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Is Pope Francis paving the way for a second exodus from the Catholic church — Reformation Part II?

Pope Francis Credit: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston/George Martell/Pilot News Media/Flickr/Creative Commons

Pope Francis Credit: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston/George Martell/Pilot News Media/Flickr/Creative Commons

When Martin Luther, a Catholic seminary professor and priest, pounded his 95 thesis on the door of a Roman Catholic church in Wittenburg Germany on October 31, 1517, he was not setting out to start a new church, he was trying to reform the Catholic church.

He was responding to the efforts of Johann Tetzel, a Dominican monk, who arrived in the area selling indulgences to help build a new cathedral in Rome. The indulgences allowed people to buy their way into heaven.

Martin Luther said people are saved by faith, not by money. The Roman Catholic church reacted to Luther’s call for reform birthing the protestant church. Now on the 500th anniversary of this reformation is a second one brewing?

I have been reading comments on a number of conservative Catholic sites of grave concerns about Pope Francis.

Pope Francis who campaigned and won the papacy in 2013 as a conservative Catholic is anything but. Conservative Catholics call Francis a Marxist and a liberal.

In 2015, Eugenio Scalfari, publisher of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, sent a series of questions to Pope Francis one them asked about salvation for atheists. Conservative Catholics were outraged when Pope Francis answered that an atheist did not have to believe in God to be saved, he only had to live according to his conscience.

Even secular papers are noticing a growing rift in the Catholic church. In a recent article, the Washington Post said that Conservative Catholics are “filled with dread’ about the direction Pope Francis is taking the church. The paper noted in 2014, Francis had 72% approval rating among Conservative Catholics and by 2015 that had fallen sharply to 45%.

LifeSiteNews is a prominent Canadian conservative Catholic website. With upwards of 30 million visitors each year, it has influence around the world. It is strongly pro-life and I have watched with interest as it expresses its concerns about Pope Francis.

It started off a recent article stating:

ROME, January 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – 2016 marked a dramatic turning point in the pontificate of Pope Francis. It may be called the year of the great awakening, as more and more faithful Catholics and prelates, Cardinals included, came to a frightening understanding that there is a major problem with the current Pope.

Then it lists a number of things Pope Francis did in 2016 that concerns them. Now to be fair some things Francis challenged are traditions in the Catholic church that are not necessarily Biblical, but others clearly are.

In May, Pope Francis derided Jesus’ exhortation to preach the gospel to the whole world when he compared Catholic evangelism to radical Islam saying: “It is true the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”

In February, he described one of Italy’s “foremost abortion promoter as one of  the nation’s ‘forgotten greats.'”

Lifesitenews then points out that Francis has been actively appointing Liberals as Cardinals. Liberal not only in terms of Catholic church traditions but liberal also in their views on scripture.

One of the goals of Pope Francis is to break down the barriers between Catholicism and Protestants and some suggest he is pushing for a one world church.  What is curious is that many evangelicals are warming to Pope Francis due in part because of his rejection of some Catholic extra-Biblical traditions.

However, speaking at the Ligonier National Conference held in Florida this year commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation, Italian Evangelical pastor Leonardo De Chirico warned attendees:

“Francis has little time for non-negotiable truths and gives more attention to the variety of people’s consciences. He’s more interested in warmth than light, in empathy than judgment.

“He focuses on attitude rather than identity and on embracing rather than teaching. He underlines the relational over the doctrinal. For him, human proximity is more important than theological integrity. Belonging, for him, has priority over believing.”

So where does this leave Conservative Catholics? Now I may not agree with everything Conservative Catholics believe, but I have met Charismatic Catholics who would fall into this category and they are definitely Christian.

So if this trend continues some may quit going to church or join evangelical fellowships.  Others may break off and form their own independent Catholic churches and according to one writer this may already be starting to happen.



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