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In Caserta meeting, evangelical pastor greets Pope Francis as ‘my beloved brother’

Catholic World News - July 29, 2014

The Holy See Press Office has released the remarks made by evangelical pastor Giovanni Traettino during his July 28 meeting with Pope Francis in Caserta, Italy.

As he introduced “my beloved brother” to his congregation, the pastor said that the members of his community love Pope Francis, that his visit would have been unthinkable until recently, and that the gesture, characteristic of the Pope, would help further the cause of Christian unity.

Traettino added that in his teaching, Pope Francis emphasizes the need for a personal encounter with Christ and conversion. Evangelicals, too, emphasize the centrality of Christ, and need to move beyond anti-Catholicism and recognize that the field of Christianity includes both Catholicism and reform, he said.

Quoting St. Paul-- “no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11)-- Traettino emphasized that Christ is the foundation of believers’ lives and the foundation of Christian unity. After recalling the persecution of Pentecostals in Italy, particularly between 1935 and 1955, Traettino said that in the midst of misunderstanding, Christians need to be persons committed to reconciliation. He concluded by praying that the Holy Spirit guide Pope Francis.

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  • Posted by: hopefully - Jul. 30, 2014 2:39 AM ET USA

    The pastor’s comments here should answer some earlier commenters’ questions about what the Pope hopes to achieve by this visit. The Pope’s appearance can “help further the cause of Christian unity” and help these people to “move beyond anti-Catholicism.” Those sound like pretty good goals to me. The strategy of emphasizing our common beliefs in the early stages of engagement builds trust, which is necessary before beginning the more difficult discussions on our differences.

  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 29, 2014 11:44 PM ET USA

    jg, what is it about Christian unity that you don't fully understand, because Pope Francis and Traettino seem to. Jesus said, "And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me." Jn 17:22-23

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Jul. 29, 2014 6:52 PM ET USA

    As far as I can tell, the persecution consisted of closing some Charismatic church buildings and the imprisonment of some ministers -- plus criminalizing speaking in tongues, the trademark charismatic behavior. Even this relatively mild program shouldn't have happened, of course. And it should be laid to the charge of Mussolini's fascist government, which conceived it, embedded it in Italian law, and carried it out from the mid-1920's to 1943.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jul. 29, 2014 8:17 AM ET USA

    This meeting was filled with selective memory and silence on important issues that divide Catholics and Protestants of almost every stripe. Many of us remain mystified as to what the pope really aims at here. Either all the Church's sacraments really matter or they don't; either Evangelicals have raided Catholic communities recently for converts or they haven't; either apostasy matters or it doesn't; either the hierarchical structure of the Church matters or it doesn't. 2 and 2 is 4, not 5 or 9.

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