Cardinal Ratzinger celebrating Eucharist at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Rome
The Neocatechumenal Way, a Christian Initiation of Adults to rediscover the meaning of Baptism and arrive at a mature faith, was born in the shanty town of Palomeras (Madrid) in the 60s. Presently it is one of the most important realities in the Church. John Paul II showed many times his support of this itinerary and its initiators, Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández, and Father Mario Pezzi. The recently elected pope, Benedict XVI, also knows the Way very closely. He has declared on various occasions that these new movements and ecclesial realities are the hope of the Church.
Madrid, Spain: Kiko Argüello, initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way, spoke with LA RAZÓN a few hours after Cardinal Ratzinger's election as pope and appearance before thousands in Saint Peter's Square as Pope Benedict XVI.
LA RAZÓN: I imagine that you are very happy about the fact that the College of Cardinals and the Holy Spirit have elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new Pope of the Catholic Church.
KIKO ARGÜELLO: We are very happy. I think it is a great grace for the whole Church because he is a man of an extraordinary formation. He knows very well the present situation of secularization of Europe, above all about what is happening in Germany. The name he has chosen, Benedict, already makes a reference to the Patron of Europe, who evangelized the whole continent with monasteries and bringing Christian families to teach what Christianity is to the barbarians. This means that his name is already a sign of what he wants to do in his Pontificate: re-evangelize, Europe above all. It is also important because Benedict XV, the last Pope to use this name, wrote an encyclical about the evangelization.
LA RAZÓN: What has been the attitude that Joseph Ratzinger has had until know towards the Neocatechumenal Way?
ARGÜELLO: We are very happy because it was he who helped us to open the Way in Germany. Ratzinger had a group of students in Tübingen that went against the theology defended by Küng. These students knew the Neocatechumenal Way and are today very famous theologians. They spoke to him about the Way and he invited me to go to Tübingen. I was with him in his house, and he wanted to know about my experience. He organized a meeting with the Bishop and with the person in charge of the Adult Catechumenate, with the Auxiliary Bishop and with the Episcopal Vicar.
LA RAZÓN: What do you remember about that meeting?
ARGÜELLO: There is a funny anecdote about that meeting. The catechist that came with me and was translating for me in that meeting was not doing a very good job. So Ratzinger ended up translating for me as I explained what the Neocatechumenal Way is.
LA RAZÓN: What other contacts have you had with Joseph Ratzinger?
ARGÜELLO: Later on he gave us letters for some Pastors in Munich who were his friends, to invite them to open the Way. He has also been very important with regards to the Way, because he has had the best theologians as well as the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith study the "mamotretos", which contain the writings of the Neocatechumenal Way. The different catecheses and contents of these "mamotretos" have already been approved. Moreover, we have been congratulated by him. He is a very good friend of ours. In the last book he wrote about the new realities of Europe, he said that the future of the Church lies in the creative minorities. He has been asked to explain what he meant by that statement. He answered that these minorities have an interior creativity, that is to say, that they are animated by the Holy Spirit. In this sense, he knows us and is very happy. He has always supported us. He has also visited the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Rome which is made up of seminarians from the Way.
LA RAZÓN: Regarding his pontificate, do you think that he is going to continue along the same lines of John Paul?
ARGÜELLO: No doubt. His pontificate is going to revolve around the evangelization. He is going to evangelize a lot. He has very clear ideas about this matter. At the same time, he is very aware of the dangers that the Church faces today, as he said in his homily of the mass "Pro Eligendo Papa" when he spoke about the dictatorship of relativism. I believe that this is a great grace for the whole Church. Moreover, he knows very well the Curia.
LA RAZÓN: How have you, the team of initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, lived these days since the death of John Paul II?
ARGÜELLO: We were in Galilee, where we have prayed for the new pope, and we have asked God for Ratzinger to be elected.
LA RAZÓN: God listened to you!
ARGÜELLO: Indeed. We are very happy.
(source: "LA RAZÓN." Thursday April 21, 2005)
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