Question on "apostolic" mark of the Church


Please consider my disclaimer: I am just trying to understand something here. I don’t need to hear a talk on the glory of ecumenism, et cetera.

I recently watched a short video interview that the Holy Father gave to a pentecostal protestant pastor on his cellphone, Anthony Palmer.

Just to clarify - since I did not know this - Pentecostalism is a XXth century heresy that derives from the Methodist heresy of Wesley et al., which in turn springs forth from a schism in the Anglican ecclesial community, whose Holy Orders were declared “absolutely null and utterly void” (which is why Anglican pastors who convert and enter one of the three Catholic Ordinariates have to be validly ordained by a Catholic bishop).

Now, in this (quite informal, and obviously not magisterial) video, the Holy Father refers to this Pentecostal pastor as “my brother bishop”.

I am deeply confused by this, which was totally unexpected. How are we to understand this remark?

Was it a matter of common courtesy to address this man as bishop even though, of course, he is only a layman, or are we to gather an implication that somewhat this man is a valid successor of the apostles just like him who is the successor of Peter?

I understand the common courtesy and all that, but I also understood that there are only very few Churches (ex. some Eastern Churches in schism) whose Holy Orders are considered to be valid, and which are thus considered “apostolic” (ex. the Coptic Church, whose Patriarch is considered a valid successor of the apostle Mark) and that all other groups were not considered as having valid Holy Orders and as such are called ecclesial communities rather than Churches.

It is a courtesy and noting more.
I would seriously doubt that the Pope would address him as Dear Laymen…

And I seriously doubt that either one of them is unfamiliar with the Catholic position on apostolic succession.

Tony Palmer is an Anglican Bishop, not a Pentecostal Pastor.


He could have stopped at “brother”.

Yep. Tony Palmer is an Anglican Bishop. Not a Pentecostal pastor. Not withstanding the issue of the non-validity of Anglican Holy Orders.

Coulda woulda shoulda. :shrug:

Two explanations that pop into my head:

One is that in everyday vernacular language, we still refer to Anglican or protestant bishops simply as bishops, if that is their given title within their community, even though the Catholic Church does not define them as an ordained bishop. In the same sense, protestant churches aren’t actually considered “churches”, but you wouldn’t go around referring to the Meadowbrook Baptist Church as “The Meadowbrook Baptist Ecclesial Community”, you would just call it the “Meadowbrook Baptist Church” since that is its self-given title. This doesn’t mean you concede the claim that the CC is the Church established by Christ, but it’s generally agreed that walking around using that form of language would be needlessly provocative.

The other reason, which builds upon the first reason, is that there is the ordained priesthood and there is the royal priesthood (such as is mentioned in Peter’s epistle), the later of which has a more encompassing definition. If Pope Francis is being gracious and looking at him as a man of goodwill that is seeking to please God, then it wouldn’t be such a stretch to refer to him as ‘brother bishop’ since Pentecostals believe in the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and in the authority of sacred scripture.

I suppose if one were to look at the statement in an isolated vacuum it could be potentially alarming, but since in the bigger picture the Pope of the Catholic Church has made it clear that he is, in fact, a Catholic, we can safely assume that this isn’t an attempt to reverse time and claim that protestant churches have an ordained priesthood (which I know isn’t what you were contending ^.^)

I see. Sorry for my ignorance. I’ll make sure to kiss his ring if I meet him.

I agree. In official documents, however, it is not so. It would indeed be referred to as “ecclesial community”. And this was very unofficial :stuck_out_tongue:

Now we are taking it too far…even if we concede he is validly baptized, and thus “priest, prophet, and king” (like you and me :o), it still does not turn him into a bishop! As for what Pentecostals believe, I am more concerned about where they err in belief, for ultimately that is what makes the doctrine of Pentecostalism inherently heretical (inasmuch as if I as a Catholic cease to be Catholic and become Pentecostal, I would be ipso facto excommunicated due to a mortal sin of heresy).

No need to escalate this…I guess I did get distressed too quickly (which is why I posted here asking for clarification). If their church/community calls their leaders “bishops”, I guess it would make some sense to keep the usage out of courtesy - just like, f.ex., some Eastern Orthodox churches call their patriarchs “Pope” and the same title is used out of respect (without implying that he is, in fact, the Pope as we intend it). I just was taken aback by this - I’m really not into ecumenical dialogue, so it was a bit unexpected. I’m sure the Pope knows what he’s doing! :smiley: I was confused, that’s all.

I think it’s more important to remember that this was unofficial speech, not writing. A catholic would not refer to a non Catholic bishop was “Bishop” with a capital “B”, but as “bishop” with a lower case “b” or as Mr. or something like that.

Also, Catholics do consider Protestants as “separated brothers in Christ.”

Finally, let’s remember that Pope Francis is an evangelist and is often being evangelical to non-Catholics.

PS - I think one day he will be remembered as “Pope Francis the Evangelist!”

God Bless

Ja! :thumbsup:

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