Saturday, April 11, 2015

DIVERGENCE FROM CATHOLIC DOCTRINE IN THE NEOCATECHUMENAL CATECHESIS

The following is an excerpt from the videotape transcription of a debate/seminar held in Rome on 20 April 1997. I have formatted it for easier reading and added highlights and my comments [in red]. The original can be found here

Here's the "pull quote":
Kiko is aware of being on the other side of the fence and he entreats his people to not get into these discussions at all when they talk with others "because it would create a ton of problems."

THE NEOCATECHUMENATE: Testimonies
I. Divergence from Catholic Doctrine in the Neocatechumenal Catechesis
Presented by Mario Frugiuele, Engineer, from Florence, Italy.

Introduction: The speaker is in his fifties, married with two children and he has been a secular Franciscan for nine years. Six years ago his parish went from the guidance of monks to the direction of a diocesan priest who then introduced the parishioners to the Neocatechumenal movement. Several parishioners were enthusiastic about this invitation to participate in the hope that it would enrich their own Christian and Franciscan spirituality. But soon their expectations turned into disappointment because of the exasperatingly prophetic way in which the catechists presented: "We are the angels of the Lord!", "Jesus Christ is coming with us!", "Seize this opportunity now because it may never come again!"

After two months, the majority of the congregation, shocked by the doctrinal divergences from Catholic doctrine, left the catechists. Since then, the speaker has taken an interest in this movement. He has collected testimonies and studied the catechists' Orientation guide which contains the beliefs of Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez. The guide is a three-hundred-seventy-three-page mimeograph, said to have been inspired by the followers of the movement. Even though it is the foundation of their catechesis, it's kept secret.

[Note: quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church are indicated by No. and the number. Quotes from the writings of Arguello are indicated by page number.]

ANTHROPOLOGY: Kiko has an absolutely pessimistic view of man in that man is absolutely unable to control his own destiny. Any effort whatsoever to improve or change one's moral life is absolutely useless. Man is like a marionette where the strings are pulled by God. Man is incapable of putting his own moral choices into action. Therefore, according to Kiko, since man is unable to carry out his own moral choices, he is not responsible for any evil which may result. 

[Well no wonder people are attracted to the Way. It's easier than being Catholic where we are responsible for the evils we permit.]

CONCEPT OF SIN: He who sins cannot offend God in that "to offend" means "to take away or steal" something from someone. Since no one can take anything away from God, my sin cannot offend, otherwise God would be made vulnerable and he would no longer be God. Now, since I have not offended, I don't even have the moral obligation to ask for forgiveness for the sin I have committed. 

But in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1440 reminds us that "sin is before all else an offense against God".

Kiko also maintains that sin doesn't even cause Jesus to suffer. In fact he says on p.182, "People are very sentimental and they think that sin causes great suffering to Jesus Christ". 

The Catechism instead says that "sinners were the authors and ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured...our sins affect Christ himself." (No. 598).

According to what Kiko says on p. 138 in his catechesis, we are all already forgiven no matter what our moral conduct be, because man cannot do otherwise and of this he is not guilty. One shouldn't resist sin: it's enough to recognize oneself as a sinner. 

[That's the "once saved always saved" belief of many fundamentalists.] 

But we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that man "can initiate and control his own actions" (n° 1730); he is capable of governing his own self and he doesn't let himself be submissive to slavery racked with guilt.

PREDESTINATION: If I am not responsible for my sins and if I don't have the possibility to change my life this means that my final end has already been determined: it's all up to predestination. As a matter of fact, in their catechesis and in Kiko's Orientations on p. 89, they have presented a drawing of three concentric circles. In the middle circle they have written "salt" ["wisdom"] which would indicate the people who belong to the Neocatechumenal Way. In the second circle they have written "the salted" ["the wise/knowing"] - those would be whom God has called to know the Good News. Finally, written in the third circle is "Judas" who would be those who don't uphold the Neocatechumenate community. They explain, "it is the role that has been assigned to them for a reason which we will not investigate: it is destiny and that's all."

God didn't make the "Judases" to be "wise and knowing" and nothing can be done about it; it's neither good nor bad - that's just the way it is...period. Besides, Judas was assigned to kill Jesus (see p.361). If you are called to be Jesus Christ, you must have your Judas. So having people who oppose the Neocatechumenal Way actually gives validity to how the Way is set up. It says on p. 338 that "whoever is predestined for the Word will descend like a dove. You all have been elected by God to be the vault of the Word." 

[Thus: no salvation outside the Neocatechumenal Way.]

SANCTIFYING GRACE: If I don't have free will, I don't need sanctifying grace - that which we receive in the sacraments, that which gives our will the strength to make our moral life conform to the laws of God. Kiko says, as a matter of fact, "There is a kind of Christianity, which I, myself, used to belong to, where one believes oneself to be a converted Christian and so along comes this attitude, 'better to die than to sin'." 

[So he mocks what the saints themselves believed, taught, and died demonstrating.] 

It's the kind of Christianity in which the fundamental things are: to be in the grace of God, in the passive sense, and to try to not lose that grace and to persevere. 

But No. 1996 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that our justification comes from the grace of God. "Grace is favour, the free and undeserving help that God gives us to respond to his call" (an active attitude!).

On p. 130 of the Orientations, Kiko asserts that "man is slave to the devil and the devil manipulates him as he wishes. The law says that we should love one another. But, if we love another, we will die because love destroys us. We don't want to die so for this reason we cannot love. Man cannot succeed in bringing out goodness; we are at the mercy of our concupiscence."
On p. 138 "Man can do nothing but steal and argue - he can't do otherwise and of this he is not guilty." Therefore, according to Kiko, we mustn't have any sense of guilt over our sins. The Word requires nothing (p.254); it asks for no effort on our part. 

[This is pure Lutheranism where even in heaven we are nothing more than "piles of dung covered with snow."] 

But in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read that "sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another." Therefore, it is possible to do this. "God wishes to give eternal life to all those who seek salvation by patience in well-doing." (No. 55). Also, "by our first parents' sin, the devil has acquired a certain domination over man, even though man remains free" (No. 407). "There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle"(No. 2015). It's necessary to really work at it! 

[Thus said St. Paul to "run the race."]

CONFESSION: All this cannot have anything but tremendous consequences for the sacrament of reconciliation. Kiko later describes confession from a point of view which determinedly rejects private confessions. There are even moments where he derides confession, ironically calling the confessional "a wooden hut". He says, "don't laugh because this has also happened to me - to confess every little stupid thing [undoubtedly referring to venial sins]. It even gets to where confession becomes a devotion for personal sanctification, something that will continue up until present." Again, Kiko says, "After confessing, you feel back at ease. Private confession has given us this meaning." 

But the Catechism of the Catholic Church lists some of the spiritual effects of confession: it bestows peace and serenity of conscience and spiritual consolation (No. 1496). 

If the sinner has not offended God [Kiko's teaching], not even contrition, nor personal sorrow makes sense. "How curious it is [see p. 174] to confess before Communion; and this has lasted up until present. We have lived confession for this - for the fulfillment of the sacrament!" "As it is now, the Church appears nowhere and it is a man who forgives you of your sins." 

This is how Kiko not only denies the purpose of the sacrament of confession, he also denies the role of the ordained minister and the authority conferred upon him in the persona of Christ. In the Way, past, present, and future sins have already been forgiven from the start. But this concept is not Catholic! 

[This is why we are now experiences these "presbyters" making light of or even misusing the confessional as a recruiting tool to the NCW.]

Essentially, Kiko challenges private confession, devotional confession, spiritual direction, and confession as a means toward sanctification; for him, it's all foolishness that must be done away with. It's only about welcoming this gratuitous forgiveness. "But don't mention these things at all to the people"! He repeats this same phrase when he talks about the selling of personal belongings - which he poses as a condition for continuing in the Neocatechumenal Way and for following certain paths and, therefore, for approaching salvation. Kiko is aware of being on the other side of the fence and he entreats his people to not get into these discussions at all when they talk with others "because it would create a ton of problems."

SECTARIANISM: Often the Neocatechumenate are reproached not for being a movement of the Church, but for considering themselves to be "The Church". 

[Precisely. This is why Kiko virulently rejected the label of "movement".] 

Indeed, seeing these enormous differences in both doctrine and practice, this church can really be considered to be heading in a direction parallel to the Catholic Church. On the occasion of a penitential liturgy, Kiko said: "Don't let this happen. Don't celebrate with the pews lined up like in a battalion. It would be necessary to explain to the presbyters before you begin the meaning of the celebration. 

[And this is why they reject have their eucharist in a church.] 

The presbyters would all be together in their place wearing their albs and stoles and the head wearing his violet vestments. How dare priests preach to the people!" 

[And this is why they DON'T know how to preach. They don't believe in doing so. And they get all messed up when AAA puts them in parishes where they have to celebrate a "real Mass".]

THE COUNCIL OF TRENT: Kiko completely criticizes the Council with real condemnation; he holds the Council responsible for the deterioration of the Church until Vatican II, of which the real interpreters have been Kiko and Carmen. 

But No. 9 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that "the Council of Trent is a noteworthy example."

The Council of Trent redefined the mysteries of faith and it put the door bolts up against Protestant Reformation (bolts which are locked a little securely for Kiko and Carmen). The Council of Trent also talked of the mystery of redemption and of the sacrifice of Jesus. Concerning the idea of sacrifice, Kiko doesn't agree. "Perhaps God needs the blood from his Son's sacrifice in order to be placated" (see p.333). "But what kind of God have we made! The rationalizations surrounding the Eucharist have led us to these deformations!" 

[This is the typical Kiko-strawman argument. The idea that Jesus had to be sacrificed to placate a wrathful God is not Catholic teaching. First of all Jesus IS God. Second, he offered himself in our place because he loved us. Third, he did so because not only is he all-loving, he is also all-just.]

But in the Acts of the Vatican II Council, there are at least thirteen to fourteen instances where the mystery of redemption is talked about

Meanwhile, Kiko says that "the [Vatican] Council has replaced theology and there is no more mention of the dogma of redemption" (see p.62).

IMITATION OF CHRIST: Number 459 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that "Jesus is the model" and No. 932 says, "to follow and imitate Christ more nearly ... is to be more deeply present to one's contemporaries, in the heart of Christ." "The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness" (No. 459). With His humility he has given us a model to follow. He is the model for the Beatitudes. He calls on his disciples to carry their cross every day and to follow him since he suffered for us. He is leaving an example for us to follow in His footsteps. Jesus gives us the example of holiness in daily life (No. 564). 

Kiko says the contrary (p. 124): "Doesn't it seem better to you to have a figure who is more human [There it is: Arianism] because, after all, anything else would not be attainable. How can we possibly imitate him if our human nature is weak and fallen? Jesus isn't at all an ideal for life; Jesus didn't come to give us his example." On p. 126 he says, "People think that with his life, his death, and above all with his suffering Jesus has given us an example so that we will do the same. For these people, Jesus is an ideal, a role model, an example... Not so!"

[WOW!]

THE EUCHARIST: In the Eucharist, Kiko only sees the Resurrection, the feast, the exaltation, and joy. For him, the dimensions of sacrifice and the cross completely disappear. The error comes from attributing our salvation to Christ's Resurrection rather than to his sacrifice.

Jesus came to die on the cross to give us salvation and not as Kiko says, "to return to his Father". It's the worthiness and goodness of Christ that saves us! And that worthiness consists of an absolute obedience to the Father even with consequences as extreme as death. This makes him worthy to become our mediator, the only mediating priest between us and God.

The Catechism sees the dimension of sacrifice in the Eucharist which renews itself and becomes effective for us in the Eucharist. Of course even the dimensions of feast and joy can't be left out, that is, the joy in feeling loved by the Lord, in feeling loved for all he has done for us. This must be the reason for joy and not because the whole dimension of sacrifice and the cross has been made to disappear. Therefore, it isn't pagan (as Kiko says) to see the idea of sacrifice in the Eucharist. Rather, it isn't Catholic to not see it.

Kiko even gets a laugh out of the way in which one receives Communion. The Catechism says, "Communion under the species of bread alone makes it possible to receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace" (No. 1390). Instead, Kiko says that to receive Communion like this is like trying to catch rainwater with a wicker basket. There will be nothing inside! Therefore, bread is insufficient. In fact, in the Neocatechumenal liturgies, the Eucharist is precisely given out in two forms - bread and wine. 

[To combat this heresy is precisely why the Church began limiting communion to one species in the first place. In fact, it still does. According to the GIRM, Communion under both species is to be reserved for special occasions.]

OMISSIONS MADE IN THE MASS: The Gloria has been removed because it's a morning prayer. The Creed has been removed because it originates from the time of the heresies. The offertory has been removed because one can offer nothing to God. On p. 138 of the Orientations, Kiko writes, "The response was even worse: 'From your hands The Lord receives this sacrifice'." "Was"? But we  (the rest of the Church) still say it now!

[Note: Kiko was since ordered to restore the above removed portions of the Mass. Whether that happens or not appears to depend on individual catechists and presbyters.]

PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST: The Church says that because of the miracle of transubstantiation, the bread and wine become - truly, really, and substantially - the body and blood of Christ. And this will be as long as the Eucharistic species exist. So, for us Catholics, Jesus is truly, really, and substantially present in the tabernacle. 

Instead, for Kiko, He isn't! "At a certain point in history [see p. 134] it was necessary to persist against the Protestants on the idea of real presence. But once this was no longer necessary there was no need to insist any longer. Since now the opposing force has gone away, the scales are left off-balance. It will no longer be necessary to keep the counter-weight on. As long as that counter-weight remains, that will be what tips the scales. If things were made as they should be, there would be no need to keep maintaining this presence." On p. 135, "The important thing doesn't rest on the presence of Jesus Christ, it's not about making mountains out of molehills or things of the sort."

[So insisting on the Real Presence is making a "mountain out of a molehill."]

Telling the history of the Eucharist, Kiko says, "the great exhibitions of the Eucharist -the first ones ever to exist - began because the presence was at the service of the Eucharistic celebration and not vice versa. Bread and wine weren't made to be on exhibition because they spoil. Bread and wine were made to be eaten and drunk. I always say to the Sacramentarians who have constructed an immense tabernacle, 'If Jesus Christ had wanted the Eucharist to sit there, he would have made his presence be in a stone - which doesn't spoil'."

[So there you have it. Archbishop Apuron, feel free to refute these points so that we can be assured that you have not embraced a heresy. But please use some documentation. P.S. Just saying that your catechetical directory was approved is not enough. Show it to us, the one you really use. For it looks to us that all of the above is still taught.]

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