By Allesandra Nucci
When the newly elected Pope Francis appeared at the window before the cheering crowd in St Peter’s Square, and promptly bowed down asking the people to pray for him, most of the public at large was charmed, but puzzled. Pope Benedict too had asked the people to pray for him from the outset, but without the bowed head. To some spectators, however—including the members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and their counterparts in the Protestant and Orthodox worlds—the gesture came as something surprisingly familiar. In the “charismatic” galaxy, prayer is offered and asked for in this way by people of all levels—specifically, prayer for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
There is a photograph available on the Internet that shows Pope Francis, while still archbishop of Buenos Aires, on his knees with head bowed as a group of evangelical pastors and Catholic priests and laymen pray over him. As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Pope would celebrate Mass on a monthly basis for the Charismatic Renewal of Buenos Aires. And despite the conflicts between Catholics and Pentecostals in Latin America, word has it that Pentecostal pastors rejoiced at the election of the new Catholic pope.
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