PopeWatch: Not Interested?




Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa puts his finger on what PopeWatch views as the single most dispiriting aspect of the papacy of Pope Francis:



Three days later, on June 4, the pope had a long meeting at his residence of Santa Marta with some “Evangelical” leaders of the United States, including the famous televangelist Joel Osteen, California pastor Tim Timmons, and the president of the Evangelical Westmont College, Gayle D. Beebe.

On June 24, another meeting. This time with Texas televangelists James Robinson and Kenneth Copeland, with Bishop Anthony Palmer of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, with John and Carol Arnott of Toronto, and with other prominent leaders. There were also Geoff Tunnicliffe and Brian C. Stiller, respectively the secretary general and “ambassador” of the World Evangelical Alliance. The meeting lasted for three hours and continued through lunch, in the refectory of Santa Marta, where the pope, amid loud laughter, gave Pastor Robinson a high five (see photo).

Copeland and Osteen are proponents of “prosperity theology,” according to which the more faith grows the more wealth grows. They themselves are very wealthy and live an extravagant lifestyle. But Francis spared them the sermon on poverty.

Instead – according to what “ambassador” Stiller reported – the pope assured them: “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”


Go here to read the rest.  Wouldn’t one rather think that being interested in converting people to Catholicism should be a job requirement for any pope?  The question arises as to whether Stiller accurately quoted the Pope.  Of course that seems to be the recurrent question in this pontificate, and PopeWatch is weary of it.  From now on PopeWatch will assume that Pope Francis has been accurately quoted unless Pope Francis bothers to state that he was not been correctly quoted.  If Pope Francis is indifferent to the danger of being misquoted, then Catholics should not bother to assume misquotation on his behalf.

Christ when He ascended left to the Church this command:  go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  How can that possibly jibe with the religious indifferentism that seems to emerge from many of the quotations of Pope Francis?  Is this ecumenicalism carried to its ultimate conclusion that it doesn’t matter whether someone is a Catholic?  If that is the position of the Pope, then the Church has a great crisis before it.

More to explorer


  1. Prayers and mortification. This has already been a long pontificate and every day that follows will be that much worse. But again, prayers and mortification for the Fool Pope.

  2. God has an even more appropriate comment for the Fool Pope. From today’s first reading:

    When I brought you into the garden land
    to eat its goodly fruits,
    You entered and defiled my land,
    you made my heritage loathsome.
    The priests asked not,
    “Where is the LORD?”
    Those who dealt with the law knew me not:
    the shepherds rebelled against me.
    The prophets prophesied by Baal,
    and went after useless idols.

    Be amazed at this, O heavens,
    and shudder with sheer horror, says the LORD.
    Two evils have my people done:
    they have forsaken me, the source of living waters;
    They have dug themselves cisterns,
    broken cisterns, that hold no water.

  3. I guess I am a little more concerned about the Pope’s lack of interest in converting Muslims. Granted, his indifference to calling our “separated brethren” home to Mother Church surely isn’t helping to convert Muslims.

  4. Brian C. Stiller who was at the June 24th meeting with Pope Francis wrote the following at http://dispatchesfrombrian.com/2014/07/09/lunch-with-the-pope/:
    “I know some will wonder if we lack discernment, dining as we did with the head of a church many see as heretical. As an Evangelical, I’m clear in the importance of the Reformation and the role our community plays in announcing the Good News. I celebrate our understanding of the Scriptures as our only and final authority, the priesthood of every believer, the life-giving moment of rebirth and freedom for churches and ministries to spring up under the inspiration of the Spirit. No one is interested in rewinding the clock. Also to construct a united church isn’t doable and neither is it in our interest. Such plans do not lead us to fulfill Jesus’ prayer in John 17 that we be one in Christ.”
    The Pope reaching out to people like Brian Stiller is good. The Pope not refuting nor condemning Brian Stiller’s statement above is bad. The Reformation to which Brian Stiller refers was rebellion against the only Church that Jesus founded. The so-called Reformers are called Protestants by their very own selves for a reason: they have protested against the One Body of Christ, and as such have placed themselves outside that Body. The Pope needs to clearly address this (in of a way more diplomatic than I am capable of) to prevent the rise of scandal within the Church and to provide a clear distinction without.
    Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

  5. Could it be that Pope Francis considers it a higher priority right now for the Church to evangelize its own fallen-away members and “get its act together”, so to speak, before turning our attention to converting others? Kind of a “take the log out of your own eye before you take the speck out of your brother’s eye” approach?

    Or perhaps he believes Evangelicals should first be approached as allies in the fight against aggressive secularism (especially with regard to abortion, euthanasia, same-sex unions, etc.) than as “targets” for conversion? If you want someone to fight beside you for a cause, you don’t start the conversation by saying “Here’s where you’re all wrong.” When they fight beside you and see your character and integrity, they may then want to become more like you or have what you have, and that is when the opportunity for evangelization/conversion occurs.

  6. Paul W Primavera

    I always thought Protestants took their name from the Protestation of Spiers (Speyer) (1529), in which the Princes and the agents of the Free Cities protested against the revocation by the Diet of the policy of tolerance adopted at the previous Diet of Spires in 1526, pending the calling of a General Council, to which both Pope and Emperor had agreed.
    It is anachronistic to think of anyone at Spiers thinking in terms of a Catholic Church and a Protestant Church. The “Protestants” of Spiers thought of themselves as good Catholics and demanded to know why anyone thought otherwise.

    In 1533, we find Francis I of France, effectively supporting the “Protestants” of Spires, by calling for a General Council, to include both Catholics and “Protestants.”

    It was not until the Edict of Nantes in 1598, a full lifetime after Spiers, that anyone believed a permanent and irreversible breach between the Catholic and Protestant states of Europe was even possible. Hopes of an organic reunion lingered on throughout the following century.

  7. “Could it be that Pope Francis considers it a higher priority right now for the Church to evangelize its own fallen-away members and “get its act together”, so to speak, before turning our attention to converting others?”

    Only God knows since this Pope almost never seems to explain anything he says or does, even with his own staff. Of course Christ did not give the Church the option of not evangelizing at all times. I can imagine Peter standing up after the Ascension: “You know boys, what Christ said was all well and good about making disciples of all the nations and I know I was deeply moved by it, but after Judas betraying Christ, and my own denying Christ, and the fact that the rest of you ran like scared rabbits, I think we need to get our act together before we try to convert others.”

  8. I thought the word “protestant” came from “pro testare” (or something Latin), that is placing one’s reading of the testament/Scripture over the teachings of the Church and its councils. The answer on Final Jeopardy, the other night, was pretty much that “What is protestantism?” for the fact that Luther and others rejected the teaching of a Church Council.

    And, the definition of “heretic”, I thought, was replacing Church teachings (on matters of faith and morals) with one’s (or one’s group’s) personal opinions on same.
    So, I think it’s amusing that these ignorant clowns could consider Holy Mother Church to be heretical.
    I have one piece of advice for the wealthy charlatans: “You can’t take it with you. It will burn.”

  9. “The “Protestants” of Spiers thought of themselves as good Catholics and demanded to know why anyone thought otherwise.”

    Too bad they didn’t listen to the many answers they were given by the Church.

  10. @Elaine, your second point got me thinking: given 2×2=4 possible combinations,
    Pope (cares if you join the Catholic Church OR doesn’t care) x (says so OR doesn’t say),
    I’d prefer the Pope cares AND (says so OR doesn’t say), rather than he doesn’t care AND says so. In a foxhole, one might care, and not say so because you are so busy praising the Lord and passing the ammunition.

    My preference then speaks to your first point, which is convincing fallen-away Catholics to return. And, Protestants just fell away longer ago. Because I think it’s more attractive than unattractive to say “I love you so much I want you to have this great good thing I have.” It’s more attractive to at least say nothing, than to say “I’m not interested in… you getting this great good thing I have.”

  11. “Could it be that Pope Francis considers it a higher priority right now for the Church to evangelize its own fallen-away members and “get its act together’…”

    I don’t thik so as then we would run the risk of becoming self-absorbed promethean neopelagians. A definite no no in the Pope’s book.

  12. T Shaw

    I believe “heretic” comes from αἵρεσις (hairesis, “choice, system of principles”), from αἱρέομαι (haireomai, “choose”), the middle voice of αἱρέω (haireō, “choose”), I would imagine it came into English via Latin haeresis or Old French heresie (modern hérésie); from which is anyone’s guess.

    Donald R McClarey wrote, “Too bad they didn’t listen to the many answers they were given by the Church”
    The promised council did not meet until 1545. By that time, so much property, especially Church property, had changed hands that many people were more interested in protecting the acquisitions than in theological discussions.

  13. Maybe the comment that about not being interested was a statement calculated at disarming his guests. Charm and disarm. You have nothing to fear from me.
    I think that’s the same message he gave his lavender associates. I am not against you. It occurs to me, he may be thinking of a longer range trajectory in for his cannonballs. And he may be jesuitical enough to have a certain definition for “interested” (or 🙂 have his fingers crossed)

  14. Phillip – you’re right.
    Anzylne – cannonballs are only for the promethian pelagians mentioned by Phillip.

  15. Hah! ha.
    oh no. what am I laughing about!?
    Would I rather believe he was doing some dissembling, or that he really doesn’t think we should convert people to the one True faith. That Kenneth Copeland and Joel Osteen would not be massively immeasurably blessed by participation in the Eucharist.
    This is astounding to me really. Who knew? When B16 thought relativism was such a problem that maybe the Church would get smaller, we didn’t know the top of the hierarchy would be leading the shuffle off the stage. While still keeping the name and robes of course. Many today are Catholic in name only and cite the holy father. No wonder catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence and the difference between the Mass and a prayer meeting, or a motivational seminar. wonder why Marcus Grodi even bothers.

  16. The Pope understands that due to the American and French revolutions, people have the civil right to choose any religion that suits them. If the Papacy were to go all Fire and Brimstone on people, they would simply choose another religion.

    I do wish the Pope would actually test this theory though. Simply require every parish to offer the traditional mass with a brief statement at the beginning that anyone in attendance who has watched pornography or engaged in heterosexual or homosexual sodomy or is divorced and remarried must refrain from approaching communion unless first having confessed.

    Then post the attendance and collection plate figures for said masses and let the chips fall where they may.

  17. Well before the 18th and 19th century revolutions, people were choosing to believe in Christ, even though it was politically and socially incorrect. Modernism is another thing that seems to seep out of Francis. What is in your heart eventually comes out of your mouth.
    False dichotomy: Hellfire and brimstone are not necessary in witnessing to the Truth of the Catholic Faith.
    Neither is publicly embarrassing sinners.

  18. The Pope meets with this bunch, says a bunch of silliness (I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals – did a Pope really say that?) and then goes his way. Meanwhile the Chaldean and Syrian Catholics suffer.

    Perhaps there is something going on behind the scenes, but I don’t see anything being done by the Vatican to help these poor people – and I am irate.

  19. So the Church has decided not to convert the Jews and now the Evangelicals. I guess all Protestants are next. And why bother with agnostics and atheists? You’re not going to agree on anything anyway. Should we even evangelize?

    Ugh. I hope the quote is a misquote.

  20. In the end, such a denial leads one to deny others the Eucharist and a close relationship to our Mother Mary. This is love? No. Such is a lack of love. From today’s reading again:

    “Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and
    so I spoke,” we too believe, and so we speak, [14] knowing that he who raised
    the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his pre-
    sence. [15] For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and
    more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

    From St. Gregory the Great:

    “try to bring it to the attention of others. You should, therefore, desire others to
    join you on the ways of the Lord. If you are going to the forum or the baths, and
    you meet someone who is not doing anything, you invite him to go along with
    you. Apply this earthly custom to the spiritual sphere, and as you make your
    way to God, do not do so alone”

  21. Pope Francis is a thorough-going Augustinian, that is to say, he is an experimentalist. The Augustinian feels certain that something has happened to him, and he invites you to let it happen to you — that is, really, the whole of his message. As Mgr Ronald Knox puts it, “the emphasis lies on a direct personal access to the Author of our salvation, with little of intellectual background or of liturgical expression.”

    For the Augustinian, evangelisation is an invitation to “Come to Jesus,” confident in the power of grace, freely bestowed, to transform hearts and minds and to lead us into all truth.
    This often results in a depreciation of theology, elegantly voiced by Bl John Henry Newman; “Theological dogmas are propositions expressive of the judgments, which the mind forms, or the impressions which it receives, of Revealed Truth. Revelation sets before it certain supernatural facts and actions, beings and principles; these make a certain impression or image upon it; and this impression spontaneously, or even necessarily, becomes the subject of reflection on the part of the mind itself, which proceeds to investigate it, and to draw it forth in successive and distinct sentences.” Hence, “naturally as the inward idea of divine truth, such as has been described, passes into explicit form by the activity of our reflective powers, still such an actual delineation is not essential to its genuineness and perfection.” Indeed; this is why the French School (thoroughly Augustinian) draws a sharp distinction between « la théologie » and « la religion »

  22. Philip

    I used “Augustinian” to distinguish a particular theology that is distinct and recognisable in many Christians, Catholic and Protestant, who have never read him.

    Bl John Henry Newman, who very rarely cites him, or any other Latin Father for that matter, is entirely Augustinian and in nothing more than his Platonism.
    Evangelicalism, in its soteriology, which tends to be the sum and substance of its theology, is entirely Augustinian, although he is seldom acknowledged as its source.

    Pope Francis’s suspicion of moralism, his hatred of Pelagianism and its “works righteousness” are the hall-marks of the Augustinian approach to the mystery of grace.

    Cardinal Ratzinger (as he then was) (in the book “Guardare Cristo: esempi di fede, speranza e carità” – Looking at Christ: Examples of faith, hope and charity) shared this concern: “the other face of the same vice is the Pelagianism of the pious. They do not want forgiveness and in general they do not want any real gift from God either. They just want to be in order. They don’t want hope they just want security. Their aim is to gain the right to salvation through a strict practice of religious exercises, through prayers and action. What they lack is humility which is essential in order to love; the humility to receive gifts not just because we deserve it or because of how we act…”

  23. So is the Pope a promethean Augustinian? It would seem so…
    I must comment seriously (not sarcastically) that I really have gotten to love that word! Thank you Francis!

  24. The Protestants cannot believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ because the Protestants do not believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ or the Immaculate Conception.
    As far as self-absorbed promethian neo-pelagians, I will have to think about that.

  25. Mary De Voe wrote, “The Protestants cannot believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ …”

    “The Tenth Article has been approved, in which we confess that we believe, that in the Lord’s Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present, and are truly tendered, with those things which are seen, bread and wine, to those who receive the Sacrament. This belief we constantly defend, as the subject has been carefully examined and considered. For since Paul says, 1 Cor. 10:16, that the bread is the communion of the Lord’s body, etc., it would follow, if the Lord’s body were not truly present, that the bread is not a communion of the body, but only of the spirit of Christ…. we defend the doctrine received in the entire Church, that in the Lord’s Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present, and are truly tendered with those things which are seen, bread and wine. And we speak of the presence of the living Christ [living body]; for we know that death hath no more dominion over Him, Rom. 6:9.” – The Lutheran Defence of the Confession of Augsberg 1533

    “ the Protestants do not believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ or the Immaculate Conception”
    “It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin” – Martin Luther’s Sermon “On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God,” 1527

  26. “Pope Francis’s suspicion of moralism, his hatred of Pelagianism and its “works righteousness” are the hall-marks of the Augustinian approach to the mystery of grace.”

    Though that might make him a Thomist. Or a follower of Scotus. Or perhaps also Bernard.

    Such does not make him an Augustinian.

  27. Yes Micjhael but you know that Luther’s personal devotion to Mary in the years after his death has faded away from the ordinary Lutherans understanding.
    About the Con substantiation – that Lutheran doctrine tried tkeep the understanding of Real Presence, while in a way limiting the power of God to effect the total and complete change and make it more palatable to the people.
    But even this Lutheran understanding can not hold water because of the lack of Holy Orders. The understanding of who when and how the Eucharist is confected is bottom line.
    As you know the Presence of God is in the worshipping congregations act of worship according to protestants- esp emphasized by the evangelical.
    Interestingly in discussing changes in Catholic architecture since V2 including the removal of the Tabernacle, my elderly priest friend suggested that it was based on the idea that the Real Presece is in the people who come to worship.

  28. Anzlyne wrote, “The understanding of who, when and how the Eucharist is confected is bottom line.”

    Well, not if you are a Ubiquist, as many Lutherans are. The arguments are contained in the Formula of Concord,( which proved to be one of the most divisive documents ever written), namely, “That God’s right hand is everywhere; at which Christ is placed in deed and in truth according to His human nature, [and therefore] being present, rules, and has in His hands and beneath His feet everything that is in heaven and on earth [as Scripture says, Eph. 1:22],

    Later German Idealism and Pantheism owe a good deal more to Luther than is commonly realised.

  29. Ubiquist
    Denying, yet again, the Authority given the Catholic Church re Holy Orders / and Apostolic Succession.

  30. Only an ordained priest can and may act “in persona Christi” to confect the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Real Presence on the altar.
    Anzlyne: “Interestingly in discussing changes in Catholic architecture since V2 including the removal of the Tabernacle, my elderly priest friend suggested that it was based on the idea that the Real Presece is in the people who come to worship.”
    The people who come to worship can and may only act in “alter Christi”, as other Christs, but never, never as Christ, the High Priest, as does the ordained priest “in persona Christi.” at the Consecration of the Mass. St. Augustine touched on this matter when he said that the congregation at Mass offers up their hearts with the priest, when the priest offers up his heart at the Consecration of the Mass. The people may not always fulfill this consecration perfectly “Lord, I am not worthy…”, whereas, the priest through the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, Himself, accomplish this sacrifice perfectly, irregardless of the sanctity or reverence of the duly ordained priest.
    The Mass, taken as a whole act of worship, from beginning to end, with contrition, praise and adoration culminates in Jesus Christ.

  31. “Later German Idealism and Pantheism owe a good deal more to Luther than is commonly realised.” – true that!
    Wonder if the pope would have had an interest on converting Luther

  32. P.S. and anyone who tries to take Jesus away from mankind will be violating Jesus Christ’s command to the Apostles: “Go, therefore, and teach all nations (every one of us). Give us back our tabernacles and stop talking in church. It is just plain rude, obnoxious, inconsiderate and blashemous.
    Thank you, Donald McClarey. Now, I feel better.

  33. Oh, and did I mention the short pants and skirts with hairy legs and arses exposed in the sanctuary? Those persons in the sanctuary act in the name of the church and their clothing ought to reflect their mission, not them, per se. Choir gowns would fit the bill for women readers and songstresses. There is no help for the pewsitters having to climb over hairy pink thighs, doing a fast lap dance to access a seat.
    Where is St. Rafael?

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