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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
It's an easy mistake to make, though comparisons to Scientologists and Moonies as readily spring to mind. A pair of extensive features archived at Free Republic (here and here) give a thorough rundown on the oddball theology and liturgy of the NC Way, as does an article titled "Cult Fiction":
They have patrons in high places, including the Holy Father, and Rome has recently given them its formal approval. But then Rome has also given traditionalists its formal approval by setting up the commission, Ecclesia Dei, and the prelature of the Association of St Jean Marie Vianney. Rome has always been a deal more catholic and liberal than it detractors would give it credit. However, the faithful may be excused in these confusing times for taking such ecclesial approval with a very large pinch of salt. After all, it is just a couple of decades ago that l’Armée de Marie was enthusiastically and officially approved by the Church; only a mere decade later to be formally suppressed by an embarrassed Episcopacy which had finally woken up to the fact that its foundress was claiming to be the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary and was, what many of the laity had been trying to tell them all along, as barmy as a box of frogs…
How has [guitar-strumming founder] Kiko [Arguello] managed to so comprehensively con the Holy Father?
He has managed to con the Holy Father by using a very simple sales technique used by all professional salesmen, known in the jargon as "pressing hot buttons." What are John Paul II’s hot buttons? That’s easy: the gospel of life, evangelization and youth.
So when ever Kiko and his cohorts are in the presence of the Holy Father they work these three hot buttons like professional salesmen. Firstly, they continually stress in his presence their movements opposition to abortion, artificial contraception and sterilization etc. - that’s the gospel of life hot button pressed. Secondly, they reel out statistic about their rapid world-wide expansion - that’s the evangelization hot button pressed. Finally they ensure that at any youth gathering, their youth are up early and at the front of the crowd waving Neocatechumenate banners - that’s the youth hot button pressed. That’s all there is to it really, all quite simple.
Kiko doesn’t of course say to the pope, "Oh by the way Holy Father, behind your back we refer to you as a pagan because you offer sacrifices, the alleged sacrifice of the Mass, every day." Nor does he say, "Oh by the way Holy Father, I’ve completely rewritten the Church’s liturgy to exclude all reference to sacrifice, redemption, atonement etc. Do you mind?" And he most certainly doesn’t tell the Holy Father that his movement's apologists are trained to talk every week for sixteen weeks in parishes without once mentioning the Catechism of the Catholic Church…
If you embrace the Way, you must logically accept that the Church for the last sixteen centuries has got most of her doctrines hopelessly wrong.
See also past articles from the Guardian (here and here) and a piece from The Tablet found at the Rick Ross cult-watch site.
Consider that while a universal indult has yet to be granted the Old Mass, this quackery is not only given the green light to flourish, but endorsed at Rome's highest levels.
Indeed, the NeoCats and their like are considered by Cardinal Stafford just the thing to renew the Church (news no doubt pleasing to the NC editor and staff of the Pilot).
Cardinal Stafford has done as much as anyone to advance the NeoCats, already having given us World Youth Day. John Allen places the Cardinal in the anti-liberal school, an interesting perspective, given the Cardinal's promotion of sects and youth rallies that revolve around manipulation and the cult of personality.
When historians get around to chronicling the present crisis in the Church, one wonders at the place Cardinal Stafford will assume.