Sunday, September 8, 2013


NOTE: The real issue at the heart of the division in this archdiocese over the Neocatechumenal Way has nothing to do with square tables, Saturday evening-only liturgies, nor the manner of receiving communion. But since we are not prepared to speak openly of the “real issue” at this point, we will continue our discussion of the unique elements of the Neocatechumenal liturgy.

In a previous post, we noted that the uninitiated visitor to the Neocatechumenal celebration of the Eucharist would notice some “immediate and very large differences”, primarily the arrangement of the congregation/community around a central table and the manner of distributing and receiving communion.

These two unique features of the Neocatechumenal liturgy received widespread attention after the release of a letter addressed to the leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way (NCW) from the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) on December 1, 2005.

The letter called for the NCW to “follow the liturgical books approved by the Church, without omitting or adding anything,” and further emphasized and clarified six critical matters regarding the NCW celebration of the liturgy. The fifth item addressed the manner of distributing and receiving communion:
5. On the manner of receiving Holy Communion, a period of transition (not exceeding two years) is granted to the Neocatechumenal Way to pass from the widespread manner of receiving Holy Communion in its communities (seated, with a cloth-covered table placed at the center of the church instead of the dedicated altar in the sanctuary) to the normal way in which the entire Church receives Holy Communion. This means that the Neocatechumenal Way must begin to adopt the manner of distributing the Body and Blood of Christ that is provided in the liturgical books.
The letter was authored and signed by Francis Cardinal Arinze, who wrote in his official capacity as Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. However, the letter was treated, at least locally, as the personal recommendations of an individual cardinal who was “not for the Way”. 

In fact, not only was the letter disregarded as an uninformed directive, the Cardinal’s credentials were publicly questioned by a very high ranking member of the local clergy on our own Catholic radio station soon after the release of the letter. Needless to say there was shock and disbelief, particularly since the letter from Cardinal Arinze opened with the words: “I am to inform you of the Holy Father’s decisions.

Apparently, disregard for the letter was not limited to Guam because very soon thereafter, on January 12, 2006, Pope Benedict took the occasion of an already scheduled address to the NCW to hammer home the fact that the Arinze directive was his (Benedict’s) own and he expected it to be obeyed:

“Precisely to help the Neocatechumenal Way to render even more effective its evangelizing action in communion with all the People of God, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments recently imparted to you in my name certain norms concerning the Eucharistic Celebration...I am sure you will attentively observe these norms that reflect what is provided for in the liturgical books approved by the Church.”
Given the official nature of the original letter and the Pope's own words demonstrating his expectation that the norms were to be observed, it is difficult for outsiders to understand why the directive was, and still is, seen as the mere suggestions of a crotchety cardinal. Yet, they were. We will see why in our next post.


  1. "it is difficult for outsiders to understand why the directive was, and still is, seen as the mere suggestions of a crotchety cardinal."

    Quite so, particularly given that said letter appears in the Statutes of the NCW, footnote to Article 13.3

  2. I cannot understand the big fuss about the Arinze letter by the opponents of NCW. It looks like a storm in a glass of water.

    Here is the fact: even before the Statutes of the NCW were approved by Pope Benedict in 2008, the Founder of the Way, Kiko Arguello, made sure that the Arinze letter's recommendations were thoroughly followed in the communities. It has been followed ever since.

    This topic run its course in major Catholic forums like Zenit, Chiasa, etc. many years ago. So I don't think any new substance has been raised.

  3. It appears from the comments I just read, that the NCW are not willing to follow the letter of the law, and that they continue to spread half truth and at time complete lies. They are deaf,blind and apparently complete hermetic to anything but their own narrow and sectarian way.
    Nothing good will come out of this.