“The Neocatechumenal Way does great good in the Church” - Pope Francis
It is so easy, really. We Catholics follow what the Pope says. And only last month, on March 6th to be precise, Pope Francis endorsed again, publicly and powerfully, the Neocatechumenal Way “I want to confirm your call, support your mission and bless your charism”. Can he be stronger and clearer?
On that day, Pope Francis thanked the Way’s initiators, Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernandez who sat in the front row alongside Fr. Mario Pezzi and four cardinals (Vallini, Filoni, Rouco Varela and Cordes) “for the great benefit they bring to the Church through the Way”.
“I always say,” the Pope added amid warm applause, “that the Neocatechumenal Way does great good in the Church.”The Pope recalled how one of the fruits of the Way is the missio ad gentes, “formed by a priest and four or five families, with children including grown-up ones, … with a mandate to evangelize non-Christians. Non-Christians who’ve never heard about Jesus Christ and the many non-Christians who’ve forgotten who Jesus Christ was, who is Jesus Christ: baptized non-Christians but who have forgotten their faith because of secularization, worldliness and many other things. Re-awaken that faith!”
The Pope stressed that the Neocatechumenal Way is “a true gift of Providence to the Church of our time, as my predecessors have already stated. … It is based on the three dimensions of the Church which are the Word, Liturgy and Community. So obedient and constant listening to the Word of God; the Eucharistic celebration in small community after the first Vespers of Sunday, the family celebration of lauds on Sunday with all the children gathered round and sharing their faith with other brothers and sisters are at the origin of the many gifts the Lord has given to you as well as the many vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.”
Years before, Blessed Pope Paul VI saw the Neocatechumenal Way as a genuine fruit of the Council: "How much joy and how much hope you give us by your presence and by your activity... To live and to promote this re-awakening is what you call a way "after baptism", which will be able to renew in today's Christian communities those effects of maturity and deepening that, in the primitive Church, were realized by the period of preparation for Baptism.”
Saint Pope John Paul II was even more explicit. “Among the realities generated by the Spirit in our days, figure the Neocatechumenal Communities, initiated by Mr. K Argüello and Ms. C Hernandez (Madrid, Spain), the effectiveness of which for the renewal of Christian life was acclaimed by my predecessor, Paul VI.
“These Communities make visible in the parishes the sign of the missionary church and they strive to open a way for the evangelization of those who have almost abandoned theChristian life, offering them an itinerary of a catechumenal type which goes through all those stages that the catechumens went through in the primitive church before receiving the sacrament of Baptism: it brings them back to the Church and to Christ.”
“The announcement of the Gospel, the witnessing in small communities and the Eucharistic celebration in groups is that which enables the members to put themselves at the service of the renewal of the Church.”
“I acknowledge the Neocatechumenal Way as an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for our society and for our times.”
Do the Popes sanction every ecclesial reality in these glowing terms? Obviously not.
Is Archbishop Apuron wrong in believing and promoting the Neocatechumenal Way in Guam? Again, the answer is a simple no. He is obeying the Pope. Since when is obeying the Pope wrong?
In 1990 Saint John Paul II recommended the Bishopsworldwide to endorse and assist the Neocatechumenal Way in their countries. “It is therefore my wish that the Brothers in the Episcopate - together with their presbyters - value and support (italics are mine) this work for the new evangelization (referring specifically to the Neocatechumenal Way) so that it may be implemented according to the lines proposed by its initiators, in the spirit of service to the local Ordinary and in communion with him in the context of the unity of the local church and the universal Church.”
The Popes are clear. Let us follow their lead.