Neocats eclipse the Pope

An article entitled Los ‘kikos’ eclipsan al Papa by Miguel Mora, El Pais 19/07/08, and translated by Joe C.

Kikos make up the vast majority of the 4,200 Spanish pilgrims that, according to the Spanish Episcopal Conference, have gone to the 23rd World Youth Day, celebrated in Sydney. The leader of the NeoCatechumenal Way, painter and singer Kiko Arguello, looks to these mass excursions for fresh vocations to nourish the 52 seminaries of his community. On Monday the leader will meet his young army and ask anyone who has been visited by the Holy Spirit to raise his hand. The pool of Neocatechumenal seminarians at this moment stands at more than 1500.

The kikos are the largest of the new Catholic movements. They number more than a million faithful in 105 countries, have 20,000 communities and run several private universities. Pro-government, different (?) and toeing a very conservative ideological line, their formation is conducted by laypeople, many of whom renounce careers and lives to dedicate themselves to evangelisation.

They have the full blessing of the Pope of Rome, who has just approved the statutes of the Neocatechumenal way, founded in 1964 by Arguello and by the nun and chemist, Carmen Hernandez. Their method is to send whole families to places where priests are lacking or where the Catholic religion is in decline. On the streets, he has been the support of John Paul 2 and of Antonio Rouco Varela (Cardinal of Madrid) and in Sydney he has shown that it is he who continues to provide the greatest audience at papal activities.

His independence and his capacity to lobby in high places annoys some Spanish bishops who have seen that certain catecheses programmed for Sydney stayed empty because the kikos preferred to do things their own way.

The Way has been working in parallel with Opus Dei, and apparently in tune with it, for years. While Opus seeks out talent at universities and among the economic elite, Arguello looks for, and meets, simple families. His enthusiasm knows no frontiers nor no boundaries. It is said that he is the one foreigner able to persuade the Israeli Government to give up land for nothing in Galilee. There he constructed an impressive building and there he holds his corporate meetings. In Italy important people close to the Vatican are declared kikos. One of them is Robert Piermarini, telecommunications consultant and head of Vatican Radio.

Other faithful find access to the Pope more difficult. After a flight of 33 hours from Scotland, Anthony and Christina Foster arrived in Sydney with one mission: to gain an audience, hear Benedict XVI ask pardon in the name of the Church and commit himself to protecting and caring for victims of sexual abuse. The two older daughters of the Fosters, Emma and Katie, while students of a catholic school in Oakleigh, Melbourne, were repeatedly raped, aged 5 and 8, by the priest, Kevin O’Donnell.

O’Donnell died in1997, after being sentenced to 39 months in prison for the abuse of 12 minors. Now the sad history of the Foster family threatens to cast a shadow over the first visit of the Pope to Australia. The Fosters want to explain to Benedict XVI in person that the effects of abuse are suffered all through life, and can’t be compensated by money, but only with justice. They are waiting for the Pope to make a moral and not a legal response to victims.

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