Diocese Ban Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi







Ordained 35 new members of the Legionaries of Christ

Photo by: AP / Plinio Lepri / Archive

VATICAN. In this photo taken on Nov. 30, 2004, John Paul II gives his blessing to Marcial Maciel, during a special audience at the Vatican.

On Saturday December 13, Cardinal De Paolis Velasio ordained 35 priests of the Legionaries of Christ, including twelve Mexican, a Spanish, three Colombians, three Brazilians and one Guatemalan.

The ceremony was held at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome, and in it held hundreds of people, including relatives of the new priests and members of the Legion participated.

According to a statement from the congregation, the new priests come from 11 different countries: Germany (1) Australia (1), Brazil (3), Colombia (3), Spain (1) United States (9), France (1) Guatemala (1) Hungary (1), Mexico (12) and New Zealand (2).

Error of judgment
Documents from the archives of the Sacred Congregation for Religious then showed how a succession of Popes dismissed credible reports sent to the Vatican stating that Maciel was a scam artist, junkie, pedophile and a religious fraud.

The congregation of the Legionaries of Christ was founded in Mexico in 1941 by Father Marcial Maciel, later condemned by Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013) for his “very serious and immoral” behavior and the life he led “unscrupulous without true religious feeling.”

Even before the death of Pope John Paul II (1978-2005), Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and followed in the footsteps of Maciel, but it was not until 2006 when, as Pope, punished him for sexual abuses committed during decades to seminarians.

In March 2009 he ordered five bishops to inspect the Legion, among them one Spanish, Chilean and a Mexican and later the Legionaries acknowledged that Maciel sexually abused minor seminarians and ended up having several children with many different women.

To help minimize the damage to the Church, Benedict XVI appointed Italian Cardinal Velasio De Paolis in 2010, who in recent months has attempted to replace the dome of the Legionaries.

Last November, the general director of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Eduardo Robles-Gil, announced that the Holy See had approved the new constitutions of the congregation.

Sarah’s Thoughts

This is one of a thirty part exposé on the Children of the Legion. This group of women, then girls, in the Regnum Christi, share their stories of abuse, neglect and the aftermath of being children in the Regnum Christi. For a complete list of stories to date, view Children of the Legion.


The schedule was remarkably structured and left very little downtime. We have 5 and 10 minute free times sprinkled throughout the day, but it mostly just gave us enough time to get from one activity to another. As part of our Human Formation, we were also supposed to have a Free Time Program where we designated which free time we would clean our lockers, ask for permissions, try to write a letter home, etc. Continue reading Sarah’s Thoughts

This Is How Cults Work

This post originally appeared in VICE UK
by Daniel Dylan Wray
December 16, 2014

Cults will always be associated with the big names. Your David Koreshes, your Jim Joneses, your Charlie Mansons—the guys you’ll have seen hogging half the Netflix documentary section like they’re the only megalomanic sociopaths to ever grace a fortified compound. But there are plenty of other, more humble, groups out there still suckering people in and fleecing them for all they’re worth.

Ian Haworth, an ex-cult member, has been running the UK-based ​Cult Information Centre since 1987. There, he and his team provide information, guidance, and assistance to those who want to leave a cult, those who have already left one, and to concerned friends and families. I caught up with him recently to get an insight into how a modern-day cult operates.

VICE: Hi, Ian. How did you end up joining a cult yourself?

I was doing some shopping one day [in Toronto] and met a lady who asked if I could help her with a survey. I agreed. She then told me I’d probably be interested in joining a community group she represented, saying “Isn’t it time you considered giving something back to the community instead of taking from it all the time like most people do?” The meeting consisted of a talk, followed by a coffee break, followed by a film. When the break was called, people started to come into the room with all kinds of food. I’d paid $1.50 to attend, so I thought I’d get my money’s worth.

I then decided to go for a cigarette, when someone rushed over and said, “Oh, we didn’t know you smoked. You can smoke out here, but have you ever thought about quitting?” About a month before this my doctor had told me I’d probably die by the time I was 40 if I didn’t quit smoking, so she’d hit my area of interest. The course spanned four days and they guaranteed success. At the end of the course I’d given them all the money I had, decided to dedicate my life to them, and handed in my resignation at work.

That was quick. How did you eventually end up leaving?

​I was a completely different person, but of course I didn’t know that. Friends knew that, my roommate knew that. People were scared of me, people felt sorry for me, people had a variety of emotions but didn’t know what to do. People at work were stunned that I’d handed in my notice because I was doing well. When I was working my final month, the group [PSI Mind Development Institution—now non-existent] were exposed in the media. I hadn’t yet been programmed against the media, so I was open to media input. It reactivated my critical mind and I managed to leave. I then went through 11 months of pretty severe withdrawal.

Do you believe intelligent, educated people are more likely to be recruited than people in turmoil or who may be considered unstable?
​ This idea of troubled people is the eternal myth. People want to imagine this is the case because they don’t want to consider themselves as “vulnerable.” I don’t use the word vulnerable very often, but I’d argue that we’re all vulnerable to the techniques used by these groups. The late Dr. John G Clark, who I quote a lot, said the safest people are the mentally ill. The easiest people to recruit are ones with alert, questioning minds who want to debate issues with other people. You take a strong-willed, strong-minded person and put them into a cult environment and the techniques used will break a person down very, very quickly. The smarter, the healthier the mind, the quicker and easier you are to control. It’s just one of these tragic realities.

What have you found to be the primary motives for setting up and recruiting people into cults?

​ The common denominators would be people and money. Some may just enjoy the power they have over a mass of people; others may well be wanting, from the word go, to acquire financial benefits and amass great wealth; others may have other ambitions of taking over the world. Then there are some who may well actually believe they are God, or whatever. I think those are the ones who are quite often mentally ill, so there’s quite a mix of leaders and they may well have slightly different motivations. But, again, the common denominators are people and money.

You estimate that there are currently between 500 to 1,000 cults in the UK. Are they on the rise?

​ Yes. If someone is recruited into a cult, that person—among other things—is going to be going out to recruit other people. Either in a formal way or an informal way, they’ll be obeying instructions from the group on how to do that. Or they’ll simply do it because they’ve been radicalized, are on a high, singing their praises and can’t wait to recruit. So, as each person recruits others, you’ll get an exponential growth of that organization—and the same applies to all the others. Then you get power struggles and splits in some of the groups. You get other groups, from different parts of the world, setting up branches in the UK, so it’s a phenomenon that is growing.
Do you ever infiltrate cult meetings to acquire information?
​No, that would be foolish. We’d never recommend going to any meetings that cults have because the techniques they use work on anybody, including me.

What usually triggers a member into wanting to leave a cult and to seek help from you?

​Because cults use mind control techniques to recruit people, a person’s mind is controlled by the group. Therefore the person no longer has control or normal thought processes; they are impaired, and the person can no longer critically evaluate. You become someone else. What is common is that something reactivates the critical mind of the cult member. It could be something you see or hear that you’re not supposed to see or hear within the group; it could be something that somebody—when you’re out recruiting or soliciting funds—says to you. If you’re programmed to understand that people are evil and will be hostile toward you, and then they’re kind and gentle in dealing with you, that will upset the apple cart.

During this period, how active are the cults in trying to get members to return?

​It varies. If you consider what it’s like to be in a cult, you’re programmed to think that this group is the be-all and end-all, and that anyone leaving this group is going to suffer horribly. So you would see it as helpful, as a cult member, to try and contact somebody who is an ex-member and try to pull them back in. So it’s not unusual for someone to be pursued.

Are these techniques always psychological, or have you encountered any instances of violence or physical threats?

​I’ve dealt with people who have come out of cults and who have died. There was a case that was supposed to go before the courts—the government was looking at a particular group and possibly looking at removing its charitable status—and a key witness, who was an ex-member of the group, was found hanging from a lamppost. Some people say it was murder, other people say it was suicide. I don’t know.

One chap I spoke to in Canada had fled from an organization and was really shaken up badly. I normally just speak to people on the phone, but I offered to meet up with him. He was at university and had a lot of work to do because he was just about to start his exams, and I said, “Well, can I have somebody phone you once or twice a week while you’re going through your exams, just to make sure you’re OK?” He said fine, and that happened.

After the exams were over he was found with his throat cut from ear to ear and, again, some said it was murder, some said it was suicide. The police said it was suicide. His family suggested it was murder. Perhaps you could say the family would, but his father was a doctor and said there wasn’t enough blood at the site where his body was found for it to have been suicide.

If cults are rising in the UK, what can be done to curb this? What preventative measures can be put in place?

​The sooner the government realizes what cults are all about, they will then realize how much more can be done to combat terrorism. Not just the terrorist groups that are operating abroad, but also those that are radicalizing people in this country. If we start to recognize what cults are about and apply it in this area then we can perhaps be a lot more effective in trying to help people who want to come back to this country from Syria, or wherever they’ve been to, and return to normal and then be great sources of information.

Ex-members of cults are great sources of information. People who are perhaps captured as extremists can be counseled back to reality as well, so a lot can be done in that area. I think a lot needs to be done in terms of public education on this topic, but it all starts with the government recognizing what’s going on. I think there needs to be an educational program in general to help British society become aware of how cults operate, what to watch out for and, therefore, avoid, and how to help current and former members to back to reality.


Cults and Common Sense

By Fr Dwight Longenecker
Courtesty of Patheos.com

One of the creepiest things about religion is the tendency for those involved to drift into cult-like behaviors. How can you tell if a religious group is operating like a cult? It’s difficult because the people in a religious group can behave like a cult without them becoming a full blown, identifiable religious cult.

What groups am I thinking of? It could be a small local group or a large international group. It could be a parish or a school. It could be a study group or an ecclesial community. The difficulty is that cult like behavior is often very similar to authentic and Spirit filled Christian communities. A cult will often look like a good, authentic and dynamic Christian community. In fact, the cult will often out do the authentic Christian community in certain respects. Sometimes the cult will feel more authentic, more dynamic, more spiritual and more “filled with the Spirit.”

How can you tell if a parish, a school, a community or a religious group are becoming cult like? Again, it is very difficult because some groups that have cult-like behaviors remain at a low level of these behaviors.

So what are the danger signs? First of all, if a religious community or a religious leader seem too good to be true–guess what? They’re usually too good to be true. That’s because group cult behavior conspires to cover up and hide away anything that tarnishes the glossy image of that “wonderful community” that all the members want so much to believe in. This is the first sign of a cult: everything is too wonderful and everyone is ready to tell you how wonderful it all it. The cult will invariably have an amazingly good public relations operation. They will present a good and glossy front with 100% participation of all involved. This being the case, if your priest is a man who’s faults are obvious. Maybe you should be grateful. He’s real. He’s not trying to con you.

The second thing to watch out for is the leadership. The leadership of a cult will invariably be selective and exclusive. There will be a public face of the leadership, and that person will unfailingly present the nice, glossy and polished face of the organization. The public face will be squeaky clean and wonderful. If it is a personality based cult there may be no other leadership. However, if there is a board of directors or trustees, they will remain in the background. You may not know who they are. Their meetings will not be public. They may even have a vow of secrecy about their meetings. They will call this something nice like “a confidentiality agreement.” This means they cannot discuss what goes on behind those closed doors. There may not be a formal leadership group at all. Instead the leader may simply have an inside circle of friends and confidantes who nobody really knows because they never have any meetings as such. The decisions are all taken in private. The leadership will be tightly controlled and it will be by invitation only. If you encounter non-transparent leadership in this way. Don’t be surprised and be suspicious.

A third trait of a cult is that complete loyalty is demanded of the followers. Dissent and criticism is not permitted. Those who dissent will be marginalized, excluded from decision making and demonized. If the leaders cannot get rid of the dissenters they will be isolated and given a name. They will be “the troublemakers” or “the grumblers”. The dissenters from within will be considered the most dangerous ones and you will find that there are divisions–those who are loyal followers and those who are suspected of being “disloyal” or “rebellious”. The disloyal and rebellious ones will be deemed “unspiritual” or “difficult”. In extreme cases the dissenters will become scapegoats and all the negativities of the group will be projected on to them.

A fourth characteristic of a group that has become a cult or is behaving in a cult like manner is that there will be a persecution complex. A group of outside forces will be identified who are “the enemy”. A little fortress will be built in which all those on the inside are the “faithful ones” while all those on the outside will increasingly be demonized and feared. There will be no real effort to build bridges or get to know those on the outside. There will be no real effort to treat the outsiders as real people. Instead they are the enemy to be kept at arms’ length and against whom the faithful will usually project their fears and suspicions. At worst the enemy will have all the sins and fears and dark negativities projected on them.

The problem is that when a group is becoming cult like it does so innocently. Nobody sets out to establish a cult. Instead, unconsciously certain individuals start to behave in this manner and they support one another. The leadership starts to create an unrealistically wonderful religious atmosphere and those who want and need that sort of religious group will support it and feed the flames. The faithful will set the leader up on a pedestal and declare him to be wonderful and the leader (who needs and likes the adulation) will encourage their hero worship. Those who object or suspect what is happening will be automatically excluded or marginalized by those who wish to perpetuate the super wonderful world they are setting up for themselves.

It all stinks to high heaven, and I know how it works because in over fifty years of working in a range of religious groups I have seen these behaviors develop within parishes, within home prayer and praise groups, within schools, in colleges and in independent churches.

What’s the antidote? One of the antidotes is actually the Catholic parish system. If we all went to our local parish and put up with the priest we didn’t happen to like and the people who were just there because, like us, they lived there–we would be more realistic and we wouldn’t fall into personality cult problems.

Another antidote is common sense. If something or someone seems to be too good to be true. They are. Common sense pops pomposity’s balloon and brings things down to earth. A third antidote is open-ness to criticism and dissent. A real servant leader and a truly service based group will value all members and be strong enough to listen to dissenting voices. They will treat criticism as positive feedback and be open not only to dissent but to outsiders. A fourth antidote is confession. Cult members and cult leaders never admit their mistakes and will never be able to make a true, honest and open confession or apology. If your leader or community members cannot say “sorry” you’ve got problems.

Finally, real religion is just that. It’s real. It’s humble. Remember the word “humility” comes from the word “humus” which means “earth”. Real religion is down to earth. It’s humble and oh yes, “Humus” is also the root for “humor”. Real religion always knows how to have a laugh. If a group or a person can’t laugh at themselves–be suspicious. If they take themselves or their movement or their spirituality with utmost seriousness–beware.

Religious Groups Awareness International Network


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