The Neocatechumenal Way  is an entity within the Catholic Church dedicated to the Christian formation of adults. Taking its inspiration from the catechumenate of the Early Church, by which converts from paganism were prepared for baptism, it provides a post-baptismal catechumenate to adults who are already members of the Church.
The Neocatechumenate was initiated in 1964 by the Spanish painter Francisco (Kiko) Argüello as a response to the Second Vatican Council. The Neocatechumenate is implemented in small, parish-based communities of between 20-50 people. There are around 20,000 such communities throughout the World, with an estimated 1 million members.
- 1 History of the Neocatechumenal Way
- 2 Nature and Mission of the Neocatechumenal Communities
- 3 Leadership of the Neocatechumenal Way
- 4 Missionary Activity
- 5 The Redemptoris Mater Seminaries
- 6 The World Youth Days
- 7 The Statutes: a Partial Approval
- 8 Liturgical Concerns and "Holy Father's Decisions"
- 9 Criticisms from Roman Catholic World
- 10 Recent Developments
- 11 Notes, Documents and References
- 12 External links
History of the Neocatechumenal Way
The Pontifical Council for the Laity's decree officially describes the history of the movement as follows: “The Neocatechumenal Way began in 1964 in the slums of Palomeras Altas, Madrid, through the work of Mr. Francisco (Kiko) Argüello and Ms. Carmen Hernández who, at the request of the poor with whom they were living, began to proclaim to them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As time passed, this kerygma was embodied in a catechetical synthesis, founded on what is called the tripod: "Word of God-Liturgy-Community", that seeks to lead people to fraternal communion and mature faith.
This new catechetical experience, born in the wake of the renewal inspired by the Second Vatican Council, attracted the keen interest of Archbishop Casimiro Morcillo, who encouraged the initiators of the Way to spread it to the parishes who asked for it. This experience of evangelization thus spread gradually through the Archdiocese of Madrid and to other Spanish dioceses.
In 1968, the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way arrived in Rome and settled in the Borghetto Latino. With the permission of Cardinal Angelo Dell'Acqua, then Vicar General of His Holiness for the city and district of Rome, the first catechesis began in the parish of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the Canadian Martyrs. Since then, the NC Way has continued to spread to dioceses around the world and even to mission countries”
In 1974, thanks to Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the Congregation for Divine Worship publicized on their official magazine, a brief note Praeclarum exemplar appreciating the works of the Neocatechumenal communities.
Nature and Mission of the Neocatechumenal Communities
According to its first Statute (expired in 2007), the Neocatechumenal Way “is at the service of the Bishops as a form of diocesan implementation of Christian initiation and of ongoing education in faith, in accordance with the indications of the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of the Church”.
It is made up of a "post-baptismal catechumenate" (or baptismal catechumenate if the members have not received the sacrament of baptism), an ongoing education in faith and a service of catechesis.
The Neocatechumenal Way is implemented in the dioceses under the direction of the diocesan Bishop and with the guidance of the Responsible Team of the Way “according to the lines proposed by its initiators”.
Leadership of the Neocatechumenal Way
The Neocatechumenate is led by the International Responsible Team of the Way, which comprises the Initiators, Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, together with Father Mario Pezzi, a priest of the Diocese of Rome. Under the terms of the 2002 statute, this team will remain in place until the demise of its members, after which an electoral college of senior neocatechumenal catechists will elect a new team, with a mandate to lead the NC Way for a period of 7 years.
Leadership at national and regional level is given by around 700 teams of "Itinerant Catechists", comprising a priest and 2 or 3 lay people, appointed and supervised by the International Responsible Team. Depending on the number of communities in a particular area, a team of Itinerant Catechists may be responsible for the implementation of the NC Way in a country, a group of countries or a region of a country.
Pope John Paul II summarized the role of the Itinerant Catechists in a Private Audience for 2000 priests of the Neocatechumenal Communities in December 1985 (reported in the Italian edition of Osservatore Romano, 11 December 1985):
"They contribute by forming the first neocatechumenal communities of a parish, and are supposed to maintain regular contact with the Bishops of the diocese in which they work; the itinerant teams preserve a constant link with the responsibles of the Neocatechumenal Way, visiting periodically the communities they catechized and taking care of the development of the Neocatechumenal Way in the territory assigned to them, being fully faithful to the charism given to the initiators and obedient to the local Ordinary."
The Itinerant Catechists do not make any formal commitment to their missionary role, and are free to resign at any moment.
In front of the secularization of Northern Europe and vast areas in the world, the Initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, have began the experience of families in mission. This charisma serves to establish the presence of the Catholic Church in countries where there is none (this is referred as Implantatio Ecclesiae) or to strengthen the presence of Catholic communities in particularly difficult areas.
About two-hundred families met with Pope Benedict XVI asking for the missionary mandate before beginning their mission to mainly France, Belgium, Germany and China on January 12, 2006 bringing the number of “Families in Mission” from the Neocatechumenal Way to over five-hundred in the entire world.. The Pope also spoke about the "certain norms" contained in the letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship on the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the Neocatechumenal communities. He explained that the purpose of these norms is to make the apostolate of the Neocatechumenal Way "even more effective" in communion with all the People of God.
In March of 2008 the Neocatechumenal Way held a meeting with nine cardinals, including Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, and Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, and 160 European bishops who gathered March 24-29 at the Domus Galilaeae International Center on the Mount of Beatitudes in Galilee. Cardinal Schönborn said that during the last 40 years Europe has said ‘no’ to its future three times: in 1968 when it rejected 'Humanae Vitae'; then, 20 years later, with the legalization of abortion; and today with homosexual marriages. He also called the Neocatechumenal Way an answer of the Holy Spirit to this situation. A joint declaration from the bishops said Here we have an important proposal, the proposal of the Neocatechumenal Way, which is to renew the life of the family.
The Redemptoris Mater Seminaries
Kiko and Carmen also started the "Redemptoris Mater" Seminaries. These diocesan seminaries are presented as a fruit of the Second Vatican Council as well as a fruit of the prophetical vision of Pope John Paul II and accept only priestly vocations coming from the Neocatechumenal Way. The idea to establish these seminaries started in Rome, the diocese of the Holy Father, to establish a seminary with these characteristics:
- international, i.e. with vocations coming from different nations;
- missionary, i.e. that upon ordination, the priests are available to go wherever the ordinary sends them.
The seminarians in these seminaries have the same educational formation as the other diocesan seminarians, following the directives of the nations where they are erected, and the Neocatechumenal Way guidelines on liturgy and catechesis. The "Redemptoris Mater" Seminaries are seminaries of the diocese and under the full jurisdiction of the ordinary. Today, 73 Redemptoris Mater Seminaries have been started in the world, which have led to ordain more than 1200 Neocatechumenal priests.
The most significant aspect of these Seminaries lies in their relationship to the Neocatechumenal Way, as a Way of maturing towards an adult faith: this Way prepares and awakens vocations in many young people before they enter the seminary. It accompanies them during their time of formation; once ordained as presbyters it continues to sustain them in their permanent formation. The Neocatechumenal Way itself then becomes a means of evangelisation for the ‘far away’, an instrument for the "implantatio ecclesiae", through the presence of families that accompany them and help them in their mission.
In April 2008, the Japanese Bishops' Conference sent a delegation “to discuss with Pope Benedict XVI "the serious problem" they are having with the Neocatechumenal Way and its seminary in Takamatsu diocese”. Peter Takeo Okada, Archbishop of Tokyo, said that “in the small Catholic Church of Japan, the powerful sect-like activity of Way members is divisive and confrontational. It has caused sharp painful division and strife within the Church. We are struggling with all our strength to overcome the problem but feel that if a solution is to be found, the consideration of Your Holiness for the Church in Japan will be of the utmost importance and direly needed”.
The World Youth Days
The World Youth Day has been periodically organized by the Roman Catholic Church, during which the Pope summoned youths from all over the world to a chosen city. The Neocatechumenal Way has been an active organizer within the World Youth Days and has rallied youths from the Neocatechumenal Communities to attend the World Youth Day. During the last World Youth Day, held in Cologne in August 2005, Neocatechumenals claim that nearly one hundred thousand youth from the NC Way met in Cologne (nearly about 10% of the total of all the youths from around the World who attended the event).
After the meeting with the Pope held for all the youths, the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way organized a meeting with the Neocatechumenal Way youths, at the end of which a call for vocations was made by Kiko Argüello, who said that in Bonn around one thousand five hundred (1,500) young men answered the call for the priesthood, together with another nine hundred (900) young women who felt called to enter a religious order.
These young men and women, began a process of discernment in their own dioceses and NC Way communities (most of the priestly vocations go to a "Redemptoris Mater" seminary), which may lead to priesthood or consecrated life.
At a meeting in Loreto in September 2007 led by Pope Benedict XVI, which was organised as a run-up to the WYD in Sydney in 2008, more than 100,000 Neocatechumenal Way youths exclusively from Europe attended the meeting. The next day, during the meeting organised for the youths of the Neocatechumenal Way, according to the organizers, two thousand young men and one thousand two hundred young women from Europe answered the call for consecrated life.
Since the meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1984 the Way has had vocational calls in order to “harvest the fruits” which grew in the encounters with the Holy Father. When the call was made in Loreto some 2,000 man and 1,200 women stood up showing their willingness to become priests or to live a consecrated life and received a blessing (numbers were stated by Kiko; another pro-Neocatechumenal source reports the actual overall number being around but not larger than one thousand, including “7-year-old children and people doing it only for fun”).
The Statutes: a Partial Approval
The Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way approved in June 2002 by Pontifical Council for the Laity were marked as ad experimentum (Latin words meaning "experimental version") for five years, they thus expired in June 2007. They required the approval of an unpublished Catechetical Directory containing a version of the catechetical statements of the Way without heretical statements or doctrinal errors; currently the Holy See Congregations are still verifying and correcting the documentation of the Way (more than thirteen volumes). As the name states, the Statutes described what the Way "has to do", while the Catechetical Directory will describe the method and the doctrines of the Way.
In the days following the approval of the Statutes, Pope John Paul II did not mention the event; only on September 21st, 2002, he will mention the Statutes telling to Neocatechumenals that “it is now the task of the competent offices of the Holy See to examine the Catechetical Directory and the catechetical and liturgical practices of the Way. I am sure that its members willingly and generously support the directives they will receive from these authoritative sources”.
The ad experimentum Statutes expired in June 2007; to date, neither a Catechetical Directory nor a final edition of the Statutes have been approved.
According to rumors in many Neocatechumenal communities, a definitive approval of the NC Way was expected in June 2007 (news coming from an interview with Kiko Argüello on the Spanish newspaper La Razón on May 28, 2007), then in September 2007, then in February 2008, and finally Easter 2008. Korazym, an Italian news website which always praised the Way, reported those rumors and commented: “Neocatechumenals' Statutes case has become a telenovela”, also highlighting that the rumors were mostly originated by Kiko Argüello.
Another ad experimentum release of the Statutes is expected in late May 2008, for 7 years (thus expiring in May 2015).
Liturgical Concerns and "Holy Father's Decisions"
The Holy See is mainly concerned about Neocatechumenal liturgies. On December 1st, 2005, a few days after Benedict XVI met in a private audience with Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández and fr. Mario Pezzi, Cardinal Francis Cardinal Arinze sent to Argüello, Hernández and father Pezzi a letter  containing “Holy Father's decisions“ about Neocatechumenal liturgies, requiring that “in the celebration of the Holy Mass, the Neocatechumenal Way shall accept and follow the liturgical books approved by the Church, without omitting or adding anything“ and stating that:
- ”at least one Sunday per month, the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way must participate in the Holy Mass of the parish community”;
- ”as for any admonitions issued before the readings, these must be brief”;
- ”the homily to the priest or deacon is reserved to the priest or deacon;
- about "echoes", that they “be brief and not take the place of an homily”;
- ”on the exchange of peace, permission is granted to the Neocatechumenal Way to continue using the indult already granted, pending further instructions“;
- ”on the manner of receiving Holy Communion, a period of transition (not exceeding two years) is granted to the Neocatechumenal Way to pass from the widespread manner of receiving Holy Communion in its communities to the normal way in which the entire Church receives Holy Communion. This means that the Neocatechumenal Way must begin to adopt the manner of distributing the Body and Blood of Christ that is provided in the liturgical books”.
- ”in short, the Neocatechumenal Way, in its celebration of the Holy Mass, should follow the approved liturgical books, keeping in mind what is laid out above under the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6”.
Criticisms from Roman Catholic World
The Way is praised and encouraged by lots of Bishops and priests; the most known is in the letter Ogniqualvolta by pope John Paul II to mgr. Paul Josef Cordes (dated August 1990), where he wrote: “having seen the documentation you sent me, welcoming the request addressed to me, I acknowledge the Neocatechumenal Way as an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for our society and for our times”.
In the Roman Catholic Church there are some serious concerns about the NC Way. In 1983, pope John Paul II already told to Neocatechumenal communities: “do not isolate yourself from the Parishes and Dioceses (...) Follow without negligence and without omissions Canonical and Liturgical laws”.
There are four kinds of concerns about the Way, coming from Roman Catholic priests and hierarchy:
- doctrine: equivocal and misleading doctrinal statements, sometimes near to heresy;
- liturgy: serious differences between the Way and the Catholic Church liturgies (large "admonitions" - "introductions" like homilies -, use of a cloth-covered "dinner style" square table instead of the Altar, receiving the Holy Communion while sitting, lengthy and closed-doors liturgies, etc);
- pastoral: cult-like practices (original catechetical texts kept secret as far as possible; the Way shown as the only way to be Catholic; the length of the Way, often way more than 15-20 years; excess of emphasis on the Old Testament; reduction of the importance of the sacraments; reduction of the devotion to the Virgin Mary; Neocatechumenal catechists considered better than priests and Bishops; cult of personality; "fabricated" Redemptoris Mater priests; etc);
- other aspects: ugly chants, negative consideration about Catholic history between Constantine and Second Vatican Council, excessive emphasis about the demon, Messianism, etc.
These aspects are dealt in Roman Catholic Bishops documents and books about the Way written by Roman Catholic priests.
Neocatechumenals defend themselves accusing biases, badmouthing and misunderstandings, and asserting compatibility between the Way and the Catholic Church. Anyways, only Roman Catholic Church has the right to judge if and how the claimed compatibility does exist. In the following paragraphs there are some doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral considerations from Catholic hierarchy and priests. In some cases, a number of diocesan bishops issued letters or decrees to control this reality at a local level, or regarding the modalities of its liturgies; there were even bishops totally prohibiting the Neocatechumenal Way in their own diocese.
Criticism by Priests and Theologians
The first documented criticism to the Way came in 1983 by mgr. Pier Carlo Landucci. Landucci analyzed the catechism of the NC Way and wrote that, compared to the Catholic Church, in the NC Way “there is not even a single doctrinal statement or practical action which is not deformed; everything is impressively rough and confused, both in theological and biblical aspects, while keeping an evocative attitude of personal engagement“. Landucci stresses that:
- compared to the Church, in the Neocatechumenal Way “all the fundamental theological truth positions are horribly deformed, and -consequently- also the sacraments”;
- in the Way, while keeping some truth aspect, “all statements are intended to impress” people, as in a sect;
- Neocatechumenal doctrine is “in line with the Protestants negation of the true sacraments”;
- in the Way there is a “great confusion about theology and Bible, but showing an appearance of sharpness and charisma”;
- Neocatechumenal people show a “treacherous identification” of the Way and the Vatican II “as if the Vatican II line was (and only was) their”.
Another documented criticism came later by the theologian and philosopher Passionist priest Enrico Zoffoli (1915-1996), who wrote in the last ten years of his life a number of books, articles and letters about the Way. In his Dictionary of Christianity (1992) he wrote about the Neocatechumenals: “their doctrine is seriously compromised with errors against fundamental dogmatics of the Church, the Popes and the Councils. They negate the Redemption, the sacrifice character of the Eucharist, the transubstantiation, etc... they misunderstand the sin and the Grace concepts... their doctrinal statements are fundamentally wrong“.
In a letter to the chief of Radio Maria in 1994, Zoffoli reported that already in the late Sixties saint Pio of Pietrelcina defined Kiko Argüello and the Neocatechumenals as “the new false prophets“.
Criticism by Bishops and Cardinals
A number of Roman Catholic Bishops and Cardinals expressed explicit written criticisms against the Way; a few examples are reported here.
- a “pessimistic idea about human life”;
- ”bad ideas about other Catholic religious styles”;
- problems about “sacraments discipline”;
- a “common disobedience to Bishops” by priests of the NC Way.
In 1995 Silvano Cardinal Piovanelli, Archbishop of Florence wrote that in the parishes where the Way operated there were "tensions" and problems and asked to the Neocatechumenals to stop contrasts.
In 1996 Salvatore Cardinal Pappalardo, Archbishop of Palermo (southern Italy), wrote a letter to all Neocatechumenal communities, and also to all priests of his diocese, to prohibit to Neocatechumenals the “closed-doors liturgies... or anyways "isolated" from other Catholics”; he also wrote that “the Way is not equal to the entire Church... so the Way shall not avoid the Parish liturgies”.
In 1996 Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster (UK) refused to ordain fifteen seminary students coming from Neocatechumenal Way, because of their obedience, expected to be more to their communities than to the Bishop.
In 1997 Mervyn Alban Alexander, Bishop of Clifton (UK), prohibited the Neocatechumenal Way in his diocese stating that “the catechetical and evangelisation methods of the "Neo-Catechumenate" are neither beneficial nor appropriate”.
- the priest is reduced to a simple "liturgical executor";
- the "pessimism" is substituted to the "Christian hope";
- there is a deliberate "separation" from the "non-Neocatechumenal Catholics";
- the "alleged" "insuperable" Neocatechumenal "method";
- the "serious problems" "emerged in the Parishes where the Way is present";
- the so-called "scrutinies", seen as "public confessions of sins", like the worst fundamentalist sects.
In 2008 Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima (Peru), in an interview about liturgical abuses, said: “I absolutely do not approve some aspects of the celebration of the Holy Mass by the Neocatechumenals, and I repeat that the liturgy is unique and must be respected by everyone in the same manner“.
Also on April 2008, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez (Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) also criticized Neocatechumenal liturgies, reporting that they effectively disobeyed to the letter of 1 December 2005:
- “In their liturgies I found weird things and strange issues. The Holy See has asked them to correct and obey; I also ask them to do, because the liturgy is not a property of someone, and not even Kiko Argüello's”
- “The Holy Communion, seating instead of kneeling (an absolute disrespect to Christ)”
- “Then the homilies: lay people - I repeat: lay people - do sermons that even if not called "homilies", they indeed are. Only a priest or deacon can. These are dangerous abuses”.
During that same period German Bishop Josef Clemens, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, stated that he does not expect the approval of Neocatechumenal statues to happen in near future as the liturgy issues were not yet resolved.
Mgr. Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, called “disrespectful towards the Holy Sacrament and the Holy Father” the way Kiko Argüello received the Holy Communion (with arms crossed) by Benedict XVI, and said that “no news about the Statutes”. A similar comment came from mgr. Nicola Bux, a theologian of the same Congregation and mgr. Marco Frisina.
"Very Content with the Norms": a Letter to the Pope (1/2006)
On 17 January 2006, Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández and fr. Mario Pezzi sent to pope Benedict XVI a letter in which they claim to be "very content with the norms" about liturgy, but claim the need to "speak with the Bishop of each Diocese" to arrange the participation "at least one Sunday per month", and still praise the Neocatechumenal liturgies, while thanking for the "period of two years" about distributing the Communion (period of transition given in Arinze's letter was expressed as "not exceeding two years", while Kiko, Carmen and Pezzi thank for "granting a period of two years").
Pope meets with Roman Clergy: "Many Complications Still Exist Today" (2/2007)
On Thursday 22 February 2007, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, met the clergy of Rome. In a question-and-answer session with Roman clergy fr. Gerardo Raul Carcar asked the Pope for advice on how he should integrate movements in order to develop a real ministry of unity in the universal Church.
The Neocatechumenal Way was mentioned briefly by the Pope in the following:
"For example, we ask ourselves whether, after five years of experience, it is possible to confirm definitively the Statutes for the Neocatechumenal Way, whether a trial period is necessary or whether, perhaps, certain elements of this structure need perfecting. In any case, I knew the Neocatechumenals from the very outset. It was a long Way, with many complications that still exist today, but we have found an ecclesial form that has already vastly improved the relationship between the Pastor and the Way. We are going ahead like this! The same can be said for other Movements."
The Holy Father cited two rules for movements' growth: respect for the charism, and integration with and service of the Church.
A letter from the Bishops of the Holy Land (2/2007)
Three days later, on the 25, The Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land sent a letter to Kiko saying, amongst other things:
- Brothers and sisters of the Way: You are welcome in our dioceses.
- Pursuant to the letter that Pope Benedict XVI addressed to you on January 12, 2006, and the one from the Congregation for Divine Worship on December 1, 2005, was ask you to take your place in the heart of the parish in which you proclaim the Word of God, avoiding making yourselves a group apart.
- Your first duty, if you want to help the faithful grow in faith, is that of rooting them in the parishes and in their own liturgical traditions in which they have grown up for generations.
- The rite is like an identification card, and not only one way of praying among others. We implore you to have the charity to understand and respect the attachment of our faithful to their own liturgies.
- The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity in the parish, and not of fragmentation. And so we ask that the Eucharistic celebrations, in all the Eastern rites as well as in the Latin rite, be presided over always by the pastor, or in the case of the Latin rite, in full agreement with him. “Where the bishop is, there is the Church,” wrote Saint Ignatius of Antioch. Teach the faithful to love their liturgical traditions, and put your charism at the service of unity.
- We also ask you to undertake a serious study of the language and culture of the people, as a sign of respect for them and as a means of understanding their soul and their history, in the context of the Holy Land: religious, cultural, and national pluralism.
Melkite Leader invites NC Way to "adopt the Melkite Catholic rite" (6/2007)
In June 2007, Abuna Elias Chacour (Melkite Archbishop of the Archeparchy of Acri, Haifa, Nazareth, and all Galilee) has proposed the establishment of a new "branch" of the Neocatechumenal Way "to work specifically in the Eastern-rite Church" (Melkite liturgy).
He also mentions the fruits born of The Way in Israel, "We know the tree by its fruits, and after several months of diligent work in the different parishes of the Melkite Catholic diocese, your group has given some excellent fruits."
He continues stating that the Communities would have to conform to the Melkite rites, "I would be happy to consider even a branch of the Neocatechumenate to join our Church and adopt the Melkite Catholic rite."
Archbishop Chacour states in his message that he has searched for "someone or some community to preach the Good News to my parishioners" as an answer to proselytism of the sects, and that the Neocatechumenal Way is an answer. Fr. Rino Rossi received the letter with great joy and reported to ZENIT that "We share the sense of urgency expressed by Archbishop Chacour to evangelize 'the living stones' in the land of the Lord."
It has now also been announced that a Redemptoris Mater Seminary of the Melkite Rite is due to open in 2008.
Notes, Documents and References
- Also kown as the Neocatechumenate or NC Way, and The Way
- The term post-baptismal catechumenate is also used in the §1231 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, related to the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself.
- Virgilio Mario Olmi, Auxiliary Bishop of Brescia, wrote that he was unable to verify the doctrinal contents of the NC Way (Virgilio Mario Olmi, Rapporto sulle Comunità Neocatecumenali, published on Jesus, August 1987, pp. 16-19)
- Source: Kiko Argüello meets with Benedict XVI (27 May 2007).
- "The Neocatechumenal Way was banned as a disruptive influence in several overseas dioceses before it got the Pope's official blessing last year" A fortified church, at too high a price, on Sidney Morning Herald. See also Neocatechumenate Cult Fiction: the Protestant cuckoo in the Catholic nest, on Catholic Unattached Directory.
- Casimiro Morcillo González (1904-1971) was the first Archbishop of Madrid.
- (Carmen Hernández speech says Morcillo visited the slums (in Italian) June 28, 2002).
- Father Dino Torreggiani (1905-1983), wrote a presentation letter to Cardinal Angelo Dell'Acqua (source: Kiko, Dossetti e 'le ironie della sorte' (Catechumenium.it)).
- Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, June 2002.
- Cfr. Notitiae, n. 95-96, June-August 1974, pp. 229-230.
- Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way, Title I, Art. 1, § 2.
- Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way, Title I, Art. 1, § 3.
- Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way, Title I, Art. 2, citing John Paul II, letter Ogniqualvolta, 30 August 1990, in Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS), nr. 82 (1990), page 1515.
- Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way, Title VI, Art. 34-35.
- Homily of Pope John Paul II recorded in the Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano, 31st December, 1988)
- Benedict XVI speech to Neocatechumenals (12-Jan-2006).
- Liturgy: Benedict XVI Brings the Neocatechumenals Back to the Right Way. See the Liturgy Problems section above.
- Benedict XVI speech to members of the Neocatechumenal Way (12-Jan-2006): "Precisely to help the Neocatechumenal Way to render even more effective its evangelizing action in communion with all the People of God, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments recently imparted to you in my name certain norms concerning the Eucharistic Celebration, after the trial period that the Servant of God John Paul II conceded. I am sure you will attentively observe these norms that reflect what is provided for in the liturgical books approved by the Church".
- Neocatechumenal Way Saying "Yes" to Europe.
- The inspiration is said to come from the Presbyterorum Ordinis, a document of the Second Vatican Council, where it is said: “Let priests remember, therefore, that the care of all churches must be their intimate concern. Hence, priests of such dioceses rich in vocations should show themselves willing and ready, with the permission of their own ordinaries, to volunteer for work in other regions, missions or endeavors which are poor in numbers of clergy... To accomplish this purpose there should be set up international seminaries... by means of which, according to their particular statutes and always saving the right of Bishops, priests may be trained and incardinated for the good of the whole Church...” (cfr. chapter 10 of Presbyterorum Ordinis)
- [http://www.camminoneocatecumenale.it/all/papa.asp?id=159 Historical note on Neocatechumenal Way
- Japanese Bishops Meet Pope For Second Time In Five Months (UCANews - April 29, 2008).
- Not all people "answering Kiko's call" actually become priests and nuns. See also the "Neocatechumenal Youth show readiness" later on.
- Source: Neocatechumenal Meeting Attracts 90,000 (from Zenit News Agency).
- As above, these possibly inflated figures come from NC Way initiators. See the "Neocatechumenal Youth show readiness" section later on. When calling for vocations, Kiko Argüello asked: “when will you have Christ entering your life? Are you waiting for your mother to die of cancer?” (Italian text reads: “quando meglio di adesso devi far entrare Cristo nella tua vita? Devi forse aspettare che tua madre muoia di cancro? Ora!” Loreto, lunedì a Montorso per 100mila neocat. Kiko: "Gli Statuti saranno approvati").
- Original story on Korazym (in Italian). The Italian text reads: “bambini di poco più di sette anni, e facce che danno l’impressione più di scherzare che di fare sul serio”
- A first version of the Statutes got no approval in May 1999; a second version also got no approval in late 1999. Cfr. Father Elio Marighetto, I segreti del Cammino Neocatecumenale, edizioni Segno, Udine (Italy), p.217.
- The Catechetical Directory is known to contain errors; they were first pointed out by mgr. Landucci and fr. Zoffoli (see Criticism section), and later admitted by a number of NC Way leaders. During an international meeting of NC Way leaders with Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández at Porto San Giorgio in Italy (May 1999), Kiko reported about the need of “corrections” of the Neocatechumenal catechesis because of some “not-so-exact and not-so-orthodox expressions”. Source: Cammino Neocatecumenale: storia, struttura, tappe (in RTF format; Italian text reads: “le espressioni considerate imprecise o non proprio ortodosse”). About the NC Way, Father Marcello Stanzione also sees “gnosticism” and “using money to buy consensus” (Neocatecumenali: gnosi e uso del denaro per accrescere il consenso).
- In 2002, Sandro Magister wrote on L'espresso (L'exploit dei neocatecumenali. Kiko, Carmen e i faraoni, 15 August 2002) that Cardinal Medina Estévez accused “those bizarre liturgies, and those weird doctrines” of the Neocatechumenals, while then-Cardinal Ratzinger explicitly required to rewrite under his own supervision the “13 secret catechetical books of the Way” before their publication, and the rewriting “is a very hard work” (Italian text reads: “Si può capire che in curia il cardinale Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez, prefetto della congregazione per il culto divino e la disciplina dei sacramenti, veda malissimo queste bizzarrie liturgiche. Ma poi ci sono anche le stranezze dottrinali. Il cardinale Joseph Ratzinger, prefetto della congregazione per la dottrina della fede, ha imposto di riscrivere sotto la sua supervisione i 13 volumi segreti del Cammino, che raccolgono la predicazione di Kiko e Carmen ai loro iniziali discepoli, prima che divengano pubblici. La riscrittura è in corso e risulta parecchio complicata”).
- Since the Nineties, rumors about approval of the Catechetical Directory have often spread out, but no formal approval came yet. For example, in October 2006, mgr. Miguel Delgado Galindo said that “the Directory, that is to say all of the volumes that contain it, were temporarily approved from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (Italian text reads: “il Direttorio, cioè tutti i volumi che lo contengono, sono stati approvati provvisoriamente dalla Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede”). According to mgr. Delgado Galindo, the alleged informal approvation should have taken place during the time the Congregation was headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Today, a formal approvation has not been published yet.
- Cfr. pope John Paul II, Homily (29-Jun-2002), Angelus (30-Jun-2002), General Audience (3-Jul-2002), Angelus (7-Jul-2002).
- Address of John Paul II to the priests and catechists of the Way (21 September 2002).
- “Kiko told us that the Pope confirmed the imminent approval of the Statutes” (Spanish text reads: “Según declaró Kiko Argüello a este diario, el Pontífice les confirmó la próxima aprobación definitiva de los estatutos”; the original article is available also on Caminayven website: El Papa recibe en audiencia privada a los responsables del Camino Neocatecumenal).
- Neocatecumenali: e quella degli Statuti diventa una telenovela ("Neocatechumenals: the Statutes case has become a telenovela").
- Regarding the approval, Korazym reporters always relied on “explicit declarations about it coming from the most authoritative head of the Neocatechumenal Way”, that is Kiko Argüello (Italian text reads: “apposite dichiarazioni in merito da parte del più autorevole esponente del Cammino Neocatecumenale medesimo”).
- Source: Altri sette anni di ‘purgatorio’ per i Neocatecumenali: gli Statuti non convincono il Papa. Ribadita la richiesta di adeguare la liturgia e le catechesi del Cammino a quelle ufficiali della Chiesa.
- A summary from Vaticanist reporters is in Bad History, Bad Guide. The Strange Liturgy of the Neocatechumenals (by Sandro Magister) and Saturday Night Masses for Everyone! Carmen and Kiko's Church of Many Rooms (by Sandro Magister and Pier Giorgio Liverani). See also Liturgy: Benedict XVI Brings the Neocatechumenals Back to the Right Way.
- Lettera della Congregazione per il Culto Divino al Cammino Neocatecumenale
- Neocatechumenals "usually ignore every activity within the parish" (The statute of the Neocatechumenal Way in the everyday context of a parish life (originally in Orientamenti Pastorali, n. 10, October 2002, pages 68-75).
- The original Italian text says "eventuali" (as reported in the Zenit.org page), which actually means "rare" (instead of "eventual" or "any"). The Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani and Ordo Lectionum Missae paragraphs of the Roman Missal mentioned in the letter actually allow admonitions but with a rather large number of restrictions; they must be rare, simple, adhering to the readings, short, well-prepared, almost always from the priest or the deacon, and must appear only as an introduction to the readings.
- The term monizioni ("admonitions") means a short sermon given during Mass. The term risonanze ("echoes") means short testimonies given by lay people after the readings.
- In June 1989 an official decree of the Diocese of Orvieto-Todi regarding Neocatechumenal liturgies stated "the homily is reserved to the priest or deacon" (Celebrazioni eucaristiche delle Comunità Neocatecumenali, prot. 156/89 C.V., June 17, 1989; reported in Elio Marighetto, I segreti del Cammino Neocatecumenale, edizioni Segno, Udine, 2001, p. 197).
- Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, in an interview in April 2008 about the NC Way, reported that in the Neocatechumenal Masses lay people still give homilies: "...Then the homilies: lay people - I repeat: lay people - do sermons that even if not called "homilies", they indeed are. Only a priest or deacon can. These are dangerous abuses" (Il Cardinale Medina Estevéz critica i Neocatecumenali: “Facciano Messe senza abusi: la liturgia non è proprietà di nessuno, tantomeno di Kiko Argüello”).
- The term risonanze ("echoes") means short testimonies given by lay people after the gospel is read, and before the priest or deacon gives the homily.
- The kiss of peace is before offertory instead of before Communion. § 49 (note 150) pope Benedict XVI says to have “asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place.
- The letter is dated December 1, 2005; thus this means "not exceeding December 2007".
- The letter was first published by Italian reporter Sandro Magister: Liturgy: Benedict XVI Brings the Neocatechumenals Back to the Right Way. Magister has published articles about Neocatechumenal problems since 1996 (Nel nome di Kiko. La carica dei Neocatecumenali, literally "in the name of Kiko: Neocatechumenal rush").
- Italian text: Intervista a Giuseppe Gennarini (from official Neocatechumenal website); original English text: Interview with Giuseppe Gennarini.
- Giuseppe Gennarini eventually tried to argument the interpretation of the letter when the English translation came out on the internet. This is documented in Vatican Storylines: Those Who Are Resisting Benedict XVI by Italian journalist Sandro Magister, and in Jimmy Akin's articles: Neocatechumenal Spin, Gennarini's reply to Akin and Neocatechumenal, it's still spin. Argüello, Hernàndez and Pezzi never said a word about Gennarini's interpretation.
- Letter "Ogniqualvolta" by pope John Paul II to mgr. Paul Josef Cordes, August 30, 1990.
- Italian text reads: “avendo preso visione della documentazione da Lei presentata, accogliendo la richiesta rivoltami riconosco il Cammino neocatecumenale come un itinerario di formazione cattolica, valida per la società e i tempi odierni”, published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis (official documents magazine of the Holy See), 82/1990, pages 1513-1515, including a note which explains that: “the Holy Father did not mean to give binding indications to Bishops, but only to encourage them to carefully consider the Neocatechumenal communities; the Bishops will decide if and how they will accept in their dioceses the Way“. The English translation on Neocatechumenal Way website misses the “having seen the documentation you sent me“ initial words.
- Comments coming from Catholic Traditionalism groups also express concerns about “liturgical, doctrinal, methodological, spiritual, psychological and sociological aspects of the Neocatechumenate” (The Last Trojan Horse?).
- Italian text reads: “Non chiudetevi in voi stessi, isolandovi dalla vita della Comunità parrocchiale o diocesana (...) Pertanto le norme giuridiche, come anche quelle liturgiche, vanno osservate senza negligenze e senza omissioni”, published in L'Osservatore Romano (official Italian language daily newspaper of the Holy See), February 11, 1983.
- The Italian anti-cult network CeSAP (Center for Studies on Psychological Abuses) also classifies the NC Way as a cult.
- About Kiko Argüello, Father Marcello Stanzione writes of a true “cult of personality”; about "Redemptoris Mater" seminaries, “Neocatechumenals do not trust clergy; this is the reason why Kiko created the Redemptoris Mater seminaries, to have priests in his likeness and after his image” (Italian text reads: “c’è un culto della personalità verso l’Argüello... non si fidano dei preti, è questo il motivo per cui Kiko ha voluto i seminari Redemptoris Mater, per avere un clero plasmato a sua immagine e somiglianza”; Neocatecumenali: gnosi e uso del denaro per accrescere il consenso).
- Among others, Italian novelist Luca Doninelli wrote on Il Giornale: "...Neocatechumenals. Their chants are the most ugly that I've ever heard" (Italian text reads: “...Neocatecumenali. Questi ultimi si distinguono per i loro canti. Sono i canti più monotoni che abbia mai sentito”).
- Messianic Parallels: The Lubavitcher Jews and the Neocatechumenals.
- The most extensive criticism of the Neocatechumenal Way is contained in fr. Enrico Zoffoli books and articles (listed in the Literature section below), most of them available on internet websites in Italian, English, Spanish and Polish (as listed in the notes and external links sections).
- Other criticism came from books and articles of fr. Gino Conti, fr. Elio Marighetto (in the Literature section), fr. Marcello Stanzione (in the Notes section, later on), Charismatic Franciscans and Profeti.net independent studies (both in Italian), Jimmy Akin's articles about "Neocatechumenal Spin" and others.
- Text of the Decree by mgr. Mervyn Alban Alexander, Bishop of Clifton (January 1997).
- Il movimento neocatecumenale. Esposizione e giudizio di mons. P. C. Landucci ("The Neocatechumenal movement: explanations and comments by mgr. Pier Carlo Landucci"), originally published on the Catholic-related monthly magazine Sì sì no no, January 31, 1983 (Italian text is shown here; note: the page incorrectly says "G.C.Landucci" instead of "P.C.Landucci").
- For Pier Carlo Landucci (1900-1986), a former engineer who became priest and theologian and wrote a number of apologetics books and articles, there is currently a beatification proceeding, started in 2002 by Camillo Cardinal Ruini.
- It is important to note that catechism given is not an actual book, but rather a transcript of the first catechisms, this accounts for the rough aspect and sometimes vague ideas
- The Italian term "setta" (sect) means not only a small group which has broken off a larger group, but also means that the new group shows different ideas and behavior.
- Italian Passionist priest Vittorio Lucchetti released a written witness statement about the leak of a 374 page volume of the NC Way "secret catechetical directory" in 1986: he made two copies, and soon gave one to Fr. Zoffoli (La cronaca (falsa) su 'Petrus' e quella (vera) di Padre Zoffoli sui Neocatecumenali).
- A short summary is in Enrico Zoffoli, I neocatecumenali: chi sono, quale il loro "credo", cosa pensarne, edizioni Segno, Udine, Italy, 1990. An English translation is here: The Neocatechumenals. Who they are, what their "creed" is, what we should think of them.
- "As a onetime member and catechist of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, I can only second the late Fr. Zoffoli’s statements. Kiko and Carmen’s “anti-theology” is treacherous, a combination of heretical statements, Vatican II cheerleading, and utter contempt for the pre-conciliar Church. As a reward for such disloyalty, in 2002 the Pontifical Council for the Laity, approved "ad experimentum" for a period of five years the Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way" (source: Remnant Newspaper).
- Radio Maria is a network of Roman Catholic radio broadcasting, which started in 1983 in Italy. The letter by Zoffoli to father Livio Fanzaga is published here (in Italian). Fr. Livio Fanzaga was not a member of the Way but praised it on Radio Maria; in the last years his opinion about the Way has changed.
- Other Italian Bishops and Cardinals expressed criticisms against the Neocatechumenal Way; for example Bishop Lorenzo Bellomi (Trieste, on 1-Mar-1989; Italian text is here), Bishop Arduino Bertoldo (Foligno, on 1-Aug-1995; Italian text is here), Bishop Pietro Nonis (Vicenza, 18-Dec-1996; Italian text is here), Bishop Benito Cocchi (Modena, 2002), Bishop Giulio Sanguineti (Brescia, 25-Dec-2003), Giovanni Cardinal Saldarini (Turin, 17-May-1995; Italian text is here), Giacomo Cardinal Biffi (Bologna, 31-Mar-1996), Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini (Milan, 29-Oct-1999), Ersilio Cardinal Tonini (5-Jun-2006), and the Italian Bishop Conferences of Umbria (2-Mar-1986) and Puglia (1-Mar-1996; Italian text is here) and Basilicata (1-Mar-1998). These documents are also in Don Elio Marighetto, I segreti del Cammino Neocatecumenale, edizioni Segno, Udine, Italy, 2001, pp. 179-212.
- Archbishop Bruno Foresti, Comunicazione al consiglio presbiterale, IX assemblea, published in Rivista della diocesi di Brescia, 1/1987; Italian text is here. In the same Comunicazione, Foresti says that a number of religious congregations - including Comboni Missionaries - prohibited to their members to adhere to the Neocatechumenal Way. Four years later, Comboni Missionaries dismissed fr. Mario Pezzi.
- Sul cammino neocatecumenale. Ai sacerdoti della diocesi di Firenze, letter by Cardinal Silvano Piovanelli to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Florence, March 25, 1995.
- Cammino Neocatecumenale, diocesi e parrocchia ("Neocatechumenal Way, Diocese and Parish"), letter by Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, also published on il Regno 9/1996 (an Italian monthly magazine about Catholic Church, published by Dehonians). On April 25, 1999 Salvatore Cardinal De Giorgi, the next Archbishop of Palermo, asked to Neocatechumenal communities of Sicilia and Calabria that their vocations and missions “must not be developed without prior asking to the Bishop” (reported in Elio Marighetto, I segreti del Cammino Neocatecumenale, ed. Segno, Udine, Italy, 2001, pp. 211-212).
- News coming from Adista 67/1996 (Adista is a leftist Italian news website highly polemic against the Catholics) and Jesus 1/1997 (Jesus is an Italian monthly magazine about Catholic Church, published by Society of Saint Paul).
- Decree by Bishop Mervyn Alexander about Neocatechumenal Way.
- Lettera al Cammino Neocatecumenale (Avvento 2001) by Archbishop Luigi Bommarito.
- Abusi liturgici, il Cardinale Cipriani Thorne invoca maggior rigore: “E anche i Neocatecumenali si adeguino alle direttive della Chiesa”. Italian text reads: “nella celebrazione della Santa Messa da parte dei Neocatecumenali ci sono aspetti che assolutamente non condivido. Ricordo e ribadisco che la liturgia è unica e deve essere rispettata da tutti alla stessa maniera. Insomma, tolleranza sì verso i Neocatecumenali, ma è compito della Chiesa richiamarli al rispetto dell’Eucarestia”.
- Italian text reads: “Negli anni, come Prefetto del Dicastero vaticano competente in materia, ho purtroppo notato nelle loro liturgie autentiche stranezze e preopccupanti stravaganze. Da tempo la Santa Sede li ha invitati a mettersi al passo e ad obbedire; gli consiglio di farlo, perchè la liturgia non è proprietà di nessuno, tantomeno di Kiko Argüello”; “Intanto alla Comunione fatta stando seduti e senza inginocchiarsi. Mi pare un’assoluta mancanza di rispetto verso Cristo. Poi veniano alle omelie. Mi consta che laici - ripeto, laici - facciano dei sermoni che seppure non chiamano esplicitamente omelie, lo sono nella sostanza. Ricordo a me stesso e a loro che secondo la Divina liturgia solo un Ministro consacrato, cioè un sacerdote o un diacono, può fare omelie. Si tratta di abusi pericolosi” (Il Cardinale Medina Estevéz critica i Neocatecumenali: “Facciano Messe senza abusi: la liturgia non è proprietà di nessuno, tantomeno di Kiko Argüello”).
- Originally reported on Radio Vatikan (in German), and Catholic World News. The transcript of the original interview (in Italian) first appeared on Petrus (April 9, 2008), and was later substituted with a page titled: “A long time is needed to approve the Neocatechumenal Statutes. Mgr. Clemens: "I did not say anything in that regard". Anyways, there are people talking about 'pressure' of the Way, but the Pope is not intimidated by them” (Italian title reads: “Tempi lunghi per l’approvazione degli Statuti Neocatecumenali. Monsignor Clemens: "Non mi sono mai espresso in proposito". C'è chi parla di ‘pressioni’ del Cammino ma il Papa non si lascia intimidire”). Petrus (papanews.it) is a well-known Italian on-line newspaper about Benedict XVI, which a few days later published an article by fr. Marcello Stanzione (a Roman Catholic priest and Petrus contributor): I Neocatecumenali di Kiko: Movimento Ecclesiale o Setta all'interno del Cattolicesimo? (meaning: “Kiko's Neocatechumenals: is it a Sect or an Ecclesial Movement within the Catholic Church?”).
- Anche Monsignor Ranjith 'bacchetta' Kiko Arguello: “Una mancanza di rispetto verso il Santissimo Sacramento e il Papa ricevere la Comunione con le braccia incrociate” ("Also mgr. Ranjith 'reprimands' Kiko Argüello: 'disrespectful' towards the Holy Sacrament and towards the Holy Father, receiving the Holy Communion with arms crossed"). Italian text reads: “...credo anch’io che quelle braccia conserte... abbiano rappresentato una mancanza di rispetto verso il Santissimo Sacramento e la persona del Papa... non è possibile ricevere così il Corpo di Cristo, per giunta, dalle mani del Pontefice... al momento non ho notizie in materia né tantomeno so se siano in via di approvazione gli Statuti dei Neocatecumenali” (photos of arms-crossed Kiko).
- Monsignor Nicola Bux (Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede): “Le braccia incrociate di Kiko? Scarsa sensibilità per l’Eucarestia” ("“Kiko's arms-crossed? Unrespectful for the Eucharist”"). Nicola Bux is reported to be a “personal friend of the Holy Father.
- Il Maestro Frisina le 'suona' a Kiko e ai Neocatecumenali: “No alle braccia incrociate in stile militaresco e all’omelia tenuta da laici”. Mgr. Marco Frisina is a Roman Catholic priest and music composer (he composed the hymn of the World Youth Day 2000).
- From the bottom of our hearts...: letter by Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández, fr. Mario Pezzi to pope Benedict XVI (17-Jan-2006).
- Lenten meeting with the clergy of Rome: Address of his Holiness Benedict XVI; the Way “continues to receive many criticisms that are just as authoritative”.
- Melkite Leader Invites Neocatechumenal Way, from Zenit News Agency.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Neocatechumenal Way.|
- Official Neocatechumenal Way website
- The Neocatechumenal Way in the US (unofficial website)
- Camina y Ven (unofficial website)
- The expired ad experimentum Statutes of Neocatechumenal Way
- Alterinfo (Italian website, English pages) - excerpts from books and articles published by fr. Zoffoli, fr. Conti, mgr. Landucci
- Verità sui neocatecumenali (Italian) - criticism and information on the NC Way, mostly by lay people; also contains text of original papers published by a number of Italian Bishops
- PASCH: Parishioners Against a Secret Church (Ronald Hayes website, a former NC Way member)
- A Neocatechumenal Way experience (F. John Loughnan, former Society of St Pius X adherent), containing English translation of fr. Enrico Zoffoli book Eresie del Cammino Neocatecumenale
- Era of Peace, criticisms to Neocatechumenals coming from maltese people
- Le chemin néocatéchuménal est-il une secte? (is the Neocatechumenal Way a sect?), French-speaking website
- Neo Catecumenato, Portuguese-speaking website from St. Luis of Montfort association
- Las herejías del Camino Neocatecumenal, Spanish translation of the book Eresie del Cammino Neocatecumenale by fr. Enrico Zoffoli
- Church Mouse, A small voice from St Vincent's Redfern - Australian encounters with the Way