Vatican Attacks Prosperity Gospel:
III. Pope Francis and the Prosperity Gospel
As previously noted, Pope Francis’ favored theologian, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, attacked the Prosperity Gospel in a paper with quasi-official approval. CRUX reported, “since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has routinely criticized a theology of prosperity.” The paper by Spadaro and Figueroa went much further. Once again, the Vatican is rewriting history, with the support of the Catholic press.
History of the Prosperity Gospel
Spadaro and Figueroa (here) claimed the prosperity gospel was created by Esek William Kenyon (1867-1948) in New York. They claimed this gospel leaped to Texas and the “self-styled prophet Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003)... [and then] Kenneth Copeland – anointed by Hagin as his successor,” They list many current prosperity preachers, well-known leaders of megachurches.
The Meeting is the Message
Early in his papacy, Pope Francis created a new doctrine (The Meeting is the Message). During a photo-op with Imam Ahmad el-Tayed of Egypt, he was asked to about the importance of the meeting. Pope Francis apparently forgot his lines, and improvised, “The meeting is message!” The mere fact that someone is allowed to bask in the presence of the semi-divine pope is highly significant. Neither he nor the Vatican has elaborated on this doctrine; presumably it is infallible.
Pope Francis and the Prosperity Gospel
In 2014, very early in his papacy - long before he met any abuse victims or members of his special commission on child abuse – Pope Francis found time for multiple meetings with prosperity preachers. His meeting with Kenneth Copeland sent a powerful message.
Pope Francis Meets Arch-Heretic Kenneth Copeland
Prior history with the Prosperity Gospel
Long before he became Pope Francis, Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was familiar with the prosperity gospel. Pope John Paul named him auxiliary bishop in 1992, and promoted him to cardinal in 2001. Considering that the Gospel of Prosperity is heresy, you would expect that Catholics in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin American countries would shun it. But a study from the Pew Foundation (see Exodus in Latin America) finds that most Latin American Catholics support this heresy, including Argentina:
This was not always the case. Traditionally, Catholics in Latin America followed Jesus’ preaching that the poor were blessed, and that the rich had as much chance of getting into heaven as a camel had of passing through the eye of a needle. But precisely during the professional career of Father Bergoglio – and the papacy of John Paul II – Latin American Catholics experienced an epidemic of the Gospel of Prosperity. Pope John Paul was less concerned with doctrine than combatting Protestants.
Spadaro and Figueroa neglected to mention this. They also failed to mention that the only regions of growth for the Catholic Church were those that espoused this heresy – especially Africa and Latin America. Conversely, where Catholic orthodoxy reigned, Catholic membership dwindled. The authors also failed to mention that Pope Francis has made no detectable effort to erase this heresy from the churches of Africa and Latin America.
In short, when it comes to child abuse and the Gospel of Prosperity, Pope Francis and the Catholic Church fail to practice what they preach. Secretly committing grave sins and heresy, however, is an ancient Church tradition.
About the Catholic Press and other Professional Christians
Today the Catholic Press report that the Gospel of Prosperity is a heresy which Pope Francis has always condemned. But a few years back they claimed that Pope Francis’ meeting with Kenneth Copeland and other prosperity preachers was a magnificent display of his ecumenism (CRUX and NCR). Similar lack of integrity is common among New Testament scholars of all denominations. They routinely jettison both their rationality and intellectual integrity when it conflicts with their Christian faith. This is pervasive among Pauline scholars.