Within minutes after appearing for the first time to hundreds of thousands of Catholics in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, announced that he would be praying to Mary for the protection of Rome. Not once did he mention the name above all names, the name of Jesus. The Vatican released this statement about his first official act: "Francis began his first day as pope with a visit to a Roman basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary and prayed before an icon of the Madonna." No one must have told him that praying to anyone other than God is forbidden by the Word of God (Ex. 20:4; 1 Tim. 2:5).
During his first papal Mass, his message was not about the Lord Jesus Christ, but on Joseph, the husband of Mary. He asked, "How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church?" "By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God's presence and receptive to God's plans." Delegations from 33 Christian denominations and 132 national governments or international organizations, as well as Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist leaders, came to Rome for his inauguration mass. Among the many religious leaders who attended was the spiritual head of the world's Orthodox Christians, Bartholomew I. He became the first patriarch to attend a papal ordination since the two branches of Christianity split nearly 1,000 years ago. Also attending for the first time was the chief rabbi of Rome. Their presence underscores the broad hopes for the pope's ecumenical and interfaith dialogue for unity.
The next day, the new pope met representatives of other Christian communities and other religious groups, including Jewish, Muslim and Jain communities. He described the spiritual bond between Catholics and Jews as "very special" and expressed gratitude to Muslim leaders. He also said he feels close to atheists, even praising them as allies; "who, although not claiming to belong to any religious tradition, still feel themselves to be in search of truth, goodness and beauty."
The election of the new pope has polarized many evangelicals on the issue of Roman Catholicism. Many do not know whether Catholics should be treated as our brothers and sisters in Christ or as unbelievers who need to be evangelized. Evangelist Louis Palau, megachurch leader Rick Warren, former presidential candidate Gary Bauer and others have enthusiastically welcomed Pope Francis and his calls for ecumenical unity. Others such as Pastor John MacArthur, Mike Gendron and Tom McMahon of the Berean Call have released strong warnings against the ecumenical compromise of the Gospel. John MacArthur gave a "must hear" message on the new pope entitled Usurping the Seat of Christ.
It is a message that every evangelical and Catholic needs to hear.
When Argentina was on the verge of approving gay marriage, the Roman Catholic Church stood in firm opposition to it, with one notable exception. Cardinal Bergoglio, who is now Pope Francis, supported the idea of civil unions for gay couples. This is a telling insight into the leadership style he brings to the papacy. Critics say he will continue his role as a deal maker who is willing to compromise, which is a sharp contrast to his predecessor.
Evangelicals must be ready to contend earnestly for the faith because this Jesuit pope's primary agenda is to bring undiscerning separated brethren back home to Rome. He will use Catholic mysticism, apparitions of Mary, social gospels, liberation theology, unity accords and deceptive propaganda to accomplish his objectives. The glory of God and the purity of the Gospel is at stake if Christians refuse to fight the good fight of faith.
Mike rebukes Rick Warren's Ecumenical Call to fast for Pope: http://christiannews.net/2013/03/12/warrens-ecumenical-call-to-fast-pray-for-cardinals-seeking-new-pope-called-real-tragedy/?utm_source=April+2013&utm_campaign=April&utm_medium=email