The Popes Speak to the Renewal

The Popes Speak to the Renewal provides a glimpse of how our Popes have viewed the Catholic Charismatic Renewal over the last quarter century.  They are listed with the most recent comments at the top of the page.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, from Argentina was elected Pope on March 13, 2013, by the “electors” in the College of Cardinals, taking the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi. He has served as the Pope for the Catholic Church from then to the present time.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis was born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires as Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

While an Argentinian by birth, his surname betrays his Italian roots. His father was a railway worker who immigrated to Argentina from Italy, and Bergoglio is one of five children.

After earning a secondary school degree as a chemical technician, Bergoglio felt a call to the priesthood.

He joined the Society of Jesus, entering the novitiate in 1958. He received a philosophy degree in 1963 and spent the next three years teaching literature and psychology.

Bergoglio then studied theology from 1967 to 1970, during which time he was ordained a priest. His priestly ordination was on Dec. 13, 1969.

Father Bergoglio did the final state of Jesuit formation from 1970 to 1971, and was novice master at the Jesuit seminary in San Miguel, a Buenos Aires suburb, from 1972 to 1973, where he taught theology.

In 1973, he made his perpetual vows in the Society, and that year was elected provincial for Argentina. After his time as provincial, from 1980 to 1986, he served as rector of the seminary at San Miguel, where he had studied, and was pastor of a parish in the city.

He went to Germany in 1986 to finish his doctoral thesis, after which he served as a professor, confessor and spiritual director.

In 1992, he was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, and given the titular see of Auca. He became Buenos Aires’ coadjutor bishop in 1997, and succeeded as the see’s archbishop the following year. His role as Archbishop of Buenos Aires made him also the Bishop of the ordinariate for Eastern rite Catholics in Argentina. (Except those of the Armenian Catholic Church in Argentina, who have their own bishop.)

Bergoglio was elevated to cardinal in 2001 and was appointed cardinal-priest of San Roberto Bellarmino, a Roman parish associated with the Jesuit order.

He served as an official of the 10th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2001 and was for a time the president of the Argentine bishops’ conference.

While Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio was a member of the Congregations for Divine Worship; for the Clergy; and for Institutes of Consecrated Life, as well as the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

He was elected Pope on March 13, 2013, on the fifth ballot of the conclave, during its second day, taking the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi.

Pope Francis is noted for his humble demeanor – as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he lived in an apartment, cooked his own meals and took public transit. In Rome, according to Father Zuhlsdorf, he carried himself not as a cardinal, but as a typical visiting priest.
Excerpt, Catholic News Service

Pope Francis Addresses the CCR Golden Jubilee crowd.

Pope Francis Addresses the CCR Golden Jubilee crowd.

Brothers and sisters, thank you for the witness you have given here today, thank you!  It has helped us all, myself included … all of us!

In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we read: “And staying with them, [Jesus] charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, about which, he said, ‘you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 1: 4-5).

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2: 1-4)

Today we are here in a kind of Upper Room beneath the open sky, unafraid, under the open sky and with our hearts open to the promise of the Father.  “All of us who believe” have gathered here, all of us who confess that “Jesus is Lord”.  Many have come from different parts of the world, and the Holy Spirit has brought us together to build bonds of fraternal friendship that encourage us on our journey towards unity, unity for mission.  Not to stand still!  But for mission, to proclaim that Jesus is Lord – Jesús es el Señor.  To proclaim together the love of the Father for all his children.  To proclaim the Good News to all peoples.  To demonstrate that peace is possible.  It is not so easy to show this world today that peace is possible, but in the name of Jesus we can show by our testimony that peace is possible!  It is possible if we are at peace with one another.  If we emphasize our differences, we are at war among ourselves and we cannot proclaim peace.  Peace is possible, based on our confession that Jesus is Lord and on our evangelization along this path.  It is possible.  Even by showing that we have differences – this is obvious, we have differences – but that we desire to be a reconciled diversity.  We should not forget that phrase, but say it to everyone: reconciled diversity.  The phrase is not mine.  It comes from a Lutheran brother.  Reconciled diversity.

Now we are here and we are many!  We have gathered to pray together, to ask the Holy Spirit to come upon each of us, so that we can go forth into the streets of the city and the world to proclaim the lordship of Jesus Christ.

In the Book of Acts we read: “Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God” (Acts 2: 9-11).  To speak the same language, to hear and to understand … Differences do exist, but the Spirit makes us understand the message of Jesus’ resurrection, each in his or her own language.

We have assembled here from 120 countries throughout the world, to celebrate the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit in the Church that occurred fifty years ago and started… an institution?  No.  An organization?  No.  A flood of grace, the flood of grace of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.  A work that was born… Catholic?  No.  It was born ecumenical!  It was born ecumenical because it is the Holy Spirit who creates unity, and the same Spirit who granted the inspiration for this.  It is important to read the works of Cardinal Suenens on this: it is very important!

The coming of the Holy Spirit changes fearful men, enclosed behind shut doors, into courageous witnesses of Jesus.  Peter, who had denied Jesus three times, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, proclaims: “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).  This is the profession of faith of every Christian!  God has made both Lord and Christ that Jesus who was crucified.  Are you all agreed on this profession of faith?  It is ours, the same for all of us!

The scripture goes on to say: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45).  They sold them and they helped the poor.  Some of them tried to be devious – we think of Ananias and Sapphira (there are always a few of them) – but all the believers, the great majority, helped one another.  “Day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people.  And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).  The community kept growing and the Spirit was there to inspire this.  I like to think of Philip, and how the angel told him: “Take the road to Gaza and find that proselyte, the steward of Candace, Queen of Ethiopia.  The man was a proselyte and he was reading Isaiah.  Philip explained the scripture to him, proclaimed Jesus and the man converted.  At a certain point, he said: “Here is some water: I want to be baptized”.  It was the Spirit who led Philip to go there, and from the beginning it has been the Spirit who impels all the believers to proclaim the Lord.

Today we have chosen to assemble here, in this place – as Pastor Traettino said – because here, during the persecutions, Christians were martyred for the entertainment of onlookers.  Today there are more martyrs than then!  Today there are more martyrs, Christians.  Those who kill Christians do not ask them first: Are you Orthodox?  Are you Catholic?  Are you Evangelical?  Are you Lutheran?  Are you Calvinist?  No.  They ask if they are Christians, and when they say yes, they immediately slit their throats.  Today there are more martyrs than in the early times.  This is the ecumenism of blood.  The witness of our martyrs today brings us together.  In different parts of the world, Christian blood is being shed!  Today Christian unity is more urgent than ever, Christians united by the power of the Holy Spirit, in prayer and in activity on behalf of the most vulnerable.  To walk together, to work together, to love one another, and together to seek to explain our differences, to come to agreement, but as we keep walking!  If we stop walking, we will never come to agreement.  So it is, because the Spirit wants us to keep walking.

Fifty years of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.  A flood of grace of the Spirit!  Why a flood of grace?  Because it has no founder, no bylaws, no structure of governance.  Clearly it has given rise to many expressions that, surely, are human works inspired by the Spirit, with various charisms, and all at the service of the Church.  But before this flood of grace one cannot erect dikes, or put the Holy Spirit in a cage!

Fifty years have gone by.  At this age, our strength begins to decline.  It is the halfway point of life – in my country, we call it el cincuentazo –, when our wrinkles get deeper.  Even if you cover them up, they are still there!  Grey hairs start to show and we begin to forget things….

Fifty years is a good time in life to stop and reflect.  It is the time for reflection: the halfway point of life.  And I would add this: it is the time to press forward with greater strength, leaving behind the accumulated dust of time, giving thanks for what we have received and looking ahead to new things, with trust in the working of the Holy Spirit!

Pentecost gives birth to the Church.  The Holy Spirit, the promise of the Father, of which Jesus spoke, is the One who makes the Church: the bride of the Book of Revelation, a single bride!  Pastor Traettino said this: the Lord has one bride!

The most precious gift that all of us have received is Baptism.  And now the Spirit is leading us on this journey of conversion sweeping across the entire Christian world.  It is one more reason why the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a privileged place for pursuing the path to unity!

This flood of grace is for the whole Church, not just for some, and none of us is the “master” and the others servants.  No.  We are all servants of this flood of grace.

Along with this experience, you constantly remind the Church of the power of prayer of praise.  Praise that is the prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving for God’s gracious love.  Perhaps some people do not like this way of praying, but surely it is fully a part of the biblical tradition.  Take the Psalms: David dances before the Ark of the Covenant, filled with exultation…  And please, let us not fall into the attitude of Christians who have the “Michol complex”, ashamed of the way David chose to praise God.

Exultation, happiness, joy that is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit!  Either a Christian experiences joy in his or her heart, or something is wrong.  The joy of proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel!

Jesus in the synagogue of Nazareth reads this passage of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4: 18-19; cf. Is 61: 1-2).  Good News, joyful news: do not forget this.  Joyful news: the Christian message is always joyful.

The third Malines document, “Charismatic Renewal and Social Action”, written by Cardinal Suenens and Dom Helder Camara, states clearly that the charismatic renewal is also service to society, to humanity.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit, praise, social action.  The three things are inseparably linked.  I can give deep thanks, but if I do not help those in need, it is not enough.  “There was not a needy person among them”, says the Book of Acts (4:34).

We will be judged, not on our praise but on what we have done for Jesus.  “Lord, when did we do this to you?  When you did it for one of these little ones, you did it to me” (cf. Mt 25:39-40).

Dear brothers and sisters, my wish for you is that this will be a time of reflection, a time for remembering your origins.  A time too, to leave behind everything motivated by self-concern.  May it become a desire instead to listen to, and joyfully accept, the working of the Holy Spirit, who blows where and how he wills!

I thank the Catholic Fraternity and ICCRS for organizing this Golden Jubilee, for this Vigil.  And I thank each of the volunteers who make it possible, many of whom are present here.  I wanted to greet the members of the office staff when I came, because I know how hard they have worked!  And not for pay!  They worked hard.  Most of them are young people from different continents.  May the Lord bless them all!

I am particularly grateful that my request to you, two years ago, to give the worldwide Charismatic Renewal a single international service based here, has begun to take concrete shape in the acts of incorporation of this new single service.  It is the first step, and others will follow, but soon the unity, the work of the Holy Spirit, will be a reality.  “I make all things new””, says the Lord (Rev 21: 5).

Thank you, Catholic Charismatic Renewal, for what you have given to the Church in these fifty years!  The Church counts on you, on your fidelity to God’s word, on your readiness to serve, and on your testimony of lives transformed by the Holy Spirit!

To share baptism in the Holy Spirit with everyone in the Church, to praise the Lord unceasingly, to walk together with Christians of different Churches and Ecclesial Communities in prayer and activity on behalf of those in greatest need, to serve the poor and the sick.  This is what the Church and the Pope expect from you, Catholic Charismatic Renewal, but also from everyone here: all of you who have become part of this flood of grace.
Address of His Holiness Pope Francis

Journalist’s question

Thank you, Holy Father. This autumn has been marked by many ecumenical meetings with the traditional Churches: Orthodox, Anglican, and now the Lutheran Church. Yet the majority of Protestants in the world today are part of the Evangelical, Pentecostal tradition… I understand that on the Vigil of Pentecost next year there will be an event at Circus Maximus to celebrate to fiftieth anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal. You have had many initiatives – perhaps a first for a Pope – in 2014 with Evangelical leaders. What happened with those initiatives, and what is it you hope to achieve at the meeting next year? Thank you.

Pope Francis’ reply

With these initiatives… I would say there were two kinds of initiative. One was when I went to the charismatic church in Caserta and along the same lines when I was in Turin and visited the Waldensian church. It was an initiative of reparation and to ask forgiveness because Catholics… part of the Catholic Church, did not act in a Christian way towards them. There it was necessary to ask for forgiveness and for wounds to be healed.
The other initiative was dialogue, and this began in Buenos Aires. There, for example, we had meetings at Luna Park, which can hold 7,000 people. Three meetings of Evangelicals and Catholics in the context of the Charismatic Renewal, but also open… Events that lasted all day: a pastor would preach, an Evangelical bishop, a Catholic priest or bishop, alternating. During two of these meetings, perhaps in all three, although I am not sure, Father Cantalamessa, the preacher of the papal household, preached.

I think that this was something from previous pontificates, and my own time in Buenos Aires, and this benefitted us. We also had three day spiritual retreats for pastors and priests together, preached also by pastors and a priest or bishop. This proved helpful in the areas of dialogue, understanding, closeness, and work…above all work with those most in need. Together. And with great respect. This has to do with the initiatives that started in Buenos Aires; here in Rome I had some meetings with pastors…two or three so far. Some came from the United States and others from here in Europe.

You mentioned about the celebration organized by the ICCRS [International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services], the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal, which was ecumenical from the outset, and so it will be ecumenical in that sense… It will be celebrated in the Circus Maximus. I am due – if God lets me live that long – to give a talk there. I believe the event will last two days, but it is not yet organized. I know that it will be on the Vigil of Pentecost, and that I will address the event at some point. Concerning the Charismatic Renewal and regarding the Pentecostals: the word “Pentecostal”, the name “Pentecostal”, is today ambiguous, because it covers many things: many groupings, many ecclesial communities that are not the same, and sometimes even opposed. So it has to be clarified. The term has become so common as to be ambiguous. This is the case in Brazil, where it is widespread. The Charismatic Renewal was born – and one of its first opponents in Argentina was the very person who is speaking to you – because I was provincial of the Jesuits in that period when it got started there, and I prohibited Jesuits from getting involved. I also stated publicly that when there was a liturgical celebration, it had to be a liturgy and not a samba school. I said that. Today I believe the contrary, when things are well done. In Buenos Aires, once every year we celebrated Mass in the cathedral for the Charismatic Renewal Movement, and everyone came. In other words, I came to recognize the good that has come from the Renewal. And here we cannot forget the great figure, Cardinal Suenens, who had that prophetic and ecumenical vision.
Excerpt of Press Conference

Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

Good afternoon and welcome. Even the water [referring to the rain] is welcome, because the Lord made it. I greatly appreciate your response to my invitation in January to meet here in St Peter’s Square. Thank you for this enthusiastic and warm response. Last year in the stadium I shared with all those present several reflections which I would like to remember today — because it is always good to remember, to recall; the identity of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, from which gave rise to the Renewal in the Spirit association. I shall do so with the words of Cardinal Léon-Joseph Suenens, the great defender of the Charismatic Renewal, as he described it in the second volume of his memoirs.

To start with, in this place, he recalled the extraordinary figure of a woman who did so much at the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal; she was his co-worker who also enjoyed the trust and affection of Pope Paul VI. I am referring to Veronica O’Brien: she was the one who asked the Cardinal to go to the United States to see what was happening, to see with his own eyes what she considered to be the work of the Holy Spirit. It was then that Cardinal Suenens got to know the Charismatic Renewal, which he described as a “flow of grace”, and he was the key person for maintaining it in the Church. At the Mass on Pentecost Monday in 1975, Pope Paul VI thanked him with these words: “In the name of the Lord I thank you for having brought the Charismatic Renewal into the heart of the Church”.

It is not a novelty of some years ago; the Charismatic Renewal has a long history, and in the homily of that very Mass, the Cardinal said: “May the Charismatic Renewal disappear as such and be transformed into a Pentecostal grace for the whole Church: to be faithful to its origin, the river must lose itself in the ocean”.

The river must be lost in the ocean. Yes, if the river comes to a halt the water becomes stagnant; should the Renewal, this current of grace, not end in the ocean of God, in the love of God, it would work for itself and this is not of Jesus Christ, this is of the Evil One, of the father of lies. The Renewal continues, it comes from God and goes to God.

Pope Paul VI blessed this. The Cardinal continued, saying: “The first error that must be avoided is including the Charismatic Renewal in the category of a Movement. It is not a specific Movement; the Renewal is not a Movement in the common sociological sense; it does not have founders, it is not homogeneous and it includes a great variety of realities; it is a current of grace, a renewing breath of the Spirit for all members of the Church, laity, religious, priests and bishops. It is a challenge for us all. One does not form part of the Renewal, rather, the Renewal becomes a part of us provided that we accept the grace it offers us”.

Here Cardinal Suenens spoke of the sovereign work of the Spirit who without human founders, aroused the current of grace in 1967. Renewed men and women who, after having received the grace of Baptism in the Spirit, as fruit of this grace gave life to associations, covenant communities, schools of formation, schools of evangelization, religious congregations, ecumenical communities, communities of help to the poor and the needy.

I myself went to the community of Kkottongnae, during my trip to Korea, and I also visited them in the Philippines. This current of grace has two international organizations recognized by the Holy See which are at its service and at the service of all its expressions throughout the world: “iccrs” and “Catholic Fraternity”. This explains the history a bit, the roots.

Last year in the stadium I also spoke of unity in diversity. I gave the example of an orchestra. In Evangelii Gaudium I spoke of the sphere and of the polyhedron. It is not enough to speak of unity, it is not any sort of unity. It is not uniformity. Said thus it can be understood as the unity of a sphere where every point is equidistant from the centre and there are no differences between one point and another. The model is the polyhedron, which reflects the confluence of all the parts which maintain their originality in it and these are the charisms, in unity but in their own diversity — unity in diversity.

The distinction is important because we are speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit, not our own. Unity in the diversity of expressions of reality, as many as the Holy Spirit wills to arouse. It is also necessary to remember that the whole, namely, this unity, is greater than the part, and the part cannot attribute the whole to itself. For instance, one cannot say: “We are the current called the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and you are not”. This cannot be said. Please, brothers, this is how it is; it does not come from the Spirit; the Holy Spirit blows where he wills, when he wills and as he wills. Unity in diversity and in truth that is Jesus himself. What is the common sign of those who are reborn of this current of grace? To become new men and women, this is Baptism in the Spirit. I ask you to read John 3, verses 7-8: Jesus to Nicodemus, rebirth in the Spirit.

There is another point that it is very important to clarify, in this current of grace: those who lead. Dear brothers and sisters, there is great temptation for the leaders — I repeat, I prefer the term servants, those who serve — and this temptation for the servants comes from the devil, the temptation to believe they are indispensable, no matter what the task is. The devil leads them to believe they are the ones in command, who are at the centre and thus, step by step, they slip into authoritarianism, into personalism and do not let the renewed Communities live in the Spirit. This temptation is such as to make “eternal” the position of those who consider themselves irreplaceable, a position that always has some form of power or dominance over others. This is clear to us: the only irreplaceable one in the Church is the Holy Spirit, and Jesus is the only Lord.

I ask you: who is the only irreplaceable one in the Church? [from the Square: “the Holy Spirit!”] And who is the only Lord? [from the Square: “Jesus!”] Let us say that the Lord Jesus is the Lord, let us praise Jesus, loudly! Jesus is Lord! There are no others. There have been sad cases in this regard. There must be a limited term of office for posts which in reality are services. An important service of leaders, of lay leaders, is to make those who will fill their posts at the end of their service grow and mature spiritually and pastorally. It is appropriate that every service in the Church have an expiry date; there are no lifelong leaders in the Church. This happens in some countries where there is dictatorship. “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart”, says Jesus. This temptation, which is from the devil, makes one go from servant to master, one dominates that community, that group. This temptation also makes one slide into vanity. And there are so many people — we have heard these two testimonies, of the couple and Hugo’s — how many temptations lead to making a community suffer and hinder works, and become an organization an NGO; and power leads us — excuse me but I will say it: how many leaders become vain peacocks? — power leads to vanity! And then one feels one can do anything, and then one slides into business dealings, because the devil always enters through the wallet: this is the devil’s way in.

The founders who received the charism of foundation from the Holy Spirit are different. Because they received it, they have the obligation to look after it, making it mature in their communities and associations. The founders remain such for life, that is, they are the ones who inspire, who give inspiration, but let the inspiration go forward. In Buenos Aires I knew a good founder, who at a certain point became the advisor, and let others become the leaders.

This current of grace leads us forward on a path of the Church that in Italy has borne much fruit, I thank you. I encourage you to go forward. In particular, I ask you for your important contribution, especially to undertake to share with all in the Church the Baptism you have received. You have lived this experience; share it in the Church. And this is the most important service — the most important that can be given to everyone in the Church. To help the People of God in their personal encounter with Jesus Christ, who changes us into new men and women, in little groups, humble but effective, because it is the Spirit at work.

Do not look so much at having large gatherings which often end there, but to “homemade” relationships which stem from witness, in the family, at work, in social life, in parishes, in prayer groups, with all! And here I ask you to take the initiative to create bonds of trust and cooperation with the Bishops, who have the pastoral responsibility to guide the Body of Christ, including Charismatic Renewal. Begin to take the necessary initiatives so that all the Italian charismatic realities born of the current of grace, may bind themselves with these bonds of trust and cooperation directly with their Bishops, there where they are.

There is another strong sign of the Spirit in Charismatic Renewal: the search for unity of the Body of Christ. You, Charismatics, have a special grace to pray and work for Christian unity, so that the current of grace may pass through all Christian Churches. Christian unity is the work of the Holy Spirit and we must pray together — spiritual ecumenism, the ecumenism of prayer. “But, Father, can I pray with an Evangelical, with an Orthodox, with a Lutheran?” — “You must, you must! You have received the same Baptism”. We have all received the same Baptism; we are all going on Jesus’ path, we want Jesus. We have all made these divisions in history, for so many reasons, but not good ones. But now, in fact, is the time in which the Spirit makes us think that these divisions are not good, that these divisions are a counter- testimony, and we must do everything in order to journey together: spiritual ecumenism, the ecumenism of prayer, the ecumenism of work, but of charity at the same time; the ecumenism of reading the Bible together…. To go together towards unity. “But Father, do we have to sign a document for this?” — “Let yourself be carried forward by the Holy Spirit: pray, work, love and then the Spirit will do the rest!”.

This current of grace passes through all Christian Confessions, all of us who believe in Christ — unity first of all in prayer. The work for Christian unity begins with prayer. Pray together.

Unity, for the blood of today’s martyrs makes us one. There is the ecumenism of blood. We know that when those who hate Jesus Christ kill a Christian, before killing him, they do not ask him: “Are you a Lutheran, are you an Orthodox, are you an Evangelical, are you a Baptist, are you a Methodist?” You are Christian! And they sever the head. They are not confused; they know there is a root there, which gives life to all of us and which is called Jesus Christ, and that it is the Holy Spirit who leads us to unity! Those who hate Jesus Christ, led by the Evil One, do not confuse one with the other. They know and therefore kill without asking questions.

And this is something that I entrust to you, perhaps I have already told you this, but it is a true story. It is a true story. In Hamburg, a city of Germany, there was a parish priest who studied the writings to carry forward the cause for the beatification of a priest killed by Nazis, guillotined. The reason: he taught children the catechism. And, as he studied, he discovered that after the priest, five minutes later, a Lutheran pastor was guillotined for the same reason. And the blood of both was mixed: both were martyrs, both were martyrs. It is the ecumenism of blood. If the enemy unites us in death, who are we to be divided in life? Let us allow the Spirit to enter, let us pray to go forward all together. “But there are differences!”. Let us leave them aside; let us walk with what we have in common, which is enough: there is the Holy Trinity; there is Baptism. Let us go forward in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

A few months ago, there were those 23 Egyptians who were also beheaded on the beach in Libya, who in that moment said Jesus’ name. “But they were not Catholics …”. But they were Christians, they are brothers, they are our martyrs! — the ecumenism of blood. Fifty years ago, at the canonization of the young martyrs of Uganda, Blessed Paul VI made reference to the fact that their Anglican companion catechists had also poured out their blood for the same reason; they were Christians, they were martyrs. Excuse me, do not be scandalized, they are our martyrs! Because they gave their life for Christ and this is the ecumenism of blood — pray, remembering our common martyrs.

Unity in working together for the poor and the needy, who are also in need of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It would be so beautiful to organize seminars of life in the Spirit, together with other Christian Charismatic realities, for brothers and sisters who live on the street: they too have the Spirit within who impels them, so that someone will open wide the door from the outside.

It seems that the rain has stopped. The heat is over. The Lord is good, first he gives us heat, then a good shower! He is with us. Let yourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, by this current of grace, which goes forward always in search of unity. No one is the master. There is only one Lord. Who is it? [from the Square: “Jesus!”]. Jesus is the Lord! I remind you: Charismatic Renewal is a Pentecostal grace for the whole Church. Agreed? [from the Square: “Yes!”]. If someone does not agree, raise your hand!

Unity in the diversity of the Spirit, not any unity — the sphere and the polyhedron — remember this well, the common experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the fraternal and direct bond with the diocesan bishop, because the whole is greater than the parts. Then, unity in the Body of Christ: pray together with other Christians, work together with other Christians for the poor and the needy. We all have the same Baptism. Organize seminars of life in the Spirit for brothers and sisters living on the street, also for brothers and sisters marginalized by so much suffering in life. Allow me to recall Hugo’s witness. The Lord called him precisely because the Holy Spirit made him see the joy of following Jesus. Organize seminars of life in the Holy Spirit for people who live on the street.

And then, if the Lord gives us life, I expect you all together at the meeting of the ICCRS and of the Catholic Fraternity, which are already organizing it, all of you and all those who wish to come at Pentecost in 2017 — it is not so far off! — here in St Peter’s Square to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of this current of grace — an opportunity for the Church, as Blessed Paul VI said in St Peter’s Basilica in 1975. We will gather to give thanks to the Holy Spirit for the gift of this current of grace, which is for the Church and for the world, and to celebrate the wonders that the Holy Spirit has worked in the course of these 50 years, changing the life of millions of Christians.

Thank you again for having responded joyfully to my invitation. May Jesus bless you and may the Holy Virgin protect you. And, please, do not forget to pray for me, because I need it. Thank you.


Before the final Blessing, the Pope spoke the following words:

And with Bibles, with the Word of God, go, preach the novelty that Jesus has given us. Preach to the poor, to the marginalized, to the blind, to the sick, to the imprisoned, to all men and women. Within each one is the Spirit, who wishes to be helped to open wide the door to make him flourish again. May the Lord accompany you in this mission, with the Bible always in hand, with the Gospel always in your pocket, with the Word of Christ.


Pope Francis recited the following prayer:

We adore You, Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Father, send us the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised us. He will guide us to unity. He is the One who gives the charisms, who works variety in the Church, and it is He who brings about unity. Send us the Holy Spirit, that He may teach us all that Jesus taught us and that He may give us the memory of what Jesus said. Jesus, Lord, You asked for us all the grace of unity in this Church which is yours, not ours. History has divided us. Jesus, help us to go on the path of unity or of reconciled diversity. Lord, You always do what you promise, give us the unity of all Christians. Amen.
Address of Pope Francis

Dear brothers and sisters,

Welcome! I thank you for your warm welcome and I greet you all with affection. I know that the Catholic Fraternity has already met with the executive and the council and that this afternoon you will open the Sixteenth International Conference with our beloved Father Raniero. You have been kind enough to provide me with a programme and I see that each meeting begins with the words which I addressed to the Charismatic Renewal on the occasion of our meeting at the Olympic Stadium last June.

I wish first of all to congratulate each of you for having embarked upon something which was expressed as a desire at that meeting. For the last two months the Catholic Fraternity and the ICCRS (International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services) have worked together and shared office space in the Palazzo San Calisto, “Noah’s Ark”. I am aware that it may not have been easy to make this decision and I thank you sincerely for this witness to unity and grace which you offer to the entire world.

I would like now to reflect upon some themes which I consider important. The first is unity in diversity. Uniformity is not Catholic, it is not Christian. Rather, unity in diversity. Catholic unity is different but it is one: this is curious! The cause of diversity is also the cause of unity: the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does two things: he creates unity in diversity. Unity does not imply uniformity; it does not necessarily mean doing everything together or thinking in the same way. Nor does it signify a loss of identity. Unity in diversity is actually the opposite: it involves the joyful recognition and acceptance of the various gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to each one and the placing of these gifts at the service of all members of the Church. It means knowing how to listen, to accept differences, and having the freedom to think differently and express oneself with complete respect towards the other who is my brother or sister. Do not be afraid of differences! As I wrote in Evangelii Gaudium: “Our model is not the sphere, which is no greater than its parts, where every point is equidistant from the centre, and there are no differences between them. Instead, it is the polyhedron, which reflects the convergence of all its parts, each of which preserves its distinctiveness” (236), but they form a unity.

I can see from the programme, where the names of the Communities are mentioned, that at the introduction you have inserted the phrase, “…to share the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the whole Church”. The Church needs the Holy Spirit, how could it be otherwise! Every Christian in his or her life requires a heart open to the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, promised by the Father, is he who reveals Jesus Christ to us, who gives us the possibility of saying: Jesus! Without the Holy Spirit we cannot say this. The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus Christ, he leads us to a personal encounter with him, and in so doing, changes our life. A question for you: is this your experience? Share it with others! In order to share this experience, you must live it and witness to it!

The theme which you have chosen for the Congress is “Praise and Worship for a New Evangelization.” Fr Raniero, a masterful guide in the ways of prayer, will speak on this theme. Praise is the “breath” which gives us life, because it is intimacy with God, an intimacy that grows through daily praise. Some time ago I heard an example of this which seems very appropriate: the way that people breathe. Breathing is made up of two stages: inhaling, the intake of air, and exhaling, the letting out of this air. The spiritual life is fed, nourished, by prayer and is expressed outwardly through mission: inhaling – prayer – and then exhaling. When we inhale, by prayer, we receive the fresh air of the Holy Spirit. When exhaling this air, we announce Jesus Christ risen by the same Spirit. No one can live without breathing. It is the same for the Christian: without praise and mission there is no Christian life. Praise, adoration are needed. When speaking of adoration, little is said. What do we do when praying? We ask something from God, we thank him, we intercede. But adoration, adoring God is part of a Christian’s breathing: praise and adoration.

The Charismatic Renewal has reminded the Church of the necessity and importance of the prayer of praise. When we speak of the prayer of praise in the Church, Charismatics come to mind. When I spoke of the prayer of praise during a homily at Mass in Santa Martha, I said it is not only the prayer of Charismatics but of the entire Church! It is the recognition of the Lordship of God over us and over all creation expressed through dance, music and song.

I would like to revisit with you a few passages from that homily: “The prayer of praise is a Christian prayer, for all of us. In the Mass, every day, when we sing the ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’, this is a prayer of praise: we praise God for his greatness because he is great. And we address him with beautiful words because it pleases us to do this. The prayer of praise bears fruit in us. Sarah danced as she celebrated her fertility – at the age of ninety! This fruitfulness gives praise to God. Men and women who praise the Lord, who pray praising the Lord – and who are happy to do so – rejoice in singing the Sanctus at Mass and they bear fruit. Let us consider how beautiful it is to offer the prayer of praise to God. This should be our prayer and, as we offer it up to God, we ought to say to ourselves, “Arise, O heart, because you are standing before the King of Glory” (Holy Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae, 28 January 2014).

Together with the prayer of praise, the prayer of intercession is, in these days, a cry to the Father for our Christian brothers and sisters who are persecuted and murdered, and for the cause of peace in our turbulent world. Praise the Lord at all times, never cease to do so, praise him more and more, unceasingly. I have been told of Charismatic prayer groups in which they pray the Rosary. Prayer to the Mother of God must never be excluded, never! But when you assemble for prayer, praise the Lord!

I see that you have among you a very dear friend, Pastor Giovanni Traettino, whom I visited recently. Catholic Fraternity, do not forget your origins, do not forget that the Charismatic Renewal is, by its very nature, ecumenical. Blessed Paul VI commented on this in the magnificent Apostolic Exhortation on evangelization which is highly relevant in our own day: “The power of evangelization will find itself considerably diminished if those who proclaim the Gospel are divided among themselves in all sorts of ways. Is this not perhaps one of the great sicknesses of evangelization today? The Lord’s spiritual testament tells us that unity among his followers is not only the proof that we are his but also the proof that he is sent by the Father. It is the test of the credibility of Christians and of Christ himself. Yes, the destiny of evangelization is certainly bound up with the witness of unity given by the Church. This is a source of responsibility and also of comfort” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 77). These words are of Blessed Paul VI.

Spiritual ecumenism is praying and proclaiming together that Jesus is Lord, and coming together to help the poor in all their poverty. This must be done while never forgetting in our day that the blood of Jesus, poured out by many Christian martyrs in various parts of the world, calls us and compels us towards the goal of unity. For persecutors, we are not divided, we are not Lutherans, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Catholics…No! We are one in their eyes! For persecutors we are Christians! They are not interested in anything else. This is the ecumenism of blood that we experience today.

Remember: seek the unity which is the work of the Holy Spirit and do not be afraid of diversity. The breathing of Christians draws in the new air of the Holy Spirit and then exhales it upon the world: it is the prayer of praise and missionary outreach. Share baptism in the Holy Spirit with everyone in the Church. Spiritual ecumenism and the ecumenism of blood. The unity of the Body of Christ. Prepare the Bride for the Bridegroom who comes! One Bride only! All. (Rev 22:17).

Finally, in addition to my thanks, I would especially like to mention these young musicians from northern Brazil who have played at the beginning; I hope they play a little more. They have welcomed me with much affection, singing “Long live Jesus my Saviour”. I know that you have prepared something else and so I invite everyone to listen to them before I say farewell. Thank you!
Text of the Address by Pope Francis

To priests:

To you priests I would say just one word: closeness. Closeness to Jesus Christ, in prayer and adoration. Closeness to the Lord, and closeness to people, to God’s people who have been entrusted to you. Love your people, stay close to them. This is what I ask of you, this double closeness: to Jesus and to people.

To young people:

It would be sad if a young person locked up his youth in a safe: that youth would then get old in the worst sense of the word: it would become an old rag, something useless. Youth is for taking risks – good risks, risks full of hope. It is meant to be staked on great things. Youth is meant to be given away, to help others to know the Lord. Don’t keep your youth to yourselves: get out there!

To families:

Families are the domestic Church, where Jesus grows; he grows in the love of spouses, he grows in the lives of children. That is why the enemy so often attacks the family. The devil does not want the family; he tries to destroy it, to make sure that there is no love there. Married couples are sinners, like us all, but they want to go forward in faith, in fruitfulness, in their children and their children’s faith. May the Lord bless families and strengthen them in this time of crisis when the devil is seeking to destroy them.

To the disabled:

Our brothers and sisters who are suffering, who are ill or handicapped, are brothers and sisters anointed by Jesus’ own sufferings. They imitate Jesus at the hardest time of his own life, the time of his cross. They endure this anointing of suffering for the sake of the whole Church. Thank you, dear brothers and sisters! Thank you for accepting to be anointed by suffering. Thank you for the hope to which you bear witness, the hope which carries us forward as we seek the caress of Jesus.

To the elderly:

I was saying to Salvatore that perhaps there are people missing here, perhaps the most important of all: grandparents! The elderly are not here, yet they are the “insurance” of our faith, the “old folks”. When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple, two of them were there, and, unless I am mistaken, four if not five times the Gospel says that “they were led by the Holy Spirit”. But it says of Mary and Joseph that they were led by the Law. Young people must carry out the Law, the elderly – like good wine – have the freedom of the Holy Spirit. And so this Simeon, who was courageous, invented a “liturgy” and praised God; he was praising… and it was the Spirit who impelled him to do so. The elderly! They are our wisdom, they are the wisdom of the Church – the elderly whom we so often discard, grandparents, the elderly… And that little old lady, Anna, did something extraordinary in the Church: she canonized gossip! How did she do it? Like this: instead of gossiping about somebody else, she went all over town talking about Jesus: “He is the one, he is the one who is going to save us!” And this is a good thing. Grandmothers and grandfathers are our strength and our wisdom. May the Lord always give us wise elders! Elderly men and women who can pass on to us the memory of our people, the memory of the Church. May they also give us what the Letter to the Hebrews says about them: a sense of joy. It says that our forebears, our elders, greeted God’s promises from afar. May this be what they teach us.

Prayer of the Holy Father:

Lord, look upon your people as we await the Holy Spirit. Watch over our young people, watch over our families, watch over our children, watch over our sick, watch over our priests, consecrated men and women, and us bishops… Watch over us all. And grant us that holy inebriation, the drunkenness of the Spirit, which enables us to speak all languages, the languages of charity, ever close to our brothers and sisters who need us. Teach us not to quarrel among ourselves to get a little more power; teach us to be humble, teach us to love the Church more than our own side, than our internal squabbles; teach us to have a heart open to receive the Spirit. Lord, send forth your Spirit upon us! Amen.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you so much for your welcome. Someone must have told today’s organizers that I really like the hymn: “Jesus the Lord lives”. When I would celebrate Mass in the cathedral in Buenos Aires with the charismatic renewal, after the consecration and a few moments of adoration in tongues, we would sing this hymn with great joy and fervour, as you have today. Thank you! I felt at home!

I thank Renewal in the Spirit, ICCRS and the Catholic Fraternity for this opportunity to be with you, which is a source of great joy for me. I am grateful for the presence here of the first members of the renewal, who had an intense experience of the Holy Spirit’s power. I believe that Patty is here… You, the charismatic renewal, have received a great gift from the Lord. Your movement’s birth was willed by the Holy Spirit to be “a current of grace in the Church and for the Church”. This is your identity: to be a current of grace.

What is the very first gift of the Holy Spirit? It is the gift of himself, the one who is love and who makes us fall in love with Jesus. And this love changes our lives. That is why we speak of “being born again in the Spirit”. It is what Jesus told Nicodemus. You have received the great gift of diversity of charisms, the diversity which becomes harmony in the Holy Spirit, and in service to the Church.

When I think of charismatics, I think of the Church herself, but in a particular way: I think of a great orchestra, where all the instruments and voices are different from one another, yet all are needed to create the harmony of the music. Saint Paul speaks of this in the twelfth chapter of the First Letter to the Corinthians. As in an orchestra, no one in the renewal can think of himself or herself as being more important or greater than the others, please! Because when you think of yourselves as more important or greater, disaster is already on the horizon! No one can say: “I am the head”. Like the Church, you have only one head, one Lord: the Lord Jesus. Repeat with me: Who is the head of the renewal? The Lord Jesus! Who is the head of the renewal? [the crowd:] The Lord Jesus! And we can say this with the power given us by the Holy Spirit, since no one can say “Jesus is Lord” without the Holy Spirit.

As you may know – because news gets around – in the first years of the charismatic renewal in Buenos Aires, I didn’t care very much for charismatics. I used to think: “They strike me as some kind of samba school!” I didn’t share their style of prayer or the many new things which were happening in the Church. Later, I got to know them and I finally realized all the good that the charismatic renewal was doing for the Church. And this story which began with the “samba school” had an unexpected ending: a few months before entering the conclave, I was named the spiritual assistant for the charismatic renewal in Argentina by the Conference of Bishops.

The charismatic renewal is a great force meant to serve the preaching of the Gospel in the joy of the Holy Spirit. You received the Holy Spirit and he has made you appreciate God’s love for all his children; he has also made you love God’s word. In the early days, they used to say that you charismatics always carried around a Bible, the New Testament… Do you still carry one today? [the crowd:] Yes! – I’m not so sure! If not, return to this first love, and always carry the word of God in your pocket or bag! And read a bit of it. Keep the word of God with you always.

You, the people of God, the people of the charismatic renewal, must be careful not to lose the freedom which the Holy Spirit has given you! The danger for the renewal, as our dear Father Raniero Cantalamessa often says, is that of getting too organized: the danger of excessive planning.

Yes, you need organization, but never lose the grace of letting God be God! “Yet there is no greater freedom than that of allowing oneself to be guided by the Holy Spirit, renouncing the attempt to plan and control everything to the last detail, and instead letting him enlighten, guide, and direct us, leading us wherever he wills. The Holy Spirit knows well what is needed in every time and place. This is what it means to be mysteriously fruitful!” (Evangelii Gaudium, 280).

Another danger is that of becoming arbiters of God’s grace. Many times, leaders (I prefer the name “servants”) of a group or community become, perhaps without intending to, “managers” of grace, deciding who can receive the prayer of outpouring or baptism in the Spirit and who cannot. If any of you are doing this, I ask you to stop; no more! You are dispensers of God’s grace, not its arbiters! Don’t act like a tollhouse for the Holy Spirit!

In the Malines Documents, you have a guide, a reliable path to keep you from going astray. The first document is Theological and Pastoral Orientations. The second is Ecumenism and Charismatic Renewal, written by Cardinal Suenens himself, an outstanding figure of the Second Vatican Council. The third is Charismatic Renewal and Social Action, written by Cardinal Suenens and Bishop Helder Camara.

This is your path: evangelization, spiritual ecumenism, caring for the poor and needy, and welcoming the marginalized. And all of it is based on worship! The foundation of the renewal is worshiping God!

They asked me to tell you what the Pope expects of you.

The first thing is conversion to the love of Jesus which changes our lives and makes each Christian a witness to God’s love. The Church expects this witness of Christian life from us, and the Holy Spirit helps us to live the Gospel fully and consistently for our own growth in holiness.

I expect you to share with everyone in the Church the grace of baptism in the Holy Spirit (a phrase we find in the Acts of the Apostles).

I expect you to evangelize with the word of God, which proclaims that Jesus lives and that he loves all men and women.

To give a witness of spiritual ecumenism to all our brothers and sisters of other Churches and Christian communities who believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

To remain united in the love that the Lord Jesus asks us to have for all people, and in prayer to the Holy Spirit for the attainment of this unity which is necessary for evangelization in the name of Jesus. Remember that “the charismatic renewal is de factoecumenical in nature … The Catholic renewal rejoices in what the Holy Spirit is accomplishing in the other Churches” (1 Malines 5,3).

Be close to the poor and to those in need, so as to touch in their flesh the wounded flesh of Jesus. Please, draw near to them!

Seek unity in the renewal, because unity comes from the Holy Spirit and is born of the unity of the Trinity. Who is the source of division? The devil! Division comes from the devil. Flee from all infighting, please! Let there be none of this among you!

I wish to thank ICCRS and Catholic Fraternity, the two groups of pontifical right of the Pontifical Council for the Laity which are at the service of the worldwide renewal and are entrusted with preparing the world meeting of priests and Bishops in June of next year. I know that they have decided to work together and to share office space as a sign of unity and to make better use of their resources. This makes me very happy. I would also like to thank them because they are already working on preparations for the great jubilee of 2017.

Brothers and sisters, remember: Worship the Lord your God. This is fundamental! Worship God. Seek holiness in the new life of the Holy Spirit. Be dispensers of the grace of God. Avoid the danger of excessive organization.

Go out into the streets and evangelize. Proclaim the Gospel. Remember that the Church was born “on the move”, that Pentecost morning. Draw close to the poor and touch in their flesh the wounded flesh of Jesus. Let yourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, in freedom; and please, don’t put the Holy Spirit in a cage! Be free!

Seek unity in the renewal, the unity which comes from the Trinity!

And I am waiting for all of you, charismatics the world over, to celebrate with the Pope your great jubilee on the feast of Pentecost 2017 in Saint Peter’s Square! Thank you!
Address by Pope Francis

Marcio Campos:

Holy Father, I want to say that whenever you miss Brazil, the joyful Brazilian people, hold onto the flag that I gave you. I would also like to thank my colleagues at the daily newspapers Folha de São Paulo, Estado, Globo and Veja for being able to represent them in this question. Holy Father, it is difficult to accompany a Pope, very difficult. We are all tired, you are going strong and we are exhausted… In Brazil, the Catholic Church has lost a number of the faithful in these recent years. Is the Charismatic Renewal movement one possible way for ensuring that the faithful do not go to the Pentecostal Church or other pentecostal churches? Many thanks for your presence and many thanks for being with us.

Pope Francis:

It is very true what you are saying about the fall in numbers of the faithful: it is true, it is true. The statistics are there. We spoke with the Brazilian bishops about the problem at a meeting held yesterday. You asked about the Charismatic Renewal movement. I’ll tell you one thing. Back at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, I had no time for them. Once, speaking about them, I said: “These people confuse a liturgical celebration with samba lessons!” I actually said that. Now I regret it. I learned. It is also true that the movement, with good leaders, has made great progress. Now I think that this movement does much good for the Church, overall. In Buenos Aires, I met frequently with them and once a year I celebrated a Mass with all of them in the Cathedral. I have always supported them, after I was converted, after I saw the good they were doing. Because at this time in the Church – and here I’ll make my answer a little more general – I believe that the movements are necessary. The movements are a grace of the Spirit. “But how can you control a movement which is so free?” The Church is free, too! The Holy Spirit does what he wants. He is the one who creates harmony, but I do believe that the movements are a grace, those movements which have the spirit of the Church. Consequently I don’t think that the Charismatic Renewal movement merely prevents some people from passing over to pentecostal denominations. No! It is also a service to the Church herself! It renews us. Everyone seeks his own movement, according to his own charism, where the Holy Spirit draws him or her.
Comments from Pope Francis

Pope Benedict XVI

Photo of Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Following the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005, and his funeral on April 8, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presided over the conclave to elect a new pope as dean of the College of Cardinals.  The conclave opened on April 18 and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as the 265th Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church on April 19, 2005.  He chose the name “Benedict” and  became Pope Benedict XVI.

On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict unexpectedly announced his resignation in a speech in Latin before the cardinals, citing a “lack of strength of mind and body” due to his advanced age (he was 85 years old at the time).  His resignation became effective on 28 February 2013. He is the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so on his own initiative since Celestine V in 1294.

Pope Benedict XVI served for nearly eight years as Pope of the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Joseph Ratzinger, was born on April 16, 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany. He was ordained a priest on June 29, 1951. His father, a police officer, came from a traditional family of farmers from Lower Bavaria.

He spent his adolescent years in Traunstein, and was called into the auxiliary anti-aircraft service in the last months of World War II. From 1946 to 1951, the year in which he was ordained a priest and began to teach, he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at the higher school in Freising. In 1953, he obtained a doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled: “The People and House of God in St. Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church”. Four years later, he qualified as a university teacher. He then taught dogma and fundamental theology at the higher school of philosophy and theology of Freising, then in Bonn from 1959 to 1969, in Münster from 1963 to 1966, and in Tubinga from 1966 to 1969.  In 1969, he became a professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg and Vice President of the same university.

In March 1977, Pope Paul VI named Fr. Ratzinger Archbishop of Munich and Freising and on May 28, 1977 he was consecrated — the first diocesan priest in 80 years to take over the pastoral ministry of the large Bavarian diocese. Paul VI elevated him to the College of Cardinals in the consistory of June 27, 1977.

On November 25, 1981, he was nominated by John Paul II to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals on November 6, 1998. On November 30, 2002, he was elected as Dean of the College of Cardinals.

He served as President of the Commission for the Preparation of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, and after six  years of work, he presented the New Catechism to the Holy Father in 1992.

Following the death of John Paul II on April 2, 2005, Cardinal Ratzinger presided over the conclave to elect a new pope.  It opened on April 18 and Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as the 265th Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church on April 19, 2005.  He chose the name “Benedict” and  became Pope Benedict XVI.
Excerpts from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

On February 11, 2013, Benedict unexpectedly announced his resignation in a speech in Latin before the cardinals, citing a “lack of strength of mind and body” due to his advanced age. His resignation became effective on 28 February 2013. He is the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to do so on his own initiative since Celestine V in 1294. As pope emeritus, Benedict retains the style of His Holiness, and the title of pope, and continues to dress in the papal colour of white. He was succeeded by Pope Francis on 13 March 2013, and he moved into the newly renovated monastery Mater Ecclesiae for his retirement on May 2, 2013. In his retirement, Benedict XVI has made occasional public appearances alongside Pope Francis.
Excerpt from Wikipedia

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am very pleased to address my cordial welcome to all of you and I thank you for paying this visit to me on the occasion of the Second International Meeting of Bishops who accompany the new Communities of the Catholic Charismatic Movement, of the International Council of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships and, lastly, of the 13th International Conference held in Assisi on the theme: “We preach Christ crucified, power and wisdom of God” (cf. 1 Cor 1: 23-24), at which the principal Communities of the Charismatic Renewal Movement in the world are taking part. I greet you, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, and all of you who work at the service of the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities. I address a special greeting to Prof. Matteo Calisi, President of the Catholic Fraternity, who has been the interpreter of your sentiments.

As I have been able to affirm in other circumstances, the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities which blossomed after the Second Vatican Council, constitute a unique gift of the Lord and a precious resource for the life of the Church. They should be accepted with trust and valued for the various contributions they place at the service of the common benefit in an ordered and fruitful way. Your current reflection on the centrality of Christ in preaching is very interesting as well as on the importance of “Charisms in the life of the particular Church”, referring to Pauline theology, the New Testament and the experience of the Charismatic Renewal. What we learn in the New Testament on charism, which appeared as visible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit, is not a historical event of the past, but a reality ever alive. It is the same divine Spirit, soul of the Church, that acts in every age and those mysterious and effective interventions of the Spirit are manifest in our time in a providential way. The Movements and New Communities are like an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in contemporary society. We can, therefore, rightly say that one of the positive elements and aspects of the Community of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is precisely their emphasis on the charisms or gifts of the Holy Spirit and their merit lies in having recalled their topicality in the Church.

In various Documents the Second Vatican Council makes reference to the Movements and new Ecclesial Communities, especially in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, where we read: “Whether these charisms be very remarkable or more simple and widely diffused, they are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation” (n. 12). Later the Catechism of the Catholic Church also emphasized the value and importance of new charisms in the Church, whose authenticity however is guaranteed by their openness to subject themselves to the discernment of the ecclesiastic authority (cf. n. 2003). Precisely because we are assisting at a promising flowering of Movements and Ecclesial Communities, it is important that Pastors exercise prudent and wise discernment in their regard. I sincerely hope that dialogue between Pastors and Ecclesial Movements intensifies at all levels: parish, diocesan and with the Apostolic See. I know that opportune ways are being studied to give Pontifical recognition to the New Movements and Ecclesial Communities and many have already received it. This fact the recognition or establishment of international associations on the part of the Holy See for the universal Church Pastors, especially Bishops, cannot fail to take it into account in their dutiful discernment that lies within their competence (cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops Apostolorum Successores, ch. 4, 8).

Dear brothers and sisters, among these new ecclesial realities recognized by the Holy See is listed also your Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships, International Association of the faithful that carries out a specific mission in the heart of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (cf. Decree of the Pontifical Council for Laity, 30 November 1990, protocol 1585/5-6/B-50). One of its objectives, conforming to the indications of my venerable Predecessor John Paul ii is to safeguard the Catholic identity of Charismatic Communities and to encourage them to maintain a strict bond with the Bishops and with the Roman Pontiff (cf. Autograph Letter to the Catholic Fraternity, 1 June 1998). Also I was pleased to learn that the Constitutions propose to establish a Permanent Formation Centre for the members and leaders of Charismatic Communities. This would allow the Catholic Fraternity to better appreciate its own ecclesial mission oriented to evangelization, to the liturgy, to adoration, to ecumenism, to the family, to youth and to vocations of special consecration. It is a mission that will be further assisted by the transfer of the International Headquarters of the Association to Rome, with the possibility of being in close contact with the Pontifical Council for Laity.

Dear brothers and sisters, safeguarding the fidelity to the Catholic and ecclesial identity on the part of each one of your communities will permit you to render everywhere a living and active witness of the profound mystery of the Church. And it will be this indeed that promotes the capacity of the various communities to attract new members. I entrust the work of your respective conventions to the protection of Mary, Mother of the Church, living Temple of the Holy Spirit, and to the intercession of Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi, examples of holiness and spiritual renewal, while I affectionately impart to you and to all your communities a special Apostolic Blessing.
Address by Pope Benedict XVI

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

You have come to St Peter’s Square this evening in really large numbers to take part in the Pentecost Vigil. I warmly thank you. You belong to different peoples and cultures and represent here all the members of the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, spiritually gathered round the Successor of Peter to proclaim the joy of believing in Jesus Christ and to renew the commitment to be faithful disciples in our time.

I thank you for your participation and address my cordial greeting to each one of you. My affectionate thoughts go in the first place to the Cardinals, to my venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood and to the men and women Religious.

I greet those in charge of your numerous Ecclesial Associations who show how alive the Holy Spirit’s action is among the People of God. I greet the organizers of this extraordinary event, and especially those who work at the Pontifical Council for the Laity with Bishop Josef Clemens, the Secretary, and Archbishop Stanislaw Ryko, the President, to whom I am also grateful for his cordial words at the beginning of the Vespers Liturgy.

A similar meeting that took place in this same Square on 30 May 1998 with beloved Pope John Paul II springs to mind. A great evangelizer of our time, he accompanied and guided you throughout his Pontificate.  He described your Associations and Communities on many occasions as “providential”, especially because the Sanctifying Spirit makes use of them to reawaken faith in so many Christian hearts and to reveal to them the vocation they have received with Baptism. He also helps them to be witnesses of hope filled with that fire of love which is bestowed upon us precisely by the Holy Spirit.

Let us ask ourselves now, at this Pentecost Vigil, who or what is the Holy Spirit? How can we recognize him? How do we go to him and how does he come to us? What does he do?

The Church’s great Pentecostal hymn with which we began Vespers: Veni, Creator Spiritus … Come, Holy Spirit” gives us a first answer. Here the hymn refers to the first verses of the Bible that describe the creation of the universe with recourse to images.

The Bible says first of all that the Spirit of God was moving over the chaos, over the waters of the abyss.

The world in which we live is the work of the Creator Spirit. Pentecost is not only the origin of the Church and thus in a special way her feast; Pentecost is also a feast of creation. The world does not exist by itself; it is brought into being by the creative Spirit of God, by the creative Word of God. For this reason Pentecost also mirrors God’s wisdom. In its breadth and in the omni-comprehensive logic of its laws, God’s wisdom permits us to glimpse something of his Creator Spirit. It elicits reverential awe.

Those very people who, as Christians, believe in the Creator Spirit become aware of the fact that we cannot use and abuse the world and matter merely as material for our actions and desires; that we must consider creation a gift that has not been given to us to be destroyed, but to become God’s garden, hence, a garden for men and women.

In the face of the many forms of abuse of the earth that we see today, let us listen, as it were, to the groaning of creation of which St Paul speaks (Rom 8: 22); let us begin by understanding the Apostle’s words, that creation waits with impatience for the revelation that we are children of God, to be set free from bondage and obtain his splendour.

Dear friends, we want to be these children of God for whom creation is waiting, and we can become them because the Lord has made us such in Baptism. Yes, creation and history — they are waiting for us, for men and women who are truly children of God and behave as such.

If we look at history, we see that creation prospered around monasteries, just as with the reawakening of God’s Spirit in human hearts the brightness of the Creator Spirit has also been restored to the earth — a splendour that has been clouded and at times even extinguished by the barbarity of the human mania for power.

Moreover, the same thing happened once again around Francis of Assisi — it has happened everywhere as God’s Spirit penetrates souls, this Spirit whom our hymn describes as light, love and strength.

Thus, we have discovered an initial answer to the question as to what the Holy Spirit is, what he does and how we can recognize him. He comes to meet us through creation and its beauty.

However, in the course of human history, a thick layer of dirt has covered God’s good creation, which makes it difficult if not impossible to perceive in it the Creator’s reflection, although the knowledge of the Creator’s existence is reawakened within us ever anew, as it were, spontaneously, at the sight of a sunset over the sea, on an excursion to the mountains or before a flower that has just bloomed.

But the Creator Spirit comes to our aid. He has entered history and speaks to us in a new way. In Jesus Christ, God himself was made man and allowed us, so to speak, to cast a glance at the intimacy of God himself.

And there we see something totally unexpected: in God, an “I” and a “You” exist. The mysterious God is not infinite loneliness, he is an event of love. If by gazing at creation we think we can glimpse the Creator Spirit, God himself, rather like creative mathematics, like a force that shapes the laws of the world and their order, but then, even, also like beauty — now we come to realize: the Creator Spirit has a heart. He is Love.

The Son who speaks to the Father exists and they are both one in the Spirit, who constitutes, so to speak, the atmosphere of giving and loving which makes them one God. This unity of love which is God, is a unity far more sublime than the unity of a last indivisible particle could be. The Triune God himself is the one and only God.

Through Jesus let us as it were cast a glance at God in his intimacy. John, in his Gospel, expressed it like this:  “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (Jn 1: 18).

Yet Jesus did not only let us see into God’s intimacy; with him, God also emerged, as it were, from his intimacy and came to meet us. This happened especially in his life, passion, death and Resurrection; in his words.

Jesus, however is not content with coming to meet us. He wants more. He wants unification. This is the meaning of the images of the banquet and the wedding.

Not only must we know something about him, but through him we must be drawn to God. For this reason he had to die and be raised, since he is now no longer to be found in any specific place, but his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, emanates from him and enters our hearts, thereby uniting us with Jesus himself and with the Father, the Triune God.

Pentecost is this: Jesus, and through him God himself, actually comes to us and draws us to himself. “He sends forth the Holy Spirit” — this is what Scripture says. What effect does this have?

I would like first of all to pick out two aspects:  the Holy Spirit, through whom God comes to us, brings us life and freedom. Let us look at both these things a little more closely.

“I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly”, Jesus says in the Gospel of John (10: 10). Life and freedom: these are the things for which we all yearn. But what is this — where and how do we find “life”?

I think that the vast majority of human beings spontaneously have the same concept of life as the Prodigal Son of the Gospel. He had his share of the patrimony given to him and then felt free; in the end, what he wanted was to live no longer burdened by the duties of home, but just to live. He wanted everything that life can offer. He wanted to enjoy it to the full — living, only living, immersed in life’s abundance, missing none of all the valuable things it can offer.

In the end he found himself caring for pigs and even envying those animals — his life had become so empty and so useless. And his freedom was also proving useless.

When all that people want from life is to take possession of it, it becomes ever emptier and poorer; it is easy to end up seeking refuge in drugs, in the great deception. And doubts surface as to whether, in the end, life is truly a good.

No, we do not find life in this way. Jesus’ words about life in abundance are found in the Good Shepherd discourse. His words are set in a double context.

Concerning the shepherd, Jesus tells us that he lays down his life. “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (cf. Jn 10: 18). It is only in giving life that it is found; life is not found by seeking to possess it. This is what we must learn from Christ; and the Holy Spirit teaches us that it is a pure gift, that it is God’s gift of himself. The more one gives one’s life for others, for goodness itself, the more abundantly the river of life flows.

Secondly, the Lord tells us that life unfolds in walking with the Shepherd who is familiar with the pasture — the places where the sources of life flow.

We find life in communion with the One who is life in person — in communion with the living God, a communion into which we are introduced by the Holy Spirit, who is called in the hymn of Vespers “fons vivus”, a living source.

The pasture where the sources of life flow is the Word of God as we find it in Scripture, in the faith of the Church. The pasture is God himself who we learn to recognize in the communion of faith through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Dear friends, the Movements were born precisely of the thirst for true life; they are Movements for life in every sense.

Where the true source of life no longer flows, where people only appropriate life instead of giving it, wherever people are ready to dispose of unborn life because it seems to take up room in their own lives, it is there that the life of others is most at risk.

If we want to protect life, then we must above all rediscover the source of life; then life itself must re-emerge in its full beauty and sublimeness; then we must let ourselves be enlivened by the Holy Spirit, the creative source of life.

The theme of freedom has just been mentioned. The Prodigal Son’s departure is linked precisely with the themes of life and freedom. He wanted life and therefore desired to be totally liberated. Being free, in this perspective, means being able to do whatever I like, not being bound to accept any criterion other than and over and above myself. It means following my own desires and my own will alone.

Those who live like this very soon clash with others who want to live the same way. The inevitable consequence of this selfish concept of freedom is violence and the mutual destruction of freedom and life.

Sacred Scripture, on the other hand, connects the concept of freedom with that of sonship. St Paul says:  “You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship”, through which we cry, “‘Abba! Father!'” (Rom 8: 15). What does this mean?

St Paul presupposes the social system of the ancient world in which slaves existed. They owned nothing, so they could not be involved in the proper development of things.

Co-respectively, there were sons who were also heirs and were therefore concerned with the preservation and good administration of their property or the preservation of the State. Since they were free, they also had responsibility.

Leaving aside the sociological background of that time, the principle still holds true:  freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. True freedom is demonstrated in responsibility, in a way of behaving in which one takes upon oneself a shared responsibility for the world, for oneself and for others. The son, to whom things belong and who, consequently, does not let them be destroyed, is free. All the worldly responsibilities of which we have spoken are nevertheless partial responsibilities for a specific area, a specific State, etc.

The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, makes us sons and daughters of God. He involves us in the same responsibility that God has for his world, for the whole of humanity. He teaches us to look at the world, others and ourselves with God’s eyes. We do not do good as slaves who are not free to act otherwise, but we do it because we are personally responsible for the world; because we love truth and goodness, because we love God himself and therefore, also his creatures. This is the true freedom to which the Holy Spirit wants to lead us.

The Ecclesial Movements want to and must be schools of freedom, of this true freedom. Let us learn in them this true freedom, not the freedom of slaves that aims to cut itself a slice of the cake that belongs to everyone even if this means that some do not get any.

We want the true, great freedom, the freedom of heirs, the freedom of children of God. In this world, so full of fictitious forms of freedom that destroy the environment and the human being, let us learn true freedom by the power of the Holy Spirit; to build the school of freedom; to show others by our lives that we are free and how beautiful it is to be truly free with the true freedom of God’s children.

The Holy Spirit, in giving life and freedom, also gives unity. These are three gifts that are inseparable from one another. I have already gone on too long; but let me say a brief word about unity.

To understand it, we might find a sentence useful which at first seems rather to distance us from it. Jesus said to Nicodemus, who came to him with his questions by night:  “The wind blows where it wills” (Jn 3: 8). But the Spirit’s will is not arbitrary. It is the will of truth and goodness. Therefore, he does not blow from anywhere, now from one place and then from another; his breath is not wasted but brings us together because the truth unites and love unites.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Spirit who unites the Father with the Son in Love, which in the one God he gives and receives. He unites us so closely that St Paul once said: “You are all one in Jesus Christ” (Gal 3: 28).

With his breath, the Holy Spirit impels us towards Christ. The Holy Spirit acts corporeally; he does not only act subjectively or “spiritually”.

The Risen Christ said to his disciples, who supposed that they were seeing only a “spirit”:  “It is I myself; touch me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (cf. Lk 24: 39).

This applies for the Risen Christ in every period of history. The Risen Christ is not a ghost, he is not merely a spirit, a thought, only an idea.

He has remained incarnate — it is the Risen One who took on our flesh — and always continues to build his Body, making us his Body. The Spirit breathes where he wills, and his will is unity embodied, a unity that encounters the world and transforms it.

In his Letter to the Ephesians, St Paul tell us that this Body of Christ, which is the Church, has joints (cf. 4: 16) and even names them:  they are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (cf. 4: 12). In his gifts, the Spirit is multifaceted — we see it here. If we look at history, if we look at this assembly here in St Peter’s Square, then we realize that he inspires ever new gifts; we see how different are the bodies that he creates and how he works bodily ever anew.

But in him multiplicity and unity go hand in hand. He breathes where he wills. He does so unexpectedly, in unexpected places and in ways previously unheard of. And with what diversity and corporality does he do so! And it is precisely here that diversity and unity are inseparable.

He wants your diversity and he wants you for the one body, in union with the permanent orders — the joints — of the Church, with the successors of the Apostles and with the Successor of St Peter. He does not lessen our efforts to learn the way of relating to one another; but he also shows us that he works with a view to the one body and in the unity of the one body. It is precisely in this way that unity obtains its strength and beauty.

May you take part in the edification of the one body! Pastors must be careful not to extinguish the Spirit (cf. I Thes 5: 19) and you will not cease to bring your gifts to the entire community. Once again, the Spirit blows where he wills. But his will is unity. He leads us towards Christ through his Body.

“From Christ”, St Paul tells us, “the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love” (Eph 4: 16).

The Holy Spirit desires unity, he desires totality. Therefore, his presence is finally shown above all in missionary zeal.

Anyone who has come across something true, beautiful and good in his life — the one true treasure, the precious pearl — hastens to share it everywhere, in the family and at work, in all the contexts of his life.

He does so without any fear, because he knows he has received adoption as a son; without any presumption, for it is all a gift; without discouragement, for God’s Spirit precedes his action in people’s “hearts” and as a seed in the most diverse cultures and religions.

He does so without restraint, for he bears a piece of good news which is for all people and for all the peoples.

Dear friends, I ask you to collaborate even more, very much more, in the Pope’s universal apostolic ministry, opening doors to Christ.

This is the Church’s best service for men and women and especially for the poor, so that the person’s life, a fairer order in society and peaceful coexistence among the nations may find in Christ the cornerstone on which to build the genuine civilization, the civilization of love.

The Holy Spirit gives believers a superior vision of the world, of life, of history, and makes them custodians of the hope that never disappoints.

Let us pray to God the Father, therefore, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that the celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost may be like an ardent flame and a blustering wind for Christian life and for the mission of the whole Church.

I place the intentions of your Movements and Communities in the heart of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, present in the Upper Room together with the Apostles; may she be the one who implores God to grant them.

Upon all of you I invoke an outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit, so that in our time too, we may have the experience of a renewed Pentecost. Amen!
Address by Pope Benedict XVI

Saint Pope John Paul II

Photo of Saint Pope John Paul II

Saint Pope John Paul II

Karol Józef Wojtyła, (born May 18, 1920, Wadowice, Poland — died April 2, 2005, Vatican City; beatified May 1, 2011; canonized April 27, 2014; feast day October 22), the bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church (1978–2005), the first non-Italian pope in 455 years and the first from a Slavic country. His pontificate of more than 26 years was the third longest in history. As part of his effort to promote greater understanding between nations and between religions, he undertook numerous trips abroad, traveling far greater distances than had all other popes combined, and he extended his influence beyond the church by campaigning against political oppression and criticizing the materialism of the West.
Excerpt on Saint Pope John Paul II

Karol Józef Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his October 1978 election to the papacy, was born in Wadowice, a small city fifty kilometers from Kraków, on May 18, 1920. He was the second of two sons born to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. His mother died in 1929. His eldest brother Edmund, a doctor, died in 1932. His father, a noncommissioned army officer, died in 1941.

He made his first Holy Communion at age nine and was confirmed at eighteen. Upon graduation from Marcin Wadowita high school in Wadowice, he enrolled in Kraków’s Jagiellonian University and in a school for drama in 1938.

The Nazi occupation forces closed the university in 1939, and young Karol had to work in a quarry (from 1940-1944), and then in the Solvay chemical factory to earn his living and to avoid being deported to Germany.

In 1942, aware of his call to the priesthood, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Kraków run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, archbishop of Kraków. At the same time, Karol Wojtyla was one of the pioneers of the “Rhapsodic Theatre,” also clandestine.

After the Second World War, he continued his studies in the major seminary of Kraków, once it had reopened, and in the faculty of theology of the Jagiellonian University, until his priestly ordination in Kraków on November 1, 1946.

Soon after, Cardinal Sapieha sent him to Rome, where he worked under the guidance of the French Dominican Garrigou-Lagrange. He finished his doctorate in theology in 1948 with a thesis on the topic of faith in the works of St. John of the Cross. At that time, during his vacations, he exercised his pastoral ministry among the Polish immigrants of France, Belgium, and Holland.

In 1948, he returned to Poland and was vicar of various parishes in Kraków as well as chaplain for the university students until 1951, when he took up again his studies on philosophy and theology. In 1953, he defended a thesis on “Evaluation of the Possibility of Founding a Catholic Ethic on the Ethical System of Max Scheler” at Lublin Catholic University. Later, he became professor of moral theology and social ethics in the major seminary of Kraków and in the faculty of theology of Lublin.

On July 4, 1958, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków by Pope Pius XII, and was consecrated September 28, 1958, in Wawel Cathedral, Kraków, by Archbishop Baziak.

On January 13, 1964, he was nominated archbishop of Kraków by Pope Paul VI, who made him a cardinal June 26, 1967.

Besides taking part in Vatican Council II, including an important contribution to the elaboration of the Constitution Gaudium et spes, Cardinal Wojtyla participated in all the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.

Saint Pope John Paul II

Saint Pope John Paul II

Since the start of his pontificate on October 16, 1978, Pope John Paul II completed more than 200 pastoral visits.

His principal documents include thirteen encyclicals, thirteen apostolic exhortations, eleven apostolic constitutions, and forty-one apostolic letters. He also published two books: Crossing the Threshold of Hope (October 1994) and Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination (November 1996).

John Paul II presided at dozens of beatification and canonization ceremonies (almost 1,300 Blesseds proclaimed and more than 450 Saints) during his pontificate.

No other pope has encountered as many individuals as John Paul II did: more than 16 million pilgrims participated in the general audiences held on Wednesdays (more than one thousand). This figure does not include all other special audiences and religious ceremonies held (more than eight million pilgrims during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 alone) and the millions of faithful met during pastoral visits made in Italy and throughout the world. In addition, there were the numerous government personalities encountered during official visits, and in the audiences and meetings held with heads of state and with prime ministers.
Biography on Saint Pope John Paul II

1. Veni, creator Spiritus!

On the Solemnity of Pentecost, this hymn rises from every part of the Church: Veni, creator Spiritus! The Mystical Body of Christ, scattered throughout the earth, invokes the Spirit from which she draws life, the vital Breath that enlivens her existence and action.

The Antiphons of the Psalms have just reminded us of the experience of the disciples in the Upper Room: “On the day of Pentecost they were all together in one place” (Antiphon 1). “There appeared to the Apostles what seemed like tongues of fire, and the Holy Spirit came upon each of them” (Antiphon 2).

We who are gathered in this Square, which has become a great Upper Room, are also reliving that same spiritual experience. And like us, countless diocesan and parish communities, associations, movements and groups in every part of the world are raising to Heaven our common invocation: Come, Holy Spirit!

2. I greet the Cardinals and other Prelates and priests present. I greet you all, dear brothers and sisters who have wished to take part in this evocative Celebration.

I now extend my thoughts to the many young people in Lednica, Poland, who are united with us by radio and television.

I address my cordial greeting to you from St Peter’s Square. I am praying with you, my dear friends, for the gift of the Holy Spirit. May the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, fill you with the love of Christ to whom you entrust your future. I cordially bless you all.

3. I greet in a special way the members of Renewal in the Spirit, one of the various branches of the great family of the Catholic Charismatic Movement. Thanks to the Charismatic Movement, a multitude of Christians, men and women, young people and adults have rediscovered Pentecost as a living reality in their daily lives. I hope that the spirituality of Pentecost will spread in the Church as a renewed incentive to prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation.

In this regard, I encourage the initiative known as “Burning Bush”, promoted by Renewal in the Spirit. This involves perpetual adoration, day and night, before the Blessed Sacrament; it is an invitation to the faithful to “return to the Upper Room”, so that, united in contemplation of the Eucharistic Mystery, they may intercede for full Christian unity and for the conversion of sinners. I warmly hope that this initiative will lead many to rediscover the gifts of the Spirit, whose original source is Pentecost.

4. Dear Brothers and Sisters! This evening’s celebration reminds me of the memorable encounter with the ecclesial movements and new communities on the eve of Pentecost six years ago. It was an extraordinary epiphany of the Church’s unity in the riches and variety of charisms that the Holy Spirit abundantly lavishes upon her. I forcefully repeat what I remarked on that occasion: the ecclesial movements and new communities are a “providential response”, “given by the Holy Spirit” to today’s demand for the new evangelization, for which “there is so much need today for mature Christian personalities” as well as for “living Christian communities” (cf. Homily at the Prayer Vigil on the Eve of Pentecost, St Peter’s Square, 30 May 1998; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 3 June, p. 2).

5. Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Her hands raised, the Virgin Mother of Christ and of the Church prays among us.
With her, let us implore and welcome the gift of the Holy Spirit, the light of truth, the power of authentic peace. Let us do so with the words of the antiphon of the Magnificat that we will sing in a little while:

“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love; though the peoples spoke different tongues you united them in proclaiming the same faith, alleluia”.

Sancte Spiritus, veni!
Text of the Homily by Pope John Paul II

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. With great joy I welcome you, representatives of the Group of Renewal in the Holy Spirit, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of your presence in Italy. I greet the coordinator of the National Service Committee and those who assist him.

I think back with pleasure to the meetings I have had with you in past years:  from the first, on the Solemnity of Christ the King in 1980, to our meeting in 1998, during the prayer vigil of the Meeting with Ecclesial Movements and New Communities on the eve of Pentecost. Nor can I forget the contribution of the “Renewal in the Spirit” during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, in particular helping young people and families, who from the beginning of my Pontificate I have constantly selected as priority targets for pastoral involvement.

I would also like to thank your directors for wishing to give to the Renewal a definite emphasis on collaboration with the hierarchy and with the leaders of other movements, associations and communities.

2. Yes! The Renewal in the Spirit can be considered a special gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church in our time. Born in the Church and for the Church, your movement is one in which, following the light of the Gospel, the members experience the living encounter with Jesus, fidelity to God in personal and community prayer, confident listening to his Word and a vital rediscovery of the Sacraments, not to mention courage in trials and hope in hardship.

Love for the Church and submission to her Magisterium, in a process of maturing in the Church supported by a solid permanent formation are relevant signs of your intention to avoid the risk of favouring, unwittingly, a purely emotional experience of the divine, an excessive pursuit of the “extraordinary” and a private withdrawal that may shrink from apostolic outreach.

3. On this special occasion I desire ideally to bless three projects, which you have launched, that send out groups and communities of the Renewal in the Spirit “from the Upper Room” with generous missionary ardour.

I am referring first of all to your support of the implantatio Ecclesiae in Moldavia, in close collaboration with the “Regina Pacis” Foundation of the Archdiocese of Lecce, establishing a missionary community associated with the Diocese of Chisinau. I greet with affection the pastors of those Ecclesial Communities, Archbishop Cosmo Francesco Ruppi and Bishop Anton Cosa, and the other bishops taking part in this meeting.

Another important project is your work of spiritual guidance in Marian shrines, privileged places of the Spirit, that gives you the opportunity to offer pilgrims ways of deepening their faith and spiritual reflection.

Then there is the “Burning Bush” project which is an invitation to ongoing adoration, day and night. You have wished to promote this appropriate initiative to help the faithful “return to the Upper Room”, so that united in the contemplation of the Eucharistic mystery, they may intercede by means of the Spirit for the full unity of Christians and for the conversion of sinners.

These are three different areas of apostolic activity in which your experience can provide a very providential witness. May the Lord guide your labours and make your resolutions bear abundant fruit for yourselves and for the Church.

4. In the final analysis, all your evangelizing activities tend to foster in the People of God constant growth in holiness. Indeed, holiness is the priority in every age, and therefore also in our own time. The Church and the world need saints, and we ourselves become holier the more we allow the Holy Spirit to configure us to Christ. This is the secret of the regenerating experience of the “outpouring of the Spirit”, a typical experience that defines the process of growth proposed for the members of your groups and communities. With all my heart I hope that Renewal in the Spirit may be a true “gymnasium” in the Church for prayer, asceticism, virtue and holiness.

In a special way continue to love and spread love for the prayer of praise, the form of prayer that recognizes more immediately that God is God; praises him for his own sake, gives him glory for who he is, long before thinking of what he does (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2639).

In our time that is so hungry for hope, make the Holy Spirit known and loved. Help bring to life that “culture of Pentecost”, that alone can make fruitful the civilization of love and friendly coexistence among peoples. With fervent insistence, never tire of praying “Come Holy Spirit! Come! Come!”.

May the Blessed Mother of Christ and of the Church, the Virgin at prayer in the Upper Room, always be with you! May the Blessing I cordially impart to you, and to all the members of Renewal of the Holy Spirit, also go with you!
Address by Pope John Paul II

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. With great joy I send you my greetings for the World Meeting of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, which is taking place in Rimini. For several years now Renewal in the Holy Spirit has held its “national convocation” there at the beginning of May. On the occasion of the Jubilee Year, this event has acquired a particular importance because of the presence of many representatives of charismatic groups and communities from other countries of the world. Therefore, your meeting is rightly being held with the support of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, an organization whose role is to coordinate and foster a sharing of experiences and reflections among Catholic charismatic communities throughout the world. By doing so, the riches present in each community benefit everyone, and all communities can easily perceive the bond of communion that joins them to one another and to the whole Church. I cordially greet Mr Allan Panozza, President of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, and Mr Salvatore Martinez, National Coordinator of Renewal in the Holy Spirit, along with all the members of the National Service Committee.

2. This international meeting in Rimini is a stage on your Jubilee pilgrimage. In celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of the Incarnation, we are all called to turn our gaze to Christ, “the light of all nations”. As we look to him, wonder and gratitude are renewed in us:  the Son of God became man, died for our salvation, is risen and living.

Christ is alive! He is the Lord! This is the certainty of our faith. As we proclaim it humbly and firmly, we are aware of the fact that this certainty does not come from us. If we have been able to know Christ, it is because he has made himself known to us by giving us his Spirit:  “No one can say “Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12: 3).

In making himself known, Christ has not left us alone. The new People of God is born in the Spirit because “he has … willed to make men holy and save them, not as individuals without any bond or link between them, but rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge him and serve him in holiness” (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, n. 9). Every authentic ecclesial community is a portion of this people who has walked the ways of the world for 2,000 years.

Every baptized person, although a member of a specific community, is therefore open to receiving the riches of the universal Church, which is the Church of all ages.

3. The Church looks with gratitude at the flourishing of lively communities in which the faith is passed on and lived. In this flourishing she recognizes the work of the Holy Spirit, who has always provided the Church with the necessary graces to face new and sometimes difficult situations.

Many of you will remember the great meeting that took place in Rome on 30 May 1998, the Vigil of Pentecost. I said at the time:  “In our world, often dominated by a secularized culture which encourages and promotes models of life without God, the faith of many is sorely tested, and is frequently stifled and dies. Thus we see an urgent need for powerful proclamation and solid, in-depth Christian formation. There is so much need today for mature Christian personalities, conscious of their baptismal identity, of their vocation and mission in the Church and in the world!

There is great need for living Christian communities! And here are the movements and the new ecclesial communities:  they are the response, given by the Holy Spirit, to this critical challenge at the end of the millennium” (n. 7; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 3 June 1998, p. 2).

On that occasion I also observed that a new period for movements was unfolding, “that of ecclesial maturity” (ibid., n. 6). Today charismatic communities are also called to take this step, and I am sure that the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services will play an important role in developing this ecclesial awareness in the various Catholic charismatic communities throughout the world. What I said then in St Peter’s Square, I repeat to all of you meeting in Rimini:  “The Church expects from you the “mature’ fruits of communion and commitment” (ibid.).

4. Within your communities, in different circumstances, a journey that leads to an ever greater knowledge and love of Christ has begun for each of you. Do not interrupt the journey you have begun! Have trust:  Christ will complete the work that he himself has started. “Desire the higher gifts!” (1 Cor 12: 31). Always seek Christ:  seek him in meditation on the Word of God, seek him in the sacraments, seek him in prayer, seek him in the witness of your brothers and sisters. Be grateful to the priests who pastor your communities:  through their ministry it is the Church who guides you and helps you as a mother and teacher. Joyfully welcome the occasions that are offered to you to deepen your Christian formation. Serve Christ in those close to you, serve him in the poor, serve him in the needs and necessities of the Church. Let yourselves be truly guided by the Spirit! Love the Church:  one, holy, catholic and apostolic!

I am particularly pleased to know that representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities are also taking part in your assembly, and I would like to greet them cordially.

United in common praise, you have accepted the invitation I addressed in the Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee:  “From the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities throughout the world, let us all hasten to the feast now being prepared; let us bring with us everything that already unites us and, by fixing our gaze on Christ alone, let us grow in the unity which is the fruit of the Spirit” (Incarnationis mysterium, n. 4).

As I pray with you to the Virgin Mary, so that each one may welcome the gift of the Spirit to be a witness to Christ where he lives, I willingly impart my affectionate Blessing to you, dear brothers and sisters, and to your families.

From the Vatican, 24 April 2000.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. In greeting the International Conference for Catholic Charismatic Leaders,“I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world” (Rom 1:8). The Catholic Charismatic Renewal has helped many Christians to rediscover the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, in the life of the Church and in the world; and this rediscovery has awakened in them a faith in Christ filled with joy, a great love of the Church and a generous dedication to her evangelizing mission. In this year of the Holy Spirit, I join you in praise of God for the precious fruits which he has wished to bring to maturity in your communities and, through them, in the particular Churches.

2. As leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, one of your prime tasks is to safeguard the Catholic identity of the charismatic communities spread throughout the world, stirring them always to maintain a close and hierarchical link with the Bishops and the Pope. You belong to an ecclesial movement; and the word “ecclesial” implies a precise task of Christian formation, involving a deep convergence of faith and life. The enthusiastic faith which enlivens your communities must be accompanied by a Christian formation which is comprehensive and faithful to the Church’s teaching. From a solid formation will spring a spirituality deeply grounded in the sources of the Christian life and capable of responding to the crucial questions posed by the culture of our day. In my recent Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio, I warned against a fideism which fails to recognize the importance of the work of reason not only for an understanding of the faith, but even for the act of faith itself.

3. The theme of your Conference, “Let the Fire Fall Again!”, recalls the words of Christ: “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49). As we look to the Great Jubilee, these words resound with all their force. The Word of God made flesh has brought to us the fire of love and the truth which saves. On the threshold of the Third Millennium of the Christian era, how great is the evangelical challenge: “go and work in the vineyard today” (Mt 21:28)!

I accompany your Conference with my prayers, trusting that it will bear rich spiritual fruit for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal throughout the world. May Mary, Bride of the Spirit and Mother of Christ, watch over all that you do in the name of her Son. To all of you, to your communities and to your loved ones, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Text of the Address by Pope John II

Dear Friends,

1. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!” (2 Cor 13:13).

This is my greeting to the participants in the Eighth International Meeting of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships which is taking place in Rome at this time. The beginning of your meeting coincided with a most significant moment for the whole Church, but in a particular way for the Charismatic Renewal: the Feast of Pentecost in this year which, in our preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, is dedicated to the Holy Spirit – a year in which you are involved with special intensity. In Tertio Millennio Adveniente I wrote: “The primary tasks of the preparation for the Jubilee include a renewed appreciation of the presence and activity of the Spirit, who acts within the Church both in the Sacraments, especially in Confirmation, and in the variety of charisms, roles and ministries which he inspires for the good of the Church” (No. 45). Certainly, your own charism leads you to direct your life towards a special “intimacy” with the Holy Spirit. And a survey of the thirty years of the history of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal shows that you have helped many people to rediscover the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, in the life of the Church and in the life of the world – a rediscovery which in many of them has led to a faith in Christ filled with joy and enthusiasm, a great love of the Church and a generous dedication to her mission. In this special year, therefore, I join you in a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for these precious fruits which God has wished to bring to maturity in your communities and, through them, in the Church.

2. In a sense, your meeting is part of the great gathering of ecclesial movements and new communities which took place in Saint Peter’s Square on 30 May, the Vigil of Pentecost. I very much wanted this gathering and looked forward to it – a gathering of “shared witness”. And I must say today that I was deeply touched by the spirit of recollection and prayer, the atmosphere of joy and celebration in the Lord which marked that event, a true gift of the Holy Spirit in the year dedicated to him. It was an intense moment of ecclesial communion and a demonstration of the unity of the many different charisms which distinguish the ecclesial movements and new communities. I realize that many representatives of the communities of the Renewal from all over the world took part, and I am grateful to you for that.

From the very beginning of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have considered the movements as a great spiritual resource for the Church and for humanity, a gift of the Holy Spirit for our time, a sign of hope for all people. From Saint Peter’s Square on 30 May, there went forth an important message, a powerful word which the Spirit wished to say not only to the movements, but to the whole Church. The movements wanted to testify to their communion with the Church and to their complete dedication to her mission, under the guidance of her Pastors. They wanted to reconfirm their desire to place their charisms at the service of the universal Church, of the local Churches and the parish communities. I am sure that this unforgettable event will be a source of rich inspiration for your meeting.

3. Within the Charismatic Renewal, the Catholic Fraternity has a specific mission, recognized by the Holy See. One of the objectives stated in your statutes is to safeguard the Catholic identity of the charismatic communities and to encourage them always to maintain a close link with the Bishops and the Roman Pontiff. To help people to have a strong sense of their membership in the Church is especially important in times such as ours, when confusion and relativism abound.

You belong to an ecclesial movement. The word “ecclesial” here is more than merely decorative. It implies a precise task of Christian formation, and involves a deep convergence of faith and life. The enthusiastic faith which enlivens your communities is a great enrichment, but it is not enough. It must be accompanied by a Christian formation which is solid, comprehensive and faithful to the Church’s Magisterium: a formation based upon a life of prayer, upon listening to the Word of God, and upon worthy reception of the Sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist. To mature in faith, we have to grow in knowledge of its truths. If this does not happen, there is a danger of superficiality, extreme subjectivism and illusion. The new Catechism of the Catholic Church should become for every Christian – and therefore for every community of the Renewal – a constant reference-point. Again and again, you must also assess yourselves in the light of the “criteria of ecclesial character” which I set out in the Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (No. 30). As an ecclesial movement, one of your distinguishing marks should be to sentire cum Ecclesia, to live, that is, in filial obedience to the Church’s Magisterium, to the Pastors and to the Successor of Peter, and with them to build the communion of the whole body.

4. The motto of the Eighth International Meeting of the Catholic Fraternity looks to the words of Christ: “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49). In the context of the Great Jubilee of Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world, these words resound with all their force. The Son of God made man has brought to us the fire of love and the truth which saves. At the approach of the new Millennium, the Church hears the call, the urgent summons of the Master to an ever greater commitment to mission: “the grain is ripe, the harvest has come” (Mk 4:29). You will doubtless discuss this during your meeting. Allow yourselves therefore to be guided by the Holy Spirit, who is always the prime agent of evangelization and of mission.

I accompany your undertakings with my prayers, and I sincerely hope that this Meeting, being held in circumstances so charged with meaning, will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the entire Catholic Charismatic Renewal. May it be a milestone on the journey of your spiritual preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. To all of you, to your communities and to your loved ones, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Text of Message from Pope John Paul II

1. I cordially greet you, the leaders of Renewal in the Spirit in Italy and, through you, I greet all the Italian charismatic communities, extending an affectionate thought to those who will participate in the solemn convention on the Holy Spirit, organized by you in Rimini from 30 April to 3 May next.

We are meeting in the year that, within the framework of preparation for the Great Jubilee, has been dedicated to the Holy Spirit, to invite Christians to rediscover the presence and wonderful works of the Spirit in the history of salvation, in the life of the Church, in the world and in the life of every disciple of Jesus. It is a year that you members of the Renewalare called to live with special intensity and commitment.

The Catholic charismatic movement is one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, which, like a new Pentecost, led to an extraordinary flourishing in the Church’s life of groups and movements particularly sensitive to the action of the Spirit. How can we not give thanks for the precious spiritual fruits that the Renewal has produced in the life of the Church and in the lives of so many people? How many lay faithful – men, women, young people, adults and the elderly – have been able to experience in their own lives the amazing power of the Spirit and his gifts! How many people have rediscovered the faith, the joy of prayer, the power and beauty of the Word of God, translating all this into generous service in the Church’s mission! How many lives have been profoundly changed! For all this today, together with you, I wish to praise and thank the Holy Spirit.

2. You are an ecclesial movement. Therefore, all those criteria of ecclesiality of which I wrote in Christifideles laici (cf. n. 30) must be expressed in your lives, especially faithful adherence to the Church’s Magisterium, filial obedience to the Bishops and a spirit of service towards local Churches and parishes.

In this regard, I have learned that recently the Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference approved the Statutes of your movement and wished to present the Renewal as “a comforting experience of Christian life, worthy of being indicated for its fervent encouragement of numerous ecclesial communities”. Very eloquent words, which confirm how the path you have chosen is one of communion and close collaboration with the Bishops. And, in today’s world, confused by extreme relativism and subjectivism, this is the best guarantee of remaining faithful to the Truth.

One of the Church’s most urgent tasks today is the formation of the lay faithful. “The fundamental objective of the formation of the lay faithful is an ever-clearer discovery of one’s vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfil one’s mission” (Christifideles laici, n. 58).

Therefore, this must be one of your priorities. In today’s secularized world, which offers models of life devoid of spiritual values, it is a task which is ever more urgent. Faith dies when it is reduced to custom, to habit, to a purely emotional experience. It needs to be cultivated, helped to grow, at both the personal and the community level. I know that Renewal in the Spirit does all it can to respond to this need, always seeking new forms and ways that are better suited to the requirements of people today. I thank you for what you do and I ask you to persevere in your commitment.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, welcome the Holy Spirit into your hearts with the docility with which the Virgin Mary welcomed him. Always allow yourselves to be surprised by God and shun complacency with his gifts. May the Spirit, the interior Teacher, strengthen you in faith and make you ever more conformed to Christ. In this world, so often permeated with sadness and uncertainty, may you have the courage to co-operate with the Spirit in a new, great outpouring of love and hope for all mankind.

I hope that your convention in Rimini, in this year dedicated to the Holy Spirit, may become a milestone on your journey towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. May the fire of the Spirit be kindled in the hearts of all who will take part in it!

I conclude with the words of St Paul: “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil 1:9- 11).

I expect you all in St Peter’s Square on 30 May next for my meeting with ecclesial movements and new communities. I am certain that you will not miss such an important gathering!

To the whole Renewal in the Spirit in Italy, my affectionate paternal Blessing.
Address by Pope John Paul II

Dear Friends in Christ,

1. With affection in the Lord I greet the participants in the VIIth International Meeting of the Catholic Fraternity of Covenant Communities and Fellowships. I thank you for your good wishes and prayers at this time when I am celebrating the 50th Anniversary of my Priestly Ordination. I see this as an expression of the communion which links you with the Successor of Peter and the universal Church, a communion which you feel deeply and which itself is a sublime gift of the Holy Spirit to Christ’s followers.

You represent communities of the Charismatic Movement from around the world, which, in their variety, bear witness to the spiritual gifts which the Holy Spirit is bestowing on the Church even in our own day (cf. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 24). How can we fail to praise God for the abundant fruit which in recent decades the Renewal in the Spirit has brought about in the lives of individuals and in communities? Countless people have come to appreciate the importance of Sacred Scripture for Christian living; they have acquired a new sense of the value of prayer and a profound yearning for holiness; many have returned to the sacraments; and a great number of men and women have achieved a deeper understanding of their baptismal call, and have committed themselves to the Church’s mission with admirable dedication. In thanking God for all of this, I repeat the words which I wrote in the Encyclical Letter “Redemptoris Missio“: “As the Third Millennium of the Redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity, and we can already see its first signs” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 86).

2. On 27 November 1995, the Catholic Fraternity received final recognition from the Pontifical Council for the Laity. By this official act the Church expressed appreciation of the Fraternity’s goals and methods, and at the same time wished to strengthen your ecclesial identity. That identity requires you to be ever more fully associated with the life of the particular Churches. When ecclesial movements “humbly seek to become part of the life of local Churches and are welcomed by Bishops and priests within diocesan and parish structures, they represent a true gift of God both for new evangelization and for missionary activity properly so-called” (Ibid., 72). In order to help Pastors and the Charismatic Movement to work together in building up the Church of Christ, the Pontifical Council for the Laity is preparing a document which will serve as an important point of reference for the life and apostolate of such communities, and for the discernment of their spiritual gifts. Let us pray that this document will produce the good results which we expect from it!

3. Your VIIth International Meeting is reflecting on the theme of spiritual preparation for the Year 2000. “A jubilee is always an occasion of special grace, a day blessed by the Lord… The Jubilee of the Year 2000 is meant to be a great prayer of praise and thanksgiving, especially for the gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of the Redemption which he accomplished” (John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 32). The Great Jubilee is not only a gift but also a demanding task. It calls for a great effort to respond to the pressing spiritual needs of our time.

Because the whole Church must prepare for the Great Jubilee “in the Holy Spirit” (John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, 51), I have suggested that the year 1998 be dedicated specifically to the Holy Spirit and his sanctifying presence in the ecclesial community (cf. John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 44-48). It is my fervent hope that during that year all movements enlivened by the Spirit, who is the never-ending source of holiness and communion, will come together to bear joint witness to the unifying power of divine grace.

4. The Jubilee of the Year 2000 is above all a pressing invitation to all Christians to re-commit themselves to holiness of life. True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement. Holiness is the fulness of life which Christ offers: he has come that we “may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). This is our marvellous vocation!

Likewise, the approaching Third Millennium brings the urgent challenge of the new evangelization. True, it is not easy to proclaim the Gospel in a world which claims not to need God. Yet we are bound by the compelling words of St Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16). Today, this proclamation must be accompanied by a commitment to ecumenism: “In these last years of the millennium, the Church should invoke the Holy Spirit with ever greater insistence, imploring from him the grace of Christian unity” (John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 34). In this perspective too, I wish to encourage your communities to a further strengthening of their ecclesial character, at the doctrinal level and in programmes of formation, as the only sure basis for genuine ecumenical dialogue and action.

5. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ: again I thank you for all that you do in the service of the Church. Through the intercession of Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, I entrust to Christ, the Lord of history, your spiritual journey towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and beyond. To each of you and your families, and to all the communities belonging to the Catholic Fraternity, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Text of the Message from Pope John Paul II

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am pleased to welcome you, leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, together with Bishop Paul Cordes whom I appointed some years ago to accompany the Renewal and to support and encourage its Catholic identity. I warmly greet the Bishops and many priests who are a part of your gathering.

You have just completed a spiritual retreat in Assisi, the city of Saint Francis and also of Saint Clare, the eighth centenary of whose birth falls this year. These great figures of holiness in the Church made their own the words of Saint Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2: 20). Is this not the ideal and the goal which permeates the Charismatic Renewal? Is it not the programme of life which your prayer groups and communities have set themselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? May the example and intercession of the great Saints of Assisi strengthen your resolve to grow continually in evangelical love and service “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4: 13).

At the recent “World Youth Day” in Denver I reflected with the young people present on the words of the Lord to the Prophet Isaiah: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Is. 6: 8). We reflected on these words as applied to vocations to the priesthood and the religious life in the context of the new evangelization. Today it is a fact of the Church’s life that many vocations arise and blossom in the heart of the various Movements and Associations. I wish to encourage you to give close attention within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal to this particular mode of God’s love for his People. The prayerful response of your members and associates to this grace will be a further, explicit sign of the Renewal’s sharing in the life and mission of the Church, the visible body of Christ (Cf. 1Cor. 12: 27).

The Church today has great need of your prayer and commitment. Together let us praise our Heavenly Father for all that he has done in your lives, and let us implore his grace so that your apostolates will bear abundant fruit. As a token of my encouragement, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Text of the Address by Pope John Paul II

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. In the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit I welcome the Council of the “International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office”. As you celebrate the twenty–fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, I willingly join you in giving praise to God for the many fruits which it has borne in the life of the Church. The emergence of the Renewal following the Second Vatican Council was a particular gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. It was a sign of a desire on the part of many Catholics to live more fully their Baptismal dignity and vocation as adopted sons and daughters of the Father, to know the redeeming power of Christ our Saviour in a more intense experience of individual and group prayer, and to follow the teaching of the Scriptures by reading them in the light of the same Spirit who inspired their writing. Certainly one of the most important results of this spiritual reawakening has been that increased thirst for holiness which is seen in the lives of individuals and in the whole Church.

At the end of this Second Millennium, the Church needs more than ever to turn in confidence and hope to the Holy Spirit, who unceasingly draws believers into the Trinitarian communion of love, builds up their visible unity in the one Body of Christ, and sends them forth on mission in obedience to the mandate entrusted to the Apostles by the Risen Christ. We must be convinced that a deepened awareness of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit responds to the needs of our times, for the Spirit “is at the centre of the Christian faith and is the source and dynamic power of the Church’s renewal” (John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, 2). Indeed, the Holy Spirit is “the principal agent of the Church’s mission” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 21), sustaining and guiding her efforts to bring the graces of Pentecost to all people.

2. Since the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the building up of the Church, you, as leaders of the Charismatic Renewal, are challenged to seek increasingly effective ways in which the various groups you represent can manifest their complete communion of mind and heart with the Apostolic See and the College of Bishops, and cooperate ever more fruitfully in the Church’s mission in the world. On the international level, your Office’s close links with its Episcopal Advisor, Bishop Paul Cordes, and the coordination of Ecclesial Movements and Associations provided by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, are important means for fostering such cooperation, which is so essential for the prudent stewardship of the Spirit’s manifold gifts. Only in this way will the Renewal truly serve its ecclesial purpose, helping to ensure that “the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” (Col. 2:19).

3. At this moment in the Church’s history, the Charismatic Renewal can play a significant role in promoting the much–needed defence of Christian life in societies where secularism and materialism have weakened many people’s ability to respond to the Spirit and to discern God’s loving call. Your contribution to the re–evangelization of society will be made in the first place by personal witness to the indwelling Spirit and by showing forth his presence through works of holiness and solidarity. “The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of mission” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 42). What more effective means can there be for drawing those who have lost their spiritual bearings towards that truth which alone can calm the restlessness of the human heart than the living example of fervent Christian believers? To bear witness is to be a powerful leaven among people who perhaps do not fully recognize the value of the salvation that only Jesus Christ can offer.

4. The Charismatic Renewal can also help foster the growth of a solid spiritual life based on the Holy Spirit’s power at work in the Church, in the richness of her Tradition, and particularly in her celebration of the Sacraments. Frequent reception of the Eucharist and regular use of the Sacrament of Penance are essential for a genuine life in the Holy Spirit, for these are the means which Christ himself has given us to restore and sustain the Spirit’s gift of grace. Since the ways of the Spirit always lead to Christ and his Church, and since it is the Spirit himself who guides those he has established as Bishops to care for the Church of God (Cf. Acts 20:28), there can be no conflict between fidelity to the Spirit and fidelity to the Church and her Magisterium. Whatever shape the Charismatic Renewal takes – in prayer groups, in covenant communities, in communities of life and service – the sign of its spiritual fruitfulness will always be a strengthening of communion with the universal Church and the local Churches.

Your role as a coordinating organization is to help all these various facets of the Renewal to work together in union with the Pastors of the Church for the good of the whole Body. At the same time, the deepening of your Catholic identity by drawing from the spiritual wealth of the Catholic Tradition is an irreplaceable part of your contribution to genuine ecumenical dialogue which, fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit, must lead to the perfection of “fellowship in unity: in the confession of one faith, in the common celebration of divine worship and in the fraternal harmony of the family of God” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 2).

5. Dear friends: at the beginning of this Lenten season, I pray that your work will contribute to the growth of the Church, in fidelity to the Lord’s will and to the mission which she has received. I commend all of you to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, who “through the same faith which made her blessed…, is present in the Church’s mission, present in the Church’s work of introducing into the world the Kingdom of her Son” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 28). May her prayers accompany those who strive to extend the Kingdom of Christ in obedience to the prompting of his Holy Spirit. To all of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Text of the Address by Pope John Paul II

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is with special joy that I welcome you, the leaders of the Catholic fraternity of Covenant Communities and fellowships. I greet you and encourage you in your endeavours to set up a Church-wide structure for the Charismatic Renewal, which has grown extensively in the Catholic Church in recent years and which maintains close contacts with similar movements in other Christian communities.

I am pleased that you have come back to Rome, a year after the founding of your fraternity. I remember the Mass celebrated with you on that occasion. I am aware that your presence here expresses your desire to strengthen your ties with the See of Peter. Our meeting is taking place during the Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops. At a time when the Church is reflecting on the call to a new evangelization and sees many comforting signs of God’s grace, your gathering is not without its own special significance.

The Holy Spirit is at work in groups such as yours, drawing you to prayer and filling you with joy in adoring and praising the Lord. As I wrote for the whole Church in my Encyclical “Dominum et Vivificantem“: “Recent years have been seeing a growth in the number of people who, in ever more widespread movements and groups, are giving first place to prayer and seeking in prayer a renewal of their spiritual life” (John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, 65).

It is the same Spirit who sends you forth to bear witness. How can anyone who has tasted the goodness of Christ remain silent and inactive? How can one lock away the good that has been so fully received? Christ is our Saviour, he has won for us eternal life by shedding his blood, and the Father has sealed this work of redemption by raising his Son from death and making him the glorious conqueror of evil. Saint Paul testifies: “If God is for us, who is against us?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:31-37). These words of the Apostle are truly a cry of joy. Who would dare hide from others the salvation which Christ so abundantly offers? How can we fail to evangelize? Continue to communicate this zeal for the Gospel to those around you! Celebrate the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, in a spirit of rejoicing, and the Sacrament of Penance with dignity and piety. In this way those who are still far away will be drawn to the Lord and to his Body, the Church. In the spirit of the Post-Synodal Exhortation “Christifideles Laici”, place yourselves at the service of the evangelizing work of your Bishops, the pastors who are responsible for the life of the local Churches. And do not forget your duty to foster justice and peace in the world. Bear witness with integrity: “Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear” (1 Pt. 3:15-16).

I pray that you will receive support and guidance from the communities to which you belong. In them you have found a way of life that leads you to evangelical freedom at a time when many confuse freedom with the absence of duties or responsibilities. May your membership of a community never hinder your readiness to serve your brothers and sisters, in particular through your efforts to strengthen the prayer groups of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. May the Catholic Fraternity be ever open to other communities wishing to join you.

May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, intercede for you and guide you in your obedient following of the Lord in the heart of the Church.
Address by Pope John Paul II

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

  1. In the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit I welcome all of you who have come to Rome for the Sixth International Leaders Charismatic Renewal. I am very happy to meet you today and, as I begin, I wish to assure you that your love for Christ and your openness to the Spirit of Truth are a most valuable witness in the Church’s mission in the world.

You are prayerfully considering, during these days, the words of the Prophet Isaiah which Jesus made his own at the very beginning of his public ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (Cfr. Luc. 4, 18).These words, when read by Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth, had a profound effect on those listening. As he finished the reading, rolled up the scroll and sat down, “the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him” (Ibid. 4, 20). Even in our own time, these prophetic words strike to the heart. They draw us upward in faith to the person of Christ and deepen our desire “to fix our eyes on him”, the Redeemer of the world, the perfect fulfilment of all prophecy. They stir up our longing to enter ever more completely into the mystery of Christ: to know him better and to love him with greater fidelity.

2.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”. While Jesus applied these words to himself that day in Nazareth, they could likewise be applied, at Pentecost and thereafter, to the Body of Christ, the Church. “When the work which the Father had given the Son to do on earth (Cfr. Io. 17,4) was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might forever sanctify the Church, and thus all believers would have access to the Father through Christ in the one Spirit” (Lumen Gentium, 4). As a result, the history of the Church is at the same time the history of two thousand years of the action of the Holy Spirit, “the Lord, the Giver of Life” who renews God’s people in grace and freedom, and is “the Spirit of Truth” bringing holiness and joy to people of every race and tongue and nation.This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. The vigour and fruitfulness of the Renewal certainly attest to the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church in these years after the Second Vatican Council. Of course, the Spirit has guided the Church in every age, producing a great variety of gifts among the faithful. Because of the Spirit, the Church preserves a continual youthful vitality. And the Charismatic Renewal is an eloquent manifestation of this vitality today, a bold statement of what “the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Apoc. 2,7) as we approach the close of the Second Millennium.For this reason, it is essential that you seek always to deepen your communion with the whole Church: with her Pastors and teachers, with her doctrine and discipline, with her sacramental life, with the entire people of God.In this same regard, I have asked Bishop Paul Cordes to assist as Episcopal Adviser to the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office. I am sure that he will help you in fostering a dynamism that is always well-balanced and in strengthening your bonds of fidelity to the Apostolic See.

3.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”. In addition to the meaning of these words for Jesus and for the Church throughout the world they also remind us of our own personal identity as men and women who have been baptized into Christ. For the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, each one of us, who have been born anew in the saving waters of Baptism. And the Spirit prompts us to go forth in faith “to preach good news to the poor”: the poor in material things, the poor in spiritual gifts, the poor in mind and body. The Holy Spirit gives us the courage and strength to go out to all who, in a particular way, are “the little ones” of the world. Each of us responds in a unique manner, according to our own special talents and gifts. But we shall be able to make a generous and authentic response only if we are firmly grounded in a regular habit of prayer.Accordingly, I recommend that you meditate on these words of Isaiah frequently, pondering the great mystery of how the Spirit of God over shadows your life in a manner not altogether dissimilar to the experience of the Virgin Mary. As the truth penetrates your heart and soul, it fills your whole being with gratitude and praise and a sense of awe at God’s great love.”The Spirit of the Lord is upon me”. These words stand at the foundation of our prayer, our service to others, our life of faith. They direct us towards the invisible God who dwells within us as in a Temple, to the one whom we profess in the Creed to be “the Lord, the Giver of Life”, the one who “has spoken through the Prophets”. In prayerful reflection on these words, we meet and adore the Holy Spirit.In prayer, too, we come to see the stark reality of our own poverty, the absolute need we have for a Saviour. We discover in a more profound degree the many ways in which we ourselves are poor and needy, and thus we begin to feel an increasing solidarity with all the poor. In the end,-we realize more fully than ever before that Good News for the poor is Good News for ourselves as well.

4.

Dear Friends in Christ, you have come to Rome in the month of May, Our Lady’s month. You come just prior to the Feast of Pentecost and the beginning of the Marian Year. And in considering the theme, “Good News to the Poor”, you are considering a theme dear to the Mother of our Redeemer. As I stated in my recent Encyclical on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Church, “Mary truly proclaims the coming of the ‘Messiah of the poor’ (Cfr. Is. 11,4; 61, 1). Drawing from Mary’s heart, from the depth of her faith expressed in the words of the Magnificat, the Church renews ever more effectively in herself the awareness that the truth about God who saves, the truth about God who is the source of every gift, cannot be separated from the manifestation of his love of preference for the poor and humble, that love which, celebrated in the Magnificat, is later expressed in the words and works of Jesus” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptoris Mater, 37).May you be inspired by the heroic example of love given by the Virgin Mother of our Redeemer, and may you entrust yourselves with confidence to her intercession and maternal care. In the love of her Son, our Saviour Christ the Lord, I impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.
Test of the Address by Pope John Paul II

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

In the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit I welcome all of you who have come to Rome to participate in the Fourth International Leaders’ Conference of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and I pray that “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!”[1].

1. Your choice of Rome as the site of this Conference is a special sign of your understanding of the importance of being rooted in that Catholic unity of faith and charity which finds its visible centre in the See of Peter. Your reputation goes before you, like that of his beloved Philippians which prompted the Apostle Paul to begin his Letter to them with a sentiment I am happy to echo: “I give thanks to my God every time I think of you… My prayer is that your love may more and more abound both in understanding and wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter, up to the very day of Christ”[2].

2. In 1975 my venerable predecessor Paul VI addressed the International Charismatic Congress which assembled here in Rome, and he emphasized the three principles which Saint Paul outlined to guide discernment, according to the injunction: “Test everything, hold fast to what is good”[3]. The first of these principles is fidelity to the authentic doctrine of the faith; whatever contradicts this doctrine does not come from the Spirit. The second principles is to value the higher gifts – the gifts which are given in service of the common good. And the third principle is the pursuit of charity, which alone brings the Christian to perfection: as the Apostle says, “Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect”[4]. It is no less important at this time for me to underline these fundamental principles for you whom God has called to serve as leaders in the Renewal.

Pope Paul described the movement for renewal in the Spirit as “a chance for the Church and for the world”, and the six years since that Congress have borne out the hope that inspired his vision. The Church has seen the fruits of your devotion to prayer in a deepened commitment to holiness of life and love for the word of God. We have noted with particular joy the way in which leaders of the renewal have more and more developed a broadened ecclesial vision, and have made efforts to make this vision increasingly a reality for those who depend on them for guidance. And we have likewise seen the signs of your generosity in sharing God’s gifts with the unfortunate of this world in justice and charity, so that all people may experience the priceless dignity that is theirs in Christ.

May this work of love already begun in you be brought to successful completion[5]! In this regard, always remember these words which Paul VI addressed to your Congress during the Holy Year: “There are no limits to the challenge of love: the poor and needy and afflicted and suffering across the world and near at hand all cry out to you, as brothers and sisters of Christ, asking for the proof of your love, asking for the word of God, asking for bread, asking for life”.

3. Yes, I am very happy to have this opportunity to speak from my heart to you who have come from all over the world to participate in this Conference designed to assist you in fulfilling your role as leaders in the Charismatic Renewal. In a special way I wish to address the need for enriching and making practical that ecclesial vision which is so essential to the Renewal at this stage in its development.

The role of the leader is, in the first place, to give the example of prayer in his own life. With confident hope, with careful solicitude it falls to the leader to ensure that the multiform patrimony of the Church’s life of prayer is known and experienced by those who seek spiritual renewal: meditation on the word of God, since “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”, as Saint Jerome insisted; openness to the gifts of the Spirit, without exaggerated concentration upon the extraordinary gifts; imitating the example of Jesus himself in ensuring time for prayer alone with God; entering more deeply into the cycle of the Church’s liturgical seasons, especially through the Liturgy of the Hours: the appropriate celebration of the sacraments – with very special attention to the Sacrament of Penance – which effect the new dispensation of grace in accord with Christ’s own manifest will; and above all a love for and growing understanding of the Eucharist as the centre of all Christian prayer. For as the Second Vatican Council has impressed upon us, “the Eucharist is the source and the summit of all evangelization; catechumens are gradually led up to participation in the Eucharist, while the faithful who have already been consecrated in baptism and confirmation are fully incorporated into the Body of Christ – the Church –through their reception of the Eucharist”[6].

Secondly, you must be concerned to provide solid food for spiritual nourishment through the breaking of the bread ot true doctrine.The love for the revealed word of God, written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is a pledge of your desire to “stand firm in the Gospel” preached by the Apostles. It is this same Holy Spirit, the Dogmatic Constitution of Divine Revelation assures us, who “constantly perfects faith by his gifts, so that Revelation may be more and more profoundly understood”[7]. The Holy Spirit who distributes his gifts, now in greater, now in lesser measure, is the same one who inspired the Scriptures and who assists the living Magisterium of the Church, to whom Christ entrusted the authentic interpretation of these Scriptures[8], according to the promise of Christ to the Apostles: “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete, to be with you always: the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, since it neither sees him nor recognizes him, but you can recognize him because he remains with you and will be within you”[9].

God desires, therefore, that all Christians grow in understanding the mystery of salvation, which reveals to us ever more of man’s own intrinsic dignity. And he desires that you who are leaders in this Renewal should be ever more deeply formed in the teaching of the Church whose bimillenial task it has been to meditate on the word of God, in order to plumb its riches and to make them known to the world. Take care, then, that as leaders you seek a sound theological formation designed to ensure for you, and all who depend upon you for guidance, a mature and complete understanding of God’s word: “Let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you. In wisdom made perfect, instruct and admonish one another”[10].

Thirdly, as leaders in the Renewal, you must take the initiative in building bonds of trust and cooperation with the Bishops, who have the pastoral responsibility in God’s providence for shepherding the entire Body of Christ, including the Charismatic Renewal. Even when they do not share with you the forms of prayer which you have found so enriching, they will take to heart your desire for spiritual renewal for yourselves and for the Church, and they will offer you the sure guidance which is the task allotted to them. The Lord God does not fail to be faithful to the promise of their ordination prayer, in which he was implored to “pour out upon these chosen ones that power which is from you, the governing Spirit whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit given by him to the holy apostles, who founded the Church in every place to be your temple for the unceasing glory and praise of your name”[11].

Many Bishops throughout the world, both individually and in statements of their Episcopal Conferences, have given encouragement and direction to the Charismatic Renewal – and at times even a helpful word of caution – and have assisted the Christian community at large to understand better its place in the Church. By this exercise of their pastoral responsibility, the Bishops have offered a great service to us all, in order to ensure for the Renewal a pattern of growth and development fully open to all the riches of the love of God in his Church.

4. At this time I would also like to call your attention to another point of special relevance to this Conference of leaders: it concerns the role of the priest in the Charismatic Renewal. Priests in the Church have received the gift of ordination as cooperators in the pastoral ministry of the Bishops, with whom they share one and the same priesthood and ministry of Jesus Christ, which requires their strict hierarchical communion with the order of Bishops[12].

As a result, the priest has a unique and indispensable role to play in and for the Charismatic Renewal as well as for the whole Christian community. His mission is not in opposition to or parallel to the legitimate role of the laity. Through the priest’s sacramental bond with the Bishop, whose ordination confers a pastoral responsibility for the whole Church, he helps to ensure for movements of spiritual renewal and lay apostolate their integration with the sacramental, liturgical life of the Church, especially through participation in the Eucharist; there we say “Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ”[13].

The priest shares in the Bishop’s own responsibility for preaching the Gospel, for which his theological formation should equip him in a special way. As a result, he has a unique and indispensable role in guaranteeing that integration with the life of the Church which avoids the tendency to form alternative and marginal structures, and which leads to a fuller sharing, especially in the parish, in her sacramental and apostolic life. The priest, for his part, cannot exercise his service on behalf of the Renewal unless and until he adopts a welcoming attitude towards it. based on the desire he shares with every Christian by baptism to grow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

You leaders of the Renewal, then, priests and laity, must witness to the common bond that is yours in Christ, and set the pattern for that effective collaboration which has for its charter the Apostle’s injunction: “Make every effort to preserve the unity which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force. There is but one body and one Spirit, just as there is but one hope given all of you by your call”[14].

5. Finally, by your experience of many gifts of the Holy Spirit which are shared also with our separated brothers and sisters, yours is the special joy of growing in a desire for the unity to which the Spirit guides us and in a commitment to the serious task of ecumenism.

How is this task to be carried out? The Second Vatican Council instructs us: “The Catholic’s primary duty is to make a careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be renewed and done in the Catholic household itself, in order that its life may bear witness more clearly and faithfully to the teachings and institutions which have been handed down from Christ through the Apostles”[15]. Genuine ecumenical effort does not seek to evade the difficult tasks, such as doctrinal convergence, by rushing to create a kind of autonomous “church of the spirit” apart from the visible Church of Christ. True ecumenism rather serves to increase our longing for the ecclesial unity of all Christians in one faith, so that “the world may be converted to the Gospel and so be saved, to the glory of God”[16]. Let us be confident that if we surrender ourselves to the work of genuine renewal in the Spirit, this same Holy Spirit will bring to light the strategy for ecumenism which will bring to reality our hope of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and works through all, and is in all”[17].

6. Dear brothers and sisters, the Letter to the Galatians tells us that “when the designated time had come, God sent forth his Son born of a woman, born under the law, to deliver from the law those who were subjected to it, so that we might receive our status as adopted sons. The proof that you are sons is the fact that God has sent forth into our hearts the spirit of his Son which cries out ‘Abba!’ (‘Father’)”[18]. And it is to this woman, Mary the Mother of God and our Mother, ever obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that I confidently entrust your important work for renewal in and of the Church. In the love of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, I willingly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.
Text of the Address by Pope John Paul II


[1] 2 Cor 13, 13.

[2] Phil. 1, 3. 9-10.

[3] 1 Thess. 5, 21.

[4] Col. 3, 14.

[5] Cfr. 2 Cor. 8, 6. 11.

[6] Presbyterorum Ordinis, 56.

[7] Dei Verbum, 5

[8] Cfr. Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XIII (1975) 538.

[9] Io. 14, 16-17.

[10] Col. 3, 16-17.

[11] Ritus Ordinationis Episcopi.

[12] Presbyterorum Ordinis, 7.

[13] Prex Eucharistica III.

[14] Eph. 4, 3-5.

[15] Unitatis Redintegratio, 4.

[16] Ibid. 1.

[17] Eph. 4, 6.

[18] Gal. 4, 4-6.

Pope Paul VI

Photo of Saint Pope Paul VI

Saint Pope Paul VI

St. Paul VI, original name Giovanni Battista Montini, (born September 26, 1897, Concesio, near Brescia, Italy — died August 6, 1978, Castel Gandolfo, Italy; beatified October 19, 2014; canonized October 14, 2018; feast day September 26), Italian pope (reigned 1963–78) during a period including most of the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) and the immediate postconciliar era, in which he issued directives and guidance to a changing Roman Catholic Church. His pontificate was confronted with the problems and uncertainties of a church facing a new role in the contemporary world.
Excerpt on Saint Pope Paul VI

Giovanni Battista Montini, born September 26, 1897, Concesio, near Brescia, Italy.  [He was the] son of a middle-class lawyer — who was also a journalist and local political figure — and of a mother belonging to the same social background, Montini was in his early years educated mainly at home because of frail health. Later he studied in Brescia, Italy. Ordained a priest on May 29, 1920, he was sent by his bishop to Rome for higher studies and was eventually recruited for the Vatican diplomatic service. His first assignment, in May 1923, was to the staff of the apostolic nunciature (papal ambassador’s post) in Warsaw, Poland, but persistent ill health brought him back to Rome before the end of that same year. He then pursued special studies at the Ecclesiastical Academy, the training school for future Vatican diplomats, and at the same time resumed work at the Vatican Secretariat of State, where he remained in posts of increasing importance for more than 30 years.

In 1939 Montini was appointed papal undersecretary of state and later, in 1944, acting secretary for ordinary (or nondiplomatic) affairs. He declined an invitation to be elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1953. In the beginning of November 1954, Pope Pius XII appointed him archbishop of Milan, and Pope John XXIII named him a cardinal in 1958. He was elected pope on June 21, 1963, choosing to be known as Paul VI.
Excerpt on Saint Pope Paul VI

“How then could this “spiritual renewal” not be “a chance” for the church and for the world?  And how, in this case, could one not take all the means to ensure that it remains so? […] Nothing is more necessary for such a world, more and more secularized, than the testimony of this “spiritual renewal”, which we see the Holy Spirit bring about today in the most diverse regions and environments.  Its manifestations are varied: deep communion of souls, close contact with God in faithfulness to the commitments undertaken at Baptism, in prayer that is often community prayer, in which each one, expressing himself freely, helps, supports and nourishes the prayer of others, and, at the basis of everything, a personal conviction.  This conviction has its source not only in instruction received by faith but also in a certain experience of real life, namely, that without God, man can do nothing, that with him, on the contrary, everything becomes possible.”

“We rejoice with you, dear friends, at the renewal of the spiritual life manifested in the Church today, in different forms and in various environments. […] In all that, we can recognize the mysterious and hidden work of the Spirit, who is the soul of the church.”