While Seventh-day Adventists are debating over whether women should be ordained as ministers and the Supreme Court rules that the Constitution guarantees the right of same sex marriage, Pope Francis continues in his world-wide campaign of unifying the churches under the banner of Rome. He has become the first pope in history to visit a Waldensian evangelical church.
“During a two-day visit to northern Italy, Pope Francis attended the Waldensian temple in Turin and has asked Waldensian Christians to forgive the Catholic Church for historic persecution.
The Waldensian church, which was founded in the 12th century, was rejected by the Catholic Church and its members were brutally persecuted during the Middle Ages.
‘On the part of the Catholic Church, I ask your forgiveness, I ask it for the non-Christian and even inhuman attitudes and behaviour that we have showed you,’ said Pope Francis.”
In his talk to the Waldensians and representatives of the Methodist, evangelical, Lutheran and other Christian communities, the pope called for Christian unity by making sure people focus on God first and differences later.
Being brothers and sisters in the faith, like in a family, doesn’t mean being identical; it means “having in common the same origins,” he said.
Waldensian Pastor Eugenio Bernardini told the pope his visit represented climbing over a wall that had been erected “eight centuries ago when the Waldensian movement was accused of heresy and excommunicated from the Roman Church.”
The pastor asked: “What was the sin of the Waldensians? Being a movement of evangelization” by laypeople on the move, sharing the Bible in people’s native languages, rather than the Latin.
The pope told young people how to live out real love and hold onto hope in a world that disrespects, uses and deceives people.
On the surface this unity seems good. After all, it was the theme of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 that “they all be one.” However, this unity can only come about on the foundation of truth. During the U.S. papal visit the pope intends to address Congress on environmental issues, promoting a day of rest—the weekly Sabbath—as a solution. The day being promoted is Sunday, the spurious Sabbath. Both marriage and the Sabbath have been polluted.
“There were two institutions founded in Eden that were not lost in the fall—the Sabbath and the marriage relation. These were carried by man beyond the gates of paradise. He who loves and observes the Sabbath, and maintains the purity of the marriage institution, thereby proves himself the friend of man and the friend of God. He who by precept or example lessens the obligation of these sacred institutions is the enemy of both God and man, and is using his influence and his God-given talents to bring in a state of confusion and moral corruption.” The Signs of the Times, February 28, 1884.