Xavier Leger Testimony of His Life During and After the Legionaries of Christ
Part 3 Introduction:
This final portion of Xavier Leger?s testimony contains considerable wisdom and revealing insights from his personal experience. As you read his explanations of how Fr Maciel’s perversions resulted in an unnatural environment where people lose their ability to make moral decisions it feels as if light switches are being turned on. It provides clear explanations how people in cults surrender their free will to the group, thereby losing such an essential part of their humanness.
ReGAIN shares Xavier?s concern that the Church is avoiding such valuable participation from ex members. It seems similar to attempting to improve conditions in an insane asylum by asking only the inmates what needs to be corrected. It is not yet clear that the Church recognizes that they are dealing with a cult and that it warrants getting professional guidance from those who have expertise in helping people to recover from cult involvement. Xavier has raised some excellent questions that we hope will be considered by those responsible for the reform process. So far they don’t seem to have shown a desire to face all of the real issues.
ReGAIN editors are grateful to Xavier for his courage in speaking out about the truth even though he has faced opposition from the Legion.
The author has kept the names of Legionaries who are public figures, changing the names of rank and file.
Part 3 – A Machine That Generates Sexual Frustration
Back To The World
Once again, I was leaving the seminary, but this time in completely different circumstances. I was feeling good at peace. In the meantime, I had learned that Brother Vincent (the personal secretary of Father Alvaro Corcuera about whom I have already spoken) had suddenly left the Legion. He sent me an email in June, in which he asked for my prayers, because he discovered that after nine years in the Legionit was possible that God was not calling him to the priesthood. I detected a lack of maturity in his message: everything was reduced to the will of God, as if the will of God, indeed, was some kind of cosmic fatality. So I invited him to meditate upon the passage in the Gospel concerning the blind man, Bartimaeus, to whom Jesus had said: What do you want me to do for you? (Mk 10, 46-52).
I heard from some friends that he had left the Legion. According to them, he was actuallyin a state of euphoria, suggesting that he was living proof that the Legion was very respectful with the liberty and the discernment of its members. He was claiming that he had finally understood that God was not calling him to the priesthood, but to serve the Church through the Regnum Christi. He was eternally thankful toward the Legion for the wonderful years he had spent in it, but had to accept the will of God! All this drama sounded somewhat ridiculous.
Anyway, once again I started a new life. This time I settled in the mountains, needing to be alone in silence. In my mind, I had left the seminary for only one year. I wanted to be available to meet the Apostolic Visitator, and then, to make a real break. I began to think that I could use this sabbatical year for an enormous project something a bit crazy. When I was fifteen years old, I had done a summer-camp in the USA, in which we took a whole week to hike the Pennsylvanian portion of the Appalachian Trail. I had great memories of this magical experience, and thought that one day I would return to hike the entire trail. I thought it was the time to fulfill this dream.
I quickly found a job as a seasonal worker, starting in December. This job would allow me to finance my project. It was also a time for me to experience more of the real world,outside of any ecclesial context. From the month of August until the beginning of the winter season, I had a couple of months that I reserved for myself. Hiking, painting, swimming… I was not bored. I wanted to be available all the time, ready to go back to Paris as soon as the Visitator arrived there. Even when I was hiking in the mountains, I brought my cell phone in order to check my emails regularly. The others families were, like me, waiting to be contacted by Msgr. Blazquez.
I also used those months to begin my personal investigation about the true history of the Legion, spending hours and hours on Internet. At this time, without the Internet at home, I had to find free access elsewhere. I needed to know how Maciel had been able to fool all the Church authorities during his whole life. I needed also to solve the mystery of the Great Blessing: what had happened during the first Apostolic Visitation?
Thanks to all the information I gathered here and there, I finally got the true version. One of the websites that helped me in that work was the blog of Cassandra Jones. Then, I discovered also the TVN Chile Report Los Pecados de Marcial Maciel [The Sins of Marcial Maciel]l, in which I heard and saw, for the first time, the victims telling their awful stories of abuses. I was becoming aware, progressively, of the extent of the depravity of Maciel. I was so nauseated that I personally made the whole translation of the report and put it on YouTube with the French subtitles an enormous job. It was a real nightmare… the kingdom of lies and spiritual terrorism.
After having discovered all this crap, I was feeling very angry. The blog led by Landon Cody gave me a lot of consolation. I needed to shrug off my anger through humorand exlcblog.com was a very healthy place to let off steam.
Astonishment and Consternation
I was still waiting. September, October… still nothing. I did not want to seem too insistent. Msgr. Blazquez had told me we would meet in Paris, but I was beginning to worry. Someone told me that there were so many Legionaries to meet in Spain that his visit in Paris would come later.
I had received some worrying news. For example, I had heard that Cardinal Rode had said to Father Alvaro Corcuera, after the revelation about the scandal of Maciel: If you change the charism, I’ll kill you! I had also learned that the Legion was trying to defend itself, insisting that there was nothing to change in the Legion, despite the faults of the founder, because mysteriously, his sins did not have any consequences for the congregation. A family, whose son had left the Legion during the summer, reported to me how the superiors of Salamanca had announced to the whole community that Msgr. Blazquez had been chosen to fulfill the Visitation in Spain: Do not worry said the superiorMsgr. Blazquez is a great friend of the Legion! But, why worry? Why be afraid of a Visit? The truth is the truth… we cannot fear it! What was the meaning of all that?
Finally, I learned that Msgr. Blazquez had indeed come to France. He had visited the Apostolic School and had played soccer with the pupils. According to my sources, the Visitor had shown a great liking toward the Legionaries. He had told them that heacknowledged the charism of the congregation and assured the pupils that the Apostolic School would go on. I have received this information from two different persons. According to one of these persons, some families of the Regnum Christi had been chosen by the Legion to meet the Visitator (I have no other confirmation of this information).
One of the families who wanted to meet the Visitator had also personally asked the Territorial Director in France to be notified when the Visitator would be here. And the Territorial Director had promised them to do so. But, unfortunately, when this moment came, he suddenly forgot! Such a pity! And then he came to meet the family, thinking that his personal visit would be a good consolation for them…
A last element would prove explosive: Vincent, with whom I had kept an occasional correspondence (usually very heated, since he was always trying to lecture me) told me candidly: Personally, I have had a private meeting with the Apostolic Visitator for France at the end of September. And I will go back to meet again the Visitator for Italy in December in Rome.
That was too much, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew that Vincent was still deeply under the influence of the Legion and that his recent exit from the Legion could not provide the insight that the Visitors needed in order to understand the whole issue. I do not think he had been sent by the Legion, but I knew quite well that he was feeling a compulsive and irrational need to defend the Legion.
Some friends sent an email to Msgr. Blazquez. In his answer, he offered to meet me in Spain. I considered this option, but we were already in November. My job was about to start, and my personal finances were very low.
It was too much. A couple of days after Vincent?s note, I created my blog exlcblog.info, with the title Prevention A l’Egard de la Legion du Christ. It was the first French blog and would certainly make a lot of noise, which was deliberate considering that I was not dealing with well-intentioned people. I knew, unfortunately, that the Legion would take advantage of the silence of the victims in order to grow, and to keep infiltrating and manipulating the Church. I had to speak.
The Legionary Original Sin
During the first month, I received many positive reactions. Among the personal messages, there were some words of encouragement from two Legionary priests who were teachers. Through one of them, I learned that most of the Legionaries were still kept ignorant about the true life of Maciel. I felt happy to be supported by those priests, because I had always thought that the teachers were the only people with a little more information, and were thus preserved from the pathogenic aspects of the apostolic methodology.
The troubles began in January 2010, after the publication of an article in which I proposed a personal interpretation about the fundamental origins of the cult-like behavior I had noticed in the Legion. To suggest that Father Macieldespite his sinshad been the miraculous instrument of Providence was a totally idiotic remark. I tried in this article to explain why, through a very simple analysis of a text in Genesis, to show that sin is never an isolated act or lacking in consequences, but was more like a bomb whose shock waves causes disorders at different levels. In the case of the Legion, the sins of Maciel had affected the whole structure of the order. And I pointed out that the Legion was indeed particularly damaged about sexuality.
The Reaction of Father Jacques Dupont
My article generated a scandal. I first received some very offensive comments on the blog. Most of those comments were badly-written with spelling errors and vulgar words. I did not pay much attention to them, but I have to confess that I was surprised to see that they were using and deforming some aspects or events of my own personal life to accuse me. Some days afterward, I received a pithy email from Father Jacques Dupont, the superior of the community of Paris:
From time to time, I receive your work.
It is interesting, even if I think that the logical and theological aspects are often slipping. Maybe because the principle that you noticed: we judge others as we are, you neglected to apply it to yourself. But, well, this is your liberty!
I was thinking some days ago: well, let’s create a LC blog in order to answer point after point to all that sounds me true and false in the literature that we find here and there.
But, the time of light will come. Now, we should rather keep silent.
I often think of you and pray for you.
This message was awesome!! I could not expect more stupidities in so few words. In a couple of hours, I wrote an answer that I published immediately on my blog, removing the name of my interlocutor, of course.
I thank you for having taken the time to offer me this commentary. I received your opinion with some sadness, but I respect your opinion and I have decided to answer through an open letter.
First of all, you have to know that your interpretation is contradicted by the many messages of support and encouragement that I have received since the beginning of the blog, including from actual Regnum Christi members and even some Legionaries (yes).
You affirm, speaking of my articles, that the logical and theological aspects are often slipping… I would be glad if you could deepen a little bit more this comment. I suppose that your judgment refers to the article in which I proposed a fundamental reflection about the problem of sin and its consequences from the Book of Genesis. You have to know that this analysis is nothing else but a summary of the great book God and His Image, by Father Dominique Bartholemy, OP, who was, as you certainly know, one of the greatest theologian of the 20th century. I invite you, by the way, to read the second chapter of the book, in particular the second part concerning the disfigured God. You will find, more or less, the origin of my reflections on this matter.
What deeply bothers me about your message is that you allow yourself to judge my intentions, accusing me to take my own personal problems out on the Legion of Christ. If you have carefully read my article, you will certainly have noticed that the principle that I speak about we judge others as we are (Cf. Dieu et Son Image, p.58) fits into a reflection upon the question of sin. I think that this analysis is very interesting, because it shows, from the Scriptures, how sin disorganizes the relationship between God and man, and among men.
If I allowed myself to take up this reflection of Father Bartholemy, it’s simply to try to understand to what extent the many and serious sins of Father Maciel could have consequences on the structure, the organization and spirituality of the Legion of Christ. It belongs to what we call, in morality, the principle of double effect.
I would never allow myself to apply the principle to anybody, since, as you certainly know, this accusation would be a serious sin against the 8th commandment, called rash judgment, as the Catechism says:
2477. Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor.
But since you doubt my intentions, I have decided to answer to you in order to try, maybe, to free you from this awful and unfair prejudice against myself.
The reason why I have decided, with the help of some other people, to create this blog, is because the Lord has given me, since I left the institution (destroyed after six and a half years of having been made to feel guilty), the chance to rebuild myself. When I look, in hindsight, at what I have done during those last four years, I can only marvel at it. I never needed to lookfor things came to me. And I seized them. I met people along the way who helped me to put myself back on my feet. Coming back into a diocesan seminary, I succeeded, with the help of some wise priests, to put into words all those things that were still running through my mind. It was not easy, but I confess that this path gave me a great peace. Gradually, by way of contrast with my former experience, I became aware of the seriousness of the issue, and of the huge gap between the ideological interpretation of the Gospel that I had experienced inside the Legion and a more correct interpretation, as it was lived and taught in a seminary that was respectful toward its seminarians.
After some months, I decided (always with the blessings of my superiors and my spiritual guide) to alert the ecclesial authorities. Certainly, it was very hazardous: who am I to dare denouncing some practices of a Congregation of Pontifical Right, whose founder was still considered as a saint? I simply wrote to my bishop, telling him that I was bothered that I was dealing with serious problems of conscience, and that I wanted to entrust my doubts in the hands of the Church.
Afterward, well, you know: I learned about the two cases of sexual abuse in the minor seminary of Mary-sur-Marne. I finally discovered, in a very surprising way through some families, how the Legion had managed to hush up the scandal.by making the families feel guilty, and by avoiding all written traces. And then a couple of months ago, the appalling revelations about the double, triple, quadruple life of Father Maciel. All that saddened me deeply when Pope Benedict announced the Apostolic Visitation, I rejoiced, thinking that finally, the whole truth would be known, and that the Legion would go through a real process of purification. I sent a long letter to Msgr. Blazquez, and he answered me that he would receive me when he would come in Paris. And then… nothing. We have been neither contacted, nor received.
When I saw that the Legion was going on with the vocational recruitment, that the ordinations in Rome were maintained, that an important cardinal of the Roman curia had said, jokingly, to Father Alvaro: If you change the charism, I’ll kill you… well, yes, I confess that I really began to worry. And the Apostolic Visitation??? Are the Legionaries aware of the seriousness of such an investigation coming from the Holy See? Don’t you think it would be a matter of decency to stop recruitment and ordinations?
The reason for this blog, Father, is simple: I consider that I have had the chance to go through a process of healing. And I think, humbly, that I have understood the serious difficulties inherent to the Legion of Christ that prevent it from fulfilling its mission as God wants it. It might look presumptuous, but this is my conviction. I have not received any kind of private revelation, but I believe that God speaks in our conscience, as taught in the Catechism:
1778. Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law.
The first Apostolic Visitation had cleared Father Maciel. I hope that this second one won’t clear the Legion of Christ. I feel that I have the duty, in conscience, to speak. And that, because I am also a son of the Catholic Church.
And if, because all of this, I should someday renounce the path to the priesthood, it does not matter! I prefer following my conscience, and to be able to look at myself in the mirror, rather than keeping silent and letting lies spread. During all the years that I spent inside the Congregation, I felt always compelled to act against my better judgment, using inappropriate or even immoral means to announce the Gospel. Today, there is not a single day that I don’t ask God to forgive me for having collaborated with that institution.
The blog has received the warmest of welcomes. I have received messages, from different parts of the world, from people who had been wounded by the congregation, and they told me that my articles had given them some consolation, support and hope. I even received, as I told you at the beginning of this letter, some words of support from some actual members of the Legion. Among those, there is one having important responsibilities in the congregation, and who told me:
I just began reading your blog today, and I couldn’t stop. I find it very sad, intimate and interesting. And I have to say that much of what you write rings true. I have no objections to make but wanted to encourage you to keep it up. I am sure that what you are doing will help many souls. Please continue.
I cannot reveal the identity of the author who entrusted to me his doubts. I felt a great suffering in the rest of his message. He confirmed to me that the Legionaries were still kept in silence… and most of them were not informed about the serious sins of Father Maciel. Yes, the Legionaries, the very ones who are questioned by the Apostolic Visitators, are kept in ignorance, as it appears through the many testimonies of those Legionaries who leave the congregation, one after the other.
Personally, I don’t have anything against the Legion of Christ. It would be easier for me to keep silent and to turn the page. But it would not be fair. I refuse to stand there with my arms crossed, when I see the Legion of Christ spreading a methodologyone I believe mistakento the formators of seminaries (Conference of Leggiuno), to the future formators of seminaries (Maria Mater Ecclesiae), and even to the Bishops.
Recently, an ex-Legionary, who left the Legion of Christ some months ago, told me that one of his former superiorsto prevent him from making the decision to leavetold him:How do you imagine that you will be able to get married and be faithful to a woman, if you have not been able to be faithful to God? (I do not have any doubt about the authenticity of the testimony, because I have heard this argument many times, when I was in). And yet, you know, this priesta great formator in the Legion of Christ, participates every year in the Conference of Leggiuno, given to the formators of seminaries. Do you really think that a man who carries this kind of thoughts has the requirements for such an important mission? I do not.
I believed that the sins of Father Maciel have had a serious impact upon the spirituality of the Legion. Indeed, this impact is very deep. The formation system of the Legion leads to recurrent doubts about personal liberty, always suggesting that one acts out of pride. The fear of lacking in generosity is not a principle of discernment. This is out of the love that we have to follow Jesus, and the superabundance of desire to announce the Gospel. Otherwise, everything turns into a crushing ideology, and models in the hearts the image of an intolerant God. Is God not first a GOOD FATHER??? And does a good father not want first his sons to be happy? Personally, my parents have always respected my choices. Becoming a priest, or a garbageman, or a leader of an enterprise… it did not matter so much. The thing they really wanted is that I would be happy. And I think they are right.
You recommend silence as wisdom. This silence has destroyed lives for too long. Today is the time for light and truth. Some weeks ago, a terrible scandal has exploded in Ireland. Nevertheless, there is one thing that has saved all the rest: the courage of the Archbishop of Dublin, Msgr. Diarmuid Martin, who, contrary to some of his predecessors, broke the law of silence, and opened widely the diocesan archives to legal scrutiny. Then he begged pardon, kneeling humbly to all the many victims of those shameful abuses.
Father Maciel has made us believe that we had to defend the Church and the Pope, and that we had to be ready to die on the battlefield… We believed him, and we are all responsible for that. Because, nevertheless, with the generous intention to help and protect the Church in those difficult times, we allowed the smoke of Satan to penetrate the Church. That’s why, Father, I call all the members of the Regnum Christi Movementas well as all the Legionariesto act according to their conscience. Now it is time to blow up the Bridge over the River Kwai.
I thank you for praying for me, and I am sure that the Lord will hear the prayers of a priest.
On my side, I prefer another less arrogant expression: Let’s be united in prayer.
Xavier LEger, fs (fs: forgiven sinner)
PS. I am very interested in your idea of creating a blog to correct, what, according to your opinion, is false in the literature about the Legion. The only problem is that, I do not clearly understand how you will do it without infringing, again, the 8th commandment? It would be maybe easier to make your personal corrections among the comments of my blog. If they do not contain any personal attack, they will be published. Be sure of that.
This answer was an important step for me. Responding to the bad accusations of Father Jacques. provided a kind of liberation for me. As I already said, I lacked self-confidence; now I was able to speak and arguewithout feeling fear or shame. I was becoming myself, and getting free from my inhibitions.
A machine to generate sexual frustrations?
Now, I would like to deepen a little bit more my thoughts about the consequences of the sexual deviances of Father Maciel in the Legion of Christ, with a striking illustration that I received last year, during a conversation with a priest, the superior of a foyer vocationnel.[vocational household] Some dioceses in France, have created small communities for adolescents aspiring to the priesthood. Those structures are indeed very interesting, since they are working in a totally different way than the Apostolic Schools.
Well, this priest was worrying about the Apostolic School, since he had received in his house a couple of ex-pupils from the Legion?s apostolic school, Mary-sur-Marneboys who had been removed from the school by their parents. He told me he had noticed that these teenagers were struggling with difficulties to live in community. Most of them were presenting the same syndromes. In brief, he told me that these boys had great difficulties when dealing with girls, money and authority. They had several kinds of complexes, very concerning. He told me, for instance, that when they met girls, they became totally crazyunable to have a normal conversation with them. He also explained to me that they had clearly selfish tendenciesbeing unable to participate gratuitously in service to the community.
To go deeper and be able to understand the cultic mechanisms at stake in the Legion, I needed some tools that traditional philosophy could not offer. Some friends spoke me about a book written by a French psychoanalyst, Macha Chmakoff (I know, the name sounds Russian, but she is French). This psychoanalyst had written Le Divin et le Divan after having worked for many years with people leaving new religious orders or movements. I read the book three times, totally amazed by so much intelligence. I found her phone number and I called her. I needed to know if she had known the Legion when she wrote her book, but she did not.
This book, and other readings, helped me, progressively, to understand what was going on, on the other side of the picture. The main difficulty in grasping the dysfunction of the Legion is that we are facing the problem of the visible vs. the invisible. Because the visible side is fascinating, it hides the invisible side, which becomes very difficult to understand. To get into the core of the problem… we need to follow the secret that the fox had taught to the Little Prince, after having been tamed by him: And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
According to psychoanalysis, sexual impulses are a structural strength that governs many aspects of our psychology. There is no need to see here something dirty, or shameful, but simply a natural aspect of our psychology, whose strength aims to reproduction and life. But because man is a rational creature, the sexual process is long, and difficult. Adolescents have to interpret these strengths, that areat the beginningtotally blind. The process of identification/castration leads children and adolescents to orientate their sexuality.
But, because of the rational and social aspects of our nature, this process is not as easy as we would think. It seems to me that it is important to lay this down first, because I thought at the beginning that the Legion was fostering a representation of the priesthood that was impregnated with homosexuality. But after reflection, I understood that the problem was not so simple, and could be even cutting and unfair. In other words, the problem is not homosexuality, but sexual frustration and perversion.
Because sexuality is a natural strength, it creates in our psychology a continuous tension that becomes particularly strong during adolescence. Teens usually feel surprised and sometimes frightened to discover their inability to control their impulses. The only way to finally overcome this difficulty is through another process, which is more spiritual, indeed: it deals with love.
Now, since love is not created by the strength of the will, but by the kindness of its object that deepens a desire in the heart, there is a normal process of taming requiring time, respect and liberty. And because love is a personal process that also leads us to others, it can fit with sexuality, by channeling the impulses in a way of expression and of gift. In the case of religious celibacy, sexuality is never denied, but channeled. Most of mystics have spoken about that, using indeed the words of sexuality to express the union with God.
But if this process is not respected, it means that people are denying their humanity, the very aspect that makes us different from a dog, or a chimpanzee. And the subconscious perceives it as a trauma. In the case of religious celibacy, it may leads to dramatic consequences. If the process of taming is not perfectly respected, the will cannot grasp and embrace its object, and, by way of consequence, when the natural impulses get stronger, for any reason, the subject will not have the ability, out of love, to peacefully overcome the temptation. As the roots of a tree sometimes destroy a wall to find a way to the water, repressed sexuality leads men to find other ways of satisfaction.
This is where, in my opinion, the sexual perversions of Maciel are able to reproduce themselves in the system. This is not only a problem of the pedophilia chain (i.e. some people who have been abused are likely to reproduce that abuse) but a problem of structure. Of course, I do not mean that all the Legionaries are frustrated, but that the climate, the atmosphere created by a system in which most of the members:
-have joined the group because they have been the prey of a vocational recruiter, -have joined the group, at a very early age, sometimes even before beginning the process of sexual maturation, -have lived, for years, in a context of guilt, with no place for privacy during the period of adolescence, -have lived, for years, in a kind of
far away from the reality, and where any picture of femininity is banned, -have been compelled to follow a rhythm of life, denying any kind of liberty, since individuals have to renounce themselves for the sake of the group, -have been asked to renounce any kind of real friendship and to repress all their affections, constitutes the most fertile ground for generating sexual frustrations. It is therefore totally useless and illusory
to try to curb the scourge of pedophilia, with a multiplication of controls when the system itself generates it. I do not think, actually, that my former novitiate companion who committed abuses in the French Apostolic School was a pedophile at the beginning. But he was fragile. And I am afraid that the system has aggravated his fragility.
According to Macha Chmakoff, a morally coercive life leads naturally to a phenomenon of splitting of consciousness that can happen in two different ways: the splitting of the object, and the splitting of the subject:
The splitting of the object is a mechanism that allows the subject to split the object with which he is in relation in two parts: one good, one bad. The unconscious mechanism avoids acknowledging that the object is both good and bad; Thus, it can be and remain idealized. Instead of accepting the shade and ambivalent reality, the subject cuts the object in a good part, with which he remains in relation and that he keeps on idealizing, and he denies the existence of the other part, which is bad.
The religious environment offers possible ways of deploying this mechanism of splitting.
The world, as some believers depicted it, is split in two parts, between the faithful and the unfaithful, the allies of the faith and their enemies. This splitting is rooted in an archaic foundation, that of Manichaeism. In a more general way, any reality is classified in good or bad. What is good immediately is drawn into comparison with what is bad, in counterpoint. The criteria of judgment borrows more from personal values and the loyalty toward one?s environment than to religious values. The way of dressing, of decorating the house, of receiving guests, of expression, nothing escapes his judgment and binary classification. In view of the external reality, the person is in a higher position. He rejects anything that he doesn?t know, and avoids any kind of reappraisal. He identifies himself with what has been labeled good. By this system he defends himself (Macha Chmakoff, Le Divin et le Divan, pp 52-53).
But in reality, this system becomes a spiritual trapespecially for those aspiring to holinessshutting them in an illusion.
According to Macha Chmakoff: when the psychoanalytic structure of the self ideal, which is like an internal compass, is replaced by the collective ideal, consciences do not to do any work of evaluation. Indeed, all acts are pre-judged on the simple conformity or non-conformity with the norms stipulated by the collective ideal. When the conscience is treated that way, it atrophies and loses its competence. The collective ideal ends up replacing not only the self ideal, but even the conscience itself (Macha Chmakoff, Le Divin et le Divan, p.90).
While the realm of conscience is progressively reduced, the speech becomes more and more repetitive, simple and right-thinking. The religious becomes unable to deal with problems that do not fit with his template. Sexual scandals appear to him as defeating his ideal. So, he excludes it from any interpretation. Confronted by reality, in order to protect himself he is tempted to deny and delete it from his mind.
The second aspect developed by Macha Chmakoff, is the splitting of the subject:
The ego splits in two parts, without any relations between them, while the subject is not aware of that. This mechanism of self defense constitutes the core of the perverse structure, in which the subject works simultaneously in two registers that are incompatible with each other. On one hand, the subject is adapted to the reality; on the other hand, he commits reprehensible acts. As in other mechanisms of defense, the splitting of the self is a strategy to fight against the anguish and the depressive collapse. Nevertheless, it can become the mean for the subject to find his pleasure in the exploitations of the others, until their psychic, or even physical, destruction.
The extreme modality of that is pedophilia. The expression of the sexual deviance is paradoxically supported by environments supporting morality, justice, and the respect for others. Indeed, one of the forms of pleasure of the pervert, in general, and of the pedophile, in particular, beside the psychic and physical exploitation of others, is linked to the dissimulation of the transgression.
The splitting of the self may be oriented toward the pursuit of pleasures that are not directly sexual. A priest or a religious may be seductive without having committed any reprehensible acts. Conformity to morality remains intact, but the pursuit of gratifications of different kinds is excessive and not always conscious, as to compensate a non integrated abstinence for a really spiritual life. They can unconsciously give themselves the power of becoming indispensable, by arousing an admiration, defending themselves from having provoked it. But, once again, it is their human evolution that suffers as a result. They are becoming more and more divided, between a poor style of life, and an attachment, partly unconscious, to many narcissistic satisfactions. (Macha Chmakoff, Le Divin et le Divan, pp 55-60)
The Problem of Fanaticism
From the middle of the month of January I became the object of many attacks: someone used my email address to register on some dating websites, with profiles of a sexual pervert, and on a great quantity of porn web sites. They were trying to frighten meas they could. I also received many bitchy phone calls, to bother me all the time, even in the middle of the night, to prevent me from sleeping. I began to worry, because I was getting aware that those people, unfortunately, did not have any limits. I was beginning to fear for my life. I had to make regularly records of those events for the police.
One day, the host of my blog wrote me to tell me that I was the object of a complaint. But to do so, the accuser had had to write to my web host, without thinking that the host would forward me his letter of complaint. I recognized immediately the style of many ignominious comments that I had received on my blog. His complaint was garbled and unclear… he was even accusing me of having deleted the comments he had posted on my blog, proof that I was slandering the Legion of Christ and not being opened to discussions (when I think to the disgusting comments that I had to remove… it’s chilling!)
Well, it was not very difficult to answer this complaint, and fortunately, the host rejected the complaint. I guess my answer made them laugh.
Now I could finally identify my persecutors, or at least one of them, because, by some cross checking, I suspected a small group of 4 or 5. Most of them were ex pre-candidates, still under the influence of the Legion. One day, I got the full version, because one of them, who had participated to these attacks, felt regret, and confessed the whole truth to me. He explained to me that Vincent had set the whole section of young RC members of Paris against me. He was the one who manipulated them. Some of them maybe too impressionable had decided to take justice into their own hands.
At the same time, however, those free and violent attacks led me to understand another aspect of the problem: the methodology of the Legion leads to some kinds of fanaticism. People taken in by the ideology lose their ability to distinguish good from bad.
I would like to deepen this point a little bit:
Men build their moral judgment progressively, mostly during their childhood and their adolescence. How do they form this judgment? Quite simply, by exercising it. One of the most delicate parental tasks is to accompany the child along this process which leads to autonomy. It consists of giving advice, examples and sometimes reproachesbut most of all the freedom to make mistakes. Through the experiences of their own mistakes (and successes) children discover, step by step, how to adapt the principles of morality to the complexity of reality.
They understand, progressively, that the end does not justify the means, or to be more precise, that some means are better suited to some ends, because there is a natural relationship between the means and the endswith the result that choosing some means rather than others provides a testimony that we are indeed looking for the best end. Sometimes it happens that the best endtaking account of the complex reality and of other principles of morality (as for instance the fact that people cannot be used as mere means)cannot be fulfilled immediately. A good moral judgment consists in being able to choose the best means. Good ends and good intentions are not enough, and as we say in French: l’enfer est pave de bonnes intentions (the road to Hell is paved with good intentions).
But now, the drama of the Legionary formationand above all in the apostolic schoolsis that the children are in a system where they do not have the ability to exercise and form moral judgments, since they are asked to follow a rhythm of activities that does not allow them to do that. In this setting, the discernment process of means-ends is simply short-circuited.
At the same time, the excess of religious activitiesmeditations, Masses, rosaries, conscience exams, spiritual readings, spiritual direction, etc.compel them to turn their look exclusively toward the end: the Kingdom of Christ. This is similar to the blinkers we put on horses, allowing them to look in one direction only. But this end is presented to them in such a dramatic and urgent way that it creates in their mind an existential anxiety. The mission to save the world against the enemies of the Church becomes an oppressive reality. Freedom towards their vocation is simply crushed: and that is not according to the will of God.
And as a result, they lose touch with reality, accepting many aspects of the methodology that are indeed totally immoral: the use of seduction and lies to recruit children for the Apostolic Schools, the classification of possible benefactors according to their means, etc. Another consequence is that they are willing to do anything to protect and defend the Legion. It is so shocking to think that these people, who look so nice and kind in their perfect world, could be so violent and heartless when they face unexpected threats against the Legion.
If the morality of our actions deals much more with means than ends -even if, as I have explained, there is a natural relationship between means and ends, so that if we choose bad means, it means that we are indeed not looking for the good end- it appears to me that what makes a man an adult is precisely his ability to distinguish correctly among the meansthe good ones and the bad ones. Sometimes it happens that to go from A to B we need to pass through C and D.
There’s a striking example about the moral confusion of Father Maciel. I have been told onceI don’t remember the exact circumstancesthat Father Maciel had watched a movie with the community. It so happens that this movie provided a reflection about precisely this principle of morality: The Patriot (with Mel Gibson and Jason Isaac), taking place during America?s Revolutionary war. The movie deals with two main characters: Benjamin Martin, an American, father of a large family and former successful soldier, who tries by all the means to avoid participating in a war that would damage the country; and Colonel Tavington, who leads a unit of British soldiers, repressing the insurrections through very cruel means. The movie is somewhat of a caricature, but the deeper reflection is worthwhile. Colonel Tavington thinks that all those who are disloyal to the British Crown deserve death, although by the final battle he is the corrupt one who is disloyal to the British Crown.
Now, in the last scene, there’s a great battle between the Continental-American Army and the British Army. After the first attack, the Americans are overwhelmed and start to retreat. Then the hero of the movie, Benjamin Martin, grasps the American flag, and rides into the battle. Seeing him, his companions are so impressed with his courage against the enemy that they turn back into the battle, and are ultimately victorious.
When Father Maciel saw this movie, he was totally fascinated. That’s what the Legionaries have to do in the Church! While everyone else flees from the battle, the Legion must turn into the battle, to save the Church. The paradox is precisely that he was identifying himself immediately with the good ones, while his life was indeed far closer to that of Colonel Tavington. How can a man reach the point of such enormous contradictions?
Some Words of Conclusion
As I finished my time as a seasonal worker, I began feeling much better, and I decided not to fulfill my dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail this year. I wanted to stay in the battle and could not allow myself to leave for six months of backpacking. Indeed, during this last month, I have been contacted by many journalists and have helped them understand the whole truth.
When I learned that Msgr. Blazquez in Spain and then Msgr. Chaput in the USA had agreed to ordain some Legionaries to the diaconate, I was dismayed. I recognized, once again, the Legionary strategy of seduction. It was a masterstroke: Legionaries had been able to get two of the Visitators to collaborate in the ordinations, and in that way to stick out their tongues at their critics. I was wondering how such a thing could be possible. I am not omniscient, but from what I know, I have more than a few doubts about the actual liberty of the seminarians and their ability to receive Sacred Orders, according to the law of the Church. How have the Legionaries been able to escape almost one year of investigation led by five authorities of the Church? I am still wondering.
It is always very difficult to criticize the judgment of the Church, but the first Apostolic Visitation has proven that the Legion was indeed able to manipulate and fascinate even the ministers of the Church.
Once again, I do not think that the Visitation was carried out correctly, for two reasons:
First, few ex members have been consulted. The methodology adopted for the Visitation was wrong from the beginning, and could not have led to better decisions. Meeting mainly Legionaries was not very useful, because they do not have the insight to help the Visitators, as I tried to explain through my testimony. There may have been some courageous ex members who dared travel to meet them, but they are so few in comparison with the hundreds of meetings they had with Legionaries.
Second, it did not take into account the compulsive need of Legionaries to defend their ideal, even by manipulating members: cutting discussions short in the name of charity, excluding dissidents, preventing Legionaries from knowing the whole truth about Maciel, etc.
Someone told me once: But, you are criticizing the judgment of the Church! You look like a Protestant! (Typical reductio ad protestantem). Well, you know, Protestants wear pants, and you wear pants, but that doesn?t make you a Protestant. I do not doubt the judgment of the Church authorities, but know clearly the ability of the Legionaries to manipulate them. And then, Church authorities are mensinners like you and me. If they don’t understand a problem, that does not mean that there is no problem. One of the greatest saints of my country, Joan of Arc, was once condemned by the Church authorities, and has been since declared a saint.
So I was not surprised by the letter of Msgr. Velasio de Paolis, only sad to see he had fallen so quickly into the trap. The affirmation that the Legion of Christ was undoubtedly a work of God brought to mind the Communique that the LC superiors had published in March 25th, that had struck me with the compassion they were showing toward the victims, which boiled down to: Sorry, guys, you have been fooled, raped, calumniated, manipulated and robbed, but it was mysteriously part of God’s will.
It was deeply unfair for the Delegate to reaffirm such a statement, and in my humble opinion, it even went against the second commandment which demands that we not use the name of God in vain. Once again the visible sideso seductiveis deceptive. Considering all the techniques used by the Legion to recruit and to keep its members, nothing proves actually the divine origin of the so-called Legionary miracle. Here, human causes and only humanare enough to explain the miracle. Who would dare to maintain that God has chosen a narcissistic pervert-pedophile-bisexual-liar-plagiarist-incestuous-manipulator to do God’s work?
In his letter, the Delegate used a subtle way to get rid of the doubts: The Founder’s responsibilities cannot simply be transferred onto the Legion of Christ itself; and yet one word in this sentence is used inadequately: responsibilities. We all agree that most of Legionaries are victims, and that they are not responsible for all the faults of their founder. But this is not the problem. The problem is that the whole structure of the Legion works like a cult, because the founder indeed transferred his frustrations and phantasms to the structure. Listening just a little to the victims is enough to understand the terrible wounds generated by a spirituality based upon guilt and seduction.
He could have said that the Legion through a deep conversion, including accepting the real history of the order and honest reparation to the victims could start on new foundations, and become, why not? a work of God. But he did not.
The most troubling aspect of the letter was the picture he painted of the world which justified the existence of the Legion:
Our current culture is secularized, infected with Immanentism and Relativism. Such a mindset is the hallmark of the culture of our times and of those who today shape opinion or are considered the drivers of culture. It is a matter of culture and therefore a matter of leadership, i.e.: of those who hold the reins of society in their hands. We have before us a society that no longer evinces personalities of Christian and markedly Catholic cultural depth. At the same time, we know that the faith cannot be pushed back merely to the private level.
I do not agree with him. And I go even further: this kind of discourse can only lead to foster proselytism instead of announcing correctly the Good News. The fear of the world is indeed one of the roots of the problem. And starting a mission by putting men in confrontation with the world, naturally leads them to consider the world from above, which contradicts what Christ taught us by his example.
To illustrate this, I would like to tell a story that I have been told, some years ago, by my former instructor of novitiate. I do not remember precisely the circumstances or details, but he told us that one day, a prelate of the Vatican came to see Father Maciel with a small statue of the Virgin Mary shedding tears of blood. It was during the time that Father Maciel appeared to the Church authorities like a Saint Francis of Assisi, or a Padre Pio. So the Church authorities came to him, thinking he was divinely inspired and could give a confirmation of the miracle.
Father Maciel took the little statue in his hands, and said to the prelate that he believed indeed that it was a miracle, adding that it was not surprising at all, considering the millions of abortions committed every year in the world.
The prelate, as well as all the Legionaries who had witnessed the scene, were won over by the perceptive judgment of Father Maciel.
But they have been all fooled. The interpretation of Father Maciel was awful, since he shifted the fault onto one category of people, excludingof coursehimself. Christ teaches us not to judge, if we do not want to be judged. Becoming the judge of our neighbors through this kind of argument leads us to deprive the women who abort of any kind of redemption. And that’s a serious sin.
Don’t be afraid, and do not accuse the world too strongly for its sins, because it is God?s baby. The best way to announce His Mercy to the world is by being part of the world, by recognizing first one’s own weaknesses, and being close to the littlest ones.
God is not a bogyman or a tyrant, but a GOOD FATHER. When all is said and done, this is the only important thing.