Neocatechumenal-Mass - Letter from Cardinal Francis Arinze,
prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments
Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum
From Vatican City, December 1, 2005
To the esteemed Mr. Kiko Argüello, Ms. Carmen Hernandez, and Rev. Father
Following the conversations with this Congregation for Divine Worship and
the Discipline of the Sacraments on the celebration of the Most Holy
Eucharist in the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way, in keeping with the
guidelines issued in the meeting with you on November 11 of this year, I am
to inform you of the Holy Father’s decisions.
In the celebration of the Holy Mass, the Neocatechumenal Way shall accept
and follow the liturgical books approved by the Church, without omitting or
adding anything. Furthermore, in regard to some elements the guidelines and
clarifications are emphasized as follows:
1. Sunday is the “Dies Domini” as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II
wished to illustrate in the Apostolic Letter on the Lord’s Day. Therefore
the Neocatechumenal Way must enter into dialogue with the diocesan bishop in
order to make it clear that the community of the Neocatechumenal Way is
incorporated into the parish even in the context of the liturgical
celebrations. At least one Sunday per month, the communities of the
Neocatechumenal Way must participate in the Holy Mass of the parish
2. As for any admonitions issued before the readings, these must be brief.
Adherence must also be shown to what is set out in the “Institutio Generalis
Missalis Romani” (nn. 105 and 128) and to the Praenotanda of the “Ordo
Lectionum Missae” (nn. 15, 19, 38, 42).
3. The homily, because of its nature and importance, is reserved to the
priest or deacon (cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 767 § 1). As for the
occasional contribution of testimonies on the part of the lay faithful, the
proper places and methods for these are indicated in the Interdicasterial
Instruction “Ecclesiae de Mysterio,” which was approved “in specific form”
by Pope John Paul II and published on August 15, 1997. In this document,
sections 2 and 3 of article 3 read as follows:
§2 - “It is permitted to have a brief instruction that helps explain better
the liturgy that is being celebrated, and even, in exceptional circumstances,
a few testimonies, as long as these conform to the liturgical norms, are
offered on the occasion of Eucharistic liturgies celebrated on particular
days (for seminarians, the sick, etc.), and are thought truly helpful as an
illustration of the regular homily delivered by the celebrating priest.
These instructions and testimonies must not assume characteristics that
might cause them to be confused with the homily.”
§3 - “The possibility of ‘dialogue’ during the homily (cf. Directorium de
Missis cum Pueris, no. 48) can be used occasionally and with prudence by the
celebrating minister as a means of exposition, which does not transfer to
others the duty of preaching.”
Careful attention must also be paid to the Instruction “Redemptionis
Sacramentum,” no. 74.
4. On the exchange of peace, permission is granted to the Neocatechumenal
Way to continue using the indult already granted, pending further
5. On the manner of receiving Holy Communion, a period of transition (not
exceeding two years) is granted to the Neocatechumenal Way to pass from the
widespread manner of receiving Holy Communion in its communities (seated,
with a cloth-covered table placed at the center of the church instead of the
dedicated altar in the sanctuary) to the normal way in which the entire
Church receives Holy Communion. This means that the Neocatechumenal Way must
begin to adopt the manner of distributing the Body and Blood of Christ that
is provided in the liturgical books.
6. The Neocatechumenal Way must also make use of the other Eucharistic
Prayers contained in the missal, and not only Eucharistic Prayer II.
In short, the Neocatechumenal Way, in its celebration of the Holy Mass,
should follow the approved liturgical books, keeping in mind what is laid
out above under the numbers 1,2,3,4,5, and 6.
Acknowledging the favors that the Lord has bestowed upon the Church through
the many activities of the Neocatechumenal Way, I take this occasion to
extend to you my best regards.
+ Francis Card. Arinze
Mr. ARGÜELLO Kiko, Ms. HERNANDEZ Carmen, Rev. Fr. PEZZI Mario
Via dei Gonzaga, 205
ON LITURGICAL NORMS FOR THE NEOCATECHUMENAL WAY
Interview With Cardinal Arinze
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Liturgical norms issued by the
Holy See to the Neocatechumenal Way were the result of more than two years
of work, in which seven cardinals participated at the Pope's request.
So says Cardinal Francis Arinze, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Sacraments, in this interview on Vatican Radio.
The cardinal commented on the letter that his dicastery sent in the name of
Benedict XVI on Dec. 1 to leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way and on the Holy
Father's address to members of the Way on Jan. 12.
Q: What do these documents say?
Cardinal Arinze: It is better to read the Holy Father's address […] I am not
going to read the whole address, but only the part that addresses the
liturgy. It was a joyful meeting: The Holy Father blessed many families of
the Neocatechumenal Way that were about to be sent on mission.
Among other things, the Holy Father said: "The importance of the liturgy in
evangelization, and in particular of Holy Mass, has often been stressed by
my Predecessors, and your long experience can certainly confirm that the
centrality of the mystery of Christ celebrated in the liturgical rites is a
privileged and indispensable way to build living and persevering Christian
The Pope continued saying: "Precisely to help the Neocatechumenal Way to
render even more effective its evangelizing action in communion with all the
People of God, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the
Sacraments recently imparted to you in my name certain norms concerning the
Eucharistic Celebration, after the trial period that the Servant of God John
Paul II conceded. I am sure you will attentively observe these norms that
reflect what is provided for in the liturgical books approved by the
These are the Holy Father's words. He was saying to them: "I have given you
directives through this congregation; follow them."
Q: What is the content of these directives?
Cardinal Arinze: On December 1, 2005, at the conclusion of many talks over a
period of at least two years or more, our congregation wrote a two-page
letter to the leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way.
I will simply give the summary: "In the celebration of the Holy Mass, the
Neocatechumenal Way will accept and follow the liturgical books approved by
the Church without omitting or adding anything."
This is the basic principle. To follow the approved books; not to add or
take away." All the rest is detail; six more precise points are presented to
respond to some petitions of the Neocatechumenal Way on matters relating to
the Eucharistic celebration.
In the first place, on the Saturday night celebration: Sunday is the Lord's
The Holy Father has decided that the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way,
at least one Sunday a month, must participate in the holy Mass of the parish
community. For the other three weeks, the Neocatechumenal Way must engage,
in each diocese, in dialogue with the diocesan bishop.
In regard to the homily, pronounced always by the priest or the deacon, a
brief occasional intervention may be made that does not have the appearance
of a homily. This can also be accepted.
On the greeting of peace, the Neocatechumenal Way is granted the possibility
of taking advantage of the indult already given, that is, that the exchange
of peace take place before the Offertory, until a new disposition [is
In regard to the manner of receiving holy Communion, the Neocatechumenal Way
is granted a period of transition, of no longer than two years' duration, to
pass from the generalized way of receiving Communion among its communities
-- for example, seated, using an adorned table place in the center of the
church, instead of the dedicated altar -- to the normal manner for the whole
Church of receiving holy Communion.
This means that the Neocatechumenal Way must move toward the way established
by the liturgical books for the distribution of the Body and Blood of
Finally, the Neocatechumenal Way must also use the other Eucharistic Prayers
contained in the Missal and not only the second Eucharistic Prayer.
Q: How did this letter come about?
Cardinal Arinze: It stemmed from the results of this congregation's
examination of the way in which the Neocatechumenal Way has celebrated holy
Mass for many years, as, following the approval of the statutes by the
Pontifical Council for the Laity -- for a five-year period -- the rest of
the Vatican dicasteries had to effect the approvals in their domain. Our
congregation's domain is the liturgy.
To carry out this examination, we created a mixed commission of persons
named by the Neocatechumenal Way and by our congregation. In the
discussions, many practices emerged which they carry out during the Mass.
They were examined and it was seen that many of them were not done according
to the approved books.
This is the background. Everything has been examined in many sessions by the
mixed commission for a period of two years or more. And a discussion also
took place among seven cardinals of the Roman Curia at the request of the
Holy Father, who examined everything. Therefore, this letter is the
conclusion of this whole process.