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.