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Benedict XVI: The Shepherd Speaks

Catholic New Service is reporting that Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, has sent a formal letter to the Neocatechumenal Way directing certain changes. The letter was reportedly sent at the request of Benedict XVI and the clear language reflects the new Pope’s tone. It said in part:

"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."

Ahem. Any questions?

The language of the letter may sound at first as though the Neocatechumenal Way had gone schismatic, but therein lies the letter’s true significance. The statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way were approved by John Paul II just four years ago and by all accounts the Neocatechumenal Way is faithful movement. The group has a tradition of the consecration and distribution of communion taking place at a round table in the middle of the church, not on an altar in a sanctuary. Also, the movement was granted special dispensation to hold its own weekly masses on Saturday evenings. Rome has found that these practices have caused some problems and so a correction was in order.

This letter is not a stinging public rebuke to some fringe heretical group, but a clear correction made out of love and respect. If it is unrecognizable as such to many here in the US, that is because we see so little shepherding from our appointed shepherds. But such correction is one of the core responsibilities the Pope must fulfill on an international scale, and local bishops have a parallel responsibility to their flock. If the quote above is the word from St. Peter’s successor, one has to wonder how many parishes here in Minneapolis/St. Paul are in fact faithful. “Without omitting or adding anything.” Did St. Joan of Arc and St. Thomas the Apostle get the memo?

They will. The shepherd carries a big stick for a very good reason. The fate of the disobedient and misled will in fact be remembered many years from now as the central theme of Benedict XVI’s papacy and probably the next one as well. This small letter to the Neocatechumenal Way is an image of a concerned and faithful shepherd caring for the vast legions of lost sheep that John Paul II compelled into the fold. There will be more of this to come, and for that all the faithful should be grateful.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 28, 2005 9:37 PM.

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