1. The Legion’s Appeal to Traditional Catholics.
The Legion gets members, money and support mostly from very Traditional Catholics because: it aligns itself unequivocally with the Pope, or Catholic Orthodox Doctrine as reflected in Papal Documents (in contrast to the
questionable Vatican II!) Legionary clergy are seen as exemplary priests in their teaching, in the their appearance and in their activities. The Legion also presents itself as very Conservative on all moral questions such as birth-control, abortion, euthanasia, female priesthood, gay marriage, and homosexuality. Nevertheless, an ex-member of the Ladies Regnum Christi explains that LC priests can flex Papal teaching on birth control if a member is sufficiently rich or
important. In a subtle way - and the LC/RC is usually subtle, and/or sly - it projects the image, attractive to Conservative Catholics, that it does not tolerate gays in its seminaries or in its ranks; though stories of pedophilia and sexual abuse in minor and major seminaries continue to dog the Legion. Their handsome, young and clean cut priests, chastely sacrificing heterosexual(?) love for Christ and the Church, are admired, adored by and very attractive to conservative Catholic females. Legionaries also follow the official Roman rubrics in an almost obsessive-compulsive way when administering the Sacraments, hearing confessions, and saying Mass holding the Host up for nerve-wracking extra seconds while they stare at it intently-. Thus they appear very
devout? to the faithful. The Legion/Regnum also flaunts its devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary,
just like Pope John Paul II?, and promotes praying the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, etc. This also appeals to Traditional Catholics who are hungry for these devotions of which they feel they were deprived by
liberal post Vatican II priests, parishes and orders.
2. Essence of problem with Legion and its practices:
A number of ex-members, dissenters and/or critics, believe that the Legion of Christ is cult-like, not in its doctrine but in it modus operandi: in the way it recruits, isolates, retains, and lets members go -see ex-member testimonies and relevant critique on Regain website regarding cult-like characteristics exhibited by the LC/RC; that it uses
coercive mind control in a subtle way under the appearances of great Catholic orthodoxy; that, despite these appearances, it is at variance with several essential aspects of true Catholicism and Canon Law. Question in point is how the Legion blurs the distinction between Superior, Confessor and Spiritual Director. This distinction, fundamental to safeguard a trainee/seminarian’s freedom of conscience and ensure the discernment process, is ignored by the Legion and Regnum Christi formation practice.
3. Stories from Cleveland, Houston, Detroit, Sacramento, Los Angeles:
We hear about young men and women being forcefully recruited by the Legion for the seminary and the RC consecrated life, against their parents’ wishes; the LC/RC recruiters quickly committing these young men and winning them over to
the cause?, in such a way that the young people disregard their parents’ wishes and values; we believe that these young people go through a hurried and flawed discernment process which favors their premature recruitment to the Legion. Once they are in it is very hard for them to leave; again because of the coercive indoctrination of the Legion/Regnum
formation? system which quickly convinces them they have a God-given vocation to the Legion they must be faithful to at all costs. As Legionaries or Regnum Christi consecrated members, who during formation have very little access to the outside world, they are likely to continue in their vocation until ordination or taking promises of
perpetual consecration. Even so, many young men and women leave the Legion/Regnum Christi Movement. They are often afraid or reluctant to speak out about their negative experiences because of shame of failure or because they are still under the influence of their previous indoctrination. After ordination, members have more freedom and exposure to the
outside world?. We believe that then they may question their allegiance to the Legion/Regnum. Hundred of members leave during their training and dozens after ordination.
4. What about defections from the Legion priesthood?
Here again the principle of
discretion?, or secrecy, rules whereby the Legion controls all outgoing and incoming information, preventing outsiders from access to any objective data. We believe the Legion under-reports the numbers of priests exiting and also employs other strategies to keep defections under covers. Some newly ordained men
unsupervised for the first time in over ten years- leave the Legion and the priesthood, while others seek to prolong their ministry in the diocesan ministry. Even then they are often afraid to criticize the Legion lest they be perceived as
disgruntled ex-members this might jeopardize their incardination into a diocese and/or their new Church careers; others fear the Legion might take reprisals against them, perhaps revealing some peccadilloes known to the superiors /confessor /spiritual directors if they criticize the Legion or do not do what they are told during their exiting. This fear will usually keep priest ex-members effectively muzzled. Family members of Legionaries or Consecrated lay members, young men and women, will abstain from criticizing the Legion for fear of retaliation against their family member in the ranks: s/he could be reassigned or sent away as a result of such criticism. The above reasons answer in part the question about why so few people want to go on record criticizing the Legion.
5. A story we hear is how some people from the Legion owned-schools have sued the Legion
For deceiving them after they signed up: the parents had committed money to tuition before they realized that the school was run by the Legion, or the Legion changed the bylaws after it took over, without consulting with parents. They sued the Legion and won; but the stress and expenses of the trial, where the Legion was defended by a lawyer from their Regnum Christi organization, was so severe it left the family in financial ruin. The Legion often makes a gag order a part of the settlement.
6. Another type of story is where one of the spouses is gung-ho Regnum Christi and the other not.
They begin to disagree about the intensity and style of their children’s
Catholic upbringing?, or, rather,
fanaticism?. The Legionary or Regnum Christi spiritual director supports the RC gung ho member. The spouses become estranged, may even go to court over custody, and some end up splitting, i.e. divorcing, in the name of Christ.
His Holiness the Pope supports the Legion and the Founder, Fr Maciel?
Yes, but maybe not to the extent the Legion/Regnum Christi would have us believe. The LC propaganda machine has exploited every single contact with JPII. They have an excellent web page, a news agency in Rome, Zenit, and a Catholic paper in the USA, the Register…So they milk all contacts to the maximum, exploiting photos of Fr Maciel with the Pope…embracing or kissing his Holiness. An article on Regain,
Not the Pope’s Favorites?, explains how the John Paul II did not mention either Fr Maciel, or the Legion, or the Regnum Christi in his recent memoir, Rise, Let us be on our Way, when discussing his relationship with current Catholic Lay Movements. Naturally, JPII was impressed by the Legion’s numbers of recruits, ordinations, institutions and financial strength. To further impress the Pope, the Legion for the most part ordains its priests in Rome, in some prominent Basilica, instead of in the priests’ home countries. That way the propaganda value is increased.
8. Maciel exonerated?
Hardly. In May 2005 the Legion very cleverly delivered a pre-emptive strike not to the investigation but to reporting on the investigation, by stating Maciel had been exonerated. The audacity and timing of their press release -a kind of bare-faced lie- caught many reporters and agencies off guard. At that time Regain discerned and held firmly to the truth amidst a storm of misleading reports:
It is simply not true that Maciel has been exonerated. The investigation is still underway by the corresponding Vatican body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which does not make statements until its investigation is over and the case is founded or unfounded; similar to the way Child Protective Services operate in most jurisdictions in the USA.?
9. The investigation into Fr. Maciel and the Legion of Christ in Rome
As we were initially drafting this article in May 2005, one more Regain member was called to Rome to present a statement to the Vatican investigator.
No doubts, maybes, or ifs?. We know. We bear witness and hope in the Church that things that were hidden will come to light.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never mastered it. [John 1, 5]
The widely reported Vatican statement one year later bore us out. Because decisions are hermetically sealed it has been impossible to learn officially whether the Vatican has imposed other private - sanctions on Legion Founder, Fr. Maciel, and on the superiors and institution. It can be held that the Vatican
invited? Fr. Maciel not to continue as Superior General in December 2004. Regain, however, is very skeptical about internally motivated changes in the Legion and Regnum Christ. The new Superior General, Alvaro Corcuera, was personally
parented from early adolescence by Fr. Maciel. He has publicly expressed his total filial adhesion to his father. Fr Maciel groomed Alvaro in Ireland during his adolescence and through his entrance into the male consecrated life. The real Legion power-holder appears to be the Rev. Luis Garza, L.C., who has worked closely with Fr. Maciel for decades. So, in this sense, there is no
changing of the guard?.
10. Some speculate that the Vatican may carry out an
internal audit? of the Legion
An Apostolic Visitation, similar to that in 1956-8, which was foiled by the Founder’s mind control of his subjects. Insider information reveals that Legion superiors have in fact been required by the Vatican to abolish the
private Vows?, specifically the rule about not criticizing the superior and squealing on whoever does. But our experience as former Legionaries, confirmed by inside the insider information, tells us that Legionaries will - in keeping with the founder’s intention - continue to follow
the spirit of the vows?. Even more, Legionaries believe in their heart of hearts that Ratzinger was wrong and that another pope will re-establish the good name of their Beloved Founder.