Monday, September 8, 2008

The Way: Another Dose of Spanish Religious Fascism

Today I'd like to call attention to a very disturbing article about the Neocatechumenal Way.  This is a long article, and although I will be taking excerpts from it in the rest of this thread, I encourage you to read the full article.  

I have to admit I knew a whole lot more about Opus Dei and the Legionaires.  Somewhere in the background of Catholic neocon movements I had heard of  "The Way", and knew that in June of this year it had received Canonical status from the Vatican, after CDF approval of it's statutes.  I had also heard vague rumblings about some of it's liturgical abuses and that the Vatican had insisted those be cleaned up before it would grant Canonical status. In all honesty I tended to see "The Way" as progressive because of it's use of creative liturgies and emphasis on communities.  I couldn't have been farther from the truth.  

The lay leader of the movement is Kiko Arguello, a self proclaimed mystic and visionary, hence the shorthand name for followers of the movement are 'Kikos'. It has a world wide membership of 1.5 million with it's own seminaries, parishes, and colleges.  It's received unbelievable support from John Paul II.  Like the other high profile right wing groups it's the brain child of a Spaniard and enjoys immense support amongst the Cardinals of Spain.  It's as right wing fanatical as these things come, and not adverse to 'community organizing':

And above all, Kiko will provide Rouco (Cardinal Rouco of Madrid) with political influence. At a meeting in Rome in October 2007, during the beatification of 468 Religious assassinated in the Civil War, Arguello will propose to the Cardinal organising a great demonstration in Madrid ‘in defense of the Christian family’. There are barely three months left before the general elections. The polls predict a technical draw between the PSOE (Socialist Party of Spanish Workers) and the (right wing) Popular Party. Rouco is doubtful. It seems precipitate. Arguello reassures him, ‘Don Antonio, I will put 300,000 kikos in Columbus Place’. Rouco agrees. The demonstration takes place on October 30. Various Cardinals and 42 Bishops attend.

This supposed religious demonstration turns into a
political rally against the Government of Rodriguez Zapatero and his initiatives like homosexual marriage and the school subject, Education for Citizenship. The dais rises above an icon painted by Arguello. Organisers accuse Zapatero of ‘breaking up the family’. Cardinal Garcia-Gasco goes further. ‘Radical laicism can bring about the dissolution of democracy and does not respect the constitution,’ he roars. Kiko closes the rally with his guitar. And sounds an alarm, ‘These atheistic and lay Governments want to make us believe that our life goes nowhere. But it is going to Heaven.’  (Garcia-Gasco's words could be just as easily leveled at the Neocats, but we all know in the conservative mind their thinking can only go in one direction.  That's why none of them understand "HYPOCRISY".)

Arguello really means we're all going to heaven if we do it his way.  His way involves all the usual cultic trappings:  the turning over of wealth from members, secrecy, coercive instruction in the statutes by catechetical 'overseers' and secrecy, the insistence on obedience to superiors as the prime indicator of the strength of one's faith, the practice of ostracism and secrecy, the perception that the leader is a living saint and that he stands in direct contrast to the workings of Satan and his assertions that this is true, aggressive evangelising, the subverting of clergy, the takeover of parishes, and the grooming, educating and infantilizing of it's own seminarians.

The kiko's are also heavily recognized for having large families.  Arguello has repeatedly emphasized the woman's Christian duty is to have as many babies as possible.  Kiko's have a ritual, seemingly taken directly from AA, where members identify themselves only by first name and then give the number of children they have.  The most applause goes to the person with the most children. Procreative sobriety is not the kind of sobriety Kiko's are looking for.  Neocats have the largest birthrate of any subgroup in Europe and this birthrate is one reason they are exploding in numbers.  Since The Way is in it's 45th year, we're talking generations of baby making.

Kiko Arguello is not married, and as far as anyone knows has no children, but he does have an interesting relationship with a woman name Carmen Hernandez:

In the shanties of Vallecas he was going to meet, in those first stages of his career, the woman who has been his companion, his alter ego and co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, through four decades, Carmen Hernandez, a nun of her generation, of a wealthy family, a Licentiate in theology, who from her girlhood had wanted to be a missionary, but had never submitted to the discipline of the religious orders. ‘We were two misfits; that everything would go well is a miracle,’ says Arguello. Kiko would bring to The Way his charisma, his interpretive gifts, his restlessness. Carmen Hernandez the doctrinal base that Arguello lacked. They would unite forces. The relationship between them is one of the great mysteries (one of the favourite terms of The Way) of the kikos. Their followers explain immediately that they are not a couple. It is certain he is the leader. But she is not disposed to remain without her moment of glory. She is the voice of his conscience. In public and in private. And she presses him conscientiously.  (Perhaps their relationship is the foundation on which JPII's notions of sexual complimentarity had their genesis.)

There are descriptions of their public ceremonial interchanges in which she sits on the altar with him and corrects his thinking or uses sarcasm to get him to rethink what he says, or just ridicules him.  It's a strange relationship, but this repartee has been part and parcel of what makes their leadership of the movement so powerful.  Functioning as Arguello's alter ego she seems to humanize and humble him.  Seems to, is probably the operative word.  This couple had a very very close relationship with JPII:

 When Karol Woytila arrived at the Vatican in 1978 the churches and the seminaries were empty, the traditional orders (Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans) flirting with the Theology of Liberation and the diocesan clergy old and in confusion. Woytila was the result of the Cold War; he conceived of a church of resistance to Communism. ‘And from the first moment, his idea is to re-evangelize Europe. He sees that he can not count on the old orders’ explains a Spanish priest. ‘He finds himself alone. There is a spiritual vacuum and providentially the new neocon groups appear (Opus Dei, Focolares, Communion and Liberation, Saint Egidio, and the kikos) formed by lay people with a conception of the Church similar to his own, and he draws on them. They not only fill stadiums for him, but they are an antidote to the Theology of Liberation and the proliferation of evangelical sects in Latin America. They are ready to preach in the old Communist countries. And they profess a dog-like fidelity to him.

Kiko and Woytila are twin souls. They both want to re-evangelize Christianity. And they are two old enthusiasts of the theatre. They know the importance of image. As one monsignor relates, Carmen and Kiko cultivate John Paul conscientiously. They are masters in the art of flattery. As often as the Pope opens his window, rain or snow, there is a group of kikos with guitars, singing in honour of him. Kikos will sing for Woytila in every mass celebration at which he’s present in any corner of the world. Every Sunday Carmen Hernandez is with the Pope while he visits the parishes of Rome as bishop of his diocese. She becomes a habitual presence. Kiko and Carmen eventually penetrate the intimacy of the Pope and share private meals with him. They will talk with him with their habitual harshness of the state of the Church. They will give him reports about the fidelity of the bishops. Previously, the pair had won over to their cause the powerful secretary of the Pope, the Polish priest, Stanislaw Dziwisz. When he is made cardinal in 2006, they will be in the front rank, and the new cardinal will fraternally put his arm round Carmen’s shoulders. She confirms that they are still good friends: ‘He has invited us to Cracow, and he treats me like a queen. He invites me to seafood.’

In 1990, against the judgment of certain bishops who are suspicious of the practices of The Way, Woytila publishes a letter of recognition which conveys his good regard for the kikos. In the document he exhorts bishops to value and to support the work of The Way. In other words he orders them to open the doors of their parishes. One follower suspects that the letter was drawn up by Arguello, who gave it to the Pope to sign. It was the great recognition.

Although it appears that Benedict is not nearly so personally taken with Arguello and Hernandez, he never the less did approve the Canonical status of The Way.  When I think about it, it's amazing how right wing Spanish fascism has infiltrated the Vatican and the Hierarchy.  Opus Dei, the Legionaires, and Neocatechumenal Way are all products of ego driven Spanish fascists.  They are groups which have evolved around personality cults and embody the same slavish devotion as the fascist dictatorships from whose ashes they have risen.  It looks as if they are using the Roman Catholic Church to reach political ascendancy in concert with Biblical Envangelicals in the United States.  I'm sure Arguello and Hernandez would list GW Bush as one of their favorite politicians.  Scary stuff.

In light of all this, I know with a sinking certainty that this US election season will degenerate into the same kinds of Madrid pro family political rhetoric which the Neo Cats engaged in previous to the Spanish election.  The attack semantics of the last two days of the Republican convention seemed to be designed to pander to the American version of Neo Catechumenates. Sarah Palin would fit right in with this group and I know we'll continue to hear the same kinds of attack rhetoric she engaged in from the RNC podium--or should I say RNC pulpit.

Speaking of palin:  The Greek word for "again" or "backward" is palin.  Frequent readers of this blog will remember that I've been told to pay attention to the irony in names.  It doesn't get any better than this.  I also take great hope from the election results in Spain.  It looks to me like the majority of us have no desire to go "backwards" or try Fascism "again".  


  1. Honest to God, Colleen, this is the most astonishing story I have read about Catholic neo-cons ever! I read the full article and the picture of Carmen Hernandez looks like she is the most unhappiest person on the planet! Indoctrination! Brainwashing! This is not conversion! The Way to Nowhere for the members and a cash cow for the Church. Support from the Vatican for this! Taking all their money and making the women have lots of babies! El sicko! Yuck, yuck, and more yuck. This is pitiful! A disgrace! How else is there to describe this dripping dribble of neo-fascist harvesting of zombies at the beck and call of Bishops to do whatever! Yucko fascist jerks! The Catholic Church really is desperate to ever approve of this group and their leader. A real sign the true light is turned off and its really dark in the Vatican.

    Kicko el stupido cult Kikos in da rump outa da Church el prompto por favor Papa Benedicto!

  2. I've said it before, but if you consider that B16 is a former nazi youth, then it makes perfect sense.

    If you consider that P12 & the German Catholic Church was responsible for Hitler's initial election into officethen a lot of this makes perfect sense.

    It also is extremely frightening because the church is doing now in politics the very same things that it did in Germany to get Hitler elected.

    It would appear that B16 is taking us down the same road that P12 did in the 1930's.

  3. I noticed on a news clip of McCain campaigning yesterday that there was a Catholic priest who seemed strategically placed in the stands behind him. I wonder who it was?

    Carl, related to your comment and the German Catholic Church responsible for Hitler's initial election into office and our election here there was a very interesting writing by a priest in a church bulletin recently. He gives a short version of history and heart warming account of Pope Pius XI saying in 1931 he wrote Non Abbiamo Bisogno condemning worship of the state (statolatry). Then he says that none of us can retire from the task of being a watchman, we bear responsibility for the salvation of those near us, in our families, our own circle of friends. He say its not an easy job to correct another person but we need to confront the other person. He develops the proper steps for such a confrontation. If the person does not listen then one should consider separation. The final recourse is denial of Communion because they have become a public scandal. He says only a bishop can impose the penalty. Seems this priest is preparing people to be watchmen in the Church. He closes saying we have the job of vigilance for our souls and those close to us.

    While the priest does not go into detail about what type of scandal, it could mean anything, but he alludes to it in the beginning by pointing out Pope Pius XI denouncing Nazi philosophy of racism, worship of the state, and how the Pope died in the trenches and closing with how good it would be for that to be said about us when we die. It seemed as if he was prepping the congregation to confront others and for communion war.

    I can imagine this type of drama being played out in the Churches in Germany and Italy along political lines and depending on the world view and politics of the bishop one could be labeled a scandal. People were led to believe that they were saving souls if they reported they had a different philosophy or political view than the bishop.

  4. Carl, I kind of think the fact that Benedict is surrounded by fascist leaning ultra conservative types has as much to do with JPII as it does Benedict.

    Benedict gives me heartburn. On one hand his latest theology seems to be trying to yank the Church back on the path of the Spirit and on the other hand he lets himself be used as some sort of puppet papal poster child for the neo fascists. His tendency to follow the most charismatic authoritarian voice may be more telling about his youth in Bavaria than anything else. JPII picked the right personality to lead the CDF.

    That's what bothers me about leaders which think they are appointed by God, they rule through personalities and not policies. They surround themselves with the like minded and have no trouble tossing them aside when they prove themselves not like minded.

    The more which comes out about the crowd around JPII, the more this becomes obvious. Unfortunately for the Church, he and his crowd of like minded believers were in power far too long and Benedict is only 'four more years' of the same.

    It's no wonder there's a kind of melding of energies between Roman Catholicism and the Republican party. They have both turned themselves into personality cults. Catholicism is now far more about the cult of JPII's personality than it is about it's roots, when it was the cult of Jesus people.

    I'm beginning to wonder if the democrats aren't falling into the same trap. Obama better get back to hammering on the issues and staying away from personality---and if Hillary doesn't get her cultists on board behind Obama, this country is in real trouble.

    Butterfly, I have a theory about Carmen and Kiko Arguello. I think their both gay. The more I've researched their relationship the more it resembles the repartee between gay men and gay women frienships. Because there is no sexual tension in these relationships they have a great deal more freedom in the communication used between the friends. I guarantee that if Carmen was his wife, she wouldn't have near the access to his spotlight she currently enjoys. The kikos can call their relationships 'mysterious', but I personally don't think it's that mysterious.

  5. Colleen, Obama was interviewed yesterday by Keith Olbermann and he was right on target with the issues; at least I thought so. Today he also gave a news conference and he just blows Bush and McCain out of the water with his honesty. He is so calm and collected in his responses and listening to him gave me a lot of hope.

    Since yesterday the media has gone to Alaska to find out more about Palin and several things have surfaced to discredit her such as lying, lying and more lying about the bridge to nowhere, selling the jet on ebay - a lie, and getting rid of the cook to save the State money - big fat frickin lies.

    The election hinges on how many people vote who are in their right mind!

    Regarding Benedict: I always thought it was interesting he chose the name Benedict. Was it prophetic for him to believe that another great war would occur in this century? I don't believe it was prophetic, but think that he believes the world is just so full of sinful people that wars are inevitable.
    He seems clueless as to how they are energized.

  6. Colleen,

    one other thing we need to keep in mind about B16

    ... if indeed JP1 was murdered just as he was beginning to make radical transfomations within the vatican heirarchy,

    ... B16 could have been part of that group that was involved in the assassination or at least have been aware of it

    ... if he is being nudged by the holy spirit now to make changes, he could also be nudging himself to remember what happened to JP1, hence the fence straddling posture

    A radical theory I realize, but so was the idea of a pope being murdered by others in the vatican. There may not be sufficient evidence to prove JP1 was murdered, but there is sufficient evidence available so that we cannot rule out that possibility.

    I'm curious, does Michael have any comment on this?


    I too thought it interesting and perhaps prophetic that that Ratzinger chose the name of an American traitor as his papal signature.

  7. Colleen, as a follower of the Way, this is the most ridiculous garbage on the NCW that I have ever seen. You take about 2 or 3 basic, innocuous facts about the origins of this movement, and weave a piece of fiction worthy of Dan Brown. If you are indeed, Catholic, you would know that calumny is a sin.

  8. Carl, I'm sorry, I meant after Pope Benedict XV. He was the Pope of the First World War, the "War to end all wars" in which 40 million were killed, half of them civilians. I thought it was ominous for him to choose the name.

    It's interesting to note that Benedict XV was partly chosen for his age of 60 and also because the Cardinals from opposing sides noted that he had not taken a side in the War. He was opposed to War. They were hoping for another long Papacy. His Papacy began in 1914 and he died in January 1922 at age 74. He canonized Joan of Arc a Saint. He called World War I "the end of civilized Europe." (As if it were totally civilized up to that point). He eased up on the ban of letting Catholics vote and run for political office. He personally consecrated Nuncio Eugenio Pacelli on 13 May 1917 as Archbishop on the very day of the Marian apparitions in Fatima.

  9. "He is so calm and collected in his responses and listening to him gave me a lot of hope. "

    Butterfly, I wish I could agree with you that his present demeanour will win Obama the vote. I'm afraid I agree with Friedman in today's NYT op-ed which suggests that people vote with their gut. That's where Palin is winning, and there's only a few weeks to torpedo her, (to use the Repulsives' militaristic terms).

    Sarah P gives every indication of being a dispensationalist - longing to bring on the End-times. She might even manage it.

  10. Sceptic
    Palin is not winning yet
    Obama is not winning yet

    Polls are like everything else political, sometimes accurate, but mostly lies, deceptions, illusions, smoke and mirrors to make somebody feel good for a moment

    It only takes one voice to change the world

    One voice, at a key moment and everything shifts.

    re: Dewey/Truman election - one voice spoke at the last minute, and saved the world from a great deal of heartache and suffering.

    It only takes ONE voice to change the world. That voice hasnt spoken yet.

  11. Butterfly:

    I knew you were referring to B15, but I still find it prophetic that Benedict is also the name of one of the most infamous traitors in American History. I dont think that was a coincidence.

  12. I really love it when I think of things after I post ...

    has anyone noticed ...
    the Vatican that relegates women to subservience
    the Vatican that refuses to allow women to occupy clerical roles
    the same Vatican is backing a woman to lead our country

    so tell me why, if women are good enough to lead a country (in their eyes),
    then why are they not good enough to lead a congregation?

    Also, why is it that all of the whoopers and hollerers supporting Palin, especially the clerical authorities in the catholic church, all are failing to remember one key fact: Palin is evangelical - protestant evangelicals hate catholicism, with the same fervor that the catholic church has for them and for all protestants

    Palin is talking nice now to get the vote, but once she gets it, regardless of what she has promised, she will become vicious, and do because "it is Gods will".

    If Palin is elected (isnt it interesting that so much of the rhetoric is Palin, not McCain) the anti catholic backlash WILL be horrific.

  13. Skeptic, it is a horrible thought to think that a woman and a mother will help McCain usher in a new centennial of "other" wars, be promoting the draft of young teenagers fresh out of high school in the name of God and country first to fight the battles of an imperial President who is bent on using force without prudence like Bush. She looks so full of life, has been pregnant with life, has a daughter pregnant with life, but underneath all the imagery for life there is nothing but death and poverty to offer her children and our children. The media has to do a better job of making the connection of the "religious" dimension in the election and drive home that it is not the right religious stuff that Jesus stood for that McCain and Palin stand for. That means the media outlets need to really understand the political and religious dynamics, and I am not sure that they do. They need to understand people like Rev. Hagee to understand the political religion of Palin and where it will lead our country backwards - as her name so aptly means in Greek. And they need to do it quickly and report it.

    If we could pierce through this false image that is being portrayed perhaps using the tools of reverse engineering, a reverse imagery that would expose them in truth and for the NY Times and other publications and major & minor news outlets to expose the atrocities of war - get those pictures of soldier's caskets, or at least report the deaths and injured in the news from the war on the front page where everyone can see it - They need to expose the vast machinery of war and how the profiteers of war are linked to McCain, without let up, without fail, without succumbing to the antics of defeatist. They need to conduct in-your-face type of interviews to the profiteers of War and expose them. The lying must be exposed and it should be drilled into the voters minds that voting for McCain and Palin is a vote for liars against life and not a vote for life. They need to do it with images and symbols and the simple truth and with a clear understanding driven home to everyone's kitchen table what it will mean for everyone.

    Carl, about Benedict XV again, he died at age 68, not the age I posted late last night half asleep.

  14. Anonymous, if you think the whole post is fiction based around a few innocouos facts feel free to correct me. I correct myself all the time when I find the actual facts.

    I hope you're right about my writing being in the same class as Dan Brown. I could use the money he makes.

  15. Terrible! The glib use of the word "fascist", the groundless suggestions of Benedict being an assassin, the far-fetched guesses about the reasons for the name he chose: this is embarrassing!

    If this is the voice of enlightened, progressive Catholicism, how disappointing! Indeed, you all should learn from Obama and attempt to be fair and accurate to those with whom you disagree. Reading these comments is enough to push a profoundly Vatican II Catholic like myself towards the "right"!

  16. Matt:

    There was no guessing about B16's name, just drawing an analogy between another of the same name who betrayed the united states and the way benedict seems to be betraying the spirit of vatican II in his continuing push to return to the values that are more in align with those of Pius XII, who, as history is revealing, made some very bad choices, that ended up causing a lot of people to be murdered.

    Enlightenment only comes when one is able to look at all sides, then choose. That is why those who call themselves faithful orthodox who faithfully follow the rules that someone else writes, will probably never experience enlightment. Legalism and enlightenment are mutually exclusive.

    Re: JP1 As far as I'm concerned, he was murdered. By who? The only way a pope could be murdered (limited forensics available suggest he may have been strangled or perhaps poisoned) in his bedroom in the vatican, with the level of security provided by vatican guards, is if it were an inside job.

    Therefore, anyone and everyone who was present in the Vatican in that time frame is a potential suspect. The amount of effort that was expended to hide the details of his death is suggestive of a group effort.

    It is no secret that JP1 was in the process of uprooting some very powerful people in the vatican, and had he continued, many who were and are in leadership positions would either have been transferred into nothingness or defrocked.

    I would love to be able to believe the best about our leadership. The problem is ... read the news. It seems like Magisterial misdeeds are becoming a daily event.

  17. Sorry to disappoint you Matt, but your glib words of "terrible" for using the word "fascist" is not really fair at all to us. I don't believe we've ever met, and I would never assume to just judge you or your character from just a few comments on a blog. But, it seems you are doing just that to us here. Fair?

    I can't speak for carl but I don't think he said that Benedict was an assassin, but that one of our Pope's could have been assassinated and there are books written about it. In light of the pedophile scandals, the secrecy and the mistrust due those in power in the Church it does not seem far fetched to us. Questioning is one of the things that we talk about openly here.

    Also, names are very significant and why we choose the names we have, like a confirmation name. I chose Marie because I felt a closeness to Mary and to the French. I chose my son's name and his middle name for special reasons too. I hardly think our discussing the Pope's choice of name should cause you such alarm as portrayed in your response to putting us all down the way you did, and then saying we should be like Obama, but you didn't even follow your own advise "and attempt to be fair and accurate to those with whom you disagree."

    Progressive is about being open to the truth and new ideas and understanding and not making hasty or emotional judgments but in discerning everything in the light of Christ's teachings. While we may try to do this, sometimes in this blog we'll pass ideas and concerns around, not judgments, and I guess for newcomers just coming to the website they might not fully understand all the dynamics. If you find this embarrassing or that it is too much for you to bear, then you don't have to stay on the journey with us. Peace and God Bless.

  18. I am sorry for the explosion and the emotional response and all the exclamation points. I was just disappointed to see the hasty accusations about other human beings (the possibility of Ratzinger as a suspect, etc.), mockery (analogy to Benedict Anderson), the use of words like "fascist" in a (seemingly) imprecise way, the acceptance of debunked conspiracy theories (JP1's murder), and misrepresenting historical facts (Ratzinger and the Nazi Youth) on a blog of someone whose opinion I so respected on the National Catholic Reporter blog.

    After reading some of her thoughtful responses there, I hoped that Enlightened Catholicism would be a place for someone who is trying to find his way as a "progressive Catholic" to associate with like-minded people.

    You are right that this may not be the place to further my journey. I'm sorry for interfering in the discussion. Please continue. Again, I'm sorry for interfering...

  19. Matt, thanks for writing back. I hope you will come back to read Colleen's blog. She has a lot to offer in the way of sorting through the issues and communicating what is going on.

    This blog is unlike NCR in that comments are not censored and I'm glad Colleen doesn't censure comments. I hope you will not judge Colleen and her blog because of the blogger comments. We are just not going to agree on everything and that is acceptable.

  20. Matt, sometimes there's a lot of venting that goes on in the comments section.

    I decided two things early on, I would not censor comments--unless they're spam, which is hard to do on blogspot--and two, I would leave the comment forum off the main page by not responding to comments in that forum.

    I don't mind you getting upset. In the trade I actually work in we call that a reality check. Nothing wrong with giving us reality checks.

    1. Adore money and God whenever
    2. Your Lord is money, power. and grace.
    3. Exercise spiritual terrorism very often.
    4. Hide in nice invisible cassocks wherever.
    5. Commit adultury in HIJABS and BURKAS.
    6, Shelter the homeless after destructions.
    7. Starve the humgry and devour his bread.
    8. Give drink to the thirsty, until he gets drunk.
    9. Work for PAX IN AETERNUM, NOT in TERRA,
    10. Clothe the naked after church sex abuses.
    11. Thou shalt not bury the dead, take them on a lead.
    12. Spiritual works of mercy are acts of unseen love.
    13. Wars on error or terror are Catholic Yihadist Wars.
    14. Dogmas and papacy bunus are your paths to heaven.
    15. Thou shalt not kill, but at holy wars of obligation.
    16. Carry on your Holy CROSS and put on it a Christ.
    17. Vatican and Opus Dei marriage is for God´s State.


  22. Vicario, I would have put this one number one.

    "Carry on your Holy CROSS and put on it a Christ."