It began with a 1992 meeting in Bari, a southern Italian port city, between members of the Catholic Comunità di Gesù (Community of Jesus) and the Evangelical Church of the Reconciliation in Caserta.
Pope Francis visited the evangelical church in 2014, giving a 30-minute off-the-cuff address. The pope first met the church’s pastor, Giovanni Traettino, in 2006, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina.
The pope has offered encouragement to charismatic Catholics throughout his pontificate. In 2017, he addressed around 50,000 members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement during an ecumenical prayer vigil at Rome’s Circus Maximus.
The pope told participants in Saturday’s virtual meeting: “I would like to be closer to you, to be with you, at least with a video message. Thank you very much for this work that you have been doing for years -- for years! -- since the celebration in 1992 in Bari, every year.”
“And the meeting you are holding today is on the theme of fraternity: it is a meeting of fraternal dialogue. The guide will be the Word of the Lord: ‘Go to my brethren and say to them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
“Jesus sends us to proclaim that He is with us, He is before the Father, He accompanies us; and as Christians, without exposing the divisions that still exist but that do not prevent us from working together, walking together, and washing each other’s feet: let us remember Bari. To serve together. Brotherhood.”