Archbishop Byrnes issues "moratorium" on Neocatechumenal WayWritten by Janela Carrera
Guam - Archbishop Michael Byrnes has made an unprecedented move, issuing a moratorium on some of the practices of the Neocatechumenal Way. In a pastoral letter he issued yesterday, Byrnes says many of the NCW practices have contributed to the deep divisions within the Catholic Church.
Byrnes’ pastoral letter addresses three major issues within the NCW practices. Byrnes says he came to this decision after he was approached by many in the Catholic community on nearly a daily basis about concerns of the NCW practices.
“From listening to many of you I realize that a number of factors have contributed toward the divisions,” Byrnes said in his letter.
The first action he takes is a moratorium on the formation of new NCW communities. The moratorium will last for a year, during which time Byrnes says he will appoint a priest delegate to “help me discern the effects of our efforts,” as well as to review other matters by which the NCW practices the formation of new communities.
We spoke with Tim Rohr, an insider in the Catholic community with extensive knowledge on the recent controversies within the church.
"That’s essentially a moratorium. In other words, no more of these, no more forming communities where you go by the church and you see these signs out there [that say] 'come and listen,'" explained Rohr. "So what they do is they say, 'come and listen.' They’re forming these new communities or they’re trying to anyway. They’re recruiting. What they do is they’ll, you don’t even know you’re going to mass, and then suddenly during the homily, the priest will invite up some neocat and they’ll give this big recruiting speech about joining the neocatechumenal way."
Second, Archbishop Byrnes is requiring that NCW members receive their holy communion and consume it immediately. “There is to be no delay,” the archbishop says in his letter.
"After the statute came out in 2008 which required them to stand, what they did is they separated the reception from consumption and what they would do is they would receive it in their hand but they wouldn’t put it in their mouth. They waited until after everybody got the host and then they sat down and then put it in their mouth, which is not allowed. That’s why Archbishop Byrnes' letter says 'There is to be no delay,'" Rohr points out.
Finally, Archbishop Byrnes addresses the celebration of Saturday night mass. He requires that already established NCW communities must celebrate their mass at a consecrated altar either in the main sanctuary of the church or in an approved chapel. If mass is in addition to the regularly scheduled Saturday night mass, “some portion of the collection taken should go to the parish in order to cover costs.” Byrnes also gives the church’s pastor the authority over the number of masses or the ability to direct the communities to celebrate together.
"I think this is a great act of courage, as I said, I belive Byrnes to be the only bishop in world that has actually addressed this head on. Other bishops have declared moratoriums on the neo, but nobody that I know has actually addressed the 'illicit' Eucharistic practice," added Rohr. "He has not only every right to do this but he actually, as a bishop, has a responsibility to do it. It’s the bishop who’s supposed to sort of police the liturgy in his diocese and every bishop has that responsibility. If we can trust Archbishop Byrnes to do the right thing in this, I believe we can trust him moving forward."
You can read Byrnes' pastoral letter by clicking on the file below.