VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has told members of a controversial missionary movement that they must respect local customs and the guidance of local bishops as they spread the faith.
Francis met Saturday with several thousand members of the Neocatechumenal Way, a community founded in Spain in the 1960s that seeks to train Catholic adults in their faith and is known for sending large families as missionaries around the world.
While appreciating the movement's religious zeal, bishops in Japan, the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia have accused the movement of wreaking chaos in their dioceses and have tried to limit its activities. The Vatican has also questioned its unusual liturgical practices.
Francis encouraged 40 new missionary teams but said their priority must be church unity, even at the expense of their own practices.