Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

3/18/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Back when I wrote the first book to use phrase, Evangelical Catholic was a controversial term.

I am a Christian. I am a Catholic Christian. I am an evangelical Catholic Christian. To many who read all three claims, they are either contradictory or can only stand together in certain limited configurations. Nevertheless, it is my contention and my experience that not only can I be all three, but each is necessary to define my relationship with Jesus Christ and with His Church as well as my role in the Church's ongoing mission to bring all men and women to salvation in Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Article Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/18/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Evangelical catholics, Evangelical Catholicism, Pope Francis, evangelical, St Mary Major, Vatican, Pope, papacy, Evangelical catholicism, George Weigel, Chuck Colson, Deacon Keith Fournier, Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - I am still reflecting on the historic events which occurred in Rome last week. Who could forget the moment when that simple man, bearing the name Francis, stepped out on the balcony overlooking St Peters square?

He was a surprise gift No-one expected his choice. Before he even uttered one word, just in his visage, countenance and bearing he called us to strip away all the clutter within us - and around us - and fall in love with Jesus Christ.

By taking the name of the little poor man (Il Poverello) of Assisi, he spoke volumes without uttering one word. In an age deluded by self idolatry it was, as the saying goes, a "come to Jesus moment". The Apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ - that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich."  (2 Cor. 8:9)  Do we understand?

When Francis the Pope bowed before the world in humility, seeking the blessing of the faithful before he extended the first Apostolic blessing from Peter's position in the Church, he sent a signal. It was filled with hope. This will be a papacy of great promise for a Church in need of evangelical renewal and a world which needs to be born anew.  

When Pope Francis left the balcony he continued to send the signal. Even a main stream media which has lost its integrity picked up the bread he left on the simple trail he walked since offering his "Fiat", his "yes' to the question of Jesus "Peter do you love me." (John 21:15-9) Like his namesake, Pope Francis speaks evangelical simplicity with both his words and actions.

He could have ridden in the Vatican motorcade. There was a custom Mercedes Benz awaiting him with a license plate from Vatican State - over which he now holds governing authority. It read "Stato Vaticano 1". After all, some would note, such a car and a motorcade are meant to assure his safety and guarantee his punctual arrival at the next appointment.

Those in the United States remembered that the President of the United States rode in a twenty car motorcade to a Washington DC restaurant just down the street the week before the Pope was selected. He dined with two Republican senators and reminded them, as he often does all of us, of his claimed concern for the poor. 

Instead, Francis rode in a small bus back to his lodgings where he had stayed with his brother bishops during the conclave. The next morning he packed his own luggage - checked himself out - and paid his own bill.  How shocked the world seemed. Simplicity is countercultural in these days of arrogance and grandiosity.

Then, on Thursday morning he visited St Mary Major and prayed for all of Rome. The media seemed surprised again. He told us he was going to do so on Wednesday night. He grabbed the microphone, veering from protocol, after those assisting him thought he was finished, and said :

"Brothers and sisters, I leave you now. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and until we meet again. We will see each other soon. Tomorrow I wish to go and pray to Our Lady, that she may watch over all of Rome. Good night and sleep well!"

That visit followed his morning personal prayer. Reports from friends tell us that Francis spends two hours every morning in prayer. He does not make much of it - just as he does not make much of most things that he does without calling attention to himself. That is because he knows it is not about him. It is about Jesus Christ whom he serves.

One can hear, in the sounds of his daily pattern of life, the words of the Apostle to the Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."(Gal. 2:20)

The people of Buenos Aires were not surprised; at least those with eyes to see the way of life of this simple follower of Jesus. He chose not to live in the residence designed for the bishop in Buenos Aires. Instead, he lived in a small apartment with an older retired priest. He took delight in cooking the daily meals. He also cooked for and fed the poor. He washed the feet of the sick and dying.

At St Mary Major he placed flowers on the altar and prayed in silence for a half an hour. He dedicated himself, the Church and the world, to Mary, the Mother of the Lord. Like holy men and women from the earliest days of Christianity, he sees in the Mother of the Lord the model for all disciples. She is the woman whose humble Yes brought heaven to earth and earth to heaven.

His first homily was extemporaneously delivered from the heart of this Evangelical Catholic Pope.  The power was in its evangelical simplicity. He allowed the readings to be broken open through him so that the faithful could be fed by the Living Word, Jesus Christ.

Here is an excerpt: "We can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO (Non - Governmental Organization) but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens?

"What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ - I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy - "Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil." When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil."

"When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly. We are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord."

Get ready; this is an Evangelical Catholic Pope. When I was a younger man, almost twenty five years ago, with considerably less formal theological training than I have since had the privilege of receiving,  I wrote my first full length book. It was entitled "Evangelical Catholics." The foreword was written by a hero of my mine, an evangelical protestant whom I was privileged to call my friend, Chuck Colson. Chuck has now gone to the Lord. The book is out of print.

The term Evangelical Catholic is now acceptable these days, even in Catholic intellectual circles. Another version of the term is now the title of a book recently released by the engaging and ever popular Catholic writer named George Weigel. I have not yet read the book, but look forward to doing so. I am sure, like his other contributions, it is well done, insightful and helpful.

Back when I wrote the first book to use phrase, Evangelical Catholic was a controversial term. Chuck and I became fodder for anti-catholic Protestants. Sadly, some of the virulent criticisms still circulate. To my dismay, when the book was published, it was dismissed, disregarded, or made light of by some in the then emerging Catholic intellectual class. Chapter I was entitled Evangelical Catholic: A Contradiction in Terms? I began with a simple claim:

"I am a Christian. I am a Catholic Christian. I am an evangelical Catholic Christian. To many who read all three claims, they are either contradictory or can only stand together in certain limited configurations. Nevertheless, it is my contention and my experience that not only can I be all three, but each is necessary to define my relationship with Jesus Christ and with His Church as well as my role in the Church's ongoing mission to bring all men and women to salvation in Jesus Christ."

All these years later, I still make the same claim. In fact, the depth of its meaning has only expanded through my lived experience and been deepened by my theological studies. I am eager to share the insights with readers. Fortunately, I am also joined by millions who make the same claim that they are Evangelical Catholics.

The selection of our Evangelical Catholic Pope Francis has inspired me to write "Evangelical Catholics II: Twenty Five Years Later." If there is a representative of a major publisher house reading this article, I would love to hear from you! The project is already underway.

Fortunately, the term Evangelical Catholic - and the claims it makes - are now normative.It has become acceptable. That does not mean it has been embraced. Fortunately we have an Evangelical Catholic Pope named Francis calling the world and the Church to living faith in Jesus Christ and showing us how to be Evangelical Catholics, in word and deed. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2014
Ecology and Justice:
That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick: That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.



Comments


More U.S.

Alabama Supreme Court Recognizes Child in the Womb Has Fundamental Rights

Image of The Alabama Supreme Court

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Because a human life with a full genetic endowment comes into existence at the moment of conception, the self-evident truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights encompasses the moment of conception. Legal ... continue reading


Help Make the Story of the Serial Killer/Abortionist Kermit Gosnell Into a Movie Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In 1852, the great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass was invited to speak on the Fourth of July and delivered the now famous speech entitled What to the Slave is the Fourth of July. Here is a stirring quote from that famous speech: 'For it is not light that ... continue reading


Their Eyes Were Opened: Walk With Jesus on the Road to Emmaus Watch

Image of On the Road to Emmaus: In the light of the encounter with the Lord in the breaking of the bread, their eyes were opened. So it is meant to be with each one of us. The Holy Eucharist is more than a commemoration; it is an invitation into communion with the Living God - right now because Jesus Christ is Risen from the dead and walks with us on the road of life.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We are those disciples on the road to Emmaus, living our lives in the real world, walking along with Jesus who is always there accompanying us on the road, whether we recognize Him or not. He listens to us, and understands us, because he became like us, in "all ... continue reading


Made for Beauty: Liturgy and Music

Image of

By Deal W. Hudson

Some might flinch at my use of the word "satisfying" to describe a liturgy, but I used it deliberately because I want to think aloud about the fact that we were made for beauty as much as we were made for goodness and truth.  To be satisfied by the shape, ... continue reading


'COME AND TAKE IT' Texas AG blasts BLM scheming to seize state land, threatens fight Watch

Image of Texans are rallying against the federal government and its habitual overreach.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A major land war between the Bureau of Land Management and the state of Texas is brewing as Texas lawmakers push back against the feds plan to seize 90,000 acres of land along the Texas/Oklahoma border. AUSTIN, TEXAS (Catholic Online) - The Bureau of Land Management ... continue reading


SHOCKING NEW TWIST: Autistic boy defends teenage girls who filmed his sexual assault Watch

Image of The parents of the victim are insistent that they want their son's abuser, 17-year-old Lauren A. Bush to be tried as an adult.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Abused beyond belief by two teenage girls, who filmed their despicable activities with their cellphones, a 16-year-old autistic boy now says he doesn't want to press charges against them - concerned that it would damage their - "friendship?" LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Time to Live the Easter Way of Life Watch

Image of Easter is more than a Day; it is a way of living our lives in Jesus Christ. Darkness has been scattered by the Light which broke forth from that empty tomb. That Light is meant to infuse our daily lives with the radiance of Resurrected love.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The early Christians lived their lives in the Lord, for the sake of the world. They exhibited a holy boldness; because they internalized the faith they professed and allowed it to transform every aspect of their lives. They experienced the transforming power of ... continue reading


50,000-strong OK Militia declares they will resist federal takeover attempts Watch

Image of The Oklahoma Militia is ready to defend property against unlawful federal seizure.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Oklahoma militia which claims the allegiance of 50,000 members has sided with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in his recent clash against the feds. Although the standoff appears to be over, and is not likely to resume, the militia says it is ready to defend the rights ... continue reading


BLOODY EASTER WEEKEND IN CHICAGO: Six children shot in widespread violence Watch

Image of Five of the six children wounded, aged from 11 to 15 years, were shot during a drive-by shooting Sunday night.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With 36 people wounded, and nine people dead, it was one of the most violent Easter weekends in Chicago within recent memory. Far more shocking was the fact that six young children were among those injured. Gang violence remains prevalent on Chicago's windy ... continue reading


Militant atheist organization seeks to ban schools from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance Watch

Image of The AHA says that the line

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An organization of militant atheists is suing a New Jersey school district of discrimination, on the behalf of a family who take offense to the line "Under God," within the Pledge of Allegiance. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The lawsuit against the ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:11-26
11 Everyone came running towards them in great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 8:2, 5, 6-7, 8-9
2 even through the mouths of children, or of babes in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
35 Then they told their story of what had happened on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 24th, 2014 Image

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
April 24: Franciscan Capuchin martyr. He was born Mark Rey is Sigmaringen, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter