Charism or no Charism? That is the Question

The Legion/Regnum has the habit of plastering over unpleasant subjects; such as the existence or no of an authentic religious charism in this institution.

Of course, an even worse habit is ASSUMING something exists or is true. And, as therapists say, “When you assume something; you make an “ASS” out of “U” and and “ass” out of “ME. It is astounding that Cardinal De Paolis, charged by Pope Benedict XVI with examining the Legion fell into the same trap. He excused himself saying that Pope BXVI did not send him to question the Legion but only to correct it…. Still trying to wrap my mind around these disquisitions and Scholastic distinctions. All very confusing. “All the better to mislead you, my dear”

Continue reading

Two Elder Legion of Christ Priests Pass Away: Revs. Javier Orozco and Gregorio Lopez, RIP

The writer found a blog today that may contrast with the usual Legionary panegyrics that accompany the passing of Legionaries, great and small, famous and obscure. Fr. Orozco (75) had been on the Chetumal-Cancun Mission almost since its inception in 1971; Fr. Gregorio (84) had spent all his ministry in Mexico City, being closely associated with the founding of the Instituto Cumbres and the Anahuac University. Both knew Fr. Maciel rather well, albeit in different ways.

http://exlegionariescom.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-dirt-on-two-legion-founders-passing.html

Update on the Situation of the Legion of Christ from Sandro Magister

Here is a translation of Sandro Magster's 7/14/06 blog on this subject

Two months since the canonical decision from the Vatican on Marcial Maciel Degollado, 86-year-old founder of the Legionaries of Christ, the biweekly magazine Il Regno (n. 12/2006, 6/15/06) of the Dehonian order has dedicated three pages of commentary on the case under the signature of its editor, Lorenzo Prezzi.

The analysis is the first one published in depth about the case in the Catholic media. Prezzi confirms the amplitude of the investigation and the great number of Maciel's accusers:

In 2005, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent an investigator, Fr. Charles Scicluna, to the USA in order to verify the charges made in written depositions. He spoke first with Juan Vaca, then with Paul Lennon, Carlos de Isla, Salvador Andrade, Francisco Gonzales Parga, José Olvera, Alejandro Espinosa and some 30 other witnesses. There were reportedly another 20 witnesses ready to speak out. All of the material gathered was brought to Rome, where it was studied and weighed [along with previous material obtained].

The article underscores that at present, the Holy See, the legionaries and bishops have converged in emphasizing the charism of the foundation itself as opposed to the charism of its founder, the fruits of the Legion's apostolate rather than the personal intuitions of Fr. Maciel, and observes that this is not unprecedented in this history of religious orders.

As for future developments within the Legion, Presi writes: Certainly, the Vatican censure will impose some discontinuity. This may be manifested in the choice of persons who will govern the Legion or in interventions (internal and external) regarding its formative system; and in particular, on two adjunctive vows which seemed to have been tailored specifically for an institutional figure reluctant to be governed by normal rules of control over all other religious families.

Prezi summarizes those two adjunctive rules, which he thinks need to be modified, as Superiors must not be criticized and One must not aspire to internal tasks [i.e., within the movement].

The article does not comment on the objections and protests from some of Maciel's accusers to the fact that the Vatican decided to sanction Fr. Maciel without proceeding with a canonical trial.

However, the Code of Canon Law allows the Curia to do this.
Canon 1342 starts this way: Occasionally, if just reasons weigh against proceeding with a juridical trial, the penalty may be imposed or declared by extra-judicial decree.

And Canon 1339 says that an extra-judicial penalty may be imposed on any person about whom an investigation made (results in) the serious suspicion of having committed the offense.

That is exactly what is found in the Vatican communique dated May 19, 2006:

After having placed the results of the investigation under careful study, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the direction of its new Prefect, His Eminence, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, has decided - taking into account the advanced age of the Rev. Maciel as well as his delicate state of health - to renounce a canonical trial and to invite the Father to a private life of prayer and penitence, renouncing any public ministry. The Holy Father has approved these decisions.

Note from ReGAIN:

There is need to rectify the information provided re Msgr. Scicluna's investigations in the Americas. The version below is a synthesis of personal experience, Mexican newpaper articles, reports, and conversations with the victims.

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, Vatican promotor of justice, or prosecutor, interviewed and took sworn depositions in English from Juan Jose Vaca and Paul Lennon in New York City on Saturday, April 1st, 2005 [the day JPII died?]. Lennon was not a victim but a character witness for victims Vaca, Barba and Jurado. On Sunday Scicluna flew to Mexico, where he was joined by a Spanish-speaking Vatican Notary to continue taking depositions; in Mexico City during the following week he interviewed Maciel's old accuser/victims such as Alejandro Espinosa, Jose Perez-Olvera, etc., who were joined by new accuser/victims who had never before come forward publicly: Carlos de la Isla, Francisco Gonzalez-Parga, Salvador Andrade, etc. Juan Jose Gonzalez, another new victim, was not personally interviewed by Scicluna but handed in a sworn statement.

Original text:

Sotto processo il processo a padre Maciel

A distanza di due mesi dalla condanna canonica del fondatore dei Legionari di Cristo, Marcial Maciel Degollado, 86 anni, il quindicinale dei religiosi dehoniani, Il Regno ha dedicato al caso tre pagine di commento firmate dal suo direttore, Lorenzo Prezzi.

L'analisi di Il Regno (n. 12/2006, in data 15 giugno) A la prima, approfondita, sinora apparsa sul tema in campo cattolico.

Prezzi conferma l'ampiezza dell'investigazione e l'alto numero degli accusatori vecchi e nuovi:

Nel 2005 la Congregazione per la dottrina della fede invia un promotore di giustizia, il rev. Charles Scicluna, negli USA per raccogliere conferme circa le denunce depositate. Parla dapprima con Juan Vaca, poi con Paul Lennon, Carlos de Isla, Salvador Andrade, Francisco Gonzales Parga, José Olvera, Alejandro Espinosa e con un'altra trentina di testimoni. Sarebbero circa una ventina gli altri testimoni pronti a fornire la loro parola. Tutto il materiale viene portato a Roma, studiato e soppesato.

Sottolinea che Santa Sede, legionari e vescovi sembrano ora convergere nel sottolineare il carisma di fondazione rispetto al carisma del fondatore, i frutti dell'apostolato piuttosto che le intuizioni personali di p. Maciel: A un'operazione non nuova nella storia degli ordini religiosi.

E per quanto riguarda gli sviluppi futuri all'interno dei Legionari scrive:

Di certo la censura vaticana imporrA una discontinuitA . PuIdarsi che essa si manifesti nella scelta delle persone che in futuro avranno compiti di governo o in interventi (interni ed esterni) relativi al sistema formativo e, in particolare, ai due voti aggiuntivi che sembrano ritagliati appositamente su una figura istituzionale restia ai normali strumenti di controllo attivi in tutte le famiglie religiose.

I due voti aggiuntivi di cui Prezzi suggerisce la revisione sono da lui riassunti cosA?: non si criticano i superiori e non si ambisce alle cariche interne.

Il Regno non commenta le obiezioni e le proteste che sono venute da alcuni degli accusatori contro la decisione della Santa Sede di sanzionare Maciel rinunciando a un processo canonico.

Ma questa procedura A espressamente prevista dal Codice.

Il canone 1342 cosA? comincia: Ogniqualvolta giuste cause si oppongono a che si celebri un processo giudiziario, la pena puIessere inflitta o dichiarata con decreto extragiudiziale.

E il canone 1339 dice che la pena extragiudiziale puIessere inflitta a colui sul quale dall'indagine fatta cada il sospetto grave d'aver commesso il delitto.

E' esattamente quanto si ritrova nel comunicato vaticano del 19 maggio:

Dopo aver sottomesso le risultanze dell'investigazione ad attento studio, la Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, sotto la guida del nuovo Prefetto, Sua Eminenza il Cardinale William Levada, ha deciso - tenendo conto sia dell'etA avanzata del Rev.do Maciel che della sua salute cagionevole - di rinunciare ad un processo canonico e di invitare il Padre ad una vita riservata di preghiera e di penitenza, rinunciando ad ogni ministero pubblico. Il Santo Padre ha approvato queste decisioni.

inviato il 13 luglio 2006 alle 16:53 -
http://blog.espressonline.it/weblog/stories.php?topic=03/04/09/3080386

Top Cult Expert Steve Hassan Interviews ReGAIN’s Paul Lennon

Following the international cult conference held in Barcelona, cult expert Steve Hassan interviewed our own Paul Lennon regarding his experience with the Legionaries of Christ.

Steve Hassan, M.Ed., LMHC, one of the presenters at the ICSA Conference has been educating people about mind control and destructive cult groups since 1976. He is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC).

He has written two excellent and highly acclaimed books on these topics, including “Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults” (1988) and “Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves” (2000).

One of many interesting topics in Steve’s books includes an explanation of the “BITE” model, i.e. control of Behaviour, Information, Thoughts and Emotions. He has an informative website at http://freedomofmind.com/stevehassan/ and he has included some information regarding the Legionaries of Christ on his site.

Paul Lennon, MDiv, LPC, a licensed professional counselor, also one of the presenters at the ICSA Conference in Barcelona in 2011 and one of the original founders of ReGAIN, has been an outspoken critic of the cult like structure of the Legion and Regnum Christi based on his long term personal experience as a Legionary priest. While he was with the Legion, his feisty Irish temperament and his strong desire to know and make known the truth were unsurprisingly at odds with the narcissistic powerful leader of the Legion, Father Marcial Maciel. Fr. Maciel decided upon a quick and easy solution to deal with the upstart Irishman and sent him on a special assignment to a remote mission in Quintana Roo to silence him. Feisty Irishmen are sometimes difficult to silence even in such extreme circumstances as Paul found himself.

Although he enjoyed his assignment in the remote Legionary mission territory, Paul eventually left the Legion and continued his search for exposing the truth. Most people avoid situations such as battling with a multi billion dollar organization that is embedded deep into the Roman Catholic Church. But Paul is not easily deterred and he shares some of his story in his 40 minute interview with Steve Hassan.

The interview may be seen http://vimeo.com/26457285

Power Point version of John Paul Lennon’s presentation at the 2011 ICSA Conference in Barcelona

Paul Lennon, MDiv, LPC, a licensed professional counselor and a founding member and editor of ReGAIN was asked to take part in special session entitled <q>Are there Cultic Aberrations in the Catholic Church?</q> at the ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association) Conference in Barcelona in July, 2011.
<b>THE CASE OF THE LEGION OF CHRIST: HISTORY AND CURRENT STATUS</b>
Are There Cultic Aberrations in the Catholic Church?

<b>ABSTRACT:</b>

Mr. Lennon will give a brief history of the Legion from its founding, describing how the founder, Marcial Maciel, was able to deceive Church authorities for decades, and how the perseverance of certain former members of the Legion ultimately resulted in the Church?s recognition of the correctness of their allegations and the need to reform the Legion.

<b>Prologue</b>

Perhaps there are two questions contained in the above abstract, the first one being: How was Fr. Maciel, <q>The serious and objectively immoral behavior of [whom], supported by incontrovertible evidence, at times constitutes real crimes, and manifests a life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious feeling</q>, able to remain undetected and undeterred by popes and Church for sixty years? There is no easy answer. Such paradoxical reality may be explained by a paradoxical parable:
Luke 16:1-8 The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

The second question could be to use an image from the Wild West: how did the posse finally catch up with Fr. Maciel and what did they do to him – The <q>posse</q> being Catholic authorities. And even before, How did Fr. Maciel?s victims convince the posse to get moving? It?s a long tale.
<b>METEORIC RISE</b>

The Legion of Christ, a Catholic Religious Congregation [in popular parlance, <q>order</q>] was founded on January 3rd, 1941 in Cotija, Michoacan, Mexico by a 21-year-old Mexican seminarian called Marcial Maciel.

<b>VICTIMS AND CRITICS RAISE THEIR VOICE</b>

Around 1955 one of Fr. Maciel?s aide-de-camps and the founder?s personal secretary brought concerns regarding the Nuestro Padre?s personal life and his use of donations to Vatican authorities. In 1956 a Visitation (i.e. investigation) was launched ordering Fr. Maciel to leave the order for a while. Before leaving he prepared the members for the investigation telling them that he was being libeled and that <q>enemies of God</q> wanted to destroy His Work. When the seminarians were questioned by the investigators nobody backed the accusations. Fr. Maciel returned triumphant in 1959. Those who did not see eye to eye with him or had <q>doubts about their vocation</q> left. His exile would be referred to as <q>The War</q>. (Later this would be changed to <q>The Great Blessing</q>).
Just before his 1956 exile Maciel had begun drafting a <q>Private Vow</q>, never to criticize the person or actions of a superior and to inform the superior as soon as you found out that another member was so doing</q>. Upon his return the vow was immediately enacted.

Outside Legion confines a group of seminarians who left just after Maciel returned as superior general (circa 1960), got in touch with each other. In their conversations they serendipitously realized that several of them had been sexually abused by the founder in similar ways and with the same methods of deceit and manipulation.

Jason Berry found their testimonies to be credible and after much research by both reporters they decided to publish an article in the Hartford Courant. Thus, the first time Maciel?s abuses came to the notice of the <q>outside world</q> was during the 1990?s. The Legion threatened to sue the papers but valor prevailed and on Sunday February 23, 1997, their article Breaking the Silence, Head of Worldwide Catholic Order Accused of History of Abuse appeared lending a voice to the heretofore unknown and disempowered survivors.

Further research by Renner and Berry spawned their 2003 Vows of Silence book where they raised the specter of Vatican complicity in the silence regarding Fr. Maciel?s licentious life.
REGAIN [Religious Groups Awareness International Network] . Its goal was to help former members network, whereas the Legion ostracized and isolated- support each other, prevent premature recruitment and uniformed donations. The group also launched a webpage with information and articles explaining the Legion/Regnum phenomenon to unwitting Catholics and the general public.

The Legionaries, following the example of their founder, met these accusations with flat denial and by accusing the accusers of lies and defamation. They found stout defenders among some Catholic conservatives and intelligentsia. This defense was epitomized by the 2002 Robert J. Neuhaus? Feathers of Scandal articles in First Things.

Fr. Maciel was very adept at keeping the Legionaries despite their relatively small numbers- in the forefront of Vatican, Papal and American eyes. It was not usual to see Legionary seminarians assisting the pope in Vatican ceremonies. An Irish Legionary priest wrote the pope?s English-language audiences at the Vatican, and a Spanish Legionary priest took over the official paper, L?Osservatore Romano?s Spanish edition. A still greater coup for the Legion founder was organizing Pope John Paul II?s missionary visits to Mexico.

<b>VICTIMS? VOICE REACHES THE VATICAN</b>

In Mexico since the 1960s Jose Barba and his team pursued the official church route in search of truth and justice re the Rev. Marcial Maciel. After many personal approaches, letters and petitions, including an open letter (never translated into English) addressed to Pope John Paul II , they brought their case directly to the Vatican courts. On Saturday, October 17th, 1998, they filed an accusation of absolutio complicis (absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the 6th Commandment, i.e. a sexual sin, and which had no statute of limitations) to the Vatican court.

Hypotheses abound about how or why Cardinal Ratzinger brought the case forward. What is known is that in early 2005, and as Pope John Paul II?s health deteriorated, it was announced that a prosecutor had been named to investigate the allegations against the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement.

<b>VATICAN ACTIONS</b>

On May 19, 2006, the Vatican released a statement acknowledging the long-standing accusations against Maciel and ordering him to cease from public ministry and to observe a life of prayer and penance.
Maciel, for the most part, ignored the restrictions, continuing to live the high life of travel, hotels, and tributes until the day he died. A number of actions and event followed on the heels of the Vatican statement.
– Dec 13, 2007: <q>New report offers confirmation that Pope dissolved secret Legion vows</q>

<b>DEATH AND SCANDAL</b>

News of the founder?s death in January 2008 was shrouded in mystery; the immediate cause of Fr. Maciel?s death was not clear nor was the precise place where he died: Florida, Houston or Mexico. Rumors circulated about a woman being at his death bed and there were contrasting reports about his last moments, whether or not he had received the <q>last rites</q> of the Catholic Church, made his confession, and gone to rest in peace.

<ol> February 4th, 2009 LC Spokesman: News that founder fathered child causes Legionaries pain.
CNS? Cindy Wooden quoted in what used to be the Legion?s National Catholic Register
<q>February 05, 2009, Legionaries of Christ founder led double life
CN Catholic News blog
On March 31, 2009, Vatican orders an apostolic visitation of Legionaries of Christ
Pope Orders an Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries of Christ
By John Thavis Catholic News Service

On May 1, 2010, Vatican releases the results of the Apostolic Visitation </ol>

Simply stated the Apostolic Visitors confirm the Legionaries worst fear about their Founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado. In one paragraphs they state:
<q>The Apostolic Visitation was able to ascertain that the behavior of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado has caused serious consequences in the life and structure of the Legion, so much so, to require a journey of profound re-evaluation.

The serious and objectively immoral behavior of Fr. Maciel, supported by incontrovertible evidence, at times constitutes real crimes, and manifests a life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious feeling. The large majority of Legionaries were unaware of that life, particularly because of the system of relations created by Fr. Maciel, who had skillfully managed to build up an alibi, to gain the trust, confidence and surrounding silence and strengthen his role as a charismatic founder.

Not infrequently the lamentable disgracing and expulsion of those who doubted his upright conduct, and the misconception of not wanting to harm the good that the Legion was doing, had created around him a defense mechanism which made him untouchable for a long time, thus rendering knowledge of his real life difficult.</q>
<ol> On July 9th, 2010 news was released (by the Legion):</ol>

Pope names Velasio De Paolis papal delegate to the Legionaries of Christ.

<b>PAPAL DELEGATE BEGINS REFORM OF LEGION</b>

<ol> On July 10th 2010 the Papal Delegate Addressed the Legionaries at a special Mass at their Rome headquarters.
The papal delegated homily to the Legionaries was very paternal and pastoral, and full of encouragement. The letter he handed Fr. Corcuera was also very conciliatory as if he were trying to avert a general stampede of members. The following paragraph, recommending patience:
October 10, 2010, De Paolis got down to the business of letter to the Legionaries. Despite being more concrete than his previous addresses the Papal Delegate dashed the hopes of many critics and reformers by confirming the present superiors in their positions:
Establishment of special commissions:
Commission for the revision of the constitutions.
Commission to approach those who have in some way put forward claims against the Legion.
Commission for financial matters.

De Paolis staunchly defended the Legion?s charism bequeathed by Maciel: <q>Another very delicate question is that of the charism of the Legion. The absence of a distinction between constitutional norms and norms of law has perhaps hurt efforts to specify the charism. But it seems undeniable that it is sufficiently clear and precise; and it is also more than ever for this time. There is the need to reflect and study this in depth.</q>

For the delegate the crisis is over; there seems no reason to continue to question, to doubt, to second guess, to leave: <q>It seems to me that we can and must expect a positive path of renewal.</q></ol>

<b>IMPLEMENTING CHANGES</b>

Following on the path he laid out for the Legionaries the Papal Delegate and his team continue to implement changes. The commissions already mentioned are established and begin to function. The <q>new</q> Legion of Christ is providing updates on the work of reform.
<ol> Legion Creates Commission for Maciel’s Accusers

Commission for Financial Affairs
<q>The papal delegate for the Legionaries of Christ, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, C.S., has created a commission for the study and revision of the congregation?s financial situation. The commission has a consultative function and will report to the papal delegate and the general director with their respective councilors.

Fr. Ghirlanda presented the process for revising the Legionary constitutions, and informed the superiors about the details of the territorial commission that will assist in the process. The Europe based Superiors met in Rome on January 28, for the same purpose, with the papal delegate…

Concrete Reform: Legionaries use of E-mail and Internet
One concrete, if minor, reform instituted by the Apostolic Delegate was to review the norms binding Legionary students and seminarians. In a nutshell, they may have use to e-mail and Internet but in a very regulated and gradual way according to their state of formation. The new rules, in vigor until the Chapter General, are slightly less stringent than the previous.</ol>

<b>CONCLUSION</b>

How did Fr. Maciel go undetected and undeterred for so long may remain a mystery. Not a <q>mystery of faith</q> such as the dogmas of the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity but a mystery of human deceit, self-righteousness, negligence and pride in self and institution; a mystery of evil. Part of the answer lies in Fr. Maciel?s guile and other skills associated with a pathological personality. The truth regarding Fr. Maciel?s true nature surfaced only after his death (2008) and can be attributed to the perseverance of his victim/accusers, the diligence of a Vatican prosecutor, and because for some strange, mysterious, reason, in 2009 the Legion chose to reveal his dalliances with women and his fathering of children. Old and new scandals prompted Vatican authorities to <q>intervene</q> the order and begin a path of reform whose final destination is unknown.

The importance of the ten original accusers now reduced to eight – one died and one recanted – and of two Catholic reporters cannot be minimized.
During the past few months some important members have <q>defected</q> from the Legion; for the most part they have transitioned to local dioceses. They exit the Legion in the middle of the reforms and while the commissions are getting underway. As the papal delegate works with the Legion hierarchy to bring about the announced changes requesting a vote of confidence from the rank and file some important Legionaries are voting with their feet. But the vast majority is staying, hoping that the announced reforms will bring them a new, healthy, and vibrant Legion.
<b>Paul Lennon?s Followup Interview With Cult Expert Steve Hassan</b>

Following the international cult conference Paul Lennon was interviewed by top cult expert Steve Hassan and details of this interview are available here on ReGAIN at <a href=http://www.regainnetwork.org/article.php?a=47246180> Click Here </a>

Paul later commented that his presentation could have been entitled <q>The Legion of Christ Reformed From the Outside</q>. In his closing statements he questions why the Vatican Delegate has been so lukewarm and conciliatory to the current leadership and wonders if the Delegate has <q>fallen under the spell of Father Maciel and his intimate disciples.</q>

Another well informed former Legionary priest, <q>Aaron</q> commented on life-after-rc blog regarding (lack of progress in) the reform process that is being carried out by the Vatican Delegate (who is known to have financial expertise):

<q>He has not taken the initiative in any point regarding the Legion reform. He is overSEEing it quite literally – we have put way too much hope into his office. That is not to say that he is negligent or doing a bad job: his job is to let the Legion manage itself and rubber stamp or not what the legion wants.

Prime example: the General Director and the General Council have consolidated the two North American territories and appointed Luis Garza as the TD of the new USA/Canada territory. Velasio de Paolis: I find no objection…
i.e. The LEGION decided to unite the territories, the LEGION decided to appoint Luis Garza. After the LEGION’s decisions, Cardinal DePaolis said: Yup that?s fine with me</q>.

Aaron goes on to comment that the Delegate seems to have too much trust in the old guard Legion leaders and suggests that all the leaders should be fired and that the excessive control of peoples? every action (e.g. always eating bananas in a prescribed manner) should be relaxed.

<b>Editor?s Note:</b>

Every time I hear about an <q>approved</q> Catholic religious order or movement referred to as a <q>cult</q> by knowledgeable experts such as Steve Hassan or other recognized authorities with the International Cultic Studies Association, I cringe inside. As a Roman Catholic, I feel uncomfortable and I long to hear a Church Authority show that the Church really does understand that cults and mind control do not belong in the Church and that they have a definite plan to really <q>clean the filth from the Church</q> this time around.

Some of us had great hopes when the Vatican appointed a new commissioner with sweeping powers to take control of the Legion. Has anyone noticed LC priests or RC consecrated women tearing the peels off their bananas yet?

Bishop Charles Scicluna, Former Vatican Chief Prosecutor of Clerical Sexual Abuse Named as One of Top Ten People of 2012

“There is one of the key assistants to Cardinal Ratzinger from his years at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a man who, under the Pope’s orders, has courageously toiled to “purify the Churchâ€� by investigating cases of priestly sexual abuse. This courageous man is Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta.â€� (from The Moynihan Report – Inside the Vatican Magazine)

Each year, Inside the Vatican Magazine chooses 10 people whom they believe are examples of great courage, fidelity to the Church and heroic Christian charity.

One of those honored by being chosen as among the top ten people of the year for 2012 was Bishop Charles Scicluna. He was formerly the Vatican’s chief prosecutor of clerical sexual abuse and was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Malta and Titular Bishop of San Leone on October 6, 2012. In 2005, (then) Cardinal Ratzinger sent Scicluna to Mexico and New York to collect testimony against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr Marcial Maciel, amid allegations of abuse.

Bishop Scicluna was named in this year’s selections, together with Pope Benedict XVI.

The following is quoted with permission from Inside the Vatican Magazine:

“Bishop Charles Scicluna

His friends and family speak of his warmth, his hard work and dedication to justice, his sense of humor and of the safety they felt while in his presence. His colleagues and mentors note that he is someone who knows how to be around others and to respect all people. Almost everyone speaks of him with love and admiration for his courage, loyalty, faithfulness and hard work. He is the newly-ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Malta, His Excellency Charles J. Scicluna, 53, one of the key figures in the past decade in the Church’s effort — called for so strongly by Pope Benedict XVI — of self-purification.

Scicluna marked the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in July 2011, and celebrated his tenth year as Promoter of Justice in the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in October 2012. He then returned to his native Malta to be ordained to the episcopate on November 24.

In the days immediately following his ordination, though he has now left Rome and his Vatican post, he was assigned to be a judge in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; he will now act as advisor and sit with the two dozen cardinals and bishops who judge the abuse cases that come before the CDF, his old office.

His parents, Emanuel and Maria Carmela (née Falzon) lived to celebrate the ordination to the episcopate of the eldest of their four children.

Charles Jude Scicluna was born in Toronto, Canada, on May 15, 1959. The following year the Scicluna family moved to Malta, where he attended school and grew up, surrounded by a large extended family.

Scicluna attended Saint Edward’s College in Cottonera, Malta, and he entered the law course at the University of Malta in 1976; he graduated as a Doctor of Laws in 1984. After completing his seminary studies and earning a licentiate in pastoral theology, he was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood by the Archbishop of Malta, Monsignor Joseph Mercieca, on July 11, 1986. Scicluna was sent to study canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and obtained his doctorate in canon law with a specialization in jurisprudence in 1991, when he returned to Malta. In 1995 he was called to the Vatican to work on the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura as Substitute Promoter of Justice.

In 1996, he was appointed postulator for the cause of beatification and canonization of St. George Preca, popularly known as the “Second Apostle of Maltaâ€� after St. Paul. (In Maltese he is known as Dun Ġorġ Preca. He lived from 1880 to 1962, founded the Society of Christian Doctrine, a group of lay catechists, and was canonized by Pope Benedict on June 3, 2007.)
Scicluna is best known to the world’s media for his work in prosecuting the most serious crimes committed by priests. Quietly doing the work of a dozen individuals, he oversaw the cases leading to the removal of hundreds of pederast priests, including the late Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

In addition to the ongoing pastoral responsibilities he has had since his ordination as a priest in 1986, he has lectured, written, taught, and faithfully served the Church he loves.
He also served as defender of the bond and promoter of justice at the Metropolitan Court of Malta and professor of pastoral theology and canon law and vice-rector of the major seminary of the archdiocese there.

In 2010, Scicluna drafted the universal norms which extended the Church’s statutes of limitations on reporting cases as well as extended the list of ecclesial crimes to include the possession of child pornography, among other things.

Also in 2010, he presided at a prayer service of reparation for priests in St. Peter’s Basilica, where he courageously stated the harsh truth regarding those who have misused the priesthood: “How many are the sins in the Church for arrogance, for insatiable ambition, the tyranny and injustice of those who take advantage of ministry to advance their careers, to show off, for futile and miserable reasons of vanity!�

Intense and focused attention was as much his signature characteristic as his loyalty to his friends and unswerving adherence to Church law.

His colleagues at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith came in force to his ordination in Malta on November 24. Monsignor John Kennedy was one of those. He had worked with Monsignor Scicluna for ten years and remarked, “He would give you his complete attention and focus irrespective of the mountains of papers in front of him or the issues he was dealing with from all over the world… He gave 100 percent to everybody, on every occasion, on every day.�
And mountains of papers were his unenviable challenge every day of the ten years that he acted as Promoter of Justice, a post which had been in existence but was not functional until he was given the appointment in 2002.

On one occasion in 2006, when he was already inundated with global cases of sexual abuse, a courier from America handed him several hundred pages of testimonials; he accepted the heavy satchel with grace and humor, requesting of those who had created the dossier to be patient and “save the trees� for awhile so that he could attend carefully to what had just been given to him.
A note of congratulations to Scicluna from Paul Lennon, founder of the Regain Network and a former priest with the Legionaries of Christ, said: “I wish you peace and fortitude as you assume your new post. I will never forget the kind and respectful, while firm and professional, way you treated me… in New York in April 2005. You are in my prayers.�

Scicluna replied immediately: “Dear Paul, Let us walk humbly with the Lord who has His own plans for each one of us and will never fail to hear the cry of those who suffer. I am very happy to be back with my people, and I have promised them to lay down my life for them. I know that is what Our Lord expects of a shepherd of souls… Every bishop is called to share the concerns of the Holy Father for victims of injustice and abuse. Indeed the episcopacy is a sacramental title for such concern and cooperation. I have now moved from [headquarters] to the front line. The war against sin and crime indeed continues. Non praevalebunt.�

Before addressing a Vatican-planned conference on abuse entitled “To¬wards Heal¬ing and Renewal� held in February 2012 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Scicluna again asked for prayers from his friends, one of whom sent the message that he should remember the hymn of St. Patrick’s Breastplate; Scicluna wrote back, “Thanks for that inspired prayer.� The following day, February 8, he shocked the 140 representatives from the world’s bishops’ conferences and the 30 from religious orders when he compared the ecclesiastical cover-up of sexual abuse to the Mafia’s code of silence, omertà . Such a word had never been used in such a setting.
He continued: “The teaching of Blessed John Paul II that truth is at the basis of justice explains why a deadly culture of silence or ‘omertà ’ is in itself wrong and unjust.� He added, “Other enemies of the truth are the deliberate denial of known facts and the misplaced concern that the good name of the institution should somehow enjoy absolute priority to the detriment of disclosure.�

Everyone who has accepted the hand of Truth has enemies. Those who do not love Scicluna may be among those whom he was rebuking in his “Words of Fire� interview on August 23, 2010, with FOX news reporter, Greg Burke, now the Vatican’s communications consultant. Scicluna, referring to Jesus Christ, said: “He had words of fire against people who would scandalize the young. And if we stick to His words and are loyal to His teaching, we are on very good ground; we are not alone. [In abuse] there is a sacred trust which has been violated. The priest is ordained to be an icon, an image, a living image of Jesus Christ. He is another Christ at the altar, when he preaches. Now, when he abuses, he shatters that icon. The image for which he has been ordained is not there. It becomes a mockery of his vocation. It is a great tragedy for the individual, for the victim, for the Church. And we have to face Truth, even if it is not nice. Truth will set us free. There is no other way out of this situation except facing the truth of the matter.�

Scicluna looks to St. George Preca, Malta’s first saint, as his guide for priestly humility and holiness. Paul Cardona, who also studied the life of St. George Preca, claims that the Maltese saint is a model for Scicluna. “Like [St. George], he (Scicluna) listens to everyone, and does not make any distinction between role, age or status,� Cardona said. “Without wanting to, you just have to love him.� Cardona added that Scicluna could be described in the same way that St. George Preca spoke of St. Paul: small in stature but big in spirit.

Indeed, even the official mandate from the Holy See, which was read aloud in the Co-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Valletta, Malta, on the day of Monsignor Scicluna’s ordination to the episcopate, opened with an unmistakable note of sincere affection amidst the official language: “Benedict Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God, to Our beloved Son, Charles Jude Scicluna… who, endowed as you are with the requisite gifts of mind and heart and being an expert, among others, in things ecclesial, as we know so well, have worked in a laudable way in the Apostolic See of Peter on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith… Make sure, beloved Son, that, following the example of holiness of St. Paul and St. George Preca…you may be able to be a worthy Servant of Christ who is ‘Faithful and True’� (Rev. 19:11).

We honor Bishop Scicluna and remember his good work as he continues “Fidelis et Verax� — the words of his episcopal motto — “Faithful and True.� —Inside the Vatican Staff�

ReGAIN Comment:

According to Wikipedia: Click Here
“When he was presiding over a 2010 prayer service of reparation in St Peter’s Basilica, Scicluna asked “How many are the sins in the church for arrogance, for insatiable ambition, the tyranny and injustice of those who take advantage of ministry to advance their careers, to show off, for reasons of futile and miserable reasons of vanity! “Accepting the kingdom of God like a child is to accept with a pure heart, with docility, abandonment, confidence, enthusiasm, and hope,â€� he said. “All this reminds us of the child. All this makes the child precious in God’s eyes, and in the eyes of a true disciple of Jesus.â€�

Addressing a Vatican-planned conference on abuse held in February 2012 at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he used the word “omertà � – in rapping “a deadly culture of silence� on abuse that, beyond being obstructing the truth, “is in itself wrong and unjust.� “Other enemies of the truth,� he added, “are the deliberate denial of known facts and the misplaced concern that the good name of the institution should somehow enjoy absolute priority to the detriment of disclosure.�

On 1 December 2012 Bishop Scicluna was appointed a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for a five year renewable term by Pope Benedict.

ReGAIN editors were pleased to see that Bishop Scicluna has been recognized and honored by The Vatican Insider Magazine for his courage, dedication to the Church and for his willingness to take on such a challenging and demanding role and to speak so openly and honestly in spite of powerful opposition.

Questioning Fr. Neuhaus’ ‘Feathers of Scandal’ Defense of Fr. Maciel & RJN’s Reply

Regarding Pedophilia, Scandal Time III, the Legion & Fr. Maciel

 

By J. Paul Lennon, MA

 

As a Legionary of Christ member for 23 years –15 as priest- and presently as a mental health therapist, I have a couple of points to make: one about ‘Scandal III’, your article in First Things [August-September 2002]; the other about Father Maciel, Founder and Superior General ‘for life’ of the Legion of Christ. Because of your dim view of psychology and psychologists, and perhaps of ex-priests who have not followed your ‘fidelity, fidelity, fidelity’ precept, I hope you will not dismiss off-hand my person or my opinions.

 

REV NEUHAUS DEFENDS MACIEL -PART I

REGARDING PEDOPHILIA AND YOUR ‘SCANDAL TIME III’ ARTICLE

What is pedophilia?
Let me begin by saying that I agree with you that pedophilia is not a result of celibacy and that marriage does not solve pedophilia, or lust. However, I also believe that pedophilia and homosexuality are two different things. Definitions may help clarify this statement. My point is that your article is lacking in a real knowledge of the nature of pedophilia and gets off onto theological and philosophical tangents that distract from the issue.

Beginning in The No-Mercy Route you pick up on journalist Goodstein’s image of ‘seventy-year-old Father X’. The Father X. hypothesis is that here is this nice old priest who had one ‘slip’ many years ago, repented and never did it again. Now the bishops are going to sacrifice him to their ‘zero tolerance’ policy. You come back to this image several times to show just how unmerciful the bishops policy is. However, in this instance and in others throughout your article you seem to ignore the true nature of pedophilia, tend to minimize its gravity, and even sometimes appear to ‘blame the victim’.

At the same time you also seem to slide from the concepts of pedophilia and ephebophilia to homosexuality, placing them on some kind of a continuum of deviousness. You state that in the second installment (June/July) you noted how the ‘pedophilia’ crisis “was now recognized by almost everyone as a crisis created by adult men having sex of various sorts with adolescent and older teenage boys.” I, however, believe there is a consensus among psychologists and moralists that Pedophilia is a peculiar form of sexual abuse involving deception and/or an abuse of power, authority or status. The only difference between pedophilia and ephebophilia –which are essentially the sexual abuse of a minor-, is the age and development stage of the victim: before or after puberty, erection and ejaculation. In other words, whether the offender prefers younger or older minors, and how sexually responsive s/he needs them to be to achieve gratification. I may have overlooked your working definition of ‘pedophilia’. A generally accepted definition [Porter, E., Treating the Young Male Victim of Sexual Assault, Safer Society Press, 1991] would go something like:

‘Contacts or interactions between a minor and a person, usually at least five years older, when the minor is being used as an object of gratification for the more powerful individual’s sexual needs or desires.’

Yes, Father Neuhaus, there is such a thing as ‘no-contact abuse’. This would include contacts with exhibitionists and solicitation to sex, etc. In effect, the ‘sin’ is in the mind and heart of the beholder, as Jesus teaches. Let us remember: pedophilia is not about the actions of the minor but about the reactions and actions of the adult or older, more powerful individual.

The Father X hypothesis
I would consider the Father X benign simile quite devious, especially the way you keep building on what began as a hypothesis. The good Father X takes on a life of his own in your article. Now just let us suppose that Father X had ‘only one abusive incident with a minor, thirty years ago, that he had repented, that he has put his life back in order…’

That one offense was, nevertheless, very serious. Did he receive appropriate consequences and remedial treatment? Did he apologize to the victim? Did he make reparation as best he could? Did he take a serious look at his behavior and tendencies?
Do he, you and your readers realize that once is too much and that a victim can be scarred for life because of one invasion of boundaries, one -as you would put it- ‘impure touch’ of Christ’s little ones.
There is a kind of ‘clerical privilege’ that pervades the articles. It would seem you are saying: Let the victim get his therapy and seek healing while Fr. X gets back to the important business of touching the Body and Blood of Christ.
Are we saying that Fr. X. was caught only once? Could there have been other occasions when he was not caught? Were there other accusations and this the only one that stuck? A real pedophile is not content with a one time fix. Real pedophiles are ‘repeat offenders’.
Pedophiles are notoriously ‘slippery’ and usually respond with blanket denial when confronted. They will stonewall until they are convicted. Many offenses go undetected because the victim is silent or not believed. So offenders usually get a lot of ‘freebies’ before they are caught. How many ‘freebies’ did Father X. get?
Non-violent pedophiles usually need to lay elaborate plans and strategies in order to trap a victim. This is called ‘grooming’ and it can take weeks or months. So in this sense there is no real ‘one time only’. It is not a ‘slip’, like the impulsive pinching you described so well. It is more like a pinching you were thinking about for some time. One might consider it a premeditated accidentally-on-purpose slip.

REGARDING THE LEGION & FR. MACIEL

‘All that glitters is not gold’ regarding the Legion of Christ. Years of experience as a priest and now therapist have led me to be cautious. When someone or something is ‘too good to be true’, it usually is.

In your article you omitted mention of the sexual abuse allegations against Father Maciel, Founder and Superior General ‘for life’ of the Legion Christ for whom you have a predilection. I was fortunate never to have experienced any sexual abuse while in the Legion. However I did experience Father Maciel’s absolute power in governing, his harshness, his public humiliation, his sarcasm and ridicule when commenting on members’ and ‘outsider’s shortcomings. No one, who knows him closely, except his lackeys, would ever consider him ‘saint material’. I did not want to believe the stories when they first appeared. Not until I had heard the testimonies of his accusers –some of whom I had known personally and had no reason to doubt- did I start to believe that something like that could be true. From my point of view, sexual abuse would only be another form of the abuse of power I had come to associate with Father Maciel. You, in your trips to Rome, etc., have experienced the nice side of the Legion and Father Maciel. You are friendly to their cause. They ‘groomed’ you and now they ‘cultivate’ you. You are a benefit to them. You have succumbed to the ‘Master of Deceit’. But you cannot say you know either Father Maciel or the Legion in an intimate way and on a daily basis. You have not lived in community with him for a prolonged period of time. You are impressed by the appearances, by the results, by the glitter…

About the sexual abuse aspect, let me tell you a short story. In 1970, just after our ordination, a colleague of mine was sent as a new superior to the Apostolic School [junior seminary] in Ontaneda, Santander, Spain. Several boys approached him accusing one of the staff, another LC priest, of getting some of the little Spaniards into bed with him. The newly arrived superior knew that Maciel had previously sexually abused the abuser. As a blindly obedient religious, and according to his LC training, he immediately notified Father Maciel. ‘Our Father’ told the priest in question not to worry; that he would take care of everything. Within hours, the Territorial Director, Fr. Rafael Arumí, was dispatched from Salamanca to Ontaneda. The offending priest was summarily sent packing without any process. At that time the Legion was starting a new apostolate: the Mission Prelature in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The offending priest was sent there. He remains there to this day…-if he is still alive…

Since originally drafting this letter to the editor some months ago I have learned that another serious epidemic of pedophilia struck the Apostolic School in Ontaneda, Santander, Spain in recent years, causing the instution to be closed down. This is one of the reasons others and I are concerned that Father Maciel, because of his influence in the Vatican, is getting off scot free and that, subsequently, sexual abuse is being condoned from generation to generation in the Legion. You do understand now how important it is for Father Maciel to totally deny the allegations and discredit his accusers! Otherwise, well-meaning people like you will, sooner or later, start to question…

I, for my part, will not consent with my silence to the continuous endangerment of innocent boys, no matter how apparently holy and worthy the cause.

Paul Lennon MA,

===================================================

FR. NEUHAUS’S RESPONSE TO ABOVE MESSAGE

Fr. Neuhaus graciously replied to this letter with a short note, quoted literally:


Dear Mr. Lennon,

I am familiar with, but not persuaded by, some of the standard distinctions employed in the discussion of sexual deviancies.

I appreciate your thoughts on the Legion and Fr. Maciel. Permit me to suggest, however, that you move with startling rapidity from “having no reason to doubt” that “something like this could be true” to the assumption that Fr. Maciel is guilty of the crimes and sins alleged by his accusers.

If you have not already, you might search the FIRST THINGS website for the article in which I explain why I do not believe the charges against Fr. Maciel.

Thank you for writing.

Cordially,

(The Rev.) Richard John Neuhaus”

========================================

This elicited a second letter to RJN, which was not posted through oversight but will soon appear.

jpl 9/10/04