By: Heather Clark
ROME – Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Saddleback megachurch leader Rick Warren will team up with Roman Catholic Pontiff Francis later this month for an interfaith Vatican conference on marriage and family.
“Complementarity of Man and Woman,” will be held Nov. 17-19 at the Vatican, and is expected to feature more than 30 speakers from over 20 countries. According to the Catholic News Service, those of the Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Jaina Shasana, Taoist and Sikh religions will be present, as well as Roman Catholics and professing Christians.
The event is sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
“I hope that this gathering of religious leaders can stand in solidarity on the common grace, creational mandate of marriage and family as necessary for human flourishing and social good,” Moore wrote in a blog post this week entitled “Why I’m Going to the Vatican.” “I also hope that we can learn from one another about where these matters stand around the world.”
While acknowledging his doctrinal disagreements with the pope and the others in attendance, Moore stated that he is “willing to go anywhere, when asked, to bear witness to what we as evangelical Protestants believe about marriage and the gospel, especially in times in which marriage is culturally imperiled.”
Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” has spoken glowingly of Pope Francis during several public interviews about the pontiff and the Roman Catholic religion.
“[Pope Francis] is doing everything right. You see, people will listen to what we say if they like what they see,” Warren stated on Catholic television network EWTN earlier this year. “His kissing of this deformed man, his loving the children, this authenticity, this humility, the caring for the poor; this is what the whole world expects Christians to do. And when they go, ‘Oh, that’s what a Christian does.’—In fact, there was a headline here in Orange County—and I loved the headline—I saved it. It said, ‘If you love Pope Francis, you’ll love Jesus.’”
Last year, Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries called Warren’s ecumenism with the Roman Catholic Church a “real tragedy.”
“Right now, the Body of Christ doesn’t know whether to evangelize Roman Catholics or to join hands with them to go out and evangelize the world, [and] it’s because of people like Rick Warrren who either don’t know how exclusive the gospel of grace is, or he’s not aware of the false and fatal gospel of the Roman Catholic religion,” Gendron stated.
In addition to Warren and Moore, the upcoming Vatican conference will feature Wael Farouq, a Muslim and president of the Tawasul Cultural Center, top-ranking Mormon Henry B. Eyring and Manmohan Singh of the World Sikh Council. Conferences will include “The Cradle of Life and Love: A Mother and Father for the World’s Children” and “The Sacramentality of Human Love According to St. John Paul II.”
The meeting follows a recent synod featuring over 200 Roman Catholic bishops who gathered in Rome for two weeks to discuss marriage and family issues, such as homosexuality, cohabitation and divorce. The initial relatio released by the synod generated controversy and concern over its inclusive tone, as it stated that “[h]omosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” It was later left out of the submitted draft as a consensus could not be reached on the matter.