Friendship: A New Form of Ecumenical Alignment

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Friendship: A New Form of Ecumenical Alignment

In recent months, Pope Francis has stepped up his meetings with various Protestant leaders.  Yesterday, he met Pentecostal pastor Giovanni Traettino of Southern Italy, and last month he was unofficially meeting a delegation of US Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Charismatic leaders. Ditching the official and mainstream type of meetings, the pope seems to have embarked on a “friendship and spirituality” type of dialogue.  As reported in the Boston GlobeGeorge Himitian, an Argentine Evangelical, noted, “We’ve learned that the institutional road . . . always becomes a dead end because it runs into doctrinal and practical differences. The dialogue we have is based on friendship and spirituality….We hope that the rest will eventually fall into place.”

Himitian’s insightful comment raises many questions and concerns. For the Protestants meeting with the pope, they are putting aside “doctrinal and practical differences.” Why? For what gain? Most importantly, these meetings and whatever their outcome will be seem to be based on shaky and undefined ground, “friendship and spirituality.” As Adventists, we have been well warned:

The Protestant churches are in great darkness, or they would discern the signs of the times. The Roman Church is far-reaching in her plans and modes of operation. She is employing every device to extend her influence and increase her power in preparation for a fierce and determined conflict to regain control of the world, to re-establish persecution, and to undo all that Protestantism has done. Catholicism is gaining ground upon every side. See the increasing number of her churches and chapels in Protestant countries. Look at the popularity of her colleges and seminaries in America, so widely patronized by Protestants…These things should awaken the anxiety of all who prize the pure principles of the gospel. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 565.

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Valmy Karemera is associate editor of The Compass Magazine and posts daily news updates on the Compass Twitter page. Originally from Rwanda, he now lives and works in Texas with his family.