The Pontifical Council for Laity, of which the cardinal is head, authenticated the doctrinal approval and archived the decree on Dec. 26, 2010, he said.
"Your catecheses have thereby received an important seal from the Church," he told them. "It is a compass, a sure compass according to which you will be able to walk."
The cardinal also thanked them on behalf of the Church for "the grand and important work" of "promoting post-baptismal Christian initiation in the Church."
Kiko Arguello, the group's cofounder, told journalists in a press conference following the audience that the new approval “is important because it gives us a guarantee that the theological, exegetical, liturgical formation” that the Way uses is recognized by the Church as “making a Christian.”
Bishop Zbigniew Kiernikowski of Siedlce, Poland—who was at the press conference as an apparent sign of solidarity—said that he has seen positive effects of the Way's catechesis in his diocese. Now that they can come with their word and "with this book," bishops will know that “this is no deception, not a fictitious thing,” he said.
If they believe the instruction they receive, bishops will give their “people a reality that can transform them,” the Polish bishop added.
Arguello added later that the announcement is "marvelous" because the decree approves the teachings for official proclamation. "It has been revised by the Holy See and completed. It's correct."
"This is from the Church!" he exclaimed.
But the Way still encounters bumps in the road when it comes to its relationships with local pastors, a fact that Arguello alluded to in his next statement.
The directory, he said, "will be very important because now a parish priest who says something, we can say, 'Look father what it says here on page 427, this was approved by the Church'."
"It's a great strength. It gives us a great strength."
(Story continues below)
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The Pope familiarized himself with the community originally as an priest in 1973 in Germany and has long been at their side to guide them to full recognition in the Church. He sees something special in their work, and while being well aware of complaints against them, he continues to encourage them to continue their work while forming better relationships with priests.
"With these seals of ecclesial approval," said the Pope during the morning audience, "the Lord today confirms this precious tool which is the Way and again entrusts it to you so that, in filial obedience to the Holy See and the pastors of the Church, you may contribute with renewed energy and ardour to the radical and joyful rediscovery of the gift of Baptism, and offer your own original contribution to the cause of new evangelization."
The Church recognizes a "particular gift" of the Way to "insert itself" in the Body of the Church, he said.
"In this light," the Pope said, "I exhort you always to seek profound communion with pastors, and with all members of the particular Churches, and of the very different ecclesial contexts in which you are called to work.
"Fraternal communion between the disciples of Jesus is, in fact, the first and greatest witness to the name of Jesus Christ."
The influence of the group took an additional leap forward during the audience. Pope Benedict blessed the 230 Way families being sent out into the world on mission.