Some high profile Baptists, including Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Russell Moore of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, had a lot to say about a Roman Catholic pope’s address to Congress….as a pastor, by the way, not as a political leader. Mohler makes an excellent point: “Well, let’s just state the obvious: No other pastor in the history of the United States of America has ever addressed a joint session of Congress.” So, why was the leader of the Roman Catholic Church invited to speak before Congress?
Baptist Press has the full report:
Pope Francis’ historic address to Congress proved troubling in both its lack of clarity on moral issues and in its church-state impropriety, Southern Baptist leaders and pastors said.
The pope spoke to a joint session of Congress on Thursday (Sept. 24), becoming the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to address the U.S. legislative body. His speech came on the final day of a three-day visit to Washington, D.C., that featured a White House welcoming ceremony, a parade and a mass for the canonization of a Catholic saint.
In his congressional speech, Pope Francis commented on a variety of issues but without being particularly specific on abortion and marriage.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), expressed gratitude the pope spoke to Congress “about the dignity of all human life, whether the unborn, the elderly or the immigrant, as well as the importance of the family in a free and flourishing society.”
He went on to say, however, “I do think that the pope’s address was an opportunity to address urgent moral issues like abortion culture and religious liberty with more clarity and directness than what was delivered.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the pope’s reference to abortion and marriage “was a very fuzzy and evasive approach that left many people wondering if he was actually talking about either abortion or marriage at all.”
The invitation by congressional leaders to the head of a religious body to speak to legislators also was problematic, said Mohler and some Southern Baptist pastors.
Bart Barber, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, told BP in written comments, “For Congress to treat a church as though it were a state and the head of a church as though he were the head of a state runs contrary to basic First Amendment principles of disestablishment.” Continue reading