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On 50th anniversary of Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Francis focuses on “reconciled diversity”

“Today’s martyrs are not asked ‘Are you Catholic? Orthodox? Coptic? Pentecostal?’ before being killed,” said Pope Francis to a gathering of 50,000 in Rome, “They are killed because they are Christian. We are united by this ecumenism of the blood.”

Pope Francis leads a gathering in St. Peter's Square marking the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (Photo: Alessandra Nucci)

“God is not polygamous; he is monogamous, he has only one Bride,” said Rev. Giovanni Traettino, the Pentecostal pastor from Caserta who became famous overnight three years ago when Pope Francis decided to flip protocol and drop in on Traettino’s church.  His words, echoed by Pope Francis, were addressed to some 50,000 assorted leaders from 128 different countries attending the festivities in Rome for the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The implication was that Christians are to leave aside their historical divisions, in this year marking the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s revolt, and seek to be united simply as followers of Jesus Christ. 

“We have chosen to meet here in the Circus Maximus,” said Pope Francis, “where so many Christians were martyred, just for laughs. Today there are more martyrs than in those times. Today’s martyrs are not asked ‘Are you Catholic? Orthodox? Coptic? Pentecostal?’ before being killed. They are killed because they are Christian. We are united by this ecumenism of the blood.”

Unity, defined by Pope Francis as “reconciled diversity”—not his words, Francis pointed out, but the words of a Lutheran friend—was the main thrust of the five days of workshops, symposiums, schools of evangelization, ecumenical forums, healing sessions, covenant meetings, all-encompassing concerts and prayer meetings variously  combined, held to celebrate the 50 years that have passed since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at a student retreat at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh started the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. 

The festival included several non-Catholic leaders, most notably Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Anglicans, non-denominational Christians and even Messianic Jews,  who were not just guests but were showcased in a few of the events and  were on stage for the conclusion with Francis, alongside Cardinals Agostino Vallini, Salvatore De Giorgi, Kevin Joseph Farrel, Christoph Schönborn and Marc Ouellet.

The Pentecost Vigil was opened by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal Household, who reminded the members of the Renewal that Pentecost was the opposite of Babel, where God confused the tongues and made communication impossible. At Pentecost, on the contrary, the Apostles spoke to people who didn’t know their language and were understood, by grace of the Holy Spirit, because they were working for the glory of God and not their own.

“The Pentecostal and Charismatic event has a particular responsibility with regards to the unity among Christians,” said Fr. Cantalamessa. “We must begin to love each other in order to understand each other better. What unites us is infinitely more important than what divides…”

The Charismatic Renewal was not born Catholic, the Pope reminded the crowd, but was born ecumenical. Hence it has within it the means to lead the way. “Today the call to unity among Christians is more urgent than ever,” he said. “Christians are to journey and work together. We must love each other, but as we journey on. The Holy Spirit wants us to be on the move. The Holy Spirit can’t be caged in.” 

How to achieve unity among such disproportionate realities? Set aside the doctrinal discussion, said the Pontiff, and leave it to the theologians. As they work things out, we can be friends. 

Pope Francis and participants in the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal onstage at the Circus Maximus at the Pentecost Vigil on Saturday June 3, 2017. (Photo: Alessandra Nucci)

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About Alessandra Nucci 28 Articles
Alessandra Nucci is an Italian author and journalist.


  1. Quote: Unity is reconciled diversity.

    But can all sorts of diversity be really reconciled? I believe in the
    Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. You don’t.

    I believe there is truly only the male priesthood. You believe priestesses are equally valid.

    I believe in the Sacrament of Penance. You don’t, thinking that all that is necessary is to

    confess your sins to God directly.

    I believe marriage is between man and woman. You believe gay marriage is equally good in the

    eyes of God.

    How can we reconcile this divergent views to achieve unity?

    How can we leave doctrine to theologians when it is precisely doctrine that divides us?

  2. Ugh, more syrupy sweet non sense. What a disgrace.

    Charismatic movement is a direct threat to the church, but it embodies that wonderful global religion of feeling where truth doesn’t matter.

  3. MarcAlcan is correct thaat unity understood as diversified reconciliation is limited. The Holy Eucharist is the sign of unity in one baptism, one faith. As a lay lecturer at a seminary in Malawi I experienced a wonderful unity based on friendship, mutual support between Anglicans, Dutch Reformed, and Seventh day Adventists. The latter treating me with great kindness when suffering acute malaria at their field hospital. Once I was called on the intercom by a surgeon at a Catholic hospital to give communion to a Lutheran woman prepared for a dangerous surgery. I couldn’t in conscience refuse her. She responded correctly to my questions on the Real Presence and claimed no animosity toward the Roman Pontiff. That of course was an extremely rare once in a lifetime exception. Attempting to pursue a false unity which it appears the Pontiff suggests will result not in true unity but rather mere tolerance and continued devaluation of the Holy Eucharist. Other Christians will respond only insofar as our faith holds to the exclusivity of reception of the Real Presence.

  4. As a 25 yr old I became involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Summer of 1968, and in consequence had many very helpful subsequent interactions with Protestant Pentecostals. Some of it was completely astounding, for example a series of talks by a Lutheran pastor on the Canticle of Canticles that was very reminiscent of St. Bernard’s treatment of the same topic, but hardly identical. It was “fresh off the griddle,” as they would say. Then there were the amusing moments when my new associates discovered that I was Catholic. They could hardly take it in. “You mean of Catholic background, right?” “No, I am a practicing Catholic.” It definitely rocked their theology and I began to think that the Renewal was the key to the reunion of Christendom. We would discover each other’s Christianity, become friends, and they would eventually be open to full communion. Perhaps indeed, that will happen, but new problems are appearing

    About 20years ago I became involved with a group of young Catholic adults in the western suburbs of Chicago who formed a group called the Roman Forum. It is now long disbanded because the demands of parenting made it impossible for them to continue, but while it lasted it was a study group that met on Thursday evenings for pizza and conversation about Catholic theology and its relation to the issues of the day. There was also a yahoogroup site for online exchanges. It was nice while it lasted.

    In one post I made the mistake of suggesting that we might be able to learn something from our separated brethren and was immediately challenged by someone saying, “Like what for example?” So I produced and posted a long list This was greeted both with anger and hilarity. There were several converts in the group who were emphatically hostile to the notion that anything good could come out of Protestantism. It was a heresy that had kept them deceived for years, had kept them from the Eucharist, from Our Lady and the saints and so much else besides. It was a snare and a delusion that had contributed greatly to the secularization of Western Civilization, etc. This took me aback, you may well believe. Someone else, one of the leaders of the group responded to my post by saying, “We’ve unmasked the beast at last!” and concluded his response with “ROFLMAO.” With that I felt pretty much persona non grata and withdrew in confusion.

    From these experiences comes some doubt about our adopting personally and corporately the exhortations of the Decree on Ecumenism. For one thing, I wonder if we are capable of it as a people. Not everyone has the formation in the faith needed to sift the good from the bad. For another, before we pursue reunion with our separated brethren, we need to be careful about losing unity with our fellow Catholics. This is a real concern. We very badly need what I would call intramural ecumenism. That there is a problem here, a very large and seemingly intractable problem, should be obvious to anyone who pays attention to what is happening in the Catholic blogsphere: Rorate Coeli, Fr. Z’s Blog, Michael Voris’s Church Militant.. There are a very great many fervent Catholics, the crème de la crème of Catholicism really, who would be very sympathetic to my young friends in the Roman forum. In fact, to bring a too long post to a close, young, fervent Catholics seem to be attracted by the pre-Vatican II liturgy and ethos. There are very many indications of this. For example, the Valparaiso Carmelites and its three foundations have the Mass and all the office in Latin, wear the full habit, live a life that hardly differs from that of St. Theresa in the 16th century and are overflowing with vocations. They can hardly build monasteries fast enough. One wonders what this trend toward traditionalism means for the implementation of Vatican II and the unity of the Church. In any case, I doubt very much that very many young, fervent Catholics will have much patience with “reconciled diversity.”

  5. More nonsensical Jesuit-speak. One world church.
    No promotion of the Catholic Church. No defense of the Catholic Church.
    He is very much reluctant to even say the word “Catholic”.
    If you listen closely enough, you will rarely hear the word “Jesus”.
    Vicar of Christ, indeed.

  6. If Pope Francis did say “How to achieve unity among such disproportionate realities? Set aside the doctrinal discussion, said the Pontiff, and leave it to the theologians. As they work things out, we can be friends. ” or words to that effect, or exactly those words, then hopefully unbeknown to him, he is pushing for the disunification of Catholicism and not for the unification of Christianity.

    There is only One Who can bring about unity within Christianity, and that One is Jesus Christ Who said My Body is real food and My Blood is real drink; Who said This is My Body and This is My Blood. There is nothing here for the theologians to discuss. Jesus has already declared this Truth and He has lived this Truth. This cannot be set aside.

    Standing for this Truth may eventually be a cause for martyrdom. St. Paul said that the greatest is Love. So let us not only love our fellow Christians, whatever their denomination, but let us never dilute the Truth. Let us Catholics always witness to the Truth. One day, the separated from the full Truth just might accept all that Jesus taught.
    God bless, C-Marie

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