The people's Pope

The schism between us and them

Abner Campos

A man laid hands on a disfigured man and prayed over him. He washed the feet of social outcasts and even prisoners. He prayed for a rape victim personally.  He has taken many phone calls to personally pray with and counsel people walking on life’s rocky roads. This man is Pope Francis.

Before becoming the pope, he was known in South America for helping the poor and ministering in the heart of the slums in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pope Francis is the pope of the people.

While Catholicism has been strongly rejecting the acceptance of individuals part of the LGBTQ community, Pope Francis said, “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? We shouldn’t marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society.” This has shaken the Catholic Church and, more so, surprised and attracted Protestants.

What primarily divides Roman Catholicism from Protestantism is doctrine. However, Protestants are scratching their heads as Pope Francis places doctrine secondary to helping the oppressed. The placing of doctrine aside has caused many to question the need for division between Protestantism and Catholicism.

The pope is one of, if not the most influential figure on the planet. Time and The Advocate magazines affirmed this by naming him “2013 Person of the Year.” He also landed on the cover of Rolling Stone and The New Yorker. No one can get enough of the people’s pope.

Many Protestants and Catholics alike imagine there exists a great divide with insurmountable walls, creating a the schism of us and them. Pope Francis, however, sees opportunity to build bridges. No doubt Pope Francis is the face of Christianity to the world.

While Pope Francis is kind and loving and serving, his teachings matter. Ty Gibson, an Adventist author and publisher said, “There is, however, the small matter of believing he occupies the position of God on earth, and the little thing about believing that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, and the tiny issue of believing he speaks with infallibility, and the minor point about God burning people forever in hell . . . and the modest idea that you can pay money to the church to get people less time burning in purgatory. Besides those items, yes, he is saying some very nice things.”

As Seventh-day Adventists—better yet—as followers of Jesus, we need to find our identity in the exclusive saving power of Jesus. Jesus’ exclusive salvation power allows inclusive salvation for humanity. Yes, the pope is kind, but his actions hide his identity and his claims to be God on earth.

This article is not written to be anti-Catholic. It is not even written to promote Adventism. It’s written to inform of the questions that are going on in the Christian community. Pope Francis is undoubtedly an ethical, moral person helping the poor and powerless. But be aware: Dig deeper into the beliefs he has and study for yourself.

Abner is a sophomore studying theology.