Part 1: Origins and History
Part 2: Recent History and Alleged Abuses
Part 3: Documents and Testimony
Part 4: Ecclesial Interventions
Part 5: Cessationism vs. Continuationism

Part 1: Origins and History

    Part 2: Recent History and Alleged Abuses

  • John Flaherty (licensed Professional Mental Health Practitioner), “Index” of 86 public documents on charismatic communities in the United States.(Flaherty@Scribd.com) – an exhaustive documentation of the American charismatic movement, sources of the renewal before Duquesne, covenant communities (Word of God, People of Praise, Catholic Fraternity, Community of God’s Love, Covenant Servants, Work of Christ, Sword of the Spirit, Servants of Christ the King, Men for Christ), Fr. John Bertolucci, Fr. Michael Scanlan, confidential policies, dysfunction, policies involving sex roles, corporeal punishment, and spiritual control. *** Key Source ***
  • David Crumm (journalist), “The Rise and Fall of the Word of God Covenant Community” (Detroit Free Press, September 20, 1992) – History and exposé of abuses in the Word of God community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • In-depth analysis of the Mother of God Community (Washington Post) – Numerous linked articles on the history, problems, and ecclesial interventions associated with the Mother of God Community near Washington, D.C.
  • Catholic Pentecostals Charged With Unauthorized Exorcisms” (The New York Times, August 10, 1975) – Exposé of abuses at the Charismatic “True House Community” at Notre Dame.
  • Adrian J. Reimers (adjunct professor of philosophy, University of Notre Dame), “Charismatic Covenant Community: A Failed Promise” (International Cultic Studies Association, Cultic Studies Journal, 1983, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 28-42) – Case studies in the history and abuses of the Charismatic movement.
  • Adrian J. Reimers (adjunct professor of philosophy, University of Notre Dame), “More Than the Devil’s Due” (International Cultic Studies Association, Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 77-87)
  • Adrian J. Reimers (adjunct professor of philosophy, University of Notre Dame), “Not Reliable Guides” [PDF download] (© Adrian J. Reimers, 1997) – This is a major paper of some 134 pages on the history and abusive practices of the Charismatic Movement. (Please note: the Table of Contents is at the end of the PDF file.)
  • Adrian J. Reimers (adjunct professor of philosophy, University of Notre Dame) offers a critique of Steven Clark’s book, Building Christian Communities: Strategy for Renewing the Church (1975) on pp. 22-35 of his essay, “Not Reliable Guides.” Clark’s strategy, he says, is for rescuing the entire church from moribund parish and diocesan structures and replacing these with charismatic communities. Reimers focuses on four problem areas:
    1. De-emphasis of sacraments
    2. The illigimate distinction between pastor and priest
    3. The downplaing of intellectual formation
    4. The danger of demagoguery

Part 3: Documents and Testimony

    Testimonies of victims of abuse at Notre Dame in the early 1970s written by faculty and students involved in the charismatic movement (True House Community) in South Bend, Indiana:

    • Testimony of #1A, Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame (1975).
    • Testimony of #2B, student at the University of Notre Dame involved in the charismatic ‘True House Community’ (March 20, 1975).
    • Testimony of 1B, student majoring in theology and philosophy at the University of Notre Dame (March 25, 1975).
    • Testimony of #3C, summa cum laude graduate at Notre Dame majoring in history and theology (March, 1975).
    • Testimony of #5E, senior student majoring in philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.
    • Testimony of #4D, Graduate School of Philosophy, Catholic University of America, about his experience in the charismatic community at Notre Dame (March 6, 1975).
    • Notre Dame Professor William G. Storey’s letter to Ft. Wayne Bishop Pursley concerning abuses in the charismatic True House Community of South Bend, Indiana (April 2, 1975).
    • Statement by Kevin M. Ranaghan on behalf of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service Committee (May 30, 1975).
    • Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service Committee member William J. Beatty’s letter responding to Prof. Storey’s accusations, addressed to members of The Alleluia Community of Augusta, Georgia, (cc. Kevin Ranaghan, South Bend, and Rev. Raymond Lessard, Savannah, GA) (June 4, 1975).
    • Investigation Sought: Former Charismatic Alleges ‘Exorcisms’” (The Beacon, South Bend, IN, August 14, 1975) – account of Prof. Storey’s complaint to Bishop Pursley, also citing response by Cardinal Suenens, supporter of charismatic movement.
    • A Statement Concerning a Recent Controversy” (The Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service Committee, September, 1975).
    • Critical analysis of the charismatic movement by university professor based on his experiences with charismatic communities in the early 1970s in Washington, D.C., and Notre Dame (1976).

Part 4: Ecclesial Interventions

  • The Bishop Ottenweller Report: Report on the Pastoral Visitation of the Covenant Community, The Servants of Christ the King, requested by The Most Reverend Albert H. Ottenweller, D.D., Bishop of Steubenville. [Also available on John Flaherty’s website under the title: “The Ottenweller Report 1991“]
    • Psychologist John Flaherty says that “before you join the Sword of the Spirit, you should ask them if you can see a copy of their Policy Notebook” (Scribd), which he describes as “the most signifiant [once-secret] document to emerge from the [1991] Pastoral Visitation of Bishop Albert Ottenweller into the Sword of the Spirit Community, Servants of Christ the King of Steubenville, Ohio.”
  • James Cardinal Hickey Intervention in the Mother of God Community (1995, Washington Post.com) – [Excerpt: “There are serious theological and pastoral dangers from delving into literature and practices drawn from fundamentalist groups often deeply hostile to the Catholic Church. I have deep concerns about the Toronto Blessing, from the Vineyard Church, “resting in the Spirit” — as practiced in the Mother of God Community. I know some of you feel that this practice has been beneficial; nonetheless it has proven to be divisive for this community and is theologically questionable. I now ask you to cease its use as of this day and until such time as I can discuss this matter further with theologians and spiritual directors as well as with Father Peter Hocken. But to be perfectly candid, I do have grave reservations about this practice.”

Part 5: Cessationism vs. Continuationism

It is important to note that the debate over whether tongues and prophecies and other ‘charismatic’ gifts have ceased or continue is secondary to the question what such gifts are–whether, for example, these gifts as exhibited in the Charismatic movement today are the same thing as the supernatural gifts of biblical times. It is in light of these considerations that this debate must be considered. There are notable disagreements, furthermore, even within each ‘side’ of the cessationist vs. continuationist controversy. For example, some cessationists, like John MacArthur, acknowledge that God continues to perform miraculous healings in response to prayer, while denying that God continues to regularly bestow the supernatural gift of being able to heal others as in the times of Moses, Elijah, or Christ. More important than taking sides immediately in the debate is understanding what is being specifically argued by each side in each case.

* Reader discretion advised: The linked articles above have been selected because of positive insights they contain. Some of them, however, contain various material that certain viewers may find offensive. Some are by traditional Catholics whose perspective on certain issues may offend other Catholics. Others are by Protestants whose erroneous characterizations of Catholic practices may offend many Catholics, and whose ‘Cessationist’ belief that miraculous gifts ceased after the apostolic age will be found objectionable by most Catholics. The inclusion of perspectives of these authors on the charismatic movement should not be construed as support for all their views on other matters. Still other books are by non-academic authors whose focus on personal experiences and speculations may be off-putting to certain readers, just as others are by academic writers whose detached, clinical approaches may be off-putting to other readers. Yet all contain insights worthy of thoughtful consideration. Please consider with due discretion.

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