Pope Francis sent a message to the Waldensian-Methodist annual synod held 24-29 August 2014 in Torre Pellice, Italy. The Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin signed the telegram on behalf of the pope. The letter offered the Waldenses the pope’s “fraternal greeting” and assured the synod delegates of his spiritual closeness during their discussions.
In language that would have deeply offended the Waldenses persecuted by the Catholic Church in the 11th to the 13th centuries, the message said that the pope, “prays that the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, grant to all Christians progress on the path towards full communion, to witness to the Lord Jesus Christ and to offer the light and strength of His Gospel to the men and women of our time.”
The Waldensian Church historically refused to accept the papal teaching on the Virgin Mary, and would certainly not have seen her as co-redemptrix of Christ and co-mediatrix with Christ. The Waldensian church should repudiate such a message with historical piety. But that probably didn’t happen in this ecumenical age.
Pope Francis has been reaching out to many Protestant and charismatic groups in the hopes that they will seek full communion with Rome. Full communion involves Rome’s sacraments including the mass, which was especially odious and abominable to these ancient Christians.
The Waldensian church has 50,000 members including 15,000 in Argentina and Uruguay and a few scattered elsewhere around the world.
Will the Sunday-keeping Waldenses eventually fall for the ecumenical appeal of Pope Francis? It remains to be seen. But the Bible says that all that dwell upon the earth will worship the beast. That includes the Waldenses if they do not follow its principles in their worship.