Father Cantalamessa Tears Down Religious Barriers
Preacher to the Papal Household
Member of the Catholic Delegation for the Dialogue with the Pentecostal churches
Former Professor at the Catholic University of Milan
Hosted a weekly program on Radiotelevisione Italiana (1994-2010)
Divinity Doctor (Fribourg 1962)
Doctor in classical literature (Milan 1966)
A CALL TO PREACH
Father Cantalamessa is a Franciscan Capuchin Catholic priest born in Ascoli Piceno, Italy and ordained in 1958. He is a former professor of history of ancient Christianity at the Catholic University of Milan. Father Cantalamessa’s life was transformed in 1976 when he was baptized in the Holy Spirit on a trip to Kansas City. “The love of scripture which results from receiving the Holy Spirit is unbelievable,” shares Father Cantalamessa. Then in 1979 he felt called to leave his teaching position to become a full time preacher of the gospel.
In 1980, John Paul II appointed him Preacher to the Papal Household. On July 18, 2013, he was confirmed by Pope Francis as Preacher to the Papal Household where he serves, preaching weekly during Advent and Lent to the pope and the cardinals, bishops, and prelates of the Roman Curia and the general superiors of religious orders. He is the only person who has preached to all the popes in the last thirty years. He speaks in many countries around the world, both to Catholic and Protestant audiences on unity and common evangelization. He has received an honorary degree in Law from Notre Dame University (Indiana), in Sciences of Communication from the University of Macerata (Italy) and in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio). Father Cantalamessa has published numerous books on spiritual fruit which have been translated into more than twenty foreign languages. When he is not engaged in preaching, he lives in a hermitage at Cittaducale (Rieti) in Italy ministering to a small community of cloistered nuns.
PRAYER = INTIMACY
On March 14, 2014, in Father Cantalamessa’s 1st Lent Homily, he shares about the importance of prayer. He says, “Jesus went into the desert to pray; He always withdrew into desert places to pray to His Father. He went there to be attuned, as man, with the divine will, to deepen the mission that the voice of the Father, in His Baptism, had made him perceive: the mission of the obedient Servant called to redeem the world with suffering and humiliation. Jesus went there, in sum, to pray, to be in intimacy with His Father.” Father Cantalamessa says, “One does not go into the desert to leave something – the noise, the world, occupations -- one goes there above all to find something, rather Someone. The believer goes into the desert, goes down into his own heart, to renew his contact with God, because he knows that Truth dwells in the interior man.”
“God is in love with us and He wants us to be in love with Him,” shares Father Cantalamessa. Speaking of his people as of a bride, God says: “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her” (Hosea 2:16). “We know what the effect is of being in love: all things and all other persons withdraw, are placed in the background. There is a presence that fills everything and renders all the rest ‘secondary.’ It does not isolate from others, rather it renders one more attentive and disposed to others. Oh, if we men and women of the Church would discover how close to us, within our reach, is the happiness and the peace that we seek in this world! Jesus awaits us in the desert,” says Father Cantalamessa.
CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL
The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a movement within the Catholic Church which Father Cantalamessa refers to as, "a joyful experience of God's grace." The mission of this renewal is to educate believers on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ so they can walk in the Fruit of the Spirit. “Baptism in the Spirit is not a human invention; it is a divine invention. It is a renewal of baptism and of the whole of Christian life, of all the sacraments. It is a renewal of my religious profession, of my confirmation, and of my priestly ordination,” reveals Father Cantalamessa.
Father Cantalamessa is very passionate about Christian unity. He speaks to leaders around the world on the importance of unity within the Church. He says that Christian unity is the work of the Holy Spirit. "Today as well, the Holy Spirit will be the one to lead us into unity, if we let him guide us," he said. “God has poured out the Holy Spirit in a new and unusual way upon millions of believers from every Christian denomination and, so that there would be no doubts about His intentions, He poured out the Spirit with the same manifestations.
At an evangelical gathering in January 2014, Kenneth Copeland Ministries received a personal video message from Pope Francis urging reconciliation between Catholics and Charismatics. He said he was joyful to see these individuals coming together to worship Jesus Christ the only Lord. And, to pray to the Father and to receive the Spirit. Pope Francis shares, “God is working all over the world. Sin has separated us, all our sins. We all share the blame. We have all sinned. There is only one blameless, the Lord. I am nostalgic that this separation comes to an end and gives us communion. We all have religious traditions, but we have to encounter one another as brothers. Let’s give each other a spiritual hug and let God complete the work that He has begun. The miracle of unity has begun. Let’s allow our nostalgia [learning] to increase so that it propels us to find each other, embrace each other and to praise Jesus Christ as the only Lord of history.”
Father Cantalamessa will speak at the Clergy Summit April 30th at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. Leaders from Evangelical, Charismatic and Catholic Traditions will engage in “official dialog” aimed at tearing down the walls between various confessions/traditions. The Summit intends to provide a concise vision from recognized leaders in these three Christian traditions who will outline their traditions and ecumenical goals (promotion of unity or cooperation between distinct religious groups or denominations of Christianity) so that clergy around the globe will have a resource and common understanding of their “brothers” point of view. Father Cantalamessa will articulate the Roman Catholic perspective and encourage Roman Catholic clergy to engage in training their laity to foster authentic grass roots ecumenical relationships.