The following article by John Vennari from Catholic Family News on the Charismatic movement in general and the pentacostalist extravaganza held in June of 1997 at Franciscan University in particular is one of the best treatments I have seen of the "charismatic" phenomenon as we find it in our time.
A "Catholic" Charismatic Extravaganza "To speak in tongues you had never learned was, and is, a recognized symptom in alleged cases of diabolic possession." Msgr. Ronald Knox -- Enthusiasm by John Vennari It arrived on my desk a few months ago as yet another unsolicited piece of bulk mail. The brochure from the Franciscan University at Steubenville, announced that "Catholic" Charismatics were about to celebrate their 30th Anniversary bash in Pittsburgh "where it all began," and for $69.00 registration, I would be welcome too. So it was that on June 27, 1997, I found myself travelling toward this Pentecostal extravaganza. I went for the purpose of observation. There was plenty to observe. I had been to the "Toronto Blessing" church about two years ago, as Catholic Family News printed as expose on this new movement written by Silvia MacAhern, and I wanted to see the "worship service" for myself before going to press. The "Toronto Blessing" is a high-charged Protestant sect that could be called "Charismatic to the Tenth Power". They believe the Holy Ghost manifests Himself not only in indistinguishable tongues and body gyrations (as was the case with the Pittsburgh "Catholic Pentecostals") but also with screams, shrieks, rolling on the floor, hysterical laughter, barking like dogs and oinking like pigs. This "Toronto Blessing" received some favorable comment at the June, 1997 Charismatic Conference. "Catholic" Charismatic pioneer Kevin Ranaghan, in his opening address, spoke of the "Toronto Blessing" as a true movement of the Holy Spirit. In so saying, this "anointed preacher", as they call each other, told 7,500 Catholics in the audience that barking like dogs and oinking like pigs is a true manifestation of the Holy Spirit. None of the other speakers voiced any disagreement with this radical teaching from the podium. In fact, by the end of the weekend I would witness priests and bishop(s) doing boogie-woogie dances on stage, I would endure rock and roll rhythms passed off as "sacred music", I would hear glowing prayers of praise for Protestant religions, and I would marvel in dismay at Steubenville's Scott Hahn attempting to defend Pentecostalism against bothersome "traditionalist" critics. But we'll come to all this later. Grown in the Garden of Heresy Though it has been an intrusion into the Catholic Church for only 30 years, Pentecostalism is of longer history. The majority of authors identify its true father as England's John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Wesley preached about the baptism of the Holy Spirit (or "second blessing") which he claimed was an intense personal experience confronting the Christian with the presence of God. In time, Wesley's Methodist sect became more mainstream, and Pentecostalism branched off into different areas. In his booklet "Assemblies of God" and other "Pentecostal Churches", the great counter-reformation apologist Rev. Dr. L. Rumble (of Radio Replies fame), traces Pentecostalism's expansion through the conduit of 19th Century Revivalism which spawned "Holiness Churches", the Latter Rain Movement and the Assembly of God Churches. Since this booklet was written prior to present ecumenical confusion, Father Rumble clearly recognized Pentecostalism as another heretical sect that Catholics must avoid. Regarding "talking in tongues" and other emotional outbursts, Father Rumble wrote: "It was a kind of new discovery that such exciting manifestations could result from strong religious feelings. Prophet after prophet arose to engage in a revivalism aimed deliberately at creating such abnormal displays. The idea grew that they were proof of a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon elect souls; and such emotional experiences were interpreted as evidence of 'Spirit Baptism,' a 'Second Blessing', conferring holiness upon all who received such gifts."1 This point warrants comment. It stands to reason that within Protestantism, a need would develop for an intense personal experience as proof of the presence of God. Protestants falsely believe that Christ did not establish a Church to "teach, govern and sanctify in His Name" until the end of time. Protestantism, rooted in private interpretation of Scripture, is merely a loose confederation of believers who accept the Bible as the only source of Divine Revelation. They lack the certainties of a Divinely instituted authority teaching infallibly that the God-given sacraments of the Catholic Church always give grace (holiness) to a soul who is properly disposed. This need, then, for proof by experience of God's presence in one's life is the direct result of the Protestant's rejection of the Catholic Church, its teaching authority and its sacred, grace-giving sacraments. Since this need is founded on an objective mortal sin against Faith, any such emotional manifestation (that supposedly comes from being 'baptized in the spirit') can only be explained by natural causes or demonic influence. Such manifestations also confirm the Protestant in his sin of unbelief. Since the Pentecostal believes he HAS the Holy Spirit already (and can demonstrate it on cue) who needs the Catholic Church? Aligned with unchangable Catholic teaching and tradition, I argue that to describe such exhibitions as the working of the Holy Spirit is blasphemy. To seek and imitate such phenomena is a reckless endangerment of one's Catholic Faith. To promote such manifestations is to play the unenviable role of false prophet. Herein lies some of the staggering difficulties within "Catholic Pentecostalism." Topeka's Tongues Catholic Pentecostals believe that the great outpouring of the spirit in modern times really began from a small Protestant sect in Topeka, Kansas led by Charles F. Parham. Some "Catholic" Charismatics such as Peter Herbeck (of Ralph Martin's Renewal Ministries), treat Parham's revivalist movement as a Divine manifestation equal in drama and holiness to the visitations of Our Lady of Fatima.2 In his book Minority Religions in America, William J. Whalan succinctly describes the sect's important role in modern Pentecostalism: "The reappearance of glossolaly (speaking in tongues) was reported in 1901. Charles F. Parham, a Holiness preacher, was dismayed by the aridity of his own spiritual life. He rented a white elephant mansion in Topeka, Kansas, and started a Bible school with about forty students. Together they set out on an intensive study of scriptures and came to the conclusion that speaking in tongues was the one sign that a Christian had indeed received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At 7 p.m., on New Year's Eve in 1900, one of the students, Miss Agnes N. Ozmen, startled the assembled group when she began to pray in tongues. Within a few days many more followed suit. "Parham spent the next five years as an itinerant preacher before opening another Bible school, this time in Houston. One of his students, a negro minister named W.J. Seymore, carried the 'full-gospel' message to Los Angeles. A three-year-long revival in that California city attracted people from all over the country, and these people planted Pentecostalism in most of the major cities in the U.S., as well as in many European nations. The old Holiness Churches refused to give emphasis to tongue-speaking, but dozens of independent Pentecostal Churches were soon organized."3 The charismatic Msgr. Vincent Walsh, an enthusiastic promoter of "Toronto Blessing" aberrations, wrote approvingly: "Due to the ministries of Parham and Seymore, modern worldwide Pentecostalism was launched."4 As a phenomenon among Protestant assemblies, it would enjoy spectacular growth. And in 1967, a group of Catholics in Pittsburgh, with their defenses flattened by the steam-roller of aggirornamento, and infatuated with a Protestant Minister's success story among young New York hoodlums, would adopt a "new way of thinking," study the scriptures according to this new mindset, and plunge themselves headlong into the arms of heterodox practice. "Stirrings in Pittsburgh" In the book Catholic Pentecostals, Kevin and Dorothy Ranaghan (founders of the Catholic Pentecostal movement) give an account of the movement's beginnings. The Ranaghans and their colleagues at Duquesne University had been involved with various activities popular at the time (civil rights, etc.). In the midst of these undertakings, they were plagued with great spiritual aridity. To combat this, they claim, the group went in search of a greater influence of God in their lives. The date was 1966 -- a time of unprecedented ecclesiastical upheaval. Thomas Merton would soon be off to Tibet praying with the Dalai Lama and calling for a unity which resembled Hindu "Oneness". New Age writer Teilhard de Chardin was practically reverenced by many Catholic intellectuals as the fifth evangelist. It was a tumultous period in Church history with violent winds of change uprooting and destroying countless Catholic landmarks. With so many of the familiar signposts swept away, it was all too easy for Catholics to wander out of bounds seeking God in the wrong places. At a Cursillo Congress, this group met Ralph Martin and Steve Clarke who introduced them to the book The Cross and the Switchblade --the story of Protestant Minister David Wilkerson's success among teen gangs in New York. Because of what Ranaghan and friends regarded as "positive aspects" of Pentecostalism found in this book and because of the "transformed lives" of two of their friends involved with such activities, they sought a similar experience. Ranaghan recounts that his group solicited the counsel of an Episcopalian minister, thus ignoring the Catholic wisdom of the ages forbidding positive religious camaraderie with heretical sects. This clergyman introduced them to a Protestant, Pentecostal gathering. The group attended the meeting and took part in the Bible study. One of those present, Ralph Keifer, wrote that at the end of this prayer meeting "Pat [Bourgeois] and I asked to be prayed with for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They broke up into several groups because they were praying over several people. They simply asked me to make an act of faith for the power of the Spirit to work in me. I prayed in tongues rather quickly."5 Later, the same Ralph Keifer laid hands on two others (unidentified in the book) and they too "received the baptism in the spirit." It was not surprising then that Kevin Ranaghan was the first speaker on opening night at the 30th anniversary Conference. After boasting that God had filled him to overflowing with the Spirit, Ranaghan recounted that in the early days, in order to "grow in the spirit", he and his friend sought spiritual advice from a Protestant prayer-group: "In the beginning the contact with Pentecostals of our area helped us to grow in an understanding and experience of the charisms. We met in the home of the representative of the Full-Gospel Businessmen. And when he heard that a group of Catholics was coming, he rallied the troops, and brought in several Pentecostal ministers and a room full of prayer warriors to engage in what they were sure would be a hard-fought battle. What they found was the most shockingly easy prayer-time they had ever known. We claimed that we had already been baptized in the Holy Spirit, which they found hard to believe because, after all, we were Catholics." (The audience broke into great laughter, in joyful mockery of the "exclusive salvation" doctrines of the Catholic Church). He continued, "We said that we just wanted their help and advice on yielding to and using the gifts. They laid hands on us, and one by one the whole roomful of us started to pray and sing in tongues. No battle, just a victory celebration." (thunderous applause) In making this statment, this "anointed preacher" seems to have forgotten that a Protestant victory over Catholicism cannot be regarded as a victory for the Holy Ghost. Then Ranaghan, further indoctrinating the crowd into religious indifferentism, sang the praise and blessings of heretical sects. He said "Praise God for the old-time Pentecostals and for the independent charismatics God sent our way in those days ... Yes, from the beginning, it was an ecumenical celebration." This is how the "Catholic Charismatic Renewal" began -- Catholics receiving a Protestant mock-sacrament of 'baptism of the spirit', not through the sacramental channels of grace established by Christ, but through collaboration with heretical groups. From Pittsburgh the movement spread to Notre Dame and then to Newman Centers at Michigan State and the University of Michigan. Within four years from its beginning the Catholic Pentecostal movement spread to dozens of areas in the U.S. and Canada. Its epidemic-like expansion was marked by bizarre episodes played out by peculiar characters. Layman Ralph Martin, one of the new breed of roving Pentecostals, travelled the country exercising the self-appointed commission of baptizing others (including priests and religious) in the Holy Spirit. Father Connolly describes an incident where both Trappist and Benedictine monks, not willing to await the arrival of Ralph Martin, rushed out and found their own local Pentecostals to "initiate them", and how, in turn, they spread the "Spirit" among Catholics in their area.6 This alien "spirit" spread indeed. Now it is a world-wide movement with the power to draw 7,500 Catholics from all over the country to celebrate its 30th anniversary. "Under the Spout Where the Glory Comes Out" Pittsburgh's David Lawrence Convention Center was set up theater style with ample chairs and aisle space to accommodate the 7,500 registrants. The stage served as speaker's podium, makeshift sanctuary and bandstand. A banner, beautiful large crucifix, Divine Mercy poster, and image of Our Lady of Guadalupe also adorned the platform. The band, occupying left-stage, comprised singers, electric instruments and full drum set. It was similar to the band at the Toronto Blessing Church. The rock'n'pop "praise music" played was undeservedly dignified with the name "music ministry". The band's front-man crooned the melodies with that effeminate, sing-song, style that has come to be the hallmark of modern, pop-mediocre Church music. A scant handful of traditional hymns were thinly spread throughout the weekend amongst a heavy music program. With one exception, there was no Gregorian Chant. Though many of these songs were of a Top 40 ballad style, several had a driving rock and roll drum beat that would catapult the crowd to its feet singing, arms in the air, dancing in place. During these performances, one would notice young girls in tight jeans hopping to the music, smiling and singing into each other's faces as if romping at a Beach Boys festival. There was loud cheering and applause at the conclusion of most songs. The Emcee, harvesting this enthusiasm, would encourage further outbursts by shouting "PRAISE JESUS, PRAISE GOD, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA", to which the crowd would obediently shout along. Sometimes, the Emcee would initiate an indistinguishable "prayer in tongues." Likewise, the audience would follow. Then, another musical number would begin. The atmosphere was dominated by a blend of Protestant revivalism, rock concert cheering and pep-rally spirit. Anything Catholic would be swallowed up in such a tumult. Yet one striking exception occurred when the singer intoned a cappella Veni Creator Spiritu in Gregorian Chant. It was the only moment of the weekend when the hall was permeated with that distinctive Catholic trademark; the reverential hush. For this one moment the crowd sat motionless. No hands in the air, no waving, no dancing in the aisles, no applause at the hymnn's conclusion. There is a power in genuine Sacred Music that precludes its being accompanied by worldly cheering and holy-roller demonstrations. This peaceful interlude would not last long. It appears that Charismatics, like small children, find it difficult to sit still and keep quiet. At about 7:30 p.m. on opening night, the Emcee kicked things off by seizing the microphone and screaming "HAPPY ANNIVERSARY CATHOLIC CHARISMATICS". The crowd responded with a deafening burst of frenzied cheering that bordered on Beatlemania. "There's gonna be a hot time in the old town tonight" the Emcee barked overtop the roaring crowd. The weekend proceeded with charismatic prayers, liturgy, dancing, "tongues", prophesying, and speeches encouraging the crowd to "live under the spout where the glory comes out." "Prophesying" One of the most peculiar Charismatic practices is "prophesying". An individual stands as the center of attention and speaks as if God were speaking through him. Quite a few Pentecostals performed this ritual over the microphone. The crowd listened intently as if they were in the presence of God speaking on Mt. Sinai. What was always uttered, however, was a pious platitude that anyone with minimal knowledge of religion could make up as he went along. An excerpt from a lengthy such "prophesying" runs: "Wherever you go, wherever you are, know that the power of my Holy Spirit is the same for you, and bring it to the people ... bring it, proclaim it and call upon it and know that the same power you experience in you, you take forth from this place, and have with you, forever, and in all the ministry that I call you to do." After this "prophesying" the audience applauds while the Emcee swoons, "praise the Lord, praise God, thank you Jesus, etc." At one point, in the midst of such "prophesying," one man stated: "I the Lord am also your servant." Jim Murphy, the Emcee, commented to the crowd in awestruck amazement, "Isn't that wonderful! GOD HIMSELF has just told us that He is also our servant." In practice, Murphy was teaching the audience that indeed, GOD HAD JUST SPOKEN through the charismatic prophet right before their eyes ...a presumption that is foreign to Catholicism. There was not much solid teaching on doctrine, morals or spirituality from the speakers. Any Catholic teaching was highly-seasoned with post-Vatican II flavoring. Anyone hoping to really learn something would have walked away disappointed. Like the Toronto Blessing, most speakers were shallow, empty and often quite noisy. The weekend's primary purpose was to celebrate the joy of being "alive in the Lord," with much encouragement to "march forward in the spirit." No Rosary Strange Liturgies Patti Gallagher Mansfield, one of the pioneer charismatics of the 60s, lectured on St. Louis de Montfort's True Devotion to Our Lady. The speech was a hybrid of theologies blending the "goodness" of being baptized in the spirit along with devotion to Mary. Mrs. Mansfield seriously undermined her own lecture, and shredded her credibility, stating that she purposely did not recommend traditional devotions to Mary such as the Miraculous Medal, the Rosary, etc., because, in her theology, "it doesn't matter how you come to Mary, as long as you come." She further downplayed the importance of the Holy Rosary with the declaration: "If devotion to Mary consisted of saying the Rosary every day, I would be lost." I thought it odd that this Charismatic lady, (supposedly possessing a special "hotline to Heaven" due to her baptism in the spirit) would so self-assuredly contradict the express command of Heaven by Our Lady in 1917 who said "God wishes to establish in the world devotion to My Immaculate Heart." Our Lady then gave specific directions on how this devotion is to be practiced, most important of which is Our Lady's request to pray the Rosary every day. Our Lady then proved Her words with the greatest miracle in New Testament history, the Miracle of the Sun. Yet none of Fatima's urgent directions from Heaven were preached at this conference by speakers who constantly boasted of being "filled to overflowing with the spirit." During this gathering, Fatima was practically non-existent. There was no public recitation of the Rosary during the entire weekend, yet plenty of time for revivalist, dance-in-the-aisle "worship" services. The conference liturgies were Novus Ordo concelebrations with Bishop Sam Jacobs, a to-the-bone charismatic prelate, as main celebrant. Here too, the scale of spirituality tipped toward Protestantism. What took place after the Gospel smacked more of an Amway motivational seminar than a Catholic homily. The "Sunday Sermon" featured Bishop Jacobs prancing up and down the stage in revivalist style, spewing a generous mouthful of "Amens" and encouraging audience participation. During this address, taking his cue from Our Lord's "Who do you say that I am?" to Simon Peter, Bishop Jacobs screamed at the audience: "WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?" Screaming crowd "JESUS!" Bishop Jacobs: "WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?" Crowd: "JESUS!" Bishop Jacobs: "WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?" Crowd: "JESUS!"7 The homily was often interrupted by loud, stamping applause... mind you, this was in the middle of Sunday Mass! Homilies on other days were of similar stripe. It was heartbreaking to endure a Roman Catholic bishop carrying on like some cheap imitation of Oral Roberts. The Masses included choreographed "worship in tongues" that would take place at a pause during the "Holy Holy Holy" and also before the Our Father. The "kiss of peace" will be left to the reader's imagination. Most eerie of all charismatic liturgical practices is the buzz of "tongues" replacing the consecration bells. During the consecration, at the elevation of the Host and at the elevation of the Chalice, Bishop Jacobs stood in elevation pose and initiated "prayer in tongues" that spread through the entire congregation: "Hum de yah hay dah sham a lum yada ..." A drone of indistinguishable gibberish would rise from the crowd, sounding like the ghastly hum of a Hindu Ashram. The vast majority of the audience received Communion in the hand. Father Michael Scanlon The summer, 1997 issue of Sursum Corda! magazine featured a surprisingly favorable article on Steubenville University. The journal reported that Steubenville's Father Scanlon "has allowed and even encouraged the [charismatic] movement's decline at the University." With all due respect to this well-meaning publication, this is certainly NOT the message that Father Scanlon transmitted during his speech at the Pittsburgh Conference. Not only is Steubenville hosting the Charismatic Leadership Conference in 1998, but Father Scanlon seemed determined to set the record straight regarding Steubenville's commitment to Pentecostalism. He opened: "I just want to make it clear about the Franciscan University of Steubenville. IT IS the Power of the Holy Spirit, IT IS being baptized in the Holy Spirit, IT IS the Charismatic Renewal that launched and is responsible for the growth and maturity of this University, and I thank God for that!" (thunderous applause) In this speech, Father Scanlon spoke of his "three conversions". The first was when he came to be fully convinced in the truths of the Catholic Church and Sacred Scripture. The second was when he was at Harvard Law School and abandoned all to become a Franciscan priest. So far so good. But the third "conversion" was his entry into Pentecostalism in 1973. He explained that he felt it his duty, as Rector of 170 Franciscan seminarians, to make his men holy, and was perplexed on how to achieve this. A Carmelite nun told him "You need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit." A week later, one priest and two laymen laid hands on him. He claims that there he received "A R-R-RUSH OF THE SPIRIT". He recounted, "after that, my preaching changed, people started getting healed in the confessional. People started flying in to go to confession." He gave accounts of spiritual and bodily healings he had been involved with. He also shouted, "I EXPERIENCE A GREATER POWER OF THE SPIRIT, A GREATER RUSH TODAY THAN I DID THEN" (in 1973). While this was taking place, I tried to imagine humble models of sanctity such as Padre Pio, St. John Bosco and St. John Vianney boasting to a crowd of 7,500 how "filled with the spirit" they were, and bragging of their spirit-filled ministries having been so instrumental in unproven cures. It was repeated testimonials such as this by various speakers that made me feel I was in the middle of a three-day Charismatic infomercial. To hear priests like Father Scanlon praise the Protestant practice of "baptism in the spirit" as if it were THE final road to holiness is quite bewildering. This is especially puzzling since seminary rectors of old would have suffered a martyr's death rather than seek a Protestant mock-sacrament as a channel to sanctity. The Catholic methods are still the only ones lawful and true. Why did he not simply employ the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius for these men, since the Spiritual Exercises are a proven road to holiness, have been practiced and endorsed by centuries of Popes and Saints, and were given to Saint Ignatius by the Blessed Mother Herself (the spouse of the Holy Ghost). As we know, to take part in non-Catholic religious services is a grave sin against Faith, and Pentecostalism comes from such forbidden religious activity. One cannot help but wonder if a Catholic, even a priest, walks into such sinful activities with his eyes wide open, and persists in such heterodox practice, would end up being punished with a spiritual blindness that judges certain evils as good. Whether this is the case with the clergymen at this conference, only God knows. Also, the Catholic is not easily impressed with the reported miracles among Charismatics. None spoken of at this conference were documented. Pentecostals are not the only group claiming miracles and conversions to authenticate their movement. There are numerous unapproved Marian apparitions (some that report the Blessed Mother warning "the Charismatics are from Hell") that also claim miracles and conversions.8 There are wild visionaries like Clemente in Spain who has crowned himself "Pope Gregory XVI" who's movement likewise claims healings and conversions. A miracle can only be genuine if absolutely no other natural cause can be attributed to it (at Lourdes, only 65 as of 1989, have been proclaimed by the Church as miraculous). Also, for the miracle to be truly of God, the message that the miracle enforces must be in conformity with the traditional teaching of the Church. Here, of course, is where Pentecostalism falls flat, as there is nothing Catholic about seeking holiness from heretical, non-sacramental sects. If any extraordinary phenomenon is used to justify a new or false doctrine, then Catholicism judges this as a "lying wonder" -- a phenomenon that comes from man or from the devil. As Father Vincent Miceli pointed out in his speech, The Antichrist, "these are called lying wonders because they draw people to a different religion rather than the true religion." Our Catholic church has a marvellous two-thousand year history of "discernment of spirits" contained in traditional ascetical and mystical theology that must be rigidly applied to such manifestations. Here we have the opposite: Laypeople lay hands on an individual, the individual gets a RUS H, and immediately proclaims that he is "full of the Spirit." This is shocking presumption according to Catholic teaching. The Catholic Church teaches that we should never accept at face value any apparent supernatural manifestation as something definitely coming from God. Never! -- since it is too easy to be deceived by demonic forces. The agony suffered by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and other authentic favored souls laboring to determine the genuineness of their heavenly manifestations should be ample testimony. I see none of these criteria applied to Charismatics. In fact, the Charismatics seem to act as if these teachings either do not exist, or do not apply to them. However, it would seem that most Charismatics at this conference were simple, well-meaning people who know nothing of these teachings, nor of their duty to "test the spirits" according to these wise strictures.9 Parents considering sending their children to Steubenville University should know that Father Scanlon boasted with great pride, "75% of all students of the Franciscan University at Steubenville, have been prayed with to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit." Also, a busload or two of Steubenville students were manning the volunteer work at this conference. Hence, Steubenville students will be exposed to such Charismatic gatherings that are viewed by this university as acceptable Catholic practice. Rock Around the Flock The Charismatic Saturday Night Dance that followed Fr. Scanlon's speech would launch the element of the absurd to skyscraping heights. Of course, this "Saturday Night Fever" approach to religion was also undeservedly dignified with the name "ministry session." It consisted of Pentecostal Diva, Babsie Bleasdell, "doing her thing" over the microphone for about an hour. The session was one of Bleasdell preaching and leading prayers in the revivalist, Baptist patter of "praise the Lord, Alleluia, the spirit of fear and doubt be gone in the Name of Jesus, let the Spirit of God fall upon you ... a spirit of joy! joy!" while the audience caught the enthusiasm and flared into a "holy groove." The band played its energetic rock'n'pop "praise" music with an increased fury. At one point, the dam of enthusiasm burst as the crowd rushed to the front of the hall in full-body dancing like adoring fans celebrating their favorite rock band. Bleasdell would encourage the frolicking. In the midst of all this, a James Brown rendition of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" would not have been out of place. Bleasdell also employed the well-worn Pentecostal mesmerism: "some of you experience that you don't have a headache any more...raise your hand.", etc.,etc." At one point, Father Scanlon, obviously overwhelmed with enthusiasm, seized center stage and addressed the crowd as if in the grip of a dream: "I almost never get visions but I can see God's hand moving down inside of so many in this assembly and reaching in and grabbing the garbage ...grabbing the garbage. (rising to a shouting crescendo) Let Him PULL IT UP! GET RID OF IT. SEND IT UP NOW -- SEND IT OUT. THE HOLY SPIRIT'S GONNA REPLACE IT! GARBAGE OUT -- HOLY SPIRIT IN!!" The crowd responded with "Praise God, Praise Jesus, Alleluia, Alleluia," There would be time for the entire congregation to join in "healing prayers." For the most part, I find Charismatic leaders to be a cadre of very silly men. This impression was nowhere better confirmed than at this "ministry session". While Bleasdell was revving the crowd with cries of "Love and dance before the Lord ... He longs to see it", priests and bishop(s) on a crowded stage, including Father Scanlon, were having the time of their lives and joined in the dancing. 7,500 Charismatics were treated to the spectacle of Bishop Sam Jacobs joining arms with a woman (a plain-clothes nun, I think) executing a rather clumsy series of moderate can-can kicks. At one point, Bleasdell was flanked by Bishop Jacobs on her right and what appeared to be another bishop on her left engaging in full body dance, their pectoral crosses bouncing to the rhythm, while smiling and waving at the audience. The three of them together looked more like Diana Ross and the Supremes than religious leaders. It seems that the more our Church officials talk of human dignity, the more they degrade ecclesiastical dignity. Problems with Pentecostalism There is no room to catalog each of the outlandish activities, since there is enough material at the Convention for a major work of non-fiction. Likewise, a full treatment of the varied and numerous theological problems with this movement is beyond the scope of this article. Apart from those already mentioned, some of the more outstanding difficulties with "Catholic" Pentecostalism are as follows: 1) The entire movement is founded on a sin against Faith. There are three ex cathedra (infallible) dogmatic pronouncements teaching that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation. The most striking of those pronouncements reads: "The sacrosanct Roman Church, founded by the voice of our Lord and Saviour, firmly believes, professes and preaches ... and proclaims that those who are not living with the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart "into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels' [Matt. 25:41] unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock ... [A]nd that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he sheds his blood for the name of Christ, can be saved unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."10 In perfect continuity with these infallible teachings, traditional Catholic Moral theology, here summarized by Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, S.T.D., holds that "A Catholic sins against Faith by taking part in non-Catholic worship, because he thus professes belief in a religion he knows to be false."11 Yet by the admission of Catholic Charismatic pioneer, Kevin Ranaghan, the movement began with Catholics performing the grotesque ritual of seeking a spiritual blood transfusion from the dead corpse of Protestantism, and proclaiming that God "filled them to overflowing with the spirit" for doing so. Such collaborating and "seeking the holiness of the Holy Spirit" from anathematized heretics (what Protestant would survive the anathemas of the Council of Trent?) cannot be a religious movement truly of God. 2) It is a movement founded on principles condemned by Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII Both Pope Pius XI and Pius XII (basing their teaching on the unchanging tradition of the Church rather than the progressive novelties of liberal theologians) warned against the dangers of interfaith activity. Pius XI in Mortalium Animos taught that though St. John recounted Our Lord's prayer "that all may be one", as well as Christ's command "to love one another", "nevertheless (St. John) strictly forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupted form of Christ's teaching, 'If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into thy house, nor say to him, God speed you." Pope Pius XI further castigated interfaith projects, stating, "...It is clear that the Apostolic See can by no means take part in these assemblies, nor is it in any way lawful for Catholics to give such enterprises their encouragement or support. If they did so, they would be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ."12 Yet as already mentioned, Catholic Pentecostalism is the product of such forbidden ventures. Further, Pope Pius XII, in his 1949 Instruction on Ecumenism taught that if there is to be any exchange between Catholics and non-Catholics (solely for the sake of converting the non-Catholic to the one true Faith), all activity must be guided by the truth that "the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of Christ", that is, it does not need to acquire things that go to make up the Christianity from other denominations.13 Catholic-Pentecostalism "needed to acquire" the mock-sacrament of a false religion (baptism in the spirit) for its impetus. Hence it acts in haughty disdain of Pius XII's traditional directives. 3) It favors religious indifferentism As noted already, the movement was born through unlawful collaboration with Protestantism. To this day, founder Kevin Ranaghan still "praises God for the old-time Pentecostals," and speaks of Protestant splinter groups like the "Toronto Blessing" as genuine movements of the Holy Ghost. Further, among the vendors at this 30th Anniversary Conference, two Protestant organizations were represented. Destiny Image Publications, a nondenominational "ministry" producing revivalist literature displayed a full selection of books for sale, including those promoting the "Toronto Blessing". Charisma magazine, a Protestant publication, hawked their journal to crowds with the promise that "starting next month, each issue of our Charismatic magazine will contain a 'Catholic supplement'." Indeed, Pentecostalism and ecumenism feed off each other, since acceptance of Pentecostalism depends on recognizing Protestantism as another valid form of Christianity. In 1864, Venerable Pope Pius IX, in perfect continuity with the unchanging dogmas of the centuries, taught in his landmark Syllabus of Errors that "IT IS AN ERROR to believe that Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion..."14 As should be obvious by now, Catholic-Pentecostalism is immersed in this error in origin and practice. 4) The movement's continued growth would seem to depend on the absence of the Latin Tridentine Mass. The "Catholic Charismatic" movement started while the Latin Tridentine Mass was in decline and the Protestant-style Novus Ordo emerging -- a new liturgy historically proven to be favorable to experimentation and improvisation. The liturgical abberations mentioned in this article could not have taken place within the Latin Tridentine Mass. Cardinal Ottaviani noted, that the Latin Tridentine Mass in alignment with the Council of Trent's dogmatic teaching was an insurmountable barrier against heresy.15 It is not unreasonable to speculate that implicit in Catholic-Pentecostalism is the erroneous notion that the Latin Tridentine Mass was an obstacle to the work of the Holy Ghost, since it may have stood in the way of Pentecostalism's "powerful unleashing of the Spirit" throughout the world. 5) It virtually ignores Catholic teaching on the discernment of spirits. Though this point has been covered already, it must be further noted that Pentecostalism encourages extraordinary phenomena such as "prophesying" and "talking in tongues." Yet the great mystical writer and Doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross, warned that souls must flee from seeking any such manifestations. What this great Saint said of private revelations equally applies to all such phenomena: "Wherein the devil habitually meddles so freely [in extraordinary phenomenon] that I believe it impossible for a man not to be deceived by them, unless he strive to reject them, such an appearance of truth and security does the Devil give them.16 Also, Msgr. Knox wrote that "to speak in tongues you had never learned was, and is, a recognized symptom in cases of alleged diabolic possession."17 To freely expose oneself to such dangers borders on madness. 6) It bears a striking resemblance to the occultic New Age movement in three ways: a) It is a pan-denominational movement with a non-Catholic principle as its unifying factor, in this case, "baptism in the spirit". b) It is a religion of EXPERIENCE. Charismatics never really provide a satisfactory theological explanation of "baptism of the spirit," but emphasize that it is something that must be experienced. This mirrors New Age tendencies. c) It sneers at any traditional Catholic teaching that stands in opposition to it. Hence, the problems with "Catholic Pentecostalism" are true and serious, and cannot be passed over lightly, or laughed out of court by appealing to a new "living tradition" that suddenly blesses what the Church always condemned. The Athanasian Creed states "Whoever would be saved before all else, it is necessary that he hold to the Catholic Faith; unless such a one preserve it integral and inviolate, without doubt he will perish in eternity." In light of the traditional teaching of the Church, it can be firmly argued that to seek involvement with Catholic-Pentecostalism's wild mixture of truth and error, as well as its heterodox practice, is to recklessly endanger one's Faith. A Conquered People The Catholic historian Dr. John Rao observed that throughout history, a conquered people will often take on the characteristics of their conquerors.18 A more apt description of "Catholic-Pentecostalism" could not be formulated. Charismatics are a conquered people who have surrendered their priceless, God-given heritage while dancing on the graves of their Catholic ancestors in giddy imitation of Protestant practice.19 The Pentecostalism and ecumenism presently gripping our Holy Church could be nicknamed "Luther's Conquest." It is not only our duty to resist it, but also to beseech Heaven on behalf of the "Catholic Charismatic" who prays with his hands in the air and his foot on the throat of traditional Catholic doctrine and practice. Footnotes 1) Rev. Dr. L. Rumble, M.S.C., "Assemblies of God" and other "Pentecostal Churches", p. 18 2) Peter Herbeck, "The Titanic Battle", Renewal Ministries Newsletter, Ann Arbor, MI, May, 1997 3) Whalen, op. cit. pp. 179-180 4) Msgr. Vincent M. Walsh, What is Going On?, (Wynnewood, PA, Key of David Publications, 1995), p. 31. 5) Kevin and Dorothy Ranaghan, Catholic Pentecostals, Paulist Press, New York, 1969, p. 15. 6) James Connelley, O.S.C., "The Charismatic Movement," in As the Spirit Leads Us, (Paulist Press: New York, 1971). 7) I want to make it clear, in case anyone misunderstands this format, that Bishop Jacobs was not trying to induce the crowd to proclaim HIM (Bishop Jacobs) as Jesus, this is simply the emotional charismatic way of eliciting from the audience some sort of act of faith. 8) It should be here stated that I (and Catholic Family News) do not follow or promote any of the unapproved apparitions of recent history or before. -- [J.V.] 9) Two excellent sources of Catholic theological treatment on Extraordinary Phenomena can be found in The Spiritual Life by Fr. Adolph Tanquerey (out of print) and The Three Ages of the Interior Life [2 volumes] by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP -- available from Catholic Family News. 10) Pope Eugene IV, Exbulla, "Cantate Domino", Feb. 4, 1441. 11) Most Reverend Louis LaRavoire Morrow, S.T.D., Bishop of Krishnagar, My Catholic Faith, (originally published in 1949), p. 193. 12) Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, On Fostering True Religious Unity, Jan. 6, 1928. 13) "Instructions on the Ecumenical Movement," A.A.S., Jan. 31, 1950, cf. Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, (Sarto House, Kansas City, 1996), p. 549 14) The full quotation of Proposition #18 reads that it is an error to say that "Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church", Pope Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors as written in Dogmatic Canons and Decrees, Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford, IL 15) The Ottaviani Intervention, (Tan Books & Publishers, Rockford, IL), p. 27 16) St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, Chapter 27 17) Msgr. Ronald Knox, Enthusiasm, (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1950), p. 551. 18) Dr. John Rao, "Why Catholics Cannot Defend Themselves" -- An address given by Dr. John C. Rao (D. Phil, Oxford University, Associated Professor of History, St. John's University) on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Institute, Feb. 18, 1993, and printed in the book Americanism and the Collapse of the Church in the United States, p. 42 19) When I say Protestant practice, I really mean Pentecostal-Protestant practice, since I know many sober Protestants would never go anywhere near Pentecostalism.