Catholic Charismatic Renewal

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]

Catholic Charismatic Renewal
A dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, who is believed by Christians to confer various gifts
FounderWilliam Storey and Ralph Keifer
TypeCatholic apostolic movement

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]

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

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

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

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. 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.

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


  1. Csordas, Thomas J. (September 2007). "Global religion and the re-enchantment of the world: The case of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal". Anthropological Theory. 7 (3): 295–314. doi:10.1177/1463499607080192.
  2. Christ the King Catholic Church Archived 2006-05-07 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2nd ed., §2003 (1997)
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church 2nd ed., §2447 (1997)
  5. Manney, Jim (February 1973). "Before Duquesne: Sources of the Renewal". New Covenant. 2: 12–17.
  6. Ciciliot, Valentina (December 2019). "The Origins of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the United States: Early Developments in Indiana and Michigan and the Reactions of the Ecclesiastical Authorities". Studies in World Christianity. 25 (3): 250–273. doi:10.3366/swc.2019.0267. ISSN 1354-9901.
  7. Laurentin, Rene (1977). Catholic Pentecostalism. New York: Doubleday & Company. pp. 23–24. ISBN 0385121296.
  8. Neitz, Mary Jo (1987). Charisma and Community. New Jersey: Transaction. p. 214. ISBN 0887381308.
  9. Maiden, John (December 2019). "The Emergence of Catholic Charismatic Renewal 'in a Country': Australia and Transnational Catholic Charismatic Renewal". Studies in World Christianity. 25 (3): 274–296. doi:10.3366/swc.2019.0268. ISSN 1354-9901.
  10. Nucci, Alessandra. "The Charismatic Renewal and the Catholic Church", The Catholic World Report, May 18, 2013
  11. Pope John Paul II, "Ut Unum Sint", §40, May 25, 1995
  12. Marana tha' Malta
  13. 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.
  14. "Video of Pope's Invitation,". Retrieved 2016-04-20.
  15. "Homepage of the event". Retrieved 2016-04-20.
  16. "Hispanics and the Future of the Catholic Church in the United States" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 June 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  17. "Fraternity of Covenant Communities: November 30, 1990". Archived from the original on 2008-08-10. Retrieved 2008-08-11.
  18. "Address of Pope John Paul II to the ICCRO Council: March 12, 1992". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
  19. Pentecost Address 1998
  20. Chesnut, R. Andrew (2003). "A Preferential Option for the Spirit: The Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Latin America's New Religious Economy". Latin American Politics and Society: 64.
  21. "P. Raniero Cantalamessa, ofmcap: Bibliography". Archived from the original on 2007-03-14. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
  22. "An encouragement for evangelization and unity". Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. June 7, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2019.
  23. Charismatics in Context. Ignitum Today. Published: 30 January 2014.
  24. "Pick and mix". The Economist. March 14, 2015. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  25. Christian Millenarianism: From the Early Church to Waco By Stephen Hunt, page 164
  26. "Teresa Barrett, "Beware RENEW," Christian Order, February 2003". Retrieved 2013-03-08.

Further reading

  • 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. Proclaim! 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.
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