This starting breaking in Rome last week. That is the huge controversy over the Neo Cath movement's liturgy. This appeared in the Vatican Newspaper so it's worth copying in full. Thanks for here for the translation
Benedict XVI's lesson on liturgy
to the Neo-Catechumenals
by Manuel Nin
The Fathers of the Church (particularly Cyril of Jerusalem, John Chrysostom, Theodore of Antioch), in their pre-Baptismal catecheses preached during Lent, 'initiated' the catechumens - one could say, took them by the hand and led them - those who were preparing to receive Baptism at the Easter Vigil to discover, know and 'memorize' the Christian faith through the profession of faith (the Credo), and giving them the model for prayer, the Our Father.
During this time of preparation, while awaiting Baptism which, like all the sacraments, is a gift to be received within the Church, within its regenerating womb, the catechumens were initiated into the faith, to listen to the Word of God and to understand it, but took part only in the first part of the Mass. [What we now call the Liturgy of the Word used to be called Mass of the Catechumens.]
Indeed, after the Gospel - and we still have proof of these in the Oriental rites - the deacon would dismiss the catechumens and instruct them to leave the church, to remain 'in waiting', a joyous waiting for the time they could participate in the Sacrifice of Christ on that Easter even when their bishop would baptise them into the one and only Mother Church.
On that night, the catechumens, who were welcomed into the church to the chanting of the Pauline verse "All you who are baptized in Christ, you have been reclothed with Christ, Alleluia", were now called 'neophytes', meaning they were now embedded, inserted. Into what? In Christ in the one great Church.
From that moment, they could take part fully in all the holy mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ, no longer just a stage in their catechumenate but the fullness of belonging to Christ in he life of the Church.
It is in the wake of the Fathers of the Church, of their catecheses and mistagogical discourses that we can consider the address Benedict XVI made to the members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way last January 20 after having met with the founders of the movement.
It was a lesson in liturgical theology that is valid and useful for the Neo-Catechumenals as well as for the whole Church.
At the start, the Pope underscores the value of the movement's commitment to mission and evangelization - a commitment however that must always be doe - the Holy Father underscored this twice - "in communion with the entire Church and with the Successor of Peter", always seeking profound communion with the Apostolic See and with the pastors of the local Churches into which they are inserted".
One might say that the Bishop of Rome never loses sight of his principal function of communion with all the pastors of the Catholic Church: "The unity and harmony of the ecclesial body are an important testimonial to Christ and to his Gospel in the world in which we live".
Benedict XVI, as a good pastor, rightly does not spare bringing to light the generosity and missionary enterprise of the Neo-Catechumenal Way - and even the difficulties they encounter in this task - and to encourage its members (laymen, priests, entire families) to continue their zeal to announce the Gospel even in places quite remote from Christianity, and always for love of Christ and the Church.
After his introductory words, the Pope explains the approval of those Neo-Catechumenal celebrations "which are not strictly liturgical but are part of the itinerary of growth in the faith".
He reminds them and the entire Church that legitimate liturgies are those approved by the Church in various texts from the Magisterium of the Popes or the various ecumenical councils that have regulated and approved the liturgies of the Church.
He points out however that the approval of the (non-liturgical) celebrations included in the 'Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way" must be read strictly with the 'sensus Ecclesiae' [what the Church means by its celebrations] and in harmony with the demands of building together the 'corpus Ecclesiae' (the body of the Church).
He tells them that "the Church understands the richness you bring, but it also looks to the communion and harmony of the entire Body of the Church". Once more, in Benedict XVI's Pontificate, we see Peter as the basis for communion and unity in the Church.
What he has said so far on the movement's commitment to evangelization and approval of their non-liturgical celebrations offers Benedict XVI the chance to speak about the value of liturgy - that reality in the life of the Church that does not need any specific approval because it has already been examined, approved and regulated by the Roman See and by Vatican II.
The Pope was not seeking to explain what liturgy is, but to highlight its value - what it has that is central and vital to the life of the Church and every Christian.
In order to clearly lay down the principles of his argument, Benedict XVI begins by citing No. 7 of Sacrosanctum concilium, the Vatican-II constitution on the liturgy. It defines liturgy as "the work of Christ the Priest and his body which is the Church".
He cites the liturgical year which not only commemorates but celebrates and makes present and actual with epiclectic force all the mystery of Christ for and in the Church:
Thus, the Church, in celebrating the mystery of Christ, becomes his body. And the Pope cites St. Augustine in this respect:
Faithful to the catechetical and mystagogic tradition of the Fathers of the Church, Benedict describes the Eucharist as "the summit of Christian life" - full communion with Christ through the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, and with the Church which, in turn is his body as well as his guardian.
The oriental Churches, faithful to ancient Christian tradition, always celebrate all three sacraments of Christian initiation together - Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. Therefore, the peak of the catechumens' journey that ends with Baptism at the Easter Vigil, is their participation, in full communion with the Church - in the holy and divine mysteries.
The Pope, citing the statutes of the Way which consider the Eucharist as a post-baptismal catechumenate, situates this view of the Eucharist in the context of "promoting a rapprochement to the wealth of the sacramental life by people who have grown away from the Church or who have not received an adequate Christian formation".
Basically, the Pope appeared to be leading the Neo-Catechumenals away from viewing the Eucharist in the context of a catechumenate, to that of the true and proper mystagogy (introduction to a mystery) which is specific to it.
Thus, he also intended to redirect the Eucharist as celebrated by the movement or by any other ecclesial group of movement, to the context of the Church herself, outside of which the celebration of the divine mysteries would be devoid of any Crhistologic and ecclesiological basis.
And so, once more, Benedict XVI reiterates the unique and irreplaceable role of the bishop as custodian and liturgist of the Church. Liturgy, he makes clear, does not belong to anyone, be it persons, groups or movements, to be adapted, modified or made to measure.
It belongs to the Church and is guaranteed by him who by the laying of hands received the fullness of divine grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, in order to pasture the flock, to be the one who 'watches from above' (which is the true sense of the Greek word episkopos, for bishop).
I would add that the liturgy, in whatever Christian Church in the East and West, must be respected and received almost like a sacred gift itself, not as something that anyone can take or use as he wills and as he pleases.
Concluding, the Pope reminded the Neo-Catechumenals, and all members of the Church, that it was necessary to be faithful to the liturgical books which regulate liturgical celebration, thus avoiding any arbitrariness or subjectivism, since all liturgy must be a service in common among all Catholics in the service of ecclesial communion.
Such necessary insertion into the fullness of ecclesial life is underscored by the Holy Father
Finally, the unifying thread of his entire discourse:
Theology, liturgy, communion. These are the three elements which are dear to his heart and which Benedict XVI sough to underscore. These were theological reflections, but more especially, mystagogic, seeking to take the faithful by the hand and lead them towards a true understanding of the mysteries of Christ in full communion with Christ himself in the Church he founded.