Rome (AsiaNews) - The Holy See has delivered the decree of approval and definitive statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, formally recognised last May 11: Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, yesterday signed the decree giving Vatican approval, and gave it to the movement's founders, Kiko Arguello, Carmen Hernandez, and Fr Mario Pezzi. In the decree of approval, the pontifical council expresses the hope "that the statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, now approved in a definitive form, may be a valid instrument in service of this ecclesial reality, so that it may continue to contribute to the good of the entire Church". These sentiments were previously expressed in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI, who invited the leaders of the movement to promote their "apostolic action" in communion with "the particular Churches in which they work, valuing to the full the richness of the charisms that the Lord has established".
Last month, the leaders of the Neocatechumenal movement had already announced informal approval, but the summons to come to Rome for delivery of the statutes took them by surprise: Kiko Arguello was on a series of foreign trips when he received the news, and the ceremony for handing over the statutes was delayed to allow him to return to Rome.
The statutes of the Neocatechumenals were approved "ad experimentum" by the Holy See in 2002, for a period of five years, but official approval was repeatedly postponed over the past year. The Vatican had expressed doubts about some aspects of the movement, including its liturgical practices, which were re-elaborated and corrected in 2005 by the Congregation for Divine Worship.
The Neocatechumenal leaders have expressed their satisfaction, saying that the Way "produces fruits of various kinds", including the recent "missio ad gentes in Europe, Asia, and America". Founded in Spain in 1964, the movement is present in 107 countries on five continents, and counts 19,000 communities in 5,700 parishes in 1,200 dioceses. The Neocatechumenal Way is distinguished by its strong focus on mission to the secularised world. After a period of catechesis, its members are called to live for a period of time as itinerant catechists. There is also a strong emphasis on vocations. The Neocatechumenals support more than 70 theological seminaries (Redemptoris Mater) worldwide.