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Pope’s Address to Fraternity of Charismatic Communities

“For the persecutors, we are not divided: We are not Lutherans, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Catholics. … For the persecutors we are Christians — nothing else matters. This is the ecumenism of blood lived today”

Here is a translation of the Pope’s address today to members of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships, on the occasion of their 16thInternational Conference on the theme: “Charismatic Praise and Adoration for a New Evangelization” (Rome, October 30-November 2, 2014).

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Dear Brothers and Sisters, welcome.

I thank you for your reception and I greet you all affectionately. I know that the Catholic Fraternity has already held the meeting with the Executive and the Council and that this afternoon you will begin the 16thInternational Conference with dear Father Raniero.

You had the kindness to send me the program and I see that every meeting begins with the address I gave to the Charismatic Renewal, on the occasion of the meeting at the Olympic Stadium last month of June.

I want first of all to congratulate you because you have initiated what at that moment was a desire of mine. For about two months the Catholic Fraternity and the ICCRS have already begun to work, sharing the same office in the San Calisto Palace, within “Noah’s Ark.” I am aware that it must not have been easy to make this decision, and I give you my heartfelt thanks for this witness of unity, of the current of Grace that you are giving the whole world.

I would like to reflect on some subjects that I think are important.

Unity in diversity. Uniformity is not Catholic, it is not Christian. Unity in diversity. Catholic unity is diverse but it is one. It is curious! What makes for diversity is the same as what then makes for unity: the Holy Spirit. He does both things: unity in diversity. Unity is not uniformity, it is not to do by obligation everything together, or think in the same way, or lose one’s identity. Unity in diversity is precisely the contrary; it is to recognize and accept joyfully the different gifts that the Holy Spirit gives each one and to put them at the service of all in the Church.

In the passage of the Gospel that we read in the Mass today, there was this uniformity in those men attached to the letter: “It must not be done like this …”  to the point that the Lord had to ask: “But, tell me, can good be done on the Sabbath or not?” This is the danger of uniformity. Unity is to be able to listen, to accept differences, to have the freedom to think differently and to manifest it! –with all respect for the other who is my brother. Do not be afraid of differences! As I said in the Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “The model is not the sphere, which is not superior to the parts, where every point is equidistant from the center and there are no differences between one point and another. The model is the polyhedron, which reflects the confluence of all the partialities that retain their originality in it” (236), but they make a unity.

I have seen in the brochure, where the names of the Communities are , that the phrase you chose to put at the beginning is that which says “… to share with the whole Church Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” The Church is in need of the Holy Spirit, we would be lacking . Every Christian, in his life, is in need of opening his heart to the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, promised by the Father, is He that Jesus Christ reveals to us, which gives us the possibility to say: Jesus! We cannot say it without the Spirit. He reveals Jesus Christ, leads us to the personal encounter with Him and thus our life changes. A question: Do you live this experience? Share it! And to share it, you need to live it, to be witnesses of this!

The theme you chose for the congress is “Praise and Adoration for a New Evangelization.” Father Raniero, teacher of prayer, will speak of this. Praise is the inspiration that gives us life, because it is intimacy with God, which grows with praise every day. Some time ago, I heard this example, which seems very appropriate to me: breathing by the human being. Breathing is made up of two phases: to inhale, that is, to bring air inside, and to exhale, to let it go out. The spiritual life is fed, is nourished in prayer and is manifested in the mission: inhaling, prayer, and exhaling. When we inhale, in prayer, we receive the new air of the Spirit and in exhaling it we proclaim Jesus Christ inspired by the same Spirit.

No one can live without breathing. The same is true for the Christian: without praise and without the mission he does not live as a Christian – and with praise, adoration. There is talk of adoration – there is little talk of it. “What is done in prayer?” “I ask God for things, I thank Him, I intercede …” Adoration, to adore God. This is part of breathing: praise and adoration.

It was Charismatic Renewal that reminded the Church of the need and importance of the prayer of praise. When there is talk of the prayer of praise in the Church the Charismatics come to mind. When I spoke of the prayer of praise during a Mass at Saint Martha’s, I said it was not only the prayer of Charismatics but of the whole Church! It is the acknowledgment of the Lordship of God over us and over the whole of creation expressed in dance, in music and in song.

Now I would like to take up some passages of that homily. ”The prayer of praise is a Christian prayer for all of us. Every day in the Mass, when we sing repeating “Holy, Holy, Holy …” this is a prayer of praise; we praise God for his greatness because He is great. And we say lovely things to Him, because we like to do so … The prayer of praise makes us fecund. Sarah dances in the great moment of her fecundity at 90 years of age! Fecundity gives praise to God. The man and woman that praise the Lord, who pray praising the Lord – and when they do so they are happy to say so – and they rejoice when they sing the Sanctus in the Mass, they are a fecund man or woman. We think how lovely it is to engage in the prayer of praise. This must be our prayer of praise and, when we raise it to the Lord, we must say to our heart: ‘Arise, heart, because you are before the King of glory’” (Mass at Saint Martha’s, January 28, 2014).

Together with the prayer of praise, the prayer of intercession is today a cry to the Father for our persecuted and killed Christian brothers, and for peace in our troubled world.

Praise the Lord always, do not cease to do it; always praise Him more, incessantly. I was told about prayer groups in Charismatic Renewal in which the Rosary is recited together. The prayer to Our Lady must never be lacking, never! But when you come together, praise the Lord!

I see among you a dear friend, Pastor Giovanni Traettino, whom I visited a short time ago. Catholic Fraternity, do not forget your origins, do not forget that Charismatic Renewal is by its very nature ecumenical. On this subject, Blessed Paul VI says in his magnificent and very timely Exhortation on evangelization:  “… the strength of evangelization will be much diminished if those who proclaim the Gospel are divided among themselves by so many sorts of breaks. Is not perhaps here one of the great malaises of evangelization today? The Lord’s spiritual testament tells us that unity among His followers is not only the proof that we are His, but also that He is the one sent by the Father, criterion of the credibility of Christians and of Christ Himself. Yes, the fate of evangelization is certainly linked to the witness of unity given by the Church. This is a motive of responsibility but also of comfort” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 77). Up to here, Blessed Paul VI.

Spiritual ecumenism: to pray together and proclaim together that Jesus is the Lord and to intervene together in aid of the poor, in all their poverty. This must be done and we must not forget that today the blood of Jesus, shed by His many Christian martyrs in various parts of the world, challenges and drives us to unity. For the persecutors, we are not divided: we are not Lutherans, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Catholics. No! We are one! For the persecutors we are Christians! –nothing else matters. This is the ecumenism of blood lived today.

Remember: seek unity, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, and do not fear diversity. The breathing of the Christian, who always lets the new air of the Holy Spirit enter and exhales it in the world. Prayer of praise and mission. Share Baptism in the Holy Spirit with anyone in the Church. Spiritual ecumenism and ecumenism of blood. The unity of the Body of Christ. Prepare the Bride for the Bridegroom who comes! One Bride! All. (Revelation 22:17).

Finally, a special mention, in addition to my thanks, goes to these young musicians who come from the north of Brazil and who played at the beginning, I hope they will continue to play a bit. They received me with so much affection with the song “The Lord Jesus Lives.” I know they have prepared something more and I invite you all to listen to them before greeting one another. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

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