Charles DEspeville

A Response to the Notion of ‘Reformed Catholicity’

It would be much more accurate to say, as Calvin does in the Institutes, that arising from under the all-seeing eye of the office of Pope, there had been voices who slowly began to catch visions of the arising theology that would blossom into the Reformation. These voices were not arising because of Romanism, but despite it. Rome was burning Protestant thinkers hundreds of years before term came into use.

In a recent article by Derrick Brite in Reformation 21   “William Perkins on Keeping It Catholic,” he calls for the adoption of what some are calling Reformed Catholicity. For hundreds of years this was an oxymoron. But a bold new world is being revived: “Those who adopt the term for themselves wish to retrieve the best of the catholic tradition, or perhaps seek to confess doctrinal truths with the Great Tradition.”
As someone who was brought to faith in Christ from deep within Roman Catholicism, who didn’t even know what a Protestant was at the time, and only heard the term when the priest cautioned me about reading the Bible, for fear that I might become a (dreaded) Protestant, I find the article by Brite deeply concerning.
There is much I would like to say in response. But I am determined to limit my comments to three problems with Brite’s understanding of Romanism.
It is very annoying, and I am suspicious of the motivation, as to why when it comes to the history and theology of the Vatican so many people plead benevolence. This happens within and without those who say they belong to the church. Because even a casual survey of the history of the Vatican reveals a level of corruption and intrigue which is unmatched anywhere in the history of the world. Yet, Brite includes himself among those who “wish to retrieve the best of the catholic tradition.”
So we must assume that the “best” he speaks of within the catholic tradition is not the Crusades. It is not the burning of hundreds of thousands of Christian martyrs. It is not the imprisonment of untold numbers of Bible believing Christians (like the godly Huguenots, Lombards, Hussites, Waldensians, Lutherans, Scots, etc., etc., etc.). this can’t be part of the “best” he wants us to remember. Ignore this.
It can’t be the thousand years of darkness Romanism held Western Europe under, so that most people lived hand to mouth under its heavy taxes to support its Holy Roman Empire. Henry VIII complained that the Vatican received four out of every five dollars in taxes from England. The Scandinavian countries took to Lutheranism very quickly, partly because it freed them from oppressive Vatican taxation.
The Pope, and this was strongly supported by Aquinas, said it was very sinful to die with enough money to leave to your offspring. Inheritance was a sign of someone taking the sin of greed to Purgatory with them. Aquinas called it Turpitudo; ugly, deformed, shameful. The Pope railed against it, urging the wealthy to buy his relics to escape the consequences of their greed in Purgatory.
Let’s see, what is the “best” that Brite wants us to think about? Could it be the doctrinal corruption that chained the minds of Roman Catholic subjects in darkness, a darkness from which they could not escape. How could they? Less than 3% could read at all, education was needless, and possessing a Bible illegal. Even most of their priests could not read. John Huss just wanted to teach the Bible to his Hungarian congregation the Bible, and for this he was tortured and executed. His promise of a safe passage was ignored (everyone warned him that they were lying, but he—foolishly—trusted them).
Maybe it is doctrine Brite has in mind? Or one has to ask if Brite ever read The Canons of Trent? These are the unchangeable doctrines of the Vatican. I urge you to read their lawyer-language piece-by-piece condemnation of Reformed theology. They are anathema. Believing even one Reformed doctrine, sends you to the depths of Hell. Alexander Hislop’s book, The Two Babylons, demonstrates that most of the Vatican teachings are rooted in Egyptian and Babylonian religions. So doctrinally, Brite can’t be referring to this.
Perhaps by “the best of the catholic tradition” Brite urges us to grasp at is the straw of Rome’s apparent embrace of the doctrine of the Trinity? Brite lets his readers know that Perkins alerted his readers to the many theological corruptions within Rome’s Trent document, but he responds, “Yet there are many other issues (e.g., the Trinity, the two natures of Christ) that we can find true agreement on. These are doctrines that have not been wrecked by Trent’s touch.”
Let’s see if Brite is correct. Does Rome believe the doctrine of the Trinity, like they say they do? It is not hard to discover the answer.
Calvin summarizes the doctrine of the Trinity so well:
Say that in the one essence of God there is a trinity of persons; you will say in one word what Scripture states, and cut short empty talkativeness (Inst.I.XIII.5).
There is one divine essence and yet three persons. Clearly, this is not the same as what is termed monotheism. Jews and Moslems fit that category. Christians do not.
I have the RC catechism in front of me. It says, “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together they adore the one merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day (pt.842).
Similar things are said about the Jewish religions.
But Romanism does not stop at saying they are monotheists, too. It goes on to hold that members of any religion also worship the same deity;
“Those who, through not fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation” (pt.847).
Even there the Vatican does not stop. It also includes the Old Testament Canaanite deity Moloch. In October 2019 the Pope dedicated as huge statue of Moloch and placed it at the entrance of the Roman Colosseum.  In the same year he performed the dedication of Pachamama, a South American fertility goddess. One can see a high-ranking Cardinal worshiping it.
In fact, and this is where all this leads, on 6 March 2021, the Pope gathered the leaders of practically all the world’s religions to the ancient ziggurat in Ur, Iraq (they have been rebuilding it since 1999 for the occasion). There he told them that together they were all lights to the world, lights which God referred to when he told Abraham to look up at the stars: saying “so shall your offspring be.”
Therefore, to say that the Vatican holds to the doctrine of the Trinity is slightly true, as long as one realizes that it is but one in its pantheon of deities. Why would Brite not make his readers aware of this?
We are then scolded by Brite for being so blind as not to see that we owe much of Reformed Theology to Thomas and other Dark Ages Roman Catholic theologians:
“Despite where your sympathies may lie, ignoring the historical reality that a majority of our reformed heritage has appropriated Thomas and other medieval catholic theologians is not an option.”
Brite claims that our refusal to see our debt to Roman doctrine is mere misplaced sympathies. That is, those who hold an opinion other than his, simply do not know their history, nor their theology. Logically, this is beyond absurd and insulting.
For example, literally no one knew church history better than John Calvin. He had memorized most of the writings of the Church Fathers. And in the Institutes Calvin gave credit where credit was due to the smattering of light that emanated out of the thousand years the Christian faith was almost completely corrupted before his day.
But still, the goal of the Reformation movement was not a revitalization of Popish doctrine they saw. Luther tried to do this, then realized that it was hopeless. Rather, all the Reformers saw that Rome was utterly corrupted, so badly that the True Church had to “Re-formed”—meaning started all over again. Any light which was there, was found much clearer in the Church Fathers.
Then, logically, how can anyone claim to have any thing to do with the Reformed faith, and say that Calvin, et. al., missed Brite’s points due to his misplaced sympathies? It was sympathies, and not the Bible and history? God help us from such twists.
Logically speaking, does it make any sense at all to say that “the majority of our Reformed heritage has appropriated Thomas and other medieval catholic theologians.” None whatsoever. Why? Because if that were the case then the anathemas of Trent against practically every point of Reformation Theology would in fact be a self-condemnation! It is ridiculous to think that Reformed doctrines were heavily dependant on Thomas, and that Trent theology, which was also depended on Thomas, then condemned Reformed doctrine. That would mean that Trent was condemning itself!
Brite either does not know what Trent says, doesn’t know Reformed doctrine, or neither of them. Or he has been speaking with a RC priest, and that is who is whispering in his ear.
Jesus told us to how to think as Christian leaders: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves” (Mt.10:16). Brite needs to be told what the word Vatican means; diving-serpent. (see Rome’s new Vatican Hall The Vatican’s Hell Hall: The Weird Mysteries of the Paul VI Audience Hall – Novus Ordo Watch).
Brite misses his mark when he appeals to pre-Reformation emerging lights (see Theologica Germanica, or the commentaries by—what is his name—which Luther was greatly appreciated). Dark Ages persons who believed what the Reformers later taught are to be thought of, not as representing Roman Catholic belief, but rather as those who tapped into Biblical theology before the Reformation could take hold. Many of these were at least threatened with the stake by the Pope.
It would be much more accurate to say, as Calvin does in the Institutes, that arising from under the all-seeing eye of the office of Pope, there had been voices who slowly began to catch visions of the arising theology that would blossom into the Reformation. These voices were not arising because of Romanism, but despite it. Rome was burning Protestant thinkers hundreds of years before term came into use.
I am now a Reformed pastor, and passionate about the Gospel. To suggest that the deep darkness which Romanism held me and other Roman Catholics I have led to Christ in as being anything remotely like a True Church is deeply disturbing. It must surely be true that Brite has never been used by God to bring someone out of Romanism into True Faith (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7), and then sat to listen to their experience.
Charles d’Espeville is a Minister in the Reformed Church in America.
Related Posts:

Enlightening Joe Scaimbra, (and the RCA, CRC, and UCC at the same time)

Generally, from then to now, Protestants resist concurrence with this, and when confronted with undeniable evidence, attempt to moderate it. Protestants read this article and think to themselves that I have an anger problem, or that I was abused and have a grudge or something. I don’t, and have no personal sexual history of abuse by a priest or a nun.

On February 28, 2022 Aquila Report an article appeared by Joseph Sciambra which outlined his frustration and disappointment with Roman Catholic Bishops. Apparently, he received “his worst opposition” from them in his efforts to “save Gays from Sin.” He tells us that Roman Catholic priests had encouraged him down this sexual path personally as well, in his youth.
When I read his article, I was somewhat shocked. I was shocked that he was shocked at this behaviour by RC priests. Let me explain.
About 20 years ago a history of my family was put together that went back almost 400 years. When a family-tree goes back that far, you have a lot of relatives. The book includes almost everyone, and its thickness shows it.
I point this out to say this: Everyone was Roman Catholic. Everyone. When the Lord brought me to faith in Christ, at 13-years-old, I didn’t even know what a Protestant was. I asked the priest one day, and he simply responded, “You don’t want to know.” I didn’t know I had become one. I just read the Bible, and came to faith that Christ died to take away all my sins, that I should read the Bible to know Him better. But, from that day forward I was ostracized from my family, without explanation. As the oldest grandson, I was expected to become a priest. My grandfather was furious.
Because of this background I think I can respond to Joseph Sciambra’s shock with insight I know few Protestants can. My goal being, first, to speak to Joseph. But also, indirectly, to the large swath of Protestants who are unaware of real Roman Catholicism in this matter; not the view the priest piously attempts to present in “dialoguing” with others. I want to confirm the Roman Catholicism that you hear hints of but ignore.
Welcome to Reality
Joe, you suffer, and seem to be recovering from, what more and more Roman Catholics are recovering from, especially since the 1970s. In the last 25-50 years there has been a virtual tidal wave of exodus from Romanism. Official Rome is not changing, no matter what it says. People are changing; access to information is changing. The courts are changing, slowly, when dealing with the formerly taboo subject of prosecuting the immorality of RC priests. Rome has been conniving to create a secular society in historically Protestant nations, and that society is turning on it.
What you are seeing, Joseph, is the truth; a reality which has existed for a very long time.
You say the RC priests encouraged you in this life-style. Of course, they did. The vast majority of them are homosexual. Not all, but the vast majority. My cousin went away to be a priest at their school in Toronto. He formerly lived as the son of a dairy farmer. Fairly isolated. But there he learned something, and the result was that about 90% of his class left after two years. They formed a homosexual “church” in the city. The priests in my home parish, in the RC High School, many of the nuns, the chaplain in my son’s school were all homosexual (at best). The town where I first served as a (Protestant) pastor was an isolated community, and was the hub for the priests to meet on Sunday nights. A carpenter told me he walked in on the scene one Monday morning (he had left some tools there on Friday from a job). Liquor bottles were not the only thing that were scattered all over the floor and furniture, naked. More than 20 years later a RC priest, when he heard I had once been a pastor in that town, unashamedly said to me, “We used to have such parties in that town, years ago!” Yes, they did.
The president of the Philippines, Duterte, after he became president began to talk about his experiences growing up in a RC school; “Me, and all the boys in my grade, in the grade before me, and in the one after me, were all abused by the priests.”
Now Joe, I could go on about this. If you are following the news, even a little bit, you know what I am talking about. Last year in France alone, 330,000 cases of abused children were brought to light, and 3,000 priests were accused. In Australia, South America, Canada (the Residential Schools), the USA, Central America, Ireland and Africa, the same stories keep coming up in large numbers.
But for some reason, Roman Catholicism is able to present itself as this organization which is concerned about family and piety; about Christianity. For some reason people believe what they say, regardless of what they actually do. How is it that Rome can still maintain the myth that it is concerned with even a whisper of godliness?
When I was in seminary, one of the most conservative Protestant seminaries I knew of, I walked into the lounge where a somewhat large group of students were engaged in a fairly heated debate. In the middle of the room were two students, arguing with about 30 other seminary students.
The argument was about Rome’s ethical honesty, especially in this area. The two in the middle were not backing down, and they were heatedly trying to get through to the rest about the duplicity of Rome. At first, I did not get involved, so that I could be sure I understood the debate.
Finally, I spoke up. I simply asked a couple questions for clarity’s sake. I asked the students around the outside if any of them were raised RC. None were. The two in the middle said they were raised RC. I asked my second question: How is it that those who were not raised RC think they know more about Romanism that those who were raised within it?
It did not end the debate, but it did make something clear; it is truly bewildering that Romanism can have the history it does and still be considered in any way, Christian. If any other organization, institution or religion had a history 10% as bad as they do, maybe 1% as bad, they would be opposed by the whole world. But Rome gets away with it. How? It is a mystery religion.
This, Joe, is the reality, and multitudes are blinded by it. Rome’s Inquisition made it “drunk with the blood of the saints” (Rev.17:6). Its capitol is filled with the idols of so many pagan religions, especially Babylon and Egypt. Yet so many Protestants feel that criticizing her is taboo. So many seem, as the Bible says, “intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” (Rev.17:2) When God allowed the Apostle John to look at her in the future, this is what he wrote; “When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.” (Rev.17:6)
Nothing New
The behaviour you witnessed by the Bishops, Joe, is not even close to a recent phenomenon. My family’s history can attest to that. Over a 400-year period there have been plenty priests and Nuns, and many cover-ups.
But simply looking at Rome’s history shows that this has been going on throughout it’s second thousand-year reign as the Holy Roman Empire (800-1806). Look at the lives of just the Popes. Luther visited Rome in the early 16th century, only to discover that it was a virtual cesspool of immorality. The Pope of the time, Leo X, received a huge birthday cake—out of which sprang a bunch of naked little boys (his present?). Many of the Popes have been accused of the same preferences.
John Calvin was one of the godliest men to ever live. In the Institutes of the Christian Religion, written almost 500 years ago, he wrote some brief lines about the complete immorality of the bishops and priests;
There is scarcely a bishop, and not one in a hundred parish priests, who, if his conduct were to be judged according to the ancient canons [of the Early Church], would be the subject of either excommunication or at least to deposition from office. I seem to be saying something unbelievable…but this is entirely so. (IV.V.14)
Of the morality of Rome’s leadership, he writes;
Yet because they themselves, together with their household, with almost the whole college of cardinals, and with the whole flock of the clergy, have been prostituted to all wickedness, filthiness, and uncleanness, and to all kinds of crimes and misdeeds, so that they resemble monsters rather than men…” (IV.VIII.29)
When it comes to the monasteries Calvin is as discrete as he could be;
This is clear: that no order of men is more polluted by all sorts of foul vices; nowhere do factions, hatreds, party zeal, and intrigue burn more fiercely. Indeed, in a few monasteries men live chastely, if one must call it chastity where lust is suppressed to the point of not being openly infamous. Yet you will scarcely find one in ten which is not a brothel rather than a sanctuary of chastity. (IV.XIII.15)
You see, Rome’s second thousand-year-reign perpetuated its first (509-476 A.D.) thousand-year reign’s immorality. Of the Roman Empire’s first 15 Emperors, 14 were Gay.
What you, Joe, as a Roman Catholic, need to come to grips with is that you, like myself, were born into something unimaginably morally corrupt. And it has been for over 2,500 years.
The Modern Promoter
Joe, what you need to understand, and what the vast majority of Protestants need to put together, is that what Rome promoted in your life, is what they do perpetually, and in the society in general. The morality of the priests—sexually promiscuous but never marrying, which is the other meaning of the word “celibate” in Latin—is their true moral emblem. The priesthood is their ultimate moral ideal, and they wanted you to acquiesce.
Calvin supposed above that this seems, “something unbelievable”. Generally, from then to now, Protestants resist concurrence with this, and when confronted with undeniable evidence, attempt to moderate it. Protestants read this article and think to themselves that I have an anger problem, or that I was abused and have a grudge or something. I don’t, and have no personal sexual history of abuse by a priest or a nun. Neither did Calvin. His generation simply cited the prediction in 2Thess.2 as having become true.
But I know history, have seen others around me be abused, and I know enough of what is going on in the world today to know that what I have written here is not even the full tip of the iceberg.
The week before I sent this article in, I was having lunch with a group of Pastors. One surprised us by pointing out that he was a former RC priest. When asked why he left, he said he “did not want to be a hypocrite.” “What do you mean?” someone asked. A rather shy man, he stated that he was not comfortable with the sexual practices of the profession. He went on to say that, while it is not applicable to all, the vast majority are homosexual, involved with minors (trips to Africa, or Cuba, he said), have mistresses—or all of the above.
I have seen enough to know for certain that the modern crisis with regard to the LGTBQ agenda is being blown along by winds emanating out of Romanism (Did you know that the letters they intend to join to this acronym is MAP? = Minor Attracted Persons). In my circles I have seen this agenda promoted by them, over and over again. Rome’s priests are always the cheerleaders for being “understanding” toward this cause, openly and behind the scenes. They have convinced others to join them, painting the sidewalks multicolor.
Canada’s RC PM is trying to make it against the law to speak against the practice, carrying up to a five-year jail term! He is calling Canadians to “ally” against those who are “Homophobic”; who believe in patriarchy (meaning; a biblical family). The RC owned Canadian MSM cannot support him enough. Here, our RC President (supported by a host of other “good Catholics”; Pelosi, Schumer, Fouchi etc. etc.) is trying to enforce the introduction of it to every grade level in school. Obama, a devotee of the Pope, had rainbow spotlights on the Whitehouse. Finally, our military officers are having to regularly take courses which attempt to desensitize them, and this is going on in Canada, too.
Do you remember in June 2016 when the Pope made his apology to the Gay community? In fact, he said that “all Christians” should apologize to them. Why would he do this? He was telling them where to find a home and ally.
Until recently, Rome has always played both sides of the fence here: both condemning it and practicing it. They do this all the time. They say they believe in the Trinity, and yet say that they worship the same god as Islam—which condemns the doctrine of the Trinity! (See their catechism) This is just one example.
So, you can see, Joe, that your assumption that this is merely naïveté about what it means to be “Gay” within Roman leadership, is just that. They are its cheerleaders. Not the Laity, usually; it’s the priests and up. It is their conversion strategy for the Democracies.
Therefore, the best thing you can do is look for a Bible-believing church in your area, and go there. You will have to be careful though—be sure it accepts Reformed theology—and doesn’t just have it in its name. You will discover that some historically Bible-believing churches, such as the Reformed Church in America (RCA), Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and United Church of Christ (UCC), have also been “dialoguing” with Roman priests since Vatican II, and now their denominations are tumultuously reeling with this issue; just like you.
Charles d’Espeville is a Minister in the Reformed Church in America.
Related Posts:

In Ur, the New World Religion Was Launched On March 6, 2021

The Pope is calling for an International Pluralistic religion, centered around himself. It is not difficult to see where this is all going, since he himself makes that clear; “It is up to us, today’s humanity, especially those of us, believers of all religions, to turn instruments of hatred into instruments of peace.”

On 6 March, 2021 the Pope officially launched his new religion. Well, its his same religion, come out of the closet.
It is clearly Universal in scope, calls for a single Congregation of religions, and places himself as the universal Roman head of it. It was held at great risk in war-torn Iraq, in the ancient city of Ur of the Chaldeans. The Vatican has been repairing the Ziggurat at the cite of the ancient city since 1999 just for this event. It hosted the leaders of most of the world’s religions.
The speech is in line with The New Catechism of the Catholic Church, which embraces all the world’s religions as paths to the same end; paths to the same god. The only religion specifically to be excluded is one which does not recognize that the Pope is the Head of the Church, and the Russian Orthodox.
The Pope is calling for an International Pluralistic religion, centered around himself. It is not difficult to see where this is all going, since he himself makes that clear; “It is up to us, today’s humanity, especially those of us, believers of all religions, to turn instruments of hatred into instruments of peace.” The Roman Catholic doctrine of economic Distributism is clearly the end he proposes. What is Distributism? According to their website, it is a lot like Communism, Socialism and Marxism.
The question Bible-believing Christians face is this; how can one who speaks like the Pope does in this speech, at the same time believe even the most basic teachings of the Bible? Can such a person still be said to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, or the Apostle’s Creed and give a speech like this?
Dear brothers and sisters,
This blessed place brings us back to our origins, to the sources of God’s work, to the birth of our religions.
Here, where Abraham our father lived, we seem to have returned home. It was here that Abraham heard God’s call; it was from here that he set out on a journey that would change history.
We are the fruits of that call and that journey. God asked Abraham to raise his eyes to heaven and to count its stars.
In those stars, he saw the promise of his descendants; he saw us.
Today we, Jews, Christians and Muslims, together with our brothers and sisters of other religions, honour our father Abraham by doing as he did: we look up to heaven and we journey on earth.
We look up to heaven.
Thousands of years later, as we look up to the same sky, those same stars appear. They illumine the darkest nights because they shine together.
Heaven thus imparts a message of unity: the Almighty above invites us never to separate ourselves from our neighbours.
The otherness of God points us towards others, towards our brothers and sisters.
Yet if we want to preserve fraternity, we must not lose sight of heaven.
May we – the descendants of Abraham and the representatives of different religions – sense that, above all, we have this role: to help our brothers and sisters to raise their eyes and prayers to heaven.
We all need this because we are not self-sufficient.
Man is not omnipotent; we cannot make it on our own.
If we exclude God, we end up worshipping the things of this earth.
Worldly goods, which lead so many people to be unconcerned with God and others, are not the reason why we journey on earth.
We raise our eyes to heaven in order to raise ourselves from the depths of our vanity; we serve God in order to be set free from enslavement to our egos, because God urges us to love.
This is true religiosity: to worship God and to love our neighbour.
In today’s world, which often forgets or presents distorted images of the Most High, believers are called to bear witness to his goodness, to show his paternity through our fraternity.
From this place, where faith was born, from the land of our father Abraham, let us affirm that God is merciful and that the greatest blasphemy is to profane his name by hating our brothers and sisters.
Hostility, extremism and violence are not born of a religious heart: they are betrayals of religion.
We believers cannot be silent when terrorism abuses religion; indeed, we are called unambiguously to dispel all misunderstandings.
Let us not allow the light of heaven to be overshadowed by the clouds of hatred!
Dark clouds of terrorism, war and violence have gathered over this country. All its ethnic and religious communities have suffered.
In particular, I would like to mention the Yazidi community, which has mourned the deaths of many men and witnessed thousands of women, girls and children kidnapped, sold as slaves, subjected to physical violence and forced conversions.
Today, let us pray for those who have endured these sufferings, for those who are still dispersed and abducted, that they may soon return home.
And let us pray that freedom of conscience and freedom of religion will everywhere be recognised and respected; these are fundamental rights, because they make us free to contemplate the heaven for which we were created.
When terrorism invaded the north of this beloved country, it wantonly destroyed part of its magnificent religious heritage, including the churches, monasteries and places of worship of various communities.
Yet, even at that dark time, some stars kept shining.
I think of the young Muslim volunteers of Mosul, who helped to repair churches and monasteries, building fraternal friendships on the rubble of hatred, and those Christians and Muslims who today are restoring mosques and churches together.
Professor Ali Thajeel spoke too of the return of pilgrims to this city.
It is important to make pilgrimages to holy places, for it is the most beautiful sign on earth of our yearning for heaven.
To love and protect holy places, therefore, is an existential necessity, in memory of our father Abraham, who in various places raised to heaven altars of the Lord.
May the great Patriarch help us to make our respective sacred places oases of peace and encounter for all!
By his fidelity to God, Abraham became a blessing for all peoples; may our presence here today, in his footsteps, be a sign of blessing and hope for Iraq, for the Middle East and for the whole world.
Heaven has not grown weary of the earth: God loves every people, every one of his daughters and sons!
Let us never tire of looking up to heaven, of looking up to those same stars that, in his day, our father Abraham contemplated.
We journey on earth.
For Abraham, looking up to heaven, rather than being a distraction, was an incentive to journey on earth, to set out on a path that, through his descendants, would lead to every time and place.
It all started from here, with the Lord who brought him forth from Ur.
His was a journey outward, one that involved sacrifices.
Abraham had to leave his land, home and family.
Yet by giving up his own family, he became the father of a family of peoples.
Something similar also happens to us: on our own journey, we are called to leave behind those ties and attachments that, by keeping us enclosed in our own groups, prevent us from welcoming God’s boundless love and from seeing others as our brothers and sisters.
We need to move beyond ourselves, because we need one another.
The pandemic has made us realise that “no one is saved alone”.
Still, the temptation to withdraw from others is never-ending, yet at the same time we know that “the notion of ‘every man for himself’ will rapidly degenerate into a free-for-all that would prove worse than any pandemic”.
Amid the tempests we are currently experiencing, such isolation will not save us.
Nor will an arms race or the erection of walls that will only make us all the more distant and aggressive.
Nor the idolatry of money, for it closes us in on ourselves and creates chasms of inequality that engulf humanity.
Nor can we be saved by consumerism, which numbs the mind and deadens the heart.
The way that heaven points out for our journey is another: the way of peace.
It demands, especially amid the tempest, that we row together on the same side.
It is shameful that, while all of us have suffered from the crisis of the pandemic, especially here, where conflicts have caused so much suffering, anyone should be concerned simply for his own affairs.
There will be no peace without sharing and acceptance, without a justice that ensures equity and advancement for all, beginning with those most vulnerable.
There will be no peace unless peoples extend a hand to other peoples.
There will be no peace as long as we see others as them and not us.
There will be no peace as long as our alliances are against others, for alliances of some against others only increase divisions.
Peace does not demand winners or losers, but rather brothers and sisters who, for all the misunderstandings and hurts of the past, are journeying from conflict to unity.
Let us ask for this in praying for the whole Middle East. Here I think especially of neighbouring war-torn Syria.
The Patriarch Abraham, who today brings us together in unity, was a prophet of the Most High.
An ancient prophecy says that the peoples “shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks”.
This prophecy has not been fulfilled; on the contrary, swords and spears have turned into missiles and bombs.
From where, then, can the journey of peace begin?
From the decision not to have enemies.
Anyone with the courage to look at the stars, anyone who believes in God, has no enemies to fight.
He or she has only one enemy to face, an enemy that stands at the door of the heart and knocks to enter.
That enemy is hatred.
While some try to have enemies more than to be friends, while many seek their own profit at the expense of others, those who look at the stars of the promise, those who follow the ways of God, cannot be against someone, but for everyone.
They cannot justify any form of imposition, oppression and abuse of power; they cannot adopt an attitude of belligerence.
Dear friends, is all this possible?
Father Abraham, who was able to hope against all hope, encourages us.
Throughout history, we have frequently pursued goals that are overly worldly and journeyed on our own, but with the help of God, we can change for the better.
It is up to us, today’s humanity, especially those of us, believers of all religions, to turn instruments of hatred into instruments of peace.
It is up to us to appeal firmly to the leaders of nations to make the increasing proliferation of arms give way to the distribution of food for all.
It is up to us to silence mutual accusations in order to make heard the cry of the oppressed and discarded in our world: all too many people lack food, medicine, education, rights and dignity!
It is up to us to shed light on the shady maneuvers that revolve around money and to demand that money not end up always and only reinforcing the unbridled luxury of a few.
It is up to us preserve our common home from our predatory aims.
It is up to us to remind the world that human life has value for what it is and not for what it has.
That the lives of the unborn, the elderly, migrants and men and women, whatever the colour of their skin or their nationality, are always sacred and count as much as the lives of everyone else!
It is up to us to have the courage to lift up our eyes and look at the stars, the stars that our father Abraham saw, the stars of the promise.
The journey of Abraham was a blessing of peace.
Yet it was not easy: he had to face struggles and unforeseen events.
We too have a rough journey ahead, but like the great Patriarch, we need to take concrete steps, to set out and seek the face of others, to share memories, gazes and silences, stories and experiences.
I was struck by the testimony of Dawood and Hasan, a Christian and a Muslim who, undaunted by the differences between them, studied and worked together.
Together they built the future and realised that they are brothers. In order to move forward, we too need to achieve something good and concrete together.
This is the way, especially for young people, who must not see their dreams cut short by the conflicts of the past!
It is urgent to teach them fraternity, to teach them to look at the stars.
This is a real emergency; it will be the most effective vaccine for a future of peace. For you, dear young people, are our present and our future!
Only with others can the wounds of the past be healed.
Rafah told us of the heroic example of Najy, from the Sabean Mandean community, who lost his life in an attempt to save the family of his Muslim neighbour.
How many people here, amid the silence and indifference of the world, have embarked upon journeys of fraternity!
Rafah also told us of the unspeakable sufferings of the war that forced many to abandon home and country in search of a future for their children.
Thank you, Rafah, for having shared with us your firm determination to stay here, in the land of your fathers.
May those who were unable to do so, and had to flee, find a kindly welcome, befitting those who are vulnerable and suffering.
It was precisely through hospitality, a distinctive feature of these lands, that Abraham was visited by God and given the gift of a son, when it seemed that all hope was past.
Brothers and sisters of different religions, here we find ourselves at home, and from here, together, we wish to commit ourselves to fulfilling God’s dream that the human family may become hospitable and welcoming to all his children; that looking up to the same heaven, it will journey in peace on the same earth.
Charles d’Espeville is a Minister in the Reformed Church in America.

Scroll to top