Pope Praises Neocatechumenate's Missionary Zeal

Reflects on Meaning of Liturgy

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By Salvatore Cernuzio

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that the Neocatechumenal Way is a «special gift that the Holy Spirit has given our time,» and he lauded the members of the Catholic lay group for their commitment to the proclamation of the Risen Christ, at the cost of «abandoning personal and material safety, even leaving your own countries.»

The Pope said this today to the crowds of members of the Neocatechumenal Way who packed Paul VI Hall. An official degree formally approving the celebrations of the Way was proclaimed, the culmination of roughly 15 years of careful study by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

The audience also included the formal sending-out of 100 families — with a total of 362 children — and the priests who have answered Christ’s call to go on mission, leaving everyday life to devote themselves to the proclamation of the Gospel.

The families are headed to eight destinations, six of them European and two American, which were marked out on a posterboard presented to the Holy Father: France (Alby, Nice, Bayonne, Toulouse, Strasbourg), Belgium (Antwerp), Slovenia (Ljubljana), Austria (Vienna), Estonia (Tallinn) and Great Britain (Manchester). In addition, Venezuela (Güria) and the United States (Lawrence, Cambridge and Brockton). 

«New presences of the Church in the world, requested by the bishops,» as Kiko Argüello, the founder of the Way, described them in his speech, in areas that are «difficult and secularized.»


The meeting opened with an invocation to the Holy Spirit, followed by Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, reading the decree that was the culmination of the audience today.

Bishop Clemens retraced the steps that mark the history of the Way: from the approval of the statutes on May 11, 2008, to that of the Catechetical Directory «as a binding aid for the Neocatechumenal Way,» on Dec. 26, 2010, up to today with the «green light» by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the «favorable opinion» of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to the celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory that «by their nature are not already in the liturgical books of the Church.»

Argüello then took the floor, stressing the importance of the Kerygma, or the good news of the risen Christ that permeates the entire Neocatechumenal itinerary that is «all celebratory, based on the power of the tripod of the Word, Eucharist and community, pillars of the Christian life.»


Around 11:30 a.m., accompanied by the notes of the song «Mary Blessed Mary,» Benedict XVI arrived, immediately met by applause and by the affectionate cry «Viva il Papa!» (Long live the Pope!)

After the presentations, Father Mario Pezzi proclaimed the Gospel of Matthew of the glorious resurrection of Christ, in response to which the Orchestra and Chorus of the Neocatechumenal Way performed two songs of the Symphony «El Sufrimiento de los Inocentes»(«The Suffering of the Innocents»).

«This year I have the joy to meet you and share with you this moment of sending out for the mission» began the Pontiff, addressing an affectionate greeting «to all the priests, seminarians, families, formators and members of the Neocatechumenal Way.»

«Your presence today,» he continued, «is a visible testimony of your joyful commitment to living the faith, in communion with the whole Church and with the Successor of Peter, and to be courageous heralds of the Gospel.»

«Bringing Christ to the people and bringing people to Christ,» the Pope said, «this is what breathes life into each work of evangelization,» stressing that the Neocatechumenals carry this out «in a way that helps those who have already received baptism rediscover the beauty of the life of faith, the joy of being Christian.»

The Holy Father encouraged members of the Way to continue this mission and «offer your original contribution to the cause of the Gospel.»

Sunday Eucharist

With regard to the celebrations in the «Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Way,» which «are not strictly liturgical, but are part of the itinerary of growth in faith,» the Pope, quoting Article 13 of the statutes, confirmed the possibility that members of the Way «may celebrate the Sunday Eucharist in small communities, after the first Vespers of Sunday in order to facilitate the rapprochement to the wealth of the sacramental life by people who have strayed from the Church, or have not received adequate training.»

At the same time, the Pontiff reflected on the public character of the Holy Eucharist. 

«The celebration in small communities, regulated by the liturgical books, which should be followed faithfully, and with the particular features approved in the Statutes of the Way, has the task of helping those who are undergoing the Neocatechumenal itinerary to receive the grace of being inserted into the saving mystery of Christ, which makes possible a Christian witness capable of assuming the traits of radicality,» he said. «At the same time, the gradual growth in faith of the individual and of the small communities should promote their integration into the life of the larger ecclesial community, that finds in the liturgical celebration of the parish, in which and for which the Neocatechumenate is implemented (cf. Statutes, art. 6), its ordinary form. But even during the way it is important not to separate from the parish community, right in the celebration of the Eucharist which is the true place of the unity of all, where the Lord embraces us in the various states of our spiritual maturity and unites us in the one bread that makes us one body.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-34156?l=english

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