Friday, January 20, 2012

Pope Benedict on the Neo Catechumate's Liturgy - call to unity with the parish community

In an audience with members of the Neocatechumenal Way this morning Pope Benedict said the following concerning the celebration of the Eucharist:

Ciò vale in modo specialissimo per la celebrazione dell’Eucaristia, che, essendo il culmine della vita cristiana, è anche il cardine della sua riscoperta, alla quale il neocatecumenato tende. Come recitano i vostri Statuti, "L’Eucaristia è essenziale al Neocatecumenato, in quanto catecumenato post-battesimale, vissuto in piccola comunità" (art. 13 §1). Proprio al fine di favorire il riavvicinamento alla ricchezza della vita sacramentale da parte di persone che si sono allontanate dalla Chiesa, o non hanno ricevuto una formazione adeguata, i neocatecumenali possono celebrare l’Eucaristia domenicale nella piccola comunità, dopo i primi Vespri della domenica, secondo le disposizioni del Vescovo diocesano (cfr Statuti, art. 13 §2). Ma ogni celebrazione eucaristica è un’azione dell’unico Cristo insieme con la sua unica Chiesa e perciò essenzialmente aperta a tutti coloro che appartengono a questa sua Chiesa. Questo carattere pubblico della Santa Eucaristia si esprime nel fatto che ogni celebrazione della Santa Messa è ultimamente diretta dal Vescovo come membro del Collegio Episcopale, responsabile per una determinata Chiesa locale (cfr Conc. Ecum. Vat. II, Cost. dogm. Lumen gentium, 26). La celebrazione nelle piccole comunità, regolata dai Libri liturgici, che vanno seguiti fedelmente, e con le particolarità approvate negli Statuti del Cammino, ha il compito di aiutare quanti percorrono l’itinerario neocatecumenale a percepire la grazia dell’essere inseriti nel mistero salvifico di Cristo, che rende possibile una testimonianza cristiana capace di assumere anche i tratti della radicalità. Al tempo stesso, la progressiva maturazione nella fede del singolo e della piccola comunità deve favorire il loro inserimento nella vita della grande comunità ecclesiale, che trova nella celebrazione liturgica della parrocchia, nella quale e per la quale si attua il Neocatecumenato (cfr Statuti, art. 6), la sua forma ordinaria. Ma anche durante il cammino è importante non separarsi dalla comunità parrocchiale, proprio nella celebrazione dell’Eucaristia che è il vero luogo dell’unità di tutti, dove il Signore ci abbraccia nei diversi stati della nostra maturità spirituale e ci unisce nell’unico pane che ci rende un unico corpo (cfr 1 Cor 10, 16s).


... for the celebration of the Eucharist which, being the summit of the christian life and also the hinge of its rediscovery, to which the neocatechumenate tends. As you Statutes say: "The Eucharist is essential in the Neocatechumenate, as in so far as it is a post-baptismal catechumenate, lived out in small communities." Precisely to favour the coming close once again to the richness of the sacramental life on the part of persons who are far from the Church, or who have not received an adequate formation, the neocatechumens can celebrate the Sunday eucharist in small communities, after the first Vespers of Sunday according to the disposition of the diocesan bishop. But every eucharistic celebration is an action of the one Christ together with his one Church and therefore essentially open to all those who belong to this his Church. This public characteristic of the Holy Eucharist es expressed in the fact that every celebration of the Holy Mass is ultimately directed by the Bishop as member of the Episcopal College, responsible for a determined local Church. The celebration in small communities, regulated by the liturgical Books, which must be followed faithfully, and with the particularities approved in the Statutes of the Way, has the purpose of helping all who follow the necatechumenal itinerary to perceive the grace of being inserted into the salvific mission of Christ, who makes possible a christian testimony capable of assuming a certain radicality. At the same time, the progressive maturation in the faith of each of the small communities must favour their insertion into the life of the great ecclesial community, which is found in the liturgical celebrations of the parish, in which and for which the Neocatechumenate acts, and which is its ordinary (normal) form. But also during the way it is important not to separate oneself from the parish community, particularly in the celebration of the Eucharist which is truly the place of the unity of everyone, where the Lord embraces us in the diverse states of our spiritual maturity and unites us in the one bread which renders us one body.


  1. *sigh* Europeans. No offense Holy Father, but why don't you *just* *say* *NO!!!!!!!* IT wouldn't be a bad thing for new Catholic to have additional guidance after they are received into the church. [Maybe on a deanery wide basis?] But they need to 'get with the program' as far as the Mass goes and not do their own little thing. The need the 'regular' Mass. Pick one. Anything from the new ordinate to the Maronite, Latin Rite (old/new) there is more than one way to skin a cat. But these traditions grew organically -- and not just from a bunch of hippies sitting around singing kumbaya and 'resonating.'

  2. If I'm understanding this correctly the Holy Father is saying to the NeoCats, you must celebrate the liturgy according to the norms specified in the liturgical books, although you can; for the purposes of your charism; include certain "particularities." (with those particularities set out in the approved statues of the Neocatechumenal Way)

    This makes sense, I've never felt that the NeoCats are trying to break away from the parish community, just to intensify its community by living in a community of communities.

    The NeoCat liturgies, although different and new, do have a symmetry of bringing together Eucharist, Word and Community.

    Given the abundant fruits from the way, including several thousand vocations, I think the Church has made a wise decision.

    The NeoCats' despite some radical opinions to the contrary, aren't some radical hippy group they follow the teachings of the Church faithfully and remain obedient to the ordinaries in their dioceses.

  3. I'm with gem. Just say plainly what they can do and give every example, from the way they currectly celebrate the Mass, of what they are not to do. Don't over egg the pudding.

  4. When people talk about 'liturgies' (note the plural) I tend to reach for my revolver, or at least my Liber Usualis. JP II (a great man and a great pope), faced with the decline of the existing religious orders, was in my opinion too eager to embrace the so-called new movements. The 1970s charismatics were bordering on heresy, and the same goes for the neocats. If the Church celebrated its liturgy properly, and if bishops were prophetic witnesses rather than committee men, we wouldn't need the lunatic fringe.

  5. When the Holy Father is talking about "liturgies" he is referring to what happens at the the various stages of the Neocatechumenal Way. The Neocatechumenate, being a post baptismal catechumenate, can't redo "baptism," but it is still following the various stages of the catechumenate of the early church and the RCIA.

  6. I don't believe we can call groups like the NCW heretical. The catechetical directory of the way has just been approved after all. I belive that JPII and now Benedict have embraced the Way because of the fruits. I think we should also pay attention to why the Holy Father net with the Way. The mission Ad Genetes will obviously not be easy. Whole families are leaving their securities and going to new countries to announce the Gospel.

    Such actions are to be applauded and when it comes to the way they celebrate their liturgies maybe they have something to give to the rest of the church as they are doing so much in the new evangelisation.

  7. I have been away at the Washington DC March for Life and so have not commented on the comments. Let's be clear: the NCW is not heretical. It is a fully approved movement in the Church. We should not question their fidelity to the Church and to the Pope. We are, however, enetitled to respectfully express our opinions on some matters. The specific matter I wrote about was the Liturgy, in no way questioning their orthodoxy. Among the key points mentioned by the Pope are the faithful observance of the liturgical norms, with the exception of those particularities which have been approved for them, the openness of their Masses to all - no Mass can be private/exclusive - and the integration of their people into the life of the parish. The Pope has been clear - very mild in his expression, but nonetheless it is very clear how he wishes the NCW to comport themselves. One can only expect that their fidelity will lead to obedience.


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