A NEOCATECHUMENAL WAY EXPERIENCE
by F. John
Some statements made
by Neocatechumenals, Trevor and Pam Atkinson, 1 during
Catecheses conducted at St Patrick's Catholic Church, in the Archdiocese
of Melbourne: 2
"Faith is not a lot of beliefs."
[catechists] are angels."
"There will be signs and miracles."
loves you exactly as you are."
"The saint always announce their
"It is possible not to sin - if we believe."
didn't come to be a model."
"Good Friday is not the center of
"We have been sent to this parish by the pope."
Catholic Church is not the raft of salvation."
"The Lord wants to form
in this parish a Community."
"The Church is not called to make everyone
"All these catecheses...have, in fact, been
Cardinal Ratzinger's Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Church (sic)."
"In Christianity there is no holy place - the people
are the holy place."
The Catechical "messages are the sperm which goes
into you and create new life."
"The Church...by acknowledging her sins and weaknesses...will..."
diverted from the course of the 'primitive Church' at the time
Constantine, and did not get back on course until the Second Vatican
SOME QUOTES FROM THE NEOCATECHUMENAL WAY FOUNDERS
Not all of the statements are
necessarily false or misleading, but some of them, I believe, are of
Getting To Know The Neocatecumenals
weeks prior to July 23, a couple of Neocatechumenists knocked on the
presbytery rear door and introduced themselves to the parish priest, Fr.
Roger Ryan. Their object was to introduce the Neocatechumenal Way into the
parish, with the ultimate object of forming a group in the
Fr. Roger, who is a compassionate, exemplary, devout and
orthodox priest, announced to his parishioners that a mission would be
commenced in the Parish on July 23, 2001, with the object of evangelising
the parish, including lapsed and nominal Catholics - and even Christians
of other faiths. A very laudable project, indeed!
Being a person
who likes to know something about something of which I know nothing - I
searched the Internet for information on the Neocatechumenal Way. A vast
majority of websites were favourable towards the "Way" - as should be
expected when, as the catechists claim, they have the been "sent by the
Pope," and are supported by the present and past Archbishop of Melbourne
and other episcopal dignitaries. Who would dare gainsay that support? or
Some Websites Providing Information On The
- One of the pro sites is operated for and on behalf of the movement
Neocatechumenal Way 3
- This is where I first saw what was purported to be "Official recognition
of the Neocatechumenal Way". 4
- Another pro site is at Christus Rex 5
- Yet another informative pro site is at The
NeoCatechumenate Movement 6
- And writings by Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez at What
is the NeoCatechumenal Way 7
On the other
hand, the following websites contain information critical of the
A Maltese Marian website which contains much of the
Passionist priest Fr. Enrico Zoffoli's files:
- Era of Peace
Neocatechumenal Way and the Catholic Church 9
- Heresies in the
Neocatechumenal Way - Introduction 10
- Heresies in the
Neocatechumenal Way - Chapter 1. "No Redemption" 11
- Heresies in the
Neocatechumenal Way - Chapter 2. "Man Cannot Offend God"
- Heresies in the
Neocatechumenal Way - Chapter 3. "Enough Atoning Sacrifices"
- Heresies in the
Neocatechumenal Way - Chapter 4. "It Is Impossible To Sin"
- Heresies in the
Neocatechumenal Way - Chapter 5. "Christ is a Model of Sanctity for
- Heresies in the
Neocatechumenal Way - Chapter 6. "We Are All Priests" 16
- Heresies in the
Neocatechumenal Way - Chapter 7. "The Catholic Church is Not the Only
Sheepfold of Christ" 17
of Secret Instructions from the Founder Kiko Arguello...
Petersburg Diocese Ends Perpetual Exposition
Extract from Medjugorje 102, Nov. 1995, Milan, Italy, by
Neocatechumenal Movement: A Volcano of Errors 20
Neocatechumenals, Who Are They?, What Their "Creed" Is, What We Should
Think Of Them, by Fr. Enrico Zoffoli 21
Psychological Mechanisms of Mental Conditioning Inside The
Neocatechumenate Community 22
Problems; Notes Transcribed From A Videotape Of A Debate On The
Sect Accused of Brainwashing, The Sunday Times - April 23, 1995
Documents from PASCH - Parishioners Against a Secret
letter From Karen Anderson to the Local Neocatechumenate
letter to the Neocatechumenate Communities, by Ronald Haynes
letter From Louis & Mary Beasley-Suffolk to the Diocesan
Neocatechumenate Enquiry Panel 28
Teachings: The Parable of Barabbas 29
Bishop of Clifton pastoral letter Advent 1997 30
Order - Truth By Numbers? 31
- Christian Order, April 1995: "The Neocatechumenals, Who Are
They?, What Their "Creed" Is, What We Should Think Of Them", by
Passionist priest Fr. Enrico Zoffoli.
- Christian Order, Nov. 1997: "An Experience of The
Neocatechumenal Way, by D.J.Redfern - former NeoCatecumenal adherent and
- Christian Order, Feb. 2000: "Truth By Numbers?
In accordance with
and pursuant to the main Catechist's statement that "The saint always
announce their sin", the main catechist confessed to the audience that:
His wife then
- His mother suicided when he was aged 14;
- His father was a drunkard and a cruel one at that;
- His sister has an ill-formed brain and died very young;
- He was a drunkard himself, and
- He "always had a weakness to pornography."
confessions came from a married couple who
- That her husband was (or had been?) a drunkard;
- That it was impossible to love him;
- That - well, it seemed that she was just confessing also to her
husband's guilt, and her inability to love him!
priest confessed - with much beard stroking and stammering:
- Mutually confessed to having had great difficulty in loving one
another and, in fact, separated for many months.
Quite frankly, the whole public
confession business of "we are human beings 'just like you' " is
repugnant. It is not subject to the "seal of confession," and lays open
adherents lives to the possibility of future coercion or manipulation by
- that prior to becoming a priest, while working on his motor-bike, he
had difficulty in being charitable in offering assistance to a person
whose car had broken down.
- Then after becoming a priest (as a late-vocationer) he confessed
that, subsequent to becoming a Neocatechumenal adherent, "Jesus has
started to come into my life."
Notes From The Sessions
Thus forearmed with
some background knowledge of the movement, I was able to listen to the
presentations from the Catechists and to see that there was a recognisable
"patter" - padded with some personal touchs. I made sure that I wrote as
quickly as possible, referring to my tape recordings where
Printouts of my jottings 32 and photocopies
of the all documents from the above-mentioned websites "B", "F to U", and
"P - AB" inc. were given to Fr Ryan, my Parish Priest on Aug. 10. He urged
me to continue my observations, and to report back to him. The second set
of comments was given to him on Aug. 14. 33
I advised Fr. Ryan that I would not be attending any
further sessions. However, he prevailed on me to continue, and to take
He asked me if I minded if my notes to date could be given
to the Catechists. I replied, "no, I had no objection," and Fr. Roger gave
the notes to them on Aug. 15 for their comments.
I attended the
session on Aug. 16; the subject was "Reconciliation." After receiving the
handout (Go to Appendix
VIII - "Questionnaire On Reconciliation"), and before the discussion
groups commenced, I left the hall, and did not attend further
The Sins and Weaknesses Of the Church
handout: "Questionnaire On Reconciliation" included the following:
The Church does not manufacture forgiveness
- this comes from God. By acknowledging her sins and
weaknesses, the Church will make manifest God's strength,
communicated through her."Well, there we have
it - among other things, the Church is defined as
being The Mystical Body of Christ, and, just as
Jesus Christ is sinless so, too, is His Mystical Body. The
Neocatechumenists seem not to worry about such matters - which, of course,
probably were defined AFTER the Church deviated from the "primitive
Church" at the time of Constantine.!!!
Christ was free from all sin, from original sin as well as
from all personal sin. (De fide.)Credit - or Blame - Cardinal Ratzinger's Congregation
Christ has not merely not
actually sinned, but also could not sin. (Sent. fidei proxima.)
The Church is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. (Sent. certa.)
The Church was founded by the God-Man Jesus Christ. (De fide.)
The Church is a perfect society. (Sent. certa.)
is the Head of the Church. (De fide.)
The Holy Ghost is the Soul
of the Church. (Sent. communis.)
The Church is indefectible,
that is, she remains and will remain the Institution of Salvation,
founded by Christ, until the end of the world. (Sent. certa.)
The Church founded by Christ is holy. (De fide.) 34
Furthermore, thanks to my tape-recorder I was able to record
the following from Trevor - [Copy given to Fr. Ryan - Appendix IX - Notes On Aug.
15, 2001 Session]:
"All these catecheses we are giving are
exactly as we received them. All have, in fact, been scrutinised by the
Congregation of the Doctrine of the Church (sic.) - by Cardinal
Ratzinger's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Church (sic.); and all
are approved. We daren't change anything. We are solely passing on to
you what we have given. But there is a conclusion here: if the people of
the Church do not forgive, how will others believe in a God who
forgives?" The answers might be found amongst
It is de fide Dogma of the Catholic Church 35
1. "God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty,
by the natural light of reason from created things."How can a person believe in a God who
forgives...? By listening to His Church, I suggest!
existence is not merely an object of natural rational knowledge, but
also an object of supernatural faith."
And, Sent. Fidei
1. "The existence of God can be proved by means of
Certain it is
that God desires the salvation of all men; and He gives to all men
sufficient grace to attain salvation. Faith is a direct GIFT from God to
whomsoever God chooses. God's mercy (and forgiveness) is NOT limited by
finite human beings!
But what is missing from the Neocatechumenals
equasion? God has other properties in addition to His infinite
The Four Last Things
How will the
Neocatechumenals supply THIS vital aspect if it is lacking in their
The Eschatology of the Individual Human Being
A "Clayton's Reply" From The
Neocatechumenals - "The Reply You Get When You Don't Get A Reply!!!"
- In the present order of salvation death is a punishment for sin.
- All human beings subject to original sin are subject to the law of
death. (De fide.) D789
- With death the possibility of merit or demerit or conversion
ceases. (Sent. certa.)
- Immediately after death the particular judgment takes place, in
which, by a Divine Sentence of Judgment, the eternal fate of the
deceased person is decided. (Sent. fidei proxima.)
- The souls of the just which in the moment of death are free from
all guilt of sin and punishment for sin, enter into Heaven. (De fide.)
- In addition to the essential bliss of Heaven which springs from
the immediate Vision of God, there is also an accidental blessedness,
which proceeds from the natural knowledge and love of created things.
- The bliss of heaven lasts for all eternity. (De fide. )
- The degree of perfection of the beatific vision granted to the
just is proportioned to each one's merits. (De fide.)
- The souls of those who die in the condition of personal grievous
sin enter Hell. (De fide. )
- The punishment of Hell lasts for all eternity. (De fide.)
- The punishment of the damned is proportioned to each one's guilt.
- The souls of the just which, in the moment of death, are burdened
with venial sins or temporal punishment due to sins, enter Purgatory.
- The purifying fire will not continue after the General Judgment.
On Saturday Aug 25, Fr. Roger gave me a package
from the catechists in response to my notes. It comprised:
"Instructs" The Parish Priest
- An unsigned, undated sheet (Appendix V - The
Catechists "Instructions" To Fr. Ryan ) which starts out appearing
to be from the catechist to me (John Loughnan), but quickly turned
around and appears to contain instructions TO Fr. Roger Ryan on what to
say to me when (or if) he writes to me. It really is a mixed up
- A photocopy of a letter in Italian, purportedly from Pope John Paul
II, and apparently bearing his signature, dated:
"Dal Vaticano, il 30
Agosto dell' 1990, XII de Pontificato." (Appendix VI - The Pope's
Letter In Italian)
- An alleged translation of that letter, but bearing a superscript
which is not on the first document:
"Letter of John
Paul II approving the Neocatechumenal Way" ( Appendix VII - The
Alleged English Translation )
Speculatively, the "instruction"
appears to be from the Catechist, Mr Trevor Atkinson. It reads as
"My first reaction to the letter was to
suggest that you might like to point out the following facts.Trevor Atkinson finally and
anonymously attempted to bring on the "big guns" - the threat in Gamaliel
5:38-39 (although he does not cite the verse numbers.) Who would be so
unwise as to pit himself against the Neocatechumenal movement, the Holy
Spirit, the Pope and a whole army of ecclesiastics, and so on? Surely not
even a fool who has been in conflict with Church authority in the
Thank you for your letter 38, which the
catechists passed on to me 39. I do appreciate the
considerate way in which you have raised your disquiet.
40 would however point out that the catechists are here at my
41 express request. Their catechesis has been studied and
approved by Cardinal Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith 42 and they are here with the full support of
Archbishop Dennis Hart 43, who himself listened to the full
catechesis 44 when he invited them to his Parish in
I do not need to remind you that they are also
supported by Archbishop George Pell, and Bishop Hilton Deakin, who had
in fact hoped to show his support by coming to one of the nights towards
the end of the catechesis. Sadly the dates proved impossible, as he had
to go to East Timor. 45
The Passionist priest Father
Enrico Zoffoli's claims were all investigated years ago and were found
not to be valid 46. The letter by Pope John Paul affirming
this to be an 'itinerary of Christian formation valid for our society
and our times' has been validated by the Holy father on numerous
public occasions not least the meeting of the New Movements in Rome
which received worldwide television
On the evening that I first met the Catechist, I advised him
that I had been an adherent to the Society of St Pius X for about 23
years. This, of course, is public knowledge, and is not subject to the
seal of Confession. It is interesting, however, that he should direct Fr.
Ryan to bring up the subject:
"I say this because of the accusations laid
against the neocatechumenal Way are levelled by those
not in true communion with the Church. Now your
personal experience must surely show you the danger of this. I
therefore ask you, sincerely, to continue attending these catecheses but
with a heart open to the Holy Spirit or, if that is too difficult,
47 to consider the words of Gamaliel in Acts Chapter 5 "If
this enterprise, this movement of theirs, is of human origin it will
break up of its own accord; but if it does in fact comes from God you
will be unable to destroy them. Take care not to find yourselves
fighting against God.' His advice was accepted." (sic.)
Fr. Enrico Zoffoli and Related
Mr Aitkinson's "Instructions" passed these off as
"The Passionist priest Father Enrico
Zoffoli's claims were all investigated years ago and were found not to
For A Further Appraisal?
- It would be of great assistance for this to be validated in the form
of official documentation of the process and the judgement. Is this
- Is there any evidence that Father Zoffoli was presented with the
results of the process and judgement?
- Did he accept such judgement and withdraw his contentions
unconditionally? What evidence for this is available?
- Why are his critiques still promoted?
- Why are further criticisms continuing from other sources such as "PASCH
- Parishioners Against a Secret Church"?
- Why do the Neocatechumenals refuse to actually answer direct
questions in a direct way?
- Why do they not make readily available their methodology and
- Why do they think that they are beyond criticism?
The answer, of course, is that time
passes and so too may the prudence of individuals in the Neocatechumenal
movement. Apart from the Pope in certain circumstances, individuals are
NOT infallible; individuals, even in a good and holy enterprise, can fall
into error. To point out error is the right and duty of EVERY Catholic.
Perhaps the "whistleblower's" judgement is erroneous? There is no problem
so long as the matter is left to the judgement of appropriate Church
authority. In the meantime, is the expousal of perceived doctrinal error
to be given free rein?
Perhaps it is time for another evaluation
of the Neocatechumenal Way?
- Appendices I, II, and VIII
- July 23 - Aug. 16, 2001. As I did not attend any further sessions of
the Neocatechumenal Way catechesis, my report is limited to this period.
The complete team comprised the English couple, Trevor and Pam Atkinson,
Eric (Australian) and Charo (his Peruvian? wife), Fr. John Hogan
(formerly from the Perth Archdiocese), and a Spanish(?) intending
seminarian. Two visiting Italian seminarians, Fabrizzio and Maro, also
promoted and attended the sessions.
- Era of Peace
neocatechumenal Way and the Catholic Church
- Introduction -
Heresies in the Neocatechumenal Way
- Chapter 1. No
Redemption - Heresies in the Neocatechumenal Way
- Chapter 2. Man
Cannot Offend God - Heresies in the Neocatechumenal Way
- Chapter 3. Enough
Atoning Sacrifices - Heresies in the Neocatechumenal Way
- Chapter 4. It Is
Impossible To Sin - Heresies in the Neocatechumenal Way
- Chapter 5. Christ
is a Model of Sanctity for No-one - Heresies in the Neocatechumenal
- Chapter 6. We Are
All Priests - Heresies in the Neocatechumenal Way
- Chapter 7. The
Catholic Church is Not the Only Sheepfold of Christ - Heresies in the
- Appendix II - Some
Of The Catechists Comments
- Appendix III -
More Of The Catechists Comments
- "Fundamentals Of Catholic Dogma", Dr. Ludwig Ott, Tan Books and
Publishers, Inc., 1974, p.168, pp.270-304.
- ibid. pp.13-17.
- ibid. pp.473-485.
- The Catechists answer to my notes was to produce the alleged private
letter of August 30, 1990 from Pope John Paul II to Bishop Paul Josef
Cordes: Appendix VI -
The Pope's Letter In Italian and Appendix VII - The
Alleged English Translation
- Fr. Zoffoli's comment on this letter is as follows:
See has never approved canonically the Neocatechical Movement,
even though John Paul II deigned to write Mons. J.P.Cordes a
private letter of praise and encouragement, based on the
documentation of some positive results of the way presented by the
recipient. 'The intention of the Holy Father' - we read in a note
published on Acta Apostolicae Sedis -'in recognising the
Neocatechuminal Way as a valid itinerary of Catholic training,
is not to give binding instructions to the local Ordinaries,
but simply to encourage them to consider carefully the Neocatechumenal
Communities, leaving it to the judgement of these Ordinaries,
however, to act according to the pastoral requirements of the
individual dioceses.'" (Refer links "H" and "S 5" above).
- Don Gino, an associate of Fr. Zoffoli commented on the letter,
"The woman has quoted from a letter sent to Mons. Cordes that
was written by the Pope. It would be better to know just a little bit
more about the story behind the story behind this letter. When anybody
makes an exegesis of any kind of text, one should look at it
carefully. That text did not come out of the Secretary of State which
is where Papal Documents are released from. The Neocatechumenate have
drawn many quotes and conclusions from this text when it was released,
but they didn't add the valid part of the text. Whoever knows canon
law knows that the valid text of a document is the part published in
the 'Acta Apostolicae Sedis'. Now, neither the 'Acta Apostolicae
Sedis' nor the Osservatore Romano has published this letter dated the
30th of August which, by the way, contains a grammatical error in
Italian and a typographical error and I can't imagine any documents
coming from the Secretary of the Pope would be poorly done with these
kinds of errors.
"This is one of the proofs that the document
did not come from the Pope, but that it came from the hands of Cordes.
In any case, in the end, the Secretary of State (and this much I can
say about it) added this famous side-note with the publication of the
letter. 'The intentions of the Holy Father, in recognizing the Way,
aren't meant to give a binding stamp of approval.' This note was added
to save, in one way or another, whoever wasn't guilty of certain
things. Therefore, don't even talk about approval!!"
- Now, the documents produced to Father Roger by the Catechist
included the alleged letter from the Pope in Italian, a photocopy of
the translation into English (with a caption gratuitously added:
"Letter of John Paul II approving the Neocatechumenal Way"), and, what
appears to be, instructions from the Catechist to Fr. Roger for HIS
reply to me (F.J.L).
What emerges is confirmation of Don Gino's
assertions above, for the Italian version does, indeed, contain the
"...accogliendo la richiesta rivoltami, riconosco il
Cammino Neocatecumenale come un itinerario di formazione cattolica,
valida per la societá e per i tempi
odierni." The contention is that the word for valid =
"valido" (a male word) has been incorrectly given the female form,
"valida" - a grammatical error, normally unthinkable for a Secretary
of State or Papal Secretary production!
Secondly, the letter
is in fact dated:
"Dal Vaticano, il 30 Agosto dell' 1990,
XII de Pon-tificato." It appears that "dell'" is
here superfluous, or "anno" should have followed it to produce "...the 30th August of the year
Furthermore, the original Italian does NOT have
an accent in "Hernández" - if there should be such an accent, what
does this say of the Papal Secretary's professionalism. Or is there
another darker answer?
Accordingly, it appears that the
Neocatechumenals are not quite telling it as it is when they claim to
have been "sent by the Pope". I would suggest that the complete truth
is that they have received their mission from Kiko Arguello and Carmen
Hernandez. It further appears that this is a strategy used to "gull
- Trevor appears to be addressing John Loughnan.
- Actually, Fr. Ryan passed on the "comments" to the catechists,
including Trevor. I guess the "me" IS Trevor?
- Is the "I" still Trevor? Or, does he here become Fr Ryan?
- I would suspect that the "me" here is intended to be Fr.
- It is encouraging that he calls the Congregation by the right name
on this occasion. During the catechesis (Appendix IX - Notes On
Aug. 15, 2001 Session ) he called it the Congregation for the
Doctrine of The Church.
- I would be only too pleased if Archbishop Denis Hart would instruct
me to "heel" - for I will obey immediately, and happily occupy myself in
the garden and doing work around the house which as been long
- I cannot comment on that; sometimes one nods off even during
sermons? In any event, what was said and done may have differed from the
St. Patrick's catechesis?
- This is all good filler material to disguise the fact that Trevor
WILL NOT answer any of the specific objections. According to the
material from Fr. Zoffoli, etc. this is precisely par for the
- What the writer refers to here may be further expanded from link "C"
above, a portion of which is provided here:
"Their work soon aroused the interest of the Vatican's
Congregation of the Liturgy and Sacraments. After a period of
examination, the Congregation published a laudatory article in its
official journal Notitiae.
"...Years later, on May 9,
1986, Kiko and Carmen were summoned by the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith to respond to a series of questions regarding
their views on hermeneutics, pastoral work and doctrine. After
thorough study of their responses, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger informed
them that his Congregation wished to assist them, and proposed linking
the movement to a Vatican Congregation to provide a juridicial basis.
Kiko and Carmen fervently desired the official support of the Holy
Father. As a result, John Paul II nominated Bishop Paul Josef Cordes,
Vice-President of the Pontifical Council for the laity, to act as the
Pope's delegate ad personem to the movement and intermediary
with the Vatican Congregations...
"...Admitting the movement's
recognition and praise, one could fill books with the criticism
levelled against the Neocatechumenal movement. (In England they have
been compared to the 'Moonies.') Much criticism comes from
traditionalist, 'pre-conciliar' groups, who find the liturgical
changes much too radical. Substantial criticisms are of two
The first censures the movement for trying to create
'a Church within the Church.' As a matter of
fact, the Neocatecumenate liturgies take place on Saturday evenings,
perhaps several at the same time for different groups, and all outside
the normal Sunday services (in which Neocatechumenate members
apparently do not participate). This situation has created a myriad of
problems between bishops and the movement. One example: Cardinal
Giovanni Saldarini, Archbishop of Turin, issued a Decree on May 15,
1995, in which he, after praising positive aspects of the
Neocatechumenate experience, cancelled their separate activities and
restored all his parishes to normal diocesan pastoral
The second criticism is of a doctrinal nature.
Enrico Zoffoli, a Passionist Father has published his
criticisms in several volumes (The Heresy of the Neocatechumenate
Movement and A Comparison of the Pope's Magisterium and Kiko's
Catechesis). According to Zoffoli, Kiko and Carmen have
underplayed both the priest's absolution and the Real Presence in the
Eucharist - accusations refuted by the Neocatechumenate movement,
whose leaders say their beliefs and practices are supported by early
Christian beliefs and practices."
Most miscreants WILL refute
accusations: perhaps they WERE successful on that occasion in refuting
the accusations - but the difficulties persist; problems are still
perceived with followers of the "WAY" who simply follow the manuals of
the founders. Is the period between Constantine and the Second Vatican
Council, and the "development of Doctrine" to be callously thrown to
the winds of alleged "ancient Church" practices? ... at the expense of
Dogma defined in the interim?
- What is the Catechist suggesting here?