Error in Charisindia – 03
Errors about Francis MacNutt in the September 2012 issue
“CHARISINDIA is a monthly magazine, published on behalf of the National Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (NCCRS) which has been recognised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) as the principal coordinating agency of the CCR* in India.”– CHARISINDIA *Catholic Charismatic Renewal
THE REASONS FOR OUR CONTINUING THIS SERIES ON CHARISINDIA/THE CCR
1a. It has been my observation for a very long time that the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in India has been the propagator of errors and abuses especially in the liturgy of the Mass, something that, as an apologist, I now find impossible to ignore.
I admit participating in most if not all of them at one time or another for several reasons, the chief among them being ignorance; moreover, no one objected to them and almost every charismatic priest, religious and lay leader practised them.
However, circumstances — and the personal counsel of some good CCR leaders who would like to see these abuses and errors stopped — make it imperative that they be now exposed.
1b. It has been my experience — when I have pointed out these abuses and errors on certain occasions — that most “charismatics” are not very receptive to correction of any sort. Their responses have ranged from indulgence to hostility.
My pointing out that I am only repeating the teaching of the Church has not saved me from being labeled “anti-charismatic”.
It is almost as if “charismatics” are “superior” to other Catholics and have a licence to modify the rubrics of the liturgy.
No one is above the liturgy, not any priest and not any bishop. The rubrics must be followed by the Church to the letter.
Since my antecedents are not known to many who visit our web site, I proudly affirm that my spirituality is charismatic.
One of my spiritual directors, a holy and orthodox French Benedictine priest, actually finds it impossible to reconcile my “conservative” ministry with my being “charismatic”. To him it’s an oxymoron. To me, it seems a natural thing.
1c. My wife and I helped plant several prayer groups in New Delhi starting 1982 and I was a founder-member of the very first Service Team of the CCR in New Delhi. As a life member and benefactor of CHARISINDIA, a stockist of the magazine in the ‘mid 80s, and possessing back issues of CHARISINDIA almost from its inception, I have a relationship with the magazine that cannot be deterred either by criticism or by the ignoring of my letters by those who now run the magazine.
I invite the reader to read pages 2 to 4, especially the section sub-titled “Errors and excesses” on page 4 of my April 2011
CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL
The article will give the reader an idea of what to expect in this series on CHARISINDIA and the CCR in India.
In this series, I will name names. I am constrained to do so because, over the 30 years of my sojourn in the Renewal, I have seen the condition of things deteriorate, while at the same time not a single prophetic voice has been raised in protest.
My scores of letters to the senior-most leadership have either elicited unfulfilled assurances or been studiously ignored.
I must stress here on one point that I mention under point 5 on page 3 of my above-cited April 2011 article: the loyalty of too many rank and file charismatics is to their leadership instead of to the teaching authority of the Church.
If the reader dismisses my statements as generalisations, the true incidents that I will record in the articles in this series — justifying my having to name certain people — should convince him that this is not so.
2. The immediate reason for this series on CHARISINDIA/the CCR is the CHARISINDIA July 2012 issue.
A pro-contraception article authored by a Protestant was published. On learning of it, I personally contacted the CCR’s Episcopal Advisor
Most Rev. Francis Kalist, the bishop of Meerut by ‘phone and by email. He was cordial and expressed his thanks and appreciation of my initiative on the ‘phone as well as in writing*. However, all subsequent letters to the bishop have remained unanswered. Furthermore, all letters from me to
Constantine Fernandez, the publisher of CHARISINDIA, its Chief Editor
Cyril John, and to the National Charismatic Office [NCO] staff,
Gilbert Faria and
were also completely ignored by them. While I had spoken on the ‘phone to Fernandez, Faria and Shaji, Cyril John simply declined to take my many calls or call me back. Two months have passed. The August and September 2012 CHARISINDIA issues had no correction of the error. [See report CHARISINDIA ERRORS-01]
The July 2012 CHARISINDIA also carried a story on the funeral of Fr Rufus Pereira. I detected in that story what I believe to be an error:
eulogies given during the Mass.
Between July 13 and August 8, I had written four letters to the CCR’s Episcopal Advisor
Most Rev. Francis Kalist, but the Bishop terminated correspondence with me after responding to the first letter. The first three emails concerned the pro-contraception article. I reproduce the fourth letter immediately below as published in my report CHARISINDIA ERRORS-01
*My first email & the Bishop’s response are copied here.
I wrote to Bishop Francis Kalist and the CHARISINDIA/NCO team once again on January 4, 2013 in connection with errors in the January 2013 issue. Since there was no response as usual, the information is to be chronicled in my shortly to-be-published reports CHARISINDIA ERRORS-04 and CHARISINDIA ERRORS-06.
THIRD SERIOUS ERROR – IN CHARISINDIA SEPTEMBER 2012 ISSUE
Dear Bishop Francis Kalist,
It is a matter of great regret that your Lordship did not deign to respond to my letter of July 17, 2012 or to the reminder sent to you on July 24 regarding the error in the JULY 2012 issue of CHARISINDIA as well as to my letter-cum-reminder of September 17 to which I attached the completed report CHARISINDIA ERRORS-01.
Neither did you nor any member of the NCO and CHARISINDIA team respond to my email of August 8, 2012 regarding a second error [liturgical abuse at Fr Rufus’ funeral Mass in Mumbai] in the same issue [JULY 2012], see report
That was followed by my email letter to you and your team, dated January 4, 2013, concerning an error in an article in the JANUARY 2013 issue of CHARISINDIA, to which there has been no response. Therefore, that will be addressed in my report CHARISINDIA ERRORS-04. The second part of that letter pertained to some [yet again] unanswered questions that I raised concerning the November 2012 XV National Catholic Charismatic Convention in Goa. The issue will be addressed in my report CHARISINDIA ERRORS-05.
Unlike with my earlier letters of the past few months, I am not marking a copy of this letter to the CHARISINDIA publisher and NST National Chairman Constantine Fernandez [email@example.com] as he has blocked my email id after my two October 27 letters to him regarding my ban from the Convention*, with the consequence that I am unable to send my letters to any other addressee in an email that includes his email address. Kindly forward this letter to Constantine Fernandez. *Error of actual date of blocking in the original email corrected while including the letter here
As the subject line of this email letter says, there are other errors, this time in the SEPTEMBER 2012 issue of CHARISINDIA. It was brought to my attention by a very senior former NST member a few months ago as it had escaped my notice. On pages 28 and 29, the article “Healing in My Life” is credited to Fr. Francis MacNutt, both at the top of the article as well as at the end. Francis MacNutt’s name may not be prefixed with the title “Fr.” since he is not a priest anymore.
One of the popular and senior leaders of the worldwide charismatic renewal, he left the priesthood and the Dominican Order to marry Judith Sewell OUTSIDE THE CHURCH in 1980 and they established their Christian Healing Ministries the same year. That makes thirty-three years since he is not a priest.
His early ministry after marriage was in the Episcopal Church where he was welcomed [apparently no one, including his own web site, is prepared to disclose exactly where and how and by whom they were married], hence their aptly-named “Christian Healing Ministries” and not “Catholic Healing Ministries” as wrongly printed [intentionally misleading, I am obliged to presume] on page 29.
MacNutt’s website http://www.christianhealingmin.org/about/purpose-history.php
states that it is an “ecumenical” organization, hence, I again emphasise, the naming of it as “Christian Healing Ministries” and not “Catholic Healing Ministries”.
The referred web page says, “We are encouraged as we see God’s message of Healing, which the church has ignored for so long, once again recognized as an integral part of the Gospel of Christ.”
In connection with that statement, a member at Catholic Answers writes:
“I find this statement to be horribly ambiguous. What is meant by “church”? What is meant by “God’s message of Healing”? Is this “church” the “Body of Christ” that has Christ as its head? If so, how exactly does Christ ignore any integral part of His own Gospel? It would appear that there is a faulty ecclesiology at work here. I wonder if this is the typical “ecumenical movement” error of confusing the Church with the heresy of pan-Christianity. Is “God’s message of Healing” confined only to healing physical or mental ailments, or does it include the more important healing of spiritual healing (after all, our spiritual health determines how we are to spend eternity). If “God’s message of Healing” includes spiritual health, I fail to see how the Church has ignored this message. The Church has constantly held the sacraments (specifically of Penance and Reconciliation, the Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick) in high regard and as essential elements for one’s health and wellbeing (spiritual and physical). I wonder if this is the common error found in some charismatic groups that the most important healing is that found at the hands of charismatics (not the healing found through the sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ).
“I would really like some answers to these questions by someone who knows more about MacNutt and CHM.
After reading the group’s website, I’m simply not convinced that this man or his organization is in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The website certainly does not say as much, and it appears that this reticence for some reason is intentional” [http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=14579].
In that thread, there are Catholics who maintain that while MacNutt’s earlier Catholic writings are highly commendable, his later works would never find their way into their libraries. One writer found a problem with the title “The Nearly Perfect Crime: How the Church Killed the Ministry of Healing” of his latest work.
writes that MacNutt “went over to the Episcopal church after an invitation to continue his healing ministry. Not long ago I found out he had been reconciled to the Roman Catholic Church … I doubt I would ever recommend anything from Francis MacNutt.”
It was only in 1993 that he finally obtained a dispensation from the Church and regularised [“renewal and blessing”] their marriage with a church ceremony [http://www.satodayscatholic.com/Lombardi_011113.aspx, etc.]
THIRTEEN YEARS elapsed between his marriage outside the Church and his formal, official laicization. But CHARISINDIA continues to make him out to be a priest in the year 2013.
His Protestant associations — brought out clearly in the CHARISINDIA article — involve problems, if one would care to consult Catholic experts. For instance, Episcopalian Agnes Sanford, who he says was his mentor in healing, was greatly influenced by leading New Ager Carl Jung’s [see February 2003 Vatican Document on the New Age] ideas. Her later books such as “The Healing Light” were pronouncedly New Age and some of her New Age inner healing teachings and practices are copied by at least one Catholic Inner Healing ministry in India as has been personally witnessed by me.
One wonders why the editing and discernment of CHARISINDIA has deteriorated so dramatically. Senior leaders of the CCR from all over India have expressed their concern to me while sharing with me many unfortunate incidents concerning his high-handedness, and not a few believe that it is high time that Constantine Fernandez is replaced at the helm of affairs in both CHARISINDIA as well as the NST.
The Priest with Healing Hands
By J. Lee Grady, CHARISMA magazine, June 30, 2004 EXTRACT
MacNutt’s glorious days of favor and applause ended abruptly in 1980 when he did something his Catholic brethren could not accept: He married.
And to complicate the matter, he married not a Catholic but a Southern Baptist psychologist, Judith Sewell, whom he had met at a Catholic charismatic community in Clearwater, Florida.
The Catholics may have been open to a priest who spoke in tongues and healed the sick, but they certainly would not stomach one who broke his clerical celibacy vow to marry a woman young enough to be his daughter. A scandal erupted that sent shock waves all the way to the Vatican.
MacNutt remembers the pain he felt when the church rejected him. “There was a lot going against our decision [to marry],” he says. “The leaders were mostly against it. I was 54 and she was 32.
“Everyone was saying to me: ‘You can’t do this! You’ve made a vow! This will destroy the great ministry God has given you!’ One Catholic leader just cried.”
It was difficult for Judith to watch her husband suffer. “It’s a deep sadness that a person like Francis had to lose the fellowship of a church he loved so much,” she told Charisma.
Doors were slammed in MacNutt’s face from that point on. He was officially excommunicated, denied the sacraments and stripped of all clergy privilege. But the newlyweds couldn’t just stop preaching about the new life of the Holy Spirit they had discovered. So they found other places to minister.
Some Catholics were still open to their message of healing, but after the excommunication the MacNutts began to receive speaking invitations from Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Pentecostal groups. And because MacNutt’s clerical collar was gone, Protestants who might have been wary of his Catholic ways found him more acceptable.
Note: CHARISMA is a Protestant publication