The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
The Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement gathered thousands to celebrate its 50 years of existence. Pentecostal leader Giovanni Traettino: “Let’s walk together towards the unity of the faith.”
Evangelical pastors joined followers of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement and Pope Francis to celebrate the 50 years of this important group within the Roman Catholic Church.
About 30,000 people from Italy and many other countries gathered in Rome’s circus on the 3rd of June.
Dozens of Pentecostal and evangelical pastors had been invited to participate in the celebration of a movement which is close to Pentecostal practices and emphasises the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis was the main speaker of an event in which Father Cantalamessa - also an Argentinian, with whom Francis had initiated ecumenical meetings in the past – also had a leading role.
Giovanni Traettino, a Pentecostal pastor in Caserta and a personal friend of Francis, was invited to speak as a representative of some evangelical Christians.
POPE: HOLY SPIRIT CREATES UNITY
In his speech, the Pope underlined the unity and “fraternal friendship” which can be found in the charismatic ecumenical world, which, according to him, “gives us strength in the path towards unity.”
“It is not easy to demonstrate that peace is possible in this world, but with the power of Jesus we can prove it”, Francis said. It is the Holy Spirit, he added, “who creates unity among us.”
As he had done before, Francis spoke of the “ecumenism of blood”, in a time when many are persecuted because of their Christian faith. That is why “unity among Christians is more needed than ever.”
Christians, Francis said, should at least “walk together and work together.” Loving each other is another command, and while it is good to “together explain our differences”, this should always be done while being “in motion.”
TRAETTINO: “LET’S WALK TOGETHER TOWARDS UNITY”
Giovanni Traettino, the pastor of Caserta’s Evangelical Church of the Reconciliation, reflected on the same concept of Christian unity.
“Thank you for wanting evangelicals and Pentecostals to be present in this 50th anniversary of the Charismtic Renewal”, Traettino said, which concides “with the 500 years of the Reformation”, he pointed out.
“The vocation of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements is not only a call to renewal, but to the construction of the unity of the children of God”, the pastor said.
His movement of churches, Traettino continued, aims to “contribute to the awakening of the church to unity, because God has only one spouse. He is a monogamous God, not a polygamous one.”
“Truth in love” is needed on the “foundation of the Holy Spirit, to walk together”, he said. “As Francis frequently has said, ‘let’s walk together’ towards the unity of the faith to visibilise the unity of the body of Christ.”
Giovanni Traettino spoke about his “open” approach to Roman Catholicism in an interview he gave to Evangelical Focus last year.
MOST ITALIAN EVANGELICALS DISAPPROVE ECUMENISM
Other Italian evangelical Christians have expressed their disapproval with Giovanni Traettino’s theses. In a gathering organised in Rome by the Italian Evangelical Alliance (AEI), serveral evangelical representatives reflected on the kind of relationship evangelicals and Catholics should have.
In a debate with Traettino, pastor Leonardo De Chirico, vice-President of the AEI, emphasised the need to explain the key doctrinal differences with the Roman Catholic Church which, according to this alliance of evangelicals in the country, makes the spiritual union not possible.
Some of the obstacles presented were the understanding of salvation, the influence of Marianism, and the authority of the Bible.