The Preacher To The Popes: Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa

by Holy Father, Movie Reviews and Recommendations, Outstanding Initiatives, Pope Francis

We know the Pope as someone who inspires the world, but have you ever wondered who inspires the Pope? Did you know that the Pope has an official preacher? If that’s news to you, you’re not alone! This unique position has existed since 1555, with each apostolic preacher serving for 3−5 years. Every pope personally selects a preacher, traditionally from the Franciscan Capuchin order, to give sermons to the Holy Father, the Curia, and others in the papal household. These sermons are offered during Friday retreats in Advent and Lent. There’s a new documentary film coming out about the current record-setting preacher. 

Cardinal Cantalamessa has served since 1980 for Saint Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis, making him the only person in history to have held the position for so long.  

Who Is Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa?

Cardinal Cantalamessa was ordained a priest in 1958 and became the Department Chair at the University of Milan, where he taught patristics and early church history. This intellectual foundation, as well as the Franciscan charism of preaching, has made him an incredible tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit. He traveled from his home country of Italy to the United States in 1977 to learn English, and it changed the course of his life forever. You’ll learn about these events and what unfolded after, leading to his appointment as the Apostolic Preacher, and how God continues to work through him to this day.  

The Film: The Preacher to the Popes: Raniero Cantalamessa

The film The Preacher to the Popes: Raniero Cantalamessa, will have its international premiere on December 18th at 10:00 am Eastern Standard Time, and is free to everyone with internet access through CMAX Media’s streaming platform: www.cmax.tv. People can register for the free livestream and learn more about the film at www.cantalamessamovie.com.

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Even though the film focuses on one man’s faith journey, his story is just one example of how the Holy Spirit desires to work in every baptized Christian, leading all of us to spiritual maturity and creating a desire for authentic Christian unity in the process. The film is a testament to the ministry of the Holy Spirit through him and for all of us. 

“I hope that people watch this film, get inspired personally to open up more to God, and use the film as a tool to start conversations that lead to life-changing relationships,” says director and producer Ashley Zahorian. “After the premiere, we are providing simple ways for local groups to host screenings of any size and are providing discussion guides for use after watching the film.”

The joy of relationship with Jesus and living in the will of God the Father shine through Cardinal Cantalamessa. As Chris Stefanick of Real Life Catholic says, “There is an authenticity and a joy in him. It’s not so much what he says. It’s the charism within his soul that he brings forward while he says it. And it’s a witness to me, as a man who’s engaged in the preaching ministry of a church, that we can say all the eloquent words that we want. We can have great multimedia ministries, but all of it falls flat if we ourselves, as a medium, that God shines through, aren’t close to Jesus Christ. That’s what shines through in his preaching — that this man, all his preaching, it comes from him personally, following our Lord.” 

Cardinal Cantalamessa’s preaching ministry has had a worldwide effect on Christians of many denominations. He has especially helped Pentecostals, New Charismatic Churches (NCCs), Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, and Reformation oriented Christians become drawn to the teachings of the early church apostles. His knowledge, insight, and joy in preaching captivates his listeners regardless of their Christian tradition. His engaging smile reflects the love of God, and he inspires every person he teaches to grow in spiritual maturity. He has even addressed the Anglican Church from Westminster Abbey, chatting with the Queen of England after his sermon.

Not only has he served as the Apostolic Preacher, but he has also written thirty books, spoken at countless retreats,  hosted a television show, and served as a bridge-builder for authentic Christian unity and restoration. 

This film, The Preacher to the Popes, will give every Christian an opportunity to participate in the Holy Spirit’s work by inviting their neighbors, coworkers, friends, family members and Christians of every tradition to help each other understand the depth of the work that the Holy Spirit is bringing about to restore full communion among all Christian traditions according to the Nicene creed. 

“I encourage you to watch the film at the premiere so that you can know first-hand it’s worth watching, then host a screening for your community,” Zahorian says. “I hope you make a decision to use this movie to form deep relationships with your friends and neighbors, especially those of other Christian traditions.” 

Interviewees in the documentary include Chris Stefanick, Bp. Sam Jacobs, Dr. Ralph Martin, Dcn. Larry Oney, Gordon Robertson, Alicia Hartle, Walter Matthews, Dr. Mary Healy, Bp. Andrzej Siemieniezski, Fr. Anthony Ouellette, Sr. Nancy Kellar, Fr. John Gordon, Abp. Sean Larkin, Matteo Calisi, Fr. Brendan Murray, and Joshua Dart. 

Don’t miss the premiere on December 18th at 10 a.m. EST!

Register today for the free livestream and learn more about the film at www.cantalamessamovie.com. A limited number of free tickets are available for the in-person premiere in Norfolk, VA at the same time. You can learn more about hosting a screening at www.cantalamessamovie.com/host. Starting on Pentecost Sunday (June 5, 2022) the film will be available for streaming on demand directly on www.cmax.tv

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