This unique movement, controversial to some, was given a unique canonical status, reaffirming the vital role of the ecclesial movements in the Church.
ROME (Neocatechumenal Way) - After more than five years of work, the Holy See has approved the Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, thus confirming the praxis in more than 105 nations for over thirty years.
The decree of approval, dated the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, was solemnly consigned on June 28 to the initiators of the way, Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez together with Father Mario Pezzi, by Cardinal Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Dicastery entrusted by the Holy Father with the task of guiding the preparation of the statute.
The Neocatechumenal Way has not been approved as an association, a movement or a religious congregation, but, respecting and confirming the intention of the initiators, as an itinerary of Christian initiation for the rediscovery of baptism, that is, a post-baptismal catechumenate (see Statutes, article 1) at the service of the dioceses and parishes.
To underline the ecclesial value and importance of this act, the approval of the Statutes of the Way has been the fruit of a joint effort of some five dicasteries: the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Divine Worship, the Congregation for the Clergy and Catechesis and the Congregation for Catholic Education.
It is an act of great importance since it concerns the first post-baptismal catechumenate recognized officially by the Catholic Church.
This approval formalizes and specifies more precisely the recognition already given in 1990 by the Holy Father, who then recognized the way as an "itinerary of Catholic formation valid for society and for these times".
The work of preparation was drawn out over a long period since the juridical entities most commonly used by the Code of Canon Law are those of association or foundation, which do not correspond to the nature of the Neocatechumenal Way.
Since it is Christian Initiation, the Way in fact is at the service of the dioceses and parish priests and is not constituted as an autonomous entity.
The statute is composed of 35 articles. The first article expresses the nature of the Way and a description is given of the 4 spiritual goods which constitute the Neocatechumenal Way.
1. the Neocatechumenate or post-baptismal catechumenate, see Title II;
2. the catechumenate for non baptized as per the indications of the RCIA, see Title IV;
3. the ongoing formation of the communities which continue in the parish after having completed the Neocatechumenate, see Title III;
4. the service of catechesis, such as, for example, the return to the primitive schema of evangelization by means of itinerant teams willing to go to the ends of the earth on the basis of the mandate of their baptism, see Title V.
In the second article, the forms of operation of the Way are established: it operates in the dioceses "under the direction of the bishop" (see art. 2,1°) and "according to the guidelines proposed by the initiators" (see art. 2, 2°); the subject who promotes Christian initiation is obviously the bishop (see art. 26), to whom, however, is offered an instrument approved by the Holy See and configured in accordance with the indications of the statute.
Finally, in the last articles the processes foreseen for the succession of the team of initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way are specified.
The statutes deal with a formulation foreseen by the codes, but which is new and very courageous.
In a world ever more distant from Christianity and torn between secularization and forms of fundamentalism, with this act the Holy See courageously underlines the urgent necessity for the baptized to rediscover the roots of their faith and, in the face of the general dechristianization of modern society, it offers an instrument for the re-evangelization of modern man.