The Pope calls the Neo-Catechumenal Way to order

Source: FSSPX News


In a letter signed on December 1, 2005, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, announced some “decisions” of Benedict XVI on the liturgical practices of the Neo-Catechumenal Way which were judged as being illegitimate.

This private letter was cited by Il Giornale and by the National Catholic Reporter, published on the web site of the Italian magazine L’Espresso and by the Italian Vatican-watcher Sandro Magister on his web site Chiesa.

Cardinal Arinze enunciated a list of six points given in mid-December to Father Mario Pezzi, to Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernandez, founders and leaders of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, which spelled out the liturgical line of the Catholic Church that must be followed.

The corrections required by the Holy See for the Neo-Catechumenal Way represent the last stage in the procedure for the definitive approbation of the statutes of the movement. In fact, the Holy See approved the statutes of this movement on June 29, 2002 ad experimentum for five years.

The members of the movement of Christian initiation and education in the Catholic Faith must accept and follow in their masses “the approved liturgical books of the Church, without any omissions or additions”. The celebrant will also have to use the other eucharistic prayers contained in the missal, and not only Eucharistic Prayer II, he added.

The letter recalled that” Sunday is the Day of the Lord” and not just Saturday evening. For this reason, the pope is requiring the groups of the Neo-Catechumenate to participate at least once a month in the parish Mass on Sunday.

The homily, by its nature and importance, is “reserved to the priest or deacon”, he recalled. They must be prudent in their use of “dialogue” in the homily. The instructions made prior to the readings should be brief. And if “teachings and testimonies” are admitted, they must not take on characteristics which would cause the faithful to confuse them with the homily.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued reservations regarding the way the Neo-Catechumenals currently receive communion, that is, seated around a large table, which replaces the altar in the center of the church. They must from now on receive the body and blood of Christ according to the “manner determined in the liturgical books”, that is, standing or kneeling. The Congregation authorized a time of transition – not to exceed two years! – in order to adapt quickly “to the normal manner of receiving communion practiced by the entire Church”. Until now, the faithful of the Way shared a large loaf of bread and passed the chalice from one to the other.

Moreover, the Vatican Congregation responsible for the liturgy conceded a special “indult” for the sign of peace. It is done before the Offertory in the celebrations of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, as it is in the Milanese Ambrosian rite, but not as in the Roman rite, where it is done at the end of the recitation of the Our Father.

On September 21, 2002, John-Paul II had recalled to the founders of the movement that the dicasteries of the Holy See (Council for the Laity, Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Clergy, the Liturgy and the Discipline of the Sacraments and Catholic Education) had to examine the catechetical directory, catechetical practice as well as the liturgy of the Way. An editorial in La Civilta Cattolica of August 19, 2004, reviewed by the Secretariat of State, had warned against “the dangers” of the movement.

Benedict XVI had received the founders of the Neo-Catechumenal Way last November. In a “Note” published on November 22 the organizers of the movement declared: “It’s the first time that the pope officially received the leadership team of the Way”.  “The interview touched on the theme of the liturgical practice of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, for which the pope has a great appreciation”, they added. Nevertheless, the recent letter of Cardinal Arinze definitely specifies that the decision of the pope “regarding the celebration of the Most Blessed Sacrament in the Neo-Catechumenal Way” corresponds to the orientations conveyed during the audience of November.

This movement, founded in Spain in 1964 is particularly active in Spain, Italy and Latin America, and is also present in France. It comprises 16,700 communities in more than 880 dioceses, 5,000 parishes and 100 countries, of which many are mission territories.

The Sovereign Pontiff will receive 209 families of the Way on January 12 at the Vatican, in order to send them on missions throughout the world, giving them a crucifix. “This group of families will join the 400 families already sent by John-Paul II”, indicated the Note of the Way dated November 22.