Learn from Pentecostals, says Cardinal Kasper

.- Instead of simply criticizing Pentecostal churches that draw Catholics as members, Catholic leaders should consider why their parishes aren't meeting the needs of those who leave, said Cardinal Walter Kasper said Monday.

"Our response cannot be in the form of a polemical approach, leaving ourselves to condemn the activities of other groups," the cleric reportedly told an audience of 225 people at Duquesne University.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said it is crucial to be engaged with the diverse global Pentecostal movement, which numbers 600 million members.

Catholics who leave their parishes often they long for a sense of Christian community and direct spiritual experience that they find lacking, he continued. In addition, many haven't been taught enough about their own faith to respond to criticisms of their faith. These problems are acute in the global South, he said.

The cardinal called for better faith formation, which does not denigrate other Christian denominations, small parish-based prayer groups, youth groups and Bible studies where people can form a close spiritual community.

He noted that the Catholic charismatic movement, which has characteristics similar to Pentecostalism, emerged in 1967 at Duquesne University, reported the newspaper. Pentecostalism emphasizes community and the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, and faith healing.

Bishop Paul Bradley, administrator of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Metropolitan Basil Schott of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, Episcopal Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh and Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church of Johnstown also attended the lecture.

Fr. Lou Vallone, pastor of St. John of God Parish in McKees Rocks, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he believes there is hope of rebuilding ties with Catholics who have joined the Pentecostal church.

“People are attracted to the emotionalism and high levels of joy, but they miss the Mass,” he was quoted as saying. He said when he held Mass during a joint Catholic and Pentecostal medical mission to Mexico everybody attended.

“It was like a coming home for them,” he reportedly said.


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