Who would have thought that a Jesus freak would become pope? The main focus of this blog has always been that signs and wonders need to be combined with peace and justice – charismatic Christians need to be activists and activist Christians need to be charismatic – since this is what Jesus taught to His disciples and Holy Spirit activism has the power to transform lives and bring hope in even greater ways that non-supernatural activism. Unfortunately, a lot of times charismatic and evangelical Christians are not huge fans of peace and justice – something that is painfully obvious when you see what many of them write about the Gaza war – and many Christian activists are not very charismatic or evangelical.
But there is, I believe, a growing movement within Christianity that realizes that a charismatic life in the Spirit should be combined with activism for a better world; a movement that crosses all denominations, places and cultures. And by God’s grace we have a sympathizer among the leader of the biggest church in the world: pope Francis.
Few have missed that Francis is a passionate advocate for peace and justice: he has criticized capitalism for neglecting the poor, he lives simply and promotes economic equality, he has prayed for peace in the Middle East both at the Western wall and at the West Bank wall. But what not as many know is that Francis also is a charismatic pope, who believes in Spiritual gifts and who blesses both the Catholic charismatic renewal and Pentecostals.
In January, I wrote about how Francis stated in an interview that the charismatic movement is necessary for the church. Now in June, the pope attended a Catholic charismatic renewal convention in Rome, where he said:
I expect from you that you share with all, in the Church, the grace of Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
I expect from you an evangelization with the Word of God which proclaims that Jesus is alive and loves all men.
I expect that you give witness of spiritual ecumenism with all those brothers and sisters of other Churches and Christian communities who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Be close to the poor, the needy, to touch in their flesh the flesh of Jesus. Be close, please!
And just a few days ago, Francis visited a Pentecostal church, being the first pope ever to do that. He asked for forgiveness for the hostility that some Catholics has shown to Pentecostals:
“Among those who persecuted and denounced Pentecostals, almost as if they were crazy people trying to ruin the race, there were also Catholics. I am the pastor of Catholics, and I ask your forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who didn’t know and were tempted by the devil.”
“Someone will be surprised: ‘The pope went to visit the evangelicals?’ But he went to see his brothers.”
Already when Francis had been elected, I pointed out that the saint from which he picked his name, Francis of Assisi, both loved the poor and experienced amazing miracles. Even if there are many things I don’t agree with when it comes to Catholic theology, I truly rejoice when I see how pope Francis walks in the same tradition, following Jesus both when it comes to Spiritual baptism and social justice.