Friday, February 21, 2014

"Pope Francis and the Future of Charismatic Christianity"

Dale M. Coulter, "Pope Francis and the Future of Charismatic Christianity" (First Things, February 20, 2014):
A recent meeting of ministers associated with the prosperity-preaching Word of Faith branch of charismatic Christianity received a surprise announcement: Pope Francis had sent a message to the conference. It was something of a historic moment.

Beginning around the thirty-minute mark of the above video, Francis speaks in Italian and English subtitles are provided at the bottom. As part of his greeting, the pope chose to highlight two themes, his joy at their desire to worship together in prayer to the Father for the Spirit to come and his yearning for Christians to become one again.
And the Pope asked these Protestant charismatics to pray for him; and so, led by Kenneth Copeland, speaking in tongues, they did.

And this, by the way, is not just a kind of fashion, a passing fad. Catholic traditionalists are just so ... yesterday.

[Hat tip to JM: Advisory: Rules 7-9]


Anonymous said...

But hwta i don't get is why he cannot take the same tact with those of dissimilar emphases in his own communion. Charity begins at home, as they say. How about some simpatico overtures to the crowd keeping the home fires burning. What bridges might be built with a homily on "The Enduring Legacy of the Old Mass" or anything else similar.

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

But wait, there's more!

Here's my attempt to understand this stageshow event in light of a disturbing papal homily that only came to my awareness this evening: .

It may be old hat, but I don't know how I missed it till now.

New Catholic said...

Does anyone know where I can buy the Strange Tongues-English bilingual hand missal?


Pertinacious Papist said...


Pope Francis as the new kid on the Lutheran block, eh? Interesting. I have long worried that some of our Catholic discourse has become so sloppy these days that it's hard to distinguish what makes it distinctively Catholic anymore.

In a slightly different vein, I have often wondered how Catholic charismatics understand their charismatic gifts as being in any way rooted in Catholic tradition. Fr. Francis Martin is author of a little book whose aim is to show how the gifts of spirit (speaking in tongues, in particular) are rooted in the Catholic tradition (I can't remember the name of the book, but it's in my office). Now Fr. Martin is a brilliant biblical scholar who doesn't bother with vernacular translations but carries around the Old and New Testaments in the original Hebrew and Greek, is a self-identified Catholic charismatic. But in this book, the preponderance of "evidence" for the charismatic movement being part of Catholic tradition is rooted in references to the Holy Spirit in encyclicals and ecclesial documents, particularly those stemming from Vatican II. The earliest references he can find to speaking in tongues in Catholic tradition are actually not explicit, but speculations based on circumstantial evidence that, for example, the builders of medieval cathedrals sometime met together for prayer, and he hypothesizes that their prayer may have included speaking in tongues. Not too convincing. This, too, seems to have been Msgr. Ronald Knox's view in his massive tome, Enthusiasm, in which the general impression is that these gifts belong to the sectarian fringes of Christian history rather than being rooted in Sacred Tradition. The question, "What, exactly, is Catholic about this?" seems to me to be the biggest obstacle faced by those who desire to impose charismatic gifts within the mainstream of contemporary Catholic "experience." My hunch is that many would respond: "Who cares? It's real! I've experienced it!"

Andrew said...

Dr. Blosser,

Speaking of charismatic Catholics, I came across your blog through some online searching for your colleague Daniel Keating. He spoke at a charismatic Catholic event a couple weeks ago, an event at which I was present. I'm not a charismatic Catholic, but my girlfriend is--she was raised in the "covenanted community" known as City of The Lord. I'm still trying to understand the phenomenon, and speaking with Daniel Keating helped, but it still leaves me scratching my head. Have you ever had a chance to speak with Daniel Keating about the matter?

Pertinacious Papist said...


Greetings. I have spoken with a number of my colleagues about the issue, but not him. I consider Dan Keating a prince of a colleague, but he comes in to the seminary only twice a week or so, and our schedules don't often allow our paths to cross.

I would encourage you to speak to him, though, as well as explore the issue in depth on your own. Generally I find that those who have personally experienced the phenomenon of speaking in tongues swear by it and, at least my charismatic colleagues, have thought through their biblical support for their position pretty well. On the other hand, those (like myself) who have not experienced it, remain quite mystified by the whole thing -- particularly when they see the lack of any real evidence for it as a Catholic tradition and see it as historically rising out of a Pentecostal Protestant milieu.

Warm regards in Christ, PP

JFM said...

Dr. B:

To pull the chain a bit, I honestly think your question, "What, exactly, is Catholic about this?" applies just as much to Vatican II as the Charismatic movement. I guess one could argue Vatican II has the presence of about a billion bishops to legitimize it, but then again, ever since the Council being a Bishop has not itself been that much of a guarantee of Catholicity! It IS fascinating to read Ralph Martin's accounts of support from Cardinal Suenens and try to figure out just where theological lines were drawn as the Council played out. So many cross currents that navigating it all leaves you at a loss.

Southern Boy said...

For years I have complained that the Catholic Church has sought to have "ecumenical dialogue" only with liberal Protestant groups like Anglicans, Lutherans, and the World Council of Churches. The Catholic Church has almost nothing in common with any of these bodies, which have all gone off the deep end into heresy, even from the vantage point of their own original "reformers."

I understand the dilemma faced by Roman Catholics who want "ecumenical relations" with Protestants. Who the hell do they talk to? The vast masses of Pentecostals and Baptists don't have any pope who speaks for them. The Anglicans have at least the so-called Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems like a sort of counterpart (of sorts) to the Roman pontiff.

But the problem is that when the Catholic Church wants to "dialogue" with Protestants who actually believe in God, the Devil, heaven, hell, the divinity of Christ, the Virgin birth, etc., they have to talk to these sorts of amorphous mass groups like Pentecostals or Southern Baptists who really have no hierarchy to speak of. They're really more like huge hives of bees or a massive colonies of rabbits, with weird "charismatic" leaders like Kenneth Copeland standing forth as their presumptive 'heads'.

I'm glad to see the Pope touching base with these hives of bees and colonies of rabbits. At least they have more in common with what the Church teaches than the Anglicans or Lutherans, who are busy promoting queer bishops and fem priestesses and may not even believe in God. But neither would I get too awfully excited about this lovey-dovey feel-good-ism. It's not a bad thing. But it's a bit like making out in the back seat of a car with some girl you really have no intention of marrying. Tony Palmer "my brother bishop"?? Please. You can be nice and civil without all these "sweet nothings" to your one night stand.

Pertinacious Papist said...


The Cardinal Suenens thing is a bit interesting. He was a big promoter of the charismatic movement as well as the "spirit of V2" talk after the Council. As Dr. Janet Smith pointed out to me, however, he was also a big opponent of the Church's traditional teaching on contraception. I believe he was among the Dutch bishops who also promoted communion in the hand (though check to be sure), which, as you may recall, was first introduced in the low countries in defiance of liturgical law by those opposed to the traditional belief in the Real Presence. So you're absolutely right about the crazy theological lines here.

So you're right about the

JFM said...

" these hives of bees and colonies of rabbits... It's not a bad thing. But it's a bit like making out in the back seat of a car with some girl you really have no intention of marrying. Tony Palmer "my brother bishop"?? Please. You can be nice and civil without all these "sweet nothings" to your one night stand."