Pope Francis warms to charismatic movement

Pope Francis has told Catholics from the charismatic movement that he was not always comfortable with the way they prayed.

But little by little, he came to see the good the movement is doing for members and for the Church, the Pope told 50,000 people at Rome’s Olympic Stadium on June 1.

The gathering involved charismatic Catholics from 55 nations.

“In the early years of the charismatic renewal in Buenos Aires, I did not have much love for charismatics,” Pope Francis told them.

“I said of them: They seem like a samba school.”

But Pope Francis told the charismatics that their movement was begun by the Holy Spirit as “a current of grace in the Church and for the Church”.

He asked charismatic groups not to try to organise everything or create a bureaucracy that attempts to tame the Holy Spirit.

The temptation “to become ‘controllers’ of the grace of God” is a danger, the Pope said.

Group leaders, sometimes without even meaning to, become “administrators of grace”, deciding who should exercise which gifts of the Holy Spirit.

“Don’t do this anymore,” Pope Francis said.

“Be dispensers of God’s grace, not controllers. Don’t be the Holy Spirit’s customs agents.”

At one point during the Rome gathering, the crowd prayed that the Holy Spirit would fill Francis and he knelt on the stage, while they sang with their hands raised toward him.

After the song, many in the crowd kept their hands raised as they prayed in tongues, speaking in unfamiliar languages, the Catholic News Service reported.

Pope Francis also encouraged charismatics to exercise “spiritual ecumenism”, by praying with members from other Christian churches and communities to help heal divisions.

He also invited the crowd to stay close to the Word of God, as charismatics had always been known for their love of the Scriptures.

Pope Francis invited the crowd to come to St Peter’s Square for Pentecost in 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the charismatic movement.


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