Recruitment: the Way to Unhappiness – an excerpt from Opening Minds, part 2

Some Catholics have remarked on the rigid and almost robotic appearance of the  Legionaries  of Christ, as if they were mass-produced by some kind of priest-making system. This could derive from the particular way they are trained and molded the moment they enter the group and deprived of their individual personalities and traits…


ReGAIN  is indebted to Opening Minds blog and book for the main content. What we like about this explanation is that it is very clear and simple; it cuts across the lines of particular ideologies or doctrines -and area in which Catholics seems to blank out.

We feel the need to explain to CATHOLIC READERS how we can approach ‘sects/cults’ from a theological or psychological/sociological perspective. We Catholics usually think in terms of theology; if a group is theologically ORTHODOX (modus credendi) it cannot be a sect. However, from a psychological, spiritual and truly religious perspective that same group can be suspect if is uses methods to recruit, retain members, fund raise and generally operate (modus operandi) in such a way that manipulates its members -does not let them discern, question, choose freely- and places them under undue pressure to conform, using coercive persuasion, control, manipulation…

The breakthrough, aha moment, for Catholic and Christian readers occurs when they realize that, no matter what, or how apparently holy, the doctrines/beliefs/ideals/goals involved, certain group leaders use the same manipulative techniques to recruit, retain and control their members; and that even though the doctrines/idealogies are miles apart, the methods used by these groups, associations, fraternities, communities, orders are all uncannily similar.


Editor’s Note: The following is adapted from Jon Atack‘s new book, Opening Minds, chapter 2. This is the second part of a two-part blog.

Manipulative groups and individuals use similar approaches to trick us into handing over our cash and our  loyalty. In part one, we saw how manipulation most often follows a series of steps; today we continue with:

Step Three: Finding the Ruin

Once rapport has been established, the recruiter may seek out the most significant difficulty in the recruit’s life. In Scientology, this is called the ‘ruin’: ‘What is ruining your life?’ If the first steps have been followed carefully, most people offer up even their most secret troubles. Unless they’ve been hurt before after revealing their secrets, most people welcome a chance to say what they feel and receive sympathy for their problems. It is surprising how willing people are to share their deepest longings with complete strangers, as if there is a need to confess; this deepens rapport.

Step Four: Fear of Worsening

Scientology recruiters then push the target into ‘fear of worsening. The recruit is exploited to feel discouraged about the ‘ruin’: ‘I’m sure you’ve tried everything, but nothing has worked.’ Confession of troubles usually shifts the recruiter into a position of authority. The recruit will follow directions almost like Pavlov’s dogs, which salivated in anticipation of food when a bell was rung.

Step Five: Bring to Understanding

Next, the recruiter will use the information from this confession to demonstrate that the recruit desperately needs the group in order to make life better; Scientology recruiters call this step to ‘bring to understanding’. Sales manuals suggest that a story be made up to show sympathy: ‘I know a guy who had exactly the same problem. He took a few of our courses and everything started to work out for him.’

The ‘understanding’ is that the cult can solve any problem that is presented – whether it is romantic, financial, work-related or spiritual – anything and everything can be resolved by the offered course, counselling or study programme, so the recruiter has no difficulty in inventing a supporting story: the ends justify the deceptive means.

During the first course, seminar, or workshop, the recruiters will continue the love-bombing, while using a hypnotic technique to bring about a peak experience. After long enough, any type of repetition, mimicry or fixation leads to a euphoric altered state.

Chanting, drumming, group singing, visual fixation – as in meditation – repetition of a word or phrase (‘mantra meditation’), repeated movements, such as rocking, shaking, or walking meditations, all lead to an altered state. Some narcissists use sexual pleasure to trap their victims.Most people in western society are unfamiliar with the effects of eastern meditation, so they are delighted and surprised by the euphoria that floods them. Almost every former member I’ve talked with had an initial peak experience, and spent the remainder of their time in the cult trying – and failing – to repeat it.

It is likely that the peak experience is simply a release of dopamine or serotonin. These neurochemicals are the ‘reward’ system of the brain, and are released during sex and by alcohol and drug use. In a group setting, surrounded by approving people, cult techniques can lead to a powerful high in the new recruit. This is the experience of awe.

Awe changes our perception of the world. We are awed by celebrities, by vastness, by skill, by ‘miracles’ and by beauty. Awe can be induced as part of a peak experience. New recruits are infatuated by flattery and the prospect of miraculous change in their lives. When awed, our critical faculties diminish.

Once we believe that a leader has miraculous powers, we become willing to believe anything that leader says. Awe turns to fervour and the recruit adopts the beliefs of the manipulator and will defend them as if defending their own child: just as we are unwilling to hear criticism of our children, nothing bad will be accepted about the manipulator, whose ideas have become gospel truth.

Step Six: Reinforcement

Testimonials are demanded for reinforcement. In Scientology these are called ‘success stories’. This reinforces consistency: the more publicly and loudly you commit to a technique or experience, the more difficult it will be to change back later.  People trying to give up smoking are advised to tell all of their friends that they have given up, because, under the consistency principle, it will make it harder to admit defeat and light another cigarette.

We all suffer from confirmation bias, where we justify our actions and dismiss anything that disagrees with our beliefs. There is a quality of inertia to all human activity; we keep going in the direction we’re travelling in. Delivering a testimonial – or simply telling all our friends – reinforces the sense of belonging and further confirms our bias.

Often, members will be encouraged to confess their former sinful lives in front of the group. By humbling themselves in this way, people give ever more power to the group. Members come to believe that everything good can be attributed to the group’s practices, and everything bad is their own fault.

A particular group or individual may not use all of these approaches. Some will focus on the potential recruit’s desperation, others will head straight for an experience of awe. Once lured into the trap, by whatever means, the recruit will go through a process of reinforcement that will draw them into the group or relationship and isolate them from their previous relationships and values.


What do you think about this article? Do you agree? Have you read Jon’s new book? Do you have a story about recruitment into a high-control situation that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! 

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20 thoughts on “Recruitment: the Way to Unhappiness – an excerpt from Opening Minds, part 2”

  1. I would like to say, about sharing my deepest longings as if i felt compullsed to do so that my problems in life were things I could not handle and wished to be advised on. I was hopless at managing the manipulative,I whatched another person being aislated put into conventrya and my pnuy efforts to stop those who so punished him or who were absolutely fencing in my life were absolutely usless and so I was faced with my lack of ability to fight You have to hammer things in again and again or get meaner and meaner as concerns social assasination yourself if you wish to face bullies, those who tie others into knots verbally and socially. THis learning to fight business is full of thorns, when do you become worse than the bullies you wish to stop?
    I imagined one effort of two should be enough to make people leave a victim. I did not know how to answer their indirect comments or how to fight at all, having been brought up not to fuel the fire and to believe that to argue back is to be drawn into the other persons game orto be as bad as them i simple did not fight or had had no practice at it. I believed you should wait for a good moment to get through to others, I needed to be told there are not good moments or to be told that their are not fights without losses and without hurting yourself and others. It was not a psycological need that made me want to talk about my problems to anyone in htis life but a practical one a need for advise that lead me to want to talk and that might be the case for many others.I was the karate kid on verbal and social fighting messing with other peoples freinds and support groups, I needed the Corean teacher to help me. That is not a great film at a super artistic level but it is a film that talks of a topic that I needed to hear about. it doe snot teach people whose problem is dealing with verbal fights which both include stoppiing others talking and destroying the others suppport group by talking badly of them.
    Also, my family rather feed me into the hands of the abusive: They believe that the world is a nice place and complaints are not real .Any complaints were treated as mischief making, an attitude to complaints that means that complaints on the part of a victim bring about a lowering in their cache a lssening of their power to deal with a situñation not an increase. I began to think, reflecting on the fact that beaten women are meant to like being beaten, the abused to want to be abused, that one of the things that turns people into victims is not their liking dominaton but their lack of any suppport:
    I think that abusive people, who look to relate with the weak because they are easily managed, notice when the family of a person they have got to know sells out on that person, notice when a person has no effective support group and that this is a determining factor in for an abusive person who wants to be sure the person he is choosing is suitable for him or for her.
    I feel that this reflection is relevant to the whole sect problem. I am determined to grab every opportunity to write any experience of my own that helps with the problelm of sects.

  2. Of course, to talk of peoples problems as if they are longings, makes it sound as if these problems are a mere difficulty in managing worldy realities which do not give you all your longings, as if your problems were something a good doses of understanding our world would cure, were a lack of proper adjustment to lifes realities and so the fault of the person who complains, af if they were not real problems.
    Talking as if problems people talk of has to do with longings instead of to do with manging to do the things that a good person needs to do to feed and care for your family, reduces the credit of those with problems.
    There are lots of ways of killing a person, is one saying, maybe Spanish. Being with those who stop ones mouth, who make sure one has no friends at all, which is what bullies try to do and what the Legion does to people whose voice is not the voice of MM, is to be dead in the sense that your voice does not reach others, your experiences cannot help others.
    THe abusive pretend that a persons desire to have a voice is a desire to have the right of veto, is a wish to boss others, that way they make those who claim they should at least be heard, look as if they were egoists.My husband did that to me when I complained about lack of voice and friends.He also pretended i wanted to talk all day, with him a lack of voice was that i was never able sto discuss anything.
    Bullies always twist the arguements of others in such a way as to make others look as if their demands have been way bigger than they were, they distort what others have said to the discredit of the person they are talking of and the legion do that as much as any other bully does, in an atempt to make those peple look egotistical.
    People might not be right but they should have a chance to have their say, it teaches them to talk and to argue and, just as they might not be right, they might not be wrong, they might have a valuable contribution to make for the group.You teach children to talk, to give them practice in the art of conversation, so that they will be able to hold their own with others, adults need to practice talking too. those who try to stop them from having a voice in topics are not looking after them properly. Dont care about their well being and develpment.

    The legion seem to think that any desire for love and attention is mere childishness. When you have no friends you also have no power to help your children, you are unlikely to have anyone who will help you have kudos with your children or to give any other type of help with them and that enormously reduces your power to influence them for good. Lack of things that make people happy, love, freindship and a support group, are not small things or mere bit of egoism, are not a person thinking of their own longings, lack of such things is a real and serious ill, lack of such things stop people from being able to think for others and help them or, at very least enormously reduces peoples power to work for good.
    The catholic recruiters I have met are always saying that people only need themselves, that you should not need others, this is a position that makes people careless of their social situation and so enormously weakens them. You do need to stand on your own two feet but you also need to remember the importance of knowing people of support and even of,holding your enemies close.
    The church does not half fight hard to make sure everyone is supporting them.

  3. I have no experience at all of street recruiters trying to pretend to resovle my problems, or to be nice to me beyond smiles, they were incredibly nasty to me, something they claimed i would understand later. The experience was very nasty it was determination to help which made me bare it and a willingness to try even the nasty untill i am sure it is worthless.
    I find it very hard to be cross with people who are being nasty to me when they smile at me. I hate them for using this weakness of mine to pretend they are being nice to me when they arent. I am even left with a double vision of them the memory of how nice they looked because of their smiles and that of how nasty they were, as if they were two people. They cross your cables,all nasty people tend to know how to spend some time pretending they like you, so it is a situation we need to learn to face as adults. Children are just nasty to other children untill they decide they like them and are then mostly nice. If i was to instruct people against bullying i would try to teach them to be nasty to people who smiled at them, though it went against the grain, when they were convinced that those people were not being nice by and large,. when those people are either nasty behind ones back or spend much more time than they should correcring their supposed friends. You have to accept criticism but you have to remember bullies criticise to get hold of you. Dotn accept too much criticism.
    The trick street recruiters used on me was not to make me feel good, the trick was to apeal to my nobility and capacity for blood sweet and tears and my wish to show i could take criticism.
    I am begining to wonder if the people of the opening minds blog are really people who are against the Legion or are people who pretend to be against it in order to take down the site really are determined to confuse issues and sell the legions ideas on this site, as the opus dei now does on the opus dei awareness site in Spain.

    THey also remind you of any decision you have made in your life and that was doubtfull or worse and then say, “you need us because you have made wrong decision. MYyanswer is, that the church also makes wrong decisions, their decision on how to deal with sexual abuse was terrible, so it is better to think for yourself much as you make mistakes, at least your mistakes are not exactly the same as those of every other member of the group, and your virtues also are not the same as those of every other member of the group and might serve when others the rest of that group is wrong. Totalitariansim is wrong because all people from such groups end up with the same virtues and vices, abilities and stupidities and they have wiped out those who might be able to have a different vision which could right the ship when the lemmings go over the cliff. Ideas always take some unexpected roads and if everyone is to afraid to criticis the ideas of a group that group is likely to end up in some very wonky places.

    My experience is also that they make you listen to them for fear that if you dont it is because you are afraid of criticism, type the people who make others do rash things because they will be called called a coward if they dont.
    Another experience i have had with them is that, in the first place I got heavily indoctrinated about the mysterious things you can learn from people in the street. They claim that people in the street are those who really teach you about life and I was willing to try and see if this is a good thing,
    As the attempt is to lead you slowly away from old opinions, such as that being kind to people is good for them, they lead you slowly into thinking that the only kindness is to criticise people so that they get into heaven, and that lonelyness and pain are also good for people, help them to get into heaven for example, as they bring in a new type of catholisim very slowly, it is hard to see were they are going to come out, it took me a decade to learn were they were trying to take me and to think that they had nothing i wanted to learn from them. their rslowl¡ness in letting you see were they are leading you keep speople enthralled and sometimes means they never see that the ideology they held has been perverted.
    Told that real learning is learnt on the street I started to try to divine what i could learn from tremendously ignorant people in the street: I dropped my critical sttandards in case there was some sort of unknown understanding I could reach if i dropped my critical standards. It took me a decade to decide that their teaching had no good substance.
    They do not talk about theology. they hardly talk of Christs words at all, sometime they only doso in order to ridiculize him, a man said to me the other day in a sarcastic tone, forgive them lord they know not what they do. HTe legion believes in holding people to account. And, they were fachists. If you live in a catholic country you learn a lot about how catholisism used to be in such a country, and there are lots of people here who are fiercely critical of how catholisism used to be here in Spain. The street recruiters, the legion are not giving a new version of catholisism, at least from the point of veiw of a spaniard they are givign thr oopinion of hte old faschist church, In the end I found out which direction they were taking and knew i did not want it. I have spent another ten years fighting them. They still seem to believe they might be able to catch me.

    Another way they had of recruiting was to get you helping people which people then teach you. For me, to give up trying to help was terrible and that is another reason that I bore recruiters for ten years.

  4. I wonder about how orthodox the Legion can be called? In the introduction to this piece on sects and how to recognise them, by the “opening minds” group,, it is metioned that a group can be a sect though they are theologically orthodox if they manipulate people, is this a way of saying tha tcatholic sects are theologically orthodox?
    . My sister, who says she is in the legion, that she and her husband both belong to it, according to her, they are not regnum christy, they live together in their house no tin a house with a bigger community of legionaires but she says they are part of the legion, says things like that, “the holocaust is not bad”, and later in a more cautious mode said that, “the holocaust was not good but it was not bad”.
    She also said that the KKK were a group that people misunderstood, is this sort of attitude to the holocaust and the KKK theologically alright for Rome in these times of religous extremity?
    She talks in this way, somewhat childishly, instead of going through all the different possible points of charater of things, the holocaust or people, their virtues and faults, simply saying they are bad or good or though not good not bad for a person who is not absolutely in line with the ideas of the Legion but who has not done anything very sinful. If you start to be precise it is easier for people to pin you down so if you are manipulative it is better not to be precise, childish as such simple ways of qualifying things are. Mostly not good seems to mean they have some fault of a sexual nature. Sometimes however, she does not people whose faults, of a sexual nature are greater than normal, much grearter than some of the people she attacks thoroughly and continously, so she cannot be called fair in this.

    Hearing her veiws from the mouth of someone i was brought up with, who shared my liberal mother with me and such, is a nightmare.

    What can theological orthodox be anyway? With the inquisitions arguements which are that heretics and it seems that sinners are such, should be made an example of, and that is also my sisters line so i begin to see it as the prevailing one in Rome at the moment, so that others will be frightened of being heretical, and so that you prevent bad things and so get more soulds into heaven, on the one hand and, earlier in the churches history, Jesus explaining that the non so the, heretical for a jew, good Samaritan would go to heaven just because he was kind and that in a human sense, not as my sister would have it in what seems to be the legionaires sense which seems to be that the real,only kindness is roughness because pain and suffering send people to heaven or because it is necessary to be cruel to sinners to get them into heaven. we have some pretty big ideological differences in different parts of the churches history. where then are we to put orthodoxy of theology, with Jesus or with the holy inquisition. THe history of the church is long.

  5. WHen Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope a time when i was already suffering from the attacks of street recruiters and so looking for answers, I read all the articles in the Spanish knewspaper El Pais on the new Pope or Cardinal Ratzinger as he then was. It seemed to me to be the quickest way to get a lot of inforamtion on him and on the church as it had become and it was in these articles that i first heard of the word orthodox as applied to Romes ideas. I read that Ratzinger liked Catholics to be orthodox or thought they should be forced to be so and also that he disapproves of what he calls relativity , I suppose catholics who believe themselves catholics with a lof of reservations such as on the strictest attitudes toward contraception and he disapproved of eclectisism. I suppose orhtodoxy refers to people not being either eclectic or relativists, which rather cuts out most of the catholic faithful.
    The church says it does not change but i would imagine that, that use of the word orthodoxy did not exist in the sixties.
    I also read that Cardinal Ratzinger had run theologians who did not agree with his ideas out of town, ruined their careers. Certainly tha tis one way to acheive orthodoxy.
    For me such subjects as theology and philosophy, are of the type in which one studies the ideas of a lot of different thinkers in a lot of different ages, they are not subjects that admit orthodoxy of thought but a study of the all the different ideas of briliant men and women on the subject.
    Some forty years ago while i still lived with my parents i read a bit of a book called “Pensees” i suppose Pascuals Pensees and in this book I read that Franciscans and Jesuits, i think it was, had some big differences of opinion of some parts of theology: If Rome is to pride itself on thinking in theological terms, it should know a bit more about it, enough to know that orthodoxy is not possible in such a wide subject, all you can do is mention the different schools of thought and try and make a case for your preferences being the right ones. If you do not mention this process then you are asking people to take it on faith that you have been theologicaly correct and it is not right to ask people to trust things, you should prove you have behaved right by detailing your actions when something is as important as theology is.

  6. I have just seen on the news, not the most important news channel but still on the news, and suprisingly considering how much i am writting on the subject this weekend, a bit on a village who is trying to get rid of their preist:
    At first the complaints the villages related to the reporters were of inefficiency, he had lost the papers needed for a wedding and then a complaint that probably has more to do with theology and orthodoxy , he would not have the most popular village choir singing in the church at another parishoners wedding, she could only have her perfered sing at her wedding if they sang outside the church, i suppose the choir did not follow strict cahtolic ideas of what a choir should be. As the journalist was about ot leave she was told the most serious complaint, when villagers told this parish preist of their health problems, his answer was you must have done something. People always say the most important things at the last moment.
    My experience of such as street recruiters is that this is straight up legionaires philosophy. Is absolutely in line with what my sister says., They believe that illness is the result of sin. This atttitude to illness is medeival and should be the subject of theological arguements. It is theologies business to discuss such things. Does the church want to explain to populations such as North American Catholics, or those of Europe that it approves of the idea that people are ill because they have sinned. Would they not lose faithful if they did. If the Legionaires believe this are they iin line with orthodox theology and if so, does not Rome have to come out and admite its medieval posotures. If the Legionaires are orthodox as far as Rome is concerned, then it is more people than me who will have problems with Rome.
    My mother discussed this topic with me nearly fifty years ago when i was a child, she talked of how this used to be the attitude of religions, so that in the old days unfortunate people who fell ill had to bare others thinking they had done something terrible as well as baring their illnesses. She thought that that was terrrible. The nuns who taught me used to say the church used to believe this and that, touching on such babaric beliefs as this idea but now they have changed. It seems they have not changed, and they have stopped beign apologetic about the nastiest and least charitable and christian ideas.
    Why does not Rome consider trail by ordeal, surely then it would be truly God who decides, without a jury of men and women whose ideas might pervert justice.
    Have not the poor always been the ones who suffered most and the church would have it that they are specially virtuous. How does believing that illness and misfortune are due to sinfullness square up with believing the poor are more virtous than the rich? Romes Orthodoxy is full of holes or maybe the Legion is not really in line with Rome or maybe Rome is not aware of the legions most outre beliefs.

  7. I dont read many newspapers, however, at the time I brought the magasine Time or Newsweek because which everone it was had an article on the Opus Dei, I also brought the other magazine one copy of time and one of newsweek because it was the anniversary of Freuds, death i think it was. This was in April of which ever year was the fiftieth year of Freuds death when there was a long article on Freud. This article happened, as luck would have it, to give me more information on the church, it commented that the ideas of Freud took over from the old way of thinking about the mentally ill which followed a system of thought on such illness called demonology.
    The religous looked after the mentally ill at least in the part of Europe that was catholic and the system they applied to trying to cure them was called demonology.
    I also saw at around about the same time an article in El Pais on a spanish catholic, preist if i remember right, i think he was a preist, who had written a book on this science. It seems that each sin has its accompanying demon, you caste out the demon and you cure the sinner. One demon for alcoholics I suppose and another demon for homosexuals, etc. or one set for one problem and another set of demons for another. THis would mean that it was not just people who are invaded by the sort of demon that we see in films of possesion, invaded in such a wawy as to have really strange bits of behavior who have demons if this system is what we are to believe in, but all of us who in the smallest way are sinners suffer from some demon or other and so can be exposed to exorcisms light.
    pope Juan Paul the second ordered an enormous increase in the number of exorcisists. Would peole with very high levels of telepathic ability, able to exhort people to goodness through telepatic control be part of the new legion Juan Paul sort to increase of exorcists?
    I should think Demonolgy works something like Buffy Vampire Hunter except that the demons dont so much get killled as caste out. People who are ill because they suffer from trauma, say, will,under this system,be accused of possesion light, It is really sad that people who have suffered from abuse that causes mental problems as it does, the clinical evidence is that abuse cause mental problems for the abused, will later suffer from being accused of being sinners by people who believe that mental problems are proof of sin. This when really their mental problems are due to the sins of others.
    A very worrying thing about Rome is that they dont really come out with the half of their real tendencies,their true beliefs. They dont tell us were orthodoxy really falls if they feel that to do so openly would reduce their popularity. People are backing up a system they dont understand and are not given a chance for true choce in the matter or even the chance to question all the bits of Romes orthodoxy. How many catholics know about demonology and are aware that the thinking of this system still influences their preists and nuns?
    One idea that works for the church is to tell us to fight the church from within. I dont believe we have a chance of making them listen to us unless we tell people outside the faith about the worst extremes of the faith. When we complain about them from within, our complaints are too easily hushed up.
    Is the film on a North American Irish father, who makes his traumatised children dig graves for the people he has murdered because he believes that they, those he murdered, were demons, be a way of talking about this frightening bit of the catholic faith? Talking of it In the guise of a bit of fiction.

  8. Another theme that the churches theologians have to ponder lengthily is, what to think now they have a person who had charism, Marcial Maciel, in other words who was capable of miracles, curing people, talking in tongues, I dont know exactly what mixture of these abilities he had, the sort ofd action that proves a saint is indeed a saint while he was such a devil. Do we have to renounce believign that saints are such because they do miracles. It seems to me that we do.
    No wonder people look for odd ways to look at him, such as his nature was dividied not all of a peice, ideas that turn down the possibility that he was simply bad, he did things that are meant to be only done by saints.

    1. Paul Lennon – Dubliner, Legionary of Christ [1961-84], mental health therapist living in the Washington DC are since 1985, bilingual Spanish, 13 years in Mexico, married to a pretty Guatemalan; I am "amateur writer", translator, co founder of REGAIN, INC,, Legionary of Christ "expert", member of International Cultic Studies Association.
      ReGAIN says:

      Rose, thanks for commenting. I want to take time to read your posts.

      1. Sorry they are so long, I want to write down everything i know so that you can use it one day: I have been writing for ages but not so much about this,
        Not good at spelling but can be good at explaining things, in part because i have been writing for years, mostly letters to jon stewarts show, politics and some horticulture: I have been attacked by street recruiters and such, for years, so have absolutely masses to say about them. I feel that explaining what they did to me, supposedly their approximations are underhand, they will say i imagined it all. Their indirect comments were not such, might help others explain what happened to them. I don’t mind whether this is all up on the blog or not but i want you to know everything i can tell, for the use of ReGAIN. I expect you to use your discretion about how and when to use what I say.

      2. What I mean is that i would like to write all i think I have to say that might be pertinent and as some street recruiters are Opus Dei I think,it is they not legionaires who tell you you hare ill,spiritually they mean, have a cancer they want to cure, not all of what i write will make sense to a legionair and so be wrong here. I want to get through what I have to say as fast as I can, so as to do other things. so maybe I will have written more than you can look through, to make sure I am not saying anything totally mistaken. I don’t expect you to leave all my posts up here I just want you to know what i know if its useful to you.

  9. The key question for me arising from these two blog posts about the modus operandi of recruitment by sects/cults is this: Have Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi changed their approach since the revelation that their founder was a sociopathic manipulator and since the alleged reforms imposed by the Vatican? Or are they continuing in the same old way? Your opening paragraph is in the present tense, so it certainly implies that manipulative recruitment and training is still going on. You say: “Some Catholics have remarked on the rigid and almost robotic appearance of the Legionaries of Christ, as if they were mass-produced by some kind of priest-making system. This could derive from the particular way they ARE trained and molded the moment they ENTER the group and deprived of their individual personalities and traits…” [my emphasis on the present tense verbs]

    So has nothing really changed? Surely it was a big mistake for the Catholic Church to think that it could reform Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi. They should have just closed the whole thing down and got the Legion priests to join other orders/dioceses – but the Vatican lacked the courage to do this. And now we have a remarkably similar scandal with another group within the Catholic Church: Luis Fernando Figari and the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae. The close parallels with Maciel and his outift are chilling. Will the church never learn?

    1. Paul Lennon – Dubliner, Legionary of Christ [1961-84], mental health therapist living in the Washington DC are since 1985, bilingual Spanish, 13 years in Mexico, married to a pretty Guatemalan; I am "amateur writer", translator, co founder of REGAIN, INC,, Legionary of Christ "expert", member of International Cultic Studies Association.
      ReGAIN says:

      Terry, thanks for the comment. That is the reaction I wish a lot of Catholics and Christians would have, given the facts. Perhaps Catholic Church leaders are not only old but old-fashioned in their thinking and world view. They are obsessed with the doctrinal orthodoxy and neglect or don’t want to see the METHODS used by these leaders/groups. They have little knowledge or willingly ignore what psychology (leaders are mentally ill) and sociology (these groups are coercive and abusive) and probably consider cult watch groups as ‘the enemy’. That way. there will be no substantive change, and the Catholic gurus will continue to get away with murder and soul-murder (pedophilia)

  10. I am sure you are right “ReGAIN”, but surely the problem goes even deeper than you suggest. You see it is a potentially huge issue for the Catholic Church that the founder of one of the most successful Catholic orders/movements of the 20th century is now known to have been a mendacious and abusive fraudster (to put it mildly). Yet the Pope and other senior people in the church are unable to openly and fully acknowledge this fact without being seen to be critical of previous Popes, who, since Pius XII, have endorsed Maciel. Surely it’s clear that the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christ was founded as a vehicle for Maciel’s personal agendas and therefore cannot in any meaningful sense be regarded as “the work of God”. Yet a year ago Regnum Christi had a celebration of 75 years since Maciel set up the movement, and the celebration was endorsed by a special plenary indulgence from the Pope. So it’s business as usual. The whole thing makes me shake my head in despair and sadness at the lack of courage and honesty by the Catholic Church. No wonder the Church has experienced a such a haemorrhaging of its credibility.

    1. One part of the potentially huge issue for the church is that he was known to have charism, mIraculous charistics. To find him evil is to knock on the head the idea that Saints are Saints because, among other things, they do miracles.That would mean shifting around an awful lot of church hihstory.
      HIs charism is the reason they say maybe he had several personalities or that is how i see it. They cannot believe a person who did miracles could have been a devil so they have to divide him into various people a saint and a devil.
      If the church went against him, as he was apparently a saint because he did miraculous things, they would have to ban miracles. That is enormouse.
      On the other hands it would be to undo one of the churches recruiting tools. I whatched the exorcism of Emily Rose after years of not wanting to because i am called Rose and a sister of mine, Emily, Emily was diagnosed with miltiple schlerosis and has two autist children, that she should also have had to suffer, as i suspect she did, from the brutal recruiting tactics of catholic sects, is absolutely a reason to want to cut their throats. The film is a film of a true story that tells of how far the church will go to make supernatural things happen, the supernatural brings more people into the church.
      I know remeber that hte last time anyone organisesd group reading of ghost stories for me was the nun at school.
      I did not realise that the film was an inditement of the church not a film that made exorcism look fascinating and the church interesting and appealing. In that film a woman is asked by her preist to go on having attacks that seem diabolic as a saintly gesture, The evidence of supernatural happenings being something that brings new members into Romes fold, Her continued state of possesion would be a saintly not a diabolic thing. It is not the sort of film catholics are encouraged to whatch, the fear of losing your faith being a reason for catholics to inhibit their interest in many things and so to be brainwashed.
      I felt that the recruiting tecnics i suffered from were a sort of exorcism and suspected that my sister who seemed to suffer from great mental stress had suffered from their recruitiing tecnics too, my mother also had shown signs of sufferign from an abnormal amount of stress. When i began to suffer from their recruiting tactics i knew what it was to suffer from stress and so thought, “ah, that is what had happened to her.” i had always wondered. Of course their recruiting tecnics are underhand and so as you never know if indirect comments are such or not and you look paranoic if you say you suffer from their tecnics.

      1. You say, Rose, that “… Saints are Saints because, among other things, they do miracles.” But of course no miracles were ever attributed to Maciel. Luckily for the Catholic Church, they (belatedly) acknowledged his criminality and duplicity quite soon after his death so there wasn’t time for people to claim that they had been miraculously cured of this, that or the other by praying to “Nuestro Padre” (Maciel’s hideously ironic nickname). I suppose the only “miracle” (but a diabolical one rather than a saintly one – to use your words, Rose) was that Maciel managed to hoodwink so many, many people to join his outfit and/or to give huge sums of money to it. But there have always been evil people in the world who have been good at extracting trust, loyalty and/or money from more gullible people: Adolf Hitler; Bernie Madoff; Sun Myung Moon; Marcial Maciel – we never seem to learn to keep clear of such people..

  11. I echo terryloane’s comments & disappointment & despair. How to explain most of the “approved” new religious movements (including Opus Dei) & the path to sainthood for their founder abusers (at least Maciel was caught before that process was started for him). It will take a very courageous Pope to admit to & apologize for his predecessors’ serious neglect of protecting unsuspecting laity.

  12. I have followed one of the sites you give INfo Cult and know understand the difficulties people have in defining a cult, given the dangers of cutting freedom of religion it is necessary to be very careful about how you define it and so I totally agree that the simplicity of the above description and its iimportant content makes it awfully good.
    I am scared when peopole talk of simplicity , one of the things that catholic recruiters have done to me is to say things are getting too coplicated if i start to explain the cons of their arguements and at some point i was made aware thata they considered coplexity something akin to badness lies and devil worship so that it is frightening to here that you are being excessively complex. Of course life is complex and the objection to many of their ideas is that they are excluding a whole lot of realitiers which make their areguements untenable.
    I also had problems with the above becauseif the catholics want to pretend that the Legion is orthdox. If it is and the whole body of cahtolics came to understand the arguments of the legion so making the legion sound sort of alright and so making it easier for them to get more members. .

    1. I so agree with terryloane, in everything but most particularly when he says that you cannot read about Marcial Maciel without thinking that everything he did was a vehicle for his personal agendas.
      He seems to have taught his followers to be terrifyngly critical of people, You are disinterestedly nice to someone, they find a way to say it was just for self interest, You do something questionable, they know how to make it expertly worse. They believe that in order to make sure their recruits are as good as good and so to get them they do this heaven and I believe in order to frighten them because if everyone hears bad of you then you will be hated, will have no back up in any project.will find your self isolated and attacked by all. I believe that this was useful to Marcial because people longing to appease such blackners, will give out money. In other words he used coercion and taught thousands of other people to coerce and blackmail. He extended his nasty behavior far beyond the grave.
      One of religions main weapons is that a great love for which ever prophet they follow, is installed into their followers at childhood and these followers will in adult life be very agressive in order to stop anyone attacking or repudiating this prophet, The other is hell., Their followers will become very violant if they think being so will stop people going to hell or in order to stop someone whose ideas they believe might lead others to hell which is the inquisiton’s reason for violence and Ratzinger, Pope Benedict, was part of ,”the congregation of the holy faith” once called, “the inquisition”. .
      I believe that Marcial’s followers are taught that complements make people vain so you must never praise them and this is another motive they have to reduce to ashes other men’s flowers and, I imagine it is this lack of praise which is one reason that the girls in Regnum Christy, unable to cope with never getting it right, always critisied and never praised, become anorexic, or get psyco-somatic illnesses.
      I think that societies of psycologists should be told to study the phenomenon. It would help them to understand anorexia and it would mean that the girls got defended by this group of professionals.
      So, they undue every ones credit, one because that will assure they never leave uncovered a possible lack of virtue that might land others in hell un-criticised and for another ,to reduce vanity and pride. They drive people to despair and don’t reflect that despair can cause vice and brutal answers, violence mental or physical..THeir ideas of psycology are brutally scarce.
      Marcial needed money in order to curry favour with the church. The church has to expand and bring Christ’s word to everyone on the planet so they always need money and he wanted power and fame,money brought him position as did being able to provide priests to the church.
      The churches thirst for money is insaciable. Being with the religious is like being with heroine addicts, they are consumed by their desire to find money, People hardly exist for them except as a source of founds. or free labour. I feel as if I only exist for them as such. My problems are things they can turn to advantage that allow them to influence me so that they can have more money and free labour. They will not help me if doing so will not help them hard arm me. Marriage problems are something they use to subjugate the faithful, they are not interested iin answers that help the couple, just those that help them.For instance they love heierachy they will not do anything to reduce the husbands power.

      1. I so agree, Rose, with your observation that “… people hardly exist for them except as a source of funds or free labour. I feel as if I only exist for them as such. My problems are things they can turn to advantage that allow them to influence me so that they can have more money and free labour.” The psychological damage inflicted by religious groups like Regnum Christi/Legion of Christ is truly scandalous. And that is why the Catholic Church should have disbanded the whole thing rather than make a half-hearted attempt to ‘reform’ it. I am only pleased that so many individuals have had the courage to walk away – no thanks to the Vatican.

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