The effects of Pentecostalism today on the Catholic Faithful
Pentecostal In the previous issue (March 2017) I described some of the effects of Pentecostalism on the Catholic faithful and this time round we are summarising the effects and the recommended ways and means of stopping the exodus of Catholics to Pentecostal churches. Many, if not most, hold that the Catholic Church is only one among many Christian Churches and Ecumenism is mixing of all the Christian Churches to eventually produce the ideal “Charismatic Church”. It is very difficult to convert any Charismatic member especially the leaders. These leaders have become very influential in the Church because everybody looks on them as having ‘Supernatural Powers’ and a ‘direct Telephone line’ to God and can put through the people’s prayers and problems to God independently of the Church.
Conversion of Catholics to Protestantism
One of the most tragic effects of Pentecostalism on the Catholic faithful is its silent conversion of Catholics to become Protestants. Writing in the Leader (a Catholic paper) of Sunday, May 4th, 1997, Declan Biadue of St. Thomas Parish, Eziedu, Mbaise (Eastern Nigeria) complained as follows:
“I wish to use this medium to bring it to the attention of our spiritual leaders that Protestants have infiltrated into the Catholic Church. Visit some of these charismatic communities and you will easily spot the infiltrators. They will never make the sign of the cross; they are anti-clerical; they will prefer their prayer meeting to the Holy Mass; they will never bring their rosaries to prayer meeting. They don’t have any. The way they pray is absolutely un-Catholic. There is a world of difference between the way a Catholic prays and the way a Protestant prays.
At many CCR prayer meetings you see many so-called Catholics praying like Protestants. They command God; they shout and babble. Honouring the Blessed Virgin Mary is a remarkable characteristic of Catholics. Catholics compose hymns and prayers in her honour. But in many CCR prayer meetings, you hardly see members giving reverence to Mary. The unfortunate thing is that these infiltrators usually wangle their way into leadership positions. And when they get there, they use their position to turn a charismatic community that should be Catholic into a Protestant community.
I am therefore appealing to the leaders of the holy Catholic Church to please look into this. Let them be careful in assigning chaplains to Charismatic communities. A Charismatic chaplain should be someone who has the courage to go against the current. My appeal also goes to parish priests since every Charismatic community has roots in some parish. Every parish priest should be an active member of a Charismatic group in his parish so that he can know what is happening and be able to direct members spiritually.
It seems obvious from the foregoing that Pentecostalism poses real danger to the Catholic faithful in our country who are exposed to the various devices aimed at winning them over to Pentecostalism. These measures are recommended to stop the drift:
1. There should be greater involvement of priests in the lives of the faithful. Efforts should be made to reach out to Church members and help fill the void in the various areas of their lives. To this end, counselling centres should be set up in each parish and sound counselling programmes installed to enable priests attend to the spiritual and other needs of parishioners.
The Church should show more concern for the needs of its members. To this end, time should be created for counselling and prayers. As part of the concern, there should be visitation teams and the basic Christian Communities should be made more active.
2. The Church should make it mandatory for all parishes to have bible classes for children and adults outside the Scripture reading periods at Mass. These should be used as avenues of explaining the Mass, Catholic faith and doctrine. Emphasis should be placed on those controversial aspects of the doctrine.
3. Effective guidance should be given to Catholic Charismatic Renewal groups. Only those Charismatic groups which are willing to abide by the directives and guidelines laid down by the Conferences of Catholic Bishops for the movement and are seen to be actually obeying the guidelines should be allowed to exist.
4. Bishops should not hesitate to discipline any erring charismatic priest who fails to observe the laid down guidelines however great his financial contribution to the Chancery may be. The salvation of souls should be the utmost consideration.
5. The faithful should be given adequate education on the teachings of the Church. Short-term programmes (ranging from 3 months to a year) designed to give theological education to the Laity should be set up.
6. Outreach programmes – Rosary Crusades/Carnivals, Seminars, Workshops, and so on aimed at the spiritual enrichment of Catholics should be organised at parish, Deanery and diocesan levels.
7. There should be greater integration of youths in the life of the Church, especially at the parish level.
8. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary should be intensified. More positive encouragement should be given to the daily recitation of the Rosary, while spiritual and material support should be given to Marian Societies, especially the Legion of Mary. Rosary walks; Rosary Crusades and Carnivals should be regular features in the programme of Parishes & Deaneries.
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