Neocatechumenal Way Invites German Youth to Madrid

Thousands Gather in Dusseldorf for "Civic Missions"

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DUSSELDORF, Germany, MAY 31, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Thousands of youth of the Neocatechumenal Way met over the weekend in Germany to invite their peers to World Youth Day in Madrid this summer, and to watch a performance of the symphonic work about suffering composed by founder Kiko Argüello.

On their way to the Sunday meeting, presided over by Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, the youth engaged in "civic missions" throughout Germany to urge young people to participate in the youth day this August with Benedict XVI. Also present at the meeting were the three initiators of the lay movement: Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández, and Father Mario Pezzi.

Argüello told ZENIT that the Way organized the meeting because of the importance of the Madrid event "for the future of Europe."

"We want to prepare young people," he said, adding that some 200,000 youth of the Neocatechumenal Way will be present in Madrid for the World Youth Day.

During the meeting, Argüello's symphonic work "The Suffering of the Innocent" was performed. "In this short work," the initiator of the Way stated, "the Virgin Mary is presented under the cross, contemplating the torture of her son, submitted to the scandal of the suffering of the innocent in her own flesh, the flesh of her son: 'Oh, what pain,' sings a voice as a sword pierces through her soul."

He said that the work represents "the suffering of the innocent ones: people thrown about on the street, or killed by the cold; children abandoned and gathered in horrific orphanages, raped and abused; that woman whom I came to know, suffering from Parkinson's disease, abandoned by her husband and beaten with a stick by her mentally ill son, asking for alms in front of my house; lines of naked women and children walking to the gas chambers."

"What a mystery," the founder added, "the suffering of the innocent, carrying the sin of others!"

Argüello dedicated his work to the victims of the Holocaust, and he organized a performance of it in Israel before a large crowd of Jews. Rabbi David Rosen, the director of the American Jewish Committee's Department of Interreligious Affairs, said after the performance that the "work demonstrated a profound resonance with our Jewish identity, with Jewish suffering and with Jewish hope."

"Some say that after the horror of Auschwitz, it is not possible to believe in God any longer," Argüello told ZENIT. "No! This is not true! God became man to carry the suffering of all innocent."

The Neocatechumenal Way began in Spain in 1964, initiated by painter Argüello, a convert from atheistic existentialism, and Hernández, a missionary. They worked among prostitutes, gypsies and ex-convicts in a novel approach to the evangelization of the "fallen away." 

Archbishop Casimiro Morcillo of Madrid was the first prelate to support the movement, on his return from the Second Vatican Council. The first communities were born in the parishes of Zamora, Madrid and Rome. Today they are active in some 5,000 parishes worldwide.