Luis Palau and Rome

Evangelist Luis Palau, who has been called “the Billy Graham of Latin America,” follows Graham’s ecumenical model and has an uncritical relationship with the Roman Catholic Church.

In an April 24, 2001 interview with Ed Flynn of “Talk of the Town” on radio station 1320 AM, promoters of the Palau festival in Waterbury, Connecticut, said that the evangelist is “a uniter, not a divider,” that he is “nondenominational” and sends his converts “right back to the churches they come from.” 

Christianity Today for Dec. 19, 1975, reporting on Palau’s Managua, Nicaragua, crusade, said: “It enjoyed the support of most of Managua’s 125 Protestant churches and many Catholics. Catholic charismatic groups attended.” 

While covering Amsterdam ‘86, Fundamental Evangelistic Association reporter Dennis Costella asked Luis Palau if he would cooperate with Roman Catholics. Palau replied that he certainly would and admitted that it was being done. He went on to mention specific plans for more extensive Catholic involvement in his future crusades (
Foundation, Jul.-Aug. 1986).

The 1987 Palau crusade in New Zealand was reportedly “the first time the Catholic Church has ever backed a major evangelical Christian mission” in that area. Catholic Bishop Dennis Browne of Auckland accepted an invitation to join the mission’s advisory board along with leaders of many other denominations (
Challenge Weekly, April 18, 1986, reprinted in Australian Beacon, May 1986). 

In 1992, the
Arizona Republic gave the following description of Palau’s relationship with the Roman Catholic Church: 

“Palau’s form of worship presents such a broad Christian message that it appeals to Protestants and Catholics alike ... But unlike other Evangelicals who have actively tried to lure ... Catholics away from their churches, PALAU AIMS TO KEEP PEOPLE IN THEIR OWN CHRISTIAN CHURCHES—REGARDLESS OF DENOMINATION ... ‘on the core of Christianity, we are one,’ Palau said in a recent interview. ... Palau represents a growing trend among religious groups ... that do not want to alienate Catholics... [Palau] CAREFULLY AVOIDS THE CONTROVERSIAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS. ... Protestants of Palau’s type have a message that does not require abandoning church membership. ... Bible studies are deliberately held at times that would not conflict with Masses and controversial subjects like the Virgin Mary are avoided. Instead there’s an attempt to find a common ground in the Bible” (The Arizona Republic, October 31, 1992).

Evangelist Palau claims that “at the core of Christianity, we are one”; yet Christian denominations have widely differing definitions of the gospel, of biblical inspiration, of Christ’s atonement, of biblical miracles, of God’s holiness, of Heaven and Hell, and many other core things. 

Palau’s 1993 crusade in Kingston, Jamaica, included Catholic participation. The Catholic Archbishop attended some of the meetings. The secretary of the Office of the Archbishop stated that Palau “was not critical of any religion” and was “not like those who criticize other religions” (Peter Van Kleeck, “Wealthy Park Baptist Church and the Luis Palau Crusade,” Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sept. 6, 1994). A Jamaica newspaper ad on January 31, 1993, stated: “The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston gives wholehearted support in mobilizing its members to participate in the National Crusade 1993. This venture is seen by us as an important event in the spreading of the gospel in an ecumenical manner.”

Roman Catholic Churches participated in the West Michigan Palau Crusade in September 1994.  

Palau’s May 1995 crusade in Londonderry, Ireland, brought together Roman Catholics and Protestants in an ecumenical worship service “on the bank of the Foyle River, which divides Protestant and Catholic communities.” Howard Lewis of the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland said the Palau crusade produced an ecumenical unity “we never dreamt would work together.”

There were Catholic priests involved in Palau’s April 1996 crusade in Chicago, Illinois. More than 1,500 churches participated. Speakers included Palau, E.V. Hill, Tony Evans, and Ron Hutchcraft. 

On May 6-9, 1998, Palau had a crusade at the Roman Catholic Saint Martin’s College in Olympia, Washington (John Beardsley, “Palau Crusading at RC College & Newsboys to be at Black Hills Crusade,” March 7, 1998, Saint Martin’s is operated by Saint Martin’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery. 

Palau’s July 2007 Festival in Omaha, Nebraska, was endorsed by Catholic Archbishop Elden Curtiss. Not only did the Catholic archbishop address the crowd personally, but the Catholics were allowed to put up a tent at the entrance to the venue to distribute rosaries and Catholic material and priests greeted the people as they entered the crusade grounds (
Catholic Voice, Archdiocese of Omaha, Aug. 10, 2007). Each participant filled out a card indicating religions background, and all of the cards stating Catholic were given to the Catholic churches for follow up (Catholic Voice, June 8, 2007). 

Palau’s July 2010 CityFest in Yakima, Washington, also had Catholic participation. The bishop of the St. Paul Cathedral of Yakima, John Ecker, enthusiastically urged his parishioners to participate, saying: 

“Don’t forget our ‘City Fest’ coming the weekend of July 16-17 at the Fair Grounds, a chance to join our voices and prayers with many other churches from our valley and city and to better our city as a place to live for all of our people. I encourage your participation there this month. You will find in this mailing an invitation to come and participate. These cards are not only for you, but they are sent for you to give to friends, neighbors, and family members to join you in this all-city and valley celebration of faith. The more we come together to emphasize through things that unite us as people of faith, the more we grow in understanding and respect of others who also have a strong faith in God and His teachings” (St. Paul Cathedral Newsletter, June 24, 2010). 

Do you really think the bishop would do this if he thought his people and their friends would hear any warning that would make them doubt Catholicism? This is a church that “reverences” Mary, believing her to be the immaculate Queen of Heaven, a church that preaches a sacramental gospel of faith plus works, a church that defines the new birth as being baptized. 

Upon the election of Jorge Bergoglio to the papacy in March 2013 as Pope Francis, Luis Palau said that he was a personal friend with Bergoglio and praised him. He said that the new Pope “knows Jesus Christ” and is “very spiritual” and “Bible-centered” and “centered on the Gospel” (“Why It Matters that Pope Francis Drinks Matè with Evangelicals,”
Christianity Today, Mar. 14, 2013). 

This, of course, is patently ridiculous and only shows Palau’s frightful spiritual blindness.

Consider that one of his first acts as “pontiff,” Pope Francis visited Saint Mary Major basilica and “prayed to the Virgin, for the safekeeping of all of Rome” (“New Pope Francis Visits St. Mary Major,” Vatican Information Service, March 14, 2013). At the basilica, the Pope “left the Virgin a bouquet of flowers” and prayed to her for about 10 minutes.  St. Mary’s is one of four “patriarchal basilicas,” meaning they are directly associated with the pope and have papal altars, and nowhere is the deep apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church more evident. Built in about 350 it was restored by Pope Sixtus III to commemorate the declaration of Mary’s Divine Motherhood by the Council of Ephesus in 432, which declared that “Mary was the Mother of one person, and that as he was God, as well as man, she was rightly to be called Mother of God.” The mosaic in the apse depicts Mary sitting on the right hand of Jesus on his throne and being crowned by him as Queen of Heaven. Another prominent statue of Mary is titled “Mary Queen of Peace.” Outside of the basilica,
MARY IS EVEN HANGING ON THE CROSS WITH JESUS! A large crucifix has Jesus hanging on one side and a crowned Mary holding a baby on the other. These images depict Rome’s dogma that Mary is co-redemptress with Christ and that she intercedes for men and aids in their salvation. Note the following quotation from the Second Vatican Council: “Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but BY HER MANIFOLD INTERCESSION CONTINUES TO BRING US THE GIFTS OF ETERNAL SALVATION. ... Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of ADVOCATE, HELPER, BENEFACTRESS, and MEDIATRIX” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, chap. 8, II, 62, pp. 382-383). For photos of Mary on God’s throne, Mary the Queen of Peace, and Mary hanging on the cross see the following:

Like Billy Graham before him, Luis Palau is at home with Rome, and the evangelical world at large is silent in the face of this horrible disobedience, which demonstrates evangelicalism’s unashamed apostasy.   

Have we really become so desensitized by apostasy and compromise that we think that God will overlook willful disobedience in the pursuit of “good”? He won’t, and the Billy Grahams and Luis Palaus of this age will learn that in eternity. 

Has God not commanded us to mark and avoid those who teach false doctrine (Romans 16:17), to turn away from those who have only a form of godliness (2 Timothy 3:5), to be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14)? Has God not warned us of false gospels (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Galatians 1:6-8)? How can you preach a pure gospel when you are yoked with churches that preach a false one? This is confusion of the highest degree, and only men drunk with end-time apostasy could pretend that it could work.

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