Since the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope during the recent Conclave, I’ve received numerous inquires asking me what I think. Even though I do not know him personally, these first few days of Pope Francis’ ministry certainly seem to indicate that he’s a breath of fresh air!
Likewise, many have asked if he is friendly towards the charismatic renewal and evangelization. He is. Several people have sent me photos of Pope Francis, while he was still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, asking a group of evangelical pastors to pray over him with Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa standing at his side. In fact, a Pentecostal minister posted this picture on the web, noting that Cardinal Bergoglio was very involved over the years in the annual dialogue between Catholics and Pentecostals (Encuentros Fraternos entre Católicos y Evangélicos en el Espiritu Santo) as well as in the retreats for priests and pastors that were organized before each meeting. He went on to write: “I’m overjoyed with the election of Bergoglio, a man filled with the Spirit and with a deep commitment to ecumenism.”
The first Mass he celebrated in the little Vatican Church of St. Ann was an occasion for Salvatore Martinez, President of the Italian “Renewal in the Spirit,” to greet Pope Francis who told him: “I was the contact person for the Renewal in Argentina!” Salvatore and Pope For those who wish to practice their Italian, you can find a little report on the web site for the Catholic charismatic renewal in Italy by clicking here. Moreover, the Vatican Church of St. Ann is the site of a regular weekly prayer meeting specially devoted to praying for the Pope and the Church. My wife, Anne, and I were blessed to attend when we were in Rome in 2011 where I was finishing my doctorate.
Regarding evangelization, you may recall that in his very first remarks from the balcony of St. Peter’s after just being elected he mentioned that he would be “evangelizing Rome” – a bold undertaking! (You can read the entire text of his message by clicking here.) When he was Archbishop of Buenas Aires, he regularly exhorted his flock to “go out” and meet people where they are.
We are blessed. Please join with me in praying for Pope Francis regularly as he carries out the mission the Lord has entrusted to him.
Your brother in Christ,