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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam! 13 March 2013

At the outset, these are only my personal reflections on the election of Pope Francis I (Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina) today, 13 March 2013.

As a Protestant, and a Presbyterian, I affirm wholeheartedly the 1788 American edition of the Westminster Confession of Faith’s clear statement, “There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof” (25.6). This will disappoint my Catholic friends, no doubt, but it is what I affirm and agree with; and I believe that both Scripture and the earliest traditions of the Church teach the same.

But now I speak to my Protestant, Evangelical and Independent friends, recognizing that I may likely dissatisfy many.

There is a hard reality we must acknowledge, no matter what we may prefer or profess. The “Pope of Rome” is the human face of Christianity in the eyes of the world in which we live. If he is an abysmal failure, immoral, weak, or injudicious, all of Christianity suffers – either shame from scandal or physically through reprisals from forces retaliating against something the Pope has done or said. And if the Pope is prudent, astute, devout, and moral, Christianity is taken with greater seriousness, and perceived as genuine. It’s that simple, and we need to grasp this with a clearheaded sobermindedness.

To that end, I have been praying for the papal election that a God-fearing man would be found and elected. That God would guide the deliberations, schemings, and decisions of the cardinals to select a man who would best benefit Christianity throughout the world. Now that the election has been accomplished a new Pope has been named: Francis I. Habemus Papam!

What next? I would say that prayer for the new Pope is fitting and proper and I would encourage all Protestants to join in this endeavor. My rationale has already been stated above, but even if that is too hard for some to stomach, then prayer ought to be made for Pope Francis I for the following reasons:
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2.1-4).
Pray, then:

1st – That Pope Francis’s decisions and actions will provide a global atmosphere for Christians world-over to “lead peaceful and quiet” lives, “godly and dignified in every way.”

2nd – That his actions, rulings, and lifestyle would foster an international environment where the Gospel may run swiftly throughout the world, unhampered and unimpeded so that “all people” might “be saved and…come to the knowledge of the truth” as God desires.

3rd – Just as he will likely pray for us, let us pray for him, that God will have mercy on his soul, and that he may enjoy eternal life in the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Habemus Papam! Therefore, let us pray…


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