Beware of Cultic Leaders and Groups which pose as Religious, even Catholic: La Croix, leading French Catholic publication

Cult specialist Livia Bardin's helpful classic; Heralds of the Gospel, censured by Vatican but not suppressed. Saint Pope John Paul II blesses Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC, pedophile, psychopath and founder of the Legionaries of Christ now morphed into Regnum Christi Federation;  Father Fernando Martínez LC abused prominent Mexican TV personality  Analu Salazar and seven other girls at Cancun school when she was eight years old; Fr. Maciel embraces Paul Lennon after his priestly ordination; Fr. Urrutigoity, abuser, and founder of the Society of Saint John in the USA 1997, now suppressed.

<Beware of cultic leaders and groups

Often the line between a cult and conventional religion is blurred; and some cults even claim to be Christian while bear no resemblance to authentic Christianity.

By John Alonso Dick | Belgium

LA CROIX, France’s leading Catholic Newpaper

November 7, 2023

According to Hebrew tradition, when Moses went up into Mount Sinai in the 13th century BCE to receive the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:12-18), he left the Israelites for forty days and forty nights. The Israelites became restless and fearful in his absence. Turning away from God, and led by Moses’ brother Aaron, they directed their devotion to worshiping the Golden Calf. It was immediate, provided simple answers, and required no thinking. An early cult.

There are of course more contemporary examples, where people become fearful, want immediate and simple answers to life’s big issues and problems. They stop thinking. Their critical faculties decline and they surrender to the simple but phony propaganda of cultic leaders. And they are usually supported by far-right movements with strong racial supremacy.

Turning fantasy and fiction into accepted truths

Quite often the line between conventional religion and a cult is not so clearly defined. Cults are exclusive, highly secretive, and authoritarian. Some cults even proclaim Christianity but bear no resemblance to anything truly and authentically Christian. There are also political cults, which attract and control because they act like captivating religions, whose only demands are obedience and unquestioned loyalty.

A typical cult has a somewhat theatrical and unaccountable leader, who persuades by coercion and exploits the cult’s members economically, sexually, or in some other way. Cult leaders shun and ostracize people who don’t accept the cult’s exclusive claims to truth. When it comes to truth, cult leaders gradually turn fantasy and fiction into accepted truths by continually repeating false statements in rhetoric, propaganda, and the media. Cult leaders are false prophets.

The features and signs cultic development

The American psychiatrist, Robert Jay Lifton (b. 1926), known for his studies of the psychological causes and effects of political violence, delineates these three common features of destructive cults:

(1) A living leader, who has no meaningful accountability and who becomes the single most defining element of the group and its source of power and authority.

(2) A process of indoctrination, persuasion or thought reform, commonly called “brainwashing.” In this process, members of the group often do things that are not in their own best interest, but in the best interest of the group and its leader.

(3) Economic, sexual, social, and political exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

The warning signs of cultic development are clear:

  • It advocates authoritarianism without meaningful accountability. Leaders, if not downright evil are self-centered, mediocre, crass, and juvenile.
  • No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry. Dissent and criticism are not permitted. Those who dissent are marginalized, excluded from decision-making, and labeled “troublemakers” or “dangerous,” or even demonic.
  • The leader promotes exaggerated and misguided fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophes, evil conspiracies, and persecutions.
  • Members of the cult believe their leader was sent by God to change the world; and all must therefore be obedient and loyal to the leader.

We all need to be alert to cultic leaders and groups. They are unhealthy and pernicious. We need to have the courage to speak out. They thrive on fear and fear of social change; and they take advantage of people by controlling information and promoting fear. In the process, they support a very unhealthy kind of religion.

John Alonso Dick is an historical theologian and former academic dean at the American College, KU Leuven (Belgium) and professor at the KU Leuven and the University of Ghent. His latest book is Jean Jadot: Paul’s Man in Washington (Another Voice Publications, 2021).

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of La Croix International)

 

Read more at: https://international.la-croix.com/news/culture/beware-of-cultic-leaders-and-groups/18649&gt;

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Opus Dei being Examined for Abuse of Lay women; parallels with Regnum Christi Young Recruitment

Women in Argentina claim labor exploitation by Opus Dei: https://apnews.com/article/business-p&#8230; -SERVANTS OF GOD? The ordeal of 43 women facing Opus Dei- https://www.lanacion.com.ar/sociedad/&#8230; -Spain’s Church seeks to add credence to enquiry of alleged child abuse- https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/&#8230;

Opus Dei in the News- Allegations of Trafficking, Manipulation, and Smokescreens (it ain’t pretty)

Giving voice to Fr. Maciel’s Accusers before they die off (updated 9/16/2022)

 

                  The Best Kind of Witnesses are Dead Witnesses

would seem to be the Legion of Christ’s motto and method

They have left it to the last moment to attempt outreach and compensation to the victims. And only to the victims who will accept compensation on their terms. Those “bad” victims will not be rewarded for their “stubbornness” – or would that be “the strength of their convictions”?

Some of us got together several years ago in Mexico.

I am aware that the below is an extremely poor testimony to the victims, who spent their lives and money seeking truth and justice -and received very little in return!

Paul Lennon

These are some of the men, a few of whom victims, who fought for decades against Vatican and Legion of Christ Silence regarding the Founder’s disreputable life. González-Parga and Lennon were ordained priests in the Legion; the others left disillusioned in the 1960s as seminarians.

(From right)

Carlos de la Isla, from Mexico, one of the first junior seminarians, apostólicos, recruited by Maciel and who began his studies in Mexico City in the 1940s. Carlos and his two brothers joined the Legion as children. It is a fact that one of Carlos’ brothers was sexually abused by Maciel. The father traveled to Mexico City from the heartland to confront the founder. Maciel, as on many other occasions, found a way to deny, placate and slip away from trouble. From that moment on, someone in the Legion knew about his evil inclinations.  But the Great Catholic Houdini would always find a way out of any tight spot and come out smelling like a rose.

Arturo Jurado, early legionary, victim and witness, was one of those unfortunate seminarians who was manipulated by Maciel into finding drugs for his father beyond reproach in Spain and Rome. He left the Legion in the 1960s after being held in seclusion and silenced by Maciel for years, and made a good living for himself as Spanish language teacher and interpreter in California.  On discovering that he has much in common with José Barba,  he  joined forces with José Barba.  He spent years paying his way to Rome with José to  request Vatican  intervention regarding Maciel’s sexual abuse of his seminarians and many other irregularities.

José Barba-Martín, PhD Harvard in Philology, professor emeritus, ITAM, Mexico City  where he held the chair of Political and Social Institutions.  He of the prodigious memory,  spear-headed the accusers cause, aided by Jurado. Their decades-long saga, after meeting with denial, stone-walling and minimization, finally bore fruit in 2006 when Vatican and Pope Benedict accepted their accusations, made no apology to them, gave Maciel a slap on the wrist and ordered him to a life of Penance and Prayer;  to which unrepentant Maciel paid no attention, continuing to live with his paramour and daughter and traveling wherever he wanted by private plane.

(John) Paul Lennon,  believer, friend and supporter of Maciel’s victims; like Domínguez not a victim of sexual abuse. Joined the Legion of Christ in Dublin, Ireland, at the age of seventeen, considered Irish co-founder by Maciel, ordained to the priesthood in Rome, together with eleven others (among which Bishop Brian Farrell and Cardinal Fernando Vérgez), on the 25th anniversary of Fr. Maciel’s priestly ordination, 26th November 1969. Left Legion in 1984 -before he every heard of abuse-  and since then has been a critic of Maciel’s foundation. He was sued for his troubles by the Legion of Christ in the City of Alexandria, VA, USA in August  2007. One lawyer commented: “Mr. Lennon, you have made some very rich people very angry!”

Francisco González-Parga, known in the Legion as Padre Parga, passed away this year in Guadalajara, Mexico, mourned by his wife, Esther. Francisco was one of Maciel’s sexual abuse victims; an enslavement which began in puberty and lasted into his twenties. He was not one of the original group of accusers but came forward in 2005 when Vatican prosecutor, then Monsignor, Charles Scicluna carried out the first thorough Vatican investigation into Maciel’s sexual abuse of his seminarians in Mexico City. By this time Maciel was 85 and the victims in their sixties. Remember that Maciel founded the Legion in 1941, when he was a 21-year old untrained seminarian, and began sexually abusing the 10 and 11-year-olds under his “pastoral care.”

Maciel’s sexual preference was pubertal males. In some cases, if he found them especially attractive he would continue the relationship into the victims’ twenties. Each older victim believed he was the only object of Maciel’s attention… As Maciel “matured” he sexually abused boys who were not his seminarians, later seducing younger, vulnerable females. It would seem he never had an equal-to-equal relationship in his life. All his relationships were controlling, manipulative and exploitative. (See the author’s Breaking Bad article on this page)

(Seated)

Saul Barrales-Arellano, R.I.P., known to his companions as Brother Charity. An extremely kind and helpful person. The story goes that Saul would lay down at night outside Maciel’s bedroom in Rome, Via Aurelia 677, to prevent others from entering and being victimized. Because he once demonstrated a lack of unconditional support for Maciel, the Saint stopped his ordination as a priest, sending him instead into exile on the Canary Islands where he languished alone for months. He finally got help from his family in Mexico to fly home.  He was a headmaster at a Mexico City school and is survived by his dear Tere.

A Little addendum:

Don Alejandro Espinosa-Alcalá with Aura and Paul Lennon on one of our trips to Mexico. Alejandro is a very active original witness to Maciel’s sexual abuse , and has written about it in El Legionario (2006, edit. Grijalbo, Mexico) and El Ilusionista Marcial Maciel, of which I treasure his dedication. Like other survivors, Alejandro has lived in relative, and sometimes abject, poverty since leaving the Legion half a century ago. It seems that at the eleventh hour Fr. John Connor, Maciel’s successor, has been trying to save face by awarding  “Easter Eggs” of ten thousand dollars to the victims, assisting them in their old age, and/or paying for their funerals.

I had mistakenly pointed out Federico Domínguez in the photo. He is not in the photo, but everything that was said of him is true. At one point, Maciel sent him and some other seminarians to Dublin, Ireland, to study at the prestigious Maynooth College. After some time, Federico became disenchanted with the whole Legion project, left the seminary and married a lovely Irish girl, and “they lived happily ever after” in the USA.

Federico Domínguez, R.I.P., one of Maciel’s writers, circa 1955 he reported to Church authorities in Rome regarding some of Maciel’s questionable behaviors; thus provoking the first major Vatican investigation into the founder and his order, 1956-59; Maciel was exiled for two years, but with the help of allies in the Curia (Pizzardo & Co.), was able to return and consolidate his power and control. About this time Maciel conceived the Private Vows (see Berry & Renner’s Vows of Silence), one of which was the “snitching vow” whereby “Never to criticize the person or actions of the superior, and to inform on anyone who does so.” This vow was apparently abolished by the later Vatican investigation around 2010, the spirit may still prevail among die-hard Legion and Regnum Christi members.

Father Maciel’s Vatican Godfather Dies: Cardinal Angelo Sodano goes to meet his Creator

Pope Francis once stated, when questioned about Fr. Maciel and how he had succeeded in deceiving so many people, including Vatican officials, for such a long time and always came out smiling, that Maciel “must had had a godfather in there”.
That Godfather was Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the man behind Pope John Paul II’s throne for many years.

Pope Francis once stated, when questioned about Fr. Maciel and how he had succeeded in deceiving so many people, including Vatican officials, for such a long time and always came out smiling, that Maciel “must had had a godfather in there”.

That Godfather was Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the man behind Pope John Paul II’s throne for many years.

As his death is announced, several important news media, including Reuters’ Philip Pullella, pull no punches

Opus, Legionaries, Regnum Christi, Heralds, Focolare, Neo-Catechumenals, Community of St. John, et Accused of Being Cult-like

Catholic Orders and Movements Accused of being Cult-like.

and the band plays on. (except when another founder is found to be a sexual abuser! see Figari, Maciel, Marie-Dominique Phillipe…)

See study on Amazon

Why does the Vatican allow hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent and generous members to continue to suffer under authoritarian rule and coercion?

Some of them are priest-making machines and bring in millions of dollars to the Vatican

Is it because Catholic Leadership is unable to admit its mistakes?

ReGAIN has the greatest respect for Cardinal Braz de Aviz and Cardinal Farrell but as we are close to the ground we hear the cries of suffering members of these communities and cannot turn our backs on the victims of sexual, physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual abuse.

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