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The AEI calls to have “evangelical discernment” on three global initiatives

Ecumenism in creation care, the upcoming encyclical by Pope Francis, and the state of religious freedom in China, are the issues that concern the Italian Evangelical Alliance.

AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus ROME 28 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 2020 19:16 h
Photo: [link]A. Gutierrez[/link], Unsplash, CC0

The Italian Evangelical Alliance (AEI) has issued a document with “three remarks on recent or upcoming events that require evangelical discernment”.

The body representing evangelical Christians in the Southern European country published the triple statement in its IdeaItalia digital newsletter (Italian) on 28 September, offering an English version that can be downloaded here. 

The document brings attention to “global initiatives in the ‘intra- and inter-faith’ connections of evangelical global bodies that deserve attention and reflection”. It states the position of the AEI on: the Season of Creation 2020 initiative, the upcoming “All Brother” encyclical by Pope Francis, and the situation of religious freedom in China.


Common creation care action used for ecumenism?

As it addresses the first topic, the AEI underlines that it “supports every initiative of the evangelical people aimed at understanding God's plan for His creation, at the confession of their sin and their responsibilities, at the development of educational, social, political and entrepreneurial initiatives aimed at living a relationship with creation according to the requirements of the Gospel”.

It adds that it is “grateful” for creation care documents that have come out of the context of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Lausanne Movement, and “supports co-belligerent initiatives for a common and shared purpose”.

But it considers that the recently launched Season of Creation 2020 campaign should not include common prayer nor aim for “spiritual ecumenism”.

According to the official Season of Creation website, the campaign, which has been backed by the WEA and Lausanne among many others, aims to join “sisters and brothers in the ecumenical family in prayer and action for our common home”.

The AEI believes that certain aspects of the campaign are an example of how “the ecumenical agenda is advanced within evangelical circles even if this issue is not formally ecumenism”. “Creation care does not require ‘spiritual ecumenism’ to be pursued”, the AEI says.

[photo_footer] Italian Evangelical Alliance. [/photo_footer] 

Pope Francis and the concept of fraternity

The upcoming publication on October 3rd of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, “All Brothers”, is another issue that concerns the Italian Evangelical Alliance.

The letter “follows the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019” with Muslim leaders. That document, says the AEI, “changes the meaning of fraternity, extending it to the relationships between peoples of different religions, as if Muslims and Christians are ‘brothers and sisters’ praying to the same God”.

The AEI “urges evangelical bodies to distance themselves from this unbiblical teaching. As it is the case with creation care, peace and civility among peoples of different faiths and cultures does not demand ‘unity as brothers and sisters’ to be promoted”.


The Vatican-China relationship

The third issue addressed in the AEI document has to do with the severe persecution of Christians in China.

China’s persecution strategy is part of an organic plan for the entire society, i.e. sinicization”, they say.

The deal between China and the Vatican in 2018 was strongly criticised by human rights organisations. It included a shared procedure by which the two states agreed which bishops of the Roman Catholic Church would be recognised in the Asian country. The agreement is  going to be renewed in the next weeks.

In this context, the AEI believes that, “besides being a betrayal of those Catholics belonging to the underground church who are persecuted”, the position of the Vatican has “a negative and objective bearing on the persecution of the whole of the Christian population, 80% of which is Protestant”.

The Italian evangelical body calls to “organise peaceful prayer rallies in front of China’s Embassies” and send “specific letters to the international authorities urging them to defend religious freedom”.

In the final paragraph of the statement, the AEI commits to “take a posture that is not indifferent nor accustomed to the Vatican wrong and unhelpful position”.




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