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Today, Sandro Magister points out two recent commentaries reflecting on the NeoCatechumenal Way – a lay movement that is controversial for various reasons, most concretely their liturgies. The NCW has been given until June to re-consider and reshape certain problematic aspects of their liturgies. Magister (who has always been critical of NCW):

In December of 2005, the congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments ordered the Neocatechumenal Way to correct the ways in which its communities celebrate the Mass. And the following January 12, 2006, Benedict XVI urged the Way to “observe attentively” the prescribed norms. Obedience to both of these admonitions has been far from complete, both at the time and afterward.

Another controversial point concerns the catecheses that the Way preaches in its communities. The texts for these are still largely secret, and some of them have raised objections from various Vatican congregations, including the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.

Finally, there are doubts surrounding the reconfirmation of the statutes of the Way, which the Holy See approved “ad experimentum” on June 29, 2002, for a five-year period that will expire in a few months.

A week or so ago, the bishops of the Holy Land issued a letter to NCW asking them to be sensitive to the situation in which they are venturing. According to Magister:

The bishops have formed these criticisms through their direct experience. The Neocatechumenals have an extensive presence in the Holy Land. Their citadel is a sprawling complex on the slopes of the Mount of the Beatitudes, west of Lake Tiberias, called “Domus Galilaeae” and inaugurated on March 24, 2000 by John Paul II in person, in the presence of 50,000 Neocatechumenals who had gathered there from over the world.

The architecture and decoration of the “Domus,” with its bizarre hodgepodge of Christian and Jewish allegories, is the work of the founder of the Way, Kiko Argüello.

To the numerous communities they have established in the Holy Land is added a ceaseless flow of Neocatechumenal pilgrims, who are carefully separated from the other visitors. Even the Masses are celebrated separately. And the procedures for their rituals are identical to those in any other part of the world, including the songs composed by their founder and supreme leader, Kiko.

Moreover, in the realm of politics the Neocatechumenal communities do not conceal a markedly pro-Israeli outlook, contrary to the Christians living there, almost all of whom are Arab and pro-Palestinian.

From the bishops’ letter, which Magister prints in full (a summary only was on Zenit):

The principle to which we must all remain faithful, and which must guide our pastoral action, should be “one parish and one Eucharist.” So 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.

In the East, we care a great deal about our liturgy and our traditions. It is the liturgy that has contributed greatly to preserving the Christian faith in our countries throughout history. 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.

2. 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.

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