Legionaries of Christ unilluminated path
Pope Benedict XVI will appoint an apostolic delegate to govern and reform the Legionaries of Christ (LC), the Vatican announced on May 1, and “a commission of study of the order’s constitution.” It will in addition appoint a “Visitor” to guide the consecrated members of Regnum Christi (RC).
The actions result from a year-long Apostolic Visitation [investigation] which was provoked not only by reports that LC founder Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado fathered perhaps six children, his cult-like leadership and sexual abuse of subordinates and others. But also by the Legion leadership’s history of aggressive cover-up, including legal actions to silence former members and suppress documents.
The Vatican said:
The extremely grave and objectively immoral behavior of Fr. Maciel, which has been confirmed by irrefutable testimony, takes the form of true crimes and demonstrates a private life without scruples or authentic religious sentiment. That life was hidden from the great majority of Legionaries, above all because of a system of relationships constructed by Fr. Maciel, who was adept at creating alibis for himself and winning the trust, confidence and silence of those around him, reinforcing his role as a charismatic founder.
By discrediting and pushing away those who doubted the correctness of his behavior, as well as through a mistaken desire not to undercut the good the Legion was doing, they created a mechanism of defense around [Maciel] that made him immune to attack for a long time, consequently making an awareness of his real life extremely difficult.
Yet the “sincere zeal of the majority of the Legionaries” survives and is to be preserved — a goal which echoes through three key points of clarity:”
a) The necessity to redefine the charism of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, preserving the true nucleus, that of being a “Militia Christi,” which distinguishes the apostolic and missionary action of the Church, and which is not identified with efficiency at any cost;
b) The necessity to review the exercise of authority, which must be connected to truth, in order to respect conscience and to develop it in light of the Gospel as authentic ecclesial service;
c) The necessity to preserve the enthusiasm of the faith of the young, the missionary zeal, the apostolic dynamism, through an adequate formation. In fact, delusion about the founder could call into question the vocation, and that nucleus of a charism, which belongs to the Legionaries of Christ and is rightfully theirs.
All of this requires, the Vatican said, that the order embark on “a path of profound revision.”
Whose substance remains profoundly unclear.
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