Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

7/31/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Some Catholic journalists, including John Allen, have speculated that with the untimely death of Bishop Tony Palmer, some of the momentum in this mission of spiritual ecumenism may slow down. I disagree. This work of the Holy Spirit is only in the early stages of an historic movement which is about to change history.

Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church. This friend of Francis oversees the growing evangelical Church of the Reconciliation. The brotherly warmth between these two Christian men was evident in their embrace and shared in their message of reconciliation and brotherhood in Jesus Christ. The protestant Pastor referred to the Catholic Pope as "my beloved brother." They met in the 1990's when Francis, then Cardinal Bergoglio, was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.They have worked to bring Christians together for common prayer and concerted action.

Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church.

Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/31/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Giovanni Traettino, Caserta, Church of the reconciliation, Pope Francis, spiritual ecumenism, Christian unity, Deacon Keith Fournier


CASERTA, Italy (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church.

This friend of Francis oversees the growing evangelical Church of the Reconciliation. The brotherly warmth between these two Christian men was evident in their embrace and shared in their message of reconciliation and brotherhood in Jesus Christ.

The protestant Pastor referred to the Catholic Pope as "my beloved brother." They met in the 1990's when Francis, then Cardinal Bergoglio, was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.They have worked to bring Christians together for common prayer and concerted action.

The theme of the visit was pardon and reconciliation. That was evident in the humility of Pope Francis when he apologized for the complicity of some Catholics in the persecution of protestant Pentecostals during the fascist regime in Italy. He told the pastor and the two hundred people in attendance:

"Among those who persecuted and denounced the Pentecostals, almost as if they were crazies who would ruin the race, there were some Catholics. As the pastor of the Catholics, I ask forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who did not understand and were tempted by the devil."

His friend, a protestant pentecostal pastor, demonstrated the same Christian virtue of humility when he thanked the Pope for this visit which was "unthinkable until recently." He assured Francis that "even among evangelicals there is great affection for you. Many of us pray for you, every day. Many of us, in fact, believe your election as bishop of Rome was the work of the Holy Spirit."

In his remarks, Pope Francis stressed that we are all sinners and that God's love has gathered us all together in and through His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ. He quoted from St Paul's letter to the Corinthians.  He spoke of a unity in diversity and the role of the Holy Spirit in healing our divisions and bringing us together.

Pope Francis said that "the Holy Spirit is the source of diversity in the church. This diversity is very rich and beautiful. But then the same Holy Spirit creates unity. And in this way the church is one in diversity. To use a beautiful Gospel phrase that I love very much, reconciled diversity."

Pope Francis is working to heal divisions in the broken Body of Christ. He is encouraging courageous efforts at common Christian prayer and cooperation, what is called spiritual ecumenism. 

He has raised the water level in this priority for the whole Catholic Church, by bringing his lived experience in Argentina, along with his unique palate of gifts, to the office of Successor of Peter at a prophetic moment in history.

In a teaching on the Church as the Body of Christ, given during his Wednesday audience of June 19, 2013, Francis made an extemporaneous comment which revealed what his life work has revealed. Jorge Mario Bergoglio has always heard the passionate Prayer of Jesus Christ and made it his own:

"I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me." (John 17:21) 

Here are a few heartfelt words from his March message:

"Divisions among us, but also divisions among the communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, but why divided? We must try to bring about unity. Let me tell you something, today, before leaving home, I spent 40 minutes more or less, half an hour, with an evangelical pastor. And we prayed together, seeking unity."

"But we Catholics must pray with each other and other Christians. Pray that the Lord gift us unity! Unity among ourselves! How will we ever have unity among Christians if we are not capable of having it among us Catholics, in the family, how many families fight and split up? Seek unity, unity builds the Church and comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to build unity!"

With this clear and courageous commitment to unity, Francis has stepped into the trajectory of his two predecessors, Saint John Paul II and His Holiness Benedict XVI. One of his evangelical friends from Argentina, protestant evangelist Luis Palau, was straightforward and enthusiastic about his friendship and prayer with Francis.

His interview with Christianity Today, given the day after the Pope was selected, is well worth the read for anyone wondering where the Pope is headed as he steps into this trajectory of his predecessors and responds to the imperative of healing the divisions among Christians.

A scholar and leader among evangelical Protestants in the United States, Timothy George, the  Dean of Beeson Divinity School, wrote a piece for the same publication which is also a must read. It is entitled, Our Francis, Too: Why we can enthusiastically join arms with the Catholic leader. George wrote:

"Francis succeeds two men of genius in his papal role. John Paul II was the liberator who stared down communism by the force of his courage and prayers. Benedict XVI was the eminent teacher of the Catholic Church in recent history. Francis appears now as the pastor, a shepherd who knows and loves his sheep and wants to lead them in love and humility. The new Franciscan moment is the season of the shepherd. Catholics and evangelicals are the two largest faith communities in the body of Christ. Without forgetting the deep differences that divide us, now as never before we are called to stand and work together for the cause of Christ in a broken world."

Catholic teaching on the nature of the Church is rooted in an ecclesiology of communion. Ecclesiology is the theology of the church. All who are validly Baptized already have a form of communion, albeit incomplete. 

We are invited to make the prayer of Jesus for full communion and visible unity our own - in the way that we relate to other Christians, pray with them, walk with them and work with them. We should use the language of communion which the Catholic Church encourages. St . John Paul II wrote in an encyclical letter on unity:

"It happens for example that, in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, Christians of one confession no longer consider other Christians as enemies or strangers but see them as brothers and sisters."

"Again, the very expression "separated brethren" tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion linked to the baptismal character which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions."

"Today we speak of "other Christians", "others who have received Baptism", and "Christians of other Communities".


"The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism refers to the Communities to which these Christians belong as "Churches and Ecclesial Communities that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church. The broadening of vocabulary is indicative of a significant change in attitudes" There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ."

John Paul also wrote concerning the urgency of building good relationships with other Christians:

"Relations between Christians are not aimed merely at mutual knowledge, common prayer and dialog. They presuppose and from now on call for every possible form of practical cooperation at all levels: pastoral, cultural and social, as well as that of witnessing to the Gospel message. Cooperation among all Christians vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant".

"This cooperation based on our common faith is not only filled with fraternal communion, but is a manifestation of Christ himself. Moreover, ecumenical cooperation is a true school of ecumenism, a dynamic road to unity. Unity of action leads to the full unity of faith: "Through such cooperation, all believers in Christ are able to learn easily how they can understand each other better and esteem each other more, and how the road to the unity of Christians may be made smooth. In the eyes of the world, cooperation among Christians becomes a form of common Christian witness and a means of evangelization which benefits all involved." 


There is an adage in the Gospels which has application in this arena, "To those to whom much is given, much more will be required" (Luke 12:48). Yet, one of the most difficult obstacles in making progress toward the visible unity of the Church is the reticence of some Catholics to accept the leadership of the Magisterium, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the teaching of the Catholic Church on its priority.

Pope Francis, in a bold, deliberate, prophetic and loving manner, is now showing us the way to walk the talk. Let us take our lead from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These paragraphs are found in the section entitled "Wounds to Unity". I share them because I do not believe that many Catholics even know they are in the Catechism:

"817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame." The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism - do not occur without human sin: Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.

818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth" are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements." Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."

820 "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time." Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may know that you have sent me." The desire to recover the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit."

The papal trip to Caserta was consistent with the mission of spiritual ecumenism in which Pope Francis is enthusiastically engaged. It challenges us to live our lives differently. The trip certainly had its detractors, both Protestant and Catholic. However, now that it has happened, the emphasis should be on the work which is to be done. This good Christian, Pope Francis, went to pray with another good Christian, Pastor Giovanni Traettino.

It is really not all that complicated.

This kind of brotherly affection in the Lord, and shared prayer between Christians, is what the Catechism refers to as spiritual ecumenism. In addressing the topic the Catechism commends "prayer in common, because "change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name 'spiritual ecumenism (#861)

Some Catholic journalists, including John Allen, have speculated that with the untimely death of Bishop Tony Palmer, some of the momentum in this mission of spiritual ecumenism may slow down. I disagree. This work of the Holy Spirit is only in the early stages of an historic movement which is about to change history.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Europe

ISIS fighters caught crossing border disguised as refugees Watch

Image of Europe is experiencing a massive amount of migrant intake.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Five ISIS fighters were seized as they attempted to cross the Bulgarian-Macedonian border with gruesome videos and ISIS propaganda on their phones. The terrorist suspects assumed the identities of refugees. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - It was reported ... continue reading


Shocking water misters at entrance of Auschwitz museum remind guests of gas chamber Watch

Image of Misters at the Auschwitz Museum in Polond too closely resemble gas chambers.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Water mists were placed at the entrance of the Auschwitz Museum in Poland in an effort to beat the heat but Israeli visitors were far from "cool." MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The mist raining down on guests reminded them of gas chambers, bringing back ... continue reading


Not London, New York or Paris: Luanda, Angola the most expensive city on Earth for... Watch

Image of According to Mercer's annual Cost of Living survey, places Luanda as by far the priciest city for foreign workers to live.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's nowhere as well known as New York, Paris or London - but Luanda, Angola remains the most expensive city by far for expatriates to live in. Luanda ranked as the most expensive city to live in for the third time in a row. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Discovery of purported 'Nazi gold train' taken seriously in Poland Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The declarations from a German man and Polish man of discovery a long-lost Nazi train filled with gold and other treasures is being taken seriously by Poland's deputy culture minister. He says he is "convinced" the train exists. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Abandoned truck holds over 20 dead migrants in Austria Watch

Image of Truck found abandoned carrying the bodies of more than 20 dead migrants

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A police manhunt takes place after the discovery of an abandoned truck containing the bodies of migrants attempting to cross Austria's border. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Austrian police report up to 50 migrants suffocated in the back of a refrigerated food ... continue reading


Vatican involvement in Ashley Madison Web site leak disproven Watch

Image of At first glance, the claim seems questionable - why would top Church officials sworn to celibacy sign up for a Web site for married people, and no less one that promotes adultery?

By CNA/EWTN News

Early this week, a leak of personal data from millions of users of Ashley Madison, a Web site designed to arrange extramarital affairs, wreaked havoc on and off the internet. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - At least two suicides have been reported in conjunction ... continue reading


Four-star General reveals horrendous WWII scenes in never-before-seen photographs (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Four-star General Charles Day Palmer detailed the fights in Western Front during World War II by taking snapshots of the bombed-out cities and lifeless bodies. He kept personal photos of the battlefields in Germany and France and is now releasing them to the public for ... continue reading


Brainwashed teenage girl taken away from radical jihadi parents Watch

Image of Judge Anthony Hayden, pictured, today compared the radicalization of the 16-year-old girl, known as B as similar to that as child sex abuse.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A 16-year-old girl in East London has been removed from her home after a judge ruled that she was being radicalized by her parents with Islamic State propaganda. The straight-A student, known only as "B" was stopped last year when she tried to fly to Syria to ... continue reading


HEROISM - AND EXTREME COWARDICE: American service members disarm terrorist aboard train - as train's staff lock themselves in office, denying help Watch

Image of U.S. serviceman Spencer Stone answering reporters' questions at the U.S. embassy in Paris this past weekend.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was an example of high heroism - undercut with a despicable act of cowardice and selfishness. As an Islamic militant from Morocco threatened life and limb a high-speed train bound for Paris with a Kalashnikov, American service members with a British man were ... continue reading


Afghan man rips up Koran sparking threatening riot in overcrowded German refugee camp Watch

Image of A riot sparked in a refugee camp in Germany, leaving 15 civilians injured.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A riot broke in an overcrowded German refugee camp shelter after an Afghan man damaged the Koran and threw pages of it in the toilet. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - One resident from an overcrowded German refugee camp tore up a Koran and dumped pages ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Colossians 1:1-8
1 From Paul, by the will of God an apostle of Christ ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:38-44
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 2nd, 2015 Image

St. Ingrid of Sweden
September 2: Born in Sknninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, St. Ingrid lived ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter