Who Are the Catholic Charismatics that Possible Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett Identifies With?

Pope Francis attends a meeting with the faithful at Rome's Olympic Stadium on June 1, 2014. Pope Francis led a pep rally at Rome's soccer stadium, packed with more than 50,000 Catholics who follow charismatic movements. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
Pope Francis attends a meeting with the faithful at Rome’s Olympic Stadium on June 1, 2014. Pope Francis led a pep rally at Rome’s soccer stadium, packed with more than 50,000 Catholics who follow charismatic movements. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

Amy Coney Barrett’s faith has been under the white-hot glare of the media lights ever since President Trump suggested she is on his short list to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring from the Supreme Court.

But it’s not because Barrett, 46, is Roman Catholic. So too is Kennedy, who she might replace, as well as justices Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas.

No, Barrett, a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is receiving scrutiny because she is part of the charismatic renewal movement within the Catholic Church and participates in a “covenant community” called People of Praise.

So what are these two groups all about? Let us ‘Splain.

First things first: What’s the Catholic charismatic renewal movement?

Some people are surprised to hear that Catholics, with their stately, formal worship, also include adherents who have taken up the more ecstatic worship practices typically associated with Pentecostals.

These are charismatic Catholics who see themselves as part of the historic Azusa Street Revival of 1906, when they believe the Holy Spirit showered thousands of Christians with supernatural gifts that had been held by Jesus’ apostles, such as the ability to heal, prophesy and speak in tongues.

The movement spread to the Catholic Church in 1967, when professors at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh held a retreat at which several people were baptized in the Spirit — that is, they believe they received those same gifts of the Holy Spirit.

After that retreat, prayer groups began forming across the country, and the charismatic renewal movement within the Catholic Church took off. Fifty years later, charismatic Catholics can be found across the globe. They often worship in traditional churches but have developed a network of charismatic prayer groups, retreats and conferences. The movement first gained a papal blessing in the 1980s. Last year, Pope Francis marked the 50th anniversary of Catholic charismatic renewal in Rome.

Though it is not embraced by everyone, the pope said, “it is true that it fully belongs in the biblical tradition.”

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SOURCE: Yonat Shimron 
Religion News Service