Vatican’s Major Crime: Allowing Fr. Maciel to remain as an undeterred pedophile for 60 years in the Legion of Christ.

 

 

Dear readers,

It is not ReGAIN’s policy to attack the pope or the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. But this article does take the Roman Curia, the apparatchiks of the Church, to task for sins of omission and commission. ReGAIN avoids focusing its critique on the pope as the only or main culprit for all the Church’s ills. We believe this to be too simplistic. (It is always nice to have a concrete target, one person, for our anger and outrage). But it is impossible to absolve several popes, from Pope Pius XII through Benedict XVI, from gross negligence in allowing Maciel and his brand of religious life to continue and prosper in the heart of Catholicism.

Here you will not find (John) Paul Lennon “ranting and raving” -as he was portrayed by Legion lawyers in Alexandria City VA court in 2008. Rather will you find Paul Lennon, saddened by the death of another of Fr. Maciel’s unvindicated sexual abuse victims, Saúl Barrales, on April 5th, 2021; Paul Lennon, LPC, and cult researcher,  a practicing Catholic, jolted into action by an article received from Info-Culte, a bona fide Canadian-based cult-watch organization:

A Pedophile should not be allowed to return to the scene of his crimes

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-07/convicted-paedophile-denied-access-to-shoalhaven/100053146

The cited article refers to how local Australian residents objected to infamous pedophile,  “Little Pebble”,  being allowed to return to the place of his pedophilia crimes even under very strict supervision. The article has left me in a state of shock when I realize how information regarding Fr. Maciel’s abuse of  a seminarian under his care -two years after founding the order with preadolescent boys in Mexico- reached the Vatican in 1943 and was disregarded, leaving the predatory fox free in the chicken coop he had built for his own dubious reasons. This neglect may also explain how Maciel’s victims’ lives were so irreparably destroyed. Such devastation was witnessed by their loved ones and by those of us who only became aware of their plight in 1997.

https://www.ncregister.com/blog/vatican-knew-about-legionary-founder-maciel-s-abuse-from-1943-ex8xr481

Let us look at why local residents objected to having the abuser back in the community where the abuses had occurred after completing his sentence -and how they prevented him from returning. They prevailed against a decision by the New South Wales supreme court allowing him to return under strict supervision. They feared victims would be re-traumatized.

“Late last week the NSW Supreme Court ruled that cult leader William Costellia-Kamm – also known as “Little Pebble” – could return to his commune at Cambewarra, in the Shoalhaven region, under strict conditions and pending approval by Corrective Services NSW.

The decision sparked a huge community backlash that was supported by state and federal MPs.

Today a Corrective Services NSW spokesperson said Costellia-Kamm would be denied access to the region.

“Corrective Services NSW has given no approval for the offender to reside at Cambewarra or the Shoalhaven and has no current plans to do so,” they said.

“The offender will be subject to an intense level of supervision, including around-the-clock electronic monitoring, as well as 48 other strict conditions around his housing, movements, finances, associations, electronic communications and personal appearance.”

The department said Costellia-Kamm would be supervised by “highly-trained” Community Corrections officers who would work with NSW Police.

“The supervision team has also been granted extensive search and seizure powers by the Supreme Court, which allows them at any time and without warning to search the offender, his accommodation, vehicle and any electronic devices,” the spokesperson said.

“Any breach of an Extended Supervision Order is a criminal offence and can result in additional charges and up to five years’ imprisonment.”

In delivering his decision last week Justice Stephen Campbell said the risk Costellia-Kamm posed could be “adequately managed” given the “stringency of the conditions” that were proposed.

Trauma concerns

The court’s decision led to hundreds of residents on the South Coast signing a petition calling for Costellia-Kamm to be banned from returning to live at the place his crimes were committed.

“All children have a right to feel safe in their community and allowing this man into our community puts our children at risk,” signatory Temeka Giddings said.

Their concerns were echoed by South Coast MP Shelley Hancock and the member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, who expressed concern about the trauma his return would have on his victims.

“In my view there has to be some reform to the law whereby an offender such as this can never come anywhere near this community …,” Ms. Hancock said.

“We cannot abide people like this coming back to live amongst us.”

In 2005 Costellia-Kamm, who founded a cult called the Order of Saint Charbel, was convicted of raping two teenage girls he  referred to as his “spiritual wives”.

He had been living in Sydney since he was paroled after serving the bulk of his decade-long sentence.

He continues to deny his guilt and claims he was falsely accused.”

 

The Re-Traumatization of Maciel’s Victims and the Corruption of the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation founded and ruled by him.

The reader must agree with the writer’s shock on connecting the above to  the Maciel case.

It took the Vatican 13 years to react to accusations against the founder of the Legion of Christ religious order (“congregation”): first official Vatican “visitation” of the Legion of Christ 1956-58/59. The investigation ultimately was a failure and Maciel was allowed to return to his foundation; not only living in the residences, but also as superior general, enjoying world-wide authority and exercising total and detailed control over each member. The incestuous father returned to his family, reinstated and in a stronger position. Back in Rome, the conman resumed his affair with prominent members of the Curia whom he continued to bribe and blackmail. The serial pedophile had already been abusing his pubescent subjects since the foundation in 1941. So, the abuse went unchecked through 1956 and continued for another fifty years until his death in 2008.

A further Vatican “visitation” in 2009, after Fr. Maciel’s death, failed to root out sexual predators, accomplices, complicit superiors, lackeys, and Maciel die-hards in the organization. No radical changes in the structure and modus operandi occurred. Changes were made to documents but not to personnel. The apostolic delegate had been “love-bombed” by then Legion General Director, Fr. Álvaro Corcuera LC, R.I.P., and the leadership cadre under Monsignor Velasio de Paolis’ review remained in control.

In recent years the Legion, in its effort to deny wide-spread sexual abuse in its midst, has tried to attribute the main part to the “bad” founder, acknowledging that he abused at least 60 minors under his pastoral care. When one considers that Maciel was a predatory serial pedophile this number looks ridiculously low: one victim per year? Testimonies remark how Maciel was insatiable in his lust. As one victim wrote, referring to his abuse in the 1960s: “Maciel is always on the lookout for fresh flesh.” It does not take too much imagination to multiply the official number by three, five or ten…One is also left pondering the effect of second and third generation victims-cum-predators inside the Legion of Christ in an atmosphere of closed doors, secrecy, minimization, exile, and cover-up.

Testimonies reveal how Maciel “progressed” from abusing victims as children  to abusing them as adolescents and young adults. The imbalanced relationships sometimes continued into early adulthood with his “lovers”. His dalliances with women tend to obscure his pedophilia and confuse the public. However, it is the writer’s conviction that Maciel’s preference was always focused on boys and adolescents which he could procure on his travels after he exhausted or lost interest in his monotonous inhouse supply.

We are left with mind-boggling questions:

What is the effect of a pedophile confessor, spiritual director, superior, general director living in the midst of a religious community founded and controlled by him?

What is the safety level in a community with an unrestrained sexual predator?

What happens when a sexual predator is your spiritual director and confessor and uses this forum to explore your sexual history and weaknesses?

How is moral compass and conscience destroyed when the sexual predator tells the budding adolescent nothing is wrong, that he is doing the Will of God when he pleasures his predator and allows himself to be pleasured?

What is the effect of an undeterred sexual predator surrounded by innocent boys when the predator is also addicted to morphine?

What kind of actions and conversations does this Superior General have with his victims when uninhibited by drug-use?

How extensive and long-lasting are the effects of Marcial Maciel -the abuser, the liar, the deceiver- on the superiors of the Legion of Christ hand-chosen by him?

What about the disordered actions of the multiple generations of Macielites in positions of authority in the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation to this day?

More disturbing:

How does the Vatican hold on to its approval of the Legion of Christ in the light of these undeniable accusations? Is it not capable of reviewing its blind approval of Fr. Maciel and his foundations, which carte blanche can only be explained by deceit and Mafia-like accomplices, bribes and omertà in the Roman Curia of the Catholic Church? (See admission by Prefect for the Congregation of Religious Life, Cardinal Braz de Aviz, cited above)

Is the Vatican able to admit its mistakes in having been unwittingly and/or willingly misled by a consummate conman? Is it capable of reversing its erroneous approval of this flawed founder and his order?

Does Pope Benedict XVI believe “the filth” has been cleaned from the heart of the Church? What does Pope Francis think of the half-hearted job done by his predecessors? Will he continue to handle the Legion/Regnum Christi with kid gloves? (They are after all a money-making and a priest-making machine!)

And how are the many innocent victims of Fr. Maciel and other Legionaries’ sex abuse to keep the Faith? How are the many thousands of former members of the Legion of Christ who have suffered sexual, physical, mental, psychological, and spiritual abuse to remain faithful to Church authorities who have betrayed them?

A faithful remnant prays that we be able to salvage our faith in the Risen Christ and the ekklesia  He founded. Sadly, many have lost that fight due the negligence and collusion of bad shepherds (John 10,1-18).

 

 St. Augustine of Hippo on Bad Shepherds

 

“Well then, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord!” What must you shepherds hear? Thus says the Lord God: behold, I am above the shepherds and I will call them to account for the sheep in their hands.

Listen, sheep of God, listen and learn: God will call the bad shepherds to account for his sheep and for their deaths. As he says elsewhere in Ezekiel: Son of man, I have appointed you as sentry to the House of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, warn them in my name. If I say to a wicked man, “Wicked wretch, you are to die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked man to renounce his ways, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent, and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin but you yourself will have saved your life.

You see, brethren? Do you see how dangerous it is to keep quiet? If you remain silent, you die; and rightly. You die for your impiety and sin – it is your negligence that kills you. He who has said, As I live, says the Lord might have found a living shepherd – but since the shepherd was negligent, not warning those he had been given authority over, those whose sentry he was, he will die justly, and the sentry will be justly condemned. (…)

Since I raised the question, let us see if he takes the sheep from the bad shepherds and gives them to good ones. I certainly see him taking the sheep from the bad shepherds: I am above the shepherds, and I shall take my flock back from them and I shall not allow them to feed my flock. In this way the shepherds will stop feeding themselves. For when I say to them, “Feed my sheep,” they feed themselves and not my sheep. I shall not allow them to feed my flock.

This selection from Saint Augustine’s Sermon 46 on Pastors (Sermo 46, 20-21; CCL 41, 546-548) treats of the shepherds of the church as watchmen and is used in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings on Wednesday of the 25th week in Ordinary Time with the accompanying biblical reading taken from the prophet Ezekiel 37:1-14, the famous vision of the dry bones.

 

 

<The Confession of the Casta Meretrix

 

Jacques Servais

 

“The Church, [many of the Fathers] say, continues to live by the pardon that transforms her from a harlot into a holy Bride.”

Ecclesia sancta simul et semper purificanda

 

It is surely not without significance that Hans Urs von Balthasar chose to republish “Casta Meretrix,” his now classic study of the holiness and the sinfulness of the Church, on the very eve of the Council in 1961.1 The significance of this gesture is underscored by his simultaneous republication of another article, “Who Is the Church?,”2 which complements the first through its emphasis on the Church’s identity. While the first explains the sense in which the Church can call herself at once “harlot” and “chaste” before her Lord, the second grounds this because she is a subject who is really distinct from her Bridegroom. These two essays doubtless share a certain affinity of spirit with an important statement in Lumen gentium, which speaks about the Church in terms to which the hierarchy had hardly accustomed the faithful:

While Christ, holy, innocent, and undefiled knew nothing of sin, but came to expiate only the sins of the people, the Church, embracing in its bosom sinners, at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, always follows the way of penance and renewal. (LG, 8)>
https://www.communio-icr.com/articles/view/the-confession-of-the-casta-meretrix

———————

ReGAIN reminds readers that the ideas presented here are not the fruit of hearsay or rumor but rather historical information regarding Fr. Maciel and his foundations: found in English in Vows of Silence, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FC1B74/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1, and in many articles by Berry in National Catholic Reporter; and in Spanish in Fernando M. González’ Marcial Maciel, la Legión de Cristo: testimonios y documentos inéditos, https://www.amazon.com/Marcial-Maciel-Legionarios-testimonios-documentos/dp/9706991506/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Fernando+M+Gonzalez%2C+Marcial+Marcial&qid=1617991920&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legionaries of Christ’s Sins of Omission in Latest Report on their Sexual Abuse

LEGIOnaries of Christ’s Sins of Omission in Latest Report on their Sexual Abuse, March 22, 2021 –

Artículo parcialmente Bilingüe

¡y siempre puedes usar el botón de Traducción al castellano!

 

Towards a Culture of O Abuse in the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ

Report by Legionaries of Christ on their official English Language page March 22, 2021 https://www.0abuse.org/accountability/#abusecases

 

Like everything else produced by the Legionaries of Christ, this document needs to be examined with a fine-tooth comb. Not that this analysis will be so fine. But it will explain the nature of sexual abuse of minors and point out some of the document’s limits or deficiencies.

 

“Child Sex Abuse Statistics

According to a recent study Darkness to Light,

https://www.cc-cac.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/all_statistics_20150619.pdf:

 

  1. What is child sexual abuse? FACT: The definition of child sexual abuse is broader than most people realize. Often a traumatic experience for children and teens, child sexual abuse is a criminal offense punishable by law in many societies. Child sexual abuse includes: • any sexual act between an adult and a minor, or between two minors, when one exerts power over the other.
    1. forcing, coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act.
    2. non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism, and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or Internet.

 

  1. What is the magnitude of the problem?

FACT: Child sexual abuse is far more prevalent than most people realize.

FACT: Even with declining rates of sexual abuse, the public is not fully aware of the magnitude of the problem. • The primary reason is that only about 38% of child victims disclose the fact that they have been sexually abused. Some never disclose. (The author believes that disclosure in Catholic and Latin American countries may be lower because of taboos, shame, and machismo). There are also privacy issues surrounding cases of child sexual abuse. For instance, public police reports do not name the victim, and most media concerns have a policy that precludes naming victims.”

 

 

Superiors/directors/assistants/spiritual directors/employees who Aided and Abetted Abuse

 

Not mentioned in Legion Official Report.

The report mentioned superiors who were abusers; for example, Canary Islander Fr. Guillermo (William) Izquierdo, a novice master whose fetish was to contemplate naked novices under his pastoral care – Greek statues in human flesh. (the author has this first-hand from one of the several victims).

But the official report does not mention the grave problem of people in authority who hushed up abuse:

  • knew about it,
  • did nothing about it,
  • expelled offender and victim indiscriminately,
  • gave them no help -spiritual, emotional, psychological, financial-
  • expelled them,
  • moved them to another city of country… etc.

As psychologist, historian and researcher Fernando González so eloquently and precisely explained in a recent tv interview with Carmen Aristegui, https://aristeguinoticias.com/2403/mexico/falta-que-legionarios-toquen-la-red-de-arriba-que-apunten-hacia-el-vaticano-investigador-video/, there is a systemic problem, present in the Legion since its inception and the first accusations against Maciel in 1943, that has not been addressed. González went on to posit that this scandal even splashes members of the Roman Curia who were complicit with cover-up of Maciel’s crimes. He quotes the Prefect for the Congregation for Religious, Cardinal Braz de Aviz, who, when discussing accusations against Maciel in Vatican archives since 1943, spoke of a veritable Mafia https://regainnetwork.org/2019/01/04/vatican-admits-knowing-about-legion-founders-sex-abuse-since-1943/   practicing the code of keeping absolute silence, omertà.

A former Legionary spontaneously reacted to the LC report on the Legioleaks Facebook page (4,500+ subscribers, mostly disaffected Spanish-speaking former members, “walk-aways” or “throw-aways”)

 

(English translation)

Ubaldo Pilar Rodríguez

With these new official publications, the next step (before they die from old age) is for current directors to demand that “former directors” or anyone in positions of moral responsibility and with knowledge of the issue:

– one: come forward via social media and beg forgiveness (that is the minimum they must do, even if as a result they suffer public harassment).

– two: such people resign from any position of responsibility they may occupy (including economic, legal within the institution and foundations, associations or companies created by the same).

– three: (internal human and spiritual resolution) let himself be crucified. Is  today not Friday of Sorrows? (….). I take advantage of this occasion and make a  connection with (Divine) Providence (which I no longer practice, because I am an abuser of ecclesiastical authorities).

Oscar Juan Turrión, Tote Nuñez, P. Alberto Simán LC, Alberto Castellanos Franco, Please Stand Up!

– And I add a fourth point: let yourself be helped: physically, emotionally, in your rationality, mentally, spiritually, and humanly: It’s much more than a “comprehensive repair.” It is a need of anyone within a FAMILY: to go to the origin for true reconciliation. Why not?”

To which one reader replied: “Wishful thinking!”

 

(Original Spanish with minute edits.)

Ubaldo Pilar Rodriguez

Con estas nuevas publicaciones oficiales, el paso siguiente (antes de que fallezcan por vejez) es que los directores actuales obliguen a los “exdirectores” o cualquier persona que tuviera cargos de responsabilidad moral, con conocimiento de causa en esta materia:

– uno: que salgan a la luz vía redes sociales pidiendo perdón (es lo mínimo que deben hacer, aunque sufran acoso público).

– dos: dimitir de cualquier puesto de responsabilidad (y económica, jurídica, legal dentro de la institución y fundaciones, asociaciones o empresas creadas en el entorno de la misma)

-tres (resolución interna humana y espiritual) dejarse crucificar. ¿Es hoy viernes de dolores? (…). Aprovecho la casuística del día y la relaciono con la (Divina) Providencia (que yo ya no la vivo, por ser un abusivo eclesial). Señalo a

Oscar Turrión, Tote Nuñez, P. Alberto Simán, Alberto Castellanos Franco – Y añado un cuarto punto: dejarse ayudar: física, emocional, lógica, mental, espiritual y humanamente:

Es mucho más que una “reparación integral” . Es una necesidad de cualquier persona dentro de una FAMILIA: ir al origen para una verdadera reconciliación.

¿Porque no?”

 

Vatican’s Flawed Investigation

The above reflections point to a Vatican problem beyond the Legion/Regnum Christi problem. Readers can check ReGAIN and see that we have seldom, if ever, engaged in “Vatican bashing”. So, we do not come to this issue lightly.

After the latest scandalous post-mortem revelations regarding Founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC (ever a priest and ever a Legionary) hit the headlines, the Vatican ordered an investigation into this religious congregation in 2009

https://www.archbalt.org/vatican-orders-apostolic-visitation-of-legionaries-of-christ/?print=print

The Vatican’s, always-carefully-drafted document, named Monsignor Velasio de Paolis as Apostolic Delegate (mark, not as a commissioner) to help the Legion renew itself (mark, no mention is made of “reform”). Charmed by then then Superior General, Fr. Álvaro Corcuera, R.I.P., the Vatican delegate did not to dismiss the leadership cadre (Corcuera, Garza, Sada and other members of the Monterrey, Mexico powerful elite who manage the Legion’s financial empire), choosing to make documentary changes. Many of Maciel’s hand-chosen men remained in their positions. Critics alleged substantial change, cleaning out of the Augean stables, was not accomplished. Cosmetic changes were made; key movers -including Maciel die-hards- and systemic problems remained. And they remain to this day, as we have briefly demonstrated above. Further disillusioned former members coined the term el Fracasado Pontificio (The Pontifical Failure) for now deceased Archbishop De Paolis.

Why is the Legion always treated by the Vatican with kid gloves? Is it because it is the priest-and-money-making machine? Sad question for us believers hanging onto our Faith, and hard questions for the Vatican, during Holy Week 2021.

 

EXPLOSIVE: Behind Opus Dei’s Veil of Secrecy (see Regnum Christi 3gf “Consacrated Women”) Part One

EXPLOSIVE: Behind Opus Dei’s Veil of Secrecy – Part 1

By: Randy Engel 

An Interview with Ex-Opus Dei Numerary Eileen Johnson – Part 1

Introduction           

The following interview with ex-Opus Dei numerary, Eileen Johnson, was conducted over a period of several months in 2020 and 2021.  Eileen is a native of Yorkshire, England, where “a spade is called a spade, and not a bloody shovel.” And indeed, she obliges us with her extraordinary candor and honesty in response to my in-depth questions concerning her more than ten-years-experience as an early high-level member of Opus Dei in the United Kingdom (UK) in the 1960s.

– Randy Engel, Catholic investigative reporter and editor of ODWATCH [1]


Engel: By way of introduction Eileen, would you give our readers some background on your family and education, and how Opus Dei entered your young life?

Johnson: Yes, of course. I was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1943, into a Catholic family on my mother’s side. My father was an agnostic. I have two older brothers. As the youngest and only girl, I attended a Catholic primary school and later a convent Grammar school, which I think your American readers would call a Catholic high school. I was a pious child with a lively spirit who loved to sing and dance. At the age of 15, I seriously considered a religious vocation.

It was about a year later, at age 16, when Opus Dei entered my life – surreptitiously, I might add.

I was an excellent student and class leader. French was my favorite subject. So, it was not surprising when our new young French teacher took a special interest in me and took me under her wing. I was flattered. She was aware of my regular lunchtime visits to the school chapel as she also frequently visited the chapel.

One day she invited me to join her at an international summer school for girls at the Rydalwood University hostel in Manchester where, she said, I could “teach English” and also practice my French. My parents, especially my father, encouraged me to take advantage of this opportunity. They trusted my teacher.  I had just turned 17, and this was my first trip away from home on my own. Naturally, I was excited!

Engel: Was the venture successful?

Johnson: As it turned out, I was invited to Manchester under false pretenses.  

First of all, I was unable to practice my French because there were no French students taking the course. I wasn’t qualified to teach English either. The invitation was, in fact, a ruse to introduce me to Opus Dei within a closely-controlled Opus environment apart from my family. But I was oblivious to the reality.

Engel: Wasn’t there a visible sign designating Rydalwood[2] as an Opus Dei University hostel when you entered the building?

Johnson: No. The centres have secular names and are not openly identified as being run by Opus Dei. It wasn’t until my French teacher, herself an Opus numerary, started to explain to me what Opus Dei was, that I began to understand the real reason for the invitation. You see, neither I, nor my family or friends, had ever heard of Opus Dei. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Opus was just getting established in the UK. So, it was all quite new. After a few days, at Rydalwood my teacher told me I had a “vocation” to Opus Dei.

I resisted the pressure to join “the Work” at first. However, a few months later, after I had attended an Opus weekend retreat back in Manchester, I changed my mind.

Engel: What attracted you most to Opus Dei?

Johnson: Bear in mind that I was only 16 when Opus’s grooming and “love bombing” began. I came from a comfortable, happy home, but hadn’t been exposed to cosmopolitan ways. I was on the threshold of my newly-discovered independence and found the Opus members and the beautiful atmosphere at Rydalwood very appealing. I took my Catholic faith very seriously and had already been thinking of becoming a nun. I was attracted by the fact that the numeraries at Rydalwood were lay women fully dedicated to God.

Also, as a language student, I was immediately drawn to the Latin flavor of the centre and the gaiety and friendliness of the numeraries, most of whom were Spanish. They were well dressed, well groomed, well perfumed. And they made such a fuss over me – something I wasn’t used to as I was a lonely child and teenager.

Looking back, I remember the first time that my parents drove me to the Manchester campus and visited Rydalwood. As they were leaving my mother asked me, “Do you think you would like it so much if it wasn’t so attractive?” It was a rather prophetic question.

Engel: So, you initially joined Opus Dei as a supernumerary, not as a numerary, correct?

Johnson: Yes, in December 1960. At the time, I was still living at home, and studying for my A level exams. I planned to enter Manchester University in the fall.  I remember fervently reading and studying The Way[3] and other Opus publications. I even sold copies of the publications to my friends at school. I was obviously totally enthralled with Opus Dei.

Engel: What’s the difference between an Opus Dei supernumerary and a numerary?

Johnson: The degree of commitment.

Male and female numeraries are lay celibates; they live in Opus centres; they hand over their total income to Opus Dei; and are closely monitored and controlled. Supernumeraries are married, or at least free to marry. They are also expected to make significant financial donations to Opus. They have Opus confessors and spiritual directors, and a Plan of Life.[4] Both are fully committed to the recruitment of new members and spreading the message of Opus Dei through their families and their work.

I should mention that there are celibate members who live at home. They are called Associates.

Sometimes they have to care for aging or disabled parents.

Engel: Did you take vows of any kind like religious do?

Msgr. Josemaría Escrivá with Pope John XXIII, Ides of March, 1960

Johnson: When I joined Opus Dei in the early 1960s it was called a “Secular Institute.” Escrivá adamantly wanted to avoid any perceived connection between a “lay vocation” in Opus Dei with a “religious vocation.”

So, to answer your question, I took what were called, “private vows.” For me they were binding, even before I formally took them. From the day I “’whistled” (OD jargon for writing the letter to Rome to request admission), I lived as a committed member in every way. The understanding was that the commitment was for life. The Admission ceremony took place six months later in the Opus oratory in the presence of an Opus priest, my directress, and one other numerary.

After Opus Dei was awarded the unique status of “Personal Prelature” in 1982, the term “vow” was changed to “contract,” but the nature of the commitment remained basically the same.

Engel: Was your family present at the Admission ceremony?

Johnson: Hardly. They didn’t know I had joined Opus much less that I had made a lifelong commitment to the Work that included perpetual celibacy. Neither did any of my close friends. As a new recruit I was told not to tell my parents. From the start, it was explained to me that for our apostolate in Opus Dei to be effective it must “pass unnoticed.” Opus Dei deemed our dedication was to be a very private matter between us and God and our sisters in Opus Dei. What many see as “secrecy,” Opus calls “Holy Discretion.”

Engel: No matter what you call it, for a minor to engage in such deception and be instructed to keep such a life-changing association secret from his or her parents is a violation of the Fifth Commandment to honor one’s father and mother. Didn’t your obvious delicate conscience send up a red flag?

Johnson: If it did, I wasn’t paying attention. As I said earlier, I was just bowled over by this new and exciting version of a secular life so fully dedicated to the Church – the Work of God – yet, so upbeat, so vibrant, so warm, and so friendly.

Engel: We’ll be returning to the issue of secrecy as formal Opus policy later in this interview, but for now I’d like to ask you about your relationship with your boyfriend at this time. Was it serious? Did he know about your commitment to Opus?

Johnson: Yes, to both questions. We were serious. We even discussed the possibility of marriage after we graduated from the University. We also came to share a deep attraction to Opus Dei and we both became supernumeraries.

Like me, my boyfriend kept his membership in Opus a secret from his parents. He resided at an Opus Dei men’s University residence. We both were aware at the time that Opus was grooming both of us, but not for each other. Eventually, Opus was able to manipulate our total separation and he eventually joined as a celibate numerary. I found out that he had become a numerary when the directress told me to speak to the priest in the confessional. I was instructed not to contact him again.

Engel: Did he ever pursue the occupation he studied and trained for at the University after graduation?

Johnson: No, I don’t think so. He was a Physics graduate, but Opus needed him elsewhere for internal work. In his early 20s, he became the Director of a male Opus University Centre in London. Later, he was asked by his superiors to become a priest of Opus Dei. He was ordained in Rome at the age of 26.  He later became the Counselor (later called Vicar) of Opus Dei for the UK.

Engel: And you?

Johnson: I was told before joining Opus Dei that I would be free to pursue my chosen studies and career in languages. That never happened. In February of 1962, at the age of 18, three months after I separated from my boyfriend, I also changed my supernumerary status to that of a numerary (lay celibates who live in Opus centres) so I could devote my entire life to Opus Dei. This meant I had to “whistle” again and write to the Father to ask to be admitted as a numerary. I never spoke to my boyfriend again.

I was also told by my directress that I would make a good journalist. That idea lodged in my mind and I began to perceive a journalistic career as part of my vocation to serve Opus Dei.

Engel: How did Opus Dei influence your academic and campus life?

Johnson: Well, during my three years at the University, I found myself focusing more on my “Plan of Life” and proselytism than on my studies. In my third year, I was appointed Assistant Directress of Rydalwood, which further detracted from my studies. At the age of 22, I was appointed a member of the Advisory[5] in London. This came as a surprise, and I felt very flattered.

Although, theoretically, Opus places a high premium on excellence in academics as well as work, in my case dedication to the internal needs and tasks of Opus and its expansion in the UK took priority over my personal choices and priorities, and jeopardized my career.

Also, when I entered the University, I had hoped to join the Gilbert and Sullivan Society and the Scottish Country Dance Society, but these were nixed by Opus because they would expose me to the opposite sex. Going to the theater, cinemas and mixed social events were also prohibited.

Engel: At what point did you reveal your membership to Opus Dei to your parents?

Johnson: In June 1964, after I had graduated from the UniversityI told them that I had an interest in joining Opus now that I had turned 21, which was the age of majority in the UK back then.[6] That was a lie, of course. I had already been a member for years, first as a supernumerary while I was still living at home, and then as a celibate numerary and as an Assistant Directress at Rydalwood.

Engel: So, your parents helped pay for your college costs for four years not knowing of your life-long commitment to Opus?

Johnson:  Yes, my father paid a “parental contribution,” to supplement the grant from my local education authority.

Engel: And Opus, who would benefit from all your educational skills and talents after your graduation paid how much?

Johnson: Nothing.

Engel: How convenient, I mean, for Opus.

Johnson: I should add a caveat here to say that during my undergraduate at the University, my father had become ill, so my parents were not as aware of my campus life as they might otherwise have been.

I recall my directress telling me that I needed to “get a balance.” “Since your parents don’t know about your vocation, you can’t stop going home for the holidays,” she advised me. I was reminded of The Way, 644: “Be silent! Don’t forget that your ideal is like a newly lit flame. A single breath might be enough to put it out in your heart.”

On the few occasions that I actually spent at home, my mother did express concern about my social isolation and tried to introduce me to a young man, but that was out of bounds for me as a celibate numerary.

Engel: What about your family relations after your graduation in 1964?

Johnson: After graduation I continued to live at Rydalwood. I rarely saw my parents. Not even at Christmas. As for my brothers, I had almost no contact with them or my sisters-in-laws or their children. Opus did permit me to be a godmother to two of my nephews, but that was before I had informed my family that I had joined Opus Dei.

Overall, Opus discouraged members’ attendance at family events like weddings and funerals. When my cousin, who had been my longtime playmate was married, I went to stay at my parents’ home, but on the morning of the wedding, I feigned illness so as not to attend. I felt no remorse. Rather, I was pleased with myself that I had found a way to “obey.” When my aunt, my mother’s only sister died I didn’t go to the funeral. Mum was very hurt. On this occasion I did feel bad as I had started to question my membership in Opus Dei.

Visits with old friends were discouraged unless the motive was to recruit them.

Genuine friendships disappeared. Over my many years as a numerary, I had no real friends. I had fallen prey to the Opus way of using “friendship” as a tactic, in a very manipulative way. By the time I left Opus I was friendless.

Gradually I became more and more emotionally distant from my “blood family” and my old friends. I couldn’t wait to get back “home” to my new “supernatural family” – Opus Dei.[7]

Engel: I’m a little more than curious to learn more about your life as a numerary in Opus Dei. Maybe you can start by describing your early formation or orientation to what is called “the Spirit of Opus Dei,” especially since ex-members are generally hesitant about revealing this type of information to “outsiders.”

Johnson: The so-called “Spirit of Opus Dei” is gradually conveyed to new numeraries in a variety of ways. There was the weekly “Circle” and “Fraternal Chat.” There were meditations given by an Opus priest at the monthly Days of Recollection, and also an annual five-day retreat. At the three-week Annual Course held at an Opus women’s centre, more experienced numeraries gave talks on the “Spirit of the Work” (Discretion, Obedience, Poverty, Divine Filiation, Apostolate, the Norms, and Mortification) and we had regular guided meditations from an Opus Dei priest, who also gave classes on the teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Engel: Speaking of mortification did you wear the cilice [a sharp spiked ring worn on the upper leg used to suppress desire]?

Johnson: Yes, I wore the cilice on my upper thigh for two hours a day in the afternoon, and used the discipline [a small whip of knotted cords applied to one’s buttocks] for five minutes on Saturday. These were an obligatory part of my life as a numerary.  I should add that these practices were only revealed to us after we became members.

Engel: Let me get this straight, Eileen. These programs of formation and mortification you described were in addition to…

Johnson: … In addition to the other norms and requirements for a numerary that included two half hours – one in the morning and one in the evening – of mental prayer daily; Mass; the Rosary; the Angelus; the Preces; Opus Dei prayers and the examination of conscience. Major Silence was kept from bedtime until after Mass the next day, and Minor Silence during the afternoon.

Engel: And what about your internal work as Assistant Directress of Rydalwood and your part time job teaching English to immigrant children at a local school? And later, your appointment to the Opus Advisory as Secretary of Saint Raphael’s Work[8], which must have required a great deal of time and energy? Frankly, this doesn’t seem to be in the realm of an “ordinary” or “normal” life for a non-religious. When did you have time to breathe or think your own thoughts?

Johnson:  What can I say? I was hooked. My real self was being overshadowed by my newly acquired cultic personality, but not entirely, thank God. At times, I was exhausted. I remember particularly the time when the Advisory worked through several nights, preparing the annual report and contribution for Rome. I had to go to bed (well, to lie on the floor) because I couldn’t work any longer.

In theory, we were supposed to take breaks, in the form of a “weekly walk,” and a “monthly excursion,” but with our work ethic, these down times were often overlooked.

(To be continued)

[Part 2 will be published on Wednesday, March 3]


ENDNOTES

[1] OD WATCH was first published in November 2017 by Catholic writer Randy Engel, a long-time critic of the Prelature and its organizational tentacles of numeraries, supernumeraries, associates, and cooperators. It is a free electronic mailing based on background information, news, and commentaries on Opus Dei from around the world. To subscribe, contact  Randy Engel at rvte61@comcast.net.

[2] Rydalwood was the first Manchester centre of the OD women’s section. It was a University hostel with accommodations for about 35 students.

[3] Josemaría Escrivá, The Way: The Essential Classic of Opus Dei’s Founder, containing Scriptural passages and personal anecdotes drawn from Escrivá’s life and work. The booklet presented Escrivá’s 999 points for meditation.

[4] The Plan of Life comprises the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly commitments of members.

[5] The Advisory oversee the activities of all the Opus Dei centres of the Women’s Section in the UK, and acts as a go-between or facilitator between local centres and Rome, constantly transmitting instructions. The Advisory is presided over by the Counsellor (or Vicar).

[6] In 1969, the age of majority was reduced from 21 to 18 in the UK.

[7] Escrivá claimed the Work is a true family, not metaphorically. And that the bonds in the Work are stronger than those of blood. See “Pastoral Letter of the Prelate,” Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, October 11, 2020, on the restructuring of the Prelature.

[8] St. Raphael’s Work [Circles] of formation, meditations, recollections, and retreats is directed at young people. Initially, ‘cultural activities’ are organized as a means of attracting young people to the centres. They are then invited to participate in the spiritual activities. Escrivá stated that visits to the poor are one of the traditional means of St. Raphael’s work, although he himself as the founder of Opus Dei was rarely seen among the poor.

The Torture Chambers of the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation

Two of Fr. Maciel’s Victims describe in detail the places where sexual abuse took place:  the Infirmary of the Legion mother house, Via Aurelia Nova 677, Rome, Italy

Link

Another Maciel Sex Abuse Victim dies off: Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi rub their hands and shed crocodile tears!

At 1 am today, February 5, 2021, Maciel Survivor Fr. Féliz Alarcón (Hoyos) passed away in Madrid,  Spain at the age of 87

This way the Pontifically approved Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation can stop worrying about compensation for his abuse by their Foúnder and pro vida General Director, Fr. Marcial Maciel (Degollado), LC.

Newly elected General Director, Fr. John Connor, the victims’ Great While Hope, after a triumphal entrance full of promises of taking care of Maciel’s sexual abuse victims and thus cleaning up the mes in the Legion house, soon fell back into Legion Tradition: delay, delay, delay, play cat and mouse with victims; he gave some of them paltry Easter eggs of $5,000.00 UScy last year – “this is just a gift, not compensation!” If Fr. Félix received that or more is a secret. The Kingdom of Maciel operates by stealth, secret and gag order…

No serious negotiation with the victims

No respecting agreements withu intermediary (the intermediary was in cahoots with r bought over by the LC/RC!)

No negotiations with the victims as a group. “Divide and Conquer!”

Fr. Connor and other Legionary priests found a way to split the group.

Meanwhile, one victim, Mexican Fernando Pérez Olvera, a former seminarian, died in 2020

Today, another victim, a Spaniard, passed away in Madrid. ReGAIN admires the fact that he was able to hold onto his priesthood until death.

Now this sect-like Catholic o’rganization will shed crocodile tears  in Spanish -for their “Dear Brother in Christ”,  -a flowery Spanish language  statement was released by Fr. Connor saying how much he cared for and helped Fr. Felix- maybe even celebrate a Mass for the repose of his scarred  soul..  Who knows  what human prudence and astuteness shall dictate.