Stronger: Recovery from Spiritual Abuse and High-Control Groups
A one-day conference sponsored by the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA). Workshop facilitators are educators and counselors who are knowledgeable and experienced with the unique trauma inflicted by spiritual abuse and the challenge of recovery from it. Workshops will provide an opportunity for dialogue regarding spiritual abuse with a view towards understanding, recovery, and support. There will also be a workshop for survivors who were born and raised in abusive groups. Please join us for a relaxed, informative day, and meet other survivors. You’re not the only one, and you’re not alone! All are welcome.
Saturday, September 21st, 2019, 9am-4pm
McMenamins Kennedy School, Portland, Oregon
Fee: $25 (includes lunch) – Register Online
Santa Fe (NM)
ICSA will conduct a conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico November 1-2, 2019. This biennial conference focuses on the needs of former members of cultic groups, movements, or relationships and the families of former or current members. It also includes continuing education training for mental health professionals. Conference sessions emphasize discussion so that participants can address issues pertinent to their individual concerns.
The agenda will address the needs of those seeking help and those who want to help others. A series of talks will address the conference theme of sexual abuse. Other sessions deal with practical issues pertinent to families, former members, helping professionals, and others.
The conference will take place at La Fonda on the Plaza, one of Santa Fe’s finest hotels, located in the heart of the old city. Images of Santa Fe.
More Info (hotel, directions, speakers, abstracts, etc.)
Workshop for Those Born/Raised in Cults
April 24-26, 2020
More Info: https://www.icsahome.com/events/workshopsgas
NY Monthly Meeting
The next ICSA NY meeting will be:
Friday, August 30, 2019 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Where: Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (United Methodist), 263 W. 86th St., New York City (Subway stop: #1 train at 86th St. and Broadway) (map) – Social Hall (downstairs; handicap access via elevator).
Details on future ICSA Conversations that will occur during NY meetings: https://sites.google.com/icsahome.com/icsa/events/icsa-conversations
Betrayal of the Spirit (Nori Muster)
Born or Raised in a Sect (Lois Kendall)
Cult Recovery: A Clinician’s Guide to Working With Former Members and Families (Lorna Goldberg, William Goldberg, Rosanne Henry, Michael Langone, Eds.)
Coping with Cult Involvement: A Handbook for Families and Friends (Livia Bardin)
Recovery From Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse (Michael Langone, Ed.)
Transcendental Deception (Aryeh Siegel)
Whispering in the Daylight: The Children of Tony Alamo’s Christian Ministry and Their Journey to Freedom (Debbie Schriver)
Women Under the Influence (Janja Lalich, Ed.)
ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association)
P.O. Box 2265
Bonita Springs, FL 34133
Become a member of ICSA and gain access to an e-Library with over 23,000 items.
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ReGAIN co-editor, J. Paul Lennon will be attending the conference; he will present a paper on How Cult Involvement affects our Cradle (original) Faith; he will provide assistance, and will facilitate a discussion for former members.
July 4-6, 2019
Holiday Inn Manchester City Centre,
25 Aytoun Street , Manchester, M1 3AE, United Kingdom
Please visit the webpage for further information, including abstracts and bios of the presenters. I.C.S.A. site contains a dearth of free information and/or you can become a members for full access to all the materials.
Heralds of the Gospel, Arautos do Evangelho, in the order’s Brazilian Portuguese
Five years ago, the ReGAIN was contacted by a former member of this organization who expressed his concern after a female friend had just taken her perpetual vows. The former Herald was surprised that this controversial group was approved by the Vatican. He alleged that a cultist association, TFP (Tradition, Family and Property), after the death of its founder, Plinio Correa de Oliveira, had transformed itself into the Church-approved Heralds of the Gospel.
Not long ago, a small group of Heralds, in full regalia, were spotted at the Guatemalan Immigration Center in Guatemala City getting their papers in order. Looks like they have spread to this Central American country too.
The author sought some general information in Wikipedia:
“The Heralds of the Gospel (Portuguese: Arautos do Evangelho; Latin: Evangelii Praecones, abbreviated to EP) is a Roman Catholic International Association of Pontifical Right based in Brazil. Founded by Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, the organization is active in 78 countries.
The Heralds of the Gospel are a successor organization to the original Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, and also claim heritage to the beliefs of its founder, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. They were created on 21 September 1999 but were only recognized as an “International Association of Pontifical Right”, the first established by the Holy See in the third millennium, on the liturgical feast of the Chair of St. Peter, 22 February 2001.”[i] Known for their outfit, similar to a short tunic, with a big red and white cross on the chest, and boots like those of jockeys (see photo), the Heralds…”
See the rest on Wikipedia.
To be continued….
Victim video in Spanish
English with original Mexican Spanish text
ANA LUCÍA SALAZAR ACCUSES LEGION OF CHRIST PRIEST, FR. FERNANDO MARTINEZ, OF SEXUALLY ABUSING HER AND OTHERS.
ANA LUCÍA SALAZAR ACUSA AL PADRE FERNANDO MARTÍNEZ, LC, DE ABUSO SEXUAL DE NINAS.
Ana Lucía is the girl that is not blocked out. It shows her at the age she was sexually abused
2 mayo, 2019
(Translated by ReGAIN )
Hello, my name is Ana Lucía Salazar and I am seeking information about Father Fernando Martinez, LC. I am one of his victims. He abused me when I was eight years old. I am searching for him and gathering data. I would much appreciate your help because during his life this person has abused many girls like me, most of whom are unable or unwilling to speak out. I decided to speak out because he has absconded and sheltered himself after destroying our childhoods.
Hola, mi nombre es Ana Lucía Salazar y estoy buscando información sobre el Padre Fernando Martínez, yo soy una víctima del señor, el me abusó cuando yo tenía 8 años, estoy en su búsqueda y reuniendo información. Les agradecería me apoyaran con todo lo que saben porque este señor ha abusado a lo largo de su vida de muchas niñas que hoy permanecen en el anonimato, yo decidí dar la cara porque al señor se le ha resguardado y protegido por años después de destruir nuestras infancias.
The photo shows me as I was when I had the misfortune to meet Pedophile Fernando Martinez in Cancun, 1991-1992 in the Instituto Cumbres Elementary school owned by the Legionaries of Christ. Although they knew about these abuses, the school directors opted for silence; the parents of the other victims chose not to believe their daughters. But I was supported by my parents who always trusted me and validated me from the first moment. I am documenting my case, but we need more information.
Esta era yo cuando tuve la desgracia de toparme con el pederasta Fernando Martínez en Cancún en 1991- 1992 en el Instituto Cumbres. El colegio, conociendo los casos, decidió callar, los padres de familias de las demás víctimas decidieron no creerle a sus hijas pero yo conté con mis padres que siempre confiaron en mí y me validaron desde el primer momento, mi caso se está documentando pero necesitamos más información.
People who are aware of Fr. Martinez’ previous abuses at the Mexico City Instituto Cumbres in the 1980s and later, know what I am talking about: how the Legion covered up that abuse and moved him to Cancun where he abused us. Later, they moved him from Cancun to Salamanca, Spain. We lost track of him after that and do not know exactly where he is presently living.
Thank you all for your help.
La gente que sabe de su historia conoce sobre los abusos que cometió en los 80tas en el Cumbres de México y después de eso, lo encubrió la legión y lo reubicaron a Cancún en donde abusó de nosotras y de ahí lo dirigieron a Salamanca, de ahí le hemos perdido la pista a sus acciones en Salamanca y en donde esté exactamente.
Gracias de antemano.
176 comments11K shares el /on 4 de mayo 2019
UPDATES, ReGAIN action
Dear Vatican authorities, Rome:
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
Sacred Congregation for the Clergy
For the past couple of weeks ReGAIN has been following the latest revelation regarding an UNDETERRED PEDOPHILE in the Legion of Christ. I attach original accusation in Spanish with my translation.
Fr. Fernando Martínez, now aged 79, was a victim of serial pedophile Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries, as stated in letter J.J. Vaca wrote to said Fr. Marcial Maciel, October 20, 1976. (Gonzalez, F. (2006, 2nd edition), Marcial Maciel, Los Legionarios de Cristo: testimonios y documentos inéditos, page 469. Mexico City: Tusquets.
Fr. Martínez’ early assignment was to the foundation of the Instituto Cumbres in Saltillo, Mexico, in 1969.
He has functioned consistently as rector or director of LC elementary schools.
Accusations against Fr. Martinez first surfaced at the Instituto Cumbres in Mexico City in the 1980s where he was accused of abusing little girls . I believe civil legal action may have taken place or started.
Fr. Martinez was transferred by Legion superiors to the Instituto Cumbres in Cancún.
This recent accusation refers to 1990s at the Instituto Cumbres in Cancun City.
- The accuser is a fairly prominent Mexican TV personality now aged 35 who alleges she was abused aged 8, in 1991-92. Ms. Salazar says four other victims are willing to come forward
After the Cancun scandal in the early 1990s, Fr. Martinez was transferred, it seems, to the Novitiate in Salamanca, Spain.
He is presently living at the Legion mother-house in Rome, where the other formerly Chilean-based abuser, Fr. John O’Reilly, is staying.
The Legion is trying to control the damage with communiques recommending victims trust the Legion to take action and provide help.
Many former Legionaries (see their Facebook webpage, Legioleaks with over 3,000 members) find it very offensive that the predator -as per eye-witnesses- publicly con-celebrated the recent Triumphalist Ordination Mass in Rome: https://legionariesofchrist.org/37-legionaries-of-christ-ordained-at-the-2019-priestly-ordinations/
ReGAIN finds very ambiguous how the bishop ordaining the seminarians is Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, a Vatican Department that not long ago investigated the Legion of Christ because of sexual abuse and sect-like practices. Certainly a coup for Legion of Christ public image and propaganda machine, thanks to the complicity of Archbishop Carballo, OFM. What blundering naivete!
ReGAIN has recommended the alleged victim approach the appropriate Church authorities as outlined in Pope Francisco’s motu propio, May 7, 2019.
Archive photo a LC junior seminarians, Apostólicos. Priest featured is not accused, nor are any of the boys featured necessarily victims.
The Legion of Christ, through its Press Office, Oficina de Prensa, is beginning to reveal more recent cases of priest members suspected or found to be child sex abusers.
1- ReGAIN has found the following statement in English regarding a relatively recent case in the USA: Fr. Benjamin Cieply, LC
ReGAIN is discovering how the Legion is revealing these cases (mandated by the Vatican or local bishops?) piecemeal, some in English, some in Spanish. So it is hard to see the extent of the abuse.
2- The Fr. John O’Reilly, LC, case in Chile is now common knowledge. Irish-born, Fr. O’Reilly joined the Legion in the late 1960s and found his way into the privileged position of being one of Fr. (The Saint) Maciel’s favorite waiters at the mother-house in Rome… Because of his good manners, smiling disposition and assimilation of the Legion system he ended up in Chile, promoting the Legion and Regnum Christi among the political (Pinochet & Co.), business and conservative church upper classes. Together with Fr. Raymond Cosgrave he was the main LC/RC mover and shaker in Chile. During the last decades he was also chaplain at one of the Legion’s elementary school. His demise began with accusations he had sexually abused two little sisters who were students. The parents’ civil case went on and on in Chilean courts until he was convicted and sentenced to four years supervised house arrest. Fr JOR lost his Chilean citizenship and was expelled from the country. The case was later referred to the Vatican where the conviction was upheld and the Vatican imposed its own sanctions. . He is now residing at the LC mother house in Rome.
In and effort to clean up its image, The Legion has been emitting communiques about Fr. JOR for the past year or more. The most recent . communique was found by ReGAIN in Spanish
With further research an English version might be found
3- A more recent conviction we posted was the case of Vladimir Reséndiz who abused two boys at the Legion’s minor seminary in Gozzano, Northern Italy.
4- Very recently the Legion’s Spanish language Press Office released a long statement regarding Fr. José Luis Díaz Atilano, a drawn-out case of this Mexican priest in Chile which was tried in civil and ecclesiastical court. The Legion wants to show it is doing the right thing…
One may wonder why these convictions occur so long after the offense was reported. This happens for a variety of reasons:
- the victims are young, innocent, vulnerable and don’t know how to defend themselves or speak up
- they may be very ashamed, thinking they are the guilty party (this is part of the art of pedophilia)
- it may take a long time for people to believe them after they do summon up the courage. They may be dissuaded from talking, for a variety of reasons.
- The Legion may try to bribe them (see Gozzano case) to keep silence.
- Cases can be difficult to prove because of time elapsed (statute of limitations)
- Cases may cost the victim/family money they don’s have.
- Courts are exceedingly slow.
- Separation of Church and State in some countries make judges leery of getting involved against Catholic Church or Catholic institutions and religious orders.
- Church courts and tribunals are usually slower than civil courts….
- Legion may try to defend the accused member and have the financial resources to protract the case for months or years, “interrogatories” etc., until the e victim runs out of money… Many cases never reach trial….
In another recent move the Legion has stressed its “safe environment” guidelines; however, a careful scrutiny reveals that the Legion still prefers to handle its cases in-house, i.e. that victims contact the Legion outreach staff. Besides, their American guidelines may not be applicable to other countries. In the USA the Legion vaunts its participation in the safe environments system Presidium, but this may be limited to the USA or English-speaking world.
WITH THE LEGION AND REGNUM CHRISTI, YOUTH AND PARENTS NEED TO READ THE SMALL PRINT BEFORE COMMITTING. Remember, they were founded by a conman!
NOVARA, ITALY: 7 years imprisonment for the former rector of child (minor) seminary of the Legionaries of Christ. But he fled to Mexico
Written by Web Editor on March 27, 2019
This is what set this morning by Judge Guerrerio, the Court of Novara, against Father Vladimir Resendiz Gutierrez, former rector of child seminary of the Legionaries of Christ of Novara.
- Google translation from original Italian
The prosecution represented by Dr. Silvia Baglivo had asked for 11 years, later reduced to 7 in the summary procedure.
A complex case, left from Milan, with a further charge, that of extortion, then separate the two charges, the second (pedophilia) was transferred to competence at the Prosecutor of Novara.
For the three victims, defense lawyer Daniela Cultrera, the judge has established a provisional award of € 80,000, in addition to being welcomed to a civil association Network ABUSE instead represented by Alessandro Maneffa.
In 90 days, the written judgment.
Wikipedia: Sexual Scandal of Marcial Maciel:
Formal denunciation by the Vatican
On 1 May 2010, the Vatican named a delegate and appointed a commission to review the Legionaries of Christ. In a statement, the Vatican denounced Marcial Maciel for creating a “system of power” that enabled him to lead an “immoral” double life “devoid of scruples and authentic religious sentiment” and allowed him to abuse young boys for decades unchecked.
The “very serious and objectively immoral acts” of Marcial Maciel, which were “confirmed by incontrovertible testimonies,” represent “true crimes and manifest a life without scruples or authentic religious sentiment,” the Vatican said. The Vatican said the Legion created a “mechanism of defense” around Maciel to shield him from accusations and suppress damaging witnesses from reporting abuse. “It made him untouchable,” the Vatican said. The statement decried “the lamentable disgracing and expulsion of those who doubted” Maciel’s virtue. The Vatican statement did not address whether the Legion’s current leadership will face any sanctions. Actions taken by the current Legion leadership will be scrutinized; but no specific sanctions were mentioned. The Vatican acknowledged the “hardships” faced by Maciel’s accusers through the years when they were ostracized or ridiculed, and commended their “courage and perseverance to demand the truth.”
Victim of Spiritual Abuse Silenced by Spiritual Authorities
INTERNATIONAL CULTIC STUDIES HELD A CONFERENCE ON THE SUBJECT OF SPIRITUAL ABUSE RECENTLY.
“In partnership with Meadow Haven, ICSA conducted a Recovery From Spiritual Abuse conference in Hartford, CT on October 26–27, 2018. Agenda. ICSA-member speakers included Carrie Buddington, Ron Burks, David Clark, Ray Connolly, Neil Damgaard, Wendy and Doug Duncan, Esther Friedman, Ken Garrett, Bill and Lorna Goldberg, Maureen Griffo, Joseph Kelly, Heidi and Pat Knapp, Mike Kropveld, Michael Langone, Sally and Dennis Meyer, Judy and Bob Pardon, Diana Pletts, Patrick Ryan, Lois Svoboda, and Eric Sweitzer.”
This French language article highlights another form of abuse, insidious and harmful like sexual abuse, though more subtle, which is now being brought to our attention by the victims. The phenomenon has been studied by English language victims also. See the following note ReGAIN received:
Comment: I’ve read a few of the articles on your site. Poignant for me was the article on spiritual abuse with an interview of Marie-Laure Janssens.
I’ve written two novels that delve into the issue of spiritual abuse. The first,
looks into conservative religious communities. The second,
Dawn Through the Shadows, delves into the realm of Church movements.
You may find these novels insightful for those who are grappling with the aftermath of their involvement in cultist groups or doubting their perceptions of such groups because of the backing these groups receive from powerful Church leaders.
Both books are easily available in paperback or ebook at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
The Following is a French language review written by Joshua Fuller© published on October 26, 2017 by Le Monde des Religions under the general heading of THE CHURCH AND SECT-LIKE ABERRATIONS
I was a victim of spiritual abuse for eleven years.
States Marie-Laure Janssens in her recently published book, Dans Le Silence de la Vierge (In the Virgin’s Silence) (Bayard, 2017), a testimony of her long process of mental bondage and spiritual abuse experienced in the community of the Contemplative Sisters of St. John.
“I spent eleven years in a sect.” Entering the order at age 23 at Saint-Jean (Loire, France,) she spent eleven years inside. Today at 42, married and a mother, she claims to have been a “victim of a crime which neither civil law nor the Catholic church law recognizes: spiritual abuse”. Hers is not an isolated case. The aberrations of the Saint John Community are well known. Their founder, Fr. Marie-Dominique Phillipe, deceased in 2006, was accused before the Vatican of “deviations in his affective and sexual life.” Several Brothers of St. Jean, called the Little Grays on account of their religious garb, have been sentenced for sexual abuse …
.( Aujourd’hui, à 42 ans, mariée et mère de famille, elle estime avoir été « victime d’un crime que ni le droit pénal ni le droit de l’Église catholique ne reconnaissent : l’abus spirituel ». Le cas de Marie-Laure est loin d’être isolé. Les dérives de la communauté Saint-Jean sont aujourd’hui connues. Son fondateur, le père Marie-Dominique Philippe, mort en 2006, a été accusé jusqu’au Vatican de « déviances dans sa vie affective et sexuelle ». Plusieurs frères de Saint-Jean – surnommés les «petits gris» – ont été condamnés pénalement pour abus sexuels.)
Marie-Laure Janssens was not raped. But like many others, she suffered terrible mental and spiritual bondage.. In 2009, following a long investigation by the Diocese of Lyon (France) to which they belonged, the four main leaders of the contemplative sisters were stripped of their authority. Sect-watch associations have pointed out the incidence of suicide and sectarian aberrations among nuns. In Dans Le Silence de la Vierge (Bayard, 2017), Janssens gives an honest and intimate interview to reporter Mikael Corre regarding her ordeal of mental hell and spiritual abuse.
(Marie-Laure Janssens n’a pas été violée. Mais comme beaucoup d’autres, elle a subi une terrible emprise mentale et spirituelle. En 2009, suite à une longue enquête du diocèse de Lyon dont elles dépendaient, les quatre principales responsables des sœurs contemplatives ont été destituées. Suicides de sœurs et dérives sectaires sont pourtant signalées dès 1996 par diverses associations de vigilance face aux sectes. Dans Le Silence de la Vierge (Bayard, 2017), elle livre au journaliste Mikael Corre un témoignage fort et intime sur l’enfer de l’emprise mentale et de l’abus spirituel.)
The interview continues in its original French:
Vous avez quitté la communauté des sœurs contemplatives de Saint-Jean en 2009. Pourquoi avez-vous décidé d’écrire ce livre huit ans plus tard?
Why did you decide to write this book eight years after leaving?
C’est l’aboutissement d’un long cheminement. Quand je suis sortie de la communauté, mon réflexe naturel a été de me tourner vers l’Église. J’ai remis des rapports, en 2010 et en 2012, aux évêques qui avaient repris en charge le gouvernement de la communauté. L’Église a pris des sanctions : dans un premier temps, plusieurs tentatives de refondation du groupe sectaire ont été arrêtées. Cependant, beaucoup de gens rattachés spirituellement à la communauté, même les oblats
[laïcs rattachés spirituellement à la « Famille Saint-Jean », ndlr]
ne comprenaient rien à la situation et avaient l’impression d’une grande injustice, car l’Église n’avait pas nommé clairement les dysfonctionnements. Une lettre ouverte d’un oblat m’est parvenue. En 2013, je me suis donc tournée vers l’évêque, Mgr Brincard (aujourd’hui décédé), alors délégué du pape pour la communauté de Saint-Jean, afin de lui demander la permission de raconter mon histoire. Je voulais donner des clés de compréhension à cet homme. Mais Mgr Brincard m’a demandé de garder le silence, ce que je n’ai pas compris.
Whence the book’s title, The Silence of the Virgin. Because Monsignor Brincard invoked the Silence of the Virgin Mary when he told you not to speak out.
D’où le titre de votre ouvrage : Le Silence de la Vierge. C’est en effet en invoquant le « silence de la Vierge Marie » que Mgr Brincard vous a demandé de vous taire…
Exactement : il existe toute une spiritualité autour du silence de la Vierge Marie. Avec le recul, je me dis que l’Église a prolongé l’abus spirituel dont j’ai été victime : c’était encore un argument spirituel qui visait, dans le fond, à empêcher de faire la lumière sur ce qui n’allait pas. En outre, j’ai réalisé que ces rapports internes remis à l’Église n’avaient servi à rien : en juillet 2014, le groupe sectaire auquel j’avais appartenu et qui avait fait plusieurs tentatives de refondation a réussi. Un évêque en Espagne a accepté de le réintégrer, avec les mêmes sœurs, et de lui redonner une existence officielle avec l’aval de Rome. Elles se sont reformées avec un autre nom : Maria Stella Matutina. Un certain nombre de sœurs sont donc restées dans le piège. En outre, le fait que son existence soit officielle permet à ce groupe de continuer à recruter. Quelques garde-fous ont été dressés : on a demandé aux sœurs dissidentes de ne pas se référer explicitement au père Philippe, et exclu certaines religieuses. Mais cela montre une grande naïveté de la part de Rome : ces exclusions canoniques n’empêchent probablement pas les anciennes supérieures de maintenir leur influence, et les sœurs continuent à vénérer le père Philippe, leur formateur exclusif.
Au départ, qu’est-ce qui vous a attirée dans la communauté des sœurs contemplatives de Saint-Jean ?
At the beginning what was it that attracted you to the Contemplative Sisters of St. John?
Un peu à l’instar des autres communautés fondées à la suite du Concile Vatican II, il y avait un effet « vitrine » : elle attirait par sa jeunesse. Quand on est jeune, en discernement de vocation, avec un désir absolu de donner sa vie à Dieu, quand on a le choix entre les sœurs vieillissantes du Carmel et une jeune communauté qui recrute par dizaines, c’est séduisant. Et puis, comme beaucoup, j’ai été piégée par l’intelligence du père Philippe.
Il vous a fallu onze années pour réaliser que vous étiez victime «d’emprise mentale». Qu’est-ce qui vous a empêchée, pendant toutes ces années, de prendre conscience de ce phénomène ?
It took you eleven years to realize that you were a victim of spiritual abuse. What prevented you from becoming aware of this during those long years?
It’s a kind of mental manipulation based on spiritual abuse: they use this spiritual desire, this thirst for the absolute, to travel the path of holiness to instrumentalize it and take control of the person. One is enclosed in a spiritual bubble. Spiritual language is used to control every aspect of one’s life, from the unimportant to the deepest recesses of the soul, using catch phrases such as “The Will of God”, “holiness”, “charity”,…
C’est une manipulation mentale qui s’appuie sur l’abus spirituel : on va chercher dans la personne ce désir spirituel, cette soif d’absolu, de vivre un chemin de sainteté, et l’instrumentaliser pour prendre le contrôle sur elle. On est enfermé dans une « bulle spirituelle ». Un langage spirituel contrôle chaque aspect de la vie, du plus anodin au plus profond : la« volonté de Dieu », la « sainteté », la « charité », c’est de faire ceci, ou « cela, c’est contraire à la pureté du cœur », « cela, c’est contraire à l’obéissance », etc. En outre, il existe tout un vocabulaire de culpabilisation. On a du mal à en sortir, car dès que quelque chose ne va pas, on se dit : « c’est ma faute », « c’est moi qui suis trop sensible », « c’est moi qui n’ai pas compris » , etc. On est coupé de soi-même », : on perd le droit de penser par soi-même, de questionner les choses car c’est « faire le jeu du démon qui cherche à me perdre et à diviser la communauté ».
Tout cela reposait sur une idée-phare qu’on vous inculquait : ne pas être « dans son vécu ». Vous appreniez, écrivez-vous, à « enfouir tout ressenti personnel et à écouter le réel ». Quel effet cette formation au « réalisme » a-t-elle eu sur vous ?
All that was based on a basic principle that was drummed into you (by Father Philippe); not to trust your own experience”, “bury your own feelings and listen to reality”. What effect this this training in “realism” have on you?
C’est l’aspect extrêmement pervers de l’enseignement du père Philippe, tel que je l’ai reçu chez les sœurs. Il se servait de cette philosophie dite « réaliste », à l’école du philosophe Aristote, pour nous dire que la vérité était ce qui existait en dehors de nous. C’était un anti-Descartes (« Je pense donc je suis ») : ce qui compte n’est pas ce que je pense, mais ce qui est en dehors de moi. C’était décliné dans chaque aspect de notre vie quotidienne. Par exemple, si à un moment donné, je me sens mal, ce n’est pas grave : ce qui compte est l’enseignement que je reçois, ce que ma supérieure me dit. Tout était un dénigrement de notre intériorité. On perd la capacité à écouter sa conscience, on perd confiance en ce qu’on ressent ! On est coupé de soi-même. C’est une perte d’identité.
Cette emprise mentale est aussi physique : cela passait beaucoup par le corps et la santé, expliquez-vous.
This mental bondage was also physical, you explain how it traveled into the body and affected your health.
La santé est l’un des domaines où il y a eu beaucoup d’abus. On ne pouvait voir que les médecins faisant partie du réseau de la communauté. Il était hors de question qu’une sœur aille par elle-même consulter qui elle voulait. Dans cette sorte de bulle, tout était pris en charge, sans aucun recul critique. Cette emprise sur le corps fait qu’on était dépossédée de soi-même. Beaucoup de sœurs ont été médicamentées n’importe comment. J’ai eu la charge de l’infirmerie pendant un certain temps et demandé à suivre des formations à la Croix rouge, mais cela m’a été refusé au motif qu’il fallait être « pauvre ». J’ai pourtant donné des médicaments et fait renouveler des ordonnances.
En outre, les souffrances physiques et psychiques étaient totalement niées…
And on the other hand, your physical and psyche sufferings were totally denied.
Once, when a sister threw herself out a window… the superiors explained “She wanted to go to Heaven…”
Quand une sœur s’est jetée du haut de sa fenêtre, les responsables de la communauté n’ont pas pris en compte la réalité de cette souffrance et l’horreur de cette mort. Notre fondatrice et le prieur général des frères nous ont annoncé la nouvelle en disant : « Son désir était d’aller au Ciel, suicide ou pas, on ne sait pas, mais peu importe, de toute façon, elle est heureuse. » Puis, on a demandé aux sœurs : « Qui veut être la prochaine à aller au Ciel ? », et tout le monde a levé la main ! On était déconnectées de la réalité et de la souffrance vécue corporellement, psychiquement. Je pense qu’il y avait énormément de souffrances psychiques. Depuis que j’ai écrit le livre, plusieurs anciennes sœurs me contactent et me racontent leurs souffrances.
Vous n’aviez pas le droit de parler aux autres sœurs de votre ressenti. En revanche, tout passait par une seule personne : votre supérieure, sœur Marthe.
You did not have the right to talk to the other sisters about your feelings. And to top it all, everything had to go through your superior, Sr. Martha.
Une véritable dépendance affective malsaine s’est créée… On touche bien cette réalité de l’abus spirituel : une personne, parce qu’elle est en position d’autorité spirituelle, fait intrusion dans votre vie et finit par en détenir toutes les clés, et elle seule. Il n’y avait aucun moyen d’équilibrer ce pouvoir absolu qu’elle avait sur moi et d’autres sœurs. Nous étions entrées dans la vie religieuse pour vivre une communion profonde avec Dieu, et finalement, nous avions une unité absolue avec elle, qui nous coupait de tout. Elle m’a coupée de mon père spirituel, de la possibilité de parler avec d’autres prêtres qui venaient pour les confessions. Quand un prêtre médecin a commencé à déceler mes souffrances psychologiques, elle m’a expliqué que je n’avais pas la permission de lui en parler… J’étais si cadenassée que je ne pouvais m’exprimer avec ma famille en toute liberté. Avec les sœurs, on avait beau vivre toute la journée les unes avec les autres, rien de personnel ne pouvait être partagé sous peine de se faire taper sur les doigts. Or, dans un milieu clos, comme un monastère, chaque détail est vécu avec une grande intensité. Il y avait donc un besoin naturel d’amitié, de pouvoir se confier à quelqu’un. D’un côté on crée un besoin, puis de l’autre on le satisfait : c’est le propre d’une réalité sectaire. Ici, la pauvreté relationnelle qui nous était imposée nourrissait notre dépendance affective à l’égard de sœur Marthe.
Une autre manière de vous soustraire du monde était la coupure de l’actualité. Vous écrivez avoir « manqué onze ans de l’histoire du monde »
Another way of separating you from the world was to shut out any news. You wrote: I lost eleven years of human history.
Pour reprendre cette image de bulle, une paroi était dressée, un filtre aussi bien des choses vécues en interne qui ne pouvaient pas sortir à l’extérieur, que des choses vécues dehors ne pouvant entrer à l’intérieur. Quand il y a eu toutes les attaques de la presse contre la communauté : nous n’avons pas eu accès aux articles. En revanche, on nous a dit ce qu’il fallait en penser et comment réagir, voire embarquer nos familles dans une sorte de « contre-attaque » en leur demandant d’écrire des témoignages de confiance à destination de notre évêque. Mais il y a eu aussi des choses internes à la communauté : j’ai vu des frères débarquer et passer une « année sabbatique ». On nous disait que tel frère était« très fatigué par ses activités apostoliques », qu’il venait « se reposer ». J’ai su des années après, en lisant les articles, que ce frère avait été mis en cause dans des affaires sexuelles. Puis, il y avait la coupure par rapport aux actualités. Je raconte quel traumatisme ce fut pour moi de prendre, quinze ans après, la mesure de ce qui s’était passé le du 11 septembre 2001, de réaliser à quel point j’avais été, à l’époque, dans une bulle spirituelle et d’égoïsme.
Qu’est-ce qui vous a permis, finalement, de prendre conscience de ces abus et de vous décider à quitter la communauté ?
What allowed you to finally become aware of these abuse and to leave the community?
The great crisis that hit the community when Cardinal Barbarin decided to press sanctions….
La grande crise qui a éclaté lorsque le cardinal Barbarin a décidé de prendre des sanctions a joué son rôle. Mais elle est arrivée à un moment où j’étais déjà « préparée » à prendre un autre chemin. Je commençais à avoir des petites étincelles dans ma vie, des choses plus authentiques. D’abord au niveau spirituel, en intégrant un petit groupe de gens, au Québec où j’avais été envoyée, qui priaient très librement. Je réalisais que des personnes, autour de nous, pouvaient être de grands priants, tout en ayant une vie de famille, une vie professionnelle, et tout en se soutenant les uns les autres. Cela faisait un énorme contraste avec l’aridité de foi que j’éprouvais de plus en plus, et la solitude dans laquelle nous vivions. Ensuite, j’ai eu des liens d’amitié, notamment celui avec mon futur mari.
Aujourd’hui, avez-vous encore la foi ? Et avez-vous toujours foi en l’Église catholique ?
Today, do you still believe? And do you still believe in the Catholic Church?
(Summarizing): I have more faith than ever….and I returned to my practice. But I delved into the Bible…i found some Catholic teachings unacceptable. I became an Evanglical…I don’t belong to a Church; I belong to Christ.
J’ai la foi, plus que jamais. Et j’ai quitté l’Église catholique, mais pas à cause de mon expérience à Saint-Jean. En sortant de la communauté, je suis restée profondément catholique, je me suis mariée à l’église, je suis restée engagée dans une paroisse catholique. Mais ensuite, mon cheminement spirituel m’a conduite à me plonger dans une étude de la Bible. J’ai constaté un décalage avec un certain nombre d’enseignements de l’Église catholique. Alors j’ai fait un choix : aujourd’hui, je fréquente une église évangélique. Mais je n’appartiens plus à une Église, j’appartiens au Christ.
Quelles mesures pourrait prendre l’Église catholique pour prévenir davantage ces abus spirituels et dérives sectaires ?
What measures could the Catholic Church take to prevent these spiritual abuses and sectarian aberrations?
In Canon Law it states very clearly there should be separation between the internal and external forum
(between obedience, spiritual direction and conscience, etc. In a religious community, the superior, the spiritual director cannot be the same person….).
Dans le droit canon, il est clairement dit qu’on distingue le for intérieur et le for extérieur. Donc, au sein d’une communauté religieuse, la direction spirituelle et le gouvernement politique doivent être exercés par des personnes différentes. L’institution a laissé se développer des situations où des personnalités très charismatiques se retrouvaient avec tous les pouvoirs entre les mains. Dans mon cas, cette fameuse sœur Marthe avait un rôle tentaculaire. Elle était à la fois maîtresse des novices, mère spirituelle de presque toutes les sœurs, enseignante, maîtresse des études, assistante de la prieure générale, référente d’un certain nombre de prieurés, etc. Des mesures assez simples pourraient être mises en place au moment du recrutement. Nous, on a eu aucun discernement. J’ai eu ma propre responsabilité. Mais l’Église aurait pu dire que « toute personne qui souhaite entrer dans une communauté doit prendre l’avis de plusieurs personnes, y compris de celles extérieures à la communauté, et pouvoir se confesser en dehors de la communauté, être suivie spirituellement par un accompagnateur extérieur ».
Lorsqu’il reçoit en audience des communautés religieuses, le pape François évoque souvent l’importance de ce discernement.
When Pope Francis receives religious communities in audience, he always insists on need for discernment.
It is better to lack vocations than to make the numbers and recruit weak people…..
Il vaut mieux manquer de vocations, dit-il, plutôt que de vouloir « faire du chiffre », et recruter des personnes trop fragiles. Je salue ses propos. Le problème de l’Église, c’est de vouloir protéger son image par rapport à ce qui pourrait la salir et de prioriser ses intérêts institutionnels. C’est pour cela qu’en général, on fait taire les victimes. Face à toutes les communautés vieillissantes et au manque de prêtres diocésains, c’est une aubaine pour l’Église d’avoir des jeunes prêtres qui reprennent en charge une paroisse. L’Église doit choisir entre son intérêt propre et la vérité sur la souffrance des victimes. On dit qu’il faut se taire par miséricorde pour les personnes. Mais c’est faire fi des souffrances vécues par les victimes ! Il faut pardonner aux coupables, mais les victimes devraient offrir en silence leurs souffrances ? L’Église doit choisir la vérité et le véritable sens de la miséricorde.
La communauté Saint-Jean a-t-elle été capable de faire ce travail de vérité ?
Will the Community of St John be able to make the journey toward truth?
Il y a sûrement encore beaucoup de travail à faire. La plupart des frères sont sortis du déni dans lequel ils étaient par rapport à leur fondateur – un travail similaire doit d’ailleurs être fait par rapport à sœur Alix, fondatrice des sœurs, dont Rome a reconnu aussi les défaillances graves en matière de chasteté. Mais le problème ne venait pas que du fondateur. Il y avait aussi beaucoup de frères qu’il a fragilisés ou pervertis. Un système pervers s’est créé. Il ne s’agit pas seulement de quelques cas assez médiatisés de pédophilie, mais d’une énorme réalité d’abus internes à la communauté, et cela, on ne l’a pas encore assez dit et reconnu : des abus spirituels et sexuels de frères en responsabilité par rapport à d’autres frères, des frères qui sous la forme d’accompagnement spirituel ont abusé de sœurs, et des frères prêtres ayant abusé de jeunes proches de la communauté.
“The Legion is reorganizing and registering itself under a different entity — probably in anticipation of the Vatican’s giving the present organization a negative response. A federation can be as easy a way to hide the money as any. I pray that there is no recognition of the LC/RC as a federation (as requested 5 Dec 2018) – it will only provide ecclesial cover for the evil that continues to vitiate the Church’s mission and message – they will turn everything to money.”
See official notice on Regnum Christi website
Of note to ReGAIN is the
- CONFORMITY OF VOTING WHICH COULD POINT TO UNIFORMITY AND CONTROL / PRE-SELECTION OF DELEGATES REDOLENT OF HIGH CONTROL GROUPS.
- Verbal and logical complexity of the issue,
- the continuous effort to re invent Fr. Marcial Maciel’s brainchild (which he made up as he went his merry way!)
- and the ever-evolving flexible numbers and figures, which can never be verified by outside sources.
LEGIONARIES OF CHRIST CONTINUE TO ADMIRE PEDOPHILE FOUNDER!
13 Years after Maciel Crimes Revealed, Legionaries of Christ Still Celebrating His Legacy
January 3, 2019
In a report from Rome yesterday, National Catholic Register correspondent Edward Pentin revealed that the Vatican knew about abuse allegations against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Marcial Maciel, since at least 1943. The order was founded in 1941. This means that from the very beginning, Maciel was engaged in the sort of horrifying depredation that made him one of the most vicious sexual predators ever to infect the Catholic priesthood. He not only abused seminarians for decades, but fathered children with various women – and then raped those children, too.
And now today – the same day that Catholics around the world are reading Pentin’s report – the Legionaries are celebrating the commemoration of their founding by “13 boys and a young seminarian.”
Vatican Knew of Serial Abuser Maciel Going Back Seven Decades
(English & Spanish)
Cardinal João Braz de Aviz says a ‘mafia’ in the Church covered up notorious Fr. Marcial Maciel
MADRID (ChurchMilitant.com) – A high-ranking cardinal says the Vatican had information on notorious abuser Fr. Marcial Maciel as early as 1943.
Cardinal João Braz de Aviz is head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In a speech last month widely reported in Spanish media, he said that the Vatican had known about Maciel for decades and did nothing.
Spanish Catholic magazine Vida Nueva quotes the Brazilian cardinal as saying, “Who covered him was a mafia, they were not Church.”
Maciel, a Mexican priest who founded the religious institute the Legionaries of Christ, was first investigated by Vatican officials for allegations of drug abuse from 1956 to 1959. Despite numerous investigations into his behavior over the course of decades, it was not until 2005 that the Vatican determined child sex abuse allegations were credible and cracked down on Fr. Maciel. Church officials removed Maciel from his leadership of the Legionaries. Then in 2006, Maciel was commanded to retire to a life of prayer and penance. He died in 2008.
Father Maciel has been accused of molesting seminarians, fathering children with secret “wives” and even sexually abusing his own offspring.
Some are speculating that Cdl. Braz de Aviz might have brought up the case of Fr. Maciel to deflect blame for the current clerical sex abuse cover-up scandals tarnishing Pope Francis’ pontificate. The current pontiff has faced intense criticism since Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò testified in August that Pope Francis lifted disciplines that had previously been imposed on accused homosexual predator ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The cardinal claims his congregation has “nothing to do” with cover-ups like the one that kept Maciel in ministry for decades. He said the congregation now follows “a very good process” for responding to abuse allegations.
He emphasized that it is important for Church leaders to “be immediate in the face of abuse,” adding, “What comes to us immediately has to be heard.”
Speaking about the clergy abuse crisis in general, Cdl. Braz de Aviz said, “I have the impression that allegations of abuse will grow, because we are only at the beginning. We’ve been concealing for 70 years, and this has been a tremendous error.”
SPANISH NEWS ITEM BELOW
El Vaticano conocía la pederastia de Maciel desde 1943
por Carlos Esteban | 02 enero, 2019
La Santa Sede conocía la pederastia del fundador de los Legionarios de Cristo y la ignoró durante 63 años, ha reconocido el prefecto de la Congregación para los Institutos de Vida Consagrada, el cardenal João Braz de Aviz.
“Quien lo tapó era una mafia, ellos no eran Iglesia”, ha asegurado Braz de Aviz en una entrevista concedida a Vida Nueva el mes pasado, cuando estuvo en Madrid hace un mes para clausurar la asamblea general de la Confederación Española de Religiosos (CONFER). “Tengo la impresión de que las denuncias de abusos crecerán, porque solo estamos en el inicio. Llevamos 70 años encubriendo, y esto ha sido un tremendo error”, dice Braz de Aviz.
La información ha saltado a las páginas de la prensa secular y la da hoy el diario español de referencia, El País, que ya en 2006 informó de la investigación a que había sido objeto Maciel entre octubre de 1956 y febrero de 1959 por encargo del cardenal Alfredo Ottaviani.
El peor caso de abusos en todos los sentidos, desde pedofilia a drogadicción, pasando por suplantación personalidad, poligamia e incesto, fue posible a lo largo de décadas y con la protección de la Curia pese a las constantes denuncias que llegaban a Roma, algo que podría haberse atajado, quedando en un desagradable incidente menor, antes de mediados del siglo pasado.
Catholic (Convert) Parents Beware of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi recruiting your young sons!
Note: because the Legion of Christ received so much bad publicity from the Founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, scandal and the subsequent investigation/supervision of the order by the Vatican, 2000-2018, the Legion has morphed into Regnum Christi (or other front names).
This warning is for all Catholics, especially Orthodox and Traditional Catholics, home-schooling parents and even more for converts to the Catholic Faith. By this we mean very devout and generous Catholics who want to protect their children from the ravages of Modernism, hedonism and materialism. These Catholics who seek the very best in Catholic tradition, systematically eschew liberal orders and movements, and seek groups which are very devout, faithful to the Pope and Catholic Doctrine, solid devotions (Rosary, Stations of the Cross, etc.) and strict moral guidance (forbidding pre-marital sex, artificial birth control, etc..) The Legion/Regnum will offer them this.
They are often approached by the Opus Dei, the Legion of Christ and its Regnum Christi lay movement. Because these organizations, New Religious Movements, are loyal to the pope and preach the Catholic Catechism, well-meaning Catholic parents are easily duped.
Some founding members of ReGAIN, 1990-2000 were from the Catholic and Convert group described above. They had been duped by the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi: we had a intensely dedicated (2GF) married woman, a mother of a Legion seminarian, and a wonderful convert couple of Catholic Educators who had given their everything to staff a Legion school in the Atlanta area…
So that the reader does not dismiss ReGAIN’s caveat emptor as some kind of personal vendetta, we are including a message received today from a totally different source.
Quote: When I first heard about Maciel
I was sent a copy of an article in a CA newspaper by a home schooling Catholic couple. C Hernández was dying in the hospital and asked a nurse to write down his testimony. He explained how he left the Legion of Christ and how Maciel abused him repeatedly as a child when he was recruited into his Order as a child along with other young boys erroneously called seminarians.
The couple who sent me the article were concerned that another couple with two little boys who were also Catholic converts were being continually being treated to visitations by two handsome Legion priests.
As converts they felt special when they were told their little boys had vocations to the priesthood and were becoming convinced to send their children off to the Legion boarding school, Apostolic School, in NH.
Concerned the young converts were being brainwashed , the couple who had contacted me asked their pastor to intervene and speak with these parents.
Mr. Bell called me from San Diego . Having been educated at Wharton Business School Philadelphia and having looked into the Legion’s Oxford school in Mexico, he was shocked to see the Legion employed the same professor he once had at Wharton. “Why would a “Catholic” institution of higher learning hire a man whose main topic in all of his classes goes back to EST training. Previously I thought EST was Scientology .
Shortly after speaking to their pastor the Bell’s received a letter in the mail from a Col. Laughton or Naughton , I cannot recall exactly.
It contained the copy of an offer to sue them on behalf of the Legion’s good name and was addressed to Monsignor Bannon LC. Bannon’s reply was also included in which he stated that the couple’s motivation may have been just misguided concern for the children. and to hold off but keep them posted.
Mr. Bell was taken aback when he called me and realized he had just been the recipient of a threat. Later they decided to relocate on the East coast.
Then I began to read some articles by Gerald Renner in the “Hartford Courant.”
Mr. Renner was interviewing several seminarians who had escaped after being held in the Legion’s Westchester NY mansion. After they had expressed the fact that they wanted to leave the Legion seminary they were sent there and were held against their will. It was the same mansion previously owned by Sun Myung Moon wherein college students ,whose parents had hired de-programmers, were also held . I saw the film footage of a Documentary on TV recorded by several of the parents of Moonies trying to gain access at the guard house in an attempt to talk to their children.
Brainwashing appeared to be habitual in these quasi-religious groups and apparently the Legion was applying the same techniques.
Magdala Mary, Catholic journalist
Enlace a un artículo en Proceso:
Pasaje largo en castellano de la carte original de las víctimas más abajo.
Article below by ReGAIN staff:
Pope Francis, Cardinal Braz de Aviz,
Compel Legion of Christ leaders to
Have Mercy on Fr. Maciel’s Victims who continue to be
victimized by the institution’s Devious Methods!
ReGAIN has previously alluded to the ongoing saga of Pedophile Founder of the Legion of Christ’s “historical victims” who have never received proper compensation for their sexual, psychological and spiritual abuse.
The leadership of this Vatican approved religious congregation has demonstrated time and time again their lack of human and Christian response to the plight of the victims.
Remember that Pope Benedict XVI described the Founder, Fr, Maciel, as a man “lacking moral scruples.” I fear the present Legion leadership suffers from the same spiritual malaise. Fr. Maciel, the conman, was full of tricks. One of these was to predate his letters. For example, he would delay answering a letter or demand -filed, say, in September- and answer at his convenience – (when it might be too late!) in November-, but dating his response in October! Present Legion leadership is using the same trickery in responding to the victims’ demands. Normal people are easily duped by psychopaths!
Another Legion trick is to divide the victim group by reaching out in devious ways to individuals. The victims had formally demanded they be approached as a group. Instead of honestly and nobly to the victims’ legitimate demands, Legion leadership has used a series of subterfuges more befitting a MAFIA and cult-like organization than a bona fide Catholic Religious Congregation.
What kind of Christianity is this?
What kind of Vatican oversight is this?
What kind of a so-called religious order is this?
The time for excuses, platitudes and promises is long past.
Legion Leadership, stop acting like a Mafia and Intra-Eclesial Sect.
Compensate victims immediately or accept your sins of negligence before God and man..
In our previous article we have explained how the Legion of Christ leadership has continued to stone-wall and play games with the victims who have been requesting clear acknowledgement of abuses, restoration of their reputation and just compensation for damages.
Their heretofore fruitless efforts have been going on for over 20 years!
As the Legion hosts its latest Chapter General in Rome seeking their illusive charism and miracle renewal through restructuring and producing reams of obsessive-compulsive documents, victims have attempted once more to make the Legion respond. In their latest effort -and here one must commend them for their patience with the Legion and hope in Holy Mother Church! – they reformulate previous unanswered demands:
Summary by ReGAIN staff
- That the Legion of Christ as an institution formally and unambiguously reinstate the good name of their Founder’s sexual abuse victims who were once branded “enemies of the Church and of the Legion.”
- That the Legion as an institution extend such an apology to all the media that once were instrumental in the detraction and calumnies spread about the victims, other former Legionaries, family and friends. This apology should be communicated unequivocally to all Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi members.
- There can be no real reconciliation with the “historical victims” until the Legion of Christ makes a just, appropriate and complete compensation to the victims.
- In order to bring this about, a team of three Legion delegates with full authority should interface with a team of three delegates chosen by Fr. Maciel’s ‘historical victims’ to effect a true meeting and dialogue between the parties.
- The victims group demands the right (because of advanced age) to transmit or transfer to others the benefits derived from the settlement.
- The victims will not accept any “silencing” by Legion authorities as a condition for compensation. This has been a consistent part of the Legion’s de facto historical Modus Operandi with diverse victims and their families.
Section of original Spanish language letter:
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE
Translation of an article by Pascal Hubert, La verité vous rendra libres, Golias, Magazine, #174, Mai-juin 2017, pp. 2-13 ; (a commentary on the book De l’emprise à la Liberté. Dérives sectraire au sein de l’Église. Témoignages et réflexions, Éditions Mois, 2017)
“The Truth will set you free”, according to Jesus’ famous words, in the Gospel of John. The problem arises from the fact that inside certain (Catholic) religious communities or movements, freedom is restricted and even perverted to the point where serious deep sect-like aberrations are present (as we will demonstrate in the following dossier). This fact is often hidden and minimized by the Church and its institutions. The victims’ word is seldom understood, often disparaged, which leads to increasing their pain. It was therefore important to confront this denial, to write a book like De l’emprise à la Liberté, which gives voice to those who have been victims of these sect-like aberrations. It is equally important that these testimonies be analyzed and interpreted by a diversity of experts: a theologian, a philosopher, a psychologist, a lawyer, new evangelization experts, and a canon lawyer. This way, the existence of these sect-like aberrations can be recognized, leading to a global and precise vision of this devious phenomenon. Among others, three Catholic movements are described in the book: Focolare, Opus Dei and Legionaries of Christ. At the heart of these movements, the most troubling point is that they spring from a dogmatic theology based on devotion to pain (Fr., le dolorisme) and blind obedience. Let us say it straight off: these are among the most conservative movements inside the Church; each one proudly proclaims it, unwilling to accept modern changes as something positive.
Thus, once we have applied the litmus test of freedom, it becomes perfectly normal to discover that certain ecclesial movements lack proper freedom. A costly freedom for former members who will often have to struggle for years to escape their mental bondage and recover freedom. The witnesses also wanted to describe this for us. Let us heed the words of Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor:
Man’s most pressing need is to find a being on high to whom he can delegate the gift of his freedom…Men rejoice being lead once again like a flock of sheep.
From Bondage to Freedom: A Textbook Case
Let us say it clearly: sect-like groups in the heart of the Church are a scandal. Remember that they portray themselves as prophetic and often rail against society’s morals.
It is necessary to point out how the Church, and certain movements inside it, find it hard to ever question themselves. They are used to observing the law of silence – to save their reputation- instead of protecting the victims from their devious maneuvers; a sad and painful reality, clearly proven by the world-wide pedophile scandal. Very often it is the victims themselves, with the help of the media and support associations, who have to denounce the crimes committed. And so, as recently as March, 2017, the Cash Investigation team and journalists attached to Mediapart, through their articles and the book, Église, la méchanique du silence have decried the Church’s silence and accused 25 bishops -five of whom are still in office, the others have retired or are deceased- to have “covered- up” 32 “predators” who attacked 339 victims. These cases go back as far as the 1960s but half of the events “were proven after 2000”. When invited to react to this documentary, the episcopal conference declined, preferring to denounce in their communiqué the lack of journalistic ethics.
And even more astonishing than the above is this other reality, until now almost unknown to the public, of serious sect-like aberrations in the very heart of the Church.
The aim of De l’emprise a la Liberté. Dérives sectaires au sein de l’Église. Témoignages et réflexions, is precisely to break this other taboo, using the testimonies of former members who have left three ecclesial movements: Focolare, Opus Dei and Legionaries of Christ.
As the opening flyleaf reveals: “motivated by spiritual thirst, by a desire for holiness and closeness to Christ, they have approached these movements full of trust; treated, however, with un-Gospel-like manipulation, they now feel deeply betrayed. The collection of their testimonies leaves no doubt this sentiment is justified.”
Such testimonies -in the form of answers to a questionnaire about their experiences inside these movements- have provided the raw material for a variety of experts to explain and clarify said movements. The experts are the following: Dominque Auzenet, priest, exorcist (France); Vitalina Floris, cloistered nun (Belgium); Vincent Hanssens, a psycho-sociologist, professor emeritus, Catholic University of Louvain; Jean-Marie Hennaux, S.J., professor at the Jesuit Faculty of Theology, Brussels; Pascal Hubert, practicing lawyer in the city of Brussels; Damiano Modena, former personal assistant to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, (Italy); Renata Patti (Italy); Miguel Perlado, psychoanalyst (Spain) and Monique Tiberghien, psychotherapist (Belgium). Louis-Léon Christians, professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, wrote the preface.
Let us not deceive ourselves, these testimonies, no matter how eloquent, only point to a much wider and deeper reality, denounced for decades without major success.
Among many other books, one appeared already in 1996 which sounded the alarm:
Shipwrecked in the Spirit. Sects in the Catholic Church The authors explained how “everything happens inside these communities and inside the Church in such a way that there is a kind of taboo, a never-articulated but de facto control. Problems are systematically eluded or hidden, or simply become the subject of misinformation. In a certain way, the Church in its institutional places, just as in the charismatic institutions themselves, demonstrates an astonishing inability to face reality (…)”.
That same year former Focolare Gordon Urquhart’s The Pope’s Armada appeared. His well-documented study focuses on sect-like aberrations within three new movements: Focolare, Communion and Liberation and the Neo-Catechumenate.
A third, highly informative book, by Olivier Legendre appeared in 2010 which revealed a Cardinal’s daring statements: “There are four main movements that have been accused of sect-like aberrations: the Focolare, The Neo-Catechumenal Way, the Opus Dei and the Legion of Christ. It would be dangerous to cover over these accusations with a mantle of silence. It would be better to investigate and reach clear conclusions.”
The serious and wide-spread reality of sect-like aberrations was made known by the French press in 2013. Remember how the president of the French episcopal conference, Monsignor George Pontier, answered a group of some forty victims of sexual and spiritual abuse at the hands of fourteen communities, movements and religious communities: Béatitudes, Famille monastique de Bethléem, Legion of Christ, Regnum Christi, Fraternité Eucharistein, Emmanuel et Fraternité de Jesus, Soeurs mariales d’Israel et de St Jean, Ancien collaborateur du père Labaky, Memores Domini (Communion and Liberation), de Nazareth (Community of Nazareth, Opus Dei, Points-Coeur, Communautés Saint Jean (Communities of Saint John) and Fraternité diocésaine de Saint-Jean-de-Malte.
Only five of the fourteen above-mentioned communities were the subject of canonical process or public exposure: Béatitudes (suspension of their founder, Brother Ephraim in 2008), Legion of Christ (suspension of the founder, Fr. Maciel in 2006), Points-Coeur (canonical punishment of the founder, Fr. Thierry de Roucy in 2011), Communauté Saint-Jean (accusations officially acknowledged in May 2013 against the founder, Fr. Phillipe) and the Anciens Collaborateurs du père Labaky (forbidden to officiate in June 2013).
In his response letter, Monsignor Pontier stressed: “The Gospel of Christ that we are called to serve is a school of spiritual freedom and he who does not serve this freedom does not belong to the Gospel. Several times in the past we have alerted the faithful and families to the danger of certain groups which do not appear to us to promote a true Gospel behavior. We have called upon the leaders to answer our questions. Often, however, we have received from them only mistrust and silence. Let me tell you it is scarce comfort to know that our remarks were justified. Certain behaviors that you denounce are related to the penal code. Nobody is above the law. It is useful to remember. Victims who so wish, have the right to bring their complaints to civil court when the matter so warrants.”
Pope Francis himself has denounced the manipulation of consciences by “the spiritual engineer”. Addressing the World Congress of Church Movements and New Communities on November 22, 2014, he reminded those attending that “man today experiences serious identity problems and difficulties making his own choices. Hence, the tendency to let himself be conditioned, to delegate important decisions to others. We must resist the temptation to take the place of people’s freedom, to guide them without waiting for them to really mature.” He went on to warn: “spiritual or moral progress built on people’s immaturity is only apparent success, and headed for shipwreck.” “It is better to be less numerous and go ahead out of the limelight.” He invited the movements to an attitude of “communion” among themselves, instead of competitiveness marked by divisions, rivalries and comparisons.” In the same vein, it is useful to recall the pope’s discourse a month later, December 22, when offering his Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia at the Vatican. He enumerated fifteen “maladies” that could affect the Holy See’s collaborators: mental and spiritual “petrification”, excessive planning and bureaucracy, “spiritual Alzheimer’s”, rivalry and vanity, existential schizophrenia, putting bosses on pedestals, closed circles, worldly profit and exhibitionisms.
Afterwards, in practice, what really changed? Very little. The Church and the movements or communities inside her struggle with reforming themselves in depth. First the statutes must be reformed and the doctrine re-written, namely the founder’s. But it serves for nothing if the doctrine is changed but the spirit remains basically the same. So, in practice, the aberrations continue.
These movements and communities are the spearheads of a Church in decline.
As the Cardinal reveals to Olivier Legendre: “These movements have learned to make themselves useful to the Church or to certain Church leaders. They have conducted their public relations with one and the other, building solidarities and friendships… In a word, there is a network at the heart of the hierarchy which supports these movements for a variety of reasons.”
In answer to the question: “Why not eradicate the problem? What is at the bottom of all this? A form of denial? A culture of secrecy? A style of governing?” Yves Hamant lucidly responds: “Some of these communities are already relatively established, and they have a number of important members spread throughout the world. Some are clearly irreformable. Dissolve them? Then what to do with the members inside? I pray for them every day. Try to reform them despite it all? It would take considerable human resources. Instead cosmetic changes are made; all kinds of justifications are found; it is pointed out that the founder’s teachings were not totally heretical, etc. Besides, there are people inside the communities who have not been contaminated because they draw their interior resources from elsewhere. Summarizing, things carry on and the young are allowed to join. To fix this problem much courage is needed, together with effort, means and the cooperation of the whole episcopate. But even when it is the case of recent small communities, the bishops drag their feet… Another reason is the institution’s inability to communicate. When it detects a problem in a community, in the best of cases it mandates a canonical investigation, a kind of audit. There has to be a document ordering this? It is secret. The ensuing report? Naturally, secret. The processes ordered by ecclesiastical justice? Secret. The sentence? Secret. The concern of protecting the anonymity of those involved, laudable and legitimate, but could they at least publish the findings? This opacity favors all the rumors and deprives justice of one of its effects: heal and prevent.”
What is a cult-like aberration? (Fr., dérive sectaire)
According to France’s Interdepartmental Mission to oversee and combat sect-like aberrations (acronym Miviludes), it has to do with the “corruption of freedom of thought, opinion or religion” characterized by “the employment by an organized group or an individual (…) of pressures or techniques aimed at creating, maintaining or exploiting in a person a state of psychological or physical subservience, depriving them of part of their free will.”
The characteristics usually associated with a cult-like aberration are the following: adulation of founder or foundress, totalitarian authoritarianism, blind obedience to the superiors, depersonalization, loss of identity and autonomy, recruitment pressure, harassment, proselytism, members informing on each other, being kept busy to prevent critical thinking, unhealthy relationship to money, moral and sexual abuses, verbal and physical threats to members wanting to leave. Based on numerous testimonies, Sister Chantal-Marie Sorlin, circuit judge in Dijon and chief of the CEF sect-like aberrations bureau, has drawn up four major criteria:
- Personality cult; the founder takes the place of Christ
- Cut-off from the outside world: from family and from outside news.
- Mental manipulation: fast recruitment, pressures, inducing guilt (“doubting is from the devil”), blurring the line between internal and external forums, forbidden to criticize the leaders in the name of holy obedience…
- Practical incoherence (money, morals…)
One single criterion is not enough to define a group as cult-like aberration but when you have a handful of these signs you can start thinking of a pathological group.
Dominique Auzenet goes into more detail in the book, “the movements from the perspective of sect-like analyses criteria”.
Then what is this “charism” which causes so many aberrations?
We must begin by underlining how the three movements in question were founded before Vatican II and never assimilated one of its turning points, namely: openness to the modern world and to contemporary culture. They do not acknowledge the Church as “a people”.
In the Focolare movement the central idea is unity
In his contributing chapter, Jean-Marie Hennaux, professor of moral theology and Mariology, minutely studies the concept of unity to find out whether the Focolare idea is faithful to Jesus’ words in St. John’s Gospel:
It is necessary to state that, concretely, this ideal of unity means renouncing one’s freedom of thought and action. The “me” is despicable; only “us” is valued in this community. However, in practice, this “us” is in fact the personal thought of the foundress, Chiara Lubich, who identifies herself with Christ: “Every Focolare soul must be an expression of me and nothing else […]. Unity is therefore the Unity of one single soul: mine the soul of Jesus among you, which is me” (from a 1950 letter). This is not the unity of autonomous and free persons but rather a fusion, a confusion within the foundress’ “me” …
Such a concept of Unity can only create an idolatrous worship of the foundress and her writings.
In the Opus Dei ranks, the central idea is holiness in ordinary life
Here, too, the idea is quite seductive. But, in practice, the demand for holiness passes through blind obedience to the power of the clerics to reach this impossible goal.
A reading of The Way, the founder’s central work, makes it clear: “Be strong. -Be virile. -Be a man. And then… be an angel” Members are also told to: “love, bless, sanctify and glorify suffering!”
Besides, the Opus is known for its elitism, and its juridical statute as the pope’s personal prelature. The dominican priest, Pierre Emonet, stresses: “As regards the married lay person, he better accept not being more than a second-class Christian. If leadership positions are closed to him it is because “marriage is for the flock and not for the commanding officers of Christ. -While eating is an individual need, procreation is only a demand of the species, which individuals can forego.” Thus, the Opus Dei organization is the result of a mutilated ecclesiology, which forgets that the Church is first and foremost a People where all members are equal.”
Finally, we want to make known that the Opus Dei in Belgium did react to the book by means of a public letter published on April 12, 2017. Not, as one might expect, to acknowledge some cult-like element in its womb, but solely with the intention of protecting its reputation and that of its members. While acknowledging “errors” and “blunders”, these “do not constitute aberrations”.
For the Legion of Christ, the central idea is the Evangelization of the World to hasten Christ’s return
In real life, this ideal turns into a frenzied proselytism, leaving little space for freedom of conscience and personal maturation.
Behind the idyllic tableau hides the reality of a perverse founder, Marcial Maciel, who for sixty years was the object of Vatican favors. As so often happens in the Church and the movements under study, the accusations of many victims are deemed calumnies to tarnish the reputation of God’s work.
On the occasion of Benedict XVI’s trip to Mexico in 2012, Maciel’s victims published a manifesto.
Their letter expressed legitimate disappointment at the Church’s deafening silence: “Just like our hopes for truth and justice in the Church, some of the old Legionaries of Christ who were the co-signers of the open letter addressed to you predecessor, John Paul II, have passed away. Since 1997, we had hoped, just like them, that instead of being ignored and reprimanded by church authorities, we would receive some response to that letter; and also, that the Church would respect the truth, charity and law owed to us due to the canonical complaint we had lodged in Rome on October 17th, 1998 with the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, presided over at that time by Your Holiness. […] But we were not listened to, or believed. For the longest time, we have been ignored for being just simple faithful. […] We never received the least response to our legitimate complaints, even when this goes against the rules of Canon Law established by the Church herself. And then, after being reprimanded on several occasions by church authorities for expressing our convictions through the media, it was only through these very media that we learned about the doubtful and confusing Vatican decisions regarding our complaint. And let us insist that this complaint was lodged on October 17th, 1998 at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under your direct responsibility as Prefect. […] Objective facts, followed closely and analyzed during stressful years, have proven that -more than obedience and respect for the rights of the human person- only public indignation and the weight of universal lay opinion have been able to change, albeit extremely slowly, the attitude of denial maintained for such a long time by the Church’s hierarchy. Like many of the faithful, we hoped for a little clarity and reasons to trust. But instead, we have observed an almost systematic ambiguity and, worse still, contradictions between orthodox doctrine and putting it into practice, which have troubled us deeply and caused painful spiritual malaise.”
Which means to say that the light regarding sect-like aberrations takes a long time to reach the top of the Vatican hierarchy. In other words, here as elsewhere, one cannot count on a sect-like movement to question itself.
The law of silence was able, one more time, to protect a reputation, to the detriment of the victims’ healthy truth…
Some similarities between Focolare, Opus Dei and Legion of Christ
Even though each founder has received a “divine inspiration” and each movement possesses its own peculiar “charism”, (unity for the Focolare, holiness in the ordinary for the Opus, evangelization of the world for the Legion of Christ), it is evidently clear that they all possess the same sectarian aberrations which play out in similar characteristics:
- Theological and moral conservatism,
- Aspiring to ecclesiastical and temporal power, based on their financial strength,
- Tendency to function as a “Church within the Church”,
- Strongly hierarchical structure,
- Strict control of the members and the organization.
Rights of members of sect-like aberrations?
Victims of sect-like aberrations may in some cases have recourse to civil and penal justice.
Thus, French legislature (About Picard law, June 12, 2001, Penal Code article 223-15), followed by the Belgian (law of November 26, 2011, Penal Code article 442) have deemed it right to insert a specific crime, the abuse of vulnerability.
Penal action can be taken against a person who, aware of the vulnerable (physical or mental) condition of the victim has fraudulently abused him to lead him to an action or to abstain from an action gravely endangering his physical, mental integrity or inheritance.
These actions or abstentions may concern the victims’ inheritance, their health, their professional activity, and even their family and affective lives.
It is worth noting that this not only criminally penalizes acts of mental destabilization as in the case of certain sects. It applies to the abuse of vulnerability in general, particularly regarding the elderly, the sick and the handicapped.
Besides the abuse of vulnerability there exist evidently other infractions, especially: swindling, breach of trust, and extortion. Among personal attacks:
- Homicide or involuntary injuries, not assisting a person in danger, deprivation of care;
- Sexual attacks and corruption of minors;
- Violence and threats.
Finally, in the absence of a proven penal infraction, it is still possible to sue in civil court for reparation of moral and or material damages committed by the ecclesiastical institution or one of its members (article 1382, French and Belgian code of civil law).
By way of conclusion
Pedophilia in the Church, as well as sect-like aberrations she harbors, have shown the needs for “look-outs”, because victims are rarely understood by the Church, the movements and the communities.
As Maud Amandier and Alice Chablis have written in Le déni: “The institutional Church has built a façade – rites, liturgical vestments, dramatizations, mass religious celebrations – against the background of the Vatican square. Although the façade is still beautiful, it is beginning to crack, and saving the appearances becomes a priority”.
It is a crushing fact that the Church, structurally saturated with the culture of secrecy, has not taken, or has chosen not to take, the measure of sect-like aberrations in it womb.
On the contrary, it supported Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, before sanctioning him. And despite its colorful past, Pope Francis granted his order a “plenary indulgence” (pardon of their sins) as it began its process of purification and renewal.
John Paul II canonized Jose Maria Escrivá de Balaguer, founder of the Opus Dei, despite him being a promotor of supreme clericalism. If the simple lay person doubts this, The Way, the founder’s favorite work, and the continuous source of The Work’s inspiration, will disavow him: “when a lay person puts himself forward as a master of morals, he frequently deceives himself: lay people can only be disciples.” The lay person is nothing more, in fact, than a second-class Christian.
Let us hope that the Church will see clearer in the case of Focolare founder Chiara Lubich’s cause for beatification, opened on January 15th, 2015 (we know that the Church’s official recognition is a sign of orthodoxy and cultishness…).
Bondage advances in disguise, the opposite to freedom… and it is right and just that the “Christian at the base” is aware of what is going on too often behind his back, at the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy. After all, isn’t he not “King, Priest and Prophet”? He has, therefore, every baptized person’s right to know…
Certainly, the truth that makes us free is not necessarily the one we believed in. But this is the price of freedom. It is always an interior path which one discovers little by little… never a distinct thought or a definitive answer. “Freedom is a country without a road”, said Krishnamurti, a poet of the true path.
So, as we began our presentation with the words of Jesus (“The truth will set you free”), it might be good to remind the movements and communities of these words of Pope Francis: God’s truth: “is inexhaustible, it is an ocean whose bank we barely perceive. It is something we are just starting to discover right now: let us not become slaves of some kind of paranoid defense of our own truth (if he has it; I can’t have it). Freedom is a gift that is too big for us; and precisely because of this it makes us bigger, it widens us, it raises us up. And it places us at the service of this gift.”27
- «Pédophilie dans l’Église : le poids du silence – Cash Investigation», https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-YvIB63nHU; voy. also: http://www.alterinfo.net/Dans-le-silence-des-Eglises_a129409.html
- See Pascal Hubert, «Les mouvements au regard du Droit. Les dérives sectaires au sein de l’Église et la Loi », in De l’emprise à la liberté. […], p. 199 footnotes and bibliography, Sp. pp. 315 à 318; see also : http://www.lenversdudecor.org/_Xavier-Leger_.html ; http://pncds72.free.fr/ ; http://pncds72.free.fr/300_01_intro_eglise.php; http://pncds72.free.fr/30003elements_information.php;
- Thierry Baffoy, Antoine Delestre, Jean-Paul Sauzet, Les naufragés de l’Esprit, des sectes dans l’Église
Catholique, Seuil,1999 (1996 pour la version anglaise, aux éditions Corgi Books, London).
- Gordon Urquhart, L’Armada du pape, Golias, 1996.
- Olivier Legendre, Confessions d’un Cardinal, J.-C. Lattès,2010, p. 266.
- Yves Hamant, Xavier Léger, Aymeri Suarez-Pazos, Appel de Lourdes 2013 : nous avons été entendus ! http://www.lenversdudecor.org/Appel-de-Lourdes-2013-nous-avons-ete-entendus.html . See also : Golias Hebdo, n° 312, 21 au 27 novembre 2013.
- Termes repris par le Pape François lors de son discours du 21 septembre 2013, aux participants à l’assemblée plénière du Conseil pontifical des communications sociales, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/fr/speeches/2013/september/documents/papafrancesco_20130921_plenaria-pccs.html
- Frédéric Mounier, Le pape invite les mouvements d’Église à ne pas «conditionner» les consciences, LaCroix,22/11/2014, http://www.la-croix.com/Religion/Le-pape-invite-les-mouvements-dEglise-a-ne-pas-conditionner-les-consciences-2014-11-22-124135
- Pape François, le texte intégral du « discours des 15 maladies, La Croix, 24/12/2014, http://www.la-croix.com/Religion/; Actualite/Pape-Francois-le-texte-integral-du-discours-des-15-maladies-2014-12-24-1258379
- Olivier Legendre, Confessions d’un Cardinal, J.-C. Lattès, 2010, p. 267.
- Yves Hamant, « Je ne crois pas que les choses aient beaucoup changé », La Vie, 21 mars 2016 (http://pncds72.free.fr/300_03_elements_information/300_03_3_hamant_lavie.pdf)
- De l’emprise à la liberté, op cit., pp. 245 à 276.
- De l’emprise à la liberté, op cit., sp. pp. 115 à 129.
- Chemin, n. 22.
- http://www.ciaosn.be/presse130312-2.htm; see also the information on : http://www.vigi-sectes.org/opus-dei/ ; http://opuslibre.free.fr/ ; http://www.opus-info.org/index.php?title=Category:Essai
- Chemin, n. 28.
- Pierre Emonet, « L’Opus Dei, une Église dans l’Église ?», http://www.lenversdudecor.org/L-Opus-Dei-une-Eglise-dans-l- Eglise-par-Pierre-EMONET.html
- See also information available at : http://pncds72.free.fr/311_legion.php
- « La vraie vie du père Maciel », http://www.lenversdudecor.org/La-face-cachee-du-pere-Maciel.html ; see also: http://www.lenversdudecor.org/-Pere-Marcial-Maciel-.html ;« Légion du Christ : comment l’Église a voulu étouffer le scandale », Golias, n° 152, septembre 2013, http://pncds72free.fr/311_2_legion_xleger/311_2_04_interview_xl_2014;pdf ; http://www.lenvers dudecor.org/ La-Legion-du-Christ-ou-la-re-ecriture-continuelle-del.html
- http://www.exlcblog.info/post/2012/03/21/Manifeste-publique-à-l-attention-de-Benoît-XVI.-Mars-2012 ; http://www.rtl.be/info/monde/international/des-victimes-d-abus-sexuel-diffusent-un-manifeste-adresse-au-pape-28327 5.aspx24 .
- « Le silence comme protection contre la perversion : le cas Maciel », in Maud Amandier et Alice Chablis, Le déni. Enquête sur l’Église et l’égalité des sexes, Bayard, 2014, p. 275 ff.
- See La contribution de Pascal Hubert, « Les mouvements au regard du Droit. Les dérives sectaires au sein de l’Église et la Loi », in De l’emprise à la liberté. […], pp. 183 à 212.
- Maud Amandier et Alice Chablis, Le déni. Enquête sur l’Église et l’égalité des sexes, Bayard, 2014, p. 253.
- Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Scegliere la vita. Proposte per tempi difficili, Milan, Bompiani, 2013, p. 78 (propos repris en français dans le livre L’Église que j’espère. Entretien avec le père Spadaro, s.j., Champs essais, 2014, p.90).
- Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Scegliere la vita. Proposte per tempi difficili, Milan, Bompiani, 2013, p. 78 (propos repris en français dans le livre L’Église que j’espère. Entretien avec le père Spadaro, s.j., Champs essais, 2014, p.90).
Dutch cult expert Frances Peters gave this masterly power point presentation at the International Cultic Association’s International Conference in Bordeaux, July 2017.
ReGAIN believes it is of great value to members, parents, friends, helpers and professionals involved with controlling, coercive, harmful groups.
ReGAIN wants to remind the public that such harmful groups can exist even in the heart of mainstream – including Christian and Catholic – churches and communities. We will post upcoming articles re questionable Catholic Communities and Movements.
Please click title below:
Common Characteristics of Harmful Catholic Groups
J. Paul Lennon submits this educational brief formatted like the now classic Langone-Lalich List of Cult Characteristics and on his research for I.C.S.A. Philadelphia Annual Conference July 2018 paper, Brief Overview of Some Harmful Catholic Groups, presently under review for publication.
- Abusive founder and/or leaders-Leadership, including but not limited to serious criminal sexual abuse of members and followers
- Manipulative/deceptive/ aggressive recruiting of members (young, idealistic, inexperienced, in life transition…),
- Unscrupulous fundraising and fraudulent money-management, “financial irregularities”
- Insufficient or faulty Discernment of calling and life path.
- Foreclosure (Premature major commitments made suddenly or too early, without due deliberation): for example, giving up all earthly belongings, inheritance, going on a faraway mission, rashly embracing celibacy and the priesthood.
- Isolation from family, friends and previous support system; exclusion of “outsiders” and former members.
- Systematic Control of Behavior, Information, Thoughts and Emotions
- Leaders’ excessive authority and influence, demanding blind obedience: they directly represent God and speak in his name. Members put them on a pedestal and want to please.
- Superiors and or “spiritual directors” tell members whether or not they “have a vocation,” a special call from God from all eternity binding them to this particular life style in this specific group.
- Trainers/formators/superiors/spiritual directors…
- do not explore or respect candidates’ and members’ sexual orientation.
- May tell them to remain single or marry, and whom to marry…
- Want to control when, where and the how a member can leave.
- Black and White thinking prevails; “no half measures”; with selective scripture quotes to bolster: “He who is not with me is against me.” No room for questioning or doubting.
- Emphasis on Discipline, with Unreachable Goals of Holiness or Perfection -often fleshed out in a multiplicity of rules- which lead to obsessive-compulsive neurosis , guilt feelings and low self-esteem. (Naturally, the member is going to fall short).
- Community Confession and Shaming (“Chapter of Faults”) may be used; public humiliation; leaders harshly criticize members in public, “make an example” of them. Members are expected to snitch on each other.
- Elitist and Us Vs Them, siege mentality. “We are special, chosen by God”, “others would not understand,” Critics “hate and are out to destroy us, the Catholic priesthood, the Church, His Holiness the pope”
- Heavy-handed retention: Loss of vocation, sure damnation. Straight to hell! You won’t make it on your own out there. You will fall into serious sin and vices. You are betraying Jesus Turning your back on God!
- Ostracism, emotional cut-off and despising exiting and former members: “failures,” “unfaithful,” “traitors,” “disgruntled old men,” “envious,” “vengeful”
- Opponents are harassed, threatened, pursued and even sued in the name of God, Jesus, the Church, the Group, Truth, Charity…
Call for Papers: ICSA 2019 Annual Conference
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July 4-6, 2019
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Recovering From Spiritual Abuse: A Conference for Survivors, Churches, and Helpers
October 26-27, 2018
Recovering from Cults and Coercive Control: A Workshop for Former Members and Families
October 13, 2018 (Saturday)
Los Angeles, CA
Controversies in Religious Contexts
October 26-27, 2018
Surviving and Moving On After a High-Demand Group Experience: A Workshop for Those Born/Raised in Cults
April 26 – 28, 2019
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THE TEXT REPRODUCED BELOW IS AN EXCERPT FROM ANN BARNHARDT’S BLOG:
BARNHARDT Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non-sancta.
ReGAIN wants to make it clear that this commentary is solely Ann Barnhardt’s opinion. ReGAIN will not second condemnation of Pope Francis, for that would be a wrong interpretation. Nor can we make a public expose of these “fronts” that Pope Francis -and Pope Benedict before him- opposes by preaching a poor church and small faith communities.
ReGAIN also points out to our readers that its primary focus is not so much with individual members of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi Movement as with the modus operandi of this institution which it considers to be “a business that looks like a religious order”: the enterprise possessing several features of an intra-ecclesial Catholic cult. This does not exonerate individual members from their misbehaviors, crimes and misdemeanors but does place these in the context and environment we are alluding to: an atmosphere where -among other immoral principles bequeathed by the founder- the end (promoting the Legion of Christ) often justifies the means.
Finally, ReGAIN believes that the anger expressed in this article demonstrates the disappointment and righteous indignation of many Catholics who feel betrayed by their pastors and do not yet see a purifying light at the end of the tunnel.
(Back to the Barnhardt article)
“In the wake of the #CatholicMeToo phenomenon which is still holding traction and moving along nicely, pretty much everyone is naively asking the question:
How could they not know that McCarrick was so evil? How could this man have possibly been elevated and advanced up the hierarchical chain the way he was? How could such an evil person acquire so much power?
The answer in one sentence:
The fact that McCarrick was an open homosexual[i] predator was considered a FEATURE, not a bug, and the higher he ascended, and the more powerful he became, the more valuable he became to those around him who sought to LEVERAGE CORRUPTION AND CRIMINALITY for their own gain, and the more intensely those around him covered for his crimes against young men and boys.
Folks, we’ve all got to wise up here if there is any hope of prosecuting this war against the infiltrators and forces of evil. When out Lord says, Be wise as serpents…, He isn’t just whistling Dixie. The near-unanimous failure of people to grasp these dynamics is frustrating. You can’t win a war when every general is a doe-eyed Pollyanna constantly looking around and asking, “Why are those angry-looking men pointing guns at us?”
Look, Diabolical Narcissist Psychopaths attract other DN psychopaths. These demoniacal creatures flock together. If you are asking questions such as, “What did Donald Wuerl know about McCarrick, and when did he know it?”, I can tell you the answer right now. He knew damn-near everything and knew it from the beginning. The same goes for Kevin Farrell. And not just other prelates, but clerics and laypeople that are employed by or otherwise make their livings off the Institutional Church as well. The rot is deep. One might even say hopelessly deep, barring supernatural intervention.
I think the best way to explain this is with a specific case, and that specific case is the former number three and public face of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Thomas Williams. The other reason why this specific example is particularly helpful, is because there are people claiming that people on the so-called “right” are only going after the McCarricks and Wuerls because they are on the so-called “left”. Well, Fr. Thomas Williams and the Legion of Christ are the perfect examples of criminal psychopaths running their racket in the Institutional Church, wrapping themselves in the mantle of “conservatism”. So, let’s kill two birds with one stone here, and show how this cancer infects every corner of the Church – from hard left to soft left to neo-conservative to conservative to Trad – the whole spectrum.
Fr. Thomas Williams, who is now laicized, was the pretty-boy face of the truly evil racketeering organization, the Legion of Christ, for many years – pretty much from the late 1990s until 2012. Fr. Thomas Williams lived for YEARS with the satanic founder of the Legion of Christ, Marcial Maciel, who was a drug-addled, bisexual incestuous child rapist. That’s right, not only did Maciel sexually assault and rape Legion seminarians right and left, Maciel also RAPED HIS OWN SONS. And Fr. Thomas Williams LIVED WITH HIM. For YEARS.
This is very, very similar to now-Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who was also top-ranking Legionary until he left in 1984 to climb the career ladder to the Cardinalate as a diocesan priest and SHARED AN APARTMENT FOR YEARS with his mentor and patron, “Auntie Blanche” McCarrick, who was likewise an open sex criminal, assaulting and raping seminarians and boys, as everyone knew. Farrell, like Williams, is an inveterate and facile liar – a hallmark of Diabolical Narcissist psychopaths, and simply adopted the strategy of “deny, deny, deny, deny.” It doesn’t matter how open the secret is. The universal strategy is DENY, DENY, DENY. The Clintons perfected this in the 1990s, specifically in the Lewinsky scandal. DN psychopaths all over the world watched and learned from the Clintons’ tutelage.
Back to Fr. Williams. You can read a very brief summary of the Fr. Thomas Williams scandal in THIS PIECE which Frank Walker at Canon212.com broke last summer on his blog, http:/www.StumblingBlock.org . Just a couple of high points with additions and details that have been shared with me over the years about these truly deplorable people: Fr. Williams, flying high as the number three of the $30+ BILLION-dollar Legion of Christ criminal racketeering organization, was recruited by Neo-con Catholic darling and John Paul II advisor Mary Ann Glendon to recruit Glendon’s Machiavellian apostate daughter, Elizabeth Lev, into the Legion. Glendon and Williams were both teaching at the Legion’s University in Rome. Williams, it should be noted, was no less than the DEAN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MORAL THEOLOGY. Glendon’s daughter, Lev, was a hyper-promiscuous art history major who had just relocated to Rome. Glendon knew that her notoriously sexually aggressive and amoral daughter would, despite her apostasy, be more than happy to enter “spiritual direction” with Fr. Williams with an eye towards a sexual affair with this “sexy” priest.
Sure enough, Lev conceived two children by Fr. Williams in the early 2000s. The first was miscarried, but the second was born with a very severe case of Down Syndrome. Lev, by now in her late 30s, was clearly trying to get pregnant by Fr. Williams as a means of getting her claws into the $30+ Billion Legion of Christ, leveraging her womb into a multi-million-dollar blackmail/child support package. It worked. Fr. Williams put Lev on the payroll of Zenit, the Legion of Christ’s news publishing business, and Lev was thrown all manner of work as a tour guide for Legion of Christ’s millionaire recruiting junkets, and quickly became one of the most powerful people in the massive money-making machine that is the Vatican Museums – which the Legion of Christ and Opus Dei essentially run.
Fr. Williams, desirous to maintain his plum position at Maciel’s right hand, denied that he was the father, (phrase edited out by ReGAIN staff). Lev called the conception “a one-night stand”, which given her extreme sexual promiscuity was enough to cast doubt in the Rome Anglo social circle. Lev’s flamboyantly gay “best friend”, (who also had a penchant for sex with priests and seminarians – hey, friends have got to have shared interests, right?) was enjoined to publicly and theatrically “propose marriage” to Lev (which was, after a sufficient period of suspense, theatrically rejected), stood as godfather while Fr. Williams baptized the child, and then Fr. Williams and Lev essentially made the homosexual godfather the child’s caregiver, while both Fr. Williams and Lev aggressively pursued their respective careers in Rome – being sure to grease the gay godfather’s palms, which continues to this day. Remember this when Thomas Williams claims that he left the priesthood to care for his son. This is a man that happily stood by and watched while his son – suffering from mental retardation so severe that he is unable to speak and thus ever report abuse of any kind – was put in the care of a homosexual man.
Now to the Unpleasant part. In ARSH 2005, Fr. Williams finally admitted after years of lying to the General Director of the Legion of Christ, and Williams’ immediate superior, Fr. Alvaro Corcuera (now deceased) that yes, the rumors were true, and he was, in fact, the father of Liz Lev’s youngest child. Fr. Corcuera ordered Williams to immediately start withdrawing from public ministry.
Not only did Fr. Williams disobey these orders, Williams turned around and increased his presence and appearances on American broadcast television, essentially being the “face of the Catholic Church” and “Vatican Analyst” for both NBC and CBS news. Williams had also started a racket in book publishing. The business model was simple: have Legion of Christ slaves ghostwrite mass-market books on Catholic “morality” and “spirituality”, have glamour shot photos taken of the somatic narcissist Fr. Williams, slap Williams’ name and picture of the cover, and market the books to the kind of middle-aged American women who buy books by celebrity priests based upon how “sexy” and “dreamy” the priest is. Williams was pushing his brand and pushing it hard – after being ordered to withdraw from public ministry. All the while, he continued to carry on his sexual affair with Liz Lev OPENLY – frequently co-hosting parties at Lev’s million-dollar apartment overlooking the Vatican, serving as the bartender. Lev and Williams were often seen having romantic dinners in Rome, with Williams in civilian clothes, most notably at the infamous Roman restaurant Pergola. As if that weren’t enough, Williams was openly having sexual relationships with students at the Legion’s Rome University where Williams was, in case you have forgotten, the dean of the department of MORAL THEOLOGY. Classy.
And here’s the point, and the million-dollar question:
WHAT DID FR. THOMAS WILLIAMS KNOW ABOUT MARCIAL MACIEL AND HIS SEX CRIMES, AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?
Given how brazenly and aggressively Williams disobeyed direct orders and carried on after being told in 2005 to withdraw from public ministry, how can it not be thought possible that Fr. Williams knew about Maciel’s crimes, and the crimes of other top-level Legionaries, and LEVERAGED THAT KNOWLEDGE IN ORDER TO PROTECT HIMSELF AND MAINTAIN HIS OWN LIFE OF SEX AND MINOR CELEBRITY?
Why did Fr. Thomas Williams and his baby-mama’s mother, Mary Ann Glendon, spend years working together character assassinating anyone who tried to blow the whistle on Marcial Maciel? But I think the big tell came in January of ARSH 2014, when Williams, having just married Lev (who wore a snow white dress, naturally) in New York City a few weeks before, published an “interview” with the unctuous Robert Moynihan in which he claimed that he was unable to process how it could be possible (cue the violins…) that Marcial Maciel, a man that Williams “knew so well” could be anything other than the living saint the Legion racketeering cult claimed that he was.
Oh, COME ON. Maciel was carrying on a double life just exactly like Williams was carrying on a double life. Maciel’s double life was “possible” in exactly the same way Williams’ double life was “possible”.
I strongly, strongly suspect that Fr. Thomas Williams knew damn good and well what Maciel was, and what the other top-tier Legion toadies were – carrying on sexual affairs with both males and females, and how Legion seminarians were being sodomitically abused, and instead of screaming bloody murder and blowing the whistle and trying to PROTECT INNOCENT YOUNGSTERS as any morally sane person would, Fr. Williams proverbially rubbed his hands together, licked his chops, and considered his ability to blackmail the shit out of everyone around him and over him in the Legion as positively ideal.
Sit in stillness with that and consider what a complete monstrosity a human being would have to be to think and operate that way.
If you want to see something that will turn your stomach, watch this clip of Fr. Thomas Williams appearing on CBS news in ARSH 2009 hawking one of his ghostwritten glamour-shot “moral theology” books for lonely middle-aged women. The best part is when Williams says that to be a trusting person makes you a better person, and that trustworthy people are themselves more trusting. That’s rich coming from a dead-eyed psychopath liar whose entire life revolved around abusing trust. I also find it informative that Harry Smith’s question is, “What is the reward in trusting God?” and Williams never makes any mention whatsoever to the one and only real answer to that question – eternal life. Yeah, that’s telling.
And this is the point. It isn’t just the boy-raping homosexual monsters like McCarrick that are the problem. Cleaning them out, while certainly a step in the right direction, won’t even come close to solving the problem, because you will still have an army of Diabolical Narcissist psychopaths who actively want these monsters around and in power, so they can LEVERAGE THEIR CRIMES INTO THEIR OWN CAREER ADVANCEMENT, SECURITY AND POWER. If you can blackmail the shit out of the “boss”, then when you tuck yourself into bed at night, you can lull yourself to sleep with the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with the knowledge that YOU are really the boss.
Thus, the bigger the crime, and the higher the office, the more valuable the commodity men like McCarrick and Maciel become.”
[i] ReGAIN editor has replaced the original text’s use of “sodomite” with “homosexual
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Besides Pope Francis acknowledging his misjudgment of Chilean clergy sexual abuse, the other major Catholic news of the week has been a letter sent by Legion of Christ sexual abuse victims demanding Legion of Christ leaders acknowledge and compensate them once and for all. As the reader will see, the primary thrust of the demand is not money but formal and specific recognition of their suffering as well as acknowledgement and reparation of the Legion’s neglect and defamation of the victims together with Legion’s internal information control (vis-à-vis their members) regarding the full effects of the founders’ crimes.
The victims’ letter to the Legion of Christ General Chapter meeting in Rome was originally ignored but strong coverage by Associate Press, the general media and Catholic sources such as the Catholic News Service put the leaders’ feet to the fire and they have responded in a communication couched in the most cautious and legalistic terms.
Sequence of Events:
- Maciel survivors send letter[i] by various means to all members of Legion Chapter General meeting in Rome: [ii] “From March 26 to April 7, 2018, the first part of the Extraordinary General Chapter of the Legionaries of Christ will take place at the seat of the General Directorate in Rome. The second part will take place from November 19 to 24, 2018, at the same venue.”
- The letter is not acknowledged or discussed at the Legion of Christ Extraordinary General Chapter held in Rome.
- Receiving no response from Legion leadership, the victims release the letter to the media, spear-headed by AP[iii]. The news quickly spreads to other major world and Catholic news media, such as CNA.
- Thereupon, Legion leadership issues a communique, through their communications officer, Fr. Aaron Smith, in Spanish and undated[iv], referring to the letter without replying to (ignoring) the Victims. We post initial paragraphs of communique, translated by out team into English so the public can catch a glimpse of Legiospeak.[v]
“LEGIONARIES OF CHRIST, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE COMMUNIQUE
+39 328 987 26 15
Regarding the letter sent to the Legionaries of Christ by José de Jesús Barba Martín and José Antonio Pérez Olvera, the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ states the following.
- On March 26, the general director received a letter signed by José de Jesús Barba Martín and José Antonio Pérez Olvera, two of those who denounced Fr. Maciel´s abuses publicly in 1997, requesting that their petition be included in the General Chapter’s Agenda.
- The general director, after consulting with his council, presented the request to the Extraordinary General Chapter, and informed the Chapter that the general government would seek a personal rapprochement with the each one of the signers and respond to their requests.
- We ask forgiveness from all the victims who throughout our history have suffered any kind of abuse, knowing that this request will never be enough to heal their wounds. Regarding Fr. Maciel, the 2014 General Chapter stated:” etc.
- ReGAIN, gathering the victims’ recent private reactions to Legion communique, comments: The Legion’s communique is riddled with inaccuracies, ambiguities and downright lies: as stated above, the victims’ letter was sent to each and all the members of the Chapter and not specifically or only to the LC general director, Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil (indisputably a disciple and protege of Fr. Maciel). Fr. Robles pre-emptively took control of the letter and the chapter general fathers’ response, preventing any option of a reaction or discussion from or among the fathers. He decided for them not to put the letter on the floor and decided unilaterally what was to be done with the letter’s requests. There was no free discussion. Robles-Gil promises to meet with the two signers of the Letter (individually?) but he
- does not address the senders
- or mention the group of eighth survivors as such whose lives were destroyed by Founder, Fr. (the serial pedophile founder was never defrocked by the Vatican!) Marcial Maciel.[vi] As can be seen in the communique
- the Legion did not heed any of the victims’ requests but gives a facile response, suggesting it has already addressed the issue in question. This has been the Legion’s operational policy since the group originally accused Fr. Maciel twenty years ago. Reader, please revisit victims’ recent requests in footnote i
“México City, March 2018
The undersigned, collectively known as the ‘historical victims’ of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, ask the Legion of Christ, through its representatives gathered in the Extraordinary General Chapter taking place in Rome from the 24th March 2018 that the issue of the Victims of Fr. Maciel and of the Legion of Christ be included in the agenda of the said General Chapter. Specifically, we make the following list of requests:
- We ask that the Extraordinary General Chapter emit a Public Recognition of our status as victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Fr. Marcial Maciel and as victims of moral, psychological and spiritual harm at the hands of the Congregation. We ask that the congregation recognize that it made us and our families suffer in a continued, consistent and prolonged way when we revealed the perverse crimes of Maciel to the Church and the international community through articles published by journalists Jason Berry and Gerald Renner (Hartford Courant on 23rd of February 1997) and through the complaint presented to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the 17th of October 1998.
- We ask that it be publicly recognized that our struggle to make known the truth about Fr. Maciel was a true service to the Church, of which we form part, as well as being a true service to the Legion of Christ. Consequentially we ask that the Chapter declare that we were never traitors of the Church or of the Legion.
- Representing the historical victims to whom the “Commission of Contact with the Victims” never approached we request that the said commission be re-opened in order to fulfill the mission for which it was instituted by Cardinal de Paolis. We declare once again that this commission never contacted us.
For the reopening of the Commission for Victims we request the following:
- a) The commission would be composed of members named by the historical victims, by the Legion of Christ and by the Church.
- b) It’s re opening will not affect or prejudice any legal actions undertaken by the historical victims.
- c) It will make effective the recognition of the historical victims through the establishment of a plan of action negotiated with the historical victims and evaluated by interdisciplinary professionals. It will determine the harm inflicted on us and its indispensable reparation.
- As a visible sign of reconciliation, we request a public act of redress for the historical victims with the community of Rome, where many of the abuses took place, and another similar event with the communities of Mexico.
- We ask that we be informed appropriately of the decisions of the Extraordinary General Chapter with regard to our petitions to the following electronic address: (sic) and through courier to the attached postal addresses and that that the communication be considered as received when we acknowledge receipt.
Postal Address (sic)
José de Jesús Barba Martin José Antonio Pérez Olvera
Representing the Historical Victims of Fr. Macie and the Congregation of the Legion of Christ for the purposes of the above written letter
March 24, 2018”
[v] Spanish version of Legion Communique. The writer could not find an English language one.
LEGIONARIOS DE CRISTO
OFICINA DE COMUNICACIÓN INTERNACIONAL
Oficina de Comunicación Internacional
+39 328 987 26 15
Respecto a la carta enviada a los Legionarios de Cristo por José de Jesús Barba Martín y José Antonio Pérez Olvera, la Congregación de los Legionarios de Cristo desea expresar lo siguiente:
- El 26 de marzo de 2018, el director general recibió una carta digital firmada por José de Jesús Barba Martín y José Antonio Pérez Olvera, dos de las personas que denunciaron los abusos del P. Maciel públicamente en 1997, solicitando la inclusión de su petición en la Agenda del Capítulo General.
- El director general, después de haber hablado con su Consejo, presentó carta al Capítulo
General extraordinario, e informó al Capítulo de que el gobierno general buscará un acercamiento personal a cada uno de los firmantes de la misiva y responderá a sus peticiones.
- Pedimos perdón a todas las víctimas que a lo largo de nuestra historia han sufrido algún tipo de abuso, sabiendo que esta petición de perdón nunca será suficiente para sanar las profundas heridas.
Con relación al P. Maciel, el Capítulo General de 2014 dijo:
[vi] “In a statement Friday (April 13th, 2018) responding to a request from The Associated Press, the Legion said its leaders ‘will try to get in touch personally with each of those who had signed the letter and respond to their requests.’ “:
Is the Legion of Christ’s Regnum Movement
Currently Attempting to Take Over Christendom College?
Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, President of Christendom College is being asked to resign by involved parties of the current “sexual abuse scandal.” Will Ken Ferguson, Vice President of the college, be Dr. O’Donnell’s replacement if he steps down? If so, is he the RC/LC selected candidate to complete the take-over?
The intent of the following is not to make accusations, but to ask questions.
Consider these questions and links: (emphasis added below).
- Instaurare, (Christendom’s Magazine) edition of 2013, page 20.
“Christendom College welcomed Ken Ferguson, C.P.A., as its new Executive
- How does this background piece mentioned in the article add to a possible future president?
“He (Ken Ferguson) later joined Dino DeLaurentis, where he financed
several feature films including “King Kong” and “Blue Velvet.”
- How and what words does Wikipedia use to describe the movie, Blue Velvet?
– Strong sexual and violent content, voyeurism, violent rape, mutilation, sadomachochism, severed human ear, pornographic, fellatio)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Velvet_(film) – (Caution: Very explicit graphic content
- What Regnum Christi projects has Ken Ferguson worked on before Christendom?
Nov 7, 2011 – In 2005, Fr Alvaro Corcuera, LC, General Director of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi Movement…, of which Brian was a member… by Steve McEveety, Hollywood producer and head of Mpower Pictures™ and Ken Ferguson…
“In 2005, Fr Alvaro Corcuera, LC, General Director of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi Movement, of which Brian was a member, on learning about Brian Bisgrove’s story, suggested to Joe Cunningham that he write a book about Brian as a prelude to a movie and his canonization as a saint in the Catholic Church. “In 2006, Joseph submitted a script draft for a documentary…. to Mpower Pictures™, headed by Steve McEveety, Hollywood producer and head of Mpower Pictures™ and Ken Ferguson…”
“He (K. Ferguson) later started-up MpowerMedia LLC for 5 years, acting as CEO, worked as a CFO at Primus Telecommunications Group, and helped found Beach Mill Productions, LLC. His companies have produced such feature films as “Bella” (a Regnum Christi project).
- Catholic blogger, Simcha Fisher and her husband, Damien breaks the story about Adele Smith’s rape off campus.
- Adele Smith – Christendom student from the class of 2012 https://www.simchafisher.com/tag/adele-smith/
- Quick summary by The Remnant:
- “Hoping to jump back into the journalistic spotlight, Simcha Fisher, a once popular writer for the National Catholic Register, who was summarily fired for her crude online behavior, discovered a series of allegations against Christendom College.
- However, although Fisher was within her rights to bring these accusations to the attention of Christendom, her solution that Christendom loosen up its rules regarding interactions between the sexes was an unjustified attempt to strike back at the conservative Catholic culture by which she had been chastened in the past.
- Turning to her blog, Fisher attacked Christendom, not only for its alleged mishandling of the very serious matter of abuse, but as a Catholic institution attempting to follow traditional Catholic ethics.
- Christendom initially doubled down and said that the accusations against the college were inaccurate and exaggerated, but at the same time offered an apology to anyone who had been harmed.’
- Fisher appeared moderately satisfied that there was some response, and then the matter went quiet for a few days.
- But then something weird happened.
- Christendom College responded again with a stronger admission of guilt and a thank you to the Fishers for giving the abused a platform to present their accusations.
- However, Christendom’s response emboldened Fisher (and her husband, who seems to be Fisher’s little helper in the whole process) and has prompted her to call for the resignation of Christendom President Timothy O’Donnell, an action that would no doubt draw nationwide media attention to Fisher and her husband’s detective work. (bold, underline emphasis added)
The Remnant Newspaper – Simcha Fisher and Christendom College … https://www.remnantnewspaper.com › Home › Fetzen Fliegen – Jan 27, 2018
- What words of Ken Ferguson’s did the Remnant consider emboldened the Fishers’ comments that re-ignited the situation:
“We invite these victims to come forward and be heard,” said Ferguson. “We value their insight on concrete ways we can make this campus as safe as possible for women. And we ask, if possible, for their forgiveness. I want to extend my gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Fisher for giving these women a platform to share their voices with us.”
… Those seeking to meet are invited to reach out to Ken Ferguson at (540-636-2900) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Requests for O’Donnell’s resignation, suggested by Simcha, is picked up by other media. For example:
KEVIN OLMSTEAD | The Warren Sentinel
Top of Form
Front Royal Town Councilman John P. Connolly calls on Christendom College President Timothy O’Donnell to resign in the wake of the college’s handling of past sexual assault cases. Connolly graduated from Christendom in 2008.
FRONT ROYAL — A town councilman who graduated from Christendom College used his time for comment Monday night to call for the removal of Christendom’s president in the wake of the recent accusations that his administration mishandled sexual assault complaints from students.”
- Which two “previously-owned” Legion of Christ national media organizations carried the story to the national level?
The National Catholic Register and Catholic News Agency
- Front Royal, Va., Feb 5, 2018 / 03:45 pm (CNA/EWTN News)
- the (Register) newspaper was sold in 1995 to Circle Media, a publishing outlet under the auspices of the Legion of Christ,
– National Catholic Register newspaper formerly owned by the Legion of Christ (Circle Media) was “acquired” by Eternal Word Television Network in 2011
– Wonder why many believe that behind the scenes, it was the other way
around – that the Legion acquired EWTN? Many believe that several
members of the EWTN Board have ties to the Legion.
- Who are some of the parties involved?
- Simcha Fisher – Former National Catholic Register reporter (Former RC/LC owned publication under Circle Media.)
- Simcha Fisher Simcha Fisher (1974 – 2014) – National Catholic Register
(Blog April 1, 2014) – (Simcha wrote her own obituary in the article above)
- “Simcha Fisher is a cradle Hebrew Catholic, freelance writer, and mother of eight young kids. She received her BA in literature from Thomas More College in New Hampshire. She contributes to Crisis Magazine and Faith & Family Live!”
- Faith and Family Live (Was Regnum Christi affiliated through Circle Media).
- Simcha wrote for Alethia – https://aleteia.org/2016/11/04/simcha-fisher-takes-leave-of-aleteia/
- (Many believe Simcha was fired by NCR along with Mark Shea.)
- National Catholic Register reporter:
- Peter Jesserer Smith –Brother of alleged rape victim, Adele Smith, has been a staff reporter at the National Catholic Register since July 2013.
- National Catholic Register reporter:
- Christendom Advocacy & Support Coalition (CASC) a private support group for “alleged victims” headed-up by Adele Smith and Donna Provencher, VP. Calling for O’Donnell’s resignation.
- Contacts listed:
Adele Smith, (main victim) President: email@example.com or
Donna Provencher, Vice President of Communications & Victim
Bridget Randolph is Vice President of Public Policy.
- Would it be wise for someone who financed the sexually abusive film, Blue Velvet, to assume leadership at the college in the midst of a sexual abuse situation?
- Doesn’t it seem that Regnum Christi/LC helped fan the story to the national level?
LEGION of CHRIST/REGNUM CHRISTI
Connections at Christendom:
- Board Members with affiliations with RC/LC:
- Eugene Zurlo of Kiawah Island, South Carolina was a Board Member of Christendom and now serves on the Board of Advisors.
- 008-Instaurare-fall by Christendom College – issue
- “For the first time, Board Member Gene Zurlo…”
- “Inspired by Regnum Christi spiritually, Zurlo is committed to…”
- Luanne D. Zurlo – Current Board of Director. Daughter of Eugene Zurlo.
- Luanne Zurlo is the co-founder along with Fr. Luis Garza, LC of a global organization – Worldfund – aka the World Education and Development Fund (WEDF).
- Garza was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. He has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Stanford University. He entered the Legion of Christ in 1978.
- Garza became Vicar General of the Legion from 1992. In that office Garza is said to lead efforts to investigate charges of sexual misconduct brought against Legion founder Marcial Maciel although he had known about the abuses for years and chose to cover them up.
- Garza resigned from the post of Vicar General in 2011 and was appointed Territorial Director for the United States and Canada.
- His older brother Dionisio Garza Medina is the CEO of Tenedora Topaz. His younger sister Roberta Garza Medina is the editor of Milenio magazine in Mexico City.
- Fr. Luis Garza, L.C. is believed to be living presently in the Philippines after being accused of sexually abusing a minor in Mexico during the 1990s.
- Luanne Zurlo, executive director of the WEDF and organizer of the
dinner… (The Legion’s Gala Dinner held yearly in NYC) …
- Convened by the World Education and Development Fund (WEDF), the billionaires and businessmen from Mexico and the United States gathered to “honor Carlos Slim Helú, president of Teléfonos de México, SA de CV”. According to the account that one of the assistants gave to this weekly, the presence of Maciel was something unexpected for many.
- “The surprise was that Father Maciel was the one who gave recognition to Carlos Slim,” says the assistant to that dinner, who speaks on the condition that his identity is not revealed.
- http://www.kintera.org/htmlcontent.asp?cid=40023 (Fall 2004) – More on the Gala: Fr. Maciel, Luann Zurlo + Fr. Luis Garza’s older brother
- Opening remarks by Luanne Zurlo, Executive Director of World Education & Development Fund, Inc. WEDF, aka Worldfund.
- This Gala event fund raises for the Legion of Christ’s Mano Amiga schools. “Mano Amiga founder, Fr. Marcel Maciel, LC delivered another powerful and emotional speech…”
- Co-Chairs included: Dionisio Garza Medina, (Fr. Luis Garza’s older brother who is the Vicar General of the Legion), Chairman and CEO, Alfa, S.A. de C.V.
- Vice-Chairs included: Charlotte and Eugene Zurlo. Luis Garza Medina, LC
- In 2007 one of Worldfund’s programs, the Inter-American Partnership for Education (IAPE), became a Clinton Global Initiative. https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=29603845&privcapId=29602994&previousCapId=661827&previousTitle=Citigroup%20CIB
- Opening remarks by Luanne Zurlo, Executive Director of World Education & Development Fund, Inc. WEDF, aka Worldfund.
- e) Tax Return 2009 – Worldfund / World Education and Development Fund – WEDF
- Officers, Directors, Trustees, etc.
- LUANNE ZURLO EX. DIR. & PRES. 40.00 hours/week
- LUIS GARZA MEDINA (LC Vicar General)VP/DIRECTOR 0.50
- Officers, Directors, Trustees, etc.
https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=29603589&privcapId=29602994Douglas Dewey, Vice Chairman of the Board
- Douglas Dewey
- Mentioned on Regnum Christi Website:
- Gene D’Agostino – Mt. Pleasant, SC
“In their hunt for such a community, the D’Agostinos encountered two men: Christendom board member Douglas Dewey and former board member Eugene Zurlo, …”
Modus Operandi for an RC/LC take-over for a school:
- Usually RC/LC makes sure the school has been going for at least 2 years and is self-sufficient. They prefer it be built-up with other people’s money, not theirs. Sometimes, they start a school with Regnum Christi members, who serve as a secret “front group” and who devote hours and their personal finances to get it going.
- Then RC/LC replaces the original people on the board and those in executive positions with their own people RC members or LC personnel.
- The school then becomes an elite school for the very wealthy.
- Usually families/parents who put their blood, sweat and tears into building something special for their children, can no longer stay at the school because they can not afford the increased tuition; parents lose their investment of years of time and energy. They feel betrayed when this happens.
- Usually the take-over happens without the original founders being aware that a take-over has occurred. Or they become aware after the fact. Membership in the movement is usually considered “secret”; most people do not know who is or who is not RC/LC affiliated.
- Regnum Christi members are usually coached (spiritual direction) by LC priests as to how to accomplish the takeover.
- RC members are interested in building a Kingdom for their own people. Many of their priests only tend to RC members. It is an exclusive club unless public relations require them to make some adjustments to look good.
- Concerning schools taken over:
(Jason Berry wrote) …” got several calls from parents in Atlanta who had children at The Donnellan School, the assets of which had been sold by the archdiocese to the Legion the year before…
I had got similar calls in recent years from parents elsewhere unhappy with the direction of their schools under Legion control or in the Legion’s sights — from Dallas, Cincinnati, northern Kentucky, Milwaukee, San Diego.
More recently, I’ve heard from parents in Naples, Fla., and Calgary, Canada.
What is the Legion, on a supposedly evangelical mission to “re-
Christianize the Catholic church,” doing to upset so many people in
so many places?
The “open letter” says my story “argues that the Legionaries make a practice of taking over schools that others have worked to start.” Exactly so.
Talk to the parents in Cincinnati who lost control when they suddenly found their board taken over by Regnum Christi and given to the order.
Or talk to parents of an independent school in Calgary newly awakened to the possibility (fear?) of taking direction from the Legion.
Or talk to San Diego parents who have fended off the Legion.
Now the Legion may certainly have inspired lay leaders of Regnum Christi to try to get a school going.
But the other parents they involve are seldom aware they are part of a “front group” working for eventual control by the Legion and are shocked when it happens.
- Warren Carroll, Christendom’s founder, had a vision for the college – no more than 450 students. A large percentage of the student body were home schoolers, and there have been a tremendous number of vocations which have been forthcoming from the school over the years.
- It is said with the new library; the upkeep alone is equal to 3 professor salaries. Since then the tuition has gone up making it harder for original students to stay on.
- It appears since Ken Ferguson and some of the monied board directors have come on board, there is an effort to greatly enlarge the college at a sizeable expense.
- Ken Ferguson is purported to have said that the homeschooling market has been tapped out and that Christendom wants a more diversified student population – in LC parlance, could this mean less Catholic. In other Legion schools i.e. the Highland School in Dallas, 20% are not Catholic. http://www.thehighlandsschool.org/about/fastfacts.cfm.
- One of the Legion’s private schools, Oak Lawn Academy in WI has an annual tuition of $40,000 for high school. http://oaklawnacade
Questions if RC/LC takes over:
- What will happen to the vocations currently coming out of Christendom?
- Will they go to the Regnum Christi Movement instead of our dioceses?
- What will the student body look like if very few Catholic homeschooling
families can afford it?
- Don’t large homeschooling families ensure a vibrant student body well formed
in the Catholic faith?
- Could one of the reasons why the Legion might have their eye on this college
(as well as Notre Dame in Indiana) is that it would be attractive to their
elite Mexican families and wealthy Americans to have a school outside of
the nation’s capital?
- Being in Northern VA, wouldn’t the Legion have a strong base from which to
recruit new members into the Movement, and solicit funds in a wealthy
area that might otherwise go to the Diocese?
- Isn’t the Legion infamous as an order for spreading its sexual abuse – first the
Founder, Fr. Marcel Maciel, LC (RIP) who so scandalized the Church in
the last century, and then the Vicar General, Fr. Luis Garza, LC?
- Haven’t there been many more scandals including Fr. Thomas Williams, etc.
- And other parents from around the world who have come forward with abuse accusations concerning their children?
March 11, 2018
Sam Leith: The Oxfam sex scandal shows why doing good should never save you from scrutiny.
the Evening Standard, Feb 12, 2018
The scandal now enveloping charities and overseas aid agencies – with allegations of sexual harassment and worse – has caused an eruption of shock and outrage. Outrage, yes – but shock?
The central case of Oxfam – where workers are alleged to have used prostitutes, some of whom were under age, in Chad and Haiti – seems to speak to a culpably carpet-sweeping culture in at least one charity. But that a minority of aid workers behave badly when they think they’re off the leash? The only surprise is that we are surprised.
My Spectator colleague Mary Wakefield wrote a fine and fierce article recently arguing that, as an enabler of sexual abuse, the United Nations makes Hollywood and the Trump White House look like amateur hour.
All of it is well documented. A 2004 memoir by three UN workers, Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures, detailed abuses.
ReGAIN is proud to reproduce, with permission and in its totality, an in-depth article from OD Watch, December 2017 issue.
Vatican City, January 20, 2018
Startling parallels appear between the Opus Dei and the Legion of Christ as regards spirituality, training, systems and Modus Operandi. Both organizations have come under scrutiny since their inception until the present day because of their questionable methods; the author describes the following areas:
- Production of a vocation
- Loss of faith
- Double truth (double-speak)
- The Opus is Mortally Wounded
The comments made in the article could be applied to other questionable groups inside and outside the Catholic Church and may help readers understand how such groups, recruit, train and retain members; and to grasp the situation of loved ones who may be inside… and thus estranged from family and friends, among other things. Continue reading
The following analysis/testimony of a former OD member confirms the contention that the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi is the “Mexican version of the Opus Dei,” based on the clear parallels between the two “New Religious Movements.”
The Opus Dei, founded in Spain by a Spanish priest, is strikingly similar to the Legion which was founded a few years later by a Mexican seminarian, Marcial Maciel-Degollado in Mexico. The Legion founder is (in)famous for his plagiarism of a host of ideas and creations, including the spiritual reflections of a Spanish activist during Franco´s regime, Psalter of my hours. Could the foundation of the Legion be another such case of the founder´s charism for copying? In this case not copying the best…
Hundreds of testimonies on this site and on the Spanish language Facebook blog, Legioleaks (2, 000 plus members), describe the Modus Operandi of the Legion of Christ. The perceptive reader knows by now that the Legion´s Modus Credendi or Loquendi (what it believes/says/writes/declares) and its Modus Operandi (the way it acts/operates/strategizes /treats others) are two different things.
ReGAIN has written before about the striking similarities between the OPUS DEI way and the Legion of Christ´s.
The editors invite a careful reading of the following article comparing it to what Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi members have been telling us for decades in their testimonies and studies. Continue reading
(image above from funeral mass for Fr. Raymond Comiskey, LC, who had been abandoned by his superiors for years prior to his death in a private house in Merida, Yucatan: note coat of arms of Regnum Christi which had done nothing for him during his long illnesses. We are not implying Fr. Raymond was a whistle-blower. He was, however, a man of firm principles who believed he could get better care for himself outside the institution than inside. He died a priest and a Legionary, albeit outside a community.)
Just came across an article from International Cultic Studies Association which illustrates how cults and cult-like, high-pressure, high-demand, coercive-persuasion…groups legally muzzle those who dare question or criticize. Continue reading
The writer was absolutely appalled a couple of days ago when coming across an appeal for winter heating oil for the Cheshire novitiate in an amateur video posted on YouTube
In the video the tall, white, well-informed American brother is introducing the little dark ignorant, naive Mexican brothers to the Holy Novitiate and warning them about the cold winters; cold winters which will require a large amount of heating oil to prevent them from suffering from that cold Connecticut winter….think of chilblains for the poor tropical dark-skinned and diminutive Mexicans.
Sounds and looks to me like a total lack of cultural sensitivity, task and basic respect.
And this is posted just as news breaks of the Legion of Christ´s off-shore holdings of millions of dollars
Dear Lord, how long is the innocent and naive Catholic community going to take this and continue to contribute to an order whose yearly budget is on equal standing with the Vatican´s budget for the whole Church. Correct me if I am wrong.
Feel free to comment and discuss; with numbers, if you so wish
Lista de Características de Grupos Cúlticos/Sectarios – Revisado
(Characteristics associated with Cultic Groups -Revised)
Michael D. Langone
Intentos coordinados para influenciar y controlar, forman la esencia de los grupos, programas y relaciones sectarias (ingl., cultic)[ii]. Muchos miembros, ex miembros y colaboradores de este tipo de grupos no están del todo conscientes de en qué forma y con cuánta intensidad han sido manipulados, explotados o incluso abusados. La siguiente lista de patrones socio-estructurales, sociopsicológicos e interpersonales pueden ayudar a asesorar a grupos o relaciones particulares con dichas características. Continue reading
El reciente reconocimiento de paternidad de parte de un Legionario de Cristo de alto rango (Rector de la Pontificia Universidad para la formacion de sacerdotes, Mater Ecclesia en Roma) senyala una vez mas (ver caso similar del Padre Thomas Williams, LC hace pocos anyos) la falta de madurez psico-sexual de los miembros, la doble vida del individuo y la colusion y encubrimiento de la institucion que se esconden bajo su fachada intachable.
El caso fue tan sonado entre los mismo Legionarios y en el publico en general que merecio una carta ´explicativa´de parte de la direccion general de la Legion; el sacerdote que habia engendrado dos hijos fuera del matrimonio habia sido el rector de su universidad internacional ´Pontificia´para la formacion de sacerdotes de todo el mundo. Continue reading
Legionary of Christ Multiple Abuser of Minors sued by Victim
(Reader can find Legion’s initial response, on Regnum Christi official web page below)
CONNECTICUT LAW TRIBUNE
“Article 7 of 10150
Alleged Catholic School Sex Abuse Victim Sues Legion of Christ
A 48-year-old California man allegedly raped as a teenager by an employee at the Connecticut-based Legion of Christ has filed a federal lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, claims the victim identified only as John Doe was first sexually assaulted at the now-defunct Immaculate Conception Apostolic School in New Hampshire when he was 13 years old. The teenager was allegedly raped every two to three weeks for about three and half years at the Roman Catholic boarding school for boys grades 7-12. Continue reading
As per official Legión notice, American-born Fr William Brock, (not priest in photo)
known among former Legionaries as “The Scourge of Salamanca” for his consistently cruel treatment of young seminarians under his care,
has been appointed “spiritual director” of an even younger and more tender group of child seminarians.
Note that the apparently modern religious order (officially, “congregation”), is one the few in the world that continues to aggressively recruit and rigidly “train” children for the Catholic Priesthood. Continue reading