VATICAN CITY, JUNE 12, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic lay Neocatechumenal Way has received the Church's final approval of its statues; the degree of recognition will be presented to the group's founders Friday.
Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, will give Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández the decree expressing the Church's approval of the groups organization and charism.
The group began in Spain in 1964, the mid 1960s. It is parish-based and forms small communities of renewal within parishes.
The Way was initiated by painter Argüello, a convert from atheistic existentialism, and Hernández, a missionary. They worked among prostitutes, gypsies and ex-convicts in a novel approach to the evangelization of the 'fallen away.'
Archbishop Casimiro Morcillo of Madrid was the first prelate to support the movement, on his return from the Second Vatican Council. The first communities were born in the parishes of Zamora, Madrid and Rome. Today they are active in some 5,000 parishes worldwide.
According to the founders, the Way is a concrete response to numerous pastoral intuitions of Vatican II, such as, the rediscovery of the Easter Vigil, the laity's participation in evangelization. An example of this last principle is the novelty of sending 'families on mission,' in response to requests from local bishops to provide, together with a priest, an initial evangelization for those areas where the Church has not been established.
The groups first official recognition came in 1990 in the form of a letter of acknowledgement from the Pontifical Council for the Laity, in which Pope John Paul II described the Way as 'an itinerary of Catholic formation valid for our society and for our times.'
Then, on June 29, 2002, the Way's statutes were approved by the same Council for a period of five years, which has ended with the present final approval.