Pope meets again with charismatic Protestants

This news story from Charisma Magazine about Mike Bickle’s account of meeting Pope Francis caught my eye, as well as some pictures of Bruno Ieullo, a minister with Catch the Fire Ministries in Toronto, with Pope Francis I saw on Facebook.

Bruno has come to Ottawa a couple of times to be the translator for Matteo Calisi, a Catholic leader in charismatic renewal and a movement to find unity in the Body of Christ through yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit to bring it about.  Here’s a story I wrote of a visit by Calisi to Ottawa for the Fire and Fusion Conference here in 2014.

Matteo Calisi, a leader in the worldwide Catholic Charismatic renewal and former member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, described reconciliation to the estimated 300 Catholic and evangelicals who participated as “the heart of the Gospel.”

“Jesus died to reconcile us to the Father and for us to be reconciled to each other,” he said.

But Calisi warned the road to unity would not be easy, that it was a way of the Cross.

Speaking in Italian with translation by Bruno Ierullo, pastor of Toronto-based Catch the Fire’s Newmarket, Ontario campus, Calisi said Jesus “knew he would be rejected before he was crucified. He was rejected, insulted, spat upon.”

Love gave Him the power to go on, he said.

“What is really scandalous is the sin inside of the Church,” Calisi said. “If we ignore the reality of sin and of division, this is the true scandal.”

“If we leave people in division, if we tolerate division, it is like a gas that invades and makes you go to sleep and in the end you die,” he warned.

Jesus is the only way to salvation, he said, but it’s the absence of His love among Christians that prevents the message from getting out the world.

Here’s an excerpt of Mike Bickle’s account of the meeting from Charisma Magazine:

Some of the most recognizable names in the charismatic movement had a private meeting with Pope Francis on Friday. Mike Bickle, Che Ahn, Kris Vallotton, Stacey Campbell and dozens of other Protestant leaders from North America and Europe gathered at the Vatican.

According to Bickle, director of IHOP in Kansas City, the purpose of the meeting was to engage in an on-going dialogue about the pontiff’s views on Jesus and Christianity.

“The meeting lasted a couple of hours. They gave us the opportunity to ask questions. The meeting was very warm and personal,” Bickle told Charisma News. “I asked him about his views on the serious error and deception of universalism that claims that ‘all paths lead to God’ and other religions being saved without receiving the grace of God that only comes through Jesus. He assured me that he believes that Jesus is the only way of salvation.”

Bickle asked him again pointedly, “Is Jesus the only way of salvation?” He described Francis as “very strong” in his agreement on Christ as the Savior of the World and emphasized his love for Jesus and the Scripture.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about the first meeting of this kind with Pope Francis, organized by Bishop Tony Palmer whom I interviewed via Skype only a few weeks before his death in a motorcycle crash. Palmer was a good friend of Pope Francis.

“We met Pope Francis; we are accepting his call and trying to put an end to division,” Palmer said in a July 1 interview from South Africa.

“We are already one in Christ, but we’re not in visible unity,” the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) bishop said. “We need to demonstrate that.”

The unprecedented three-hour private meeting over lunch at the Pope’s residence at Casa Santa Marta was not on the Pope’s official agenda and took place with no Vatican secretaries present.

In addition to Palmer, the leaders meeting with Francis included World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) head Geoff Tunnicliffe, who divides his time between Vancouver and New York City; WEA’s theological commission chair Thomas Schirrmacher; WEA’s global ambassador Brian Stiller, a former president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) and Tyndale University College in Toronto; Toronto-based Catch The Fire founding ministers John and Carol Arnott; and popular American televangelists James and Betty Robison, founders of Life Outreach Int. and Kenneth Copeland, founder of KCM Ministries.

At the meeting, the leaders “expressed our common desire to work toward the visible unity,” Palmer said. “Because we all agree that [Martin] Luther’s central protest of salvation by grace through faith was accepted in 1999 in the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Catholic and Lutheran Churches, we today, as evangelicals, can make a public statement that we are united in faith in a common understanding of the justification of salvation and secondly we agree on the same definition of salvation. That means we can also agree to announce together the salvation message.”

“So we asked Pope Francis, as a delegation, to offer us further insight into how we can make a common declaration –a public visible joint-declaration of our unity in the faith and unity in mission,” Palmer said.

“While I facilitated a meeting, I made sure everyone had time to speak to Pope Francis about their own personal agendas,” he said.

“Pope Francis very clear in stressing the unity we are speaking of is a reconciliation of diversity,” Palmer said, noting the concept of reconciling diversity comes from Lutheran theologian Oscar Cullman who was an observer at the Second Vatican Council and influential on Catholic thought regarding ecumenism.

“Pope Francis agrees with me when I say diversity is divine, but division is diabolic,” Palmer said. ” Pope Francis is fully aware of the necessity for diversity. We need each other. Together, united, we represent the fullness of Christ through our reconciled diversity.”

Anyway, all very interesting.



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6 Responses to Pope meets again with charismatic Protestants

  1. Rev22:17 says:


    You wrote: Pope meets again with charismatic Protestants

    We should expect this to be a recurring headline. There is no doubt that the fulfillment of our Lord’s will that all who believe will be united in one body is at the very top of both the Roman Curia’s and this pope’s personal agendas.

    That said, there are complications in reconciliation with both evangelical and charismatic bodies that have neither the normative ecclesial structure of authentic Christian churches nor a traditional liturgical and sacramental life, with associated major doctrinal deficiencies. It will take some time to work through the doctrinal issues with the numerous evangelical and charismatic bodies.

    Of course, one also might consider what sort of accommodations the Catholic Church might be able to make for both evangelical and charismatic bodies that come into full communion substantially intact. The formation of personal ordinariates for such groups would be no problem, of course, but what might their liturgical books look like? My guess is that ordinariates for evangelical Christians might use substantially the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, perhaps with added hymnody in the gathering and concluding portions of the mass. Charismatic Christians would want to incorporate time charismatic prayer at appropriate times within the liturgy itself — and there’s no doubt that this was normative in the early church.


  2. EPMS says:

    The largest Catholic church in South America, in Brazil, is part of the Charismatic Catholic Renewal, which began in the 1960s. It has an average weekly attendance of 60,000 according to Wikipedia, which estimates CCR participation in South America and Mexico at about 70,000,000 people. Clearly there is ample opportunity for charismatic expression in the current OF and no special Ordinariate need be erected.

    • Rev22:17 says:


      You wrote: Clearly there is ample opportunity for charismatic expression in the current OF and no special Ordinariate need be erected.

      This is a misconception. The Instruction on Prayers for Healing, promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 14 September 2000, expressly forbids exercise of the charism of healing during any liturgical service. There are also other norms that require charismatic prayer to be separate from liturgical services.

      But it’s important to remember that part of the purpose of forming ordinariates for groups of sufficient numbers of communities is to allow those groups to retain their identity, their autonomy, and their customs within the Catholic Church, in the same manner as the sui juris ritual churches of the various eastern rites. Note that, more recently, the Pope John Paul II canonically erected the Personal Apostolic Administration of St. John Mary Vianney for the formerly schismatic Priestly Union of St. John Mary Vianney and that the Vatican has offered a similar structure to the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), contingent upon satisfactory resolution of the doctrinal errors thereof (but don’t hold your breath on this one!).


      • EPMS says:

        And would you assume that healing and “charismatic prayer” would be allowed during liturgical services of this foreseen Charismatic Ordinariate? I cannot think of any practice allowed in the liturgy of the Anglican Ordinariates which is expressly forbidden in other Latin rite liturgies.

      • Rev22:17 says:


        You asked: And would you assume that healing and “charismatic prayer” would be allowed during liturgical services of this foreseen Charismatic Ordinariate?

        My guess is that those who might form such an ordinariate would want to incorporate the charisms of the Holy Spirit — healing, tongues, prophecy, etc. — into their liturgy in one way or another. What’s less clear is at what point(s) in the liturgy the exercise of such charisms might be permitted, or at least tolerated.


  3. EPMS says:

    Yes, considerably less clear. By no means all Anglican practices are permitted in the Ordinariates: ordination of women, subsequent marriage of those ordained to the priesthood, married bishops, an altar without candles and/or a crucifix—I’m sure a more knowledgeable person could find dozens of examples.

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