Often asked in thinly veiled sarcasm, “Is the Pope catholic?” is a rhetorical question raised to emphasize the obvious. It’s the equivalent of, “Of course!”
Today, however, it should be met with an unequivocal NO! The Pope is not catholic! The Pope may be Roman Catholic, but he is not catholic.
The term catholic often confused me growing up. My father was Roman Catholic, but I was raised Protestant. Frequently, a minister would lead us in the Apostles’ Creed, which included the declaration, “I believe in…the holy catholic Church…”
Protestants affirming their belief in the Catholic church always seemed strange to me, because I knew Protestants acquired their name due to their rebellion (i.e. protest) against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Here, it is critical to note that words have meaning and so do the rules of grammar.
Notice the difference between ‘the holy catholic Church’ and ‘the Roman Catholic Church’.
Roman Catholic Church is capitalized because it a proper name given to a sect of the Christian faith, meaning it only represents a portion of the people who identify as Christians.
In the Apostles’ Creed, notice ‘catholic’ is not capitalized, because it is intended to describe a universal, united body of believers, as defined by Paul (Romans 12:5) and confirmed by Webster’s full definition.
Back to the Pope…
The Pope does not represent the universal, united body of believers in Jesus Christ. In fact, he seems to be going out of his way to dilute the message of Christianity.
In recent months, the Pope has gone out of his way to embrace Muslims, literally in some instances.
Please don’t misunderstand my motives. I am not trying to vilify people for their beliefs, neither the Pope nor Muslims. People are people and each one is considered worthy of forgiveness. Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection was for everyone as a means of reconciliation with God.
The same cannot be said of beliefs and ideology. Wrong beliefs needs to be identified and corrected.
Reaching out to Muslims is good in the sense of ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ and ‘go into all the world and proclaim the gospel‘, even if the underlying message you bring is ‘we are all created by the same God’. In fact, that is our duty as followers of Jesus, because we believe the God we serve is the only true God, creator of Heaven and Earth.
Unfortunately, that is entirely different than the Pope embracing Muslims and effectively giving cover for their false beliefs while declaring we are “children of the same god.”
NO WE AREN’T!
I applaud his efforts to declare our need to live in peaceful coexistence, but that is entirely different than saying the brotherhood of humanity equates us as children of the same God.
First, the term ‘children’ would infer adoption into God’s family, but the Bible is clear (Romans 8-9) that adoption is only achieved through faith in Jesus Christ as the sole remedy for our corrupt sinful nature, and the only means of reconciliation with God.
Muslims may believe Jesus was a prophet, and they may even acknowledge His miraculous birth, but they do not believe Jesus is the Son of God.
Most importantly, Muslims do not believe Jesus was crucified, which, by default, negates the single most important aspect of the Christian faith, the resurrection.
Muslims simply believe the “people of the book” (Jews and Christians) have corrupted the true teachings of god, since they (Muslims) proclaim Allah as god, whereas Christians and Jews believe YHWY (Jehovah) is the only true God.
It is impossible to reconcile the Muslim faith with the Christian faith, and it is most inaccurate to proclaim that Muslims are children of God (YHWY – Jehovah).
Muslims would agree.
Could Muslims become adopted children of God (YHWY – Jehovah)? Absolutely! And, we should strive to reach them with the message of reconciliation and adoption!
It is worth restating: The free gift of reconciliation with God is available to anyone, but it is only available through faith in Jesus Christ as the sole redeemer of man.
No, the Pope is most certainly not catholic. He is Roman Catholic. Big difference!
Please pray that a remnant of true followers of Jesus Christ will be empowered to rise up to meet the needs of persecuted believers while also given supernatural wisdom and grace to reach out to the persecutors in a way that does not ignore the truth.