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The Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR): an Historical Analysis Between US and Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CAT-CAM (The Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR): an Historical Analysis Between US and Europe)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2019-08-31

Globalization, the interaction between different religious cultures through migratory flux and the formation of new global political and economic equilibria, have resulted in the blurring of traditional borders between Christian confessions and their relationship with societies. New spiritual and religious forms, like Pentecostalism and new charismatic movements, are profoundly transforming Christianity both in Europe and in the rest of the world. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is one of the Catholic responses to all these changes, insomuch as today it counts more than 120 million followers worldwide. Studying the North American and European origins of the Catholic Charismatic movement is crucial to better understand what is going on in terms of religion, culture, and society according to a global perspective which shows how the Christian world is becoming more pentecostalist and charismatic. This study focusses on the analysis of primary sources concerning the origin of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in the United States and its first developments in Europe and other continents. The project aims at harmonizing archival material, “first-hand” historiographical, sociological and theological texts on the CCR, and oral sources. The expected results of the project were fully achieved. The first objective was to analyze the initial features and rapid growth of the CCR in the North American context and consequently the development of the movement in Europe. Early CCR leaders were North American and were therefore at home in molding the movement as a North American renewal. Over time this North American influence was apparent in the rest of the renewal as well but in some instances, it contrasted with other local visions of the movement. The second objective of the project was to investigate the reaction of the Catholic Church hierarchy to the CCR. While the Catholic hierarchy initially distanced itself, this approach was later superseded by the legitimization of the movement, thanks to the work of a number of theologians and the ecclesiastical hierarchy who located the movement’s religious practices within the tradition of the church. Problematize the issue of gender within the CCR was the third objective. Although this topic wasn’t at the center of the historical narrative of the movement, it played an important role in defining the Catholic charismatic identity since the beginning. In fact, the predominance of males among Charismatic lay leaders and certain charismatic literature which assigned only specific roles to women costed strong criticism among detractors.
The US-Italy mobility offered by the outgoing phase has been beneficial because enabled the fellow to move and interact seamlessly and to work with an excellent network built between the partner organization (University of Notre Dame) and the host institution (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice).
"The first part of the project research concerned the gathering of the primary sources, their analysis, and the completion of the secondary literature consultation on the North American origins of the CCR. That was achieved through the consultation of the Notre Dame library, the Notre Dame Archives, together with other private and diocesan archives located in Indiana and Michigan as well. This research resulted in the finding that the CCR played a key role in shaping North American Catholicism and eventually the Catholic Church as a whole. Collected oral testimonies enriched the reconstruction of events and filled a few gaps in it. Moreover, during the outgoing phase inspiring training and workshops have been attended to acquire skills in teaching and writing. The second phase of the project focused on the analysis of the CCR’s further developments in Europe, consulting and collecting material at European libraries and archives such the archdiocesan archives in Malines (Belgium) and the ICCRS (International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service) archives in Rome. As a result of this archival research, CAT-CAM opens up a new interpretive perspective for the understanding of the Catholic charismatic movement as an important lens through which interpreting the developments of the Catholic Church as a whole. CAT-CAM results are in two gold open access publications: ""The Origins of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) in the United States: Early Developments in Indiana and Michigan"" in “Studies in World Christianity” and ""The origins of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the United States: the experience at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana"", chapter 7 within the book “Charismatic Renewal in Europe and the United States since 1950” (Brill). The main outcome of the action – a monograph entitled A new Pentecost: How the Catholic Charismatic Movement Made the Church Global – is currently in progress. Participation in international conferences and seminars were an important part of the dissemination activities. During the 2018-2019 academic year in a course entitled History of North American Christianity in Contemporary Era two classes were entirely dedicated to the Catholic charismatic movement, exploiting CAT-CAM research results. and Facebook’s personal page has been used to publicize conferences and meetings."
The academic historiography of Catholic Charismatic Renewal has not properly taken into account the development of the early organizational structures of the movement and the reaction of the ecclesiastical authorities toward it. Although popular ‘insider’ historical works offer insights, these can be considered as primary sources rather than historiographical material. Also, US historians have paid little attention to the origin of the Catholic charismatic movement, and their research has been focused chiefly on its impact on American Catholic laity. Certainly the development of lay spirituality and lay interaction with social structures in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s forms an essential background to the rise of a charismatic spirituality among Catholics, but a much wider range of factors was involved. The origins of the CCR can be traced to Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA), in 1967, when two Catholics were baptized in the Holy Spirit. The movement soon spread to the University of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN), Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI), and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI). The early institutional forms of the CCR played a key role in defining the initial patterns of its leadership and organization, which eventually influenced the renewal in the rest of the world. The research indeed sheds light on the North American part of the story, recognizing how deep it was this impact in the initial development of the movement. Very soon the CCR spread to Europe. The relationships between North American, European charismatic leaders, and other international leaders showed the importance of the charismatic movement in understanding the transformation of Catholicism over the last few decades around the world. In fact, this phenomenon is part of a wider process of charismatization/pentecostalization of Christianity as a whole. CAT-CAM involved the study of an important Christian religious phenomenon such as the Catholic charismatic that is extremely valuable in better understanding present global changes in terms of religion and faith, and that could have a profound impact on the perception of the European identity.
Charismatic conference Mass at the Lourdes Grotto, University of Notre Dame (Spring 1968?)
Holy Cross Hall at University of Notre Dame, 1968 or 1969. Location of charismatics first meetings
"Seminar at Ca' Foscari University ""Cattolicesimo globale"""
Fall 1969, University of Notre Dame.Fr. O’Connor is saying Mass in the basement chapel of True House
Final conference at Ca' Foscari Univerisity of Venice
University of Notre Dame, Hesburgh Library (today)
Duquesne Weekend at The Ark and The Dove Retreat Center, Pittsburgh, 1967