Castelgandolfo, December 28, 1986. Eucharistic celebration of Pope St. John Paul II with Msgr. Cordes, Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández and the itinerants.

Grateful to God for his precious ministry in the Church

Last night (March 15, 2024) the Lord called Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes to the reward of eternal life. The whole Church, and the Neocatechumenal Way in particular, is particularly grateful to him for the work he carried out during so many years of his life, accompanying with his wise counsel the birth and growth – with his gradual insertion into the Church – of so many ecclesial associations and realities that after the Council were flourishing, carrying out his ministry as Vice-President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (1980-1995

Already in 1986 (October 21, with the letter of the Secretary of State, Cardinal Casaroli), by the will of Pope John Paul II, who wished to favor a better insertion of the Neocatechumenal Communities in the Church and the necessary definition of their juridical-ecclesial identity, he was entrusted to carry it out. In 1990, St. John Paul II wrote to him the letter “Ogniqualvolta”, as in charge “ad personam” for the Apostolate of the Neocatechumenal Communities, where the Way was recognized “as an itinerary of Catholic formation, valid for the society and for the times of today”, and where the Pope wished that this work for the new evangelization be valued and helped by the Pastors.

Monsignor Cordes has always had a special attention and affection for the initiators of the Way, Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, and has supported and encouraged them in their path of growth, in all the moments of its history, assisting and accompanying the different steps that have led the Neocatechumenal Way to be approved “as a diocesan modality of Christian initiation and permanent education in the faith” (Statutes, Art. 1,2) and to be recognized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as “Catechetical Directory”.

In all these long years of history, in all this journey, Cardinal Cordes has always been not only close, but also a friend and valid support for the Initiators and for all the Neocatechumenal Communities, which owe so much to his work, as well as many Pastors whom he encouraged to help and strengthen this work for the good of the Church.

In particular, we recall the publication of his book: “Active Participation in the Eucharist. The ‘actuosa participatio’ in small communities” in defense of the Eucharist celebrated in small communities, which Kiko and Carmen defended so much.

We are pleased to recall here what Pope Benedict XVI himself wrote to you in a letter on the occasion of your 75th birthday:

“With courage and creativity at the beginning of your Roman activity you have opened new ways to lead young people to Christ…. You have also contributed to the genesis and growth of World Youth Days. Particularly characteristic of your pastoral thrust is and remains your commitment to the “movements”: the Charismatic Movement, Communion and Liberation and the Neocatechumenal Way have many reasons to be grateful to you. Although the organizers and planners of the Church, at the beginning, had many reservations about the movements, you immediately sensed the life that was emerging there: the power of the Holy Spirit that opens new paths and in an unpredictable way keeps the Church ever young. You recognized the Pentecostal character of these movements and you have passionately committed yourself to obtain their acceptance by the pastors of the Church”.

Let us commend this grateful memory of Cardinal Cordes to the prayers of all our brothers and sisters so that they may ask the Lord to welcome into his Kingdom this “good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:21)

Kiko Argüello, Fr. Mario Pezzi and María Ascensión Romero