Founder's Thanksgiving

Kiko Argüello Shares Impressions of Papal Audience

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By Salvatore Cernuzio

ROME, JAN. 20, 2012 ( Joy is still sparkling in Kiko Argüello’s eyes a few moments after the Neocatechumenal Way founder leaves this morning’s audience with Benedict XVI.

With good reason: After a decade and a half of study, the Vatican announced today that the celebrations used by the Way along the journey of Christian initiation have the Church’s approval.

After speaking with Argüello shortly before the audience, ZENIT caught up with him again right afterward. 

ZENIT: Kiko, let’s start with a simple question: how did the meeting this morning go?

Argüello: Fantastic! It was really wonderful that the celebrations that mark all the stages of Christian gestation that the Way has created, have been confirmed.

We were waiting for this moment, and finally the Church has confirmed the Neocatechumenal Way as a Christian initiation, in its doctrine, liturgy and its stages. What is important, above all, is the fact that the Pope has reiterated that the communities can celebrate the Sunday Mass as a community.

It is a sociological fact of immense importance, which means that the small community is the salvation for the New Evangelization. The Eucharist, in fact, creates and forms the Christian community, it makes it stable, unites it.

ZENIT: And with regard to the missio ad gentes (the family groups sent on mission by the Pope)?

Argüello: The missio ad gentes is also a small community in the midst of persons who are completely pagan or far away from the Church. What we see is that these people are attracted to the «small community» represented by the mission families; they are surprised by the love they show to others and among one another. They agree to be catechized in their homes and become, thus, a small community themselves.

ZENIT: What richness does all this bring to the Church?

Argüello: We can say that we are writing a new page in history: the new evangelization, in the midst of an epochal crisis affecting all of society, called secularization. A lot of people, we don’t know why, «harass» the churches; in some countries, especially European ones, they have arrived at the point of selling or closing them.

For this reason, I am happy and surprised when, with these missions ad gentes, in fact, there are people who say «thank you, because otherwise I’d never have entered a church» or give thanks for the «the love and acceptance» they breathe in the houses of these brothers who welcome them.

In fact, there are many people who come to catechesis, and who don’t want to go away: eleven o’clock at night and they still haven’t left. This happens because the people in our society feel very lonely …

ZENIT: By now it’s been 40 years that the Neocatechumenal Way has continued to bear fruit; just think of the large number of vocations. What do you think of these gifts that the Lord is giving the Way and above all to the Church?

Argüello: What do I think? … that the Lord is very good to us. I really thank God, because although we had and we have many difficulties and sufferings, he has has never abandoned us, but always supported and sustained us. The meeting today is a testimony of that.

ZENIT: In what direction is the Way moving now?

Argüello: Toward the start-up of a new evangelization all over the world.

We are looking toward new horizons; for example, even the Orthodox Church has lately shown interest in our journey of faith.

Above all, I believe, however, that we must prepare for China, Vietnam, throughout Asia in short, and in fact we have several families ready to go on mission into the Eastern part of the world.

ZENIT: And besides that, five new seminaries have been created to prepare young people to leave for China?

Argüello: Exactly! We asked for 20,000 young people who feel called to become priests and evangelize in China, and 5,000 stood up.

Now these boys will be screened, trained, we have to see who will complete their studies and so on. In short, China, Asia!

ZENIT: Finally, Kiko, is there anything you would like to say to all those who are part of the Neocatechumenal Way, but also to all Christians?

Argüello: Yes, I want to express a simple wish for them: to find Christ and find, therefore, the true life that leads to eternal life. I hope that all can really meet with Jesus Christ, because he gives you his nature and his eternal life and changes your existence completely, he helps you and prepares you.

[Translation by Peter Waymel]
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