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

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 July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More U.S.

Deacon Keith Fournier: The Courage of the Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby and ENDA Watch

Image of Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate. Deacon Fournier is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Theology and Philosophy, BA), the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (Theology of Marriage and Family, MTS), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD). He has completed requirements for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America and is writing the PhD dissertation on the teaching of St. John Paul II.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Catholic Bishops are doing an excellent job standing up for Religious liberty as a fundamental human right. One of my growing concerns is that many Catholics do not even read what they are saying. Sadly, in a propagandized media where sound bites substitute ... continue reading


Thousands of Christians Flee Under Death Threat From Tyrannical Caliph and ISIS Jihadists Watch

Image of (Pictured: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim) At first, Christians were ordered to gather in a central place to receive the directive from the self appointed Caliph. Understandably, given the track record of this maniacal tyrant, few did. So, the text of the statement was issued as a formal declaration to all Christians - We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

By now, everyone who is in anyway concerned about what is happening to Christians in Iraq has heard the horrific news. The madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi - who in his delusion and grandiosity has taken to calling himself ... continue reading


Catholic Bishops Decry Obama's LGBT executive order as imprudent act of religious discrimination Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth have been strong in their condemnation of President Obama's legislation on LGBT employees. "Today's ... continue reading


A Tribute to Protestant Bishop Tony Palmer, Friend of Francis and Champion of Christian Unity Watch

Image of The late Bishop Tony Palmer with Pope Francis- He was catapulted into prominence in the broader Christian community when, while meeting with his friend the Pope in January, he was given a recorded message from Francis to deliver to a large group of charismatic, evangelical protestant leaders who gathered in the United States. The video went viral. It moved millions to sincere prayer for the healing of the divisions in the broken Body of Christ and is prompting a renewed commitment to common apostolic action between Christians.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I never personally met Bishop Tony Palmer. However, I look forward to spending an eternity in the full communion of God's love with him. I appreciated his Christian courage and felt that his efforts were prophetic. He wrote his life - and lived his ministry - ... continue reading


Exclusive: Tribute to Bishop Tony Palmer, A Life Dedicated to Unity Watch

Image of (Pictured: Left to Right - Dirk West, Matteo Callisi, Bishop Tony Palmer, and Deacon Darrell Wentworth) - Faith to Bishop Tony Palmer was a dynamic, lived experience and, as a result, his life built up the whole Body of Christ and tore down the walls some have built to separate us from each other! What a legacy! A true example of living Jesus' prayer in John 17! (Deacon Darrell Wentworth)

By Deacon Darrell Wentworth

Monday, July 21, 2014, was supposed to be like most Mondays - the start of a work week. But Deacon Keith Fournier sent me a text informing me that my friend, Bishop Tony Palmer, had died. Shock went through my body as I processed that news; then disbelief as I ... continue reading


Anarchy in Chicago! Weekend of crime tears city apart Watch

Image of The weekend of July 18 saw the death of five people and the wounding of 47 in Chicago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There were 47 shooting victims in Chicago this weekend, five of which ended up being fatal, statistics from the Chicago Police Department report. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Chicago officials met on July 21 to discuss the city's recent surge in gun ... continue reading


The Contraceptive New York Nanny, Bill Donohue and the Catholic League Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The idea that the government is now in the business of arm-twisting women not to have more children - immediately after childbirth - is morally obnoxious and socially disturbing. It is so apt that this is happening in a city where its mayor lusts for abortion ... continue reading


Building a culture of life: Colorado clinic takes brave stand Watch

Image of Inspired to bring their mission home to Colorado, they decided to start a natural women's health clinic that would uphold the dignity of women and give them the care they deserve.

By CNA/EWTN News

A Colorado women's health clinic seeking to offer natural care that respects human dignity has drawn praise for helping to build up a culture of life. (CNA/EWTN News) - Authentic women's care "is essential to the pro-life movement," said Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, ... continue reading


When more than 80 percent of California faces extreme drought -- the spigots remain open Watch

Image of At the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, fountains are still operating. The one change is that they turn off at mid-morning, and haven't been running full-time since the spring.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Extremely dry conditions in the state of California has 80 percent of the so-called Golden State in extreme drought conditions. Many couldn't tell the difference in many urban areas: Sprinklers go full blast on many lawns, and lots of waters goes wasted by ... continue reading


IT'S ABOUT TIME: Rick Perry deploys national guard to halt southern invasion! Watch

Image of Texas Governor Rick Perry will send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure the southern border, in an effort to stem the flood of illegals that have crossed over throughout 2014.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an effort to stem the influx of tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children that have been entering the United States illegally in 2014, Texas Governor Rick Perry will send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure the southern border. LOS ANGELES, ... 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, Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13
1 The word of Yahweh came to me, saying,2 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 36:6-7, 8-9, 10-11
6 your saving justice is like towering mountains, ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:10-17
10 Then the disciples went up to him and asked, 'Why ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 24th, 2014 Image

St. John Boste
July 24: One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. He was born at ... 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