VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Italian episcopal conference now officially recognizes the statutes of Renewal in the Spirit, which in Italy has more than 200,000 members in 1,800 communities or prayer groups.
According to Bishop Giuseppe Betori, secretary of the Italian episcopate, with this recognition Italy´s Charismatic Renewal is transformed from a “current of grace” into an “ecclesial movement,” something which has already happened in other countries.
Vatican Radio reported there are 80 million charismatic Catholics worldwide.
In this interview with Vatican Radio, Salvatore Martinez, Renewal in the Spirit´s coordinator in Italy, reflects on the implications of the Italian episcopate´s recognition.
Q: Will this institutional recognition stop the “current of grace” that Charismatic Renewal has brought until now?
Martinez: No way. The Renewal has never been afraid of structures. These structures are recognized today, but this does not mean that the Renewal will become an institution today. It is a recognition, an approval; a mission is given implicitly.
This mission tells us that this ecclesial movement, which carries with it a specific grace, takes on the responsibility to live it in communion with the bishops at the local level and in the name of the Church in the world. It is precisely what the Pope says. It is a gift that is still to be discovered: the grace of the movements in the particular Churches.
I think this is under way, and increasingly we will see the movements involved concretely in the great challenge of evangelization, as well as in the renewal of our Churches.
Q: The Italian Renewal in the Spirit has just held its 25th annual meeting in Rimini with the participation of tens of thousands of people. … What projects emerge from the Rimini meeting?
Martinez: Among many others, I would like to recall in a special way the Burning Bush project. John Paul II mentioned it especially in the message he gave us [see ZENIT, March 14, 2002].
It is an opportunity to make the Person of the Holy Spirit known and loved, in keeping with the words of the Pope himself. We are preparing for Pentecost by relaunching the novena of preparation, as well as vigils and initiatives of prayer, intercession, supplication, praise, incessant adoration, night and day, so that faith, charismatic faith, will awaken, but above all so that the Lord will act to reunite Christianity, for the conversion of sinners, and above all at this time, to disarm the hand of men where there is fighting.
Q: It is said that Charismatic Renewal is not present in social life. Is this true?
Martinez: At times our presence in society seems to be invisible, but it is like salt and leaven, which gives taste and ferments the dough. The Renewal took on this commitment a long time ago, supporting voluntary social causes, preparing leaders for social commitment, through a presence in the world, through courses, initiatives, and the schools we have, for example, in the whole of Italy.