This year, as with years past, we can once again expect controversy over the NCW's separate celebration of its own Paschal Vigil (Easter Vigil). In some parishes the controversy will be very visible. "Regular" Catholics will be hurried out of their churches after the regularly scheduled vigil so that NCW communities can come in and celebrate theirs.
Since the archbishop will not address the problem, let us once again find an opportunity in this controversy to educate ourselves:
Last year, some bishops and pastors began prohibiting a separate celebration of the Paschal Vigil by the NCW. They chose to do this after Pope Francis publicly told the NCW:
"...it would be better to renounce to live in all its details what the itinerary of the Way would demand, in order to ensure unity among the brethren who form the one ecclesial community." - February 1, 2014, Address of Pope Francis to the Neocatechumenal Way
Kiko got mad and complained to the pope. The pope responded by reminding Kiko that the practices of the NCW are legitimate insofar as they conform to its "regulatory charter of reference" (the 2008 Statute)":
"...the celebrations of the Paschal Vigil and the Sunday Eucharist, mentioned by you, articles 12 and 13, read in their entirety, constitute therefore the regulatory charter of reference." - April 3, 2014, Archbishop Angelo Becciu's Letter to Kiko Arguello
As one would expect from a pope, the answer is both kind and diplomatic, but it also contains a critical reminder to Kiko: "read in their entirety". There is no reason for the founder of the NCW to be told to read the Statute in its "entirety". So, it is "telling" that the pope here instructs Kiko to do so.
The pope also know that his letter is not just to Kiko. He knows that many others will read the letter. And he is telling us all that the NCW is legitimate only insofar as it conforms to its "regulatory charter of reference."
The pope's words are both protective and instructional. He is saying that we have no right to criticize the NCW (protective) so long as it stays within its "regulatory charter" (instructional) - which is all we have ever said on this blog.
The pope is not a policeman. He is a father. Thus he is not locking up the NCW for breaking a law (its regulatory charter) he is reminding them of how to behave if they want to receive the protection of the church (i.e. stay Catholic).
So what does the Statute actually say about the celebration of the Paschal Vigil?
As with most church documents, the Statute builds on previous instructions which are only footnoted. The relevant section of the Statute for the celebration of the Paschal Vigil (Art.12 §3) references footnote 46 which reads:
46. See CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Circular Letter, Paschalis Sollemnitatis, 39–42, 77–96. - Art. 12 § 3. Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way
In paragraph 94 of Pachalis Sollemnitatis, we read:
"The celebration of the Easter Vigil for special groups is not to be encouraged since, above all in this Vigil, the faithful should come together as one and should experience a sense of ecclesial community."
Now compare this to the pope's words to the NCW of Feb. 1, 2014:
"it would be better to renounce to live in all its details what the itinerary of the Way would demand, in order to ensure unity among the brethren who form the one ecclesial community."
There's those exact words "ecclesial community".
The bishops and pastors who were forbidding a separate celebration of the Paschal Vigil by the NCW were simply doing so because that's what the Statute demands, and they were newly encouraged to do so by the pope's own words of Feb. 1, 2014.
And when Kiko complained, the pope simply reminded him (and everyone else) to read the statute in "its entirety".
Of course, Kiko and his ilk (including our own bishop) will NOT read the statute in "its entirety". They will read the statute - if they read it at all - in a way that justifies their separation from the "ecclesial community".
And then they'll derive their authority to do so from the fact that they are getting away with it.
Really? Is this what Kiko means when he says "adult faith"?