For a lengthy treatment of Catholic charismatic liturgies at a conference in the USA, see John Vennari here.
But it gets worse. Fr Pat Collins writes in an earlier edition of GoodNews of a particular prophecy made by a one charismatic leader as though it were a fifth gospel. He explains his approach in deciding which of the spontaneous and mutually contradictory babblings to believe:
Over the years I have heard many prophecies. It is notoriously hard to know whether they come from God or not. However, there are some which have considerable authority because of the circumstances in which they were spoken, the acknowledged giftedness of the people who spoke them, and the way in which they evoked an answering amen of approval in the Christian community. On Pentecost Monday 1975 such a prophecy was given by Ralph Martin in St Peter’s Basilica, Rome, in the presence of Pope Paul VI.
The Church has a very long experience in dealing with alleged prophecies. Are these the criteria used by the Church? No. Has this been assessed and approved by the proper authorities? No. But never mind - Fr Collins believes it because he thinks Ralph Martin has the Spirit, and they supply a theme for the entire issue of Goodnews.
Pope Paul VI on Sept. 3rd 1969 at Castelgandolfo referred to phenomena which "not only offend canon law but also the very heart of Catholic worship, since we find them, dispensing with the institutional structures of the authentic, real and human Church, in the false hope of setting up a free and purely Charismatic Christianity, but which is -really amorphous, evanescent and blown about by any passing wind of passion or fashion. " On Sept. 24th 1969: "Many who talk about the Church today say they are inspired by a prophetic spirit. They make risky and sometimes inadmissible assertions, and appeal to the Holy Spirit as if the Divine Paraclete were at their service at all times; they sometimes do this, unfortunately, with an unspoken intention of freeing themselves from the Church's Magisterium, which enjoys the assistance of the Holy Spirit. May God grant that this Presumption of elevating a personal judgement or personal experience into a rule or criterion of religious doctrine may notcause havoc. May God never allow that treating these private opinions as charismatic gifts and prophetic inspirations should lead astray so many good and well-meaning people." On Oct. 25th 1972: "a pretentious charismatic sufficiency will not preserve an authentic vivifying presence of the Holy Spirit in these spiritualistic trends, in which, sadly enough, it is often easy to see dissent or profane mentalities infiltrated. The needs of theChurch are very different."
Pope John Paul I had a lot to say, and said it before his election. His very short life as Vicar of Christ on earth, only thirty-three days, providentially brought to the notice of the world what he had written. Addressing St. Theresa of Avila in his book Illustrissimi he says:
Charismatic experiences are not anyone's private reserve. They may be given to anyone: priests and laymen, men and women. It is one thing though, to beable to have visions, and quite another to actually have them. In your Libro de las fundaciones I find written: "a woman penitent told her confessor that the Madonna often came to see her and stayed talking for over an hour, revealing the future and many other things to her. And as something true occasionally emerged from all the nonsense, it all seemed to be true. I realised at once what it was all about ... but merely told the confessor to wait for the result of the prophesies, to find our for himself about the penitent's way of life and to look for further signs of sanctity in her. In the end ... it was seen that her visions were all fantasies." Dear St. Theresa, if only you could come back today! The word "charisma" is squandered. All kinds of people are known as prophets, even the students who confront the-police in the streets, or the guerrillas of Latin America. People try to set up the Charismatics in opposition to the pastors. What would you say? You who obeyed your confessors, even when their advice turned out to be the opposite of that given to you by God in prayer?"
Our present Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, when he addresses Charismatic groups follows the usual format. There is a kindly greeting. There is a word of pleasure and approval that they have gathered in Rome because their choice of Rome shows that they understand the importance of being rooted in that Catholic unity of Faith and charity which finds its visible centre in the See of Peter. Then he teaches, and the teaching, if analysed, is a series of warnings. In general these are:-
- Fidelity to the authentic teaching of the Faith. Whatever contradicts this doctrine does not come from the spirit.
- Value the gifts which are given in service of the common good.
- Pursue that charity alone which brings the Christian to perfection.
Time and again the Holy Father stresses the need for good leaders and good priests with the requisite theology. But in practice, if these leaders and priests become part of the Charismatic Renewal and do not remain outside it, they become moulded by it, gradually moulded by emotional experiences which overthrow in them that which constituted them a possible safeguard for others. If they remain outside, they carry no weight because these Charismatics are not charismatics in the sense that St. Theresa of Avila was.
In many places, and not only in the more developed nations, the charismatic renewal is limping badly, diminishing in numbers and in the power of the Holy Spirit, and even dying.
There is hope, he adds. Yes, there is indeed hope that CCR is dying. The great experiment, which it was 'prophesied' would revitalise the Church, has clearly failed - and not for want of enthusiasm or resources. The Popes have warned us against it and the theological problems it raises are manifest. But it is still active in parishes and dioceses up and down the country, and should be exposed for what it is and opposed. Do not let them lead another generation of impressionable, and increasingly badly-formed, young Catholics down the path of Pentecostalism.