At the time of this post, the Pope is well into his visit to the United States. During this time, social media has been filled with comments about the Pope’s visit. I have found that there are three categories of comments:
- People who love the Pope and really respect what he is doing.
- People who are carefully going through what he is saying and expressing disappointment.
- People who are using the Pope’s visit as an opportunity to express their dislike of Roman Catholicism.
Before making comments, I should lay my cards on the table. I am a Protestant (of the Evangelical flavour) and so I do not hold to Catholic theology, nor do I see the Pope as having authority over me. Having said that, I am not anti-Catholic. I do consider devout Catholics to be Christians. I also have been impressed with some of the actions of the present Pope. Like it or not, that is where I am coming from.
I have no problem with people critiquing the Pope’s messages. We should do that for any speaker of any religious persuasion. But I am not sure what the use is of taking this as an opportunity to attack Catholicism. Protestants disagree with Catholics on certain issues, that is why we are called Protestants. Remember the Reformation? All of that was made clear back then.
Even if you are strongly anti-Catholic, what is the benefit of publicly attacking Catholics? While it may make you feel justified in your own theology, it also is a bad witness to non-Christians. What non-Christians see is not a love for pure doctrine but rather Christians who hate each other. It does nothing to spread the kingdom of God.
What if Protestants used the Pope’s visit as a positive opportunity? People are talking about religion and church and morality. Instead of stomping the ground and focusing on the differences, what if we used this as an opportunity to have spiritual conversations?
This is not just about the Pope. It is the same thing when a Hollywood puts out a Bible movie. We focus on the biblical mistakes rather than the opportunities to talk. I am all for keeping our theology biblical. But in that goal, we may miss some of the opportunities that God is giving us.