A Charismatic Francis Joins Rally: 50,000 pray for Pope, sing and speak in tongues

Pope Francis kneels as the crowd prays over him by singing and speaking in tongues during an encounter with more than 50,000 Catholic charismatics at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on June 1.

Meeting more than 50,000 Catholic charismatics in Rome's Olympic Stadium, Pope Francis admitted he was not always comfortable with the way they prayed, but he knelt onstage as they prayed for him and over him by singing and speaking in tongues.

"In the early years of the charismatic renewal in Buenos Aires, I did not have much love for charismatics," the pope said June 1. "I said of them: They seem like a samba school."


Little by little, though, he came to see how much good the movement was doing for Catholics and for the church, he told a gathering organized by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services and the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships.

Pope Francis invited the crowd, which included charismatics from 55 countries, to come to St. Peter's Square for Pentecost in 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the movement. The Catholic charismatic movement traces its origins to a retreat held in 1967 with students and staff from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

"I expected all of you, charismatics from around the world, to celebrate your great jubilee with the pope at Pentecost 2017 in St. Peter's Square," the pope said.

The celebration in Rome's Olympic Stadium began with the song, "Vive Jesus, El Senor," ("Jesus, the Lord, Lives") a Spanish-language song which Pope Francis -- who claims he is tone deaf -- joined in singing with his hands open like many in the crowd. The pope said he likes the song, which charismatics in Argentina also sing.

"When I celebrated the holy Mass with the charismatic renewal in the Buenos Aires cathedral, after the consecration and after a few seconds of adoration in tongues, we sang this song with such joy and strength," he said.

At another point, when the crowd prayed that the Holy Spirit would fill Pope Francis, he knelt on the bare floor of the stage, while they sang with their hands raised toward him. After the song, many in the crowd kept their hands raised as they prayed in tongues, speaking in unfamiliar languages.

Responding to a married couple, who spoke about the renewal's positive impact on their family life, Pope Francis said the family is the "domestic church," the place where Jesus' presence grows in the love of spouses and in the lives of their children. "This is why the enemy attacks the family so hard; the devil doesn't like it, and tries to destroy it."

"May the Lord bless families and strengthen them during this crisis when the devil wants to destroy them," the pope prayed.

In a speech, Pope Francis told the charismatics that they their movement was begun by the Holy Spirit as "a current of grace in the church and for the church."

He pleaded with charismatic groups not to try to organize everything or create a bureaucracy that attempts to tame the Holy Spirit.

The temptation "to become 'controllers' of the grace of God" is a danger, the pope said. Group leaders, sometimes without even meaning to, become "administrators of grace," deciding who should exercise which gifts of the Holy Spirit. "Don't do this anymore," Pope Francis said. "Be dispensers of God's grace, not controllers. Don't be the Holy Spirit's customs agents."

From the beginning, he said, charismatics were known for their love of and familiarity with the Scriptures; the pope asked those who lost the habit of carrying their Bible with them everywhere to "return to this first love, always have the word of God in your pocket or purse."

Pope Francis also said Catholic charismatics have a special role to play in healing divisions among Christians by exercising "spiritual ecumenism" or praying with members of other Christian churches and communities who share a belief in Jesus as lord and savior.

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Bruce Snowden
4 years 7 months ago
Along with Pope Francis probably millions of others including me, didn’t understand what charismatic prayer was all about. Maybe charismatics were well-meaning, but certainly ‘way off the track. The Holy Father now understands their spirituality and approves and so do I. One day with a friend I decided to attend a charismatic gathering with Mass. The priest told us not to be alarmed if “strange things” happened, as they were manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Strange things did happen including people waving and clapping hands joyfully singing to God. Quite a few of them fell to the floor and looked quite dead. I was told it was called, “Resting in the Spirit.” The Mass commenced and at the elevation of the Host as I reverently adored the Lord, something strange happened to me - I felt a jolt of what seemed to be electricity pass through me from head to foot! Surprisingly I wasn’t at all frightened; on the contrary I was calm and peaceful. I knew something had happened but I didn’t know what. I learned later that God heals in three ways – spiritually, psychologically, physically. Was I healed in some way? Certainly if so, it wasn’t physical. Maybe spiritual? I certainly could use it! To this day I don’t know exactly what happened, but I opted to believe that it was some type of psychological or emotional healing, like getting rid of bad memories. Whatever happened, I don’t know, but something “strange” did happen at the elevation of the Host. As time passed I began to feel more amicable towards charismatic prayer, but still couldn’t quite get what all that “carrying on” was about. One day out of the blue it came to me and the Holy Spirit’s Gift of Understanding kicked in. “Unless you become like a little child you shall not enter the Kingdom!” Every day as I returned home from work and our three little ones would hear the key opening the door, I would hear a chorus of little voices excitedly calling out, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” And as the door opened there they were, jumping up and down, hands swaying joyfully! From that moment to the present, I became charismatic – like a little child happily dancing and swaying in “Daddy’s” presence! Now I feel how could it be any other way when speaking to “Daddy”.
ed gleason
4 years 7 months ago
Bruce... a good accounting for your belief. I met the most holy couple ever who were charismatically trained.. they had spiritual wisdom far beyond their education.. gone now to the HS and are in my petition prayers very often.
Bruce Snowden
4 years 7 months ago
Hi Ed, Very inspiring your love for that charismatic married couple, now in the Land of the Living, to whom you often pray petitionally. One thing, what is HS? I have great respect for charismatic prayer but have not received the Pentecostal "Gift of Tongues" either in the glossolalia or xenolalia form, the former being talking in ecstatic language, the latter speaking in existing languages. But maybe I have what's called the "Gift of Ears" (not talking about size, mine kind of large!) but in having the ability to LISTEN. One learns so very much spiritually and also "of this world" when one listens. I have also not "rested in the Spirit." On one occasion as hands were laid on me I felt myself drifting backwards, but I resisted falling because I didn't want to look like a jerk falling down! Imagine that! Even at a holy moment the Sin of Human Respect that makes one not do what one should do because of what people might say, kicked in! I've learned since then that one must never resist the movement of the Holy Spirit at charismatic gatherings, ever anywhere, but to simply let happen whatever happens. I will do that if I ever feel again the "pull" of the Spirit. To you and your family, a Blessed Pentecost!


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