Department of Evangelisation
Diocese of Johannesburg
South Africa

"Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world" (Matthew 28:19-20).

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John Chapter 20 : 1 On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.


Overview on Charismatics (Part 1)
Interview With Matteo Calisi of "Catholic Fraternity"

BARI, Italy, OCT. 27, 2004 ( One of the expressions of Charismatic Renewal in the Church is the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships.

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 Church?

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 Charismatic Renewal.

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 experienced today?

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 specialists!

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 foundation.

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 Catholic Church.

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 priesthood, etc.

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 cultural areas.

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 ecclesiae."

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 (Part 2)
Interview With Matteo Calisi, of "Catholic Fraternity"

BARI, Italy, OCT. 28, 2004 ( Ecclesial communion helps to harmonize the charisms of the new movements within the Church, says a key figure in the Charismatic Renewal.

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 the Church?

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 communities.

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 Catholic Fraternity.

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 Paul II.

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 Year 2000.

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 Catholic Church?

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 of service.

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 unity?

Calisi: The members of Christ are not distributed haphazardly in his Body, which is the Church, but according to mysterious correspondences.

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 worshipping God.

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 one body.

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.


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