Catholic charismatic renewal has received continuing papal support since Pope Paul VI in the 1970s. On June 6, 2019, The CHARIS ("Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service") was officially inaugurated with Pope Francis's support.

"Baptism in the Holy Spirit" seems central to CHARIS as we see from several quotes from the CHARIS Statutes (OCR'ed version here) (emphasis mine):

  • From the Preamble:

    One of the characteristics of CCR is the wide variety of expressions and ministries that form a unity in diversity. The various expressions and realities in CCR may be at different stages of development with differing emphases, nevertheless they share in the same fundamental experience of 'baptism in the Holy Spirit'; and espouse the same general goals. In some places CCR organises itself like an ecclesial movement but the very nature of CCR means it is different from other ecclesial movements. ...

  • From Article 1 (Name and Purpose)

    § 1. Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service, also known as CHARIS, is the international service organism for all expressions of Catholic Charismatic Renewal (or CCR), a current of grace whose appearance in the Catholic Church in 1967 came as a fruit of the Second Vatican Council. Common to all expressions of Catholic Charismatic Renewal is the experience of the fruits of Pentecost through an outpouring of spiritual gifts called baptism in the Holy Spirit, involving a personal encounter with Jesus Christ as Saviour, an openness to the Word of God, to exercising the charisms and to evangelisation in faithful service of the Church. CHARIS promotes and strengthens communion among all Charismatic realities, fostering a sense of the worldwide family of Catholic Charismatic Renewal

  • From Article 3 (General Objectives)

    a) To help deepen and promote the grace of baptism in the Holy Spirit throughout the Church;

    c) To encourage the spiritual deepening and holiness of people who live the experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit;

Two days later, in an address to a conference related to CHARIS, Pope Francis said:


What does the Pope expect from you? I expect this movement:

  • to share baptism in the Holy Spirit with everyone in the Church. It is the grace you have received. Share it! Don’t keep it to yourselves!


My question: What is the relationship between "baptism in the Holy Spirit" (promoted through CHARIS) and the traditional Catholic sacrament of baptism?

Several points that I hope the answer will address (not all of them required):

  • What is the scriptural / doctrinal basis of this baptism? Any links with Summa Theologica?
  • Has the church issued an official theological interpretation of "baptism in the Holy Spirit" to guide CHARIS implementation? Any relevant paragraphs in the Catechism?
  • What is the essence of this "baptism in the Holy Spirit": is it a sacrament? a sacramental? an anointing? a blessing?
  • Are all baptized Catholic encouraged to receive it?
  • How is this baptism in the Holy Spirit administered?
  • How is it related to Pentecostal understanding of baptism in the Holy Spirit?
  • Once baptized in the Holy Spirit do Catholics expect receiving "speaking in tongue" gift as is usual in the Pentecostal denomination?
  • etc.

I am asking for clarification primarily from the Catholic Church Magisterium, or secondarily from a bishop or from a theologian belonging to an institution associated with the Catholic church.

  • @KenGraham Can we discuss this here? I can't respond to you in the comments to my deleted answer because it says "Comments disabled on deleted / locked posts / reviews".
    – Geremia
    May 16, 2021 at 21:40
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Ken Graham
    May 16, 2021 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


The 3 resources below explain the Catholic understanding and the connection between "baptism in the Holy Spirit" and the Sacrament of Baptism:

  1. Baptism In The Holy Spirit: Why Every Catholic Should Consider Receiving It: a CatholicLink website article by Deacon Brenton Cordeiro, training to be a priest for the Companions of the Cross.
  2. Baptism in the Holy Spirit: a 2017 Crossroads Initiative website article by Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., a cardinal and preacher to the Papal Household.
  3. A New Pentecost? Catholic Theology and "Baptism in the Spirit": a 2011 Logos journal article by Dr. Ralph Martin, "expert" for the World Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, discussing 3 interpretations of "Baptism in the Spirit".

I structure the answer in the form of Q & A by quoting from the above resources:

  • Q: Is Baptism in the Holy Spirit a sacrament?
    A: No, it is not a sacrament but is believed to be related to the sacraments of Christian initiation, primarily of baptism and confirmation [Martin 21]. It makes real and in a way renews Christian initiation [Cantalamessa].

  • Q: Haven't baptized Catholics already received the Holy Spirit?
    A: Yes. Baptism in the Holy Spirit doesn't oppose or dilute any Catholic teaching on the sacraments. There is no dispute about the effects of receiving the sacrament of Baptism, in particular the forgiveness of sins, the conferring of divine sonship, and becoming a member of the Body of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. [Cordeiro]

  • Q: What does it do in addition to the Sacrament of Baptism?
    A: The spiritual realities mentioned above in Baptism become "unbound" through a baptism in the Holy Spirit, allowing the Holy Spirit to burst forth and flow throughout our day-to-day lives bring us to a new awareness of the reality and presence of Jesus Christ in our lives [Cordeiro].

  • Q: What effects can we expect following Baptism in the Holy Spirit?
    A: A new hunger & desire for the Word of God, the Sacraments, and holiness. It fosters the desire to witness to our faith and to testify about the way the Lord is changing our lives (New Evangelization) [Cordeiro].

  • Q: Once baptized in the Holy Spirit do Catholics expect receiving "speaking in tongue" gift as a sign, usual in the Pentecostal denomination?
    A: No one gift is usually singled out being the necessary sign of baptism in the Spirit [Martin 22].

  • Q: What is the Scriptural basis for this baptism?
    A: [Martin 22]:

    • Acts 4 : The prospect of a "renewal" of the receiving of the Spirit or a "stirring up" of a gift once given but since "gone quiet" in which the persecuted companions of Peter and John pray for and receive new power for evangelization.
    • 2 Tim 1:6 : Paul urges Timothy to "stir into flame the gift of God that you have"
  • Q: Any evidence from church history?
    A: [Martin 22]:

    Montague and McDonnell support their thesis by a review of the available evidence from the first eight centuries of the Church, which evidence they argue shows that the sacraments of Christian initiation were often characterized by an experiential dimension and manifestations of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit.¹²

  • Q: Any relevant paragraphs in the Catechism?
    A: CCC 1128: "From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them" [Martin 28]

  • Q: Any relevant paragraphs in the Summa?
    A: Quote from [Martin 28]:

    One of the most remarkable treatments of the relevance of the disposition of the recipients in terms of what is actually experienced, effective, or fruitful in the life of the person receiving the sacrament is actually that of Aquinas in the Summa theologiae, especially in the Tertia pars, (III, qq. 66–71). In these questions, Aquinas details very clearly the obstacles that block the fruitfulness of the sacraments, even when they are validly conferred: lack of faith, understanding, desire to live a new life, or repentance, or the omitting of the exorcisms and allowing demonic influence to block response to baptismal grace. He clearly states that on a given day a number of people may validly receive baptism or confirmation but the fruitfulness of the sacrament may vary considerably; those who want more of the Lord, he teaches, will receive more of the Lord.

  • Q: How is this baptism in the Holy Spirit administered?
    A: It is God who chooses to act. We can prepare through several ways, such as through a mini catechesis that includes teaching, prayer and the invitation to faith, repentance and a deeper commitment to the Lord Jesus, and a greater desire for the activation of his gift of the Spirit [Martin 28-29].

  • Q: Are all baptized Catholic encouraged to receive it?
    A: Deacon Cordeiro encourage anyone to seek it wholeheartedly to accept the grace that baptism in the Spirit offers us. It can recharge our spiritual batteries.

  • 1
    It's interesting that all of that rhetoric has a very clear purpose, found in the last line of your answer: recharge the spiritual batteries. A variety of other lay and clergy led movements have that purpose as well. Silent retreats, communal retreats, cursillo, ACTS, Journey to Damascus, Walk to Emmaeus, etc. St Thomas nailed it: those who want more of the Lord will receive more of the Lord May 11, 2021 at 12:22
  • @KorvinStarmast Yes, +1 for St. Thomas to anticipate this. +1 also for the past 4 Popes to provide necessary direction for the charismatic movement to stay authentic to the fundamentals of the Catholic faith (fidelity to the church, sacraments, theology of grace, love for God, and love in community) guarding against the excesses I see in many non-Catholic charismatic communities: prosperity gospel, "word of faith", authoritarianism, individualistic, distorted spiritual warfare, etc. I'm glad to see the Magisterium is functioning healthily in this case. May 11, 2021 at 17:53
  • Yeah, they may get accused of modernism, but the desire to get the laity more enthusiastic and engaged is palpable. May 11, 2021 at 19:53
  • @KorvinStarmast Yes, completely Modernist, thirst for novelty and confusion. "Q: Is Baptism in the Holy Spirit a sacrament? A: No, it is not a sacrament but…" Then why name it after a sacrament? This is like saying "Sodomite marriage isn't a sacrament, but it's believed to be."!
    – Geremia
    May 14, 2021 at 3:06
  • @Geremia Not disagreeing. "No it is not a sacrament" is enough of an answer, "but" weakens the statement. But that's typical Pope Francis rhetoric ... 😒 May 14, 2021 at 3:12

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