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"Heaven is thrilled over this"

Robert McCullough at the CNS blog has posted a video message from Pope Francis to a gathering of Pentecostal pastors in the United States. It's a wonderful message, and well worth watching. Very affecting, and well-chosen to reach his intended audience.

Here is the full description: 

Pope Francis recorded a message of reconciliation and unity between the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church for Kenneth Copeland Ministries, a group of Pentecostal Christians in the United States. Bishop Tony Palmer, a bishop from a Pentecostal Christian community, did the camera work with an iPhone. The bishop also serves as international ecumenical officer for the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, a group that is not affiliated with the Anglican Communion, and which takes a much simpler view of the path to full Christian unity than the pope and the mainline Christian churches do. The translation used for the English subtitles on the video are not precise, but the pope's sincerity is clear.

The shorter clip, unfortunately, does not record the response of the gathered assembly and its leader, which follows in the longer video. In the full video, they pray for him and send a video message back to him.

You can watch it here, starting at 38:41. 

"We do not know how to pray for him other than to agree with him."

The closing remark of the Pentecostal leader is priceless: “I’m tellin’ you now – heaven is THRILLED over this.”

About the Author

Rita Ferrone is the author of several books about liturgy, including Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium (Paulist Press).



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Funny, I had just a few minutes ago sent an email to Commonweal about this video because I thought you would want to blog on it, then I turned back to your blog and saw it had just been put up.

It really is a beautiful video, and a fascinating context to it. Not only is the Bishop involved a fascinating person and part of a fascinating communion, but so also is Kenneth Copeland. This whole story demonstrates anew how deep the connections and friendships are between Bergoglio/Francis and the evangelical/charismatic movement. I think it is safe to say that the grassroots ecumenism of Bergoglio is being carried on in the papacy of Francis and that this is a unique phenomena in the history of the Catholic Church. Has there ever been a pope with such deep friendships and ministry partnerships with evangelical/charismatic Protestants?

Simply wonderful!

Deeply affecting. And all in seven minutes.

Gospel over Empire. Love over monarchy. One Lord. Not one dominator. So simple yet difficult because of egos and power interests. Francis. A true disiciple. 

This man is just so impressive yet so simple. 

"Has there ever been a pope with such deep friendships and ministry partnerships with evangelical/charismatic Protestants?"


Francis may be the first pope with on-the-ground experiences with fundamentalists/evangelicals/charismatics.  Italy and Germany really don't offer the kind of contact experiences that South America do.

First the covers of TIME and Rolling Stone....Next the cover of "Christianity Today"? ;)

Astonishingly moving.It's hard to stop cryingfor the blessing this man brings to all of us. What an example of Christ's love!

"These tears will unite us." The figure of Joseph and his brothers is profoundly moving.

I agree with Bernard!!

A murmur arises from the crowd when he says God will complete the miracle of unity. The applause at the end fairly explodes.

Christianity Today is far from remiss in covering Francis:

Randall Balmer, an editor of Christianity Today and an Episcopal priest and professor at Dartmouth, wrote this some months ago about Francis at The Christian Century  ...  "The Windows Pope Francis has Opened" ...

Beautiful.  But I'm worried the he's working too hard.  Maybe he should take his reforms slower?   He's only nine years younger than Benedict, and in this tape he seems to be having trouble breathing.  Yes, he needs everyone's prayers.  What a gift he is!

He is working on only one lung. I think the delivery had more to do with thinking about what he was saying as he was saying it. The delivery itself is prayerlike, not boilerplate sound bites. I get the feeling that it was intensely prepared but maybe not written.

And doesn't he so strongly remind of his precursor, John XXIII, who when meeting the Jews of Rome said:  "Sono Giuseppe, tuo fratello." I am joseph, your brother. 

Why he took the name Francis. Who mixed in with Muslims and was more concerned with loving his neighbors than checking out their dogma.

How he bares himself. How vulnerable he lets himself be, in public, to the whole world!

It was a lovely address, of course, and, like Bill, I was reminded of the candor with which Pope John 23 met people on their own ground. As my evangelical friend at work says, "He [Pope Francis] GETS it!" She was referring, of course, to the Prime Directive, "Love God and you neighbor as yourself," which many Protestants feel is obscured by Roman Catholicism, burdened (as evangelicals see it) by dogma that is not "Bible-based," by a hierarchy that requires intermediaries between man and God in the form of the sacraments (particularly confession), and by written prayers and liturgy that does not allow for the free expression of worship and direct communication with the Lord.

The evangelicals are happy that we have a Pope who says stuff they like to hear. But they aren't going to throw away their birth control any more than we're going to start letting them take Holy Communion.

Evangelicals will embrace Pope Francis as a man with a natural authority that comes through his faith. But embracing the Church? I see tears and yearning for a long time to come.

Deeply moving.  Pretty incredible when you think about the all too common "Catholics are the devil" stream  in evangelical circles out of which Copeland comes.  So pleased Francis was willing to take this risk for unity. Pretty big risk on Copeland's end too.

Bishop Tony Palmer, the evangelical friend of Francis who recorded the video aqnd introduced it, is a bit of a mystery.  He claims some connection to Anglicanism, but is clearly part of some offshoot not officially connected to the Anglican Church.

His intro is painful at times for its misunderstanding of Catholic theology on justification.  He holds the common mis-belief that the Church was at one time officially Pelagian.  Oh well -- this is the kind of stuff that happens when you don't have decades of meetings and just simply take a chance on shared humanity and shared belief in Jesus.  

He is a bishop of The Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, which is an Anglican Christian Communion, formed in 1995 largely as a result of the Convergence Movement. The CEEC converges the evangelical, charismatic, liturgical, and sacramental traditions of the Christian faith.

CEEB bishops page here:

"Over the past decade the Rt. Rev. Tony Palmer, a former director of Kenneth Copeland Ministries’ South African office and co-founder of The Ark Community, an international and interdenominational community of Christians based in the United Kingdom, has been extensively involved with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR).


In 2003, Palmer was invited by the Catholic Church to move to Europe and minister to Catholics within the CCR worldwide, as a non-Roman Catholic minister. As a result of this calling, Palmer has traveled to many countries around the world and participated in numerous meetings with leaders within the charismatic renewal.


It was during a mission to Argentina five years ago that Palmer met and soon became close friends with Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I.


“We had called on him to ask permission to minister in churches within his diocese for renewal,” Palmer recalled recently of that first meeting. “Immediately, Cardinal Bergoglio shared his heart and appreciation for what we were doing, and fully embraced us and the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us—not only to Catholic people, but to all Christian denominations.”

Thanks for the links Mr. Hayes.  It seems pretty clear that while CEEC describes itself as an Anglican Communion, they are not "in communion" or officially part of the the Anglican Church.  I mean to make no value judgment here.  Just trying to understand.

That link to Kenneth Copeland Ministries is pretty revealing.  The comments section is filled with quite a number of anti-Catholic screeds.  Copeland certainly has gone out on a limb here.

Does anyone else find themselves wanting to know more about this 2003 invitation by the Catholic Church of which Palmer speaks?  Who in the Church invited him to be a "non-Catholic minister" to charismatics?  Does the Catholic Church find itself wanting in this area and feels it has to go outside to recruit ministers?  Is this a common practice?  Are the inviters in the Church in any way concerned that this minister they invited to serve the Catholic Charismatic Renewal does not under Catholic teachings on something as important as justification?

Whoops -- that last sentence should read  "does not understand".


No, Copeland is not in communion with Anglicans, though any baptized Christian may receive communion in some Anglican churches (ECUSA, for one), so what it means to NOT be in communion has more to do with accepting Anglican dogma as defined through its founding documents and those promulgated at Lambeth.

Yes, it would be interesting to know what Catholics invited Copeland to minister to Catholics. Remember you're getting this construction on events from the Copeland site. What constitutes an "invitation" and what constitutes the "Roman Catholic Church" can be slippery terms to evangelicals. However, evangelizing among Catholics has been going on for a long time. My fundiegelical nieces and nephews, incredibly, used to hit us up formoney for their mission trips to Mexico and Guatamala. Said relations could really not understand how, if we were truly Christians, we could possibly oppose their building worship spaces and distributing Bibles to the locals.

Does anyone else find themselves wanting to know more about this 2003 invitation by the Catholic Church of which Palmer speaks? 


I do, but I haven't found anything, so far. Here's the most detailed info that has turned up on Tony Palmer:


In 2002 in South Africa, Tony and Emiliana Palmer founded the Ark Community. The community was based on a small group of committed friends from various churches united by a common commitment to Christ and His purposes. Discipleship and personal transformation are at the heart of the community.


Tony was born in the UK and moved to South Africa as a teenager. Emiliana is Italian and met Tony when she and her family were living in South Africa. Together with their children, Daniel and Gabriella, they now live in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.


Tony is an ordained Minister, ordained by the Anglican/Episcopal Church, within the CEEC (Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches). He relates directly to his Archbishop, Robert Wise as his Canon to Church Unity Affairs ( Our Community is also consecrated within the CEEC as an Inter-denominational Christian Community, and enjoys much input from Father Robert’s wisdom.


Tony is initially trained as a Medical Underwriter (Med. Dip. 1987), with further specialised studies in HIV/AIDS management (WITS University Medical School, RSA). He accepted his vocation to full-time Ministry in 1993 and then studied for 3 years at a Christian College (Rhema Bible Training Centre, RSA). He has also completed a short course in Biblical Archaeology and Biblical Studies (UNISA University, RSA), has a Masters Degree in Philosophy, “College of Theology” (St. Alcuin’s Seminary, USA), and has an English Teachers Certificate from Cambridge University, UK (CELTA).


Tony is currently busy with his Doctorate Degree in “Early Church” studies (33-600 A.D), with a particular interest in the Community life of the early Celtic Church.


Emiliana also completed 3 years of Biblical Studies at the same Christian College (RBTC), and also holds a Cambridge English Teachers Certificate (CELTA). Together, Emiliana and Tony had the privilege of serving as Directors for Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, KCM RSA, and Tony served as Development Director at Acres of Love (, providing homes for abandoned HIV/AIDS babies and children.

The woeful record of the RCC when it comes to dealing with Pentecostal/charismatic influences was lamented recently in London’s The Tablet:

And the fact that Bp. Palmer had to be invited by the CCR (assuming that to be true) to go to Latin America and work with Catholics is simply appalling.

I hit "send" before incorporating these comments to the above:

Back in the early 1970s Demos Shakirian ( came to the SF Bay Area with the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship, Intl. that he founded in 1953. (it still is in existence, I guess:

He had 2 Catholic priests in tow ... probably local SF types ... and their presence was heavily advertised in the local papers. I went (it was during my rambling and wondering days) and was quite blown away by what these priests had to say ... and by the large number of people who identified themselves as Catholics when asked to do so.

I think that the RCC has been 10 days late and $100 short when it came to capturing this kind of spiritual hunger within Catholics. If the Palmer story is true, then that just proves this deficiency that exists even today.



A Catholic Charismatic gathering will be held this June at the Olympic Stadium in Rome 

Pope Francis will attend.

See poster here:

It's organized by the "Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships" and the "International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services" 

Jimmy, thanks for the link to the Tablet story. I find Mass a spiritually arid place, and the recent new language convoluted and awkward. Certainly it has not imbued me with any epiphanies. 

OTOH, I have no yearning for charismaticism. Charismatics in our former Episcopal parish acted like giddy children at best and were sometimes downright disruptive during the Prayers of the People, going on and on and on with their personal petitions.

I'm a cold-hearted Yankee, I realize, but I have no yearning for talking in tongues (or handling serpents or drinking the Kool-Aid), though I realize I must accept that glossalalia is a recognized charism despite the fact that it looks like group hysteria to me.

Isn't there some sane middle ground that would allow for variations/renewal in liturgical practice without going whole hog on charismaticism?


But hasn't the charismatic movement in mainine Western churches largey eschewed many of the markers of, say, Pentecostalism? I have always assumed that this is due more to classism than theology, but isn't it the case?

Abe Rosenzweig, here's what Wikipedia has to say:


As of 2003, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal exists in over 230 countries in the world, with over 119 million members.[4] Participants in the Renewal also cooperate with non-Catholic ecclesiastical communities and other Catholics for ecumenism, as encouraged by the Catholic Church.[5]


The Charismatic element of the Church is still as evident today as it was in the early days of Christianity. Some Catholic Charismatic communities conduct healing services, gospel power services, outreaches and evangelizations where the presence of the Holy Spirit is felt, and healings and miracles take place.[6] The mission of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is to educate believers into the totality of the declaration of the gospels. This is done by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; a one-to-one relationship with Jesus is seen as a possibility by the Charismatic. He is encouraged to talk to Jesus directly and search for what The Lord is saying so that his life will be one with Him; to walk in the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, this is what the Charismatic understands by giving his life to Jesus. Conscience is seen as an alternative voice of Jesus Christ.[7]


The charisms identified in Saint Paul's writings, especially in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and Ephesians 4:11-12, continue to exist and to build up the Church (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2003). The nine charismatic gifts considered extraordinary in character include: faith, expression of knowledge and wisdom, miracles, the gift of tongues and their interpretation, prophecy, discernment of spirits and healing (1 Corinthians 12:8-10; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2003).[8] These gifts are related to the traditional seven gifts of the Holy Spirit described in Isaiah 11:1-2 (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, as listed in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1831). The nine charismatic gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are also related to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.[9] Other references to charisms in the Catechism of the Catholic Church include Sections 688, 768, 799-801, 890, 951, 1508 (charism of healing) and 2035.

Dont be angry but i felt appalled by this. I wandered around in charismatic circles and found them to be so self congratulatory and prosperity driven. I feel very distrustful of the copeland empire. Perhaps many will be cpnverted but i cant help but think we will see soon "the pope and me" call now with your donation and its yours for 9.99! I say the catholic church is not the mothership - she is the ship!

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