Written by a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi, the book “to be published very soon” by Editorial Planeta is entitled (translated from Spanish “The Kingdom of Marcial Maciel, the Secret Life of the Legion and Regnum Christi.”
Life-After-RC used Google to translate the announcement:
What is the future of the Legion of Christ?
Can it survive the stigma of having been founded, designed and conducted by Marcial Maciel?
Nelly Ramírez Mota Velasco, former consecrated women of Regnum Christi, strictly and accurately describes life inside the Legionaries of Christ and many of the characteristics that define this organization as a cult phenomenon within the Catholic Church.
This provides documents and testimony of those who gave their time, their resources, their faith and devotion to a man who, in the name of God, built his own kingdom and disappointed those who met and endorsed the group. Here we illustrate the abuse, control measures, embezzlement and diversion of funds that have been made for decades under the manipulation of the Gospel. It’s time to be self-critical, courageous, and change the house. For all who were and are part of the Movement, it’s time to tell the truth.
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.
Austen Invereigh argues in America, the Jesuit Catholic weekly, that corruption by Marcial Maciel Degollado requires the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, “the all-powerful secretary of state under John Paul II and now Dean of the College of Cardinals.”
Analyzing Jason Berry’s two-part [1, 2] investigation of Maciel – the womanizing, drug-abusing pedophile founder of the Legionaries of Christ (LC) – Invereigh concludes that Sodano’s sponsorship and protection were bought by Maciel.
Berry’s investigation certainly supports that conclusion. A key passage from Berry’s longer, darkly fascinating account of Sodano’s entanglement with Maciel:
Back to Rome in 1989, Sodano, in preparing to become secretary of state, took English lessons at a Legion center in Dublin, Ireland. He vacationed at a Legion villa in Southern Italy. An honored guest at Legion dinners and banquets, Sodano became Maciel’s biggest supporter. Glenn Favreau, a Washington, D.C., attorney and former Legionary in Rome, said: “Sodano intervened with Italian officials to get zoning variances to build the university” on a wooded plateau of western Rome. Maciel hired Sodano’s nephew, Andrea Sodano, as a building consultant. Pontificial Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum is the name of the complex.
But Legionaries overseeing the project complained to Maciel that Andrea Sodano’s work was late and poorly done; they were reluctant to pay his invoices. To them, Maciel yelled: “Pay him! You pay him!”
Andrea Sodano was paid.
Removal of top Legionaries of Christ leadership is necessary and likely to attend actions following the apostolic visitation, Sandro Magister wrote in L’Espresso yesterday. It seems likely that “Vatican authorities will put the Legion under the command of an external commissioner endowed with full powers” over the organization, and findings suggest that the leadership must be replaced if renewal is to occur. For example:
According to some of the testimonies given to the apostolic visitors in recent months, some in this group knew about the founder’s double life, about the carnal acts he performed with many of his seminarians over the span of decades, about his lovers, his children, his drug use. But in spite of that, a fortress was built around Maciel in defense of his virtues, devotion to him was fostered among his followers, all of them unaware of the truth, his talents were emphasized, even among the upper hierarchy of the Church. This exaltation of the figure of the founder was so effective that even today it inspires the sense of belonging to the Legion among many of its priests and religious.
The cohesion of the leadership group, originating from its decades-long connection with Maciel, endures today in the bond that binds and subordinates everyone to Corcuera, and even more to [Luís Garza Medina, vicar general and director of the organization’s Italian province].
As a result, there are questions regarding whether to treat as “trustworthy” the “distancing of the Legion’s leaders from their founder, and in particular from the “sudden revelation” – or so they say – of his misdeeds?”
At the same time, the embedded leadership is taking steps to ensure its survival of the Pope’s installment of an external commissioner.
Freed from the annoyance of the visitors, and not yet subjected to the command of the commissioner, during this interim period which they are hoping will last for “several months” they are doing everything they can to consolidate their power and win the support of the majority of the 800 priests of the Legion, and of the other religious and lay members.
Maneuvering, reform and restoration? We will see.
The Legionaries of Christ’s leaders have apologized once again, and have in a formally constructed statement taken the extraordinary step of disowning their founder. On the Legion’s Web site, they said of their founder:
For his own mysterious reasons, God chose Fr Maciel as an instrument to found the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, and we thank God for the good he did. At the same time, we accept and regret that, given the gravity of his faults, we cannot take his person as a model of Christian or priestly life.
Christ condemns the sin but seeks to save the sinner. We take him as our model, convinced of the meaning and beauty of forgiveness, and we entrust our founder to God’s merciful love.
The language of the admissions seemed well calculated, like their well-timed admissions just over a year ago. For example, they said:
We had thought and hoped that the accusations brought against our founder were false and unfounded, since they conflicted with our experience of him personally and his work. However, on May 19, 2006, the Holy See’s Press Office issued a communiqué as the conclusion of a canonical investigation that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had begun in 2004. At that time, the CDF reached sufficient moral certainty to impose serious canonical sanctions related to the accusations made against Fr Maciel, which included the sexual abuse of minor seminarians. Therefore, though it causes us consternation, we have to say that these acts did take place.
Indeed, “the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, […], mindful of Father Maciel’s advanced age and his delicate health, decided to forgo a canonical hearing and ask him to retire to a private life of penance and prayer, giving up any form of public ministry. The Holy Father approved these decisions” (Communiqué of the Press Office of the Holy See, May 19, 2006).
We later came to know that Fr Maciel had fathered a daughter in the context of a prolonged and stable relationship with a woman, and committed other grave acts. After that, two other people surfaced, blood brothers who say they are his children from his relationship with another woman.
We find reprehensible these and all the actions in the life of Fr Maciel that were contrary to his Christian, religious, and priestly duties. We declare that they are not what we strive to live in the Legion of Christ and in the Regnum Christi Movement.
Their apology, however, was sweeping and inclusive. Most important was their commitment to provide continuing support to those who have been harmed:
It is also our Christian and priestly duty to continue reaching out to those who have been affected in any way. Our greatest concern is for them, and we continue to offer them whatever spiritual and pastoral help they need, hoping thus to contribute to the necessary Christian reconciliation. At the same time, we know that only Christ is able to bring definitive healing and “make all things new” (cf. Rev. 21:5).
Lest anyone wonder about the pope’s ability to impose the decisions he bases upon the apostolic visitation, they promised to accept those, whatever they are:
We will embrace with filial obedience whatever indications and recommendations the Holy Father gives us as a result of the apostolic visitation, and we are committed to putting them into practice.
Altogether the letter seemed not so much a dodge as a necessity, dictated by their circumstances, as they said.
While waves of priestly sexual abuse scandal wash across the Catholic Church, apostolic visitation (investigation) of the Legionaries of Christ (LC) and their lay organization, Regnum Christi (RC), has been completed by a team of five bishops, the Vatican disclosed Tuesday.
Recommendations have not been disclosed, but Sandro Magister of L’espresso broadly suggested:
A commissioner appointed by the Vatican will take command of the Legionaries of Christ, orphans of their founder Marcial Maciel, disgraced by scandals. This is the likely outcome of eight months of investigation. Many things should be changed, including the current leaders.
Sweeping change is expected because the Apostolic Visitation was provoked not only by reports that LC founder Marcial Maciel fathered perhaps six children, attended by news that some are pursuing legal action seeking compensation from the $250-million-a-year organization, his cult-like leadership and abuse of subordinates. But also by the Legion leadership’s history of coverup, which included legal actions to silence former members and suppress documents.
The five bishops appointed to the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion of Christ will meet with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on April 30 to present their final report after eight months of work.
. . .
One source at the Vatican told CNA that these are all just possibilities, as the apostolic visitors have only presented their proposals. The final decision will be made by Pope Benedict XVI.
Houston Seventh-day Adventist and one-time Catholic Bill Cork goes to the theological heart of the debate over the future of Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. The central Catholic theological question is of charism. As Cork explains:
In Catholic theology and spirituality of religious life, founders of religious orders have a unique charism (gift of the spirit) that the church is affirming when it establishes that order. But what happens when it is revealed that the founder was evil? That’s what the Catholic church is wrestling with now in the wake of the revelations about Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. And it’s also clear that the church knew there were problems from the very beginning. As a young man, Maciel was booted from one seminary to another – formators saw he had problems. He began gathering boys to himself, and grooming them to imitate his spirituality, mandating that they never speak ill of him, but always reverently call him “Nuestro Padre.” He created a regimented order of priests, based on the Roman legions. He mandated their behavior down to minute details such as how they used knife and fork, how they sat, how they dressed, and how they laughed. “The Stepford priests” is how some referred to them.
Read the rest here. It deserves a thorough reading. Especially:
The lesson in all of this for me is that conservatives need to be very careful in reacting to problems in the church (any church). You may be unhappy with things being done in the name of your church, with theological dissent and with those who question traditional morality. You may see those on the conservative edge as being a counter balance. You may be drawn to their zeal, and their orthodoxy and orthopraxy. But beware. Satan can pull people off track to the right as well as to the left. He can appear as an angel of light, so that the very elect run the risk of being deceived. Be careful.
Marcial Maciel, founder of Legion of Christ (LC) and the Regnum Christi (RC), is alleged in a Spanish-language interview with some of his illicit “family,” to have sexually molested his son and adopted step-son.
Giselle writes at Life-After-RC, “from a friend who speaks Spanish:”
First son recounts his abuse starting at age seven (including photos, for Maciel to keep as mementos). It got so bad that he became sexually confused and asked his dad if he could see a psychiatrist. MM says he knew a really good one in Spain and sends him over (to stay with “Auntie Norma” the other wife) and he begins counseling. That man quickly put him on all sorts of drugs — just as MM did with any Legionary in the ranks who began to have trouble, feeling poorly, depressed, insomnia, struggling with the miasma of insanity, etc.
There has always been drug use in Legion. It was part of MM’s way of operating — medicating men without prescriptions (using obedience to administer) and then if they crashed, they would be labeled as mentally unstable. All of this was on the exlegionaries discussion board — another reason it had to be shut down.
The Associated Press has a brief account and reports:
Mexican woman, Blanca Lara Gutierrez, told MVS radio’s Carmen Aristegui on Wednesday that Maciel had two sons with her during a 20-year relationship and sexually abused one of them — as well as a son she had earlier whom Maciel had adopted.
The sons appeared with her on the program and supported the allegations.
More here in the comments.
The Legionaries of Christ (LC) and associated lay organization Regnum Christi (RC) continue to struggle amid debate and uncertain leadership toward the report of the Apostolic Visitation [investigation], due in March. That investigation may be followed by a refounding of the order under new leadership, suggests the Mexican newspaper “Reforma.”
The Apostolic Visitation was provoked not only by reports that LC founder Marcial Maciel fathered perhaps six children, attended by news that some are pursuing legal action seeking compensation from the $250-million-a-year organization, his cult-like leadership and abuse of subordinates. But also by the Legion leadership’s history of coverup and legal actions to silence former members and suppress documents.
A Jan. 24 attempt by LC Director General Father Alvaro Corcuera to suppress a roiling email debate over the order’s future, failed. If it ever really stopped, the debate was reopened by an “open letter” from Father Julien Durodie of the LC in Paris. He wrote, among other things:
I see the Legion as a work made by human hands and therefore needs to be purified and perfected. It has made mistakes, yes, and it will continue to do so. Any organization facing such a situation is entitled to differences and hesitations. Benevolent exterior criticism is also normal and understandable. All of this is now clearer than ever. And although I may be wrong, I have no fear, because I know how to tell the difference between God and his works.
I also believed, especially after living with Fr. Maciel for three years at the headquarters, that he was holy. Why not?
But, I never put my supernatural trust in him as a human person. My faith is not affected by his disordered life, but on the contrary, it is purified. Of course I am affected by the scandal, and the cries of the victims fill me with sorrow. But all of this does not call into question God’s call.
Shortly thereafter the Secretary General of the order, Rev. Evaristo Sada, told a gathering of more than 10,000 members of Regnum Christi in Mexico City that the crisis caused by revelations of the double life led by Rev. Marcial Maciel has led them to a time to “face the consequences and, with determination, correct what must be correct.” He went on:
With all my heart, I wish to ask forgiveness of the persons who our founder may have affected as a result of the immoral acts in his personal life, and the persons who may have been wounded by their consequences. Father Alvaro (Rev. Alvaro Corcuera is the current leader of the order) has done so and has is doing so publicly and personally, but we again ask forgiveness because we sincerely regret what the Church and these persons have suffered.
Father Richard Gill, who with other highly respected members of the Legionaires of Christ (LC) called in February for an authoritative intervention by the Holy See, has announced he is “leaving” his post as head of Regnum Christi (RC) in New York to become a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.
He writes that after 29 years with LC and “having “participated extensively” in the Apostolic Visitation:
I’m leaving more because the manner in which the Legion has handled the revelations since the Vatican took action against Fr. Maciel in 2006 has left me often frustrated and totally distracted. I’ve tried my best to communicate with the superiors over this past year, and they have been gracious and generous taking the time to listen. I believe I have had the opportunity to get my point of view across to them …
My conclusion is that the reforms needed in the Legion (which the scandals have made clear) simply won’t happen in the foreseeable future with the current leadership’s approach to the matter.
His loss of confidence is a marked change from February, Thomas Peters notes, when as Director of RC in New York he wrote:
I am confident that our superiors are working closely with the appropriate dicasteries of the Holy See to chart the best course forward for the Legion of Christ so it can be of better service to the Church and the Holy Father.
In that letter Gill also wrote, to his credit:
I am deeply sorry to the people who have suffered from these inexcusable and reprehensible actions of Fr. [Marcial] Maciel. No person should have to suffer abuse at the hands of a priest in whom they have put their trust. And his actions have damaged the holiness of the Church and contributed to the alienation many people feel due to similar scandals in the Church.
Gill’s exit was preceded by that of Fr. Thomas Berg, who in February in a letter to RC apologized to Maciel’s “alleged victims” and to all of the members of RC. He resigned in May, saying, “In my opinion, the serious issues within the congregation will require its thorough reformation if not a complete re-foundation.”
The final report of the Apostolic Visitation is due in March, and the roll kept by Exiting Legionaries of those who have left LC/RC, grows. Possibly more quickly as the prominent leave to pursue their priestly vocations elsewhere. And the possibility of meaningful action seems to grow ever more dim.
Patrick Madrid explains today that resignations like Gill’s have in the past been carefully hushed up:
Historically, the Legion has been very intent on preventing the news of defections from the order by its priests and seminarians from becoming known among the rank and file membership of the Legion and its lay affiliate, Regnum Christ. The euphemism that “Father So and So has been reassigned to a different front” has long been a standard opaque response given when someone inquires as to why a certain LC priest is suddenly no longer around.
But with Father Gill’s open letter explaining the reasons for his leaving to seek incardination as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, there can be no doubt as to why he left and where he went. I suspect that more than a few of his LC confreres will follow his lead and that of other Legionaries who exited before him because the scandals and the mishandling of the scandals which have engulfed the order over the past year.
In a post written before Gill’s resignation, Gary Stern argued in effect that the strategy of ignoring and hushing up the issue as much as possible was succeeding:
Even Marj Silk doesn’t mention the surest proof that the [Catholic child sex abuse] scandal has faded from public consciousness: the lack of media coverage given the demise of the Legionaries of Christ.
In a small nutshell: Pope John Paul II was enamored with the Legionaries, a fast-growing, very traditional Catholic order of priests that was founded in 1941 in Mexico by Marcial Maciel. The pope ignored allegations by about a dozen former seminarians that Maciel had sexually abused them.
In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI publicaly retired Maciel from ministry, without saying why. But it was obvious.
This past February, the Legion itself disclosed that Maciel had fathered children and lived a “double life.” The Vatican is now investigating the order.
The whole story is set out in journalist Jason Berry’s video “Vows of Silence.”
One can argue that the tale of Maciel and the Legionaries is a microcosm of the larger sex-abuse scandal. Allegations of abuse were made and the church—in this case, the POPE—either looked the other way or ignored the evidence. What did he know? When did he know it?
. . .
The religion story of the decade still inspires curiosity, but no more.
Almost. Except that the inexorable drumbeat of events keeps driving the overarching story back to the surface.