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April 2012

DANCING WITH THE DEVIL

THE EDITOR

"[F]inally the Church has confirmed the Neocatechumenal Way as a Christian initiation, in its doctrine, liturgy and its stages."
- "Kiko", 20 January 2012
 
"This new Church, even though it does not preserve the scholastic discipline and rudimentary form of the old Church, will (nevertheless) receive canonical ordination and jurisdiction from Rome."
- Fr. Joaquin Saenz y Arriaga
The New Montinian Church, 1977

 

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:

The most worrying trend is that of the Pope himself, who appears to believe in a kind of Teilhardian evolution of the liturgy. At best, he sees the Traditional Latin Mass as the point of reference for fixing up the Novus Ordo. But at worst — and this is a fear many have had since Summorum Pontificum — he really does think that the DIY/fabricated liturgies of the Novus Ordo, and now the Neocatechumenal Way (!), can be merged with the TLM. How can His Holiness seek to stem Novus Ordo abuses when he gives a carte blanchebeyond the Novus Ordo — to the ultimate make-it-up-as-they-go-along Neocats? Perhaps the best said for this shambolic policy is that it may amount to "let a thousand flowers bloom" — although a Pontiff should not actually being sowing the tares!

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!

Heresy
There is no need to list here every Protestant heresy espoused by Mr Arguello and his Neocat brethren. Nor to repeat all the appalling liturgical, doctrinal, methodological, spiritual, psychological and sociological consequences flowing from their errors. We have detailed them elsewhere. I particularly recommend the translation of the late Fr Enrico Zoffoli's objective and thorough evaluation of the authentic NCW manuscripts (Orientations) which form the basis of their "catechesis."

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:

Jesus Christ has given his life for the sinners. He has loved the sinners and this is a great revelation because this means that when I commit a sin or when I commit thousands of sins I know that Jesus Christ does not reject me at all since my sins cannot separate me from God. Your sins do not have the power to separate you from God.

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 ...."

Deceit
And so on and so forth. We are expected to believe, however, that after years of close examination of NCW teachings by the Vatican everything is now hunky dory. Really? In the first place, the resulting 2,000 curial corrections and corrective references made or added to the NCW Catechetical Directory is the reddest flag the Church has seen since Luther's 95 Theses: one that signalled an urgent need to dissolve the NCW and spurn Kiko, not tango with him! Secondly, for the curia to conclude that its salvage operation has purged all heresies, heterodoxy and heteropraxis is wishful-thinking of the worst culpable kind, since deceit and arrogance define the cult. Don Gino Conti encountered these traits during a 2 June 1992 meeting with Neocat leaders in Rome, held to discuss their hitherto secret, error-strewn Orientations:

We [Fr Gino and Fr Zoffoli] told them, "we're going to record this meeting so we can document everything that is said. You can then have a tape we will take the other two tapes." They replied, "No, we will not be recorded!" "Why not?" we asked. They never want any sort of documentation made. ... When we said, "Your texts contain errors in dogma!", they smirked. We asked them, "Are you willing to recognize that there are these errors (we had made a list of them)? Are you willing to sign a declaration of faith?" They replied, "Yes, Father. We are willing. Get it ready and we will sign it immediately!" I interrupted him and said, "Sir, I don't need your signature ... I need the signatures of Kiko and Carmen because you're not going around preaching your ideas. You're preaching the beliefs of Kiko and Carmen."

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.

Japanese experience
True to mendacious form, all criticisms and charges based on primary evidence and personal experience of the NCW are routinely denied by the two-faced leadership and their hapless rank and file. But as we have said and documented before, their real face is readily found in "control and manipulation, secretiveness and deception, Gnostic sectarianism and archaism, intimidation and exploitation — and the trail of familial and parish disunity and acrimony they have left in their wake." Hence the recent attempt by the Japanese bishops to expel the NCW from their country.

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.

New Church
Naive defenders of this alien entity in our midst point to its pro-life/pro-marriage leanings, missionary zeal and numerous priestly vocations. We might call this "The Medjugorje Defence" — i.e., those desperate for signs of life in a moribund Church seeing what they want to see while ignoring manifest and foundational errors, such as these posted by a primary witness on 1 February 2012:

I once attended the opening sessions of the NCW's "Kerygma" catechesis. They emphatically stated that the idea of (1) a fixed place for worship; (2) a fixed and separated priesthood; and (3) a propitiatory sacrifice to appease God, were "pagan accretions" which made their way into the liturgy after the Edict of Milan, and which have now been removed by the Second Vatican Council.

On a separate occasion, I brought up these points with a NCW priest — ironically on the steps of St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney — and I testify that he agreed with all those points above, and further, stated that there is no ontological difference between an ordained priest and a layman because we are all part of the "priesthood of all believers."

When questioned about these things, some leading members of the NCW literally ignored me, got into a car, and drove off.

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:

Anyone with a proper knowledge of their Roman Catholic Faith who has been to a complete NCW catechesis and who has attended a variety of its functions liturgically and pastorally could not fail to understand it does not hold with either the pre- or post-conciliar ecclesiastical models. Rather, it is for a total overturn of the current regime for its own very particular paradigm.

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?
In that hyperbolic context, it is worth noting the recent sequence of events. Firstly, the NCW para-liturgical decree was published just after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released its "pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith" (11/10/12 to 24/11/13), which duly pushed the "New Evangelisation." Then, the week after Mr Arguello's fruitful audience with Benedict, the Holy Father addressed the CDF on the same topic. Essentially an ecumenical pep-talk which veered perilously close to the Anglican "Branch Theory," he warned that "in vast areas of the earth, faith is in danger of being put out, as a flame that finds no more fuel. We find ourselves before a profound crisis of faith, before a loss of the religious sense that is the greatest challenge for today's Church. The renewal of the faith must thus be the priority in the effort of the entire Church in our day."

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!

 

FOOTNOTES

(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.

 

 

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