Catholic Charismatic Renewal

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The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a Spiritual Renewal within the Catholic Church. While the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church makes no distinction between churches, some charismatic parishes may practice "worship outside of Mass," including prayer meetings featuring apparent prophecy, faith healing and glossolalia. Proponents of the charismatic experience put forth the belief that certain charismata (a Greek word for gifts), bestowed by the Holy Spirit, such as the abilities to pray in tongues and to heal (which Christians generally believe existed in the early Church as described in the Bible) should still be practiced today.

A dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, who is believed by Christians to confer various gifts.

A Catholic church in Ann Arbor, Michigan describes charismatic prayer:

"A charismatic style of prayer is common at Christ the King. People are free to raise their hands in prayer and during songs, many pray their own prayers audibly, some pray in tongues, etc.... They pray with expressive or charismatic prayer at monthly parish prayer meetings, at the beginning of parish meetings, and most especially during certain moments in the Holy Mass. These are some of the external markers of a charismatic parish. Internal markers include a radical surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all parts of life, a strong adherence to the Gospel and the teachings of the Catholic Church, and the pursuit of strong friendships centered on Christ."[1]

Critics of the Renewal accuse charismatic Catholics of misinterpreting, or in some cases violating, church teaching on worship and liturgy. Traditional Catholics argue that charismatic practices take the focus of worship away from communion with Christ in the Eucharist, focusing instead on emotions and non-liturgical experiences as a substitute.


Pentecost by El Greco

The charisms identified in Saint Paul's writings, especially in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12-14, and Ephesians 4:11-12, continue to exist and to build up the Church (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2003). The nine charismatic gifts considered extraordinary in character include: faith, expression of knowledge and wisdom, miracles, the gift of tongues and their interpretation, prophecy, discernment of spirits and healing.(1 Corinthians 12:8-10)[2] These gifts are related to the traditional seven gifts of the Holy Spirit described in Isaiah 11:1-2 (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, as listed in Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1831). The nine charismatic gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 are also related to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.[3] Other references to charisms in the Catechism of the Catholic Church include §§688, 768, 799-801, 890, 951, 1508 (charism of healing) and 2035.


The Catholic Charismatic Renewal as it exists today is the result of Vatican II call of a new pentecost. The Renewal began in the Catholic Church following a retreat held from 17 to 19 February 1967 by several faculty members and students from Duquesne University, a Catholic university in Pittsburgh operated by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (a Catholic religious order founded in France in 1703). Many of the students - though not all - claimed to have experienced a movement of God’s Spirit called being baptized in the Holy Spirit. The professors had previously been baptized in the Spirit a week or two before. Believers felt that God’s action was also prepared for in a very human way by the students’ prayerful preparation in reading the Acts of the Apostles and a book entitled The Cross and the Switchblade.[4] What happened quickly spread to graduate students and professors at the University of Notre Dame and others serving in campus ministry. The movement was given a major endorsement by Léo Joseph Cardinal Suenens (1904–1996), a leading cardinal in the Catholic Church and one of four moderators of the Second Vatican Council.[5]

Catholic Charismatic Renewal today[edit]

The Eucharist being elevated during a Catholic Charismatic Renewal healing service, in which the faithful not only pray for spiritual and physical healings, but also for miracles.
Praise and Worship during a CCR Healing Service.

As of 2013, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal exists in over 230 countries in the world, with over 160 million members.[6] Participants in the Renewal also cooperate with non-Catholic ecclesiastical communities and other Catholics for ecumenism, as encouraged by the Catholic Church.[7]

The Charismatic element of the Church is seen as being evident today as it was in the early days of Christianity. Some Catholic Charismatic communities conduct healing services, gospel power services, outreaches and evangelizations where the presence of the Holy Spirit is believed to be felt, and healings and miracles are said to take place.[8] The mission of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is to educate believers into the totality of the declaration of the gospels. This is done by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; a one-to-one relationship with Jesus is seen as a possibility by the Charismatic. He is encouraged to talk to Jesus directly and search for what The Lord is saying so that his life will be one with Him; to walk in the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, this is what the Charismatic understands by giving his life to Jesus. Conscience is seen as an alternative voice of Jesus Christ.[9]

Reaction from the Church hierarchy[edit]

Pope John Paul II

The initial reaction to the movement by the Church hierarchy was cautiously supportive. Some initially supported it as being a harbinger of ecumenism (greater unity of Gospel witness among the different Christian traditions). It was thought that these practices would draw the Catholic Church and Protestant communities closer together in a truly spiritual ecumenism. Today, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal enjoys the support from most of the Church's hierarchy, from the Pope to bishops of dioceses around the world, as a recognized ecclesial movement.[10]

Three popes have acknowledged the movement: Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pope John Paul II stated that the movement was integral to the renewal of the entire Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II (as well as then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) acknowledged good aspects of the movement while urging caution, pointing out members must maintain their Catholic identity and communion with the Catholic Church.[11]

Pope John Paul II, in particular, made a number of statements on the movement. On November 30, 1990, The Pontifical Council for the Laity promulgated the decree which inaugurated the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships. Brian Smith of Brisbane, elected President of the Executive of the Fraternity, called the declaration the most significant event in the history of the charismatic renewal since the 1975 Holy Year international conference and the acknowledgment it received from Pope Paul VI at that time, saying 'It is the first time that the Renewal has had formal, canonical recognition by the Vatican.' [12]

In March 1992, Pope John Paul II stated

At this moment in the Church's history, 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.[13]

Moreover, during Pentecost 1998, the Pope recognized the essential nature of the charismatic dimension:

"The institutional and charismatic aspects are co-essential as it were to the Church’s constitution. They contribute, although differently, to the life, renewal and sanctification of God’s People. It is from this providential rediscovery of the Church’s charismatic dimension that, before and after the Council, a remarkable pattern of growth has been established for ecclesial movements and new communities."[14]

The Papal Preacher, Rev. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, has written on the topic numerous times since 1986.[15]


Charismatic Catholics and their practices have been criticised for distracting Catholics from authentic Church teachings and traditions, especially by making the worship experience more akin to Pentecostal Protestantism.[16] According to Samuel Rodriguez, Charismatic services in America simply help in increasing the number of Catholics converting to Pentecostal and evangelical denominations: “If you are involved in a Charismatic service today, in ten years’ time—inevitably—you are going to end up in one of my churches.”[17]

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Christ is actually present on the altar in the sacrifice of the Mass, when a priest consecrates bread and wine to become the body and blood of Jesus. Critics of the charismatic movement argue that such practices as faith healing draw attention away from the Mass and the communion with Christ that takes place therein.

Others denounce the charismatic movement for removing, or obscuring, traditional Catholic symbols (such as the crucifix and Sacred Heart) in favor of contemporary expressions of faith.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christ the King Catholic Church
  2. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 2nd ed., §2003 (1997)
  3. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 2nd ed., §2447 (1997)
  4. ^ Laurentin, René. Catholic Pentecostalism, (Doubleday & Co. Ltd., 1977) reprinted in Speaking in Tongues: A Guide to Research on Glossalalia, Watson E. Mills, ed. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1986), 235.
  5. ^ Suenens, Léo Joseph Cardinal, A New Pentecost?, (Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd., 1974)
  6. ^ Nucci, Alessandra. "The Charismatic Renewal and the Catholic Church", The Catholic World Report, May 18, 2013
  7. ^ Pope John Paul II, "Ut Unum Sint", §40, May 25, 1995
  8. ^ Marana tha' Malta
  9. ^ McDonnell & Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries, Michael Glazier Books, 1990. See also the work of the Cor et Lumen Christi Community based in England at link.
  10. ^ See notes 9, 10, 11, and 12 below.
  11. ^ "Charismatic Renewal - General. Donovan, Colin B. Eternal Word Television Network.". Retrieved 2006-04-18. 
  12. ^ "Fraternity of Covenant Communities: November 30, 1990". Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  13. ^ "Address of Pope John Paul II to the ICCRO Council: March 12, 1992". Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  14. ^ Pentecost Address 1998
  15. ^ "P. Raniero Cantalamessa, ofmcap: Bibliography". Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  16. ^ Charismatics in Context. Ignitum Today. Published: 30 January 2014.
  17. ^ "Faith: Pick and mix". The Economist. 14 March 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  18. ^ "Teresa Barrett, "Beware RENEW," Christian Order, February 2003". Retrieved 2013-03-08. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa (Papal Preacher) (October 2005). Sober Intoxication of the Spirit. Servant Publications. ISBN 0-86716-713-0. 
  • Stephen B. Clark (January 1994). Charismatic Spirituality. Servant Books. ISBN 1-56955-390-4. 
  • Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes (December 1997). Call to Holiness: Reflections on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Michael Glazier Books. ISBN 0-8146-5887-3. 
  • Wilson Ewin ([199-]). The Spirit of Pentecostal-Charismatic Unity. Nashua, N.H.: Bible Baptist Church. N.B.: Discussion of the charismatic movement's Catholic and non-Catholic increase in coöperation and at attempts for unity. Without ISBN
  • Fr. Donald L. Gelpi, S.J. (1971). Pentecostalism: A Theological Viewpoint. Paulist Press. ASIN B001M1YC7I. 
  • David Mangan (Duquesne student at 1967 retreat) (April 2008). God Loves You and There's Nothing You Can Do About It: Saying Yes to the Holy Spirit. Servant Books. ISBN 978-0-86716-839-6. 
  • Patti Gallagher Mansfield (Duquesne student at 1967 retreat) (1992). As By A New Pentecost: The Dramatic Beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Procaim! Publications, Lancashire, UK. ISBN 0-9530272-2-8. 
  • Ralph Martin (December 2006). Hungry for God. Servant Publications. ISBN 0-86716-801-3. 
  • Ralph Martin (2006). The Fulfillment of all Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints. Emmaus Road Publishing. ISBN 1-931018-36-7. 
  • Frs. McDonnell & Montague (September 1990). Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries. Michael Glazier Books. ISBN 0-8146-5009-0. 
  • Fr. George T. Montague, S.M. (Biblical scholar) (February 2008). Holy Spirit Make Your Home in Me: Biblical Meditations on Receiving the Gift of the Spirit. The Word Among Us Press. ISBN 978-1-59325-128-4. 
  • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI (October 2007). New Outpourings of the Spirit. Ignatius Press. ISBN 1-58617-181-X. 
  • Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR (March 1996). What Does God Want?: A Practical Guide to Making Decisions. Our Sunday Visitor. ISBN 978-0-87973-584-5.  Includes practical applications of Catholic teaching on discernment of spirits by a prominent charismatic leader in higher education.
  • Dr. Alan Schreck (1995). Your Life in the Holy Spirit: What Every Catholic Needs to Know and Experience. The Word Among Us Press. ISBN 978-1-59325-105-5. 
  • Léon Joseph Cardinal Suenens (1977). A New Pentecost?. Fount Publishers. ISBN 0-00-624340-1.  This book is available for free at the John Carroll University website (see external link below).
  • Cardinal L.J. Suenens, Une Novelle Pentecôte? [s.l.]: Desclée de Brouwer, 1974. Sans ISBN
  • Fr. Francis A. Sullivan, S.J. (1982). Charisms and Charismatic Renewal: A Biblical and Theological Study. Wipf & Stock. ISBN 1-59244-941-7. 
  • Prof. Antonio Calisi, (2015). L'Ecumenismo, il Rinnovamento Carismatico Cattolico e la Comunità di Gesù. Chàrisma Edizioni. ISBN 9788890855948. 

External links[edit]