APRIL 2011/MAY/JULY 2013
“Not to oppose error is to approve it, and not to defend the truth is to suppress it” – Pope St. Felix III
Note: In this report I may occasionally use bold print, Italics, or word underlining for emphasis. This will be my personal emphasis and not that of the source that I am quoting.
Are Catholic Charismatics doing the right thing following Pentecostal ways? Praying, interpretation of Scripture by laity at an assembly, prophecies, visions, anointing and especially ‘calling down of the Holy Spirit’ as if they had a handle on God. It is usually well explained that it is not a sacramental anointing and that the oil they use is not Chrism so the error is not in the use of the oil but there should not be any anointing unless given only by a priest, (although we can all bless each other with a sign of the cross on the forehead). The use of blessed oil for anointing at their gatherings is very questionable. If I remember well what a Cardinal in Rome said, “there should be no anointing except that of the sacramental anointing of the sick”. Can we even use the term Catholic Charismatic? Does the Magisterium of the Church accept this movement? What I seem to understand in the document of Pope Paul VI is that they are still investigating and it is under the direction of a Cardinal when they gather in the city of Rome someplace for their annual retreat. A Catholic parishioner is near a Pentecostal Church in the parish where this person attends and he sees many irregularities in their beliefs. Thank you for your patience and time. Blessings, Bernadette, St. Albert (suburb of Edmonton), Alberta, Canada
“Our English word ‘charism’ is from the Greek ‘charisma’, which refers to a ‘free gift’.
Charismata refer to spiritual gifts in general, or answer to prayers.
Charismata are special gifts which, as service directed to the Lord, manifest the work of God through the Holy Spirit – all for the common good of the body of believers, the Church. The gifts always point to the giver; their authentic use in the Church is a fulfillment of God’s work initiated in the Old Testament. Those belonging to the Charismatic Renewal are sometimes called Catholic Pentecostals. The word ‘charismatic’ has Greek roots and means ‘gifted’. The personal experience that charismatics share is called the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’, through which God’s Spirit renews them and fills them with grace. Some claim special gifts, such as that of healing or the ability to speak in tongues. In 1976 the American bishops gave cautious support to the movement, and Popes Paul VI and John Paul II have also given the charismatics significant support. The bishop’s caution is due to some historical problems of Protestant charismatics, who deny the authority of bishops and the value of sacraments, espousing biblical fundamentalism and group exclusiveness. In recent years the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has become characterized by a strong adherence to the Pope and a lively and biblically rooted devotion to the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother.”
Occasionally my wife and I will attend a charismatic conference or local event although we do not identify ourselves with the title of ‘charismatic’. We both have spiritual gifts that the Lord has given us and we use them. When asked if we are charismatics, we simply reply that we are Roman Catholics loyal to our pope and those bishops who are in union with him and that we have gifts from the Holy Spirit that we use when prompted to do so by the Holy Spirit.
I have been with many that call themselves Catholic charismatics who insist that one must have the gift of ‘tongues’ if one is charismatic. They then insist that one can be ‘taught’ to pray or speak in tongues. I was very uncomfortable with this because the scriptures say that we all have different gifts, not the same ones. Further, a gift is ‘freely given’ by God, it is not something that we must learn by the teachings of others. If we must learn it, it is no longer a gift!
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”
You ask if only a priest can use oil to give a blessing. There are certain sacramental anointings that can only be given by a priest, such as baptismal anointings, anointings of those being brought into the Church, the sacrament of the sick, etc. However, the Church has historically allowed the laity to used blessed oil on one another when praying for one another. This is normally done by using an oil blessed by a priest or deacon to make the sign of the cross on a person’s forehead or, occasionally, to make the sign of the cross on a part of a person where you are praying for a certain healing. Example: Your daughter has a broken ankle from a skating accident so you make the sign of the cross with blessed oil on the broken ankle.
“Oil of the saints is an oily or other liquid which has exuded from the relics of certain saints, an oil which has been poured over the relics of certain saints and collected as a sacramental, or an oil blessed in honor of a certain saint. The oil is used for anointing with prayer for the intercession of the saint and faith in God for health of the soul and body.”
“On the occasion of a feast or season of the liturgical year or in honor of Mary or other saints, it is customary in some places to celebrate a rite for the blessing of food or drink (for example, bread, water, wine, oil <my emphasis>) or of other articles that the faithful devoutly present to be blessed.”
Note: This quote from The Book of Blessings is an instruction for the priest or deacon on blessings items (which makes them sacramentals) for the laity to use and includes oil.
You asked if Catholic charismatics are correct in praying and interpreting Scripture.
I am presuming your question means if it is correct for Catholics to pray with Protestants. We should never give a different interpretation of Scripture other than what the Catholic Church has interpreted. So, if they are just sharing an interpretation as the Catholic Church has already determined, that is permissible. It is also permissible for Catholics to pray with Protestants as long as the prayers are pure. Example: If during intercessory prayers a Protestant prayed the intention that God bring the Catholics to believe that they should not follow the teachings of the pope, we cannot and must not join in that type of prayer. There is no restriction on who you pray for or over. If someone needs prayer, I pray for him or her. I don’t ask them what denomination they are, I pray for everyone. I hope that this report has answered your questions. If something needs further clarification, please ask!
This Q&A answered for Mary’s Remnant on 01/24/04 by Ronald Smith, 11701 Maplewood Road, Chardon, Ohio 44024-8482, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org*. It may be copied and given to anyone that it may help as long as it is copied in its entirety. *Ronald Smith’s current email address is
I refer to Ron Smith’s sharing:
Occasionally my wife and I will attend a charismatic conference or local event although we do not identify ourselves with the title of ‘charismatic’. We both have spiritual gifts that the Lord has given us and we use them. When asked if we are charismatics, we simply reply that we are Roman Catholics loyal to our pope and those bishops who are in union with him and that we have gifts from the Holy Spirit that we use when prompted to do so by the Holy Spirit.
Ron Smith echoes my sentiments.
My wife and I, in the second phase of the growth of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal [CCR] in New Delhi, India, planted several prayer groups across the city commencing with one in our own parish of St. Michael’s Church, Prasad Nagar in the second week of June 1982. This was initiated by us against messages received in locutions by members of the Mendonza family in Coonoor, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, occurring during family prayer [that included the Rosary, a Bible reading and hymns, from December 25, 1981, resulting in my conversion experience during my visit and ten-day stay there in May 1982.
During those ten days, my wife and I and our sons aged four and seven witnessed and experienced most of the “charismatic” gifts being “operated” in a sovereign intervention of the Holy Spirit in this family [meaning that they had no prior exposure to or association with charismatic prayer meetings.]
Several messages addressed to me were in the nature of requests from Jesus and His Blessed Mother to start a prayer group in New Delhi on my return, to tell the Bishops that the Charismatic Renewal in the Church is the work of the Holy Spirit, and an assurance that the Renewal would “grow” there.
Another assurance given to me was that one day my ministry would reach “tens of thousands”.
Three things must be noted here:
1. It was several years since I had been to Church and the Sacraments. I was a lapsed Catholic.
2. I had never handled — leave alone possessed — a Bible before in my life.
3. I had never ever heard the term “Charismatic Renewal”.
I was privileged to be a member of the first service team of the CCR in New Delhi and continued to serve it almost until I left the city. We organised the first CCR retreats, seminars, vigils and rallies.
However, after moving to Chennai, my experience with the CCR here was not in the least edifying.
In fact, a lot of what I heard and saw scandalized and confused me.
Apart from the common problems that exist in other pious associations and which — from my isolated Delhi experience — I naively expected not to encounter among charismatic leaders, what troubled me even more were the excesses that I noted, in teaching, in practice, even in the liturgy of the Holy Mass. I recall that as early as in 1982 itself, I had heard a message from Jesus through a locutionist in Coonoor lamenting the destruction by charismatic Catholics themselves of “this beautiful Renewal” – to use the words “received” from Our Lord. The locutionist wept while giving us this message.
Readers are not obliged to consider or believe any of this, as this is what is called “Private Revelation”. Neither do I base my own Faith, my Christian living or my ministry on these revelations.
The fact that I was in part-time ministry till 1992 in Delhi, and am now in full-time ministry, living by faith since 1993, is in itself a testimony to the fulfilment of the Coonoor “prophecies”.
The Charismatic Renewal is now centered in New Delhi, a possibility whose mention would have been laughed at only a few years earlier by the prayer groups and leaders of Bangalore and Mumbai which were once the National Centres of the different ministries of the Renewal, and the deep South, especially Kerala, which has produced scores of charismatic ministries over the last thirty years.
I must add that the original notebook in which scores of these messages were recorded is in my possession, and so too a couple of audio-tapes of a few hours of these messages. They have been examined by many people and a few priests over the years. Yet, as far as my ministry is concerned, I place such little emphasis on this experiential background of mine that few of even my very closest friends are aware of it and would be greatly surprised if they read what I am sharing here.
Like Ron Smith, I am not pleased to label myself a “charismatic” for the reasons mentioned above [and a few others which I have not mentioned here but which I write about in the contexts of my different articles and reports]. Responding to enquiries, I reply that my spirituality is charismatic, but at the same time it is my belief that there are other unique spiritualities too in the Church.
Some of my main problems with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in India [and I am generalizing on its leaders here, not the humble and sincere majority in the rank and file membership] are:
There are very few speakers who cannot be replaced by another; there is almost no one with a unique ministry, no one who speaks on any one of a myriad of subjects that today’s Catholic needs to hear.
2. Power-mongering and nepotism:
Charges that are self-evident if one looks at the constituted service teams, charges leveled by some leaders themselves. Many good and gifted leaders have left the Renewal in disgust, a few the Church.
There are other charges that some of the elections are “rigged” [influenced]. I experienced one such in Delhi when a National Chairman, a priest, flew over to oversee an election of the Service Team.
3. A spirit of compromise:
The CCR exists and functions at the pleasure of the Bishops; hence any issue that might ruffle episcopal feathers is carefully avoided. [Example: even an international seminar — by exorcists — on EXORCISM and Deliverance had to be called a Seminar on HEALING and Deliverance.]
4. Absence of a prophetic spirit:
Senior Renewal leaders [including priests] who write to me privately lament the errors being printed in Catholic literature, taught in the seminaries, encouraged by the dioceses, institutionalized in the Church, and even practiced and promoted by prominent Renewal leaders [again, including priests], but they do nothing about it, even co-hosting programmes with offenders.
I have had several cases reported to me of those being removed who challenged the status quo.
5. An inordinate pursuance of the phenomenal gifts:
Healing conventions, programmes led by priests or lay persons known to exercise the gifts of visions, prophecy, the Word of Knowledge, deliverance, “slaying in the spirit”, etc. draw crowds. Relatively serious themes like apologetics, New Age, studies of Vatican Documents/Scripture and mundane issues related to growth in holiness are fairly non-existent or elicit a much less enthusiastic response.
As a combination of all the above, the leaders have no incentive to learn anything new or different.
They can hardly think or act outside the box — the articles written by Indians in at least a dozen charismatic publications are proof of this; they still need to reprint articles from a decade or two old U.S. charismatic magazines — because they don’t need to. The faith of the common charismatic Catholic is often based on emotional experience and unquestioning loyalty to the teachings of his group leader. They are quite content with the sense of security from being accepted in their charismatic circles and with the milk that they are fed instead of a gradual progression to solid food.
With the collapse of any of their securities, charismatics drop out of the Renewal or leave the Church.
I can list several former regional chairmen who simply “vanished” after their elected terms were over.
6. Errors and excesses:
Example: “Smoking and drinking of alcohol is a mortal sin.” Nowhere does the Church teach that*.
Example: Regional and national-level leaders and preachers have been or are into New Age.
Example: Some who are closet Pentecostals or who reject Marian or other doctrines or who teach erroneous doctrines like “Word Faith theology” are encouraged to minister in the Renewal.
Example: Use of the “Om” mantra in bhajans. Check out the Praise the Lord CCR official hymnal.
Example: The faithful adopting the “Orans” posture a la the celebrant during the Our Father, the priest leaving the altar/sanctuary during the “exchange of peace”, singing at the elevation, self-intinction, “praying/singing in tongues” during the Liturgy, congregation joining in singing the Doxology, felicitations and applause, etc. The list is far from exhaustive. Occurrences of the above — and many others — are documented in different articles and reports on this ministry’s web site.
The CCR has to a great extent become one more pious activity in the Church, an end unto itself.
I would like to assert once again that I am not indulging in charismatic-bashing or in condemning the Catholic Charismatic Renewal; I reiterate that my spirituality is very much charismatic.
I write as one who would like to see, as it were, a new Pentecost in the Charismatic Renewal, or as my mentor, the late charismatic priest Fr. Francis Rebello SJ prayed for, “a renewal of the Renewal”.
799 Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.
800 Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.(1 Corinthians 13)
801 It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. “Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,” (LG 12; 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 19-21) so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together “for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)
2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning “favor,” “gratuitous gift,” “benefit.” Whatever their character—sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues—charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church. (1 Corinthians 12)
1. What Do The Pope and The Bishops Think of the Charismatic Renewal?
From the Diocese of Orlando Catholic Charismatic Renewal Center
The pope and bishops who gathered at Vatican Council II (1961-65) laid a foundation upon which this most recent charismatic renewal is built. It is there that we find Pope John XXIII’s prayer for a new Pentecost: Renew your wonders in our time, as though for a new Pentecost, and grant that the holy Church, preserving unanimous and continuous prayer, together with Mary the Mother of Jesus, and also under the guidance of Saint Peter, may increase the reign of the Divine Savior, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen.
Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church points to the presence of charisms in movements like the charismatic renewal when it says, [The Holy Spirit] distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts He makes them able and ready to undertake the various tasks or offices advantageous for the renewal and upbuilding of the Church… These charismatic gifts, whether they be the most outstanding or the more simple and widely defused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation, for they are exceedingly suitable and useful for the needs of the Church (No. 13).
In the United States the American Catholic Bishops have issued several statements. The Bishops Committee on Doctrine wrote in 1969 that theologically the movement has legitimate reasons of existence. It has a strong biblical basis. It would be difficult to inhibit the working of the Spirit which manifested itself so abundantly in the early Church.
In 1975 the American bishops published another statement that quoted scriptural directives: To the members of the movement, then, to pastors and to all the faithful in Christ, we commend the words of Scripture which we take as our own guiding light: Do not stifle the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test everything; retain what is good. Avoid any semblance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). We encourage those who already belong and we support the positive and desirable directions of the charismatic renewal.
The Bishops Ad Hoc Liaison Committee with the renewal issued still another Pastoral Statement on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in 1984. We especially rejoice in the efforts to foster the pursuit of holiness, to encourage Catholics to a fuller participation in the Mass and the sacraments, to develop ministries to serve the parish and local Church, to foster ecumenical bonds of unity with other
When ten thousand Catholic charismatics from countries all over the world gathered for the ninth international conference on the renewal in 1975, Pope Paul VI greeted them with these words: The Church and the world need more than ever that the miracle of Pentecost should continue in history…. Nothing is more necessary to this increasingly secularized world than the witness of this spiritual renewal that we see the Holy Spirit evoking…. How could this spiritual renewal not be good fortune for the Church and the world?
Pope Paul VI had also appointed Cardinal Leon-Joseph Suenens of Belgium as a guide to the worldwide charismatic renewal. Years later, when Cardinal Suenens retired, Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Paul Cordes of the Pontifical Council for the Laity to this position.
Pope John Paul II has continuously recognized the importance of the charismatic renewal. In 1979, he spoke to the council of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service meeting in Rome: I am convinced that this movement is a sign of the Spirit’s action.., a very important component in the total renewal of the Church.
Bishop Paul Cordes addressed the silver anniversary conference on the Catholic charismatic renewal, on behalf of the Vatican, at Pittsburgh in 1992. His talk, The Call to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal from the Church Universal, issued two challenges to participants. The first challenge was to foster the renewal of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist): The Charismatic Renewal has a great contribution to make in the years ahead to the proper understanding and renewal of the sacraments of Christian Initiation so that all God’s people may one day experience a greater fullness of life in Christ by being as you call it, Baptized in the Holy Spirit.
The second challenge was to embrace the Church’s mission of evangelization to both de-Christianized and unevangelized areas of the world: This re-evangelization and new missionary endeavor cannot take place without a renewed fervor of love for Christ, worship of the Father in Spirit and truth, and empowerment by the Holy Spirit such as the Charismatic Renewal has helped so many millions to live.
Quoting Pope John Paul II, he continued: The Charismatic Renewal can play a significant role in promoting the much needed defense of Christian life in societies where secularism and materialism have weakened many people’s ability to respond to the Spirit and to discern God’s loving call. Your contribution to the re-evangelization of society will be made in the First place by personal witness to the indwelling Spirit and by showing forth His presence through works of holiness and solidarity.
2. Pope John Paul II on the Charismatic Movement
From the very beginning of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have considered the movement as a great spiritual resource for the church… Within the Charismatic Renewal, the Catholic fraternity has a specific mission, recognized by the Holy See. One of the objectives stated in your statutes is to safeguard the Catholic identity of the charismatic communities and to encourage them always to maintain a close link with the Bishops and the Roman Pontiff. To help people to have a strong sense of their membership in the Church is especially important in times such as ours, when confusion and relativism abound.
From his June 1, 1998 meeting with the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships at the Vatican as reported in L’Osservatore Romano, English Edition
IS BEING “SLAIN IN THE SPIRIT” ONE OF THE CHARISMATIC GIFTS?
1. Examining the Controversy Surrounding “Resting in the Spirit”
March 9, 2011, Johnette Benkovic, Women of Grace
MN asks: I recently attended a Healing Mass where we were told that ‘because of the Holy Spirit,’ some of us might fall over while being prayed over, but that there would be a ‘catcher’ behind us to make sure we didn’t get hurt. This did indeed happen. People ‘went over’ and were gently laid on the floor until they ‘woke up.’ The priest explained that this does not happen to everyone and if it doesn’t happen we are no less filled with the Spirit. Later, I researched the idea of resting in the Spirit on the internet and found differing opinions on this phenomenon. Could you blog about this?
This is an excellent question!
The phenomenon that MN is describing is referred to in the Charismatic Renewal as “resting in the Spirit” or “slain in the Spirit” and is as controversial as it is common.
When I was a regular part of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, this occurred at every healing mass I attended and I was one of those people who would “go over” at the drop of a hat.
Some charismatics believe that this “falling over” is a manifestation of the healing work of the Holy Spirit in an individual. Today, the practice is generally associated with Pentecostals and Catholic Charismatics, but it is not a new phenomenon. It was very much present in the 18th century revivals in New England, and appeared in the Great Revival that sprang up in Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1801. These prayer meetings were known to attract up to 15,000 people who experienced manifestations from resting in the spirit to barking like dogs, shaking, howling, and slipping into catatonic death-like states.
Some believe that physical manifestations such as “resting in the Spirit” are signs that the Church is returning to the apostolic age when the gifts of the Holy Spirit described in 1 Corinthians 12 were common in Christian faith communities. These gifts include speaking in tongues, discernment of spirits, prophecy, healing and the working of miracles – all of which are a regular part of any charismatic gathering.
Being “slain in the Spirit” is not part of this list, although there are some who argue that this phenomenon manifested itself in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus said “I am he” and the Roman guards fell to the ground (John 18: 4-6). However, others argue that this Scripture has no bearing on the modern manifestation of being “slain in the Spirit” because the latter typically occurs when a priest or minister lays hands on a person in prayer. They have a point. There is no biblical precedence for people falling down when being prayed over. The closest we have to this would be several occasions in the Old and New Testament where people fell over as a result of being overwhelmed by the presence of God (see 1 Kings 8:10-11, Daniel 8:27, Acts 9:3-4; Acts 26:14, Revelation 1:17).
The criticism about “resting in the Spirit” that carries the most weight is that of the late Leon-Joseph Cardinal Suenens (1904-1996). Suenens was a champion of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and the man believed to have been responsible for convincing Pope Paul VI in 1975 to give the Church’s approval to the Charismatic Renewal. Cardinal Suenens wrote many books on the subject, one of which was entitled, Resting in the Spirit: A Controversial Phenomenon.
In this book, the Cardinal examines the phenomenon, then analyzes the historical background and theoretical arguments in defense of its authenticity. He ultimately concludes that “resting in the spirit” is not a manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit and that “it threatens the authenticity and credibility of the Charismatic Renewal”. Card. Suenens agreed with other charismatic leaders that it was more properly referred to as the “falling phenomenon” rather than “resting in the spirit” and said it is “most important” that this phenomenon be excluded from liturgical celebrations and that churches should not invite ministers whose prayer or teaching is associated with it.
If “going over” is not associated with the Holy Spirit, then what causes it? Generally, it is believed to be a psychological response rather than a spiritual one.
Father Richard Bain was one of those priests whose healing Masses featured the phenomenon. “For several years the phenomenon of falling occurred when I prayed with people for healing”, he writes on his website. “I thought I had a special gift. There were times when as many as 90 percent of the people that I prayed over fell on the ground. Some people would fall even before I touched them or even before they knew I was there. Some people fell when I simply walked by them, some fell while I was reading the gospel, and some fell when I sprinkled Holy Water on them.”
For a long time, he believed these people were falling over due to the action of the Holy Spirit, but then he decided to do some reading up on the matter, which is when he discovered Cardinal Suenens’ views. His studies also revealed that David du Plessis, the man who represented the Pentecostal Churches at Vatican II, shared the Cardinal’s concern. Du Plessis openly warned Catholics not to make the same mistake as Pentecostals by allowing this “falling phenomenon” into their churches, saying it would bring them nothing but trouble.
Father Bain responded to this information by taking steps to eliminate all the elements that were believed to create a psychological environment for the phenomenon to occur – such as having “catchers” at the ready and not talking about “resting in the spirit” before the healing service began. He conducted packed healing Masses for three nights, with up to 1,200 people receiving blessings, and not a single person fell.
In one Mass where he knew people accustomed to “resting in the Spirit” were present, he announced that there would be “no catchers” so the people would have to protect their own heads if they fell. Guess what happened? Not one person fell. At first, the number of people attending his Masses dropped, and many people urged him to put “resting in the Spirit” back into the service, but he refused because by that time, he was convinced that it was a deception. Soon, attendance began to increase until it was larger than before!
“The best result of eliminating the phenomenon, however, was that the Masses became much more prayerful. No longer were people being distracted either by hoping to go over, worrying that they would, or counting which priest was putting more people on the floor.” Fr. Bain, like many others, thinks the “falling phenomenon” can sometimes can be attributed to the action of the Holy Spirit, but believes this to be very rare with the majority of these manifestations being purely psychological in nature.
For those of you who have experienced the “falling phenomenon,” I could find no evidence of any kind of residual danger or “fall out” (no pun intended) from these episodes. If anyone knows of any, please contact me at email@example.com.
2. THE US CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC CENTER WEB SITE
Problems people claim to have with the Renewal
FAQ The person questions people being “slain in the Spirit” as never having been found in the writings of saints.
A: St. Ignatius was hauled before the Inquisition at one point and accused of causing women who heard his preaching to faint. So many were being “slain in the Spirit” at hearing his preaching on the streets in Spain that the authorities were concerned.
ERRORS OF CHARISMATICS
Alan Shreck, in “Catholic and Christian” (Servant, 1984) says on p. 11, in a quote from “Kilian McDonnell, O.S.B.”, “Indeed the historical churches, Catholic and Protestant, owe a debt to classical Pentecostals for witnessing to the role of the spirit and his gifts.” This is said to be necessary for the “full gospel”.
COMMENTS: Kilian McDonnell, on p. 1 is called “leading Catholic ecumenist.” He is also a leading Charismatic – one of the editors of “Fanning the Flame,” Liturgical Press, 1991. Both that booklet and Schreck’s work are striving hard to convince all that charismatic things are needed for the “full gospel.” They seem to say that charismatic phenomena are merely the actualization of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, received at Baptism. We need some distinctions here: In the broad sense, all graces are gifts from the Holy Spirit. But there are two major categories:
(1) sanctifying graces – these are aimed at the sanctification of the recipient. The term Gifts of the Holy Spirit normally refers to these;
(2) charismatic graces- these are aimed at some benefit for the community, not directly for the sanctification of the recipient. Here are such things as tongues, praying in tongues, healing the sick.
The kind of phenomena we see at charismatic meetings definitely belong to the charismatic category – no sign of the sanctifying features regularly called effects of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Surely, no instances of infused contemplation being given en masse – it never is so given – nor routinely. The phenomena are tongues, praying in tongues, healing etc.
These are very definitely part of the charismatic category, not the sanctifying category. So they are not an actual-ization of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, which belong to the sanctifying category. Schreck has jumped categories.
Further, the mass phenomena of praying in tongues does not readily fit with St. Paul’s injunctions in 1 Corinthians 14: 27-28 where Paul specifies that no more than two should speak in tongues, and then only one at time, and only if there is someone to interpret. The rule is wise – there are cases where persons who knew the needed languages went to a charismatic gathering – they found some did praise God well, while others cursed Him. And letting many at a time speak in tongues hardly fits with St. Paul. Yes, I know they say that there is difference between praying in tongues and speaking in tongues. The distinction is probably not important. As we said above, there have been cases where charismatics have been cursing God, without knowing what they were doing.
So the thrust to at least imply all Catholics should be charismatic is invalid. The booklet, “Fanning the Flame,” cites a few Patristic texts to try to prove the same thing – that we have been neglecting things needed for the “full gospel”. (We will return to these texts presently). But the texts are insufficient, because few, and not always clear. As we said, there are two kinds of charismatic graces – the ordinary and the extraordinary. The latter are such things as tongues, healing the sick, and prophecy. But the ordinary are given to everyone, such as the grace to be a good parent, a good teacher, a good speaker etc. Schreck and “Fanning the Flame” seem to mean the extraordinary type. Something frightening: Our Lord Himself warned (Mt 7. 22-23) that on the last day He will reject many who worked miracles: “Many will say to me on that day: ‘Have we not prophesied in your name, and cast out devils in your name, and done mighty works in your name’ – and then I will confess to them: ‘Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you. ‘” So those with extraordinary gifts may not even be in the state of grace – much less having the actualization of sanctifying graces!
Vatican II, “Lumen gentium” 13 said: “These charisms, whether the most brilliant or even the more simply and widely diffused, since they are well accommodated to the needs of the Church, are to be received with thanks and consolation. However, the extraordinary ones are not to be rashly sought, nor should fruits of apostolic works be presumptuously expected of them.” Such things as tongues, healing, miracles etc. are extraordinary. The Council said they are not to be rashly sought – which is very different from saying all Catholics must have them or they will lack something needed for the “full gospel”.
As to the Patristic texts, as we said, they are few. Fairly clear are those of Tertullian, St. Hilary, St. Cyril of Jerusalem. But the booklet admits on p. 18 that: “Both Basil of Caesarea . . . and Gregory Nazianzus . . . situate the prophetic charisms within the Christian initiation, though they are more reserved in their regard than Paul.” No quotes are given. Then we see a remarkable admission on St. John Chrysostom, quoted on the same page, “Chrysostom complained, however ‘the charisms are long gone.'” St. Augustine, in “City of God” (21.5), has to argue strongly that miracles are possible, against those in his day who denied the possibility. He says that if they want to say the Apostles converted the world without any miracles – that would be a great miracle.
If there were miraculous gifts commonly around, Augustine would have merely pointed to them. But he did not.
As to a debt to classical Pentecostals – in the first decade of this century a group of Protestants claimed to have miraculous charisms in abundance. The main Protestant churches did not receive them well, so they did the usual Protestant thing, they established splinter churches, such as the Holy Rollers. More recently, perhaps 20 years ago, a group of Catholics, precisely by contact with the Protestant Pentecostals, began to claim abundant gifts again. These gifts were routine in the day of St. Paul – but they faded by the middle of the next century, when the heretical Montanists claimed to have them in profusion. And that was the pattern throughout the ages. Thus the Albigensians claimed them again.
No Need to Fear Charismatic Renewal, Says Papal Household Preacher – Interview with Father Raniero Cantalamessa
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, September 26, 2003 (Zenit.org) Baptism in the Spirit makes the Catholic Charismatic Renewal a formidable means willed by God to revitalize Christian life, says the preacher of the Papal Household.
Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa made that point Thursday as a gathering of more than 1,000 delegates of Catholic Charismatic Renewal from 73 countries drew to a close.
The delegates had gathered for a spiritual retreat and to reflect on holiness in light of John Paul II’s apostolic letter “Novo Millennio Ineunte.” Father Cantalamessa was the retreat master.
Taking into account Protestant, evangelical and Pentecostal denominations, and some members of the Orthodox Church, it is estimated that 600 million Christians have had the charismatic experience. Given his knowledge of the “charismatic” experience, ZENIT interviewed Father Cantalamessa just before the conclusion of the meeting.
Q: There are those in the Church who think that “baptism in the Spirit” is an invention of the charismatics, and that a name has been given to an experience that is not “catalogued” in the Church. Could you explain, from your own experience, what baptism in the Spirit is?
Father Cantalamessa: Baptism in the Spirit is not a human invention; it is a divine invention. It is a renewal of baptism and of the whole of Christian life, of all the sacraments.
For me, it was also a renewal of my religious profession, of my confirmation, and of my priestly ordination. The whole spiritual organism is revived as when wind blows on a flame. Why has the Lord decided to act at this time in such a strong way? We don’t know. It is the grace of a new Pentecost.
It is not about Charismatic Renewal inventing baptism in the Spirit. In fact, many have received baptism in the Spirit without knowing anything about Charismatic Renewal. It is a grace; it depends on the Holy Spirit. It is a coming of the Holy Spirit which is manifested in repentance of sins, in seeing life in a new way, which reveals Jesus as the living Lord — not as a personage of the past — and the Bible becomes a living word. The fact is, this cannot be explained.
There is a revelation with baptism, because the Lord says that whoever believes will be baptized and saved. We received baptism as children and the Church pronounced our act of faith, but the time comes when we must ratify what happened at baptism. This is an occasion to do so, not as a personal effort, but under the action of the Holy Spirit.
One cannot say that hundreds of millions of people are in error. In his book on the Holy Spirit, Yves Congar, that great theologian who did not belong to Charismatic Renewal, said that, in fact, this experience has changed profoundly the lives of many Christians. And it is a fact. It has changed them and initiated paths of holiness.
Q: How do you carry out your ministry as Papal Household preacher given your experience in Charismatic Renewal?
Father Cantalamessa: For me, everything that has happened since 1977 is the fruit of my baptism in the Spirit. I was a university professor. I was dedicated to scientific research in the history of Christian origins. And when I accepted this experience, not without resistance, I then had the call to leave it all and be available for preaching.
My appointment as Papal Household preacher also came after I experienced this “resurrection.” I see it as a great grace. After my religious vocation, Charismatic Renewal has been the most marked grace in my life.
Q: From your point of view, do the members of Charismatic Renewal have a specific vocation in the Church?
Father Cantalamessa: Yes and no. Charismatic Renewal, it must be said and repeated, is not an ecclesial movement. It is a current of grace that is meant to transform the Church — preaching, the liturgy, personal prayer, Christian life.
So it is not a spirituality as such. The movements have a spirituality and emphasize a particular aspect, for example, charity. First of all, Charismatic Renewal does not have a founder. No one thinks of attributing a founder to Charismatic Renewal because it is something that started in many places in different ways. And it does not have a spirituality; it is Christian life lived in the Spirit.
However, it can be said that as the people who have lived this experience are, socially, a reality — they are people who do certain gestures, pray in a certain way — then a social reality can be identified whose role is simply to be available so that others can have the same experience, and then disappear. Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens, who was the great protector and supporter of Charismatic Renewal in its beginnings, said that the final destiny of Charismatic Renewal might be to disappear when this current of grace has spread throughout the Church.
Q: As you are about to finish preaching a retreat attended by 1,000 Charismatic delegates from all over the world, what message would you like to give believers who do not know the Renewal?
Father Cantalamessa: I want to say to the faithful, to bishops, to priests, not to be afraid. I don’t know why there is fear. Perhaps, in some measure, because this experience began in other Christian confessions, such as Pentecostals and Protestants. However, the Pope is not afraid. He has spoken of the ecclesial movements, and also of Charismatic Renewal, as signs of a new springtime of the Church, and he often stresses the importance of this. And Paul VI said it was an opportunity for the Church.
There is no need for fear. There are episcopal conferences, for example in Latin America — this is true of Brazil — where the hierarchy has discovered that Charismatic Renewal is not a problem. It is part of the solution to the problem of Catholics who have left the Church because they don’t find in it a living word, a lived Bible, the possibility of expressing the faith in a joyful manner, in a free way, and Charismatic Renewal is a formidable means that the Lord has given the Church so that one can live an experience of the Spirit, Pentecostal, in the Catholic Church, without the need to leave the Church. Nor should Charismatic Renewal be regarded as an “island” where some emotional people get together. It is not an island. It is a grace meant for all the baptized. The external signs can be different, but in its essence, it is an experience meant for all the baptized. [ZE03092610]
Benedict XVI Signals Support for Ecclesial Movements
“With Paternal Affection,” Says Cardinal in
Message to Charismatic Gathering
VATICAN CITY, April 26, 2005 (Zenit.org) Benedict XVI will continue to guide “with paternal affection” the ecclesial movements, associations and communities, which were nurtured by Pope John Paul II, says the Vatican’s secretary of state. Cardinal Angelo Sodano confirmed the new Pope’s intentions in a message sent Friday to the national congress of Renewal in the Spirit, which gathered 25,000 people in Rimini, Italy. That event ended Monday. The letter, signed by Cardinal Sodano, included the Holy Father’s apostolic blessing. The document expressed the Pope’s satisfaction to send, “at the start of the ministry of the Successor of Peter,” “a special thought” to all those gathered in Rimini for the occasion: bishops, priests who assist the movement’s groups, and numerous faithful from Italy and abroad.
“The beloved and venerated John Paul II, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit as he was, guided with great care the path of the ecclesial movements, associations and communities,” said Cardinal Sodano in his letter.
“With paternal affection, His Holiness [Benedict XVI] wishes to continue this service, so that the gifts that the Lord dispenses to his Church will be fully appreciated and oriented in the best way for the building of the Body of Christ which is the Church,” the Vatican secretary of state said.
Benedict XVI assured the meeting “of a special remembrance in prayer, invoking the heavenly intercession of Mary Most Holy” so that, “as [in] the first community gathered in the Cenacle,” she will preside spiritually over the “assiduous and harmonious” prayer of the participants, “obtaining a renewed effusion of the Paraclete,” the letter said. With a strong call to unity, in remembrance of John Paul II, and with his thoughts focused on Benedict XVI, Salvatore Martinez, Renewal’s national coordinator, closed the meeting on Monday. “Benedict XVI tells the truth: The Church is alive!” he said, recalling the Pope’s words on the eve of the solemn Mass for the inauguration of his pontificate. Renewal “will never cease to cry out with the Pope that the Church is alive because it is inhabited by Jesus Christ alive and animated by the Holy Spirit,” Martinez added.
In Italy, more than 200,000 people in 1,800 communities and prayer groups share the spirituality of Renewal in the Spirit, an expression of the Catholic charismatic movement. More than 100 million Catholics share the charismatic experience worldwide. The movement has a council, the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services that is recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Benedict XVI Meets “Renewal” Representative
Charismatic Movement Set to Celebrate 29th National Meeting
VATICAN CITY, February 26, 2006 (Zenit.org) Benedict XVI received in audience the coordinator of Renewal in the Holy Spirit, an ecclesial movement in Italy that forms part of the greater Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Salvatore Martinez revealed that Father Giovanni Alberti, a member of Renewal’s national service committee, also attended the 20-minute audience on Saturday.
During the meeting, Martinez presented to the Holy Father the program for the 29th national convocation of the movement, to be held April 22-25 in Rimini, Italy. The Rimini meeting will be attended by, among others, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the approval of the statutes of Renewal in the Spirit, and by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Pontifical Household preacher. Martinez said the presentation of the meeting’s program enabled him to “comment on the journey of ‘ecclesial maturity’ intensely undertaken by the Renewal, … supported by an appropriate formation.” “As my explanation advanced, the Pope repeated on several occasions: ‘This is very important’; ‘this vision is truly interesting,'” added Martinez.
During the conversation, mention was also made of “the parishes, of collaboration with the bishops,” and of the priestly vocations that have arisen in the Renewal.
Another subject addressed was the conference held last October in Lucca, Italy, on “20th Century Witnesses of the Spirit.” That event brought together founders and officials of movements and ecclesial communities, as well as contemporary witnesses of Christianity. The meeting also served to plan the gathering of movements and ecclesial communities called by Benedict XVI for Pentecost. Renewal in the Spirit is made up of tens of thousands of faithful who are part of the 1,900 groups and communities established in each of the country’s dioceses.
Charismatic Renewal Turning 40
Thousands to Mark Anniversary and Join Vigil of Pentecost
ROME, May 7, 2006 (Zenit.org) More than 10,000 members of communities of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal will observe the vigil of Pentecost with Benedict XVI. The celebration, organized in conjunction with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, coincides with the 40th anniversary of the renewal, and is one of a series of events organized by the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS). According to Oreste Pesare, director of the ICCRS office in the Vatican, the events “will certainly make the imminent celebration of Pentecost richer and more fruitful.” Communities of the renewal will also participate in the Mass on Pentecost Sunday in the Vatican, presided over by the Pope. Afterward, renewal members will gather in Marino, 14 miles from Rome, “to celebrate the Holy Spirit together in a special way. We are expecting some 10,000 participants,” added Pesare. “The meeting will be entitled ‘My Soul Magnifies the Lord,’ and will give glory to God for the work carried out every day in each of the faithful through the Holy Spirit, explained the ICCRS director.
“The Holy Spirit, considered until a few years ago as the ‘unknown God,’ is the one who, with his grace, tirelessly changes the lives of thousands of people in all corners of the world, who with renewed joy, through the experience of ‘baptism in the Spirit,’ begin a new life lived, precisely, in the Holy Spirit,” Pesare told ZENIT. “He is the one we wish to honor and glorify publicly, responding to the appeal that both John Paul II as well as Benedict XVI made to CCR and the whole Church: to spread the ‘culture of Pentecost’ and the action of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and in each of the faithful,” the director added. “This celebration, which will include moments of prayer, listening, witness and invocation of the Spirit, will end with a celebration of prayer, a music concert and dance which will be presented as prayer by artists of different countries … and all to give glory to the Holy Spirit and to thank him for all he does every day in our lives,” explained Pesare. Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Pontifical Household preacher, and Father Tom Forrest, one of the initiators of the charismatic experience in the Catholic Church, will speak on grace and the power of the Holy Spirit during the celebration in Marino.
From June 5-9 an international open conference entitled “Charismatic Renewal: Yesterday and Today and Tomorrow” will be held in Fiuggi, Italy, and will be attended by more than 1,000 delegates from some 70 countries. A special congress for 300 leaders in the charismatic movement entitled “Maturing in the Spirit” will also be held in Fiuggi, from June 9-11. Optional pilgrimages to Assisi or San Giovanni Rotondo will also be offered. During this congress the “ICCRS hopes to hear the Lord in prayer, seeking his vision and plans for CCR in the world, in the third millennium ahead of us,” said Pesare. In anticipation of the events, Pesare said “a campaign of prayer and Eucharistic adoration has been launched at the international level on the Internet as spiritual preparation for this intense time.”
Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services
Promotes a Personal Experience of Pentecost
VATICAN CITY, May 26, 2006 (Zenit.org) Here is the description of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, which appears in the Directory of International Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Official name: International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services
Acronym: ICCRS Established: 1978
History: The origins of ICCRS go back to 1970 when an International Communications Office (ICO) began operating at Ann Arbor, Michigan, to keep contact between the various prayer groups that had emerged from the personal experience of Pentecost, known as the “new outpouring of the Spirit” or the “baptism of the Spirit,” and to provide information on the nascent movement.
In 1973, ICO began the annual publication of the Directory of Catholic Prayer Groups, giving the addresses of all the existing prayer groups. In 1977, a consultation was held for 110 people representing 60 countries, at which it was decided to set up an international committee to supervise the work performed by the office.
In 1978, the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Offices (ICCRO) was founded, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. There were nine members from Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Oceania, together with the archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Cardinal Leo Suenens, as the spiritual assistant. In order to develop relations with the Holy See, in 1980, ICCRO moved its offices to Rome. Having adopted its present name, on Sept. 14, 1993, Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services was recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity as an association of pontifical right, for the purpose of promoting Catholic Charismatic Renewal which is present worldwide.
Identity: ICCRS is the main coordination and service structure of Catholic Charismatic Renewal. It performs its mission of promoting renewal in the world by nurturing in its members their commitment to be faithful to the Catholic Church at both personal and group levels; acting as a center of unity, communication and collaboration between the prayer groups and the communities present in every continent; financially supporting the renewal centers in the developing countries and local initiatives and national and international youth meetings; and organizing world congresses and conferences for renewal leaders. Organization: ICCRS is governed by the council, which comprises the president, a vice president and 12 councilors representing different areas of Catholic Charismatic Renewal and the geographic areas in which it has been established. In the performance of its functions, the council is accompanied by a bishop as its spiritual assistant (episcopal adviser).
The decisions adopted by the council are implemented by an office, headed by an executive director, responsible for administration, working under the supervision of the president, and according to the instructions issued.
Membership: ICCRS is in contact with charismatic groups in 165 countries worldwide.
Publications: ICCRS Newsletter published bimonthly in Italian, French, English, Portuguese, Spanish and German.
Headquarters: International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services Palazzo della Cancelleria 00120 Città del Vaticano Tel. (39) 06.6988.7538/06.6988.7565 – Fax 06.6988.7530 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Father Cantalamessa on Charismatic Renewal
Pontifical Household Preacher Recounts Personal Experience
ROME, June 14, 2006 (Zenit.org) The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is “a joyful experience of God’s grace,” said Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Pontifical Household. Father Cantalamessa expressed this conviction on Pentecost at a gathering of more than 7,000 members of the CCR attending a meeting entitled “My Soul Magnifies the Lord.”
Interviewed by ZENIT during the meeting, Father Cantalamessa recounted his personal experience in the CCR.
Q: In John’s Gospel, Jesus answers Nicodemus’ question affirming that the Spirit “blows where it wills.” In your judgment, is it possible to interpret in what direction the Holy Spirit is blowing in his continuous irruption in history?
Father Cantalamessa: In the homily of the vigil of Pentecost, the Pope said something very beautiful when commenting on these words of John’s Gospel. He did say that the Spirit “blows where he wills,” but he clarified that he never blows in a disordered, contradictory way. Therefore, we have behind us the whole tradition of the Church, the doctrine of the doctors, the teaching of the Church to discern which charisms are valid and which are not. It might be that at the beginning some charisms make much noise, attract more attention, but that later, over time, reveal themselves instead to be unfounded.
The Church is like water: It receives all bodies, but the true, solid ones it engulfs, whereas it leaves the others on the surface. Empty charisms, which have only exterior manifestation, remain outside the Church.
Q: In the present context, do you believe that the ecclesial movements are called to a renewed evangelizing impulse, to be in the vanguard of the ecumenical dialogue, or to combat secularization or the crisis of families? What contribution can they make to the Church?
Father Cantalamessa: I am convinced, as the Pope has said he is convinced, that the movements are a grace for the Church of today. An appropriate answer to today’s world, to the secularized world and to a world that priests and the hierarchy can no longer reach and which, consequently, needs the laity. These lay movements are integrated in society; they live with others. I think, therefore, that they have an extraordinary task that, thank God, is not a utopia for the future, but something we are experiencing before our eyes.
The ecclesial movements are in the vanguard of evangelization, in the works of charity, in addition to animating a wide range of activities. These movements give Christians a new motivation and enable them to rediscover the beauty of Christian life and, consequently, dispose them to take on tasks of evangelization, of pastoral animation of the Church.
Q: Briefly, how did you come to the Renewal?
Father Cantalamessa: I did not come to it. Someone took me to it. When I prayed with the psalms, they seemed written for me from before. Then, when from Convent Station in New Jersey, I went to the monastery of the Capuchins in Washington, I felt attracted to the Church as by a magnet and this was a discovery of prayer — and it was a Trinitarian prayer. The Father seemed impatient to speak to me of Jesus and Jesus wanted to reveal the Father to me. I think the Lord made me accept, after much resistance, the effusion, the baptism in the Spirit, and then many things happened over time.
Q: Given the many and diverse ecclesial movements, what is the special contribution that Catholic Charismatic Renewal can make to the Church?
Father Cantalamessa: In a certain sense, they are very humble and discreet. We have no power, or great structures or founders, but Catholic Charismatic Renewal is the movement that, for example, among all the ecclesial movements, is the most interested in theology. In Charismatic Renewal there is, in fact, a question on the Holy Spirit.
In fact, all the important treatises of theologians on the Holy Spirit speak of the Renewal because it is not simply one more spirituality among others, but it is a new rising of an original Christianity which was that of the apostles.
And I think that its objective is not so much to relate to a particular sector as it to animate the Church. The Renewal should not lead to the establishment of groups, churches. How terrible it would be if it was so! It should be, as Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens said, a current of grace that is lost in the mass of the Church.
Maturing in the Spirit
One of the new ecclesial entities that came to Rome for the vigil-of-Pentecost meeting with Benedict XVI used the opportunity to discuss a key question: Where to go from here?
Back in 1967, a group of students and teachers at Duquesne University, in Pennsylvania, gathered together with the aim of opening up their hearts more fully to the Holy Spirit. Since then, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has touched 120 million people. One of the CCR leaders who came to Rome recently was Patty Mansfield, an original attendee at the 1967 gathering. Mansfield told me how encouraged she felt witnessing the lives that have entered into a deeper relationship with Christ via the Charismatic Renewal. “And here we are today,” Mansfield said, “trying to be faithful to the gifts and charisms given to us by the Holy Spirit in the beginning, always accepting them with obedience and gratitude as Pope John Paul II told us to as well.” The CCR promotes an experience of the first Pentecost, and a renewal of the fervor of baptism and confirmation, via an experience known as “baptism in the Spirit.” It is what Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa explains as not being a sacrament, “but that’s related to several sacraments.” “The baptism in the Spirit,” says the preacher for the Pontifical Household “makes real and, in a way, renews Christian initiation. At the beginning of the Church, baptism was administered to adults who converted from paganism and who made […] an act of faith and a free and mature choice.”
Mansfield said the CCR provides the context for this experience today and pointed to this meeting as an opportunity to clarify “what role the CCR has in revitalizing society’s experience of the Church today.”
Organized by the Vatican-based International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services (ICCRS), the meeting was characterized by discernment and humility. ICCRS President Alan Panozza told me: “We’ve had a chance to reflect on what we’ve done right but also on our mistakes that we’ve made over these years.” Reports from dozens of countries told of stories of conversion, rises in vocations, healings, ecumenism, prayer meetings, life-in-the-spirit seminars and social ministries. What emerged was a call to adapt the enthusiasm of CCR to a more developed social awareness.
Father Bart Pastor of the Philippines gave a fiery homily last Saturday where he challenged the leaders to “move beyond merely bringing Churches alive.” He urged them to “add a charismatic flavor to community outreach with actions that express zeal.” The priest further cautioned them not to “turn in on ourselves but always outward.” ICCRS President Panozza added: “But we can’t underestimate the potential of our prayer groups and Bible studies back home. Our primary call is to help convert hearts using the same spirit of Pentecost; then lives are naturally changed.”
Charismatic Renewal Credited in Seoul
SEOUL, South Korea, June 20, 2006 (Zenit.org) The Seoul Archdiocese recognizes in the Charismatic Renewal a factor in the rebirth and reinforcement of the faith in Korean Catholics.
This evaluation emerged from a survey undertaken by the Seoul Diocesan Pastoral Research Center among 2,800 people directly involved in experience of communities of Charismatic Renewal, half of them in the archdiocese.
Asked about the benefit received, 43.8% of those interviewed said they had experienced “spiritual growth”; 19.3% spoke of “faith rebuilt” through the experience of the Holy Spirit; 12.2% found in prayer solutions to family problems; and 8.3% reported inward healing.
Many of the lay Catholics said priests would benefit from experiencing Charismatic Renewal because the experience leads to a deeper living of the Christian life, more frequent reading of Scripture, and more desire to share the joy of the faith. South Korea’s 48 million inhabitants include about 4 million Catholics.
CHARISMATIC MEETING GIFTS YOUTHS WITH SPIRITUAL INSPIRATION, SOLIDARITY
EUMSEONG, Korea (UCAN) July 27, 2006 Young Catholics who recently took part in an international Catholic charismatic conference organized just for young people say they found the experience spiritually energizing and unifying. “I laughed and laughed for three days, even though there was nothing (to laugh at),” Mary Kim Ji-seon told UCA News on July 23, the last day of the Holy Spirit Conference of World Youth 2006. “I think that is the power of the Holy Spirit, making us happy and filling us with laughter,” added the young Catholic from South Korea’s Suwon diocese.
For Emajane Tamon, a participant from the Philippines, the experience was “a good chance to revive the Spirit in my heart.” She told UCA News she felt the Holy Spirit in a deeper than usual way during the July 21-23 conference as she prayed, sang and shared “with many friends from all over the world.”
The conference, whose theme was “As by a New Pentecost,” brought together about 1,500 Catholics aged 18-35 at Kkottongne (flower village) in Eumseong, 100 kilometers southeast of Seoul. Kkottongne is a social-welfare facility for disabled and elderly people founded by Father John Oh Woong-jin of Korea.
According to one organizer, the recent international charismatic meeting was the first one organized anywhere just for young Catholics worldwide. The official, who asked not to be named, told UCA News on July 24 that the meeting aimed to revitalize the charismatic renewal movement among young people.
About 1,000 participants were from Korea, while the rest came from 25 countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Uganda and the United States.
Church leaders who also attended included Archbishop Barry James Hickey of Perth, Australia; Auxiliary Bishop Theotonius Gomes of Dhaka, Bangladesh; Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi, India; Bishop Jesse Mercado of Paranaque, Philippines; and Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden.
The first two days were devoted to presentations by Patti Mansfield*, leader of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the United States; Mario Capello, founder of the International Catholic Programme of Evangelization (ICPE), and Father Oh.
*See page 14
The attendees also took part in praise-and-worship sessions and heard fellow participants give testimony about how God had been working in their lives.
Mansfield spoke about experiencing the Holy Spirit, and when she urged the young participants to pray in tongues, a charismatic gift, the conference hall reverberated with musical sounds and cries.
Cyril John, who chairs the National Service Team of the Catholic charismatic renewal in India, told the participants that the pentecostal or charismatic movement is the biggest spiritual renewal in the history of Christianity.
“A growth from zero to 120 million Catholic charismatics in 235 countries in about 40 years, and more than 400 million in other churches and Christian communities in 100 years is something remarkable,” the Indian man said.
According to John, there have been three distinct outpourings of the Holy Spirit among Christians during the last 100 years. The first in 1906 affected 65 million people. The second outpouring, starting in 1950, touched 175 million and gave birth to the Catholic charismatic movement in 1967. John said the third one in 1981 reached 295 million people from various denominations. “Pentecost is an ongoing experience,” he explained, “and we should start praying fervently and look forward expectantly for a new Pentecost.” The conference’s last day was open to the public, and another 1,500 people, mostly Korean senior citizens and housewives joined the assembly.
What was miraculous about the conference for one Korean participant, who declined to be named, was not the manifestation of charismatic gifts. “I saw a miracle stronger than that,” she said. “It was us, people of different races, cultures and languages being united as one in the name of God.”
She said she was deeply inspired by how passionately the participants wanted to “know much more about God,” and that is why the conference will remain “an unforgettable moment in my life.”
Brother James Shin Sang-hyun, superior of the Kkottongne Brothers of Jesus congregation and chairperson of the organizing committee, told UCA News: “The young people are the future of our Church. We should bring them up through the Holy Spirit and accomplish the renewal of the Church.”
The organizing committee official cited earlier pointed out, “After evaluating this conference, we hope to hold such a conference biannually with help from the Rome-based International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services.”
The event was organized by the Kkottongne Religious Charismatic Prayer Committee, and sponsored by the Association for Charismatic Renewal of Korean Catholic Youth, the ICPE and Korean Youth Charismatic Renewal, a charismatic prayer group of Korean Americans in southern California, United States.
PATTI MANSFIELD: RELIVING THE DUQUESNE EXPERIENCE
“As I made my preparation for the retreat, I found myself wondering why as a Catholic I did not experience more of the power of the Holy Spirit in my life.” (Ms. Patti Mansfield)
It is a widely accepted fact that the beginnings of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal were at a retreat for college students at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania in February 1967. The students who spent much of the weekend in prayer, asking God to allow them to experience the grace of both baptism and confirmation, had a powerful and transforming experience of God, which came to be known as ‘baptism in the Spirit’. Thus began the story of the Charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church.
In this rare three-part interview, Ms. Patti Mansfield, one of the first students who was part of the historic “DUQUESNE WEEKEND” revealed to Dr. Edward Edezhath the great experience and the countless fruits of the work of the Spirit that since then became manifest in the worldwide Church.
Q: THE DUQUESNE EXPERIENCE IS TODAY WELL KNOWN AS THE STARTING POINT OF THE CHARISMATIC RENEWAL. CAN YOU LEAD US THROUGH YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THOSE EVENTFUL DAYS?
A: I was part of a Scripture Study group of about 20-25 students from the Duquesne University. In February 1967 this group made their annual retreat based on the theme of the Acts of the Apostles. To prepare for the retreat, we read the first four chapters of the Acts and the book ‘The Cross & the Switchblade’.
As I made my preparation for the retreat, I found myself wondering why as a Catholic I did not experience more of the power of the Holy Spirit in my life. And so before leaving for the retreat, I knelt down in my room (I was a third year University student) and I prayed a very simple prayer. I was alone and I said, “Lord as a Catholic I believe I have already received Your Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation. But if it is possible for Your Spirit to do more in my life than He has done until now, I want it.” And I am sure now 40 years later that God did hear my prayer.
It was interesting that each time we left for a session we used the ancient hymn of the Catholic Church, ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’ to invoke the Holy Spirit. We began our retreat in an upper room chapel of a retreat house in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And the first event of the retreat was the meditation on our Lady. The Professor who presented it was someone I had as teacher in class. That night he seemed different. What none of us students knew at that moment was that this professor and three others (professors from Duquesne University and one of their wives) for months had been praying that they could experience the Holy Spirit in a deeper way. They were praying and hoping that something would happen to us during our weekend retreat. Well in fact it did. On Saturday, one of the young men, David Mangion had a wonderful suggestion. He said, “Each year we Catholics renew our Baptismal promises at the Paschal vigil. Why don’t we close this retreat by having a ceremony where we renew our confirmation? Now that we are young adults, we can make real these graces we received when we were young people.” But before even we could get to that point, the Holy Spirit intervened in a very sovereign way. Saturday later in the afternoon I wandered into the Chapel; there were just a few students there. I didn’t have any intention to pray. I was just going to tell any students up there to come down for a birthday party we were having that night.
And when I entered the Chapel that particular night, February 18th 1967, for the first time in my life I knew why we Catholics call Jesus in the tabernacle ‘the real presence’. Because I really began to tremble with the sense of the majesty of God and His greatness. I remember thinking “If I stay here in the presence of Jesus, something is going to happen to me”. I felt somewhat afraid and wanting to kind of run and hide myself. Much greater than my fear of a total surrender to Jesus was the need that I had to do just that. I just prayed a prayer like this -” Father I give my life to you and whatever you ask of me – I accept it. And if it means suffering, I accept that too. Teach me to follow Your Son Jesus and to love the way Jesus loved.” The next moment I found myself prostrate before Jesus in the tabernacle. And I was flooded, from my fingertips down to my toes, with the incredible mercy of God’s love. I remember only one word of prayer that came to my mind, “Stay, stay, don’t ever leave me!”. I tasted and I saw for myself the sweetness of the Lord. I didn’t know then that David had been into the Chapel a few hours before me and had an identical experience.
Q: AT THAT POINT DID ANY OF YOU REALIZE THAT THE EXPERIENCE WOULD RADICALLY REVIVE THE SPIRITUALITY OF THE CHURCH IN THE COMING YEARS?
A: Neither of us knew that what had happened to us that night February 18th 1967 would begin a movement in the Catholic Church called the Charismatic Renewal. All we knew was that we wanted to renew our Confirmation, we wanted to accept Jesus as our Lord, Master and Saviour. After my experience there was a sovereign outpouring of the Spirit. Not all but half the students wound up in the Chapel before the tabernacle. Some were weeping, some were laughing. Some others said they wanted to pray but they knew it wasn’t going to come out in English. We all prayed in tongues but we did not know it was the gift of tongues. Some, like myself, found their arms tingling and burning. One of the professors walked in, and witnessing this scene he said, “What’s the Bishop going to say when he hears that all of these kids have been baptized in the Holy Spirit?” I heard those words ‘Baptized in the Holy Spirit’ for the first time. I still had no idea that what was happening would be a grace that would transform millions in the coming years. It took some time for us to kind of stumble into the Charismatic gifts like healing, discernment of spirits, prophesy and the like. We did not have any teachers; only these brothers and sisters from different denominations. They were helping us but of course there were no Pentecost Gatherings in Rome with the Holy Father! It was really just a matter of being led by the Holy Spirit day by day. As I commented in the presence of the Holy Father at the Vigil of Pentecost, my immediate reaction after the experience was to take up the documents of Vatican II and seek references to the Holy Spirit and Charismatic gifts. I said to myself, “What if the Church does not approve of such a thing?” And I knew that I would sooner deny my personal experience than ever think of leaving the Church. So it was with great joy that I read in Lumen Gentium that “Charismatic gifts are the tools that are exceedingly useful for Catholics of every rank”. And so there was the Church in its documents giving me the assurance that I should open myself up to the Holy Spirit along with these wonderful surprises, which were the Charismatic gifts.
Q: I WAS ALSO WONDERING, DID YOU RECEIVE ANY HELP OR HAVE ANY PLAN FOR FORMATION TO HELP THIS RENEWAL OF THE SPIRIT GROW? TELL ME, WAS THERE ANYTHING SPECIFIC YOU PLANNED AS A COMMUNITY OR IN A PRAYER MEETING?
A: There were prayer meetings that existed prior to the outbreak of the Charismatic Renewal and many young people who made it to the weekend were part of it. They had group reunions where they gathered for reviewing how their week went, praying with one another.
But once we were baptized in the Holy Spirit, it was natural to want to be with one another – not to discuss but to be with one another to pray. And as I was saying, the gifts of the Spirit were just beginning to blossom; we didn’t even know that they were the gifts of prophecy, praying in tongues, interpretation and the like. So we were just going to begin a mode of discovery of these wonderful things. Some of the marvelous leaders like Ralph Martin and Steve Clark who experienced the Charismatic Renewal put together a short course which came to be known as the ‘Life in the Spirit Seminar’, an experience of 7 weeks where there were very basic presentations on the love of God, salvation in Jesus, the gift of the Spirit, receiving the Charismatic gifts. There was a week when people were prayed with, that they might commit their lives to Jesus as Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to baptize them. The last topic was ongoing transformation, about how the Lord uses trials, difficulties, sufferings of this life to really conform us more and more to His image. So it was a very basic course called the ‘Life in the Spirit Seminar’ which has been adapted in different locales, cultures, gone by different names. But that has been a vehicle for millions and millions of people being baptized in the Holy Spirit. In many places it happens spontaneously, I know in our area we give weekend Holy Spirit retreats – many people have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. There was also this desire from the very earlier days to form ecumenical relationships in community. And these communities have been formed in different ways all over the world. There are some here in my country – sometimes called covenant communities. There have been others like the Emmanuel community in France which alone I think, has given birth to 130 priestly vocations. (End of Part I)
ABOUT PATTI GALLAGHER MANSFIELD
From the early days of the Renewal she has served as a leader through teaching, writing and pastoral ministry. Patti is married to Al Mansfield, Coordinator of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal of New Orleans, Louisiana, and has four children.
(Reproduced from the ‘Jesus Youth’ International Newsletter, July 2006)
Christianity’s Booming Sector Pentecostal and Charismatic Numbers Surge
By Father John Flynn
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 22, 2006 (Zenit.org) Pentecostalism and other similar charismatic movements are among the fastest-growing sectors of global Christianity. So says a 10-nation study published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The Washington, D.C.-based research group released the study Oct. 5.
According to the study, around a quarter of the world’s estimated 2 billion Christians are thought to be members of Pentecostal and charismatic groups, which emphasize the active role of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives.
The study was based on random surveys carried out in the United States; Brazil, Chile and Guatemala in Latin America; Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa in Africa; and India, the Philippines and South Korea in Asia.
The findings confirm the error of predictions about the demise of religion, comments Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in the preface. “Talk of ‘secularization’ and of a ‘post-religious’ society has given way to a renewed recognition of religion’s influence in people’s social and political lives,” he writes.
A case in point is Pentecostalism. It was born just a century ago and now ranks second only to Catholicism in the number of followers, Lugo noted. In Latin America, Pentecostals now account for about three in every four Protestants, according to the World Christian Database. The Pew Forum noted that in its study the term “Pentecostal” is used to describe members of a range of different groups: from the Assemblies of God (or Church of God in Christ) which were founded almost a century ago, to more recent ones, such as the Brazil-based Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.
The concept of charismatic, however, is much looser. Many of the people covered by this category belong to Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox churches; they define themselves as charismatics but stay within their respective churches. The study uses the general term of “renewalist” as a way to refer to Pentecostals and charismatics as a group. In some countries the number of renewalists reaches a high level.
In the United States the renewalists account for 23% of the population — 5% Pentecostals and 18% charismatics. In Brazil it is just under half of the population, with 15% describing themselves as Pentecostals, 34% as charismatics. In Guatemala the total reaches 60%, made up of 20% Pentecostals and 40% charismatics. Kenya has the highest number of Pentecostals, where they account for a full third of the population. Charismatics comprise another 23% of the count. The Philippines also has a high level of renewalists: Charismatics make up 40% of the population; Pentecostals, 4%. Not all the countries studied, however, had high levels of the two groups. In India, for example, the combined numbers of the two only add up to 5% of the population. Nigeria, with a total of 8%, and South Korea, 9%, were also at the low end of the scale. As a rule it is the charismatics who are by far the larger group, with the exception of Kenya and Nigeria. Pentecostal numbers are generally higher in Latin America and Africa than they are in the United States or Asia.
In six of the 10 countries the Pew surveys found that the combined numbers of Pentecostals and charismatics account for a majority of the overall Protestant population. In fact, in five nations — Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Kenya and the Philippines — more than two-thirds of Protestants are either Pentecostal or charismatic.
The surveys found a number of characteristics regarding the religious experiences and practices of renewalists.
— They are generally more fervent in their religious practice. The vast majority of Pentecostals say they attend religious services at least once a week. Majorities of charismatics in every country except Brazil and Chile also say they attend church at least once a week. These levels are generally higher than for other Christians. Renewalist members also come out on top of other Christians in practices such as daily prayer and reading the Bible.
— Use of the media, mainly television and radio, to reinforce their religious faith is common among renewalists, particularly among Pentecostals in the United States, Latin America and Africa, where at least half say they do so more than once a week.
— In seven of the 10 countries surveyed at least half of Pentecostals say that the church services they attend frequently include people practicing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues, prophesying or praying for miraculous healing. These aspects are less common among charismatics.
— Although many say they attend religious services where speaking in tongues is a common practice, fewer affirm that they themselves regularly do this. Moreover, in six of the 10 countries surveyed, at least 40% of Pentecostals say they never speak or pray in tongues.
— In all 10 countries surveyed, large majorities of Pentecostals say that they have personally experienced or witnessed the divine healing of an illness or injury. In eight of the countries a majority of Pentecostals say that they have received a direct revelation from God.
— In seven out of 10 countries Pentecostals say that they personally have experienced or witnessed the devil or evil spirits being driven out of a person. Generally, fewer charismatics report witnessing these types of experiences.
— In eight of the 10 countries surveyed majorities of non-renewalist Christians believe that the Bible is the word of God and is to be taken literally. This view is even more common among Pentecostals.
— Pentecostals also stand out, especially compared with non-renewalist Christians, for their views on eschatology. In six countries, at least half of Pentecostals believe that Jesus will return to earth during their lifetime. And more than 80% in each country believe in “the rapture of the Church.” This refers to the belief that before the world comes to an end the faithful will be rescued and taken up to heaven.
— Pentecostals also make a big effort to spread their faith. In eight of the 10 countries, a majority of say they share their faith with nonbelievers at least once a week. Charismatics tend to be somewhat less likely to do this.
— At least 70% of Pentecostals in every country, with the exception of South Korea, believe that faith in Jesus Christ represents the exclusive path to eternal salvation.
The Pew study also devoted a section to analyzing the political implications of the growing numbers of Pentecostals and charismatics. Many of those surveyed affirmed that it is important that political leaders possess strong Christian beliefs. The study describes the moral and social views of the Pentecostals as being “conservative,” on a range of issues such as homosexuality, abortion, extramarital sex and divorce.
In general, a majority agree with the proposition that church and state should be separate. Yet, a sizable minority favor the idea that the government should take steps to ensure their state is a Christian country.
Nevertheless, while they agree that religious people and religious groups should be active in politics, relatively few spend much time actually discussing political issues. They concentrate mainly on religious practices — with results that are spreading quickly.
Pentecostalism: a Century-Old Challenge
Poses Question for the Church, Says Vatican Aide
ROME, December 5, 2006 (Zenit.org) A century after its birth, Pentecostalism poses serious questions to Catholics, says a Vatican aide. Monsignor Juan Usma Gómez, who since 1996 has overseen Catholic-Pentecostal dialogue in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said that the questions raised by the phenomenon of the Pentecostal movement point to “pastoral vacuums” and the need for “a correct proclamation of the Gospel.”
“The Church must not be afraid of the Pentecostal growth” and must not respond “with aggressiveness, even if at times some of these groups act aggressively,” the Vatican aide contended. His comments came at a recent meeting organized by the Rome Pro Unione Ecumenical Center. The meeting last Wednesday helped to mark the first centenary of the Pentecostal movement and its relationship with the Catholic Church.
The Pro Unione center organized the gathering between Catholic representatives and figures of the growing Pentecostal-charismatic movement, which was born in Los Angeles in 1906 and today boasts 600 million faithful worldwide.
Currents within Catholicism have been influenced by Pentecostalism, such as the Charismatic Renewal Movement.
One of the characteristics of Pentecostalism is baptism in the Spirit, which is manifested in a variety of ways, such as speaking in tongues.
The Spirit Father James Puglisi, director of Pro Unione, explained to ZENIT that “the Pentecostal Movement is growing very much, and the Catholic Church must wonder why, without fear.” The meeting, centered on the challenge of the so-called gifts of the Spirit, presented the Pentecostal movement from the ecumenical, anthropological, moral and spiritual point of view. Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Pontifical Household preacher, noted that Pentecostals and charismatics highlight the Holy Spirit “without forgetting God the Father and God the Son.”
Some Pentecostal members, such as Stanley Burgess of Regent University in Virginia and Ruth Burgess of Missouri State University, extended a hand to the Catholics, to enhance their experience of the Holy Spirit. Dominican Father Bruce Williams of the University of St. Thomas in Rome, the Angelicum, explained that ecumenical dialogue cannot start with “adulation” or “litigation” but with the willingness on both sides to listen. The speakers agreed on the need to intensify meetings of this kind and to work on common projects between Pentecostals and Catholics.
Myths Exposed on Charismatic Christianity in America
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080107/30767_Myths_Exposed_on_Charismatic_Christianity_in_America.htm By Jennifer Riley, Christian Post Reporter, January 07 2008
Charismatic churches are growing in number in the Unites States, but many Americans still have inaccurate assumptions about the particular brand of Christianity, according to surveys released Monday.
Many people believe that charismatic Christianity is almost exclusively a Protestant phenomenon, but research shows that one-third of all U.S. Catholics (36 percent) fit the charismatic classification, according to the new Barna study. And nearly one-quarter of all charismatics in the U.S. (22 percent) are Catholics.
Charismatic Christians are defined in the study as those that say they have been “filled with the Holy Spirit” and believe in “charismatic gifts, such as tongues and healing, are still valid and active today.”
Another misconception is that charismatic churches belong to a strictly separate group of denominations. In reality, charismatic churches have crossed denominational boundaries in recent years. A Barna survey of senior pastors reveals that seven percent of Southern Baptist churches and six percent of mainline churches are charismatic.
There are also widespread beliefs that charismatic churches tend to be small, relatively unsophisticated congregations that are more likely to be led by female pastors. However, research suggests that congregations are about the same size as those of non-charismatic Protestant churches and are also actually more likely to use technological applications – including large screen projection systems – evaluated in the study.
Moreover, charismatic and non-charismatic Protestant churches have the same portion of churches led by a female senior pastor (nine percent). Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians over the past decade have grown from about 30 percent to 36 percent of American adults, or about 80 million people. One out of every four Protestant churches in the United States (23 percent) is a charismatic congregation.
George Barna, who directed the research projects, commented that the growth in the charismatic and Pentecostal movements in America is not surprising because it matches the current cultural trend in mainstream society.
“The freedom of emotional and spiritual expression typical of charismatic assemblies parallels the cultural trend toward personal expression, accepting diverse emotions and allowing people to interpret their experiences in ways that make sense to them,” Barna explained. “It is not surprising that the Pentecostal community in America has been growing.”
He added that he expects charismatic Christianity will continue to grow. “We are moving toward a future in which the charismatic-fundamentalist split will be an historical footnote rather than a dividing line within the body of believers,” Barna predicted. “Young Christians, in particular, have little energy for the arguments that have traditionally separated charismatics and non-charismatics. Increasing numbers of people are recognizing that there are more significant arenas in which to invest their resources.”
For the most part, the profile of the typical charismatic congregation is nearly the same as that of evangelical, fundamentalist and mainline Protestant churches. Four out of five (80 percent) have a full-time, paid pastor; the senior pastor is, on average, 52 years old (the same as other Protestant churches); and the weekly adult attendance is nearly equivalent to other Protestant bodies (82 adults at Pentecostal gatherings compared to 85 adults at all Protestant churches). Yet there are significant differences between charismatic and non-charismatic congregations.
Non-charismatic congregations tend to have a larger annual operating budget, $149,000, compared to the budget of Pentecostal ministries with $136,000. Similarly, non-charismatic churches on average spent more in paying their senior pastor, $47,000 annually, than charismatic pastors who receive a compensation package averaging about $42,000. Yet perhaps the biggest distinction between the two is the level of education of the pastors. A significant majority of senior pastors of non-charismatic churches (70 percent) have graduated from a seminary. In comparison, not quite half of charismatic pastors (49 percent) have a seminary degree.
The report is based on a nationwide telephone survey conducted by Barna in December 2007 among a random sample of 1,005 adults, age 18 and older. It also contains information from a nationwide phone survey among a random sample of 1,220 senior pastors of Protestant churches.
Pontiff Encourages Charismatic Renewal Members Gather in Rimini for Annual Meeting
VATICAN CITY, May 4, 2008 (Zenit.org) Benedict XVI is encouraging and praising the work of the Charismatic Renewal in its commitment to promote communion. The Pope affirmed this in a letter sent through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to the members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (Rinnovamento nello Spirito). The movement members are gathered near Rimini, Italy, for their 31st meeting. The annual celebration began Thursday and is focusing on the theme “Regenerated by the Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).
More than 20,000 people are participating in the meeting. In Italy alone, the Charismatic Renewal has more than 200,000 members, among 1,900 groups and communities.
The papal letter stated that “His Holiness praises and encourages the commitment with which the Charismatic Renewal makes its own and carries forward the effort to promote communion and collaboration among the diverse realities that the same Spirit has brought about in the Church.”
The letter emphasized that the Holy Father “always follows the journey of the ecclesial movements with special pastoral solicitude” and that he exhorts the members of the Charismatic Renewal always to “unite with prayer their effective attention to the world’s needs and the good of men.”
In another message, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, hoped that “the themes of the meeting and the days that you will spend together will be a leaven for your renewed presence in families, society and human history.”
The president of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, and the conference secretary, Monsignor Giuseppe Bertori, also sent a letter in which they recall the “horizon of joyous hope” in which the Charismatic Renewal’s “precious work of evangelization” moves.
The national president of the Charismatic Renewal in Italy, Salvatore Martinez, told the Avvenire newspaper that the prophetic word that will inspire the meeting at Rimini “is St. Paul’s confession of praise — St. Paul, a man surrendered to Christ, reborn in him, who lived a new life to make the beauty and the power of the name of Christ known.” The national meeting, Martinez said, will in fact focus on the binomial “word-life” as a “meaningful answer to the great Christian challenge of every century: breaking down the division between faith and life, between that which we say we believe and that which we let the world ‘see’ and ‘feel’ of Christ.”
“Word and life reciprocally answer, condition and complete each other,” he said. “Without the word, life is emptied out; without a life — ours — in which the Word can take flesh, Jesus remains a mere history lesson or a hero to be commemorated.”
On Thursday, Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, presiding at the Eucharist, invited those present to be “witnesses of the power and the regenerative force that the Spirit of the risen Jesus never fails to make present in history.” Friday included “lectio divina” about the mercy of God, led by Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto.
On Friday afternoon there was a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s 1998 meeting with the ecclesial movements and communities.
In this context, talks were given by representatives of the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Focolare Movement, and Communion and Liberation on the theme “The Church Counts on Each One of You.”
Pontiff Notes Hopes for Charismatic Renewal
VATICAN CITY, May 4, 2009 (Zenit.org) Benedict XVI is wishing members of the charismatic renewal a revitalized closeness with the crucified and risen Christ. The Pope said this in a telegram signed by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and sent to the Italian chapter of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, who were gathered last weekend in their 32nd national assembly in Rimini, Italy. Some 20,000 members were present, as was the president of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.
The Holy Father expressed his hopes for “an abundant outpouring of the fruits of the Paraclete” on the gathering.
He also noted his desire that the encounter would “enkindle a renewed adherence to the crucified and risen Christ, a deep fraternal communion and a joyous evangelical witness.”
Cardinal Bagnasco gave the opening address, inviting the members to “continue being leaven and light in the building up of history and society.”
Salvatore Martínez, president of the Italian Charismatic Renewal, said during the concluding address that the three-day national assembly aimed for “a renewed invitation to evangelization.”
“We are ready to offer our service to God,” he said. “We are a people that has found new vigor in the proclamation of the Gospel, in a world that needs a true spiritual renewal.”
VATICAN: POPE ENCOURAGES CHURCH MOVEMENTS TO CULTIVATE FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Vatican City, November 1, 2008 (CNA) The movements and new communities within the Church are like eruptions of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in contemporary society, the Pope said today at an audience with Charismatic Catholics in Rome. Participants in the 13th Conference of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowship were received by Pope Benedict at the Vatican on Friday morning.
“As I have stated on other occasions,” the Pope said, “ecclesial movements and new communities, which have flourished since Vatican Council II, constitute a unique gift from the Lord and a invaluable resource for the life of the Church. They should be welcomed with confidence and esteemed for their various contributions so that they might be of efficient and fruitful benefit to all.”
The charisms of the Holy Spirit have an impact on the local Church too, said the Pope as he expounded on one of the conference’s themes. The Holy Father asserted that the New Testament tells us that charisms appear as visible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and that these charisms are not a historical event of the past, but an ever-living reality in the Church. “The movements and new communities, Pope Benedict said, are like eruptions of the Holy Spirit in the Church and contemporary society. We can affirm that one of the elements and positive aspects of the Communities of Charismatic Covenant Renewal is the emphasis that the charisms and gifts of the Holy Spirit receive in these and their merit is in having recalled the actuality of these [charisms and gifts] in the Church.”
Benedict XVI also recalled that both Vatican II and the Catechism of the Church praise the good accomplished by Catholic charismatic communities, while also emphasizing that their authenticity is guaranteed by their openness to submit to the discernment of ecclesial authority. Precisely because there is a promising flourishing of ecclesial movements and community, it is important that pastors practice a prudent and wise discernment process with them.” The Holy Father, eager to promote the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, mentioned that he knows that various ways are being studied to give papal recognition to new ecclesial movements and communities and that those who have already received it are not few in number. … Pastors, above all the bishops, should keep this fact in mind when discerning according to their competency.”
As the meeting with the Catholic Charismatic communities drew to a close, the Pope encouraged them to continue in their efforts to safeguard their Catholic identity as well as their ecclesial nature. Doing so, he commented, “will allow you to give everywhere a living and active witness of the profound mystery of the Church. Thus the ability of the various communities to attract new members will also grow.”
A LEADING THEOLOGIAN SPEAKS AGAINST PENTECOSTALISM IN THE CHURCH!
Evaluation of the Charismatic Movement
Pentecostalism; Evaluation a Phenomenon
By Father John A. Hardon, S.J.
Before entering on the formal presentation, I think it will be useful to first clarity some possible sources of misunderstanding. The immediate focus of this study is Pentecostalism. It is not directly concerned with the persons who call themselves Pentecostals or, as some prefer, Charismatic.
Moreover, the purpose here is to make an evaluation. It is not to impart information about Pentecostalism, since such information is fairly presumed, with all the literature by and about the movement and, from many people, either personal experience or direct observation of the movement in action.
Finally, though I seldom do this when speaking, in this case it may be useful to give a run-down of references about the speaker’s own qualifications in talking on the subject.
My professional work is teaching Comparative Religion. A phenomenon like Pentecostalism, I know has for years been one of the characteristic features in other religious cultures, and not only in Protestantism or Roman Catholicism; in fact, not only in Christianity.
Since the first stirring of Pentecostalism in Catholic circles, I have been asked to give some appraisal of it to leaders in the Church who sought counsel on the question, e.g., Bishop Zaleski as chairman of the American Bishops Doctrinal Commission and recently the Jesuit Provincial of the Southern Province, in a three-day private conference in New Orleans.
For several years I have been counselling persons dedicated to Pentecostalism, mainly priests, religious, and seminarians. And on Palm Sunday of this year I preached at the First Solemn Mass of a priest who is deeply involved in the movement.
My plan for today’s talk is to cover three areas of the subject, at uneven length, namely:
1. The Historical Background of the Pentecostal Movement, up to the present.
2. What are the principal elements of Pentecostalism, as viewed by Roman Catholics dedicated to the movement?
3. An Evaluation in the form of a Critical Analysis of Pentecostalism as a phenomenon which has developed an Ideology.
The essentials of the Pentecostalism we know today began with the Reformation in the sixteenth century as a complement to Biblicism. The two together have formed an inseparable duality in historic Protestantism.
Where the Bible was canonized in the phrase, Sola Scriptura, as the sole repository of divine revelation; the indwelling Holy Spirit in the heart of every believer was invoked as the only criterion for interpreting the Scriptures or even for recognizing their canonicity. Thus Sola Scriptura became the basic principle of direction in the life of some Christians, in place of the professedly divine guidance by the Spirit residing in the papacy and the Catholic hierarchy.
Pentecostalism turned sectarian in the nineteenth century whom groups like the Irvingites, Shakers, and Mormons broke away from their parent bodies over what they said was indifference in the established Protestant churches to external manifestations of the presence in converted believers of the Holy Spirit.
What gave these sectarian groups theological rootage was the parallel rise of the Holiness movement among Methodists. Experience of conversion and an awareness of the Spirit had always been prominent in Wesleyan thought. With the advent of biblical criticism and the solvent of rationalism, many followers of Wesley fell back almost exclusively on personal experience as a sign of God’s saving presence.
When some of these Holiness groups affiliated with the Irvingiton and their counterparts, modern Pentecostalism was born.
Some would date the beginning with 1900, but more accurately, from 1900 on the Pentecostal movement began its denominational period. One after another, new congregations were formed or old ones changed to become Pentecostal in principle and policy. By 1971 some 200 distinct denominations in America qualified as Pentecostals. While the total is uncertain, ten million in the US is not too high a figure. Outside North America, the largest contingent is in South America, where Pentecostal missionaries from the States have successfully evangelized in every country below the Rio Grande. Brazil alone has four million, of which 1.8 million are mainly converts who were originally baptized Catholics.
The most recent development in Pentecostalism was the ecumenical collaboration with Catholic groups in the United States, at first cautious, then bolder and now becoming a pattern that give rise to what some call Catholic Pentecostalism, but others prefer to say is The Pentecostal Movement in the Catholic Church.
From this point on, my concern will be uniquely with this latest development, seen through the eyes of its dedicated followers and described by men and women who believe they are, and wish to remain, loyal Catholics but honestly believe that a new dimension should be added to the concept of Catholicism before it was touched by the present outpouring of the Pentecostal grace of the Spirit.
Main Elements of Pentecostalism
Although American Catholic involvement in the Pentecostal movement is hardly five years old (this speech dates back to 1970-1971), a growing body of literature is accumulating. Most of it is still descriptive or historical, but more than a score of monographs and half a dozen books are frankly theological. Their authors seriously try to come to grips with what they call the Charismatic Renewal, and their studies are couched in formal, even technical language.
There is no doubt that those who are professed Catholics, and at the same time, committed to Pentecostalism, want to span both shores. As they view the situation, it should be seen from two perspectives: 1) from the standpoint of Pentecostalism, defining what are its essential features; and 2) from the side of Catholicism, distinguishing what is different about Pentecostalism today, compared with other historical types of the same movement in former times.
Essentials Of Pentecostalism
Writers of a Catholic persuasion isolate certain elements of Pentecostalism and identify them as trans-confessional. They are simply characteristic of this aspect of Christianity whenever it occurs, whether among Catholics or Protestants or, in fact, whether before the Reformation or since.
1) The primary postulate also gives Pentecostalism its name. Just as on the first Pentecost in Jerusalem there was an extraordinary decent of the Holy Spirit and a marvellous effusion of spiritual gifts, so at different ages in the Church’s history a similar phenomenon occurs.
It is generally occasioned by a grave crisis or need in the Church. God raises certain charismatic persons to visit them with special graces and make them the heralds of His mission to the world. Such were Benedict and Bruno, Francis and Dominic, Ignatius and Theresa of Avila.
The present age is such a period, certainly of grave crisis in Christianity, during which the Holy Spirit has decided to enter history in a miraculous way, to raise up once again the leaders of renewal for the Church and, through the Church, for all mankind.
2) No less than on Pentecost Sunday, so now the descent of the Spirit becomes probably perceptible. This perceptibility shows itself especially in three ways.
A) In a personally felt experience of the Spirit’s presence in the one who receives Him. The qualities of this coming are variously described; they cover one or more of the following internal experiences: deep-felt peace of soul, joyousness of heart, shedding of worry and anxiety, strong conviction of belief, devotion to prayer, tranquillity of emotions, sense of spiritual well being, an ardent piety, and, in general, a feeling of intimacy with the divine which, it is said, had never or only for sporadic moments been experienced before.
B) Along with the internal phenomena, which themselves partake of the preternatural, are external manifestations that can be witnessed by others. Such are speaking in strange tongues, in gift of prophecy, the power of healing, and, it would seem, all the gamut of charismata enumerated in the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of St. Paul.
C) Capping the two sets of phenomena, of internal experience and external manifestation, is the inspiration given by the Spirit to communicate these gifts to others. Normally a Spirit filled person is the channel of this communication; he becomes a messenger of the Spirit to others and his zeal to act in this missionary role is part of the change that the divine visitation effects in him.
3) The basic condition required to receive the charismatic outpouring is openness of faith. The only fundamental obstacle is diffidence or distrust of the Spirit to produce today what He had done in ages past.
If the foregoing are typical of Pentecostalism in every critical period of Christianity and the common heritage in Protestant as well as Catholic experience, certain features are typical of Pentecostalism today.
1) Present day Charismatic experience is far wider than ever before. Where in former days only certain few people received the Pentecostal outpouring, it is now conferred on thousands, and the conferral has only started. It is nothing less than a deluge of preternatural visitation.
2) Consistent with the large numbers is the fact that Pentecostalism, otherwise than ever before, affects the lettered and unlettered, those obviously pursuing holiness and the most ordinary people. Indeed, one of the truly remarkable facts in that even quite unholy persons may now suddenly receive the Spirit, provided they open their hearts to Him in docile confidence and faith.
3) Also, unlike in previous times, this is a movement. It is not just a sporadic experience but a veritable dawn of a new era of the Spirit; such as Christianity had never known in age past. It is destined, so it seems to sweep whole countries and cultures, and promises to effect changes in co-called institutional Christianity not less dramatic than occurred in Jerusalem when Peter preached his first sermon in response to the coming of the Holy Spirit.
4) As might be expected, the Spirit is now to affect not only individuals or scattered groups here and there. His charismatic effusion will remake Christian society. His gifts are to recreate and, where needed, create new communities of believers, bound together by the powerful ties of a common religious experience and sustained by such solidarity as only a mutually shared contact with the divine can produce.
5) While there had been Pentecostal experiences in every stage of Christian history, generally they were characterized by public phenomena or at least their external manifestations were highlighted. Modern Pentecostalism includes these phenomena, indeed, but, the stress is on the internal gifts received by the people. Their deep inside conviction of mind and joy of heart are paramount. These, are, of course, no less phenomenal than the physical gifts of tongues or prophecy or healing of disease.. They, too, partake of the miraculous. But they are the interior gifts from the Spirit in the spirit, and as such, are the main focus of Pentecostalism in today’s world of doubt and desperation.
So far I have given what might be called an overview of Pentecostalism, with emphasis on that form which professed Catholics have not only adopted but which their leaders, priests, religious and the laity, are defining and defending in a spate of books and periodicals.
I have witnessed the phenomena they described, read the literature they have written, spent hours in conference and consultation with those deeply committed to the movement, conferred at length with specialists in the psychological sciences who dealt professionally with Catholic Pentecostals, and I have carefully watched the consequences of the movement for several years. My growing conclusion is that Pentecostalism in the Catholic Church is symptomatic of some grave needs among the faithful that should be met soon and by all effective means at our disposal. But I also think that Pentecostalism as an ideology is not the answer to these needs. In fact, it may be a serious obstacle, even a threat, to the authentic renewal in the Spirit inaugurated by the Second Vatican Council.
My reasons for this two fold judgment naturally suggest two sets of appraisal: one for considering Pentecostalism symptomatic and the other for believing it does not meet the felt needs of the Church today.
Pentecostalism As Symptomatic
It is not surprising that a phenomenon like Pentecostalism should have risen to the surface in Catholic circles just at this time. The Church’s history has seen similar, if less widely publicized, phenomena before.
1) The widespread confusion in theology has simmered down to the faithful and created in the minds of many uncertainty about even such fundamentals as God’s existence, the divinity of Christ, and the Real Presence.
Confusion seeks certitude, and certitude is sough in contact with God. When this contact is fostered and sustained by group prayers and joint witness to the ancient faith it answers to a deep felt human need. Pentecostalism in its group prayer situations tries to respond to this often desperate need.
2) Among the critical causes of confusion, the Church’s authority is challenged and in some quarters openly denied. This creates the corresponding need for some base of religious security which Pentecostalism offers to give in the interior peace born of union with the Spirit.
3) Due to many factors, many not defensible, practices of piety and devotion from regular Novenas, to statutes, rosaries and religious articles have been dropped or phased out of use in the lives of thousands of the faithful. Pentecostalism serves to fill the devotional vacuum in a way that startles those who have, mistakenly, come to identify Christianity with theological cooperation or the bare minimum of external piety.
4) Ours is in growing measure a prayerless culture. This has made inroads in Catholicism. It is a commentary on our age that millions have substituted work for prayer; and how the balance needs to be redressed–with Pentecostalism offering one means of restoring the spirit of prayer.
5) In the same way, religion for too many had become listless routine, and prayer a lip service or almost vacuous attendance at the liturgy. Religion as experience, knowing God and not only about Him; feeling His presence in one’s innermost being–was thought either exotic, or psychotic, or presumptuous. Pentecostalism promises to give what Christians in our dehumanized Western Society so strongly crave–intimacy with the Divine.
All of this, and more, is part of the background which helps explain why such a movement as the Charismatic came into being. Its existence is both symptomatic and imperative that something be done–existence is both symptomatic and imperative that something be done–and done well–to satisfy the desire of millions of Christians for peace of mind, security of faith, devotion in prayer, and a felt realization of union with God.
Pentecostalism, as a mistaken Ideology
The question that still remains, however, is whether the Pentecostal movement is a valid answer to these recognized needs. Notice I do not say that individuals who have entered the movement cannot find many of their spiritual needs who have entered the movement cannot find many of their spiritual needs satisfied. Nor am I saying that group prayer is not helpful for many people; nor, least of all, that the Holy Spirit has been inactive during these trying times to confer precisely an abundance of His sevenfold gifts on those who humbly and in faith invoke His sanctifying name.
What I must affirm is that Pentecostalism is not a mere movement, it is, as the ending “ism” indicates, an ideology. And as such it is creating more problems objectively than it solves subjectively. In other words, even when it gives symptomatic relief to some people, it produces a rash of new, and graver, issues touching on the Catholic faith and its authentic expression by the faithful.
1) The fundamental problem it creates is the absolute conviction of devoted Pentecostals that they have actually received a charismatic visitation of the Holy Spirit.
I am not here referring to such external phenomena as the gift of tongues, but of the deeply inward certitude that a person has been the object of a preternatural infusion, with stress on the infusion of preternatural insights, i.e., in the cognitive order.
This is an astounding assertion, and the only thing un-remarkable about it is that so many Pentecostals are now firmly convinced they have been so enlighten.
Their books and monographs, lectures and testimonials simply assume to be incontestable and beyond refutation that they have been specially illumined by a charism which, they say, is available to others who are equally disposed to receive it.
But repeated affirmation is not enough, and even the strongest subjective conviction is not proof, where a person claims to have been the recipient of such extraordinary gifts; notably of spiritual knowledge as God conferred in apostolic times, or gave to His great mystics in different times.
The dilemma this raises can be easily stated:
Either the Pentecostal experience really confers preternatural insight (at least among its leaders) . Or, the experience is quite natural, while certainly allowing for the normal operations of divine grace. Everything which the Pentecostal leadership says suggest that they consider the experience, and I quote their terms; preternatural, special, mystical, charismatic, extraordinary.
2. It is irrelevant to discourse about the charismata in the New Testament, or theologize about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. No believing Christian denies either the charism or the gifts. The question at stake is not of faith, about of fact.
Are the so-called charismata truly charismatic? If they are, then we stand in the presence of a cosmic miracle, more stupendous in proportion–by reason of sheer numbers–than anything the Church has seen, I would say, even in apostolic times.
But if the experiences are not authentically charismatic, then, again, we stand in the presence of a growing multitude of persons who believe themselves charismatically led by the Holy Spirit. They will make drastic decisions, institute revolutionary changes, or act in a host of other ways–firmly convinced they are responding to a special divine impulse whereas in reality they are acting in response to quite ordinary, and certainly less infallible, motions of the human spirit.
3. At this point we could begin a completely separate analysis, namely, of the accumulating evidence that the impulses which the Pentecostal leaders consider charismatic are suspiciously very human. Their humanity, to use a mild word, is becoming increasingly clear from the attitudes being assumed towards established principles and practices in Catholicism.
Logically, it may be inferred, the Holy Spirit would not contradict Himself. We expect Him to support what Catholic Christianity believes is the fruit of His abiding presence in the Church of which He is the animating principle of ecclesiastical life.
What do we find? In the published statements, and therefore not the casual remarks of those who are guiding the destiny of the Pentecostal movement among Catholics, are too many disconcerting positions to be lightly dismissed by anyone who wants to make an objective appraisal of what is happening.
I limit myself to only a few crucial issues, each of which I am sure, will soon have a cluster of consequences in the practical order:
a) The Papacy. If there is one doctrine of Catholic Christianity that is challenged today it is the Roman Primacy. Yet in hundreds of pages of professional writing about the charismatic gifts, we find a studied silence–no doubt to avoid offence to other Pentecostals–about the papacy; and a corresponding silence about a more loyal attachment to the Holy See. It is painful to record but should be said that the pioneer of American Pentecostalism among Catholics and its publicly take issue with Pope Paul V1 On Humane Vitae
b) The Priesthood and Episcopate. Running as a thread through apologists for Catholic Pentecostalism is an almost instinctive contraposition of, and I quote, “charismatic” and “hierarchical”, or “spiritual” and “institutional”. While some commentators state the dual aspects in the Church and even stress the importance of harmony between the two, others have begun to opt for a theological position quite at variance with historic Catholicism. They suggest that in the New Testament there was essentially only one sacrament for conferring the gifts of the Spirit.� Baptism gave a Christian all the essentials of what later on the “institutional church” developed into separate functions, namely the diaconate, priesthood and episcopate.
c) Catholic Apostolate. The heaviest artillery of Pentecostals in the Catholic camp is levelled at the “ineffectual, irrelevant and dispirited” form of Christianity prevalent in the Church. Accordingly, under the impulse of the Spirit, radical changes are demanded in the Church’s apostolate. Old forms of trying to reach the people, especially the young, should be abandoned. This applies particularly to Catholic education. In spite of the immense expenditure of money and human effort being put into parochial schools, Pentecostals are saying, how often do we not hear complaint that a pitifully small proportion of the students emerge as deeply convinced and committed Christians? We can therefore well use some new life in the Church. Concretely this means to enter other kinds of work for the faithful, and not retain Catholic parochial schools–as more than one teaching order, influenced by Pentecostalism, has already decided to carry into effect.
d) The New Spirituality. Given the posture of Pentecostalism as a phenomenal downpour of charismatic grace, it is only natural that the human contribution to the divine effusion is minimized. Actually defendants of the movement are careful to explain that a new kind of spirituality was born with Pentecostalism.
As heretofore taught, persons aspiring to sanctity were told that recollection had to be worked at and cultivated. It meant painstaking effort to keep oneself in the presence of God and consciously fostering, perhaps through years of practice, prayerful awareness of God. The charismatic movement is actually a discovery that all of this propaedeutics is unnecessary. In view of its importance, it is worth quoting the new spiritual doctrine in full:
There is a subtle but very significant difference between what the presence of God means in the spiritual doctrine that has long been usual in novitiates, seminaries, and the like, and what it means for those who have shared the Pentecostal experience.
The difference can be put bluntly in the following terms: The former put the accent on the practice, whereas the latter put it on the presence. That is to say, the former regard the constant awareness of God’s presence as a goal to be striven for, but difficult to attain; hence they exert themselves in recalling over and over that God is here, and in frequently renewing their intention to turn their thoughts to Him.
The latter, on the contrary, seem to start with the experiential awareness of God’s presence as the root which enlivens and gives its characteristic notes to all their prayer, love and spirituality.
It is not too much to call this “instant mysticism”. And if some charismatic do not succeed as well (or as soon) as others in this sudden experience of God which dispenses with the labourious process of cultivating recollection, it must be put down to a lack of sufficient docility to the Spirit or, more simply, to the fact that the Holy Spirit remains master of His gifts and breathes when (and where He wills).
But the essential dictum stands: those who charismatically experience God, and they are now numbered in thousands, came by the phenomenon without having to go through the hard school of mental and ascetical discipline still taught by an outmoded spirituality.
e) Aggressive Defensiveness. Having postulated what they call the “Pentecostal Spirituality”, its proponents defend it not only against present-day critics of such “cheap grace”, but they anticipate unspoken objections from the masters of mystical theology. Among their silent critics, whom they criticize, is St. John of the Cross.
As elsewhere, so here is offered a contraposition, the classical doctrine on the charism (or extraordinary gifts of the Spirit) and the new doctrine of Pentecostalism. Again direct quotation will bring out the full confrontation:
On the practical level, the classical doctrine on the charism has been formed chiefly by St. John of the Cross.
The stand that he takes is predominantly negative: i.e., a warning against the harm that comes from rejoicing excessively in the possession of such gifts. The one who does so, he says, leaves himself open to deception, either by the devil or by his own imagination: in relying on these charism, he loses some of the merit of faith; and finally, he is tempted to vainglory.
Similarly when St. John discusses supernatural communications that come by way of visions or words, particularly those that are perceived by the imagination or the bodily senses, he is mainly concerned to warn against the dangers of deception and excessive attachment.
He condemns the practice of seeking to obtain information from God through persons favoured with such communications. Even when God answers the queries that are thus addressed to Him, He does so out of condescension for our weakness, and not because he is pleased to be thus questioned.
If there is anywhere that Pentecostal spirituality seem to conflict with the classical it is here. Then follow pages of a strong defence of the new positive approach to charismatic experience, admitting that where conflict exists between this and the teaching of such mystics as John of the Cross, the main reason is obvious. Men like John and women like Theresa of Avila lived in a former age, when charism were rare and then given only to individuals. In our age they are literally an inundation and their recipients are countless multitudes.
f) Religious Communities. Not surprisingly, the Pentecostal movement has made some of its deepest effects of religious communities, of men, but especially of women.
All problems facing the Church at large affected the lives of those who, by prior commitment, dedicated themselves to the pursuit of holiness.
When the charismatic experience offered them release from anxiety and the hope of a strong sense of God’s presence—-in spite of the turmoil all around—-religious took to the movement on a scale that no one actually knows. But all estimates indicated that the number is large.
We are still on our final analysis and our approach has been to point up the ideology of Pentecostal leadership, to see whether (and if) it is at variance with historic Catholicism.
A recently, privately-bound study of a religious who took to Pentecostalism reveals many things about convents and cloisters that is common knowledge among the initiated but still unknown among the faithful at large.
Thematic to this study is the firm belief that the bete noire of religious life is structure and institutionalism; that openness to the Spirit along Pentecostal lines gives best promise for religious in the future. A few sample statements indicated the general tenor:
We must remember that in order to choose religious life, you must be a misfit.
The danger is that a sacred institution tends to isolate man so he can stand back and deal with God. The institution tends to come between man and God.
Religious life is a human institution which God merely tolerates. God’s pleasure is the one thing necessary, and God’s good pleasure is man’s total openness. It is in this openness that we find our true identity, but this takes courage.
Total openness takes faith. Awareness of our true identity implies a life of faith. But faith implies doubt. You can’t have faith without doubt. Doubt and faith are two sides of the same thing. We don’t pray right because we evade doubt. And we evade it by regularity and by activism. It is in these two ways…by which we justify the self-perpetuation of our institutions.
While other factors have also been operative, it was sentiments like these that contributed to the growing tide in some communities with impatience at the slowness of the institutional Church to up-date religious life, make it truly open to the Spirit, and experience the rich depth of internal peace and joy that seemed to be lacking in structured community routine.
It is not a coincidence that some spokesmen for the charismatic approach to a life of the evangelical counsels have been most critical of such symbols of institutionalism as the Sacred Congregation for Religious. It is not surprising that some who feel that Rome is archaic or out of touch with the times should also be most enthusiastic about Pentecostalism.
There are those who say we should just allow the Pentecostal movement to go and then see what happens. But that is not in the best tradition of Christian prudence. If, as I personally believe, latter-day Pentecostalism is in the same essential stream with Gnosticism, Montanism, and Illuminism, we do not pass moral judgment on people but prudential judgment on an ideology if we say all that I have said in this lecture.
There are grave needs in the Church today–of which the gravest is the urgent recovery of prayer across the spectrum of Catholic living–among bishops, priests, religious and the laity. But if prayer and the experience of God’s presence are so urgently needed, we must use the means that centuries of Christian wisdom have shown are securely effective to satisfy this need. Pentecostalism is not one of these means.
1. Cardinal Calls For Check On Distortions In Charismatic Movement
KOCHI, India January 23, 2002 (UCAN) www.ucanews.com Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of Ernakulam-Angamaly has called on Catholics in India to be vigilant against charismatic groups that deviate from Church teachings. In a pastoral letter, the head of the Syro-Malabar Church (SMC) warned the Church members that some evangelists across the country are indulging in anti-Church teachings.
The letter was read during Sunday Mass Jan. 20 in the nearly 2,500 parishes of SMC’s 24 dioceses. The Oriental Church, based in the southern Indian state of Kerala, has 13 dioceses in Kerala and another 11 outside the state.
While lauding the charismatic movement for its spiritual renewal of the Church, the cardinal expressed regret that some groups are deviating from Church teachings.
Some retreat groups and evangelists use their own methods and work parallel to the Church, propagating spiritual missions such as healing the sick, driving out evil spirits and offering Sacraments independently, he said.
SMC spokesperson Father Paul Thelakat said that the cardinal’s pastoral letter aims to help people understand the charismatic movement and the Catholic Church’s decision to ban some retreat groups in Kerala.
In June and October last year, the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council banned two charismatic groups for organizing spiritual revival meetings that centered on misplaced Catholic beliefs and theological positions.
“The SMC bishop’s synod authorized the major archbishop to explain to the people about the distortions that have crept into the charismatic movement in recent years,” Father Thelakat told UCA News Jan. 20.
In response to the ban, some evangelists who run retreat groups in various dioceses got together to send an explanatory letter to the bishops in Kerala.
Jose Anathanam, founder of the Upper Room charismatic retreat group, circulated an eight-page letter arguing that the ban on him is unethical, uncalled for and against the Church’s own teachings. Anathanam, a Catholic who was banned after he was found baptizing people in rivers, said in his letter that he has a right to baptize his followers for Christ. He also criticized the Church practice of child Baptism, saying it should not be done at an age when one cannot make a commitment to Jesus. Anathanam claimed his spiritual meetings have rekindled the faith of the people, including Catholics. He said God has given him the conviction and spiritual right to baptize others.
However, Cardinal Vithayathil’s letter said the Church does not permit any spiritual revival groups to act separately from the Church. He also insisted that relying solely on the Bible, disregarding Church teachings, is against the Catholic faith and practice. The Bible grew in the Church and she is the keeper and interpreter of the Bible. If evangelists break away from the Church and proclaim that they need only the Bible and not the Church, then it becomes a Protestant movement,” said the Catholic Church leader. He said no Catholic preacher should interpret Gospel passages separately from the Church or offer Sacraments according to his wish.
“Every spiritual renewal group has to grow within the boundaries of parishes” under the guidance of a parish priest, he said, adding that it was “unhealthy” that some groups operate “as parallel outfits” within parishes.
The Church does not teach that diseases will be cured through prayer, said the cardinal, who asked people to make use of modern medicine and psychiatry to treat and cure their physical or mental illness.
“No particular evangelist or charismatic group has been gifted with spiritual prowess to heal illnesses. Similarly, no charismatic group or evangelist should come out with any statement against any other religious community,” Cardinal Vithayathil said. The letter also reminded people and priests of the Church requirement that only priests authorized by local bishops could perform exorcism.
“Christian spirituality is simple. Spirituality is not an escape from the responsibilities of life. The charismatic movement should help people experience this spirituality and the responsibilities of their life better,” the cardinal said.
2. MANGALORE: PRIEST DRAWS ATTENTION TO
MANGALORE, August 27, 2006: A priest in Mangalore has cautioned Charismatic Catholics against going beyond the Church’s understanding of Charismatic gifts and living with double standards.
Highlighting the excessive enthusiasm of being a Charismatic, Fr. Victor A. Pinto, parish priest of the Immaculate Conception Church at Mulky, explains how some Charismatics wouldn’t miss a retreat even though they are not in talking terms with own their in-laws or neighbours. In a full page article published in ‘Raknno’, the Diocesan Konkani weekly, the Priest tries to draw attention to certain things in Charismatic circles that he thinks are close to crossing limits.
The real testimony, he says, is in the witness given at home, in the wards and parish, and not in the various claims of healing and deliverance which take place at retreat centres.
Charisms, Fr. Pinto explains, takes its root in the Greek word “Charisma” which means “free gift”. Hence no gift may be reckoned to be either big or small and no one may make a boast about them. These gifts, he notes, are given for a particular purpose and are not permanent but temporary.
Putting the primacy on the fruit of the Holy Spirit, he deems it necessary for every Catholic to show it in their lives since these are for everyone, whereas the “extraordinary gifts,” he says, are given by God only “to very few” and “this is attested to by the lives of the Blesseds and the Saints in the Church.”
Speaking of the attraction of healings and signs at retreat centres, Fr. Pinto says, “People gather in great numbers at retreat centres even unmindful of their Sunday obligation because wonders take place there that don’t take place in the Church. The Jesus there is mighty but the one in the Church is weak.” He cautioned that “programmes taking place at retreat and pilgrimage centres should not disturb parish activities.”
Money accumulates where wonders take place, and this is true even of Catholic retreat centres which borrow much from Protestant Pentecostals, he alleges. Hence “as a proof of true Gospel proclamation, it is important and useful that a good witness be given by using the accumulated money to carry out works of mercy.”
3. Church warns against new charismatic sects
KOCHI March 27, 2009 The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC), the apex body of the Catholic Church in the southern India state of Kerala, is set to issue a warning against the mushrooming of new church sects that have come up in the state.
A pastoral letter prepared by KCBC said recent upsurge in new sects challenges the Apostolic traditions of the church and rejects the spirit of the Second Vatican Council are these groups are unrelated to the official charismatic renewal initiative.
The pastoral letter, to be read out in Catholic parishes across the dioceses next month, says the tendencies to set up new churches are “dangerous”.
It says several prayer groups led by lay members of the church have turned into sects and moved away from the teachings and tradition of the church. Many of the interpretations of the Bible made by these sects are not reasonable and are against the tradition of the church.
KCBC said the sects which, through wrong interpretations of the Bible, have spread the idea that the end of the world is at hand and that the use of things or figures sacred to other religions leads to the entry of evil spirits into the user.
“This is against the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, which clearly stated that the church truly respected and accepted whatever was holy and true in other religions,” it said.
The pastoral letter says the Charismatic Movement in Kerala under the Catholic Church is coordinated by the Charismatic Commission of the KCBC headquartered at Emmaus Centre, Kalamassery.
4. PASTORAL LETTER Prot. No. 417/2009
dated May 25, 2009
From Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, C.Ss.R., Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly to Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, London England 25 May 2009.
On this occasion I wish to draw your attention to how vigilant we should be to preserve the purity of our faith.
In a situation where there are no clear organizational structures of church administration and especially where there are no possibilities for pastoral care in our own ecclesial traditions or facilities for imparting the faith formation, the possibility of going astray from our original faith inherited from our forefathers is very great.
Today there are many sects spreading teachings that are fundamentally opposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is a sad fact that lured by these sects many have ended up in interpreting the Bible falsely, in neglecting the sacramental life and even in breaking off from the catholic communion.
Let me bring to your notice the relevant portions from the pastoral letter issued by the Kerala Catholic Bishop’s Council in March this year regarding the newly formed sects.
“In recent times some lay gospel preachers have started their own gospel retreat teams and prayer groups and gradually having separated themselves from the authentic catholic teachings and controls have become separate sects on their own. Many of their bible interpretations are contrary to the sacred traditions and teachings and even to common sense.” The pastoral letter refers to some gospel movements and prayer centers which have been recently started in Kerala and which have no ecclesiastical recognition and permission and which have been falsely presenting themselves as having ecclesiastical recognition. These movements include the EMPEROR EMMANUEL TRUST having its center at Muriad in the diocese of Irinjalakuda, “AMMA” at Mala, the UPPER ROOM of Kanjirappally, CORNER STONE, SPIRIT IN JESUS, ATMABHISHEKAM of Ernakulam, and ecclesial communities like the HEAVENLY FEAST. The pastoral letter warns the faithful not to participate in prayer meetings and retreats organized by such sects and groups not recognized by the Catholic Church.
The Syro-Malabar Bishop’s Synod held in August 2008 also had recommended taking action against movements like the Spirit in Jesus, Emperor Emmanuel, Upper Room, etc.
Since these sects mentioned above have been prohibited in one or more dioceses and the evil effects of their activities are not confined to the dioceses where they originated, the Permanent Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church recommended extending their prohibition to the whole of the Syro-Malabar Church. Accordingly, I hereby, declare that these movements mentioned above are prohibited in the whole Syro-Malabar Church. Let me exhort all of you not to take part in the programs organized by these sects or to co-operate with their activities in any way.
Those who invite retreat preachers or groups for retreats and prayer meetings should ensure that they have the approval of the competent authorities of the Catholic Church…
+Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church
N.B: This pastoral letter is to be readout during the Holy Mass on June 29, 2009 in all churches and chapels of the Syro-Malabar Church where there is Sunday Mass for the public.
In the context of cults and sects founded by ex-Catholic charismatic lay persons, read:
EMPEROR EMMANUEL-DANGEROUS DOOMSDAY CULT
EMPEROR EMMANUEL-DANGEROUS DOOMSDAY CULT-SUMMARY
RELATIONSHIP TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS
ANTHONY SAMUEL-ADONAI’S BRIDE-CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC PREACHER TURNS PENTECOSTAL
SPEAKING IN TONGUES AT MASS
ROME, August 24, 2010 (Zenit.org) Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: What is allowed for regarding the (so-called) “speaking in tongues” during a Charismatic Mass? And what exactly is an acceptable type of such Mass? Recently, I attended a Mass where the priest added his own prayers during the elevation of the Eucharist (having said the formal prayers of consecration) and, with those present (who were, excluding myself, members of the parish charismatic prayer group), prayed in tongues during the Eucharistic Prayer and at other moments of the Mass. There were various other obvious illicit moments during the Mass and perhaps afterward as well (e.g., layperson anointing with some type of oil), but I’m particularly curious about the “tongues”. As far as I can deduce, this is not allowed, but it’s exceedingly difficult to find anything to the contrary aside from mere opinions. P.H., Limerick, Ireland
A: There are practically no universal guidelines on this subject, except of course the general norms that prohibit adding anything whatsoever to officially prescribed texts.
Although some individual bishops have published norms for their dioceses, as far as I know the most complete treatment of this subject is that published by the Brazilian bishops’ conference. The document, “Pastoral Orientation Regarding the Catholic Charismatic Renewal,” was issued in November 1994. It can be accessed in the Portuguese original at the bishops’ Web site: www.cnbb.com.br.
It must be noted that the Brazilian bishops have a generally positive view of the Charismatic Renewal, and a significant number participate in charismatic Masses. The renewal is considered as being especially attuned and appealing to a wide swath of Brazilian society and is credited as helping to stem the hemorrhaging of Catholics toward Pentecostal sects.
Therefore, the norms issued by the bishops should be seen as genuine orientations to help the Catholic Charismatic Renewal achieve its full potential as an integral portion of the wider Catholic community. They should not be seen as condemnation of aberrations and abuses.
In dealing with liturgy (Nos. 38-44), the bishops’ document recommends that the members of the renewal receive an adequate liturgical formation. It reminds them that the liturgy is governed by precise rules and nothing external should be introduced (No. 40). No. 41 has precise indications:
“In the celebration of Holy Mass the words of the institution must not be stressed in an inadequate fashion. Nor must the Eucharistic Prayer be interrupted by moments of praise for Christ’s Eucharistic presence by means of applause, cheers, processions, hymns of Eucharistic praise or any other manifestations that exalt in this way the Real Presence and end up emptying out the various dimensions of the Eucharistic celebration.”
In No. 42 the bishops indicate that music and gestures should be appropriate to the moment of the celebration and follow the liturgical norms. A clear distinction should be made between liturgical hymns and other religious songs that are reserved to prayer meetings. Hymns should preferably be chosen from an official repertoire of liturgical songs.
Finally, the bishops say that Charismatic Renewal meetings should not be scheduled to coincide with regular Masses and other gatherings of the whole ecclesial community.
When referring to speaking in tongues (No. 62), the document offers the following clarifications:
“Speaking or praying in tongues: The object or destination of praying in tongues is God himself, being the attitude of a person absorbed in a particular conversation with God. The object or destination of speaking in tongues is the community. The Apostle Paul teaches, ‘When I am in the presence of the community I would rather say five words that mean something than ten thousand words in a tongue’ (1 Corinthians 14:19). Since in practice it is difficult to distinguish between the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and the instigations of the group leader, there should never be a call encouraging praying in tongues, and speaking in tongues should not take place unless there is also an interpreter.”
I think that these wise counsels and norms from the Brazilian bishops show that it is not in conformity with the authentic charism of the Catholic Charismatic renewal to speak in tongues during Mass.
More on Speaking in Tongues [at Mass]
ROME, September 7, 2010 After our mention of the norms of the Brazilian bishops’ conference on speaking and praying in tongues during Mass (see August 24), a reader from Indiana wrote:
“In 1975, at the International Conference on the Charismatic Renewal held in Rome, Pope Paul VI allowed Cardinal Suenens to concelebrate a charismatic Mass in St. Peter’s. At that Mass, there was most definitely praying in tongues (not ‘speaking in tongues’) along with singing in tongues by the cardinals, bishops, priests and laypeople all gathered together at this Mass, with the Pope’s approval. It was a beautiful time of worship in the heart of the Church. The Pope himself spoke to us after Mass with words of welcome and advice for those involved in the charismatic renewal. It is important to make a distinction, as St. Paul himself does, between speaking in tongues and praying in tongues.”
The document I quoted from Brazil clearly made the distinction between praying and speaking in tongues, but finally decided that neither was appropriate in the context of Mass.
The fact that in 1975 Pope Paul VI allowed this concelebration in no way suggests an official approval of all charismatic practices during Mass. In 1975 the Catholic charismatic renewal was barely 8 years old and the Pope was offering cautious encouragement to the movement.
The Church is not hasty in granting definitive approvals or condemnations. It prefers to observe new spiritual realities and orientate little by little. In this sense the 1994 Brazilian document or the 2000 Instruction on Prayers for Healing by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith represent more mature reflections in the light of lived experience.
The aim of such reflections and guidelines is not to condemn the charismatic renewal but to help it achieve its full potential as an integral part of the Church.
ICCRS LEADERSHIP FORMATION
Volume XXXVI Number 5, October – December 2010
QUESTIONS TO THE ICCRS DOCTRINAL COMMISSION
The ICCRS Doctrinal Commission is headed by Bp. Joseph Grech (Australia) and is formed by Fr. Peter Hocken (Austria), Fr. Francis Martin (USA), and Dr. Mary Healy (USA).
The ICCRS Doctrinal Commission is in consultation with theologians from around the world.
Is it OK to pray in tongues at Mass?
The ICCRS Doctrinal Commission has received several inquiries in response to a column published by the Zenit news service on August 24, concerning whether it is permissible to speak in tongues at Mass. The author of the column, Fr. Edward McNamara, LC, cited a 1994 document of the Brazilian bishops’ conference and concluded that “it is not in conformity with the authentic charism of the Catholic Charismatic renewal to speak in tongues during Mass.” However, the Brazilian bishops’ document does not support this conclusion. We would like to clarify this matter to dispel any confusion it may have caused among members of the CCR.
The Brazilian bishops’ document was intended to address specific pastoral situations in Brazil and does not apply to the universal Church, although it does contain some helpful guidelines. As Fr. McNamara notes, the document draws a distinction between “praying in tongues” (prayer addressed to God) and “speaking in tongues” (a message addressed to the assembly). However, he overlooks the relevance of this distinction for the question at hand. His conclusion refers to “speaking in tongues” during Mass without noting that what normally takes place at charismatic liturgies is “praying in tongues.”
The bishops do not say that praying in tongues should not take place at Mass, only that leaders should not specifically call for it. Nor do they prohibit “speaking in tongues”; they only say that it should not take place unless there is also an interpreter.
In considering the proper use of the gift of tongues, it is important to reflect on the teaching of St. Paul. Paul speaks about tongues in 1 Corinthians in the context of instructions on the church’s liturgical assemblies (1 Corinthians 11-14). He describes tongues as a form of prayer under the influence of the Holy Spirit; it is praying or singing “with the spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:15). In saying that the tongue-speaker “utters mysteries in the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:2), Paul indicates that tongues is pre-conceptual, pre-verbal prayer — a prayer of the heart that expresses God’s praise aloud but without words. Paul corrects certain abuses in Corinth in which tongues was being overemphasized to the detriment of prophecy and other gifts that have a greater capacity to build up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:1-17). Nevertheless, he says, “I want you all to speak in tongues” and “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all” (14:5, 18). Elsewhere Paul warns Christians, “Do not quench the Spirit… but test everything, hold fast to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). And he specifically admonishes, “Do not forbid speaking in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:39).
The writings of the Church Fathers also help illuminate this question.
Many Fathers refer to jubilation (jubilatio), a form of praying and singing aloud without words. Their descriptions of jubilation are remarkably similar to our experience of praying or singing in tongues today. St. Augustine explains: “One who jubilates does not utter words, but a certain sound of joy without words: for it is the voice of the soul poured forth in joy, expressing, as far as possible, what it feels without reflecting on the meaning. Rejoicing in exultation, a man uses words that cannot be spoken and understood, but he simply lets his joy burst forth without words; his voice then appears to express a happiness so intense that he cannot explain it” (En. in Ps., 99.4). Augustine does not merely allow but urges his congregation to jubilate: “Rejoice and speak. If you cannot express your joy, jubilate: jubilation expresses your joy if you cannot speak. Let not your joy be silent” (ibid., 97.4). St. Gregory the Great adds, “But we call it jubilus, when we conceive such joy in the heart as we cannot give vent to by the force of words, and yet the triumph of the heart vents with the voice what it cannot give forth by speech. Now the mouth is rightly said to be filled with laughter, the lips with jubilation, since in that eternal land, when the mind of the righteous is borne away in transport, the tongue is lifted up in the song of praise” (Moralia, 8.89; cf. 28.35).
Numerous other Fathers write in similar way. What more fitting occasion could there be for such joy overflowing into wordless praise than at those moments of the liturgy where there is room for a response of song or praise, such as at the alleluia or after communion? In fact, jubilation with improvised melodies was an ordinary part of the liturgy for centuries, and had a significant influence on the development of medieval church music.
This background helps us recognize that tongues is not something “external” introduced into the liturgy; rather, it is a way of singing or praying under the leading of the Spirit. Certainly there can be and sometimes are abuses of the gift of tongues at Mass. But tongues itself is a work of the Spirit, a gift that leads us into more fervent worship, deeper surrender and more intimate communion with the Lord. Countless people in the CCR can testify that this is the case.
It is also important to keep in mind that the popes from the earliest years of the CCR, from Paul VI to Benedict XVI, have strongly supported and encouraged the Renewal as a movement in the Church. On several occasions the popes have celebrated Masses with CCR groups in which there was singing and praying in tongues. Many bishops’ conferences have also issued statements affirming the CCR and the spiritual renewal it has brought to millions of the faithful. Readers interested in finding out more about papal statements on the CCR may consult the ICCRS book “Then Peter stood up…” Collections of the Popes’ Addresses to the CCR from its Origin to the Year 2000. Bishops’ statements with specific guidelines should be read in light of these addresses.
Members of the CCR in every country are encouraged to maintain good relationships with their local church and to follow faithfully any guidelines given by their bishops.
Speaking in Tongues at Mass: Some guidelines
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
The question of whether or not to use the charisms in the Mass has come up recently, and so I would like to take this opportunity to answer the question here.
In our Liturgical tradition, it is clear from the law of the Church that the liturgical texts of the Mass may not be changed, even by a bishop who is celebrating the Mass. The question arises from this is: Isn’t singing in tongues an addition of something foreign to the Mass? Because it is verbal, doesn’t it have to follow this rubrical prohibition? Let us study for a minute what it is we are saying and doing when we sing (or speak) in tongues during the Mass.
A few distinctions must be made immediately when we talk about tongues during the Mass:
There are two expressions of tongues speaking in the Charismatic Renewal’s experience, namely:
1. Speaking (a message) in tongues, and
2. The collective or individual expression of praying in tongues.
In accord with the teaching of St. Paul, if there is a message or prophecy in tongues, it MUST be interpreted, and the message discerned for authenticity. Therefore if the message is not interpreted, it is considered an aberration, and the speaker ought to be counseled about discernment to minimize interruptions during the Mass. If this pheno-menon is experienced in the liturgy, and there is someone present with the charism if interpretation, it is best that
1. Speaking a message in tongues should only be done in a clearly specified “charismatic liturgy,” (that is, one that is not a parish liturgy) in order to minimize the confusion of the faithful who don’t know or understand this gift.
2. The speaker of a message in tongues should submit his or her urging to speak out in tongues to the approval/disapproval of those discerners or word gifts facilitators ministering at the Charismatic Mass. These facilitators should be clearly identified and the speaker must have their approval before being allowed to make such an expression at the Mass. (N.B. The celebrant of the Mass would also have to give permission ahead of time).
Praying in tongues during the Mass can take place in the following ways:
1. Private-voiceless murmuring in tongues (always).
2. Collective vocal signing in tongues at some points in the Liturgy (but, only if permission for singing in tongues during the Liturgy is given ahead of time by the celebrant).
In the first case (private praying in tongues), It is established Catholic practice to add certain aspirations at appropriate points in the Mass. Most commonly these are: “My Lord and My God” during the elevation, or the prayer that accompanies the triple signing with the cross before the Gospel, and finally, mental prayer during the silences prescribed during the rites (most commonly after the words “Let us pray”). Voiceless prayers, murmured ‘under our breath’ are really no different than praying in tongues ‘under our breath’. Praying in tongues in this way can be recommended throughout the Liturgy since we can still be conscious of our surroundings when praying in this way, and not disturb those around us by drawing attention to ourselves.
In the second case (collective vocal singing in tongues), following on the principle of the last paragraph, can be allowed. For example, at the moments of adoration during the elevations of the Eucharistic Prayer, the periods of silence after the readings, or hymns. These all are places where a ‘judicious’ use of praying or singing in tongues might be allowed. As mentioned already these expressions are subject to the regulation of the local ordinary and the permission of the celebrant. This kind of expression should never draw attention to those praying, but rather always be oriented as prayer to the Trinity, the only worthy one to receive such expressions of prayer and adoration.
Singing in tongues at the Liturgy should not be encouraged by any intervening direction or statement such as “let us all lift our voices in Tongues,” or any such thing. Rather it should be permitted if someone is led to sing in tongues spontaneously. There are now customary places where singing in tongues has been permitted in a charismatic masses since the beginning of the Renewal, and these seem to not interrupt the flow of the liturgy unduly. This has even occurred at the Masses during international gatherings of the Charismatic Renewal with the Pope.
If the celebrant of the Mass proceeds with the liturgy, even as singing in tongues is happening, then all tongues should stop. Therefore, I would recommend that singing in tongues in a Charismatic Mass be limited to (but not prescribed for) the following points in the liturgy:
1. After the opening Hymn
2. After the Glory to God (if sung)
3. After the Responsorial Psalm
4. After the Gospel Acclamation
5. After the Holy, Holy, Holy
6. After the Elevation each of the Body of Christ or Blood of Christ in the Eucharistic Prayer
7. After the Communion chant or hymn.
It is hoped that this information and set of guidelines will help Catholic Charismatics to be comfortable with the use of their charisms in the liturgy, and will understand more the nature of singing in tongues during the Mass. It is most important that the charismatic expressions be submitted to the Church’s good order, and the legislation of the Bishop, or the direction given during the Liturgy by the celebrant. God is a God of order, and not disorder.
Sincerely, Fr. Don Malin, VF, C-4 Coordinator, Colorado Catholic Charismatic Committee, August 24, 2010
With Hummes, there arrives at the Curia a world champion, Brazil
It had the primacy as the most populous Catholic nation. But today Brazil faces the challenge of the formidable growth of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. How will the Church of Rome respond? A survey by the Pew Forum. By Sandro Magister ROMA, November 3, 2006.
On the vigil for the Feast of All Saints, Benedict XVI called to direct the Vatican congregation for the clergy a personality of the first rank in the worldwide Church: Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, archbishop of São Paulo in Brazil. Until 1967, the congregation for the clergy was called the congregation “of the Council”. It was created four centuries earlier with the aim of applying the norms of the Council of Trent.
Today its main tasks are overseeing the activities of priests all over the world, and the catechesis of the faithful.
These are tasks particularly close to the heart of Benedict XVI, as proven by his frequent appeals, especially in the addresses he delivers to bishops on their “ad limina” visits.
In October of 2005, during the synod of bishops, Pope Joseph Ratzinger was deeply moved by the diagnosis that Hummes made of the state of Catholicism in Brazil and in the rest of South America:
“The number of Brazilians who declare themselves Catholics has diminished rapidly, on an average of 1% a year. In 1991 Catholic Brazilians were nearly 83%, today and according to new studies, they are barely 67%. We wonder with anxiety: how long will Brazil remain a Catholic country? In conformity with this situation, it has been found that in Brazil there are two Protestant pastors for each Catholic priest, and the majority from the Pentecostal Churches. Many indications show that the same is true for almost all of Latin America and here too we wonder: how long will Latin America remain a Catholic continent?”
A few days later, Benedict XVI announced that in May of 2007 he will go to Brazil in person, to the shrine of the Aparecida, for the general conference of the CELAM, the federation of Latin American bishops’ conferences.
And the pope is now asking Hummes to take command, from Rome, of a Catholic revival in the vast regions of the world where the “Fire from Heaven” rages most strongly.
“Fire from Heaven” is the title of a famous essay written in 1995 by the American Protestant theologian Harvey Cox, describing the formidable growth of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity over the past century.
Another important book for understanding this phenomenon is from 2002: “The Next Christendom. The Coming of Global Christianity.” The author, Philip Jenkins, is a professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University.
Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, which developed at the beginning of the twentieth century and grew in a series of waves, today comprises almost a fourth of the 2 billion Christians all over the world.
A substantial part of this movement has given rise to new independent Churches, but another part has remained within the historical Churches, including the Catholic Church.
The dominant traits of this new Christianity are a profound personal faith, a demanding and puritanical morality, doctrinal orthodoxy, tightly knit community ties, a strong missionary spirit, prophecy, healings, and visions.
Brazil is a country in which the advent of this new form of Christianity is particularly visible.
In the 1980 census, Catholics made up 89 percent of the population, and members of the Pentecostal Churches made up 3.3 percent. In the 2000 census, the Catholics dropped to 73.6 percent, and the Pentecostals rose to 10.4.
This year, a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life conducted in the metropolitan areas of Brazil showed Catholics at 57 percent and Protestants at 21 percent.
Eight out of ten Protestants identify themselves as Pentecostal or Charismatic. And around half of the Catholics identify themselves this way. Three out of four of those who have joined the new Pentecostal Churches are former Catholics.
The Brazilian Catholic Church has, therefore, experienced severe losses and significant internal changes over the past few decades. The “base ecclesial communities,” which the hierarchy emphasized at first, have restricted the ranks of the faithful instead of expanding them. Liberation theology, which has its origins in Western Europe, has sparked an even more restricted and self-referential élite, the polar opposite of the Charismatic currents that are running wild among the popular classes as well. In recent years, there have been signs of reconsideration in the Catholic hierarchy, as exemplified by the personal evolution of Hummes himself, a member of the Franciscan order of friars minor who was initially of social-progressive leanings, but later drew closer to the Charismatic movement.
In any case, the perception that the advance of the Pentecostals and Charismatics is the most significant overall new development in Christianity over the last century is far from being shared by the hierarchy as a whole and by the élites that influence public opinion the most.
This blindness was the recent target of an authoritative exponent of Christian progressivism in Italy, the Waldensian Protestant pastor Giorgio Bouchard, in two books dedicated to the Pentecostal and “Evangelical” revival:
Bouchard writes: “The Pentecostals, and with them other evangelicals, are absolutely the religious movement spreading most rapidly throughout the world: more than the historical Protestant and Catholic Churches, more than the Muslims who also find themselves in a phase of vigorous expansion. […] In an age infested by the worst kind of moral relativism and by a suffocating materialism, the Pentecostals represent a new and legitimate interpretation of Christian piety, founded on a great certainty: the presence of the Spirit, the greatly overlooked third person of the Trinity.”
He continues: “Naturally, this movement is not very welcome among the secularized intellectuals of Harvard, the Sorbonne, and Frankfurt. They have begun to use the word ‘fundamentalist’ as a synonym for ‘obscurantist’: but this is a lexical abuse that must be firmly resisted. […] Fundamentalism has one great merit: it brings the Bible back into focus as the touchstone for society, and also as a book of prayer. […] Of course, we can criticize them from our point of view as somewhat disenchanted Europeans, and sometimes it is right to criticize them, but I don’t think it is licit to dismiss them summarily. Why is it that lung cancer is almost completely nonexistent among them, and AIDS almost unknown? Why is it that their young people abstain from drugs and alcohol? It could be that these same much-despised fundamentalists constitute the last manifestation of the puritan spirit that has had such a great importance in the history of modern democracy.”
The Pentecostal and Charismatic revival in Brazil and in nine other countries – the United States, Chile, Guatemala, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, India, the Philippines, and South Korea – was the subject of an in-depth survey conducted recently by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington.
In the concluding report for the survey, “Pentecostals” is used to indicate the adherents to new Churches of this kind – like the Assemblies of God, in existence for over a century, or the more recent Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which is especially widespread in Brazil – while “Charismatics” refers to those who have remained within the historical Churches, both Catholic and Protestant. The term “renewal” refers to both of these groupings.
So then, in the metropolitan areas of Brazil the Pentecostals now make up 15 percent of the population, and the Charismatics, 34 percent. Altogether they make up half the population. What distinguishes them from the other Christians are the “signs of the Spirit”: speaking in tongues, prophesying, performing healings. Very few of them actually carry out these practices, but all of them maintain that they are gifts from heaven. They read the Sacred Scriptures more than other Christians do, and they attend church services more frequently.
But in Brazil, both of these practices are more intense only among the Pentecostals.
Among Catholic Charismatics the reading of the Bible and Mass attendance are in line with the standards of the common faithful, two out of three of whom go to church every Sunday.
Compared with the Charismatics, the Pentecostals also have a much stronger belief in the imminence of the end times, the urgency of mission, the certainty that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, the conviction that material prosperity is a gift from God and that they have a duty to work on behalf of justice and for the poor. Because of their concentration on the spiritual life, the opinion is widespread that the Pentecostals and Charismatics keep their distance from political life.
But that’s not the way it is. The Pew Forum has verified that the opposite is true. The Pentecostals and Charismatics want their respective religious communities to take public positions on social and political questions, and believe it is important that political leaders have a strong Christian faith.
Like Christians in general, the majority of Pentecostals and Charismatics are also convinced that there are clear criteria, valid always and for everyone, to establish what is good and what is evil.
But again, the Pentecostals part ways with the Charismatics in putting up stronger opposition to homosexuality, prostitution, sex outside of marriage, polygamy, divorce, alcohol, suicide, euthanasia.
As for abortion, 91 percent of Pentecostals and 76 percent of Charismatics maintain that this is not justified under any circumstances. But both of these groups are split roughly in two over whether or not the state should legalize it.
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most of those surveyed do not state their position. But those who do strongly tend to side with the Israel rather than with the Arabs.
On the war against Islamic terrorism conducted by the United States, in Brazil those opposed are only slightly more numerous than those in favor. Among the other countries surveyed by the Pew Forum, the ones in which the Pentecostals and Charismatics are more in support of the American war are those in closest contact with the Muslim world: Nigeria, Kenya, and the Philippines. In Brazil, as in all the nine other countries in the survey, the Pentecostals and Charismatics consider religion the most important component of identity. In short, the Charismatic phenomenon is by no means disconnected from a more general revival in the importance of religion in society worldwide.
In secularized Europe, Italy is an important test case of this revival.
For example, while in France over the past twenty years the “practicing believers” have fallen to under 10 percent, and in Spain they have fallen by a third, in Italy over the same twenty years they have grown to around 40 percent. This revival includes the young people, which again is the opposite of what is happening in other countries in Europe.
Vice versa, the “non-believers” have fallen by a half in Italy, from 12.1 to 6.6 percent. While in France, over the same twenty years, they have risen from 34.6 to 38.5 percent.
Moreover, in Italy the conviction has grown stronger that “there are clear criteria to establish what is good and what is evil; and these criteria are valid for all, independently of the circumstances.”
This conviction is shared today in Italy by one citizen in three: fewer than in the United States or – as has been seen – in Brazil, but still the reverse tendency with respect to other European countries.
These data are analyzed in an essay by a non-Catholic sociologists, Loredana Sciolla, “La sfida dei valori [The Challenge of Values],” published in 2004 by il Mulino. In the judgment of this scholar, the uniqueness of Italy is tied to a strong presence of the Catholic Church within it.
It is that Church “of the people” upon which Benedict XVI – in the address delivered in Verona last October 19 – has placed his wager, that it may render “a great service, not only to Italy, but also to Europe and to the world.”
The final report of the survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life:
“Spirit and Power. A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals”, October 2006 http://pewforum.org/surveys/pentecostal
*With regard to my comments, point no. 6 on page 4, please note:
CCC 2290: The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.
CCC 2291: The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.
These issues will be discussed in detail in a separate article.
The Charismatic Renewal and the Catholic Church
By Alessandra Nucci, May 18, 2013
A look at the history and future of the sometimes-controversial movement
When the newly elected Pope Francis appeared at the window before the cheering crowd in St Peter’s Square, and promptly bowed down asking the people to pray for him, most of the public at large was charmed, but puzzled. Pope Benedict too had asked the people to pray for him from the outset, but without the bowed head. To some spectators, however—including the members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and their counterparts in the Protestant and Orthodox worlds—the gesture came as something surprisingly familiar. In the “charismatic” galaxy, prayer is offered and asked for in this way by people of all levels—specifically, prayer for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
There is a photograph available on the Internet that shows Pope Francis, while still archbishop of Buenos Aires, on his knees with head bowed as a group of evangelical pastors and Catholic priests and laymen pray over him. As Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Pope would celebrate Mass on a monthly basis for the Charismatic Renewal of Buenos Aires. And despite the conflicts between Catholics and Pentecostals in Latin America, word has it that Pentecostal pastors rejoiced at the election of the new Catholic pope.
Pope Francis’ frequent mentions of the Holy Spirit—whom he has described as someone who “annoys us” and “moves us, makes us walk, pushes the Church to move forward”—as well as his unprecedentedly frequent references to the devil (rather than to a generic “evil”), indicate his affinity for the Charismatic Renewal. The election of such a back-to-basics man as Supreme Pontiff provides us with an opportunity to look at the road traveled by the Charismatic Renewal and to “hold on to what is good” (1 Thess 5:21).
Despite the openness of its approach, for many the Charismatic Renewal is either undecipherable or a clear-cut deviation into “modernism.” Having made its appearance in the Catholic world after Vatican Council II, with spectacular aspects such as prophecies and miracle-healings, it was obviously lumped in with the many other challenging and controversial novelties that surfaced at the time under the banner of “renewal.” Yet the Charismatic Renewal in its Catholic expression is generally painstaking in its strict adherence to the Church and to Catholic doctrine, a fact which, in itself, can cause controversy and sometimes alienates Pentecostal, Evangelical, non-denominational, or other ecumenical counterparts.
Zealous renewal, not fundamentalist revolution
Between its charismatic phenomena on the one hand, and its adherence to Church doctrine on the other, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has the potential to rile people up all round. But with four years to go before its 50th anniversary, and in the light of the official sanctions by bishops from Italy to Argentina to Korea—not to mention messages of encouragement from Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI—surely this group deserves the benefit of the doubt and unprejudiced scrutiny. As recommended in 1998 by the future Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, speaking about ecclesial movements in general:
we must not allow the establishment of a blasé enlightenment that immediately brands the zeal of those seized by the Holy Spirit and their naïve faith in God’s Word with the anathema of fundamentalism, allowing only a faith for which the ifs, ands, and buts become more important than the substance of what is believed. 
While the Catholic Charismatic Renewal may to all outer appearances seem unruly, unconventional, and a tad fanatical, in actual fact, if a bishop anywhere were to tell a Catholic Charismatic Renewal group to close down, close down they would. The CCR can be considered a possible antidote to the deviations of modernism and the infiltration of pagan spirituality and the politics of liberation theology into the life of the Church, bringing into obedience to the Magisterium elements that attract so many to Pentecostalism: overt spirituality, rediscovery of Scripture, the use of charismatic gifts, and a return to the rejoicing, full-bodied mode of primitive Christianity.
Catholic from the outset
The worldwide charismatic movement, which now includes an estimated 700 million people around the world, of which an estimated 160 million are Catholics, has its origins in the events of January 1, 1901, when a young girl began speaking in tongues after the prayer and invocation of the Holy Spirit by a lay evangelist of Methodist extraction. This took place in Topeka, Kansas; from there the movement grew and gradually spread to the established churches in the Protestant and Orthodox traditions, and lastly to the Roman Catholic Church.
Although customs and terminology were grafted onto the Catholic Charismatic Renewal from these Pentecostal sources, the Catholic Church had its own part to play in the January 1, 1901 beginning. On that morning, in Rome, before young Agnes Ozman started speaking in tongues in Topeka, Pope Leo XIII ushered in the new century by solemnly invoking the Holy Spirit over all of Christendom.
One of the chief ends that Pope Leo had explicitly dedicated his long pontificate to was the reunion of all Christians. Now, he was asking the Holy Spirit to bring his work to maturity and to bear fruit, with a renewed outpouring of his gifts not just over Catholics, but over all the disciples of Christ. Very few in the Protestant and Orthodox worlds—indeed, not even many Catholics—are aware of this historical fact. But to believers who attach such specific meaning and tangible effects to the invocation of the Holy Spirit, it can be no small matter.
It all started with a nun in Lucca, Italy, Elena Guerra (1835-1914), the founder of the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Spirit, whom Pope John XXIII was to beatify and give the title “Apostle of the Holy Spirit “in 1959.
Over a period of eight years, around the turn of the last century, Blessed Elena Guerra wrote 13 letters to the Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII, urging him to establish an institutional devotion to the Holy Spirit. Leo was thus prompted to call the faithful to a novena in preparation for Pentecost 1895, in an apostolic letter entitled Provida Matris Charitate, in which he called particular attention to one of the fruits of the Paraclete, “the unity and unanimity” described in Acts 4:32: “The whole group of believers were united, heart and soul.” Two years later, he wrote his short encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Divinum Illud Munus, (“He is the substantial, eternal, and first Love, and there is nothing more lovable than love”), explaining the Spirit’s unity with the Father and the Son in the Trinity and making the novena to the Holy Spirit public and permanent.
Both documents fell on deaf ears: the bishops did not take the Pontiff’s instruction to heart and the lowly nun observed, in her sixth letter to Pope Leo, “It is true that right after the publication of that encyclical, which I believe was dictated by the Holy Spirit, many bishops thanked Your Holiness…And this was good. But wouldn’t it have been better to obey…?”
Elena Guerra wrote more letters and Pope Leo took two more steps. On January 1, 1901, in St. Peter’s Basilica, he chanted the Veni Creator Spiritus, invoking the Holy Spirit over all Christians—again, at Elena’s suggestion. In a letter dated October 15, 1900 she wrote: “May the new century begin with a Veni Creator Spiritus…sung either at the beginning of the Midnight Mass, or before the first Mass to be celebrated in every Church on the first day of the year.”
Lastly, in 1902, the Roman Pontiff, now 92, had a copy of his 1897 encyclical sent to the bishops, with a cover letter entitled Ad fovendum in cristiano populo (“To the purpose of promoting in the Christian people”), as a reminder of the perpetual and obligatory nature of the Pentecost novena to the Holy Spirit, again insisting it be prayed for the unity of all Christians.
Despite Pope Leo’s efforts, the devotion died down in the Catholic Church, which was facing troubled times, and was carried on by the order of the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Spirit, founded by Blessed Elena.
Italy, it must be remembered, is a country whose national independence movement waged war on the beliefs of its people. The lies and distortion of facts about the pope, which are still with us, were the indispensable means to pry the people’s loyalty away from the papacy and gain their acceptance of their new rulers, the victors from the Piedmont, in Italy’s northwest.
Blessed Elena was in her prime during these years of the 19th century, when the Catholic Church was surrounded, slandered, and hollowed out by laws that confiscated, by degrees, the property of all of the religious orders, one after the other. In these years, 1,322 monasteries were closed down and 57,492 religious were deprived of their possessions, down to their very beds. The main instigator of these confiscations was the Prime Minister of Italy, Count Camillo Cavour, a Freemason who proclaimed himself Catholic and explained that losing all property meant that the Church would be free of material encumbrances and therefore better able to tend to its spiritual mandate. In other words, stealing from the Church was presented as something entirely in the Church’s own best interests.
This, of course, was the situation that prompted the dogma of the infallibility of the pope, promulgated in 1870 at the first Vatican Council, which was interrupted by the canon fire of the Northern Italian troops as they broke through the fortifications of the city of Rome.
Decades of deliberate ambiguity, deception, and re-written history books have taken their toll on the reputation of the pope and the hierarchy, and on many religious orders. Thus were Catholics, whether lay or religious, in Italy and the world over, kept busy defending and ultimately defining their faith against division, confusion, and infiltration.
Is it any wonder, then, that the action of the Holy Spirit, at the Pope’s invocation and Blessed Elena’s inspiration, gave rise to an immense tide of prayer, not in Rome but on the other side of the Atlantic and in the heartland of Protestantism?
The Holy Spirit comes full circle
The Charismatic Renewal was eventually sparked in the Catholic Church in 1967, not by any intervention of the pope or clergy, but at the level of the laity at a students’ retreat at Duquesne University, in February of that year. Interestingly, tradition puts in an appearance here as well, as Duquesne was founded in 1878 by the Holy Ghost Fathers, members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. From there the flame went almost simultaneously to Notre Dame where, in the words of Dorothy Ranaghan, writer and witness of the beginnings, after the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit:
Summer school brought in priests, nuns, and lay people from all over the world. And so we held prayer meetings and crowds attended and hundreds were baptized in the Holy Spirit and they took the baptism in the Holy Spirit back to their home countries. It was a wild and wonderful summer. There were no Life in the Spirit Seminars [they hadn’t been written yet], we just laid hands on everyone and prayed right away and amazing things happened. Given our youth and inexperience it is all the more evident that it was God’s work, not ours.
How interesting that at the same time that hippies were having their “Summer of Love” in San Francisco, and the Beatles were being sought out by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, to attract through them the youth of the West to Hinduism and the New Age, the Holy Spirit was invisibly at work, treating His own young people to a wild summer of rejoicing and charismatic renewal at Catholic Notre Dame.
The Holy Spirit came full circle when the Charismatic Renewal landed back in the Catholic Church in Rome, in 1970, led by Americans, both lay and religious.
The proximity to the Vatican entailed of necessity a closer scrutiny of the more conspicuous charismatic gifts, such as praying in tongues, healing, and prophecy, as was illustrated by the jocular admission of Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, then archbishop of Florence, at the national meeting of the Italian Renewal in the Holy Spirit in Rimini, 1996:
Whenever I come here to be with you I always urge you not to concentrate on the miracle-type phenomena, but rather on prayer and the sacraments. But I must say [here he broke into a broad smile] that when I come here, afterwards I always do feel a whole lot better!
An army of ecclesiastical figures have been to annual assemblies of the Charismatic Renewal at Rimini, from cardinals and bishops on down to a yearly cadre of five to seven hundred priests and nuns, especially since the Italian Bishops’ Conference gave its seal of approval to the Statutes of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit.
That the more blatant manifestations of the Holy Spirit can have aroused suspicion is no doubt due, at least in part, to the Protestant origins of Pentecostalism, which arrived in Rome in 1908, but also to the same wariness that led the Pharisees to accuse Jesus himself of deriving his power from the devil (Mt 9:34 and 12:24). The extraordinary phenomena of the Holy Spirit was also a source of difficulty for Blessed Elena. Living at a time of alarming growth of modernist heresies (among which many remain well known to us today, such as pantheism), it appears she too may have been suspected of modernism, or of the so-called “Pentecostal heresy,” as news arrived of the amazing revival in America. This may help explain why, on September 20, 1906, at the age of 71, she was cruelly deposed, derided, placed under strict surveillance, and forbidden to write a single line for the last eight years of her life.
The work of doctrinal definition, which can help make important distinctions in this particularly sensitive area, is being carried out today by the ICCRS, the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, an association of recognized pontifical right, hosted on Vatican premises.
ICCRS keeps track of Charismatic Renewal groups, communities, and, in recent years, a female religious order throughout the world. It has a Doctrinal Commission, headed by Mary Healy, professor of Sacred Scripture at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, which works in close touch with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Alessandra Nucci is an Italian author and journalist.
Dissent at Catholic Youth Ministries
By Austin Ruse, Crisis Magazine, July 19, 2013
Scott Hahn, once a charismatic himself, told me the charismatic movement was one lane coming into the church and six going out. What is the calculus for Catholic youth ministries? How many lanes in? How many lanes out?
Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute focusing on international legal and social policy.