According to a spokesman of movement, Alvaro de Juana, this decision was communicated recently in writing by the Vatican Secretariat of State to the Neocatechumenal Way founders: Kiko Arguello, Carmen Hernandez and Mario Pezzi.
De Juana informed ZENIT that the letter came after Benedict XVI presided at a Dec. 13 meeting with a representation of several Japanese bishops, among them the president of the episcopal conference, Archbishop Leo Ikenaga of Osaka, to address some aspects of the Neocatechumenal Way in Japan.
A few weeks earlier, the Japanese episcopal conference announced that it would suspend the activities of the movement in Japan for five years.
De Juana explained that "the Holy See has made a series of decisions," which were revealed in Cardinal Bertone's letter.
"The first indicates that the suspension of the Neocatechumenal Way in Japan for five years -- as attempted by the country's Episcopal Conference -- is not admissible," he said.
On the other hand, the spokesman added, it specified that "the dialogue between the bishops of Japan and the Neocatechumenal Way must be taken up again as soon as possible with the help of a competent delegate who loves the Way and respects the problems of the bishops."
"Finally, if necessary, the latter must give concrete indications to the Way for each of its own dioceses, avoiding pronouncements of the episcopal conference," explained De Juana.
"The Holy See points out in addition that the Secretariat of State will be in charge of giving the necessary instructions and will address, in contact with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the questions referring to the presence of the Way in said country," concluded the spokesman.
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.