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Jennifer Luzon wrote:

Hi, guys —

Peace and all the best to you!

My name is Jennifer and I currently reside in Cyprus. I joined a Catholic Charismatic Renewal congregation which also serves a church choir of the local parish in Larnaca, Cyprus. During my two years being a member, I observed things that made me wonder if this was really a Catholic group.

They said this is an open group because not all the members are Catholic. When we pray we don't start with the "Sign of the Cross"; we are attending fellowships like "ICF" Inter-Christian Fellowship.

Our leader is an ordained "pastor", but she said she had surrendered her certificate being a pastor to our spiritual adviser which is a priest. Some members of the choir are not Catholics but I saw them receiving Holy Communion during the Holy Mass. It is disturbing for me as a true Catholic who firmly believed that during Holy Communion we are receiving the true "Body of Christ".

We have raised our questions already but still our "pastor" firmly says the she is a Catholic ... and our spiritual adviser supports her.

  • If an ordained pastor says she surrendered her certificate to a priest, can she say that,
    her being a pastor, is not valid anymore?
  • Is she back to being a Catholic?

Thank you so much in advance.

Hoping for your prompt reply.

God bless us!

Jennifer

  { Is this normal for a Catholic Charismatic Renewal congregation? }

John replied:

Hi Jennifer and thank you for your question.

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is most definitely part of the Catholic Church. I'm a Charismatic Catholic myself, however, some of the things you describe are not quite kosher.

With regards to receiving communion: The guidelines are quite clear. The only non-Catholics that can receive Holy Communion are Orthodox Christians and members of other Ancient Eastern Churches such as the Armenian Apostolic or Coptic Churches. (There are also a handful of other Churches such as the Old Catholic and the Polish National Church but I doubt there are any of those in Cyprus.) These Churches have a valid Eucharist in their churches as well and they are simply in schism. They really should have permission from their bishops to receive in our Church but their bishops usually won't go along with it. Nevertheless if these folks are Orthodox or members of the Churches I've mentioned, it is nothing to lose sleep over.

If they are Protestants, they really shouldn't be receiving Communion. That said, this should be handled with pastoral sensitivity.

I would discuss it with the priest who is the spiritual adviser and leave it in his hands. We can always hope that these well-intentioned Christians will be influenced to come into the Church.

It is a bit odd that your leader is a non-Catholic. I don't know that it violates any specific canons but I don't think it is wise and she can't surrender her ordination to the priest. That's nonsense. She'd have to surrender her ordination to her denomination.

Beginning prayers with the Sign of the Cross is not required unless we are in a liturgical setting or unless the particular prayer, i.e. the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, call for it. If this is just extemporaneous prayer, then it's not required. But — the group is supposed to be a Catholic Charismatic group and it sounds like it doesn't have much of a Catholic Identity. That worries me. I'm not sure that any teaching this woman does will be consistent with Catholic Teaching.

I would always double check her teaching against the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
For instance if she is saying all you need to do is accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and you are guaranteed of Heaven, well that's not Catholic. Sure, we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, but faith alone without works is dead and we believe that justification is dynamic, not static. It's not a one time event. We must allow Jesus to work His will in us. We believe that grace empowers us to overcome sin. It doesn't just cover up the sins we commit. And of course as Catholics, we embrace the prayers of the saints in Heaven and we pray for the souls in Purgatory. These are not things Protestants believe in.

That said, I'm a bit concerned about what is being taught. There is nothing wrong with having fellowship with other Christians but we need to remain Catholic in the process.

I was a [Pentecostal - Baptist] minister. A Charismatic Catholic friend invited me to play in the ministry team. Their witness brought me back to the Church so it's not always wrong to have
non-Catholics involved in some of these things but I always respected the rules. Even though:

  • I had come to believe in Eucharist
  • I was starting to ask the Saints to pray for me, and
  • I'd pray for souls in Purgatory

I still didn't receive the Eucharist until I was re-admitted into the Church.

To do that I had to give up my licenses as a minister and profess faith in Jesus Christ and His Church, not to mention go back to Confession, but I was born and confirmed a Catholic. These folks would have to go through a different process.

The bottom line is that this all must be handled with pastoral concern. At your end, be careful not to pick up any Protestant heresies.

I hope this helps.

Please feel free to write if you have more questions and "Reply All" so Mike and the whole team get your replies.

Under His Mercy,

John

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Jennifer —

There is one other problem. You mention that this is a "congregation".

From what you say, it appears to exist and function independently of the diocese or of any parish in the diocese.

You might want to check with your chancery for information on the status of this group.

Mary Ann

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