Who Can Believe Legion Leaders?
On Feb 28, 2004, Father Bannon issued a letter to members and relatives of Legionary and Regnum Christi members warning them at the time about the Vows of Silence book that was about to be released.
He referred to
demonstrably false allegations that our founder, Father Marcial Maciel, sexually abused a few young men (then members of the Legion) back in the 1940’s and 1950’sand
despite all the evidence available to the authors and of which they are aware, the accusations are rehashed in a new book to be released in March 2004 attacking Pope John Paul II, especially his staunch defense of the Church’s discipline of priestly celibacy and its unchanging sexual ethic.
Fr Bannon made a statement that the allegations were
demonstrably falseand referred to
all the evidence available to the authors. At the time how could Fr Bannon have felt so sure that Fr Maciel was innocent? He does not claim any research into the subject. Joining the Legion in the 60s in Ireland he had no first hand information regarding the 1940-60 period when the abuses were alleged to have happened. In truth there was an absence of evidence of any kind regarding those obscure years. Fr. Bannon was basically appropriating the Legion line of the time.
Fr Bannon went on to say that
on behalf of the Legion and the Movement I assure you once again that Father Maciel is absolutely innocent. He has made it clear ever since the allegations first arose in the late 1990’s â€“ decades after any alleged abuse could have happened â€“ that he has never committed any such act ever.
Fr Bannon declared Fr Maciel to be
absolutely innocent. But Fr. Bannon must have known about some accusations in the 1950s when Fr. Maciel was exiled to Spain by the Vatican, a period (1956-59) referred to in frequent talks such as Explanation of Rules as
The War(La Guerra). So he knew accusations were not surfacing for the first time in the 1990s. He states the source of his confidence in assuring members and their families that Fr Maciel was absolutely innocent: Fr Maciel had said so himself. This is jumping to conclusions. Was this naivety, gullibility, or a deliberate attempt to manipulate Legionaries and to discourage them and their family members from reading the Vows of Silence book?
Later in his letter, Fr Bannon adds:
Moreover, Nuestro Padre continues to insist on responding to these allegations in the most Christian way possible: forgiving them, saying as little as possible, simply laying out the facts, letting his record speak for itself, avoiding personal attacks and harboring no ill will or rancor for the accusers. This has set an extremely high standard for those of us who want to come to his defense.
Fr. Maciel met all accusations with blanket denial. Fr Bannon said that Fr Maciel’s record spoke for itself and that he believed this had set a high standard for those who wanted to come to his defense. Considering recent revelations we wonder if Fr Bannon now regrets making this statement and how much of the real truth he was aware of. If he was totally unaware then we wonder about his ability to discern what is going on around him.
Fr Bannon commented:
Anyone who would take an objective look at the facts will see where the truth lies.
Considering the real facts it is evident where the truth lies. Was Fr Bannon sincerely seeking the real truth at the time or was he into denial?
Fr Bannon referred to
independent, documented facts from the time when the alleged abuse would have happenedand that
Vatican investigators moved in and lived with the Legionary communities in Rome and elsewhere. They interviewed each Legionary personally and in depth. Not only did they find the charges empty and baseless, they reported that the Legion and Father Maciel were exemplary, holding great promise for the Church.
The reality is that the results of that Visitation/investigation were never released. How could Fr. Bannon know the results? A few years ago Mexican historian Fernando Gonzalez was able to unearth some of the reports written by the Carmelite Friars investigating Maciel for suspected sexual abuse, drug abuse, abuse of power, and leaving his foundation abandoned for long periods. These are available in Spanish in his book, Marcial Maciel, la Legion de Cristo, Testimonios y Documentos Ineditos (Unpublished Testimonies and Documents; Ed. Tusquets, Mexico City, 2009). Allegations of sexual abuse are mentioned, together with Fr. Maciel’s powers of persuasion and intimidation, as well as his use of the morphine derivative, Demerol. Fr. Bannon did not have access to any serious documentation when he wrote. He based his statements on Legion
Spirit and Mystiqueand Fr. Aruma’s explanation of rules in Salamanca. Fr. Aruma was one of the Legionaries Fr. Maciel left in place when he was forced out in 1956.
In the letter, Fr Bannon explained that
every member (was) interviewed personally and in depth, and none of them corroborate (d) a single allegation of any wrongdoing – let alone sexual molestation then added that
every alleged victim had the perfect opportunity to reveal any abuse right after it would have been happeningand that
the facts of the investigation and its findings overwhelm the accusers and their story.
With this statement Fr Bannon demonstrated not only a lack of empathy but a total ignorance of how sexual abuse victims are traumatized and would rarely be prepared to testify against their predators right after it happened. Fr Bannon also fails to point out that in this case the victims were totally and completely dependent upon Fr. Maciel as their sole provider of all the necessities of life and that he had made them agree to a secret vow to never speak ill of him or any of their superiors. Fr. Maciel prepared his victims for the interviews by telling them the Visitators were coming to destroy the Legion and their God-given vocation.
Fr Bannon stated in his letter that
the book will apparently argue that a Vatican-inspired ‘vow of silence’ keeps the accusers’ allegations from being taken seriously. But the Vatican knows the Legion’s history; it knows what its decades of scrutiny have revealed about the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi. That is why the Vatican has done what any court does when a case has no basis: the court refuses to hear it.
How did Fr Bannon draw such conclusions? Was he attempting to influence the LC and RC members and their families by falsely implying in writing that there was no basis at the time to the case of the victims? It is probable that the influence peddling by Fr Maciel among senior members of the Vatican had far more of an effect on the case that had been presented by credible witnesses.
Fr Bannon added:
Seeing these false charges aired in public is upsetting to us all. There is enough to do without having to deal with patent falsehoods. I trust that you will look at the facts and what God has worked in your family since you met.
Regnum Christi and the Legion of Christ
Fr Bannon here referred to
patent falsehoods. In other words he declared in writing that the victims of Father Maciel were liars.
Usually people gather facts before they make such charges against others, especially if they put such claims in writing. Did Fr Bannon conduct his own investigation by interviewing at least some of those who claimed to be victims? Based on his own words, it seems that his main
proofwas that Fr Maciel had declared himself to be innocent and he expected others to do the same. For the majority of those who had been under the influence inside the Legion or Regnum Christi, this was an effective argument because Fr Maciel was perceived by them to be a living saint and the main source of their unique spirituality. What seems like empty unsupported statements to outsiders were at the time believable for those who had been conditioned to believe everything that came from
officialLegion sources of information. Any outside information that was critical of the Legion or of their founder, especially that which came from those evil
detractorswas not even allowed and was considered to have no credibility.
It is unknown what prompted Legion leadership to reveal the existence of Fr. Maciel’s daughter in Spain. Fact is that this revelation opened the floodgates to further revelations of his double life and behavior unbefitting a priest. This scandal contributed to the Vatican’s Visitation of the Legion. As the Legion began to toss some members jumped ship, others cut their losses apologizing, and all distanced themselves desperately from Fr. Maciel, vowing ignorance. Fr. Bannon has remained in the backwaters.
Day by day the truth continues to unfold and as slowly some of it seeps inside the walls, Legion spin doctors are now having a more difficult time explaining away their mistakes or misdeeds! ReGAIN encourages everyone involved in this situation (inside and outside) to seek the truth and to act on it. That
painful – truth will set them free.
The entire letter is available at Click here Then scroll down to