ROME — In a recorded video statement released on Saturday, the Roman Catholic Pontiff known as Francis asserted that evangelicals and Catholics are one, and that it is the devil who has divided the two groups.
“Division is the work of the ‘Father of Lies,’ ‘the Father of Discord,’ who does everything possible to keep us divided,” he said.
The eight-minute video was for the “Celebration of Christian Unity” event organized by John 17 Ministries out of Pheonix, Ariz., which seeks to unite Christians and Catholics.
“I feel like saying something that may sound controversial, or even heretical, perhaps,” Francis stated. “But there is someone who ‘knows’ that despite our differences we are one.”
“The devil knows that Christians are disciples of Christ, that they are one, that they are brothers! He doesn’t care if they are Evangelicals or Orthodox, Lutherans, Catholics or Apostolic … He doesn’t care! They are Christians,” he said.
The pontiff asserted that the devil is persecuting both evangelicals and Roman Catholics alike because they are all Christian.
“It is he who is persecuting us. It is he who is persecuting Christians today, he who is anointing us with (the blood of) martyrdom,” he said. “Dear brothers and sisters, we are living in an ‘ecumenism of blood.'”
Francis said that he unity must be achieved by each individual as he doesn’t believe it will occur at the hands of Bible scholars.
“I am convinced it won’t be theologians who bring about unity among us,” he stated. “Theologians help us, … but if we hope that theologians will agree with one another, we will reach unity the day after Judgement Day.”
However, some disagree with the pontiff’s ecumenical assertions, stating that unity should not be sought at the expense of the gospel.
“Jesus prayed that His Church would be sanctified by the truth. This means there cannot be unity with those who believe another gospel,” Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries told Christian News Network. “Believers cannot be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14). Evangelicals can never have unity with Catholics because we are divided on the essentials of the gospel, how one is born again, how one is justified, how one is purified of sin, who can mediate between God and man and the efficacy, sufficiency and necessity of Jesus Christ for salvation.”
“God’s word declares that anyone who believes another gospel has believed in vain (1 Cor. 15:2). Scripture also condemns those who preach another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9),” he continued. “Pope Francis preaches another gospel and denies that salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. He preaches salvation is by water baptism, the sacraments, good works, keeping the law and attending the sin offering of a Eucharist Christ on an altar.”
Gendron said that Francis is incorrect in pronouncing the divide to Satan.
“The pope has pronounced a fatal error by attributing the word of Christ to the work of the devil. The Lord Jesus is the one who divides believers from unbelievers (Luke 12:51-53),” he stated. “This Jesuit pope is the one who is doing the work of the devil by rebuilding the religious tower of Babel with his attempt to bring all Christians back home to Rome. Tragically, some evangelicals are jumping on his ecumenical bandwagon and departing from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-3).”