23 November 1980
On the Feast of Christ the King, November 23, the Holy Father held a special audience with a group of charismatics numbering between fifteen and eighteen thousand, and representing 450 prayer groups throughout Italy. The reception given to the Pope was tumultuous, with joyful songs, uplifted arms, shouts of “Viva il Papa”, and hundreds of popping flashbulbs. Fr. Dino Foglio, chairman of the Italian National Service Committee, saluted the Holy Father, saying that the group “wanted this meeting so much to tell Your Holiness that the reality we represent in Italy must be within the Church…that Jesus Christ is the only center of all our lives…and that our main goal is to build communities of prayer and love founded in hope around the parish”. The group sang a number of songs, praising God in tongues, and adding new cries of “Viva il Papa”. In his own words, His Holiness said among other things, “Your movement is very important because it proclaims that the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity illuminates the whole Christian life…Our Christian vocation comes from the multiplication of the charisms, leading to the formation of one Body, and a society of unity and love”. He ended his informal words after his prepared statement by saying, “why these gifts? Because the kingdom of God is for those who are ready to reach out and take it”. He personally greeted as many of the great crowd as he could, especially the sick in wheelchairs, and had special words for the members of the Italian Service Committee, and for Fr. Tom Forrest, Hervé Marie Catta and Carlos Calvente of the ICO Council and Office.
Taken from the ICO Newsletter, November-December 1980