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Overview on Charismatics
Interview With Matteo Calisi of "Catholic Fraternity"
BARI, Italy, OCT. 27, 2004 (Zenit.org).-
One of the expressions of Charismatic Renewal in the Church is the
Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and
An international organization of pontifical right, it brings together
more than 50 groups worldwide, including the Community of the
Beatitudes, and the Community of Jesus, of Bari.
On the eve of the fraternity's Oct. 29-Nov. 1 congress in Fiuggi, its
president, Matteo Calisi, a collaborator with the Pontifical Council
for the Laity, explains in this interview with ZENIT the novelty that
charismatics represent in the Church and the world. Part 2 of this
interview appears Thursday.
Q: What is the Catholic Fraternity and what is its mission in the
Calisi: The Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities
and Fellowships is the first international organization -- with
headquarters in Bari and established by the Pontifical Council for the
Laity -- which federates the main historical communities of Catholic
With pontifical recognition, on November 30, 1990, the Catholic
Fraternity was established canonically as an international private
association of pontifical right of faithful of the Catholic Church,
with ecclesiastical juridical personality.
In the decree of recognition, the Holy See expressed the hope that the
Catholic Fraternity would contribute to consolidate the Catholic
expression of the Charismatic Movement. Therefore, the Catholic
Fraternity does not have governmental functions or juridical
responsibility over the member communities. It has only moral and
spiritual responsibility: to foster the development of member
communities in their ecclesial and Catholic dimensions.
Thus, each community keeps its own identity and juridical and
governmental autonomy, and a substantial establishment in the local
Church, but at the same time is a member of a universal federation of
the faithful of pontifical right.
Addressing the Catholic Fraternity in several international meetings,
the Holy Father John Paul II has emphasized the fundamental role of
the Catholic Fraternity within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal:
"Within the Charismatic Renewal, the Catholic Fraternity has a
particular mission, recognized by the Holy See. One of the objectives
defined by your Statutes is that of safeguarding the Catholic identity
of the Charismatic communities and encouraging them to maintain close
ties with the bishops and the Roman Pontiff ... to help people to have
a strong sense of belonging to the Church."
Q: The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is spread throughout the world,
embracing about 120 million Catholics. How is the Holy Spirit
Calisi: God does not dwell in stone temples, but above all in the
hearts of the faithful, in which he has poured the power of the Holy
Spirit with his charismatic gifts, the most important of which is
love, as St. Paul says.
To the modern world, which declares the death of God and has a
decaying process called "secularism," the charismatics wish
to proclaim that God lives, because his faithful live in him, who
dwells and works powerfully in them through the Holy Spirit.
In our days we receive this new and singular way of experiencing the
power of the Holy Spirit operating in the faithful, which is called
"Baptism in the Holy Spirit" and charismatic prayer.
Charismatic Renewal is an eloquent testimony, as the Holy Father John
Paul II has affirmed on several occasions, of the presence of the Holy
Spirit in the hearts of the faithful, who are his temple.
The charismatics do not bring "novelties," rather, they are
novelties themselves because they help the Church rediscover, through
becoming aware of the powerful action of the Holy Spirit in the life
of each one and of the Church, the wonder of gifts and charisms that
are given to each one and to all for building the community of
believers so that the Church, bride of Christ, can be ever more
beautiful and worthy of the Bridegroom, her Lord.
It is a current of grace which has touched all the historical
Christian churches -- Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox -- and which
includes close to 600 million Christians worldwide -- about 120
million of whom are Catholics. It is the most extensive movement in
the history of Christianity, unfortunately little studied by
The CCR is diffused in the most diverse realms of the Church and the
world and takes on different expressions and forms of apostolate, such
as prayer groups, covenant communities, life communities with lay
people and-or clergymen and-or consecrated persons, communities and
ecumenical associations, religious and monastic congregations,
universities, etc. The variety of these charismatic expressions are a
real richness for the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Charismatic Renewal, therefore, does not appear as a
hierarchically structured ecclesial movement, as some think, but each
different charism will uniquely contribute to the building of the one
Church of Christ.
Each one of these realities shares within itself the specific graces
of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal -- such as Baptism in the Spirit
and the exercise of the Charismatic gifts -- and maintains bonds of
friendship and sometimes of collaboration with the others. The latter
are legitimately autonomous because of their specific charisms and
Each reality or expression of Catholic Charismatic Renewal acts
according to the right-freedom of associations of faithful ratified by
the legislator of the Church and stemming from the sacrament of
baptism, under the authority and vigilance of the local authority or
the Holy See according to its own law.
Q: What are the objectives of the international conferences that the
Catholic Fraternity promotes? Who takes part in these events?
Calisi: The purpose of the 11th International Conference of the
Catholic Fraternity will be to witness "Communion and Mission in
the Third Millennium" in the light of the recent magisterium of
the Holy Father John Paul II and to strengthen the spiritual and
pastoral bonds with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the latter
being the dicastery in charge of the apostolate of the laity in the
More than 1,000 representatives and general moderators of the member
communities of the Catholic Fraternity of all the continents will
participate in the meeting, together with bishops and a cardinal from
Brazil, France, Mexico, Italy, Vatican City and Albania.
Q: What can the laity contribute today to a reflection on
"Communion and Mission in the Third Millennium"?
Calisi: Thanks also to the international diffusion of the Catholic
Fraternity, the different charismatic communities have come into
exchange contacts with other communities of different cultures and
geographic locations, each maintaining its own original awareness.
They take on the common ecclesial challenges for the third millennium,
such as the New Evangelization, ecumenism, spiritual and doctrinal
formation, formation for the religious life and ministerial
This has been facilitated, and also stimulated, both by the
recognition of the statutes approved by the Holy See and the continual
exhortations, expressions of esteem and encouragement contained in the
Holy Father's messages addressed to the Catholic Fraternity on
different occasions, as well as the Catholic and global dimension of
the mission of the Catholic Church herself which has facilitated the
exchange between individuals and communities of very different
Thus, providentially, the universal and particular aspects become more
than ever in the Charismatic Covenant Communities a common expression
of authentic ecclesial breath, sign of feeling "cum
The international nature of the Catholic Fraternity appeals to the
urgency that the different covenant communities -- although committed
in the local Churches -- parish, diocese -- in full communion and
obedience to the local bishops --also live the sense of urgency of the
universal mission of the Catholic Church in communion with the
Successor of Peter.
Moreover, not a few communities of the Catholic Fraternity have proven
programs of evangelization and missionary formation.
[Thursday: On communion among the movements]
Overview on Charismatics
Interview With Matteo Calisi, of "Catholic Fraternity"
BARI, Italy, OCT. 28, 2004 (Zenit.org).-
Ecclesial communion helps to harmonize the charisms of the new
movements within the Church, says a key figure in the Charismatic
Matteo Calisi, president of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic
Covenant Communities and Fellowships, spoke at length with ZENIT about
the charismatic phenomenon. Part 1
of this interview appeared Wednesday.
Q: Is communion between the ecclesial movements a need or a reality?
From your experience, how can a spirituality of communion be
disseminated and carried out between movements and new communities in
Calisi: The Catholic Charismatic Renewal has collaborated for many
years with the other ecclesial movements and new communities. Since
the beginning of the '80s, the Pontifical Council for the Laity has
organized colloquiums with the ecclesial movements and new
Subsequently, since 1996, the dicastery has convoked periodically an
ad hoc group made up of six or seven founders and leaders of the
ecclesial realities. Personally, I have had the joy and honor of
representing the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal these
years until today, first as vice president of ICCRS -- International
Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services -- and now as president of the
In the beginning the meetings were held in the framework of knowledge
and respect. But we began immediately to collaborate together.
One of the first events that has characterized our collaboration and
communion was the organization of the 1998 Vigil of Pentecost, when
more than 500,000 members and sympathizers of the new communities and
movements were convoked in St. Peter's Square by the Holy Father, John
On that occasion, the Pope addressed those present with words of
encouragement, support and appreciation. Afterward there have been
other occasions of communion, especially during the Jubilee of the
This communion continues today, and the proof is that some of these
founders of the main ecclesial movements will participate in our 11th
International Conference in Fiuggi, precisely to emphasize this will
of communion and mission.
Q: How do charismatics collaborate with the other realities of the
Calisi: There is a natural relationship of communion, because the
Spirit that works in the charismatics is the same one that acts in the
parishes and in other movements.
Many gifts of grace that charismatics receive are for the spiritual
help of the Church in general in her new tasks of evangelization and
Christian witness. In regard to communion and mission, the
charismatics live and wish to live an "ecclesial" experience
It is ecclesial communion that harmonizes the charisms and puts them
at the service of the Church and the People of God.
Q: At the beginning of the third millennium, do the movements appear
as an evangelizing force in the context of the mission of the Church?
Calisi: Secularization tends to eliminate man's supernatural vocation
and restrict him to the life of the present time. The ecclesial
movements and new communities, however, with their concrete experience
of a life led by the Spirit, give witness that God lives and calls man
to share in his very divine nature.
Moreover, there must be a reinforcement of the Christian faith to
carry out the New Evangelization and the new holiness of life, which
can only come from a Pentecostal experience of the Holy Spirit, as
happened at the beginning of the Church, when the first apostles of
Christ had to confront the pagan society of the time.
Q: Are the movements and new communities called to work for Christian
Calisi: The members of Christ are not distributed haphazardly in his
Body, which is the Church, but according to mysterious
Because of this law, today Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox
charismatics meet easily together to praise the Lord, because the
Spirit has united them by the correspondence that exists in the
experience of baptism in the Spirit received in the praise of God with
charisms of tongues and prophesies, in spontaneity in the way of
It is only an example of unity among Christians by
"correspondence of spirituality." There are many other
examples that I could mention, which many of us have experienced. The
most recent phenomenon of the spiritual unity of Christians, gathered
by correspondence, was the meeting in Stuttgart of 175 movements,
communities and groups of different churches of Europe.
About 80 were Catholics, some 80 were evangelicals from Germany, and
the rest Orthodox, Anglicans and interconfessional.
Christians of 163 European cities were gathered via satellite around
the Stuttgart meeting, while in the rest of the continents, 45
meetings of the same type were being held at the same time.
It is estimated that some 100,000 people participated. It is as the
sound that Ezekiel heard in the valley of the "dry bones."
Those "bones" today are Christians, who are being rebuilt in
In this period of the Church we are witnessing many new ways of
manifesting the existing unity among Christians -- although still
divided in churches that are not united -- and this is due to a great
extent to the spiritual and ecumenical ecumenism, which has as its
main protagonists the ecclesial movements and new communities of the
Church of today. These new realities have been inspired by the Holy
Spirit for the rebuilding of Christians in one only Church.
This vision refers to our common baptism. We are all members of the
Body of Christ because we have all been baptized in the one Spirit of
Christ. Therefore we should live from the Spirit, says St. Paul.
Our Christian unity will not be able to occur except in a powerful
life of the Spirit living in all the members of the Body of Christ.
This powerful life of the Spirit does not consist in everyone working
miracles or healings, but in the fact that all will be animated by the
greatest charism, charity, of which St. Paul speaks in Chapter 13 of
the First Letter to the Corinthians.