A Catholic-Evangelical Plea for Mutual Forgiveness

Joint Declaration From Argentina

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BUENOS AIRES, JULY 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Catholic and evangelical figures are finding a new area of common agreement: the need for mutual forgiveness for their disagreements.

That development marked the 2nd Fraternal Meeting called by Renewed Communion of Evangelicals and Catholics in the Spirit (CRECES) and held in Buenos Aires from July 2-4.

The meeting «was not an isolated event,» both sides said in a Joint Declaration presented during the meeting. «Similar experiences are taking place and will continue to take place in greater measure in all the nations of the world.»

Attending the meeting was Matteo Calisi, president of the International Fraternity of Covenant Charismatic Communities and Associations and founder and president of the Community of Jesus, a Catholic charismatic group that arose in Bari, Italy.

«I heartily encourage you to persevere in this path of praise and adoration, reconciliation and spiritual ecumenism which you already undertook last year,» said Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, in a letter addressed to the participants of the CRECES meeting.

New commitment

The hopes of CRECES followers were reflected in the Joint Declaration, dated July 2, which was presented during the meeting.

«We are Catholics and evangelicals who have experienced the risen Christ, who through his Holy Spirit, which is grace, has renewed our lives spiritually,» the declaration read.

«This spiritual renewal has led us to a new personal commitment to Jesus Christ,» it added.

From the experience of the Holy Spirit, the Catholic and evangelical participants said they understand the Church as the «people of God, family of God.»

The declaration continued: «All of us who are children of God, whether evangelicals or Catholics, are children of the same Father and, therefore, brothers. Christ wants only one Church, and he wants his Church to manifest in the world the unity and holiness that characterize God.

«Today, evangelicals and Catholics, renewed by the Holy Spirit, repent of our divisions and mutual offenses, and ask one another for forgiveness … we acknowledged that our greatest sin has been not to love one another as Christ taught us.»

Group’s roots

CRECES «was born from the yearning that the Holy Spirit put into the hearts of a group of Catholic and evangelical brothers who, without knowing it, prayed on their own that the Lord would inspire a common way toward the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer to the Father, the night he was betrayed: Father ‘that they may all be one … so that the world may know that thou hast sent me,'» the promoters told ZENIT.

The beginning of a common path began with Matteo Calisi’s visit to Buenos Aires in July 2003. For some years, Calisi and evangelical pastor Jorge Mimitian had met in Italy, sharing the same desire for unity.

After a first meeting in Buenos Aires, four evangelical pastors and four Catholic laymen began to meet monthly to pray and discern the will of God for this endeavor of reconciliation and unity. The first meeting of CRECES was held last July 31.

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