Great Britain: The “Neocatechumenal Way” Reined in by a Bishop

Source: FSSPX News

The Catholic bishop of Lancaster deplores the “growing sense of unease” about the liturgical practices of Neocatechumenical Way, and has issued new norms to put an end to the movement’s abuses.

Bishop Michael Campbell has created an uproar in the Neocatechumenical Way by condemning certain liturgical abuses that have become commonplace in the new community. The bishop of Lancaster declared that one cannot help feeling a “sense of growing unease” about the movement’s liturgical peculiarities.

The norms issued by the prelate stipulate that Masses should always be celebrated on the main altar or in an approved chapel – in other words, not on some non-liturgical prop, as has become a deplorable habit with the members of the Way. Moreover, there is no longer to be any delay between the distribution and the consummation of Communion; indeed, in certain Neocatechumenical groups, Communion is only consumed once everyone has received the Divine Host, which does not fail to leave room for certain abuses.

Paul Hayward, a catechist and the head of the Wythenshawe community, speaking on behalf of Neocatechumenal groups in northern England, said he had asked Bishop Campbell to hold off implementing what he calls the “restrictive” norms until representatives of the Neocatechumenical Way had had a chance to meet him. “We begged  him not to initiate any of this before we can explain how we do things and why,” he said.

But the prelate does not wish to waste any time, and the norms are to come into effect on July 1. The danger that many bishops fear is that the particular habits of the Neocatechumenal communities all over the world will introduce a new “rite” into the Latin liturgy, artificially created by the founders of the Way, a rite that is foreign to  liturgical tradition, full of doctrinal ambiguities, and a cause for division in the community of the faithful. In short, a new Mass of the New Mass.

The Neocatechumenical Way was recognized by John Paul II  in 1990 as “a means of Catholic formation”. The name “Way” is most fitting, since it is what you might call an initiatory process. It was founded in the district of Palomeras, on the outskirts of Madrid, in 1964, by two Spanish laymen, Francisco José Gómez de Argüello – known as Kiko Argüello – and Carmen Hernández, who died on July 19, 2016.

Since its foundation, the Way has spread throughout the entire world. In 2008, it was established in 1,000 dioceses and in 120 different countries, especially in Italy and Spain. It claims to have 42,000 communities, each of which has between 20 and 50 members. It also has the Redemptoris Mater seminaries, with about 3,000 priests and 1,500 seminarians.

Born in the spirit and ideology of Vatican II, the movement advocates going back to the teachings of ancient Christianity, with all the excessess this sort of archaism cannot but encourage.

In the diocese of Lancaster, there are seven communities based in Preston, Carlisle, and Blackpool, with about 150 members altogether.

The Neocatechumenical Way, whose statutes were approved by Rome in 2008, has special permission to celebrate Mass in its own distinctive way, which most often goes against the liturgical laws of the Church. Thus, the Eucharist is received by communicants standing and remaining in their place, and the priest does not necessarily consume Communion before distributing it…

These liturgical excesses are nothing new and are added to other critiques: the heads of the community were severely reined in during an audience in March 2016, in which the Sovereign Pontiff warned them against pride, closemindedness, and a tendency to judge others. The devil “is ‘the divider’ and often starts off by making us believe that we are good, perhaps better than others.” The pope concluded by exhorting the members of the Way to live in “unity with all and obedience to the Church”.