Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently wrote a letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church regarding the “New Movements” in the Church. The letter, entitled “Iuvenescit Ecclesia” (“The Church Rejuvenates”), and approved by Pope Francis, discusses the relationship and tension between the hierarchical and charismatic elements in the movements and provides Bishops with eight criteria for discerning the charismatic gifts of the movements.
It doesn’t seem likely to me that the Cardinal Muller would have written such a letter if all was going well with the New Movements, and indeed, the Catholic faithful on Guam know with certainty that all is not well with at least one of the movements, the Neocatechumenal Way.
It seems to me that all eight criteria provided in section 18 the letter may be directly applied to specific problems inherent in the Neocatechumenal Way.
1. The Primacy of the vocation of everyone to holiness.
According to Kiko Arguello, founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, it is necessary that some people among us are predestined to be “Judas”. Listen to a Neocatechumenal catechist explain this doctrine here and read more about this doctrine here.
2. Commitment to spreading the Gospel.
Members of the Way insist that they are spreading the Gospel, but in reality, they are spreading a twisted version, loaded with half-truths. Click here to see eight examples of deformed interpretations of scripture, from the mud of John 9 to the Passover without a sacrifice.
3. Profession of the Catholic Faith.
The Way deforms the truths of the Catholic faith in many ways, including when teaching on:
- the Trinity,
- the Final Judgment,
- the sacrificial nature of Christ’s death,
- the role of Judas Iscariot, and
- the nature of the Blessed Sacrament.
4. Witness to a real communion with the whole Church.
To get a good taste of the sectarianism offered by the Neocatechumenal Way, listen to their catechists discuss the problems of the Way in Japan, in a way that suggests that they consider themselves separate from the Universal Church.
5. Recognition of and esteem for the reciprocal complementarity of other charismatic elements in the Church.
On Guam, where the Way has been operating in an unconstrained fashion for two decades, the movement practices a “scorched earth” approach to other movements. All Catholics outside of the Way are considered infants and movements like Cursillo, Couples for Christ, and even the Legion of Mary are considered competition.
6. Acceptance of moments of trial in the discernment of charisms.
Any criticism leveled by the Bishops, clergy or laity against the Way is perceived as persecution by their catechists and members, and there is no real acceptance of this criticism as a necessary element of the Church’s discernment process. Listen to a Neocatechmenal catechist discuss the “persecution” that the Way has experienced on Guam.
7. Presence of spiritual fruits
Some of the most bitter fruits of the Neocatechumenal Way are to be found in the products of the Redemptoris Mater Seminaries. Listen to a Neocatechumenal pastor on Guam raucously discuss masturbation with young people here, or a Redemptoris Mater seminarian discuss his sexual conquests from the pulpit during Holy Mass here. Learn about the sexual exploitation of a young altar girl by her Neocatechumenal pastor here. All these examples are from the tiny island of Guam!
8. The social dimension of evangelization.
Outside of its own closed communities and efforts by members to form more closed, self-absorbed communities, there is no perceivable effort by members of the Way to engage in the subsidiarity and solidarity with the poor.