Pope's speech troubling, Southern Baptists say

WASHINGTON (BP) – Pope Francis’ historic address to Congress proved troubling in both its lack of clarity on moral issues and in its church-state impropriety, Southern Baptist leaders and pastors said.

The pope spoke to a joint session of Congress on Thursday (Sept. 24), becoming the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to address the U.S. legislative body. His speech came on the final day of a three-day visit to Washington, D.C., that featured a White House welcoming ceremony, a parade and a mass for the canonization of a Catholic saint.

In his congressional speech, Pope Francis commented on a variety of issues but without being particularly specific on abortion and marriage.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), expressed gratitude the pope spoke to Congress “about the dignity of all human life, whether the unborn, the elderly or the immigrant, as well as the importance of the family in a free and flourishing society.”


From the article:

The invitation by congressional leaders to the head of a religious body to speak to legislators also was problematic, said Mohler and some Southern Baptist pastors.

“I wonder what evangelical religious figure would be accorded such an opportunity,” said Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., in a written statement for Baptist Press.

Bart Barber, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, told BP in written comments, “For Congress to treat a church as though it were a state and the head of a church as though he were the head of a state runs contrary to basic First Amendment principles of disestablishment.”

Sadly, Barber doesn’t recognize that the Pope is the head of state of a sovereign city-state (namely, Vatican City). That role is distinct from his role as the head of the Holy See. His assertion that one cannot “treat… the head of a church as though he were the head of a state” is so myopic that it’s laughable: perhaps he doesn’t realize that Queen Elizabeth is the ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England’?

“What evangelical leader would be accorded such an opportunity,” he asks? Plainly, any one who is also the leader of a nation.

Ultimately, he fails to understand U.S. Constitutional law: the First Amendment places restrictions on the U.S. Government with respect to establishment of a state religion, not on formal relations with world leaders. :shrug:

Most protestants don’t realize that the Vatican is a separate State and not under the control of any secular government. Pope Francis was welcomed as a government leader, the same as the ruler of England, or any other government head.

Baptists have no voice that speaks clearly for all Baptists, nor do they have their own State.

Let’s not go too far with the head-of-state aspect here. Yes, it’s true…

…yet we must also keep in mind that the Holy Father is the visible head of the Church (not that anyone here is denying it). The point is that when the Pope speaks, he speaks with a religious and moral authority that has no equal.

Fundamentalist leaders do not simply lack any civil office (by virtue of their religious one, that is), but they also lack the religious and moral credibility which comes from being the Vicar of Christ. They represent themselves and the people who choose to follow them at any given moment. In contrast, the Holy Father holds an office which has withstood the trials of time for nearly 2,000 years.

Remember: the Holy Father was not speaking to Congress solely as the Head-of-State of Vatican City State. He spoke as the Vicar of Christ. This holds true regardless of how the diplomatic formalities were finalized.

sorry, but coming from a baptist background, they most always find “things” which are “troubling”, not only with the pope, but with the catholic church as a whole. :shrug:

My thought it is unlikely they would have been happy with much of anything the Pope said given they didn’t like the fact he was speaking to begin with.


When my dear Mama married my Dad in 1943, she was told by her Southern Baptist family that she would rot in hell for marrying an idol worshipper! I dont think much has changed in their view of the One true Catholic and Apostolic Church…:mad:

We have to keep in mind, the Pope wasn’t giving a Homily to Catholics but he was speaking to the WHOLE WORLD! God Bless, Memaw

But if they invited the Pope to speak before Congress because he is the head of a tiny state, not because is the head of a religion, that still doesn’t make much sense. After all, when was the last time the Prince of Monaco or the Prince of Liechtenstein, both of which are bigger than Vatican City, got invited to address Congress? And I doubt that the Queen of England was ever invited to address congress because she is the head of the Church of England.

i recognize and accept that there are many people like these who are saying they do not agree with what francis is saying; or, some do not understand what francis is saying.

what I do not accept is that what francis is saying is either nonsensical or non-Christian.

perhaps the problem lies more in the people who are hearing francis than in what he is saying. perhaps, as is almost always the case, people who are confused or rejecting are doing so because of the perspective from which they hear.

for example, francis, at least from what I have heard and read, has said nothing about global warming, but many apparently think they have heard him addressing it. I am open to correction, but I cannot find where francis has addressed global warming, much less anthropological global warming. we human beings far more often hear what we want to hear instead of what is being said. this happens to francis a lot. maybe francis’ style adds to their hearing problems, but maybe francis style is not intended to be mere words of explanation, but also, and maybe more importantly, a challenge to change.

Also secular media loves to read between the lines and/or exploit things the Pope says if it advances a liberal agenda. On the other hand, the Pope seems to actually believe in letting as many immigrants into countries as possible, when in fact the best way to help the impoverished is in their own country.

And that is precisely where the church-religion separation issues come in. If the Pope was speaking as Head of State, that would be one thing. If he was speaking as Vicar of Christ, that would be quite another, and the cavilers would have a point.

Pope Francis is not the first pope to be invited to speak before Congress. He is the first to have accepted. We are not accustomed to having heads of states, like the head of Israel speak in front on Congress as has been done this term. Controversy arises when we hear anybody other than an American speak in front of the American legislative branches. They are speaking to the American people whether we want to listen or not. Listeners do not have to agree with what is said, even Putin is invited to speak.
Now for obvious reasons I do not expect Putin to be invited to speak before Congress although he will be speaking before the UN about the Syrian crisis and his support for the Assad regime.
Congress begins each of its sessions with prayer. It is true that the pope is both religious leader and head of state. There are many Catholics living in the United States including congressional leaders who are Catholic. There are still some non-Catholics who confuse the pope’s temporal leadership with Catholic worship. I actually responded to such a meme on posted by a friend on Facebook.
The United States did not always have diplomatic ties with Vatican City. There were fears when a Catholic ran for the highest office in the country and was elected. Our current pope speaks pastorally about a range of issues that make many people uncomfortable.

Or the Duchy of Grand Fenwick?

I recently saw a video posted on Facebook saying that the Pope said Jesus failed at the cross. I posted on that post the text of what he said (during vespers which is was a portion of the video showed) which is not what said in the headline. Most people will read the headline and not no further.

I would bet that some evangelical leaders have spoken to Congress. Not sure if Billy Graham has, but for decades he was a close associate of presidents, golfing partner for Ike.
Churchill spoke to Congress, I think shortly after he left Prime Minister. He might have had some ceremonial relationship to the Church of England, as PM.

Jimmy Carter has been regarded as an evangelical leader, in a way.

For decades evangelical leaders supervised Protestant prayer services in White House, when they never would have considered allowing Mass there.

For decades the Episcopal church “National Cathedral”(!) has been regarded as America’s national cathedral by presidents, for national ceremonies.

Contrary to some posts, the Pope is a head of State only because for centuries the Holy See is recognized as a “state”; not Vatican City, which didn’t exist until the 1920s. The popes have lost the land now called “Vatican City” in the past, and could lose it again in the future. That has no effect on the Pope as Head of State, even if he were to move to Brooklyn.

Essentially Evangelicalism, along with Anglicanism, was almost an established church in the USA, till maybe the 1950s. Compared to what we have now, I would love to return America to that status now.

Perhaps you are confusing Evangelicalism, which is more a theology or an umbrella of differing beliefs than a church, with Mainline Christianity. The Mainlines are your denominations such as Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, etc. They were the foundation of religion in the 1950’s US.

It’s only been since the Middle Ages that the Holy See was considered to be like a sovereign state. Before that, papal representatives to the late Roman and Byzantine emperors were not considered to be ambassadors. It wasn’t until the 15th century that various states, mostly Catholic ones, started sending ambassadors to the Holy See and the first permanent papal nunciature (the equivalent of an embassy), the one to Venice, wasn’t established until 1500. It wasn’t until 1805 that the first Protestant country (Prussia) sent an ambassador to the Holy See. By that time, the Popes had a sovereign territorial state, the Papal States, which were established in the 700s up until 1870.

I know the difference between “evangelical” and “mainline”. But both of those have changed a lot since the 1950s. Back then, what were then called the mainline churches held what we would now call moderate conservative positions on religion and politics, similar to positions now held by evangelicals. The whole Protestant spectrum has moved far to the Left. So from the view of today, the positions of the Methodists, Presbyterians, etc of the 1950s would be considered evangelical.

In the 1950s people who were then called evangelicals took positions that we would now call fundamentalist.

I’m not sure I agree with you. You say mainlines were conservative on ‘religion and politics.’ Are you speaking politically within the denominations? Government? Theologically?

The 1950’s were the era of McCathy-ism and the cold war. I don’t believe the Mainlines were too conservative there, politically speaking.

I am not clear on what method you are using to move all sorts of people around the religious chess board.

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