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Italian study says 'New Movements' are not sects

Research published in the international theology journal Concilium attempts to draw a line between the burgeoning 'New Movements' which Pope John Paul II sees as the future of the Church, and the "dangerous" phenomenon of sects and cults.

The best-known groups include the Focolarini, Neocatechumenal Way, Communion and Liberation, Emmanuel Community, Regnum Christi, the Community of Sant'Egidio, and charismatic renewal groups.

The Neocatechumenal Way, which has opened a seminary in Sydney, enjoys the support of Church authorities in Australia. A report in yesterday's Australian newspaper portrayed it as a cult to be approached with caution. Archbishop George Pell appointed one of its members parish priest of the prominent inner Sydney Redfern parish.

The Italian research, carried out by the Review's Scientific Committee and directed by historian Alberto Melloni, embraced the disciplines of history, theology, canon law and sociology.

The Review's director Fr Rosino Gibellini told Vatican Radio that the new movements cannot be classified as sects - despite widespread talk to the contrary.

Fr Gibellini said the Movements, which have "a direct line with the leadership of the Church", tend to "offer a human service". A sect, on the other hand, proclaims that it is the Church.

He told Vatican Radio: "One cannot continue with the mentality that disqualifies these movements, as they must be evaluated with the yardstick of an open ecclesial context."


Church or Little Churches? The Sectarian Threat of Catholic Movements (www.chiesa)
Concilium International Journal for Theology
Priest tells Vatican Radio controversial organizations are not "sects" or "movements" (
Neocatechumenal Way
Focolare | Focolare Oceania
Emmanuel Community
Community of Sant'Egidio
Pell acts to resolve Redfern priest crisis (21/7/03)
The Anti-Cult Law in France
Wollongong bishop excommunicates sect priest (11/6/03)

22 Jul 2003