Worth a thousand words: Protestants praying over a future pope

With all the controversy that swirled around this image of Cardinal O’Malley, a reader reminded me of the picture below. It surfaced shortly after Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected pope.

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 On June 19, 2006, the Third Fraternal Encounter of the Renewed Communion of Evangelicals and Catholics was held in Luna Park stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Present were the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, and the Preacher of the Pontifical Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa.

The highlight of the meeting was when the Argentine Cardinal fell to his knees to be blessed by the some twenty Protestant pastors present.

The photo above registers this moment. One can distinguish Protestant pastor Carlos Mraida with his hand over Begoglio’s head; to Mraida’s left in the photo is pastor Norberto Saracco of the Pentecostal Church of Argentina. The bearded monk with his back to the camera is Fr. Cantalamessa wearing the Capuchin habit.

This encounter was born from a meeting at the Pontifical Gregorian Universtity in Rome, where the Catholic leader of the Movement of Charismatical Renewal met Protestants, who invited him to preach in their temples. The initiative spread and has generated gatherings like this one in Buenos Aires.

Ralph Martin noted last year:

Several people have sent me photos of Pope Francis, while he was still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, asking a group of evangelical pastors to pray over him with Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa standing at his side. In fact, a Pentecostal minister posted this picture on the web, noting that Cardinal Bergoglio was very involved over the years in the annual dialogue between Catholics and Pentecostals (Encuentros Fraternos entre Católicos y Evangélicos en el Espiritu Santo) as well as in the retreats for priests and pastors that were organized before each meeting. He went on to write: “I’m overjoyed with the election of Bergoglio, a man filled with the Spirit and with a deep commitment to ecumenism.”


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