Saturday, July 12, 2014

TO ARCHBISHOP MARTIN KREBS RE CONCERNS SPECIFIC TO THE NEOCATECHUMENAL WAY

Dear Archbishop Krebs,

Many of the laity have asked to meet with you and express their concerns. The fact that there are so many and so many concerns should itself speak loudly of our grave situation here. We know that you will not be able to meet with everyone and that many have already expressed their concerns to you via email. 

Since your time with us is limited, I was asked to post the following list of concerns specific to the Neocatechumenal Way as it is experienced here in Guam. These concerns have been collected and compiled from the many comments and emails I have received. There are many more. 

Thank you for your kind attention. We hope you can help us.

  • Cult of personality centered on Kiko Arguello.  Some members on Guam have called him, "the prophet Kiko Arguello"
  • No respect for other Catholic evangelical movements and initiatives, e.g. ridiculing Cursillo
  • Significant doctrinal deviations with respect to the Eucharist and eschatology
  • Psychological leveraging and the exercise of cult-like techniques (e.g. Second Scrutiny)
  • liturgical abuses
  • A hierarchy of catechists that exercises an authority independent of the bishops
  • No financial accountability whatsoever
  • Worship separate and apart from the parish, including the Triduum
  • Little respect for the indigenous culture of Guam by their leaders
  • Poor theological and pastoral formation of priests at the Redemptoris Mater seminary
  • The Archbishop’s decisions and acts are based on the needs and desires of the Neo, not the entire archdiocese. 
  • The Archbishop has failed to not only rise above the fray, he has become subservient to one part of that fray. 
  • The Archbishop acts and deeds have irrevocably divided this community. 
  • The Archbishop may claim that this is not true and he may actually believe it, but his acts and deeds belie his words. 
  • The Archbishop directed that all fiesta masses be moved up by one hour so that he can have time to return his home and preside over the Neo mass at his home every Saturday night. 
  • The Archbishop holds “pizza” dinners every Sunday evening for the Neo seminarians and the Neo missionaries (compare their treatment, which is lavish, to how the archbishop treats non Neo priests---it pales in comparison!). 
  • The Archbishop will not participate in any other archdiocesan event if it interferes with his Neo retreat or some other Neo event, such as his glaring absence from the opening novena and mass for the patroness saint of Guam, Santa Maria Kamalen because he is holding his pizza Sunday night event, and the recent 65th Anniversary Father Duenas Memorial School Gala dinner because he was at a Neo retreat. 
  • The Archbishop personally takes every newly ordained Neo priest to his hometown for their first personal Mass to places as far away as Italy, Poland, and South America, something that no other bishop in this world has done.  
  • The Archbishop's Vicar General, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, and most of the employees at the Chancery are Neo members. 
  • He fired the entire Archdiocesan Finance Council members because they voted against giving the Yona property (worth millions) to the Neo, and replaced the Council with Neo members. 
  • He told Fr. M and Fr. J that he will incardinate them in Guam only if they join the Neo (apparently, their long years of dedicated service and loyalty to this archdiocese was not enough). 
  • Yet, with Fathers Santiago, Gallagher, and Wadsen, he, without consultation with his presbyterial council and college of consulters and in violation of canon law, incardinated these Neo priests despite no connection to Guam other than that they are Neo priests.  
  • These priests had left (reason thereof no one knows for sure) their dioceses and needed a benevolent bishop to incardinate them in order to function as a priest.  
  • He fired Fr. Paul threatening that if he did not resign, he would face a painful and arduous experience in the closure of his assignment at Santa Barbara (imagine the message he has given to other non Neo priests---get out of line in what I want to do and you will face a painful and arduous consequence).  
  • The Neo priests, especially those from the Yona seminary, have free and unfettered access to him, unlike for the non Neo priests. 
  • Fr. Pius, the spiritual master of the Neo in Guam, stays at the archbishop home. 
  • The Archbishop is not the impartial and fair leader that he swore to be when he was ordained, and that is required to be a good and effective bishop. 
  • The Neo's proclaim that anyone and everyone are invited to their Saturday masses. Well, if that is true, why aren’t these masses published in the parish bulletins, and why aren’t they announced. And why hold them outside the Church? Why are they so inaccessible? The answer is clear. They are not set up for anyone to come. They are designed to serve only members of the Neo.
  • The Neo's proclaim that they are not elitist, cultic, secretive, and arrogant, but when they have the Archbishop in their pocket and when they tell us not to fret and whine but to come and listen, what kind of message is being conveyed? The message is this: whatever we are currently doing in our journey to know and love our Lord within the Catholic Church, it is not enough. You can only be saved if you join the Neo. 
  • These catechists are allowed unfettered access to masses to announce their upcoming catechesis, and what is that message? They were once lost and now they are saved. How arrogant is that?
  • Whether they have intended it or not, every non Neo is made to feel inadequate because of the special treatment the Neo receives from the archbishop and because of the message they convey, a message the archbishop has totally embraced.  
  • In the parishes the Neo's have permanently occupied parish rooms or offices, 
  • The Neo's make use of rooms or spaces without paying anything, 
  • The Neo's hold meetings there and they hold events there, freely and without restraint. Now see for yourself if these Neo parishes allow such unfettered uses by non Neo groups or persons. . 
  • The Neo's have catechists who go around preaching and forming groups, and thereafter each group elects a Responsible as their leader. 
  • Members of these Neo groups are instructed to check with their catechists and responsibles before they make any decision involving themselves, their children, their work, etc. In other words, these responsibles and catechists have become their spiritual and secular counselor in all aspects of their lives. 
  • The Neo's are not told to go see their parish priest or any priest for that matter. 
  • In short, these responsibles and catechists have supplanted the parish priest in their roles as spiritual teacher and counselor for these members and their children. They have become priests in their own right. 
  • None of these non-clerical responsibles and catechists undergoes the rigorous formation of becoming a priest. They are all lay persons.  Yet, they preach and teach as though they are priests steeped in the teachings and doctrines of the Church. Very scary and very dangerous indeed! 
  • The Neo are fond of saying that they do not neglect going to parish masses and in fact are instructed to go to one once a month. But in practice they don’t. Why? It’s only human nature not to do so. Why go to another mass after you had spent several hours on a Saturday night with your “family” for mass (Eucharist is how they describe it) and then dine with them afterwards? And the powers that be of the Neo know this and do not do anything about it. Why? Because the regular mass we all attend is not worth attending in their eyes. 
  • And as for the masses (Eucharist) on Saturday nights, why hold them separately from the rest of the faithful? Why not in a regular Church as everyone else do?  This fact alone sends a clear message that what the Neo does is special and privileged and only by joining the Neo will you be also to enjoy this privileged status and perk. 
  • And the nature of the Eucharist? Yes, they are significantly different from a regular mass, and why are they? Because they do things differently, and because they are treated with special deference and favor by our archbishop, their status is indeed has been elevated above the rest of the faithful. They are better than us. They are different. 
  • The Neo's hold special knowledge to salvation. They sing different songs. They dance at mass and at funerals. They confessed their sins publicly. They mouthed off mantras to make them feel different. 
  • Invariably, the Neo's can't help but feel that that they are special and different indeed (especially in this archdiocese) and they deserve special attention and status. The rest of us have to struggle along, and yet, they tell us that we can change our status but only if we listen and join the Neo. 
  • The Neo believe that they are not only the way to salvation but they are the salvation for the Catholic Church. Period. They truly believe that without them, the Catholic Church is doomed. Apparently, our archbishop feels the same way.
  • There are about 500 Neo's in Guam, or less than ½ of 1 percent of Guam’s Catholic population, and yet they wield enormous power that is atrociously disproportionate to their size and numbers. They have the Archbishop to thank for that.
  • Why does the Archbishop allow the Neo's to send women with vocations in the religious life to a Carmelite monastery in New Jersey when Guam is home to a Carmelite monastery for over 40 years?  Is it because that particular Carmelite monastery in New Jersey is a Neo Carmelite monastery and Fr. Pius is the spiritual director? And what does the Archbishop say about it? Nothing. He allows it, and in fact supports it by presiding over masses in the New Jersey monastery for our Guam women. Just check around. There are hundreds of pictures verifying this fact. 
  • This is just one more piece of evidence of the Archbishop's bias in favor of the Neo, a bias that corrodes and undermines the unity of the Catholic Church in Guam. 
  • The Archbishop will sacrifice anything and anyone in Guam for his beloved Neo. 
  • The Neo collects a substantial sum of money from their members during a scrutiny, amounts that can go over a hundred thousand dollars for just one scrutiny alone. The archbishop personally receives a special cut, a “gift”, from these amounts of money, with one neocat saying as high as 50%.  Why? And does he keep the money for himself? And if he does, is this not improper? It sure does not pass the “smell” test!
  • Because of the way it was designed, the Neo is by nature cultic, secretive, and elitist. It holds separate masses and in private homes or locations. 
  • The liturgy is different. The songs are different. The music is different. They dance around a make-shift altar (it is called the banquet table). They clap during mass and at funerals. The effect is earthy, and it is designed to make one feel emotionally connected to the liturgy. 
  • They publicly share their sins and life stories. They meet as a group for the Word every week, and more for preparations. 
  • They report to responsibles and catechists, not to pastors or priests. 
  • They have their own unique icons, statutes, and cards that are sold in Neo stores. 
  • They teach that the group to which you belong is now your new family, and only family.  
  • They are taught that the Neo is reclaiming what was done in the early Church, and that what they do is the true and authentic Church. 
  • They have special liturgies for Easter mass, Pentecost, and other events. They have Neo priests and Neo seminaries. 
  • The Neo priests all follow the same line of thought, and that is why their homilies are all the same. They say the same things over and over.  
  • Original thought, creative thinking, and questions are discouraged or repressed. They are told to just follow the script and stay with the script. Do not deviate. 
  • Thus, they all imitate each other or their leaders by growing beards and uttering the same cues and making the same gestures.  
  • The Neo priests are told that they are now different, and are made to feel different. They are made to feel special and hence superior, and that the Neo is the only way to salvation. 
  • Even the seminarians are made to feel different and superior, as though what they do and how they are being formed is different, and hence superior, to other seminarians. 
  • Their differences are touted. Unity and communion with the mainstream church is either ignored or deemphasized. 
  • They become Born Again Christians. 
  • And because of how they are molded, they naturally become defensive if questioned or asked about their ways. 
  • They simply respond by saying try it first before you make conclusions, as though one needs to see something before it can be accepted as truth or fact. Christianity would have died out shortly after Christ ascended into heaven if that was the case. 
  • Yes, they have helped those who become members and indeed have saved marriages and promote life, but because of the way it was designed or formatted, the inherent differences found in the Neo keeps them separate and apart from the rest of the faithful, and hence a natural cause of division within the Church. 
  • Perhaps those problems are for Rome to address, but the bishop of a diocese can do much to manage and massage, if not eliminate, these structural problems and to preserve unity. 
  • Unfortunately, our archbishop, by joining the Neo, has chosen to follow, not lead and preside. 
  • This is the message that our archbishop has conveyed and this is why our archdiocese is irrevocably divided. 

To the readers of this blog. If there is anything you would like to add, please note it in the comments. 

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