Rorate Caeli

Another boost for the Neocatechumenal Way

(NOTE: A few have criticized the decision to post something from Rocco Palmo's blog. Now, the article below is quite fair and succinct in summarizing the situation of the NCW vis-a-vis the Vatican and the Japanese hierarchy, so much so that I felt  that I could post it rather than  reinvent the wheel and make a less comprehensive report. In addition, Rorate has long cited articles and reports from sources that are much further away from Traditional Catholicism than "Whispers" is. I am fairly certain that most of the people reading this blog know the difference between citing a source and endorsing said source's editorial stance. Those who don't know the difference have no business surfing the Internet at all. CAP.)

From Whispers in the Loggia (underlining mine):

Against the backdrop of a highly-public brawl with the Japanese bishops -- who tried to ban them from the country but were overruled by the Holy See in recent weeks -- in another rare coup, the Neocatechumenal Way is set to hold a prominent Vatican celebration led by the Pope himself.

Shown above flanking B16 at a recent private audience, the "initiators" of the oft-controversial million-member movement -- Kiko Arguello, Carmen Hernandez and Italian Fr Mario Pezzi -- will lead a Monday crowd of Neocats gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall as, continuing a tradition begun by the soon to be Blessed John Paul II, the pontiff commissions 230 new missionary families for the Way before they're sent to some 46 countries. The audience will also commemorate the CDF's recent approval of a Catechetical Directory for the movement, which is intended to provide "security for [the Way's] implementation... offering also [a] doctrinal guarantee" of its purity in teaching "to all the shepherds of the church."

Now present in 105 countries, the Way's governing statutes were given final approval by Rome in 2008. Beyond its lay mission-work, the movement boasts over 70 Redemptorist Mater seminaries worldwide, five of them in the US.

Viewed by its critics as a "sect" (or even a "cult") for its tendency to form a "totally separate" life from the local churches in which it exists -- not to mention its unconventional liturgies and highly-regimented subgroups (where placement is contingent on one's advancement in the Way's methods) -- the group's most prominent clash with a local hierarchy has come over the last several years in Japan, where a former president of the nation's bishops once slammed the Spanish-born movement's presence there for, he said, having "caused sharp, painful division and strife within the church."

After the Japanese prelates first voiced their concerns over the Way's m.o., in 2006 Rome approved the closing of the country's Redemptorist Mater seminary. More recently, when the bishops pushed for a full ban of the Way for five years, they were publicly rebuffed by a message from the Secretariat of State, which instead called for a dialogue to begin immediately, mediated by a delegate yet to be named. In response, a leading Japanese prelate said this week that "in those places touched by the Neocatechumenal Way, there has been rampant confusion, conflict, division, and chaos" and that the bishops "could not ignore the damage."

At a 2006 commissioning of Neocat families, the Pope lauded the Spanish-born movement for birthing "a true 'springtime of hope' for the diocesan community of Rome and for the universal church."

However, the same text likewise gave voice to the criticism of the movement. "Your apostolic action, already very praiseworthy, will be all the more effective to the extent that you strive to constantly cultivate that yearning for unity which Jesus communicated to the Twelve during the Last Supper," Benedict said.

"Before the Passion our Redeemer prayed intensely that his disciples all would be one so that the world would be impelled to believe in him, because this unity can come only by the power of God. It is this unity, a gift of the Holy Spirit and a ceaseless quest of believers, which makes each community a living structure that is well integrated into the Mystical Body of Christ.

"The unity of the Lord's disciples," Benedict said, "is part of the very essence of the church and is an indispensable condition for its evangelizing action to be both fruitful and credible."

Even for the tough-talk, however, it bears noting that only one other "new movement" has received a similar outpouring of public en masse Pope-Time: Benedict's beloved Comunione e Liberazione -- whose founder he famously eulogized, and whose weekly "School of Community" is held in the papal apartment.

Following Monday's event, the founders will hold a press conference. From there, Arguello is expected to lead a catechesis for 200,000 young adults during August's World Youth Day in Madrid.


  1. Though a bishops' conference lacks authority to ban a group like the Neocatechumenal Way entirely from a country, an individual bishop has the authority to forbid their activities within his diocese -- and in my opinion, each Japanese bishop should proceed to do just that.

  2. Anonymous5:55 AM

    Did she just stop by after soccer practice?

  3. Anonymous6:16 AM

    What can anyone tell me about Communion and Liberation? I have a friend who says she benefitted from it, but I was unable to get an idea of what it is about.

  4. Gideon Ertner11:01 AM

    Does anyone know precisely what the 'divisive' issues are in Japan? I have a suspicion that the reason The Way is causing problems in Japan is that they take a rather more conservative and anti-modernistic doctrinal stance than the mainstream Japanese Church. That is my experience of the doctrinal proclivities of The Way, at any rate. It is mostly in the liturgical area that they really don't seem to 'get it'.

    I know people who have been led to a deep faith by their involvement in The Way. I think that if they stuck to running catechetical groups and discontinued their seperate celebration of weird 'Neocatechumenal Use' liturgies, they would be acceptable enough.

  5. "...the reason The Way is causing problems in Japan is that they take a rather more conservative and anti-modernistic doctrinal stance than the mainstream Japanese Church. That is my experience of the doctrinal proclivities of The Way, at any rate. It is mostly in the liturgical area that they really don't seem to 'get it'."

    It's a big feast day here in Manila and I don't have time to comment at length for now. Let it be noted, though, that there are serious questions about the doctrinal orthodoxy of the NCW as well, notably due to their 1) Catechism, 2) unusual use of Jewish symbolism and pseudo-Byzantine iconography and 3) their radically "rupturist" attitude to the history of the Church between Constantine and Vatican II.

  6. Is it just me or has the Holy Father undoing all his own "reform of the reform" (reform of the deform) project in matters liturgical?

    The only good that I can say about the NC Way is that its missionary families tend to have large numbers of children. Very important for Europe which risks being run over by Islam.

  7. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Dear Mr. Palad can you comment at length on "the way" after the feast days? I have family both here in the States and in Mexico who are way deep into "the way" and have invited us to join them. I tell my Mother, brothers and sisters not to join but I wish I could tell them why not.


  8. Anonymous5:09 PM

    All you need to know is here.

  9. Anonymous5:16 PM

    Also here.

  10. I think this quote from Oxford theologian and parish priest Fr. Ian Ker is appropo:

    "Anyway, Pope Benedict has firmly rejected the charge of divisiveness as the decisive criterion: “Faith remains a sword and may demand conflict for the sake of truth and love,” he has said. And he also has condemned that “attitude of intellectual superiority that immediately brands the zeal of those seized by the Holy Spirit and their uninhibited faith with the anathema of fundamentalism”, a charge regularly levelled at members of the Neocatechumenate.
    At the time of the Council of Trent what the Church needed above all was a body of highly trained clergy: the charism of St Ignatius Loyola was provided by the Holy Spirit. In this post-conciliar time the greatest need is for baptised Catholics who are not merely sacramentalised but deeply formed in the faith: the Holy Spirit has given the Church the Neocatechumenate. I believe that June 13, 2008, the day its statutes were formally approved, will be recognised as a significant date in the history of the Church."

    The same papacy that has protected traditional Extraordinary form Catholics from local bishops desiring to crush them also has protected the NeoCats. Shall we trust Benedict XVI's discerment for the one and reject the other? Could it be possible that both represent authentic renewal/reform movements that will ultimately benefit the Church and glorify God? Even the Franciscans and the Jesuits experienced missteps along the way but were preserved from decimation by the papacy.

  11. Anonymous7:48 PM

    Can we also have some criticism from serious sources, please?

  12. Anonymous8:25 PM

    To the webmaster: You did the correct thing posting this report from Whispers. It is thorough and well written news artilce. By the way, Whispers is read by a HUGE number of clergy on a daily basis precisely because they have the first reports on many matters of importance. I frequent the site for that reason. I also frequent Rorate daily. It is a wonderful source for so much about the Church which we all love. I am not a "traditionalist" Catholic, though I love the Tradition. I am a faithful Catholic with deep love for authentic liturgical worship, be it in the extraordinary form, properly celebrated ordinary form, anglican use, or the Divine Liturgy of the East. This is, after all, the Catholic Church. I know that the Lord has His Church under His protection and the gates of hell will not prevail. I must admit that some of the comments here have disturbed me. For lack of a better quick handle, the ones that seem to come from the "I'm more catholic than the pope" commenters. We are fortunate to have this extraordinary Pope. We should be praying for him as he continues to steer the Church in this new missionary age. We should also trust that the Lord knows exactly what he is doing with His Church. The ecclesial movements which submit themselves to the authority of the Magisterium will find safe harbor and be a resource for this new missionary age. I have not experienced the Neocatechumenal way but I have deep respect for the members of Communion and Liberation whom I have known - as well as members of Opus Dei, and many others from other movements such as Shoenstatt... Finally, thank you for your apotolate and for all that you report on. I particularly appreciate your reporting on the Apostolic Constitution to the groups of Anglican and the amazing work of the Holy Spirit which is bringing Anglican Christians into the full communion of the Church.

  13. Anonymous9:51 PM

    Anonymous 20:25

    Permit me to quote Cardinal Newman:

    "I thank God that I live in a day when the enemy is outside the Church, and I know where he is and what he is up to. But I foresee a day when the enemy will be both outside and inside the Church...and I pray now for the poor faithful who will be caught in the crossfire."


  14. Tom the Milkman10:15 PM

    Thank you, New Templar, for the Christian Order links. The great Hamish Fraser has reason to be proud of the way his work has continued across the years, thanks be to God.

    The recent spate of news about the Neocatechumenate is disturbing. Certainly one cannot know whether Rome is misguided or misleading about the nature of this organisation. One hopes the Pope is himself misguided in this, as the alarming photograph of His Holiness with Arguello and ex-nun Hernandez, replete with their studied arrogance for all to see, unfortunately leads one at the very least to ponder what devils are at work so close to the Holy Father. What is clear is the dangerous trail of heterodoxy that characterizes the legacy of the Neocatechumenate. The abberational so-called liturgy of the Way, with its attendant cultic sectarianism, could never have birthed from the ancient Roman Mass. Only the deficient novus ordo could produce such a deviant mess, as it has again and again, and continues to do. Available on the internet are multiple citations from novus ordo sources condemning the Neocatechumenate as Protestant, divisive, cultic, and thoroughly miserable. I believe traditional Catholics must speak up about this particular cult, publicly expose it as they are able. I, for one, appreciate Rorate's insistence on publishing the danger found there.

  15. "We should also trust that the Lord knows exactly what he is doing with His Church."

    As with the Arian heresy, God is letting the enemy penance us (do much damage) so when God is ready to turn the tide, it will be all the more glorious. None of this is good. Those changing the face of the church do not share your appreciation of tradition.

  16. Anonymous7:09 AM

    Let these fools have their Way. It will become the Way of all flesh, a passing trends, a fading fad. It is only a distraction from truth. It is not even noble to challenge what is good and right; it is a minor irriatation, like a buzzing mosquito.

    They were the Medjugorge fools and the charismoronic Pentescostals. They are condemned by their own licence.


  17. CAP - please continue to post links to Whispers. While Rocco's editorial voice is not ideal, he's the first English-language reporter of so much ecclesiastical news.

    Tom the Milkman - "The abberational so-called liturgy of the Way, with its attendant cultic sectarianism, could never have birthed from the ancient Roman Mass. Only the deficient novus ordo could produce such a deviant mess, as it has again and again, and continues to do."

    ... While the liturgy of the Way (which I have observed once, with some discomfort) strikes one as entirely foreign to the Traditional Latin Mass, one cannot blame it on the Novus Ordo Missae (1970), per se, as Kiko, Carmen, etc., began their evangelization of the slums of Madrid in 1964: Wikipedia.

    Spirit of the NOM, sure. NOM itself, no.

    Japan - Are there any Rorate readers able to comment on the general qualities of the Japanese episcopate? Until otherwise demonstrated, I'm favorable to the hypothesis that the Japanese bishops oppose The Way not because of its bad fruits (liturgy, etc.) but because of its good fruits (reasonably effective evangelization of a basic Christian message: Jesus is God; God loves us; Jesus died and rose so that we might live with him forever; It is useful to pursue a virtuous life to that end, including frequent recourse to the sacraments of penance and the Mass).

    If that is the case, I am somewhat less inclined to jump on the Japanese bishops' bandwagon.

  18. Anonymous3:18 PM

    "By the way, Whispers is read by a HUGE number of clergy on a daily basis..."

    God help us.

  19. Anonymous8:08 PM

    The NCW *is* a cult, and not in accord with either Catholic Faith or practice. Aside from the many liturgical abuses which are prescribed for their "liturgies", and which have been proscribed to no avail by Rome, they engage in typical practices of group encounter therapy and the attendant brain-washing. The worst example, of which I learned directly from a member, is the requirement that one make a complete, *public* confession of the sins of one's entire life before the whole local group and even one's own family. This is absolutely contrary to Catholic teaching. The NCW must be suppressed!

  20. Anonymous 20:08 -

    I see no requirement of "*public* confession" in the statutes of the Way.

    I believe that your family member is confused or that you have confused what he told you.

    While the Way does make use of the Rite for Reconciliation of Several Penitents with Individual Confession and Absolution (see, for example, the schema provided by the Diocese of Beaumont), and while they employ a "liturgical geography" for said rite that icks me out, I have observed no actual requirement of public confession.

    Until such day as Trad priests and lay people are effectively evangelizing every single slum in the world, I can see a place for the efforts of the NCW in those slums (i.e., where it started).

  21. Because of the recent promotion of Kiko to the Pontifical Council for promoting New Evangelization, I am adding to an old blog with this comment. I lived as an unordained religious for seven years with a movement called Opus Angelorum. The pattern is very similar...controversial writings, review and tentative approval by Rome (by then Cdnl. Ratzinger) in the 80's, a few years later some sharp reprobations and a vicar from Rome to observe them more closely in the 90's, and finally only last year (2010) a formal letter from the Pope acknowledging their reform and granting them approval.
    But what I also experienced, despite all the 'communication' with Rome and one or two thank-you letters from such and such a Prefect that were highly touted as 'full' approval, was a very masterful hiding of liturgical disobedience (they erred on the side of traditional rites...but nonetheless to great liberties with the Novus Order...even if they seemed more 'solemn and traditional'. They had their own brievary, and I tell the truth that we were praying the 'office' one day when our local bishop came for an unannounced visit, and we hid our version and pulled out the normal Church Office of the Hours.
    Bottom line...everyone is noting the descrepancy between the NCW liturigical abuse and the approval of Rome...and I am simply saying that it is plausible for such a contradiction and cloud of confusion to happen...even when the perpetrators are standing for a photo right next to the holy father himself.


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