WHY DID WE JOIN THE LEGION AND THE REGNUM CHRISTI?
Could you be next?
A compendium of answers submitted by a group of exlcs and exrcs, and by parents.
WHO BECOMES A LEGIONARY?
Almost universally, we were young men who were formed and protected by a Catholic environment and imbued with Catholic values. Most of us were the products of good Catholic families, often with several children, and without unusually troubled homes. Our families were usually obedient, supportive, and docile towards the Legion’s proposals. Most of us attended Catholic schools. We were initiated into the faith through catechesis and the sacraments.
We wanted to live the adventure of the highest challenge imaginable. We wanted to be a cut above the ‘ordinary’ Catholic. The Legion appealed to our youthful heroism, our desire to be a part of the world’s “best and brightest.” We would be part of an exotic, world-class organization, and we were told that Legionaries were called to “important apostolic work” in far-away assignments. When we joined, we were told we would be doing the greatest thing a man could do, and that we were going to be the saviors of the Church and society. We were strivers, wanting to excel, seeking a better way to serve Christ and the Church, going after souls “for the Kingdom.” The Legion actively recruited good looking and healthy young men to become part of the elite corps that drew us and shaped us.
WE TRUSTED ‘NUESTRO PADRE’-- MACIEL & SUPERIORS
We were generous and enthusiastic; innocent and naďve; without guile. We trusted the Church, the clergy. As young seminarians, we trusted blindly the promises of the Legion and Maciel, as we had once trusted our loving parents. Those of us who were children when we entered transferred our familial loyalty to the Legion. We tried very hard to be “good Legionaries,” never questioning anything we were asked to do. The “ways and means” of the Legion first formed -- then gradually replaced -- our own conscience. We grew to adolescence and then young adulthood before some of us — but not all — came to the horrendous discovery of being deceived, trapped, and assaulted in soul (all of us) and in body (many of us) by predators. When we were firmly in the power of the Legion, then, and only then, did we see the other side: an evil wolf in sheepskins.
CONVERTS TO CATHOLICISM
Some of us, especially those who joined Regnum Christi, knew nothing of what drew young men into the Legion. Some of us were converts. We left either secular agnosticism or one of the Protestant communions because we were drawn by the three-fold foundations of the Catholic Faith: sacred tradition, sacred liturgy, and the magisterium.
CONVERTS OVER CRADLE CATHOLICS
The Protestant “can do” spirit of responsibility (and not looking to clergy) resonated in the many converts in Regnum Christi who want to do something for the Church. Regnum Christi seemed to be the only organization that was actively doing something, that was willing to “help” the Church. In one new recruitment strategy, Regnum Christi did not target “cradle Catholics,” who were often already well-formed in the faith and not as willing to follow blindly. “Regnum Christi has nothing to bring to them” -- so we were told about cradle Catholics.
LUKEWARM AND WEALTHY CATHOLICS
Some of us were cradle Catholics, but were not particularly intense in our religious lives. Having grown up in families that were actively trying to get out of the “Catholic ghetto” of our grandparent’s generation, we wanted the full American dream. We were not involved much in anything within the Church. Our attraction to Regnum Christi was fueled primarily by boredom and loneliness. Many of us were beginning to have sour marriages, even though we were living in comfortable lifestyles. We lacked substantive friendship and wanted something more than recreational shopping. When we were firmly in Regnum Christi, we were told to recruit among “well-heeled” women (who bought several pair of shoes) -- a sign of wealth.
OUR PRIDE AND VANITY WAS THE HOOK
The Legionary and Regnum Christi propaganda pleased us, made us feel elegant and superior. In Regnum Christi, we were “in with the in crowd.” We glowed with a feeling of importance and attractiveness. Since all these young men and women (in the LC/RC ads) are good looking, we must be doing the right thing by being a part of this elite group. For many of us, this was an unconscious feeling but it provided an almost addictive hook for our LC/RC loyalty, even as it was a certain highway into our bank accounts. The rich lady, upon seeing the picture of a good looking Legionary, is very willing to open her pocket book; she had that almost unconscious feeling of irresistible appeal to her own self importance. We, and many of our fellow benefactresses, are sincere, but we fell into the trap, because of our pride and vanity.
DRAWN TO THE PROPAGANDA OF THE LEGION
In the wake of the flight from the religious orders following Vatican II, whether we are convert or cradle, we were drawn to the well-appointed clerical appearance of the Legion and Regnum Christi. We were sick of seeing priests without collars in sloppy clothing and unkempt hair; we were disgusted by the in-your-face feminist nuns, whose appearance was indistinguishable from bag-ladies. By contrast, the Regnum Christi “consecrated ladies” looked like they had stepped out of a Talbot’s catalogue: smiling, feminine, slim young women in conservative garb and shoulder-length hairdos. The Legionary priests and seminarians (indistinguishable) looked so spiffy in their double-breasted suits and shirts with cufflinks. Clean-shaven and with “business” haircuts, they looked manly, conservative, and confident; they were well-mannered and friendly. The appearance seemed like a dream-come-true: beautiful young men and women in happy service to the Church and community! And, beside that; the Legion offered a reverent liturgy; they claimed to support and love what we loved and believed. They claimed to be the special friends of the Pope and to follow Church teaching. It was not until later that we discovered, to our sorrow, that the papacy and the church had been co-opted by the Legion for their own ends
BESIEGED BY LIBERAL POLITICS AND THE SECULAR WORLD
When the Legion began to take hold in the USA in the 1990s, American Catholics of orthodox faith and conservative politics had been taking a beating for at least twenty years. We had seen feminist nuns take over the schools and chancery offices and “polymorphous perverse sexuality” become common and widespread. We who are mothers and defenders of the Domestic Church had almost nothing to which we could turn for help—the sexual revolution caused the culture to collapse in the 1970s, the schools and the courts became the enemies of the family. We turned to the Church and found there that many shepherds were striking bargains with the wolves. To whom could we turn for help in our need?
DESPERATE AND MISPLACED HOPE
We hoped that we would find in the Legion/ Regnum Christi a defense against the marauders of our families and children’s souls.
Unfortunately, we have been wrong, and to our sorrow, we found we were duped. The Legion recognizes that there is a vast untapped financial resource in the orthodox faithful and has set forth a propaganda that was intended to appeal to people who had been used and abused by the "progressive" and trendy church authorities in America. Thus, the Legion uses the draw of "authentic Catholicism" and twists it to serve its own ends, not God, not Jesus Christ, not the Church nor the good of the people of God.
PARENTS ARE DECEIVED
As faithful Catholic parents we have given our children the best education in the faith, often at great sacrifice. When we read the Legionary propaganda and what it claims to stand for, we gave our children and our money over to them; only to have our dear children turned against us, used for the Legion’s selfish purposes and then discarded after some years of mental manipulation that leaves them unsuitable for a real vocation and afraid of a normal life.
CLINGING TO THE LC/RC -- NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN
As lost sheep, many of us continued to hold on to the Legion and the Movement BECAUSE we thought that we had nowhere else to turn. Many of our friends who remain in “the fold” do so because they cannot bear the thought that the Church might be wrong -- so closely has the Legion and Regnum Christi apparently allied itself with “the Church.” Those who leave are maligned as traitors and enemies of the Church. So totally has blind loyalty been given to the Legion and Regnum Christi that, tragically, many really do have nowhere else to turn. After a dozen years in the Legion, cut off from former friends and family, how does a man begin to rebuild his life outside of the cult? After giving so much to Regnum Christi, sometimes at the expense of her marriage and children’s affection, how does a woman break away from the deadly circle of her friends still enthralled by the cult-like mind-control that prevails at every level of Legionary and Regnum Christi activity and methodology?
BOUND IN THE DARKNESS
Whether for convert or cradle Catholic, whether for male or female, the LC/RC outfit is a skillful fisher of men and women. It USES the need for friendship and esprit de corps, the desperation and pious devotions of the faithful, to secure its own power: “One Ring to rule them all, one Ring to find them, one Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” This, as we have learned to our sorrow is the Legion: a dark sham, a hall of mirrors, that has taken the Church hostage and steals the life-force from its members.
FREEDOM FROM ENTHRALLMENT
Regain offers a support community for those who are trying to find their way back into freedom of mind and heart, trying to find life and love and sanity after the Legion and Regnum Christi. Regain is not the final answer; it is only a small and single life-line to those of us who have left the cult-like hold of the Legion or Regnum Christi. The deeper solution resides with the Church authorities. There are still good shepherds and good priests, but these are as much in need of wholesome friendships and support by the laity as the laity is in need of the sacraments and guidance of the Church. It is, ultimately, our own responsibility to find our freedom and peace with God, neighbor, and ourselves.
NEED FOR THE CHURCH CONTINUES
We have become suspicious of all “great claims” in the name of great things (i.e., the Church and God). However, it stands to reason that where good bishops defend the Faith and the life of the Church, where good priests care about the souls of their congregation, there the life of the individual soul finds a way to live in love and in freedom. Where there is beautiful and reverent liturgy and Eucharistic devotion, where the three-fold foundation of the Church is found (Sacred Liturgy, Sacred Scripture, Magisterium) the parish flourishes and spills over into a dozen works of Mercy of every sort. The family as the Community of Love is also defended and authentic religious life -- vast, deep, and beautiful -- comes forth by the hand of the True Shepherd and True Vine.
Conclusion: Although we are different in background, nationality, age, gender, and experience, there appears to be a common thread among us that answers the question, “Why did we join the Legion and Regnum Christi?” 1) the urgent desire to do something great and good for God and the Church, 2) the attractive draw of joining a “winning team,” 3) and the undertaking of a noble endeavor that both demanded our best and endowed our lives with purpose.
Disclaimer: ReGAIN and this site are neither endorsed by, nor sponsored by, nor affiliated with the Catholic congregation of priests and religious with the names Legion of Christ, and Legionaries of Christ, nor with the group called Regnum Christi.