A Papal Apology


The Pope addresses the Pentecostal Church of Reconciliation.

Reconciliation between Protestant and Catholic Christians has taken a giant leap forward thanks to Pope Francis, the newly dubbed 'prophet of reconciliation,' after his meeting with Evangelical Pastor Giovanni Traettino and the community of the Pentecostal Church of Reconciliation on Monday, 28 July in Caserta, Italy.

Traettino described the visit as, “wholly unexpected and surprising,” and went on to add, “with just one gesture, you have widened the door, you have accelerated the realization of God’s dream. You have become part of Jesus’ prayer that they may all be one.”

He praised the Pope’s generosity of heart in making a personal visit, “Overcoming with one blow the complications of protocol, you know how to go directly to the heart of life and of human relations... to encounter one’s brother where he is, to encounter him as he is. In our case then, to visit us.

"Instead of finding food, they found their brother."

Truly this was a meeting of long lost brothers, which the Pope likened to the story of Joseph, “I think of Abraham’s grandson Jacob. He was tranquil, there, with his children. However, at a certain point famine arrived and he told his eleven children, ten of whom were guilty of betrayal for having sold their brother, to go to Egypt and buy food… but instead of finding food, they found their brother!”

He went on to disparage the divisive attitude of many Christians stating, “It’s not the Lord Jesus who creates division! He who creates division is in fact the Envious One, the king of envy, the father of envy: Satan. He interferes in communities and creates divisions, always! From the first moment of Christianity, this temptation was in the Christian community... we have very often done the same thing as Joseph’s brothers, when jealousy and envy have divided us.”

"I ask the Lord to give us the grace to admit and forgive.”

Then, in perhaps the most poignant gesture of the meeting, the Pope proceeded to apologise on behalf of Catholics for any part they had played in creating such division within the body of Christ.

“I am the Pastor of Catholics. I ask forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who did not understand and who were tempted by the devil and did the same thing that Joseph’s brothers did. I ask the Lord to give us the grace to admit and forgive.”

His remarks were applauded by evangelical leaders across the globe who responded in the same vein, most notably the president of the World Evangelical Alliance, Rev. Geoff Tunnicliffe, who repented on behalf of those Protestants who had discriminated against Catholics in the past. "While we can disagree theologically, this should never lead to discrimination or persecution of the other,” he said.

"The Church is one in diversity.” 

So where does this leave the body of Christ? As the Pope said, “we are on this path of unity between brothers.” It would seem that in the space of a few hours the church has moved further along this path than ever before. This is a movement inspired by the Holy Spirit, as Pope Francis was quick to acknowledge, “The Holy Spirit creates diversity in the Church...But then, the Holy Spirit himself creates unity, and so the Church is one in diversity.”