I consider myself a Reformed Christian of strongly confessional bent. I love Scripture and recognize it to be God’s Word, the final authority for faith and life. I love the Heidelberg Catechism with its warm, evangelical flavor as it speaks to the heart of believers of our “only comfort in life and in death.” I love singing the Psalms, especially the sturdy melodies of the Genevan Psalter.
Given my unequivocal commitment to the Reformation, and especially to the branch stemming from John Calvin, some may find it surprising that I would pray for Pope Francis and the communion which he leads. Yet I do so, because all Christians in every tradition have a stake in the world’s largest ecclesiastical body. The sixteenth century Reformers themselves initially had no desire to break with the western church, doing so only when forced to. Instead they wished to reform an institution they loved—an institution they believed was corrupt and not living up to the demands of the gospel.
I take no pleasure in the scandals that have beset the Roman Catholic Church in recent decades. Some Protestants may experience a certain schadenfreude at the travails of the church with which their forebears broke so many centuries ago. But not everyone. I genuinely hope and pray that the new Pope, who took the name of another would-be reformer loved by Protestants and Catholics alike, will be able to clean up what needs to be cleaned up in his church. My prayer to God is that, where there is despair he may sow hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is corruption, holiness and unwavering fidelity to the cause of Christ.