The paralysis of Catholic bishops in the face of a tyrannical pope is not shared by non-Catholics like Franklin Graham. Pope Francis cannot fire or cancel an evangelical, like he did Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas.
Graham, son of the late, world-famous Baptist evangelist Billy Graham, posted on Facebook the following missive, regarding the blessing of homosexual relationships, released by the pope under the Latin title Fiducia supplicans:
“So-called ‘blessings’ from religious leaders won’t save you from the judgment of God! Pope Francis has now approved Catholic priests ‘blessing’ same-sex couples. But none of us, including the Pope, has the right to ‘bless’ what God calls sin. ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…’ (Isaiah 5:20). The Good News is that right now God will forgive sin, but we have to come to Him His way, on His terms – by repenting of our sins and placing our faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is interesting that an evangelical like Franklin Graham knows better than the pope. “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever” is something Graham understands
Graham enjoys a lot of Catholic company right now, including the recently cancelled Strickland, but also other cancelled appointees like Italian Bishop Carlo Vigano, America’s Cardinal Raymond Burke, and German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller. Strickland is the American equivalent to the historic Cardinal John Fisher of England, standing alone and speaking truth to power. Like the FBI, Pope Francis is doing all he can to demonize the most faithful clerics and laity in the U.S., using insulting language unworthy of the Vicar of Christ on earth.
The pope has called devout American Catholics, rigid, backward, political and that favorite Marxist term, “reactionary,” for opposing his confusion. But, like all dictators, the pope’s own rigidity cannot tolerate correction. Instead, Francis encourages and promotes endless contradiction and double-talk.
So, who was Cardinal Fisher? He was the only English bishop to speak out against the divorce-and-remarriage of King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn in the 1530s. Like Sir Thomas More, Fisher paid for his loyal opposition with his head. The other allegedly “Catholic” British bishops did not lose their heads, but they arguably lost their souls.
It is a comment on the American Catholic bishops that they are afraid, not of Henry VIII, but of their own pope, who treats the timeless truths of Christ like he made them up himself. He abuses his duty to defend and explain religious truths, using them like a toy over which he enjoys utter authority. He views the hierarchical Church as a corporation and himself as the CEO, whose lieutenants are duty-bound to obey his every word.
It is interesting that an evangelical like Franklin Graham knows better than the pope. “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever” is something Graham understands. But why should Franklin Graham even care?
Other Christian denominations, as well as Catholics themselves, need to understand that the pope is not the Roman Catholic Church.
Perhaps Graham subliminally knows that the authority of the Roman Church still exercises influence with some 25,000 different Christian denominations. After all, Graham has experienced the recent heroic and beleaguered papacies of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict, who despite whining from the left, proclaimed timeless Christian truths.
Graham’s dart against the pope indicates that he knows that it was Catholicism, and not the “born again” Christians of his father’s legacy, which held the bridge against divorce-and-remarriage, abortion and contraception. A growing number of evangelicals are beginning to wake up that these issues actually united all Christians until 90 years ago.
Now we have homosexuality, transgenderism, and a host of other whacked-out ideas about God and Christianity. Franklin Graham knows, instinctively, that without the Catholic Church as a back-stop, Christian morality will end up in a sewer.
Other Christian denominations, as well as Catholics themselves, need to understand that the pope is not the Roman Catholic Church. His mission is to guard, explain and defend the timeless truths of Christ, not to change or invent new ones. If Catholics owe obedience to their hierarchy, it is not a one-way street. The hierarchy, from their deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals and pope, owe obedience to the “Deposit of Faith,” – the received and unchanging truths from God.
Through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, a new hope may well find that Christians will stand courageously together against a world filled with lies, confusion, contradictions and immorality.
So, what is a blessing? It is a conveyance of God’s grace, granted by a priest who does so as the stand-in of Christ. Any person can receive a blessing from a priest, whether they are in a sinful state or in what Catholics call “sanctifying grace.”
And thousands of non-Catholics ask priests for a blessing every day, in a train depot, airport or sidewalk. If they attend Mass, they cannot receive Holy Communion (another place where Francis has created confusion), but they are eager for the priest’s blessing when they attend as a visitor.
When bestowing a blessing anywhere, a priest never asks, “Are you sinless?” or “Are you Catholic?” The grace that the priest imparts through his blessing may, through the unbounded love and mercy of the one Triune God, bring them forward to a closer relationship with the one who told Pontius Pilate that he was the incarnation of Truth, a Truth that can never change.
Clearly, Fiducia supplicans was not needed, unless the true purpose was not religious – but political – the very accusation that the pope levels at traditional American Catholics.
The so-called “voices of moderation” that seek to minimize the import of the pope’s directive, should not be heeded. They claim that “Both the left and the right have got it wrong.”
No, they don’t.
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By specifically permitting the blessing of homosexual couples, the pope has raised the anchor in a virtual hurricane, and is allowing the “Barque of Peter” to drift towards the rocks. It says that what was sinful yesterday can now be sanctified. And if that is so, then Truth is fluid, changing and non-existent.
And therefore, Christ was either deluded or a liar.
But since the pope is not the Catholic Church, the Church and her Truth will survive, through its persecuted bishops and priests, and her faithful laity. After 500 years, the Reformation has brought us 25,000 different interpretations of the Bible. A Catholic civil war might be God’s way of bringing sincere Christians back together. The Baptist Franklin Graham’s correction of the pope indicates this possibility.
God the Father welcomes devotion to His son, the Word made Flesh, who is the unchanging Truth. Through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, a new hope may well find that Christians will stand courageously together against a world filled with lies, confusion, contradictions and immorality.
The views expressed here are those of the author.