Legion Secretly Targets American Seminarians at North American College and Beyond
US Diocesan Seminarians and Priests Recruited by Legionaries of Christ for their Regnum Christi Movement
Important links follow this article.
Also read the Legion's reaction to this expose: three months later and very "spiritualized". (Editors note: this changes none of the facts put forth here 04/17/06)
Click here for LC response
One of the main activities of the Legion of Christ is the aggressive recruitment of diocesan priests to enter the ranks of the Regnum Christi Movement. The Legion began to implement this goal in the 1980’s. The Legion "apostolate" targeted priests and seminarians, especially those deemed to have special leadership skills, i.e., who were either in Pontifical Colleges in Rome, at the Vatican, or in Diocesan offices in their own countries. Legion leader, Rev. Marcial Maciel, foresaw this would guarantee a steady stream of diocesan officials and future bishops, members of the Regnum Christi, who would act favorably to the Legion and its strategies in their dioceses or in Vatican Offices.
The North American College (NAC) has long been known as a training ground for future bishops, and bishops around the country select their very best seminarians to send to Rome for formation there. The NAC website clearly states: “Early in 1855, His Holiness Pope Pius IX first expressed to members of the American hierarchy his interest in the establishment of a national seminary in Rome for the formation of candidates from the United States, stressing the unique lessons to be learned in Rome: the unity and universality of the Church, the traditions of our faith, and the ministry of the successor of St. Peter.”
Future bishops and prominent clergy of the most powerful country in the world could not escape Maciel's eagle gaze. American seminarians became prime targets. The specific Legion method, known in Spanish as “captación”, would be applied. It is the exact same used to induce lay people to join the Regnum Christi. The Statutes of the Regnum Christi describe this gradual grooming process culminating in commitment with the following steps:
102. Recruitment is achieved by cellular action and through open means of recruitment whose possibilities are practically limitless. All should work on this with enthusiasm and discretion.
103. Recruitment happens in stages, going successively from friendliness to friendship, from friendship to confidence, from confidence to conviction, from conviction to submission.
--Excerpted from the Statutes of the Regnum Christi
I will endeavor to explain the evolution of recruiting seminarians at the North American College (NAC) in Rome, Italy. In the mid 1980s, Marcial Maciel got the idea to begin a new international college in Rome. The task of promoting this project in the United States, which began as the “Pan American College”, and was later renamed the "Mater Ecclesiae International College", was entrusted to Fr. Anthony Bannon. Very early on in his promotional tour to bishops, strong objections surfaced concerning the viability of another major “American” college in Rome. Most, if not all, the bishops in the United States wanted to continue building the formation program of the North American College and saw the Legion’s initiative as competition. So strong was this opposition that Marcial Maciel was forced to add a clause to the statutes of the “Mater Ecclesiae” College stating that seminarians from the United States would not be allowed to enter the Legion's college until the North American College was filled to capacity. This was a face-saving effort on the part of Maciel, since he knew well that the American bishops were willing to put up tents on the sports fields of the NAC before allowing him to take their seminarians.
At this point, the “Great Strategist” decided to “work” the NAC in a different way. Legionary seminarians embarked on a systematic recruitment project at the NAC. At the beginning of each academic year, hand-picked Legionary seminarians were assigned to recruit NAC seminarians for the Regnum Christi. This process was accomplished by giving those select Legionaries special permission to speak to the NAC seminarians at the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome. (Legion rules prohibit Legionaries from speaking to “outsiders”, unless they have special permission to do so for apostolic purposes.)
As the process began, the steps of recruitment were aggressively employed. Friendship was not the goal; it was just one step in the process of “commitment” in the form of entering the Regnum Christi. Reports were written to superiors regularly, numbers of recruits were demanded by superiors, and all was carefully followed and recorded.
The documents in the following links are actual progress reports written to Legion superiors concerning recruitment of diocesan seminarians in the NAC and in dioceses in the United States. Many names and much personal information are collected here. Please feel free to take a look and to inform anyone on these reports of their existence and the processes that are underlying the relationship that was fostered with them by the Legion. More reports may be added as they become available.
Anyone who wishes more information can contact the author of a number of reports on the NAC, Glenn Favreau, via e-mail at email@example.com, or by phone at 202 276 9404.
Report #1 on Secret Recruiting at the North American College
Report #2 on Secret Recruiting at the North American College
Report #3 on Regnum Christi Priests in Rome (Spanish only)
Report #4 on Regnum Christi Priests (Spanish only)
Report #5 Tracking list of Priests in the US for Recruitment
Report #6 on Recruiting in National Colleges in Rome
Read a conference given to LC brothers on recruiting diocesan priests
to follow this topic on the exlegionaries message board with much more information,