Habemus Papam

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March has come and gone.  Certainly it was the “month of the popes” in so many ways.  Popes don’t usually resign.  The last one that resigned, in 1415 and by force, still had two or more popes and antipopes competing for the spot, all claiming to be the true Vicar of Christ.

Pope Francis I

Pope Francis I

The new pope certainly has charmed the world.  Many evangelicals have expressed excitement over his election, hoping that he might somehow overturn centuries of going the wrong direction.  Luther tried to change the tide, and we all know how that ended: with a Reformation and Counter-Reformation resulting in many people burnt at the stake and Bibles confiscated.

Honestly, it’s hard not to like him.  He is so “not Benedict XVI”.  He is South American, he rides the bus, he is certainly not as formal.  The problem is that he is still a pope, the head of a religious organization that claims (among other things) to have authority over Scripture itself, to have an infallible leader who is the “Great High Priest, the bridge between man and God”, that there are many mediators and that one can be saved by works of righteousness plus Christ.

Here are the two questions that I get the most:

1.What are your thoughts?

Here are three simple yet serious concerns:

2. How does the nomination of a new pope affect your ministry?  What are your concerns about ministering in Central Italy?

  • He took on the name Francis.  This is a tribute to St. Francis of Assisi, who is buried and worshiped only fifteen miles from where we live.  Any words we may speak about the false doctrines presented by the Church will find an even greater resistance since the new Pope will be even more loved for taking on this name.
  • He is likable.  People will be swayed by his ways.  This reminds me of the warning in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
  • He has a lot of influence.  As missionaries in Italy, our freedoms are always precarious.  Even if the law give us complete freedom, the Roman church has always been above the law.  The Basilica of St. Francis is actually Vatican  territory.
  • Our position becomes more precarious with American Evangelicals. Many Evangelicals are easily swayed to fall for Rome’s smooth words, beautiful cathedrals and benevolent nuns.  And did I mention the incense?  Who would want to support missions in a “Christian” country?

Friends, please remember to pray for us in the days ahead.

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