CALIFORNIA, March 21, 2013 – The secrecy, tradition, and the reverence that surrounds the selection of the Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church is unmatched in the world. Who else is elected by 114 peers to represent well over a billion living souls?
As an evangelical Christian, with Catholic roots as a youth, I admit to being fascinated by the intrigue, the process, and the implications that’ll follow.
But my fascination is quite different from that of the major news media. Their interest in the selection of Pope Francis seems more focused on trying to minimize his influence as much as possible.
Take for example what happened when Cardinal Bergoglio was introduced as the newest Pope. Immediately every twist and turn of his personal life was up for exhaustive examination to try and find something to possibly discredit him. Why? Because he represents a value system at odds with the relativistic, anything goes culture promoted by our major news media and entertainment elites.
What the Pope believes, and the emphasis he applies has the potential to impact millions of people and the public policy of any western nation that has a significant Christian heritage.
Don’t get me wrong, as an evangelical Christian I have strong differences with the Catholic Church on the unique authority of scripture, the doctrine of justification by faith, and how eternal life is secured. These are not small matters, as evidenced by the historical animosity between Protestants and Catholics since the Reformation.
But as the saying goes, politics makes for strange bedfellows.
Although Catholics and Evangelicals should not be unequally yoked concerning key doctrinal issues, we do share a common passion to pursue our salt and light mandate to the world (see Matthew 5:13-16). This includes being co-laborers in influencing our nation’s leadership and public policy for the good of everyone, not just Christians (Galatians 6:10a).
So where’s our common cause? First and foremost: a belief in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. We agree that public funding or incentivizing abortion on demand, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and infanticide (including partial birth abortion) clearly violate Biblical truths concerning the preciousness of life (carefully read Genesis 1:27; Psalm 127:3 and Psalm 139:13-16). Catholics have led the Pro-Life battle for years, and Pope Francis will vigorously continue that fight not just in our nation but around the world.
Relative to the historical, cultural, and practical definition and purpose of marriage, Pope Francis and the Catholic Church have been steadfast in supporting the one man, one woman for life Biblical standard given to mankind by God (Genesis 2:18-24; Matthew 19:4-6). We agree that government redefining and promoting any other construct is contrary to what God intended for the benefit of families and society.
In religious liberty, Pope Francis appears to be concerned about secular government imposing its godless ideologies on the will of people of conscience. In our country, the legal battles to force Obamacare on companies and organizations (particularly Catholic based ones) to provide abortion and contraception insurance coverage against their faith convictions is symptomatic of what lies ahead in religious conscience issues if the government gets its way.
Finally, what Pope Francis refreshingly brings to the public debate is his personal passion to minister to the poor. This is a Christian mandate from the very beginning as evidenced in the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39; see also Luke 10:25-37 and Matthew 5:44). Even though Pope Francis is a Jesuit, he sees the danger of government imposed societal leveling that destroys personal initiative and responsibility and replaces it with dependence on godless government.
Not only is government incapable of actually helping the poor, it’s unqualified to diagnose their problems. That role is rightfully for people of faith that have the necessary insight and wisdom to identify and help alleviate the real life issues people face (for three categories, see 1 Thessalonians 5:14).
Needless to say, the above public policy issues are of profound importance to us as a nation. The Catholic Church has its internal problems, so does the broader Evangelical community. But on matters of life, marriage, religious conscience and the poor we can stand together to be the nation’s conscience and to provide wise counsel to our leaders to do what’s right.
In this we can be united.
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