There are many signs describing a cult. The problem with those signs is that it also describes genuine religious faiths. For example, having a charismatic leader is often used as a sign that the person is in a cult. If we were to actually go by this, then the Catholic Church would be considered a cult because Pope Francis is a very charismatic leader.....so charismatic that he is loved not only by the Catholic faithful, but also by many atheists. In fact, Pope Francis is so charismatic that Time Magazine picked him as the "Person of the Year". Because he was picked as person of the year, that makes him even more charismatic than Kiko Arguello. (See the weblink below.)
Person of the Year: Pope Francis
Protestant fundamentalists often use the same charge as Chuck White. They often accuse the Catholic Church of being a cult because Catholics look up to a leader who is a man (Pope) rather than to Christ. The problem with these signs that Chuck White (and even some social scientists) has listed to determine whether one is in a cult is that it is seriously flawed. So, if Chuck White is going to label the Neocatechumenal Way a cult because the Way has a charismatic leader, he is also going to have to label the Catholic Church a cult for the same reason......and probably more so since the Pope was labeled "Person of the Year" and the "People's Pope." Therefore, just because a group has a charismatic leader does not necessarily raise a red flag.
In the Neocatechumenal Way, members are allowed to ask questions to their catechists. There were many times I have called my catechists to ask questions or have some things clarified that I was not able to understand. As for the use of authority, one of the clearest signs that leaders are overstepping their proper sphere of authority is when they articulate certain ethical guidelines that everyone must follow except for the leaders themselves. This is not so in the Way. The leaders of the Way have walked in the shoes of members who have gone through the catechesis, First Scrutiny, Shema, Second Scrutiny, etc. So, all the things that Chuck White listed showing that the Way is a cult is false.
He also accused the Neocatechumenal Way of being preoccupied with bringing in new members? Where is his evidence showing this??? The Way sends out invitations for catechesis only ONCE A YEAR! Perhaps, Mr. White meant evangelization?? If that is the case, then again, Mr. White is going to have to also call the Catholic Church a cult because the main goal of the Catholic Church is to make disciples of all the nations. What does "make disciples of all the nation" mean? It means to be preoccupied with bringing in new members into the Catholic Church. All the things Chuck White listed showing that the Way is a cult is false.