

  • thanks for good job, Gospel progress