The astounding thing about the papacy is that the words and actions of popes are not only rooted firmly in the past, but they very often are prophetic of the future. The words and actions of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI were both rooted in the past and yet pointed to the future.
Likewise with Pope Francis. His meeting with Evangelical leaders points to a new alignment within global Christianity. As the progressive Christians merge increasingly with the spirit of the age the divide between them and classical Christians will become increasingly acute. As this happens the classical Christians of all denominations will begin to coalesce and cooperate more closely. Classical Christians from Eastern Orthodoxy through Roman Catholicism, classical Anglicanism and Evangelicalism will all find an increasing understanding and agreement.
The increasingly close fellowship with Evangelicals will be hastened as progressive Christianity moves away to become something other than Christian. The rapprochement between classical Evangelicals and Catholics will also burgeon as dark forces on various fronts rise up against Christ and his church. Opposition to classical Christianity and simmering threat of persecution will foster a new depth of meaning to the term “Evangelical Catholic.”
Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the author of More Christianity: Finding the Fullness of the Faith.