Asian Bishops Get Acquainted with Neocatechumenal Way

Co-founders Say Movement Has a Place in the Continent

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KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia, APRIL 23, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Asian bishops received a lesson in the Neocatechumenal Way and the role it can play in the evangelization of their continent.



More than 120 bishops attended the meeting here April 9-13, accompanied by itinerant teams of catechists and by Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, founders of the Way, Vatican Radio reported. A handful of bishops from Australia and Oceania also attended.

The largest delegation, with 52 bishops, came from India.

The debates focused on two fundamental questions: "How to evangelize Asia?" and "What is the Neocatechumenal Way?"

For most of the participants, it was their first exposure to the Way, a spiritual renewal movement that began in Spain in 1964.

Co-founder Argüello explained in the invitation letter that the meeting aimed "to concretely show the Asian bishops the way in which the itinerary of the Way can make its contribution to the evangelization" of that continent.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Holy See department that takes care of most Catholic local Churches in Asia, sent a message for the occasion.

He wrote, in part: "To help you in your apostolic ministry the Holy Spirit, who inspires in every era impulse for greater fidelity to the Gospel, through the Second Vatican Council gave rise to valid tools -- one of these is the Neocatechumenal Way, to enable the Church to meet the longing for fullness of life and peace felt by men and women of today."

In the homily of the event´s closing Mass, Cardinal Paul Shan, bishop of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, said: "The Second Vatican Council was like a typhoon. We in the Pacific know the violence of typhoons: The branches of trees fall, but the forest is cleared. When it is all over, new branches grow with new vitality and new fruits. The Neocatechumenal Way is a real renewal, in keeping with apostolic tradition, in the service of the Church."

The Neocatechumenal Way is present in more than 750 Asian communities in 16 nations and 75 dioceses. Last week´s meeting was the sixth organized by the movement with the bishops of various continents.