Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to the participants in the International Conference of Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CHARIS)
8th June 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
I like how in some countries people greet one another in this Easter season, not by saying “Good morning” or “Good afternoon”, but with the words “Jesus is risen”. So let’s greet one another that way, saying together: “Jesus is risen”!
Yes, Jesus is alive! Thank you, because you remembered that I like that first song you sang.
This Pentecost begins a new stage begins on the journey inaugurated by the Charismatic Renewal fifty-two years ago. The Charismatic Renewal, which developed in the Church by the will of God, represents, to paraphrase Saint Paul VI, “a great opportunity for the Church” (cf. Address to Participants in the III International Congress of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, 19 May 1975).
Today, in the name of the whole Church, I thank the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service and the Catholic Fraternity for the mission they have carried out in the past thirty years. You have blazed a trail and, by your fidelity, have made it possible for CHARIS to be a reality today. Thank you!
My thanks go also to the four-person team I charged with bringing this unique new service into being. I am grateful likewise to the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, in the person of Cardinal Farrell, which has assisted you.
Today one thing ends and another begins. A new stage of this journey is beginning. A stage marked by communion between all the members of the charismatic family, in which the mighty presence of the Holy Spirit is manifested for the good of the entire Church. A presence that makes each one equal, since each has been born of the same Spirit: great and small, old and young, engaged on the worldwide or local levels, all form a whole that is always greater than the part.
A new and unique service of communion
New. As I told you at the Circus Maximus, what is new can be destabilizing. In the beginning, there is a sense of uncertainty about the changes that newness brings. Sometimes we prefer our own way of doing things and we draw back from the rest. This is a temptation of the devil. Whenever anyone things: “No, my way is better”, or “I prefer the old to the new”, the devil is there, because he cuts me off from unity with everyone else. True, a certain fear about what is new is quite human, but this should not be the case with spiritual persons. “Behold, I make all things new”, the Lord tells us in the Book of Revelation (21:5). Our God is the God of newness. The new things of God are always a blessing because they flow from his loving heart. There is always a temptation to say: “We are fine the way we are; things are going well, why change? Let’s leave things as they are; we know what we are doing”. This kind of thinking does not come from the Spirit. Perhaps from the spirit of the world, but not from the Holy Spirit. Don’t make this mistake. It is the Lord who says: “I make all things new”.
New and unique. A service meant to assist all the charismatic groups that the Spirit has raised up in the world. Not one office to serve some and another office to serve others, etc. No, one service for all.
Service. Not governance. It can happen that in any human organization, secular or religious, there is a temptation to keep looking for personal gain. And ambition to stand out, to lead, to make money… That never changes. Corruption enters that way. No: service, always service. Service is not about filling our pockets – the devil enters through the pockets – service is about giving, giving, giving of oneself.
Communion. With hearts as one, turned to the Father, and testifying to unity in diversity: a diversity of charisms that the Spirit has raised up in these last fifty-two years. “Enlarge the site of your tent”, we read in the prophecy of Isaiah (54:2), so that all can dwell there as members of one family. A family where there is only one God and Father, one Lord Jesus Christ and one Spirit of life. A family in which no one member is more important than another, neither in virtue of age, intelligence or ability, for all are beloved children of the same Father. In this regard, Saint Paul’s example of the body and its members speaks eloquently to all of us (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-26). Each member of the body needs all the others. All together.
I see that there is a representative of young people in the International Service of Communion. Is she here? Congratulations! I am happy for you. Young people are the future of the Church. True enough, but they are also the present: the present and future of the Church. I am pleased that you have given them a high profile and a chance to exercise of the responsibility that is theirs, to see the present with a different set of eyes and to look to the future together with you.
I also see that CHARIS now has publication rights to the Documents of Malines. The president has given me the Spanish translation. Thank you! This is a good thing. Make those documents known! As I have said to you on different occasions, they are a “user’s manual”, the compass of the current of grace.
You asked me to tell you what the Pope and the Church expect from this new service, from CHARIS and from the entire Charismatic Renewal. But let me joke for a minute and ask what the Pope expects from the “spiritists”! (laughter). What does the Pope expect from you? I expect this movement:
– to share baptism in the Holy Spirit with everyone in the Church. It is the grace you have received. Share it! Don’t keep it to yourselves!
– to serve the unity of the body of Christ, the Church, the community of believers in Jesus Christ. This is very important, for the Holy Spirit relates unity in the Church, but also diversity. The personality of the Holy Spirit is interesting: with the charisms he creates the greatest diversity, but then he harmonizes the charisms in unity. Saint Basil says that “the Holy Spirit is harmony”; he creates harmony: harmony in the Spirit and harmony among us.
– and to serve the poor and those in greatest need, physical or spiritual. This does not mean, as some might think, that suddenly the Renewal has become communist. No, it has become evangelical, for this is in the Gospel.
These three things – baptism in the Holy Spirit, unity in the body of Christ and service to the poor – are the forms of witness that, by virtue of baptism, all of us are called to give for the evangelization of the world. An evangelization that is not proselytism but first and foremost witness: a witness of love. “See how they love one another”. That was what impressed those who encountered the first Christians. “See how they love one another”.
Sometimes, of not a few communities it can be said: “See how they gossip about one another!” This does not come from the Holy Spirit. “See how they love one another”. To evangelize is to love; it is to share God’s love for every man, woman and child. Offices for evangelization can be established, programmes can be carefully planned and implemented, but without love, without community, they are useless! “See how they love one another”.
This is what community is. In the Second Letter of John there is a warning, an admonition, in verse 9. It says: “Be on your guard…, [for] anyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, is not of the good Spirit”. Perhaps some will be tempted to think: “No, let’s organize things this or that way, let’s build the house this or that way…” But love has to come first. With ideology or methodology alone, we can “go beyond” the community, and John has told us: “This is the spirit of the world, not the Spirit of God”. “See how they love one another”.
Members of the Charismatic Renewal, as a current of the grace of the Holy Spirit, be witnesses of this love! And please, pray for me.
And now, I would like to anticipate by twenty-five minutes – later, if you want, you can do it yourselves – but together with you I would like to anticipate by twenty-five minutes the act that the entire Church carries out today: a minute of silence for peace. Why? Because today is the anniversary, the fifth anniversary, of the meeting here in the Vatican between the Presidents of the State of Palestine and the State of Israel. We prayed together for peace, and throughout the world today at thirteen hours, there will be a moment of silence. Let’s do it now, before the blessing, all together, standing.
Thank you. For a community of the Renewal to be quiet is something almost heroic! (laughter). Thank you!
And now I will give you my blessing. [Blessing] Christ is risen!