Concerns are being raised as Johnnie Moore, the former vice president of communications for Liberty University—which heralds itself at the world’s largest Christian university—and travel assistant to President Jerry Falwell, Jr., recently sent a letter to Roman Catholic leader Jorge Bergoglio, also known as “Pope Francis,” to request a meeting to discuss Moore’s objection to “efforts to divide Catholics and Evangelicals.”
Moore, who serves as a member of President Trump’s evangelical advisory board, wrote to Bergoglio following the publication of an article in La Cattolica Civilitas—written by Catholic priest Antonio Spadaro and Presbyterian minister Marcelo Figueroa—that condemned what they perceived as a joining together of American Catholics and Evangelicals in an “ecumicism of hate” against immigrants, Muslims and others different from them.
“The panorama of threats to [Evangelicals’] understanding of the American way of life have included modernist spirits, the black civil rights movement, the hippy movement, communism, feminist movements and so on. And now in our day there are the migrants and the Muslims,” the article read.
It said that some professing Catholics are now seemingly “using tones much closer to Evangelicals” when it comes to various social issues, and have apparently united on the subjects.
“Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state,” Spadaro and Figueroa asserted. “This meeting over shared objectives happens around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.”
The men asserted that this type of ecumenism is different than that exemplified by Bergoglio in terms of other religions and those different from him, which is rather “an ecumenism that moves under the urge of inclusion, peace, encounter and bridges.”
In an article published by Fox News, Moore said that the “caustic language” in the Civilitas piece concerned him, as he “cannot imagine that the article’s authors understand the beautiful relationship that Catholics and Evangelicals have had in the last thirty years in the United States.” He said that he believes the collaboration between the two has produced much good in the world.
“Together, we have worked in pursuit of the fall of communism, led a vast resurgence of pro-life sentiment in the United States, and we have fought for religious liberty here and abroad. Our humanitarian collaboration has also saved millions of lives among the poor and persecuted,” Moore wrote.
He therefore wrote to Bergoglio, who Moore referred to as “Your Holiness,” to request a meeting between Catholic and Evangelical leaders to discuss concerns about those who cause division, and to dialogue about how the two groups can work together. Moore said that “God put it on [his] heart” to write to the Roman Catholic leader.
“I speak for many Evangelicals when I say that we have looked upon your appointment with great gratitude to God and with great optimism for the new spirit that you have brought to the Catholic Church,” the letter read, which also noted that Moore feels “all the respect in the world” toward the pontiff. “Your commitment to the poor and to pastoral ministry and your efforts to build bridges and to spread the doctrine of mercy around the world have been a light and hope to us all.”
He said that in the midst of religious persecution, as well as political polarism, that “we have also witnessed efforts to divide Catholics and Evangelicals.”
“We think it would be of great benefit to sit together and to discuss these things,” Moore wrote. “Then, when we disagree we can do it within the context of friendship. Though, I’m sure we will find once again that we agree far more than we disagree, and we can work together with diligence on those areas of agreement.”
“We feel like this conversation is an urgent one, and I will bring a half dozen or so of our denominational heads and significantly influential Evangelicals for our time together,” he said. “We would also like to use the time to meet with various other high level officials throughout the Vatican to find ways in which we can cooperate on matters of great concern to us all, especially as it relates to refugees, the poor and the persecuted.”
However, Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries—a former Roman Catholic of more than 30 years who now teaches Christians how to evangelize Catholics—told Christian News Network that he is deeply troubled by Moore’s endeavor. He outlined several aspects of Moore’s letter that he found to be cause for concern.
“Moore’s request for a meeting with a pope who has blasphemed the triune God by stealing His titles—Holy Father, Head of the Church, and Vicar of Christ—is deplorable,” Gendron stated.
He bristled at Moore’s reference to Bergoglio as ‘Your Holiness.’”
“By the authority of God’s Word, we can see that the pope is under divine condemnation for preaching another gospel (Gal.1:6-9),” Gendron stated. “The pope’s gospel denies the sufficiency of Jesus Christ and His finished work of redemption by adding sacraments, good works, law keeping and indulgences for salvation.”
He also found Moore’s desire to combat division between Evangelicals and Catholics to be demonstrative of “the disturbing ignorance among many Evangelicals concerning Church history.”
“The division between Evangelicals and Catholics took place five hundred years ago when the Roman Catholic Church sealed her departure from the Christian faith by deliberately and dogmatically rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ at the Council of Trent,” Gendron outlined. “Her apostasy is well documented by over 100 infallible anathemas that condemn Evangelicals who do not believe Rome’s corruption of the gospel.”
He said that God does not need His children to link with those teaching and propagating error in order to combat evil in the world.
“Moore’s attempt to unite Evangelicals and Catholics is playing into the pope’s agenda to rebuild the religious tower of Babel,” Gendron opined. “Our sovereign and omnipotent Lord does not need the help of unbelievers to fight the social and cultural wars. There is something much more important at stake and that is the purity and exclusivity of the Gospel. More than ever we need to contend for the faith because divine division in truth is far better than satanic unity in error.”