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JANUARY, 2006. TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW ON KOLG (GUAM CATHOLIC RADIO STATION) WITH ARCHBISHOP ANTHONY APURON ABOUT THE NEO CATECHUMENAL WAY. ABBREVIATIONS ABA: ARCHBISHOP APURON FMC: FATHER MICHAEL CRISOSTOMO (HOST) UH: UNIDENTIFIED HOST ABA: Actually experimentation was granted in the year 2005...for five years, so it doesn!t expire until 2007, and with this recent letter* - it was supposed to be confidential, but like the NSA, was leaked to the press...and really they have their own interpretation. We were granted two more years. And in fact, really looking at the letter, mostly, beside the interpretation of the two is the first time in the history of the church that we were give permissions for the variations that is being done in the Neo Catechumenal Way, officially by the pope. The late Pope John Paul gave it for five years ad experimentum so this gives us even two more years so really to 2009 if you count 5 years from 2002 for the first experimentation, 5 years is 2007 plus this giving us 2 more years, especially in terms of the eucharist itself and the manner of receiving the eucharist. And as you know, it was made public that I argued first of all for the kiss of peace to be moved, or at least the possibility of having to move the kiss of peace at before the offertory after the homily, before moving into the liturgy of the eucharist as is done in the eastern church. And that!s what separates us from the eastern church but it had been the much earlier practice of the church in the primitive church, the receiving communion seated. My argument, and in front of the pope and the bishops there, cardinals, in fact Arinze!s there, and Arinze, to tell you the truth, is really not for the Way, and I don!t know what credentials he has, I mean I don!t want to get into an argument in terms of an individual but Cardinal Arinze, with due respect, uh, I, you know uh, I don!t know why he uh uh wants us to conform to what...and you know the...I heard earlier the discussions about kneeling and standing and showing respect. I was a little boy when I used to receive communion kneeling down at a communion rail and they put the cloth, the white cloth, the altar boys flip it over so that you even put your hand under the cloth so that any particle fall, it will not touch the extremities of the arms I mean we!ve gone a long way and the receiving communion seated - Jesus at the Last Supper was he standing? You know, when you go to banquet do you really stand? And you eat like you were at a picnic. I mean its different when...I mean these modern things of going to poo-poos as they say, hor d! oeurvres, people stand there without even chairs. But when you go to a banquet really the proper posture, as I said in front of the pope, is seated. That has been the much earlier practice before we became an institutional church with the Emperor Constantine who allowed the church to become bureaucratic as well as really to become an institutional church. The way the Neo-Catechumenal communities celebrate the Eucharist was with the way the Church was celebrated in the homes. The Eucharist began in a domestic church in the upper room, the upper room was a home, somebody!s dining room was where the first eucharist was celebrated and then the church copied that having it in the individual homes in the early church before we grew larger and larger and required an institutional church. We required parishes, dioceses and archdioceses. But way before that we were really just a small family. FMC: So Archbishop for the sake of the is the intent of the Way to bring the church back to the way it was done in the past? ABA: It!s to give an experience to those perhaps who do not really appreciate or do not quite understand, and the full impact of the liturgy. FMC: So those who have come to that understanding already, is there then, where they mold back into the transition of the parish setting? ABA: Yes, I mean, to understand the Way, and honestly I don!t understand every single thing about the Way because I understand it!s really a nine year process of walking and within that nine year process there is what is called a step. You first have a step called the “shimah” for the first year. Usually the first grouping takes place in a longer way than what we have....the RCIA really copied the modes or the methods of the Way and reduced it to like nine month program. Right? Because not many priests know how to run the RCIA program even today. There are many priests who prepare individuals to prepare to be fully received in the church because they only received baptism, they never received first communion, confirmation and they want to get all these things done before marriage so they rush them through a course and won!t even call me and say ... and technically speaking they need to ask the bishop for baptism. But many priests even today ask can i confirm this individual who is baptized but not fully received in the church. And the proper way for them to do it is to have them go through the process of RCIA as required by the church. In the Neo Catechumenal Way it takes nine years of formation. And the reasons its called NEO Catechumenal Way - because it appreciates the fact that we were all catechumens when we were baptized as babies. The word NEO in front of the catechumenal means that we are trying to live out now a greater understanding of the catechumen, the place of the catechumen in the fuller church and the wider church having grown in to adult faith, because many of us has what we are called..we were cradle Catholics, as we are called which means that many times we relied only on the weekly CCD program, the sacramental preparation for first communion and confirmation and then there!s nothing that happens in between. We come to the weekly Eucharist or at Mass and just glean from what the priest says, the homily, whether its good or bad, we walk away with it learning something, little, or nothing and-and but I appreciate the fact that the fidelity of the people that are involved in the NCW - you make them go to church or think about church 4 days out of the week. And not just going to daily Mass for some of them that go to Mass. FMC: Archbishop, you mentioned that the period of two years is an extension of the five year period? ABA: To understand or...actually what I!m waiting for, I!m waiting, I!m dying to see what this pope is going to say about the Eucharist. Initially I didn!t want to go to the synod on the Eucharist. I have too many things, I!ve been gone too many times from the church, from our diocese, I don!t need one more thing. But the conference told me “you are the president you have!s almost like the story of this man who didn!t want to go to school one day. And then finally the mother said “but son you have to go because you are the principal.” Alright, so the bishops said you have to go because you are the president. And so I had to go spend three weeks or whatever it is to go listen to everybody complaining about the Eucharist, about how to make the Eucharist a little more lively in the church or about how to make people appreciate the sacrament of the Eucharist. And so I!m really waiting for this pope to come up with....the official document, hopefully within a year!s time, since last October that will definitively say what he wants to say where the church is supposed terms of how we celebrate the Eucharist and everything about the Eucharist. FMC: Because the late Holy Father came out with Ecclesia de Eucharistia Redemptionis Sacramentum which we looked at even in our commission and talked about some of the do!s and don!ts so the abuses that continue to go on. And I guess what one caller called in and said that this period of the two it not a period of two years where that!s a period of transition to have the NCW to conform back to the way the wider church celebrates... ABA: That!s the misconception because, um, we!ve been doing it, in fact already some of the people in the Neo-Catechumenate are saying “oh, if this document says that we are required to go to the larger church once a month then we only go to the larger church and the larger parish once a month, we!re doing that every week anyway.” Many of these people are teachers, are CCD teachers, are preparing kids for confirmation and the Eucharist, are lectors and acolytes, and they go certainly every week. FMC: So then the other question that came up... because we shared that and they said that, well, how about during Holy have your own separate...and in one incident the caller said that during the Last Supper, during their Holy Thursday service, they were told to move out of the church because the NCW was coming in to do their Holy Thursday service. So these parishioners were being pushed out while the others... ABA: Well, they!re not supposed to interfere really with any parish activity that!s happening. But again you have to admire them that if this is a devotional thing that they do...and what they do is they repeat the washing of the feet, and in fact what they do is every member washes every member!s feet. FMC: And is that open to others to come in and join? ABA: Yes. And we!re spreading the word around. You cannot say you!re not invited. If you!re Catholics, even non-Catholic, even some non-Catholics sneak in.... FMC: So then one caller called in...and in one parish, I don!t know if it was Tamuning they referred to, they said they closed the shutters, they closed the blinds, and it!s as if it!s secret and they don!t want anyone else to know. (Fr. Arroyo - who is on the line - denies it was Tamuning.) ABA: Maybe not to be distracted because sometimes there are other things going on outside the church. I mean like any normal place, if you can cut down the distraction it would be a lot better, but I don!t think any....the fact, for safety reasons you don!t even lock the doors for fire emergency. You leave the doors open to move out quickly as we!ve seen already...where people are locked into bars and there!s two hundred people and there!s no emergency exit and they get all burned to death because nobody can get out. FMC: And that!s the reason why I!ve heard why they have the celebrations at the hotel, so as not to interfere with the parish activities that are going on . Is that right... ABA: Right. Well that!s part of it. They usually have...ask for permission, I mean even youth retreats, confirmation retreats, Cursillos, uh, the Legionnaires, wherever they go, these special retreats or weekends or whatever.... FMC: But, Bishop, this high point, the church year, this Catholic Faith year, the Easter, the Triduum, where we gather as a community, because like for the Chrism Mass we have one Chrism Mass and we gather, and the whole theological aspect of us gathering as a parish community, really celebrating as a parish, in that parish model, celebrating the Triduum, and the Easter, but then we hear this community having their own celebration of Easter and the Triduum... ABA: Because they want to celebrate it with the fulness of the Easter Triduum, especially the Easter Vigil. FMC: So that means... ABA: So all the nine readings, all the admonitions, the echoes as they call it, every third, after the three readings. So that takes a whole morning. So you don!t want to impose this on the whole parish. FMC: So the perception then is what we!re doing in the parish is not fullness of the Easter Vigil? ABA: Uh, I mean you!re doing what is required by the universal church which is fine. FMC: Because that!s what other saying “why do they do it that way? and how come we are not then experiencing the fulness of the Easter... ABA: They!re always welcome. I mean I do it myself. I go to the regular parish and there!s people to be baptized, confirmed, and received into the fulness of the church, I do that. And when that!s done, then I go and do the other one. FMC: I do it twice, Archbishop because I have two parishes. (Fr. Crisostomo tells Fr. Arroyo he is going to disconnect with him to get caller!s questions.) FMC: Archbishop, then one of the other questions that was asked was the letter then, what level of authority does this letter have? ABA: That is Cardinal Arinze as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith FMC: on Divine Worship ABA: on Divine Worship. That!s right. CALLER: what you are teaching us is not the fullness of the it only apples to the neo-catechumenate teaching? ABA: No. I said we are in observance of what is usually practiced in the normal church and then the the universal church. The NCW communities want to celebrate it...and that!s why they call it...the celebration of the Eucharist as opposed to a Mass which is usually 45 minutes to an hour long because you have to get it over in order to be accommodating to the other parish members who want to come to another Mass. Whenever the Eucharist is celebrated, it!s the fulness of the church and the fulness of the Mass, the Eucharist. FMC: And again, I think what the Archbishop is saying is whenever the Mass is celebrated it!s in its fulness, not to say that one is fuller than the other. ABA: What I!m saying is that there are groups of people who want to take their time and really live the liturgy, and celebrate it in a greater way and...the Cursillos, it amazes me when they have the Cursillo, a weekend for example, how fired they are. But then immediately after that weekend they fizzle out in the community and you!re know everybody wants to convert the world. Alright. CALLER: Wow, Archbishop, I!m really shocked to hear that the Mass that I celebrate on Sundays and every other day is not in the fullness, and I was always taught that the Mass is a celebration, so now I!m getting all confused. You as the bishop should be shepherding your people... ABA: That!s what I!m doing..the 9:30 Mass Sunday mornings especially.. CALLER: If it!s true that the Neo Way is how we!re to receive the fullness of the celebration then why don!t we do it...the whole parish... ABA: In order for it to be the whole parish, it has to come to a point, I hope, that that is the direction we are all going to appreciate everything really of the sacraments of the sacramental system of the church CALLER: Thank you for that comment, but to me it!s disappointing that the Mass that I attended on Holy Thursday, it wasn!t the full Mass for all... ABA: I never said that. CALLER: You said the fullness...and also in regards to being open, the Neo- Catechumenate do not put their Mass on the bulletin where the parish, any functions, any other ministry, it!s in the bulletin and everyone!s welcome so... ABA: So if you have a parish council every one is welcome to come? A parish council meeting? CALLER: Right. Right. ABA: So everybody shows up? CALLER: Now you!re trying, of course not everyone shows up. Of course not. But isn!t it our responsibility to teach our fellow parish members the Catholic way, so...I know there!s a division between the Neo-Catechumenate and the Catholic community. And the only reason why I!m saying that is because for me I don!t consider it different communities. The word community alone is discouraging for some people versus our, the ministries, because all the ministries under the church, yes they have their own functions from the Legion of Mary to the lectors or whatever or what have you, but we all come to Mass on Sundays. Right? ABA: Uh huh CALLER: So, but the Neo-Catechumenates do not do that. Why? They have their own celebrations and their celebrations in fact are by community so like in some parishes if they have like 5 communities, there!s 5 separate Masses going on. ABA: If they have 5 separate priests to say the Mass, otherwise they are fused together, they combine. CALLER: Oh, okay. So what happened to the original Catholic Church? ABA: It!s still there. CALLER: But right now they way I!m looking is like our church now, when I say church I!m talking about where the tabernacle is right now. Isn!t that God!s church? Right, I mean there!s the building itself. So shouldn!t Mass be celebrated in there? I thought it!s always been a practice that Mass should be celebrated in there and that!s where the respect is put. That!s where you genuflect before the tabernacle or the adoration chapel of where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed but I don!t see that. That!s what my points are. And anyway, back to the fullness, I!d like to learn more about how I can receive the fullness if I!m not already in full communion with the church. That will be all. Thank you, Archbishop. FMC: And again, I think the misunderstanding of the caller, and I even tried to clarify that for all of us, because I think because one Mass is celebrated does not mean that the other Mass that we celebrate on this side is not in its fullness. Whenever a priest, validly ordained, celebrates the Eucharist with the community that is gathered, that is the fullness of Mass. So when the NCW celebrates the Mass it!s in its fullness. The parish community also is in its fullness. I think what the Archbishop was alluding to was that ...that in its entire context of the church history and the church traditions, that completely in its entirety is celebrated, we can!t do that within a parish setting, because to impose that on others is what the Archbishop is saying that we just can!t impose this way to parishioners who are not yet ready to embrace it or accept it. Is that...? ABA: Yes. It!s just like I heard you speaking earlier about parishes which have Life Teen and I admire those parishes which have Life Teen. It!s a way allowing them to express themselves in a kind of form and music that appeals to teenagers particularly and young adults. It may not apply, it may not be appealing to older people who tend to be either traditional or conservative. I mean, just like, we do have a growing number now of people who follow Father Eric with his Latin Mass and we don!t condemn them, good for them that they do that. When Fr. Eric!s mom died he asked me personally if he could celebrate the rectum mass in Latin (21:48) and I said good for you because you are the son whose mother...I mean you are the son of your mother of whom you are a priest, you!re the son, you can do that. CALLER: I would like to request to have a Mass at my house, I don!t need to go to the church just like what the Neo!s are doing, having the Mass, the celebration, at their house. ABA: If you are sick or homebound, every priest in the diocese may go and visit the sick, celebrate a Mass for the sick in the home during the week. CALLER: I am not sick, and the Neo-Catechumenate group are not sick. ABA: Can you find a priest who wants to say a Mass for you? (loses call) FMC: I!m not trying to put words in the caller!s mouth, but one caller called earlier about how they celebrate the Mass at the homes even though they!re not sick people in their, in the homes...and the clarification is that the permission has been granted by you to have the celebrations at the home. For whatever reasons they don!t want to impose on the activities of the church. So this permission has been granted. ABA: See, so a lot of things are coming to light because the perception and what people see are giving the movement a really bad rap. It!s unfortunate. If anything the church should rejoice. Any group that wants to try to live their Catholic faith in a lively way should be encouraged. I mean, just like this Life Teen. I mean it comes and goes, you know, parishes and pastors perhaps...I mean Mike is opening one down in the south. We have one in the north. We had one central but I don!t know where we are with that yet. You know I hope where we can...I hope that the priests and the pastors are willing to accommodate them... FMC: One of the other things I!ve heard with one of the callers and through email...Archbishop, who ultimately is in charge of the movement of the NCW here in the Archdiocese? ABA: I am. The bishop is. As is every bishop in his diocese. Ultimately we listen to the pope. If the pope were to come out...that!s why I!m saying I!m anxious really to see the final document on the Synod on the Eucharist because the main thing that is where we!ll get the definitive clarification for all these kinds of things that are happening in the church that some people find is strange or weird or however you want to call it. FMC: Because one of the things, the question is, that!s why I asked is when I think it was the issue of World Youth Day came up and they wanted, a group wanted to join the WYD, you referred them to Fr. Pius and they asked Fr. Pius, and they, again this is all second hand info, was that you!re not part of the movement, you!re not part of the Way, so you!re not allowed to join and unfortunately the group that went to WYD was all part of the NC movement. I don!t know if there were any others who were not part of the movement but I know that when we talked about the WYD we gotta get a group now that its closer to us in Australia, we hope that the Archdiocese, not just the movement, the Way, will be able to go, you know that we!ll be able to have our own delegate under your office Fred. And I know that I know you Archbishop you encourage as well you know other youth groups, they can join. And I think, you know, who has the authority, it is Father Pius because he!s the catechist or is it you Archbishop because you are the ordinary of this Archdiocese? ABA: Well, I mean he!s the one who helps organize it. I can!t spend all the time organizing it. And usually because of his familiarity with the members of the NCW, he tends to be able to organize them in a much better way. But it!s open to anyone in the diocese which is why I!m looking also to the one in charge of the youth, you know family and youth ministry for example, like in Denver there were two groups that went. And that!s beautiful because there!s two different experiences. These kids come back, there!s two different experiences, I don!t see how can it not be that way. FMC: In fact, even with Life Teen Guam South, we were talking about forming our own group to head to Australia ABA: Yah, ideally, if every parish could get themselves organized, that would be good because the kids would tend to know themselves better with the smaller group, or groups that are accustomed to each other rather than as a whole Archdiocese. Again I cannot impose it on the whole Archdiocese as all the youth as many of the youth can come and organize it themselves. FMC: You know, part of the other issues with the Way is the length of the Eucharist, the celebration, and part of that is during the homily, I know that the Cardinal referred to it in his letter, that the admonitions should be brief and then the homily or the sharing should not take the place of the homily. ABA: I can assure you that no laymen does the homily. It has to be the priest. That!s why if they don!t have a priest for the celebration of the Eucharist they don!t have the Eucharist. They may have a liturgy of the Word a celebration of the Word. But not a homily if there!s no priest for the Mass. And that!s the other thing that is affirmed even by that letter. People read into it. FMC: See, and that!s the confusing part because when one reads the letter it almost seems like it!s a reprimand and when another reads the letter it!s almost like a praise. You know so it is truly how or where one is on the line because obviously there!s been a lot of negative... ABA: I wish we could wait until we get the official document out, whatever that letter is because those are Italian reporters who read....I don!t know where they get their information...and then people use that to spread it all over the place. The history of the NCW has always been the negative things comes out first and when you try to correct it it doesn!t get as much attention. (a remark is made about the media) ABA: Because the media is always out for anything spectacular anything that will attract attention for people to read. (inaudible question) ABA: Well, I don!t know...maybe it!s because they don!t know much about the Way and are not allowing them to give it time and chance. I honestly believe if it is the work of God and the work of the Holy Spirit nothing can kill it or stop it. If it is the work of the devil or the work of man it will die out. That!s a famous word...even from the time of Christ...uh, what!s his name, Gamaliel, the Rabbi Gabaliel. FMC: Scripture says the truth will prevail. But I think the concerns, not only with the media but here on our own island our people are perceiving the Way, the movement...members have left the community for whatever reasons...members join, or people join to become members, but it!s like, I mean, it!s just like the church, basically, you know, people don!t go to church. And I think to fear, if it is indeed the work of God we certainly should not fear it but embrace it and be able to understand it more. I think one of the concerns are is the perception, Archbishop, the perception that people see, it seems like the pastors who have the communities in their parishes seem to favor the Neo over the parish community activities, they get priority. You cannot reserve the social hall because the Neo has it first because they!re using it, which becomes a more local...because that!s why, that!s how the negative activity I think is going on because it seems like they are being the favored son over the other. (inaudible comment) FMC: Those are just callers. I don!t know because I don!t have it in my parish, but I think those were callers that called in and said these are some of the things that we see that are happening in our parish and why is that. (a question about who makes the decisions) ABA: Usually it!s the parish decision. (another off-microphone comment) ABA: The larger the parish is the more difficult it is to be accommodating to all so usually there is a general policy in a parish, oh, whoever asks first I guess, first come first serve, that kind of a thing UH: I!m kind of wondering if there!s a probably just got a little bit heightened here because there!s some scheduling problems or people get sensitized to you know those who have left the Neo Way or the communities and they come out and say what they!ve said about it and then you know just the growing pains of the Way being transitioned on Guam... FMC: Certainly, that the role of the pastor needs to...and certainly not only on the Archbishop!s level...because he can!t know what all the pastors are doing within their own jurisdictions, but you know again if it!s a schedule conflict that!s something that needs to be arranged on the local level. But I think it!s fair to say though that the NCW, the Way, as its being referred to, is certainly something our people can embrace and not be afraid of. UH:!s all for good purposes, it!s all for the same reason, there might be some changes for whatever reason it might be, the people have resistance to change or transitions instead of what it!s going through but yah nobody!s intending to offend anyone else. FMC: Right, and again I think its the perception of where you see yourself on this issue. People always tend to look at the negative things as the Archbishop mentioned before even looking at the positive things. And I mean certainly the Way has helped bring about good fruits and has produced many people with spiritual relationships with Christ... ABA: And this is where we really differ from our non-Catholic friends. As soon as there!s arguments within the church then they tend their frustration they tend to go away and they start developing their own church. That!s also part of the freedom of being a human being. Especially here in the United States in the territory and the islands people are free to do what they want, say what they want. (host gives number) Caller: Good morning, I was just listening to everything and I!m in the Way but I just wanted to say the bottom line is that it!s saving my life and all these other little things um just our human nature I think and the other...but bottom line is there are a lot of lives being saved of those people in the Way. So I just wanted to thank, especially the Archbishop. I!ve never had a chance to go up to him and for his “yes”, like Mary, his “yes” to bring in the communities. Because I!ve been saved, my children are saved, and this moment that!s what I see is this great joy of being closer to God and having this chance because without it I wouldn!t be saved. FMC: God bless you caller. Thank you. ABA: And also one of the interesting things that I!m finding true (call comes in) CALLER: I have no doubt of the Neo Way in fact there are some parts which really interested me, I join them once in awhile, but the only thing that bothers me is that one has a separate Mass from us and why when they have this celebration they have to cover all the windows and be just away from everybody and why when they have the Mass celebration in one of our churches they have to push the altar away from the center and they make their own altar. What is the problem with the altar...and that!s the one confusing me and it!s hurting me. But I have no doubt of them because we are all one for Christ. ABA: The reason for, well first of all the altar cannot be moved like the cathedral here, you cannot move the altar, it stays where it is, but if the altar is moveable you want to try to make the center focus of the assembly we call it, the assembly situated around it to kind of form like a human body so that the head is at the very top and then you have the podium where the mouth is like the word of God being preached and being sent out to the rest of the body and then everybody surrounding the altar feels like they!re one part a whole assembly a part of the body. See we!re used to an institutional church of everybody facing one way and looking up at the altar and the priest. And which is fine. (call comes in) CALLER: Yah, for those churches where the altar is permanent and cannot be removed but then they choose those churches where the altar can be Santa Bernardita chapel for example they always push the altar away from them. ABA: Well you can speak to the altar there because it should be the altar but really before the altars were established in the church they were using the regular dining table and in the NCW they speak of the three sacred altars - the altar of the church where the assembly gathers, the altar of the dining room in the home where the family gathers for Neos, and then the third altar is the altar of the marriage bed where life begins and life is created. And I was trying to of the beautiful things I!m seeing in the NCW is that people who are involved in the NCW...and understand their life and their role is when they appreciate the beauty of the church. We do not need to have natural methods of birth control, they!re open to life because they know that even in the sexual act which is a very sacred act for those who are married!s a sacrament. They!re open to the possibility of life. FMC: I know where this caller is coming from because when we ... I was asked if we could welcome the community in Merizo church and I had just finished talking about the altar and why the priest venerates the altar and they wanted to set up their own folding tables and I said why not just use this altar I said because people are already understanding this altar and they had a difficulty of that. CALLER: Good morning again. The problem I!m seeing here even as the conversation on the radio is the Way. There!s already a distinction there between the Catholic and the Neo. And I say it because it seems like the Neo-Catechumenate is THEE WAY. The problem is we!re deviating from the original Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ himself. My full understanding is that we should be one, one community, one Jesus, and the distinction between the Way, the Neo Way and the Catholic Way is dividing us and...even as talk on the air, that!s disturbing to a lot of people and a lot of asking questions about it. I prefer to say...the ministry of the Church instead of saying The Way because you know the movement back when you said the Way, follow the Way, I thought all Catholics are following Thee Way. (Archbishop gives blessing) [END] * LETTER FROM CARDINAL ARINZE TO THE LEADERS OF THE NEO- CATECHUMENAL WAY REFERENCED IN THE INTERVIEW WITH ARCHBISHOP APURON Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum Prot. 2520/03/L From Vatican City, December 1, 2005 To the esteemed Mr. Kiko Argüello, Ms. Carmen Hernandez, and Rev. Father Mario Pezzi, Following the conversations with this Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist in the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way, in keeping with the guidelines issued in the meeting with you on November 11 of this year, I am to inform you of the Holy Father!s decisions. In the celebration of the Holy Mass, the Neocatechumenal Way shall accept and follow the liturgical books approved by the Church, without omitting or adding anything. Furthermore, in regard to some elements the guidelines and clarifications are emphasized as follows: 1. Sunday is the “Dies Domini” as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wished to illustrate in the Apostolic Letter on the Lord!s Day. Therefore the Neocatechumenal Way must enter into dialogue with the diocesan bishop in order to make it clear that the community of the Neocatechumenal Way is incorporated into the parish even in the context of the liturgical celebrations. At least one Sunday per month, the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way must participate in the Holy Mass of the parish community. 2. As for any admonitions issued before the readings, these must be brief. Adherence must also be shown to what is set out in the “Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani” (nn. 105 and 128) and to the Praenotanda of the “Ordo Lectionum Missae” (nn. 15, 19, 38, 42). 3. The homily, because of its nature and importance, is reserved to the priest or deacon (cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 767 § 1). As for the occasional contribution of testimonies on the part of the lay faithful, the proper places and methods for these are indicated in the Interdicasterial Instruction “Ecclesiae de Mysterio,” which was approved “in specific form” by Pope John Paul II and published on August 15, 1997. In this document, sections 2 and 3 of article 3 read as follows: §2 - “It is permitted to have a brief instruction that helps explain better the liturgy that is being celebrated, and even, in exceptional circumstances, a few testimonies, as long as these conform to the liturgical norms, are offered on the occasion of Eucharistic liturgies celebrated on particular days (for seminarians, the sick, etc.), and are thought truly helpful as an illustration of the regular homily delivered by the celebrating priest. These instructions and testimonies must not assume characteristics that might cause them to be confused with the homily.” §3 - “The possibility of "dialogue! during the homily (cf. Directorium de Missis cum Pueris, no. 48) can be used occasionally and with prudence by the celebrating minister as a means of exposition, which does not transfer to others the duty of preaching.” Careful attention must also be paid to the Instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” no. 74. 4. On the exchange of peace, permission is granted to the Neocatechumenal Way to continue using the indult already granted, pending further instructions. 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. 6. The Neocatechumenal Way must also make use of the other Eucharistic Prayers contained in the missal, and not only Eucharistic Prayer II. In short, the Neocatechumenal Way, in its celebration of the Holy Mass, should follow the approved liturgical books, keeping in mind what is laid out above under the numbers 1,2,3,4,5, and 6. Acknowledging the favors that the Lord has bestowed upon the Church through the many activities of the Neocatechumenal Way, I take this occasion to extend to you my best regards. + Francis Card. Arinze Prefect _____________ And these are the words of Benedict XVI relative to the rite of the Mass, in the address he gave to the Neocatechumenals on January 12, 2006: “Recently the congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments imparted to you, in my name, some norms concerning the Eucharistic celebration, after the trial period that had been granted by the servant of God John Paul II. I am certain that these norms, which draw upon the provisions of the liturgical books approved by the Church, will meet with attentive compliance from you.”