Meeting Between Pope and Billy Graham Disclosed

From Religious News Service

Evangelist Billy Graham met with Pope John Paul II and Vatican officials a week ago for a series of discussions on Eastern Europe and relations between Catholics and evangelicals around the world, it was learned this week.

After the Vatican meetings Jan. 10-13, the 71-year-old Southern Baptist preacher went to West Berlin, where he met with evangelical leaders from the two Germanys to make plans for an evangelistic visit in March.

Graham’s meeting with John Paul was their second encounter. The first--which was also the evangelist’s first meeting with any Pope--took place at the Vatican Jan. 12, 1981, when they discussed issues ranging from the situation in Poland to the emergence of evangelical Christianity in the modern world.


The Rev. John Akers, special assistant to Graham, said in a telephone interview from Montreat, N.C., that the recent meeting was a “substitute” for a planned meeting between the Pope and the evangelist that was scheduled for Columbia, S.C., in September, 1987, during the Pope’s visit to the United States. Graham canceled those plans because of an opportunity to visit China, which he then had to cancel because of an injury.

Akers said the recent Vatican meetings included a conversation with a Latin American expert from the Vatican’s Peace and Justice Commission, during which the discussion focused on relations between Protestants and Catholics in Latin America.

“There is obviously concern in the Vatican over the large numbers of nominal Catholics in Latin America who are becoming Protestants,” Akers said.