Pope Francis celebrated a Pentecost vigil on Saturday with 50,000 Catholic charismatics and Pentecostals from more than 125 countries.

The Pope joined in the singing as he stood between Michelle Moran, president of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, and Patti Mansfield, who was present when the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was born.

He told the crowd gathered on a field at Circus Maximus in Rome that charismatic renewal was “a current of grace”, adding: “It is a work that was born Catholic? No. It was born ecumenical”, with similar results in many denominations and with Pentecostals providing support and education to new Catholic charismatics.

“It was born ecumenical because it is the Holy Spirit who creates unity,” the Pope said. The Holy Spirit drew Catholics and Pentecostals together to profess that Jesus is Lord and “to proclaim together the Father’s love for all his children,” he added.

In his homily, the Pope said that Christians could block the unity in diversity desired by the Holy Spirit by focusing on their differences rather than on what they share.

“This happens when we want to separate, when we take sides and form parties, when we adopt rigid and airtight positions, when we become locked into our own ideas and ways of doing things, perhaps even thinking we are better than others. When this happens,” the Pope said, “we choose the part over the whole, belonging to this or that group before belonging to the Church”, and taking pride in being “Christians of the ‘Right’ or the ‘Left’ before being on the side of Jesus.”

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