Earlier this year, a Neocatechumenal seminarian, Gabriel Camacho, gave this “testimony” at the end of a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica in Guam. Listen to it, or read the transcript, and then we’ll discuss some worrying problems with it.
(see full transcript below)
I have five problems with Camacho’s testimony:
1) Camacho says, “I don’t know how many girls I’ve taken advantage of. I don’t know how many times I scared my parents to death coming home drunk…I should maybe have two children, three children, not even with the same woman.“
How long before he entered the seminary did Gabriel Camacho abandon his life of fornication and drunkeness? He says that he’s 24 and that he’s been at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary for 5 years, so he must have entered the seminary when he was only 19 years old! Was he living chastely and soberly for a few years before entering the seminary? Wouldn’t that seem to be the least amount of time necessary to discern a call to enter the seminary?
2) What about the women he “took advantage of”? Wouldn’t this type of public confession by a seminarian and future priest bring them quite a bit of pain? Will he brag about his conquests from the pulpit after he is ordained?
By the way, how does he know that he did not father any children? If he did, he has no business being in the seminary!
3) Camacho comes from a dedicated Neocatechumenal family, and his parents were among the first people to join the Neocatechumenal Way in Guam, so he likely joined his community in Agana at an early age, perhaps at 13 or 14 years of age. This can only mean that drinking and sexual escapades began after he joined “the Way”. If true, he was living as hypocrite while “walking” in the Way.
4) Camacho says, “Jesus Christ, loves me, just the way I am. I don’t need to be good” , and he repeats this thought or something similar to it several times in his talk.
Of course, Jesus loves us despite our sins, and one might try to argue that this is what Camacho is trying to say. But the problem is that the phrase, “Jesus loves me just the way I am” can easily be interpreted to mean “Jesus accepts the state that I’m in.” This obviously is not true, and He wouldn’t have died for me (us) if it were true. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Kiko Arguello, the founder of “the Way”, implies when he teaches:
“It is useless to say: “Sacrifice yourself, be nice to each other, love each other.” If someone tries to do so, he’ll become the greatest Pharisee, because he will do everything for his own personal perfection and will judge others.” Kiko Arguello, Day 7, “the Kerygma”, p 129, Catechetical Directory, Vol. I.
Remember that Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). When members of “the Way” say “Jesus loves you you just the way you are”, they mean something quite different than “Jesus loves you despite your sins.”
5) Lastly, this testimony was given during Holy Mass, from the pulpit and before the final blessing. Redemptionis Sacramentum, the Instruction given by the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on “On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist” says,
[74.] If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a Church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass.
We simply did not need to hear about Camacho’s substance abuse and sexual exploits during Holy Mass.
This young man was not given the proper amount of time to discern a call to the priesthood prior to entering the seminary and he should not be talking about his sexual escapades during Mass. This spells trouble for all of us.
Um, Good evening everyone. My name is Gabriel Camacho, um I’m 24 years old. I grew up in this parish, Agana Cathedral, and, I really, I came to church just because, basically my parents dragged me to church. I mean, they pulled me by the ear. I mean, if I didn’t go I’d get whipped. And really, this, this was me. Because the fact is for me, God growing up, I mean does God make me a better basketball player? Does he make me a better volleyball player? And for me, I don’t think so. Does he make me a better musician? Does He help me in school? I mean with the grades I got, I don’t think he helped me.
But, the fact is, I never liked very much despising God because, the fact, God is just…for me, God was just in this church. And that was it. I would go to Sunday, uh, Mass, and then, after that, never mind. Because, what’s more important for me is rather to do everything on my own. Because, God, where is God?
Where was he in my life? Why is it that he gave me the life that I had. I am number four of five children. And I don’t know if some of you are in the same situation that I was, but I was very much the black sheep. I was very much the oddball. Never being heard. Somehow I had to speak above, I mean over everyone by raising my voice. I had to…my father was a very hard man. Always demanding. How was it possible I can fulfill these things. And really, I just grew very angry. And all of these events led me very much to, to what? Uh, trying to fulfill being good, because all my life, my family, my school, my aunts, my uncles, everyone told me you need to be good, you need to be a good person. You need to be polite, you need to have good manners.
And for me, I mean, I tried it out. I really did, and it was impossible for me and I couldn’t, I couldn’t somehow, I couldn’t somehow please everyone, because I thought that in order to be accepted by my peers I would have to be good at something. That the only way for my father to love me, to accept me, that I would have to be perfect. I had to do something, but, this evening I stand before you because through my efforts, I was brought to this catechesis, not because I wanted to. I for sure I did not want to go, because I remember I was running cross country, and I mean, for me, running was more important , but I heard something, very simple. That this man, here, Jesus Christ, loves me, just the way I am. I don’t need to be good, I don’t need to a great musician, a great athlete, to, I don’t know, make a lot of money. But really, he loves me just the way I am.
I mean, uh, I don’t know how many girls I’ve taken advantage of. I don’t know how many times I scared my parents to death coming home drunk. I don’t know how I made it. I mean, only the grace of God, the hand of God, that somehow I made it alive. Because I’m no better than my friends, who, some of them are in prison. Who some of them are stuck in ice, in drugs. Because really if Jesus Christ was not there in that moment acting in my parents, to say yes, I had to go to this thing, I should be in prison right now. No joke. I should maybe have two children, three children, not even with the same woman.
And because, really because of the faith of my parents, I stand before you, very much happy, happy to say that now I’m in the seminary for five years. I’m not saying five days, because already that was absurd when I first entered. But five years I’ve been in the seminary. And I’m happy because I’ve learned that Jesus Christ not only loves me, but I can share His love by giving my life, by giving my life, to, to those, even to those who I hate the very most. Not only to my friends, but to those who I despise, my bosses, when I used to work. How is it possible that they can talk down to me, don’t they know who I am?
But really the Church, I mean they gave me this charism of the Neocatechumenal Way, they said that it’s possible. It’s possible to love my boss. It’s possible to love my coworkers who are so irritating. But to love them just the way they are. <<raising voice>> Because Jesus Christ loved me first. He loved me just the way I am, and how could I even despise that. I mean, how is it that I’m so stupid, that I’m so ignorant, of this situation, of this fact that he shed blood on that cross for me.
What did I do to deserve that? What did I do for him to go through all of that? All of the whipping, all of the beating, all of the insulting. I run, the fact is I run from when people want to tease, when people want to uh, I mean I run away. And really, I just want to invite everyone, we’re starting a catechesis on, on Monday. But perhaps you might hear something. Perhaps. I mean, I mean I’m not going to say it was easy for me, but, but the fact is I give testimony that I heard something. That Jesus Christ loves me, just the way I am. And I say it this evening. <<raising voice>> That Jesus Christ loves
you, just the way you are. Whatever your situation is, he loves you right now. Right now.
[74.] If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a Church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass. Nevertheless, for serious reasons it is permissible that this type of instruction or testimony be given after the Priest has proclaimed the Prayer after Communion. This should not become a regular practice, however. Furthermore, these instructions and testimony should not be of such a nature that they could be confused with the homily, nor is it permissible to dispense with the homily on their account.
Tags: Camino Neocatecumenal, Cammino Neocatecumenale, problems, problemas, Redemptoris Mater Seminary, Guam