Kathy noted, “Bishop Taylor, the presiding prelate at Ambassadors for Christ Ministries of America (AFCMOA) in Atlanta, Palmer was in an accident while riding a motorcycle in the U.K. After hours of surgery, Bishop Palmer died on Sunday, July 20, 2014.”
After searching for more information, I read a horrid report on a traditionalist Catholic site which actually seemed to imply that the tragic loss of this sincere and courageous man, this Christian friend of the Pope who worked so hard to heal the divisions in the Body of Christ, was some kind of retribution?
I will not dignify the offensive and uncharitable implication with a link because I do not believe it deserves to be read. However, I will quote a sentence to convey the horrid tilt of this reprehensible comment:
“Meaning no disrespect to the deceased Palmer, we must point out that this is the umpteenth time that something tragic, something terrible, something frightening has happened in connection with something done, planned, or desired by 'Pope' Francis…”
This misguided implication conveyed more than disrespect for the dead. It was despicable and indefensible. The writer should be ashamed.
I never personally met Bishop Tony Palmer. However, I look forward to spending an eternity in the full communion of God’s love with him. I appreciated his Christian courage and felt that his efforts were prophetic.
He wrote his life - and lived his ministry - with broad brushstrokes, seeking to reveal the fullness of God’s loving plan for the Body of Christ, the healing of the divisions and wounds which separate those of us who share the name Christian.
He did so at a critical time in the history of the Church and the world into which she is sent to continue the redemptive mission of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can all learn from that kind of example, no matter where we stand in the wounded and divided Christian community. We must continue the effort.
The late Bishop understood that the prayer of Jesus, recorded in the Gospel of John, “May they Be One” (John 17:21) still echoes in this hour. It is the prayer of Jesus and so it is heard by the Father. We are invited into the response. It requires our sincere commitment to work to heal the divisions in the Body of Christ as a part of the answer.
This young, dynamic, charismatic, evangelical Bishop was – and still is – a friend of Pope Francis. He was catapulted into prominence in the broader Christian community when, while meeting with his friend the Pope in January, he was given a recorded message from Francis to deliver to a large group of charismatic, evangelical protestant leaders who gathered in the United States.
The video went viral. It moved millions to sincere prayer for the healing of the divisions in the broken Body of Christ and is prompting a renewed commitment to common apostolic action between Christians.
It has become controversial in some circles, as the comments from the misguided traditionalist Catholic quoted above demonstrate. The opposition has come from some Catholic, protestant and orthodox Christians. In the video, Pope Francis expressed his sincere Christian affection to the protestant leaders, extending what he called a “spiritual hug” to them.
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That meeting led to another meeting at the Vatican between Pope Francis and several Evangelical Christian leaders on June 24, 2014. That meeting included my friend, James Robison, and other evangelical and charismatic protestant leaders, including Ken Copeland. That meeting was also historic. Its rippling effects have only begun to be experienced in the broader Christian community.
On Monday, July 28, Pope Francis will travel to Caserta, Italy for a visit with another evangelical protestant Christian friend, Rev. Giovanni Traettino of the Evangelical Church of Reconciliation. Bishop Tony Palmer was scheduled to be at that meeting.
Francis is dedicated to helping heal the divisions in the broken Body of Christ. He is encouraging courageous efforts at Christian cooperation. He has raised the water level for the whole Catholic Church, by bringing his lived experience in Argentina, along with his unique palate of gifts, to the office of Successor of Peter at a prophetic moment in history.
In a teaching on the Church as the Body of Christ given on June 19, 2013, Francis made an extemporaneous comment which revealed what his life work revealed. Throughout his service as priest, spiritual father, Bishop and Cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has always heard the passionate Prayer of Jesus Christ and made it his own:
"I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me." (John 17:21)
Here are a few of those heartfelt words from his message: