MERVYN ALEXANDER, Bishop of Clifton, was expected to announce the findings of his consultation on Neocatechumenate activities in the Diocese by the end of July. However, by August, the Diocese, troubled last year when local Catholics challenged the legitimacy of the celebration of Neocatechumenate liturgy, is no nearer to the release of its findings.
The latest comment from the office of Mgr Canon Joseph Buckley, Vicar General and Curial Moderator, and a key figure in the Neo versus Normal dispute, is that he has had enough: "Mgr Buckley doesn't want any more to do with it," his secretary told the Herald.
Westminster is not quite so unforthcoming. A spokesman for Cardinal Hume said: "The Neocatechumenate movement has its own particular ethos and way of doing things. There are three parishes in the Diocese of Westminster. The Diocese continues to monitor their progress".
In fact, concerned clergy around the country are busy monitoring the progress of followers of The Way.
A priest who has dealt with disenchanted former members of the Neocatechumenate at a pastoral level, healing their "emotional wounds", explains why he is "concerned": "A middle-aged couple came to me in distress. They had left a Neocatechu
menate group and had been pursued by members of the group at their home.
"There were psychological pressures put on both of them; they found the Neocatechumenate too oppressive. The word they would use to describe their experience is 'brainwashed'.
He continued: "Relations between another younger couple crumbled when the woman's intense involvement with the Neocatechumenate meant that her fiancee could no longer cope with the prospect of marriage.
"He felt that he wouldn't just be marrying her, he would be marrying the Neocatechumenate.
"A very elderly woman came to me, distraught because of her daughter's involvement. She told me that it had 'changed her personality' and that her daughter had become 'obsessive'."
He also gives an insight into the methods of the movement: "The Saturday night meetings of The Way sometimes begin at 11pm or midnight, with the actual Mass celebrated at 3am or later, followed by a breakfast.
"The intriguing element of the Neocatechumenate presence at certain London churches is that the time of their Mass is not listed in the Westminster Directory along with the other parish Masses.
"I think that perhaps 10 of the 17 seminarians at Allen Hall wish to be ordained as Neocatechumenate priests, not as priests of the Westminster Diocese. Like Opus Dei, the Neocatechumenate has pontifical support and is an autonomous movement within the Church.
"It's difficult for local Bishops because they have the papal blessing. The Bishops can express concern, but they can't prevent the Neocatechumenate from meeting."
When the Herald spoke to Fr Alan Fudge, parish priest at Ogle Street, a Neocatechumenate stronghold, he oulined the position of the movement and dealt convincingly with many of the issues raised in the testimony of the priest, above. Unfortunately Fr Fudge asked that his comments were not made public.
It may be some time until the Clifton report is finally released. Whatever its conclusions, the war of words has only just begun.