A Free Presbyterian minister has criticised a decision by the moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland to attend a reception for the Pope when he visits Ireland this weekend.
The moderator, Dr Charles McMullen, will join other religious and civic leaders in Dublin Castle on August 25 for an event due to be attended by Pope Francis and Irish premier Leo Varadkar.
However, his decision to meet the pontiff has attracted some criticism, with one Free Presbyterian minister claiming it is “a betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Love for Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and concern for the eternal souls of men will prevent any Bible believer from union or communion with a Roman Catholic Church that remains as contrary to Holy Scripture today as it ever has been,” said Rev Ian Brown, Clerk of the General Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.
“As long as it proclaims its leader as the supreme head of the church on earth, denigrates the work that Christ completed on Calvary by the pretentious teachings central to its mass, refuses the scriptural way of salvation that justification is by faith alone in Christ alone, fleeces its adherents by means of an imaginary purgatory, and offers indulgences with as much aplomb as Tetzel managed in Martin Luther’s day, no true Christian should engage in fellowship with this system, never mind travel to welcome its Pope.”
Rev Brown, minister at Martyrs Memorial Church in Belfast, went on to quote Martin Luther’s comments criticising the pope and “papal government”, adding: “In this deception and destruction of the souls of men a true Christian must never play a part. Any Reformed Protestant preacher worthy of the name cannot stand on any other ground. All of which begs the obvious question: how can the Presbyterian Church of Ireland present its recent vote in favour of its moderator participating in the upcoming Papal visit as anything other than a betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ?”
Dr McMullen will also be present, at the personal invitation of Archbishop Eamon Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, at the ‘Festival of Families’ in Croke Park, which Pope Francis will also attend.
“Back in March, at the time of the formal confirmation of the visit, as a church we recognised that this would be something that would bring great joy to our Roman Catholic neighbours and friends and as such it was something that we wanted to welcome. The visit of Pope Francis to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families will greatly enhance the affirmation of the place of the family at the heart of society and that has to be a good thing,” Dr McMullen said.
“I am personally very pleased that our church has been able to accept the invitation to the reception and I am looking forward to it. Should there be an opportunity to meet Pope Francis in Dublin Castle, I would also very much welcome that in the context of building good relations.”