KORAZIM, Israel, APRIL 1, 2008 (Zenit.org).- After 40 years of Europe saying “no” to its future, the Neocatechumenal Way is leading the way to say “yes,” according to the archbishop of Vienna.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said this at a meeting of nine cardinals and 160 European bishops who gathered March 24-29 at the Domus Galilaeae International Center on the Mount of Beatitudes in Galilee to reflect on the New Evangelization in Europe.
The participants in the meeting, which was organized by the Kilo Argüello, Carmen Hernández and Father Mario Pezzi, founders of the Neocatechumenal Way, were greeted by a telegram sent by the Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who sent greetings and the blessing of Benedict XVI.
“In the last 40 years,” said Cardinal Schönborn, “Europe has said ‘no’ to its future three times: in 1968 when it rejected ‘Humanae Vitae’; then, 20 years later, with the legalization of abortion; and today with homosexual marriages.”
He continued: “It is no longer a moral question, but it is a fact. For example, in Germany today for every 100 parents there are 70 children and 44 grandchildren. In two generations the population will be cut by half.
“This is an objective ‘no’ to the future. The only voice in Europe that has promoted and is promoting the future is the Catholic Church with Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and so many others.
“The Neocatechumenal Way is without a doubt an answer of the Holy Spirit to this situation and I have been able to see it as a bishop and as a shepherd. I have seen parents saying ‘yes’ to life in an encouraging and generous way; they are saying ‘yes’ to the future.”
At the end of the gathering, the bishops released a joint declaration to launch the re-evangelization of Europe: “We, nine cardinals and 160 archbishops and bishops of Europe, have gathered […] during the octave of Easter to reflect on the new evangelization in the place where Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes, and from where he sent the Apostles for the universal mission.
“We, the bishops, recognize with gratitude that, among the many graces that the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon the Church in our times, the Neocatechumenal Way represents, with its itinerary of Christian initiation, a powerful charism to reinforce the missionary impulse that emerges from the baptismal regeneration and to give an answer to the dramatic situation of de-Christianization of Europe.
“We declare that the future of the Neocatechumenal Way will greatly depend upon the fatherly love with which we bishops welcome this charism, closely follow the Redemptoris Mater seminaries and encourage the precious families of the Neocatechumenal Communities, inserting them, more and more, into the life of the local Church.”
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Kracow, underlined the importance of the gathering: “It is very important because morality is in a deep crisis in Europe, not just in an individual level, but in an institutional level as well.
“We need to reflect and find a way out, and we, as shepherds, must do this. Here we have an important proposal, the proposal of the Neocatechumenal Way, which is to renew the life of the family.
“The crisis in Europe emerged because of the crisis of the families, for this reason, in renewing the life of the families, Europe herself can be renewed.”
The Neocatechumenal Way, whose statutes were approved for five years “ad experimentum” by the Holy See in June 2002, is a spiritual renewal movement at the service of diocesan bishops and pastors as a way of rediscovering the sacrament of baptism and promoting ongoing education in the faith.
The journey began in 1964 when Argüello left everything to go live with the poor in the slums on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain.
There are an estimated 20,000 communities of the Neocatechumenal Way in more than 6,000 parishes in 900 dioceses, which gather together around a million Catholics.
In January 2006, Benedict XVI sent more than 200 families of the Neocatechumenal Way on mission to dioceses around the world to areas where the Church is now absent and the number of the non-baptized is reaching almost 90% of the population.
Vatican representatives at the meeting included Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, and Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.