VATICAN CITY (Worthy News)-- The International Foundation arranged for a 15-member delegation to visit the Vatican in the spirit of Ecumenism, which included mega-church speaker and author Joel Osteen, to meet with Pope Francis last Thursday.
Osteen was joined by Utah Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints, Gayle Beebe, the president of Westmont College in California, and former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Rooney.
The group met with Vatican staff members, toured the Vatican and attended the Convocation of Renewal at Olympic Stadium in Rome. It was the first time in history, in which a pope visited for an international charismatic renewal convocation, the Vatican said.
More than 50,000 charismatic Roman Catholics attended the gathering.
"Afterward, (the pope) spent an hour and a half going through the crowd with the Pope mobile, greeting people," Osteen told a local television station in Houston. "It was very heartwarming to see him caring for people."
"I just felt very honored and very humbled," Osteen said.
"It was amazing. And even to go back into that part of the Vatican—there's so much history there, the place that they took us through. You feel that deep respect and reverence for God."
"I love the fact that's he's made the Church more inclusive," he said. "Not trying to make it smaller, but to try to make it larger -- to take everybody in. So, that just resonates with me," Osteen added.
"This pope's a whirlwind," Francis Rooney, a former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See said. "I think the Pope, in reaching out, is broadening the concept of ecumenical dialogue, and he's reaching out to people who can touch other Christians."
However, critics have expressed grief about the recent ecumenical gathering, stating that ecumenicism is far from biblical and point to the understanding that the last religious ruler termed the "False Prophet" by many will gather the world into a false "one world religion."
Critics charge that Pope Francis for the first time in history led an entourage to Israel, which included a Rabbi, and a Muslim. While in Israel, the Pope invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican for prayer. Islamic prayers and readings from the Quran were heard in the Vatican for the first time in history yesterday.