Xavier Leger, a French ex-Legionary continues to share his struggles during and after his years of experience in the Legion. This second installment tells how he began to overcome the self doubts that were implanted in him and began to discover that the spirituality, the leadership and the founder were flawed.
Describing the Legion concept of religious discipline as
nothing but spiritual rapehe paints a picture of the anxiety, guilt, humiliation, loneliness and unbearable silence that he experienced while inside the Legion and the confusion and frustration as he tried to share what he had learned and his emotions with his superiors.
Here is Part 2 of his story:
False Appearances of Holiness
So, this is how my first weeks in the seminary of Paris began, which in contrast revealed the lack of morality of my former superiors… After that, keeping on my path to the priesthood became very difficult. Past and present were mixing up all the time in my mind. All was lies, lies, lies… All around me, all the years I had spent in the Legion. All lies.
But I still lacked some of the keys to be able to interpret all that. I received those keys during a retreat in Tressaint, a
Foyer de Charite, located in the west coast, a couple of days before Christmas, 2008.
The priest chosen to preach this retreat to the seminarians was an old and very humble man. He dedicated the retreat, the
spiritual fight, based upon some passages of the Book of the Genesis. One thing he said then struck me deeply. He explained indeed there was something
curious about the two trees of the Garden of Eden. Indeed, there is a contradiction between Gen 2,9 and Gen 3, 2-3. The latter states:
The woman said to the serpent, From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said,
You shall not eat from it or touch it or you will die.
This affirmation is not true. The tree that the text had specifically located
in the middle of the Garden, in Gen 2, 9, was the tree of life. Why did the woman only speak about
thetree, as if the other one, the tree of life, did not exist?
The priest told us that this could mean that she was really not aware that there were two trees in the Garden. Maybe she had been informed in the past, but over time, the prohibited tree had taken the place of both, as if the tree of knowledge was the tree of life, making the latter disappear behind its branches and leaves.
From this idea, the priest continued his meditation about the
false appearances of holiness, describing how we can be seduced in our life by some very beautiful fruits, that are
a delight to the eyes, that have all the appearances of holiness, but only the appearances, because they
stop us in our journey, and lead us to turn around toward ourselves, in a context of narcissism.
He went through a full description of those
false appearances of holiness. He described all the traps of a spirituality based upon appearances. The main problem of those traps is that they
freeze us in a fixed, one-way life, while the very principle of the Christian life is precisely to be a journey of freedom. He explained to us how those
false appearances of holiness led us to get fossilized, and, as a result, unresponsive to the actions of the Holy Spirit, which are always uncontrollable.
During this meditation he had described, unintentionally, the whole spirituality of the Legion. This meditation helped me to put words on the intuitions I was constantly dealing with. I was finally becoming aware of the real threat that the Legion could introduce into the whole Church, and which could be summarized in one word: narcissism. And, according to the priest, narcissism leads naturally to the unpardonable sin, the
blasphemy against the Spirit.
Everything became clear in my mind. I was now able to go forward: the whole spirituality of the Legion was not holy or even healthy. Indeed, there was no spirituality in the Legion, but an enormous spiritual trap, a great bluff.
Now, this anti-spirituality was absolutely the fruit of Maciel’s thought. When this latter had died, some months before, I remember that I had come to the chapel, and said to him
Well, I am maybe wrong, but I do not understand you. If you are really a saint, I ask you to please intercede for me and help me to understand you. I smiled thinking in my naivety,
No, Maciel was not a saint, because there is no holiness in the Legion, since, on the contrary, the Legion is nothing but a trap for people aspiring to holiness.
And because all the anti-spirituality of the Legion was the very fruit of his will, it could not be what it was supposed to be. Now, considering that narcissism is also the root of many sexual perversions, I came to the conclusion that the accusations of pedophilia were true.
There is an American movie
Groundhog Day that describes with sharpness this link between narcissism and sexual perversion: At the beginning, Phil Connors, the principal character, who is a very ego-centric man, tries by all the means to seduce Rita, his personal coach. A prisoner of time, in a day that restarts over and over, he follows his instincts and personal desires without any attention to the rest of the world or to the old tramp that dies in the cold winter… all his life revolves around himself. And the way he tries to seduce Rita, learning all the details about her tastes, dreams and customs is the manifestation of a very perverse mind. He wants her for himself. But why is he so
in love with Rita? Because Rita is a nice and generous person.
Here is the point: the ego-centric Phil feels attraction for the generous Rita. Why? Because she is happy and he is not. He is not in love; he is fascinated by her joy. And, because he is not able to interpret correctly this fascination, his only way to interpret it is through his sexuality.
This is the key to understanding many sexual perversions, especially against children: a desire to
steal the grace from them. The opposite of love is not hatred, but possession. And now, it was obvious, at least in my eyes, that Maciel was guilty of the accusations of pedophilia; it appeared to me that the whole
anti-spirituality of the Legion originated from the same root of sexual depravity. I came to this conclusion a bit more than a month before the official revelation about the double life of Maciel.
The Double Life
On February 5th, I received a letter from Brother V. C.,
who was at this moment the personal secretary of Father Corcuera explaining through many circumlocutions that
our Father founder, Father Maciel, that we love so much and we will always love as being our founder despite his limitations, his falls and sins, has in the past made some mistakes, unfitting with the sacerdotal condition.
The letter was long, and full of contradictions. He was warning anybody not to judge Maciel, since the only one who can judge is God. He added:
One thing is sure: this man has taught us to love God and our brothers. This is the only thing that I would like to remember from his life. He repeated a couple of times, that Father Maciel had sinned
as each one of us…, and that, for sure, the Legion was not his work, but undoubtedly the work of God. Brother V. ended up his letter saying:
This has nothing to do by the way with the accusations of pedophilia against him from a long time ago.
So, I was not so surprised by this news; it was even a confirmation, and, in some way, a relief. His last point about the charges of pedophilia was absurd, and clumsy. It was a desperate and ridiculous way to hide the wood behind the tree.
When I first received the information, I felt uncontrollable laughter. For more than two or three minutes I laughed about this totally irrational and incredible news; so, this is Maciel, the holy Maciel, the son of saint Mama Maurita, prepared from all eternity to give birth to the man that would save the Church (taken almost word by word from the Second General Chapter).
But, after that, I sat down and began to cry. I wept as a child, considering all the consequences: for the Church, for my former companions, considering that all the former accusations were true, and that the head of the Legion was someone lacking the slightest degree of morality. I wept thinking of my experience in the Legion, about the time I spent in a state of anxiety, trouble, of guilt.
Here are some parts of the letter I sent to V:
I thank you for your mail and for your trust.
Personally, I am not surprised. I may scandalize you, but I had perceived for a long time that there was something wrong with the spirituality of Father Maciel. Just looking at some of his letters, or at the practical exams… is enough to catch it. I remember a conference that he gave us in 2002, in Salamanca. He had spoken very aggressively about those Legionaries who
were wearing a mask, and
were leading a double life. He spoke about eternal damnation… and I was thinking to myself: how can this man say such things to young novices, most of whom were still adolescent, far away from their families, living such a tough life…? How could he make them feel guilty that way? I do not think that we help a man to grow by humiliations and guilt.
You know that we used to say that
we judge others as we are. This is a great principle of psychology. It seems to me that Father Maciel has simply transferred to his spirituality the fears of his own sins. Do not be saddened: this is very good news, indeed.
Needless to say, his reaction was very violent. With a great measure of arrogance he answered with a long letter to make me understand that I was lacking charity, that I needed to apply the principle
We judge others as we are to myself, that I should read Saint Therese of Lisieux, etc, etc. He tried to explain to me that if I was feeling bitterness about my former experience in the Legion… and that this was maybe because I had problems of conscience, implying that I may not have been faithful to my Legionary vocation.
I was upset with his reaction, and shocked by his manner of making me feel guilty. There was not the slightest doubt. I was witnessing that he had fallen into a very deep state of psychological anxiety. He was acting like a wounded dog biting anyone who touched it.
I answered again a long letter. In vain.
Meeting Father Jacques
For a couple of months, Father Jacques Dupont, superior of the community of Paris had asked to meet me. He was embarrassed by the open criticism I had expressed to my bishop and to some other priests of the diocese. Finally, I accepted his last request that he had sent me some days after Christmas. I wanted to get rid of him, and thought the best way would be to have a long discussion. I had already built my own opinion, and I was able to argue, I invited him for lunch on February the 14th.
But the revelation of the double life of Maciel occurred between my invitation and the lunch. So, I was naively thinking that he would have changed his opinions about me and the objectivity of my concerns. But he did not. I tried to keep calm, to explain quietly my thoughts. In vain.
When I dared to say that Maciel was probably guilty of the charges of pedophilia he became angry and answered that we should be prudent, and stick only to the facts –
It is impossible for us to know if those charges are true, because they are too old, and full of contradictions. We will indeed probably never know.
All that, all I got during the lunch was a haughty look and snickering about some of my remarks. He had
answers for everything, with no room for the slightest doubt. He responded like a robot. There was no possibility for discussion between us. I was already too far away from his world. I had to get rid of the ideology. He was still in it.
I told him that I was aware of two cases of pedophilia in the Apostolic School. But he told me I was exaggerating. He said it was not a big deal, only a few caresses, irrelevant in the cases of pedophilia. Then he told me that there was a police investigation in process. I was surprised, because I thought that the Legion had been able to hush up the scandal. At that time, I was not aware of this aspect of the issue and was taken by surprise (afterwards, I would discover that the Legion had been able to protect itself, despite the investigation).
After no more than one hour, I gave up any attempt to have a real discussion. He was always right, and I was always wrong. So, there was no point in going further. But, at a certain point, he turned the conversation on me. And he said:
I do not understand clearly. Do you really want to become a priest? But, but, but you certainly know that a priest is a man of peace. How will you be able to become a priest if you are not looking for peace?
My greatest fault is to be always too naive. And I did not expect such an argument. He was sure of himself, and looked at me as we usually look at someone to give him serious advice. I was not as strong as I thought or rather I had not even imagined that he could say such thing. This accusation was pathetic, and I was devoid of any riposte. He was turning the problem onto me, as usual, challenging me to become a priest.
I asked him to leave. I had nothing left to say to him.
Opening My Eyes
After that, the end of the year in the seminary became more and more difficult to bear. I needed to know the whole truth about Maciel because I knew that I would not be free until I could get the whole truth. But my spiritual guide did not understand me. As my superior, he wanted me to turn the page, and to concentrate on myself and my present formation.
During the last years, I had been through a long process of healing and re-interpretation: passing from some intuition to a conceptualization of the cult-like behaviors of the Legion. This intellectual process was very painful, because it was based on supposing that I acknowledged my own mistakes. The Legion makes its members become, at the same time,
victim and butcher: there is no way to be able to formulate a serious criticism without having acknowledged that I had also accepted, consciously, some of the sectarian principles of the Legion.
I was worried, because I was aware that the Legion had been able to infiltrate most of the main offices of the Holy See. I knew that during the previous decades the influence of the Legion inside the Vatican had grown so much that some aspects of its methodology were penetrating slowly and steadily into all the main organs of the Church. Even if the Legion is able to adapt its methodology to train diocesan priests, trainers of diocesan seminaries, and even bishops some aspects of its methodology, including the false appearances of holiness, the hierarchical vision of the Church, the
erotic picturing of the priesthood, etc. were penetrating into Catholic culture. I remembered how one of my former superiors in the Legion had reported proudly that Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, the Prefect for the Congregation of the Bishops, had chosen to hold the annual training for the new bishops at the Center of Study of the Legion, in Rome, because
he wanted to show them that it is possible. So, the Legion template was pointed out by the greatest authorities of the Church as
the ideal way to imitate without paying attention the reality of the system behind the appearances.
I suspected the Legion of to be, indeed, a kind of virus that was actually contaminating the whole Church. And the Church was indeed very receptive because She was struggling with the drama of the massive de-Christianization of the western world. The Legion had confused the concepts of evangelization and seduction. So the Legion was giving to the Church
the apparent solution for which She was desperately looking.
In some ways I had also participated in this amazing attempt to penetrate the Church and to attack Her from within, using the good will of the Legionaries. During the next months I spent a lot of time thinking about that. It felt like there had been a bomb put inside the Church. And I was in some way responsible for that.
The diabolical genius of Maciel was that he had been able to penetrate the Church and to attack Her from within, using the good will of the Legionaries. This is absolutely brilliant. Having convinced his followers that they had to save the Church and to serve Her
hasta morir en la raya[to the death]: they were introducing into the Church some false principles. It appeared to me that the toxicity of the Legion was paradoxically proportional to the
holiness (or more exactly the
dedication) of its members. The more perfect crime is the one that does not leave any trace but that leads the victim to his own suicide. Could it be possible? Could the Legion be an instrument in the hands of the Devil to lead the Church, by her own hand, to Her own destruction?
The story of the Church is full of heresies but in the case of the Legion the problem was different. We were not dealing with doctrinal issues but interestingly with an excess of
apparent orthodoxy. Is there a problem with being
too faithful to the Magisterium of Peter? Well, we have to consider that, as I already said, the life of faith is a journey; we are traveling from one place to another. Jesus, during the three years he spent with the disciples did not
impose his divinity on his disciples: He led them from their personal background to understand gradually some aspects of His real identity. The pattern established by Maciel in the Legion was quite the opposite; from the very beginning, you have to kneel, and to follow a rhythm of life denying indeed any kind of liberty and, as a result, the natural path of love that requires time and taming, according to the fox in the Little Prince of Saint Exupery.
There’s no doctrinal heresy in the Legion, but difficult pastoral issues, leading nevertheless to some kinds of subtle heresies, because the contradictions between the message of the Gospel and the Legionary way of life necessarily lead to twisting some concepts. Here is the main problem: some words do not have the same meaning when spoken by a Legionary than when said by Jesus: freedom, charity, self-denial, holiness, sacrifice, all those words, in the mind of a Legionary, convey specific meanings forged by a way of life and a spirituality that does not allow him to think otherwise. This is the problem of the
signifier and the
Life in the Legion is an absolute, an ideal that Maciel dreamed to make real on earth. But men are not angels. After having laid the principles of the perfect life, Maciel taught his followers that their paths to holiness consisted in living in this wonderful world, as well as possible. There was no room for personal doubts. No room for discernment. No room for thinking differently. No room for breathing apart. Holiness does not consist in the expression of personal will but will indeed, to the contrary, a self denial ordered to fitting in with the way of life of the group. The more you deny yourself, the holier you are.
This concept, though using different words, is not much different from other heresies. The fact is that it forms frustration in us. As the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal said:
Man is neither angel nor beast; and the misfortune is that he who would act the angel acts the beast. A life of denial naturally creates frustrations, i.e. double personalities. The vision of God and of His mercy is also twisted since the Legion leads its members to admit that God has a singular way-of-life for them, with no freedom. If so it means that, in the end, God does not really love me
for myself, but only for
His own glory. I am nothing but a means, a simple tool.
The dream of Maciel was the result of his personal frustration. We cannot live on earth, as if we were already in Heaven. In fact, this attempt to have a perfect life could actually be a good image of Hell. The Center of Studies of Rome is the achievement of the perfect life pictured by Maciel: all is perfect. It is a world in itself, where everything is clear, nice and orderly. There is no need to go outside, since everything you need is inside: even two swimming pools, a dental practice and a gas pump. Life in the Legion is designed like the mechanism of a clock. It’s as if we were using the Jacob’s s ladder to build the tower of Babel.
But this system, so fascinating, is nothing but a means of crushing personality and generating frustrations. The perversity of the system is evident in the fact that the more you pray the more you move away from God a strange contradiction that I have witnessed through so many testimonies. In this sense, religious discipline in the Legion is nothing but spiritual rape. And the worst thing about rape is that when it happens to a woman she struggles afterward throughout her life with this psychological wound because the act of love will always remind her of the violence of rape.
But the strength of the Legion consists also in making you feeling guilty for not being in love with your vocation. Here we find the worst aspect of the perversion: The Legion leads us to lie to ourselves. Indeed, most of those who were affirmed with conviction their happiness, turned out confessing, sometimes ten or twenty years after having left the order, that they were suffering. The Legion issue is a very interesting subject for psychologists: how men are able to convince themselves that they are happy, while they are enchained.
Since becoming more aware of the threat that the Legion posed to the Church, I felt impotent, being merely a poor seminarian. I was not allowed to speak, and the silence in which I was immersed became unbearable. Nobody could understand me. I was feeling so lonely.
In France the revelation about the double life of Maciel did not make any scandal in the media, only a few lines in some newspapers. How strange, Maciel, who spent his life crying wolf and denouncing his enemies, got nothing but the greatest indifference at the revelation of his double life.
Problems with my Superiors
Even in the seminary of Paris I began to feel like a stranger. My superior did not understand me and reproved me strongly without even having tried to understand what I was going through. This arrogance, and the inability to hear, made me feel worse. How could they have believed me? It was too big, too improbable, like someone startled at seeing a mouse who does not pay attention to the elephant. They could not imagine the seriousness of the trouble I was dealing with.
I have to say something here to explain a little bit more about my psychological state in relation to obedience.
As I already said, I am a very emotional person whose main characteristic is to be naturally enthusiastic. The fault of this quality is the lack of self-confidence. That’s why I never feel comfortable with people that have too much authority. Some circumstances of my personal history have led me to often feel guilty and to lose my convictions and my ability to speak when someone attacks me. On the other hand, other events of my personal history had taught me to be fair and honest. Both aspects have created in me a personality in which rash judgments easily become a personal drama.
In the Legion, as I already said, I endured very harsh and totally unfair humiliation. I do not want to dwell on these events that belong to the past but I know they created in me very deep spiritual wounds. I was wounded because of my personal weakness and my lack of self-confidence. The worst thing about humiliation is to feel victimized by a totally irrational and free hatred, without any chance to explain the truth to the accuser because he is superior and needless to say that he is always right.
Some of my superiors in the Legion abused their authority in order to vent their anger on me. They were totally almighty and nobody could prevent them from doing it. During those years I learned to bow down in front of the most unfair attacks. While we were asked to live between us the legendary
Legionary charity I experienced the strongest lack of charity I have ever seen, from my own superiors.
So, after having left the Legion, dealing with people of authority has become a real issue. As soon as I started to experience manipulations, rash judgments, psychological abuses. I felt I was going crazy.
As I used to bow down in front of those people during so many years, I felt incapable of responding to the accusations of the superior of the seminary. And the anger began, once again, to grow in me.
Not again. Please, my Lord. Not any more. That’s enough… The superior of the seminary accused me of not being concerned for my own formation. The fact that I had changed from religious life to the diocesan way was suspect. The fact that I was still dealing with this issue was a proof I lacked the aptitude to become a priest. His judgments were strong and stark. I needed a superior who could help and support me. Instead I found once again a judge who totally misjudged me.
What’s Going on With The Church?
During the same period of time, three strong and successive incidents shook the whole Church.
The first one occurred in January: the Pope decided suddenly to withdraw the sentence of excommunication from the bishops who had been ordained by Msgr Lefevre. This decision was totally meaningless and for those who know a little bit more about the issue it was very shocking. The Society of St Pius X had a very aggressive speech against the Vatican II Church and cultivated ties with the National Front, a far-right political party. One of those bishops, Msgr Williamson, had openly expressed his doubts about the real existence of the gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps.
I witnessed the crisis from within the Church. Seminarians, priests and bishops were all appalled. Monsignor Vingt-Trois, the Bishop of Paris, got the information while reading his newspaper. One hour later journalists were knocking at his door asking for his official statement as President of the Conference of the French Bishops. Now the thing is that most of the people following this group are French and throughout the nearly ten year investigation, led by the Pontifical committee, Ecclesia Dei, French Bishops hadn?t been consulted about the issue.
There were some indirect ties between this issue and the Legion of Christ. First of all, both movements shared a fairly similar view of the Church Triumphant and a highly negative opinion about our times of decadence, together with a great measure of persecution complex. Second, the two prelates who had worked on the issue were Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos and Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. Both were very good
amigos of the Legion, unconditional defenders of its cause.
The second scandal occurred at the beginning of the month of March: Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of the coastal city of Recife, in Brazil, excommunicated the family of a nine year old girl who had been raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather. The family members had chosen to have the girl undergo an abortion. The Church excommunicated the doctors who performed the procedure as well. Rape is less serious than abortion, said the archbishop.
I am not a defender of the abortion cause, but I know that morality allows some exceptions on account of the double effect principle. Secondly, in this kind of awful situation, making such a strong judgment is totally out of context, and of charity. It was a pure media suicide. But the worst thing is that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re supported the Archbishop of Recife. This scandal, in France, led people to consternation.
The third scandal occurred a couple of days later. While Pope Benedict was aboard an aircraft to Africa, he answered some questions from the journalists. A French journalist asked him how the Church was dealing with the problem of massive HIV contamination in Africa. Pope Benedict made a tactless answer saying that
distribution of condoms aggravates the AIDS crisis. Now, in the context of his answer he was absolutely right. And, as a seminarian, I defended him steadily by circulating emails explaining the whole issue: The fact is that he was not speaking from a moral point of view, but from the sanitary politic perspective. Indeed, the only countries in Africa that have succeeded in curbing the scourge of contamination were the countries having fostered sexual abstinence and fidelity, by increasing the peoples? awareness of the risk of contamination from any sexual relations. One of my companions, in the seminary, who had worked for several years in Gabon, Africa, told me that the Pope was indeed absolutely right.
But this affirmation created an enormous scandal in France. It was much more serious than the other scandals, I think, because it was the Pope and not just some unknown and old cardinal of the Roman Curia. French political Alain Juppe, a Catholic and believer, revealed in an interview that he was very concerned :
This Pope is becoming a real problem. I have a feeling that he is in a state of total autism.
The real problem is that the Pope was right, but should have been informed that such an answer could easily be misinterpreted. If he had offered this clarification during the interview, saying perhaps
well, I won’t speak on a moral point of view, but only on a sanitary politic perspective. The Church is very concerned, because the scourge of AIDS keeps on growing in most of the countries of Africa, except those having conducted a policy of fidelity and abstinence, etc. he would have defused the scandal and really helped the cause.
So, living those scandals from within the Church was very depressing. I do not know how the scandals have been perceived in other countries but in France I can actually say that the Church lost Her remaining credibility. We can argue that the media are working against the Church, that the enemies of the Church are taking advantage of the situation to discredit Her, but the truth is that the Church authorities were not dealing correctly with the world, and therefore, were giving to the folks a theoretical speech, barely audible. And this was serious.
At that point, I could not prevent myself from making a connection between the
wonderful world of the Legionary way of life and the tactlessness of the authorities of the Church involved in those successive scandals. From a personal point of view, I admire Pope Benedict for his tremendous intelligence. I had read some of his books with delight but I was shocked and sorry about those scandals. Some people were telling me that they did not want to have their children baptized in the Catholic Church; for they were rejecting a Church that
The common point among the scandals was that the speeches of the Church authorities were only theoretical, far away from the actual reality which is always very complex. People are not able to comprehend this kind of speech or to live according to all the best principles of morality. And it is necessary to
adapt a speech, since the very first mission of the Church is to announce God’s mercy to all mankind.
Now, it appeared to me that the Vatican authorities were living too far removed from the world, locked in a kind of bubble – and the Legion was not guiltless for that, because they have fostered inside the Vatican such a veneration for the Pope and the Roman authorities, that they were creating a wall between the Vatican and the rest of the world. Each time the Pope greeted pilgrims from his window, there were hundreds of Legionaries and enormous groups of students coming from the Legionary schools, shouting tons of
We love you to the Holy Father. Even the normal attitude of obedience and respect toward the successor of Peter had been transformed into an ideology. While the Church authorities need people
on the ground to help them without giving up their principles of morality to adapt their speeches to the complex world, the fervent shouts of the Legionaries were there to cover up the dissonant voices of the suffering world and reassure the Church authorities:
Do not worry, Eminence, WE love you.
Idolization is not good, even with the Church authorities.
Leaving the Seminary, Once Again
The Church?s decision to conduct an investigation gave me some consolations. Always too naive, I really thought that the situation would be corrected. The visitors would discover the whole truth and the problem would quickly be put behind us. I could not imagine that the Legion would try to manipulate the Visitation.
I thought that my first duty was to inform the visitor for France and to meet with him. As soon as I learned that Msgr Blazquez was appointed by the Pope,
I sent him an email telling him that I was a former Legionary and an actual diocesan seminarian in Paris. I told him that I was very concerned about the situation of the Legion of Christ and that I was willing to meet him. He answered quickly that he would meet me when he came to Paris but in the meantime he invited me to send him my thoughts through registered mail.
So, I worked during all my free time taking my letter with me to Cardinal Vingt-Trois again and reviewing it in depth. The result was a 20-page letter, with 20 additional pages of documents. It was a lot of work written in French. I sent the letter in July, adding an introduction which explained that there were some other people (ex-Legionaries, concerned families and ex-consecrated women) who absolutely wanted to meet him because in the meantime I had been put in touch with other people who were like I was very concerned. I attached a list of those people, with a short description for each including their addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
During the previous several months I had been through a time of personal difficulties. I was exhausted, struggling between my concerns for the Legion and for the Church, and my personal formation in the priesthood. I had a kind of breakdown. When coming back to my room in the seminary I could not compel myself to study. I was feeling drained and disgusted.
So, during the month of July I escaped from my summer internship to make a retreat. With the advice of my spiritual guide (a wise Jesuit) I decided to take a break in my formation. I needed to breathe and I could not continue in the seminary at that time.
So, I sent an email to my Bishop explaining briefly that I had been very shaken during this last year because of the revelations about Maciel. Those revelations had led me to recognize and admit to even more personal consequences – all of which were painful and depressing. I told him that I needed time and that under the present conditions I could not continue my studies at the seminary.
My Bishop answered me in a very kind manner telling me that he understood me and he offered to help me in any way that he could. The doors of the seminary would remain open for me.