Bishop Tony Palmer and Pope Francis on Christian Unity

tonypalmer-300x164The recent informal video of Pope Francis, made on a smartphone by the British charismatic Anglican bishop Tony Palmer, has now become a viral phenomenon. The seven-minute greeting by Pope Francis, seen by millions of viewers, called upon all Christians to set aside their differences to pursue a deep “longing” for Christian unity.

I prayed for this January 14 private meeting @ the Vatican in early January when Bishop Palmer asked some friends to privately pray for this one-to-one meeting. I also knew that the first airing of the video would be at the Kenneth Copeland Ministries center in Texas. I privately expressed my concerns about this “context” to Tony but when he explained his friendship with Copeland, and his relationship with Pope Francis, I knew that he was right in what he did and why he did it in this context.

As you will see in the now-edited version of this presentation, made available last week by Bishop Palmer, the pope urges all Christians to put aside their divisions and to pray that the Lord “will unite us.” Francis says, “We should move forward. We are brothers. We should give each other a spiritual embrace and open ourselves to letting the Lord complete the work he started.” The pontiff adds, “I never saw the Lord start a miracle without finishing it. And he will finish this miracle of Christian unity.” The pope concluded, “Who is at fault? (For our myriad divisions.) All of us are. We are all sinners. There is only one who is right, and that is our Lord.”

One of the most remarkable things about this video is the informality of the presentation. Most things done at the Vatican are never released in such an informal way and certainly through a single person who released the pope’s words to a charismatic conference in Texas. Generally the Vatican press office, or some other official agency, handles all such presentations. They are crafted and edited carefully, for very good reason.

So far as I can tell no Pope has ever sent an impromptu video message that shared his greetings with a Pentecostal conference in the United States, much less anywhere else. Many Argentinian evangelicals already know that the Pope’s bold step is consistent with his character as a Catholic bishop.  For many years, Archbishop Bergoglio of Buenos Aires entertained close friendships with leading charismatic Christians, some of whom I have had the joy of knowing in recent years.   In 2006, at a large gathering of Catholics and evangelicals a number of leading evangelicals laid hands on the cardinal in public prayer. This was so surprising, indeed shocking, that my good friend in Argentina sent me an article that appear in the Argentinian Catholic magazine Cabildo. In it a story is reported under a heading that called the Archbishop apostate (apostate). This widely known controversy in his native country did not stop Bergoglio’s enthusiasm for reaching out to evangelicals as this new video makes abundantly clear. I am inclined to believe that few people, Catholic and non-Catholic, understand the power of this gesture and where it might lead us in coming days.

Tony Palmer sent me an email two weeks ago with a link to his now edited version of this presentation to the Copeland Ministries gathering. This includes his interview with Pope Francis. This new video appears on Tony’s Ark Community website. I have included it here with the hope that many of you, my friends and fellow missional-ecumenists, will watch this thirty-three minute address and marvel at the power of the words spoken as well as the manner in which they are spoken in both tone and context. Do I agree with everything spoken here? Not at all. What I am profoundly moved by is this – after nearly 500 years we are finally talking openly about how the Spirit is bringing us together. And this pope is responding to missional-ecumenism in ways unheard of before. I have to wonder how this movement will continue to grow since it is not limited to formal decrees, councils and previous church responses to some of the very issues that have divided us for so long. True missional-ecumenism will not walk way from what is true and right but it will always pursue what is true by seeking to remain in the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.

17 Comments on “Bishop Tony Palmer and Pope Francis on Christian Unity”

  1. First of all let me say this, it sounds good what this man is saying, about uniting with the Catholic church. I am an ex Catholic, and when I started studying God’s Word the Bible, it disagreed with what I was taught to belief most of my life. But my Bible points out a beast power that was wounded to death and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world wondered after the beast. This beast power blasphemies against God. [Rev. 13:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] And Verse 8 says; And All that dwell upon the earth shall Worship him (the Beast power) whose names are NOT written in the Book of Life of the LAMB (Jesus) slain from the foundation of the world.” When a person commits blasphemy he opens his mouth against God. This beast power would try to change times and laws, according to [Daniel 7:25] There is only ONE Commandment of the Ten that deals with time, and that is the Forth Commandment. Sad to say, most people worship on Sunday. Most people say it doesn’t matter what day you Worship God. But stop and think about it. If you were born on a certain day, like July 8, How would you feel if you invited family and friends, to come and celebrate your birthday with you, but they decided to come on the 9th, after you had prepared all the goodies, what would be your reaction? You probably would be upset! That’s is why I believe our Creator gave us the 4th Commandment to worship Him. And that is the only Commandment that has the word Remember in front of it so it must be very important!

  2. this message on the miracle of unity which declares we arein a post protestant era is a profound message to us all to wake up from our sleep accept each other for who we are brothers and sisters in Christ and do what He Jesus Christ did LOVE ONE ANOTHER. if we accept this truth we will not have time to go nit picking . Lets build on the solid foundation of gods word from the cross SON BEHOLD THYMOTHER.MOTHER BEHOLD THY SON these are the words of the saviour .this is where our church as true catholic Christians was born Glory to GOD Praise JESUS AMEN Margaret Nolan

    1. Refusing to unite because of severe doctrinal errors in the catholic cburch is not wrong nor is it spiritual racism.

      Your idea that we can ‘build on the solid foundation of Gods word’ while being in such severe disagreement with each other on what the bible says is not rational nor logical. Can two walk together unless they be agree? The obvious biblical answer is NO!

      The catholic church is plainly and clearly identified in the bible as the antchrist system…Gods people can in no way unite with that. This false ‘unity’ palmer and the jesuit pope are pushing will lead to the one world babylonian religion and the mark of the roman catholic beast being enforced. perdition.

      Attention catholics…God is calling you OUT of HER My people!

  3. 10 years ago I wept when the Lutherans and Catholics came together at last. My Iris Catholic Mother married an German Lutheran. I am now a Charismatic Catholic and I offer my prayers and sufferings daily for “Every knee to bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!”
    God Bless PaPa Francisco and Bishop Palmer and their extraordinary leadership for the times we are in. Let us all grab onto the tsunami of the Holy Spirit and let it sweep up away from all that divides us!

  4. If we are disagreeing with the message of unity, arent’t we saying we are in disagreement with Jesus’ prayer? Read John 17:22: “…That they may be one as you (the Father) and I are one ..” What a shame that some of us would judge the Roman Catholic as anti-Christ! God is the judge not us!

  5. And now the Bp. Tony Palmer is dead, his leadership in the message of unity will all the more advance. He prayed the same prayer that Jesus prayed before He was crucified. Tony Palmer prayed the same prayer in this video as his conclusion. It was like a prayer before He had this accident today that led to his death. ( i must admit makes me suspicious if there was any foul play here. Just my suspicion)

  6. Liberty of Conscience Threatened

    Romanism is now regarded by Protestants with far greater favor than in former years. In those countries where Catholicism is not in the ascendancy, and the papists are taking a conciliatory course in order to gain influence, there is an increasing indifference concerning the doctrines that separate the reformed churches from the papal hierarchy; the opinion is gaining ground that, after all, we do not differ so widely upon vital points as has been supposed, and that a little concession on our part will bring us into a better understanding with Rome. The time was when Protestants placed a high value upon the liberty of conscience which had been so dearly purchased. They taught their children to abhor popery and held that to seek harmony with Rome would be disloyalty to God. But how widely different are the sentiments now expressed!

    The defenders of the papacy declare that the church has been maligned, and the Protestant world are inclined to accept the statement. Many urge that it is unjust to judge the church of today by the abominations and absurdities that marked her reign during the centuries of ignorance and darkness. They excuse her horrible cruelty as the result of the barbarism of the times and plead that the influence of modern civilization has changed her sentiments.

    Have these persons forgotten the claim of infallibility put forth for eight hundred years by this haughty power? So far from being relinquished, this claim was affirmed in the nineteenth century with greater positiveness than ever before. As Rome asserts that the “church never erred; nor will it, according to the Scriptures, ever err ” (John L. von Mosheim, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, book 3, century II, part 2, chapter 2, section 9, note 17), how can she renounce the principles which governed her course in past ages?

    The papal church will never relinquish her claim to infallibility. All that she has done in her persecution of those who reject her dogmas she holds to be right; and would she not repeat the same acts, should the opportunity be presented? Let the restraints now imposed by secular governments be removed and Rome be reinstated in her former power, and there would speedily be a revival of her tyranny and persecution

    The Great Controversy (Chapter 35 ~ Liberty of Conscience Threatened) Pages 563-564 ~ Author Ellen G. White 1858 first edition.

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