DEATH threats have been made against the life of American evangelist, Dr Billy Graham, who concludes his Mission '89 at Earl's Court in London tomorrow night. The warnings came from extremist Protestant evangelical fundamentalists angry at Dr Graham's links with the Catholic Church.
The extremists oppose Dr Graham's decision to have any contact with the Catholic Church, and a small group took their opposition as far as the death threats. Officials at Mission '89 were so concerned that they asked the Catholic authorities to keep details of Dr Graham's meetings with Cardinal Basil Hume and other bishops out of the newspapers so as not to inflame the situation.
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However, this week news leaked out, and resulted in a series of pamphlets attacking the US evangelist being handed out at his gatherings in London. Entitled "Mission '89 . . . A Serious Warning", they condemn Dr Graham for his links with the Catholic Church which rejects the central Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone. By abandoning his "uncompromising Biblical preaching", Dr Graham had
failed to defend the purity of the gospel, the pamphlet accuses.
Fr Michael Seed, who has been co-ordinating meetings between Dr Graham and the archdiocese of Westminster on behalf of Cardinal Hume, condemned unreservedly this week the pamphlet writers, and those who had issued death threats. "It is ironic that the Roman Catholic Church should be so supportive of the Billy Graham Mission at the same time as Dr Graham's one-time friends in certain evangelical fringe groups have disowned him. Only 30 years ago it would have been unthinkable for any Catholic involvement in his work."