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Is the Charismatic Movement Truly Catholic?

Is the Charismatic Movement Truly Catholic?
Is the Charismatic Movement Truly Catholic?

Regarding its origins:

Charismatism takes its origins from Protestant Pentecostalism in the United States and it has spread throughout the Catholic Church by the “Baptism in the Spirit”.

Regarding its “Baptism in the Spirit”:

This spiritual baptism is an innovation which the Charismatic renewal attempts to justify by claiming that with the sacraments the Catholic Church has not fulfilled all the abundance of the Gospels: “The over flowing and abundance of the New Testament should not be hastily assimilated to subsequent sacramental forms” (Fr Laurentin, Charismatic apologist, in his book Pentecôtisme chez les Catholiques, Beauchesne, 1975). Now, the Catholic Church alone is the custodian of the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It transmits infallibly the blessings of the Gospels in the only true Sacraments. “My God, I firmly believe all the Truths which You have revealed to us and which You have taught us through Your Church, because You can neither deceive nor be deceived.” (Act of Faith)

Regarding the emphasis put on charisms:

  1. The presence of charisms is not sufficient to prove their divine origin:
    “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of My Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to Me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in Thy name, and cast out devils in Thy name, and done many miracles in Thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity.” (Matt. VII: 21-23)
    “There are people whom the devil does not prevent in any way from doing much good because the good which they do serves him to deceive them.” (Fr. Lallemant, La Doctrine Spirituelle, Paris, 1882, p. 253)
  2. The Catholic Church is built on the supernatural virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity and not on charisms which are only lower gifts which must be controlled by the Church.
    “But be zealous of the better gifts. And I show unto you yet a more excellent way.” (I Cor. XII :31)
    “Certain people value above all amongst the spiritual gifts, that of performing miracles, which are to be seen, forgetting that there are many others higher, which are hidden and because of that not liable to fall.” (St. John Climacus, Scala Paradisi, 26th degree, 78)
    “In comparison with Charity which is perfect, these gifts are of little consequence and those who are at that level can fall while those who have Charity do not fall. I tell you that I have seen men who have received all the charisms and who have become participants in the Spirit and who nonetheless fell because they did not achieve perfect Charity”. (St. Macarius Magnus, IVth c., Spiritual Homilies, II, 27, 14)

Regarding its search of extraordinary signs and wonders:

  1. Risk of illusion: “And I greatly fear what is happening in these times of ours: If any soul whatever after a bit of meditation has in its recollection one of these locutions, it will immediately baptize all as coming from God and with such a supposition say, ‘God told me,’ ‘God answered me.’ Yet this is not so, but, as we pointed out, these persons themselves are more often the origin of their locution.” (St. John of the Cross: The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Book II Ch. 29) (1)
  2. Possession by the devil: “Through the desire of accepting them one opens the door to the devil. The devil can then deceive one by other communications expertly feigned and disguised as genuine. In the words of the Apostle, he can transform himself into an ‘angel of light’ (II Cor. XI:14). (…) Regardless of the cause of these apprehensions, it is always good for a man to reject them with closed eyes. If he fails to do so, he will make room for those having a diabolical origin and empower the devil to impose his communications. Not only this, but the diabolical representations will multiply while those from God will gradually cease, so that eventually all will come from the devil and none at all from God. This has occurred with many incautious and uninstructed people.” (St. John of the Cross: The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Book II Ch. 11) (1)

Regarding its suspicion of the Church’s Hierarchy:

The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church is seen as a stifling human institution:
“In so far as the ecclesiastical institution is constructed in the form of a hierarchical and closed juridical structure, in so far as it is organised, not according to the spirit of charism but by coopting clergy monopolising the resources, the knowledge, the power and the initiative in the Church, the Charismatic thrusts have been stifled.” (Fr Laurentin, Ibid.) Now this hierarchy derives from God Himself: “He said therefore to them again: ‘Peace be with you. As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you.’ ” (John XX 21) “And I say to thee: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matth. XVI 18)

Regarding its ecumenism:

“Originating from Protestant families, I was baptised a Protestant. Today, I know that God wants me to be a Protestant. I have gradually felt that I must not separate myself from my Protestant Church but to bring myself closer to it.” (Testament of a young girl in the Bethany Community, in Revue Tychique, No. 52, p.10)
“There will not be a real Judeo – Christian dialogue until the return of the Lord, except when Christians are truly Christian and the Jews truly Jewish.” (Brother Ephraim, Founder of the Community of the Beatitudes, in Cahiers du Renouveau, No. 64, p.13)

Now, the Catholic Church teaches infallibly: ‘Outside the Church there is no salvation’.

“The Catholic Church alone keeps the true worship. It is the Church of Truth, the home of the Faith, the temple of God; he who does not enter it or he who leaves it, loses all hope of life and salvation. Do not let anyone hold a dogged view. It is a question of life and of salvation. If one does not watch out carefully and prudently, it is ruination and death.” (Lactantius; IIIrd c., Catholic apologist.)


Charismatic Renewal is therefore not Catholic.

(1) Sources: The collected works of St. John of the Cross, ICS Publications. Institute of Carmelite Studies; Washington, D.C. 1979

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How Does the Orthodox Church Approach the Charismatics?

“There is nothing Orthodox about the charismatic movement. It is incompatible with Orthodoxy, in that it justifies itself only by perverting the message of the Fathers, suggesting that the Church of Christ needs renewal, and indulging in the theological imagery of, Pentecostal cultism. With such things, one cannot be too bold in his language of condemnation and reprobation.

As for those caught in the web of the charismatic movement, under no circumstances are we justified if we condemn them. Those who imagine themselves saved by all of this are victims of a demonic arrogance which blinds them to true evangelical humility, which often serves certain personality deficits, and which, more often than not, convinces them inwardly of their own salvation—indeed, a dangerous thing. We must reach out to these people with charitable words, constantly assuring them that the Orthodox Church has a fullness which is not yet realized in America. Within that fullness, we must tell them, rests a true spiritual treasure, not a dull stone glimmering with the polish of deceit and emotionalism. And then, to be sure, we must set about restoring the fullness of the Church’s traditions, admitting readily that WE, not the Church, have lacked fullness!”

From Orthodox Tradition, Vol. I, Nos. 4&5, pp. 29-32
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