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Charismatic renewal meeting ends with warning against abuse

At a meeting held in Rome earlier this week, Roman Curia officials and representatives of the Catholic charismatic renewal agreed that the gift of healing should never be regarded as the "private property" of any individual or movement, but as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the universal Church.

Catholic World News reports that the meeting in Rome was designed to follow up on the release of a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in November of last year, warning against "abuses" in healing services.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Congregation's Prefect, told participants that the recent "multiplication" of public services of healings-- heretofore a rarity in the Church-- raised the need for careful discernment regarding the phenomenon.

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, offered a more detailed explanation of the Vatican's concerns. In any healing service, he said, the prayers should be respectful of regular liturgical guidelines; the services should avoid rousing emotions, and encouraging mob behavior. He voiced a special concern about "the phenomenon of crowds that, exasperated because they have not seen a miracle, end up putting excessive confidence in practices such as the imposition of hands." Archbishop Bertone also reminded the group that the most serious illness in mankind is sin.

Cardinal John Stafford, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, assured the charismatic leaders that the Vatican does not intend to discourage their movement.

"The presence of the Holy See shows that we want to encourage those who are called to a particular responsibility in this field," he said. The American-born cardinal also said that charismatic groups should be careful to work within the framework provided by Catholic parishes and dioceses.