The Catholic Church has
a long history of support for the charismatic movement dating back to
Vatican II, where in 1965 Cardinal Leo J. Suenens of Belgium argued
against those who said charismatic gifts were only for the early church.
?No,? Suenens said, ?these gifts are for today. You may not see
them yet, but the Lord has them for the church.? His words appear in the
text of the council documents as a prophetic statement that prepared the
church for what was going to happen two years later, in 1967.
Although some priests are uncomfortable with charismatic renewal, the
Catholic hierarchy is quite supportive. In 1969, just two years after
charismatic revival hit the Catholic Church, the Theological Committee of
American Bishops issued a statement saying that the charismatic ?movement
has a sound scriptural foundation? and that ?the effect on the
participants is good.?
The pope is ?very, very supportive of the charismatic renewal
movement,? says Jim Murphy, who has met with the pope on several
occasions. On May 30, 1998, the eve of Pentecost Sunday, the pope invited
all renewal movements in the church to meet with him in St. Peter?s
A record-breaking crowd of 500,000 showed up. In his speech the pope
made a number of statements in support of the charismatic movement.
According to L?Osservatore Romano, the pope?s words at that historic
gathering included the following:
?Whenever the Spirit intervenes, He leaves people astonished. He
brings about events of amazing newness.?
?Today the church rejoices at the renewed confirmation of the prophet
Joel?s words, which we have just heard, ? ?I will pour out My Spirit
upon all flesh?? (Acts 2:17).?
?Today I would like to cry out to all of you gathered in St. Peter?s
Square?Open yourselves docilely to the gifts of the Spirit! Accept
gratefully and obediently the charisms which the Spirit never ceases to
bestow on us!?