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Friday, August 30, 2019

How to found a “New Movement” in the Catholic Church

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How to found a “New Movement” in the Catholic Church

You’ve heard of WikiHow? Well, here’s RemnantHow!

We’ve all heard the hype:

“New Movements as Agent of the New Evangelisation!”

St. John Paul II, Message to participants in the 1st World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities (1998):

“Ecclesial movements…represent one of the most significant fruits of that springtime in the Church which was foretold by the Second Vatican Council … Their presence is encouraging because it shows that this springtime is advancing and revealing the freshness of the Christian experience based on personal encounter with Christ.”

The Pontifical Council for the Laity:

“Unfortunately, movements and new communities are still a resource not fully valued in the Church, a gift from the Holy Spirit and a treasure of graces still hidden to the eyes of many bishops, probably afraid of the novelty they might bring to the life of their dioceses and parishes.

“A real ‘pastoral conversion’ is demanded on the part of bishops and priests, called to recognize that movements are, first of all, a precious gift rather than a problem.”

The so-called “New Movements” or “Lay Movements” or “New Ecclesial Movements” have been a feature of Catholic life since the total collapse of normal Catholic life for the laity became the abiding reality for the Church. The largest and most influential of them are consulted by world leaders and enjoy the approbation of the whole world, having seats at the UN and European Union and feature regularly at international events of the global elites.

And BOY-HOWDY are they popular!

The Vatican’s website lists no fewer than 122 officially recognised “International Associations of the Faithful” as they are called in canon law, many of them founded by ordinary laymen just like you!

You might be asking yourself right now, “How can I get in on this racket?”

We’re here to help. Just follow these simple steps:


1) Be a sociopath.

While this isn’t completely necessary, it sure seems to help.

Carefully create a persona of warm and benevolent wise superiority – that it would be mad and evil to disobey. Imply – but never specify – that you know things other people don’t know and that the Church has never known before in all the centuries of saints and mystics and if they hang on your every word long enough they will be initiated into the Cult of You and come to know things and be mysterious and wise too, like Gandalf.

Make sure you publicly declare that you “have faults too, just like everyone else.” Never be specific or, if asked directly, list faults that are the exact opposite of your real faults. (Make sure you write these down for later reference in case anyone asks again.)

Practice a “warm, mysterious and wise” smile in the mirror until you can do it on command.

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2) Choose a simple catch-phrase or word upon which to found your movement.

 Make sure it’s something easy to remember but difficult to define. It must be a concept that everyone can get behind without requiring specifics, like “unity,” or “mercy”. The key here is to have something absolutely impossible to refute without coming across as a complete jerk.

The test for the usefulness of your catchphrase will be, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you like [X]?” Be ready at the drop of a hat to go on the offensive when challenged. Claim that anyone asking for clear definitions are “rigid” and “retrograde” and “against [X]” and trying to force the Church to adhere to “outdated norms” and “ways of living the Gospel.”

Imply they are anti-Semitic.

3) Pick 2-5 Scriptural passages that “speak” to you personally. Claim to reinterpret them “for today’s needs” or for the “needs of today’s Church.”

Create a brief narrative that links your catchphrase to these passages. Make sure this narrative can be given easily – as in a pamphlet or website – in a bullet-point list. Stick to these like glue. Repeat them in every interview, article, book, speech and talk.

Starting with your bullet-point list and your catchphrase, pad the rest of your material – your “commentaries” on Scripture, public letters, interviews, talks, lectures and books – with vaguely Catholic-sounding nonsense.

(NB: with today’s technology it shouldn’t be difficult to get one of your more tech-savvy young followers to create a helpful algorithm to allow you to mix and match.)

Never forget, your target audience isn’t people with real degrees in Catholic theology. If you are attacked or challenged in any way by these, claim that your knowledge comes from “Above”. Exhort your followers to abandon “mere” book learning and to adopt a “deep, holistic interior knowledge of the Gospel.”

Claim that everything you say is “Thomistic.”

francis quote

4) Say incomprehensible, nonsensical and/or logically contradictory things as your personal “aphorisms” or “maxims” which followers are obliged to learn.

Make sure these are literally impossible to fulfill, or contradict the essential purposes of Christianity, or the actual plain meaning of Scripture or common sense.

Alternately, make them so blindingly self-evident and simplistic that your followers will assume there must be some “hidden deeper meaning” that has to be acquired through greater “growth in the Movement.” Or have them be mostly empty of any meaning at all, and so interpretable in any way.


 “Lose everything, even the attachment to holiness, so that you aim only at one thing: to love.”

“Let us allow God to act. Let us not block His omnipotence with the narrowness of our views.”

“Let’s rewrite the Gospel with our lives.”

5) Attack the old ideas of Catholic authority (ie: priests and especially “tradition”).

Say that “people of today” have matured in their understanding (“Everyone’s literate now.”) and that “new ways of understanding” and living the Gospel are needed “for our times”.

Make sure to say that things in the world are generally moving along in your intended direction, but that more “work” is needed to help people “overcome intransigent attachments to past models” based on “fear”.

Something like this:

Some symptoms of this breath of the Spirit are certainly present today in Europe. To find them, to support and develop them, it is necessary at times to put aside atrophied schemes to go where life begins, where we see fruits of life produced ‘according to the Spirit.’”

The key is to imply that modern people have spiritual needs and concerns that no one in the past has ever had before, but at the same time that “hierarchical structures” are no longer needed (except yours). This will be because the modern world is so different from the old world and people are therefore also different and, crucially, that only your Movement has the key to knowing how.

This leaves a door open for you to say whatever you like and be completely at variance with every interpretation of Scripture the Church has ever had before, because that was all in the Before Time.

Of course all that was right for Catholics in those times. But we have to move forward, and offer the People of God a way of living authentically in the here and now… ”

Quote the recent popes frequently.

women deacons

6) Say that this “new way of living the Gospel” is in fact a return to the practices of the Early Church.

Never acknowledge or show the slightest sign of awareness that this is a contradiction to everything else you’ve said, or that “contradictions” are even a thing.

Whatever odd practices you dream up for your followers to do, teach them all to repeat that the Movement is “just the normal practice of Catholicism.”

7) Do your research.

Find out what a great proportion of your potential followers want in life and are afraid they won’t get from the usual ecclesiastical channels. Have the parishes given up normal, weekly parish devotions, with Father and Sister Mary Pantsuit spending all their energy going to “pastoral leadership workshops” and conferences? Create paraliturgies that can replace these normal Catholic devotions.

Use the old liturgical books to mine for general parameters of what liturgy looks like. Make sure they include simple, repetitive and Catholic-sounding Latin phrases like, “Jubilate Deo omnes gentes,” that can be incorporated into your bullet-point lists of meaningful interpretations (as above.) Make sure the tunes are simple and catchy and can be quickly memorised like a mantra. Hire an expert in Gregorian Chant to give the whole business just enough air of authenticity.

Produce a pamphlet with each of these paraliturgical functions that explains – with a bullet point list – how they relate to your catchphrase.

 Use a lot of incense.

kid praying

8) Claim that you have had a special revelation from God.

Be careful with this. While it is an absolute necessity, this step has to be handled delicately, particularly with regard to timing.

The following method is well-tested by many Movement founders:

  • Within the first couple of years, but no earlier than 6 months in, start getting up before dawn and slipping out of the house to go to the chapel/church for morning Mass well ahead of everyone else.
  • When they come in, make sure you have a very slightly surprised and joyful – but not manic – expression of beatific happiness. (Practice this in the mirror.)
  • Say nothing to anyone after the Mass, but allow the usual chit-chat to go on around you as if you are oblivious and listening to an inner voice.
  • Allow your followers to start wondering if “something happened.” Don’t answer, but only smile self-deprecatingly if asked.
  • Reveal your moment of ecstasy to each follower, one at a time, in a confidential tone.
  • Tell them not to tell anyone else.

Having done the ground work of implying that old Catholic interpretations are no use to “people of today,” your reputation for personal revelations from God or the Blessed Virgin will be easier to believe. Once it is established among your inner circle, it can be allowed to spread abroad.

NB: Never come out and say that you are personally privy to a heretofore undisclosed-by-the-Holy-Ghost, at-long-last-revealed true and authentic meaning of these passages. Let your followers say it.

Practice acting surprised and embarrassed in the mirror.

9) Reveal this meaning only to your closest associates.

But strongly hint to followers that you know something – lots more things – they don’t know, but really need to know and if they stick with you long enough they’ll be like Gandalf too.

Release each new revelation in a drip-feed fashion as the follower “grows in the Movement.”

It’s quite safe to make it something obvious; the more obvious the better, since it will help convince the subject that he is indeed “growing spiritually” and will soon be having his own little private revelations.

10) Create a hierarchy.

Very simply, allow your inner circle to take over various tasks and governance of the lower levels on the grounds that they have “grown spiritually” and are now more wise and mysterious and like Gandalf than the next circle out. Create a graduated stair of classifications that a follower can gain as he becomes more wise and mysterious and Gandalfian.

A useful tool for this is the creation of “courses” or “workshops” to be held at annual mass gatherings followers are obliged to attend.

Make sure each of these levels comes with certain privileges.


dolan at gala

11) “Love bomb” priests and bishops, by inviting them into your inner circle.

Especially invite them to speak at your events. (Make sure their accommodation at these events is nicer than that of your inner circle, and invite them to have “private” dinners with you. During these dinners you can imply that the bishop will experience a genuine “pastoral conversion” by attending more of these events.)

Getting ecclesiastical approbation and protection will be crucial. Your air of wise and mysterious Gandalf-like superiority, carefully bolstered by the deference of your inner circle, will allow you the leeway to be ostentatiously deferential to your potential ecclesial patrons. Remember that a bishop was never born who didn’t like to be deferred-to.

Teach your followers to remind the bishop that he is being deferred to by a person (you) who is the subject of a massive cult of adulation but who at the same time is publicly deferring to him because he’s a bishop. The subject of the cult of adulation (you) has “great respect” for the Church.

Given them nice presents.

Here’s a handy list of descriptions you can use to explain the divinely inspired meaning and purpose of your Movement.

“We emphasise sanctification of ordinary daily life, in keeping with the exhortation of the Second Vatican Council that all must strive for holiness in every state of life.”

“We take the Catholic concept of the ‘priesthood of the people’ and live it in our daily lives according to our state in life.”

“We live the Gospel according to the promptings of the Spirit in regular parish life.”

“We bear witness to the loving and liberating presence of God, particularly in the service of the young and the poor. 

“We take careful account of different family, social and cultural situations in which contemporary men and women live…”

“We combine the truths of the faith with the needs of the times, and for a new type of education for the young people entrusted to his care, springing from the intimate depths of man, making people free and capable of making responsible choices.” 

Some handy gobbeldygook:

“The missionary zeal of the new realities, indeed, does not surge from emotional and superficial enthusiasm, but springs from intense experiences.”

“an extraordinary missionary thrust characterized by courage, joy of announcing Christ and an amazing creativity.”

“…it is enveloped the most profound secret of the fecundity of the evangelizing thrust not only of the ecclesial movements, rather of the Church of all times.”

“This witness gives rise to the desire to be involved in the great parable of communion that is the Church.”

“God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel.”

Learn the following expressions. Mix and match and use them regularly. After a while, they will become second nature.

(NB: Make sure you never offer clear definitions.)

“gifts of the Spirit”

“way forward in our challenging times”

“carry out an effective work of evangelization.”

“effusion of the Spirit”

“the first breath of authentic evangelization”

“the freshness of the Christian experience based on personal encounter with Christ.”

“spiritually centred on Mary and on the Founder 

And that’s about it. Just keep applying the steps and get ready to welcome your thousands or even millions of followers and accept your international awards for “progress in religion,” meetings with popes, NGO status at the UN and a host of other perqs.

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Last modified on Saturday, August 31, 2019
Hilary White

Our Italy correspondent is known throughout the English-speaking world as a champion of family and cultural issues. First introduced by our allies and friends at the incomparable, Miss White lives in Norcia, Italy.