Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Rhoades stated in their letter of support for Christopher West that “John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is a treasure for the Church, indeed a gift of the Holy Spirit for our time.” They also rightly point out that the “scholarly language” of the pope’s texts “needs to be ‘translated’ into more accessible categories if the average person is to benefit from it.” To that end, finally they affirm their belief “that Christopher West . . . has been given a particular charism to carry out this mission.”
Discerning the Spirits
It is the place of the pope and bishops to discern the presence of true charisms in the Church. The Spirit blows where He wills and moves with renewing graces those who are caught up in His wind. Nowadays, we generally think of more extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit as the object of the word “charism,” such as tongues or prophecy of future events. But anyone who has been moved by the Spirit to begin a movement within the Church can be said to have received a charism, if that fact has been so determined by the pope and the bishops.
John Paul II has written that the power of these kind of gifts “is not subject to any antecedent rule, to any particular discipline or to a plan of interventions established once and for all.” The Church is both institutional and charismatic, and what happens through the Spirit sometimes happens outside the box. By that I do not mean that the Holy Spirit contradicts revelation or the authority of the Church. That would be absurd. Only that some things happen outside the present structures in ways that are not anticipated and then need to be assimilated under the authority of the Church.