Are we dealing with a cult?

NeoCatechumenal Way

Are We Dealing With a Cult?

As many Catholics on Guam know, the Church on Guam is currently in a state of profound crisis.  After much reflection, I have to ask, “Does the Neocatechumenal Way on Guam practice or exhibit any of the classic signs of cults and sects, and if so, which ones?

ReGAIN, an organization whose mission is to reach out to, unite and support those touched or adversely affected by two other problematic Catholic movements, has published the following list of thirteen characteristics of cult-like organizations.  Look through the list, and based on your personal experience or those of your loved ones, count those that apply to the Neocatechumenal Way on Guam.  I count at least ten.  How about you?

  1. The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment. There is an unhealthy cult of personality around the founder of the NCW, Kiko Arguello.
  2. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.  Is anybody really disputing this?
  3. The group is preoccupied with making money.  Kiko’s “New Aesthetic” is quite a cash cow, as many are now beginning to see. Click here  to read more about this.
  4. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.   Catechumen’s are to listen. Questions are not are either not typically entertained at catechetical sessions.
  5. The leadership dictates -sometimes in great detail- how members should think, act and feel [for example: members must get permission from leaders to date, change jobs, get married; leaders may prescribe what type of clothes to wear, where to live, how to discipline children, and so forth].  There are many anecdotes regarding the excessive control the catechists have. One mother on Guam was told to have her 13-year old son circumcised. Members must ask permission to take off-island vacations. Young men are encourage to marry “a daughter of Israel” (i.e. a member).
  6. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leaders and members [for example: the leader is considered the Messiah, or an avatar; the group and/or the leader has a special mission to save humanity].
  7. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which causes conflict with the wider society. Some examples: Kiko’s followers do not worship with the rest of the faithful on Guam, and their youth do not travel with Guam’s faithful to World Youth Day.
  8. The group’s leader is not accountable to any authorities [as are, for example, military commanders and ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream denominations].
  9. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify means that members would have considered unethical before joining the group [for example: collecting money for bogus charities].
  10. The leadership induces feeling of guilt in members in order to control them. Many anecdotes exist in our local community to assert this. Catechists exert incredible pressure on those who wish to leave, suggesting that their salvation is at risk.
  11. Members’ subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with family, friends, and personal group goals and activities that were of interest before joining the group.  Guam’s families have a tight-knit structure, and countless report have come in describing how NCW membership erodes this structure and its obligations.
  12. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group. Absolutely true. Once active, members no longer have much, if any, time to participate in the events of the wider community.
  13. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members. There seems to be an attempt to replace Guam’s tight-knit family structure with the NCW community.

Tags:  Camino Neocatecumenal, Cammino Neocatecumenale

17 thoughts on “Are we dealing with a cult?”

  1. I am not a “NeoCat.” I am not a “Walker.” I am not a “Kikobot.” I am a Catechumen. I am not in a sect, or a movement, or a cult. I am in a Charism. I am in the Neocatechumenal Way. I am a Catholic, a Guamanian, an American and most importantly, I am a human.

    1. Two things, Catechumen X:

      1) If you’re going to leave 4 pages of comments, you really should get your own blog.
      2) The lies and half-truths told by your leaders do not convince me that the Neocatechumenal Way is a “Charism”, nor does a “charism” of the Holy Spirit have rely upon the treachery we’ve seen from your movement over the last year. You are deluded.

  2. Is there a limit on characters allowed in the comment sections? Why is there only the text of my first paragraph which is only an opening statement and not the rest of it that works to inform the people?

    1. Catechumen X, if you wish to leave long, discursive comments on this blog, at a minimum I insist that you use your real name.

      What are you afraid of? You do have an adult faith don’t you? Anonymous testimony carries a lot less weight than think. People laugh it off.

  3. Mr. White, it is not a fear of revealing my identity, rather it is a respect for my family and those close to me and their security. I do not particularly like it when my name is dragged through the mud because of the actions and words of others therefore, I do not wish to subject others to criticism for my actions. However, if it will help lend credence to my words, it will help give my testimony “weight” and you insist that it is mandatory in order to have my comments posted in their entirety on your blog, then my name is Ric A. Eusebio.
    Now, is it possible to have my comment restored?

    1. Ric, I really see no danger in you using your full real name whenever you offer comments on my posts here. After all, the only people that really have reason to fear reprisal on our island are those that are critical – especially priests – of the Neocatechumenal Way. My brothers Fr. Paul Gofigan and Msgr. James Benavente are examples. And for that matter, I received my first credible threat against my person the other day, when somebody, presumably one of your Neocatechumenal “brothers” said to me “Hope you stay healthy Chucky. May God have mercy on you.”

      Despite this, you stated that you have concerns about YOUR family’s security if you use your real name and you do not like it when your name is “dragged through the mud” Because of these considerations, I really don’t think you have a calling to participate in blogging.

  4. I once walked with a NCW community in Cebu, Philippines, from 1980 to 1990. With the experience I have with this group, I’d say that out of the thirteen characteristics listed, thirteen applies to the NWC. I was once a singer in a community and an itinerant catechist for about two years. I’m thankful of the presence of this site, it will help expose the great danger that is the NCW.

    1. been in the Way for 15 years. Married in the Way with 4 kids. I want to get out, but how do I convince my family that we are being brainwashed?

      1. Just get out. If they persecute you and tell you your are going to hell if you get out, they are only configming all that their critics say of them. You are a Catholic and like any Catholic you should be an active member of your Church, especially your parish. There is no obligation on any Catholic to be part of any particular group. You are obliged to live according to the Gospel, God’s Law as the Church teaches us, participate in Sunday Mass and the other duties any Catholic has, but you have no obligation to obey Kiko or his minnions. Write them a letter letting them know that your are leaving. Thank them for whatever postive experiences you have had there and ask them to respect your decision. If family members hassle you, ask them to respect you and remind them that you have no obligation to belong to the NC, but you do have an obligation to belong to the Catholic Church as you are baptised, received confirmation and Frist Commuion, but not to belong to the NW.

    2. I agree with you I am also happy that this site exists, we must write about abnormalities of this organisation which is called NCW.

  5. I’ve been in the NeoCat for about 13 years. I left last year and have never experienced any pressure from the catechists. I can’t agree (fully) with any of those points. It’s true that people love Kiko and I never understood that…but then I can’t understand why people stay all day out to see celebrities on the red carpet..I guess it’s normal human mentality which exist everywhere even in the church. I know many popular priest who are followed by many people does it mean Church is a cult?
    Maybe I was lucky to have wise catechists who listened to the Pope. The Eucharist at some point was mentioned in the parish biuletyn because Pope said to do that etc. For my Scrutiny I didn’t give away money or sell the house (as many people think community ask for these things) but gave away the mirror…when I told my cathechist about this he was pleased. The Scrutiny ‘give away’ is about making a sign (I know some people chose to give away computers or more expensive things but for sure it wasn’t me)
    Having said that I will always listen to people (only those who were there) who express bitter kind of understanding because of their experience there…
    If you’ve never been there then you can’t say these things, but if you have then fair enough.
    I think neo cat in all respects is not bad…but I agree that some unwise catechists might turn it a bit into a cult by their bad understanding and actions…(I’ve heard some stories of narrow mindness but i haven’t experienced this from my catechists)

  6. I’ve been born in the way, which they say Is a blessing (NCW) but alas, for me it is not. Just because my parents etc.. Found the way doesn’t meen that the way is for me, but can I leave? The answer is no. I still live with my parents so who or what they follow I must… and do I hate them for this? No, infact I respect that they only do this because this is how they found God and they love me. But as of recently I have noticed many elitist trates, such as. The first community get to carry huge palms on Palm Sunday through the parish that only they can have, (no actual members of the parish can) when I try to paint the pascal candle (I’m a painter) I finish it only to have people to tell me it’s not in the style of kiko, any mention of a girlfriend or boyfriend results in “invite them to the catachesis or eventually you will brake up with them” hmm. So thanks chuck, eventually I will leave. However I do believe that they aren’t a cult they just follow blind leaders.

  7. I have read all the comments. My impression is that the pressure in the Communities differs from country to country. I come from Malta and I can assure you that anyone can leave if he does not want to form part of the Way anymore without any repercussions.

    I have been a somewhat reluctant follower for many years because of my wife. But yes, I fully agree, the Way has many similarities to a cult and an obsession with Kilo.
    Carmen had just passed away, and I have a feeling that when Kilo follows suit, the Way will never be the same again. It is too centred on him.

    But luckily in Malta the cathtecists do not put undue pressure,if they did I would opt out. I have to admit that I do not follow what does not suit me or what I see goes contrary to my believes.

    One final thing, if all I have read about Guam is true, what is the Pope waiting to take drastic action? Again,why can’t the Church via the Pope make her followers known publicly what is approved of the Way. I have never been art ease when my cathtecists tell that this or that has been approved by the Pope.

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