BY Daniel Harkins | July 29 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

Pope Francis greets woman during his visit with Protestants in Caserta, Italy

Pope visits Pentecostal church and acknowledges persecution

During a visit yesterday to the Pentecostal Church of the Reconciliation in the south of Italy, Pope Francis recognised the persecution they suffered in Fascist Italy

When Pope Francis met with an old protestant friend yesterday, becoming the first Pope to visit a Pentecostal church, he apologised for the persecution of Pentecostals in Italy during the Fascist era in the 1920s and 30s.

The Pope spoke to more than 200 people at the Church of the Reconciliation in Caserta, Italy. He had travelled to the region to meet Evangelical Pentecostal pastor Giovanni Traettino, a friend from his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires.

“Among those who persecuted and denounced Pentecostals, almost as if they were crazy… there were also Catholics,” he said. “I am the shepherd of the Catholics and I ask you to forgive my Catholic brothers and sisters who did not understand and were tempted by the devil.”

Reflecting on the story of Jacob, the Holy Father said that when we walk in God’s presence we find brotherhood.

“When instead we stop, we scrutinise each other too much, and we set out on another path, that of gossip,” he said. “And in this way it begins, from the first moment the division of the Church began, from the very beginning, there has been this temptation in the Christian community. ‘I am from this group, you are from that one.’

“The Holy Spirit creates diversity in the Church—diversity, rich and beautiful. But, at the same time, the Holy Spirit creates unity, and so the Church is one in her diversity. To borrow a phrase used by an evangelical, a phrase I love, it is the ‘reconciled diversity’ of the Holy Spirit who creates both of these things: diversity in charisms, and harmony in charisms.”

Before speaking at the church, Pope Francis had a private meeting with Pastor Traettino.

“With men like you , there is hope for us as Christians,” the pastor later said to the Holy Father.


Pic: Pope Francis said he knew people would be shocked that he would make a trip outside of Rome to visit a group of Pentecostals, ‘but I went to visit my friends,” he said.





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