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.
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 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
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
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…