Former Regnum Christi High School Students Petition Cardinal De Paolis

“Acknowledge the serious flaws within their life, culture and methodology”

“Truthfully recognize the past in a spirit of sincere sorrow”

“Taking responsibility and understanding how and why so much damage has been done is the necessary first step for any true reform”

During the summer, 2012, ReGAIN published an article that dealt with the spiritual, psychological and emotional abuse that was suffered by young women who had formerly attended a Regnum Christi run high school in Rhode Island when they were teenagers. The high school girls who attended this school were obliged to live under the same conditions as the Regnum Christi consecrated women and this was considered to be a way of preparing them for and encouraging them to enter into consecrated life after they graduated.

Several of the women who had such negative experiences from living an isolated militaristic, nun like life, started a blog in July, 2012 and provided some of their testimonies. Their blog is named 49weeksblogspot Click Here

A group consisting of seventy one of the former students from the school signed a letter of petition to Cardinal DePaolis, advising him of the suffering that they experienced and provided some recommendations. The letter was written in a very respectful manner and advised Cardinal DePaolis of the “Psychological and emotional difficulties�, including “nightmares and flashbacks, guilt complexes, scruples or inferiority complexes, and difficulties in re-establishing normal, healthy relationships with friends and family given the unnatural and forced nature of relationships encouraged during the Precandidacy�

The letter was published on 49weeksblogspot and it is available at the following link:Click Here

ReGAIN editors have noticed that the points raised in the letter to Cardinal DePaolis made reference to a number of the injustices, irregularities, unchristian practices that we have been identifying on this website over many years. It seems more horrific in this case because the ones being victimized were teenage high school children, whose care had been entrusted to a Catholic religious movement that was in good standing with the Church.

Some of the practices identified in the petition letter included:

    • Lack of truth and transparency
    • Lack of remorse on the part of the Legion and Regnum Christi leaders
    • Psychological and emotional difficulties including nightmares, flashbacks, guilt complexes, scruples or inferiority complexes, difficulties in re-establishing normal, healthy relationships with friends and family
    • Physical conditions such as stomach problems, back pain, migraines, eating disorders that are related to stress and lifestyle (while living under the rules and conditions imposed by Regnum Christi).
    • Systemic deception and duplicity ingrained in the life and culture of the Legion and Regnum Christi
    • Rules revealed gradually after a commitment had been made
    • Instilling fear based on failure to fulfill God’s will and even “betraying Jesus�
    • Questioning of rules not allowed and having to accept them as “God’s will�
    • Deliberate withholding of truth about the founder
    • Confiscating of personal mail from outside friends and family
    • Discrepancies between report card grading and official transcripts
    • Cult of the personality and the attachment to the person of the founder and idolization of him
    • Excessive focus on recruitment and fund raising
    • Lack of respect for conscience
    • Pressure to confide in spiritual directors, who were not obligated to confidentiality and who used information as a means of control
    • Excessive regulation of personal relationships – (personal friendships discouraged)
    • Cases of women who remained and became consecrated being sent home without any support or funding
    • “formators� had no expertise of their own in matters of formation
    • Almost total isolation from parents
    • eminently flawed Legionary/Maciel-inspired methodology
    • no public apology or even acknowledgment of the responsibility of the current leadership in these abuses.

The letter to Cardinal DePaolis concludes that the lives of hundreds of young women have been devastated and that mere cosmetic changes to norms and rules (in the current reform process) are inadequate.

ReGAIN Comment:

The petition letter to the Apostolic Delegate certainly raises the question:

“Are the issues raised by the women being adequately addressed and if not then whose responsibility is it?�

The Legion has always said that it would do whatever the Church tells it to do. However, before and after the death of their founder, they have not shown initiative to deal with the type of issues raised in the above petition letter or to respond to valid criticism from other former members. The Vatican Commissioner has claimed that he is not there with a big stick to force them to change their ways. His role still seems to be limited to overseeing the Legion leaders implement their own reforms and assisting with the rewriting of constitutions. So we have a vicious circle, where neither the Legion leaders nor the Vatican Delegate have shown a desire to accept responsibility for reforming the methodology that was put in place by Father Maciel and that has had serious detrimental effects on many peoples’ lives.

The lack of truth and transparency identified in the petition letter hits the nail on the head. Perhaps if the Delegate or the Legion leaders would publicly acknowledge that their methodology damages peoples’ lives, that they genuinely feel remorse and express a desire and a realistic plan to correct all forms of physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse, we could have reason for optimism.

Unfortunately, as the months and years pass by since the dramatic revelations in 2009, it becomes apparent that the valid issues raised by victims of the methodology (including typical mind control techniques) are not even on the radar.

The mantra that “we were shocked to discover our founder’s secret life but we are loved by the Church and we are extending the Kingdom of Christ� continues.

Before the founder’s secret life was publicized, Legion leaders treated any alleged victims of sexual abuse as liars and discounted them, thereby adding to the abuse they had originally suffered. With the Church watching over them, how will the Legion leaders treat the 71 ladies who have come forward? Will they also be considered to be liars also or will they simply be ignored or discounted as being insignificant in the whole scheme of things?

We have another question.

When Cardinal DePaolis has completed his work of assisting in redefining the charism (another whole topic) and rewriting the constitutions and statues and has taken his leave, is it more likely or less likely that the issues raised by the 71 young women will be considered and addressed? It is obvious that if the Legion is unable or unwilling to acknowledge severe abuses in their Maciel designed methodology under the watchful eye of a Vatican Commissioner, there is virtually no chance that they will be inclined to make these sorts of positive changes after he leaves.

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