War takes away our humanity, may we fight for peace: Pope Francis

War takes away our humanity, may we fight for peace: Pope Francis

Vatican City, The Gulf Observer: Pope Francis meets with members of CHARIS, the international service organization for all communities of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal established by the Holy See five years after beginning its activity. The event “Called, Transformed and Sent,” took place on Saturday afternoon, 4 November, in the Paul VI Hall, its third and final day with over four thousand onhand. The meeting has marked an opportunity to look at experiences up until now and to the future with new goals in the service of the entire Church. Recalling the current-day reality marked by new wars, Pope Francis at the conclusion of his address invited everyone to do pray for peace in our world, just like they did at their first CHARIS meeting with him on 8 June 2019 in praying for peace in the Middle East.

The ministry of CHARIS

Pope Francis addressed the CHARIS participants following a full afternoon program that included a talk by Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, the Ecclesiastical Assistant of CHARIS. The Pope immediately touched on the heart of reflections taking place during these days in Rome, when participants asked themselves: “How is the work of CHARIS going? How are the local Services of Communion progressing? What information are they sending us? Is the Catholic Charismatic Renewal worldwide in a healthy state? Is it growing in ecclesial maturity?” The Pope emphasized that CHARIS’ role is to point all communities of the Charistmatic Renewal – which he called a “current of grace” to “communion, on the path ahead.”

The Pope observed that, “CHARIS is in some sense a “window” on the vast and varied world of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Those involved in its work have an extraordinary opportunity to look out this window, to peer into the distance, beyond local experiences, and to appreciate the rich gifts that the Holy Spirit is bestowing in cultural, social and ecclesial contexts very different from their own.”

And speaking of narrow-mindedness, the Pope added to his prepared address saying that a sister once told him that “some Catholics are like horses,” they have blinders on and therefore “are incapable of looking one way or the other.” Drawing applause from his listeners, he concluded that “this narrow-mindedness, thanks be to God, you have overcome and you struggle against this, and I appreciate this.”

“Life in the Spirit” Seminars

The Pope recalled one of the goals CHARIS has to increase the number of “Life in the Spirit Seminars” which consist of experiences of “initial proclamation” to reach the greatest number of people with an opportunity to encounter Jesus and experience the Church as a welcoming place. The Pope said: “today I would ask you: are the Life in the Spirit Seminars being offered in a variety of ecclesial contexts, in small and remote places, and among the poor and on the peripheries? One obstacle to this might be the idea that these Seminars can only be held in large venues and with well-known leaders, whereas in reality even small parish groups and local leaders can organize them and present them to people in their area.”

Promoting charisms in the Church

After noting that people need to be accompanied after the “initial proclamation” so that the fire lit in them does not fade, suitable types of ongoing formation are needed, the Pope recommended. Turning to the CHARIS Statutes as a help, the Pope reflected on “Promoting charisms and growth in faith” saying that “the particular service CHARIS can perform is that of promoting charisms and encouraging them to be put at the service of the whole Church.” Adding to his prepared text, he emphasized, “promoting, not controlling charisms,” by following the Holy Spirit who makes harmony of great diversity, the “Master who teaches us how to foster charisms.”

Fostering spiritual growth

The other theme in the Statutes the Pope mentioned concerns encouraging the spiritual growth of each baptized person. The Pope said, “it should not be taken for granted that once someone has received baptism in the Spirit that he or she is already fully Christian. The path to holiness always involves growth in personal conversion and in the generous gift of oneself to Christ and to others, not merely in a sense of individual spiritual consolation.”

Promote not control

The Pope highlighted CHARIS’ role of service to the Renewal communities and to the Church, reiterating that their task “is not to judge who is or is not an ‘authentic charismatic’ and to always be “on guard against the temptation to exercise power and influence.”

Prayer for world peace

In conclusion, the Pope then spoke about the ongoing tragedy in the Middle East, recalling that his previous audience with CHARIS five years ago coincided with the fifth anniversary of the historic meeting in the Vatican Gardens between the then president of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the president of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I also present for the occasion. The Pope said:

“During our first meeting, in June 2019…we had a moment of silence to pray for peace, at the time of the meeting of the Presidents of Palestine and Israel here in the Vatican. Brothers and sisters, war can also destroy the memory of past steps towards peace…war destroys everything…please, may we fight for peace. May we never allow ourselves to be robbed of that memory! Let us now take another moment to pray.”

Concert for Peace

CHARIS moderator Pino Scafuro and the leader of the youth symphony orchestra greeted the Pope during his meeting with them. A “Concert for Peace” took place at the closing of the event. The orchestra made up of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in the suburbs of Recife, Brazil gave a performance. The “Criança Cidadã” foundation assists them and offers them opportunities for schooling and musical training. The orchestra also included young musicians from Russia, Ukraine, and Italy as a sign of world peace.