Finding common ground among Catholics

Last year, on a flight home from World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis had this to say about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement.

Aug 21, 2014

By Janelle Alberts
Last year, on a flight home from World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis had this to say about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement:

“I’ll tell you something about the charismatic movement. ...In this moment of the life of the church, the movements are necessary. They are a grace of the Spirit, and in general, they do much good for the church. The charismatic renewal movement is not just about winning back a few Pentecostals, but it serves the church and its renewal.”

No doubt many Catholics wanting to support the pope may first have asked this question about the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement: What is it?

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement, which began in 1967, has its roots in the first Pentecost. We can look at this passage from Acts 2: 2-4 for guidance:

“And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”

Like any movement, the pendulum swing of individual and group practices cuts a swath far and wide. We need to keep in mind that Catholic charismatics go to Mass, just as any Catholic would do.

However, the idea behind this movement is that believers are “gifted” by an infilling of the Holy Spirit with a range of biblical gifts: prophecy, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, distinguishing spirits and speaking in tongues, which is also based on biblical happenings, as we read in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11:

“To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. “To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another the Spirit of discernment; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues.

“But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”

Like many Catholics who are not charismatics and don’t understand some of the practices, Pope Francis admitted that he, too, initially was not always comfortable with charismatics’ manner of praying.

“I did not have much love for charismatics,” he said on June 1, just before inviting charismatics to an event at the Vatican in 2017, marking 50 years of the movement.

He later said that the movement was “a current of grace in the church and for the church.”

Like Pope Francis, we, too, can find common ground with others, especially if we know that we all contribute to God’s kingdom for the benefit of all.

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