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It is not easy to make a critical valuation of the Cursillo’s theology in the initial stages, because the doctrinal contents as we have seen, rather than being locked up in exhaustive conferences, are considered from within  life and personal experience. We will however value the underlying theology in the doctrinal foundations of the Cursillo together with its theological description, from the same perspective of the four points of the previous section, enumerating the positive and negative aspects.


Jesus Christ


The most outstanding note lies in the doctrinal Christ-centrism contained in the Cursillo. Not only in the presented doctrine, but also in the dynamics of conversion it offers, together with the personal relation it proposes with a view to the future.

On the other hand, it should be emphasized that it is a personal, deep and integral presentation. Faced with  more partial and distant views typical of those times, an alive, real and incarnated  Christ is proposed, who looks for a deep personal encounter with each person.

At a time when religiousness is very much in the eye of the media due to "the four last things to be remembered", that is to say, by an exaggeration when explaining the subject of condemnation, of the pains of the hell... which has the effect of presenting an image of Christ-Judge, a more authentic religious experience is considered, more in accordance with reality from within a personal relationship with Christ, following through love rather than through fear.

His initiative in the call and the sending out can be highlighted. It is He who chooses and sends out to produce an abundant and lasting fruit. In the Church, together with our brothers... but not through particular and utopian initiatives to change the world.  Everything stems from His call.

I also find the presentation of a Christ-centric science of the sacraments positive, so related to Him, so personal. Specially those positions in the  sacrament of marriage.

On the negative side I would point out that the plans are excessively simple. Although the Cursillo —as its name indicates— is a short course  which has to have continuity in a later formation, and although the Talks were very personalized by each lecturer imparting them, I believe the plans should have offered a more ambitious material.

The presentation of Jesus Christ stems initially from Gospel quotes, but when it matters, specially in the Meditation dedicated to the figure of Jesus, the plan is an extract from the manuals of neo-scholastic theology which were in use in those years.

The Cursillo is Christ-centred  and that is very positive. An intimate relationship  with Christ is raised. But we miss the subjects of the Kingdom in relation to His person, such as the Beatitudes etc. There exists the risk of this resulting in a certain form of individualistic and sacramental piety.




The great contribution in this point consists in presenting religion, faith, Christianity... above all, as life. It is a positive and hopeful perspective, and ultimately, the most realistic. Grace considered at personal level and as the vital sap of the Mystical Body.

It is also very positive to connect the Sacraments with Grace, from within life. They are not practices to fulfil  duties, to gain salvation... as independent elements of specific life. They are encounters with God, with the living God that fills life, they are channels of Grace. In this same line we can note the presentation of the life of Grace as a general orientation of life towards God, integrating therein piety, study and action as the three flows that constitute our existence. This means raising the unit of life and surpasses the feeling of many acts of piety, of concrete actions or of formation, all of them dispersed and unconnected.

The life of Grace, the new life of God, does not consist in acting one way or another, it consists in being.

Finally it is positive to pose sin as the opposite of Grace and from the perspective of Grace. Without dramatization or threats. With its consequences, not only at individual level, but also for the Church and the apostolate. Exposing it as an examination to the difficulties that can be found in the way, to overcome them without loosing the life of Grace.

On the negative side, I consider that the plans of the Talks on Grace and the Sacraments, are very much slaves of the  neo-scholastic manuals of the time, most certainly with the sieve of writers spreading religion. That means that they drag the hindrance of the typical manual distinctions, and carries with it the danger of having Grace classified, sectioned-off and even de-humanized, to the detriment of presenting it from a more Biblical, existential and personal  relation with God. The intuitions are new and innovative, but must be developed with the resources available  in the Spain of the time.

Looking for the best clarity and  simplification possible, with distinctions and examples. is advisable within certain limits. But it is necessary to avoid the danger of falling into simplicity and ceasing to be real, when  wanting to express something, which at the end of the day is a mystery.

When specifying the life of Grace, many acts of piety are enumerated and advised which can stay somewhat dispersed, generating a feeling of "fulfilling" commitments, thereby accumulating portions of Grace. Nevertheless it is necessary to recognize that in line with the mentality and practices of the time, it points more towards the essential.

Finally there was an enormous anxiety when wanting every candidate to follow the “pre-determined steps” in the Cursillo, mainly in the subject of confession. The tone here seems to pretend a "recovery of Grace" in a  moralizing way rather than the calm search of a deep conversion. It is like wanting to put terms to the providence of God and human freedom.


The Church


The growth in the conscience of lay people about being Church has to be emphasized positively. The lay person is not a passive member, but rather a live and operating member of the Church and the world. Experience of Church. Consideration of the apostolate as a requirement of Christian life and not as supererogation.

The ecclesiology of the Mystici Corporis is assumed. The central nucleus of the Cursillo feeds on the doctrine of this encyclical, from which a great spreading of the said doctrine took place. All this contributed to the passing from a legal consideration of the Church (legally perfect society) to another which is theological (Mystical Body of Christ), and which is based on the Sacred Scriptures.

Faced with a very hierarchic and regulated Church, that sends a message from a distance for the faithful to comply with, a Church of full of regulations and small prohibitions (fashion, dances...) that tries to control superficial elements that escape it, the Cursillos aim at the essential, to the global and deep change of life.

Faced with the de-Christianisation that was already in evidence and with the pastoral of conservation that began to be achieved, the Cursillos propose a work of conquest, of re-Christianisation of society, what we now call evangelisation.

The creation of the Group Reunion is positive as a means of perseverance. It is the place and the way to live  friendship with the most genuinely Christian spirit, which is a community spirit.

Heterogeneity as a communitarian and apostolic characteristic. The point is not to argue between heterogeneity and specialisation. Perhaps specialisation is a more practical way in certain circumstances, but the ideal of ecclesial community is a heterogeneous community. That is how the communitarian examples that we find in the book of the Acts of the Apostles show it.

As negative notes we highlight in first place the fact that the conception of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, almost exclusively monopolizes the ecclesiology of the Cursillo.

Secondly, the paradox that next to the ecclesiology of the Mystical Body,  underlies and coexists an extremely hierarchic and legal ecclesiology that tinges  the Cursillo of hierarchism and clericalism[377], in spite of the eminent role that outstanding lay people play in it, who in addition   represent a "new type" of laity.




It is positive at this point to consider the mission of the lay person as the consecration of the world, incarnating Christ in all circumstances, influencing the environments in a Christian manner.

It is also positive not to consider the world as "enemy of the soul" but as a humanity loved by God and called to salvation. The consequence of this is not an attitude of distance, escape or separation, nor of self-defence, but of proximity; still more, of conquest. The idea is to conquer it, to convert it totally Christian.

Faced with a pastoral heavily orientated towards fulfilment through practice, the Cursillo places emphasis on a presentation of truths, and truths that appear from within life, with an optimistic and hopeful willingness.

It raises personal vocation not as something intimate of private sphere; as something spiritual that distances the individual from the world, but as something that must be achieved in the world in which he lived before his conversion. The conversion of the world and environments is linked to personal conversion.

The idea is not to catch militants or collaborators for intra-ecclesial activities of Movement, Parish... but mainly to project them into the world and its structures.

Finally, it is positive and refreshing to note that reality is moved more by environments than by social or cultural classes, by organizations, or any of the structures that have been considered habitually.

As a negative element I highlight in first place the presentation of a Christianity that has a solution to all the problems the life. This sounds like a closed and simplistic cosmos-vision. God is mystery, and we cannot monopolize Him. Human life itself contains a lot of mystery, and presents a multitude of complex elements. Christ is the Truth, the Life, the Light, and for that reason answers to all the problems of life, giving them sense. But we cannot try to have solutions and answers for everything from a Metaphysical system, but from the chiaroscuros of faith. At the heart of it this plan is the consequence of the concept of conventional and scholar theology —typical of the Seminary manual - in fashion in Spain at the time, and that indeed had an answer for everything, but of course, within its system.

We also need to emphasize that the description made of the people who concur in the environments is long and farraginous. I think it has a surplus of anecdotes in the explanation and it lacks depth and pointing to the causes.

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[377] Two things will help us to understand this apparent contradiction. First, the fact that highlighting the ecclesiology of the Mystical Body does not imply forgetting other approaches, nor forgetting the hierarchic constitution of the Church or its legal dimension. Secondly, as we emphasized in note 340, a clear change is perceived between the original Talks and the MD, as well as the CCIRC. This is due to the fact that monsignor Hervàs draws up these two works thoroughly, officially and with some years of perspective. But it is also due to an event that marked the first years of the history of this Movement. In 1955 an Episcopal change takes place in Majorca. Mgr. Jesus Enciso Viana arrives, and the following year, on 25th July 1956, he publishes a Pastoral Letter on Cursillos in Chrsitianity in the Official Bulletin of the diocese. This pastoral put the existence of the Movement in serious danger. The Pastoral Letter published by Mons. Hervàs on 3rd September 1957 titled Cursillos in Christianity, instrument of Christian renewal, is the answer to the pastoral of bishop Enciso. But it is more than a Pastoral Letter, it is the theological-pastoral laying of the foundations of this Movement and its method. It is an apology that will give it full official legitimacy, and is like his letter of introduction to the universal Church. Mons. Hervàs takes care to refute the attacks that had been sent against the Movement and to present the doctrinal foundations and pastoral praxis in all its orthodoxy and in its fidelity and connection with Pontifical Teaching. It is not risky to affirm that with this opportune and brave publication, he surpassed the deep and serious crisis. Due to all this, it is not surprising that both in CCIRC and in MD (which will appear in 1962 with the purpose of offering an authorized and official text with the plans), a certain ecclesiological fallback is apparent, and hierarchic aspects are emphasized, producing a clergy-like feeling which did not appear originally, nor does it belong to the genuine spirit of Cursillos.