April 3, 2000

Mohler calls Catholicism 'false church'
___LOUISVILLE, Ky. (RNS)--The president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has called the Roman Catholic Church "a false church" that "teaches a false gospel."
___Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live," Al Mohler was speaking on Pope John Paul II's pilgrimage to Israel and his recent apologies for the past sins of the Catholic Church. While stopping short of calling the Catholic Church a "cult," Mohler said the Catholic hierarchy is unbiblical.
___"As an evangelical, I believe the Roman church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel," Mohler said. "I believe the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office."
___Mohler was asked if he shares the views of Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist college in Greenville, S.C., in the center of a firestorm of controversy after Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush appeared there.
___The university believes Catholics and the pope are agents of the anti-Christ. When Bush failed to speak out against the school's theology, he was dogged by several weeks of criticism until he apologized to New York Cardinal John O'Connor for failing to criticize the school. Bush called it a "missed opportunity causing needless offense, which I deeply regret."
___Mohler also criticized the pope's efforts to create a dialogue with Jews and Muslims. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all share the belief in one God and share historical roots with the biblical patriarch Abraham.
___The pope "has actually embraced all monotheists, both Jews and the followers of Islam, as long as they're sincere within the penumbra of the gospel, within the canopy of the gospel," Mohler said. "And that is just unbiblical, and by the way, not very pleasing to either Jews or to Muslims."
___William Byron, a Catholic priest and director of the Jesuit community at Georgetown University, also appeared on the March 22 show. He said he disagreed with Mohler's comments but did not want to discuss it further.
___"Yes, I'm offended, but not to the point of wanting to get into an argument about it," Byron said.

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