As Catholic charismatics celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of their beginnings, they continue to search for a sense of direction.
Ray Bullard was dumbfounded. As president of the South Bend chapter of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, he had just received a call from a group of Roman Catholic students and professors from the University of Notre Dame. They were curious about a “baptism in the Holy Spirit” that their colleagues at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh had just experienced. Could Bullard please fill them in?
Bullard agreed, then called in 40 Pentecostal friends to reinforce his case. On March 13, 1967, the two groups staged the first Catholic-Pentecostal dialogue in Bullard’s home. To say the least, the meeting created a cultural clash: university-trained Catholic intellectuals versus blue-collar Pentecostal fundamentalists. “If this charismatic renewal were merely a human fiction, or even a form of religiosity created out of the wills of men, I really believe it would have crumbled to dust that evening,” remarked Kevin Ranaghan, one of the nine Catholics present.
But it did not. The two groups spent much of the time tangling over whether the Catholics needed to speak in tongues, since the Catholics had already prayed among themselves the previous week to be filled with the Spirit. Finally, the Catholics assented to letting the Pentecostals pray over them. The two groups lined up on opposite sides of Bullard’s basement. The Pentecostal ministers walked forward, arms outstretched, praying in tongues. Before they were halfway across the room, the Catholics were praying in tongues.
A Curious Partnership
Thus began one of the most curious partnerships of modern Christianity: Roman Catholicism ...1
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