Catholic Charismatic Renewal

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Catholic Charismatic Renewal
Gian Lorenzo Bernini - Dove of the Holy Spirit.JPG
A dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, who is believed by Christians to confer various gifts
FounderWilliam Storey and Ralph Keifer
TypeCatholic apostolic movement
Headquarters Vatican

Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a spiritual movement within the Catholic Church that incorporates aspects of both Catholic and Charismatic Movement practice. It is influenced by some of the teachings of Protestantism and Pentecostalism with an emphasis on having a personal relationship with Jesus and expressing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. [1]


Parishes that practice charismatic worship usually hold prayer meetings outside of Mass and feature such gifts as prophecy, faith healing, and glossolalia. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, a Catholic church describes charismatic worship as "uplifted hands during songs and audible praying in tongues." It further distinguishes a charismatic congregation as one that emphasises complete surrender to Jesus in all parts of life, obedience to both the Gospel and Catholic teaching, as well as Christ-centered friendships. [2] [ better source needed ]

Perceptions of the Charismatic movement vary within the Catholic Church. Proponents hold the belief that certain charismata (a Greek word for "gifts") are still bestowed by the Holy Spirit today as they were in Early Christianity as described in the Bible. Critics accuse Charismatic Catholics of misinterpreting, or in some cases violating, Church teachings on worship and liturgy. Traditional Catholics, in particular, argue that charismatic practices shift the focus of worship away from reverent communion with Christ in the Eucharist and towards individual emotions and non-liturgical experiences as a substitute.

Theological foundations

Pentecost by El Greco El Greco 006.jpg
Pentecost by El Greco

Renewal advocates believe that 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) [3] 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. [4] 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 belief that spiritual gifts exist in the present age is called Continuationism.


In search of a spiritual experience, the graduate student Ralph Kiefer and history professor William Storey, both of the Catholic Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, attended a meeting of the Cursillo movement in August 1966. They were introduced to two books, The Cross and the Switchblade and They Speak with Other Tongues , which emphasized the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s charisms. [5]

In February 1967, Storey and Kiefer attended an episcopalian prayer meeting and were baptized in the Holy Spirit. [6] The following week, Keifer laid hands on other Duquesne professors, and they also had an experience with the Spirit. Then, in February, during a gathering of Duquesne University students at The Ark and The Dove Retreat Center north of Pittsburgh, more people asked Keifer to pray over them. This led to the event at the chapel where they too received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues, as well as many other students who were present in the chapel. [7] Keifer sent the news of this event to the University of Notre Dame, where a similar event later occurred, and the Renewal began to spread. [8]

While the Catholic hierarchy was initially reticent about these developments, Pope Paul VI officially welcomed Catholic charismatics in 1975. [6]


Adherents of the movement formed prayer groups called covenant communities. In these communities, members practiced a stronger commitment to spiritual ideals and created documents, or covenants, that set up rules of life. One of the first structured covenant communities was the Word of God (1970) in Ann Arbor, Michigan and True House (1971) and the People of Praise (1971) in South Bend, Indiana. [9]

The Word of God covenant community eventually established an International Communications Office in 1975, which later moved to Brussels and then Rome, and a "community of communities" in 1982 called the Sword of the Spirit. A schism would eventually occur within the Word of God, where one of its founders remained president of the Sword of the Spirit and another founder stayed with the Word of God and founded the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships in 1990. Whereas the Sword of the Spirit is an ecumenical organization, the Catholic Fraternity is only for Catholic communities. [1]

In addition to the covenant institutions, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal also experienced international development due to missionary priests who experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit while visiting the United States and implemented their own such services when they returned home. The earliest international growth could be found in the early 1970s, amongst Catholics in Australia, [9] India, Brazil, and Nigeria. [1] The International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services has had a significant role in the guidance of this form of expansion. [1]

Catholic Charismatic Renewal today

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. HealingService.JPG
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. Tarxien erwieh.jpg
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. [10] Participants in the Renewal also cooperate with non-Catholic ecclesiastical communities and other Catholics for ecumenism, as encouraged by the Catholic Church. [11]

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. [12] 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 their life to Jesus. Conscience is seen as an alternative voice of Jesus Christ. [13]

CCR Golden Jubilee 2017

In response to the invitation of Pope Francis, [14] ICCRS and Catholic Fraternity are organizing together the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Golden Jubilee event in 2017. The event began on May 31 and celebrations continued until Pentecost Mass on June 4. [15]

Reaction from the Church hierarchy

Pope John Paul II John Paul II Medal of Freedom 2004.jpg
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 support from most of the Church's hierarchy, from the Pope to bishops of dioceses around the world, as a recognized ecclesial movement. [16] [17] [18] [19]

Four popes have acknowledged the movement: Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis.[ citation needed ] Pope Paul VI acknowledged the movement in 1971 and reaffirmed it in 1975. [1] [20] He went on to say that the movement brought vitality and joy to the Church but also mentioned for people to be discerning of the spirits. [7] Pope John Paul II was also supportive of the Renewal and was in favor of its conservative politics. [1] He (as well as then-Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) acknowledged good aspects of the movement while urging caution, pointing out that members must maintain their Catholic identity and communion with the Catholic Church. [16]

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." [17]

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. [18]

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." [19]

The Papal Preacher, Rev. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, has written on the topic numerous times since 1986. [21]

On June 6, 2019, the CHARIS (Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service) service was officially inaugurated. On that day, the activities of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services and the Catholic Fraternity, the two international organizations recognized by the Holy See that have provided the Renewal service worldwide so far, have ceased. The CHARIS service is subordinate to the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. [22]


Charismatic Catholics and their practices have been criticized for distracting Catholics from authentic Church teachings and traditions, especially by making the worship experience more akin to Pentecostal Protestantism. [23] 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.” [24] In particular, some traditionalists criticize charismatic Catholics as being crypto-Protestant. [25]

The 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 practices such as faith healing draw attention away from the Mass and the communion with Christ that takes place therein.[ citation needed ]

Others criticize the movement for removing or obscuring traditional Catholic symbols (such as the crucifix and Sacred Heart) in favor of more contemporary expressions of faith. [26]

The belief that extraordinary spiritual gifts no longer operate in ordinary circumstances is called Cessationism.

See also

Related Research Articles

Glossolalia phenomenon in which people speak in languages unknown to them

Glossolalia or speaking in tongues is a phenomenon in which people speak in languages unknown to them. One definition used by linguists is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables that lack any readily comprehended meaning, in some cases as part of religious practice in which it is believed to be a divine language unknown to the speaker. "Orawashia dela sende" for example is one of the many variations of words that can exist when a person is experiencing glossolalia. Glossolalia is practiced in Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity as well as in other religions.

Pentecostalism Renewal movement within Protestant Christianity

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a Protestant Christian movement that emphasises direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Spiritual gift An extraordinary power given by the Holy Spirit.

A spiritual gift or charism is an endowment or extraordinary power given by the Holy Spirit. These are the supernatural graces which individual Christians need to fulfill the mission of the Church. In the narrowest sense, it is a theological term for the extraordinary graces given to individual Christians for the good of others and is distinguished from the graces given for personal sanctification, such as the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Charismatic Christianity is a form of Christianity that emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and modern-day miracles as an everyday part of a believer's life. Practitioners are often called Charismatic Christians or Renewalists. Although there is considerable overlap, Charismatic Christianity is often categorized into three separate groups: Pentecostalism, the Charismatic Movement and Neo-charismatic movement. According to the Pew Research Center, Pentecostals and Charismatic Christians numbered over 584 million or a quarter of the world's 2 billion Christians in 2011.

The term Full Gospel is a term often used to describe the doctrinal teachings of Pentecostalism and Charismatic Christianity, evangelical movements that originated in the 19th century. The movement and its teachings grew out the Wesleyan Arminianism of the post-American Civil War era's holiness movement, especially through the "fourfold" teachings of A. B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

The Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) is an interdenominational fellowship of Pentecostal and charismatic churches and denominations in North America, existing for the purpose of promoting cooperation and understanding. It is a successor to the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America (PFNA). PCCNA headquarters are in Los Angeles, California.

Charismatic movement trend of historically mainstream congregations adopting beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostalism.

The charismatic movement is the international trend of historically mainstream Christian congregations adopting beliefs and practices similar to Pentecostalism. Fundamental to the movement is the use of spiritual gifts (charismata). Among mainline Protestants, the movement began around 1960. Among Roman Catholics, it originated around 1967.

In Christian theology, baptism with the Holy Spirit has been interpreted by different Christian denominations and traditions in a variety of ways due to differences in the doctrines of salvation and ecclesiology. It is frequently associated with incorporation into the Christian Church, the bestowal of spiritual gifts, and empowerment for Christian ministry. Spirit baptism has been variously defined as part of the sacraments of initiation into the church, as being synonymous with regeneration, as being synonymous with Christian perfection that empowers a person for Christian life and service. The term baptism with the Holy Spirit originates in the New Testament, and all Christian traditions accept it as a theological concept.

Toronto Blessing Christian revival movement

The Toronto Blessing, a term coined by British newspapers, refers to the Christian revival and associated phenomena that began in January 1994 at the Toronto Airport Vineyard church (TAV), which was renamed in 1996 to Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) and then later in 2010 renamed to Catch the Fire Toronto. It is categorized as a neo-charismatic evangelical Christian church and is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The events that occurred at the Toronto Blessing impacted charismatic Christian culture in both positive and negative ways. Positive impacts became evident over time as the movement spread into other nations. Negative impacts came in the form of criticism and denominational disputes. Criticism primarily centered around disagreements about charismatic doctrine, the latter rain movement, and whether or not the physical manifestations people experienced were in line with biblical doctrine or were actually heretical practices. The Toronto Blessing also is reported as having influenced the Brownsville Revival and the Lakeland Revival (2008) which later occurred in Florida and which included similar styles of worship, ministry, and reputed supernatural manifestations.

In Christian theology, the Gifts of healing are among the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12. As an extraordinary charism, gifts of healing are supernatural enablements given to a believer to minister various kinds of healing and restoration to individuals through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Greek of the New Testament, both the words gift and healing are plural.

The Neo-charismaticmovement is a movement within evangelical protestant Christianity. The Neo-charismatic movement is considered to be the "third wave" of the charismatic Christian tradition which began with Pentecostalism, and was furthered by the evangelical charismatic movement. Neo-charismatics are now believed to be more numerous than the first and second wave categories, combined, as a result of the growth of postdenominational and independent charismatic groups. As of 2002, there were estimated to be approximately 295 million adherents or participants in the neo-charismatic movement.

People of Praise organization

People of Praise is a charismatic Christian parachurch organization that provides community, spiritual direction, and opportunities for service to its members. It is not a church or denomination, and membership is open to any baptized Christian who affirms the Nicene Creed and agrees to the community's covenant. The majority of its members are Catholics, but Protestants can also join. It has 21 branches in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, with approximately 3,000 members including children. It founded a group of nondenominational Christian schools, Trinity Schools.

The Word of God is an ecumenical, charismatic, missionary Christian community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The community began in 1967 as an evangelistic outreach to students at the University of Michigan. Initially the group was made up of Catholics, but expanded to include Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, and Christians of the free church tradition.

Mother of God Community is a Catholic and ecumenical charismatic community located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area of the United States. The Community office and grounds is located in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Under the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, the Community is recognized as a "private association of the faithful" with its governing statutes approved by competent Church authority; in this case by the Archbishop of Washington. In addition the Community is now a full member of the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships, with a recognized relationship to the Roman Pontiff through the Pontifical Council on the Laity at the Vatican in Rome. Members of the Mother of God Community believe they are called to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to grow in the knowledge of God through daily prayer, fellowship, evangelization, and service to the Church. Members include Christians from all walks of life – families, couples, priests, and singles, college students, seminarians, and retired people. There are members and affiliate members, but only about a dozen members actually live in the Community's large residential house.

Movement of the Word of God

The Movement of the Word of God, also called Work of God the Father, is a pastoral community of disciples, a lay ecclesial movement within the Roman Catholic Church.

Holy Spirit (Christian denominational variations) Christian denominations have variations in their teachings regarding the Holy Spirit.

Christian denominations have variations in their teachings regarding the Holy Spirit.

Pentecostalism in Australia

Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. It emerged from 19th century precursors between 1870 and 1910, taking denominational form from c. 1927. From the early 1930s, pentecostal denominations multiplied, and there are now several dozen, the largest of which relate to one another through conferences and organizations such as the Australian Pentecostal Ministers Fellowship. The Australian Christian Churches, formerly known as the Australian Assemblies of God, is the oldest and longest lasting Pentecostal organization in Australia. The AOG/ACC is also the largest Pentecostal organization in Australia with over 300,000 members in 2018. Until 2018, Hillsong Church was one of 10 megachurches in Australia associated with the ACC that have at least 2,000 members weekly. According to the church, over 100,000 people attend services each week at the church or one of its 80 affiliated churches located worldwide.

The doctrines and practices of modern Pentecostalism placed a high priority on international evangelization. The movement spread to Africa soon after the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles.

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a recent movement in the Catholic Church to re-emphasize the charisms of the Holy Spirit in lay people's everyday lives.

The Evangelical charismatic movement represents the evangelical churches that have an emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit. Started in the United States in the 1960s, the "second wave" has influenced churches of all Christian denominations and contributed to the creation of many independent evangelical churches. The movement is distinguished from Pentecostalism by not making the speaking in tongues (glossolalia) a necessary evidence of Spirit baptism and giving prominence to the diversity of spiritual gifts. According to figures from Pew Research Center in 2011, the movement identifies 305 million believers.


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Further reading