1 November 2016
Journalist’s question – from Austin Ivereigh (in Spanish)
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.