Neocatechumenal way

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The Neocatechumenal Way , also Neo-Catechumenal Way (NKW) or Neocatechumenate, is a group in the Roman Catholic Church that is counted among the new spiritual communities and has a special (new) catechumenate for the (re) introduction of already baptized adults into the Christian Applying faith . The members are also briefly called Neos or - after the founder Kiko Argüello - Kikos . The movement understands its method as an " itinerary ", that is, as an educational path for teaching the faith. The focus is not on imparting knowledge of faith, but rather on personal experience of faith. The aim of the path is to realize an evangelized , spiritually shaped world in this world and to carry on the personal experience of faith through mission . For this purpose, small communities are formed on the Neocatechumenal Way, which, according to their self-image, “live like the Holy Family of Nazareth (...) in humility, simplicity and praise”.

The Neocatechumenal Way was initiated in 1964 by Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández and the religious priest Mario Pezzi in Madrid and, according to its own understanding, is “at the service of the bishop as one of the diocesan ways of carrying out Christian initiation and permanent religious education ”. Until the end of the 1990s, the movement did not have a legally fixed statute, but was hierarchically guided solely by the instructions of the founders and country managers (so-called itinerants). The around the turn of the millennium drew to pressure from the Vatican Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way on 11 May 2008 by the Holy See canonically finally approved.



Icon by Kiko Argüello with the motto of the Neocatechumenal Way:
“Hay que hacer comunidades cristianas como la Sagrada Familia de Nazareth, que vivan en humildad, sencillez y alabanza. El otro es Cristo. "

The year 1964 is commonly considered to be the founding year of the Neocatechumenal Way. It was then that Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández began preaching the Faith in the barracks of Palomeras Altas in the Vallecas district in the south of Madrid. Based on the more modern theological terminology of the Council's time , they called the core of their preaching “ kerygma ”, the message of the gospel. They described their method as a so-called “tripod”, which contains the constitutive elements “ Word of God ”, “ Liturgy ” and “Community”. The then Archbishop of Madrid, Casimiro Morcillo González , supported the company, so that the group slowly expanded in Madrid and other Spanish dioceses. In November 1968, Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández moved to Rome in the Borghetto Latino district and began with the support of the then Vicar General of Rome, Angelo Dell'Acqua , with catechesis in the parish of Nostra Signora del Santissimo Sacramento e Santa Martiri Canadesi .

Originally, what is now known as the Neocatechumenal Way had no name; however, the term Kiko families was often used. Citing Pope Paul VI. Who described the Kiko groups in an audience in 1974 as "fruit of the Council" and praised her catechetical work, the group called their way from 1972 "Neo-Catechumenate", with the name at the request of the liturgical constitution of Vatican II oriented to restore a multi-level catechumenate for adults. The Church actually describes the introduction and instruction of (adult) baptismal applicants (“catechumens”) in the Christian faith before their baptism as the “catechumenate” . The prefix “Neo-” is intended to clarify the intention of the “path”, to catch up on the baptism that was only unconsciously experienced as a child and the lack of instruction and instruction in the scope of the Christian message and decision in the understanding of the movement among the majority of believers to rediscover and renew one's personal faith in this way.

As a charismatic leader, Argüello sees himself acting on behalf of the Mother of God , who is said to have given him the instruction to found Christian communities based on the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth : “One must create Christian communities like the Holy Family of Nazareth, which in Live humility, simplicity and praise. The other is Christ. ”This sentence can be read on the icon of the Neocatechumenal Way, which Argüello, an icon painter by profession, made in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Spread and canonical recognition

Since the foundation of the Neocatechumenal Way, the group has established and expanded worldwide, often with the support of well-known church dignitaries. According to its own account, the Neocatechumenal Way is said to have come to Germany in the 1970s with the support of then theology professor Joseph Ratzinger, who later became the Prefect of the Faith and Pope Benedict XVI. However, Ratzinger has also become known as a critic of the movement and has slowed its recognition in his pontificate as Pope because the liturgical modifications and rites of the neocatechumenals fundamentally contradict Ratzinger's understanding of liturgy. A major role for the church's recognition and importance of Kiko's played their distinctive vocation ministry and the promising future in the eyes of many church officials importance for ensuring the priesthood and religious young . In 1988 the first Redemptoris Mater seminary was opened in Rome , where only seminarians of the Neocatechumenal Way are trained. In 1990 the Neocatechumenal Way was recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as a spiritual movement and recognized by Pope John Paul II as an “Itinerary of Catholic Education, Valid for Society and for the Present Time”.

It was not until 1997 that the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, requested a written version of the statutes in order to be able to recognize the Neocatechumenal Way in canonical law in the medium term. The statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, drawn up after a renewed warning from the Vatican in 2001, were approved for the first time in 2002, initially on a trial basis for a period of five years, as is customary with church associations. With a decree of October 28, 2004, the path was declared a public legal entity of the Catholic Church ahead of time. At the end of 2005 some of the liturgical deviations were declared problematic by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Order of the Sacraments after a lengthy review process and the leadership of the Neocatechumenal Way obliged to open their masses to all believers (Art. 13.3).

In a private letter to Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández and Mario Pezzi, which was passed on to the media by third parties, the Prefect Francis Cardinal Arinze ordered the amendment of the criticized points. Some things, such as the postponement of the peace greeting before the prayer, were allowed without restriction as a deviation from the Roman mass canon . A two-year delay was granted for receiving communion while seated and celebrating Holy Mass at a normal table. On January 12, 2006, the Pope himself also asked the neocatechumant to “follow the norms carefully”.

Approval of the statutes

In April 2008 it became known that after the temporary papal approbation from 2002 to 2007, according to Bishop Josef Clemens , the statutes were "not recognized in a short time" because the celebration of the Eucharist was still not based on the requirements of the Roman Catholic Church. The final papal approbation followed a month later on May 11, 2008, after the statute was approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Order of the Sacraments , the Congregation for the Clergy and the Congregation for Catholic Education in cooperation with the Pontifical Council for the Laity had been examined.

On the occasion of the 40 years of existence of the Neocatechumenal Way in the Diocese of Rome , Pope Benedict XVI celebrated. on January 10, 2009, together with 25,000 neocatechumens from the diocese, held a service in St. Peter's Basilica , where they praised the fruits of the Neocatechumenal Way, but also urged unity with the Church. On January 20, 2012, the Pope received 7,000 representatives of the Path to Audience in the Paul VI Hall. (located at the Vatican), at the head Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernandez and Don Mario Pezzi.

Celebration of the 50th anniversary

On May 5, 2018, a thanksgiving ceremony was held in the presence of Pope Francis and around 150,000 members of the Neocatechumenal Way on the grounds of the Tor Vergata University . On this occasion the Pope sent numerous families for 34 newly founded Missiones ad Gentes . Pope Francis reminded them that the Spirit of God “is at home in every people and has already planted the seed” and encouraged those present: “Your charisma is a great gift from God for the Church of our time”.


The primary goal of the Neocatechumenal Path is "to gradually lead the believers to intimacy with Jesus Christ and to make them active members in the Church and credible witnesses of the Good News of the Savior". At the end of the path , Easter vigil is celebrated together with the respective bishop of the diocese and the promise of baptism is renewed there. All other goals (“stages”) and methods that should lead to these goals are for the most part difficult to assess for outsiders, since the Neocatechumenal Way is hardly published the instructions of its founders and spiritual leaders and is imposed on the members of the individual communities To be silent about internal matters to non-members, so that they can go the “way” with an open mind. The so-called orientation for the catechist teams , according to which the lay catechists who are important in the Neocatechumenal Way work, is secret, but is to be published and published "soon" (as of early 2009). According to Gordon Urquhart, “the neocatechumens are tempted [...] to be completely passive and receptive. Questions must not be asked during the catechumenate ”.

In contrast to the teaching of the faith for adult baptismal applicants , which - depending on the region - leads to baptism in a manageable period of time, the Neocatechumenal Way takes 15 or more years. A fundamental difference is that this path can also be followed by Christians who have already been baptized, which is also the rule. At the center of the Neocatechumenal Way is the synthesis between the kerygma , i.e. the proclamation / instruction for the catechumens, to which the followers of the Neocatechumenal Way have to undergo again in a special and very lengthy form, the change in the way of life and the liturgy .

The lay catechists (catechists) and priests from communities that have been on the neocatechumenal path for a long time play an important role. They introduce the newly formed groups to the teachings of the Neocatechumenal Way and the Catholic Church through the guileless teaching methods. Archbishop Luis Alberto Luna Tobar wrote in 1993:

“Many are convinced that the doctrine proclaimed by the neocatechumenates is characterized by gaps, doctrinal distortions and the deliberate omission of theological sources [...]. [They show] a marked aversion to any theology that is not of European origin. Their doctrine does not interact with culture, with our times and their voices. The ›glorious cross‹ and the ›servant of Yahweh‹ are not signs and expressions of hope, but of torment. The place given to evil and the devil goes beyond any healthy theological measure and borders on childish scare-mongering and flight of responsibility. One never hears the term 'justice' from the neocatechumenates. Faith is closer to karma than grace. "

- Archbishop Luis Alberto Luna Tobar

Appearance and work

The followers of the Neocatechumenal Way speak according to Roman Catholic doctrine that infant baptism “naturally requires a post-baptismal catechumenate , which is not only about the necessary teaching of the faith after baptism, but about the necessary unfolding of the baptismal grace in development the person of the baptized "consciously addresses adults and young people who were baptized as children, but who, from the perspective of the missionaries, do not orient their lives enough on faith or are completely remote from the church and its concerns. On a website it says:

"The focus of this neocatechumenal path, unlike in an old-style church mission, is not on conveying theological content (knowledge of faith), but rather has a testimony-like, preaching orientation, it wants to initiate an inner process and enable personal experiences of faith."

- Johannes Helle, pastor of Saint Clemens

The Neocatechumenal Way is active in the dioceses at the invitation of the respective local bishop. If the pastor concerned agrees, a team of catechists will start building local groups.


The Neocatechumenal Way is basically an instrument of the Roman Catholic Church to introduce people to the Christian faith and thereby to be able to experience it in its fullness. For this purpose, closed communities are founded through proclamations of faith in parishes that go through all phases of the Neocatechumenal Path within 15 to 30 years . They are accompanied by their respective catechists . In the external perception, the Neocatechumenal Way is very similar to the spiritual communities or Roman Catholic movements, which is why the term Neocatechumenal Movement is often used; this term is wrong, however, as the statute of the Neocatechumenal Way - as opposed to spiritual communities - provides for only a minimum of organization. The Neocatechumenal Way is also not an association of persons, but a part of the Roman Catholic Church; therefore the Neocatechumenal Way has no property of its own.


The educational path, known as the Itinerarium of Christian Formation , is completed by long-term catechesis, the implementation of which is laid down in the Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Path , which was approved by the competent dicasteries of the Holy See on January 17, 2011 after the examination by the Pontifical Council for the Laity .

The catecheses themselves are held by long-time members with experience on the neocatechumenal path together with a priest (who is mostly also neocatechumenal). In this way, a hierarchy is formed in practice, starting with Argüello, who is often venerated within the neocatechumenate with features similar to personality cults, through the initiators, the catechists of various levels, to the communities in the pre-catechumenate.


Carmen Hernández and Mario Pezzi doing catechesis in the Amsterdam Arena

Within a diocese, the Neocatechumenal Way is under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop, who is supported in this function by the international responsible team or a representative of this team; the international responsible team consists of Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, who are also called the initiators because they founded the Neocatechumenal Way, and the priest Mario Pezzi (since 1992 Roman diocesan priest , previously a Comboni missionary ); all three are lifelong members of the International Responsible Team. In the event of the death of one of the responsible persons, a new responsible person is elected by an international electoral body, whose decisions require the approval of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (or its successor dicastery). This will now be the case after Hernandez's death on July 19, 2016.

Antonio Spandri was the responsible itinerary planner of the Neocatechumenate for Germany and the Netherlands .

Redemptoris Mater Seminary

Redemptoris Mater is the name of various diocesan full seminars that are under the direction of the Neocatechumenal Way. In them there are seminarians from all over the world. The missionary aspect is in the foreground. The Redemptoris Mater seminars, as well as full seminars in general, are subordinate to the diocesan bishop alone; the construction and operation of the seminars is usually financed by donations. The first seminar Redemptoris Mater was opened in 1988 in the Diocese of Rome by Ugo Cardinal Poletti , since then, as of 2009, a total of 76 seminars have been created worldwide, spread across the continents of Europe , Asia , Oceania , North and Latin America and Africa . In Germany there isa Redemptoris Mater seminarin the Archdiocese of Berlin (in Berlin-Biesdorf) and in the Archdiocese of Cologne (in Bonn-Endenich ).

Phases of the Neocatechumenal Way

1st phase: rediscovery of the pre-catechumenate

The so-called pre-catechumenate is the first phase of the neocatechumenal path; In this phase, the aim should be an alienation of the person towards humility. In the first stage of this phase, a community newly formed in the initial catechesis meets weekly for a “word liturgy”, whereby the biblical language is to be understood with the help of a specific topic. The first stage is completed by an exploration of the person (called the first scrutinium ). In the second stage that follows, the weekly “word liturgies” deal with the salvation history of the people of Israel; This stage also has the purpose of checking for oneself whether one wants to or can continue the Neocatechumenal Way. At the end of this stage there is the second scrutinium with the rejection of the devil and the simultaneous promise to only serve God. With respect for the conscience, the scrutines are intended to help the individual neocatechumens on the path of personal conversion.

2nd phase: rediscovery of the catechumenate

The second phase of the Neocatechumenal Path aims to achieve inner simplicity through a spiritual struggle with oneself in order to love God and one's neighbor. Here the neocatechumens should learn to cancel all things that stand in the way of this goal; In addition to the tripod, the Word of God - Eucharist - Community, instruments of the Roman Catholic Church, which are taught in three stages: First, the neocatechumens learn liturgical, personal and nocturnal prayer, and this stage ends with the handing over of the book of hours . Then the most important figures of the Bible in word liturgies and all psalms in "house liturgies" are explored. The content of the next stage is the Apostles' Creed ; During this time the neocatechumens go to missionary work in groups of two within the parish from house to house and proclaim their faith there and in a celebration in the parish church; The latter in particular is referred to by critics as "public confession" due to the fact that the neocatechumens tell important and often unfavorable parts of their life story there. The third and last stage consists of the surrender of the Our Father . In terms of content, the word liturgies at this time consist of the consideration of the individual verses of the Our Father.

3rd phase: rediscovery of election

The third phase of the Neocatechumenal Way, the rediscovery of election, concludes the itinerary. The Sermon on the Mount is studied in this phase in each section, followed by a renewal of baptismal promises during the Easter Vigil presided over by the local bishop. This is followed by a 50-day period of celebration with the end of the journey in the form of a common pilgrimage of the whole community to Israel.


Celebration of the word

Each community of the Neocatechumenal Way usually celebrates a celebration of the Word every week, with usually four readings on topics that correspond to the stage of the community. These readings are prepared by a group from the fellowship and initiated before the reading. Before the priest's homily, if one is present, the neocatechumens can briefly say what the preached word told them about their own lives.


The Eucharistic celebration of the Neocatechumenal Way differs in some points from the Roman mass: it is usually celebrated after the first Vespers on Sunday, i.e. on Saturday evening, but is part of the pastoral care of the parish and is therefore also open to other believers. There are also liturgical differences, some of which, however, were adapted to the Roman mass after the statutes were approved. Some of the remaining differences are: The two Sunday readings and the Gospel are prepared by a “preparation team” and introduced into the liturgy. Before the homily of the presiding priest , participants are invited to give an "experience"; that is, if someone feels addressed by the readings or finds his current life situation in the word, he is invited to share it with the community. Already after the readings you give yourself the peace greeting , which is not a handshake but a kiss on the cheek. Because each community celebrates separately and therefore has to move to different parish rooms, the change is usually not carried out on a consecrated and fixed altar . The communion is always hands out in both kinds, as host used to great homemade matzo from wheat flour and water, which emphasize the Mahlcharakter want and then divides the priest on the number of communicants and handing out later; Communion is received standing at one's own place.

Kiko Argüello defines his view of the sacrament of the altar as follows: " We observe a whole series of ideas that were brought into the liturgy by natural religions: to offer things to God in order to appease him ... " This, Argüello continues, has happened, when, as a result of the Constantinian change, many pagans became Christians without having completed sufficient catechesis. In order to counteract this undesirable development, the Eucharistic liturgy was redesigned in such a way that, according to Guilless, it resembles the early Christian meal again.

Since the Neocatechumenate regards the path of its individual small communities as a self-contained process in which the liturgy is at the center, this means for liturgical practice that the groups remain among themselves during the celebration of the Eucharist. In an interview in 1997, Argüello explains: “ We don't keep liturgy behind closed doors. It's just that we have a path: if you go to university, you know that there is a first, a second and a third semester, and so on. “According to the Neocatechumenate, one can only participate fruitfully in its liturgical practice without being overwhelmed if one has gone through the appropriate stages of the path that build on one another. The Eucharistic celebration of the Neocatechumenate is therefore not intended for outside Catholics. The deviations from the usual mass canon and the use of own songs from psalms and passages from the entire Bible , mostly set to music by Argüello, also contribute to this.

Other liturgies

The neocatechumenal community celebrates penitential liturgies at regular intervals with confession to a priest outside the confessional. On the neocatechumenal path, the neocatechumens are also slowly led to the prayers of the Roman Catholic Church, for example, from a certain stage onwards, parents are instructed to pass their faith on to their children every Sunday by praying the lauds together .


The Neocatechumenal Way has spread all over the world since its inception and, according to its own account, today counts 20,000 communities in 5500 parishes in over 900 dioceses . In 2007 there were 3,000 priests and 5,000 nuns on the Neocatechumenal Way. The Neocatechumenate founded around 100 new seminaries around the world (as of 2013). In the German-speaking area you can find them in Berlin, Bonn and near Vienna. These are called "Redemptoris Mater" (Latin for "Mother of the Savior") and are the property of the respective diocese or the bishop himself.

In purely numerical terms, new religious movements such as the Neocatechumenate have so far only played a very subordinate role in Europe. The neocatechumenate is accused of doing missionary work primarily within the church, dividing parishes and frightening off other believers who cannot identify with the neocatechumenate ( see: section criticism regarding openness and accusations of division in parishes ).



Mission in parishes is usually carried out by local catechist teams; these consist of a few lay people (mostly married couples) and a priest. If requested by the pastor, they carry out the initial catechesis, from which a community can develop. They continue to look after them and return about once a year to accompany the community in their transition to the new stages and in the implementation of the new stages. The catechists decide on the suitability of the individual neocatechumens to advance into a new stage, but according to the statutes they have to “maintain the highest respect for the moral aspects of the inner realm of the neocatechumens”.


On community days for catechists, they are asked if they would be willing to be sent out as itinerants to preach in the world. The catechists who volunteer are later put together in so-called teams of itinerant catechists , which usually consist of a priest, a family and an unmarried man or a priest, an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. This mission can be interrupted or canceled at any time.

Families in missions

In order to support the implementation of the Neocatechumenal Way in a parish, bishops can inquire whether families of the Neocatechumenal Way can be found who settle in a de-Christianized area and build a new existence there. Families are free to decide whether they want to go this way, and they can also reverse this decision at any time. The missionary activity of the families played and continues to play a decisive role in the worldwide spread of the Neocatechumenal Way; In 2009 there were around 700 families in missions. A special form is the so-called missio ad gentes , in which three or four families are sent together with priests to traditionally unchristian areas with a largely lacking parish structure such as East Germany or China; At the beginning of 2009 there were 22 Missiones ad Gentes . In addition, 700 traveling missionaries support the mission.

Evaluation of the Neocatechumenal Way within the Church

Support and admonition from the Popes

The Neocatechumenal Way has found favor with the Popes since its inception. Already Pope Paul VI. the Neocatechumenal Way was known, the Neocatechumenal Way was named after his personal suggestion. In addition, according to its own statute, the Neocatechumenate realizes the 1975 of Pope Paul VI. Catechetical instruction for baptized Christians required in Evangelii nuntiandi No. 44. Pope John Paul II has “repeatedly and in various ways underlined the abundance of fruits of a Gospel radicalism and an extraordinary missionary impetus which the Neocatechumenal Way brings to the life of the faithful, to families, to the parish, and to the wealth of the Vocations to the priestly and religious life that proceeded from it ”. Pope Benedict XVI was also positive about the Neocatechumenal Way.

Pope Benedict XVI sat down as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith . personally for the expansion of the neocatechumenate and also supported the neocatechumenal itinerants . This is the official name of the first catechists of the neocatechumenate who carried out the first proclamations of the faith within a certain region, such as Germany, and who are responsible for all communities. As a cardinal, he also celebrated the Eucharist several times with neocatechumenal communities in Rome. Repeatedly admonished Pope Benedict XVI. but also the neocatechumenate on obedience to the local bishops. At the same time he admonished the community: “The community is essential. The enemy of God and man, the devil, cannot go against the gospel, against the humble power of prayer and the sacraments. Yet it can hurt the Church very much by tempting our humanity. It provokes arrogance, judging others, isolation and separation. He himself is the 'divider' and often begins by making us believe that we are good, perhaps better than the others: this is how he prepared the ground for sowing discord. That is the temptation of all religious communities and can also take root in the most beautiful charisms of the Church. "

Evaluation by bishops

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn during a vocation meeting of the Neocatechumenal Way on World Youth Day 2008


Several bishops are positive about the neocatechumenate. Prominent Episcopal advocates of the Neocatechumenal Way include Cardinal Curia Paul Josef Cordes , former Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, personal liaison of Pope John Paul II on the Neocatechumenal Way and former President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum , Archbishop Antonio Maria Cardinal Rouco Varela von Madrid, the former Cologne Archbishop Joachim Cardinal Meisner and Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn , who called the Neocatechumenal Way a "gift of God". Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun asked the priests of his diocese Hong Kong , "particularly friendly to counter this, Neocatechumenal Way '' .

At a meeting of nine cardinals and 160 bishops, including Christoph Schönborn and, as the representative of Pope Paul Josef Cordes and Stanisław Ryłko , in the Domus Galilaeae in Israel, a declaration was published in 2008 stating that the Neocatechumenal Way “is a valuable contribution to the Evangelization of Europe "is:

“We Bishops recognize gratefully that, among the many graces that the Holy Spirit has bestowed on the Church in our time, the Neocatechumenal Path, with its program of Christian training, is a powerful charism that strengthens the missionary spirit that emerges from renewal through the Baptism is born and is a response to the dramatic situation of the de-Christianization of Europe. [...] We declare that the future of the Neocatechumenal Path depends in large part on the fatherly love with which we Bishops receive this charism and how closely we accompany the Redemptoris Mater seminaries and encourage the precious families of the neocatechumenal communities and them integrate even more into the local churches. "

- Final declaration by the bishops


Critics of the neocatechumenate can also be found in higher offices of the Church. The late Archbishop of Berlin, Georg Cardinal Sterzinsky , who opened a neocatechumenal seminary, is quoted as saying: "I only take part so that I can also intervene or have a say: that there is no uncontrolled growth"; however, he also said in 1993 that he "hopes that these neocatechumenal communities will be formed in many of our churches to bear witness in a holistic manner of the fullness of the mystery of Christ ".

On February 25, 2007, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah , and other Roman Catholic Bishops of Israel wrote a joint letter to the Neocatechumenate, complaining about the difficulties of integrating the way into the parishes and dioceses. In addition to accusations of separatism and the liturgy, which in some points violates regulations, they also complain that the neocatechumenate does not sufficiently adapt to the culture and language of the country in which it works. At the same time, the bishops also thank you for the presence of the Way in their dioceses.

Content criticism

Regarding theology

There is also clear criticism of the Neocatechumenal Way within the Roman Catholic Church; it comes from both traditionalist and more modern groups within the church. Some theologians see the neocatechumenate as a heresy that has Jewish as well as Protestant and Gnostic elements in their theology.

Concerning the liturgy and sacraments

Pope Benedict XVI had the special liturgical forms of the neocatechumenate examined and approved these after some adjustments. The practice of confession in the Neocatechumenate is also criticized. In contrast to what is usual in the Roman Catholic Church, confession in the Neocatechumenate often does not take place in a confidential conversation, but in the form of a so-called auricular confession in front of the whole community. In addition, a visitation report of the Diocese of Linz criticized the fact that in a parish in the diocese members of the community hugged and kissed an ambo designed by the founder of the Kiko community in a kind of ritual .

Regarding pastoral care and child welfare

In spring 2012, Franz Handlechner, the dean of the Linz diocese, carried out an official visitation to the Herz-Jesu parish in the Linz diocese . The report of the visitation burdens the neocatechumenate heavily. In particular, the leaders of the neocatechumenate are accused of “a pastoral care of angering, driving away and hurting”, in which “adults, mentally stable people were brought to despair in one-to-one conversations with the parish administrator by crossing borders”. The practice of so-called ear confession was also criticized. Even children had to confess publicly in the parish hall. It is also complained that children are intimidated and disturbed within the framework of the community, for example by persuading children that the devil is sitting on their shoulders.

Criticism regarding the openness and allegation of the division of parishes

The lack of openness of the Neocatechumenal Way is particularly criticized because - apart from the statutes - it hardly publishes its own writings. Lay people complain about the division of the local parishes when some of the faithful join the neocatechumenate or a group of the neocatechumenate settles in a parish from outside. Even if the Neocatechumenal Way, according to its statutes, aims to “promote a mature sense of belonging to the parish [among the neocatechumens] and to awaken relationships of deep communion and cooperation with all the faithful and other components of the parish” and despite some internal appeals To participate in the regular Sunday mass, the members of the community often do not attend the parish masses, but only their own services. Johannes Krautkrämer, parish vicar in Cologne's Südstadt district, accuses the neocatechumenate of expelling many believers from the parishes: "No matter where the neocatechumens go: They divide the communities and drive out other believers". Dominik Schwaderlapp , Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Cologne , also sees problems with the neocatechumenate, but at the same time also an effort “to get into the diocese, to acclimatize and to inculturate”. Problems similar to those in Cologne are also reported from other dioceses. Serious internal church problems with the neocatechumenate are reported from Israel, England, the Philippines and Japan.

Problems of the Neocatechumenal Way in Japan

In December 2007, a delegation of Japanese bishops led by Cardinal Ivan Dias from India visited the Pope in Rome; Here the Archbishop of Tokyo and chairman of the Japanese Bishops' Conference, Peter Takeo Okada , discussed the situation of the Neocatechumenal Way in Japan and complained about "serious problems" with the Neocatechumenal Way and its seminaries Redemptoris Mater . It was described that some members of the Neocatechumenal Path engaged in strong sect- like activities that would lead to confrontation and division, resulting in sharp and painful separation and fighting. The bishops demanded direct intervention by the Pope. They also had private audiences with the Holy Father on this subject. However, the Pope did not address the problem in the final official adoption. In April 2008, a delegation of Japanese bishops visited the Pope again, this time led by Peter Takeo Okada. In the meantime it was agreed to close the existing seminary; finally, however, the Pope Benedict XVI decided. to transform the seminary into a papal seminary Redemptoris Mater and thus to place it directly under the jurisdiction of the Holy See. Due to the ongoing problems, the Japanese Bishops' Conference in December 2010 Pope Benedict XVI. asked to suspend the fellowship for five years.

According to Archbishop Okada, the intolerance of the neocatechumenal path to Japanese culture in particular is a big difference of opinion as to what was understood by the Pope; however, there was still a big difference in the assessment of the Neocatechumenal Way overall between the assessment by the Japanese bishops and that by Pope Benedict XVI. given.

Social distancing from dropouts

The neocatechumenate is accused of having often avoided contact with dropouts. Often a large part of the social contacts of the members of the community consists of other members of the community. Often there are few contacts with the outside world. After leaving, it is common practice that all contacts with those who have left, including contact with one's own family, are reduced. This practice was also criticized by Pope Francis.

Dialogue with Judaism

From its inception it has been a concern of the Neocatechumenal Way to emphasize the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. With reference to the Second Vatican Council and its emphasis on the Passover mystery of Christ , the economic connection between the Jewish Passover and the celebration of the Eucharist occupies a large space in the proclamation.

During his visit to Israel in 2000, Pope John Paul II inaugurated the Domus Galilaeae International Center for the Neocatechumenal Path on the Sea of ​​Galilee , which serves as a place of Christian-Jewish dialogue. Meetings between high-ranking representatives of the Catholic Church and Judaism took place there in 2015 and 2017, in which Rabbis David Rosen from the American Jewish Committee and Ronald Lauder from the World Jewish Congress took part on the Jewish side .

An essential part of the dialogue with Judaism on the part of the Neocatechumenal Way also includes Kiko Argüello's symphony The Suffering of the Innocents - A symphony in memory of the Shoah , which was heard in Jerusalem, New York City, Vatican City and Auschwitz, among others. In his appreciation of the symphony, which was also performed in the Berlin Philharmonic on June 10, 2018 , the Potsdam Rabbi Walter Homolka , Chairman of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany , recognized the special commitment of the Neocatechumenal Way in dialogue with Judaism and its recognition of the Jews as "fathers in faith". Rabbi Jehoshua Ahrens said in a greeting that the Neocatechumenal Way leads "a dialogue with Judaism at eye level".


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  • Raphael Weichlein: Catholic sixty-eight . Neocatechumenal way and parish pastoral today. In: Herder correspondence . tape 72 , no. 11 , 2018, p. 49–51 ( [PDF; accessed September 24, 2019]).
  • Enrico Zoffoli: Eresie del Movimento Neocatecumenale . Udine 1992, ISBN 88-7282-071-5 .
  • Paul Zulehner : Pastoral Theology, Volume 2 Parish Pastoral . Patmos, Düsseldorf 1989, ISBN 3-491-77659-7 , pp. 148 ff .

Web links

Commons : Neocatechumenal Way  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Internet pages of the Neocatechumenal Way

Internet sites from critics

Third party websites

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l Diocesan Neocatechumenal Center e. V. (Ed.): Neocatechumenale Iter - Statuta . The Neocatechumenal Way - Statute. 1st edition. Butzon & Bercker, Kevelaer 2009, ISBN 978-3-7666-0896-3 . ( As a pdf version ( Memento from September 24, 2003 in the Internet Archive ) (267 KiB ))
  2. ^ Vatican Radio : "Vatican: Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way Approved" (June 12, 2008)
  3. : "Background report on the license to practice medicine
  4. a b c Decree of the final approval of the Neocatechumenal Way by the Pontifical Council for the Laity
  5. Gordon Urquhart: In the Name of the Pope. How ultra-conservative organizations are taking power in the Church. P. 37.
  6. a b Zenit (news agency) : "Neocatechumenate Marks 40 Years in Rome" (January 9, 2009) ( Memento of February 17, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Raoul Löbbert: Satan on the shoulder. In: Die Zeit No. 30/2014 (July 17, 2014), online version from July 21, 2014, accessed on November 24, 2019.
  8. José García: Europe needs a profound conversion. In: Die Tagespost , June 13, 2018, accessed on November 24, 2019 (interview with Cardinal Rouco Varela ).
  9. Recognition of the Neocatechumenal Way by Pope John Paul II. 1990 ( Memento of March 17, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  10. Bernhard Sven Anuth : The Neocatechumenal Way: successful, innovative, controversial. On the institutionalization of a “movement” in the Roman Catholic Church (PDF; 6.0 MB). In: Archives for Catholic Church Law 182 (2013), pp. 103–160, here: p. 113.
  11. Francis Cardinal Arinze: Letter of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Order of the Sacraments to the Neocatechumenal Way ( Memento of April 15, 2010 in the Internet Archive ), January 9, 2006
  12. a b c Sandro Magister: "The Lenten Season of the 'Way': Double Penance, in Rome and Jerusalem" (March 5, 2007)
  13. Approval decree (English)
  14. Vatican Radio : "Vatican: Statute of the Neocatechumenals" (April 10, 2008)
  15. Vatican Radio : "Pope thanks Neocatechumenate" (January 11, 2009)
  16. a b c d “BENEDICT XVI. MEET 25,000 MEMBERS OF THE NEOCATECHUMENAL WAY " (January 13, 2009) ( Memento of February 19, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  17. Vaticannews : Giving God's Love a Voice: Pope Meets Neocatechumenal Path” , May 5, 2018, accessed September 24, 2019
  18. Pope Francis : “Address by Pope Francis” on the occasion of the “International Meeting on the 50th Day of the Founding of the Neocatechumenal Way”
  19. L'Espresso : "The Old Form of the Neocatechumenal Mass Is Illicit" (June 23, 2008, English)
  20. Gordon Urquhart: In the Name of the Pope. How ultra-conservative organizations are taking power in the Church. P. 46.
  21. Gordon Urquhart: In the Name of the Pope. How ultra-conservative organizations are taking power in the Church. P. 123.
  22. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church : "How is the sacrament of Baptism celebrated?" ( Google Book Search )
  23. Sankt Clemens in Dortmund-Hombruch ( Memento from June 22, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  24. ^ Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, Art. 9
  25. Address by Pope Benedict XVI. To the members of the Neocatechumenal Way (January 17, 2011)
  26. ^ Pope Francis mourns Carmen Hernandez , accessed on July 25, 2016.
  27. Press Office of the Archdiocese of Cologne: A new seminary for the Archdiocese of Cologne ( Memento of February 22, 2010 on WebCite ) Interview with the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cologne, Dr. hc Norbert Feldhoff from December 7, 2000
  28. Gordon Urquhart: In the Name of the Pope. How ultra-conservative organizations are taking power in the Church. P. 47.
  29. Statute of the Neocatechumenal Way, Chapter III, Section 1, Art. 11 §2
  30. ^ "Altaria fixa dedicanda sunt" ( Fixed altars are to be consecrated ). Canon 1237, §1. CIC
  31. Where do Rome and the Neo-Catechumenal Way Stand In 2006? ( Memento of May 2, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) by Mark Alessio, in the traditionalist monthly Catholic Family News , April 2006
  32. (magazine): Interview with Kiko Argüello, November 1997
  33. ^ Count Karl Ballestrem, Sergio Belardinelli, Thomas Cornides: Church and Education in Europe . Springer-Verlag, 2005, ISBN 978-3-531-14767-3 ( [accessed on August 9, 2016]).
  34. Hanspeter Oschwald: In the name of the Holy Father: How fundamentalist powers control the Vatican . Heyne Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-641-03866-3 ( [accessed on August 9, 2016]).
  35. ^ Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, Art. 28
  36. a b Archdiocese of Vienna : "New evangelization goes through the families" ( Memento from January 14, 2013 in the web archive )
  37. ( Memento from December 1, 2017 in the Internet Archive )
  38. ^ Insegnamenti di Benedetto XVI II, 1 . Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2007, ISBN 978-88-209-7935-5 .
  39. Vatican Radio: Pope: "Neocatechumenals must be obedient"
  41. Gordon Urquhart: In the Name of the Pope. How ultra-conservative organizations are taking power in the Church. P. 81.
  42. " Neocatechumenal path is" God's gift " " (October 27, 2008) ( Memento from July 26, 2012 in the web archive )
  43. Vatican Radio : "China: More Openness for Movements" (November 17, 2008)
  44. Zenit : “The future of the Neocatechumenal Way depends on the acceptance and love of the European bishops” (April 2nd, 2008) ( Memento of March 17th, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  45. Quoted from Peter Hertel , Glaubenswächter - "Catholic traditionalists in German-speaking countries"
  46. Gordon Urquhart: In the Name of the Pope. How ultra-conservative organizations are taking power in the Church. P. 143.
  47. Michael McGrade: "THE LAST TROJAN HORSE?" (October 2002)
  48. Enrico Zoffoli: Eresie del Movimento Neocatecumenale (German: Häresie der Neokatechumalenbewegung ), published in Udine 1995, ISBN 978-8872820711
  49. Approval for the Neocatechumenal Way . In: Laudetur Jesus Christ . ( Approval for the Neocatechumenal Way ( Memento from December 1, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) [accessed on November 23, 2017]).
  50. a b c d Best Friends - Christ and the World. In: Retrieved August 9, 2016 .
  51. Catholic Church: What exactly happens to the liberated money, most believers do not know . In: The time . July 21, 2014, ISSN  0044-2070 ( [accessed on August 9, 2016]).
  52. Church Gazette of the Diocese of Hildesheim with reference to the Neocatechumenate ( Memento of September 13, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 1.1 MB), August 13, 2002, No. 7, pp. 175–178.
  53. The Stranger - Der Spiegel 38/2011. In: Retrieved August 9, 2016 .
  54. Die Tagespost : "Taking over ministries in the parishes" (October 14, 2008)
  55. 40 years of the Neocatechumenate: Faith that polarizes - In: Retrieved August 9, 2016 .
  56. ^ Forum Weltkirche - »The transience of earthly beauty and human ex. In: Retrieved August 9, 2016 .
  57. "Benedicto XVI 'salva' el Seminario Redemptoris Mater de Japón" (October 21, 2008)
  58. Vatican Radio: Japan: Problems with the Neocatechumenate
  59. UCA News: "Japanese Bishops Meet Pope For Second Time In Five Months" (April 29, 2008). In: Japan Catholic News (May 2008) ( February 22, 2010 memento on WebCite )
  60. 40 years of the Neocatechumenate: Faith that polarizes - In: Retrieved August 9, 2016 .
  61. We are Church Germany. In: Retrieved August 9, 2016 .
  62. ^ Raphael Weichlein: Catholic sixty-eight. Neocatechumenal way and parish pastoral today . In: Herder correspondence. Volume 72, No. 11, 2018, p. 50 f.
  63. Amanda Borschel-Dan: Where cardinals and rabbis go to forgive, and pray. In: The Times of Israel . Retrieved November 5, 2019 .
  64. ^ A b c Walter Homolka: Out of difference to dialogue . In: Herder correspondence. Volume 72, No. 6, 2018, p. 6.
  65. ^ Pope: Remembering the Holocaust must never fall silent - Francis greeting to the symphony "The Suffering of the Innocents". In: . Retrieved November 5, 2019 .
  66. Urs Unkauf: Symphony under the sign of Christian-Jewish dialogue. In: Jüdische Rundschau . Retrieved November 5, 2019 .
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on February 12, 2007 .