After reading up about the Neocatechumenal Way today, I feel obligated to write about my strong disapproval for the organization. The Neocatechumenal Way or Neocatechumenate is a "Post Baptismal Catechumenate" i.e. a Christian initiation process within the Roman Catholic Church that is dedicated to adult faith formation. However, as part of their regular celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the Way performs numerous liturgical abuses and engages in teachings that are, at their core, not Catholic. Not only have they lost the Liturgy but their actions call into question their foundation in solid Catholic doctrine.
I found an abundance of information on the doctrinal errors of the Neocatechumenal Way from the faithful magazine "Christian Order," specifically a 1995 article. Here is some information from that magazine relating to the doctrinal errors of Neocatechumenal Way. And here is an additional source written by Fr. Zoffoli on the problems in the Way.
THESE STATEMENTS DO NOT LIE. THE WAY DOES NOT TEACH CATHOLIC DOCTRINE. AVOID THEM AT ALL COST NO MATTER WHICH BISHOPS OR PRIESTS MIGHT SUPPORT THEM. THEY ARE NOT CATHOLIC
1. SIN: man cannot avoid committing it, in the same way as he can neither accomplish good nor acquire merits for himself;
- conversion is possible only as recognition, by everyone, of their own moral poverty, not as a determined wish to correct one’s
- sin cannot offend God, and man does not incur the duty to expiate it by satisfying the requirements of His justice.
2. REDEMPTION: Jesus has not brought this about by liberating man from his faults and reconciling him with God;
- the passion and death of Christ has not been a true sacrifice offered to the Father in order to remedy sin and to redeem man;
- Jesus saved the world by virtue of His Resurrection: in order to enjoy the fruits of His work it is enough to confess to be sinners and to believe in the power of the risen Christ.
3. THE CHURCH was not founded by Christ as his only Sheepfold: it is also possible to save oneself by following other religions;
- the Church is not a juridical and hierarchical society, but a spiritual, charismatic one;
- in it there is not found a priesthood derived from the sacrament of the Order - as it is sufficient to have the Baptism which, incorporating all the believers in Christ, makes them participants of His priestly dignity.
4. THE MASS is not a “sacrifice”: the Church, at the altar, does not offer to God any Victim;
- in place of the altar, there is nothing but the table, which in the Eucharist allows a festive party to be celebrated among brothers united by the same faith in the Resurrection;
- the consecrated bread and wine are only the symbol of the presence of the risen Christ which unites the fellow-guests by communicating their own spirit, thus making them participants in his triumph over death;
- the Mass, thus conceived, is not celebrated by the priest, but by the Assembly, from which “springs the Eucharist.”
5. EUCHARISTIC WORSHIP does not have any meaning, it negates the true, real and substantial presence of Christ under the sacramental species. Acts of faith such as genuflections before the Tabernacle, frequent Communions, hours of adoration, benedictions, processions, congresses, etc. are not therefore justified.
6. CONFESSION is reduced to the sacrament of Baptism: their distinction does not go back to the primitive Church:
- the Church “gestates and leads to the conversion.” “The important thing is not the absolution” of the priest, because the value of the confession is essentially its community and ecclesial nature;
- in the “passages” and in the, “scrutinies” the acknowledgement of one’s transgressions, including the serious ones, is public, as can still be the case during the “redditio.”
7. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE, as a voluntary effort of self-discipline, and therefore an exercise and progress in virtue, is an illusion;
- everyone remains intrinsically a sinner, incapable of obtaining true justice as a perfection of the love of God and of one’s fellow creatures;
- on the other hand, Jesus has not been presented to anyone as a “model” to be imitated;
- He has commanded that we should actually hate our parents, brothers, relatives etc, not just, if necessary, to be prepared to prefer Him to them;
- in order to follow Christ, we need to sell our own goods; but, once this renunciation has been accomplished, it is permissible to acquire others and to enjoy all the pleasures of life. “Poverty” as understood by St. Francis, is inspired by the “natural religion,” and was also practised by the pagans: it is not a Christian virtue;
- Jesus, having suffered for us, has made our sufferings superfluous, therefore the austerities of the ascetics, the slow martyrdom of the Saints and the religious life itself, involving the effective practice of the evangelical counsels, are not justifiable;
- eternal salvation is offered freely to all by the mercy of God, who forgives everything. Hell should not exist, nor should one speak of Purgatory, of prayers and of indulgences for the dead.
8. THE HISTORY of the true Church founded by Christ comes to an end with the Pax Constantinia and does not resume its course until the 20th century with the Second Vatican Council, having remained frozen for about 1,600 years ... ;
- in this long interval, the exercise of the triple power of the hierarchical Church (teaching, sanctification, guidance) would have been improper, illegitimate ... ; and in particular the Council of Trent would be responsible for the paralysis of the Church, determined to fix formulae of faith, liturgical rites, disciplinary, rules ... ;
- the interpretation of the Word of God is not reserved for the Hierarchy, it is possible for all believers: “the Bible is explained by itself.” This freedom of examination in the exegesis excludes the ecclesiastical Teaching, the tradition of the Elders and the doctrine of the theologies.
* * * *
The above statements are heresy. The Neocatechumenal Way does not refer to the Altar as anything more than a "table" when it is a symbol of our Lord Jesus Christ and one of the holiest objects on Earth. Here is a comment concerning liturgical abuses performed by the Neocatechumenal Way on EWTN's Catholic Q and A:
"This group engages in various practices within their special liturgy that are regularly considered abuses, such as standing at the Consecration, decorating the Altar with flowers, dancing around the Altar, or 'Table' as they call it, after Mass, accompanying the chanting of the Eucharistic Prayer with guitars, to name a few." I found a picture of a Baptism done by a deacon instead of a priest via Yahoo Images. It is done very differently than in a typical parish. Also, notice the flowers on the altar, which should not be there as this is a violation of the laws of the Church.Further Information:
- Charistmatic Heresy
- Catholic Answers Forum
- EWTN Q&A Question
- Christian Order Magazine Article
- Another Christian Order Article
I would like to highlight the comment by Rob which I share below:
Thank you for posting the article "Avoid The Neocatechumenal Way". Four years worth of comments - Wow. I just included the following in my comment and hope you'll consider it.Update: August 13, 2011
"The four years worth of comments here are mostly tantrums of the teenage angst vein - "you don't understand me" - instead of intelligent discussion. There are a couple really great comments though and it would be helpful if the original poster would stick in a P.S. to advise all new commentors to at least read these two before they post their own.
1. - two part post beginning February 24, 2010 - 12:42 AM
2. - seven part post beginning July 18, 2010 - 3:18 PM"
First and foremost, to those of you who say that the Neocatechumenal Way is to be accepted because the Holy Father has approved its decrees, you are mistaken. Read carefully: "Blind obedience is not Catholic; nobody is exempt from responsibility for having obeyed man rather than God if he accepts orders from a higher authority, even the Pope, when these are contrary to the Will of God as it is known with certainty from Tradition. It is true that one cannot envisage such an eventuality when the papal infallibility is engaged; but this happens only in a limited number of cases. It is an error to think that every word uttered by the Pope is infallible" (Open Letter to Confused Catholics)
The problem with our modern times is that modernism and errors have affected even the Holy Father. He is not sinless. And, if I might say, he is incorrect to approve the Neocatechumenal Way which at its core is not Catholic. It is protestant for the reasons aforementioned in this post.
You might say, how is the Holy Father in error? Unfortunately, even he has fallen into some of the snares of liberal Catholics. I'd encourage you to read my post outlining the six errors of liberal Catholics with an analysis on how the hierarchy no longer believes "outside the Church there is no salvation." From this fundamental error, liberalism has infected the Church and has begun to pollute the Liturgy. The NeoCat Way is nothing more than a protestant infection in the Church founded by Jesus Christ.
Update: January 23, 2012
From the Catholic News Agency after news items claim that the Neocatechumenal Way has received approval for their Celebration of the Mass. The Vatican clarifies.
The Vatican’s approval of the Neo-Catechumenal Way’s forms of “celebration” only applies to non-liturgical prayers within their catechesis and not to the Mass or other liturgies of the Church.
“With respect to the celebrations of the Holy Mass and the other liturgies of the Church,” communities of the Neo-Catechumenal Way must “follow the norms of the Church as indicated in the liturgical books – to do otherwise must be understood to be a liturgical abuse,” a Vatican official told CNA on Jan. 21.
Pope Benedict XVI met with around 7000 members of the movement in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall on Jan. 20 for an annual event to send families on mission destinations worldwide.
The invitation issued by the movement to bishops for yesterday’s event stated that “the purpose of this meeting is that His Holiness will sign a Decree from the Congregation of Divine Worship recognizing the full approval of the liturgies of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.”
However, the approval for non-liturgical practices of the group came by way of another source. It was Pontifical Council for the Laity that issued a decree of approval – after having consulted the Congregation for Divine Worship – for those “celebrations” present in their Catechetical Directory.
Update (November 2015):
In this process, “the Neocatechumenal Way obtained no new permissions whatsoever,” said the official, who is familiar with the approval process for prayers and liturgies.
“Essentially, the Pontifical Council is only approving these things that are found in the Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Way, and in no way touches those things contained in the liturgical books.”
Taken from Tradition in Action which summarizes many of the issues with the Way
According to the founders’ thinking, the Passion and Death of Christ plays no role in man’s redemption. Therefore, the Mass is not a renewal of His Sacrifice, and not an altar but a table is where the banquet feast is held. This is quite similar to the Protestant doctrine so dear to Archbishop Bugnini.
Argüello and Hernandez justify all their changes with the “profound renewal of the liturgy that came at Vatican II.” Indeed, many of the neocatechumenal practices are common in Novus Ordo Masses.
Other Protestant-inspired changes
For many years, the teachings of Argüello and Hernandez were kept away from the public. But during the Vatican process of approval, some of their texts were published. These texts, taken from The Neocatecumenate, A Christian Initiative for Adults, (3) clearly reveal the Protestant thinking that inspires the movement:
It justifies Luther’s revolt: “It is understandable why Luther emerged making a clean break with everything he believed was a purely human addition or tradition.”
It promotes Luther’s teaching on justification: “Man is not saved by good works … Jesus Christ did not come to give us a model of life, an example. … The Holy Spirit does not lead us to perfection, to good works … God freely forgives the sins of those who believe that Jesus is the Savior.”
It rejects transubstantiation: “Luther, who never doubted the real presence of Christ in the eucharist, rejected ‘transubstantiation,’ because it was bound to Aristotelian-Thomistic concept of substance, which is foreign to the Church of the Apostles and the Fathers”
It rejects the Council of Trent: “The rigidity and fixity of the Council of Trent generated a static mentality in the liturgy, which has persisted to our day.”
After a serious study on the Neocatechumenal Way, theologian Fr. Enrico Zoffoli did not hesitate to accuse the movement of being heretical in an article that can be read here.
Fr. Zoffoli also expressed grave concern for the fact that these errors are taught in the 78 Redemptoris Mater seminaries of the Neocatechumenal Way, which have already ordained 12,000 priests in the last 20 years. (4)
Given its Lutheran inspiration and the solid study of Fr. Zoffoli, one can legitimately question whether the “celebrations” of the Neocatechumenal Way are actually valid Masses. Do their priests intend to do what the Church does, offer a propitious sacrifice, when their founders explicitly deny that the Mass is a sacrifice?
Notwithstanding these doctrinal errors, at the recent papal audience, Benedict XVI approved the movement and encouraged its members to continue their work and "offer your original contribution to the cause of the Gospel."
Unorthodox liturgical practices
The liturgy of the Neocatechumenal Way was shaped by Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández based, they claim, squarely on the new teachings of Vatican II. It pretends to return to the practices of the early Church, which were allegedly warped and deviated from the true path for centuries until the Council. One of the movement’s early mentors and supporters was none other than Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the main architect of the New Mass.
Dancing and singing around the table, a regular part of the Neocatechumenal celebration
Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernandez say that the original emphasis on the resurrection of Christ in the Mass was lost in the Constantine era and an erroneous sacrificial tone was inserted in its place. Their liturgy calls for paschal exultation at a table, not a sacrifice at an altar.
The members of the Neocatechumenal Way, make their “celebrations” (they do not call them masses) on Saturday night. The small community – ideally no more than 20 or 30 - gathers in chairs around a table (never an altar, which suggests sacrifice) in the center of one of the parish buildings (which they prefer to churches). There they perform their “celebration” sitting and standing, never kneeling or genuflecting. For the Consecration the whole community stands.
Communion is received standing. Each member receives in his hands a piece of the bread broken from a huge loaf – baked by the members themselves according to Argüello’s specific instructions. Then the celebrant sits and waits for all the faithful to receive the bread. After the presbyter says, “Body of Christ, bring us everlasting life,” the whole congregation consumes the loaf together. Then the cup is shared by all. The presbyter is supposed to carry it around, but often the members pass it from hand to hand, to give the sense of eating and drinking around a dinner table.
Since, according to their doctrine, the interpretation of the Word of God is not reserved for the Hierarchy, before the sermon anyone present can give his witness.
Participants dance or process around the table, chanting songs written by Argüello and accompanied by guitar, defined as the instrument “closest to the ancient Hebrew psalter.” There are no hymns or special devotion to Our Lady and the Saints.