As Catholic Pontiff journeys to U.S.!
THE Vatican late last month released what it titles “The schedule for Pope Francis’ September 2015 Apostolic Journey to the United States of America.” According to the release, the visit of His Holiness will last for six days, starting from Tuesday, September 22 to Sunday, September 27.
This visit is coming on the heels of America’s legalisation of same-sex marriage which many the world over, especially the Third World, regard as an aberration. Surely in the course of his visit to his flocks, the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church and Vicar of Jesus Christ would be called upon to address this vexed issue.
Yes, Pope Francis, as the Bishop of Rome and ‘Successor of the Prince of the Apostle’, needs to tell the world, particularly the estimated 1.2 billion Catholics he leads, about the official position of the Church on gay marriage. Does he as the leader of the ‘world leading church’ support homosexuality and by extension same-sex marriage, which the Holy Bible unequivocally condemns? Another question that is sure to arise in the course of Pope Francis’ discussion with the American audience: Would he as the Pope and holder of the eminent and sacred title of the ‘Servant of the Servants of God, ‘permit a self-confessed homosexual to participate in the Holy Eucharist in the Catholic Church, that is, to take the Holy Communion? Surely, many American Bible believing Christians can’t wait for a chance to engage the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church on this issue of gay marriage which they have taken as Satan’s great assault on the Biblical doctrine on marriage (a holy wedlock between a man and a woman).
It’s a well documented fact that Pope Francis’ immediate predecessor, Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, had harsh words for homosexuality during his papacy. He was strident and direct in condemning the sexual perversion. In February 2005, he wrote that homosexuality was “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,” and an “objective disorder.”
Then came Pope Francis with his ‘love for sinner!’ doctrine, by which he gave new fillip to gay and lesbian Catholics. He has said, famously, that he is not in a position to judge gays, although he has managed somehow to retain the official Church position that homosexuality is wrong! That obviously sounds like double speak! Is His Holiness, many are wont to ask, distancing himself from the position of the Church which he leads? He says he is not in the position to judge gays, which the Holy Bible roundly condemns as an ‘abomination.’
Specifically, in what has become one of Pope Francis’ signature lines, from an in-flight press conference a few months after his election in 2013, when he was asked about whether a gay man could be a priest: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis asked.
Apostle Paul in Romans Chapter 13 verse 4, explains the enormous power of the minister of God, including the power to judge an erring soul: “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
In 1 Corinthians Chapter 5, when Apostle Paul heard about the worst form of fornication going on in the Corinthian Church, of a certain church member coupling with “his father’s wife”, he wrote: “For I verily, as absent in the body but present in spirit, have judged (emphasis mine) already, as though I were present…” Now concerning the erring soul, Paul orders that he be delivered “unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” As further punishment for the sex offender, hear the great apostle: “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators…if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator…with such a one, no, not to eat.”
Paul, are you judging? I thought the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not judge’? I could hear someone issuing a query to the great apostle.
It may not be quite right for a Minister of God to hide under Christ’s “Judge not, that ye be not judged” injunction in the Book of Matthew or His “neither do I condemn thee: but go and sin no more,” to the woman caught in adultery, to abdicate his ministerial responsibility of speaking out against sin in the church of God or of judging a church member who has continued to sin. After all the Lord Himself in judging the wicked King Herod in the Luke Gospel referred to him as a fox. “Go ye, and tell that fox,” He said of the king. He denounced the Pharisees in the Book of Matthew as “O generation of Vipers”, while John the Baptist openly criticised the same King Herod for taking over Herodia,”his brother Philip’s wife.” Not only that. You may want to count the number of times the Lord pronounced “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, ye hypocrites…” in Chapter 23 of the Book of Matthew?
Now, looking at all these instances, does Christ look to anyone like a minister of God who would say to a gay, a sex pervert, an unrepentant sinner, who would not show remorse for his sin or even consider his defiance as an evil that needs to be expunged and repented of, “I’m not in a position to judge gays”? No, no, no. Christ would rather say to all unrepentant gays, “I tell you, Nay; except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
No doubt, many have good words for Pope Francis and hold him in high esteem especially for the concern he has shown towards the downtrodden since coming to the office in 2013. However, what continues to baffle a cross-section of Christians the world over is the way he continues to roll out the red carpet, as it were, to receive gay and lesbian Catholics as if they were some royals. Under his watch, homosexuality has come to assume a pride of place in the Catholic Church. The Holy See has said in one of their documents that homosexuals “need to be welcome and accompanied with patience and delicacy and that (homosexuals) have gifts and qualities to offer.” Jesus of Nazareth!
When you hear the Church treating the sin of homosexuality with kid gloves like this, you wonder whether this isn’t the same sin that so infuriated God that He had to rain down brimstone and fire upon the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah!
Sincerely, it is hoped that the Holy Spirit would guide the Pontiff so he doesn’t fall into the booby trap awaiting him in the United States. The enemy of the Church are lying in-wait for him to repeat the good things he has always said about gays so that this time around, with gay marriage now officially recognised in the U.S., they could use it to nail him and ground the Church, after the much harm paedophile among the Catholic priests in the U.S. has already cost the Church. Many are of the opinion that His Holiness would condemn gay marriage in America and embrace the uniform teaching of the Holy Bible on marriage which holds marriage as the holy wedlock between a man and a woman.
The Pope’s journey to America is still some few days away. I felt I should be proactive and give the Supreme Pontiff an advance notice of what to expect as he takes the gospel of Christ to a land that has brazenly decided to stand the Bible teaching on marriage on its head.
• Sly Edaghese is an author of many children’s novels.