Is the Regnum Christi Movement a “Safe Religious Community”?

Safe Religious Communities

By ReGAIN staff

What are the guidelines to use to evaluate whether or not a particular religious group may be considered “safe” in the sense that a leader or groups of leaders do not exploit or take advantage of its own members to serve some hidden agendas?

In the latest issue of ICSA Today, the International Cultic Studies Association has published an article about safe religious communities. http://www.icsahome.com/articles/a-safe-haven-church-an-introduction-to-the-basics-of-a-safe-religious-community

The author, Neil C Damgaard, defines safety (for members of religious communities) as “the practice and sense of security, freedom and respect as one is joined and engaged with a particular social system or a specific group.”

He explains that in healthy religious communities God’s grace flows outward from Him, through His people, to the general community.  In unsafe religious groups, instead of grace there exist “control, undue influence, harshness, legalism and other unhealthy maladies.”  Such practices damage and injure people even though the groups and their leaders espouse theological orthodoxy.  Discernment is required to distinguish between two groups that may appear to have similar beliefs yet one is healthy and the other is damaging.

Mr. Damgaard provides an example of a pastor of a religious group who was a gifted speaker but was highly controlling and legalistic.  As a result of the leader’s manipulations, fifty of his group became damaged and hurting and they left the organization.  The leader called the group of fifty “trouble-makers”.

The article describes a number of basic features that a potential member or family member can use to assist in discerning whether the group’s members are in or would be in a safe and healthy environment.

Following is our summary of some of the things to look for based on the above article:

  1. Generally Relaxed Environment – Is there a rigid dogmatic legalistic uptight atmosphere or are people free to enjoy a spirit of lightheartedness where people are able to express joy and to laugh?
  2. Regarding essential elements of the religious denomination, are there clear distinctions made between primary, secondary and tertiary doctrinal priorities or do members feel that they are obliged to consider all of the group’s teachings as absolutely and equally essential?
  3. Are members allowed and encouraged to question group’s teachings and is there an openness to have intelligent discussion about anything they may feel uncomfortable about?
  4. Is there an environment where forgiveness is normally expected to be offered or are there ongoing grudges?
  5. Is there a healthy sharing of power among the group leaders?
  6. Is there a healthy balance of power between the leaders and members of the group?
  7. Are there periodic changes of individual leaders in different levels of authority in the group or is there an individual or small group who retain tight control?
  8. Are the group leaders open to sincere and honest questions from the members in a transparent manner and is there any withholding of information?
  9. Is there a good balance of formality and informality in the group and allowance for humor?
  10. Is there genuine friendliness with strangers?
  11. Is there excessive focus on expanding membership (and fund raising)?
  12. Is there a healthy relationship with the parent organization, (e.g. the local parishes)?
  13. Are members free to leave without undue pressure to remain?

The author concludes with a caution to watch out for legalism, a feeling of being report-carded, excessive monitoring of accountability, heavy handed authority or oligarchy (concentration of power with a small elite group).

We encourage those interested in this topic to read the entire article for a more accurate presentation of the information covered.

 

ReGAIN Comment

Considering the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi (especially the 3gf consecrated) two questions come to our minds as we read the I.C.S.A. article.

During the decades when Fr. Marcial Maciel was in control, were his organizations safe and healthy?

Since the appointment of a Vatican delegate and a renewal, are these organizations safe and healthy for their members today?

The first of these questions is easy to answer based on the hundreds of articles on this website and the many articles written by credible authors over the years.  ReGAIN and other websites were started and some have continued because of concerns about what we and many ex members and some Catholic Church leaders consider unhealthy and unsafe conditions for members.  Our primary concerns are based on what we believe to be the loss of free will and the excessive level of dependence required for the Legionary priests and the consecrated members of Regnum Christi.

We are aware of the psychological, emotional and spiritual abuse many of them have suffered and the sexual abuse that some former members experienced when they were very young from the very founder of both organizations.  The abuses were carried out within a secretive, isolated and militaristic environment.

Since the Vatican became directly involved, we recognize that there have been some improvements in the conditions.  Consecrated members are now allowed to have more time with their family members. The number of written rules and the rigidity of following those rules have decreased.  Members receive their mail unopened.  We are aware that there are other changes being considered.

We continue to have a high level of concern regarding the freedom of mind and the independence of consecrated members and can offer several of our reasons as follows:

In our opinion, neither the Legion nor Regnum Christi has ever existed primarily to serve God and humanity.  Because of the good intentions of individual members, there are some good fruits that happen but we believe that the fundamental purpose of the upper echelon of leaders has to do with money and power for themselves.  One obvious indication of this is the huge accumulation of wealth that has been reported by Jason Berry and other writers in Grupo Integer, the financial wing of the Legion.  If the primary purpose was to do good then there would be more to show for the enormous amounts of fund raising associated with the Legion.

Until the Vatican intervened, we believe that the Legion showed little if any initiative or strong desire to have more freedom for their members.  The Legion/Regnum cooperated with the Vatican because if they wanted to continue as Catholic organizations they were forced to.

In the years between when the senior leaders of the Legion discovered about their founder’s secret lives, they chose to pretend that he was a saint and continued to encourage their members to believe he was a living saint.  They treated outside critics as “evil detractors” and discredited them in various ways.

During the years of scandal and uncertainty they kept on recruiting new members as if there was nothing wrong.

The Vatican commissioner’s limited scope of work was primarily to oversee the writing and approval of new constitutions.  The commissioner’s expertise was in canon law and financial matters.  His primary role was not to investigate and reform the cultic methodology and structure.  Some improvements have been made that resulted from his review of the regulations but we question whether there is a strong will among the leaders to make the types of changes needed to truly create a safe and healthy environment.

The Quest for the Core of the Regnum Christi Charism, -you are invited to review

Inviting the reader to review this book written by Legionaries Fr Own Kearns and Patrick Langan which can be found on Amazon

The Quest for the Core: of the Regnum Christi Charism Paperback – April 3, 2014

The blurb is impressive:

JOURNEY INTO JOY  Reading this book is a journey into joy. It’s a joy to accompany these two so very different Irish Legionaries on their adventure around the world into the heart of the Regnum Christi charism. It’s a joy to accompany Regnum Christi members around the world, as they refine the expression of the charism we all share and live. It’s a joy to watch the inner core of the Regnum Christi charism gradually crystallize into a thing of wonder, a beautiful harmony. It’s a joy to grasp the inner working of the Regnum Christi charism — its core. It’s a joy, once you’ve read this book, to feel the competence and confidence as you yourself explain to the next generation of Regnum Christi members the amazing beauty and humble power of a charism you live in communion with other Regnum Christi members –Legionary priests and religious, diocesan priest members, consecrated men and women, and lay members in Regnum Christi sections around the world. Enjoy the joy!

“And the band played on” More Legionary Ordinations

And the Band Played On…

Twenty more Legionaries ordained as deacons

CORRECTION:  in the body of the article it is stated that Zenith and the Claretian order are somehow connected. The editor has researched this info and has not found confirmation. However, the info regarding the first Vatican investigation of the Legion and the role of Claretians [the Congregation of the “Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” was founded by Antonio María Claret y Clará (Anthony Claret) on July 16, 1849 at the seminary in Vic, in the province of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain] is correct; they had competent priests who spoke Spanish and Italian.

While ReGAIN, life.after.rc, several Catholic blogs and bloggers, respectable Catholic voices such as Peter Vere, Fr. Brian Vanhove, Sandro De Magistris in Rome, First Things and others have been raising the alarm about spreading the Legion of Christ yeast in the Church…

LC Bishop Brian Farrell continues to aid and abet the Legion by ordaining 20 young men to the diaconate at the Legion college in Rome.

And it must be said the Holy Mother the Church has been treating the Legion of Christ with kid gloves. John the Baptizer continues to cry in the desert…

*****

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/bishop-brian-farrell-lc-ordains-20-legionaries-of-christ-deacons-in-rome

(Brief excerpts from Zenith report)

Bishop Brian Farrell, LC, ordains 20 Legionaries of Christ deacons in Rome

New deacons come from Canada, India, Germany, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Italy

Rome, May 03, 2015 (ZENIT.orgRedaction | 717 hits

Bishop Brian Farrell, LC, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, ordained 20 Legionaries of Christ deacons in the chapel of the Legion of Christ’s Center of Higher Studies in Rome.  Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil, LC, the Legion’s General Director, and some 150 other priests, both religious and diocesan, both religious and diocesan, concelebrated.

(…)

“On behalf of the new deacons and the whole Church I would like to thank the families of these young men.  The family plays an important part in the life of every priest.  Without their support during the long years of formation, it would not be possible to follow Christ’s call,” said Fr. Benjamin Clariond, spokesman of the congregation in Rome.

*****

Editorial notes

  1. The celebrant, Bishop Brian is brother to Kevin Farrell, bishop of Dallas, TX, who left the Legion many years ago because of ‘intellectual differences’ (not the real reason!). Monsignor Kevin had been a close associate of Fr. Maciel for years and one of the drivers assigned to accompany church dignitaries being cultivated by the Legion, including Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, Prefect for the congregation for religious. He left because of Maciel’s mistreatment and made a successful transition to the diocese of Washington DC., where he pursued his ecclesiastical career
  2. Zenith, which we learn is the official news agency of the Claretians was once owned by the Legion of Christ. Ironically, some Claretians were assigned by the Vatican to investigate Maciel in 1956. Their reports were very damaging but not enough to dislodge Maciel’s supporters inside the Curia.  See details in
  3. http://regainnetwork.org/2014/11/28/1956-59-vatican-investigation-of-fr-marcial-maciel-lc-investigators-identity-polidoro-controversy/

It can be honestly said that as a reesult Fr. Maciel cordially hated Fr. Arcadio Larraona, CMF, for contributing to the damning reports. Fr. Maciel had problems with the Gospels’ “love your enemies.”

Maybe the Legion continues to struggle with this element of their Charity charism.

MMM Warning on cults: Claire Murphy and Clare Birchley speak to the Catholic Leader

Magnificat Meal Movement  –Catholic Cultish, see Regnum Christi parallels,

Warning on cults: Claire Murphy and Clare Birchley speak to the Catholic Leader.

It took me so long to find my voice…

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refocusonrecovery group is primarily used for sending reFOCUS’s enewsletter on recovery.

See the web site here:http://www.refocus.org

Religious Groups Awareness International Network

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