Thursday, March 13, 2014


On DIANA SAYS NO, "Diana" (not her or his real name) has a comment in her/his comment string which reads:
As an example, Tim Rohr interpreted Kiko's letter to the Pope as "disobedience".....I will not obey. Under this thread which I posted, I showed that there is a difference between disobedience and disagreements, and how Kiko's letter was one of disagreement rather than disobedience. Even Tim Rohr agrees that it's okay to disagree with the Pope as he stated in one of his posts.
Diana, here, provides an extremely valuable insight into why the Neocatechumenal Way has proven to be so divisive, not just here, but around the world: they have a different language. Let's back up to what it was Pope Benedict said and what it was Kiko said. Here is the exchange:

Pope Benedict to the Neocatechumenal Way, January 12, 2006"I am sure you will attentively observe these norms that reflect what is provided for in the liturgical books approved by the Church." 

"These norms" refers to the letter, dated 12/1/05, addressed from the Congregation for Divine Worship to the leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way, directing them to conform their manner of distributing holy communion to the liturgical books. Here is what the letter required (emphasis mine):
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. 
For those who don't know, the "liturgical books" refers to the Missal and the GIRM (General Instruction to the Roman Missal). Let's review how  the Neocatechumenal Way was distributing holy communion at the time of this letter:
  1. The priest, before consuming the host, takes the consecrated bread to the communicants.
  2. The communicants remain in their place, seated.
  3. The consecrated bread is placed in the hand of the communicant.
  4. The communicants hold the consecrated bread until it has been distributed to all. 
  5. The priest then consumes the consecrated bread.
  6. The priest then signals the communicants to consume the consecrated bread which they are still holding in their hands. 

Here is the what the GIRM requires and what Pope Benedict required:
  1. The priest first consumes the consecrated bread himself.
  2. The priest comes down to the edge of the sanctuary.
  3. The communicants process towards the priest.
  4. The consecrated bread is either placed on the tongue of the communicant or in the hand.
  5. If placed in the hand, the communicant immediately consumes it (places it in his mouth). (GIRM 161.)

The initial directive from the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) was given on 12/1/05. Pope Benedict, at a meeting with members of the Neocatechumenal Way on 1/12/06, only a few weeks later, was aware that the leaders of the NCW did not intend to comply with the directive. Thus, his reaffirmation of it at the meeting:  "I am sure you will attentively observe these norms that reflect what is provided for in the liturgical books approved by the Church." 

Because Pope Benedict, in the presence of a large number of members of the NCW and their leaders, had clarified that the directive was his own, the NCW's founder, Kiko Arguello, apparently thought it necessary to inform the Pope that the NCW was not going to comply with the directive. Here is what he said:
"We also wish to thank you for the benevolence, mercy, and goodness You have shown to those farthest away in allowing the moving of the sign of peace and in granting a period of two years for the adaptation of the manner of distributing the Communion of the Body and the Blood of the Lord: we have always shown to the many brothers who have emerged from hell, full of wounds and of self-loathing, that in the Holy Eucharist the Lord makes present his love, dying and rising for them; and not only that, but prepares a table, an eschatological banquet, which makes Heaven present and where He himself, full of love, has them sit down and comes to serve them: “He will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them” (Lk 12:37).  In this way, every time we celebrate the Eucharist we experience the power this sacrament has to draw them into the Passover of Christ, bringing them from sadness to joy, from darkness to light, from death to life… "
Very beautiful, but the fact is Kiko does not say "Yes, Holy Father, we will abide by your decree." Instead, he makes himself equal in authority to the Holy Father in the matter of the governance of the liturgy, lectures the pope with his interpretation of scripture, and informs the Pope that the NCW will continue to do it his way. Call it disagreement, disobedience, non-compliance, whatever, the fact is that the NCW continued to do it Kiko's way well past the period of transition without making the transition as Pope Benedict required. 

A new definition for "disagreement"
Now, Diana, calls this a "disagreement". True, Kiko disagreed with the Pope. True, I sometimes disagree with the Pope. But disagreeing with the Pope does not equate to a license to disobey the pope, where the Pope has legitimate authority, and in the matter of the liturgy, the Pope is the ultimate authority. A pope may say something about capitalism that I disagree with. But because the pope has no authority to regulate economic systems, I am free to disregard his recommendations because ultimately he has no governing authority in that regard, though his position demands I give his words serious consideration. 

But in matters of the liturgy, the pope has ULTIMATE AUTHORITY. He is its chief governor. You can disagree all you want, but you CANNOT deviate from an established liturgical norm without a dispensation from the "governor", who normally speaks to these matters through the Congregation for Divine Worship. 

The example of St. Padre Pio
It is well-known that St. Padre Pio was forbidden to publicly celebrate the sacraments for several years while the Vatican investigated his stigmata. There were many theories about his stigmata, from burning holes through his own hands and feet with carbolic acid to some sort of psychosis which could manifest itself in physical wounds. Some even thought he lashed himself so he could show his bloody back.

Do you think St. Padre Pio "disagreed" with Rome? Disagreed with the investigators? Disagreed with his censor? Do I even need to say "Of course he did!"? Did St. Padre Pio obey Rome? Did he cease public celebration of the sacraments? Did he patiently wait for the lifting of the censor? Of course he did! That is why we can now call him SAINT Padre Pio!

Compared to Kiko Arguello
Did Kiko disagree with Pope Benedict? Did Kiko disagree with the CDW directive? Did Kiko disagree with the censor? Of course he did! Did Kiko accept the censor? Did Kiko comply with the directive? Did Kiko obey they Pope? Of course he DID NOT! 

Let's review. Kiko had every right to disagree with the pope. Kiko had no right to not to obey him. In the matter of the governance of the liturgy, Kiko is not the pope's equal. Should we make this more simple and closer to home? Growing up I often disagreed with my parents, but I had no right to disobey them. Even now as an adult, there are rules of the house my mom lives in that I disagree with but my disagreement gives me no license to disregard those rules. It is her house. And in the matter of the liturgy, the liturgy is the pope's house. We do not get to do as we wish, regardless of how right we think we are. Yet this is what Kiko and the NCW did: they did as they wished, or more precisely, as Kiko ordered. 

The directive in context of "ad experimentum"
Now, let's look at the directive in context. At the time the CDW issued the directive, the NCW was under review by Rome under the period of "ad experimentum" granted to it by John Paul II in 2002. The period was for five years. Thus in 2005, the NCW was in its third year of its review. 

When reviewing a request for a liturgical or canonical change, or the approval of the constitutions of a new order, or in this case, the statutes of an ecclesial community, it is not uncommon for Rome to ask the initiators to conform to the norm until the requested change, or the new constitution or statute, can be fully reviewed, modified, and approved. This is akin to a diocesan tribunal asking a civilly married couple to live as "brother and sister" while a request for an annulment of one or both of the spouses is being considered, or while they may be preparing for the convalidation of their marriage. 

In short, this is exactly what Pope Benedict asked Kiko to do. The statutes for the Neocatechumenal Way were under review, and one of the items was the anomalous way in which holy communion was distributed at the NCW "eucharists". At the time, I remember many members, and especially the neo-priests with whom I spoke, having high hopes that the NCW liturgy, as then practiced, would be fully authorized by Rome with the final approval of the NCW Statute. 

Rome approves the Statute, but...
Rome approved the Statute in 2008, but Kiko did not get everything he wanted. As regards the manner of the distribution of holy communion, there were only two deviations from the GIRM allowed by the Statute: 1) the communities could continue to receive holy communion under both species (some may be surprised that this was and is not the norm since so many parishes regularly practice it), and 2) NCW communicants could remain in their place (instead of processing towards the minister) with the caveat that they must stand to receive and not remain seated. 

Typical of the Vatican's regulatory instruments, the statute does not outline a list of things one can or cannot do. It states what modifications are permitted, and unless there is mention of something else, everything that came before remains valid. In the matter of the distribution of holy communion, what came "before" was the GIRM, which instructs the communicant to consume the sacred species "as soon as" it is placed in the hand of the communicant: "As soon as the communicant receives the host, he or she consumes the whole of it." This is what the CDW directive meant when it references "the normal way in which the entire Church receives Holy Communion."

When first confronted with this blatant reality, "Diana" countered by referring to a section of the GIRM which instructs how "concelebrants" are to receive communion. Of course, concelebrants, because they are in fact concelebrating, receive altogether, as we have witnessed at all Masses where there is more than one priest. When we asked Diana if she considered neocatechumenal communicants to be "concelebrants", a term the GIRM uses specifically for priests, Diana explained:
Yes, we are considered "concelebrant." The purpose of the Neocatechumenal Way is to celebrate the Eucharist in small communities as in the Early Church. In those times, the word "concelebrant" is used differently as today. 
However, in "her" later posts, she seems to have abandoned this redefinition of "concelebrants" and has constructed the argument we noted at the beginning of this post: that the anomalous manner in which the NCW distributes and receives holy communion is only a point of "disagreement" and not a matter of disobedience. However, to do that, one must put oneself co-equal to the pope in the manner of governance of the liturgy. And so they have, or Kiko has. Everyone else is just following orders. 

Let's review
Let us now review how the NCW communities distribute and receive holy communion with what is permitted in the Statute and required by the "liturgical books". In the NCW celebration of the eucharist:
  1. The priest, before consuming the sacred species, takes the consecrated bread to the members. The GIRM requires the priest to first communicate before distributing. 
  2. The members remain in their place, standing. This is allowed by Article 13 of the NCW statute. 
  3. The consecrated bread is placed in the hand of each communicant. This is permitted by the GIRM and is one of the "normal" ways in which "the entire Church receives Holy Communion."
  4. The members hold the consecrated bread until it has been distributed to all. The GIRM 161 requires the communicant to consume the bread "as soon as" it is received in the hand. This is a deviation from the liturgical norm NOT allowed by the Statute.
  5. The priest then communicates himself. This is another deviation from the norm not allowed by the Statute. The priest is required to consume before even distributing. 
  6. The priest then signals the members to consume the sacred species which they were still holding in their hands. The members are required to consume "as soon as" they received. They are not permitted by the Statute to continue to hold the consecrated bread. 
So, for Diana's sake, lets not call this disobedience. Let us call this non-compliance or deviation. But regardless of what you call it, we simply ask what we have asked from the beginning: BY WHAT AUTHORITY?

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