VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See has sent a letter to the Neocatechumenal Way, establishing guidelines that the Way must follow in the celebration of Mass.
The document was issued after a process of dialogue between the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, and the directors of the Neocatechumenal Way. Pope John Paul II approved the statutes of the Neocatechumenate with a decree in 2002.
The Neocatechumenate has been described as a way of Christian initiation for the rediscovery of baptism.
The new Vatican letter states that the catechumenal communities must follow "the liturgical books approved by the Church, without adding or omitting anything."
At the same time, it accepts several adaptations that the Neocatechumenal Way has introduced in the celebration of Mass as part of its liturgical-catechetical itinerary. The tone is typical of this type of document of a normative nature.
The letter, dated Dec. 1, is signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is addressed to the initiators and directors of the Neocatechumenal Way, Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández and Father Mario Pezzi.
Neocatechumenate spokesman Giuseppe Gennarini said that the document "recognizes the practice, carried out from the beginning of the Neocatechumenal Way in the '60s, of special celebrations, though open to all, of Sunday Mass in small communities."
Dialogue with bishops
Regarding the celebration of Sunday Mass, the Vatican congregation asks the Neocatechumenal Way to dialogue with the diocesan bishop so that the liturgical celebration will reflect that the Neocatechumenate is in line with the local parish.
"At least one Sunday a month the Neocatechumenal communities must therefore participate in the Holy Mass together with the parish community," the Vatican letter stipulates.
It allows the "commentaries before the readings," reminding that they must be "brief," following the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
Insofar as the homily is concerned, the document emphasizes that "it is reserved to the priest or deacon," and adds that testimonies of lay faithful can take place as established by the 1997 instruction "Ecclesia de Mysterio" approved by John Paul II.
The letter allows the sign of peace before the Offertory, in keeping with the permission the Neocatechumenal Way had already been given.
Regarding the manner of receiving Communion, the letter "grants the Neocatechumenal Way a time of transition (not to exceed two years) to go from the present way of receiving Holy Communion in their communities (seated, around a table prepared in the center of the Church instead of the altar dedicated in the presbytery) to the normal way for the whole Church of receiving Holy Communion."
The letter ends by thanking the Lord for the fruits that the many activities of the Neocatechumenal Way have given the Church.