Pope Francis met today with 30,000 members of the Renewal in the Spirit Movement in St. Peter’s Square this evening.
The meeting with the Holy Father kicks off the 38th National Convocation of the Renewal in the Spirit. They will reflect on the theme: “Ways of Unity and of Peace: Voices of Prayer for the Martyrs of Today and for a Spiritual Ecumenism.
Salvatore Martinez, the movement’s president, began with an appeal for unity, along with religious leaders.
Among those present were Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Church; Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference. Also present were several Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs, Bishops from the Anglican & Lutheran Churches and Pentecostal pastors.
The group held hands in prayers as the hymn Amazing Grace was sung. The Pope then followed with a prayer
“Father send us your Holy Spirit, that Jesus has promised us. May he guides us towards unity,” the Holy Father said.
“History has divided us. Jesus, help us to go on the path of unity, on this reconciled diversity. Lord, you always do what you promise, give unity to all Christians.”
The hot Roman evening nor the ensuing rain that fell on the crowds did little to dampen their spirits. After welcoming them, the Holy Father said: “The rain is also welcome because it was made by God.” He went on to thank them for coming to St. Peter’s and for their “enthusiastic and warm response.”
During his address, the Holy Father praised the Charismatic movement’s zeal in helping the faithful encounter the Holy Spirit in their lives. He also called on them to continue promoting Christian unity, as well as remembering the many Christian martyrs today. The Pope said that the sufferings of those who shed their blood for Christ unites all Christians.
“A few months ago, 23 Egyptian Copts who were beheaded on the shores of Libya. In that moment, they said the name of Jesus. “Oh, but they are not Catholic!” But they are Christians! They are brothers! They are our martyrs! This is the ecumenism of blood!” he exclaimed.
“And 50 years ago Blessed Paul VI, at the canonization of the young martyrs of Uganda, made reference to this: that for the same reason, their Anglican catechist companions also shed their blood. They were Christians, they were martyrs. Forgive me, do not be scandalized, but they are our martyrs because they gave their lives for Christ! And this is the ecumenism of blood!”
The event included music by various musicians, including Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. On Saturday, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, President of the Fabric of St. Peter and Vicar General of Vatican City State, will preside over the celebration of the Eucharist with the Charismatic movement’s members at Rome’s Olympic Stadium.