It is with a feeling of expectation that I am here this morning! The waiting ends and I’m joyfully participating in the official launch of CHARIS, the tool devised by Pope Francis in order to renew and accompany – I’m using his words – “the current of grace” represented by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I thank the CHARIS Moderator, Jean-Luc Moens (to whom I wish all the best for his new job!) for the invitation and for granting me the privilege of cooperating in this endeavour.

I am obviously not missing the meaning of this invitation, which goes beyond my person. It is  evident that Pope Francis intends to recognise the help which the Pentecostals have given him from the very beginning, to reclaim and emphasise the ecumenical vocation which are in the nature and in the roots of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and to set it in the goals and the agenda of CHARIS.

Thanks be to God, the process started by Vatican II, notwithstanding oppositions and set-backs, progressed successfully, with the recent addition – thanks to Pope Francis’ sensitivity and foresight – of asking the Italian Pentecostals for forgiveness, and of the surprising and “revolutionary” opening of trust towards the Pentecostal world.  The result has been to bring new openings and new perceptions (as I have also witnessed myself).

In the meantime, it has become increasingly clear that the path to Christian unity does not merely have as its goal one of today’s Christian denominations (not even the Catholic Church), but Christ Himself and the Bride, the one and only, who, on His return, Christ the Lord will marry: this will be the final Wedding with the Lamb.


God’s dream

Personally, I am here as a lover and witness of that dream… the dream that God dreamt before the creation of the world…. The dream in which, for love of His creatures, He wishes to live within them and – starting from within the Church – He wants His creatures to love each other in the same way.


The mystery of Communion

Actually, God’s mystery is a mystery of Communion:  Communion in itself and the desire of

Communion. Paraphrasing the introduction to John’s Gospel, we could state:  “In the beginning was

the Communion, the Communion was with God and the Communion was God.  All things were

created by it; and without it not even one thing was created”.  That is to say: (1) The founding

mystery of Communion is God! God is love!  (2) The other mystery, which proceeds from the first, is that of the Communion which desires God:  the Desire for Communion which is God!


The Gospel of Desire

Since the beginning of time, this God has longed to migrate, with his “internal love movement”, to within the human spirit: love and the desire for love.  To inhabit Man’s heart, to get to know Man from within, to transfer Himself in spiritual union and dwell within him (!) and to enjoy the resulting unity. And the Father’s Love has descended; the Holy Spirit has brought Him to us. It is written: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).


Unity of Christian believers – Christ and the Body of Christ

In the same way, based on the mystery of the Communion with the Lord (which does not necessarily coincide with the confessional Communion), the mystery of Communion is Christian unity.  It was Pope Benedict XVI who stated: “It has been the mistake of the confessional era to emphasise mainly what divides us, instead of perceiving in an existential way what we have in common…” (Erfurt).  In particular I think about the mystery in which, immersed in Christ (repentance, faith and baptism), we are also grafted into the Body of Christ. The Spirit comes to live within us and our body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit.


Unity with God

Thus unity, that of the Christian with Christ and the Trinity, of Christ with the Body of Christ, and hence of the Christian with all other Christians, are all sourced from the same unity: the Communion which, once it is “in Christ” precedes us and is reality, and reality itself is more important than our ideas about that reality (Pope Francis).   The truth is that we are “immersed” in that same “reality”, we are “in Christ” (and Christ is in us) and we are with Him in relation to the Trinity.  This is why we are the Church and we all belong to one another.  We belong to the same “reality” Founded on the unity of God, the unity between Christ and the Body of Christ, on the Trinity, we all belong to that same reality.

As Father Raniero Cantalamessa said: “The measure of our belonging to the Church is fundamentally determined by whether or not we have the Holy Spirit in reality, and not simply through legal or institutional ties.  Between a purely visible belonging to the Church and a spiritual belonging there is the same difference as in the sacraments … between receiving the visible signal … and also receiving the grace contained therein … Herein lies the reason for our ecumenical communion with all true believers in Christ, even with those outside our Church.  There is therefore a communion between all Christians, not only in votis, i.e. in our wishes and in the future, but also effective at present.

As Seraphim of Sarov said, the authentic aim of Christian life is to receive the Holy Spirit…to possess and to be possessed by the Holy Spirit.  Having the Holy Spirit deep within our hearts is Christian living; being in communion with Him deep within our hearts is to be saints.

Thus, if all this is true, in a mysterious way – because it is invisible – but not any less real, if we have the Spirit, we have Christ, we have the Trinity. Therefore we are Christians! We are part of the Body of Christ.  We are the Church, because he who has Christ has the Church. He who is of Christ is of the Church.  This is the deep and unbreakable bond between Christ and the Trinity on the one hand and the Church on the other, and between Christ and the Body of Christ: “oùtos ò Christòs” i.e. “This is Christ”.  Indeed: “In the one Spirit we were all baptised to make one body…. and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.” – 1Corinthians 12:13.


The DNA of the Pentecostal Movement

For this reason I continue to believe that the Spiritual Movement known as that of the Pentecost, on both the Catholic and the Pentecostal side, has in its historical and spiritual DNA the same vocation for unity. Moreover, it will not have completed its contribution towards God’s reason for its existence until it becomes inflamed with love for unity and transforms itself into a movement which is fully aware of its vocation for unity. This is because the Movement was born from the Spirit, it has its roots in that same Pentecostal visitation of the early 20th century (ref. Cardinal Suenens).  

Sometimes the rain for which we pray and which we need starts falling in the next-door neighbours’  garden.  In any case, the aim of every Pentecost is, and must always be, life and peace:  a life of resurrection and reconciliation.  Supernatural life and Peace!  As in the Pentecost in the Acts.  As in the Valley of Dry Bones!  Life and Peace!


Nature of the Pentecostal Movement

We have another confirmation when – and here I recall the extensive research carried out by Walter Hollenweger, my master at the University of Birmingham – we examine the salient nature and characteristics of the Pentecostal Movement.  Hollenweger identified five fundamental roots:

  1. The Black Oral Root.  I found confirmation of this during my visits to churches on the African continent.  As in primitive Christianity, the people there communicate via the oral culture: they prefer description to definition, song to systematic thought, dance to theory. These Christians, just like the primitive Christians, perform theology through adoration:  they have an oral theology.
  1. The Catholic Root.  They believe in miracles.  They normally evolve towards various strands of episcopal ecclesiology; they believe in freedom of choice (contrary to reformed theology).  They continue to follow Wesley’s concepts, such as a devoted way of life and the quest for sainthood.  
  1. The Evangelical Root.  They are on the Reform branch of the tree:  Scripture as the supreme authority, salvation by grace, universal priesthood, the Awakening, personal conversion, with roots in the “sainthood movement” of the 19th century.
  1. The Ecumenical Root:  Basic ecumenical spirituality.  A unique experience, baptism in the Holy Spirit, considered identical, even when experienced in different settings, by people with Evangelical, Catholic, Protestant (conservative or liberal) backgrounds.  David Du Plessis said: “Pentecostals cannot be viewed merely as the left wing of Protestantism, since their history and spirituality contain too many Catholic elements. Interesting!  For the first time we see the emergence of a basic movement for unity between Evangelicals and Catholics.  The basis for this closeness derives from their common experience, which lies at the heart of their spirituality, despite their differing theologies and interpretations of the same reality.
  1. The “Critical” or “Prophetic” root:  Consists in (a) the present-day criticism of a Christianity which has become nominal and lukewarm; (b) the embracing of “renewal” (for Catholics) and “awakening” (for Evangelicals) theories; (c) the criticism of indifference and passivity.



 There would be more to say, but for the purpose of today’s discussions I would simply like to emphasise that the pentecostal and charismatic movements share close affinities, thanks to their common historical and spiritual roots.


A proposal for CHARIS

To follow up on all the above, if you would allow me to be bold, I would like to make a proposal for CHARIS. I listened several times to Pope Francis mentioning the crucial importance of this coming together, of friendship, of walking together and of promoting fundamental and spiritual ecumenism.  This is exactly the same starting point from which I have begun, and from here we can all rightly begin, in good conscience and faithful to our common foundation values, and from here we can go a long way together!  We are brothers!  We are on the same foundation as Christ and the Trinity and we belong to the same body, even with our diversity. On this foundation we can go a long way, with “Christ at the centre”, praying, praising and adoring together. Reading and studying the Scriptures, evangelising together, cultivating together “life in Christ”, growing together towards maturity. We can walk together to enjoy fraternal communion, we can bear witness to our unity.  A mixed Catholic-Pentecostal fellowship? There are already examples of this. A nucleus, maybe even a model to be replicated.  Do you think that CHARIS can take the initiative in this direction by promoting this vision?



Pastor Giovanni Traettino

Evangelical Church of Reconciliation

Leaders Conference, 7th June 2019

Translated from the Italian by Robert G. Harris




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