Benedict XVI, the NeoCats and their liturgy

I just read a discourse of the Holy Father to a gathering of members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way, NeoCats.  There has been some buzz, and some anxiety, that the Pope might approve their own brand of liturgy.

In this address, the Pope said that, in a Decree which had just been read, there was approval of some non-liturgical celebrations they have:

Poco fa vi è stato letto il Decreto con cui vengono approvate le celebrazioni presenti nel “Direttorio Catechetico del Cammino Neocatecumenale”, che non sono strettamente liturgiche, ma fanno parte dell’itinerario di crescita nella fede….

Then the Pope launches into a couple paragraphs about liturgy. He stressed the need for all liturgical celebrations to be harmony with the whole Church and not out of step with parishes under the diocesan bishop.

He finishes with a paragraph that begins with “Coraggio!”

This didn’t sound to me like the thought of a Pope about to approve the NeoCat liturgy.

In the meantime, on VIS I read (my emphases and comments):


VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2012 (VIS) – The Pontifical Council for the Laity today published a decree approving the celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. The decree is dated 8 January, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and bears the signatures of Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and Bishop Josef Clemens, respectively president and secretary of the council. [These must be the “celebrations” to which the Pope in his address referred to as “not strictly liturgical”.]

The text published today reads: “By a decree of 11 May 2008 the Pontifical Council for the Laity gave definitive approval to the Statutes of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. Subsequently, following due consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by a decree of 26 December 2010, the council gave approval to the publication of the Catechetical Directory as a valid and binding instrument for the catechesis of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.

“Now, pursuant to articles 131 and 133 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Pastor Bonus’ on the Roman Curia, the Pontifical Council forthe Laity, having received the ‘nulla osta’ of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, grants approval to those celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way which are not, by their nature, already regulated by the liturgical books of the Church“. [Did you get that?  “which are NOT… already regulated by the liturgical books…”  Mass IS regulated by liturgical books.]

It seems to me that the NeoCat liturgy for Mass was NOT approved, which some other non-liturgical celebrations were.

I could be wrong about this, of course. We will get to the bottom of this soon, I am sure.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Supertradmum says:

    I am praying and fasting. Please, Holy Spirit, continue the renewal of the Mass through this good Pope. Please help us return to our Traditional Latin Mass. We beg, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

  2. Phil_NL says:

    The comments at rorate are the mix of dispair and vitriol we’ve come to expect (well, at least I expect that many in the combox there would only have been happy if the entire NeoCat Way was outlawed), but there was one very sensible thought among them: even though their ideosyncracies with regard to the Mass are not approved, it is quite possible that such a distinction will get lost in the practical implementation.

    While it seems completely reasonable to allow them to meet and pray together (after all, that cn be done in many forms), this is the kind of decision that requires attentive bishops and PPs with backbones – which are in many places still in short supply. Let’s hope the Holy Father is given many more years to increase their number.

  3. dans0622 says:

    This was my impression, also. Anything that is Liturgical (public worship of the Church) would have to be approved by the CDWDS directly, it seems to me.

  4. There was also this paragraph:

    La celebrazione nelle piccole comunità, regolata dai Libri liturgici, che vanno seguiti fedelmente, e con le particolarità approvate negli Statuti del Cammino, ha il compito di aiutare quanti percorrono l’itinerario neocatecumenale a percepire la grazia dell’essere inseriti nel mistero salvifico di Cristo, che rende possibile una testimonianza cristiana capace di assumere anche i tratti della radicalità. Al tempo stesso, la progressiva maturazione nella fede del singolo e della piccola comunità deve favorire il loro inserimento nella vita della grande comunità ecclesiale, che trova nella celebrazione liturgica della parrocchia, nella quale e per la quale si attua il Neocatecumenato (cfr Statuti, art. 6), la sua forma ordinaria.”

    Celebration in small communities, regulated by the books of the liturgy which must be accurately followed, and with the particular features approved in the Statutes of the Way, helps the followers of the Neo-Catechumenal Way to perceive the grace of being part of Christ’s salvific mystery. … At the same time the progressive maturity in faith of individuals and small communities must favour their insertion into the life of the ecclesial community as a whole, which has its ordinary form in the liturgical celebrations in parishes, in which and for which the neo-catechumenate is implemented.”

  5. My impression–and only that–from the happy tone of the summaries so far, is that the NC’s can and will take this as implicit affirmation for continuing on there Way (liturgically and otherwise) without much fear of interference from above, while we have been spared the disaster of formal and official approval of the worst of that Way.

  6. haribo says:

    Jeffrey Pinyan,
    It was my understanding that a few years ago the Vatican corrected some of the major abuses in the NC Mass but made concessions too. For example, something like communion can’t be received sitting down but can still be received around the table standing. These “features” have already been on the books for several years, so the Vatican can’t forbid them.

  7. St. Louis IX says:

    I have also followed some of the comments on Rorate. I do not come to expect a constant mix of dispair and vitriol at Rorate but I always find passionate readers concerned and Confused about the Church and her approach to the Holy Mass these days.

    I find this neo-catechumenate agreement a scandal.

    Invention GREEN LIGHT
    Tradition RED LIGHT

    Strong Bishops to watch and police their flock? I live in the USA East Coast……………….sorry don`t see it.

    I do see the Policing of the Traditional movement… Today just saying the difficult things in a society that wants to be blind to the confusion that catholics feel in the 21st century,gets labeled as dispair and vitriol.
    Up is down
    Down is up

    odd times!

  8. Tom T says:

    Excerpt from Vatican City-Vatican News 20 Jan. 2012
    “Now pursuant to articles 131 and 133 Parag. 1 and 2 of the Apostolic Constitution ‘pastor bonu’
    on the Roman Curia, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, having received the ‘nulla osta’ of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, grants approval to those celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way which are not by their nature, already regulated by the liturgical books of the Church.” Pax

  9. Jim Ryon says:

    I agree with Father Z that this is not approval of their mass, but I also agree with Henry Edwards that this Kiko cult will consider it as such. This has shaken my faith in the church and my faith in Pope Benedict. To watch the video on the Vatican webste with Kiko at the podium playing his guitar and the Pope passively sitting there watching made me sick to my stomach.

  10. haribo says:

    In all fairness, Louis, as creative as the Neocats are, they haven’t gone ahead and ordained their own bishops without the Pope’s permission, and I’ve never met a Neocat who thought the Pope was a heretic. I’m a traditionalist myself, but I recognize that there’s a faction inside the movement that has a history of grave disobedience. A lot of times, they’re policed because they need to be.

  11. RichardT says:

    I have no idea what the NeoCats do, or whether it is a Good Thing or not.

    But the argument “for all liturgical celebrations to be harmony with the whole Church” is interesting coming from this Pope, who has encouraged both the Extraordinary Form but also the possibility of variant liturgies for the ex-Anglicans’ Ordinariate.

    So if His Holiness isn’t against diversity in itself, he must have some deeper objection to the NeoCats’ proposals, something intrinsic in it that he doesn’t approve of.

  12. jasoncpetty says:

    I’ve heard outsiders to “The Way” aren’t invited to attend at their “celebrations.” If true, who’s going to know whether or not they’re celebrating Mass in accordance with the GIRM?

  13. St. Louis IX says:

    I have been in Love with the TLM for near 20 years now. I was born in the early 1960s raised in the N.O.
    I have met the most sincere ,Holy, Church Loving ,well educated Catholic I have ever known. The last 20 years with these people have been Beautiful and Humbling.They need no policing! I do not belong to any Sect so called, but have spoken with people that had a soft spot in their heart for the SSPX .

    I think it is important not to confuse the sedavacantist dribble (which mostly applies to those calling the Pope a heretic) with the Faithful Catholics that wish to worship as our Catholic ForeFathers did.(including for the greater part SSPX from those I have seen read or listened to)
    The Creative(that must be the new catch word for Heritical(well not anymore)) Neocats get a pass while Tradition struggles under the weight of Oppression from within the Church.

    In Fairness I am Disturbed by these current events. My Jesus Mercy

  14. NoTambourines says:

    It does seem like a very gentle approach — not the papal document entitled with the Latin translation equivalent to “Are You Kidding Me?” that we might have expected. I realize we’re also still waiting for all the facts to come in.

    Optimistically, this sounds like a “good cop” document, it seems. This statement is asking the NeoCats nicely (hopefully only once) to place themselves in the context of the liturgical norms of the Church, while extending to them a path of re-integration by letting them continue some of their practices in a non-liturgical setting.

    Less optimistically, it seems vague, and would thus leave room for the NeoCats to continue to push the envelope on their liturgy and test the waters for non-compliance. There seems to be a lot of wiggle room for “Well, it depends on what you mean by….” that may drag this out longer.

    But the ball appears to be in the NeoCats’ court. This is their chance to obey the authority of the Church willingly, or future documents might not be nearly such a soft touch.

  15. Pingback: Neocatechumenal Rite approved |

  16. leonugent2005 says:

    jasoncpetty I’d like to invite you to my parish so you can find out of our associate pastor is celebrating Mass in accordance with the GIRM. It’s my experience that neither the liberals nor the traditionalists have much interest in the GIRM. The interest is more in offering mass the way it “ought” to be offered. To actually have studied the GIRM seems to be a cross that I’ve invited upon myself!

  17. Tom Esteban says:

    Rorate kicking up dust. Sensational headlines. Yes, the Kiko’s will take this as an affirmation of their behaviour at Mass. But this is not an approval of their Rite. Good Father Z has pointed that out clearly. This is the Holy Father giving them a soft “No”. We all expected a hard “NO!” accompanied by a kick in the teeth, which was never going to happen. Not now anyway.

    Their rite was not approved. That is what I am taking away from it. If I focused on the negative stuff (like the fact that this kind of group even exists in the Catholic Church with some level of approval) I’d get myself into a state and have no peace of the soul.

  18. tcreek says:

    The confusion in our Church on endless issues seems in itself to be endless.
    In this age of relativism, I guess it is too much to ask for a clear response of “yes” or “no” and then to demand obedience. I am sick of “lawyered” responses.

  19. Johnny Domer says:

    “The celebration in the small communities, regulated by the Liturgical Books, that are to be followed faithfully, and with the specificities approved in the Statutes of the Way…”

    That’s from the Pope’s discourse. We can’t really celebrate or go into mourning until we know what specificities were approved in their statutes. If the “specificities” are just that they can celebrate the Feasts of X, Y, or Z saints with more solemnity, then this approval is no big deal, hooray for the Holy Father. If their “specificities” include being able to celebrate Mass while doing handstands or whatever, let’s get worried.

  20. Finarfin says:

    I think NoTambourines has summed it up well, as well as Tom Esteban.

  21. Centristian says:

    Thank you for staying on top of this and sharing your news with us, Father. I’m following the developments on this topic with interest.

    Of what I have read thus far about the Neocatechumenal Way, I come away with a rather negative impression of it. The whole movement seems contrary to what I understand to be the traditional paradigm of the Catholic religion, and therefore I am disturbed by the support given to this group and its two founding gurus by the Pope and his predecessor.

    As I understand things, the NeoCats actually believe that the authentic Church more or less died during the reign of Constantine and was not resurrected again until the Second Vatican Council. Their “convivial” form of worship reflects the NeoCats’ rejection of traditional liturgical ceremony, which they view as a deformation of the Christian Eucharist. They seem to maintain that traditional Catholic liturgical practices are an unfortunate result of a secularized state religion devoid of the spirit of Jesus that reflected the ceremonial of the Imperial court at Rome and Constantinople. In that respect (and others), they seem a bit like believers in the Urantia Papers.

    If I am understanding their point of view of the Church correctly (and if I am not, perhaps someone can correct me), I cannot see how the papacy can tolerate “the Way”, much less encourage it. It is a bewildering perplex, really, unless, as I say, I’m completely misunderstanding the Neo Cats somehow.

    The NeoCats furthermore strike me as something of a Church within a Church; an esoteric communion that supposes itself to have a greater connection with the authentic Christ than the rest of us. They remind me–I’m sorry, and I’ve said it once before–of something like a higher degree of Freemasonry; one of those degrees of, say, the Scottish Rite which claims a greater enlightenment than is enjoyed by your average lodge Mason of the Third Degree.

    Why do they have their own catechism, and what does it mean that it is “binding” upon its followers? Hiow can a catechism be binding upon some Catholics and not others?

    It makes me uncomfortable. Furthermore, my imagination that I have better sense than the Pope with regard to this society also makes me uncomfortable. What sort of a position is that to be in? As a former Lefebvrist I fear that attitude, having seen it up close (and having participated in it). But what can a thing like this be all about when put up side-by-side with what I have come to regard, by now, as the correct view of the Church and of the Liturgy? The Holy Spirit cannot lead the Church in two opposing directions. If our traditional approach to and interpretation of the Church and her public worship is right and true, how can what the Neocatechumenal Way promotes also be right and true?

    What am I misunderstanding, I wonder, that will make all of this make sense? I wonder if some reader of this blog has a richer understanding of the matter and can make sense of the apparent contradiction that I seem to find myself vexed by. Is my approach too black and white? If so, can anyone explain the gray to me.

  22. Athanasius says:

    It seems to me that the NeoCat liturgy for Mass was NOT approved, which some other non-liturgical celebrations were.

    It doesn’t really matter. Now that they have some kind of “approval”, they will do everything nutty and ridiculous on the basis of their papal approval, regardless of whether it is foreseen in the approval or not. That’s the way these things work. Remember altar girls and communion in the hand, vernacular liturgy, armies of emhcs and any of a dozen instances of the like.

  23. Wade says:

    leonugent2005, I have had a similar experience. Our new parochial vicar is the first priest to be ordained from the Redemptoris Mater seminary in our diocese. He seems to have received a very orthodox formation, celebrates the Mass by “saying the black and doing the red” without deviation or innovation, always vests appropriately, and gives thoughtful homilies based on the scriptures. He also goes out of his way to make himself available for confessions outside of the published times. (FYI, he is actually bucking a pronounced liberal trend in our parish in many of the areas listed above.)

    I am assuming that he is a neo-cat based solely on the seminary he attended – there is not otherwise anything to distinguish him from any other priest in our diocese.

  24. St. Louis IX says:

    @ Centristian

    This is : I think an unfortunate perspective for a Catholic to have, but I am starting to feel more and more that I need to just Thank God For making the TLM available for my family and I . Pray that He does not allow its removal soon….Bury my head in the sand, and not follow anymore of what goes on in the Church. Try and Become Holy by recieving the Sacraments and performing my Christian duties well and asking God for Mercy!


  25. anilwang says:

    The key thing to ask is if the NeoCat “celebration” fulfills one’s Sunday obligations and it is clearly expressed.

    If it does fulfill one’s Sunday’s obligations, I’m concerned since to undoes a lot of the work that the corrected translation since it opens the door for liturgical improv to be accepted.

    If it doesn’t, then I’m less concerned. I’m even less concerned if the passover bread passed around isn’t even consecrated.

    At the moment, I’m taking a wait and see attitude. There are far too few details to give comments.

  26. leonugent2005 says:

    Tom Esteban I think anyone who truly knows our beloved Papa knew he wouldn’t kick anyone in the teeth.

  27. Tom Esteban says:

    leonugent2005 I think anyone who truly knows our beloved English language would know it’s an expression. I know that Pope Benedict wouldn’t physically kick someone in the teeth. He could get a guard to do it instead. Just a joke there.

    Let’s not panic! I too think that there isn’t enough information yet. Everything will be fine; none of this “the SSPX are right!”. Not yet anyway. Their rite has been rejected, and for that I will say 5 decades of thanks!

  28. levi1991 says:

    ‘Their rite has been rejected’

    Ummm where did you get that from? From the ‘We approve…’ Seriously this is just a denial of reality, it clearly has not at the very least been rejected and may well have been approved. Lets try and stick to the facts rather than what we would like the facts to be.

    The very fact that such a movement can exist at all is a serious indictment of the Church today but then considering that the legionnaires of Christ have yet to be suppressed despite the scandals of its founder and leader that’s hardly surprising.

  29. Joshua08 says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to say their “rite” wasn’t approved. Fr. Z is right not to speak with certitude here…it isn’t exactly clear what has happened.

    Even if the statutes have been modified in their approval to obey liturgical norms of the rest of the Church, I already hear neo-Catholic speaking of a non-liturgical Eucharistic celebration….word games.

    The Neo Cats blatantly disobeyed the directives they received a few years ago. Now they get positive reinforcement. This is worrisome

  30. Dr. Sebastianna says:

    I just heard… on the Radio Vaticano online broadcast… that the Vatican approved the NeoCats’ “liturgical celebrations.” No other details were given, besides the fact that the Pope received some NeoCat members in an audience. This was the “English language” portion of the Rome/Lazio broadcast, which is usually in Italiano.

  31. leonugent2005 says:

    This statement…… grants approval to those celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way which are not, by their nature, already regulated by the liturgical books of the Church“…….could be interpreted as “I’m not going to bother you, however I in no way bind the hands of any of my successors. He did this very thing in the letter that accompanied Summorum Pontificum when he talked about mutual enrichment. Those two words unbound the hands of anyone coming after him.

  32. carl b says:


    The Neocat liturgy is a Catholic Mass. Attending it on a Sunday or the evening of the day prior .of course. fulfils one’s obligation to assist at Mass.

  33. amenamen says:

    anilwang/carl b
    The Liturgy celebrated by the Neocatechumenal Way is the Mass, and it fulfils one’s Sunday obligation. But the “not strictly liturgical celebrations” approved by Pope Benedict are not the Mass, and they would not fulfill the obligation.

  34. Tom Esteban says:

    The neocat liturgy is a Catholic Mass? Is it? Really? Reaaaaaally?

  35. ttucker says:

    Some people want everything to be done one way and one way only, namely their way.
    This is seen on both ends of the spectrum.
    Perhaps, and I would emphasize the perhaps, Benedict sees that a multiplicity of rites is nothing to be afraid of. And if that is the case, then we should not fear either.
    Although I enjoy reading Rorate caeli, I have learned to stay away from reading the comments section as being detrimental to my spiritual health.

  36. jhayes says:

    Here’s the Osservatore Romano article.

    Seems not very clear.

  37. carl b says:


    I am no fan of their Mass. I dread attending it under compulsion, but I have attended before out of fraternity towards my brother seminarians in the RM seminary. Do I like their manner of celebrating Mass? No. But to seriously suggest that legally it is not a Mass celebrated in a Catholic rite is risible. It departs from tradition, has questionable theology behind it, but it is a Catholic Mass.

  38. Dr. K says:

    “It departs from tradition, has questionable theology behind it, but it is a Catholic Mass.”

    You give good reasons as to why it shouldn’t be a valid Catholic Mass.

  39. Tom Esteban says:

    Carl b,

    If they are not celebrating according to the (updated) Novus Ordo Missal or the 1962 Missal then they are not celebrating a Catholic Mass. If they’re passing off their heresies as authentic liturgical action and development then… well, I don’t know, but it isn’t Catholic. And as Dr. K said – the fact that their liturgy departs from tradition and has questionable theology is reason enough to recognize that it is not Catholic. Since when was Catholicism about questionable theology? Good grief. There is no defense of their heretical ideas – some of which are: denial of the sacrifice of Mass, denial of the sacramental Priesthood and complete and utter irreverence towards the Eucharist.

  40. Tom Esteban says:

    Carl b – Forgot to add: thank you for being a seminarian :-) We need more tradition friendly priests!

  41. “It departs from tradition, has questionable theology behind it, but it is a Catholic Mass.”

    You give good reasons as to why it shouldn’t be a valid Catholic Mass.

    In case anyone here’s losing the thread, Dr. K, precisely what Mass are you referring to?

    Seriously, wouldn’t you agree that lots of valid Masses depart from tradition and are associated with questionable theology?

  42. ttucker says:

    Tom E- do they truly adhere to the heretical ideas that you have listed, or is that ( as I have read elsewhere) a false misinterpretation? How can I know which is true? I ask sincerely.

  43. dominic1955 says:

    Dr. K,

    Exactly, that’s more of what it sounds like to me.


    A legitimate diversity of rites would be something like protecting the Eastern Catholics from being subsumed into the Roman Rite in areas of Roman dominance (i.e. the U.S.) or promoting the growth and preservation of non-Roman Latin Rites/Usages (i.e. Sarum, Ambrosian, various Order rites, etc.) along side the Roman Rite in the West. Making up things on personal preference, horrid historical and liturgical study, and the stamp of approval of Bugnini and Friends is not legitimate diversity. The way the NeoCat’s muck up the already loosey-goosey rubrics of the NO is simply not legitmate.

    I don’t want things done my way, I want them done the right way!

  44. ttucker says:

    Yes, Dominic, I understand that. What happens though is that people tend to thnk their wasy IS the right way.
    If multiple Popes have approved of what they are doing, then that is good enough for me.
    It is interesting- looking around the Internet, this group seems to have both detractors and supporters from both ends of the spectrum and it is difficult to tell if they subscribe to heresy or not. Some of their detractors say they do, but their supporters say they don’t. Who am I to belive? At this point, I’ll go with the Popes and the Vatican Congregations that have not seen fit to declare them heretical.

  45. tcreek says:

    ttucker —“If multiple Popes have approved of what they are doing, then that is good enough for me.”

    The 38 popes from Pope Pius IV till 1970 approved of the Tridentine Mass. The last 3 popes have created a confusing liturgical mess.

  46. jhayes says:

    Today’s statement sounds much like the wording of the approved Statutes of 2008 described at that time in these “Canonical Notations” by Bishop Arrieta of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. If so, nothing much has changed.

    With regard to, finally, the liturgical celebrations, and concretely the Eucharistic celebration, the text of the definitive Statutes has certainly benefited from the progress and modification in these years. Even here we have arrived to a clear text that is articulated in four principles sanctioned by art. 13 of the Statutes. First, that the Neocatecumenals celebrate the Eucharist in small communities, after the first vespers of Sunday. Second that this celebration takes place according to the dispositions of the diocesan bishops. Thirdly, that these celebrations – as I have already said – are part of the pastoral work of the parish and consequently are open to all the faithful. Fourth, that in these celebrations the approved liturgical books of the roman rite are used “with the exception of the explicit concessions from the Holy See” (always with unleavened bread, and transferring “the Rite of Peace, communion under both species, brief admonitions and echoes).” With regards, finally, to Communion, the mentioned art. 13 § 3 results in a particular neatness: “Regarding the distribution of Holy Communion under the two species, the neocatechumens receive it standing, remaining at their place.”

  47. ttucker says:

    tcreek- we see what we want to see. What I see is Pope after Pope giving affirmation to the NC Way. And if I have to choose between aligning myself with these Popes and their views, or with tcreek and his/her views, well I’ll go with the Popes. (nb: I am not in any way affiliated with the NC Way and have never attended any of their functions.)

  48. Wade says:

    Putting aside for the moment the question of whether or not (or to what extent) a new liturgy has been approved, does anyone have an opinion as to where the NW stands on marriage, life issues, ordination of women, contraception, etc.?

    Also, does anyone have an opinion on the odds of the NW surviving its founders (Kiko is 73, I could not find a birthrate for Carmen).

  49. leonugent2005 says:

    There are things that popes do that I really don’t like and my personal opinion is extremely powerful….It has the power to damn me!!!! Now tell me that’s not powerful!

  50. Tom T says:

    “The Way,” is what the early Christians called themselves before the Council Nicea 1 325. It looks to me as though the culmination of 40 years of liberation theology and thanks to Kiko and Carmen
    who shed her habit, that we have moved back to the second century and according to the Holy Father, “according to the movements of the Holy Spirit,” with 300,000 members worldwide and seminaries all around the world to a new way of liturgical celebration. What I see, and we all have different views, is the same thing that has been going on since Vatican II with the Pope abdicating to the local ordinaries, the bishops, who will then leave it all up to the local pastors and so on and so on. Thank goodness I live near a Maronite Church and I don`t have to leave the Faith, just my local ‘do it your way’ Novus Ordo. Seems another argument against the hermenutics of continuity
    or, break if you will, with tradition, is in the making. Pax

  51. acardnal says:

    Father Z, can you please gain access to and study the “Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way” and the “Statutes of the Neo-Catechumenal Way” and provide us with your perspective? I seem to recall a couple years ago that one of the dicasteries in the Vatican disapproved of the NeoCats sitting down for reception of communion and disapproved of Mass in a home. Mass must be in a Catholic church structure. Please review and advise. Thank you Fr. Z.

  52. Peter in Canberra says:

    Having quickly skimmed this and the comments my knee jerk impression is that this is classic bureaucratese – a speech and approach crafted by a [clerical] civil servant with the view to make the least waves possible in any direction. Highly and possibly deliberatley ambiguous.

  53. Capt. Morgan says:

    A couple points from a purely personal perspective:
    1.) Oh for the days of Popes that knew the word “Anathema” and were not afraid to use it.
    2.) I may be wrong, have been many times, but do we really need more sub-divisions of the Catholic Faith?
    3.) Am i the only one who is tired of Theologians and legalese language from The Vatican?
    4.) was it the smoke of satan, or the ideology of John Calvin that flew in the window?

  54. Aegidius says:

    1. There have always been several different valid rites of mass within the catholic church. Notably, even the rectifying Tridentinum did not abrogate different rites that were established by the 16th century.
    2. The neocats are of almost pentecostical enthusiasm, the do street evangelization, cheering, public praying and always – always proclaim and confess their community with, and love for, the pope.
    3. I have met Neocats celebrating Jesus Christ during WYD in Cologne, Germany 2005, and was deeply impressed by their faith, strength, and happiness.
    4. The Neocats believe and live the sacraments of the church, in particular the sacrament of confession, eucharist and priesthood, which was mentioned already in this thread.
    5. The Neocats celebrate a Bugnini mass, yes. But they celebrate it in closed circles, where its is ensured and certain that each and every participant knows about sacredness, sacrifice and sacrament. It forms a basis of their everyday life. The Bugnini has perhaps is designed to be celebrated only by such truly faithful and enthusiastic good people like the Neocats.
    6. Don’t be holier than thou, or hypocrite. It will be difficult to surpass a Neocat in terms of personal holiness, even if you are a frequent attender of the TLM.
    7. Pope Benedict XVI is the pope of Christian unity.
    8. I am no Neocat. I prefer the TLM to anything that smells like Bugnini.

  55. levi1991 says:


    You do realise that those exact same arguments are used against the NO right? And in much the same way…

    It’s a shame that my birth place has gone from producing the Dominicans, the Carmelites, The Jesuits to… this :(

  56. haribo says:

    “1. There have always been several different valid rites of mass within the catholic church. Notably, even the rectifying Tridentinum did not abrogate different rites that were established by the 16th century.”

    In the Middle Ages, the local bishop/abbot was the liturgical authority. Unlike today, there was a legitimate place for liturgical creativity and rites developed organically on a very local level. Since Trent, the Holy See regulates liturgical development, so spontaneous developments that depart from the liturgical norms are no longer licit. All of these medieval rites in East and West were closer in spirit than the Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form are today. Where does that put the Neocatechumenal Way liturgy, which came about 500 years after Trent and is completely at odds with every other liturgical tradition?

    It’s possible that every Neocat concession started as an idea and only went into practice after definitive approval was obtained from the Holy See. But my impression was that the Neocats were “corrected” not that long ago for not following liturgical norms. This means that many of the liturgical features being discussed on this thread were already being practiced without permission. If that’s the case, this NC Eucharist may be valid, but it has its origins in disobedience to ecclesiastical authority. In other words, it started with material sin.

  57. haribo says:

    I should also say that I know several Neocats, and they strike me as fervent Catholics who are probably very orthodox in doctrine and morals. It’s obvious that the movement bears good fruit, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t also have serious problems. Remember, there have been many saintly Protestants over the centuries, but their personal holiness was never taken to mean that God approves of Protestantism.

  58. Supertradmum says:

    Thankfully, as with private revelations, the Church has not judged the rightness of a movement on fruits, but on theology. Again, we need to pray that this movement’s “mass” is not approved. I have knowledge of this sect and there liturgy still reflects uncorrected errors in their theology. Lex orandi, lex credendi….

  59. AnnAsher says:

    Why can’t the document and the Holy Father’s address just be plain and straight forward? Isn’t it obvious that the spirit of V2 types will twist any words possible in order to perceive their own way? Why can’t Pope Benedict XVI, God Bless Him, just say, No.

  60. AnnAsher says:

    I’m confused. If neocats are devoted to sacredness and sacrament how is it they receive communion sitting on their rumpus?

  61. iowapapist says:

    “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). (“…quia tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram ædificabo ecclesiam meam, et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam.”)

  62. Denis says:

    The Neocats have the virtue of being honest when many of the post-VII revolutionaries weren’t. They latter tore down churches, bullied people attached to the TLM, concocted what was effectively a low-Church Lutheran rite, while all the time claiming to be faithful to Church teaching. The Neocats are just being clear about the motives: we’re protestants, and we’re proud! We’re not going to pretend to believe the mumbo jumbo about the ‘sacrifice’ of the Mass, and ‘trnsubstantiation.’ Why should we lie? Look at the average NO parish: they’ve basically been doing what we’ve done, but have been afraid to be too open about their motives.

    TO say that at least the Neocats haven’t sppointed their own bishops isn’t really much of a recommendation. It says more about the post-VII episcopacy than it does about the Noecats. It tells us that the Neocats, in all their weirdness, have never really been challenged–just like the Charismatics and all of the other eccentrics who have graced us with their heresies in bell-bottoms for the past half century of the church.

    I’ve been a member of several NO parishes. In each one, the old church had been torn down, the new church looked like an uglier version of the presbyterian one down the road. No one–and I mean no one–had any clue as to what the Mass was about. Mission accomplished!

    Don’t get me wrong: there is hope, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail, but Hell has gotten accross the bridge and is storming the sanctuary. The only force standing in Hell’s way is Tradition, and the Extradordinary Form.

    THe ORdinary Form simply has no means of defending itself against the Neocats or any other liturgical innovation or distortion. EVERYTHING has been done to the NO, and it was all ‘legitimate’ and ‘licit’ and ‘fully regularizes’, and whatever other Canonese you want to use. But Canonese isn’t going to protect us against Hell. Canonese isn’t spiritually powerful stuff; quite the contrary. It reeks of Phariseeism.

  63. AnnAsher says:

    Having never read much about the neocatechumenal way, I decided to google. I found this

  64. leonugent2005 says:

    AnnAsher when you say Isn’t it obvious that the spirit of V2 types will twist any words possible in order to perceive their own way? It makes me think that Benedict is quite used to having his words twisted in order for people to perceive their own way. But don’t worry, he writes his documents in such a way that the popes following him can fix what he never intended to happen.

  65. Luvadoxi says:

    The only thing that matters is: do they or do they not believe the Mass is a sacrifice?

  66. Denis says:

    Luvadoxi, I would respectfully disagree. If a group behaves as if it believes that the Mass is just a communal celebration and a meal, it doesn’t really matter what they claim to believe, or what they even believe they believe–their actions speak loudest. If you show up for a job interview in your sweatpants, would it matter whether you ‘really and truly’ believe that work is a serious matter? Having said that, it is clear that the Neocat eucharistic liturgy was designed to express the belief of the founders that the Mass is not a sacrifice, and that transubstantiation is nothing more than a medieval invention. If they have now changed their minds, they should scrap their eucharistic liturgy.

  67. heway says:

    I would appreciate a ‘neocat’ signing in and explaining what it is they believe and do. I very much dislike people of other beliefs explaining my faith in the true church. Found the above discourse full of votriol and all the things many of you dislike in others. ‘Judge not lest…..’
    Trust and pray for the Pope….do not disparage him.

  68. Centristian says:


    I know. I know. I don’t get it, man. I just do not get it. Go to YouTube, also, and check out their liturgies. Tell me if anything about them strikes you as being remotely in harmony with anything that Pope Benedict has taught concerning the Roman Rite.

    Interestingly, Father Z has not included the NeoCat Liturgy as an option in any of his recent polls.


  69. RobertK says:

    Maybe we can start another form of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. And call it the Cybercatechumenal Way. Where we can watch FrZ offer Mass via webcams, and that fulfills our Sunday obligation. Of course it would be a EF Mass, that we watch. But hey it’s the WAY here in the West now.

  70. RobertK says:

    Now buying the Crystal Cathedral in LA makes sense. The mother Church of “The Way”. This will be the big thing during the next LA Liturgical Congress (2012). Sponsered by “The Way”.

  71. Capt. Morgan says:

    After my first post, i wasted about an hour researching the neocatechuminal way on the internet. Found some very frightening stuff. If what i have read concerning the theology of Arguello and Hernandez are correct, this sect is a cult in every meaning of the word. No real presence, no true sacrifice, The Church was in stasis from Constantine to V-II, hand written liturgy, hand written catechism and wait for it, he and the ex-Nun are leaders for life!
    C’mon folks, this is Jehova Witness stuff filled with calvanism and a touch of Masonic mind control. And according to former members, very few of the followers know the truth, since to get through all of the training(indoctrination) can take upwards of twenty years. Just like Masons, the locals are doing good works, unaware of the actual designs and demonics of the leadership. I am really worried about our Church. Can anyone look at this phenomena or any of the occurances of the past fifty years and say that Pope St. Pius X or Pope Leo XIII or Pope Pius XII would have sat back and permitted this stuff to happen? What happened to “Lamentabili Sane”, “Quanta Cura”, Vatican Council I ? What happened to Anathema Sit???

  72. Joseph says:

    I guess, we are run by a bunch of politicians. If your group is large and loud enough, you get things done, irregardless of merit. The neo cats are so obviously a group of glorified protestants. And we thought puppets are bad.

  73. Tom T says:

    Capt. Morgan I did the same thing. Scarry stuff. I also agree with your closing questions and I
    don`t have an answer. As I and others in the Vatican have been saying for years, this is a further example of a real break with tradition if not perhaps as some claim even doctrine. I just finished a story, not to digress, that stated a Trappist Monastery, the only one in Germany was granted by the Holy Father permission to break from the Benedictine Federation, come under his protection, return their original constitution and the Tridentine Mass. The Abbot called his friend in the Vatican six months later and said where is our answer? The friend said “send another letter to the Pope, only address it to me and I will personally deliver it.” he did and when the Pope saw the letter he was shocked. He said I granted this six months ago. They did an investigation and found the original letter stuffed in the bottom of a drawer in the Vatican Secretary`s office. This is what the Holy Father is up against. Pax

  74. tcreek says:

    For what its worth, the following was gleaned from Wikipedia.

    Pope John Paul II summarized the role of the itinerant catechists in a Private Audience for 2000 priests of the Neocatechumenal Communities in December 1985 (reported in the Italian edition of Osservatore Romano, 11 December 1985)

    Domus Galilaeae is the residence designed and built by Kiko on the slopes of the Mount of Beatitudes in Israel. It is an international NCW center of formation, used for studies and retreat, Christian seminars and conventions. It was inaugurated in March 2000 by John Paul II.

    Since the meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1984 the Way has had vocational calls in order to “harvest the fruits” which grew in the encounters with the Holy Father.

    Pope John Paul II celebrated the Eucharist at the meeting with the communities in Porto San Giorgio in 1989, exactly as the communities do it, including the communion rite in a sitting position.

    In the Diocese of Clifton in the UK, in 1994 an extensive investigation of the communities was carried out, despite having an official seal of approval from Pope John Paul II. The investigation reported that the movement was “a form of spiritual enslavement” and that its presence in parishes was “completely divisive and destructive.”

    “Thus ends the process that began in 1997” reads a communiqué on the subject released by the Neo-Catechumenal Way. A process that began “at the behest of John Paul II to give the Way ‘formal legal recognition’ and to make it a ‘universal patrimony of the Church'”.

  75. Tom Esteban says:

    Here’s the irony, or perhaps, the damn scary thing…. picture a world where the internet and this blog were available in 1969/70. Replace “neocat way” with “Mass of Pope Paul VI”. You better believe that’s how most people felt at the time – don’t for a second believe that anybody but the progressives were having parties when the NO was introduced. People were shocked. How could such a clear break from tradition be allowed? Why is our theology being ignored? Why is this focusing less on sacrifice? Where is the Catholic character? All questions that were asked then (and still being asked by some…) we are now asking about the neocat liturgy. The similarities break down only when one considers that despite the fact that the NO was a fabricated rite it still tried to hold onto reverence and some traditional aspects (though this was misguided false archaeologism rather than real tradition) and it still taught the Catholic faith even if it was in a watered down and messy way. On the other hand, the neocat liturgy looks to me to be pure heresy with zero attempt at being Catholic – but that is only my opinion and I am not anybody who should really have the audacity to air my views, but there it is. Unfortunately, as many know, the Novus Ordo opened things up for progressives and liberals and things like this so it’s not like we can sit back and pretend that this is shocking. It isn’t all that shocking that this neocat way exists or may be de facto approved even if it isn’t de jure approved; it is only the logical conclusion of what happens when a completely fabricated rite (developed by well-known progressives) replaces the Mass of the Ages.

    What baffles my mind is only that Pope Benedict XVI has yet to pray the Tridentine Mass; has yet to make major reforms of the Novus Ordo; and that from the get go of this whole neo-cat liturgy he didn’t tell them that no-way-no-how would they get approval. The Pope Benedict XVI of today seems to hardly resemble the Josef Cardinal Ratzinger of “Spirit of the Liturgy” who gave a forward to Msgr. Klaus’ famous book and who was somebody that the late Michael Davies considered a staunch traditionalist! This isn’t a critique of our beloved Papa, who has done so much for traditionalists, but just an observation. Being pope is a slow crucifixion so I hear, and being the shepherd of 1billion souls is sure to change a man in some way.

    At times like this I just put my hands up and say “Who knows, but you, Lord?” and get on with life.

  76. jhayes says:

    Here’s CNS’s (USCCB) take on this:

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As the Vatican approved the Neocatechumenal Way’s unique rite, Pope Benedict XVI underlined that its celebrations were not “strictly liturgical” and that their aim must be to encourage members to partake fully in the liturgical life of the parish…

    The Pontifical Council for the Laity approved a decree that said, with the approval of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the council “grants the approval of those celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Way, which, are not, by their nature, already regulated by the liturgical books of the church.?..”

    The decree also mentioned the Vatican’s approval of the organization’s statutes in 2008 and its catechetical directory in 2010.

    In his audience talk, the pope said that while the celebrations described in the directory had been approved, the celebrations “are not strictly liturgical, but are part of an itinerary of growth in the faith.”

    “The celebrations in the small communities, regulated by the liturgical books — which are to be followed faithfully, and with the particularities approved of in the Statutes of the Way, are tasked with helping those who follow the neocatechumenal itinerary be aware of the grace of being part of the salvific mystery of Christ,” he said.

    “the particuliarities approved of in the Statutes of he Way” are:

    Art. 13 [Eucharist]

    § 1. The Eucharist is essential to the Neocatechumenate, since this is a post-baptismal catechumenate lived in small communities. In fact, the Eucharist completes Christian initiation.

    § 2. The neocatechumens celebrate the Sunday Eucharist in the small community after the first Vespers of Sunday. This celebration takes place according to the dispositions of the diocesan bishop. The celebrations of the Eucharist of the neocatechumenal communities on Saturday evening are part of the Sunday liturgical pastoral work of the parish and are open also to other faithful.

    § 3. For the celebration of the Eucharist in the small communities the approved liturgical books of the Roman Rite are followed, with the exception of the explicit concessions from the Holy See.* Regarding the distribution of Holy Communion under the two species, the neocatechumens receive it standing, remaining at their place.

    § 4. The celebration of the Eucharist in the small community is prepared under the guidance of the presbyter, by a group of the neocatechumenal community, in turn, which prepares brief monitions to the readings, chooses the songs, provides the bread, the wine, the flowers, and takes care of the decorum and dignity of the liturgical signs.

    *See Benedict XVI, Speech to the Neocatechumenal Communities on January 12, 2006, in Notitiae 41 (2005), 554–556; CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Letter of December 1, 2005 in Notitiae 41 (2005), 563–565; “Notification of the Congregation for Divine Worship on celebrations in groups of the Neocatechumenal Way,” L’Osservatore Romano, December 24, 1988: “The Congregation consents that among the adaptations foreseen by the instruction “Actio Pastoralis”, nn. 6-11, the groups of the above-mentioned “Way” may receive communion under two species, always with unleavened bread, and transfer “ad experimentum” the Rite of Peace to after the Prayer of the Faithful.

  77. Denis says:

    Some take comfort in the idea that the Neocat eucharist might be ‘valid’, but, to me, that makes it even worse. The Neocats use ordinary, crumbly bread because they deny transubstantiation–which is also why they prohibit reservation of the blessed sacrament, genuflection, and all of the other external signs that have traditionally been associated with Catholic beliefs about Christ’s continued, real presence in the consecrated elements. So…their Mass is ‘valid’, people trample on consecrated elements, and unknowingly commit sacrilege. How is that a good thing?

    Tom Esteban points out that our reaction to the approval of the Neocat Mass is similar to what most Catholics must have felt with the the changes that came when the Novus Ordo was introduced. I think that this is an apt comparison. Many of the same lutheran ideas about the Mass that were being introduced into the Church through the Novus Ordo are simply more developed in the Neocat liturgy. THe difference is that the Neocats are more honest (or perhaps less discreet) about their lutheranism, which also gives them the liberty to implement it more fully.

  78. Tom T says:

    Is all this a hermeneutic of rupture, as we traditionalists are often accused of, or the hermenuetics of continuity as the Pope decreed? Is this the culmination of a “living Magisterium” or a rupture?
    It dosen`t matter which side you come down on, you have to accept it all as the Pope has,
    to the dissent of some Vatican theologians and philosophers, that Vatican Post Conciliar Documents are in fact a continuation of the Magisterium and not a break, as some think.
    He has through his own official promulgation, maker of his own conciliar decree that teaches a matter of faith and morals to the whole Church which is then an obvious excercise of his charism of infallibility with regard to the “hermenuetics of continuity” which gives us no choice to accept the unbroken teaching, as it were, of the Magisterium. The Holy Spirit moves where the Holy Spirit wills. Pax.

  79. carl b says:


    They do celebrate according to the updated NO Missal, albeit with a couple modifications. But I think we can safely say that affects liceity rather than validity.

    And as for liturgy departing from tradition and having questionable theology, those points have been leveled against the NO itself. If one acknowledges that assisting at the NO fulfils the Sunday obligation, then so does assisting at a Neocat Mass.

    And please pray for me as I’m in seminary.

  80. John Nolan says:

    These new movements, so beloved of JPII in the wake of the post-V2 collapse of the traditional religious orders, need to be taken magno cum grano salis. If they were, for instance, devoted to the usus antiquior there might be a point to them; the fact that notwithstanding the liturgical chaos of the last 45 years, the so-called neo-cats insist on fabricating their own ‘liturgies’ should suggest that normal people should not touch them with a bargepole. They might be well-meaning, but so were the Cathars.


  82. leonugent2005 says:

    Tom Esteban none of this baffles me. I would say that anyone you understands Benedict’s intentions is never baffled by anything he does.

  83. leonugent2005 says:

    In fact I could add that the thing that did baffle me was that when summorum pontificum was issued and I first started going to the TLM in support of our Holy Fathers initiative, I was met by pitch forks and torches.

  84. Denis says:

    carl b,

    “Yes but it’s still valid” and “at least I’m fulfilling my obligation” pretty much sum up the post-VII era. I agree with you that the externals do not take away from the validity–either of the usual, lutheran in appearance, Novus Ordo, or, when it is approved, of its Neocat variant. However, the externals of both were designed to express a new theology; perhaps that was not the motive of all of the people involved in the changes that took place with the Novus Ordo, but that was very much on the minds of many–there is a reason why churches, music, the externals of the Mass came to look like the Protestant liturgy, which, it cannot be disputed, was created to signify a new theology, and a a rejection of Cahtolic doctrine on the Eucharist. Therefore, even if it is valid, the Novus Ordo, in many places, leads people to affirm erroneous ideas. It’s hard to attend the Extraodrinary Form and to leave thinking that you’re just attending a communal celebration, that the people involved didn’t really believe that Christ was present, or that the Mass is a sacrifice. The externals of the EF drive that point home to anyone present–drive it home in ways that are felt bodily, and hard to ignore. All of that was eliminated from the NO for a reason. So, yes, the NO is valid–I attend one regularly–but it remains something designed to express erroneous and heretical ideas. Unfortunately, that is the state of the Church at the moment. So, while the approval of the Neocat liturgy may, indeed, be an expression of the Holy Spirit at work, their liturgy is not the work of the Holy Spirit–it cannot be, because it is rooted in error. At most, the Holy Spirit is motivating some kind of temporary compromise with error, in order to bring these people back gradually toward the truth. But we can’t assume that every decision that every prelate or priest does is infallible.

    Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not directing this at you, nor am I accusing you of error; nor am I even criticising anything that you wrote; I have no doubt that you are on the right side of these issues, give what you have on your blog. I’m just using your point to vent a little–hopefully, not in any way that endangers my soul.

  85. Tom Esteban says:

    Tom T – the promulgation of a Rite (viz. a Missal) does not engage in the least with infallibility; nor is the attempt at reconciling past teaching with current teaching using a hermeneutic of continuity something infallible. It is a methodology not a teaching.

    Carl b, I will pray for you certainly and I thank you for answering God’s call!

  86. Tom T says:

    Carl B, God Bless you and you will most certainly be in my prayers. I hope they don`t teach liberation theology where you are.
    Tom E, I am afraid I have to disagree with your premise. The Holy Father clearly stated both
    Rites are valid and in continuity with pre-Vatican II norms and I would argue that when he issues a decree on the matters of faith and morals that is as conclusive with the theological question of continuity of Post Conciliar Documents and the valitidy of the Novus Ordo Rite as a continuation of pre Vatican II celebration of the liturgy, then I believe it is infallible. The Holy Father is aware, according to Cardinal Koch, the Vatican`s top ecumenist, that there are “many positive fruits” post-Vatican II liturgical changes but also problems, including a focus on purely practical matters and a neglect of the paschal mystery in the Eucharistic celebration. The Cardinal also said it is legitmate to ask whether liturgical innovators had intentionally gone beyond the councils stated intentions. So in my view, all this does not really dimish the infallibility of the decree since the innovation and abuses would constitute the illcit celebration the rite itself. The main point of dissent from the books I`ve read on the discussions seem to center around the questions of religious freedom with some very different views coming from both sides and as a matter of fact have been going on since the actual discussions and formation of the documents themselves, according to those that were close to the Vatican II negotiations for final approval, some of whom had notes published later. The hermenuetics of continuity decree issued by the Holy Father was to put an end to the
    on going discussions in Rome, obviously without success, and the intent was to again, without being redundant, clarify the validity of norms promulgated in the Eucharistic celebration and not in rupture then with the Magisterium and unfortunately I don`t believe you can reduce the rite to a methodology whereas the abuse is not an intent of the Novus Ordo but rather a result of those who abused it. Of course, I guess then one could ask if Neo-Cat as a liturgical innovator had intentionally gone beyond the councils stated intentions. That is I believe the question here. Just my view. Pax

  87. carl b says:


    I’m not saying what I’m saying because I particularly like the minimalism of validity and obligation; I merely brought it up because earlier on this thread its fulfilment of the obligation was honestly questioned. When we get to that point, the position needs to be defended. And I tentatively agree with all you said in your post.

    Tom T,

    We certainly don’t get liberation theology here. With respect to doctrine and theology, our seminary is one of the most conservative in the country, from what I understand.

  88. albizzi says:

    We are currently living our faith in the same confusion (Sr Lucy would call this “diabolical disorientation) as that we experienced in the immediate post conciliar times.
    Confusion originates from the Devil.
    “Let your Yes be simply Yes, and your No be simply No” (Mt 5:37)

  89. Denis says:

    Tom T says ‘the abuse is not an intent of the Novus Ordo but rather a result of those who abused it’

    I’ve been struggling with this claim for years, and I am finding it harder and harder to believe. If a person gets on a plane in Minneapolis, and ends up in Paris, it’s very hard to understand how they could have gotten there without having intended to get to Paris. The problem is that a complex process was begun at VII that led to a Mass that looked very much like a lutheran and calvinist service. Churches, music, gestures…everything began to look and sound more protestant. It is very difficult to witness than process and not conclude that it was anything but intentional. When, furthermore, one learns that, as a matter of fact, that there is wide-spread confusion among the faithful about what the Mass is–sacrificial character, transubstantiation, etc.–it is hard to see that as anything other than the result of the changes in the Mass. How does one make sense of the claim that none of this was intentional–that it was just a few misguided bishops, when the changes were so universal and so widespread; they happened in Europe, in Asia, in Latin America, in the US, in Canada…no part of the world was spared the ‘stripping of the altars.’ The amount of property–buildings, altars, vestments, sacramentals–disposed of and replaced, and the wealth spent subsidizing that destruction are astounding. All of this was just a result of ‘misapplication’? I find that impossible to believe. To be sure, there continued to be loyal, orthodox priests and bishops, but they were in the minority and, for the most part, they remained silent. Yes, the Holy Father has made some changes; he has my prayers, loyalty, and admiration. But he is not surrounded by people who share his vision.

  90. Tom Esteban says:

    Tom T, I must say I am lost and I don’t know what you are talking about at the moment. What premise are you disagreeing with? I made none. Your post also confuses me somewhat but here is my response: the promulgation of a liturgical book never ever ever engages in infallibility. How could it? What part about it is infallible? It makes no sense. Infallibility doesn’t work that way. Infallibility has strict conditions and limitations, and isn’t something that belongs to a pope which he can tap into at any point in order to just make something as he wishes. It makes no sense to say: the Novus Ordo is infallible or ‘The neocat liturgy is infallible’. That literally makes no sense; it has no meaning. He cannot, and will not, say “This missal is infallible”. Infallible what? and how? One cannot speak of a Rite or a Missal being infallible anymore than one could call the Rosary infallible. Furthermore, he also cannot ‘infallibly’ declare that contradictory teachings are in fact complimentary. Not that Pope Benedict has ever or will ever do that. It is impossible – unless the contradiction is only an apparent one. I am unsure of what you mean by ‘decree’ and you mention it twice. In any case, the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ again is not something infallible. It’s a methodology. It’s an attempt at reconciling contradictions in pre and post conciliar documents (whether they are really contradictions or not). It makes no sense, and a pope cannot simply decree ‘I now declare as sovereign pontiff that the universal Church must believe in the hermeneutic of continuity’. Again, a meaningless statement, and not in the realm of infallibility.

    I think we’re speaking past each other; or else I am not sure what you are saying.

  91. Tom T says:

    carl b

    Thank goodness for that. I was thinking of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago when I ask. I read the Card. Newmann Society blog when I get a chance, seems there are a great deal of problems with many Catholic Universities endowed with modernistic and progressive leaderships that are Catholic in name only. Some seminaries sadly, refuse to teach latin and have an aversion to conservative views. I attended a seminary after high school many years ago long before Vatican II God , however had other plans. I am a member of the Confraternity of the FSSP. I will offer my prayers to St. John Mary Vianney for youas I do for Fr. Z. Pax

  92. carl b says:

    Tom T,

    I hope this consoles you: here no seminarian gets by with less than 2 semesters of Latin, 3 is the norm, and our prof offers a reading group for the guys who don’t want their Latin to get rusty with disuse.

  93. Puget says:

    Circling back to the NeoCats, the problem with giving even collateral blessing to the non-Eucharistic liturgies of an organization that does not believe the mass is a sacrifice and which alters its Eucharistic liturgy to reflect this non-belief will be interpreted by some, perhaps even many, as reinforcing the notion that anything goes, even with the mass itself. See the latest summary of the Vatican’s actions on the Vatican Insider website. I fear the Holy Father has gone off the rails on this one.

  94. Capt. Morgan says:

    In the mid 70’s Arch Bishop Fulton J. Sheen recorded a retreat on the Topic of “The Demonic Today”. It can be purchased here:
    The Arch Bishop pointed to many of the issues we now see as a result of the effects of satan attacking the Church after the Council, to include a warning of infiltrators at the Vatican Herself! He was a Holy Priest and had insights many are yet to realize. He warned of the loss of Catechesis, loss of Catholic identity, loss of Priestly Vocations. Listening to his talks from the 50’s through the early 80’s gives me chills when i look around the Sanctuary of my Parish today and see, or don’t see, what he was referring to. If this is the beginning of the great Chastisement, may Almighty God have Mercy on us All! I see no good coming anytime soon. Pray for Souls to persevere in Faith and Holiness. We may wind up in the desert just like Saint Athanasius.

  95. Tom T says:

    Denis, I have struggled with it also. The problems are, thankfully not universal.

    Tom E
    I am sorry I didn`t make my point clear. I am old and have been down this road many times.
    With respect to the implementation of both the Second Vatican and the ordinary of the Roman Rite and the exegis of the critical teaching of Benedict XVI on the Novus and Tridentine rites and the proper interpretation of the ecclesiastical texts, allow me to apply a principle of interpretation
    not only of Scripture but to everything God has revealed. Because the Magisterium of the Church teaches with the same authority a Sacred Scripture (after all the Holy Spirit inspires and guarantees both), a Catholic can properly understand a Christian teaching only if he takes into account everything that both Scriture and the Magisterium have said on the subject. Any understanding which fastens on what Scripture says to the exclusion of the Magisterium (as protestants typically do) or which fastens on this or that statement of the Magisterium in preference to others (as traditionalists often do) is doomed to be incorrect. The proper interpretation will always be the one which allows for truth of all relevant Scriptural and Magisterial texts. In religious life (abandonment of habits, rules and charisms in favor of sociology), in catechesis (jettison Catholic doctrine in favor of modern feelings), in liturgy (celebrating the Novus Ordo as if it were not a continuation of what Catholics in former ages had meant by the Mass, but a radically new rite of community self praise)-and in every other area- The modernists and secularists rode the euphric worldly wave of surrounding culture to ever increasing influence through out the West and Europe. The solution to all this is that Benedict has taken great pains to argue that everyone who is guilty of a “hermeneutic of rupture” must rethink and reevaluate everything according to a “hermeneutic on continuity.” This applies particularly to the project of recovering the true purpose of the Council and it applies to all who teach and act as if
    the Second Vatican Council (and all it`s reforms since that time) are a decisive break with the past invalidating what has come before. Benedict regards this change to a “hermeneutic of continuity” as the key to true renewal in the Church. What you are saying is that this or that acttion of the modern Magisterium of which the Novus Ordo originates can be rejected because it does not conform with “tradition”, or this or that disciplinary measure is null and void because it is unjust,
    or that the teachings of Vatican II are not binding because Vat. II was “pastoral” or was to be interpretated in a way that conflicts with past teachings is ,in my view a mistinterpretation. The two, then are not, in my view, (the Novus Ordo and the Magisterial teachings) seperate and indeed constitute infallible teaching. Pax.

  96. Parasum says:

    “The solution to all this is that Benedict has taken great pains to argue that everyone who is guilty of a “hermeneutic of rupture” must rethink and reevaluate everything according to a “hermeneutic on continuity.” This applies particularly to the project of recovering the true purpose of the Council and it applies to all who teach and act as if the Second Vatican Council (and all it`s reforms since that time) are a decisive break with the past invalidating what has come before. ”

    ## Two questions:

    1. Has there been a break in Catholic Tradition such that the Magisterium today has reversed the teaching of the Magisterium before the Council ? In the case of Dignitatis Humanae, a reversal is all but undeniable; if it were not a real break, it should have been child’s play to convince the Traditionalist Fathers at V2 both of the absence of a break & of the uninterrupted, unreversed, organic continuity, “but always in the same sense” of the Church’s teaching on this topic. But all the document did about the interpretation of DH was to assert that the Church’s teaching remained as before, even though the words of the document were contrary to the pre-conciliar doctrine. And assertion of changelessness is not fact of changelessness.

    And if Fr. Joseph Fenton SJ was accurate in his objections to the doctrine of Fr. John Courtney Murray SJ years before V2; & if the latter’s doctrine was the groundwork for the schema of what became DH in 1965; then it follows that Father Courtney Murray’s doctrine, though theologically objectionable (as shown in Father Fenton’s article), is the groundwork for a theologically objectionable conciliar document. If Father Fenton’s objections were valid to start with, they remain valid as criticisms of a document which is logically & materially dependent upon the essay that incurred the criticisms of Fr. Fenton. There is not one law of contradiction for Fr. Courtney Murray, but another for Council Fathers: the same law of contradiction must apply to both, on pain of producing nonsense.

    2. The second question, or (better) issue: the Pope appears to be talking about what the Council documents contain & mean, as compared with they are often said to contain & mean now. This is not the same as saying that the documents put forth by the Council agree in doctrine with the documents of the pre-conciliar Magisterium. Related to this is the larger question of apostolicity and its scope.

    If V2 did in effect, even if not in principle, do away with the teaching of the past – then one should admit this. Popes cannot unsay what has been said, or unteach what has been taught, or undecide what has been decided, by others: they can only modify the past by acts & sayings & decisions of their own.

  97. Tom Esteban says:

    Tom T,

    “Magisterium of the Church teaches with the same authority a Sacred Scripture” – not all the time, and in fact, I would say hardly ever compared with scripture in it’s entirety. There are 3 levels of magisterial teaching and only 2 are considered infallible, though all three require obedience unless they contradict previous teaching.

    “Catholic can properly understand a Christian teaching only if he takes into account everything that both Scriture and the Magisterium” – so the illiterate cannot understand Christian teaching? I would say this statement is false and not Catholic teaching.

    “which fastens on this or that statement of the Magisterium in preference to others (as traditionalists often do)” – this is an odd statement in many ways, as well as wildly inaccurate, as if traditionalists exclude scripture.

    “The two, then are not, in my view, (the Novus Ordo and the Magisterial teachings) seperate” – they must be in some way. The Novus Ordo falls into a category of the third level of magisterium, non-infallible.

    I do see what you are saying, somewhat agree too. Yes, Pope Benedict XVI is attempting to bring everybody together (liberals and traditionalists) by saying that we need to use a hermeneutic of continuity – viz. read Vatican II in light of tradition. But once again, it must be stated that this is only an attempt, not a teaching. Again, I repeat, it is a methodology. The next pope may (hopefully) say “the hermeneutic of continuity isn’t working; I will issue a Syllabus of Errors”.

    As for the Novus Ordo and infallibility, again, it makes no sense at all to call it infallible. The Mass is not “binding” in any “ordo” (form) it takes. Infallibility applies to the universal Church, and it is required to be believed for salvation, and it is something that the Apostles and all Christians believed (in varying degrees, give and take). Hence, the Novus Ordo Missal cannot be an infallible missal, nor can any missal, nor can any rite. They are constantly being changed in some way (though the changes of the 1962 missal have usually been minute in the Ordinary and restorative in the Propers for some 1500 years). The only thing in the West that comes near to meeting the criterion for infallible is the Roman Canon. Tom, again, I have difficulty with trying to explain this to you because I just don’t see how it even makes sense to call a missal infallible. The Novus Ordo missal nor any missal is not infallible, it cannot ever be, ever. It just makes no sense to speak of it that way. What, perhaps, is infallible are those parts of the missal teach/repeat infallible doctrine. So, something like the Creed that is in the missal. But even then, we do not say “The Credo is infallible”.

    Look at this link for an explanation of infallibility:

    And… copied from another website:
    At his general audience of November 19, 1969, Pope Paul VI said about the Novus Ordo that its rite and rubrics “are not by themselves a dogmatic definition; they are susceptible of varied theological gradings, according to the liturgical context in which they are to be found”. With such words he excluded any extraordinary infallibility by excluding any definition. And ordinary infallibility will apply only to what is still traditional in that Missal.

    Point: if the Novus Ordo were dropped tomorrow (as we have dropped a few rites in the past) that is perfectly acceptable. If it were infallible, that wouldn’t be acceptable. But if it were infallible, then the Novus Ordo would have existed since the apostolic era, but this is clearly not true as (a) it is a completely new and fabricated Rite [a fact admitted by it’s makers, by our current pope, and most liturgists] and (b) there exists nothing to show that the Novus Ordo existed in any form in the Apostolic era except where the Novus Ordo takes from the 1962 Missal [a missal which does in fact have texts which are either Apostolic or as close as one can get]. The 1962 missal comes closer to being ‘infallible’ (not that it makes sense to speak in that way but for the sake of argument), and yet that missal was dropped and is said in less than 0.1% of Latin parishes worldwide.

    Thanks for the conversation Tom, you have an excellent, strong name. God bless and have a blessed restful Sunday!

  98. 1987 says: – Tornielli has exactly the same point as Fr. Z.

  99. Wade says:

    There seems to be some confusion concerning what has been approved. I am going to withhold judgement pending a clearer understanding as to what has happened.

    “Vatican approval for Neo-Catechumenal Way only applies to non-liturgical catechesis”

  100. Wade says:

    A quote from the article linked above:

    Since its foundation, however, the group has been cautioned by the Vatican for inserting various novel practices into Masses organized by the movement. These include lay preaching, standing during Eucharistic Prayer, the reception of Holy Communion while sitting down as well as the passing of the Most Precious Blood from person to person.

    “The Neo-Catechumenal Way has no such permission for any of these kinds of things,” said the Vatican official. He claimed that the Vatican still receives complaints about the group’s “non-compliance with the universal norms of liturgy.”

    He added that it should be clear that “yesterday’s decree has nothing to do with the widely seen liturgical innovations of the Neo-Catechumenal Way,” which “should be stopped immediately because they don’t correspond to the law about the way the Mass and the sacraments are to be celebrated.”

  101. Supertradmum says:

    Thanks and great, Wade.

  102. jhayes says:

    Here’s an “Editorial Note” from Rorate:

    Editorial Note [1500 GMT]: Some have wished to say that it is not exactly an approval, that it is not an actual liturgical rite, that only the several “phases” or “steps” of the “Way” itself have been approved – which is true, even though the Holy Father himself also mentions the “specificities” of the liturgical rites when in “small groups”, with papal praise and confirmation of the full 2008 approval of the liturgical practices foreseen in the Statutes. Fine, let us not call it a new liturgical rite, then – but only a “New Liturgical Way”…

    As to the Saturday night Eucharist, as the Pope said, it is to be celebrated in accordance with the liturgical books “but with the peculiarities spoken of in the Statutes of the Way”

    Those “peculiarities” are extensive, depending on how you interpret them. I quoted the Statutes (approved by he Vatican in 2008) in my post of January 21 at 10:01 am.

  103. Denis says:


    Unfortunately, this is the Vaticanese/canonese equivalent of approval. It’s designed to approve de facto while appearing de jure to disapprove. It’s not unlike the post-VII changes to the liturgy. Some nice words–about Latin, the pride of place of Gregorian Chant, Latin, etc.—for the people not yet ready for revolution, but enough wiggle room so that all of the subsequent upheaval was perfectly legal. Lip service was paid to the hermeneutic of continuity, but the highly coordinated global liturgical rupture—with all of its cruelty, devastation and waste—happened anyway.

    Now the Holy Father and a few loyal bishops are trying to bail water out of the Costa Concordia with teaspoons while other bishops tear more holes in the hull. Fortunately, there is a lifeboat: the Extraordinary Form .

    The new translations—one spoonful of water out—are fine, but hearing them spoken at my parish is sort of like listening to Shakespeare at the Keg. The place is so thoroughly imbued with the spirit of low-church protestantism that a change of wording seems out of place.

    So, yes, the Neocats are, to some extent, bound to follow the rules and rubrics of the Novus Ordo; but the rules and rubrics that are actually followed by most parishes celebrating the Novus Ordo are so minimal, that, in effect, the Neocats can do as they please. And when even these minimal rules stand in their way…well, let’s face it: no one is going to say a word about the violations. IT’s a win-win for the Neocats: they get to do as they please, and now they receive the Vatican “100% authentically Catholics” stamp of approval.

  104. Tom T says:

    Tom E

    Thank you for the kind words. I grow weary of all we can do nothing about. This is my last words on your points. I won`t belabor the arguement.

    Catholic theology of the Holy Mas as it was formulated in session XXII of the Council of Trent which by fixing definitively the ‘canons’ of the rite under Pope Pius IV 17 Sept. 1562.
    Canon IX – If any one saith, that Masses, wherin the priest alone communicates sacramentally, are unlawful, therefore, to be abrogated: let him be anathema.
    And again from Summorum Pontificum.
    Exhortations of the Council of Trent, rites and liturgical books were brought up to date and when necessary clarified.
    Approved by Paul VI 1970 it was through reformed partly renewed liturgical books for the Latin Church It was done by various predecessors ie: Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St Pius X as an extraordinary expression of that same ‘Lex orandi’ and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church`s ‘Lex orandi’ will in no way lead to a division in the Church`s ‘Lex Credenti’ they are in fact two usages of the one Roman Rite.
    (see Council of Trent a council with the full infallibility of a council to set in Lex Credenti the Roman Rite).
    We order that everything We have established with these Apostolic Letters issued as Moto Propio be considered as “established and decreed” and to be observed from 14 Sept. of this year Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross what ever there may be to the contrary. From Rome St. Peters July on the third year of our Pontificate.
    Now if that is not infallible teaching, then nothing is. Pax and Blessings to you Tom.

  105. Tom T says:

    I agree with everything that you say. I have struggled for fourty years with the changes that I don`t like any better than you and most people here. As I understand the news release, they recieved approval but with restrictions and certain conditions. I have not finished reading all their statues but unless I am wrong, in order to be licit and in compliance with the decreed rites of the Holy Mass from early councils there are certain basics that they have to follow. I think we really need to find out what the changes in their celebration are required before we can make a rational judgement. Again, I have not read the entire approval and until we have that we just don`t know.
    If it might help someone here, our lives are short and passing quickly and I don`t mean to be preachy but would`nt it be just as well if we make the best of what we have till it all changes? The desert fathers and first monks after all, weren`t particularly happy with their situations as was St. Benedict who left it all and wen`t to Subiaco. We can`t obviously go to the desert and live in caves anymore but we can follow the norms as best we can till our short spans are over. When you get to be my age, you think about these things. Remember, we do have a choice, Tridentine, Novus or Cat, whatever that is. Pax to your heart.

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