Charismatic Catholicism is alive and well

Release Date: 
September 26, 2014

Charismatic renewal began among American Protestants in the late 1950s, when a handful of Lutherans in Minnesota and Episcopalians in California felt pushed by the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues (according to the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit bestowed the gift of foreign languages upon the Apostles at Pentecost — but most modern-day disciples pray and shout in meaningless speech-like sounds). The revival spread to Catholicism in 1967, when students and faculty at Duquesne University, a Catholic school in Pittsburgh, announced that they, too, had been “baptized in the Spirit.”

The charismatic renewal movement became the most formidable religious revival of the 20th century: a global phenomenon that had left almost no Christian community untouched by the time it began to taper off in the mid-1970s. Protestants and Catholics who had always preferred calm and “respectable” worship, who viewed Pentecostals as their embarrassing cousins, suddenly embraced Pentecostal practices like praying in tongues, divine healing, and surrendering physical control of their bodies to the Holy Spirit.