Rorate Caeli

Sandro Magister's latest article on the Neocatechumenal Way

Sandro Magister has discussed the NCW in several articles on Chiesa (scroll down this webpage to see these articles), the latest of which is In Japan, Kiko's Way Doesn't Fly. In addition to describing the confrontation between the Japanese hierarchy and The Way and the Vatican's intervention on behalf of the latter, Magister's latest article also touches on the continuing doctrinal and liturgical concerns with the NCW:

At the same audience on January 17, Benedict XVI touched on another sore spot for the Way, that of its catechism texts.

These texts – thirteen volumes transcribed from the oral teaching of Kiko and Carmen, today summarized under the title of "Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Way" – have always been secret. In 1997, then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ordered that they be handed over to the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, to be submitted to an examination of their doctrinal content.

The examination lasted until 2003. The congregation, which at the time had Bertone as its secretary, made corrections and introduced about 2,000 references to parallel passages in the official catechism of the Catholic Church.

And yet it was only at the end of 2010 that the thirteen volumes of the work received official approval, communicated by Benedict XVI at the audience two days ago.

Why this long purgatory? According to what Kiko said at the press conference on January 17, the reason was that in the meantime there were two other questions to be resolved: the definitive approval of the statutes of the Way, and the approval of the manner in which the Mass and other sacraments are celebrated in the Neocatechumenal communities.

The statutes were approved on May 11, 2008 – one year after the previous provisional statutes had expired – and they also established the liturgical rules to which the Way must adhere.

Both of these goals were reached with great effort and following serious disagreements, especially in the liturgical camp, as www.chiesa documented at the time.

And even now the actual behaviors of the Neocatechumenal communities do not follow the norms always and in everything. Most of the Masses continue to be celebrated separately, group by group, somewhat behind closed doors, with great leeway for creativity, meaning the ritual and verbal conventions deemed useful for the purposes of the initiation process of each group.

For the catechisms, the criterion seems to be the same. "Even now that they have been approved" – Kiko said at the press conference on January 17 – "there is a process of initiation that must be respected. It is not good that one should be able to see the whole course before even beginning it. If the Church ordered us to do so, we would put them up for sale. But we would prefer not."

Magister also provides a summary of NCW statistics:

At the audience on January 17, Benedict XVI sent 230 Neocatechumenal families on mission, to join the more than 600 others already on mission in various countries of the world.

In addition to these, he also sent out "ad gentes" 13 priests, each accompanied by three or four families, with the task of planting a seed Church in places where Christianity has disappeared, or never appeared.

Also present at the audience were the 2,000 seminarians of the 78 "Redemptoris Mater" seminaries that the Way has all over the world, from which 1,600 priests have emerged in twenty years.

The latest figures show the Way being present in more than 1,320 dioceses in 110 on five continents, with 20,000 communities in about 6,000 parishes.

Of these 20,000 communities, 500 are in Rome – called "the diocese of the world in which the Way is most developed" – and 300 in Madrid, its place of origin.

If each community were assigned an average of 15 members, the total of adult Neocatechumenals in the world would be 300,000.

"But with the children and young people, we exceed one million," they say. The Neocatechumenal families, in fact, are very prolific. Among those sent on mission, the average is four children per couple.

Interesting that the NCW now has 78 seminaries, when in early 2007 they had only 63 (source).