Neocatechumenal Way Recognized as "Post-baptismal Catechumenate"
Ceremony Marks Official Approval of Statute
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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2002 (Zenit.org).- After five years of work, the Vatican approved the statute of the Neocatechumenal Way, a Church entity that began in 1964.
The Neocatechumenal Way is present in 105 countries, spread over 883 dioceses and 4,950 parishes. About 1 million lay people worldwide adhere to the Way, as well as 1,457 seminarians, 63 deacons and 731 priests.
The decree of approval, dated for this Saturday, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, was solemnly handed on today to the founders of the Way, Kiko Argűello and Carmen Hernández, and to Father Mario Pezzi, by Cardinal James Francis Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. John Paul II had designated the pontifical council to oversee the writing of the statute.
The Neocatechumenal Way was approved -- respecting and confirming the intentions of its founders -- as a way of Christian initiation for the rediscovery of baptism, namely, a post-baptismal catechumenate (see today's World Features).
Five Vatican organizations were involved in the approval of the Way's statute: the Council for the Laity, and the congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the Clergy, and Catholic Education.
The approval formalizes and specifies the Holy Father's recognition expressed in an Aug. 30, 1990, letter where he stated: "I recognize the Neocatechumenal Way as a valid means of Catholic formation for society and for the present time."
The most difficult aspect of the elaboration of the statute was to find an appropriate juridical formula for the Way, which is neither an association nor a foundation.
In being considered as "Christian initiation," the Way is at the service of dioceses and parish priests without being established as an autonomous entity.
The statute includes 35 articles. Article 1 describes the nature of the Way and the four spiritual goods that constitute it: the neocatechumenate or post-baptismal catechumenate; the catechumenate for the unbaptized; the ongoing education of communities that continue in the parish after finishing the neocatechumenate; and the service of catechesis as, for example, the return to the original method of evangelizing through itinerant teams willing to go throughout the world in virtue of their baptismal mandate.
Article 2 establishes the ways in which this ecclesial reality carries out its service: in the diocese, "under the direction of the Bishop" (Article 2, 1), and "according to the lines proposed by the initiators" (see Article 2, 2).
The bishop is the promoter of Christian initiative (Article 26), the document clarifies, to whom the Way offers an instrument approved by the Holy See and configured according to the suggestions of the statute.
The last articles specify the ways foreseen for the succession of the team of initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way.