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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The FSSP vs the Charismatic Renewal

A well-meaning ex-Protestant has expressed concern about the charismatic renewal within the Catholic Church. The writer falsely assumes that the modern charismatic renewal is something Protestant in origin, and therefore somehow less than fully worthy of Catholic Faith and practice.

This attitude is as mistaken as the attitudes of the Jews and the Muslims towards Sacred Scripture. After all, Jews and Muslims reject Catholic Scripture in part because they insist that God would never speak to man in a non-Hebrew or non-Arabic language. Indeed, this attitude overlooks the fact that some of our Faith, including the very words of Scripture, find their origin in paganism.    

Consider Acts 17:28: "'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'" The quotes in this passage are from Epimenides' poem Cretica, as is Titus' famous assertion that "All Cretans are liars." If we were to reject these passages as not worthy of Scripture because of their pagan origin, we would lose part of our connection with God. 

God established the Church, but He does not bind Himself to move only within the Church. He may well have chosen to send the modern charismatic renewal to the Protestants first precisely to facilitate a reunion between the shards of the Church our sins helped fragment into pieces. Baptized Christians, no matter their profession of Faith, are - by the fact of their baptism - our brothers in Christ, separated by their misunderstanding and our sinful example, but no less deserving of the gifts of the Spirit's grace than are we ourselves.

As for the utility of the charismatic renewal versus, say, "traditional" Catholicism, let us study the evidence. After all, how often have we heard "traditional" Catholics attack the last ecumenical council based on the paucity of fruits from that Council? So, if we are to compare spiritual movements by the standard the traditionalists love so well, the standard of fruits, then how would the charismatics match up with a traditional order like the F.S.S.P.? 

 The diocese with the largest concentration of charismatics in the nation is, to my knowledge, Steubenville diocese, with Franciscan University of Steubenville as the hot-bed of charismatics, and HQ for the Catholic Charismatic Conference. The diocese of Steubenville was number one in the nation for new converts, bringing in twice as many converts per Catholic as any other diocese in the nation.

DioceseCatholicsConvertsCatholics per convert
1Steubenville, Ohio36,0301,82620
2Tulsa, Okla.59,2781,27447
2Owensboro, Ky.46,30898347
2Birmingham, Ala.90,7271,92447
5Jackson, Miss.47,72499048
6Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla.64,4001,28050
7Oklahoma City113,8572,17252
9Mobile, Ala.67,4881,21656
10Lexington, Ky.45,51478458
Source: Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University 

In the United States, no diocese has more than three FSSP parishes. The dioceses of Phoenix, Seattle, Kansas City and Venice each have three parishes with F.S.S.P. priests. Notice none of them are even in the top 10 for converts, much less challenging Steubenville for the top spot. Notice the diocese of Lincoln, which has the F.S.S.P. seminary, is not listed in the top ten either.

The article laments the fact that the Catholic Charismatic Renewal has its modern origin in the Protestant Asuza Street revival. But where did the F.S.S.P. come from?

The F.S.S.P. was established on July 18, 1988 at the Abbey of Hauterive, Switzerland by twelve priests and a score of seminarians, led by Father Josef Bisig, all of whom had formerly belonged to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's Society of St. Pius X. They were unwilling to follow that movement into what the Congregation for Bishops and Pope John Paul II defined to be a schismatic act and grounds for excommunication latæ sententiæ due to Lefebvre's consecration of four bishops without a papal mandate. In short, the spirituality of the F.S.S.P. finds its origin in the spirituality of Archbishop Lefebvre

If we were to examine ultimate origins, we would find that the F.S.S.P. is a breakaway group of priests who were all originally part of the S.S.P.X.  These priests were all essentially fine with Archbishop Lefebvre's disobedience between 1976 and 1988, but even they were unable to stomach his decision to consecrate four bishops without papal permission. Thus, the founding of the F.S.S.P.

To date, the Confraternity of Saint Peter, the lay group which unite themselves to the work of the F.S.S.P., claims a total worldwide membership of 4135 (French speakers,  643; German speakers, 565; and English speakers, 2927). 

The Catholic charismatic renewal movement began following a retreat held from 17 to 19 February 1967 by several faculty members and students from Duquesne University, a Catholic university in Pittsburgh operated by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (a Catholic religious order founded in France in 1703). As of 2003, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal exists in over 230 countries in the world, with over 119 million members. Indeed, the author of the wrong-headed article even admits "the charismatic parish down the road from us gives out more seminarians every year than all the other parishes in the Diocese combined."

Both laity and religious orders within the Church are constantly in need of renewal, as we witness through such orders as the Franciscans Friars of the Renewal. To say that recognition of this fact is somehow "heresy" betrays a Protestant misunderstanding of how God works in the world and in His Church. Clearly, God sent the Catholic Church the charismatic renewal precisely in order to renew His people, else we would not have such rich fruits from the movement. Indeed, it has to date been a much richer source of renewal than any of the "traditionalist" movements, which all got their start in the spiritual action and under the spiritual direction of a formally schismatic archbishop, Lefebvre. 

If we are to take note of origins, surely Lefebvre's conscious break with the Church he knew full well was both One and True stands a little farther down the scale of legitimate spirituality than the Asuza Street Protestants' desire to seek the will of Jesus Christ in their lives?

So, how can we choose between them?
We could choose by their fruits.

But somehow, I suspect the cup with which the traditionalists are wont to measure the effects of Vatican II will almost certainly not be the cup with which they wish to measure their own spiritual accomplishments.


Joseph Gloor said...

This is an interesting article, Steve.
I find it especially interesting as I have recently become involved with a Catholic Charismatics group.
I don't know why I think this, perhaps from debates on the Catholic Answers web-site, but, it seems to me that Catholics who are 'reverts' tend to go deeper into the faith by becoming more conservative.
The article to which you refer was certainly written by one whom I would describe that way.
So it occurred to me while reading your article to wonder how many lapsed Catholics were brought back into communion with the Church through the Charismatic movement only to swing even more conservative, coming to reject that very movement in the end.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I am not personally a charismatic, but I was evangelized by charismatics and I have a great respect for their orthodoxy and their love of Christ.

Overall, I have found the charismatic community much more joyful, energetic, and clearly living in the love of Christ than I have ever found the traditionalist community.

I was initially attracted to the traditionalists by my love of history, but they have shown my why history is often considered a dead subject.

It makes me sad. The charismatics have made me many things, but they've never made me sad.

MatheusFT said...

Steve, just last weekend I had a discussion related to this subject, and I certainly don't want to form an unjust/irresponsible opinion on it, but what about previous posts of yours about the issue such as the "Clap Your Hands" one ?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

There's an example of a lay version of Archbishop Lefebvre.

The difference being that the man described in the "Clap Your Hands" essay did not found the charismatic movement, whereas Lefebvre DID found the SSPX, which was the root of the FSSP.

But both of them went theologically insane.

MatheusFT said...

OK, thanks. At the time of that post I got the impression that the book was a Charismatic conerstone in the US; good to know it wasn't the case...

Steve Dalton said...

I have no use for either Protestant or Catholic Charismatics. This so called renewal movement is nothing more than a tamer version of the wild fire malarkey that happened at the Cane Ridge revival of 1801, and other examples of religious hysteria. We don't need such spiritual idiocy in the Catholic Church, what we need is a return to what we had before the decline of the 60's set in. The fact that this garbage started in the Protestant churches should be enough of a warning to anyone that this is a heretical movement.

Michael said...

Steve Dalton,
The heresy of the Charismatic Renewal must, on your assumption therefore, go all the way to the top, with Pope Francis being a Charismatic Catholic himself. Indeed, the last few popes must be heretics or have been lying in all their addresses to the leaders of the Renewal when they were encouraging the movement.

From the Australian CCR website:
At the highest levels, the Church has repeatedly supported and encouraged Catholic Charismatic Renewal. On 1 October, 1973, Pope Paul VI gave his blessing to CCR leaders who had gathered together from all over the world to attend the International Leaders Conference in Rome. He said that the Renewal fostered:
- A deepening desire for personal and communal prayer
- A desire for total commitment to Christ.
- A greater openness to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
- An accent on the praising of God.
- Diligent study of the Scriptures.
- Increased community and willingness to be of service to the Church

Pope John Paul II said to CCR leaders on 14 March, 1992:
The emergence of the Renewal following the Second Vatican Council was a particular gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church … Certainly one of the most important results of this spiritual awakening has been that increased thirst for holiness which is seen in the lives of individuals and in the whole Church.

You would know better than I if your Traditionalist movement fosters the same fruits as what is mentioned above, and on a regular basis, for those who come in contact with the renewal.

From my own experience, the Charismatic Renewal has brought a "renewal" in my own life and a deeper love and adoration for Jesus AND His Church. And even a deeper desire in my prayer life for Unity with our separate brothers in the Protestant and Orthodox Churches so that, as Christ desires, "That they may all be one, as You and I are one".

The movement is not for everyone, just as the Traditionalist movement is not for everyone, but it doesn't make it heretical. While people may be put off by loud singing, clapping hands and being open to the gift of tongues, at the heart of the Charismatic Renewal is a desire to "Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind." In fact there are many communities that are much more contemplative, and the love of God truly flows from them to their neighbour, in quietness and humility.

Dad29 said...

Yah, well, Bp. Lefebvre was a member of the Order of the Holy Spirit--in fact, he was the Superior in Africa.

So there's a squared circle for ya!

Steve Dalton said...

Michael, the fact that some of the highest authorities in the Church are a ga-ga over this movement doesn't impress me. I've read enough and seen enough to know that this movement is at best subjective, emotional, hysteria at best or outright demonism at worst. I know enough Church history, basic psychology, and about the occult to understand the true nature of this nonsense. And btw, your appeal to authority, about how all these higher ups in the church are praising this thing, reminds me how Arianism was once highly praised by most of the bishops in the hierarchy. Where are those bishops and Arianism now?

Boniface said...

I wrote the article in question. For the record, I am not really an ex-Protestant but a cradle Catholic who dallied with Protestantism.

So, comparing the SSPX with Protestantism is pretty weak. The FSSP did not break from the SSPX until the time of the ordinations - before which the SSPX were not in any irregular status. The FSSP has no problematic origin at all. You seem to want to retroactively stigmatize the SSPX, and by definition, the the FSSP for ever having been associated with them ever. It is a lame argument.

By the way, here are some more problems with it:

Incidentally, a few years back my pastor uncovered the biggest pornography ring he'd ever seen at a charismatic parish (not his own).

Paul Stilwell said...

Pope Benedict XVI also praised the Charismatic Renewal.

Michael said...

Steve D,
You didn't comment on what visible fruits have come from the Traditionalist movement that you have experienced.

I take offence to your comment, but i won't hold it against you. I would say that all i have seen and read of the traditionalist movement is spiritual elitism at best and at worst, well, let's just say you seem to be waiting for the rapture, seeing as your small minority are the pure ones, and need to be delivered from such an infected and heretical church. Sounds almost gnostic.

Either way, based on what i have seen and read, the traditionalist movement lacks love; you may have love for the liturgy, but you lack charity for your neighbour.

Steve Dalton said...

Michael, I'm not involved in a traditionalist group. I attend a Novus Ordo parish.
I find the charges of elitism against traditionalist groups laughable. The Pentecostal/Charismatic groups I've seen over the years are the ones who are "elitist" They claim to have a great power or secret that nobody else has. They claim to be more spiritual than other Christians. Yet I notice sex and other scandals seem to break out among them just as much as in regular church groups. And the idiotic announcements of a 'great move of God' never really seem to pan out, do they? Well, what can you expect about a movement that's based on emotionalism, not the solid traditions of the Catholic faith?

docknoils said...

First, let us highlight that the SSPX began in full communion with the Church.
Second, you are on dangerous ground because many Eastern Catholic Churches are mutatis mutandi similar to the FSSP, having returned from schism.
Meanwhile, your stats are deceptive. The Charismatic Renewal has almost always been welcomed by local bishops and pastors (probably because it is not traditional). But, few bishops, until recently, wanted anything to do with the FSSP or traditional Mass because they'd be branded as "traditional." Just look at Bishop Bruskewitz. He was friendly to tradition; his seminary was full of priests; but he was never moved to a larger diocese.
We need to stop the rancor. Let me note that the Charismatic Renewal began just before the Church abandoned her traditional liturgy. Is it not interesting that as Latin was taken away from worship in practice, Catholics sought to worship in tongues? Somehow traditional Catholics and Charismatic Catholics must come together. I generalize, but Traditionalists need to experience some spontaneity in private worship; Charismatics need the structure of traditional public worship. cessent iugia maligna, cessent lites...

Steve Kellmeyer said...

As, so now the FSSP is claiming they occupy the same position as the ancient patriarchates? Seriously? Which would make Archbishop Lefebvre the equivalent of the Patriarch of Constantinople, I suppose?

The statistics are perfectly accurate. Bishops accepted the charismatic renewal. They almost to a man rejected the 'traditionalist' renewal - possibly because the traditionalists have never accomplished a renewal of any kind.

If Bruskewitz had brought a lot of converts into his diocese with his methods, he would have gone higher. Fact is, the pagans don't really like Bruskewitz's approach, which is why he has fewer conversions than many other dioceses.

As for the differences in language, I have noted before that both the traditionalists and the Novus Ordo are perverse in their use of it.

Pardon the pun, but traditionalists need to show they can convert the masses. Our primary mission is to convert the world - that we are faithful is no more than what the lowest servant is called to. We are here to convert the world. The apostles didn't worry about whether they themselves were going to attain heaven, they worried about other people making it.

The charismatics have shown they get this and can do it.

If traditionalists can't get the Greeks in the Aereopagus, if they can't bring non-Catholics to Christ, then what good are you?

docknoils said...

Someone's cranky ... or off his meds...
When did anyone claim the FSSP occupies the is position of an ancient patriarchate? The analogy was that "Eastern Catholic Churches are, mutatis mutandi (Latin for: the key differences being taken into account), similar to the FSSP, having returned from schism." An analogy is not an equivalence. It is an important distinction for correct thinking and discussion.
Moreover, you seem to have a lot of rancor against traditionalists. May I suggests you try to live in charity and attend a local Ordinary Form Mass?
Traditionalism is not about history. It is not about living in 1950. It is about believing and living what has always, and everywhere been taught by the one true Church. It is more defensive and cautious about change because the human heart is fickle and easily rests in what it likes rather than in where God wills.
A key lament of traditionalists is that the traditional liturgy and teaching, the liturgy and teaching loved and proclaimed by the saints through the ages, seems to be despised by many in the Church. A large number of Catholics don't know why they are Catholic. Many think that all religions are equal. Many have abandoned the moral teachings which they dislike.
Traditionalists remain in the Church because they trust the Spirit is with her forever despite certain radical changes in practice.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Would that what you said about traditionalists were true, docknoils.

But, from what I've seen, it's mostly about living in 1950.

joe said...

"The apostles didn't worry about whether they themselves were going to attain heaven, they worried about other people making it."
Of course the apostles wanted to go to Heaven and be with Christ. Paul said work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Christ said "Seek ye first the kingdom of God".
Bruskewitz is working through Truth which is a person. Emotions follow Truth. Follow the Truth and we will all come to Christ. I will try, with the love of God, to love both Traditionalists and Charismatics. It is true the Bishops do treat Traditionalists and Charismatics differently. I know personally would-be priests who had to leave their seminaries because of the anti-Catholic, homosexual leanings that were going on there. To say both groups are given the same treatment by Bishops is a gross falsity. Let both groups be allowed in all parishes and see the results. I pray both groups flourish, but always in Truth.

Jake Jagas said...

The FSSP are faithful to the Church like no one I've ever seen. The Church's teaching do not and cannot change ever, so doing things old school is actually the norm for all of Church history. The Charismatic movement is more self-centred and all about feelings. The saints have always taught that God speaks to us through our intellect and not feelings. Should such feelings arise, they should be met with extreme scepticism and first be thought to originate from a demonic source. And just because you can convert more people does not mean their group is correct, as was pointed out regarding the Arian heresy. Sound doctrine is totally sacrificed in the Charismatic movement. Now if spontaneous prayer and dancing can bring you closer to Christ that is fine, but it should not be within the sacred liturgy. Christ even tells us to pray alone in our rooms. As a last point, there is no such thing as a liberal Catholic. Either you are Catholic or you are not. And as far as I have seen, most Charismatics are not. They seem to love to pick and choose doctrines and teachings.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Jake, we clearly have different experiences.

thenewevangelisation said...

We need more posts on charismatic renewal, and this one is really interesting. For the record I am a traditionalist who came out of charismatic renewal.

I do not think that the comparison of FSSP v's charismatic renewal provides us with a great deal of evidence either way.

Forget the FSSP, in the UK we have a situation were before Summorum Pontificum there were only 6 Latin Mass centres in England and Wales. It is only seven years after Summorum Pontificum and there are now 187 Latin Mass Centres. This is exponential growth. In fact this phenomenon could be compared to the sudden burst of charismatic prayer groups in the 1970's when they were first allowed to have formal prayer groups in churches.

We also have to remember that the Latin Mass is under fire at every turn, by great misunderstandings about what it is all about. The Latin Mass is definitely on the way up and the one thing that can be said is that its adherents are taking their faith seriously.

I note that charismatic writers admit that charismatic renewal is slowly dieing out in Europe.

Now don't get me wrong, I want to like charismatic renewal. Really! I am not making it up. I have seen the good in it, but unfortunately in the UK the leaders of charismatic renewal seem to have given up on the Catholic Church and seem to be pouring all their efforts into its protestantisation. There are a growing number of protestant speakers at their conference, they speak error in regards to Vatican II and ecumenism i.e. there is a tendency to the error of "all the denomination s are equal". If you look at their website (UK) it could be the product of a secular organisation as it seems to have little to do with Jesus.

Maybe Steubenville are still successful because they have kept it authentically Catholic to some degree. Though to be honest, I thought that the neo-con Catholics had started to take the place over???

In short, please, please, please can we have authentically Catholic Charismatic Renewal back!!!! Rather than this protestantised nonsense we seem to be getting nowadays!

thenewevangelisation said...
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thenewevangelisation said...
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Vox Cantoris said...

You're still around?