Catholics encouraged to embrace Charismatic Renewal

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa

Bishop Bayemi Sosthene distributes holy communion during the official opening mass to celebrate the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Golden Jubilee in Harare.

The Catholic Charismatic Movement is an important group within the Catholic Church. The group is adorned with many gifts of the Holy Spirit which the Church can benefit from, according to Bishop Bayemi Sosthene from Cameroon, whose presence at the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Zimbabwe’s Golden Jubilee helped to clarify the misconceptions about the Charismatic Movement. The Movement’s golden jubilee, that was held from 27-30 April 2023 in Harare and graced by Archbishop Robert Ndlovu and ZCBC President, Bishop Paul Horan, priests and sisters, drew people from all dioceses around the country some of whom attended the Charismatic meeting for the first time.

Bishop Bayemi Sosthene from Cameroon graced the Golden Jubilee celebration of the catholic Charismatic in Zimbabwe.

However, the group has met with a lot of criticism, lack of understanding and antagonism from some of the Church circles in Zimbabwe. This lack of understanding has led to the stigmatization of the group resulting in many people clandestinely joining the group after realising its benefits.

Speaking to Catholic Church News, Bishop Sosthene explained that the movement is called charismatic because it has charismatic manifestations associated with healing and other extraordinary gifts.  

“People in the group use all God given gifts to perform many miracles. The outstanding thing in the Charismatic movement is baptism by the Holy Spirit which is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on men and women within the movement,” said Bishop Sosthene.

Bishop Sosthene said Catholic Charismatic members go through a lot of preparedness before they can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

He said: “There is a lot of preparedness, formation and sacrifice before baptism of the Holy Spirit.”

Bishop Sosthene highlighted that the Charismatic Renewal started in the United States of America after the second Vatican Council which he said had a famous opening prayer that called for a new Pentecost. He said Pope John XXIII prayed asking the Holy spirit to bring a new Pentecost to renew the Church. Bishop Sosthene explained that the Charismatic Renewal was not the only renewal out of the Vatican Council but there are other renewals that include the liturgical renewal that brings a new understanding to the liturgy and the biblical renewal that brought about the necessity for ordinary Christians to read the bible because before the Vatican Council it was forbidden in other countries for Christians to read the bible.

Bishop Sosthene encouraged all Catholics to embrace the Charismatic renewal as a way of rejuvenating their prayer life. He clarified that Charismatic renewal is not divorced from the Church but that it is a special way of prayer that brings people closer to God through the outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Sosthene and Archbishop Ndlovu during the official opening mass.

The bishop challenged Charismatic members to guard against tendencies of power, competition, the spirit of outdoing one another and the mentality of disregarding sacraments which are more important and central in Catholic faith.

“The complication comes when some Catholic charismatic members think that they do not need sacraments, they don’t need a priest and that they are more powerful than the priest because they have a gift of healing or of performing other miracles. It is not about being powerful or not. The only powerful one is the Lord Jesus. We should not be comparing who is more powerful than the other. We are one body,” warned Bishop Sosthene.

A member of the Catholic Charismatic Movement prays during the golden jubilee celebration.

Bishop Sosthene also strongly warned against boasting by those who belong to the Charismatic movement pointing out that their gifts should be at the service of the Church. He emphasised the importance of respecting sacraments over sacramentals like the laying of hands and the use of holy water and salt.

“There is a difference between sacraments and sacramentals. Many people would go for sacramentals while ignoring the actual sacraments. The sacramentals draw their power from the sacraments and the most important prayer that every Charismatic should never forget is the celebration of the holy Eucharist,” he stressed.

Archbishop Robert Ndlovu buttressed Bishop Sosthene’s words saying every Christian has the Holy Spirit in him or her which should be used to contribute to the development of the Church.

“With our different gifts we build the same body of Christ. For you, who have a devotion to the Holy Spirit, you should use your gifts to proclaim the Kingdom of God to others by what you are, by what you do and by what you say. So, let the Holy Spirit make you true Christians and true disciples of Jesus.

Archbishop Robert Ndlovu addresses members of the Catholic Charismatic Movement.

Archbishop Ndlovu challenged the members of the Charismatic movement to love one another and to love the Church saying rivalry and competition cannot be the work of the Holy Spirit. He warned against promotion of personal ambitions in the group in the name of the Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit will always work for the unity of the Body of Christ as well as the harmony of the members of the Catholic Charismatic movement itself and not some for Peter, some for Paul and some for Apollos which sometimes happens among Catholics and all in the name of the Spirit,” Archbishop Ndlovu said.

He challenged the members of the Charismatic Movement to shun all forms of competition and comparison but to focus on personal spiritual growth.

Archbishop Ndlovu emphasised that the Charismatic Movement is Catholic in nature and whoever argues that the group is anti-Catholic lacks proper education and knowledge about the Catholic Church.

Bishop Paul Horan expressed that the Charismatic Renewal plays a big role in deepening the understanding and appropriation of the scriptures in the Church. He urged members of the Charismatic Movement to continue promoting reading of the bible among Catholics. Bishop Horan said the Charismatic Movement is there to facilitate sharing of the gospel and the Catholic faith.

Bishop Paul Horan giving a talk on Charismatic renewal and the hierarchy of the Church.

He said the Diocese of Mutare, has this year, started “Testimony Sunday” where people can give testimonies on how Jesus has impacted them through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Testimonies are an important part of our faith life and give us an opportunity to share our experiences in the Christian journey,” said Bishop Horan.

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