Sunday, May 19, 2013

Is the Pope ...

Pope Francis for the Feast of Pentecost with New Movements.
Homily here.


Charismatic is sort of a dirty word for traditionalists - they usually associate the Charismatic Movement with liberalism and modernism, indifferentism and liturgical novelty and abuse.  Nevertheless, the Church has had Her eye on the movement since its 'revival' in the late 1960's, and it has been praised by the Popes as well.  So, is Pope Francis 'charismatic'?  Hmmm.  I think it more appropriate to say... the Pope is Catholic.

Very shortly after my conversion I encountered friends in the Renewal - I went to prayer meetings with them.  My spirituality was more contemplative, Eucharistic and Marian - at the time, Charismatics were not so centered in that respect - Eucharistic devotion was centered around the Mass, the rosary and Marian devotion was present, but not prominent.  Prayer meetings were more or less comprised of praise, prophecy (mostly scriptural witnessing) and healing.  I always felt inwardly strengthened, but preferred solitary, quiet adoration to communal prayer meetings.  Did I see abuses?  Of course, but I saw abuses anywhere I cared to look in the Church.  In my opinion the movement changed, or matured under John Paul II and most especially after Medjugorje began.  Charismatics were very much attracted to Medjugorje, and it was around that time that Marian devotion became a focus in the movement.  (M. Angelica was instrumental in promoting Marian devotion in the Charismatic Movement as well.)

That's my brief experience on the Charismatic Movement, along with my opinion.  I see nothing wrong with it, as with any spirituality, it simply needs the guidance of the Church.  That said, Catholic World Report has an interesting article regarding the Pope(s) and the Movement - especially it's Catholic roots.  Who knew Pope Leo XIII initiated it?
 First, Pope Francis.
When the newly elected Pope Francis appeared at the window before the cheering crowd in St Peter’s Square, and promptly bowed down asking the people to pray for him, most of the public at large was charmed, but puzzled. Pope Benedict too had asked the people to pray for him from the outset, but without the bowed head. To some spectators, however—including the members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and their counterparts in the Protestant and Orthodox worlds—the gesture came as something surprisingly familiar. In the “charismatic” galaxy, prayer is offered and asked for in this way by people of all levels—specifically, prayer for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis’ frequent mentions of the Holy Spirit—whom he has described as someone who “annoys us”and “moves us, makes us walk, pushes the Church to move forward”—as well as his unprecedentedly frequent references to the devil (rather than to a generic“evil”), indicate his affinity for the Charismatic Renewal. The election of such a back-to-basics man as Supreme Pontiff provides us with an opportunity to look at the road traveled by the Charismatic Renewal and to “hold on to what is good” (1 Thess 5:21). 
Before Francis, Pope Leo XIII 
January 1, 1901, Pope Leo XIII ushered in the new century by solemnly invoking the Holy Spirit over all of Christendom.
One of the chief ends that Pope Leo had explicitly dedicated his long pontificate to was the reunion of all Christians. Now, he was asking the Holy Spirit to bring his work to maturity and to bear fruit, with a renewed outpouring of his gifts not just over Catholics, but over all the disciples of Christ. Very few in the Protestant and Orthodox worlds—indeed, not even many Catholics—are aware of this historical fact. But to believers who attach such specific meaning and tangible effects to the invocation of the Holy Spirit, it can be no small matter. 
It all started with a nun in Lucca, Italy, Elena Guerra (1835-1914), the founder of the Oblate Sisters of the Holy Spirit, whom Pope John XXIII was to beatify and give the title “Apostle of the Holy Spirit “in 1959.
Over a period of eight years, around the turn of the last century, Blessed Elena Guerra wrote 13 letters to the Holy Father, Pope Leo XIII, urging him to establish an institutional devotion to the Holy Spirit. Leo was thus prompted to call the faithful to a novena in preparation for Pentecost 1895, in an apostolic letter entitled Provida Matris Charitate, in which he called particular attention to one of the fruits of the Paraclete, “the unity and unanimity” described in Acts 4:32: “The whole group of believers were united, heart and soul.” Two years later, he wrote his short encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Divinum Illud Munus, (“He is the substantial, eternal, and first Love, and there is nothing more lovable than love”), explaining the Spirit’s unity with the Father and the Son in the Trinity and making the novena to the Holy Spirit public and permanent. - Read more here.

Fascinating stuff, huh?  That's why I try not to criticise - and never condemn - the new movements in the Church, and wait - and allow - the Magisterium to rule upon them.  The Holy Spirit moves where He will, when He will, and how He will.
It is the Paraclete Spirit, the “Comforter”, who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission? - Pope Francis, Pentecost Homily, 5/19/13

The Pope is so Catholic.

 Update, just discovered late Sunday night:  As usual, Fr. Angelo covered the subject better than I could.  Read his post from May 10, Pope Francis the Charismatic.  It's excellent.


  1. Yeah both me & the Pope are charismatic! Ros would have been happy - is happy!

  2. And that is good. ros would love this Pope - does love this Pope. I miss her.

  3. I find this article to be very misleading. The Charismatic movement began with the Protestants, and was adopted by Catholics in 1967 beginning with Ralph Martin and a couple of others at Duquesne University. Devotion to the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit began with the Apostles at the First Pentecost. If you go by this article, you would have to believe the Apostles were "charismatics", and no one is going to make that claim.

    My problem with the Charismatic movement is that so much of it is based on feelings and outward manifestations. They would probably reject someone like Mother Teresa, who spent 50 years in the Dark Night and had no outward manifestation of the Holy Spirit and no consolations whatsoever. The Charismatic movement is all about emotions and feeling good, which is very Protestant.

    The Holy Spirit does not automatically equate with being Charismatic, and just because Pope Francis promotes the teaching of the Holy Spirit does not mean he is necessarily promoting the Charismatic movement.

  4. Cath in Brooklyn - The Holy Father as cardinal had oversight of the Charismatic Movement in Argentina and was very favorable to it. It has great appeal amongst Latinos - especially the poorer classes.

    The Charismatic Movement is one movement amongst many in the Church - there is room in the Church for many movements. No one is imposing any particular movement upon anyone - most especially the Pope. At yesterday's Mass he praised the extraordinary diversity of the Holy Spirit's work in the various movements. I prefer to say the Pope is Catholic, as a sort of response to the idea that the Pope is Charismatic - though he has the Holy Spirit.

    Many people have problems with the Charismatic Movement, Opus Dei, Communion and Liberation, and so on - so what?

    1. Does one have to be Charismatic to have the Holy Spirit or exhibit gifts of the Holy Spirit? As I wrote, the Charismatic movement started out as a Protestant movement and did not enter the Catholic Church until 1967. But certainly the fruits of the Holy Spirit have been manifest in the Church throughout her entire history.

      Latinos are very emotional in their spiritual lives and so would be sort of predisposed to the Charismatics.

      All of the Popes have been favorable to the Charismatic movement. As long as they don't teach anything against Church doctrine, there is no reason to oppose the Charismatics theologically. But I still contend that just speaking about the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Holy Spirit does not automatically constitute open support of the Charismatic movement.

      Also, the cited article was completely wrong in trying to tie Pope Leo XIII to Charismatics. The Protestants didn't begin the Charismatic movement until the 1960's. And it certainly didn't exist at the time of Blessed Elena Guerra.

  5. Having been raised pentecostal, I have a special dislike of most things charismatic.

  6. Thom - I've seen you in videos. haha!

    I've encountered Charismatics who were pretty far out. There was a famous healing priest in Boston who claimed I was resistin' the Spirit because I wouldn't go over after he prayed over me and gave me a push to do so.

    There are crazies in every movement. Look at some of the trads or Fatima people.

    Go to Mass and confession, pray and do good works, it's very simple. I try to stay away from the 'cults'.

  7. BTW, I am "Latina" and of the poorer classes, and intensely dislike the Charismatic Movement. The only "redeeming" value I see is it does draw back some people to the Church, and some of the songs are very joyful. It might be much more holy and pious, pleasing to God and spiritually uplifting, if perhaps the Rosary were prayed before their charismatic prayer groups, too!! RosaMaria

  8. RosaMaria - In my reference to Latinos, I had in mind the many recent immigrants who have come to Minnesota - many are Mexican and others over the years have been Guatamalan. Many find a huge welcome in Pentecostal churches. Sorry I didn't take time to be more specific/inclusive.

  9. My involvement with the Chrismatic movement is what brought me to conversion.
    "They"love Mother Teresa, the sacraments, the Rosary, the Blessed Mother, reverence, piety, confession, traditional music, traditional mass, and the Magisterium.
    Are some emotional? Yes. And some operate on the fringe. Mostly those who were formed by Spirit of Vatican II types. Those are not the core or essence of the movement.
    But I still applaud those whose devotion and love stand out above many.

  10. Kelly - Thanks very much for your comment - I agree with you. The movement has led many back to the bosom of the Church. I know many priests and religious who have come through it and their piety and theology is traditional and Catholic to the bone.

    God bless you.

  11. Thank-you for your "clarification" and allowing me to state my feelings about the Charismatic Movement, etc. It is much appreciated. God bless you and your future spiritual and artistic endeavours! Que Dios le bendiga siempre.

  12. rosaMaria - you are most welcome. God bless you and thanks for taking the time to read the blog.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.