At a Catholic charismatic celebration in the Circus Maximus Pope Francis, on the eve of Pentecost, emphasised the ecumenical dimension of the charismatic movement. Christians, he said could block the unity in diversity desired by the Holy Spirit by focusing on their differences rather than on what they share. ‘We choose the part over the whole, belonging to this or that group before belonging to the Church’.

There could be no more apt description of the divisive effects of the charismatic movement in the Catholic Church!

Francis’s sentimental homily gave no indication of the dangers attendant on claims of special or privileged communication with the Holy Spirit. Nor did he address the profound difficulties in relating modern Pentecostal experience to the events in Acts 2.

None of this is surprising from a Pope who is claimed by his supporters to have an especial intimacy with the Spirit; and in a pontificate which is increasingly marked by a reliance on popular sentiment and a repudiation of intellectual and critical rigour.

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