TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL LEADERS CONFERENCE
OF THE CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL
Kurt Cardinal Koch
Vatican City, 6-8 June 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Christ is Risen. He is Risen indeed!
As President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, I am very pleased to send my personal greetings to the leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal as well as to the representatives of other Christian Communities attending this International Conference, which marks the beginning of CHARIS, as an instrument for communion.
The Church has need of its “perennial Pentecost”. In fact, Pentecost is where the Church first received the grace to proclaim efficaciously the Gospel of the Lord to every nation so that everyone might profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour (Acts 2). Your meeting is an occasion for praying, reflecting, awaiting and surrendering to the Holy Spirit.
Historically, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is the result of reaping what the Holy Spirit has sown in other Christians as a gift also for the Catholics (cf. Francis, The Joy of the Gospel 246). Although it is important to recognize one’s own roots, it is even more necessary to grow from this real spiritual communion towards a complete visible communion. To do that it is crucial also to share with our brothers and sisters what the Holy Spirit has sown in the Catholic Church which is also intended to be a gift for them. We must not forget that “to believe in Christ means to desire unity; to desire unity means to desire the Church; to desire the Church means to desire the communion of grace which corresponds to the Father's plan from all eternity. Such is the meaning of Christ's prayer: Thay May All Be One (John 17:21)”. (John Paul II, Ut Unum sint 9)
Christians should heed the prayer of the Lord, which is also reinforced by the Apostle Paul when he exhorted the Ephesians to make “every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”(Eph 4:3) for “there is one body, and one spirit ... one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Eph 4:4-5). Christians, who have been reconciled to God and entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (cf. 2 Cor 5:18), need to be reconciled with each other in order to carry out their ministry effectively. (cf. Catholic/Pentecostal International Dialogue, Evangelization, Proselytism and Common Witness 107).
Ongoing division jeopardizes the impact of the Gospel and it is an scandal to the world. Sometimes past experiences of conflict and tension with other Christians can hold us back from ecumenical engagement. Unfortunately, in many geographical contexts relations with other Christians are still marked by mistrust, accusations, and aggressivity. And yet no Christian has the right to disobey the will of Jesus Christ. What can we do in such a circumstances? Allow me to repeat the words of the Apostle: “do not quench the Holy Spirit!” (1 Thess 5:19). As Pope Francis declares: “When we try to create unity through our own human designs, we end up with uniformity and homogenization. If we let ourselves be led by the Spirit, however, richness, variety and diversity will never create conflict, because the Spirit spurs us to experience variety in the communion of the Church”. (Pope Francis, Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Istanbul, 29 November 2014)
The Spirit is the principle of unity (koinōnia) amid the diversity of charisms and ministries (1 Cor 12:4-5). As God distributes charisms in his sovereignty, He invites his children to draw near to the Giver of the gifts, affirm their goodness, and earnestly desire those gifts (Catholic/Pentecostal International Dialogue, Do Not Quench the Holy Spirit, 26). When Christians pray together, the goal of unity seems closer. Keeping in mind that prayer is the soul of the Ecumenical movement, I wish to encourage each one of you and your communities to use the charisms for the building up of the Church, in the freedom of the Holy Spirit who ‘breathes where He wills’ (Jn 3:8) asking for the unity of all Christians. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness ...” intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8:26), disposing us to ask God for what we need.
The communion among Christians can grow only if Christians are true disciples of Christ. It is fundamental to learn from Him how to create the bonds of communion. Therefore, ecumenism is part and parcel of our very identity as Catholics. Finally, I would like to invite each one of you, but in particular those with theological expertise, to read and critically analyze the results of the different bilateral dialogues, with prudence and in a spirit of faith.
Thanking sincerely Mr Jean-Luc Moens, Moderator of CHARIS, for this opportunity, I do hope that the Catholic Charismatic Renewal will participate actively in promoting Christian unity by praying, working and walking together.
Kurt Cardinal Koch