Now Religion in the News, a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media.This week’s item is from The New York Times, May 12, 2007, with a headline:Pope Canonizes a Brazilian.The following are excerpts:After canonizing Brazil’s first native born saint, a Friar Galvaro, and receiving a bracing dose of Brazilian style religious fervor at an outdoor mass, Pope Benedict XVI called Friday for more forceful evangelization throughout Latin America, to counter growing conversions to Pentecostal Protestant groups.No effort should be spared in seeking out those Catholics who have fallen away, and those who know little or nothing of Jesus Christ, he told Brazilian bishops.About 140 million Brazilians regard themselves as Catholics, the largest Roman Catholic population in the world.But many do not attend mass regularly and the portion who would identify themselves as Roman Catholic has dropped in less than a generation from nearly 90% of the population to about two-thirds because of the Protestant advance.The Pope made his appeal in his characteristic way, he emphasized competing with the Pentecostal denominations first by meeting people’s spiritual needs with back-to-basics Catholicism centered on preaching Jesus’ message.Daily life in Brazil is permeated by the presence of saints from the names of neighborhoods, businesses and cities to the plaster statues found in corner bars and the posters and paintings hung in homes both humble and grand.Fast growing Pentecostal groups however, strongly disapprove of the popular focus on saints, which they regard as a form of idolatry forbidden by the Bible.In the 1990’s one Pentecostal preacher, prominent on television, even smashed an image of the virgin Mary during one of his programs shocking many Brazilians.We Brazilians love to venerate the saints, but until now they have all been foreigners, said Bernardo Legata Alvaz, a 39 year old bus driver, who said he often drove with an image of saint Sebastian on his windshield.As for Friar Galvaro, he said, this is a saint who is really, truly ours born and bred here who looks like us and has a name like ours
Dave, as you know, this isn’t anything new.Pope John Paul II, you know, when he visited South America he saw that the Catholic church were losing many to evangelical Christianity.And what really upsets me, I’m upset because now they’re becoming more aggressive in their Roman Catholic church in their evangelization, but what’s upsetting here is, Wait a minute, didn’t an organization such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together, wasn’t thee a whole thrust among evangelicals to work with the Roman Catholic church, saying that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, separated brethren, now let’s work—if you’re going to evangelize together you’re going to have the same message, the same gospel, isn’t that right, Dave?But look what’s happened.Now, John Paul II said, and now Benedict the 16th is saying:Well, wait a minute, we’ve got to out-evangelize these Pentecostals, and so on.What’s going on?
A little bit of dishonesty.I guess the popes don’t realize we are in a world of international communication.Because they say one thing in North America, another thing in Central and South America. When they come to North America, oh, we’re all in this together, Evangelicals and Catholics together.When they get down South they say exactly what we just heard here.So, it’s disingenuous, it’s more than that it’s dishonest, but Tom, the truth is this came from, this whole ECT thing came from the Vatican, it was approved by the Vatican, and the Protestants who were involved, whether it was Pat Robertson or Bill Bright or whoever it was who signed this.And of course, it began with Chuck Colson, they were all being advised out of the Vatican, and ECT, Evangelicals and Catholics Together, does indeed say, We thank God—I’m quoting it verbatim from the document,—We thank God for the discovery of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.Now, if Protestants—and it doesn’t distinguish, it says the title is Evangelicals, that’s what they are against down here in South America, Evangelicals and Catholics.It doesn’t say, some evangelicals, evangelicals sympathetic with the Catholic church.It doesn’t say Bible-believing Catholics, all evangelicals and all Catholics together, the Christian mission in the 3rd millennium, that’s what it said.All right.So we all have the same mission, but now when we get down to South America out comes the truth.The Pope, I guess, thought it wouldn’t be put in the newspapers, of course nobody is listening, this is a little secret between us guys down here.No, it is simply dishonest.Let’s just be blunt about it, it’s dishonest, the man is lying, he is not telling the truth.So, one place they say, We have the same gospel down here.They say, No, we’ve got to convert all of those Roman Catholics who went over on the Protestant side—(Actually they believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they were baptized as Christians, they realize the Catholic gospel is a false gospel)—we’ve got to get them back into the Catholic church.TomForest, if you remember, Tom, a very large gathering of Christians, supposedly evangelicals and Catholics together, were all together— that was in Indianapolis some years ago, but in the Catholic only session where he’s talking just to the fellow Catholics, he says, We’ve got to evangelize back into the Catholic church.So, this is what it’s about, it’s not honest.
And of course, with that you get all the trappings where you have a canonizing Brazil’s first native born saint.Dave, where do you find that in scripture?
Well, my Bible says that all Christians are saints.The epistles of Ephesians was written by the saints of Ephesus, the saints of Colosse, the saints at Corinth.Okay.You don’t get voted in as a saint.If you’re not a saint you’re not saved.Saint simply means sanctified, set apart.
Now we have these individuals “set apart” so that we can pray to them so that they can intercede for us.Certainly not worship them, as the Catholics would tell you, but Dave, the Catholics would say there are 3 distinctions in reverence.One would be Dulia, and that’s the reverence you give to a saint.Another would be hyper Dulia where you give special reverence to Mary, and then Loteria, which is worship God and that’s the technical distinction.But, you know, growing up Roman Catholic, Dave, for 30 years, we never made those distinctions.We worship Mary without a doubt, and saints, they became our heroes.We talked to them, we prayed to them, wehad communion with them in effect, communication with them, which the Bible condemns.