DANCING WITH THE DEVIL
One dolly step forward; two giant strides back... The postconciliar dance with the devil swirled on last January as recent advances to restore the continuity, precision and gravitas of Catholic worship were negated by further concessions granted to the Neocatechumenal Way [NCW].
Pope Benedict's regressive January quickstep with the spooky Francisco "Kiko" Arguello, founder of the NCW, baffled the blogosphere. Torn between righteous indignation and papolatory, neo-conservatives failed to see that Benedict's sowing of Mr Arguello's cultish Lutheran seed in the Catholic vineyard does not contradict and counter his much vaunted liturgical "reform of the reform" and "hermeneutic of continuity." In fact, it merely re-confirms the analyses contributed to these pages over many years by James Larson on the "progressive" mindset and underlying intentions of the present pontiff. In particular, his overriding "vision," embodied in Assisi III, which views all through a Teilhardian-ecumenical lens; not least the liturgy. Amid a deluge of online comments, at least one blogger cut to the chase:
But will it fertilise "a thousand flowers"? Or just launch a thousand more disputes: about Trojan Horses in the City of God and the "diabolically disoriented" popes who lower the drawbridge — even while decrying the "auto-demolition" of the Church!
Suffice to recall that according to this Thomistic scholar, what the Vatican finally accepted as "an itinerary of Catholic formation" is, on the contrary, a comprehensive instruction in Lutheranism. Sounding like Martin Luther incarnate, Kiko typically states that: "Man is a slave to the devil and the devil manipulates him as he wishes… we are at the mercy of our concupiscence" [Orientations p.130]. Along with a laundry list of such heresies proclaimed by the founder, the testimony of former NCW adherents, including Catechists, also attest to their induction into Luther's negative and pessimistic view of man — whereby man cannot and should not resist sin because he is incapable of co-operating with God's grace. On page 17 of the Catechists' typed notes for their 1988 National Convention in England, for instance, one finds Kiko's erroneous doctrine imbibed and elaborated as follows:
Similar shockers pervade The Neocatechumenate: A Christian Initiation for Adults, by Neocat Father Piergiovanni Devoto. Authorised by Kiko and his NCW co-founder, ex-nun Carmen Hernandez, the book contains previously unpublished passages from their writings. One reviewer commented that "the passages that correspond to writings of the founders of the Way, contain not only absurd inventions regarding liturgical history, but also statements that can be considered heretical, such as praise for Luther's view regarding the Eucharist, and criticism of Transubstantiation, deemed in the writings as an inadequate 'invention' to describe what happens during Mass, because the idea of Transubstantiation, according to the writings, proceeds from 'the Aristotelian-Thomistic concept of substance, which is foreign to the Church of the apostles and the Fathers'."
This false appeal to antiquity, to justify stripping Catholic worship and doctrine bare, is known as "archaism." A subset of subjectivism, its liturgical dimension was condemned by Pius XII in 1947.(1) Having embraced this false idea, Mr Arguello naturally considers that the true Church founded by Christ came to an end with the Pax Constantinia and did not resume its course until the Second Vatican Council, having remained frozen and in error for about 1600 years! Consequently, he views the Council of Trent as one of the greatest catastrophes to befall the Church. In this vein he writes that "The notion of sacrifice entered in the Eucharist by condescension for the pagan mentality ... At the beginning of the Church, in the theology of the Mass, there was no sacrifice of Jesus, no sacrifice of the Cross ...."
In other words, the NCW leadership will agree to whatever is required to advance their cause, then orchestrate what they like. The 20 January decree of the Pontifical Council of the Laity extolled by Mr Arguello is a case in point. While sanctioning any practices of a Lutheran sect within the Church is bad enough, the decree only approved a para-liturgical celebration linked to NCW catechesis (i.e. prayers, reflections, etc.). Yet this limited approval was predictably seized on and interpreted by Arguello as a blanket approval of their bizarre liturgy. As a result, the next day a "Vatican official" had to explain that "With respect to the celebrations of the Holy Mass and the other liturgies of the Church," communities of the Neo-Catechumenal Way must "follow the norms of the Church as indicated in the liturgical books — to do otherwise must be understood to be a liturgical abuse."
It was the mother-of-all futile correctives. Not least because the Vatican has not enforced its liturgical directives for 40 years! The NCW is no exception. For example, Article 13.3 of the NCW statutes approved by Rome allows for the distribution of Holy Communion "under the two species" which the "neocatechumens" can receive "standing, remaining at their place." Yet even that concession to an outrageous practice is brazenly ignored. NCW "communities" everywhere still receive Communion at their "Eucharistic Celebrations" sitting — despite it being forbidden.
Apart from this singular lack of governance, Vatican calls to correct and dignify the unholy pastiche that passes for NCW "liturgy" fall on deaf ears because the Neocat hierarchy — early disciples of one Annibale Bugnini — are simply not bothered by rules and rubrics. Colourfully described as "nothing but the ideas and ways of Archbishop Bugnini on steroids: the Novus Ordo to the power of ten!", the NCW liturgy is an abomination. Behind closed doors, Kiko's egoistic "spirituality" rules. Among much else, his requirements include leaving out the Creed; the suppression of the Orate, Fratres (because it mentions sacrifice and he denies the Mass is a sacrifice); and the omission of the Agnus Dei because it refers to taking away "the sins of the world."
Even if such abuses were rectified, the NCW "Mass" remains a facilitator of Eucharistic sacrilege par excellence, as their reckless manner of receiving Communion clearly reveals. "When you see the particles of the Blessed Sacrament all over the floor at their Masses, that tells you all you need to know," blogged one critic.
It was in December 2007 that Archbishop Okada of Japan first informed the Holy Father that the "powerful sect-like activity of Way members is divisive and confrontational" and causing "sharp, painful division and strife within the Church." Further talks led to the closing of the NCW seminary in Takamatsu in March 2009. By December 2010 the Archbishop had asked Kiko directly to cease NCW activities in the country for the next five years. In the event, the inordinate power and influence wielded by the NCW in Rome saw Benedict overrule the Japanese bishops. Nonetheless, Archbishop Okada's criticisms confirm all we know.
He described the NCW's presence in Japan's small Catholic community as "a serious problem" and difficult to resolve, involving issues related not only to authority but also to the way the Mass is celebrated. Their clergy "made a lot of trouble in the Takamatsu Diocese in many areas," he said. Citing their duplicity and deceitfulness, he stated: "They say they want to be obedient to the bishop in whose diocese they work, but they don't do it, not completely, anyway, not sufficiently or in the proper way." Alarmed by their operating as a church-within-the-Church, he said: "They use everything they have according to the spirituality of Kiko, which is very, very different from our culture and our mentality." Alluding to their gnosticism, he added that Neocats promote their liturgies as superior to the "imperfect" way the Mass is celebrated by ordinary diocesan priests, creating further division within parishes.
I'm sure they did. How dare he question the Elect! This elitism was also conveyed by a Neocat who crowed online after Kiko's 20 January audience with Pope Benedict: "Kiko and Carmen [are] the true light that is guiding the Holy Father to take the right decisions. We are the concrete fruit of the Vatican Council II." Liturgically, it is no vain boast. Far from "destroying the purpose and meaning of Benedict's 'Reform of the Reform'," as many bloggers lamented, NCW liturgies appear to reflect its authentic Teilhardian spirit. "The Neocatechumenal Way at the Vatican will ensure that very soon Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate liturgy according to Our Rite — and it's not a Roman Rite but a Universal Ecumenical Rite for the selected ones," the exultant Neocat added, insisting she was deadly serious. "I honestly hope that you Latin Lovers will join us before it is too late."
That is to say: before it is too late to climb aboard Kiko's rampant Gnostic Express! "I don't mean to be overly dramatic, but the Vatican's continuing support for the Neocats has broken my spirit," blogged one confused and disenchanted soul. "Brick by brick, what are we building?" he asked. Good question. A former Neocat explains:
This new ecclesiastical "model" is to be constructed on and around the NCW's "small groups," many operating within the same parish. Not one for understating his messianic role, Mr Arguello claimed immediately after his 20 January papal audience that "the small community is the salvation for the New Evangelization."
Year of Faith?
So: the Vicar of Christ announces a Year of Faith, promptly affirms a false prophet and his million strong cult, then waxes apocalyptically about evangelisation and renewal. Benedict, it seems, has bought Kiko's PR guff: that he and his 40,000 "small groups" promoting beliefs and worship at odds with Catholicism, should lead this "New Evangelisation."
How relentlessly the Teilhardian revolution mutates and evolves. The old liberal vanguard are dying off as new insidious forces — ultra-Charismatics — emerge to carry on the devilish dance with Rome. Paradoxically, this seamless transition depends on the one constant in the post-conciliar flux: Bugnini's liturgical contrivance. "The Novus Ordo is the Zelig [chameleon] of liturgies," proffered a wag. "It has no theological identity, and it can be Kiko-Kiko-cha-cha-cha just as much as a TLM look-alike. It's so doctrinally empty and versatile that even the Anglicans embrace it." Echoing Benedict himself, Cardinal Koch recently underlined the point, stating that "The crisis of the Church today is above all a crisis of the liturgy." That being so, and Neocat liturgy being what it is, far from asking what planet Rome now inhabits — is it even in our solar system?!
Of course, all this self-harm and self-contradiction is the tragic fruit of "the great apostasy in the Church" foretold in The Third Secret of Fatima and revealed by Cardinal Ciappi, the papal theologian, who said it will begin "at the top." So we should not be surprised by developments. Nor unduly disturbed by them. For Easter joyfully affirms that all efforts, high and low, aimed at "the suicide of altering the Faith, in Her liturgy, Her theology and Her soul," as forewarned in 1931 by Msgr Eugene Pacelli (the future Pius XII), are doomed to fail. Yes, the deceivers are winning the battles. But the Eucharistic faith of the courageous, persevering few will win the war. It has ever been thus. Bishop Schneider's following recollections and plain-speaking should therefore stiffen our resolve: to stand firm and undaunted before the gravediggers of the Church, in the sure knowledge that Eucharistic Victory is already ours! The Body of Christ is Risen — Allelujah!
(1)"Thus, to cite some instances, one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive table form; were he to want black excluded as a colour for the liturgical vestments; were he to forbid the use of sacred images and statues in Churches; were he to order the crucifix so designed that the divine Redeemer's body shows no trace of His cruel sufferings;... " - Pius XII, Mediator Dei, par. 62.