Sunday, September 15, 2013


As expected, my posts on the Neocatechumenal Way have elicited some “fan” mail. Here’s one:
It's really sad how you take things out of context. Do not judge what you can not understand and refuse to understand.
There are some instructive things about this short comment which was sent to me after my most recent post on the NCW: WHY THE “ARINZE” DIRECTIVE WENT UNHEEDED: PART 1.

First, there is the accusation that I am taking things “out of context”. Well, what “context” do we have? The NCW is assiduous about secrecy, or at least that’s the perception. And why is that the perception? Because apparently you have to be “in it” to understand it. There is next to nothing written by its leadership that is accessible to the public. 

This is amazingly contrary to the first and second century Church the NCW portends to idealize. If anything, the early Fathers were assiduous about writing. They poured forth volumes explaining and defending the faith. The Early Church was the very opposite of the rampant gnosticism of the age. 

Gnosticism is condemned by the Church precisely because it pretends to possess knowledge available only to its members: one has to be “in it" to understand it. Christianity was and is plainly open to everyone. There is no "you'll find out when you get there."  

And for centuries, the saints, fathers, and doctors of the Church, and innumerable Catholic authors, teachers, and ordinary believers  have used books and letters to convince, refute, explain and convert.  In other words, our Church has historically been assiduous about providing a very open and plain, top to bottom, “context” for the faith. 

But ask an NCW catechist for a copy of the particular catechism they use or a description of the scrutinies or just about anything else, and, well, good luck. If this is no longer the case, then send me something and I’ll stand corrected. 

The bottom line is that the NCW provides the “rest of us” NO CONTEXT other than the Statutes, which as I have said before, give us little more than outlines. Thus, the “rest of us” are left to come up with our own “context” based on what we see from the outside. 

Second, there is the “Do not judge”. This is a bit comical since in saying so, the writer has just set him/herself as judge. I became very familiar with the “do not judge” (which really means “shut up and sit down”) during the debate a few years ago over the legalization of same-sex unions on Guam. After being told to shut up and sit down over many months, and made out to be a bigot and a homophobe, well, I’m pretty battle-hardened from that. 

(By the way, I was desperately seeking help in beating back this bill from the NCW. I had hoped that a certain attorney - in the NCW - would come to the church’s aid - the same attorney that is always there to beat down any mention of gaming. No one came. I’ll tell that story another time.)

Interestingly, the “Do not judge” is a bit different than the defense I used to get from NCW members. I used to get “thank you for the persecutions”, which means of course “I am the helpless victim, and you are the unclean pagan persecutor.” Apparently, this new batch is not listening to their catechists or the catechists have changed their strategy.

Next there is the “refuse to understand”. Quite condemnatory I would say. Very un-NCW-like. However, here is what we do understand:
  1. Rome issued a directive from an official office to the leaders of the NCW to conform their liturgies to the liturgical books. 
  2. The pope personally backed up the directive saying it was done in his name.
  3. The leaders of the Way, at least in Guam - and one suspects, internationally - chose not to obey the directive - at least not within the time given. 

But beyond that, it appears this particular “fan” (there are others) jumped the gun, because in my next post on this matter, I was going to give (and still will) the reason why the NCW chose not to obey the directive. 

I have that reason in writing from one of the leaders of the NCW on Guam. And it’s actually a very logical, substantive reason. Whether it is a good reason, the right reason, is up for you to decide. But there was a reason and it should be known.

In fact, in 2008, when I was given the reason for the non-compliance, I volunteered to make it public in order to avoid the scandal that now, five years later, continues to persist. However, I was told not to share and I didn’t. 

I was also given the reason for why not to share it. It too was a logical reason, a substantive reason. But the circumstances relative to the privacy of that particular communication no longer exist, so I will share it on my next post on the NCW.

Lastly, the defensiveness of the “fan” mail evinces a tension that does not have any substance. If you read my post, I actually made NO JUDGEMENT on the NCW and in fact agreed with the NCW on two counts: 1) the use of the word “Eucharist” vs “Mass”, and 2) the death of parish-based Catholicism. 

In fact, since 2008, I have been on record siding with the NCW on several key issues I feel are scandalously neglected by the “parish-based church” and have offered my support and praise. Even with the “secrecy” issue, I make no judgement. They are welcome to it but then don’t accuse the rest of us for taking things out of context. Provide one, and I don’t mean personal testimonies. Even Calvary Chapel has those.

And one more thing. We modern Catholics are actually horrible at what the Early Church was excellent at: engaging the naysayers, countering with logic and reason - OUR MINDS - simply because Christ told us to love God with our whole MIND (Mk 12:30).  However, our "fan" simply resorts to the "ad hominum", "attack the man". 

This is what people do when they have no argument and it is something I am used to getting from the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-immorality of any kind crowd (though I'm getting quite used to it from members of the NCW - I can provide more examples).

May I recommend that if you see that I am wrong, please engage my arguments and feel to refute them with at least the same level of documentation that I provide for mine. But seriously, attacking me personally does your cause no favor. 


  1. This recurring focus on the Arinze letter is an obvious example of dead end thinking about the Way. The letter came out in 2005, imposing a 2-year period of time for transition for some liturgical changes. Then about a year later Pope Benedict reinforced its message. In 2008 the Statutes of the Way were formally accepted permanently ending all liturgical disputes between the Holy See and the founders of the Way. Ever since then, the communities rigorously follow all instructions from CDW. So what are we exactly talking about in 2013?

  2. Hi Zoltan,
    Please note that the Letter of Cardinal Arinze is directly referenced in the Statutes at footnote 49 - in relation to Article 13 on the Eucharist. You cannot say that the Statutes made redundant something that is included in the Statutes, can you?