Ellen’s Story

This is one of a thirty part exposé on the Children of the Legion. This group of women, then girls, in the Regnum Christi, share their stories of abuse, neglect and the aftermath of being children in the Regnum Christi. For a complete list of stories to date, view Children of the Legion.


I was in the PC for four years, then consecrated until I left in 2009. I haven’t though through everything, but here are some of the things I think about my experience and the institution as a whole:

I had a lot of good experiences, but I don’t think the good should be attributed to the institution. I think the good experiences we had came from the people we were with. I know I met a lot of truly, deeply good people while in the Movement, and am still good friends with some of them. A lot of us deeply loved God and our Catholic faith, and genuinely and generously wanted to dedicate one or more years of our lives to discerning a possible vocation (PCs) or living a life of consecration in the Church (3GF), or just doing some form of good volunteer work in a Catholic context (coworkers). Because we were genuine, enthusiastic and eager to do good, many of us did indeed have good experiences – because of the goodness of our hearts, not necessarily the institution.

I agree with those that say you can’t blame everyone/everything involved in an institution for the sin of one man (MM) or a few (supporters). However, I think that’s a very weak defense. The story doesn’t end there. I didn’t leave RC because MM sinned. I left for two reasons:

1. I came to recognize that his sin was more than a personal sin. Given his position in the institution, he was able, whether deliberately or not, to ingrain the mentality behind his own actions into the overall functioning and methods of the institution.

2. Once the news had come out regarding MMs personal life, the abuse cases, and the need for reform of the institution, I don’t think RC/LC handled the situation correctly. First of all, the Gospel says, “The Truth will set you free,” yet the consistent approach taken was to withhold as much of the truth as long as possible. Even after the Vatican itself began sending communiqués, directors passed them down with a watered down explanation making everything seem “not so bad.” I don’t think the victims of abuse have yet been directly addressed and dealt with. I don’t mean to imply that LC/RC has withheld truth out of malice. There might be some cases where it has been done for some sort of power or gain, but it is also possible that, in many cases, denial is simply easier than acknowledging a truth that requires change. I know that surface level things have changed (e.g. shorts on outings for PCs, more free time, access to the internet for consecrated, etc.), but I don’t think the deeper issues have been addressed.

And, while acknowledging the truth and addressing the victims of abuse is very important, I don’t think that is the extent of the problem.

I believe that LC/RC hasn’t even begun, at least publicly, to address or reform serious flaws in the congregation that came about due to MMs leadership. These flaws pervade the fiber of the institution at all levels, and until they are addressed, true reform can’t even begin to happen. As long as LC/RC takes the position that, yes, MM, and some other LCs have sinned and made mistakes, but the institution itself is good, nothing will really change, even if consecrated now go around in sandals and ponytails.

As a specific congregation/Movement with its own identity, LC/RC basically became a “subculture” within the Church. There is no problem with subcultures that share the same values as the larger Church, but live them out difference (as the Dominican teaching order, for example, has a different religious culture than the cloistered Carmelites, but both are united with the greater Church in essence and differ in ministry and tradition). LC/RC, however has formed a subculture that mirrors (or at least mirrored) genuine Catholicism externally, but was really a perversion of it. Faith and reason are two very important dimensions of the human person, and I believe that LC/RC perverted both of them. Faith became blind, and often “dumbed down” obedience, in which there is a direct correlation between what the superior says and the will of God. This goes in direct conflict with the true Catholic teaching of conscience, which states that, in the end, we will be held accountable for what our conscience tells us. Yes, we have the responsibility to educate our conscience, but it is to be educated with the TRUTH and guided by reason – the opposite of suspending reason to blindly accept the word of another and assume that we are not responsible for our actions because they have been directed by the superior. And, reason has been perverted by being marginalized. Obedience is always more important than our reason, and even though LC/RC tells its members that they are free to think, it directs them as to how they should think, so the “reasoning” generally follows a set track that has been thought out in advance and fed to the members. Every time my reasoning led me to a different conclusion than what the directors/Movement said, I was “corrected” for being “too rational.” This is completely against true Christian philosophy, which sees reason as one of our greatest gifts from God and a means to bring us to him through the truth. I’m not saying our reason is always perfect, but I am saying that it shouldn’t be marginalized, overlooked, trampled on or put out of the picture. It should be respected and cultivated, not by telling us what to think, but by letting us think for ourselves, explore, discover, discuss, debate, and in the end, draw our own conclusions, even if they differ from the “party line.”

I believe that the greatest tragedy of the institution is not the life of the founder, but the harm it has caused in the lives of individuals and in the life of the Church it professes to love and serve. I don’t just refer to the individuals that were victims of abuse, but to all that have suffered spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, physically or in any other way due to their experience in the Movement. From reading different comments in this discussion and others, it seems that some had very negative experiences and others had, at least on the personal level, positive ones. I don’t think that the good experiences some have had make up for the difficulties so many others go through, or for flaws inherent in the institution. The Church as a whole has also suffered, because many people, possibly some of you included, have lost their faith or have a negative experience of it due to LC/RC. LC/RC took different concepts, terms and aspects of the Catholic faith and used them differently. Prayer has a true meaning. Spiritual direction has a legitimate place in the Church, but it isn’t what the Movement calls “SD”. Obedience really is a virtue, but not as the Movement taught us. Docility, humility, etc. really are good things, but I’m sure many of us can’t stomach the words now, because of the connotations taken on in the LC/RC. This hurts the Church as a whole by tainting some very good parts of the faith. Many of us have a hard time praying, or going to confession, or going to someone for advice, not those things are actually bad, but because we are turned off by the very idea due to a negative experience. And even when we go back to, or discover for the first time, what the Church really means by those things, there will always be a bad residue by virtue of association.

I am still Catholic and still practicing, but I fully understand how some of you might not be. I believe that I am because I had a very strong education in my faith from my family prior to going to the Precandidacy. When I left the Movement, I had something to fall back on from before entering, something much truer that I still remembered. I also did a lot of studying and thinking after leaving to reorient myself with the Church and draw my own conclusions, and I ended up being able to separate “Church” from “Movement.” I sincerely hope that each of you that have in some way been hurt is able to find peace and healing, and draw close to God in whatever way you can, not because you “have to,” but because he IS there, and is worth knowing, even if we feel that the “friend” that introduced him to us betrayed us.

Regarding the Movement itself, I still wish it the best, even though I no longer support it. I still know many people that are in it, and I know that many of them are truly good people. I hope they are able to see the truth and act accordingly, even if it is hard.


49 Weeks
This story is a testimony from the 49 Weeks Blog. You can see this and more stories by visiting 49 Weeks.

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3 thoughts on “Ellen’s Story”

  1. If you think of the complaints of the women who suffered from the Magdalene sisters, then you see that the girls from Regnum Christi were not the only people who suffered from the extreme severity of a part of Romes church. There seems to be a current of thinking in parts of the church which includes very crippling attitudes on how you educate people.
    I wonder how nuns used to be treated? Maybe they suffered from the same sorts of regimes.
    Rome is escaping dialogue with liberal Catholics about the most fundamentalist corners of their church. Cardinal Ratzinger when he was a Cardinal, did for the careers of theologians who did not agree with him.
    Have you watched the film the Magdalen sisters. It is the sort of film I would not have watched before I had got worried about the attitude of street recruiters, before I had myself begun to see something wrong with the church. I would not have watched it before because my fathers reaction to films that criticised the church was that they were from crazy conspirator theorists and I was so influenced by him that i would have been embarrassed to fill my head full of crazy theories made to smash the good.
    The attitudes the nuns in the film showed were such as the nuns I new in the early seventies would have called part of an older fashioned and rougher church that was no longer a reality, that they were embarrassed by, but it seems that the old fashioned part of the church has been growing.
    You can also,find the testimonies of the women who suffered from the Magdalen Sisters on the internet.

    The problem seems to be that the church needs to be confronted about its medieval side and who dares to confront them? It is not just the legion that is very odd. Though it is a legionnaire I am most worried about and by at the moment.
    The film The Exorcism of Emily Rose also exposes a very backward and black bit of church thinking. It’s arguments criticise the church. It is not a film that romanticises exorcism.
    The film, “Priest”, about a priest fighting vampires, includes the church he has come from which is as problematic for the population as the vampires are and seems pretty Catholic. I have not watched it more than once and that in bits.
    There is a bit of The Penguins of Madagascar in which there is a baddy sending out subliminal messages over New York from a strange broadcasting machine on a rocket, in order to capture the population. Baddy that the penguins have to bring in hand. There are signs of unrest even in films and series. The legion certainly tries to send out subliminal messages.

    In the old days the English Catholics I suppose the North American ones too, just said of the more old fashioned part of the church, of such things as preparing children for the priesthood from childhood say, “that is what happens in Spain or South America”. They felt divorced from the part of the church that was more old fashioned. They supported a group whose behaviour, in other countries, they did not like, without lifting a fingure to change what happened in other countries, We deserve the legion!
    It should have been our responsibility to ask for changes in those countries. Now, the type of religion they suffered from has come into the modern world.
    The new, so called “orthodox” ideas of the church needs questioning as you have done here, with other parts of the Catholic theological tradition being remembered and put forward as also valid.
    The extreme right of the church has taken over the Vatican or so it seems to me. That is to go where angels fear to tread. Won’t anyone who puts things at the Vatican’s door be done for in some way? Wont this site be attacked if I go there.

    The church cannot just abandon the church to its extreme self, that is to leave so many people in the lurch. Spanish intelligentsia, who are mostly, extremely anti-religions, they had too much experience of something like the legion as the most important part of Catholicism here to be religious, If you know a legionnaire you get to understand why priest and nuns got their share of violence in the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish intelligensia dont try to argue with the church. They shrug off all conversation about religion because they claim to be out of it, as atheists.
    As democrats they are however obliged to help the rest of the population in the measure that they can. Democrats take responsibility for the whole population or should. They who see the churches weak points more clearly should be vigilant about the church and argue with their most out of the way dictates for the sake of the whole population.
    It is no good arguing from within the church, this does not dent the churches armour, the argument that you should do so is one of the ways in which the church avoids discussion, They don’t feel pressed enough to feel they have to discuss theology with the rest of the church, with the faithful. Those are just the rules of fight, you get persuaded to be discrete in an argument and others will have you too much in hand for them to need to try minimally for you. It is necessary to denounce them in other places just in order to bring them to the table.

    Bringing into being the welfare state must have meant arguing with the protestant church in England and their faithful on the extent to which God put the poor at birth in poor families because he meant them to be poor. About the point to which you just accept negative things because they are part of Gods design. It is a point which is always being pushed in history.
    It seems to me that the church of England did not stay behind the people on the countries venture into social justice. The new ideas were incorporated into the churches thinking and into the faithful ‘s thinking.
    The catholic faithful here in Spain are not at all sure that the poor are not more beautiful, morally so, and poor when they are more miserably poor, which also means that their dependence on the church in their old age or before that,for food hand outs, made them like the church willy, nilly. .
    The church of England, before partial socialism, believed that God had put the lord in his castle and the beggar at his gate purposefully. That the poor were meant to be poor, part of a North American Hymn, but their attitudes changed and I bet that change took a lot of hard work.
    Anyone who disagrees with the church is arrogant and selfish, who wants to e called such names.
    There should be an, on going dialogue as to how to fit the finding of psychologists into Christ’s religion, or doctors or politicians. It seems that all there is is the churches ability to escape such a dialogue.
    The church waffles about wanting peace and being sorry for the poor and will not talk about many bits of doctrine that its faithful need them to be less horrible on, that it pretends to be absolute, when there are a whole lot of other historically valid bits of theology which put into question such thinkers as Marcial Maciel so their is in orthodox Catholicism a whole lot of material that the Vatican does not want to talk of.

    How Marcial Maciel had time to be a theologian of any worth is beyond me. He just did not and that is all there is to it. Studying takes hours and hours and hours. For one new bit of information you often have to re-read masses of old ones, as a new bit of writing repeats things you already know on the subject as well as giving new lights on it. At other times you have to read something written in such convoluted language that it is hard to read. It would take me hours and days and years, decades, to study theology, giving a very big piece of my whole time to it.
    Xavier Leger says that in the seminar they read Marcials writing, he is critical of the fact that it is the only reading material they had and they did it for hours and hours I imagine. Reading the thoughts of just one man is not studying theology.

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  2. I have been thinking recently that there is a problem with asking people for truth without any discussion of how and when lies effect other negatively, telling the truth can also be bad, lies are not always bad and that a lie can be necessary is something that sects use to turn their members into total liers, all while saying lying is bad.
    The truth is educative so to lie is to leave people in ignorance, the question needs to be studied in depth not reduced to a simplistic lies are bad.
    Not daring to criticise the commandments is a problem sometimes. Would the human race have survived if children had obeyed their parents for example?
    Obviously if we lived in Nazi Germany and were hiding a Jew in our cupboard, we would not say when the SS knocked on our door, “Hi, officer, the Jew is in the cupboard”.
    We don’t tell little children about sex and are circumspect about how much we tell, most of us are, when they are at an age when we feel it is time to tell them about the birds and the bees.
    We don’t maybe tell little children all our money worries if we have them, we don’t want children worried sick. Mind you if children worry they are maybe more likely to be thoughtful adults, so how far we protect children from worries is a subject that it might also be well to talk about.

    A case in which lying is endemic is in sects, endemic and tremendously frequent and so sects should give us a cause to have a discussion about when lying is good and when not.

    From what I have read about the Opus Dei, there is an awful lot of lying in this sect because to do so is better for the cause. For instance, you are not allowed to tell people from outside the sect that you are an Opus Dei member unless your director has given you permission to do so. Also, the acknowledged rules are one thing and another the real rules which are not spoken but hinted at the law is this but we would rahter yu did that of thing. According to the stories of those leaving the sect, you find you have made someone very cross if you don’t obey unwritten laws, on how long to visit parents for example. This group always clias to be very reasonable sighting there writen laws instead of mentioning what they really try to make members do.

    In the legion, lying for reasons that have to do with tactics, is tremendously frequent.
    Sects will start to evade all conversations that have to do with any bit of reality that does not agree with the party line, the sects line. Evasion of many ideas and discoveries is to lie, especially when you pretend, as they do, that you are teaching people to think.
    This is a sort of lying that twists reality and peoples ability to judge and be good. It is not like lying about the Jew in the cupboard, it is a lie that takes away from the person you are talking to, their ability to live with little realistic information about were society is now, as to ideas on society and psychology, without keeping up on such ideas people wont know how to talk and act in modern day life, they will not understand human psyche as we now know it to be after years of clinical experience or social change. I fidn members of the church much more classist than other parts of society the clergy and one whose background was not posh, treating those they employ and teach with that distance that was charicteristic of my grandmothers time all while while they do their level best to make me look classist, I am not distant with people hI have to deal with and talk ooof important matters with everyone.I am not pre-war.

    For instance if they say that everyone is the same in all bits of society which they do in their enthusiasm for a society in which all are equal an enthusiasm that pretends we have reached social justice already or that education does not matter because the expert and the pauper as are as competent as each other. they both have old fashione ddistance fro tthose who work for them and talk much of everyone being equal, then those they teach wont expect social realities, such things as beign despised because they are rich or poor because the poor see the rich as lazy and useless and the rich do the same to the poor. They will expect friendliness were they are not likely to find it for example.
    Covering up half the information available to people helps to make people into robots, as it reduces how such robots are capable of judging situations.
    Jesus did not teach fishermen catechesis, he discussed ethics with them. Turn the other cheek is not a commandment people take it as a piece of advise.
    I find that the legion is always disagreeing with Jesus . The turning of the other cheek is not an idea they admire and nor is the idea that he who lives by the sword will die by the sword. I will die by the pen.

    . If disagreeing with Jesus is not a reason for theological discussion instead of just announcing that theology is a constant, I don’t know what is.
    Maybe it is time for a long discussion on how, reducing yourself in order to become like me, should or should not become a motive for turning people into robots who have a very damaged ability to choose between good and bad. If this phrase becomes a way to make people more Christ like and people believe christ like is bland then the phrase needs reveiwing.
    If people want to be more Christ like he certainly was good at arguing and discerning and certainly did not agree with the Sanhedrin, their Vatican, their lot of old religious guys who stuck by the law even though it went against the spirit of the law.

    The findings of psychiatrists are that suicide has to do with such things as your biochemistry and having suffered from a violent surroundings, which is to say from beign sinned against not sinning, or that depression was a family tendency, or normal in people who feel very inadequate who had had few answers to life problems such as wha tto do with bullies as well as in some cases for feeling guilt and feeling sinful, whether this guilt is real or not. Sects induce guilt were people had none as well as uncovering real guilt.
    If you just refuse to look at clinical findings or they are hidden from you by your sect, you might be unkind to people make them feel guilty for sinning, for despairing in God, when they aren’t sinning, depression was merely in their genes.

    Lying about much of the knowledge the world possesses might increase the number of people in your group who will go like lemmings over a cliff. Diversity means their is more possibility that there will be someone around who sees that a group has gone down some side track without realising they have left the path that leads to a place they had not meant to go to.
    Lies about how the world works are definitely not alright much as lack of knowledge will reduce some bad things, such as the number of people who know how to make meths. Less chemists, less people able to make meths but we need chemists, we cant just stop anyone knowing anything in case the knowledge is dangerous. The world God put us in is complex, we wont survive if we aren’t clever or we will survive as worms perhaps, which would be saintly enough but a heaven full of worms might bore God a bit.

    Rome seems to be so over confident that it is staying the same that it believes it does not need people who try to discern things instead of taking everything on faith.
    Groups think they are being traditional and go down roads that are new without seeing what they are doing. An example of this is the new insistence in the catholic faith on its faithful being passionate about things, when the faith before admired temperance.

    Reducing other peoples powers of deduction because they don’t have enough information to compare and contrast issues, is a way of creating hierarchies and reducing the equality. Making sure others are ignorant because you don’t tell them things and even tell them not to read things, so that you end up being much more able than them is dirty trick, I doubt he who taught by preference, fishermen, would approve it.

    Should not reducing peoples God given equality by making sure they are not good at deduction, by cutting off all useful knowledge of competing ideas, and by not inculcating the habit of giving things a thorough review, be a question theologians discuss.

    The biggest, maybe, lie of sects is that they don’t tell you were they are trying to take you, idealogical.

    There is always a question in churches as to how far we are to take what happens as part of Gods plan and so something we should not try to reduce. In medieval times, feeling illness was part of Gods plan, meant that people were not sure that it was right to try to cure people, we in the end decided that we should cure people. trusting in God is an idea that allows religons to take people to some very cruel places.
    . IN the nineteenth century hymn 1848, All Things Bright and Beautiful, poverty is part of Gods plan which obviously means that the rich should not try too hard to amend an economic situation that leads to poverty. Such an idea lead to irresponsible rulers. The things we don’t try to change because they are part of Gods plan has changed since the moment in which the hymn all things bright and beautiful was written, and the church tries to talk as if there were a constant in its teaching there are in that constant ideas that change. Honestly things have changed in the church often, just think of how they are not longer burning people at the stake to see an extreme example of how things have changed.

    The legion when it is recruiting slowly moves people to accept that more and more things are there because God wants them there, till after years they have reached a point with their recruit in which this person will accept that the holocaust was alright because God does not let bad things happen or because the Jews must have called it on themselves.
    Their lie is, of omission they have not told you that they believe in going for the throat of other religions, the throat of the Jews. they take you in slowly to their core beliefs which ar not the ideas they taught you as a child..
    They also make people so afraid of losing their faith or afraid of others doing so if they are not telling things as the legion for example says they should, that they will be too afraid to question the person who teaches them that the holocaust, though not good was not bad. They slowly take people to a point in which they would not dare question were they have been lead.
    What have the Jews ever done that we don’t do and that we don’t do even more than they do?

    They also use the very opposite argument to that of you accepting Gods plan because he would not have a bad plan. When they want to teach you to interfere with others, then they teach that you should not leave things in Gods hands but should make people be good, not just by persuasion but also by hard arming them into goodness. By hard arming them if they sin>I wonder if God accepts as freedom from sin the fact that much as whoever would sin they just got stopped from it.

    One trick of bullies is to find out if the person that is a potential victim will accept the bully cleverly using arguments that are contradictory when such suit their purpose. Such as an argument that God does not let bad things happen to good people, so the bad thing must be deserved, when this argument that suits their purpose and when they want followers to hard arm people they use the argument that you have to take a hand in making people go to heaven.
    There are many reasonable arguments that contradict some other argument. The only thing a self respecting person can do is to notice if the person who uses contradicting arguments is self serving or trustworthy. Is changing their argument to fit a change in circumstances of weight or just to suit themselves.
    It is as good an argument to say don’t slang my mother, she is my mother, good because it is not kind to mess around with peoples feelings were they have such deep ties to the person you criticise. However the argument that you often have to talk of the bad sides of people even if they are your mother, but, if you use one argument to defend your mother and the other to allow you to attack another persons mother, then you can be suspected of simply being canny and self serving.

    .One account here said that Regnum Christi was said to be a sort of summer camp which was to totally lie about what it was like.
    The legion is totally anti all fun activities and in favour breaking people into endless manual work, which is to say endless boring work and into being taught humility, which seems to mean accepting what your spiritual director says without question. So, all about learning to obey and that in such a hard regime that it annuls the person. If you are not allowed to query anything, then you are no one, you might as well be a robot, your head is not wanted, nor are you being allowed to exercise your budding abilities to express yourself or argue points. It seems that in the legion you may not question or talk of what you are being asked to learn. You have to obliterate your self as a thinking person or a responsible one who is worried by their ideas, for fear of being called to proud to accept other peoples advice if you do.

    They lie to by acting parts that make you accept their bullying. I have known a street recruiter who pretended to be mad. It is hard to get tough on the mad, and I have known talking in a more or less baby voice, which after a long time seemed to me to be a way to hold my attention and patients with the persons ideas even though these ideas had me going up the wall I disapproved of them so.
    It seems that the motherly is so strong that I were i would be furious or not be able to listen any more i endlessly listen to whoever has a childish voice.
    I believe they use a knowledge of the mind that makes them use such devices as the childish voice because they realise how much it increases the patients of many with whoever sounds childish and so the time a recruiter will listen to to stupid ideas.

    As you see in sects lying is endemic, they never say what they are up to. It is much more common than it is in normal life unless you are with a habitual lier. And, these people shrive others! They are their spiritual advisers!. As they are such tremendous liers themselves, they are bound to blacken others, they are not going to be able to imagine people who don’t lie like they do. They simply wont believe a truthful person.
    a regime in which you are simply meant to accept what you are told is not one of introspection it is just one of do this or i will get your guts for garters. They are not allowed to think of anything, they are not allowed to make use of their heads accept to repeat what they are told to say.

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