Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, after much consultation among themselves, the Vicar General, Father Carville, and Saint Joseph’s Academy, constructed this letter, which was sent as an enclosure with report cards. There was no additional information attached to the letter.
THE LEGIONARIES OF CHRIST AND REGNUM CHRISTI
The following was developed after speaking with diocesan officials
It has come to our attention that there are several ongoing ministries in our area that have raised concerns among those responsible for the faith formation of young people. The groups have various names; Leadership Training Program, Youth for the Third Millennium, Christian Life, Coffee with Creed, to name a few. Each of these, and others, are ministries of Regnum Christi, a lay apostolate of the Legion of Christ, a religious order of Roman Catholic priests and brothers.
For a number of years the activities and behavior of the Legionaries has been a concern to officials of our diocese, including Bishop Alfred Hughes, current archbishop of New Orleans, and now Bishop Robert Muench. Bishop Hughes was amazed when he found out how extensive their programs in the diocese were. He met with the Legionaries and told them he did not want them operating without his knowledge; they agreed to a protocol by which their priests acknowledged their responsibility to inform both the Chancery and the local pastor whenever they would propose to undertake any work within the diocese or any of the parishes, either directly or through their local Regnum Christi members. They have not done this.
Concern about these groups and their programs revolves in part around their secretiveness in recruiting young people, which they do by means of retreats, days of recollection, rallies, prayer groups, discussion groups, as well as free trips for programs around the country. It was this last activity that brought the group to our attention. A number of high school students from our area were contacted by members of Regnum Christi and invited to go to Los Angeles for a pre-release screening of The Passion of the Christ. The students were put up at a Legionary house of formation. The connection between the screening and the organizations was not overt and did not become clear until well after the students had left home.
We have no doubts of the good intentions of many of the members of these organizations, nor of the earnestness with which they try to live their faith, but we cannot ignore what seem to be at least questionable methods: targeting very young students, inviting students to out-of-town formation programs or out-of-state schools that separate children from parents and limit family contact, strict control of information for students in their residential formation programs (opening and reading ingoing and outgoing mail, limiting access to news media), and offering only one approach to spiritual and religious observance. These organizations operate outside the normal structures of the Catholic Church such as parishes, schools and diocesan programs. As such they operate without appropriate Church supervision, and that is a cause for additional concern. As part of the their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the bishops of the U.S. now require priests who enter any diocese to report their present and intention to minister in that diocese. It is clear that Legionary priests have been traveling to our diocese regularly, and not notified the proper officials at the diocese. They will meet with young men, offer spiritual direction, even lead retreats organized by the Regnum Christi.
We encourage all parents and educators to be fully aware of any organization with which your child may become involved. Individuals can make up their minds about both the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi group by visiting both www.regainnetwork.org, the website of an organization that states it is a group of people who have left Regnum Christi or the Legionaries, and http://www.legionaryfacts.org a website of the Legionaries that claims to answer the criticisms of their order.