In Italy, as elsewhere, the Protestant movement is divided into two large groups: the mainstream, "historic" communities, in clear decline, which in that country include most notably the Waldensians; and the several "Evangelical", Pentecostal, and neo-Pentecostal groups which are vibrant, especially among groups of immigrants, though less vibrant than in other nations. After Vatican II, the Catholic Church has held expensive and continuous "ecumenical dialogue" with the first group, with no true practical result other than declarations that do not satisfy Catholics (see) nor Protestants (see also); while the "Evangelicals" mostly ignore any ecumenical proximity, and ravages produced by Pentecostals in the Catholic flock, particularly in Latin America, have met with Catholic indifference.
The current Pope has been approached by a small group of individual "Evangelical" leaders, most of them party to the disturbing, anti-traditional, and anti-Franciscan "Prosperity Gospel" view of the Bible, and has contacted some as well. On Monday, he will meet a friend who is an Evangelical minister in Caserta, near Naples (which he is also visiting today, in their patronal feast of Saint Anne, more as a result of embarrassment than anything else).
Are these individuals representative of anyone but themselves? Faced with the danger of confusion, also the result of "Charismatic" currents in contemporary Catholicism, the most important and more numerous "Evangelical" and Pentecostal groups in Italy assembled days ago, in the same province of Caserta, miles from where the Pope will meet his friend. They published the following note, decidedly and rabidly anti-Catholic, filled with typical misinformation and distortion of Sacred Scripture, but with the merit of being brutally clear (unlike most Catholic leaders of this age):
Following a round table promoted by the Italian Evangelical Alliance, the Federation of Pentecostal Churches, the Assemblies of God in Italy, the Apostolic Church and the Pentecostal Congregations held in Aversa on July 19, 2014, at the Pentecostal Faculty of Religious Sciences, on the theme: “Contemporary Catholicism: an evangelical perspective” the above cited organizations, following the evangelical opening on the part of evangelical circles and international and national Pentecostals, with regard to the Catholic Church and her present Pontiff, without expressing judgment on the faith of the individual faithful, retain incompatible with the teaching of Scripture a Church that proclaims herself to be the mediatrix of salvation and presents other figures as mediators of grace, given that the grace of God comes only through faith in Christ Jesus without works (Ephesians 2:8) and without the intervention of other mediators (1 Timothy 2:5).
Moreover, they retain incompatible with the teaching of Scripture a Church that assumes the responsibility of adding dogmas (like the Marian ones) to the faith once and forever transmitted to the saints (Jude 3; Apocalypse 22:18).
Finally they retain incompatible with the teaching of Scripture a Church that has its heart in a political state, a legacy of an “imperial” Church from which it assumed titles and prerogatives. Christian churches must be careful about imitating the “princes of nations” and follow the example of Jesus Who came to serve and not to be served (Mark 10:42 – 45).
Therefore, they retain that the apparent similarities with the evangelical faith and spirituality from sectors in Catholicism are not, in themselves, reasons to hope for a true change. Considering that irreconcilable and absolutely divergent theological and ethical differences still persist, they retain they are unable to start and follow-up any initiative or ecumenical opening with regard to the Roman Catholic Church, inviting all evangelicals at the national and international level to exercise sound biblical discernment (1 John 4:1) without giving way to unionist anxieties contrary to Scripture, but rather renewing the commitment to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.
Aversa (Caserta), July 19, 2014
[Source: Alleanza Evangelica Italiana. Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]