The recent approval of the statutes of the Neo-Catechumenal Way had me scratching my head a little.
I was mostly wondering about their liturgical practices.
Frankly, I didn’t have time to read everything about this when it happened. Therefore I am very grateful that Sandro Magister has filled in the gaps for me.
Take a look. My emphases and comments.
The Old Form of the Neocatechumenal Mass Is Illicit
This is established by the new statutes for the community founded by Kiko, imposed by the Vatican authorities. It is prohibited to take communion seated around a table. Homilies in dialogue form are also forbidden
chiesa neocatecumenali kiko rylko
by Sandro Magister
ROMA, June 23, 2008 – The Neocatechumenal Way has a new, definitive set of statutes. They were approved by the Vatican authorities last May 11, the feast of Pentecost, and officially handed down ten days ago by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the pontifical council for the laity, to the international leadership group of the Way, made up of Francisco José (Kiko) Gómez Argüello, Carmen Hernández, and Fr. Mario Pezzi.
The previous statutes, dated June 29, 2002, were experimental and valid for only five years. So they had expired nearly a year before when the new statutes were approved.
The reason for this delay can be intuited by comparing the two texts. Especially in article 13, where the variations are most evident.
Article 13 concerns the celebration of the Mass. For the Neocatechumenals, this has always been the source of the sharpest contrasts with the rest of the Catholic Church.
Especially concerning the times and places of the celebrations.
The Neocatechumenals typically celebrate their Masses not on Sunday, but on Saturday evening, in small groups, separated from the rest of the parish community. And because each Neocatechumenal group corresponds to a particular stage of the Way, each group has its own Mass, in different places.
Then there are the features of the celebration.
The Neocatechumenals typically celebrate the Mass in the form of a banquet, around a large square table, taking communion seated. Moreover, together with the homily, the give a great deal of latitude for the spontaneous comments of those present.
At least, this is what they did until a short time ago. And as, in part, they continue to do.
On December 1, 2005, Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the congregation for divine worship, sent them a letter, in the name of the pope, to call them back to faithful observance of the liturgical regulations. And the following January 12, Benedict XVI in person urged them to obey. But in practice, this twofold reminder fell on deaf ears almost everywhere.
On February 22, 2007, in an audience with the clergy of Rome, Benedict XVI made it clear that the new statutes would not be approved if they did not follow these instructions.
And in the end, the pressure worked. The new statutes approved last May 11 require the Neocatechumenals to celebrate the Mass following the general liturgical regulations of the Roman rite. [Extraordinary use, I suppose… not.] They must receive communion standing. [Ummm… can they kneel?] The homily can no longer be replaced with a variety of comments. Their Masses on Saturday evening will be "part of the Sunday liturgical service of the parish," and will be "open to other members of the faithful as well."
The only concessions: they can receive communion "while remaining in their places," and they can exchange the sign of peace before the offertory instead of before communion. [That should be the case for the Novus Ordo, period.] But it must be noted that the latter arrangement is already used in the Ambrosian rite in the archdiocese of Milan. And in the near future, it could also be introduced into the Roman rite, according to what Benedict XVI himself foreshadowed in the post-synodal exhortation on the Eucharist, "Sacramentum Caritatis." [Excellent.]
According to the new statutes, all of the Neocatechumenal communities in the world must immediately adhere to the new rules in celebrating the Mass.
The Neocatechumenal Way, founded in Spain in 1964, says that it is present in 107 countries on five continents, with 19,000 communities in 5,700 parishes in 1,200 dioceses. In total, it has about half a million members. It has 60 "Redemptorists Mater" seminaries all over the world. It has been active in Italy since 1968, and numbers 4,500 communities in 200 dioceses, with about 100,000 members.
After the new statutes, the "Guidelines for catechist teams," the instructional texts created by the founders Kiko and Carmen, are also supposed to be published soon. Following a long examination by Vatican authorities, they will be issued in a revised edition.
Here he posts the the old and new statutes in comparison.