News About Healing

by Francis MacNutt
Jul/Aug 2005

With this issue of The Healing Line we begin a new feature: news items about healing prayer. In our reading we discover many fascinating articles and we want to share them with you.

With this issue we begin our new feature with parts of two very encouraging articles about Pope John Paul II’s positive view of the charismatic renewal. To me this brings back memories of a visit to Rome, in 1973, where I was chosen to be one of a dozen international Catholic leaders to meet with Pope Paul VI. At that time the future of charismatic renewal was called into question by a few skeptics who were convinced the rug was going to be pulled out from under us. Our great hope, then, was that the Pope and the Vatican would accept the renewal of the Holy Spirit with all its attendant charisms. (Pope Paul, at that meeting,  gave us the go-ahead to promote charismatic renewal.)

The following news about Pope John Paul II shows that our dream actually has come true, but the mystery now to ponder is this: why, even after the Vatican’s approval, does it seem the charismatic renewal in the Roman Catholic Church has peaked? (See the article in the March/April issue of The Healing Line: “Why Did the Charismatic Renewal Peak?”) Our 1973 hopes and dreams about the Church’s approval have come true, yet the renewal doesn’t seem as vigorous as it was in the 1970’s. What has happened? For those of us who belong to all the established churches, this is a question that needs to be addressed.

Now, to the encouraging part!


In the recent issue of Charisma magazine (June 2005) there is a remarkable article (“Man of the Spirit”) by Ralph Martin, one of the leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, in which he shares an area of the Pope’s life that most people know very little about: his warm acceptance of the charismatic renewal.

Ralph describes how, shortly after his election, Pope John Paul II held a meeting with ten international leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Arranging the group in a circle, the Pope shared intimately about his own experience of the reality of the Spirit. His father had advised him to pray to the Spirit every day, and he was faithful to this practice for 50 years. “This was my own spiritual initiation,” he said, “so I can understand all these different charisms. They are all part of the richness of the Lord.” If you know how difficult it is to arrange a private meeting with the Pope, you will realize how significant it was that, over the years, the late Pope made an extraordinary effort to attend, regularly meetings with the charismatic leaders. I know, from talking with several of these leaders, that the Pope often asked them to pray for him.

In 1986, the Pope devoted an entire document (“Dominum et Vivificantem”) to the work of the Holy Spirit, in which he called for the Church, once again, to “encounter the Spirit,” and described it as “the dynamic power of the Church’s renewal.”

In 1998, the Pope made the remarkable statement that he looked forward to the year 2000 “with the sole purpose of preparing everyone to be docile to the working of the Spirit.” In the year 2000, he invited all the Catholic renewal movements to come to Rome to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, and more than 500,000 pilgrims responded by flocking to Rome from all over the world. In his talk at this great event, he emphasized the Church’s need to seek the guidance of the Spirit and to rediscover the charisms (I Cor. 12). He made an extraordinary plea: “Today, I would like to cry out to all of you gathered here in St. Peter’s Square and to all Christians: Open yourselves docilely to the gifts of the Spirit! Accept gratefully and obediently the charisms which the Spirit never ceases to bestow on us!”

Ralph, on a number of occasions, was invited to meet with the Pope in his private chapel. Writing about these meetings he has said: “Every time I went he was already there, kneeling, lost in prayer. On some occasions he ‘audibly’ groaned in the Spirit, while in deep intercession.”

Occasionally, the Pope prayed for exorcism over troubled people. One Italian Cardinal, Francesco Marchisano, let friends know that the Pope had prayed with him for the healing of a serious throat ailment and promised him that he would be healed. Soon after, he was healed.

In the same issue of Charisma (June 2005), there is another article about Pope John Paul II by a Protestant, Stephen Mansfield. Mansfield writes about one incident which will be appreciated by all those involved in charismatic renewal:

… A prominent American pastor who was interviewed for this article but who asked to be unnamed recounted the occasion when he was granted an audience with the Pope:

    The time came for the Pope’s afternoon prayer time. He asked me to join him, and when he buried his face in his hands to pray there was such a rush of holiness…that I wasn’t sure I could stand. I can only hope for the same kind of anointing in my own life.*

* “Keeper of the Flame” by Stephen Mansfield, pp. 41-44.


At times we get a little discouraged by the slow acceptance in the Church of the healing ministry. As an encouragement I share part of a letter I received from a Dominican priest who has worked for years in Bolivia and with the Hispanics in Texas:

I want to be sure that you know what is going on with the healing ministry in the Catholic Church.

Part of what the we do in parishes is to introduce them to the Mass of Healing and Anointing, and then leave the parish to continue with a monthly or bi-annual celebration. Over the past 35 years this has become a growing custom in the Church. This does not exclude the people praying for each other, but, rather, incorporates their individual praying as part of the whole celebration. We also encourage the people to take blessed oil (which they have been doing anyway) and with it bless anyone among their family or friends when they are sick. All this is seen as an extension of the healing ministry of Jesus and as a way for lay people, aware of their sharing in the priesthood of Jesus, to extend this ministry into our world. We receive many testimonies of healings that take place in this way.

Although it is more difficult to verify, the practice of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is also including a new dimension of prayer for inner healing and deliverance in various ways.  Clergy study days are in progress to explore the ways to help this sacrament to become more effective. And again this theological exploration does not exclude, but rather incorporates the prayer ministry of the people in new ways so that reconciliation is in fact more effective.

Much of this is being done with a theological background that emphasizes how the People of God share in the general Priesthood of Jesus through their baptism, and that recognizes that the “sacramentals” are an extension of the “sacraments” into the world of the people.

So what you have begun is still having tremendous implications in the Churches, maybe more than you are actually aware of. Your historical summary of the healing ministry recalls to me that we are at a tremendous crossroads in history and that it will take many decades (a century?) to find out what its end results will be. The former Bishop here made the comment that God chose us to live at this moment in history to be bridges from the past into the new life of the Spirit in the Church and the world. That work of the Spirit continues to have an effect beyond what we can even imagine in the future.

We pray with you, giving thanks to the Lord for the mind-blowing, continuing activities of God in our midst, and how we are all being drawn into this explosion of growth of the Reign of God! What a great mystery!


In Europe, police are discovering an extraordinary link between African women trapped in prostitution rings and the need to find Christian ministers who understand the power of deliverance prayer to break the hold of a voodoo curse. Police estimate that nearly 10,000 African women, especially Nigerians, have been lured into prostitution rings, and to ensure the permanence of their slavery, the help of voodoo priests is enlisted to put curses and spells upon the unfortunate women. Just before the prospective prostitute is sent off to Europe (for instance, to Amsterdam) she is subjected to a voodoo rite and is warned that her parents will sicken and die if she ever tries to escape her masters. The voodoo priests dramatize the rite by having her drink blood and taking her nail and hair cuttings as totems. One 24-year-old woman who had been forced into seven-night-a-week duty in an Athens flop-house brothel said about her curse, “I have no doubt about its power. Even if I had a doubt, how could I risk the life of my mother and father?”

To overcome such a perverse faith in demonic power, even skeptical international police officials have had to turn to Christian pastors who believe in the power of God to break these curses. Since the women are Christian, these pastors have to convince them of the power of Jesus Christ to free them from the power of the curses inflicted upon them by the witch doctors. The few ministers who free the women are mostly Pentecostal and non-denominational pastors who understand the reality of the demonic realm and the power of Christian prayer.

Considering that an estimated 10,000 African women are trapped in prostitution, it seems imperative that pastors from mainline Christian churches (such as Catholics and Anglicans) learn more about the reality of the demonic realm and a Christian’s ability to free victims from the power of voodoo witchcraft.

(summarized from “Voodoo a Vise in the Sex Slavery World” by Brian Murphy, AP, in The Jacksonville Times-Union, May 20, 2005)


Abortion advocates frequently have claimed that carrying an unwanted baby to term is more emotionally harmful to women than having an abortion. But a recent, major study (in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders) shows findings to the contrary!

Researchers, using data collected from the National Survey of Family Growth, examined a nationally representative sample of 10,847 women, aged 15-34, who had experienced an unintended first pregnancy and had no prior history of anxiety. After controlling for race and age at the time of the survey, the researchers found that, compared to women who carried the unintended pregnancy to term, women who aborted were 30 percent more likely to report, subsequently, all the symptoms associated with a diagnosis for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

If the cases found in the study were projected onto the entire population of women having abortions, it might be found that there are as many as 40,000 or more GAD cases per year attributable to abortion. Furthermore, this new study, linking abortion to general anxiety disorder, comes on the heels of nearly a dozen other studies published in the last three years, linking abortion to an increased risk of depression, substance abuse, suicidal behavior, and death from heart disease.

In their examination of date, Jesse Cougle (the main author of this study) and his colleagues considered women as being at risk for GAD, if they reported feeling worried and anxious for a period of at least six months about things that were not serious or were unlikely to happen. They also had to experience other symptoms, such as irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, a pounding or racing heart, or feelings of unreality.

There also were greater differences in rates of generalized anxiety between aborting and delivering women who were under the age of 20 than there were for women who were older at the time of the pregnancy. This may be explained by other studies that show that older women are more likely to conceal past abortions in surveys, and that abortion is a more stressful experience for younger women.

“Some studies have found that younger women are more likely to experience emotional distress following abortion than older women,” Cougle said. “Younger women may feel less control over their decision and may abort under pressure from their parents and partner.”

See the website for additional material.

This fascinating study is especially of interest to those of you who are ministers of inner healing.

Francis MacNutt Francis MacNutt is a Founding Director and Executive Committee member of CHM. Jul/Aug 2005 Issue