Skip to comments.Vatican Storylines: Those Who Are Resisting Benedict XVI
Posted on 01/19/2006 12:33:10 PM PST by NYer
ROMA, January 19, 2006 – The first words of Benedict XVI’s first encyclical letter, almost the motto of his papacy, are “Deus Caritas Est,” God is love.
But not everyone in the upper levels of the Church is full of love and solidarity for this new pope. Resistance to his guidance is tenacious and widespread, and in some places it is on the rise. And almost all the resistance shields itself behind the protection of anonymity.
The only open and avowed resistance is that of the Neocatechumenal Way, which has opposed a papal directive issued last December, which struck at one of the movement’s cornerstones.
The Way, founded and directed by Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, both Spanish, is today the most vigorous of the new Catholic movements that emerged during the last half century. It is present in 900 dioceses on all the inhabited continents, and boasts the strength of a million followers in over 20,000 communities, with 3,000 priests and 5,000 religious. It has an international network of 63 “Redemptoris Mater” seminaries, which are thriving with new vocations, in contrast with the vacuum in many diocesan seminaries.
One of the factors in its numeric expansion is the elevated number of children that its families bring into the world, running to ten, twelve, or even more. Each year, scores of these families go on mission into faraway countries. Last January 12, 200 of these families departed all at once from Rome, with the personal blessing of Benedict XVI, who met them in a Nervi Hall that was crowded and pulsing with enthusiasm. Some of the families were going to Patagonia or Japan, but some others were going into the most dechristianized areas of Europe: France, Holland, the former East Germany.
With such a legacy of success, it is natural that the Neocatechumenals receive the support of a large number of bishops and cardinals. Two of these patrons – cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Vatican congregation for the propagation of the faith, and cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington – were at their side in Nervi Hall on January 12. But criticisms have also rained down upon the Neocatechumenals over the years, especially against their carving out a separate place for themselves in the Church, with their own secret catechism, their own rituals, and their own parallel hierarchy. But these criticisms were always overruled by the unconditional support given to them by John Paul II.
But that’s no longer the case with pope Ratzinger. There is one thing about the Neocatechumenals that the pope does not accept, and which touches the heart of Christian life: the unusual way in which they celebrate the Mass (1).
In effect, the Mass that every one of the 20,000 communities of the Way celebrates each Saturday evening – separately from the parishes and the other sister communities – follows the dictates of its founder Kiko Argüello much more closely than it does the liturgical canons that are universally valid for the Catholic Church.
Instead of the altar in the apse, at the center of the hall is a large square dinner table, around which the Neocatechumenals receive communion in a seated position.
Instead of hosts, a large loaf of unleavened wheat bread, made with two-thirds white flour and one-third whole wheat flour, is divided and eaten. The bread, which is baked for a quarter of an hour, is prepared according to very detailed guidelines established by Kiko.
The wine is drunk from cups, also in a sitting position.
The homily is replaced by spontaneous comments from those present, before and after the readings from the Gospel, the letters of Saint Paul, and the Old Testament.
Benedict XVI has ordered that all of this come to an end. He did this through a letter delivered in mid-December to the three main leaders of the Way: Kiko, Carmen, and the Italian priest Mario Pezzi. The letter was signed by cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Vatican congregation for the liturgy, but from its very first lines it clearly states that these are “the decisions of the Holy Father.” Six unambiguous commands follow.
For example, regarding communion, the exact dispositions of the letter are these:
“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 (seated, with a cloth-covered table placed at the center of the church instead of the dedicated altar in the sanctuary) 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.” (2)
But instead of simply obeying, the Neocatechumenals disobeyed while asserting that they were perfectly obedient.
When Vatican analyst Andrea Tornielli first gave the news of the pope’s directions, the official spokesman and director of the Way in the United States, Giuseppe Gennarini, protested that in reality these orders amounted to an approval (3).
When on December 27 www.chiesa published Arinze’s letter in its entirety, Gennarini called the very authenticity of this letter into question. He added that “this does not change its nature of a confidential and internal instrumentum laboris (working instrument),” devoid of any normative force. He restated that the only valid norm is “the confirmation by the Holy Father of the liturgical praxis of the Way.” And by way of proof he cited the blessing that the pope would bestow a few days later upon the Neocatechumenal families leaving on mission, during the audience of January 12 (4).
The audience did, in fact, take place. And so did the blessing. But there was also a second, ringing summons to obedience from Benedict XVI:
“Recently the congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments imparted to you, in my name, some norms concerning the Eucharistic celebration, after the trial period that had been granted by the servant of God John Paul II. I am certain that these norms, which draw upon the provisions of the liturgical books approved by the Church, will meet with attentive compliance from you.” (5)
There was no comment from the directors of the Way after this second call from the pope. But word was given to the 20,000 communities to continue as before.
Some "light" reading.
They have all the trappings of a cult.
I hope he's keeping two eyes on the English translation of the Compendium of the Catechism. That has also been delayed a number of times as well.
Is it possible that even Benedict wasn't aware of how widespread the rot within the Church in Europe and America has become? I pray that he has surrounded himself with excellent people that he can count on. His elevation of Levada, however, still makes me very nervous.
They're a strange movement. They are what Americans would think of as rather "charismatic," in the sense of quasi-Pentecostalist, in many aspects, but fundamentally they had always seemed orthodox, except for their strange "Mass." But since Pope JPII seemed to permit or at least tolerate a consdirable amount of - er, leeway - in the celebration of Mass, they certainly weren't alone in that.
They are very big in Spain and had a big impact on the university population, and now have a nice full seminary in Madrid. However, they were often criticized for their emotionalism and cult-like features even several years ago, well before BXVI.
I think the real test of their orthodoxy and the spirit behind them is going to be in their response to the Pope's directive. Will they be obedient - or will they simply ignore the Pope and essentially challenge him to discipline them in some way, at which point they will leave?
"Apart from the slowness, it emerges that Benedict XVI was not pleased with some of the translations of the encyclical, which he himself had to correct. "
Man, I'll bet the translations into Japanese are *atrocious.* After all, who's going to check them?
The Pope has the legitimate authority to legislate on liturgical matters. If the NeoCatechumenate continues to defy the Holy See beyond the grace period granted they are just reinforcing the notion that they are some sort of separatist cult within the Church.
>> The Way, founded and directed by Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, both Spanish, is today the most vigorous of the new Catholic movements that emerged during the last half century. It is present in 900 dioceses on all the inhabited continents, and boasts the strength of a million followers in over 20,000 communities <<
The most vigorous of new Catholic movements? Compared to the Charismatic, Cursillo, Opus Dei, etc., this is a pipsqueak.
This seems seriously lacking in objectivity to me. Not to mention, disrespectful.
"The first of these, in chronological order it was made public by Corriere della Sera and by the historian Alberto Melloni points to cardinal Carlo Maria Martini as both the antagonist and the deus ex machina of Ratzingers election.... ...by a movement with adequate liquidity engaged in a takeover bid for the papacy itself. For this movement, read Opus Dei.
...The Atlantic Monthly (7) builds upon the previous one by placing beside Martini, as the other prominent antagonist, Argentine cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The latter is said to have received as many as 40 votes: not enough to stop Ratzinger in his tracks, but enough to reduce considerably the scale of his success. And this success, in any case, is imagined to bear the infamous mark of the campaign on his behalf carried out by Opus Dei.
Both Limes and O Globo indicate a single cardinal as the source of their respective revelations. In reality, these emanate from a continuous chorus in many voices, both within the curia and outside of it, the only common denominator of which is an aversion for pope Ratzinger."
What a load of crap. Who is the source? Dan Brown? It was one of the shortest conclaves in history. And now some (shhhh) secret Cardinal is damning himself forever by violating his oath just to tell a reporter "what really happened"??? Bull.
And did you ever hear Pope John Paul II referred to as "Pope Wojtyla"?
LOL! Well said.
Yes, in Europe, JPII was referred to as Pope Wojtyla and B16 as Pope Ratzinger.
>> Man, I'll bet the translations into Japanese are *atrocious.* <<
Hmmm... I thought the translation of "Gott, Zie RA!" was suspicious...
>> Yes, in Europe, JPII was referred to as Pope Wojtyla and B16 as Pope Ratzinger. <<
Google, with international settings, shows 704 hits for "Pope Wojtyla," and 38,000 hits for "Pope Ratzinger."
OTOH, I looked up Chiesa, and they did refer to "pope Wojtyla."
Catholic Mormons? I wonder if they all like lime Jell-o.
While we were in Italy last year, it was disconcerting to hear John Paul referred to as Pope Wojtyla.
Why do they do that?
"Hmmm... I thought the translation of "Gott, Zie RA!" was suspicious..."
I last studied German in 1976.