Southern Religion

Legionaires in calculated denial

Legionaries of Christ

Legionaires face no intervention from the Vatican, CathNews reports. An official from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life told Catholic News Agency that it is “too early” to tell if the Legion of Christ leadership can work through the issue.

Besides, the Vatican is too busy with controversy over holocaust-denying Bishop Williamson – one of the four schismatic bishops whose excommunication was lifted by the pope.

John Desmond, a well-regarded and widely-published Catholic journalist, reports that the Legionaries carefully timed their admission of the sexually predatory behavior of founder Fr Marcial Maciel:

My contacts assert that the convergence of these two big news events–the outrage prompted by the Bishop Willliamson affair, followed shortly afterwards by the new revelations regarding Father Maciel’s “double life” — was no accident: the order’s superiors and their ecclesial allies took advantage of the crisis surrounding Bishop Williamson to minimize the impact of the new disclosures regarding Maciel. The Mexican superiors, I’m told, believe the present tempest will blow over and the Legion will pull itself together and go on as before.

If that strategy works Maciel accomplices will not be detected.

The transparency called for by Fr. Thomas Berg in his letter to the associated lay group, Regnum Christi, will not come to pass.

Instead there will be, and there already is, denial.

Denial reported by the American Papist who attended a Mass celebrated last Sunday in this country, a Mass led by the head of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr Alvaro Corcuera. Attended by members of Regnum Christi, the lay group associated with the Legion of Christ, that Mass Fr Corcuera said:

On the topic of abuse, Fr Alvaro said that he does not have any specific access to information, and one cannot know what is true and isn’t (here, and at other points I will note, the exact content of his meaning wasn’t always clear – I was listening very carefully for what would be admitted, etc., but coming away it’s still hazy to me exactly what was said. Things were said, but often not in a definitive way.)

We agree with Damian Thompson, who wrote in his blog Holy Smoke in The Telegraph, “I don’t believe that.”

The same Mass concluded with a prayer which included the words:

Since the Legion and the Movement will be vigorous and will flourish as long as the spirit of our founder is present and active in our lives and behavior, we ask you to open our eyes to the urgency of learning, assimilating and passing on the doctrine, spirit, apostolic methods, genuine traditions, discipline and lifestyle of the Legion and Regnum Christi, just as our founder has made them known to us, since this is our responsibility.

Maciel’s history of predation and cult leadership inevitably shaped the order’s culture. An outside investigation is required. Fr. Thomas Berg was right when he wrote to Regnum Christi members:

Finally, I encourage you to speak to Legionary leadership, and even in the form of petition letters, demand nothing less than full transparency regarding the case of Fr. Maciel.

Demand that [Legionaries General Director] Fr. Alvaro seek an independent third party investigation (perhaps in the form of a temporary review board or Visitation team from the Holy See) into uncovering any Legionaries who may have been accomplices to Maciel.

Demand that a similar body guide Legionary leadership in introducing any needed reforms into the internal culture, methods and religious discipline of the Legion.

February 12, 2009 - Posted by | Catholic, Religion | ,


  1. A man has fallen from grace. There is nothing in our human history to indicate that this should be a surprise. It is simply more of a reason to prepare ourselves in spiritual battle. That said, anyone familiar with Regnum Christi members has nothing but admiration for them. The Legionary Priests are true theologians, and spiritually enlightened, beyond any norms.

    Regnum Christi is dedicated to service and evangelization. Their leader is obviously Christ. Regnum Christi members inspired me through their example and provided programs in our parish to grow in Christ. That was the first time I had ever read the Catechism. It was the first time I had ever read the Pope’s teachings. It was the first time I understood the biblical facts that support our traditions, sacraments, and doctrine. They ministered to me, I fell in love with my church, and learned to put Him first.

    Europe has fallen out of love for the church, and simply fallen. Latin America is turning to other faiths and turning away. In the US, few Catholics can defend their faith against those that make false accusations. Too many “practicing Catholics” don’t know, or follow doctrine. Regnum Christi programs are needed now more than ever.

    The premise that one man’s failings discredit an entire community is silly. It is deception that leads people to believe that “man” must be perfect to love God, or that God only loves and works through perfect people.

    God doesn’t want us to suffer the consequences of sin. It always hurts us and others. Calumny is certainly a big one on that list of regrettable human actions.

    Comment by Michelle | February 16, 2009

  2. Calumny should certainly be avoided.
    That is true, and constructive debate is our goal.
    Note please that we do not seek the destruction of Regnum Christi, but rather argue for an approach expert argument indicates is most likely to permit it to go forward in full health.
    Calumny was the charge long leveled at those who reported having been sexually abused by Fr Marcial Maciel — a charge for which some due apologies have been offered to the ones who are still alive.

    Comment by baptistplanet | February 17, 2009

  3. There were years of investigations, ten years from the Vatican and several years from the Legionares. The only thing anyone knows they could confirm is the child who is 20 years old.

    Everything else mentioned in this article is speculation. We have to pray for that poor soul and understand the spiritual battle is fierce. In case you haven’t noticed we are all in the same boat. Many “Baptists” are considered cults by the same elements that attack Catholics as in this article.

    I never knew Father Maciel, I will try to pray for him. The Legionares and Regnum Christi movements are Christ centered, evangelical, and part of God’s army. Surely that concerns our mutual enemy. I can say that I have never heard a Catholic priest pass Judgement and denounce fellow Christians in mass or anywhere else for that matter. You will never find a Catholic site like this pointing fingers at fellow Christians.

    The world will attack and divide us. God’s people will love and forgive. We will know them by their fruit.

    Comment by Michelle | February 17, 2009

  4. […] part for reasons of personal conduct, therefore, the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ no longer seems to be capable of managing […]

    Pingback by Maciel facts out (please); Holy See intervention in … « BaptistPlanet | February 17, 2009

  5. Thank you for making me laugh, honestly. With your reasoning, the Jewish nation under King David was not capable. David committed the worst of human sins (killing and adultery) and went on to love and serve God, better than you or I could ever dream of.

    Every nation, people, citizen, religion, family, and individual, is not capable due to personal misconduct of others? Oh, and who made you judge and jury of people hearts. Carefull, wanting to be like God was the first of man’s failings. Silly Adam (and Eve of course).

    This is exactly why I love my God so much. We “men” are so ridiculous.

    Comment by Michelle | February 17, 2009

  6. That’s a trackback.
    A more complete quote from the article by Vatican commentator Sandro Magister (from which it comes):”
    In part for reasons of personal conduct, therefore, the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ no longer seems to be capable of managing its own recovery.
    “Some of the priests who are highly respected in the congregation – Thomas Berg, Richard Gill, and Thomas Williams – see no solution other than an authoritative intervention by the Holy See.”
    The entire article is here.

    Comment by baptistplanet | February 17, 2009

  7. Regarding many Baptist groups being considered cults, or Baptists considered cult-like in their leadership, yes. True. Moreover, you point to a good example — one for which the evidence of predatory sexual behavior is well-documented and discussed by BaptistPlanet.
    We disagree with regard to whether Fr Marcial Maciel’s abuse, aside from the relationship in which he fathered a daughter, is speculation. And therefore on some other matters.

    Comment by baptistplanet | February 17, 2009

  8. You can see how “no longer capable of managing” and “no longer capable of managing recovery” are two very different statements.

    There are many dedicated people who are very dissapointed by what happened. I have no doubt they will simply come out of this stonger and better.

    I’m sorry, but this article makes ugly unfounded assertions, and sanctimoniously points fingers into the wounds of God’s children who are already hurting. Man’s second sin was to destroy his own brother. May God forgive all of us. We don’t know what we do.

    Comment by Michelle | February 17, 2009

  9. You’re referring to an article which makes neither of the statements you quote.
    The article by Sandro Magister makes a third, more qualified statement: “… no longer seems to be capable of managing its own recovery.”
    Still, I understand that you believe it makes “ugly unfounded assertions.” Thank you for explaining.

    Comment by baptistplanet | February 17, 2009

  10. Let the blind see and the deaf hear! Pray for Maciel’s victims and let the hearts of the RC’s and LC’s be opened. Yes, truth hurts sometimes, especially when members have rampantly worshipped and elevated this criminal and his so called “charism” for so long.
    The statement “That said, anyone familiar with Regnum Christi members has nothing but admiration for them.” is absolutely false! Count me out and let it be known that I have run from this club as far as I can. Most of the admiration you refer to is mutual shoulder patting among the club’s own members who admire each other.
    Why exactly are these members hurting? Is it because they have somehow missed the information about the accusations against Maciel for the last decade?
    Or is it because they chose to tow the party line and defend this criminal’s Christ like acceptance of the sanctions the Pope himself imposed on him years ago? Maciel was basically defrocked at that point.
    Is it because they don’t know whom they can trust anymore? Truth hurts only those who deny it. Welcome it and quit pitying this club. Quit pretending they’ll come out stronger, maybe God wants them weaker and honest at last. It’s awesome that finally some light is being forced into this stinky mess, because it smells of cover up and has existed for a long time already.
    Could it be Maciel’s victims who are truly hurting?

    BTW the “cult” reference to the baptists is downright ridculous. Try harder.

    Comment by Alexandra | March 15, 2009

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