TO OUR VENERABLE BROTHER BISHOP
PAUL JOSEF CORDES VICE PRESIDENT
OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE LAITY
APPOINTED "AD PERSONAM" FOR THE APOSTOLATE
OF THE NEOCATECHUMENAL COMMUNITIES
Every time the Holy Spirit causes to germinate in the Church impulses for greater faithfulness to the Gospel, there flourish new charisms, which manifest these realities, and new institutions which put them into practice. Thus it was after the Council of Trent and after the Second Vatican Council.
Among the realities generated by the Spirit in our days, figure the Neocatechumenal Communities, initiated by Mr K Argüello and Ms C Hernandez (Madrid, Spain), the effectiveness of which for the renewal of Christian life was acclaimed by my predecessor, Paul VI, as a fruit of the Council: "How much joy and how much hope you give us by your presence and by your activity... To live and to promote this re-awakening is what you call a way "after baptism", which will be able to renew in today's christian communities those effects of maturity and deepening that, in the primitive Church, were realized by the period of preparation for Baptism (Paul VI to the Neocatechumenal Communities, General Audience, 8th May 1974, in NOTITIAE 96-96, 1974, 230).
I too, as Bishop of Rome, have been able to verify the copious fruits of personal conversion and fruitful missionary impulse in the many meetings I have had in the Roman parishes with the Neocatechumenal Communities and their Pastors, as well as in my apostolic journeys in many nations.
These Communities make visible in the parishes the sign of the missionary church and they strive to open a way for the evangelization of those who have almost abandoned the christian life, offering them an itinerary of a catechumenal type which goes through all those stages that the catechumens went through in the primitive church before receiving the sacrament of Baptism: it brings them back to the Church and to Christ (cf. `Postbaptismal Catechumenate' in NOTITIAE 96-96, 1974, 229). The announcement of the Gospel, the witnessing in small communities and the eucharistic celebration in groups (cf. Notification on the celebration of groups of the Neocatechumenal Way in L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO - 24th December 1988) is that which enables the members to put themselves at the service of the renewal of the Church.
Many Brothers in the Episcopate have acknowledged the fruits of this "Way". I want only to recall Mons. Casimiro Morcillo, the then Bishop of Madrid, in whose diocese and under whose government the Neocatechumenal Communities - which he welcomed with so much love - were born in the year 1964.
After over twenty years of the life of these communities, spread throughout the five continents:
- taking into account the new vitality which animates the parishes, the missionary impulse and the fruits of conversion which spring from the dedication of the itinerants and, lately, from the work of the families which evangelize in dechristianised areas of Europe and of the whole world;
welcoming the request addressed to me, I acknowledge the Neocatechumenal Way as an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for our society and for our times.
It is therefore my wish that the Brothers in the Episcopate - together with their presbyters - value and support this work for the new evangelization so that it may be implemented according to the lines proposed by its initiators, in the spirit of service to the local Ordinary and in communion with him in the context of the unity of the local church and the universal Church.
From the Vatican, 30th August 1990, 12th year of the Pontificate.
John Paul II
[An original in Italian language ].