As a Catholic priest and former Evangelical, I support the statement from members of the World Evangelical Alliance
“Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.”
Such is the line in a Robert Frost poem, and it applies pretty neatly to the protest by some Protestants that the Evangelicals are getting too cosy with Catholics. This article in Christianity Today reports that Evangelicals in Spain, Malta and Italy are worried that their fellows have fallen in love with Pope Francis.
Last month, the national evangelical alliances of Italy, Spain, and Malta—all members of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)—wrote an 8-page open letter charging their parent organization with “moving away from its historic position” of holding the line against Catholic and liberal Protestant theology.
“In recent years we have sensed that the leadership of WEA has moved away from the outlined historic position of the Alliance on unity by endorsing a more ‘ecumenical’ attitude,” the three alliances stated in December. “Unity has become a blurred term to refer to any relationship even beyond the principles that have always characterized evangelicals. Leaders have become less cautious in talking about unity with the Catholic Church as such and have tended to bypass the historic boundaries.
In fact, as a Catholic and a former Evangelical I’m on their side. They go on to say that the warm feelings towards Rome are based on sentimentalism and theatrics. They also point out that they have traditionally held the line against both liberal Protestants and Catholics, and that reveals the real heart of the matter.
The New Ecumenism is almost completely hosted not just by Protestants and Catholics, but by liberal Protestants and liberal Catholics, and why not? They already share the same beliefs about almost everything, and those beliefs are neither historic Protestantism nor historic Catholicism, but the humanistic, secular, milquetoast milk and toast that make up their sweetly weak religion.
When it comes to real ecumenism on the other hand, I feel like I have much more in common with an old-fashioned Evangelical who believes that Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, was sent into the world to save it by dying and rising again, than a Catholic who believes we should save the world by a Climate Accord and providing “reproductive freedom” to everyone.