Borrowing From JFK’s Legacy
Catholics and non-Catholics discover the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement in various ways. Some are invited to join in the good works of the group, which are its various apostolates. Others are invited by friends, co-workers or acquaintances to take part in events sponsored by the group; and now we discover that the rest of us may be forced to live as though we were members by means of judicial fiat in the United States. We’ve been assured that the methodology is particularly blessed by God, – but how much each person appreciates this gift may vary.
The apostolates are ubiquitous. One need simply visit such websites as Mission Network to see the breadth of groups sponsored by the Movement. The ready-made array of pre-formulated clubs and activities was described by one member as similar to spreading out a picnic blanket. Voila! They’ve created something for everyone, from young children to businessmen, from fashion-savvy teenagers to medical professionals.
The apostolates all share the same two outward features: 1. incorporation into a world-wide organisation that appears to take Catholic orthodoxy seriously, and 2. dedication to living that faith through the filter created by its founder, Marcial Maciel. And yet they all share two non-negotiable hidden features: 1. each group shall not only be financially self-sustaining but also raise funds to send to the Legion; and 2. all available participants shall be used to increase the membership of the Movement according to their state in life. Recruiting and fund-raising are the life’s blood of the group.
Recruiting is pursued through a variety of paths, each of which is critical to the Legion. Any visible support by respected Catholics is a coup for the group, because it enhances the Legion’s credibility in the wider community. Speakers, writers, community leaders, professionals, those who hold public office each are invited to participate in its diverse activities or to be honoured at their events. Whether or not the person in question even knows that the Legion is ultimately sponsoring the activity, the photo op that ensues adds to the prestige of the congregation. The potential recruits in each category are mightily impressed that Legionaries and their friends are asked to operate in the highest, most elite circles possible.
Remarkably, the third way to spread the methodology of the Legion is by court order. One critical filter that Maciel placed on his group was a device called gospel charity,? though which all members are enjoined from criticising the methodology, from detracting from the founder or other members, and from grumbling about the way one might be treated by his superiors. Described as a necessary virtue to minimize back-biting and eliminate distractions from promotion of the Kingdom,? the members are made to understand that any negative thoughts or actions against the group are sins against God. The Movement, they are told, was called into being by the Holy Spirit and approved in every detail by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, thus to criticize the methods of the Legion would grievously offend God and undermine the very mission of the Church.
Through an astonishing series of events harrassment of former members and lawsuits against its critics alert Catholics are beginning to realise that the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement are using the US legal system to their own advantage, so that criticism, detraction, and grumbling are actually punished by the courts. Those who are guilty of the above will be sued into silence and one of the private vows (never to criticize the Legion and to report anyone who does, which even the Vatican has abrogated) will now be enforced on all parties, whether members of the Movement or not.
If the Legion has its way in the current lawsuit against ReGAIN, then all information detailing conversations critical of the Legion will be handed over to the plaintiff: emails, letters, depositions, names of collaborators, and (most importantly) evidence revealing who inside the Legion houses has asked for help in past years. The irony of the current case is that suppression of speech, the bullying of thought, the strong-arming of distention has been systematically packaged as virtue, and the desire to freely associate and to speak one’s mind is subsequently labeled a conspiracy. Thereby, the application of the Legion’s definition of charity and unity will demand that everyone live by the statutes of the Movement or face serious consequences.
Ich bin ein Regnum Christi Member!
Irony is found on another level as we recall John F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech in Berlin. There he used an inspired phrase to show the West’s solidarity with those oppressed behind the Iron Curtain, Ich bin ein Berliner! Until the Cold War ended and the citizens of the Eastern Bloc nations could live in freedom, he inferred, we all suffered we were, in a sense, all Berliners.
True to form, the Legion has once again turned reality on its head. Countless former Legionaries, Regnum Christi members and their families who have suffered in various ways from the methodology of the Legion have turned to Regain for support for years, and yet the Congregation founded by the since-disgraced Maciel positions itself as vanguard for the faithful. His loyal sons have now turned the page to offer a new way of living the methodology: Incorporation by Gavel.
We are all Regnum Christi Members now, and we’ll live Gospel charity by their definition, or be silenced in the courts. All for the Kingdom, All for Christ.