Rorate Caeli

Kiko Argüello and the Neocatechumenal Way: defenders of the family - but at what cost to Catholic doctrine?

{For the background to this post see our article: Rome's immense pro-family rally - a victory for marriage and for children in the face of secular and Bishops' hostility}

Kiko’s sombrero casts its shade on the demonstration in Rome of June 20th

 Corrispondenza Romana,
Roberto de Mattei

The success of the demonstration against the ideology of Gender, on June 20th in Rome, was such that it almost overshadowed the echo of the media on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si, presented two days before in the Vatican.  The two events, which coincided, gave the opportunity to the sociologist Marco Marzano, of the university of Bergamo, to address “the challenge between two churches” : the first: applauded the Pope’s encyclical dedicated to social and ecological issues with a massive standing ovation; the second: took to the squares in Rome, to defend the traditional family  and  to reject equality between genders and any concession to the rights of homosexual couples”. (“Il Fatto Quotidiano” June 21st 2015).

The first church, which Marzano defines as “progressive or conciliar” is the one that “can finally raise up its head again thanks to a Pontiff who places at the center of his interventions, the issues and sensibilities that for some time have characterized Catholic progressivism, (…). The push that comes from his interventions in this direction is so strong that today the Pontiff has become de facto, the most listened to voice by  left-wingers world-wide; the second church is the one that flocked to Piazza San Giovanni. “Il Fatto” defines it as “the bigoted right-wing”, while Alberto Melloni considers it : “a piece of Catholic militancy” made up of “those Catholics, convinced that the family under attack is the one of “a mummies and  daddies”: which the ecclesiastical magisterium at one time called “the spouses” if they had been united by the Sacrament or “common-law husband and wife” if they had been married in the Registry Office. (…) As if the inevitable change in customs called on the Church to beat itself in the arena of legislation and not beat its chest reading the Gospel”. (Corriere della Sera” June 18th).

The irritation from progressive environments at the success of the June 20th demonstration is understandable. But if the attempt to put Pope Francis against the demonstrators is exploitive, it is true that in the pontifical agenda “gender” is not figured in first place, as it is for the demonstrators at San Giovanni  where the ecology is certainly not seen as the most important problem.  Pope Francis’ “hospital” Church, moreover, does not want to create opposing ideological fronts, whereas the demonstration in Rome, as one of the speakers, Gianfranco Amato, affirmed amidst applause, wanted to be: “the first important collective act of resistance against the imposition of the dictatorship of “a single mindset” coming from a lobby which has nothing whatever to do with how the people see things.” 

The San Giovanni mobilization, moreover, brought to light the existence of a disconnection between the Catholic base and the hierarchy of the Italian Episcopal Conference.  If it is true, as the Vatican reporter, Giuseppe Rusconi writes, that the Secretary General of the CEI, Nunzio Galantino; “worked hard (really, really hard) to prevent the demonstration from being born and then tried to suffocate it in its cradle” ( its success represents “a hard wakeup to reality call for the Secretary General of the CEI, Galantino, for the leaders of Communion and Liberation, and for the Catholic associations in power.” In any case, few bishops publically adhered to the demonstration and while the main Italian newspapers dedicated ample reports to it in their front pages, in “Avvenire” on June 21st, the main article was dedicated to gambling, and the editorial to the massacre in Charleston, U.S.A.

Also a secular observer like Pierluigi Battista noted how such an enormous demonstration like the one on June 20th, “set off an explosion of latent sentiment from a considerable section of the Catholic world, with no input from on high, with no mobilization coming from the pulpits.” (“Corriere della Sera”, June 21st). The demonstration in Piazza San Giovanni “was the expression of a front of “rejection” which is much more extensive than the media are able to imagine”.  A rejection of the progressive myths, but also a rejection of the minimalist strategy by the Italian Bishops. “Here in Rome – continues Battista  - we saw a sign of discard, of a subtle line of fracture, of an intolerance that the ecclesiastical  hierarchy will hardly be able to ignore”

But if the base emancipates itself  from the Episcopal top, who will lead and direct the Catholic people? “Someone tried to put a stop [in Italian “put a hat on the initiative”] to the initiative, but we didn’t allow it.” So said the spokesman of the Committee Defend Our Children, Massimo Gandolfini, at the press conference on June 8th.  In reality, a personality dear to Gandolfini did not put a “hat” on the initiative but a big sombrero. The perhaps troublesome, but undisputed  protagonist of the event on June 20th was Kiko Argüello, historic founder of the Neocatechumenal Way.  Kiko imposed the times and the modes of the assembly, he sustained its very high costs, he mobilized his movement which made up two thirds of those present in the square, and above all, he dominated the speakers platform, imprinting his seal on the demonstration with a never-ending, closing catechesis. 

The demonstration was against [the ideology of] gender, but on behalf of what? None of the speakers made any reference to the Divine and Natural law, the violation of which constitutes a much graver fault than the wrongs suffered by children who are deprived of a mummy and daddy.  Only Kiko Argüello dared give a religious content to the event, grasping in his hand, like a shepherd of the Church, his big astylar cross. In his intervention, which can be heard on Youtube, he claimed to explain: “what it means to be a Christian today” and did so, indicating the Neocatechumenal Way as the path to an adult faith: a faith purified of dogmatic and doctrinal formulas and reduced to a pure “kerygma”, the announcement of an event of which Kiko himself is interpreter and prophet.  The disconnected nature of his exposition, lacking in logic  (artist’s brushstrokes as he defined it) is part of his “theology of history”, summarized in the final “song of the Apocalypse” to which the crowd, under the rain, joined its voice.

Kiko Argüello has never answered the many questions that have been put to him for decades about his conception of the Church, the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the Holy Eucharist.  The price to pay for his defense of marriage and the family cannot be the abandonment and obscuring of truths which belong to the deposit of the Faith, like the existence of the one redeeming truth, which the Catholic Church [alone] holds, or the fact that the Mass is not a festive banquet, but the bloodless renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross.  Furthermore, the alternative to the abstention of the bishops cannot be the reinterpretation of Christianity on the part of a charismatic and anti-institutional movement.

The faith is integral and total or it is not. To be heretics it is not necessary to deny all the dogmas, but it is enough to deny tenaciously only one, even if it is the minimum truth of the faith or Catholic morality. Whoever rejects even one dogma, rejects them all, and must be considered heretical, as they believe or disbelieve, not because of the revealing authority of God, but on the basis of their own reason: what he calls faith is in reality his opinion and he has no authority to expect that his own personal opinion must be followed by others.   

The enthusiasm for the assembly of June 20th will pass, but enormous religious and moral problems are gathering on the horizon. To face them, it is not the piazza that is important, but the faith; it is not the strength of numbers or of the media, but the integrity of doctrine; it is not the ability to form a coalition, but the coherence of choices.  Only this can move Heaven and without the intervention of He Who can do anything, every battle is lost. 

{A Rorate translation by Francesca Romana}