A second International Colloquium of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in Rome from 3 to 6 April 2008 on the theme of “Charisms”.
It was with great joy that 140 invited leaders from 46 countries representing every continent gathered in Rome from 3rd – 6th April for the 2nd International Colloquium on the charisms and the CCR. The event was co-sponsored by ICCRS and the ‘Catholic Fraternity’ (which is made up of Covenant Communities and fellowships within the Renewal) and it was organised in collaboration with the Pontifical Council of the Laity. This Colloquium followed the important gathering in 2001 that explored ‘healing’ within CCR. and the Catholic Church. The overall aim of the Colloquium was to reflect on the doctrine and the use of the charisms in the Church from the perspective of the experience of the CCR. The objective was to give some in-depth presentations of the Church’s teaching on the charisms and to look at how they have been exercised throughout the history of the Church and in particular in the CCR. Each morning consisted of two theological reflections on different aspects of the charisms followed by time for dialogue and questions. The afternoons were ‘roundtable’ talks focussing on the practical and experiential aspects of the charisms. At the opening Mass Cardinal Rylko the President of the Pontifical Council of the Laity congratulated the organisers for taking the initiative to hold the Colloquium. He said that ‘we need to be attuned and attentive to the charismatic gifts in our age, they are signs of hope for this 3rd millennium’. He exhorted the delegates to not only dialogue and study, but also to listen attentively to what the Spirit is saying to the Church. He emphasised the need for courage and boldness in the power of the Spirit. We were encouraged to be open to the charisms so that we can be more effective witnesses in this age when we are confronted by apostasy and relativism. He said ‘every believer not only has the right, but also the duty to exercise the gifts – be they ordinary or extraordinary – within the Church pastors are to judge and examine, but they must not extinguish the gifts’. The focus on the first morning was on the biblical and patristic/historical approach to the charisms. Fr. Francis Martin (USA) gave a biblical overview of the charisms in the OT showing how they foreshadowed the future realities to come. His NT reflections focussed on charisms in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. He also referred to Paul’s’ letters where we are exhorted to desire the spiritual gifts and reminded us that everything must be done in love as the gifts are for the building up of the body. He concluded, by reminding us that we are powerless to transform society or penetrate the Culture without the gifts of the Holy Spirit. From a historical perspective, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa spoke about the 7 gifts in Isaiah 11 as means of sanctification for the individual. Whereas, the ‘Charismatic gifts,’ are given in different proportion and not equally to all. As the centuries passed and the Church became more institutionalised the 7 gifts were emphasised more fully and the extraordinary charisms were partially lost to the majority. However, he emphasised that the charisms were never totally lost and signs and wonders were manifest throughout the centuries in holy men and women. The moderator for the second day was Professor Guzman Carriquiry, the under secretary of the Pontifical Council of the Laity. The theological reflection, given by Archbishop Alberto Taveira (Brazil) helped to reflect upon the specific gift of the CCR to the Church, i.e. what is our distinctiveness? He said that we have a mission to be apostles of the Baptism in the Spirit. He reminded us of the constant call to return to the upper room to invoke anew the fire of Pentecost. He also spoke about the Marian dimension of the charisms, reminding us of the Virgin Mary’s role in saying ‘yes’ to the Spirits action. Professor Mary Healy from the U.S.A. who is a member of the ICCRS Doctrinal Commission, spoke about Discernment and Accompaniment of the charisms. She began by putting things into a historical context, noting that Vatican II had laid the theological foundations for the resurgence of the charisms then followed the ‘surprise’ of the Spirit with the birth of CCR. It was as if the CCR was a realisation of Vatican II theology. The Church has always recognized charisms (See Catechism section 799) but in practice ascribed a very limited role to them. Therefore, Lumen Gentium 12 (Vatican II) was a breakthrough in the Church’s understanding. No longer were charisms seen to be so extraordinary or rare. Mary developed her topic and gave a number of very practical points about discernment and accompaniment of the charisms. The initial roundtable discussions focussed on Baptism in the Spirit and there were short interventions from Fr. Bob Faricy S.J. who shared his testimony of the baptism in the Spirit emphasising in a humorous way that it is not always a ‘spectacular spiritual experience’ but sometimes is a gradual release of the Spirit. Fr. Alberto Ibanez S.J. (Argentina) has written several books on the gift of tongues. He emphasised the need for childlike faith to express our love the God in the gift of tongues, which is the love language of our Creator. Fr. Carlo Colonna (Italy) gave practical advice on discerning the authentic use of the word gifts of prophecy, word of wisdom and word of knowledge. The second ‘roundtable’ had the theme of healing. Professor Francis MacNutt (U.S.A.) shared personal testimony and encouraged us to step our in ‘expectant faith’ to use the charisms of healing and deliverance in the life of our families and communities. Fr. Gabriele Amorth (Italy) is an official exorcist in the Church. He shared how he tries to work in collaboration with prayer groups and communities who can offer long- term prayer ministry to those afflicted by the demonic. Finally, from an African perspective Professor Jean Pliya (Benin) gave some practical advice from his great experience of praying with people for healing and deliverance and caring for souls. The Colloquium evoked much discussion among the participants several of whom were ‘founding fathers and mothers’ in the renewal. The fellowship together was an opportunity to share our various cultural experiences of the charisms, as well as providing a place for lively debate, reflection and questions. The Eucharistic celebrations were enhanced by the presence of several Archbishops and Bishops from both the Roman and Eastern rites. The main celebrant at the final Eucharist was Bishop Josef Clemens the secretary general to the Pontifical Council of the Laity. He encouraged us to be like the disciples at Emmaus whose hearts were stirred when they recognised the risen Lord so that they could step out with joy and confidence and bring the light of the good news that Christ is risen to all people. It seemed appropriate to hold this Colloquium just after our 40th anniversary. As the Church has rediscovered the charismatic dimension it is highly appropriate that at this stage in our history we consolidate and reflect on what has taken place. We can then be open to the future unfolding of the Lord’s vision for CCR. It is the intention of ICCRS, in due course, to publish the acts of the Colloquium where all the texts will be made available. We also hope to cover some of the questions that were raised during the colloquium in the next few newsletters. Michelle Moran