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Vatican Storylines: Those Who Are Resisting Benedict XVI
Chiesa ^ | January 19, 2006 | Sandro Magister

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.

* * *

A second form of resistance to Benedict XVI manifests itself in the indiscreet comments on the conclave that elected him (6).

Here anonymity reigns, in part because of the serious canonical penalties incurred by cardinals who violate the secrecy of conclave, penalties that can even include excommunication. But the intentions of these indiscretions are clear: to show that the election of Ratzinger on April 19 was not at all equitable, that it was in doubt until the very end, that it was unduly favored by the fact that he was the dean of the college of cardinals, that he is in the pocket of Opus Dei, that the time is ripe for a new pope, preferably a Latin American, and that, in short, Benedict XVI should submit himself to these inherent limitations.

This is, in fact, what the most widespread reconstructions of the conclave say.

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 Ratzinger’s election. By first taking votes away from Ratzinger and then clearing the way for him, Martini is supposed to have reconfigured “an even more dreadful politically motivated solution,” which was manipulated, while Karol Wojtyla was still alive, by a movement “with adequate liquidity” engaged in “a takeover bid for the papacy itself.” For this movement, read Opus Dei.

The second reconstruction – initially circulated by Tornielli in “il Giornale” and by Lucio Brunelli in the geopolitics monthly “Limes,” then again by Gerson Camarotti of Brazil in “O Globo,” and finally, a few days ago, by Paul Elie in the United States in the January-February edition of “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.

As for the campaigns before the conclave, these are material for the scrapbooks. For example, cardinal Sepe openly pointed, for years, to the papal election of cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City.

* * *

Then there is also in the Vatican a third and more passive form of resistance to Benedict XVI. During the first months of his pontificate, the pope essentially concentrated upon the liturgical celebrations and upon the bare word: homilies, Angelus messages, catecheses, speeches, and now his encyclical. But in order for these words to be spread all over the world, they at least need to be translated and diffused in the main languages.

Well then, a speech of primary importance like the one Benedict XVI addressed to the Roman curia on December 22, two-thirds of which was dedicated to the interpretation of Vatican Council II and the relationship between the Church and the modern world, was for eight days available on the Vatican website only in its Italian version. It was then accompanied by the French, then a few days later by the Spanish, then the English, then by the German version. So, almost a month after the event, the last of the six versions into which papal documents are normally translated – the Portuguese version – is still missing (8). And the same thing has happened in the case of almost all the other texts.

And yet the Vatican is the most polyglot state in the world, brimming over with translators, and it has an overabundance of organs dedicated to social communications. They were useless, at least in this matter. Even more than that – they were harmful.

Not even Benedict XVI could refrain from publicly manifesting his disappointment for the bad functioning of the system of translations. On Wednesday, January 18, in announcing to the faithful that his first encyclical would be published on the following January 25, he let slip the word “finally.” And he lamented the fact that “some time has passed before the text was ready and translated.”

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.


(1) On the liturgical practice of the Neocatechumenal Way, see on this site:

> Bad History, Bad Guide. The Strange Liturgy of the Neocatechumenals (24.1.2005)

(2) You can find the complete text of the December 1, 2005 letter from cardinal Francis Arinze to Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández, and Mario Pezzi here:

> Liturgy: Benedict XVI Brings the Neocatechumenals Back to the Right Way (27.12.2005)

(3) See Giuseppe Gennarini’s reply to “il Giornale,” published on December 27, 2005:

> “Ho letto con molta sorpresa e dolore...”

(4) More precisely, after Cardinal Arinze’s letter was made public by www.chiesa, Gennarini intervened to comment upon it twice. He gave an interview to the international news agency Zenit, which was released on January 1, 2006:

> Neocatechumenate on the Holy See's Guidelines

He also wrote a long letter posted online on January 6, on

> “Dear Mr. Akin, I have read...”

At the conclusion of his letter, Gennarini fixed in four points the interpretation that the Neocatechumenal Way gave to the Vatican dispositions. In practice, the interpretation invalidates these guidelines. Here are its four points:

“1. This is a private letter whose real contents are known only by Cardinal Arinze, Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández and Father Mario Pezzi. Any use of a private document to enforce a public policy is completely illegitimate and improper.

“2. If someone of the above mentioned people should confirm that the contents of this letter are authentic, this does not change its nature of a confidential and internal instrumentum laboris (working instrument). To consider this letter as having the strength of a norm would be as if we considered the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod on the Eucharist as the final Document of the Synod.

“3. The iter established by the Holy See regarding the Neocatechumenal Way foresees that every decision must be approved conjunctly by the Inter-Dicasterial Commisssion (Pontifical Institute for the Laity, faith, Liturgy, Clergy and Catechesis, Catholic Education). This letter is just a moment of the proceedings of the Interdicasterial.

“4. The only document approved conjunctly until now are the Statutes, which are much more explicit than the contents of the letter. At the end of the ad experimentum period all the Five Congregations will issue the official decisions. What is for now the actual norm is the confirmation by the Holy Father of the liturgical praxis of the Way.”

(5) Benedict XVI’s complete address to the Neocatechumenals, on January 12, 2006:

> “Grazie all’adesione fedele ad ogni direttiva della Chiesa... [Thanks to your faithful adherence to all of the Church‘s directives...]”

The previous day, in a press release, the Way again repeated that “the Holy See has approved the liturgical practices of the Neocatechumenal Way.”

(6) See on this website, in regard to the conclave of 2005:

> The Vatican Codes: This Is How I Rewrite My Conclave (7.10.2005)

> What Really Happened at the Conclave (2.5.2005)

(7) On the reconstruction in “The Atlantic Monthly,” see the critical review by Alejandro Bermudez in his blog “Catholic Outsider,” January 12, 2006:

> The Atlantic and how Benedict was elected

(8) The day after the pope’s December 22 address to the curia, www.chiesa released the ample section of this dedicated to Vatican Council II, in Italian and in the English version taken from the agency “Asia News”:

> Pope Ratzinger Certifies the Council – The Real One (23.12.2005)

The Vatican’s English translation of the entire discourse, made available a number of days later, is the following:

> “Your Eminences, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate...”

(9) The complete text of the announcement, available only in Italian:

> Annuncio dell’enciclica “Deus Caritas Est”

TOPICS: Activism; Catholic; Current Events; General Discusssion; History; Ministry/Outreach; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: germany; popebenedict; popefrancis; romancatholicism
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

Comment #22 Removed by Moderator

Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: dsc

Look, I said it didn't seem like a very good translation :^D. Now, use your imagination and think of what the Japanese were saying when they were mistranslated as saying "Gott, Zie Ra!" (hint, they were talking about someone heavier and more destructive than Michael Moore.)

24 posted on 01/19/2006 1:33:07 PM PST by dangus
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To: dsc; dangus
God, you...RA?


Very large ape currently starring in the movies :-)

25 posted on 01/19/2006 1:33:46 PM PST by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: Carolina

thanks -- it seems a little disrespectful to my non-Italian ears. Guess it isn't.

26 posted on 01/19/2006 1:38:24 PM PST by Nihil Obstat
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Comment #27 Removed by Moderator

To: dsc
Why do they do that?

I have no idea. It drove me crazy, though.

28 posted on 01/19/2006 1:54:14 PM PST by Carolina
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To: NYer
Very large ape currently starring in the movies :-)


Gott, Zie Ra!

Really big lizard.

29 posted on 01/19/2006 2:10:29 PM PST by siunevada (If we learn nothing from history, what's the point of having one? - Peggy Hill)
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To: NYer

>> Very large ape currently starring in the movies :-) <<

Speaking of Michael Moore...

30 posted on 01/19/2006 2:32:14 PM PST by dangus
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To: NYer
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.

Ping for later reading. I might not agree with the theologies, but the politics of this fascinate me.

31 posted on 01/19/2006 2:36:50 PM PST by Alex Murphy (Psalm 73)
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To: NYer
But that’s no longer the case with pope Ratzinger

No respect for the Holy Father? Nothing more needs to be said...

32 posted on 01/19/2006 2:45:52 PM PST by rzeznikj at stout (This is a darkroom. Keep the door closed or you'll let all the dark out...)
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To: Antoninus
Is it possible that even Benedict wasn't aware of how widespread the rot within the Church in Europe and America has become?

I doubt it. The man is absolutely brilliant. He was one of the few who realized in the middle of Vatican II what a major blunder the outcome was.

I would imagine he knows and is watching his step so as to not detonate any landmines. The particular group in this article really needed to be dealt with. It's like he's working on both of the apostacy extremes at the same time. There's something rather wise in that.

33 posted on 01/19/2006 2:46:54 PM PST by Desdemona (Music Librarian and provider of cucumber sandwiches, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary. Hats required.)
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To: Pyro7480
But instead of simply obeying, the Neocatechumenals disobeyed while asserting that they were perfectly obedient.
They have all the trappings of a cult.
This is really how the SSPX started out, disobeying while claiming obedience, and they still do it today. Seperate heirarchy, seperate catechism, seperate Mass, on and on and on. Different theologies, but otherwise very similar. I truly hope the result is different. We shall see.


34 posted on 01/19/2006 3:59:42 PM PST by patent (A baby is God's opinion that life should go on. Carl Sandburg)
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To: NYer

I pray for the Holy Father three times a day. Can anyone doubt that he has the weight of the world on his frail shoulders? The rot is deep within the Church, indeed! He should know! He dealt with it for more than 20 years!

May the Holy Spirit guide you always, Holy Father!

35 posted on 01/19/2006 4:36:15 PM PST by Frank Sheed ("Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." ~GK Chesterton.)
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To: sandyeggo

I don't know - they may come around.

The founder, Kiko Arguello, who is a painter, is a friend of the very orthodox Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid (Rouco) and painted some parts of the newly renovated Cathedral, La Almudena.

One thing that might happen is that some will stick with Rome and others will decide to go off on their own, resulting in a division in the movement. We shall see.

36 posted on 01/19/2006 5:15:39 PM PST by livius
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To: siunevada



37 posted on 01/19/2006 9:43:49 PM PST by dsc
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To: patent; GatorGirl; maryz; afraidfortherepublic; Antoninus; Aquinasfan; livius; goldenstategirl; ...

"Seperate heirarchy, seperate catechism, seperate Mass, ..."

True of the Neos, not true of the SSPX. The catechism? The same the Church used for centuries. The Mass? The same the Church used for centuries. The hierarchy? The same Rome gave them until 1988 and even then only in a state of necessity, not a total change of theology, liturgy, catechism and belief.

38 posted on 01/19/2006 10:06:43 PM PST by narses (St Thomas says “lex injusta non obligat”)
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To: narses; BlackElk
The have their own Hierarchy, Churches, Canon Law. They are a petit ecclesia and their illicit masses are celebrated in the Jurisdiction of Catholic Bishops - directly condemned by Trent.

From "The Jews are cursed" to "the N.O. Mass is evil" to their sspx marriage tribunals, the sspx is a heretical, and schismatic collection of antisemites and theological blockheads and, back when he was a Cardinal, Ratzinger publicly noted their intellectual and theological defencies vis a vis the Mass. He used a phrase dimplomatically that really parsed as "they are idiots"

Nice try but schismatic agitprop doesn't work with real Catholics

39 posted on 01/20/2006 4:31:07 AM PST by bornacatholic
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To: patent
Not me. Pope Benedict said our Church would be much smaller in the future. Time for him to start swinging the scythe and start lopping off the heads of all of these schismatic heretics.

Honestly, as a faithful Catholic who has seen AmChurch run my Faith into the ground, I can tell you that much of the time I am frustrated and angry at the refusal of the Papacy to apply discipline that could (would?) put us back on the path to ecclesiastical sanity.

IMO, the Papal hesitancy in applying discipline has not yielded a lot of positive results.

If I were Pope, I'd publicly state, "Y'all have until Good Friday to get right with the Lord and the Church. That goes for anyone who goes to the illicit Masses of the SSPX to those who go to Neocatechumenal Liturgues and anyone else who opposes me. If y'all aren't in union with me, if you do not obey legitimate and Divinely Ordained authority, y'all can go to hell. Capiche? Y'all got to Good Friday. Period. Come the Monday after Easter, Y'all are excomunicated. That's it. We Popes haven't been doing our jobs. We have been too lenient. Good Friday, that ends. Good Friday is the day we bury leniency and tolerance. This Easter, the Church will rise purified and on fire. Y'all either with me or against me. Choose life or death."

40 posted on 01/20/2006 4:47:03 AM PST by bornacatholic
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