Holy Spirit shows path to true Christian unity : Pope Francis

In the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, saying the Church can learn from discerning the Holy Spirit’s presence in charismatic communities said Pope Francis

The theme for the Plenary Assembly was “Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Evangelicals: Impact on the Concept of Unity”.

The growth of these communities is “an important phenomenon, which cannot be overlooked.” “We have the duty to discern and recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in these communities, seeking to build bonds of authentic solidarity with them.”  said Pope Francis.

Pope Francis said this requires us to create opportunities for encounter and to overcome mutual feelings of diffidence, which are often caused by ignorance or a lack of understanding.

Pope Francis then shared a “mea culpa” anecdote from his time as Provincial Superior of the Jesuits in Argentina. The Pope said he had prohibited Jesuits in the country from engaging in dialogue with these communities, and admitted to saying they were a type of “samba school” rather than prayer meetings. Later, he asked forgiveness, and said that, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he had a good relationship with them.

Discern richness of Holy Spirit
Pope Francis said Catholics can welcome the richness of charismatic communities under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

“The Church grows in fidelity to the Holy Spirit the more she learns not to domesticate Him, but to welcome His fresh newness without fear and, at the same time, with serious discernment.”

The Holy Father also listed several common activities Catholics can engage in with Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Evangelicals.

These, he said, include: “prayer, listening to the Word of God, service to the needy, proclamation of the Gospel, and defense of people’s dignity and human life.”

Mutual understanding
Pope Francis said Catholics can learn to appreciate how they “live their faith, praise God, and witness the Gospel of charity.”

At the same time, he said fraternal encounters can help charismatic communities “to overcome prejudices about the Catholic Church and to recognize that – in the inestimable treasure of tradition, received from the Apostles and cared for throughout history – the Holy Spirit is not at all extinguished or suffocated, but continues to operate efficaciously.”

Pope Francis added: “The Holy Spirit is always new.”

Pope says art is a source of harmony and peace

Pope Francis on Friday thanked members of the "Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums" for their preservation and conservation efforts.

“In today’s troubled world, unfortunately so often torn and damaged by selfishness and the thirst for power, art represents, perhaps even more than in the past, a universal need because it is a source of harmony and peace, and expresses the dimension of gratitude.”

Pope Francis made the observation on Friday to some  45 member  of the association, Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of their foundation.

Founded in 1983, following a major Vatican exhibition tour in the United States, the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums support the preservation and conservation efforts of the Museums. 

Art witnesses to God
In his address to the group, the Pope observed that “art has been second only to life in bearing witness to the Lord” and allows us “more than by words and ideas to approach the faith, because it follows the same path of faith, that of beauty.”

The beauty of art, he said, enriches life and creates communion, because it unites God, man and creation in a single symphony.  It connects the past, the present and the future, and it attracts – in the same place and with the same gaze – different and far-off peoples.

Pope Francis thanked the patrons for their generosity in the restoration of numerous art treasures of the Vatican Museums, saying it is their contribution to a centuries-long tradition, imitating the achievements of those who contributed to the Church’s history through art.