Saturday, November 2, 2002

In the Washington, D.C. area, at least, the Catholic charismatic movement has become dominated by Hispanics.

These meetings, which are thriving at Hispanic-dominated parishes in the Washington area and across the country, are a sign of how the face of the Catholic charismatic movement has changed radically from white to Hispanic in recent years. But even as Latino immigrants are reenergizing the movement, they have revived apprehension among the Catholics who frown upon this form of worship.

Religious scholars agree that if the Catholic Church had not allowed the Hispanic gatherings, it would have lost a huge percentage of its Latino population to rapidly expanding Protestant faiths such as the Assemblies of God. And it is these immigrants who largely fueled Catholicism's growth over the past 10 years.

"The charismatic movement keeps a lot of Latinos Catholic," Berghout said. "By nature, [Latinos] are expressive, and if they are constantly frustrated by an institution, they are going to leave to go to a Pentecostal church."

But not everyone has been happy with the results. The Rev. Franklyn M. McAfee, head pastor of St. Catherine of Siena in Great Falls, said many priests in the Diocese of Arlington believe the Hispanic gatherings go too far and will not allow them in their parishes.

"People shy away from them because of the emotionalism," he said. McAfee added that while his parish occasionally hosts English-language charismatic services for physical and inner healing, they are more calm and meditative. "All that jumping up and down -- I wouldn't want that here," he said.

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