Why Regnum Christi Is No Longer Viable

In www.life-after-rc.com Giselle posted her opinion regarding the viability of the Regnum Christi movement in light of recent events on her blog.

The Regnum Christi Movement was founded by Marcial Maciel many decades ago as a lay association of his Legion of Christ, and it has served as a fund-raising and recruiting arm for his congregation. Its spirituality echoed that of the Legion, being contemplative and conquering, although its mission was packaged in various ways over the years.

There are three degrees of membership, with the second degree also having three divisions in it, though the lowest ranking recruits are usually unaware of the middle category. The third degree has both men and women, and live a quasi-Religious life without the actual vows, having taken promises of poverty, chastity and obedience (to their in-house superiors).

The areas of apostolate have been focused on youth programs, schools, families and mass media apostolates — each specifically designed to draw potential recruits into the houses of formation, which house boys and girls as young as eleven in some places. In retrospect, the calculation of MM’s creation makes perfect sense, because it centres on the impressionable young, distracts the parents into intense apostolic work, slips in high-pressured recruiting tactics in all interactions, and papers over its outer image in the media outlets it either has created or infiltrated.

Very few would argue with the past reputation of the group, at least those who have accurately sized up the founder and pieced together why he needed such a lay group to undergird his duplicity with the clergy. Where the remaining argument lies is in the future: Can this group continue to exist as a vibrant and full-fledged member of the wider Mystical Body?

My reasons for concluding in the negative are as follows (in no particular order):

This group was hatched from the mind of a depraved pervert with depraved and perverse motives. The communique noted that Maciel was devoid of religious sentiment — he didn’t have a confused sense, or a crooked sense, or a mixed bag of religious sentiment, but d. e. v. o. i. d. That’s harsh. Thus anything that appeared to be religious was not. That requires slow, deliberate meditation to really understand.

This group existed for decades to both prop up a scam, but also to give cover to it. The genuine good will of the members who were innocent of duplicity were the poster children for the religious sentiment that was lacking in the founder. They helped him to fool the world, they carried forward the scam by confusing outsiders who knew them to be sincere, generous and full of authentic religious sentiment.

This group bore within it the seeds of Maciel, who wanted to multiply himself. And in a mysterious way he did. As Bishop Watty said, There are many elements from Father Marcial’s personality that have taken root, and the Legion must be freed from them. This goes for the methodology of RC as well.

The RC doesn’t have a particular charism beyond the universal call to holiness. They add nothing unique to the Church, because the congregation to which they are attached has to be rebuilt. Now everyone doesn’t have to have a charism (your local DRE being a case in point) but in order to work as a group this way, you have to have a mission. If the mission is simply to help the pastor at the local parish, then RC isn’t necessary. Join a Bible study or prayer group for nourishment and volunteer where needed.

But what if the methodology is effectively purged? If that is possible, the scandal remains. In the words of one recent commenter: It’s as if everyone who stays with RC/LC is saying to those who have been hurt: ‘I don’t take you that seriously. I mean, clearly you’ve had bad experiences; I’m sorry about that. But I don’t honestly think it’s that big a deal. I have no problem associating myself with those who hurt you and the Church. There are two categories: the people MM abused and the Church that he insulted with his behaviour. Both are insulted again if the group carries on.

It is entirely possible that the Maciel affair will create an impasse over the beatification of John Paul II, since he was also effectively duped by this con artist. The continued work in the name of MM by RC members essentially says that’s unfortunate but irrelevant compared to their need to exist — not just as loyal Catholics but as Regnum Christi. That’s awkward.

The Legion affair ranks with the Irish Crisis, the Boston Scandal, the various German prelates and the other details that Benedict XVI is mopping up in his advanced age. Embattled around the world, with the Church the butt of jokes, he has said that the most horrific part of this is the undertow in his own ranks, in that very Church. The continued existence of RC is a constant reminder and twist of the knife to our own beloved Pope.

There will never be complete trust of RC members because of the past actions of the Movement. Even if they scraped themselves to the bone helping in parishes, catechising the faithful, if they do it in the name of MM’s group, their motives will always be suspect, their formation will always be a cause of concern. This is almost a moot point, because there is nothing they can do to win trust. They will always be a sketchy step-child if they insist on meeting and working collectively in the name of Maciel.

The concerns and mistrust of outsiders will feed a perverse mentality within, with the victim status being confused with actual martyrdom for the faith. As a poster notes, Won’t that, of psychological necessity, cause RCers to huddle closer to each other and feel ‘attacked’ and ’embattled’ and ‘misunderstood?’ In fact, this will distract enormously from the actual mission and dissipate the energy necessary to carry forth the hard work of doing God’s will in a indifferent and often hostile world.

The existence of RC in the future will be divisive, no matter how much members wish it weren’t so. It’s like the daughter of a divorced couple who is trying to plan her wedding. No matter how much she wants it to be a peaceful event, her father’s subsequent marriage to his mistress is complicating things, and the seating arrangements are proving a nightmare. You cannot choose your family or control their actions — but you can choose your lay associations. Insisting on your good will and sincere motives isn’t enough. RC will always be the dog in the manger.

With a wealth of other apostolic initiatives springing from purer motives, any particular worthy religious activity can be pursued apart from this group. With RC’s history of either competing with or infiltrating existing groups, a good reparative move would be to bury RC. As long as RC exists, a fear will remain in the other groups that the RC-affiliated member is there on a stealth mission to co-opt the group. With no RC, there is no fear on that account.

At the heart of RC as it stands is an unhealthy clericalism. At first it was tied to Maciel, then it was shifted in the recent campaign to help parishes and launder the RC image. Now it dangles by the odd thread that Benedict alone can decide their fate and those on the inside wait with baited breath to see what to do next. As many in this discussion have discovered upon leaving the Movement, we don’t need that kind of hand holding. Mature Catholics can pray and discern on their own — and those who need guidance should be able to find enough in the recent communique to realise that this Legion-shaped cross on Benedict’s back will be made lighter as people leave the group and integrate with the larger Church. Let’s do something FOR Benedict instead of making him spell out the obvious.

I may update this with more reasons as they occur to me, or as other commenters bring them up in the combox. Many excellent points have already been made on other threads (and you’re welcome to reproduce them below) but I’ve decided to press this point for the good of the Universal Church. The Legion is a canonically protected congregation with men in various levels of sacramental preparation. The Regnum Christi is nothing more than a free and voluntary lay association — including the third degree members. They were free to join, and now are just as free to disband. I strongly urge them to consider doing so.

[As a final push, perhaps another blogger will do the necessary work to engage us all in the Great Novena for and end to this unfortunate mess.]

May 13, 2010 in LC/RC personality

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