Another way to destroy the Church where you are.

Hell’s Bible has a piece about one way some people are trying to “revitalize” the Catholic Church in Brazil.  Rather, this is how Hell’s Bible and those who work for the enemy against the Church want the Church to try to revitalize the faith.   Such a path would enervate the Church, not revitalize her.

A Laboratory for Revitalizing Catholicism

RIO DE JANEIRO — At one new megachurch in São Paulo, a Roman Catholic priest who was a personal trainer before joining the clergy energetically belts out songs, rock-star style, before 25,000 worshipers. Other Brazilian priests are donning cowboy hats and crooning country tunes at Mass or writing best-selling advice tomes emblazoned with heartthrob photographs on the cover.

If there is any place that captures the challenges facing Catholicism around the world it is Brazil, the country with the largest number of Catholics and a laboratory of sorts for the church’s strategies for luring followers back into the fold.

Reflecting the shifting religious landscape that Pope Benedict XVI’s successor will contend with, Brazil rivals the United States as the nation with the most Pentecostals, as a Catholic monolith gives way amid a surge in evangelical Protestant churches.


Then there is the array of singing priests who belong to what is called Brazil’s Charismatic Catholic Renovation, a movement seeking to invigorate Catholic services with the kind of liveliness that parishioners often find at other churches. These priests have been embraced by the Vatican, but only to a point.

The most famous among them, the Rev. Marcelo Rossi, a 45-year-old former personal trainer, has sold more than 12 million CDs and has celebrated Mass in a soccer stadium filled with tens of thousands of worshipers. Still, he complained about feeling “humiliated” during Benedict’s visit to Brazil in 2007 when Catholic leaders prevented him from even getting close to the pope.

In an extension of the charismatic practices, some Catholic priests now perform “liberation Masses” resembling group exorcisms and welcome congregants who speak in tongues. While such aspects may be frowned upon by some in the Roman Catholic establishment, the charismatic movement has clearly struck a chord among many worshipers.

“Through this movement, many people are finding themselves again inside the church,” said Almir Belarmino, 53, a technician at a sewage treatment company who was one of 1,200 people attending a retreat here over the Carnival holiday for people in the charismatic movement.

“Why not dance in the place where the presence of God is so great?” Mr. Belarmino asked. “Joy and excitement are part of the worship we do.”

Catholic priests’ blending of new practices into their services is nothing new in Brazil. Many people, for instance, say they are Catholic while practicing African-derived religions like Candomblé, which merges the identities of Roman Catholic saints and African deities. “Religious practice in Brazil is often highly hybridized,” said Stephen Selka, an expert on African diaspora religions at Indiana University.


When people start talking about S. American candidates for the papacy, remember this article.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JohnE says:

    “he complained about feeling ‘humiliated’ ”

    Said like a true saint…not!

  2. Darren says:

    Agreeing with JohnE… I was thinking the same thing. Where’s the humility?

    I honestly do not know much about any of the South American bishops.

    Just thinking… Raymond LEO Burke —> Pope Leo XIV

    Just a thought :)

    Sancte Michael Archangele,
    defende nos in proelio;
    contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
    Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
    tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
    satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
    qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
    divina virtute in infernum detrude.

  3. MikeM says:

    “Still, he complained about feeling “humiliated” during Benedict’s visit to Brazil in 2007 when Catholic leaders prevented him from even getting close to the pope.”

    I don’t want to make uncharitable assumptions, but perhaps we should be praying for this man… It seems like selling all those records and drawing those crowds might have distorted his perspective on some things. I imagine that that kind of success could do the same to me, too.

  4. Fr Z. from some Brazilian seminarians I study with:
    AT least one of these priests who is famous for singing and has televised masses is pretty good. He “does the red and says the black” better than 80% of the priests down there. Mind you he SINGS the black but in the ordinary form that isn’t prohibited and if the priest has a great voice I wouldn’t discourage it. Unfortunately I can’t remember which one he is of the few mentioned.

    Of course I agree, Mass is worship of God not a performance art (your main point). Just I see some elements stated here (obviously not all) as a relatively fine example of inculturation.

  5. OrthodoxChick says:

    The charismatic movement is still around in the area of New England where I live. Roomfuls of people speaking in tongues on cue. C’mon now. It’s weird, whacky, and gross.

  6. Ignatius says:

    One of the persons interviewed says “Joy and excitement are part of the WORSHIP WE DO”. Quite telling. Indeed, if it is a worship that YOU DO, it is not the worship the Church offers with Christ, by Him and through Him.

  7. APX says:

    I really don’t get the Charismatic Movement. If we’re not supposed to follow our feelings because they can be misleading and the devil can use our feelings to lead us astray, why are we following this? If God shows us His love for us by making our lives miserable the holier we become in order to purge us of our defects and inordinate attachments, would it not stand to reason that on the other end of the spectrum if we are experiencing a lot of sensible and spiritual consolations when we worship, to the point that the more we do it, the better it feels and we never experience dryness or desolation, that maybe we’re doing something wrong and should rethink our strategy? Am I wrong here?

    My roommate is a new convert and one of her friends got her caught up in the charismatic movement. I didn’t realize this until after I moved in and she started asking me if I could speak in tongues or knew anyone who could, or if we pray over each other at Mass. I brought her along to the EF Mass, which just made her more confused. Now she talking about having visions and that the Holy Spirit is telling her to go to Pakistan and pastor the people there. I advised her to go talk to the priest whom she did RCIA through (he’s pretty orthodox) about discerning those spirits.

  8. disco says:

    Here’s the thing, if you are losing ground to Pentecostals, the way to combat that probably isn’t to do what they do but not quite as well. That, my friends, is all ‘charismatic’ Catholicism is. If you want to hoot and holler and speak in jibber jabber, you aren’t ready to be Catholic. Better luck next time.

  9. poohbear says:

    Isn’t the next youth day in Brazil? Maybe its time to stop those events too.

  10. Ralph says:

    “When people start talking about S. American candidates for the papacy, remember this article.”

    You hit that nail on the head, Father.

    Don’t forget vestiges of liberation theology that still seem to cling to much of the clergy in Central and South America.

    Not that it matters (as I don’t anticipate having a vote in the conclave), but my money is on either Italy or someone from Africa.

  11. frjim4321 says:

    Yes, I have heard of this movement and seen clips of it.

    It’s troubling.

    It reminds me of that “dancing priest” routine we saw in France a few months ago.

  12. AngelGuarded says:

    How does the Sacrafice of the Mass fit in with the “joy and dancing”? Who was full of joy and dancing at the foot of the Cross on Calvary? This is so much like the rock band big party churches of no denomination that is it unsettling. Also, does Brazil really have the “largest number of Catholics”? I’m full of … questions today. Btw, I agree with you, disco, about the jibber jabber and hootin’ and hollerin’. And MikeM, yes, we must pray for this person, seems he may be in danger of placing himself where our Lord should be… That reminds me, whatever happened to Fr Corapi? See, more questions. I’m done now.

  13. catholicmidwest says:


  14. Jenice says:

    I’m with Darren. Raymond Cardinal Burke would be a worthy successor to our beloved Pope Benedict. My husband says it will never happen, but I sure wish it would.

  15. Luciano says:

    NYT (aka Hell’s Bible) would be better if looks to a small chapel near to Catedral da Sé, the main cathedral in São Paulo, Brazil, where a good priest says daily mass (extraordinary form) to a few people and always ask to their parishioners: “GO TO CONFESSION!”

  16. catholicmidwest says:

    The whole thing is craziness. I hope we elect a European who’s been around the curia for a while and knows how it operates. We still need some housecleaning and a huge dose of evangelization INSIDE the Church. Also holiness and honesty would be wonderful. These are the things I appreciated most about PBXVI.

  17. IgorFeitosa says:

    I am Brazilian and a reader of WDTPRS. I have to say that Brazil is NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY the most catholic country. I know what means to be a faithful catholic and — I can assure to you — it’s not a common type here. Brazilians need to be converted again! Just like the good old Jesuits did in 16th century.
    Talking about the papacy candidates, the last great Brazilian cardinal was Dom Eugênio Sales and he has died last year.

  18. a2jimenez says:

    From my experience growing up in Latin America, I get worry of those comments saying how strong and growing the Church is in Latin America and Africa. The level of confusion, misinformation, and blending of ideas of “Santeria” and occult African practices with Christianity in Latin America is very pronounce. That kind of confusion is very difficult to overcome.

  19. JacobWall says:

    I don’t know if Brazil is like Mexico, but I have some observations from there. Contrary to Brazil, in Mexico, the charismatic movement isn’t very strong, at least not that I’ve seen. However, if the pattern I saw in Mexico holds true in Brazil, then it is important to make some distinctions.

    From my perspective, in Mexico (perhaps like here?), the various “popular movements” are very artificially manufactured by some people who have gained more influence than they should have, and are not popular at all. The “cool” Masses that blend in all sorts of other elements (whether it be American pop culture or “indigenous” rites) are not bottom-up, popular movements, nor do the people who like that stuff in the real world go to those masses. Some priest or “liturgist” comes up with this stuff. The people who go are middle- and upper-middle class Catholics who grew up in the Church are were very poorly catechized. For example, the faux- “indigenous” Masses are NOT held in the countryside where the native people go to Mass. They are held in the big cities where the spoiled children of the wealthy who think such silliness adds meaning to their life go because they have finally found a Mass that looks like the yoga sessions that their upper-middle class friends hold in temazcals. (A sauna-like steam house.)

    In the countryside itself, the natives and other poor farmers go to more conservative (albeit novus ordo) Masses. Yes, they have guitar music and show up in rather ragged clothing, but such are their “Sunday bests.” However, in those places, there is no liturgical dancing, interpretation or “indigenous” ritual. The people will line up out of the doors of the church to receive communion sooner than receive it from someone who is not a priest. No chanting, no incense either, but on the other hand a very clean, to-the-point NO Mass without any of the middle-class “self-expression” you find in the cities. Even in the poor parts of the city, you find a similar approach.

    Yes, the big “let’s-be-cool” masses are crowded, but they are crowded by people who arrive in cars from around the city, as opposed to the poorer people (who are the majority) who go to the simple masses held in unsightly structures with fiberglass roofs in their own community.

    I have found a similar pattern for the converts and re-verts; in the shanty-town parish (which happens to be the most beautiful in the region) where I joined, the RCIA classes are ongoing and packed with young Mexican adults and a handful of expats. The priests are orthodox, and the Masses are likewise “clean” without any dancing or silly “expressiveness.” (The only downside is that guitar music, but the Masses were otherwise very good.) They have their dancing and clapping music sessions, but they are always outside of Mass, and outside of the church itself (in a room they had constructed above the parish school just for that purpose.) No speaking in tongues! While I met many converts there, I don’t remember ever meeting convert in the more “expressive” middle class parishes.

    I only mention this because the Church in Brazil quite notably has considerably more re-verts to Catholicism from Protestantism than the other way around. However, I don’t think the trendy pop-Masses are the ones responsible for this. I suspect that if we could actually see numbers, that the converts would be going back to the more conservative parishes. I also guess that the poor in the city and countryside, as well as natives, would be attending fairly conservative Masses. I suspect that, similar to Mexico, these big “let’s put on a show” concert and pentacostal-style masses are frequented by middle/upper class life-long, poorly catechized Catholics.

  20. frjim4321 says:

    …Cardinal Burke would be a worthy successor…

    I don’t think it would be him, either.

    I don’t think he could muster up a ground swell from the Italian cardinals.

  21. JacobWall says:

    I agree with the concern about the idea of a Pope from Latin America. I kind of like the idea of a Pope from Canada this time around, but not because he’s Canadian. But on the whole, I’m content to leave this in the hands of the Cardinals. Generally speaking, Catholics need to be very careful to avoid this idea that the Pope or even the Cardinals should somehow reflect the geographical distribution of the Church. It’s not a “modern democracy” (as our critics like to point out.) Both need to be chosen according to their suitability for the task and, most importantly, their adherence to Christian orthodoxy. Geographical representation should not be a consideration. At all.

  22. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Then there is the array of singing priests who belong to what is called Brazil’s Charismatic Catholic Renovation, a movement seeking to invigorate Catholic services with the kind of liveliness that parishioners often find at other churches. These priests have been embraced by the Vatican, but only to a point.”

    The reason that the Church is losing 4000 people per day (think about that) to Pentecostalism is because the Church does not, yet, have a handle on what it really is, so they don’t have a real apologetic against it. Sadly, there is no one that I know of in the Church, from the Hierarchy to the laity, who have actually studied both the history and phenomenology of the Movement with anything like objectivity. That may seem a harsh thing to say, but, having studied the history and science behind the Movement for the past 17 years and having, “lived the life,” for at least fifteen years before that, knowing almost the entire corpus of the literature from the early 1800’s until today, including the meager, but critical input from the Catholic Church, I can reasonably say that there are many people who think they know what the Charismatic phenomena are, but fewer than ten who really do.

    As an expert on the neurobiology of humor and laughter, I am in a unique position to study such things as the Holy Laughter phenomenon which is characteristic of South African Third Wave Pentecostalism. There have been fMRI studies of people speaking in tongues, so we have some idea of what is going on, there, as well.

    None of this material is being analyzed by the Church, at least not in anything published. I have access to three major theological libraries (two Protestant, one Catholic) and a major university research library and I have spent years collecting papers from the earliest Montanists to the modern Third Wavers. That amounts to about 30, 000 or more books and articles, which I either have or have a bibliographic reference for (articles tend to repeat information from one to the next). I know the literture. Most of the Catholic contribution occurs, as expected, after 1967, but the movement was known to cardinals in the Church decades before that. Most of the Catholic books published on the subject are defective in anything resembling a research methodology. I had permission from my spiritual director to do the research and write a book on my findings (he has, since, moved on to a new assignment). He certainly knew some of the literature, as the most famous Catholic book on the subject was written by a member of his Order. After I told him my findings, he said it was, “the best explanation,” he had ever heard on the subject. He even offered to type the book! Alas, medical problems have diminished my concentration and stamina to the point that the sustained work necessary to write the book has been almost impossible (there is a lot of spiritual mess going on with this topic and groups, both human and angelic, don’t want to see a coherent study published – there is one Protestant theologian whom I can recommend whose research finds are similar to mine, but it is precisely a Catholic interpretation of the data which he is missing).

    Brazil is one of the four hotspots for Charismatic/Pentaostalism in the Catholic world, today (the other three being South Africa, South Korea, Southern India). Its influence in the United States is somewhat waning.

    I would love to be able to finish the book I started on this subject, since I am pretty sure I know where the modern manifestation started and what it is. I also know why it is defective. Until this knowledge becomes common in the Church, these sorts of preachers and groups will continue.

    It is not that Pentacostalism is bad, per se, it is just that it is self-limiting as far as the potential for spiritual growth that it affords. These priests are spiritual adolescents. One hopes that they will grow out of this, soon, but, in my experience, this usually doesn’t properly happen until one has a direct confrontation with the Cross.

    Ah, well.

    The Chicken

    P. S. to JacobWall,

    The situation in Mexico is closer to what it is in the rest of North America than in Brazil. Pentecostalism is thriving in Brazil. I suspect that many of the reverts to Catholicism in Brazil are coming from a Pentecostal background ( many are stolen from the Church) and when they return find the Charismaticism quite normal to them. Both Mexico and Brazil have large pockets of poverty and while, paradoxically, Charismaticism, tends to flourish in middle-class environments, many of the poor get introduced to it through an appeal to some sort of Prosperity Gospel or Liberation Theology.

  23. Kypapist says:

    This is so bizarre! The Jesuit pastor at the inner-city Church where I attend daily Mass (6:00 a.m.), who is very athletic and into running big time, has recently announced he has started a part-time PERSONAL TRAINER business. He already has TWENTY CLIENTS! But he cannot say Mass publicly everyday because he needs TIME OFF!!! Maybe we can send him to Brazil!

    Oh, Jesus, shelter our Holy Father the Pope under the protection of Thy Sacred Heart. Be Thou his light, his strength and his consolation. Amen.

  24. Ignatius says:

    I am from Argentina. I ahve never seen one of these charsimatic masses, but they do exist. However, what worries me most is the heterodoxy and lack of real formation of our bishops and clergy in general. There are very few that have advanced studies (Ph.Ds). And while they pay lip service to the Pope, they absolutely disregard whatever comes from Rome. We have only one residential voting cardinal (Bergoglio) and I dare say that one is too much… Another voting cardinal is Sandri, but I know almost nothing about him, since he has lived in Italy most of his life.

    Catechesis is extremely poor. There’s no real Catholic intellectual life in the country. No orthodox Catholic newspapers, publishing houses, no orthodox apologetics, etc. Only jaded, left wing, liberation-theology flavored publications that nobody really reads. I envy what you have in the USA!

    Liturgy is a real disaster (in general). Church music is abhorrent and no major church in Buenos Aires has a decent choir, not even the Cathedral where the liturgy is… well, you know: ignore the red, ignore the black, ad-lib always.

    Summorum Pontificum has been largely ignored/despised as “backwards” and the celebration of the EF strongly discouraged (that may be one of the causes why we have a strong presence of the SSPX in the country). There are no “pockets of orthodoxy” like there are in the USA or in some countries in Europe. There are no Dolans, Chaputs, Bruskewitz, Gomez, Di Nardos, Vasas, etc. here.

    We have been the first country in S. America which legalized homosexual “marriage”. Recently, abortion has been legalized also. Not a (real) beep from our bishops. Nothing but bureaucratic twaddle to show the nuncio that they actually “did something about it”, while in fact the didn’t.

    We need to be re-evangelized and soon. The rest of S. America is more or less the same.

    The idea of having a pope from these shores give me shivers. Really!


  25. JacobWall says:


    Thanks for the info on the movement. What you said, that “Mexico is closer to the rest of North America,” makes sense. Since Brazil is a different situation, as you explained, it is very concerning that most of these converts/reverts would be entering the Charismatic movement.

    In Mexico, I have seen something like Liberation Theology sneak into the households of the poor, at least partly because of the deceptive propaganda used by socialists. But I haven’t seen Charismaticism among the poor. But I am speaking only from personal experience – i.e. specific poor families and households that I know, and have spent considerable time with – and I’m sure your studies give you the bigger picture and better understanding.

    We should all be praying for the Church in Brazil, which seems to be in an especially needy state – perhaps not in numbers, but in true pastoral care for all these souls.

  26. Marcio A. Campos says:

    Don’t rule out all South American cardinals. There’s cardinal Cipriani from Lima, Peru.

    Funny that NYT singles out father Marcelo Rossi, because the current darling of Sunday TV shows is father Fabio de Mello, who’s much worse — he dresses like lay people and says/writes lots of awful stuff, including denying the need of a physical ressurrection of Jesus (please note: he didn’t deny the ressurrection itself, but the need of a physical ressurrection).

    Matthew, would the singing priest you were told about be father Reginaldo Manzotti?

  27. THREEHEARTS says:

    Strikes a chord fr writes. not a tuneful one is it? Arianism struck a real chord and look how hard it was to get rid of. pentecostalism in any form is not an intellectual pursuit of holy spirituality. I know from conversations with this group formed in mass hysteria (ask any psychiatrist who has studied their antics,) in discussions with them they consider their gift of glossalia to be a sign of sanctifying grace and as long as they speak unintelligently they are not sinful. This from a catholic group one of which slept around but since she spoke in tongues she had not sinned. It is last on a list of useful gifts delineated by Paul. never yet practicing the one’s before. JP2 at one annual get together in Rome, which he could not find time to attend, wrote a letter to them which said go back to your parishes and practice the spiritual and corporate works of mercy. He could not find time to meet with them?? They talk about slain in the spirit when did our catholic faith deal in death unless the soul is dead/

  28. JacobWall says:

    ” I envy what you have in the USA!” This is a good reminder, Ignatius. I am from Canada, but as in most cases, both the bad and the good overflow to us from the U.S. to some extent. In any case, we do need to appreciate what we have. The NCRegister (NOT fishwrap) is a wonderful, Catholic news source.

  29. JacobWall says:

    @Ignatius and others: What about Chile? I have read that is still one of the more Catholic nations; i.e. abortion has not been legalized, etc. But I also know that is one of the historical birthplaces of Pentacostalism. Does anyone know how is the Church doing in Chile?

  30. Ignatius says:

    Jacob: I would not say that Chile is a “more Catholic” country. There are indeed strong pockets of protestantism in the south of Chile. The diference with Brasil and Argentina is that Chile has a more “traditional” society (stable almos inertial, vertically stratified, more attached to certain local customs, etc.), which is not the same. And I wonder if it is good altogether.

    I hear there are some, few, good bishops in Chile. I heard good things about the Bishop of San Bernardo, from the Opus Dei, in the outskirts of Santiago, for example. But in general, what a priest friend that has been there tells me is that things are more or less the same than here. Two or three well meaning bishops, but nobody “stellar”, loud or incredibly acute.


  31. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I know from conversations with this group formed in mass hysteria (ask any psychiatrist who has studied their antics,)”

    The number actually formed this way is small. Mass hysteria has a way of falling apart when the group disperses. The phenomenon is truly spiritual in origin, although it (the phenomenon, not the various movements) does not conform to the teachings of the Church.


    To my knowledge, Chile is not one of the birthplaces of Pentecostalism. Pentecostalism has its origins in America (with pre-cursors from England). Now, Chile may have been the birthplace of Pentecostalism in South America – I haven’t really studied the demography in Latin America all that well, as it doesn’t touch the phenomena, itself. I know sociologists have looked at the cultural aspects. I think Hollenweger has looked at the phenomenon, world-wide.

    The Chicken

  32. Supertradmum says:

    Pentecostalism is a heresy, based on emotional responses and not on doctrine or faith and reason. With our dear Pope stressing reason and faith together these past several years, has this priest not been listening? Frenzied worship is nothing less than the undisciplined passions of our old self coming to the fore and has nothing to do with true worship.

    What does purity of heart or listening to the soft still voice of God in the breeze have anything to do with this time of activity?

    Dionysiac or Disneyland–take your choice, but not the worship of the One, True, God present in the Eucharist.

  33. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Pentecostalism is a heresy, based on emotional responses and not on doctrine or faith and reason.”

    I want to be careful how I say this: Pentecostal phenomena are not, in themselves, heretical. The movement, Pentecostalism, in its modern form, is not so much a heresy, itself, but rather, is based on heresy. It has, as one of its aspects, hyper-emotionalism, but it was, originally, based on a doctrine, a reason, and a faith. It is just that the doctrine was incorrect, the reason was flawed, and the faith was not that of the Church.

    The Chicken

  34. FidelisV says:

    As a brazilian, I unfortunatelly have to recognize that our cardinals would not even have a good performance as bishops in small US diocesis. Not to say as Pope.

    They seem poor men, lacking attitude, in a task that overpowers their capacity.

  35. Moro says:

    I believe that the rise of protestantism in Latin America is partly due to the practices that have arisen as a result of poor catechesis. In many parts of Latin America, there are synchretic practices such as commemoration of Jesus, Mary and the saints but also certain indigenous deities. These practives could lead poorly catechized individuals to buy into the whole “Catholics worship Mary” nonsense that Protestants yammer on and on about. But when the Church responds with Megachurch worship, they make themselves look like yet another protestant demonination. We need distinctively Catholic practices, especially in liturgy, but also with fast, abstinence, etc. AND strong catechesis.

  36. Mom2301 says:

    “If there is any place that captures the challenges facing Catholicism around the world it is Brazil, the country with the largest number of Catholics and a laboratory of sorts for the church’s strategies for luring followers back into the fold.”

    Notice that word “luring”. That stuck out like a sore thumb to me. Maybe its just me, but luring has a very negative connotation. It suggests something foul is afoot. It indicates dishonesty as if they will lure them in and then tell them what real Catholicism is. I don’t want to lure people to the church. I want them to be met with the Truth and deisire to come to the Church because it.
    …or maybe its just me :)

  37. iowapapist says:

    Jesus exhorts us to love God with our entire heart, soul and mind. It has been said that Evangelical Christianity is an abdication of the duty to love God with the mind. One does not have to limit this observation to non-Catholic Christians, or to those in charismatic movements within the Church. The novelties and abuses regularly occurring during Masses are themselves an abdication of this duty as they seek to make those in attendance come to expect “feel good” words and gestures that play on emotions and do not challenge them intellectually or morally. If bishops believed that people truly are moved to attend Mass for purposes of worship, why would we have armies of greeters (not to mention EMHC’s so as to be “inclusive”)?

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    It’s interesting to watch and listen as Catholics talk about the challenges of keeping Catholics inside the Church, in this case in South America, but also in general. I’m listening to learn because there’s a lot about the attitudes involved on both sides of the equation that puzzles me.

  39. Matt R says:

    It saddened me to see that the man interviewed at the end of the piece was named “Belarmino,’ for he seems to share a name with St Robert Bellarmine, the great defender against heresy (and never mind the fact that Bellarmine U. here in Louisville is named for him…shudders).
    The Brazilian priest at my mother’s home parish in MA is actually quite decent, which intrigues me.

  40. Galvao says:


    First, I’m so sorry but my english is terrible…

    I’m Brazilian and I’ve participated Charismatic groups. Fr. Marcelo Rossi, since 2000 (more or less, I don’t remember) is a “super star” for Brazilian’s media. A mass celebrated by him, in a “normal” parish, was transmitted first in “Domingão do Faustão”, Open TV, live, for all country. I don’t know any American TV Show like “Domingão”. Here is the worst, but the most watched, TV Show.
    With this “apparition”, Fr. Marcelo gained notoriety in all cities in Brazil, giving force to Charismatic groups. After, many other priests followed this “way of pray”. I remember Fr. Zeca “Deus é Dez” (God is ten), Fr. Jorjão and anothers. Posteriorly came Fr. Fábio de Mello. He was priest of Sacred Heart (SCJ) but left the congregation to prioritize his singing carrer. The Brazilian SCJ Congregation has stwo other priest singers: Fr. Zezinho (“Little Joseph”) em Fr. Joãozinho (“Little John”) with a great carrer (but no so great orthodoxy). Much ecumenism and sentimentalism in their sings.
    Fr. Fabio de Mello has a large number of fans, “Fabietes”, many passionate for their beauty. More recently came Fr. Reginaldo Manzotti, here em Curitiba. The Archibishop of Curitiba appointed him in a parish without people, in downtown, because the parish with people don’t like his work. Fr. Reginaldo discloses his project “Evangelizar é preciso” (Evangelizing is necessary) and and leaving aside the parochial care as sacraments, catechesis, etc.

    In a country with of around 60-70% population catholic, Brazil suffer with TL (Libertation Theology that, in here is a “Catholic Communism Marxism”) and Charismatics like Protestantism. The humble devotion of the people is overshadowed by these two “strands” of the Brazilian Catholic Church. Some places experienced a situation without heresy, like Candeias-BA, (SSPX friendly community).

    Brazilian’s cardinal as a pope? “Libera nos Domine”. God save us.

  41. Jeff says:

    Can somebody explain what exactly is wrong with charismatic abilities? I understand that yes, during the Liturgy this is bad, but it seems that outside the liturgy there is nothing wrong with it. After all, Lighthouse Catholic Media has a few CDs that talk on charismatic movement. Thanks.

  42. Supertradmum says:

    Galvao, prayers, prayers, prayers…coming your way. Liberation Theology hardens the heart and Pentecostalism softens the head.

  43. Stumbler but trying says:

    “I don’t want to lure people to the church. I want them to be met with the Truth and deisire to come to the Church because it.
    …or maybe its just me :)”

    I agree with your view. Every time I read something about “this Catholic church or that Catholic church” in a certain part of the world, well, if they are off course and lost, I pray for them and wonder what is happening. I am reminded that is not the numbers that count but the quality.
    If I am converted to the faith, let it be because I witnessed a holy priest on fire with the love of Christ, celebrating the truth and proclaiming the gospel. Let it be because I sensed a man of humility and purity and integrity.

    I am not a fan of folks being “lured in” as it sounds like they are being seduced or tricked. The Church is better than that and those folks seem to have lost that idea. So much work to be done in the Lord’s vineyard as yet and for years to come.

    Holy Mother Mary, Patroness of the Americas,
    Please my Lady, call your children home. Call them with an urgency to listen again to that still, small voice that speaks of God’s love for them, of his desire for them to be saved. Protect your little children in every region of the world, who remain faithful amid the clamor and noise of the emptiness that is so loud in today’s world.
    St. Joseph, pray for us.

  44. tsearles102 says:

    Interesting to read the comments to this post and couple it with comments to the post of Father Z’s blog of a few days ago about the SSPX.

    In particular the poster named “Maria” seemed to be defending the adequacy of the Novus Ordo by claiming that Churches in poorer countries she has lived in or visited are packed, and only in America are they dwindling. I’m not taking her word for granted on that, but look at what is going on in this church in Brazil. 25,000 congregants! This Priest is the Joel Osteen of Brazil.

    And that’s exactly the problem. Does it matter HOW MANY people you pack into the Church if all they are all there to dance along to a hip-hip concert? The Latin Mass (particularly in Latin Mass communities, often SSPX communites though I am not an SSPXer and am not here to defend them) combines sacred liturgy with (generally) zealous devotion to the Mass. You might get the zealous devotion in hip-hop masses, but it isn’t a devotion to the Sacrifice of Calvary!

    In other words, don’t defend the adequacy of the Novus Ordo by pointing out pockets of the world where it brings people in droves, unless you are prepared to say that it’s a “good thing” that tens of thousands of people pack this Church in Brazil, or the Protestant Megachurches here in America.

    Now, I do believe that the Novus Ordo is “valid”, but has it damaged the faith of the attendees as compared to the Latin Mass? Absolutely, just look around you! Regardless of how many people show up at Novus Ordo masses. The real crisis in the faith is that, even among those Catholics that still attend mass at your typical Novus Ordo church, an overwhelming majority of them are silent apostates, already. The apostacy is still silent because the modern Clergy (from top to bottom, with exceptions) and the modern Mass lead these people to beleive they are not apostates (i.e., that they are justified in believing that Christ isn’t truly present in the Eucharist – a thought encouraged by almost every aspect of the typical Novus Ordo mass, valid or not – that there’s nothing wrong with contraception, abortion, homosexuality, etc.)

  45. catholicmidwest says:

    Jeff, charismatic prayer is a prayer style. Certain aspects of it such as praying in tongues are even mentioned in Scripture. There’s nothing wrong with it specifically. The problem is that the activities involved can take on a “life” of their own because they can be more satisfying to some people than praying in a more ordinary way. In those people, that can cause defects of emphasis, which can also cause a person not to grow spiritually in a proper way. Whether this will happen or not is a highly individual matter, since peoples’ souls can differ from each other to a fairly high degree. However, there is a way to tell if the balance of prayer styles being used is appropriate for a person: The gold standard of spiritual growth is growth in virtue as the Church defines it.

  46. catholicmidwest says:

    …As the Church defines it: union with the Church, obedience, sexual purity for a person’s state of life, charity, and so on.

    If the charismatic activities start to run a person’s life or become a source of pride, rather than being a prayer style which contributes to a balanced Christian life, then there is a defect.

  47. JacobWall says:

    Perhaps Chicken could answer you. He points out – “The movement, Pentecostalism, in its modern form, is not so much a heresy, itself, but rather, is based on heresy. It has, as one of its aspects, hyper-emotionalism, but it was, originally, based on a doctrine, a reason, and a faith. It is just that the doctrine was incorrect, the reason was flawed, and the faith was not that of the Church.”

    As far as I understand, the Charismatic movement within Catholicism is almost purely borrowing from the Pentecostal Movement, a copy created in order to “lure” Pentecostals back home, on one hand, and, on the other hand, keep people from going there in the first place. However, if Pentecostalism is based on a heresy as Chicken says, than to me it seems likely that speaking in tongues and the charismatic forms of worship are also rooted in that heresy and may be (unintentionally?) promoting it and bringing that heresy into the Church. This is just my guess …

    I know there are the Oneness Pentecostals, who deny the Trinity and baptize only in the name of Jesus. (Thus, their baptism is not valid.) I think many conservative Protestants also condemn this movement. However, I’m not sure if you get into the Pentecostal movement how easy it is to differentiate the Oneness Pentecostals from the Pentecostals who believe in the Trinity. I’m also not sure if this is the particular heresy that’s the main issue. I might be off track here.

    Perhaps Chicken could elaborate?

  48. Spaniard says:

    I want to point out I think it is incorrect to demonize the Charismatic movement in such a way. I am a charismatic, I pray, as such, but I am no different from any other good Catholic. I recognise the Charismatic way to pray and to see worship can be a shortcut to vanity, sentimentalism and liberalism. On the other hand, when the charisms are monitored by the Church, lived under the watch of the Bishop, and merged with Catholic heritage, and respect for the solemnity of the mass, its fruits can be huge. The vitality of our community is great, as charisms and gifts from God appear everywhere, but our Mass is say the black do the red, our songs are respectful, and our doctrine is absolutely orthodox.
    The plus of being charismatic is not feeling, or having more fun. I can assure you most times you dont feel, and masses can be very long. It consists, rather, in openness to the Holy Spirit, and he asks pretty hard things, I can tell you. Fruits are vocations, regular confession, an hour adoration a day, fasting all fridays… People find the Lord, and not through fun but through opening their hearts to him.
    Trhat is why it hurts me when people insult us calling us sentimentalists, heretics and “weird, whacky, and gross”, as someone said. Charity before all, please!!

  49. Spaniard says:

    And speaking in tongues, for those doubting, is spoken about both by Saint Paul and the Catechism:
    Corinthians 1 Co 14, Romans 8, 26; and in the Catechism from 799 to 801. Praise is spoken in Catechism 2639 onwards.

  50. tsearles102 says:

    Spaniard – just out of curiousity, exactly what tongues do you speak in?

  51. Stumbler but trying says:

    A very heartening article on how the Holy Spirit is at work amid the clamor…may He fill every pocket in every part of the world, with such faith and thus, our beloved Church shall prevail! Amen
    Here is an example of how one holy man of humility and purity and integrity can change the world:
    “How Pope Benedict re-ignited the flame of faith in my heart”

  52. Magash says:

    Jeff, I think the major problem is that charismatic practices often attract Christians who are not deeply catechized.
    Let me give an example. Franciscan University at Steubenville puts on Youth Conferences which have always had a very strong charismatic element. The conferences themselves are put on by very orthodox people, however often the participants do not have the same strong grounding in Catholicism that the speakers, priest and religious at the conference do. Often the adult chaperons don’t either. The result is that instead of deepening their faith, or bringing them closer to God, all they get is an emotional high. They then attempt to repeat that high by continuing to attend youth conferences until they are too old for them. During the year between the summer conferences their lives poorly reflect their Catholic values. When they get too old to continue to get their summer highs and go off to college their commitment to their God evaporates completely. Like the grain tossed on shallow soil they quickly flower and die.
    Now there are also generally a sizable number of youth, and their adult leaders who have a strong grounding in their faith at these conferences. They understand that the spiritual plateau that they may experience at the conference is meaningless unless grounded in rational faith.
    There is no easy answer in how to ensure that more of the participants are more firmly grounded in their faith, other than to attempt to get adult leaders, in this case mostly youth ministers, to ensure that participants are well catechized. For example my parish use to go for the biggest group possible, accepting anyone who could pay to go, in some cases from outside the parish. In recent years the youth minister won’t even consider taking anyone who isn’t active in the youth program.
    Of course I think Franciscan might help matters by offering an EF Mass as one of the three Masses that participants attend as part of the conference. I believe they have a regular EF Mass on campus or nearby during the school year now, so there must be priests locally who are qualified.
    I’ve always maintained that given the chance most well formed young Catholics would experience too things if they were allowed to be exposed to the EF. Awe and an infusion of grace on the one hand, and righteous anger at what has been hidden from them on the other.

  53. OrthodoxChick says:


    I’m the one who said that the movement is “weird, whacky, and gross”. I guess I used the wrong adjectives. I should have just said it is deceptive. That’s exactly what it is.

    When I first reverted back to the Church after a wayward youth, it was folks from the charismatic movement who invited me back to their healing services. They didn’t label their movement as “charismatic”, nor anything else. I met these folks at an N.O. parish so I had no reason to suspect that this movement is something outside of the Church. It seems to be, and often does, operate inside the Church, at least in my little corner of the world. That’s the first danger. It masks itself as a normal, regular form of worship. It is anything but.

    I’ve been “slain in the Spirit” multiple times by some of the more famous priests in the movement. If I cared to name-drop, you would likely know the names. I never went down once. One of the more famous “healing priests” that I was slain by actually tried to push me down when I wouldn’t go down, while his hands were on my head.

    If the Holy Spirit desires to give someone the “Gift of Tongues”, He knows where to find him/her. It needn’t be in a church or an auditorium full of people. Speaking in tongues is rare. That’s why it is a GIFT. The “gift” of laughter, the “gift” of tears, and “resting” in the Spirit – I don’t believe that the Holy Spirit gives out such gifts indiscriminately to throngs of people who fully expect to receive them simultaneously, on cue, nor in private sometime after the “event”. I’m not even sure that tears and laughter are “gifts”. They aren’t listed as “Gifts of the Spirit” in my Catechism of the Catholic Church, unless I missed it.

    I’m sorry if my choice of words offended you, but at least they got your attention. Please be careful if you are still in the charismatic movement. I will pray for you.

  54. charismatictrad says:

    I should probably weigh in ;-)

    Here goes:

    – Is charismatic prayer bad? No. Read Scripture (1 Cor. 12 is a good starting point).
    – Can charismatic prayer become a god? Yes. Unfortunately. Can the TLM become a god?
    – Does the term “charismatic” bring with it all sorts of connotations? Yes (tambourines, false ecumenism, people faking prayer, people acting “like the hypocrites,” demonic tongues, stupid liturgies, etc etc).
    – Do all people who consider themselves charismatic do these things or act according to the stereotypes? No. My group of friends consider themselves charismatic and traditional. And let’s just be real here, it’s not like traddies don’t have a negative stereotype! Traditional folk are typically seen as cold, unloving, and Pharisee-like. We all know that there are people like that, but it’s certainly not the majority.

    Over the years I’ve come to this conclusion (and I realize now that my username contradicts with what I’m about to say): I’m not “traditional” and I’m not “charismatic;” I’m Catholic. Catholicism, at the heart, is a plethora of Sacred Tradition…so a “traditional” Catholic is just a Catholic, just in the same way that a “liberal” Catholic is not a Catholic ;-) In the same vein, a “charismatic” Catholic is just a Catholic. St. Paul writes about the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit; St. Paul is not a “charismatic” Catholic, he’s just Catholic.

    When it’s all said and done, to poo-poo the charismatic gifts because of the crazies who sometimes belong to that group is not the best way to determine whether or not they are of God. If that’s how we determine what is okay for the Church or not, then surely, based on the stereotypes of those who attend the TLM (which are false), we shouldn’t attend a TLM.

    I think that’s a fairly logical way to go about things.

  55. Spaniard says:

    Im with you, charismatictrad, Im a catholic. The fact is stereotypes sometimes make people think of charismatics as weirdos.
    Supertradmum: I know usually, most times, people leave the Holy Spirit on one side and start operating on their own. You can tell that has happens when you trample with OBEDIENCE to the Church, the Magisterium and the Liturgy. And many charismatics go that way, but so do many other catholics.
    tsearles102: Please read the letter of saint Paul I previously cited. When the Holy Spirit asks, rarely, one just prays according to what he inspires.
    OrthodoxChick: to start with, as a charismatic, I am in no movement, which you mention many times. In my case, we are a group of families, a community of nuns, a community of hermits and some parish priests who live our faith together constantly hearing what the Holy Spirit has to say about our daily lives; and what the Church has to say about doctrine. I cant see the harm in that. As to the gifts we reieve, they enrich our community life, but dont overshadow Mass, daily Rosary, Liturgy of the Hous or the Sacraments: the charisms are just reminders of the constant help from God, and we use them in aid of the Church and ourselves. Lastly, our ways of prayer are the same as yours, with maybe a difference in worship, singing praises to God, which is what scandalises many.
    I love WDTPRS because we coincide in the fact that saving the liturgy is saving the world; and that is why it saddens me to see my way of living the Faith put in contrast with it.

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  57. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I’m also not sure if this is the particular heresy that’s the main issue. I might be off track here.

    Perhaps Chicken could elaborate?”

    No, that is not the particular heresy. The late, Father John Hardon, SJ, had it almost right (although, I suspect, mostly by intuition), but got talked out of it by, in my opinion, poor arguments, by the apologist, David Armstrong.

    I know where the modern Pentecostal movement began. I know the person who started it, what they thought they were doing, all of the pre-suppositions. I know how it developed over the years into what it is, today.

    That knowledge has cost me, dearly. You have no idea what a discussion you would be opening up. Oh, I can tell you what being slain in the spirit really is and it is obvious, once you look into the history without pre-conceived notions. I can tell you what the so-called modern manifestation of glossolalia really is.

    What I don’t want to do is to get into endless arguments on the subject. Everybody has read a book, here, or there, on the subject written by so-called, “experts,” and thinks they know something, but try reading 20,000 – 30,000 articles on the subject covering every charismatic manifestation from the day of Pentecost until now. Try reading all of the linguistic, sociological, psychological, neurological, historical, and biblical studies. Then, try to trace, piece-by-piece how the modern movement came about. You have to go from New York to England to Scotland to Kansas to California, with a little bit of Ohio thrown in.

    This just gets you in the door. This doesn’t even give you an interpretation of what is going on. Next, you have to study the history of mystical experiences from pseudo-Dionysius the aeopagite to the New Age movement.

    Finally, you have to look at how the Church has responded to these types of outbursts of enthusiasm in the past. Then, you will begin to see what is really going on.

    Let me be clear: it was not even possible to understand the Charismatic movement in the proper setting until 1985 (twenty years after it entered the Catholic Church), because the necessary work (done at Columbia) simply hadn’t been done. Tuttle’s doctoral committee was amazed that in 150 years, no one had thought to do it.

    It does no good to cite 1Corinthians as a sort of fait-accompli for the gift of tongues. That is not being scientific. In fact, it is a fallacy called the fallacy of the converse accident. To assume that because two things look the same or share a similar trait they must be the same thing is a fallacy. The Biblical Gift of Tongues was a real phenomenon. The modern linguistic manifestation is also a real phenomenon, but just because they both involve the mouth making sounds, one is not allowed to go beyond the evidence to claim that they are, in fact, the same thing. In fact, they are not. I know where and when the modern gift of tongues started and it is nothing at all like the manifestation of Pentecost glossolalia that the tabloids would have you believe. Neither is it mass hysteria. It is a genuine spiritual phenomenon that can be related to, but is not the same as, the original Gift.

    I am not trying to be condescending. I hold everyone here in too high a regard. It is just that the book I was writing has twenty chapters and would probably wind up being about 500 – 700 pages in length. I could make a quick summary, but why should you believe me unless you have examined the evidence, yourself? The evidence is massive.

    I know charismatic theology in a way few do, but I have found that even scientifically valid arguments do not always persuade.

    I just don’t think that giving a five page history is the proper thing to do in a comment box. There are too many aspects to cover, too many threads to piece together, to make the picture clear and certain. The preface to my book is about ten pages, alone.

    Let me just say, unequivocally, that this modern version of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement could never have started in the Catholic Church any time after 1600. The Church had too much theological insight by that point. Its origins have been re-interpreted and disguised in such a way that the final product resembles the original Pentecostal outpouring, but that’s not how it began.

    In my informed opinion, anyone who truly understands the background of the modern Pentecostal movement and persists in it, commits sin. Most people are invincibly ignorant. however.

    I don’t have my own blog and I don’t plan on making one, so, outside of a book, I will not be presenting the evidence. It would be nice to have someone to talk to about these matters, since my former spiritual director is no longer easy to reach. I have presented my arguments to my former spiritual director (a Dominican) and a Jesuit theologian and they both agree that a book should be written – if you can get a Dominican and a Jesuit to agree on something…

    In any case, the Bible is NOT the place to start in assessing the modern Charismatic phenomena, but that is where almost everyone starts. That is not good science. One must start with the phenomena and trace it back to its origins, then try to understand what was really happening. That is a fascinating historical and theological investigation, but it has not often been done and one that I cannot do, here.

    The Chicken

  58. Stumbler but trying says:

    I remember when I was away from the Church for a long time, it was in thanks to the Holy Spirit through the Charismatic Renewal, that I came back. I went from being dead to being set on fire. I prayed in tongues and did experience the power of the Holy Spirit many times. It has been a long time since I have been involved with the Charismatic Renewal but I am what I am thanks to them in part. The Lord will work as He sees fit. I am more aware now of what it means to be Catholic and to be faithful.

    Every time I make my profession of faith, when I pray my rosary, when I visit the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, I am grateful He reached out and called me back to Himself. I see many who are filled with joy, many who do wonderful works of charity. The Carmelites of the Sacred Heart of Jesus whose Motherhouse is based in Alhambra, California participate every year at the SCRC convention held in Anaheim, California. I used to attend those conventions and never saw anything strange there…folks would line up for confession, very long lines in fact. The Adoration Chapel managed by the Carmelite Sisters, would be filled to capacity and I was always happy for such. Every year, after the beginning of the new year, the dear Carmelites hold a retreat for the faithful who are involved in the Charismatic Renewal.

    Each one of us has a gift according to the will and desire of the Holy Spirit. I will always remain grateful that He chose to use the Charismatic Renewal to call me back home.

    Come Holy Spirit

    Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
    V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
    R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

    Let us pray.

    O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

  59. sciencemom says:

    Chicken – Please do finish that book! Please?

    Ignatius – have you ever met the priests of the St. John Society? They are based Argentina although they also do campus ministry in the US (in Oregon). Excellent priests for the New Evangelization or re-evangelization. Check out:

  60. Michael_Thoma says:


    Please write this book, and soon. I witnessed this modern phenomena sweep in as a child of the 80s within the mainstream protestant denominations, and within certain Catholic communities in the late 90s and 2000s, and now in the Orthodox communities. Your evidence must be presented as a case study on these matters.
    My own research indicates the Azusa, Toronto, and more modern phenomena as todays pentecostal/slain origins – beginnings of which have ties to black slave religion with Christian overlay, mixed with quakers, shakers, and the holiness reformed movements not too far removed from some of their European origins. Seems an attempt at finding a common denominator among all these sects far removed from the Apostolic Faith and the Holy Eucharist.

  61. I got lost midst the comments. Many aspects of the charismatic renewal are approved and we should thank God for them and support them even if we don’t find them attractive.

    The Church is CATHOLIC (i.e. Universal) so it has to reach all and if the charismatic movement reaches souls that a more somber mass would not, Praised be Jesus Christ!

    I say this as one who feels no draw to be charismatic but a great love for the Church.

  62. Jim of Bowie says:

    I don’t think it would be him, either.
    I don’t think he could muster up a ground swell from the Italian cardinals.

    Tsk, Tsk. Idle Speculation? And in less than 3 days.

  63. Ignatius says:

    Sciencemom: I’ve never met them. I’ll find out. Thanks for the link.


  64. charismatictrad says:


    You practically wrote a book in the comment box – it would have been nice if you actually said something, though.

    I’m curious, however. I’ve had my doubts about the movement and am at the point now where I try to avoid it. Let me ask you this: do you think it’s possible for someone to receive the gifts mentioned in Corinthians? If so, how? If not, why?

  65. wmeyer says:

    Chicken, that is tantalizing, intriguing, and I do hope you will publish.

  66. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I remember when I was away from the Church for a long time, it was in thanks to the Holy Spirit through the Charismatic Renewal, that I came back. I went from being dead to being set on fire. I prayed in tongues and did experience the power of the Holy Spirit many times. It has been a long time since I have been involved with the Charismatic Renewal but I am what I am thanks to them in part. The Lord will work as He sees fit. I am more aware now of what it means to be Catholic and to be faithful.”


    For that, I am grateful, but it is a sad fact that many people also leave the Church after being, “Baptized in the Holy Spirit.” There are, according to the last figure I saw, 4000 people, per day, leaving the Church because of it – mostly, outside of the United States. Also, some Pentecostal sects are among the most rabid anti-Catholics. Now, if the Holy Spirit cannot witness against the Church, these two phenomena demand explanations.

    Further, many people have joyous experiences with the Baptism, but I know of some who have had to be hospitalized in mental institutions for years, afterwards. There is no record in Scripture of the First-century Pentecostal baptism effecting this sort of damage, however.

    As for speaking in tongues – how do you know what you are saying? The late, Fr. William Most, recounts the story:

    “Some years ago I wrote a long series of columns for National Catholic Register, on the movement. Many letters came in. One woman on the west coast told me she had friends who knew several languages. A group of them went to a charismatic meeting, and were able to understand the tongues. They found some were praising God beautifully – but others were cursing Him. This is why St. Paul in 1 Cor 14 insists that at a meeting of the community no more than two should speak in tongues, and then only if there is someone who has the different gift of interpreting the tongues. The reason is clear: they may be cursing God!”

    His entire article may be found, here:

    Michael_Thoma wrote:

    “My own research indicates the Azusa, Toronto, and more modern phenomena as todays pentecostal/slain origins – beginnings of which have ties to black slave religion with Christian overlay, mixed with quakers, shakers, and the holiness reformed movements not too far removed from some of their European origins. Seems an attempt at finding a common denominator among all these sects far removed from the Apostolic Faith and the Holy Eucharist.”

    When one first starts out tracing the history of the Nineteenth-century manifestation that would be the one that led to the modern movement, one encounters these, “flash,” movements, such as the Plymouth Brethern, the Shakers (an offshoot of the Anabaptists), the left-over Jansenists, etc., but these either are socially limited, as the Shakers, or have a “charismatic” leader and die out, soon. These form a background sympathetic to the charismatic gifts, but did little to directly influence the modern movement.

    You are correct that the modern movement comes, in a roundabout way, from the Holiness movement started by Phoebe Palmer, the wife of a New York doctor, in 1837, on, “The day of days,” as she puts it in her biography, but her version of being, “Baptized in the Holy Spirit,” and what it would eventually become are two different things. How it went from her version to the modern version has only become clarified in the 1980’s and 1990’s because of work, largely, by Donald Dayton. Dayton has the history, in part, but not a Catholic interpretation. Tracing all of these threads really does take access to modern research libraries. I contacted the eminent history professor, Dr. James Hitchcock as I was doing my research, since he is an expert on the history of the Church in America, to help keep me honest. He was retired by then, but he sent me a nice, handwritten note wishing me well, as well as giving me some additional background on the origins of the modern Catholic movement.

    “I got lost midst the comments. Many aspects of the charismatic renewal are approved and we should thank God for them and support them even if we don’t find them attractive.”

    Actually, that is not true. The Renewal was accepted, ad experimentum, in 1967, but that status has never, to my knowledge, been revoked. It is true that the Holy See has set up a liaison group in Rome with representatives of the Charismatic Renewal to keep tabs on them and that Pope John Paul II gave an assembly of Charismatic leaders visiting Rome, an apostolic blessing, but that is far from approving, “many aspects of them.” In fact, Cardinal Ratzinger issued a caution from the CDF warning Charismatic groups NOT to engage in exorcisms. So, not all has been approved, by any means.

    “The Church is CATHOLIC (i.e. Universal) so it has to reach all and if the charismatic movement reaches souls that a more somber mass would not, Praised be Jesus Christ!”

    No, no no. This is a sign of a failure in apologetics and witness by members of the Church of the Somber Mass :)

    In any case, when I finished my research, I made a rookie mistake – I went public too soon. After I started writing the book, I started debating with some well-known Charismatics, and then things started happening in my life that damaged my health and made writing the book very hard (as well as other articles in my other research fields). These situations haven’t changed. Now, I might be a little paranoid about these things, but I, rarely, talk about Charismatic theology anymore, because of this, which is one reason why I cringe every time this topic comes up, here.

    The facts are important to know, so, what I might do is try to find a collaborator. The history is fascinating and I have a great deal of sympathy for those who started the movement. I have no doubt that, if they had been Catholics and had had the guidance of the Church, there would have been no Charismatic Movement, but they would be saints. Mnsr. Ronald Knox ended his landmark book on Charismatic movements in history, Enthusiasm (the only really Catholic work on the subject to that date), with John Wesley. That, is exactly where the history of the modern movement begins. My book would have brought Knox’s work to the present. At the moment, I am lucky to be able to spend a few days typing articles when I can focus my energy, but, outside of classroom work, it is hard to muster the sustained energy necessary to write a book on Charismatic theology, right now, not to mention two other books and about ten articles I should be writing. I keep hoping things will clear up, but, so far, they have not. I live in chronic frustration. Not a Cross I would wish on many.

    I would be happy to discuss the matter further in private, but I haven’t found a way to do that and still stay, relatively, anonymous. If someone wants to move the discussion over to their blog, I could do that, so as to not clog up Fr. Z’s comment box any further.

    The Chicken

    P. S., charismatictrad,

    I know you feel frustrated that I haven’t come out and told a great deal, but there are two aspects, here: history and interpretation. Both are necessary and it really does take some detail to get at either. I am trying not to fill up Fr. Z’s comment box with what would amount to a journal article.

  67. Spaniard says:

    Lot’s of theory, but no practical help any of us can draw from your comments. The presence of gifts in my community, not attached in any way to the institutionalised “Charismatic movement”, only enriches our daily spiritual life. I still cannot see how that is evil and leads to sin, as you state. I leave you my email so I can, in more length, try to explain my possition and convince you our way of life does come from God:

  68. Spaniard says:

    Sorry, Chicken, I hadn’t read your previous article. But I can still answer to your arguments from our point of view: horrible things can happen being a charismatic, such as the anecdotes you cite. But unity and constant monitorinh by the Church, the bishop, etc, can keep them away.
    I will be praying a lot for you
    God bless

  69. wmeyer says:

    Chicken I am sorry to hear the toll this endeavor has taken on you. But perhaps that is simply a sign of how important the work truly is. I have family members who were seduced by the charismatic notions, and subsequently left the Church. They became members of a charismatic mega-church, where the worship is directed more to the pastor/founder, than to our Lord. I am sure that many of us have had similar experiences, and would benefit from whatever insights a good coverage of the movement might provide.

    I shall keep you in my prayers.

  70. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I still cannot see how that is evil and leads to sin, as you state. I leave you my email so I can, in more length, try to explain my possition and convince you our way of life does come from God:

    I did not say that it was evil, per se, but, rather, misguided. It does not necessarily lead to sin in those who are invincibly ignorant (although it could), but, as I say, if you really knew its origin story, you would see where the sin would be for those people who actually have that knowledge if they engaged in the movement.

    I know the charismatic life very well. One of my friends was a member of the Ann Arbor, Michigan group for many years and I was associated with the movement for twenty years. It has enriched many, but, nevertheless, it is self-limiting and will only allow a person to progress to a certain extent in the spiritual life. In conscience, I had to stop attending meetings once my research progressed to a certain point.


    What would you want me to say about practice?


    This is a fascinating subject, but I don’t want to get yelled at for getting into a deep subject not specifically about the post. If we can move to another venue, then, fine. I have an encyclopedia article I have to finish by Thursday and a full class load of exams, this week, so I have to do research on other things and my time will be limited. I will try to say something more meaningful should the situation present itself, but I feel as if I am cluttering up the combox and I would like to be able to continue posting, here. This is a controversial topic, but we should not wear out Fr. Z’s carpet, if you know what I mean.

    The Chicken

  71. charismatictrad says:


    I think you and I agree on more things than you realize. First of all, I am aware of the demonic presence amongst “charismatic renewal” people. I know of people being “prayed over” in demonic tongues. As I’ve said before, the movement worries me. You mentioned how it often times is not Eucharist-centered and I agree. My own experience started in Eucharistic adoration with a holy priest of God. I do not agree with charismatics performing “exorcisms” or deliverance prayer. They can’t perform exorcisms and deliverance prayer is a fancy way of saying “exorcism” in Protestant-lingo.

    But, you still haven’t answered my question (I’m not looking for a detailed answer, just a simple answer, which is possible regardless of how much you know): do you think it’s possible for someone to receive the gifts mentioned in Corinthians? If so, how? If not, why?

  72. Supertradmum says:

    One might want to consult Ralph Martin, who wrote the new book on the reality of Hell, as he is one of the original persons involved in the Notre Dame outpouring of the Holy Spirit among the group of graduate students in the 1960s. I also have a link above, as it is a bit of synchronicity that I put this on my blog yesterday morning GMT;

  73. The Masked Chicken says:


    One more favor: my spiritual life is very complicated and I have people who are aware of the situation who pray for me. I get a little nervous when charismatically-oriented people pray for me (it is difficult to explain why without going into a lot of detail), so, I appreciate your good wishes, but I ask, in charity, that you not pray for me. It is not you, but rather, the tendency for charismatic prayer to stir things up in my life and I don’t need that, right now. You are not the first person I have asked this favor of.


    “But, you still haven’t answered my question (I’m not looking for a detailed answer, just a simple answer, which is possible regardless of how much you know): do you think it’s possible for someone to receive the gifts mentioned in Corinthians? If so, how? If not, why?”

    I assume you mean in the present age, since, obviously, someone, namely, the early disciples, have already proven that it is possible :)

    Simply put, God has never completely removed extraordinary supernatural gifts from the Church, but as time went on, their original purpose, as a corporate witness to the Faith, was superceded once the Institutional Church was definitively established. St. John Chrysostom was able to write, in the fifth-century, “The Gifts are long gone.” St. Augustine had to argue for the presence of miracles. He also asked why the Church needed tongues, since, by his era it was possible to learn any language necessary for evangelization, oneself or with a tutor.

    Grace builds on nature and supernature usually supplies where nature fails. In other words, why would God give a supernatural solution when a perfectly fine natural one exists? This violates the economy of process.

    So, all things being equal, if a natural way supplies, a natural way is expected. Once the Church vastly spread out after the Fourth-Century, the Gift of Tongues was no longer needed and it receeded, since the Institution of the Church was becoming capable of taking on those needs. For instance, one did not need a, “work of knowledge,” to tell one what the Spirit wanted. One had the voice of the Church and a developing moral understanding by which the Church was able to communicate, en masse, what one might have, otherwise, learned through private revelation.

    Now, there is a movement within Protestantism called, cessationalism, which says that the Gifts of the Spirit have ceased. This is not Catholic teaching. The Church recognizes that, from time to time, for a specific purpose or purely gratuitously, God will allow certain individuals to manifest a specific supernatural gift or gifts (and everyone has more generalized gifts from Baptism or as needed) . The occasions for the extraordinary Gfts are rarer than in the First-century because the need is less. The understanding of the Faith is clearer and more certain, so what is required for salvation easier to know. In addition, demonstrations are more easily made through reason, now, because more of the scaffolding underlying the Faith has been made known to reason over the centuries.

    It was always planned that people would begin to focus on receiving their, “marching orders,” more from the Church than from revelation, since there is a profound difference between individual revelation and the deposit of revelation (called Tradition) contained within the Church. Once Tradition was established, the need for individual revelation was superceded, except in exceptional, individual and private, instances. Everybody receives, “nudges,” from God, but those nudges can now be interpreted within the context of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, instead of asking for another revelation to test the first one. When St. Paul said to, “Test everything,” he assumed there would be a Standard against which to test them and that Standard is the understandings of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason as they have matured within the Church.

    The Apostolic Era was like the American Wild West. Everybody needed a gun and a horse, but once cities with police and busses were built, the need to carry a gun and ride a horse diminished (I know I’m setting myself up with this analogy – yes, yes, guns, horses…I mean to talk about the way things should be, not how they are).

    So, can one receive those Gifts mentioned in Acts and Corinthians in the present age? Yes, but only rarely and for God’s purpose. Will they be received en masse, again? Not, I suppose unless the Church is bombed into the Dark Ages. I suppose, if a nuclear war were to devastate most of the Church and all of its records, including most books, the Gifts might spontaneously re-appear to large groups. As things stand, no one needs the Gifts to become a saint, but, sometimes, the Gifts are granted, either as a sign of sanctity or that one is passing through what St. Teresa of Avila would call the Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Mansions, or even just because.

    Now, there is, however, a subtle difference between what I just said about receiving the Gifts gratuitously and the Gifts as the, “extraordinary made ordinary,” and commonplace as envisioned in the Charismatic Renewal. The Gifts which might be manifested to a saint to demonstrate their sanctity might just be the gift of perseverence in suffering or the gift of levitation (this can also be demonic) or the gift of bi-location. On the other hand, in traditional Charismatic Gifting, none of these gifts are ever mentioned, even though they are part of the accepted Tradition of the Church as being one possible outward witness of a holy life (not, of course, definitively so, because the Devil can counterfit them, so other means, in addition must be used for discernment of the holiness of a life, such as adherence to the teachings of the Church, a life of exemplary virtue, etc.).

    What I mean to say is that the Gifts as envisioned by the Charismatic movement are an outdated list culled from an incomplete understanding of the purpose of the Gifts in Scripture. The list, in reality, was not derived from a mature understanding of what the Gifts really are and what they were meant to be, but, rather, from an act of proof-texting within Protestant circles in the Nineteenth-century that gradually added one new Gift to the list after another over time until the list more or less resembled the original list from Corinthians. This is not the Catholic understanding of the Gifts of the Spirit.

    Let me be blunt: in 1837, when Phoebe Worhall Palmer, had her spiritual experience that set the modern Pentecostal movement rolling, she argued, quite strenuously, that the Baptism in the Spirit she received did not include the Gift of Tongues. She took the distinguished Protestant theologian, Thomas Upham, to task for trying to make similar suggestons. She never envisioned anything like the Gift of Healing, either, in her original idea. No, that, “discovery,” occurred in the 1860’s to the Scottish surgeon, Dr. Charles Cullis, who proof-texted another passage in Scripture to derive this gift (quite natural for a doctor to do, eh?). More and more, discoveries,” got folded into the mix until, by 1905, the list was almost complete.

    The reason this was possible is because of a Keswick Seminar in England in the early 1860’s,if memory serves, in which both Phoebe Palmer and Asa Mahon (the president of Oberlin College, Ohio) attended. The whole idea of the, “Baptism in the Holy Spirit,” was re-interpreted by the Calvinists at the Seminar, because of a disagreement within Protestant theologies, into something it was not originally intended to be. In otherwords, the original intent of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit according to Palmer, was re-interpreted as something completely different than she thought she was receiving by the Baptism. This re-interpretation, as an, “enduement of power for service,” changed the purpose of the Baptism from Entire Sanctification, as Palmer envisioned it (since the modified Aremenianism of John Wesley with its goal of reaching Perfect Sinlessness made no sense to the, “Once Saved, always Saved, Calvinists), to Missionary witness, such that, in thirty years time it would allow Charles Parham, at the Topeka Bible Collge in Topeka, Kansas, to, “encourage,” Agnes Osman to try to, “get,” the Gift of Tongues so that Parham and his crew could go and evangelize over in India. Well, she, “got,” something, which the myth claims was Chinese, but, you know, we still have her writings, and the Chinese cannot read them! When Parham went to India, armed with his, “Gift of Tongues,” it was a disaster. no one understood him. He returned to the States and quickly back-pedaled, calling them, “Angelic Tongues.”

    You see how things keep get re-interpreted to fit a narrative? The pursuit of individual holiness (and Palmer’s method is flawed) morphed into the pursuit of corporate missionary activity at Keswick. The link with Palmer’s original mysticism got covered over, but the phenomenon remained. This free-floating phenomenon, since it could not be what Palmer originally thought it was (too long to go into), once unanchored, could be interpreted as anything to fit whatever narrative the next Evangelist claimed.

    To be clear, Palmer did get an authentic spiritual experience in her Baptism in the Holy Spirit, but because no Catholic was around to tell her what it was, she interpreted it herself using the only guide she had – the Bible. She looked for something that fit her experience in broad fashion (and settled on Pentecost) without knowing that a much more nuanced interpretation already existed within the Church. It is precisely the connection of John Wesley’s mysticism to this Baptism in the Holy Spirit, which Palmer claimed to have received, which was the final piece of the puzzle that Robert Tuttle made in his dissertation in 1985. Knowing the mistake in Wesley’s mysticism allows for a perfect understanding in the flaw of palmer’s method, which was a quick-and-dirty attempt to do what Wesley thought was going on in his Method of reaching Entire Sanctification and an explanation of what the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and all of the attendant phenomena are.

    Yes, there are authentic Gifts of the Holy Spirit still at work in the Church, but as the Lumen Gentium from Vatican II puts it (article 12):

    “It is not only through the sacraments and the ministries of the Church that the Holy Spirit sanctifies and leads the people of God and enriches it with virtues, but, “allotting his gifts to everyone according as He wills,(114) He distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts He makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks and offices which contribute toward the renewal and building up of the Church, according to the words of the Apostle: “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for profit”.(115) These charisms, whether they be the more outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation for they are perfectly suited to and useful for the needs of the Church. Extraordinary gifts are not to be sought after, nor are the fruits of apostolic labor to be presumptuously expected from their use; but judgment as to their genuinity and proper use belongs to those who are appointed leaders in the Church, to whose special competence it belongs, not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to that which is good.(116)”

    This is exactly the flaw that came out of the Keswick Seminar in the 1860’s and allowed Parham to try to get the Gift of Tongues – specifically and wrongly, so that, “the fruits of apostolic labor to be presumptuously expected from their use.”

    All of this understanding of history was missing when Drs. Storey and Keffer went to the Pentecostal group to be prayed over in 1967. I hope you can see why they acted so rashly.

    I hope that answers your question.

    The Chicken

  74. The Masked Chicken says:

    Last Comment!

    “One might want to consult Ralph Martin, who wrote the new book on the reality of Hell, as he is one of the original persons involved in the Notre Dame outpouring of the Holy Spirit among the group of graduate students in the 1960s.”

    I try to be charitable when addressing people, but don’t get me started on Ralph Martin. I am sure he has written some fine books, but it was he and Steve Clark who brought the book, the Cross and the Switchblade, by David Wilkerson, to Storey and Keefer (who had just made a Cursillo) that caused them to seek out the Pentecostal group for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Clark later appealed to Lumen Gentium, if memory served (might have been the Document on Ecumenism) to justify approaching the Pentecostal group, despite the warning from Lumen Gentium I listed, above, about seeking Extraordinary Gifts.

    Go figure.

    The Chicken

  75. Supertradmum says:

    I know very well the history of Pentecostalism from several books a well as being part of a community for seven years in my youth. As you know from my blog, I am hyper-critical of the movement, but it did keep me from accepting a job with the lawyers of the Chicago Eight, which was offered to me in 1971, and was not only responsible for bringing me back to the Catholic Church from Marxism, but taught me strict discipline in community. However, the traditions of the Church moved me onward and upward.

  76. VexillaRegis says:

    Supertradmum: WHAT?? You were a Marxist??? Holy cow! Please write your memoires, I will buy them!

    I instinctively avoid the charismatics like the plague.

  77. Supertradmum says:

    VexillaRegis, me too, now…I do not need consolations like that.

  78. charismatictrad says:


    Thanks. That’s what I was asking for…well, more than I was asking for ;-)

    Ultimately, I think what you’re trying to say is this: The Charismatic Renewal movement is not good, mainly because it is separated from the Magisterium of the Church (among other reasons).

    To which I say: I agree.

  79. Margaret says:


    I’m not a charismatic in any way, shape or form. You seem to have several good books inside that need writing if your health would allow. I’d like to put you on my sick list, if that’s okay, that I pray for at daily Mass.

    Best regards.

  80. bookworm says:

    As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my mom and I were somewhat involved in the Catholic charismatic movement during the 1970s and early 80s. At that time — the height of the post-Vatican II silly season — they appeared to be among the most orthodox Catholics we knew. They were all VERY pro-life and had more respect for the Pope and bishops than many other Catholics did, although others did leave the Church for other churches that they believed to be more “on fire with the Spirit.” However, when more traditional devotions such as perpetual Eucharistic adoration, Divine Mercy, etc. came to be established in our area we (mom and I) and other charismatics we knew started gravitating toward them, and eventually the charismatic prayer groups fell by the wayside. I have not been to a charismatic prayer meeting in more than 20 years and would not go back even if one were available in my area, but I think it served a purpose at least for a short time.

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