(An extract from a registration at the meeting in New York, April 5, 1997)
. After 15 years, my evaluation of the Neocatechumenal Way is highly positive and I underline that which was said by many of you yesterday. Firstly: I believe that in today's pastoral work, it is fundamental to give importance to the ministry of the Word. We are teachers in the faith. Consequently, anyone who teaches does so in virtue of his Baptism. In his diocese, however, it is obviously the Bishop who has been called, as a teacher of the faith and successor to the apostles, to lead and guide this same ministry of the Word and to delegate it to various people. Thanks to God, today in America, we have, through the presidents of assemblies, community animators, many different ways in which this ministry is carried out. Thousands of men and women are involved in this. And furthermore, a very admirable number of catechists whom we have always had and who have saved the faith in this Continent. For me, this knowing the Word, of proclaiming and celebrating it, is fundamental.
Secondly: I have seen in the Neocatechumenal Way a serious process of conversion and of catechesis. I believe they are realities which are intimately united. I repeat: having seen the previous experiences, I do not disregard the importance, for example, of the Charismatic Renewal. I know it well and have participated in an infinite number of national and international meetings. I also acknowledge that the world of today needs this charismatic dimension to learn to taste the value of prayer. I am also aware, however, that if this is not done in an environment that is sufficiently motivated, catechized, it can bring with it the danger of a certain amount of emotionalism... Furthermore, I have to say that I am also encouraging the people who have been members of Charismatic Renewal movement for a long time, given that they have chosen this, to form communities of charismatic inspiration, in order to see if they are able to do so. We have already several such groups in Santo Domingo, some of them in quite a serious process of faith.
Then I have seen, of course, the dignity of the liturgy. I too live the liturgy very much, and like celebrating it. I see that people are trying to treat this point very seriously. Not to mention the rebuilding of the family, the openness to life. This is something that greatly edifies me. It poses a challenge to this world that does not understand it, that makes fun of them and they must accept to be misunderstood and, sometimes, rejected even by some sectors of the clergy.
Another thing that I have seen: the detachment from goods and generosity. Until conversion reaches the wallet, I remain very skeptical about it. I have always said that conversion begins in the head - from ideas - it passes through the heart and must, in the end, reach the wallet. Until this happens one is justified in doubting the authenticity of the conversion.
Finally, in parishes where the Neocatechumenal Way is present one can perceive a lifestyle of simplicity, of joy, of obedience, of faithfulness to the Church. And the last fruit for which we all give thanks to God is the flowering of vocations and this truly edifies us all.
In other words, my evaluation is this. I believe that in the end we have responded to all the observations that have been made. I have spoken a lot, given that I am also the president of CELAM.
From Mexico to Patagonia, during these last years, before the Conference of Santo Domingo, I have been in constant contact with many people. I believe that it is necessary for all of us, with our charism of Bishop, to carefully seek how we can help this reality and many others that may arise. I personally tell the parish priests: try not to begin to create difficulties, to close doors; no, let us open doors, let us speak to everyone.
I am pastorally very open and I am with the Charismatic Renewal, I can spend a day with the Neocatechumenal Way, I pass another with the Cursillos. In other words, I believe that it is necessary to have a sufficiently positive attitude in front of all of this and this is what allows the pastor to enter into a constructive dialogue with all the forces of his Church ...