Legion of Christ Milks Founder Maciel’s Conspiracy Theories
The following reflection is in response to a note received by the author, insinuating that he is part of a conspiracy group looking to harm the “Movement”.
contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your email. I think what you have been told is just another one of the Legion of Christ’s conspiracy theories. I’m surprised that they didn’t say that I am a gay, communist, feminist, Zionist Jew (guilt by association because I’m a lawyer) who is trying to destroy the Legion-Regnum Christi Movement and thereby destroy the Church. Some variation of those groupings is what Maciel and many Legion of Christ members have used over the years to explain away any criticism of the Legion-Regnum Christi.
I don’t recall the level of conspiracy theories that we were told in the Apostolic School, but in the Novitiate (and even more beyond), especially in the letters that Maciel allegedly wrote and conferences that we either listened to in person or on tape, he would go on and on about the various conspiracies: the Jews, the gays, the communists, the World Bank, etcâ€¦ all out to get him, the Legion, the Movement and, thereby, destroy the Church. According to the theories, the “enemies” of the Church realize that the Movement-Legion are the hope of the Church and therefore seek to destroy them in order to destroy the Church.
Here is a short letter he wrote from 1949 that I found on the http://www.exlegionaries.com site which illustrates my point:
â€œTlÃ¡lpam D.F., 24 de Junio de 1949
…Ahora estoy perseguido a muerte por el partido Comunista y bajo la direcciÃ³n de la embajada de MoscÃº. Esto me resulta divertido y francamente me resulta mÃ¡s llevadero que las persecuciones de los buenos y la incomprensiÃ³n y poca correspondencia de alguno de los nuestros…
Tlalplam, Mexico City, 24th of June , 1949
… Now I am persecuted to death by the Communist Party directed by the Moscow Embassy. This is amusable to me and frankly it is better than the persecutions from good people and the incomprehension and little correspondence [conformance not mail…] from some of our own men… â€œ
PS This is the letter in its entirety as it appears in the CNP (Cartas de Nuestro Padre = Letters of Our Father)
This illustrates the way in which, as far back as that time, Maciel started with the conspiracy theories. Since that time, anything that has happened to Maciel and-or the Legion that has been negative has been caused by one of the various conspiracies. Apparently, from the time the Jesuits had him kicked out of Montezuma, they were also part of the conspiracy. They have always been out to get him and the Legion, at least according to the Legion and Maciel. Indeed, he blamed the sex abuse allegations that surfaced against him again in the 1990’s on the Jesuits. He claimed that the then Cardinal O’Connor had looked into the matter and told him (Maciel) that the Jesuits were behind it.
So, I guess it now appears that I am part of one of the aforementioned conspiracies that exist to destroy the Legion-Regnum Christi Movement and thereby the Church? I find that pretty outlandish; however, when I was in the Legion, I believed many of Maciel’s conspiracy theories because I was naÃ¯ve. So I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised that members of the Movement and the Legion buy into them. They are easy explanations. The conspiracy theories attempt to explain why people criticize the Legion-Regnum Movement: “It’s not because there is anything wrong with us, but precisely because we are doing everything right that they attack us and seek to destroy usâ€¦ because we are faithful to the Holy Father.”â€¦ I’m assuming that’s how it goes for them in their minds. If they didn’t have the conspiracy theories, they might actually have to face the fact that there are some very serious defects in the organization-structure, as you point out.
The Legion-Maciel-Regnum-Movement has hidden behind the “infallibility” of the Pope and tried to hijack the Church, so that any criticism of the Legion-Regnum Movement is a criticism-attack on the Pope and the Church. A lot of people buy into that, and it is actually a smart move by the Legion-Regnum Movement-Maciel, but it is simply not true.
Of all of those former members of the Legion-Regnum Movement who actively criticize-expose the defects of the Legion-Regnum Movement, I do not know of any one individual who does so out of some desire to attack the Pope or the Church. I don’t know of anybody who thinks that by “destroying” the Movement-Legion, they can thereby destroy the Church-Pope. At least nobody has told me that is their intention, and their actions have not given me reason to think otherwise.
As for me, I will be honest and say that I am socially very liberal on almost every issue (with the exception of abortion). I give to socially liberal causes, and I have campaigned for socially liberal political candidates. Some of my postings on http://www.exlegionaries.com involved socially liberal issues, which probably weren’t the correct place for expressing those views, but none of those posting were criticisms of the Legion-Regnum Movement’s official doctrinal views, which are essentially the same as the Church. I don’t think I have ever criticized the Legion-Regnum Movement for the doctrinal stances-views they take, nor will I ever do so. Instead, my criticism has always focused on how PEOPLE are TREATED and the other defects that lead to the way people are actually harmed by the Legion-Regnum Movement.
When I left the Legion, I went to morning mass everyday throughout college. In fact, virtually all of my close friends from college are very conservative, faithful, orthodox Catholics. My grandmother raised me, and she is the same. Some of those friends are actually now in Opus Dei. We disagree now on many social issues, but I don’t try to change their minds on doctrine, and I don’t go after them for being in Opus Dei (or after Opus Dei itself). My biggest issue with the Catholic Church is that it hasn’t done more to prevent the harm that the Legion-Regnum Movement cause, although it is starting to do so now. I once told Bishop Ricard (of the Tallahassee-Pensacola Diocese) that I thought the bishops in the U.S. were hypocrites in the sense that they knew that the LEGION OF CHRIST caused a lot of harm yet did nothing to stop it. He did not disagree with me. That’s probably the closest I have come to criticizing the Church, I believe.
As far as my personal relationship with the Church goes, I have friends who are faithful, orthodox Catholic priests and friends who are faithful, orthodox Catholics. However, I do not go to mass on a regular basis. You could probably say that I don’t go to mass on any basis. When I lived-worked in Manhattan, there was a Catholic Church next to my office. I would go there nearly everyday for a quick visit to say a few prayers and just to be, but I didn’t go there to go to mass, etcâ€¦ I think my experience with the Legion has turned me off to organized religion forever. I don’t have anything against organized religion, and I certainly am not out to destroy any such institution, the Catholic Church in particular. I try to live my life in accordance with the Gospel. I follow my conscience, and I try to be fair and just and to speak the truth always, even with respect to the Legion-Regnum Movement (and not based upon some alleged agenda or conspiracy). Since I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, I don’t really care what the Church teaches, and I am certainly not out to destroy it because of whatever it teaches. I simply don’t care.
I realize that there are very good, well intentioned individuals in both the Legion and the Movement. Very few things in the world are entirely evil or entirely good. I am not very familiar with the Movement, so I only speak (have spoken) with respect to the Legion, which I know first hand. There are many well intentioned Legionaries who enter the Legion with great aspirations and who continue in the Legion trying to do good. However, at some point, without probably fully realizing it, they end up working to build the Kingdom of Maciel instead of the Kingdom of Christ. In the Legion, the means justify they ends, so even well intentioned Legionaries do things that they shouldn’t, which harm people. The mission and goals are placed before humanity. That’s the problem, not any doctrinal beliefs of the Legion. It’s about the way people are treated, not what those individuals believe about a particular doctrinal, social issue.
Like you, there are a number of Legionaries that I like (or at least about whom I have nothing negative to say). I think I have only said negative things about Legionaries with whom I have had personal negative experiences. Sometimes the experiences of former Legionaries have varied. For instance, some people have had very bad, painful experiences with Anthony Bannon. I, on the other hand, had nothing but good experiences with him, and I dealt with him frequently. The same is true of Fr. Jesus Maria Delgado in Spain, who is now the Territorial Director for Spain. I don’t vilify all Legionaries, and I don’t want to throw the baby out with the dishwater.
I simply want the Legion-Regnum Movement to make major organizational-structural reforms, including the closure of the minor seminaries. Did you know that in Spain they enter as early as 10 years of age (at least that is what they were contemplating when I was still in)? They do not let them graduate from their equivalent of high school until AFTER they have finished the novitiate and taken their first vows. I once asked the Rector in Salamanca (the aforementioned Fr. Jesus Maria) why they did not have them finish high school first; his very honest response was “because otherwise they would leave once they graduated.” The same is true of the Apostolics from Mexico, who also have to finish their high school after the novitiate, after taking their vows.
To be clear, I don’t think that any of its doctrinal-social positions should change. To the extent it is Catholic, it should espouse the doctrine of the Catholic Church and be faithful to the Pope. That, I do not question.
What actually bothers-concerns me is that young adolescents do not finish their equivalent of high school until after they have finished their novitiate and taken their vows, by which time they are much older than they would have been if they finished in the normal educational process. It concerns me that far too many former legionaries leave at an older age (early 30s or even later) without a college degree or any marketable skills and with little help-guidance from the Legion on how to pick their lives up and build new lives. It is especially problematic when those individuals have been in the Legion since the age of 10, 11, 12 when they are no longer close to their family and lack the minimal social skills required to function outside the Legion. It bothers me that former Legionaries cannot-should not contact current Legionaries, including writing to them (except for the chosen few superiors or those designated to be contacts for former Legionaries). It bothers me that Legionaries are not allowed to speak of those who have left or attempt to contact former Legionaries (unless they are told to do so for some specific reason). It bothers me that Legionaries are not allowed to tell other Legionaries that they are leaving the Legion, not even to say a simple good bye to those whom they have known for so many years. It bothers me that Legionaries leave with very little. It bothers me that Legionaries have their mail censored. It bothers me that Legionary communities cannot communicate with one another. It bothers me that the news, particularly the newspapers (even Catholic papers) are censored on a daily basis by a superior. It bothers me that the Legion lies to its members; It bothers me that Legionaries are instructed to lie to others. It bothers me that the Legion lied to so many on so many occasions. It bothers me that when a priest would leave the Legion we would be told that such priest was “on a special mission for Nuestro Padre” instead of being told the truth. It bothers me that Legionaries are not allowed to speak about the allegations against Maciel. It bothers me that I had to have a brother kicked out of my examining room by a doctor because the brother (now a priest) claimed to have his orders to stay with me at all times, even when I had to drop my pants. It bothers me that I was not allowed to speak to my doctors in private. It bothers me that the Legion puts the mission-Kingdom of Maciel above all else, including human beings and the good of the Church–Legionaries and members of the Movement are simply a means to an end, small pawns in their game of chess. Whenever someone is deemed no longer useful for whatever reason, because he questions too much, etc.. then that person is discarded aside. It bothers me that Maciel had a man who repeatedly sodomized one of my friends in the apostolic school ordained a priest KNOWING what he had done to my friend when he was a brother in the Apostolic school (as a superior there). The list could go on, but those are many of the things that bother-concern me about the Legion, none of which involve doctrine or social positions. Those are the things I want changed, rectified. Too many people have been hurt over the years for things to stay the same.
With respect to the Movement, I actually don’t know enough about it. I was never in it, and I don’t have relatives in it. I also never really dealt with many members of the Movement while I was in the Legion. I’ve heard that the 3gfs have the same issues as the Legion, but I don’t know that from firsthand experience (ovbviously). The only things I have heard about the Movement are that far too often the Movement ends up breaking up a family because one spouse is in the Movement and the other is not (and opposes it). Those have ended in divorce. Those are the only things I have heard about the Movement. I don’t doubt that there are very well intentioned individuals in the Movement. If you would like to speak with a former member of the Regnum Christi who tends to speak to other former members, I can put you in touch with her. She is a very conservative, faithful, orthodox Catholic. She’s on the complete opposite side of the so-called “gay agenda” (whatever that term means, although it seems to be used frequently on Fox news). Indeed, I think most (if not all) of the former members of Regnum Christi whom I know are still very conservative, faithful, orthodox members. Among former legionaries, we tend to be all over the place.
However, we are all working together, regardless of our social-doctrinal differences, with the sole goal of exposing the structural-organizational defects of the Legion-Regnum Movement. Among the conservative, faithful, orthodox Catholics amongst us, they also tend to work because they believe that the Movement-Legion actually harms the Catholic Church they love. In a conversation with a former Legionary a couple weeks ago, we both noted and marveled at the fact that such a diverse group of people, who in the regular, outside world would never really hang out together let alone work together, are able to work together because the problems with the Legion-Regnum Movement are so large and important that they overcome our differences.
It sounds like you may benefit more from talking to a former member of Regnum Christi. If you wish to do so, I can put you in touch with her. Also, please feel free to send this email to whomever told you about the alleged conspiracy theory and to whomever else you wish.
Thank you for asking for my side of the story; this is it. Please let me know if you have any other questions or would like to discuss further. Let’s pray for each other and our families.