Monday, January 17, 2011

The "Way," Forward: Pope Praises Neocats... Then Calls Them to Heel

In an "audience" that, by turns, ended up turning out to be part concert, pep-rally, and Liturgy of the Word, this morning the Pope received some 5,000 members of the Neocatechumenal Way as he commissioned some 200 new families for the movement's mission "ad gentes," joining the nearly 600 already in rotation worldwide.

Accompanied by a priest per unit, the missionaries will break up into groups of three or four families, each group sent to a "de-Christianized" area to which they've been invited by the local bishop.

Known for their lively, en masse energy -- the Way's lead "initiator," the Spanish painter Kiko Arguello, animatedly pointed out the movement's seminarians, rectors and bishop-collaborators to B16 from a second microphone before breaking into one of the Way's unmistakable songs, backed by a mid-sized orchestra -- when the pontiff finally got to address the nearly-full Paul VI Hall toward the end of the 40-minute gathering, he praised the half-century old movement as a "particular gift of the Holy Spirit," yet dedicated much of his talk to indicating the high-profile concerns over the Neocats' behavior in the local churches where they take up, clearly in the hope that his words could goad the Way to a more communion-centric path ahead.

Calling the Neocatechumenate "a gift of God for his church," Benedict quoted its statutes to remind its members that their charism is "placed at the service of the bishop as one way of diocesan action toward Christian initiation and permanent education in the faith." The Pope then recalled the group's first encounter with one of his predecessors, citing a 1974 address from Paul VI that described the group's charism as "renewing in today's Christian communities the effects of maturity and deepening," which the early church focused on prior to baptism.

Referring to the Vatican's 2008 approval of its statutes and the CDF's recent sign-off for a Catechetical Directory for the million-member movement, B16 added that "with these seals of ecclesial approval the Lord today confirms this precious tool which is the Way and again entrusts it to you so that, in filial obedience to the Holy See and the pastors of the church, you may contribute with renewed energy and ardor to the radical and joyful rediscovery of the gift of Baptism, and offer your own original contribution to the cause of new evangelisation.

"The church has recognised in the Neocatechumenal Way a particular gift created by the Holy Spirit. As such it naturally tends to insert itself into the harmony of the ecclesial Body. In this light I exhort you always to seek profound communion with [the] pastors, and with all members of the particular churches, and of the very different ecclesial contexts in which you are called to work.

"Fraternal communion between the disciples of Jesus is, in fact, the first and greatest witness to the name of Jesus Christ."

SVILUPPO: Here below, a vid-grab of the centerpiece of today's Neocat spectacle -- the premiere of a "brief opera," as Kiko Arguello put it, titled Espada (that is, "Sword"):

PHOTOS: L'Osservatore Romano(1); Reuters(2)