Catholic
 Apostolic
 & Roman
Christian Order
Read Christian Order
Contents 
Editorials
Editorials
Current
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1990s
1980s
Main Page

 

October 2002

THE LAST TROJAN HORSE?

MICHAEL McGRADE

 

"The Spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of devils, seduced by the hypocrisy of impostors, their conscience already seared by fire…"

1 Tim 4:1-2
"The Church is in a disturbed period of self-criticism, or what would better be called self-demolition. It is an acute and complicated upheaval which nobody would have expected after the Council. It is almost as if the Church were attacking herself.
Pope Paul VI
7 December 1968

 

One dolly step forward, two giant strides back. That's about as good as it gets in the Church today. Every now and then, without warning, for one glorious moment, a sliver of unadulterated truth pierces the oppressive cover of lies, half-truths and cover-ups to enlighten the Modernist gloom - only to be followed by another whopping black cloud of deception to blot it out again.

This tragic pattern was never more evident than in the pages of London's Catholic Herald last July. Directly inspired by the May edition of Christian Order, in which we again laid bare why Medjugorje = Megaforgery, journalist Simon Caldwell penned a superb feature article for the Herald's 5 July edition, exposing the Medj hoax without fear or favour. To read such an uncompromising piece in the pages of the 'Catholic' press, which for so many years has turned a blind eye to this massive fraud in return for regular advertising of (forbidden) Medj pilgrimages, was not so much a breath of fresh air and ray of light as a cleansing tornado followed by a sunburst!

Of course, it couldn't last. Nowadays the contrary shadow of ignorance, disinformation and wishful-thinking is never far off - in this case, on the very next page of the same edition! There, in an editorial celebrating Rome's official recognition of the Neocatechumenal Way and extolling the alleged virtues of this insidious movement, normal service was resumed: hard facts giving way to the comfortable party line as the deceptive status quo usually associated with Britain's 'Catholic' press was promptly restored. Whereas on the previous page, Caldwell had adopted the proper and critical 'roots before fruits' approach to revealing the truth about Medjugorje, his editor, William Oddie, preferred a fuzzy appeal to "gifts of the Spirit" and the beguiling 'fruits' of rapid growth to justify his enthusiastic support for the Neocatechumenate [NC]. Regurgitating the self-serving propaganda of the NC itself, Oddie then dismisses the "controversy and hostility" everywhere provoked by the NC with uncritical acceptance of its alleged "total orthodoxy and loyalty to the Pope," "priority of evangelisation" and "the harmonious way in which priests, religious, and laity work together in their different roles." In the same vein, the Pontifical Council for the Laity's description of the NC as "a way to rediscover the sacrament of baptism, and for ongoing education in the faith [fully] in the line of renewal inspired by Vatican Council II" is taken at face value and as reason enough to dispel the routine charge of NC "divisiveness" i.e. its splintering of parish life.

The "Way" to Lutheranism

It would take a book to respond to all the dissembling involved here. Suffice to say that on the basis of what follows in this edition, together with other detailed exposes in our November 1997 and February 2000 editions dealing with liturgical, doctrinal, methodological, spiritual, psychological and sociological aspects of the Neocatechumenate, one can confidently refute every one of Dr. Oddie's supportive statements - most especially his pivotal assertion of the Way's "total orthodoxy." Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth. How can I be so sure of this when the Holy Father himself has now legitimised the Way? Because, quite simply, I count myself among the reported 80% of adults in these Isles whose literacy level is above that of a 10-year-old. Consequently, I am able to read and comprehend the blatant heresy systematically laid out in the NC Orientation guide, a 373 page typed volume which gathers together an instruction course for "Catechists" held in Madrid in February 1972 by NC founders Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez. Photocopied and circulated as a formative textbook for new apostles but kept secret from both the public and neophytes of the Way alike, it forms the basis of NC catechesis. It cannot be called official only because it is restricted, not because it does not express the ideas and beliefs of the authors. Until now it has never been modified or retracted

The Orientations, together with two other manuscripts, were passed on to the late Passionist Father Enrico Zoffoli by a priest formerly involved with the Way. Fr. Zoffoli, a renowned Thomistic scholar, published books in Italian evaluating these authentic manuscripts - Heresies of the Neocatechumenals [1991], and The Teaching of the Pope and the Catechisms of Kiko: A Comparison, [1992]. In his Introduction to the first work, Fr. Zoffoli's writes:

The problem I return to raise is this one: Do the presupposed bases of the neocatechumenal "way" reconcile with Catholic doctrine? What are the relations of the Neocatechumenals with the Church?

To find that out, the only source for an objective and complete research remains the cited document [Orientations]: the only really complete and authoritative one because it is faithful to the thoughts of Kiko and Carmen...; It, having been unaltered, remains the most secure criterion of a critically valid judgement and analysis.

It follows that:

    1. Referring to this document, no-one can accuse me of having "invented", or of attributing thoughts that they never thought to the authors of the text...;
    2. Kiko and Carmen can reject the accusation of "heresy" only if they are disposed to make a public profession of faith contrary to the errors that have been attributed to them;
    3. The accusation of having extracted from the text what was wanted to condemn, and thus of having "extrapolated" words and phrases out of context and contrary to their authors' intentions, is completely without foundation or basis and can only possibly be claimed by someone who has not once read this entire essay...; while I can declare that I have studied it at length, comparing various sections and with the whole of the catechesis.

In conclusion, I think I can still sustain the accusation of heresy against the Neocatechumenals who have understood and accepted the doctrinal content of the document by Kiko and Carmen; for whom their influence within the Church constitutes a serious threat for Catholic orthodoxy. Good faith, if it can save them, does not dispense anyone from unmasking their errors. This language will seem simple-minded and out-dated only to those who no longer believe in the truth and are now extraneous to the Church which continues to teach and defend it.

Christian Order first presented one of Fr. Zoffoli's brief summary critiques of the Orientations in April 1995 and we now re-publish it in order to highlight the absurdity of the Vatican's formal acceptance of the NC as "an itinerary of Catholic formation." On the contrary, it is nothing less than a comprehensive instruction in the Lutheran heresy! According to the stated beliefs of the NC founders themselves and the testimony of countless former adherents and Cathechists, it is fundamentally an induction into Luther's negative and pessimistic view of man, according to which man surrenders his free will and becomes a marionette worked by God who cannot and should not resist sin because he is incapable of co-operating with God's grace. Thus, unable to make his own moral choices, man is not responsible for any evil he may do and is without guilt. Sounding like Martin Luther incarnate, Kiko repeatedly confirms this heretical outlook with statements such as: "Man is a slave to the devil and the devil manipulates him as he wishes… we are at the mercy of our concupiscence"[Orientations p.130].

Numerous other NC heresies that Rome would have us believe is the stuff of "Catholic formation" are summarised both in Fr. Zoffoli's ensuing critique and Mario Frugiuele's "Divergence from Catholic Doctrine in the Neocatechumenal Catechesis" in our February 2000 number. Flowing naturally from the basic Lutheran premise above, one finds that Kiko and Carmen mock, obfuscate and/or deny outright Catholic teachings on Redemption, the Real Presence, Confession, Mass as Sacrifice and the nature of the Church itself, to name just a few (e.g. according to Kiko, "there is no Eucharist without the assembly (...). It is from this assembly that the Eucharist springs" - p. 317. Thus a disillusioned French cure discovered that "They [the NC Catechists] ridiculed adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.") They also absolutely condemn the Council of Trent, holding it responsible for the deterioration of the Church until Vatican II, which Kiko and Carmen fervently believe they have been sent by God to interpret for us. However, typical of just how far they and their Way are from being fully "in the line of renewal inspired by Vatican Council II," as asserted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in their decree of approval, consider that while Vatican II documents mention the mystery of redemption more than a dozen times, Kiko says that "the [Vatican] Council has replaced theology and there is no more mention of the dogma of redemption" [p.62].

Sectarian and Gnostic

All the other well-documented problems of the Neocatechumenate which give lie to Dr. Oddie's glowing references are secondary to their heresies, but flow from them. Such as the liturgical aberration that passes for Neocatechumenal worship, detailed in our November 1997 edition by a former Neocat seminarian. After several years with the Way but now studying for the priesthood in Rome, this level-headed young Australian was well qualified to inform the present writer that as regards his former NC friends and colleagues: "Whatever they are, they are certainly not Catholic." An assessment clearly reflected in his dispassionate description of their liturgy which, whatever it is, and notwithstanding the liturgical anarchy we experience everywhere in the Church today, is surely not the Catholic Mass! Nor is there anything remotely Catholic about the manner in which their self-styled liturgy is held apart from the parish. Dr. Oddie is under the false impression that this complaint about Neocat "divisiveness" is no more serious than talk of divisions about "the different congregations who invariably attend the different Sunday masses. Folk masses 'divide' parishes," he scoffs, "so do Latin masses." He fails, however, to understand the nature of the problem. Such Masses are an integral part of a parish and do not deliberately and systematically exclude others. The NC liturgy, on the contrary, is closed to 'outsiders'; restricted to the gnostic few, since only the Way offers the path to salvation. As one American woman summed up in a letter to her Neocatechumenal priest:

"The N-C mass is based on the false premise that Kikoís catechesis is a start of a spiritual path that only the initiated [those catechized] are a part of. It is inherently isolationist. Each community becomes closed based on their catechesis at a particular time and place. Even if the catechesis of the Way was not teaching fatalism, determinism, indifference to Gospels including the Sermon on the Mount, the reality is there is no hierarchy of spiritual advancement in the Church. Gnosticism should be left in the Churchís past where it belongs. Jesus Christ is the only 'advanced' One and He calls us all as brothers and sisters in Christ. Baptism brings us to His Church and the sacraments are universal to those who qualify. There is no closed system outside of the sacraments to be enjoyed by the initiated few. Christ did not found a caste system where those of one level of spiritual development gather together and separate themselves from those on other levels. The N-C Way is in direct opposition to the Church which is one and universal. Itís oneness invalidates your claim that private masses are justified on the grounds that people who are not catechized in the Way 'wonít understand us, and might take offense.' The Church is one and the mass is valid for all Christians whether people understand it or not. The center of the mass is the Eucharist and the Gospel, not the sharing.

"I have witnessed your preliminary and careful search of the congregants faces to detect any non-catechized presence at the start of each mass, thereby fostering the paranoia and division of the N-C. I have seen you stop a mass in progress in order to have an unfamiliar person escorted out of the mass by a catechist. I have also witnessed the catechists throw some neighborhood children out while saying, 'they are not our children.' You claim that, unlike the world, you love children yet you will not even let one attend a mass unless they are N-C. Christ would not throw any child out. You have fooled the Bishops by parading the N-C children around, but you have not fooled me. Christ loved the children, widows and orphans but I witnessed you throwing the children out."

This elitist, sectarian, cultish mentality is at the heart of NC "divisiveness" and also manifests itself in the constant pressures and manipulations aimed at separating individuals from any family and friends they cannot recruit to the Way. "I considered leisure-time secondary soley in order to devote more time to Kiko's way. So, more courses, less reading, a lot fewer meetings with friends and parents etc…," recalled ex-Neocat Jean-Yves Lambert. The NC community becomes the new, all-consuming, substitute "family;" the omnipotent Catechist the father-controller of each member, responsible for ensuring unquestioning adherence to the party line. For the inexcusable sin of thinking for herself and questioning Kiko's studiously "divisive" Way, therefore, the woman quoted above was ejected from her community.

Fostering hatred of neighbour

Which leads us on to the allegedly "harmonious way in which priests, religious, and laity work together in their different roles." The Neocats are masters of self-promotion and methinks that Dr. Oddie has read one too many of their brochures! He should start doing some serious background research, starting with the countless thoughtful and sobering testimonies, clerical and lay, available on the internet. Though by no means all critical of every aspect of the Way, the collective lived experience they recount overwhelmingly reveals the sort of negativity, oppression and dysfunction one would expect to find in communities rooted in quintessential Lutheranism and continually reinforcing the false doctrine that man cannot but sin ("Man cannot do good [...]. You cannot obey the law; the law tells you to love, to resist evil, but you cannot: you do what the Evil one wants" [130]; "Man can do nothing but steal and argue - he can't do otherwise…" [p.138]). Hardly a recipe for harmony and happiness! Particularly among the NC Catechists programmed to robotically propagate such fatalistic misery: "No smile on their face," lamented even one sympathetic French cure who saw many positive elements in the Way. "They didn't have the look of people who were living the joy of the presence of the Risen Lord. I cannot imagine St. Paul with such a face."

Apart from long faces, such teachings can only foster disharmony and disregard for the dignity of others, as a Neocat of 9 years standing forcefully explained to local NC leaders:

You, the priests and catechists of the Way are confusing and misleading the people of God. You proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church with one breath and negate it with the next. You do this all of the time. An example of this is your catechesis on the Sermon on the Mount. You proclaim it as the Word of the Lord and then you in effect tear it up in front of us. You tell us that it is impossible to live by therefore it has nothing to do with us now. You tell us it is a promise to us about the future and therefore until then nothing is required of us in terms of how we live our lives and our dealings with our neighbor. It is open season on our neighbor until God makes us holy.

Every homily you give asserts this false demonic principal of fatalism and determinism. Every homily you give invites us to hate our neighbor and everything in us that is Christ-like and human; compassion, mercy, justice, reflection, insight. Whenever the Gospels give us a catechesis in what it means to be Christian, you negate it. Christís obedience to the Father is equated with our obedience to the catechist. Christís silence in the face of being condemned to death is equated with our silence in the face of any abuse that the catechists choose to impose on us. Whether it manifests as lies, deceit, cruelty or false doctrine whatever they do is Godís will and to stand up to them is to not be Christ-like. We are waiting to be made holy and until then it is open season on our neighbor. You badger the children to admit how contrary to Christ they are then reassure them that it doesnít matter because nothing Christ says applies to us or our every day lives. You teach that any attempt to conform to Christ by how we live or how we treat others is of no value because we are incapable of love through our own power.

It is not surprising therefore that the flock you have indoctrinated can only share, either, that they are grateful for the Way and the catechists or that they are incapable of doing anything but hating their neighbor but that they take comfort in the fact that one day God will make them holy (i.e. "a new man" or a new creation).

In case that sounds exaggerated, consider this comment indicating the effect of such teaching on family life. Written by a couple who spent three-and-a-half years in the Way, it is extracted from their lengthy testimony written at the request of the auxiliary bishop of Quebec:

"The catechists often told us that it is impossible to love. Efforts in this direction were doomed to failure. God alone can render us capable of love. We took them at their word, Rita and me, until the day we noticed that we were colder towards each other, that we were neglecting the little considerations and efforts to make our relations more harmonious and warm, that we had a relationship without visible love."

Trail of acrimony and disunity

Little wonder that a previously tranquil and united French parish in Pulnoy-Cerville, a suburb of Nancy, became a battleground of "suspicion," "hatred," "rancour," "incrimination" and "devilishness" when the NC entered their midst in 1992, absorbing and splitting the parish asunder over a three year period until the astonished bishop finally transferred the Neocat community to another church. Tragically, it was too little far too late: Nous sommes "libérés"… "We are 'liberated'," wrote the remaining parishioners, "but without being reassured for all that, since the group 'pursues' the Way elsewhere. Moreover, the damage committed in their own parish is largely irreparable. Numerous "ex" parishioners have immigrated to neighbouring parishes or have ceased religious practice altogether."

It may happen that, as in my own very large parish, the Neocats remain a separate, scarcely visible, low-key presence. Though, as we have seen, no less toxic for that. Yet the above scenario is the all too common pattern: the Way aggressively pursuing with messianic zeal its stated aim of founding in each parish several NC communities and transforming the parish into a community of autonomous communities. Some parish priests, initially won over by the very real enthusiasm and dedication of the NC leaders and persuaded to accommodate them, have mercifully seen the warning signs early on. Around the same time as the Nancy debacle, for example, a church I regularly attended in South London allowed the Way entree to the parish, only for the amiable parish priest to reverse his decision within a short period of time and expel the movement as division and acrimony reared its head. For precisely the same reasons, as set out in a November 1996 report of his special Panel of Enquiry into local NC activities, Bishop Mervyn Alexander kicked the Neocatechumenate out of his Clifton diocese. Following a lengthy investigation the Panel found that:

"The presence of the Neocatechumenal Way at St Nicholas of Tolentino [Bristol], at St Peter [Gloucester] and at Sacred Hearts [Cheltenham] has not brought new vitality to animate these parishes. Regrettably, the opposite is the case. These parishes lack unity and have declined pastorally as a Parish Community within the Clifton Diocese since the introduction of the NC Way;

"The presence of the Neocatechumenal Way in these parishes does not make visible the sign of the missionary church. Rather, it conveys a sign of strong disunity. The communities have undoubtedly brought some people to the Church for the first time, have helped other people back to the fold and renewed the faith of others, but the Panel is of the view that the Parish Communities as a whole have suffered in consequence."

The Bishop subsequently declared in January 1997: "I have reviewed the restrictions that I placed upon the NC Way in March 1994 and confirmed in 1995. Sadly these have not had the unifying effect I hoped for within the parishes. I am also conscious that the Report details catechetical methods and teaching practices which concern me greatly. Though some people who have followed the NC Way have found great help in the meetings and way of prayer I have decided that the activities of the Neo-Catechumenal Way within the Diocese of Clifton must be brought to a conclusion, and have issued an Administrative Decree to this effect."

Liberal hypocrisy: Conservative denial

Although Dr. Oddie prefers to believe that the Way is "disliked by Catholic liberals for its total orthodoxy," Bishop Alexander emphasized that the Panel's report was "pastoral rather than theological." In fact, it would be highly compromising for the likes of Mervyn Alexander and his successor Declan Lang to investigate NC theology, since it would highlight the frightening agreement of the doctrinal errors of the Way with those routinely espoused by such arch-Modernist prelates and their thoroughly Protestantised priests and laity. No, far easier for the liberals to stick with "divisiveness," a buzzword they have long made their own and to which they can safely point in order to expose and expel Neocats without condemning themselves in the process. Not that anyone could fail to see the monstrous hypocrisy and pitch-black humour in Bishop Alexander's solemn affirmation of "the centrality of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) to the catechetical process in the diocese" as his post-Way panacea!

But credit where it is due. Self-contradictions, ironies and self-righteousness certainly abound whenever liberal ecclesiastics sit in judgement on anyone, yet many Modernist bishops have at least recognized a drastic pastoral problem with the Neocats. In refusing at one point to ordain Neocatechumenals, even Catholic-deconstructor-in-chief Basil Hume managed to get it right, albeit only briefly and largely for the wrong reasons. The same cannot be said, however, for many reputedly "conservative" prelates. Following the last expose of the Way in the February 2000 Christian Order, Archbishop Pell, who had invited the NC into his Melbourne archdiocese, wrote to say that he could not agree with the critiques. Why? Because he finds their leaders quite personable! 'Why let hard evidence disturb a good boot-licking?' seems to be the level of non-debate entertained about the Way by some bishops who should know better. Yet even the Archbishop's own lay advisor on family affairs informed me in Melbourne last year that he found the leaders of the Way difficult, disputatious and full of strange ideas about basic Catholic tenets. He was naturally keen to learn more about them. Informed of the Archbishop's refusal to confront the CO critiques, he shrugged resignedly. (Those who have read our March 2002 editorial will understand why.) Since then, having moved to Sydney, Archbishop Pell has strongly encouraged the NC in their work within his new archdiocese.

Deceptive "fruits"

Apart from the papal support enjoyed by the "new movements" generally, the likes of Archbishop Pell and Dr. Oddie vindicate their enthusiasm for the Way on the basis of its perceived good "fruits" (preferring, in the manner of Medjugorje propagandists, to downplay the overwhelmingly bad fruits while ignoring altogether the "tree" which produced them). In this respect, Oddie gushes about the rapid growth of the Way since its inception in Spain in 1964, having spread to "more than 205 [sic] countries and 800 hundred dioceses" and now "founding new seminaries to add to the 50 or so they already have." We are bombarded with similar statistics: a million lay adherents; 1,457 seminarians; 731 priests, 63 deacons; 4,950 parishes etc. ad nauseam. It is tiresome but necessary to repeat that such enthusiasm for mere figures is always superficial, misplaced and naïve in the extreme.

Generally speaking, as we well know from the prodigious growth of contemporary Protestant sects, in a fractured world brimming with alienated, lonely and emotionally fragile people, as much within the Church as without, any organisation like the Way which aggressively exploits this pervasive vulnerability by offering a cultish security is destined for rapid expansion. (Indeed, it is precisely the parish that fails to offer such marginalised souls the communal support they ardently seek that leaves itself at greatest risk of Neocatechemunal infiltration and takeover). Moreover, from a strictly Catholic viewpoint, one can point to numerous examples down the centuries of false movements and apparitions producing apparently good fruits in the form of stupendous numerical growth, and numerous conversions, vocations and penitents, not to mention compelling miraculous signs. Clearly, in the supernatural world of the Faith things are not always what they seem.

In 16th century France, Nicole Tavernier had ecstasies and visions and revelations. She fasted and urged confession for deliverance from sin and at her word people confessed and received Holy Communion. She knew Scripture better than the greatest theologians and led the most perfect spiritual life. At Holy Communion the Blessed Sacrament found its way into her mouth. But it transpired after many years that she was in league with the Devil. Similarly, there is the oft mentioned case of Franciscan Magdalena of the Cross from the same epoch, who fooled the whole of Spain and most reputed theologians with her outstanding charisma. She could heal the sick, foretell the future, claimed to have lived off nothing but the Blessed Sacrament for 11 years etc, etc. She was honoured as a saint. Only after 38 years did it emerge that as a child she had consecrated herself to Satan.

In our own time and perhaps a more pertinent example, apropos of the rapid growth of "movements" and ecclesiastical approval, is the phenomenon of Marie-Paule Giguere, the Canadian foundress of l'Armee de Marie (Mary's Army), as recounted by Joachim Bouflet in Faussaires de Dieu.

L'Armee de Marie

On the back of her autobiography entitled Vie d'amour, a six thousand page, 15 volume autobiography detailing revelations, locutions, visions and apparitions she had allegedly received since 1968, Marie-Paule conceived her l'Armee de Marie prayer group. Founded in May 1971, the movement was officially recognised by Archbishop Maurice Roy of Quebec in March 1975. This approval was astounding as Vie d'Amour is clearly littered with abnormal incidents and statements contradicting Church teaching, not least being Marie's claims to be the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary and to have been called to the "new mystical priesthood" and then made a Doctor of the Church by Christ Himself ("I say that with humility," she adds!).

Despite the voices raised against Marie's delusions and errors from the very beginning of her movement, it was formally approved and for a decade or more allowed to continue disseminating her "messages" with impunity. This was due both to a well connected, enthusiastic supporter in the Vatican, Mgr Jean Van Lierde, and ecclesiastical authority reducing Christ's "by their fruits…" teaching to the level of a simple maxim having the force of law, regardless of context. Warnings against the 'seer' and her movement issued by sceptical priests were ignored. As were the outspoken criticisms of Marie-Paule's former spiritual director from 1957-65, Father Veilleux, who wrote of her "pride," "disobedience," "mental sickness" and his fears of the scandal she would cause to the Church and souls because of the growth of l'Armee de Marie. Authorities, however, were simply dazzled by the rapid expansion of the movement and clerical claims that it had initiated a renewal of prayer in Quebec parishes. The growth was startling and at the end of the 1970s there were more than 15,000 members or sympathisers in France alone.

Admittedly, Archbishop Roy had reason to inform Marie-Paule as early as 1978 that an article she had penned was not in accord with the teachings of the Church, and the Vatican's Mgr Benelli is said to have commented that "L'Armee de Marie leaves the Bishops of Quebec perplexed." Yet the movement grew like topsy and all Marie-Paule's crazy ideas and errors spread freely through the volumes of Vie d'amour without ecclesiastical sanction. Eventually, however, in 1986, three warnings for "serious errors" were published by Roy's successor, Cardinal Vachon, who then formally dissolved l'Armee de Marie the following year.

The slowness to act against Marie-Paule in any meaningful way is truly amazing. Indeed, right to up to the revocation of the canonical decree approving l'Armee de Maire, the ecclesiastical authorities had endeavoured to preserve the visionary and her work because 'the fruits were good.' And on the basis of that same facile rationale, as incredible as it may seem, we find l'Armee de Marie still active and still enjoying ecclesiastical protection to this day! "It continues discreetly," renowned Medjugorje enthusiast Rene Laurentin wrote approvingly in 1995. "The Sons of Mary, who direct the numerous vocations born in l'Armee de Marie towards the priesthood and religious life, have been entrusted by the Holy See to the Archbishop of Aquila who is very pleased about these vocations."

Parallels and contrasts

"The fruits were good," concludes Joachim Bouflet, "but not the tree: the visionary and her revelations." Ditto with regard to the Neocatechumenate, in respect of which, as we have seen, the same superficial appeals to growth and vocations are always to the fore. There are many other obvious parallels. To select just a few:

  • Marie-Paule's beliefs were demonstrably erroneous, as are those of Kiko and Carmen;

  • The NC clearly contends that the Way is the lone sure path to salvation and that their God-given mission is to reform and purify the Church, while Marie-Paule claimed to be sent by God to "clean out the Church;"

  • Just as Fr. Veilleux's strong and incontestable condemnations of Marie-Paule were ignored by the authorities, so Fr Zoffoli's clear and scholarly refutations of the NC beliefs based on primary source documentation have been passed over in complete silence;

  • Marie-Paule would discount and dismiss anyone who opposed her on the basis that they lacked the unique divine "understanding" she alone possessed, while the same gnostic attitude pervades Kiko's catechesis and gives rise to the fortress mentality which manically attributes any criticism of the Way whatsoever to the work of the Devil;

  • Marie-Paule was revered by her followers who hung on her every word and kept her photo before them, while Kiko is treated like a cult leader whose insights [viz. heresies] are gospel truth from which the Catechists and faithful dare not depart.

And while Marie-Paul had supporters in Rome to protect her, the NC also has friends in the Vatican, far more of them and far more influential, who have enabled the Way to reach an unprecedented position of power in Rome itself and thus to completely marginalise criticism. As a bishop in Rome privately informed a man seeking help to save his marriage after the omnipotent NC Catechists had permanently banished him from his own family for opposing the Movement, the degree of NC infiltration and influence in the Eternal City cannot be imagined by the average Catholic and he [the bishop] was simply too frightened of the Neochatechumenate to ever make a public statement against them. Other bishops and clergy reacted similarly [CO, February 2000, p.116]. In addition, there is the inherent deceit of the NC leaders, who play to the Pope and ingratiate themselves with the bishops on the one hand, while on the other Kiko directs his charges to keep mum about his heterodox and heretical teachings: "don't mention these things to the people… because it would create a ton of problems" [CO, Feb 2000, p.110]. In that respect there is a world of difference between the Gigueres and Arguellos of the world. Whereas Marie-Paul, being mad, was honest, open and guileless in articulating her bizarre beliefs, visions and plans, Kiko and his comrades, being frighteningly sane, are secretive, manipulative, calculating and ruthless, saying one thing in private and another in public.

Conning the Pope

Considering that Machiavellian combination of powerful friends and underlying deceit - especially the tireless self-promotion of the NC leaders who present themselves as papal servants and loyal sons of the Church while simultaneously telling their neophytes that the bishops are incapable of providing the guidance available only within Kiko's salvific movement - one can perhaps understand how the Holy Father came to sanction the Neocatechumenate, or, more accurately, to be conned by it. Moreover, the Pope loves nothing more than the uplifting sight of wall-to-wall Catholic youth and so the Way routinely truck in thousands of their young followers and seminarians to papal gatherings anywhere in the world. Money is never an object to NC leaders since tithing is obligatory and the funds are left entirely at their disposal. Consequently, with bountiful youthful "fruits" ever in the foreground and friends in high places constantly networking in the background, the temptation to relent is irresistible to a Pope and hierarchy utterly desperate for any sign of evangelical life and fervour in a moribund Church.

Anyone who thinks that Rome would never be so gullible or mistaken or tardy in these matters should take a long hard look at the chaotic, confusing and treacherous state of the Church we presently occupy, have another glance through the l'Armee de Marie saga above, consider that Marie-Paule Giguere's spiritual progeny are still entering priestly and religious life with Rome's blessing, and think again! In that light, to suggest that the Holy Father has effectively sanctioned a quasi-Lutheran cult which seeks to evangelize the world through churning out dysfunctional laity and clergy to fill increasingly desolate and undermanned dioceses (bearing in mind that Neocat seminarians already constitute around 25% of the students at Westminster's Allen Hall seminary!), might suddenly seem within the realms of possiblity after all. And think, too, of prudential judgements of pontificates past which have cost the Church dear. Clement XIV's suspension of the Jesuits in 1773, for instance. One can empathise totally with Pope Clement's impossible predicament at the time and still conclude that he got it wrong, effectively destroying the Church's frontline defence against its enemies and leaving the way clear for Voltaire's scheming disciples to facilitate the diabolic Revolution of 1789. Such momentous decisions, all within the inscrutable realm of God's Providence, weigh upon the Vicar of Christ, but as his infallibility does not extend to such politico-administrative judgements we can agree to disagree with him if the plain evidence suggests he is mistaken. Many Catholics at the time were doubtless rightly horrified by Pope Clement's decision, but at least Clement XIV reached his verdict under truly crushing political pressures. Sadly, one searches in vain for a similar compelling excuse to ameliorate John Paul II's decision to legitimise the Way.

The Last Trojan Horse?

There is no escaping our obligation as baptised Catholics to expose and scrutinise any movement which, through its teachings and actions, appears to compromise or weaken the Church. An obligation which becomes more pressing when that weakening proceeds with Vatican approval while transmitting the illusion of strengthening. When everything is opposed to its true meaning - when strengthening weakens, when a striving for grace removes charity while introducing haughty sectarianism, when reasonable questions relegate the questioner to the ranks of the Devil's own - then you have entered an Orwellian world where 'war is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength.' A world where darkness presents itself as divine light. "We are the angels of the Lord!" cry the NC Catechists, when in fact the message they bring bears no relation to the life-giving light of faith proclaimed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

And yet the Pontifical Council of the Laity states that the Pope's approval of their statutes is "an event of noteworthy Church significance." Mesmerised by the rapid growth of the Way, Dr. Oddie enthuses: "that might turn out to be something of an understatement." He may well be right. For if Modernism is the mother of all heresies and Medjugorje is the mother of all false apparitions, then the Neocatechumenate is just as surely the mother of all post-conciliar Trojan Horses. And Lord knows there have been enough of them! From Cursillo to Marriage Encounter to RENEW to ALPHA and the countless other pseudo-"renewals" in between, they have all gnawed away relentlessly at the faith and unity of the Body of Christ. But none have possessed the financial, numerical and now Roman clout of the Way. Even allowing for its 5-year-provisional nature, the Vatican approval opens wide a neo-Wittenberg door to dissemination of heresy that must have the NC's true spiritual father, Martin Luther, doing cartwheels in eternity. The potential for irreparable spiritual damage is immense. As Don Gino Conti, Fr Zoffoli's collaborator, reminded participants at a 1997 seminar on the Neocatechumenate in Rome: "When Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Cathedral doors of Wittenberg, he had written only 95 propositions, but they were enough to trigger the whole Protestant movement and millions of believers strayed from the Catholic Church." Yes, the Pontifical Council may indeed have "underestimated" the "significance" of the NC's legitimation, but in ways Dr. Oddie cannot imagine.

So, is the Way the last Trojan Horse? Is it the final act of self-mutilation in that process of ecclesiastical "self-demolition" forewarned by Paul VI in December 1968? Despite the Way's uncanny legitimation at a time of unprecedented diabolic disorientation and upheaval both inside and outside the Church, I very much doubt it. And yet the Neocats certainly evoke that endtimes feeling! Especially when we contrast the Vatican's upbeat, open-door policy with these comments extracted from a lengthy 1998 critique by one who really knows the score, a former NC Catechist no less - the sort of witness whose expert testimony, like that of Fr. Enrico Zoffoli, Rome scrupulously avoided throughout the several years of discussions leading to their approval of the Way:

When one analyses appropriately the discourses of Kiko and Carmen, one realises that it is demagoguery pure and simple. The discourses lack logic and structure, the Word of God is manipulated according to their own interests. The terms are inadequate and vague; the discourses lack epistemological (intellectual) rigour, the arguments are false, they contain numerous misinterpretations. The discourse is uni-directional, intrusive, and allows no space/room for others. The tone is blaming, aggressive.

The "secret" discourses and catecheses are in opposition to the contents of the discourses of the initiator (Kiko) and some catechists which are given to the press. There are evident contradictions, it is lying pure and simple. It is subversion!

It is indeed. And it's coming soon to a parish near you - with papal blessing!

It took a dozen years for ecclesiastical authority to see through and dissolve the canonical decree which legitimised l'Armee de Marie and its chronically deluded foundress. One hopes against hope that a similar hierarchical awakening will, in time, shut down the heretical Way and its subversive leadership.

St. Anthony of Padua, "hammer of heretics", pray for us.