I like this 266th pope–Pope Francis. Who doesn’t? He seems to be the best pope in my lifetime. He’s a very warm, friendly person. He’s smart and well-educated. He advocates strongly for the poor.
After all, how can you not like a guy who used to be a bouncer in a South American nightclub who became the pope. BTW, I wonder if he ever bounced anyone out on ear. If he did, he probably smiled at the guy as he tossed him out.
And consider Pope Francis’ humility. Everywhere he goes he asks people to pray for him.
Pope Francis is also very ecumenical. He probably had to be to help his church stay relevant. Pentecostals and Evangelicals have been winning lots of souls in South and Central America, and they have been doing some sheep stealing–winning Catholics to their own folds. Pope Francis says when he first considered Pentecostals and their form of religion, he thought they were pretty weird. He’s not alone. I’ve thought the same. But we both changed on that. He says he began to think, “they are doing some good.” In fact, an estimated ten percent of Roman Catholics in the world nowadays are Catholic Charismatics. The Charismatic Movement first emerged in the late 1960s, and it was a phenomenen that occurred in non-Pentecostal church denominations, especially in the Roman Catholic Church. So now, Pope Francis even meets with Catholic Charismatic gatherings and is quite positive about them. Did he figure if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
And Pople Francis has also taken kindly to us Evangelicals. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to become a Roman Catholic and have a pope. Besides, if Pope Francis reads Chapter 11 on Catholicism in my new book, Solving the Samaritan Riddle: Peter’s Kingdom Keys Explain Early Spirit Baptism, he might want to return to being a bouncer again and toss me out on my ear! Why? The Roman Catholic Church says Peter’s kingdom keys Jesus promised to give him, in Matthew 16:19, are the sole, perpetual basis of the Church’s doctrine of the papacy. That is, they say those keys are symbolic of a perpetual authority Jesus gave Peter over the whole church that is passed down to successors–266 of them so far.
But in my book, I assert that Peter’s kingdom keys concern both him preaching the gospel and loosing the power of the Holy Spirit in Spirit baptism. Accordingly, Peter finished using those keys when he had opened all of the doors of the kingdom of God to the three biblical classifications of humanity: Jews in Acts 2, Samaritans in Acts 8, and Gentiles in Acts 10. After that, he was finished opening doors to the kingdom, signifying that his keys represented only a temporary role.
When the Protestant Reformation began in the early 1500s, Martin Luther and other Protestant leaders marshalled scriptures together to metaphorically toss the pope out on his ear. I’m now putting forward this one about my interpretation of Peter’s kingdom keys, which keys the Church cites for its primary scriptural support for the papacy. Some other scriptures that non-Catholic Christians have been put forward are as follows, with some them used to affirm Jesus as head of the church, thus not the pope:
- “there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2.5)
- “we have a great high priest … Jesus, the Son of God” (Hebrews 4.14)
- the church is “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2.9)
- Jesus–“the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20.25-26)
- Jesus–“call no one your father on the earth; for you have one Father–the one in heaven” Matthew 23.9). The word “pope” refers to Latin word for “father,” which is papa.
So, to repeat, I like Pope Francis. But something I read today disturbs me somewhat about him. Early in his career he spoke out against homosexuality. In his later years he toned that down a lot, so that he has reached to such people in a more forgiving way. Since being pope, he has said in that context, “Who am I to judge?” (I believe in loving all kinds of people and that anyone, no matter how great a sinner, has the potential to turn to God through Jesus.)
Evidence of this is that when Pope Francis was in Washington D.C. the other day, he had a private meeting with a male friend from his Argentina homeland who also brought some of his friends to meet the pope. This man is an openly, practicing homosexual. He also had his partner there with him to meet Pope Francis. This man afterwards told the news media that Pope Francis has never said anything to him about his homosexuality during the nineteen years of their friendship.
As the supreme spiritual leader of 1.2 million Catholic Christians, that is disturbing to me. I certainly don’t think Pope Francis should turn bouncer again and toss them out on their ears. But I think he should say something to his friend about it if the man claims to be a Christian. Should the pope say something to him about if the man is not a professing Christian? Maybe it depends on how much they are friends.
(See post on 9/20/13: “Pope Francis’ Disconcerting Remark” etc.)