Author’s note: In this article I will be quite critical of the Charismatic Renewal, but I ask for patience from anyone who reads this article who is involved in the Renewal. I spent a considerable amount of time running in Renewal circles, and I know there are many wonderful and faithful people who love the Lord as much as anyone. This is not a criticism of persons but rather a criticism of a movement as it relates to the problems we are seeing in the Church.
As we move on from the ending of the Synod we find ourselves in a proverbial Limbo. As shocking as some of the optics have been, there have been no real “nuclear bombs” released from the #SchismaticWay. Of course, this is year one of the Synod Derby, and only Heaven knows what will materialize after next year’s session — it is worth remembering that Amoris Laetitia was the result of the two-year Synod on the Family.
In any event, as easy — and fun — as it is to throw rocks at the Liberals, pro-aborts and homo-heretics who galavant around in their N-95s and Hilary Clinton suits, we would do well to consider a root cause of the confusion on display that, I believe, many conservative and traditionally-minded Catholics are perhaps a bit squeamish to consider. Well, many have likely considered what I will propose in this piece, but doing so out loud and in mixed company is another matter.
I speak of the Charismatic Renewal, and it is my contention that this Synod of Stupidity is — if not a symptom of — not inconsistent with the Renewal, and may even be a logical conclusion the Pentecostalist spirit that wafts through the Catholic speaker circuit.
On Wednesday, Michael Haynes of LifeSiteNews posted two posts of Feminist Church-women advocating for some nonsensical gobbledygook on the social platform formerly known as Twitter.
The first was a statement made by a woman called Catherine Clifford who intimated that the idea of married priests was not off the table during discussions, because, of course, they do that in the East. Ah yes, the Trojan horse of Eastern Catholicism; slap a bit of Greek on it and call it “living tradition” and we’ve got ourselves all the necessary ingredients for a Modernist dance party.
Voting member of #synod2023 Catherine Clifford, at #Vatican presser, says re married priests, it’s “an open question for consideration.”
“It’s a conversation that’s worth pursuing & hearing the lived tradition [of East],” & added it wasn’t “absent” from #Synod discussions. pic.twitter.com/CkI2WUzKoT
— Michael Haynes 🇻🇦 (@MLJHaynes) October 26, 2023
The second tweet was from another female Synod voter called Nora Nonterah who said the “synodal church must be willing to sit at the foot of women, especially lay women.” And added that “we need to give a preferential role for the laity in the Church” as “the normal praxis of the synodal church.” Breath-taking, utterly stunning and brave.
Nora Nonterah, voting member of #synod2023, says at #Vatican presser that “synodal church must be willing to sit at the foot of women, especially lay women.”
Adds that “we need to give a preferential role for the laity in the Church” as “the normal praxis of the synodal church.” pic.twitter.com/vZ31VlUZtc
— Michael Haynes 🇻🇦 (@MLJHaynes) October 25, 2023
Of course, you might be thinking, how on earth did we get to the point where lay women are not only making such absurd statements in a Church setting, but are making them in a position of leadership at the Vatican with the Pope’s approval.
Back to the Charismatic Renewal.
Let us break down Ms. Nonterah’s comments, as I believe they are the most revealing.
In essence, she is suggesting that women should act in a position of authority — at least teaching authority — and that the “synodal church” (whatever that is) should learn as a whole from these pendragon of feminine wisdom. And that the laity should be in some sort of preferential role for this new sort of Church. If I may be so bold… this is veritably identical to how the Charismatic Renewal operates.
Let me explain. If you envision what this sort of female/laity-led church would look like, you will no doubt imagine a scenario wherein women are active in teaching roles — teaching both men and women — and where they are also in roles of spiritual authority. After all, we are speaking of religion so we must assume that this female presence and leadership would have a spiritual role. Furthermore, think for a moment about the context and paradigm of the Synod. We are told that the “Spirit” is leading the Church into new directions where the people of God must be open to fundamental change, blah blah blah. So, if the willing participants at the Synod believe what they are selling, then they believe that the Synodal Church would be one where women command spiritual authority, are conduits of the surprises of the Holy Ghost, and that the Church — even the prelates — will sit at their feet and be led by them!
If this shocks you, then you likely never spent any time in the Renewal.
As I said, it is not my intention to throw rocks at this or that Charismatic, as many of them are good people and God-fearing as well. But anyone who has spent time in the Renewal will tell you that the events are frequently — if not almost exclusively — led by women, and these women are held in high esteem as spiritual masters who are sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and should be listened to like the Oracles of Delphi.
As surreal as it is to remember those halcyon days hanging around people falling over and mumbling away in incomprehensible gibberish — they call it “tongues” — I must admit that I did spend about two years in the Renewal. I have been prayed over, prayed over others (it is a bit painful to admit all this), and been part of planning sessions for big-deal praise and worship events. And guess what… virtually all of these events were led by women, and in most cases, it was women leading the prayer teams.
Sometimes, women who were alleged to have special “gifts,” would hold intimate prayer sessions with individuals and even pretend to drive out demons. I recall seeing one woman speaking what sounded like Aramaic acting as if she was literally pulling demons out of a man’s back, seemingly struggling to yank fallen angels out of the man’s spine. I should add that this is not uncommon, and this woman is well-known throughout the Renewal internationally and travels around doing these things and teaching others all over the world. Again, if you have spent time in the renewal, you have seen this and more.
I am what is called a “revert” in that I was raised nominally Catholic but found the Faith sort of like a convert does. So, I had no formation and was not catechized, so I had no idea of the spiritual dangers of the Renewal and I distanced myself from it so I could do something less controversial like voluntarily do apologetics for the SSPX.
What is happening at the Synod is no different than what happens in the Renewal, although it may be the case that the women leaders in the Renewal are even bolder in their actions than the pant-suit Feminists engaging in dialogue with James Martin. In the Renewal, women pray over priests and in many cases the priests even listen to the women for spiritual advice. None of this is to deny that there have been many holy women — especially nuns — in history that have had great wisdom and have been instruments of consolation and maternal care even for priests, but that is not what happens in the Renewal.
In essence, in the Renewal men and women can both be spiritual authorities, and being a woman is no barrier to leadership over everyone from children to priests. If you would like to drive out devils but can’t be an exorcist on account of having XX chromosomes, no problem! Just hang around the Renewal long enough and you might get your chance. If you are a woman and you ever wanted to tell a group of people what God wants them all to do, this is not an issue either. Just throw on some Hillsong or Bethel praise and worship music and as everyone is slain in the spirit you can give the audience a prophetic word while they yammer away in ancient languages that no one understands.
I may sound like I am being a bit harsh, but I am simply telling the truth in plain language. And, if we are being honest, if there is anyone out there who is deeply involved in the Renewal but is revolted — rightfully so — at the proposed madness coming from the Synod, then you must ask yourself what grounds you have to be mad. Is the Synod and its push for a laicization of the Church, guided by surprising movements of the “Spirit” and its push for a great female-driven leadership not exactly the same as the structure and basic philosophy of the Renewal?
Perhaps you might object and say this is totally different… but how is it? Sure, Renewal adherents may be generally conservative in their theological leanings, but they have surely adopted novel positions that sprang out of Pentecostalism and have no basis in Catholic Tradition — why can’t their be more “surprises of the Holy Ghost?”
Who is to say that Pope Francis is not just as gifted as the Karen who drives out demons and taps people on the back so they fall over and wiggle about the floor acting as if electrocuted by the Holy Ghost? (I have seen that too) I could go on, but the point has been made.
Quite frankly, if anyone in the Renewal has an issue with the Synod then I find this a bit hypocritical. At the end of the day, the Synod is like a Papally approved international version of a Renewal prayer gathering where the adherents — both lay and cleric — listen to the “Spirit” to see what surprises God has in store, and who cares if it has anything to do with the preceding twenty centuries of Catholicism.
Kennedy Hall is a contributing editor for OnePeterFive. He is the author Terror of Demons: Reclaiming Traditional Catholic Masculinity and Lockdown with the Devil, a novel published by Our Lady of Victory Press. He is a writer at Catholic Family News, LifeSiteNews and is the host of the Conservative talk-radio show, The Kennedy Report. He is married with four children and lives in Ontario, Canada.