Kiko Arguello and the big business of the “New Aesthetic”
I fully support the use of clever free enterprise to fund Catholic apostolates and religious communities. Catholic monks and nuns, for example, have been practicing “Ora et Labora” (Pray and Work) since St. Benedict established his Rule, and probably before that. Selling the fruits of their labors has sustained these communities for centuries.
The Neocatechumenal Way (NCW), founded by Kiko Arguello, also uses commercial enterprise to help fund itself, but with a twist. There are at least 40,000 NCW communities around the world, and each is expected to procure some amount of art work and liturgical accouterments designed or at least branded by their founder, Kiko. Moreover, new parish buildings and churches under the auspices of a Neocatechumenal pastor are very often designed by Kiko’s architect, Mattia del Prete and a team of Kiko’s followers. The NCW often refers to all these things as the “New Aesthetic“.
As I said before, I normally would support this kind of thing, but something about this bothers me. No, three things about this bother me:
1) All NCW communities are compelled to purchase Kiko art and other items related to worship and family prayer. Should there not be diversity of aesthetics in liturgical worship? Why are all forced to adopt Kiko’s Neo-Byzantine style? If there are indeed 40,000 NCW communities, I would suspect that hundreds of different cultures and ethnicities are represented in these communities. Hispanic, English, French, Nigerian, Chamorro, Filipino… Are there not beautiful indigenous works of art available? And why cannot God be praised with indigenous or ethnic music?
2) What kind of personality would enforce this cookie-cutter approach? Is it driven by the narcissism of the founder? And what kind of sycophants in the inner circle of the NCW leadership would agree to this idea? “¡Bravo, Kiko, qué buena idea!”
3) Kiko’s inner circle may be profiting from this “New Aesthetic” enterprise. Check out the names of his architects for example. There are two “Gennarinis” in the list. Kiko and his crew have quite a few seminaries and countless parishes under their control. That’s a hell of a lot of building projects. Are the pastors and seminary rectors compelled to use Kiko’s team for the design of their new facilities and churches?
Well now, it was good to get that off my chest. Let’s go shopping!
First, let’s go to the premier center for Kiko’s “New Aesthetic”, the Caal Liturgical Center. Click here for a catalog of altar wines, here for a catalog of liturgical furnishings, here for a catalog of icons. You can get a good look at the “Celebratory Spaces” fka “churches” designed by Mattia del Prete, Kiko’s architect, here. (You can be sure that the Santa Rita Parish Center will appear on this page soon.)
If you’re looking for Kiko’s mandatory icons for your community, you can also try NeoMerKaba, Camino a Sion, Iconografo, Iknearte, or NeoSigne. Candles with Kiko’s icons on them can be found here. Here’s a Kiko-designed lectern cover. Kiko-designed Bible covers can be found here. The official Kiko song book, Risuscito, can be bought here. No other song book is acceptable, and don’t forget to get the leather, embroidered, Kiko-designed cover!
Tags: Camino Neocatecumenal, Cammino Neocatecumenale