THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: You see! This is why you never give up. The Evangelicals are our separated BRETHREN. They are not our enemies. The core of their Christian faith is Catholic, in the sense that they believe in the Trinity and Incarnation. They hold to the virgin birth of Christ, and worship God on Sundays. They celebrate Christmas and Easter, according to the CATHOLIC calendar. Think of them as Cafeteria Catholics, who agree with the Church on most moral issues, but have become confused and separated on some peripheral doctrinal issues. Part of this confusion leads to anti-Catholicism, mainly for two reasons. First, they don't understand who they really are and where their faith really comes from. Second, they get caught up in elaborate heretical doctrines (like dispensation theology) that lead them in all kinds of crazy directions - one of which is anti-Catholicism. Are they essentially Catholic in their most core beliefs? - YES. Have they forgotten who they are, and where their faith comes from? - YES. Are they terribly confused about peripheral doctrinal issues, and uneducated about history? - YES. Are they enemies to Catholics and the Catholic Church? - NO!
You ask; How do we deal with them? The answer is simple. First, be Catholic! Understanding your faith, and practicing it to the fullest, will do more to win them over than anything else you could imagine. Second, reach out to them with brotherly love. This may include a fraternal rebuke from time to time, but make sure you condemn their teachings, and not the people themselves. Third, educate them. Find out where they are in error, then find a way to correct the error.
This is what we did with Pastor John Hagee. The Catholic League did their part - which was huge - and we did ours. I want to personally thank each and every one of you who took The Catholic Knight's challenge to purchase a copy of Rabbi David Dalin's book and send it to Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. (read more here) Bravo! You've done Holy Mother Church a great service, and it looks as if even Pastor Hagee is thankful.
To Pastor John Hagee I wish to say the following. The Catholic Knight accepts your apology, and thanks God for the grace he has given you to see the truth. Now The Catholic Knight presents you with a new challenge to strengthen fraternal charity between Catholics and your congregation. I challenge you to follow your apology with efforts to undo the damage that was done. Please make mention of the good things done by the Catholic Church during the Holocaust, and how the crusades and inquisitions were not primarily directed at Protestants, but rather Muslims, who sought to undermine the Christian faith in Europe at every possible opportunity. Do this, and we Catholics will know that you truly mean what you say in your written apology.
The full text of Pastor John Hagee's apology...
Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights
Attn: Mr. William Donohue, President
450 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10123
Dear Mr. Donohue,
In so far as some of my past statements regarding the Roman Catholic Church have raised concerns in your community, I am writing in a spirit of respect and reconciliation to clarify my views.
Out of a desire to advance greater unity among Catholics and Evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful. After engaging in constructive dialogue with Catholic friends and leaders, I now have an improved understanding of the Catholic Church, its relation to the Jewish faith, and the history of anti-Catholicism.
In my zeal to oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms, I have often emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews. In the process, I may have contributed to the mistaken impression that the anti-Jewish violence of the Crusades and the Inquisition, defines the Catholic Church.
It most certainly does not.
Likewise, I have not sufficiently expressed my deep appreciation for the efforts of Catholics who opposed the persecution of the Jewish people. It is important to note that there were thousands of righteous Catholics – both clergy and laymen- who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust. According to many scholars, including martin Gilbert and Rabbi David Dalin (author of “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope”), Pope Pius XII personally intervened to save Jews.
In addition, I better understand that reference to the Roman Catholic Church as the “apostate church” and the “great whore”, appear only during the seven years of tribulation after all true believers – Catholic and Protestant- have been taken up to heaven. Therefore, neither of these phrases can be synonymous with the Catholic Church.
In recent decades, Catholics and Evangelicals of good will have worked together to defeat communism, promote what Pope John Paul II called a “culture of life” that protects every human life from conception to natural death, honors the institution of marriage, and defends the rights of the poor.
As I wrote in my tribute to Pope Benedict XVI after President Bush welcomed him to the White House, he “spoke for all of us when he said that ‘any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted’ and called for Christian participation ‘ in the exchange of ideas in the public square.’’’ Both Catholics and Evangelicals have been engaged in an effort to assert the primacy of faith and values in our increasingly secular society.
My profound respect for the Catholic people has been expressed in my own ministry. For example, when the Ursuline Sisters of San Antonio were on the verge of losing their home, our Church bought the property for our school and allowed them to continue living in their home free of charge for twelve years. The sisters were part of the daily life of the School, walking the grounds and the hallways where the children would embrace them and hold their hands in friendship.
The love of the schoolchildren for those sisters symbolized my own feelings as well. I pledge to address these sensitive subjects in the future with a greater level of compassion and respect for my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ.
It is this sense of Christian fellowship I hope to re-establish with Catholics with whom I and all Evangelicals must unite to be a voice for life, the family, marriage and Christian values to our Nation and the world.
Pastor John Hagee