Prominent Spanish Legionary Priest Gives Reasons for Leaving the Legion

Update Regarding Departure of Juan Pedro Oriol From the Legion
Father Juan Pedro Oriol, who recently departed from the Legionaries of Christ, submitted a letter explaining his reasons for making his painful decision to leave. The letter, which was addressed to Father Corcuera was leaked and the full text of the letter in Spanish may be seen at Click Here

ReGAIN has received an English translation of the letter that includes some statements that come straight from the heart of this prominent Legionary who had been a member of the Legion since he was only 17 years old.

In the letter Fr. Oriol stated that his first reaction had been one of surprise, and of feeling deceived. He said that when the news about Fr. Marcial Maciel was made public, it surprised and pained him to see and to realize that they had not been told the truth, and that the information given to them was being controlled.

He referred to an article he had written in the journal MURAL, asking forgiveness for so often trying to silence the voices that had denounced Fr. Maciel in an article that Alvaro Corcuera had authorized him to write and which he remembered word for word. He said he had continued his apostolate working with youths, but he recommended to those who were having vocational doubts to not enter the candidacy, but rather to first gain experience as Regnum Christi co-workers. He had however, allowed four outstanding young men to join, three of whom were still in the novitiate.

He said that the announcement of the apostolic visit had reawakened in him the hope that Legionaries would accept the truth and its consequences and he thanked God for the close, spiritual relationship that he had developed with Ricardo Watty, the Apostolic Visitor for Mexico.

He said that the announcement (communique) by the Holy See on May 1, 2010 had been a blessing for many Legionaries, included him, then added his impression that they (the Legion) had not been analyzing the communique in depth, and were not being motivated to reflect on its contents, either as a community or as individuals

He stated that exemplary legionaries continued to leave the Legion including Fr. Santiago in October. Fr. Oriol said that the events which led to his departure had caused him to pray a lot, wordlessly.

Fr Oriol said that ever since the time he first heard the news of the false and deceitful life of the man whom he had considered to be their saintly founder up until the time he wrote the letter, that sadness and distrust had permeated his life, and he had to come to terms with the growing impossibility of readapting to a religious life with which he did not identify, and which he did not fully and freely choose.

I) He said he had realized that the Church was taking action, but he was anticipating anew structure so as not to fall into the abyss. He stated that he didn?t believe there could be a real and just exchange given the attitudes that currently exist, and that he could not find anything that would lead him to participate in the process.

According to the translation of the leaked document he made a critical statement that he did not see and this was essential for him how a spirituality that had come entirely from the founder could be formulated. He said that had always been instilled in them, yet now they were being told that it (the spirituality) was not from him. He added that he was unable to see how it could and that this had brought him to tears

He said that the Legion which he had loved no longer exists and that the congregation did not have a saintly model to emulate, i.e. one who could faithfully transmit a valid charism from God. He questioned how a charism could be received and transmitted by a man described by His Holiness as a false prophet and an enigma within the Church.

He said that in its communique the Church advised that that the charism must be redefined and that the Church had also told us that one?s own future and that of the Legion must be rebuilt on the calling and the love of Christ. He said he did not see his own future being the same as that of the congregation, which is attempting to redefine itself while holding onto a core that it is today too often found lacking in good intentions.

He added that the Legion of today has led him to feel suffocated and disillusioned, draining him not only of strength and initiative, but also of the happiness and peace of his vocation.

He expressed that he and the other Legionaries no longer live in the Legion where charity reigned and that charity is being separated from truth.

He mentioned in his letter that interactions (within the Legion) are far from sincere and that people talk behind each other?s backs, ostracizing those who dissent, pointing out those who question, and continuing to encourage the belief that it is the Will of God to report what is seen and heard instead of promoting fraternal dialogue.

Later, in a spirit of requesting forgiveness he said that he identified with them (the ones who question) and wanted to be at the side of these poor who have been scorned even though they have done nothing wrong, nothing unjust, nothing untrue.

He said it caused him great dismay to see how overnight those who have decided to leave suddenly cease to exist, even though they may have spent many years in exemplary devotion to the congregation and he mentioned the names of some of these, including his own brother.

He said that the Delegate had been asking them to respect these different opinions, but in (the Legion) culture it is difficult to allow this, adding that criticism and comments made behind one?s back, the so often unjust accusations that continued to be made without any thought given to the damage they cause in short the actions that continue being practiced in the Legion had robbed him of his serenity.

Further in the letter he said that trust has been destroyed. He said that he could not live without trust and in truth he could not trust in the system of governance now in place, even though he knew and accepted that it is endorsed by the Church.

He said he could not go along with the rules which continue being enforced in the apostolate, predominantly those related to numbers, efficiency and results.

Further on he commented that he could not accept the way their assets were being managed or the way their control is concentrated in the hands of a few men, their associates, and the salaried laymen employed by the Integer Group, who push aside the priests, project directors and local superiors.

Later he said that his Legionary vocation was being extinguished little my little and so before his priestly vocation was completely extinguished, he felt he must take this step (of resigning from the Legion).

He said that the main thing he wanted was to do God?s will, to thank Him and serve Him.

Later in the letter, he requested that he be released from the Legion as outlined in Canon Law.

ReGAIN Comment

This letter provides considerable insight into the state of things and the current situation within the Legionaries of Christ and its associated lay movement.

One of his initial statements confirms to outsiders that there is (still) deception and strict control of information (typical characteristics of controversial religious groups).

The letter serves to confirm what most Legion watchers have already concluded regarding the lack of progress in the reform process. There is an almost complete lack of desire among the Legion hierarchy to initiate any reforms themselves. The general attitude seems to be something like a young boy being dragged by his parents to the bathtub to get cleaned up. Apparently, there is no reflection on the May 1, 2010 communique that had outlined essential reforms.

For those Legion members who had welcomed the visitation and who were hopeful that reforms would take place Fr. Oriol verifies that the Legion leadership has shown no desire to do anything to change the (cult like) structure of the Legion except whatever is imposed on them by the Vatican.

After having spent his entire adult life devoted to a religious order, it is heart wrenching to read of the agony he went through discerning what was happening and eventually concluding that there could not be a valid charism transmitted through their founder. He confirms that although the Legion is now claiming that their unique spirituality is based on the person of Jesus Christ and not on Fr. Marcial Maciel, who has been referred to as a false prophet by the current pope, he is aware that for so many years their spirituality had come from the founder.

We wonder how many other of the current Legionary priests are experiencing feelings of being suffocated and disillusioned as the same old leaders continue the same old ways.

Because of the extreme isolation and secrecy within the Legion it is difficult to know exactly what is happening behind the closed doors. Fr. Oriol provides some helpful insights in his comments about the interactions (within the Legion), which are said to be insincere and that those who demonstrate opposing viewpoints are dealt with in a harsh way. Critical dialoging is obviously still not tolerated, even though the secret vow of charity (no criticism of any superiors allowed) has been abolished.

We know that many ex members and family members of current Legionaries and Regnum Christi members share many of Fr. Oriol?s feelings as we wait seemingly in vain for significant changes in leadership and attitudes and policies to happen.

So far, the Vatican has refrained from imposing a new authoritarian style of governance to replace the existing one. The Vatican commissioner has shown that it is up to the Legion to come up with its own remedies. Fr. Oriol?s letter appears to verify that the Legion is unable or unwilling to come up with constructive ideas to correct the issues identified by the Vatican during their visitation following the revelations about the founders double life. As we continue to wait and watch for something to happen it is likely that more good priests such as Fr. Oriol will probably make the agonizing decision to abandon their vocation within the Legionaries of Christ.

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