The Second Wave: Charismatics

The Rev. Dennis J. Bennett (1917 - 1991)

In a first stage, the Charismatic movement was limited to the Protestant churches.

“St. Mark Episcopal Church in Van Nuys, California is recorded in the history of the movement as the first Non-Pentecostal church which recorded the baptism in the Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues, even by the congregations priest, Dennis Bennett. He made public his and other believers’ experience on April 3, 1960, sparking controversy and amazement. In 1973 the Encyclopedia Britannica said, "When, in 1960, Father Dennis Bennett announced to his congregation, St. Mark's Episcopal in Van Nuys, CA, that he had experienced a new outpouring of God's Spirit, the recent movement can be said to have begun."

Fr. Bennette attempted to keep everything low-key as the renewal continued to spread in his parish. But rumors and exaggerations also began to spread. To clarify the situation Fr. Bennett felt it was important to go public (Sunday, August 3, 1960).

I set aside the preaching scheduled for the day, and went into the pulpit at the three morning services and simply shared what had happened to me. I appealed to the people to dismiss the ridiculous rumors.

The general reaction was open and tender – until the end of the second service. At that point my second assistant snatched off his vestments, threw them on the altar and stalked out of the church, crying, “I can no longer work with this man!”

That blew the lid off. After the service concluded, outside on the patio, those who had set themselves to get rid of the movement of the Holy Spirit began to harangue the arriving and departing parishioners. One man stood on a chair shouting, “throw out the damn tongue-speakers!”

…The contrast was amazing. On the one hand was the unreasoning fury of the “opposition,” while the people who had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit were quietly moving around telling their story, faces shining with the love of God”
The treasurer and one of his vestrymen joined the opposition and asked Fr. Bennett to resign.  Fr. Bennett announced his resignation at the third service. He did not have to resign, but felt he needed time to sort out his wonderful but revolutionary experiences of the past months. Immediately, the Bishop of Los Angeles wrote a letter to the parishioners of St. Mark’s forbidding then to speak in tongues in any parish function. Those involved in the charismatic prayers left St. Mark’s but continued in two home prayer cells not under church auspices. “

Pastor Bennett decided he should resign as he felt that his message was not received by the parish with new joy. However a small parish, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Ballard, Washington invited him to be their pastor.  Amazingly, his bishop there fully supported his message and his experience, as did his small congregation. Invited by his bishop to speak to all the Anglican priests in hisjurisdiction, he did so and twelve of them were baptized in the Holy Spirit. A new movement started.

St.Luke, Seattle

Visitors began to pour into St. Luke’s to see and hear what was happening. Before long it was necessary to have three services on Sunday morning and another in the evening to accommodate the crowds; the sanctuary was so small it scarcely seated two hundred. Pastor Bennett greeted, preached to, and taught the visitors but he always urged them to return to their own churches. And the visitors kept coming and coming and coming. Many mainline churches were represented —Presbyterian, Lutheran, Reformed and others.

To distinguish this move from the Pentecostal outpouring on Azusa Street, it was commonly called the Charismatic Renewal. The gifts of the Spirit were manifested similarly in both. There was, however, a significant difference. Those who experienced the Azusa Street Pentecostal experience were driven from their churches and as a consequence, were forced to organize separate fellowships or denominations. On the other hand, Dennis Bennett and other charismatic leaders urged mainline members who were baptized in the Holy Spirit to remain in their own churches and bear witness to what God was doing in their lives. And there was one other difference. Speaking in tongues was practiced but it was not necessarily the initial physical evidence of being filled with the Spirit.”

The group Episcopal Renewal Movement sponsored Charismatic conferences around the nation involving both the laity and the clergy.  They publish a newsletter called Acts 29 to indicate that Acts which has only 28 chapters did not stop there but is still continuing to be written.


Rick and Jean Stone Willans,
of the Charismatic Renewal.

Jean Stone Willans was a primary catalyst of the Charismatic Renewal. Jean Willans, first learned speaking in tongues from an Episcopalian minister Dennis Bennet in her hometown of Van Nuys. Her own speaking, she claims, has been understood by people who know Spanish and New Testament Greek, neither of which languages she can ordinarily speak. After experiencing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, she was a vital participant in the historic events at her home church, St. Marks Episcopal, Van Nuys, CA. Her subsequent pilgrimage contributed to the transformation of twentieth century Christianity. The Blessed Trinity Society was organized in 1960 to promote the renewal. It served as the supporting institution that brought Jean Stone to hundreds of churches, colleges, universities and auditoriums in the U.S.A., Canada, Mexico and Great Britain. From 1961-1965, she edited Trinity, an influential magazine “dedicated to maintaining the ‘fullness of the faith’”. The magazine spurred the early growth of the movement and coined the term “charismatic renewal.”

During 1967, the Willanses ministered in Indonesia and Taiwan before settling in Hong Kong (1968-1981). There they founded the Society of Stephen, which became a primary regional fountainhead of the Charismatic Renewal, particularly among Roman Catholics. They also pioneered a ministry to drug addicts that drew international media attention due to the consistent pattern of painless withdrawal (without medication) through faith in Jesus and prayer in tongues. Since 1981, they have continued their ministry, based in Altadena, California.

In the United Kingdom, Colin Urquhart, Michael Harper, David Watson and others were in the vanguard of similar developments.

The Massey conference in New Zealand, 1964 was attended by several Anglicans, including the Rev. Ray Muller, who went on to invite Bennett to New Zealand in 1966, and played a leading role in developing and promoting the Life in the Spirit seminars. Other Charismatic movement leaders in New Zealand include Bill Subritzky.




The Lutheran church of San Pedro and its priest, Larry Christenson was next

Larry Christenson

Larry Christenson, a Lutheran theologian based in San Pedro, California, did much in the 1960s and 1970s to interpret the charismatic movement for Lutherans. A very large annual conference was held in Minneapolis during those years. Charismatic Lutheran congregations in Minnesota became especially large and influential; especially "Hosanna!" in Lakeville, and North Heights in St. Paul. The next generation of Lutheran charismatics cluster around the Alliance of Renewal Churches. There is currently considerable charismatic activity among young Lutheran leaders in California centered on an annual gathering at Robinwood Church in Huntington Beach. Richard A. Jensen's Touched by the Spirit published in 1974, played a major role of the Lutheran understanding to the charismatic movement.

In England it began to rain also.

Michael Harper   Colin Urquhart   David Watson

In 1962, the signs of the new movement started in the London Anglican church where Michael Harper served as priest. In 1964, he founded the Fountain Trust, which sponsored renewal conferences and seminars.

Rev. Colin Urquhart. Was Ordained in 1964 in the Church of England. Urquhart was baptized in the Spirit early in his ministry at St. Hugh’s Church in Luton (1971-1976). Here he was instrumental in building up  charismatic Anglican movement in Britain. In 1976 he resigned from the Church of England and founded the Kingdom Faith Ministries in collaboration with Harper's Fountain Trust and Shakarian's FGBMFI

Germany had the charismatic experience of a priest named Arnold Bittlinger.



Charismatic Christians believe that the gifts (Greek charismata χάρισμα, from charis χάρις, grace) of the Holy Spirit as described in the New Testament are available to contemporary Christians through the infilling or baptism of the Holy Spirit, with-or-without the laying on of hands. Although the Bible lists many gifts from God through His Holy Spirit, there are nine specific gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 that are Supernatural in nature and are the focus of and distinguishing feature of the Charismatic Movement: Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Faith, Gifts of Healing, Miraculous Powers, Prophecy, Distinguishing between Spirits, Speaking in different Tongues (Languages), and Interpretation of Tongues.

While Pentecostals and charismatics share these beliefs, there are differences. Many in the charismatic movement deliberately distanced themselves from Pentecostalism for cultural and theological reasons. Foremost among theological reasons is the tendency of many Pentecostals to insist that speaking in tongues is always the initial physical sign of receiving Spirit baptism. Although specific teachings will vary from group to group, charismatics generally believe that the baptism with the Holy Spirit occurs at the new birth and prefer to call subsequent encounters with the Holy Spirit by other names, such as "being filled".  In contrast to Pentecostals, charismatics tend to accept a range of supernatural experiences (such as prophecy, miracles, healing, or "physical manifestations of an altered state of consciousness") as evidence of having been baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit.

Pentecostals are also distinguished from the charismatic movement on the basis of style. Also, Pentecostals have traditionally placed a high value on evangelization and missionary work. Charismatics, on the other hand, have tended to see their movement as a force for revitalization and renewal within their own church traditions.

Detractors argue these sign and revelatory gifts were manifested in the New Testament for a specific purpose, upon which once accomplished these signs were withdrawn and no longer function. This position is called cessationism, and is claimed by its proponents to be the almost universal position of Christians until the Charismatic movement started. The Charismatic Movement is based on a belief that these gifts are still available today.

Denominations influenced

Evangelical churches

The movement led to the creation of independent evangelical charismatic churches more in tune with this revival of the Holy Spirit. Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California is one of the first evangelical charismatic church in 1965. In the United Kingdom, Jesus Army, founded in 1969, is an example of the impact outside of the United States. Many other congregations were established in the rest of the world.

Reformed Churches

In congregational and Presbyterian churches which profess a traditionally Calvinist or Reformed theology there are differing views regarding present-day continuation or cessation of the gifts (charismata) of the Spirit. Generally, however, Reformed charismatics distance themselves from renewal movements with tendencies which could be perceived as overemotional, such as Word of Faith, Toronto Blessing, Brownsville Revival and Lakeland Revival.

Prominent Reformed charismatic denominations are the Sovereign Grace Churches and the Every Nation Churches in the USA, in Great Britain there is the Newfrontiers churches and movement, which leading figure is Terry Virgo.

Eastern Orthodoxy

The charismatic movement has not exerted the same influence on the Orthodox Church that it has on other mainstream Christian denominations. Individual priests, such as Fr. James Tavralides, Fr. Constantine Monios and Fr. David Buss, Fr. Athanasius Emmert of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, Fr. Eusebius Stephanou of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America, founder of the Brotherhood of St. Symeon the New Theologian and editor of "The Logos", and Fr. Boris Zabrodsky of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America, founder of the Service Committee for Orthodox Spiritual Renewal (SCOSR) which published the Theosis Newsletter, were some of the more prominent leaders of the Charismatic Renewal within Orthodoxy.[citation needed]

Seventh-day Adventism

A minority of Seventh-day Adventists today are charismatic. They are strongly associated with those holding more "progressive" Adventist beliefs. In the early decades of the church charismatic or ecstatic phenomena were commonplace.




Roman Catholicism

In the early 1960s Pope John XXXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, known as Vatican II. Roman Catholics worldwide were asked to pray for the success of the Council. The prayer they were asked to recite was "May there be a new Pentecost in our day".

Ralph A. Keifer and Patrick Bourgeois


The Catholic renewal movement began in a student prayer group at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in February, 1967. It was led by two lay theology professors Ralph Keifer and Patrick Bourgeois. Their interest in the baptism in the Holy Spirit had been aroused by two books: David Wilkerson’s The Cross and the Switchblade (1963) and John Sherrill’s They Speak with Other Tongues (1964). The group spent a weekend in prayer, meditating on the Book of Acts. According to David Smith, “the result was repetition of the Azusa Street experience.” 


In March 1967, the Duquesne group visited Notre Dame University. In April 1967, about 100 students and faculty from Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Duquesne met on the campus of Notre Dame to discuss their charismatic beliefs. The story of the conference was carried in major Catholic papers and sparked national interest.

As charismatic leaders emerged and the renewal movement spread among the Roman Catholics worldwide, Pope Paul VI appointed Belgian cardinal, Leo Jozef Suenens (1904-1996), to oversee it. Suenens established the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office. Roman Catholic charismatic leaders agreed with their Protestant counterparts that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a crisis experience which must be sought through sincere prayer and which may be facilitated by others who have already received the experience though the laying on of hands.

Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens (1904-1996)

Catholic Cardinal Joseph Suenens tells us of his charismatic experience:”Since I have had this experience, my allegiance to the Holy Father as the Vicar of Christ in the world has been heightened and strengthened. My appreciation for Mary as the co-redemptress and mediatoress of my salvation has been assured. My appreciation of the mass as the sacrifice of Christ has now been heightened.”

Since the establishment of the charismatic movement within the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant and Orthodox churches have changed their stance towards Catholic acceptance. According to Tim Dowley, “the emergence of the Church of Rome as a partner in ecumenical discussions, and the impact of the charismatic movement, has totally changed ecumenical relationship.”They had a common expectation expect that Spirit baptism is demonstrated by an accompanying spiritual gift, although they do not insist that this must be tongues. As well as affirming the gift of tongues as a devotional language, Catholic charismatic leaders hold the gifts of prophecy and healing in high regard.


It began in 1967 among college students and their professors at two Catholic universities, Duquesne and Notre Dame. Two lay Catholic theology instructors at Duquesne University, Ralf Keifer and Patrick Bourgeois, had read David Wilkerson’s The Cross and the Switchblade and John Sherrill’s They Speak With Other Tongues, two books which were best sellers at the time. Wanting to have the experiences of the Spirit described in these books, the two professors sought out a charismatic home group led by a Presbyterian laywoman and attended by others from a variety of Protestant churches. On the next meeting both received the Baptism of the Spirit. They began sharing their experience with their Catholic friends and students.

In February of 1967 Keifer and Bourgeois organized a prayer weekend for Catholic students at Duquesne, many of whom had also read The Cross and the Switchblade. They were determined to seek God’s will and meditate on first chapters of the book of Acts. By the time the weekend was over practically all of them had received the Baptism of the Sprit and had spoken in tongues. This group continued to meet, and visitors from Notre Dame came and were also baptized in the Holy Spirit.

A major breakthrough at Notre Dame happened on March 13th at the home of Ray Ballard. Ballard was the president of the South Bend chapter of the FGBMFI as well as a deacon of a local Assemblies of God church. He also hosted a mid-week pray meeting in the basement of his home. He was used to hosting persons from every Protestant denomination, but the telephone call asking permission for a group of Catholic students and faculty to visit was a bit intimidating. Ballard called several Pentecostal ministers to attend in order to answer any theological questions the Catholic visitors might have.

The Catholics who came included Kevin Ranaghan, a graduate student in theology, and six other students. After a brief lesson on the Gifts of the Spirit by one of the Pentecostal ministers the Catholics asked for the Baptism of in the Spirit. They were encircled by the others and laid hands on for the Baptism. Within minutes most were speaking in tongues, and all experienced a powerful impartation.

A retired Pentecostal missionary present asked the Catholics, “Now that you have received the Holy Spirit, when do you plan to leave the Catholic Church?” The astonished students insisted they would not leave their church. The missionary added, “Then you will lose the gift of the Spirit.” The missionary’s expectation was that this group of Catholics, like others he had seen before him, would leave the Catholic Church. Their affirmation to continue within the Catholic Church as Spirit-filled Catholics was the defining moment in launching the Catholic charismatic renewal.

This could not have happened a decade earlier. The great Catholic council, Vatican II ended in 1965. It began by Pope John XXIII declaring he wished a new breath of freshness to come into the Church. The discussions and documents of Vatican II created an entirely new possibility of ecumenical exchange between Protestants and Catholics. The Catholic Church now called Protestants “separated brethren,” not heretics. Restrictions on Catholics attending Protestant services were eased. The documents of Vatican II, drafted by the Belgium’s Cardinal Suenens (later a major figure in the Catholic charismatic renewal) actually included several paragraphs urging the “charismas” be received by all Catholics. It also encouraged a stronger role of laity in Church life.  Thus, persons like Kevin Ranaghans and instructors Keifer and Bourgeois, who had followed the developments of the Council, understood what was happening to them and their students as within the new Catholic openness to the Holy Spirit.

During the weekend of April 7-9 of 1967 about one hundred students and faculty from Duquesne and Notre Dame met for a weekend of prayer and reflection on what had happened to them. All of this was reported favorable in two national Catholic journals, The National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor. From then on, the Catholic charismatic Renewal went on the “fast forward.” The Notre Dame campus became the center of yearly conferences of Catholic charismatics.  The second yearly conference in March of 1968 attracted about 150 attendees. The third conference in 1969 brought 450, the forth 1,300, and the fifth in 1971 over 5,000. By then the movement had begun spreading to the Catholic Church in other countries. In 1976 the conference attracted 30,000 participants, and it was decided that this was unwieldy and henceforth the Catholics would attend regional conferences.

Since 1967 the charismatic movement has been active within the Roman Catholic Church. In the United States the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was focused in individuals like Kevin Ranaghan and others at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana. Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, which was founded by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, a Catholic religious community, began hosting charismatic revivals in 1977.

The centre of the Catholic Charismatic events then moved to the University of Notre Dame where meetings were held with charismatic topics, with mixed participation, however dominated by Catholics. In the following years, the movement spread among Catholic priests, schools and local parishes in Europe.

In 1975 25,000 Charismatic Catholics accompanied by leaders and church choirs gathered to celebrate The Descent of the Holy Ghost at St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome”.

In a foreword to a 1983 book by Léon Joseph Cardinal Suenens, at that time the Pope's delegate to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the Prefect comments on the Post Second Vatican Council period stating,

In the Roman Catholic church, the movement became particularly popular in the Filipino, Korean, and Hispanic communities of the United States, in the Philippines, and in Latin America, mainly Brazil. Travelling priests and lay people associated with the movement often visit parishes and sing what are known as charismatic masses. It is thought to be the second largest distinct sub-movement (some 120 million members) within global Catholicism, along with Traditional Catholicism.

The Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

What are Charisms?

799–801. Charisms are special gifts of the Holy Spirit which are bestowed on individuals for the good of others, the needs of the world, and in particular for the building up of the Church. The discernment of charisms is the responsibility of the Magisterium.”

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-centred friendships.

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 Community. It affiliated with the International Communications Office in the 1980s, and its continued growth resulted in a larger overall community called The Sword of the Spirit. The original Word of God Community eventually split from The Sword of the Spirit, however. Of the two original founders of the communities, one stayed with the Word of God and founded an international ministry that reached Eastern Europe and Africa, while the other remained president of the Sword of the Spirit, which as of 2007, had 47 member communities and 16 affiliated communities around the world.

 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.

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. Participants in the Renewal also cooperate with non-Catholic ecclesiastical communities and other Catholics for ecumenism, as encouraged by the Catholic Church.[8]

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. 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.

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.

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.  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.  Pope John Paul II was also supportive of the Renewal and was in favor of its conservative politics.  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.

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."

 In 1975 Pope Paul VI greeted ten thousand Catholic charismatics from all over the world at the ninth international conference of the Renewal... In 1979 soon after becoming Pope [John Paul II] said, “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.”

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.

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."
















Praise and Worship during a Catholic Charismatic Renewal Healing Service.

Church in Africa: Charismatic is an ecclesial movement  

The Catholic Encyclopedia gives the following explanation of the Catholic stand and approval of the Charismatic movement as follows:

“ Charismatic Renewal - General


An often asked question in the Forums concerns the legitimacy of the Charismatic Renewal and the phenomena associated with it. In the interests of full disclosure let me start by saying that I have never been, nor am I now, a member of this movement. The Church has never lacked charisms to build it up, both ordinary and extraordinary. However, it is the widespread  experience of the Holy Spirit's presence within Catholics and the manifestation of extraordinary charisms such as prophecy, speaking in tongues and healing, outside of those of evident great sanctity, which has characterized the Charismatic Renewal. This needs to be explained to understand what it means when the Church says that the Charismatic Renewal is an authentic movement of the Spirit in our times.

Ecclesiastical Acknowledgments

The Charismatic Renewal as a movement within the Catholic Church has been acknowledged by two Popes, Paul VI and John Paul II. Speaking to the International Conference on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal on May 19, 1975, Pope Paul VI encouraged the attendees in their renewal efforts and especially to remain anchored in the Church. “This authentic desire to situate yourselves in the Church is the authentic sign of the action of the Holy Spirit ... How could this 'spiritual renewal' not be a chance for the Church and the world? And how, in this case could one not take all the means to ensure that it remains so…”

Pope John Paul II, for his part, has been more explicit.  Speaking to a group of international leaders of the Renewal on December 11, 1979, he said, “I am convinced that this movement is a very important component of the entire renewal of the Church.”

Noting that since age 11 he had said a daily prayer to the Holy Spirit he added,“This was my own spiritual initiation, so I can understand all these charisms. They are all part of the richness of the Lord. I am convinced that this movement is a sign of his action.”

For his part, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has added his voice to the Pope's in acknowledging the good occurring in the Charismatic Renewal and providing some cautions. In a forward to a book by Cardinal Suenens, at that time the Pope's delegate to the Charismatic Renewal, the Prefect comments on the Post-Conciliar period stating,

Finally, he urges those who read the book to pay special attention to the author's double plea,” ... to those responsible for the ecclesiastical ministry - from parish priests to bishops - not to let the Renewal pass them by but to welcome it fully; and on the other (hand) ... to the members of the Renewal to cherish and maintain their link with the whole Church and with the charisms of their pastors. [Renewal and the Powers of Darkness, Leo Cardinal Suenens (Ann Arbor: Servant Books, 1983)]

Charismatic Graces

The Second Vatican Council affirmed the legitimacy of charisms, both ordinary and extraordinary. A charism is simply "a grace freely given by God to build up the Church," as opposed to the graces given to sanctify the individual. St. Paul gives a list of charisms in 1 Cor. 12. They include ordinary charisms like teaching and administration and extraordinary ones like healing, miracles, and tongues. These things by themselves don't make the person holier, rather they enable him or her to serve others. Finally, the authenticity of charisms must be discerned, since charisms are not necessarily from the spirit of God (1 John 4). The Council taught,

“Whether these charisms be very remarkable or more simple and widely diffused, they are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation since they are fitting and useful for the needs of the Church. Extraordinary gifts are not to be rashly desired nor is it from them that the fruits of apostolic labors are to be presumptuously expected. Those who have charge over the Church should judge the genuineness and proper use of these gifts, through their office, not indeed to extinguish the Spirit but to test all things and hold fast to what is good (cf. 1 Thes. 5:12, 19- 21). [Lumen Gentium 12]

The Church clearly wishes to follow a middle course, between a rationalistic skepticism and a blind credulity in alleged workings of the Holy Spirit. In the past the Church had condemned what it called Pentecostalism, understood as the total dependence, even theologically, on the presence and manifestation of charisms. Such a dependence is blind, for it fails to allow itself to be guided by the full content of the faith and the judgment of the Church's teaching authority. It is total when such "gifts" displace the means of grace in the life of the Christian, such as the sacraments. On the other hand, the Church cannot condemn charisms, since they are part of the patrimony of our apostolic faith. What we have seen in our time is the appearance of the Charismatic Renewal, an apparent outpouring of the extraordinary charisms. This doesn't mean that one has to be a charismatic, that charismatics are better Catholics, or that every alleged charism is authentic. Yet, as the Council noted, the Church must respect the workings of God, discerning the authentic from the inauthentic.

An authentic charism would not pull one away from the Church. If a Catholic leaves, seeking an emotional boost he no longer finds in the Church, he is seeking the gifts of the Giver and not the Giver of the gifts. Participation in the life of the Church should lead any Catholic (Charismatic, traditional, or ordinary) into a deeper relationship with the Eucharist, the Blessed Mother and the Pope. If it does not, something is spiritually wrong with that particular individual or with the guidance he is receiving within his group. Since a charism does not give the person any special infallibility or sanctity, given the extraordinary character of such gifts it is especially necessary for individuals possessing them to guard the purity of their faith, lest pride, self-seeking or emotionalism lead them astray, and they others. The reality that some have left the Church for Pentecostalism, or sought to create it within, points to the dangers. By contrast, the presence in the Church of a dynamic and faithful institution like the Franciscan University of Steubenville is evidence of the great good that can be done by those graced with authentic charismatic gifts exercised in union with the Church.

All such authentic charisms, therefore, are at the service of the Body of Christ, the Church (1 Cor 12, 14). As gifts of the Holy Spirit, they are supernatural graces beyond the power of human striving and human nature (e.g. miracle working), though some may build upon the natural talents of the recipient (e.g. teaching). St. Paul contrasts these charismata with "the greater gifts" of Faith, Hope and Charity (1 Cor. 13), which he says have lasting value. These "theological virtues" unite the person's mind and will to God. As a consequence, the Church teaches that Faith, Hope and Charity are necessary for salvation but the charismata are not. St. Paul's experience at Corinth demonstrated rather early in the Church how susceptible these charisms are to exaggeration. In another context, he would even warn the Corinthians that the devil can appear as an angel of light (1 Cor 11:14). Similarly, both St. Peter and St. John (1 Pet 5:8-9; 1 John 4:1) warn us of this danger.

St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae  tells us that unless a charism requires the exercise of divine power the Holy Spirit accomplishes it through the mediation of the holy angels. When they are within the power of the angelic nature, they are also capable of demonic imitation. It is difficult to explain the "charismatic power of speech" of a Hitler, for instance, on purely natural grounds. It is for these reasons that most spiritual writers, especially the mystical doctor St. John of the Cross, warn us not to seek such extraordinary phenomenon. As noted earlier, Vatican II made this warning part of its teaching on the charismatic gifts.

Thus the Church on the one hand recognizes that the Holy Spirit moves where He will, and so she does not want to oppose His working, and on the other, that the Church must discern the authenticity of each charism, lest it be a deception of the evil one. For this reason to say that the Charismatic Renewal is approved by the Church is not a blanket approval of every alleged charismatic gift or every charismatic group or individual within the Church. The discernment of the Holy Spirit's action is an ongoing necessity within the Church and within the Charismatic Renewal.

Discernment of Charisms

The Apostle John encourages us to test the spirits (1 John 4) and over the years the Church has developed criteria to determine whether the fruits are good or bad (Mt. 7:15-20). St. John teaches that if anyone denies Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (1 John 4:3) it is proof that the person does not have the Spirit of God. We can call this the doctrinal test of the fruit. The Spirit of God would never lead one away from the truth about Christ. Since the Church is an extension of the mystery of the Incarnation, the Spirit of God would never lead one away from the Catholic Church or Her teachings. Similarly, the Spirit of God would never lead one away from the practice of the faith (morally, devotionally, sacramentally). Christ has left us the means of salvation and His Spirit would never deprive us of them. This could be called the practical test of the fruit. "Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Mt. 7:21-23). Positively said, the Holy Spirit's activity (including among non-Catholics) must necessarily tend toward Catholic truth and unity (doctrine and practice), no matter how remote that unity might appear.

On the other hand, a spirit which acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh is of God (1 John 4:2). Such doctrinal correctness is a motive of credibility in the authenticity of a charism or event. Yet, a person may simply be operating by the human spirit fortified by Faith and may not be manifesting an extraordinary gift. To determine whether a given phenomenon exceeds human nature calls for a discernment beyond simple orthodoxy. For example, in the special case of an apparition, when a bishop declares an event to be "worthy of belief" or "not worthy of belief" he does so based upon both scientific (can it be explained?) and theological (is it from God?) criteria. So, orthodoxy is the necessary beginning of the discernment, not the end.

There is yet another dimension of the discernment which needs to be considered. Since charisms are given to build up the Church, there is no necessary connection with personal sanctity. Saints, sinners and even unbelievers have manifested these gifts. The pagan prophet Balaam was given the Divine spirit of prophecy in order to authenticate Israel as the People of God (Num. 22). Thus the moral state of the recipient (good or bad) does not by itself indicate a true or false charism. When actually under the constraint of the Spirit of God, however, the true charismatic could not say or do anything contrary to that Spirit. No one could claim, for instance, that the Spirit of God led him to get drunk or do anything sinful, although he might at other times do such things.

Practically speaking, therefore, the many instances of extraordinary charisms within the Charismatic Renewal will never come under the official scrutiny of the Church. Priests and Catholic laity associated with the Renewal will most likely have to discern each instance themselves, according to the theological criteria of Catholic theology and prudence. It is easier to dismiss a phenomenon as NOT from God than it is to determine its other possible sources (human or divine spirit). A basic question prayerfully asked must be "is this particular event a credible example of the action of the Spirit of God - a Spirit incapable of any lie or sin and which can only lead people (even non-Catholics) to a deeper Catholic faith and unity?" This should do much to protect us from the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), even if it cannot produce the judgment that something is certainly from God - a fact which only the Holy See can ultimately state”

Time Line of the Roman Catholic Charismatic Movement


1895-1903 Blessed Elena Guerra, of Lucca, ltaly (“Apostle of the Holy Spirit”) wrote 13 confidential letters to Pope Leo XIII, requesting a renewed preaching on the Holy Spirit.

1895-1897  Pope Leo XIII wrote Provida Matris Canitate, in which he exhorted the entire Church to celebrate a solemn novena to the Holy Spirit each year between the feasts of the Ascension and Pentecost. He again mandated the Pen- tecost novena in 1897 in his Encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Divinum lllud Munus.

1901 The first day of the new century Pope Leo XIII intoned the hymn, “Deni Creator Spiritus” in the name of the whole church, dedicating the 20"‘ Cen- tury to the Holy Spirit. 1901 Topeka. Kansas. Flev. Charles Parham and his students dedicated themselves to study baptism in the Holy Spirit. As a result a revival started, considered the beginning of Pentecostalism.

1906 Azusa Street, Los Angeles, the Pentecostal movement grows with an out-pouring of the Holy Spirit.

195O’s-6O’s The Chans- matic Renewal move- ment starts among main- line churches as mem- bers embrace baptism in the Holy Spirit.

1961 Pope St. John XX|||’s prayer to convene Second Vatican Council: “Re- new your wonders in our time, as by a new Penteoost.“

1967 February, students and proffessors at The Ark and The Dove Retreat House in the North Hills ot Pittsburgh, PA. experienced the grace of baptism in the Holy Spirit, later known as ‘The Duquesne Weekend.”

1967 April, word quickly spread from Pittsburgh to South Bend, East Lancing and Ann Arbor, 100 people gathered tor the 1st lntemational Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference.

1970’s Growth of parish-based prayer groups, covenant communities, houses of prayer, Renewal Centers throughout the country and the world.The National Service Committee for Catholic Charismatic Renewal (NSC) established. Conferences at Notre Dame gather 1000's. a communications office was set up in Ann Arbor.

1972 International Communications Office in Ann Arbor, moves to Brussels at the invitation of Cardinal Suenens, and later Rome becoming ICCRO (1978) and then ICCRS.

1973 First lntemational Conference for Leaders of the Renewal at Grottaferrata, Italy and first meeting with Pope Paul VI.

1975 International Catholic Charismatic Conference in Rome. 13,000 delegates as- sembled in Saint Petefs Basilica for the celebra- tion of the Pentecost Mass with Pope Paul VI.

At theNSC request, Franciscan University of Steubenville hosts a Catholic Charismatic Renewal conference for priests, launching the Steubenville Conferences and becomes a center for the Renewal.

1977 “Charismatic Renewal in the Christian Churches“ Ecumenical Charismatic Renewal Conference in Kansas City, M0. gathers 50,000 people in Arrowhead Stadium.

Establishment of the Steeiing Committee of the Association of Di- ocesan Liaisons tor Catholic Charismatic Renewal

1980’s- present continued growth of the Renewal touching more than 120,000,000 Catholics worldwide.

1993 Pope John Paul ll calls the Ecclesial Movements to Rome, including Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

1999 MembersotCatholic Charismatic Committees operating on a national level (including Diocesan Liaisons, Covenant Communities, Ethnic realities, the NSC and others} began annual meetings for prayer and discemment. 2006 Pope Benedict calls the Ecclesial move ments to Rome.

2014 June, Pope Francis speaks to over 50,000 gathered at The Olympic Stadium sponsored by the Renewal in the Spirit (RnS], ICCRS. and the Catholic Fraternity.

2015 December, The NSC brokers the purchase ct Providence Villa (fomerlv The Ark and The Dove), the site of the “Duquesne Weekend,“ reclaiming this historic site tor the whole Renewal as a oenter of unity and to promote the grace of baptism in the Holy Spirit for generations to oome.

2016 February, The Ark and The Dove is blessed by Bishop Zubik of Pitts- burgh, PA. Pentecost, the official ribbon cutting and reopening ofThe Ark and The Dove.

2017 The Golden Jubilee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, celebrating 50 years ct the outpouring cl the Holy Spirit since the Duquesne Weekend! Pope Francis invites all those involved with Charismatic Renewal to Rome for Pentecost.




 Publication of the National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal


Celebrating 50 years of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit since February 1967. 



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