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Who would have thought that a Jesus freak would become pope? The main focus of this blog has always been that signs and wonders need to be combined with peace and justice – charismatic Christians need to be activists and activist Christians need to be charismatic – since this is what Jesus taught to His disciples and Holy Spirit activism has the power to transform lives and bring hope in even greater ways that non-supernatural activism. Unfortunately, a lot of times charismatic and evangelical Christians are not huge fans of peace and justice – something that is painfully obvious when you see what many of them write about the Gaza war – and many Christian activists are not very charismatic or evangelical.
But there is, I believe, a growing movement within Christianity that realizes that a charismatic life in the Spirit should be combined with activism for a better world; a movement that crosses all denominations, places and cultures. And by God’s grace we have a sympathizer among the leader of the biggest church in the world: pope Francis.
Few have missed that Francis is a passionate advocate for peace and justice: he has criticized capitalism for neglecting the poor, he lives simply and promotes economic equality, he has prayed for peace in the Middle East both at the Western wall and at the West Bank wall. But what not as many know is that Francis also is a charismatic pope, who believes in Spiritual gifts and who blesses both the Catholic charismatic renewal and Pentecostals.
As I hoped, we got a non-European pope! And as I suspected, the non-European pope was quite passionate for social justice. Even though some question marks have been raised concerning Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s actions during the Argentinian civil war in the 70’s, few can deny that he has been working hard against inequality, poverty and oppression as archbishop of Buenos Aires. He combines this activism with simplicity – as a cardinal, he lived in an ampartment instead of the usual palace, he took the bus instead of his chaffeur-driven car, and he cooked his own meal.
Many has pointed to the fact that his papal name, Francis, expresses this concern for the poor. S:t Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) sure was a radical, Christ-like activist. He sold everything he had, preached simplicity, loved the poor, criticised the rich and proclaimed the Kingdom of God. However, the new Pope is said to have another Francis in mind as well: S:t Francis Xavier (1506-1552). He is less well-known but just as radical – as a missionary in Asia he worked hard for poverty reduction and development while he was also spreading the Gospel.
Both of these Francises were charismatic activists. They combined their passion för justice and evangelism with marvelous signs and wonders in the power of the Holy Spirit. Francis of Assisis most famous miracle is probably the stigmata – the wounds of Christ supernaturally appearing on his body. But he experienced a lot. Marilynn Hughes writes: