[From the Wikipedia’s English website]
A letter from the Bishops of the Holy Land (2/2007)
Three days later, on the 25, The Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land wrote a
letter to Kiko saying, amongst other things: The Catholic bishops of the
Holy Land wrote a letter welcoming the Neocatechumenal Way, giving
indications for its work in the area.
“Brothers and sisters of the Way: You are welcome in our dioceses,” the
bishops wrote in their letter released Sunday. "We thank God for the grace
the Lord has given you and for the charism that the Holy Spirit has infused
in the Church through your ministry of post-baptismal formation.
“We are grateful for your presence in some of our parishes, for the
preaching of the Word of God, for the help given to our faithful in
deepening their faith and in rooting them in their own local church.”
The Bishops of the Holy Land weighed in on this same topic of the turbulent
relationship between the Neocatechumenal communities and the parishes and
dioceses in which they operate.
Their comments came in a joint letter addressed to the members of the Way, a
letter courteous in form but stern in content.
The bishops of the Holy Land reprimanded the Neocatechumenals for making
themselves a group apart, for celebrating the Mass separately from the
parishes, for not observing the liturgical rites, for remaining aloof from
the language and culture of the local people.
Wikipedia inserted the preamble, but not the substantial part of the
letter, that is, the corrections and prescriptions of the Bishops of the
Holy Land, that we publish here, wondering how is it possible that a group
that defines itself an ‘ecclesial reality’ may use “misleading advertisement”
to emphasize its activity:
“Following the Letter that
Pope Benedict XVI sent you on January 12th, 2006, and the
Letter from the
Congregation for Divine Worship sent on December 1st, 2005, we ask you
to take place in the heart of the parish in which you announce the Word of
God, avoiding to form a separated group. We would like you to say, with
Saint Paul: “I put myself in slavery to all people, to win as many as I
could.” (1 Cor 9:19)
The principle to which we all must remain faithful and on which we must
ground our pastoral action should be that of “one parish and one Eucharist.”
Therefore, if you wish to help believers growing up in their faith, your
first duty is to root them in the parishes and in the liturgical traditions
in which they have lived for generations.
In the East, we care about our liturgy and our traditions. Liturgy has
hugely contributed to preserve the Christian faith in our countries along
the history. Rite is like an identity card, not just a way like another to
pray, so we ask you to have enough charity as to understand and respect
our believers’ attachment to their liturgies.
2. Eucharist is not the sacrament of separation but unity inside the
parish. Therefore, we demand that the parish priest preside over all
Eucharistic celebrations, in all the Oriental Rites, as much as in the Latin
Rite, or—as to the Latin Rite—that you at least celebrate Eucharist in full
agreement with him. “Where the Bishop is, there is the Church,” wrote Saint
Ignatius of Antioch. Teach the believers love for their liturgical
traditions and put your charisma to use for unity.
3. Furthermore, we ask you to thoroughly study the people’s languages and
culture, as a sign of respect for them and as an instrument to understand
their soul and their history, in the context of the Holy Land: a religious,
cultural and national pluralism. Indeed, in our Countries, Palestine,
Israel, Jordan, everybody is seeking peace and justice: this quest is an
integral part of our life as Christians. Each sermon should orient our
believers about the concrete attitudes to observe in the different contexts
of life and in the very same conflict that still continues in Palestine: an
attitude of forgiving and love for their enemy, on the one hand; on the
other, a claim to their fundamental rights, such as dignity, freedom and
We ask you to preach a Gospel incarnated in life, a Gospel that may
enlighten the many facets of life and root the believers in the Resurrected
Jesus Christ as much as in their human, cultural and ecclesial environment.
We pray God to fill your hearts with His strength and His love and to give
you His grace so that you may fill believers’ hearths with His love and His
Jerusalem, February 25th, 2007.
† Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
† Elias Shakour, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Acre, Haifa, Nazareth
and all Galilee
† George El-Murr, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, Petra
† Paul Sayyah, Maronite Archbishop of Haifa and the Holy Land and Maronite
Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and
† Fouad Twal, Latin Coadjutor Bishop, Jerusalem
† Kamal Bathish, Latin Coadjutor Bishop, Jerusalem
† Selim Sayegh, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan
† Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Israel
† Pierre Melki, Syro-Catholic Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem, the Holy Land
† George Bakar, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem
† Rafael Minassian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarch of Jerusalem, the
Holy Land and Jordan
In December of 2005, the congregation for divine worship and the
discipline of the sacraments
ordered the Neocatechumenal Way to correct the
ways in which its communities celebrate the Mass. And the following January
12, 2006, Benedict XVI urged the Way to “observe attentively” the prescribed
norms. Obedience to both of these admonitions has been far from complete,
both at the time and afterward.
Another controversial point concerns the catecheses that the Way preaches in
its communities. The texts for these are still largely secret, and some of
them have raised objections from various Vatican congregations, including
the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.
anomalous reconfirmation of the statutes of the Way, which the Holy See
approved on June 13, 2008
The Neocatechumenals have an extensive presence in the Holy Land. Their
citadel is a sprawling complex on the slopes of the Mount of the Beatitudes,
west of Lake Tiberias, called “Domus Galilaeae” and inaugurated on March 24,
2000 by John Paul II in person, in the presence of 50,000 Neocatechumenals
who had gathered there from over the world.
The architecture and decoration of the “Domus,” with its bizarre hodgepodge
of Christian and Jewish allegories, is the work of the founder of the Way,
To the numerous communities they have established in the Holy Land is added
a ceaseless flow of Neocatechumenal pilgrims, who are carefully separated
from the other visitors. Even the Masses are celebrated separately. And the
procedures for their rituals are identical to those in any other part of the
world, including the songs composed by their founder and supreme leader,
Moreover, in the realm of politics the Neocatechumenal communities do not
conceal a markedly pro-Israeli outlook, contrary to the Christians living
there, almost all of whom are Arab and pro-Palestinian.