Am I, or a loved one, involved with a Harmful Group? Find out

depression

Info-Culte,  a prominent and well respected Canadian association that studies harmful groups and relationships, explains their 35 year trajectory. And how “the field” has changed over the years. The address by founder, Mike Klopfeld will give the reader insight into how people are drawn into harmful groups and why so many concerned people study the phenomenon of charismatic Pied Pipers who lead the unwitting on a merry chase out of their minds and money.

by Mike Kropveld

Article based on a presentation given at the Beijing International Academic Symposium on Cultic Groups and Religious Culture, Beijing, China, August 15–16, 2015:

Want to learn more about the Legion/Regnum of Christ and other harmful Christian groups?

Follow the ICSA annual international conference in Dallas, or sign up!

Here is the link

Annual Conference – Overview

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The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is conducting its 2016 Annual International Conference with Info-Secte/Info-Cult of Montreal in Dallas, Texas. The conference will take place from June 30 through July 2, 2016 (preconference workshops on Wednesday June 29).

Attendees and speakers at past conferences have

Can you help me? I am an active, former..member of Regnum Christi … Legion of Christ or other Catholic/Christian group

 

girl_crying

Help is available.

You can contact us via this page; we might say something like:

Thanks for contacting us.

Hope you are well and safe. Be safe in body, mind and soul.If you are suicidal go to your nearest emergency center. Tell a friend. Find people who accept you. Don’t bother with others…
ANSWER:
you can talk and communicate with me and other members of ReGAIN via email, phone, Facebook…and or with counselors you would be comfortable with; priests, cult counselors, mental health therapists, former members, etc..
We would try to contact you depending on where you are and what you want/need.
We would get you emotional support and maybe some material if you were in dire need

Thanks for contacting us.

?Por que se sigue dudando de la Legion de Cristo, del OPUS y otros Movimientos? Canonistas Catolicos nos dan la pista

maciel_jpii

ARTICULO BILINGUE,

Traducido en su totalidad y exclusivamente para ReGAIN for A.F. que transita de un grupo catolico de alta presion.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pvLSz5NcVO19BdDVNIVW7Gmy69vDL6DBj54sOxPlsmw/edit?pref=2&pli=1#

 

SEPARANDO EL TRIGO DE LA CIZAÑA: 20 SIGNOS PROBLEMÁTICOS DE UN  NUEVO GRUPO RELIGIOSO.

Peter J. Vere, J.C.L., M.C.L.

Desde la clausura del Concilio Vaticano II, numerosos grupos nuevos han surgido dentro de la Iglesia. Muchos de ellos comienzan su andadura con buen paso y se mantienen con los pies sobre la tierra, otros sin embargo terminan con los pies “fuera del tiesto”. Esto puede deberse a su pobreza doctrinal o a prácticas cuestionables.

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Sifting the Wheat from the Tares: 20 Signs of Trouble in a New Religious Group

Peter J. Vere, J.C.L., M.C.L.

Since the closing of the Second Vatican Council, a number of new groups have arisen within the Church. Whereas many new groups start off on the right foot and maintain solid footing, others fall by the wayside. This may be due to poor doctrine or questionable practices.

Red Flags and Warning Signs

As a canon lawyer, I am often asked what the Church looks for when assessing new groups forming within the Church. While the following is by no means exhaustive, it presents a pretty good list of red flags and warning signs that would give any canonist pause when examining a new association.

Banderas rojas y señales de alerta

Como canonista (abogado especializado en Derecho Canónico), suelen preguntarme qué es lo que busca la Iglesia cuando se asesora a nuevos grupos dentro de su seno. Aunque la siguiente relación no pretende ser exhaustiva, presenta un buen listado de banderas rojas y signos de alarma que deben alertar a cualquier canonista que se disponga a examinar una nueva asociación.

Fr. Francis G. Morrisey, OMI is well-known to every student of religious law. As a lifelong member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Fr. Morrisey possesses much experience living in religious community. He is also a professor of canon law at Saint Paul University and a former consultor to the Congregation for Religious — the curial dicastery in Rome that oversees various forms of consecrated life within the Church. This has given him much experience examining and assessing numerous religious orders and new groups within the Church.

Fr. Francis G. Morrisey, OMI es bien conocido para cualquier estudiante de derecho religioso. Como miembro a lo largo de toda la vida de los Oblatos de María Inmaculada, Fr. Morrisey posee mucha experiencia en la vida religiosa en comunidad. Es profesor de Derecho canónico en la Universidad San Pablo y ha sido consultor de la Congregación para la Vida Religiosa -el dicasterio de la Iglesia que supervisa las distintas formas de vida consagrada. Ello le ha aportado mucha experiencia para examinar y asesorar a numerosas órdenes religiosas y nuevos grupos dentro de la Iglesia.

Several years ago, Fr. Morrisey proposed 15 criteria, or warning signs, when evaluating new associations within the Church. While these warning signs are not law per se — that is, law in the sense of legislation — most canonists accept these criteria as a solid guide when examining and assessing new associations within the Church. For those with access to a good ecclesiastical library, Fr. Morrisey presents and explains these fifteen criteria in his article “Canonical Associations…” published in Informations, vol. 26, (2000), pp 88-109.

Hace varios años, Fr. Morrisey propuso 15 criterios o signos de alarma a la hora de evaluar nuevas asociaciones dentro de la Iglesia. Aunque dichos criterios no son ley por sí mismos -es decir, no son normativos- muchos canonistas los aceptan como una guía consolidada cuando hay que examinar y asesorar nuevas asociaciones en la Iglesia. Para aquellos que tengan acceso a una buena biblioteca eclesiástica, Fr. Morrisey presenta y explica esos 15 criterios en su artículo “Canonical Associations…” (Asociaciones canónicas…) publicado en Informations, vol. 26, (2000), pp 88-109.

For those without access to an ecclesiastical library, or for those looking for an explanation more accessible to the average layperson, here are Fr. Morrisey’s 15 criteria along with my personal explanation of what they mean:

Para quienes no tengan acceso a una biblioteca eclesiástica, o para aquéllos que estén buscando una explicación más accesible para el laico promedio, aquí se enuncian los 15 criterios del Padre Morrisey junto a una explicación personal de su significado:

 

Fr. Morrisey’s 15 Warning Signs-

15  SeŇales de Alerta del Padre Morrisey

 

  1. “Total” obedience to the pope

Many will find this first warning sign surprising. As Catholics, are we not all called to obey the Holy Father? Indeed, we are. When a new association sincerely seeks to obey and follow the teachings of the Holy Father, canonists are for the most part satisfied the group is doing what Catholic groups ought to do.

Nevertheless, some new associations abuse Catholic sensibility in this regard. These groups cite “total obedience to the Holy Father” when what they really mean is partial obedience to selected teachings of the Holy Father, without embracing the entire papal message. Additionally, when challenged over their partial obedience, these groups will appeal to their “total” reliance upon the Holy Father in an attempt to bypass the authority of the diocesan bishop. This brings us to Fr. Morrisey’s second warning sign.

 

  1. Obediencia “total” al Papa.

Muchos puede que encuentren sorprendente este primer signo de alarma. ¿No estamos llamados a obedecer al Santo Padre como católicos? Sí, lo estamos. Cuando una nueva asociación busca sinceramente obedecer y seguir las enseñanzas del Santo Padre, los canonistas están para asegurar que dicho grupo cumple lo que todos los grupos católicos deben hacer.

Sin embargo, algunas asociaciones católicas nuevas abusan de la sensibilidad católica al respecto. Esos grupos citan la “total obediencia al Santo Padre” cuando lo que realmente quieren decir es obediencia parcial a determinadas enseñanzas del Santo Padre, sin abrazar el mensaje papal al completo. Por añadidura, cuando sean advertidos de que su obediencia es parcial, estos grupos apelarán a su obediencia “total” para intentar hacer un puente a la autoridad del obispo diocesano. Esto nos lleva al segundo signo de alarma que señala el Padre Morrisey.

 

  1. No sense of belonging to the local church

As Catholics, we belong to the universal Church. Yet we also belong to the local church community, meaning a local parish and a local diocese. Even the Holy Father is not exempt in this regard; he is, after all, the Bishop of Rome and thus belongs to a local Roman Church. Thus the ministry and apostolate of any association should focus on the local church. If a new association or religious order has no sense of belonging to the local church, then this becomes cause for concern.

 

  1. Ausencia de sentido de pertenencia a la iglesia local.

Como católicos pertenecemos a la Iglesia universal. También pertenecemos a la comunidad de la iglesia local, entendiendo por ello la parroquia local y la diócesis local. Ni siquiera el Papa está exento a este respecto; él es, después de todo, el Obispo de Roma y por ello pertenece a la iglesia local de Roma. Por tanto, el ministerio y el apostolado de cualquier asociación debería enfocarse hacia la iglesia local. Si una nueva asociación u orden religiosa no posee sentido de pertenencia a la iglesia local, entonces hay motivo para preocuparse.

  1. Lack of true cooperation with diocesan authorities

To belong to the local church, one must cooperate with local diocesan authorities. After all, Christ instituted His Church as a hierarchy. Within this hierarchy, our Lord instituted the office of bishop to oversee a portion of Christ’s faithful. Thus the local bishop, and not a particular religious group or association, bears ultimate responsibility for the care of souls within a particular geographical location. If a new association refuses or impedes cooperation between itself and the local diocesan authorities, then its fidelity to the Church is questionable.

 

  1. Falta de cooperación auténtica o verdadera con las autoridades diocesanas.

Por pertenecer a la iglesia local, uno debe cooperar con las autoridades diocesanas locales. Después de todo, Cristo instituyó Su Iglesia como una jerarquía. Con esta jerarquía, nuestro Señor instituyó el oficio diocesano para supervisar una parte de los fieles de Cristo. Por tanto, el obispo local, y no una asociación o grupo religioso, tiene la última responsabilidad del cuidado de las almas en una localidad geográfica particular. Si una nueva asociación se niega o impide la cooperación con las autoridades locales diocesanas, entonces su fidelidad a la Iglesia es cuestionable.

 

  1. Making use of lies and falsehoods to obtain approval

As Catholics, we concern ourselves with speaking the truth. After all, our Lord denounces Satan as the “Father of Lies.” So any new association should be truthful in how it presents itself to its members, Church authorities, and the outside world. This is not just a matter of basic honesty; any group or association that resorts to falsehoods to gain approval is likely concealing a deeper problem.

The Church understands that every association, particularly when the association is new, makes mistakes when engaging in ministry or apostolate. When an association is honest, however, these problems are easily identified and quickly corrected. This in turn increases the likelihood of the new association succeeding within the Church.

 

  1. Hacer uso de la mentira y la falsedad para obtener la aprobación.

Como católicos, nos obligamos a nosotros mismos a hablar con la verdad. Después de todo, nuestro Señor denuncia a Satanás como el “Padre de la Mentira”. Así, cualquier nueva asociación debería ser auténtica en cómo se presenta a sí misma ante sus miembros, ante las autoridades de la Iglesia y ante el mundo exterior. Esto no es una cuestión de honestidad elemental; cualquier grupo o asociación que se valga de la mentira para conseguir la aprobación está ocultando un problema más profundo.

La Iglesia comprende que cualquier asociación, particularmente cuando es nueva, comete errores cuando se involucra en el ministerio o el apostolado. Cuando una asociación es honesta, sin embargo, esos problemas son fácilmente identificados y rápidamente corregidos. Eso aumenta el éxito de la nueva asociación en el seno de la Iglesia.

  1. Too soon an insistence on placing all goods in common

While the Church has a history of associations and religious orders in which members place all their goods in common, the decision to do so should come after a reasonable period of careful discernment. Placing one’s goods in common in not for everyone, and the consequences of such a decision are lifelong. Additionally, the potential for abuse by those who administer the common goods is great. Therefore, canonists frown upon any insistence by an association that its new or potential members place their goods in common.

Due to the fact that modern times see less stability in common life, with members sometimes opting to leave after a number of years, the most prudent handling of goods in common is to place them in trust until a member dies. That way, if the member leaves, the goods are available to meet his or her needs outside of the community.

 

  1. Prematura insistencia en la necesidad de poner en común los bienes.

Aunque la Iglesia tiene una larga historia de asociaciones y órdenes religiosas en las que los miembros ponen todos sus bienes en común, la decisión para hacerlo debería tomarse tras un periodo razonable de cuidadoso discernimiento. Poner los bienes en común no es para todo el mundo, la decisión de hacerlo afecta de por vida. Por otra parte, el abuso potencial de quienes administran esos bienes es grande. Por tanto, los canonistas tendrán que fruncir el ceño ante cualquier insistencia de una asociación nuevas para que sus potenciales miembros pongan sus bienes en común.

Debido a la vida en común es menos estable en los tiempos modernos, con miembros que se plantean abandonar tras cierto número de años, lo más prudente en cuanto al manejo de bienes en común es ponerlos en custodia (fideicomiso) hasta la muerte del miembro. De ese modo, si el miembro abandona, sus bienes están disponibles para sus necesidades fuera de la comunidad.

  1. Claiming special revelations or messages leading to the founding of the group

Although this represents a warning sign, it is not absolute. The Church recognizes the presence of many legitimate apparitions and private revelations throughout her history. Yet not all alleged apparitions or special revelations turn out to be true. Therefore, the Church must further investigate any claims of special revelations or messages — particularly when they become the catalyst for founding a new association. If, however, a new association refuses to divulge or submit its alleged revelations or special messages to the Church, then this immediately calls into question the authenticity of both the association and the alleged apparition.

 

  1. Reivindicación de revelaciones o mensajes especiales para la fundación del grupo.

Aunque esto representa un signo de alarma, no es un signo absoluto. La Iglesia reconoce la presencia de muchas apariciones legítimas y revelaciones privadas a lo largo de su historia. Sin embargo, no todas las supuestas apariciones, revelaciones especiales o mensajes son probados como verdaderas. Por tanto, la Iglesia debe investigar cualquier pretensión de revelaciones especiales o mensajes, en particular cuando se convierten en el catalizador para la fundación de una nueva asociación. Si una nueva asociación se opone a la divulgación o al sometimiento de las supuestas revelaciones a la Iglesia, entonces es procedente cuestionarse inmediatamente la autenticidad tanto de la asociación como de las supuestas apariciones o revelaciones.

 

  1. Special status of the founder or foundress

Of course, the founder or foundress will always enjoy a special role in the founding of a new association or community. Nevertheless, in all other respects he or she should be a member just like everyone else. This means that he or she is similarly bound to the customs, disciplines, and constitutions of the community. If the founder or foundress demands special meals, special living quarters, special dispensations from the rules imposed upon other members of the community, or any other special treatment, then this is a clear warning sign. It is of special concern if the founder or foundress claims exemption from the requirements of Christian morality due to his or her status (see point 15 below).

 

  1. Papel privilegiado del fundador o la fundadora.

Por supuesto, el fundador o la fundadora siempre disfrutará de un papel especial en la fundación de una nueva asociación o comunidad. Sin embargo, en el resto de aspectos debería ser un miembro exactamente igual que los demás. Esto significa que el fundador o la fundadora están sujetos a las mismas costumbres, disciplinas y constituciones que la comunidad. Si el fundador o la fundadora reclama comidas especiales, viviendas especiales, dispensaciones especiales de las reglas impuestas a los demás miembros de la comunidad, o cualquier otro tratamiento especial, entonces esto constituye un claro signo de alarma. Será de especial preocupación si el fundador o la fundadora solicita la excepción de los requerimientos de la moral cristiana debido a su estatus (ver punto 15).

  1. Special and severe penances imposed

As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, virtue is found in the middle, between two extremes. Therefore, any penances imposed upon members of the community should be both moderate and reasonable. Special and severe penances are not signs of virtue — rather, they are signs of extremism.

 

  1. Imposición de penitencias especiales y severas.

Como enseñaba Santo Tomás de Aquino, en el término medio está la virtud, entre ambos extremos. Por tanto, cualquier penitencia impuesta a los miembros de la comunidad debería ser al mismo tiempo moderada y razonable. Las penitencias especiales y severas no son signo de virtud. Más bien al contrario: son signos de extremismo.

  1. Multiplicity of devotions, without any doctrinal unity among them

The purpose of sacramentals and other devotions is to bring us closer to Christ and the sacraments. Hence sacramentals are not superstitions. A new association or community should insure that any special devotions or sacramentals unite its members to Christ, the sacraments, and the mission of the association. For example, praying three Hail Marys in front of the statue of St. Joseph while the Blessed Sacrament is exposed does not offer such unity. Eucharistic Adoration, Marian devotion and devotion to St. Joseph are all good in themselves, however, they should be offered either individually or collectively as devotion to the Holy Family. They should not be offered simultaneously.

 

  1. Multiplicidad de devociones, sin ninguna unión doctrinal entre ellas.

El propósito de los sacramentales y de otras devociones es ofrecernos más cercanía a Cristo y a los sacramentos. Por tanto, los sacramentales no son superstición. Una nueva comunidad o asociación debería garantizar que cualquier devoción especial o sacramental sirva para unir a sus miembros a Cristo, a sus sacramentos y a la misión de la asociación. Por ejemplo, rezar tres Avemarías delante de la estatua de San José mientras se expone el Santísimo no aporta esa unidad. La Adoración Eucarística, la devoción mariana y la devoción a San José son buenas en sí mismas, sin embargo, deberían ofrecerse por separado o colectivamente como devoción a la Sagrada Familia. No deben ofrecerse simultáneamente.

 

  1. Promotion of “fringe” elements in the life of the Church

As previously mentioned, every association or organization within the Church should exist to serve the needs of Christ’s faithful. Therefore, canonists view any association that exists solely to serve fringe elements — whether these elements be special apparitions, private revelations, or extreme social or political agendas, etc. — with suspicion.

 

This is not to deny that extraordinary events may sometimes become the catalyst for a new association or religious order. For example, St. Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscans after receiving a locution from our Lord to “Rebuild My Church.” Nevertheless, St. Francis did not found the Franciscans with the intention of promoting his internal locution. Rather, the internal locution inspired St. Francis to found an order that would serve the Church.

 

  1. Promoción de elementos “marginales” (periféricos) en la vida de la Iglesia.

Como se mencionó anteriormente, cualquier asociación u organización dentro de la Iglesia católica debería existir como servicio a las necesidades de la fe (de los fieles) en Cristo. Por tanto, los canonistas observan con suspicacia toda aquella asociación que exista exclusivamente para servir a elementos marginales -tanto si son apariciones especiales como revelaciones privadas, o proyectos de obras sociales o políticas, etc.-

Esto no significa negar que eventos extraordinarios puedan a veces convertirse en el catalizador de una nueva asociación u orden religiosa. Por ejemplo, San Francisco de Asís fundó los franciscanos después de haber recibido de nuestro Señor la petición “Reconstruye mi Iglesia”. Sin embargo, San Francisco no fundó los franciscanos con la intención de promover su llamada interna. Más bien fue la llamada interna la que inspiró a San Francisco la fundación de una orden que sirviera a la Iglesia.

 

  1. Special vows

Within the Church, one finds the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Additional or special vows present numerous problems. Often, special vows are reduced to means through which superiors unduly control members of the community or association. The danger is particularly pointed where a special vow cannot be externally verified. Take “joy” for example; one can usually appeal to objective evidence that someone is not living a life of poverty, chastity and/or obedience, but as a feeling, “joy” is too subjective to be judged in an objective manner.

 

  1. Votos especiales.

Dentro de la Iglesia, uno encuentra los tres votos tradicionales de pobreza, castidad y obediencia. Introducir votos añadidos o especiales presenta numerosos problemas. A menudo los votos especiales se reducen a ser formas de control indebidas de los superiores sobre los miembros de la comunidad o asociación. El peligro es particularmente señalado cuando un voto especial no puede ser externamente verificado. Estar alegre, por ejemplo. Uno puede apelar a la evidencia objetiva para saber si alguien no está viviendo su vida conforme a la pobreza, a la castidad y/o a la obediencia, pero en cambio un sentimiento como es la “alegría” es algo demasiado subjetivo como para poder ser valorado objetivamente.

 

  1. Absolute secrecy imposed on members

While some discretion and privacy is necessary within any Church community or association, secrecy should never be absolute unless one is a confessor preserving the seal of confession. Therefore, any association or organization that imposes absolute secrecy upon its members should be approached with the utmost caution. Members should always be free to approach diocesan officials and the Holy See if certain problems arise within the community that are not dealt with in an adequate fashion. Similarly, since these associations exist to serve the Church, all members should be allowed to converse freely and honestly with members of the Church hierarchy when requested.

 

  1. Imposición del secreto absoluto a los miembros.

Mientras que cierta discreción y privacidad son necesarias dentro de cualquier comunidad o asociación de la Iglesia, el secreto nunca debería ser absoluto excepto para quien sea confesor respecto a salvaguardar el secreto confesional. Por tanto, cualquier asociación u organización que imponga el silencio absoluto entre sus miembros debería ser abordada con la mayor cautela. Los miembros deberían ser siempre libres para dirigirse a los funcionarios diocesanos con el Espíritu Santo si ciertos problemas surgen dentro de la comunidad y no se resuelven de la manera más adecuada. De modo similar, puesto que esas asociaciones existen para servir a la Iglesia, todos los miembros deberían estar autorizados para conversar con total libertad y honestidad con los miembros de la jerarquía eclesiástica cuando fuese necesario.

  1. Control over the choice of confessors and spiritual directors

Confession and spiritual direction concern the internal forum — that is, those things that are private to a person’s conscience. Within reasonable limits, a person should be free to choose his or her confessor and spiritual director. On the other hand, obedience to one’s superiors in carrying out an association’s apostolate or ministry concerns the external forum. In other words, the latter are public actions that can be externally verified.

The roles of confessor and spiritual director should never be confused with the role of superior. Nor should there even be the appearance of confusion. Of particular concern to canonists is when a superior imposes himself as confessor and/or spiritual director of a member under his charge. After all, a superior will have to make decisions about a member’s future — and in so doing there exists a strong temptation to make use of information gathered under the seal of confession.

 

  1. Control sobre la elección de confesores y directores espirituales.

La confesión y la dirección espiritual concierne al foro interno -esto es, al conjunto de cosas que son privadas de la conciencia personal. Dentro de límites razonables, una persona debería ser libre para elegir a su confesor y a su director espiritual. Por otra parte, la obediencia a los superiores en cuanto al apostolado desarrollado por una asociación o ministro concierne al foro externo. En otras palabras, el último está constituido por acciones públicas que pueden ser verificadas externamente.

Los papeles de confesor y de director espiritual nunca deberían confundirse con el papel de superior. No debería siquiera haber lugar para la confusión. Una cuestión de particular importancia para los canonistas es cuando un superior se impone a sí mismo como confesor y/o director espiritual de un miembro a su cargo. Después de todo un superior tendrá que tomar decisiones sobre el futuro de ese miembro -y actuando así existe una tentación fuerte a hacer uso de información reservada bajo el secreto de confesión.

 

  1. Serious discontent with the previous institute of which certain members were part

Like some of the other red flags presented, this warning sign is not absolute. Sometimes, a very good reason exists for a member’s discontent with his or her previous institute. Nevertheless, serious discontent with a previous institute should be carefully examined. In most cases, such discontent points to some deeper problems with the individual, particularly if he or she has a history of “conflict of personalities.”

 

  1. Serio descontento con el instituto anterior o con ciertos miembros que formaron parte del mismo.

Como algunas de las anteriores banderas rojas que se han presentado, este signo de advertencia no es absoluto. A veces, una muy buena razón existe para el descontento de un miembro con su instituto anterior. En cualquier caso, siempre debería ser examinado seriamente. En muchos casos dicho descontento señala algunos problemas profundos con el individuo, particularmente si éste tuvo una historia de “conflicto de personalidades”.

(Editor ReGAIN: conflictos del Padre Maciel con la orden de los Jesuitas)

  1. Any form of sexual misconduct as a basis

This warning sign is fairly self-explanatory. The Church’s teaching is clear when it comes to sexual morality. If sexual immorality is the basis for a new group or association, then the association ought to be avoided. Additionally, one should immediately report this to the competent Church authority.

 

  1. Cualquier forma de mala conducta sexual como base.

Este signo de alarma es de por sí casi definitivo. Las enseñanzas de la Iglesia son claras ante la moral sexual. Si la inmoralidad sexual es la base de un nuevo grupo o asociación, entonces la asociación debería ser evitada. Adicionalmente, uno debería inmediatamente poner esto en conocimiento de la autoridad eclesiástica competente.

                                                                   &&&&&

 

Five Additional Warning Signs from the International Cultic Studies Association

In addition to the fifteen warning signs presented by Fr. Morrisey, Dr. Michael Langone has assembled a list of thirteen criteria by which many cult experts judge a group to be a cult. Dr. Langone is a counseling psychologist and the Executive Director of the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA). He has spent nearly 30 years researching and writing about cults, and for 20 years has been the editor of the Cultic Studies Journal. The following five criteria have been adapted from Dr. Langone’s thirteen criteria and applied to the context of Catholic associations. Some canon lawyers find them useful when evaluating the legitimacy of a new association within the Church.

 

Cinco Alertas adicionales de la Asociación Internacional para el Estudio de las Sectas (ICSA)

En adición a los quince signos de alarma presentados por Fr. Morrisey, el Dr. Michael Langone ha aportado una lista de trece criterios mediante los cuales los expertos en sectas evalúan un grupo como tal. El Dr. Langone es terapeuta psicólogo y el Director Ejecutivo de la Asociación Internacional de Estudio de las Sectas (ICSA). Ha pasado cerca de 30 años investigando y escribiendo sobre sectas y durante 20 años ha sido el editor de la Revista de Estudios de Sectas. Los siguientes cinco criterios han sido adaptados a partir de los trece criterios del Dr. Langone y adaptados al contexto de las asociaciones católicas. Algunos abogados canónicos los encuentran muy útlies cuando evalúan la legitimidad de una nueva asociación dentro de la Iglesia.

 

  1. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

Of course every new association, if it wishes to grow, will seek to increase its membership. Such growth, however, should come because potential members identify with the mission or apostolate of the association. Additionally, members should only join after a reasonable period of discernment. Thus, any association whose main focus is to bring in new members, to the exclusion of other acts of apostolate or ministry, should be carefully examined.

 

  1. El grupo se obsesiona con la incorporación de nuevos miembros.

Por supuesto cada nueva asociación, si quiere crecer, buscará incrementar el número de miembros. Dicho crecimiento, sin embargo, debería ir unido al hecho de que haya miembros potenciales que se identifiquen con la misión o el apostolado de la asociación. Además los miembros deberían solo incorporarse tras un período razonable de discernimiento. Por tanto, cualquier asociación cuyo objetivo principal sea incorporar nuevos miembros, excluyendo otros actos de apostolado o ministerio, deberían ser cuidadosamente examinados.

  1. The group is preoccupied with making money.

Like the previous criterion, there is nothing wrong per se with raising money for one’s association or apostolate. After all, even Christ and the Apostles used money. Nevertheless, money should be a means of carrying out legitimate ministry and apostolic work. Raising money should never be an end in itself. Additionally, the means employed in raising money should be honest and transparent.

 

  1. El grupo está obsesionado con hacer dinero.

Tal como el criterio anterior, recaudar dinero para una asociación o apostolado no es malo per se. Después de todo, incluso Cristo y los apóstoles utilizaban dinero. Sin embargo, el dinero o la financiación debería ser un medio legítimo para ejercer el ministerio y el trabajo apostólico. Recaudar dinero nunca debería ser un fin en sí mismo. Además los medios empleados para recaudar la financiación deberían ser honestos y transparentes.

  1. Elitism

The Catholic Church recognizes that by virtue of their baptism, a certain equality exists among Christ’s faithful, regardless of whether one belongs to the lay, religious, or clerical state. Additionally, among religious orders and newer forms of consecrated life, the Church recognizes different types of charisms. Some are active, in that they tend heavily toward active ministry and apostolic work. Others are contemplative, in that they tend more toward prayer and contemplation. Of course, you find everything in between. Therefore, any Church association that only recognizes vocations to its association is not thinking with the mind of the Church. Nor are those associations with a polarized mentality that divide their vocations from those of the rest of the Church.

 

  1. Elitismo

La Iglesia Católica reconoce que por virtud del Bautismo existe cierta igualdad entre los fieles de Cristo, con independencia de si alguien es laico, religioso o pertenece al estado clerical. Entre las órdenes religiosas y las más nuevas formas de vida consagrada, la Iglesia reconoce distintos tipos de carismas. Algunos son activos, tienden fuertemente al trabajo de apostolado y al ministerio activos. Otros son contemplativos, tienden más hacia la oración y la contemplación. Por supuesto, hay infinidad de grados intermedios entre ambos. Por tanto, cualquier asociación de la Iglesia que solo reconozca vocaciones a su asociación no está pensando en comunión con la Iglesia, tampoco aquellas asociaciones con una mentalidad polarizada que separan sus vocaciones de las del resto de la Iglesia.

 

  1. The leadership induces feeling of guilt in members to control them.

One’s vocation within the Church should be freely chosen. Similarly, obedience is something a superior should inspire among those under his or her charge. While it sometimes happens that a superior must impose his or her will upon a particular member, obedience should never be coerced through illicit or improper means. Additionally, if a superior must constantly impose his will upon the majority of the membership through coercive means, then this proves problematical to the long-term health of the specific association or religious group.

 

  1. El líder(azgo) induce sentimientos de culpa en los miembros para controlarlos.

La vocación de uno dentro de la Iglesia debería ser libremente elegida. Igualmente, la obediencia es algo que un superior debería inspirar entre aquellos que se encuentran a su cargo. A veces sucede que un superior debe imponer su voluntad sobre un miembro en particular, pero la obediencia nunca debería ser coercitiva empleando medios ilícitos e impropios. Además, si un superior debe estar continuamente imponiendo su voluntad sobre la mayoría de los miembros empleando medios coercitivos, entonces esto será un problema a largo plazo para la salud de esa asociación específica o grupo religioso.

  1. The group completely severs its members from the outside world

Granted, one must be careful here. After all, the Church has a long and honored tradition of cloistered and contemplative orders that sever themselves from the day-to-day activities of the outside world. Nevertheless, even those orders of the most strict observance encourage some forms of outside communication with friends, family and the world. Therefore, it is cause for concern when an association, particularly if the association is lay-based, encourages its members to completely sever ties with friends, family, and the outside world. Additionally, one should beware those associations that encourage or require their members to live and/or socialize only with other members of the same group or association. One should also beware if association or friendships with people outside of the group are encouraged only when they are used to further the goals of the group.

 

  1. El grupo hace romper completamente la relación de sus miembros con el mundo exterior.

Garantizado, uno debe tener mucho cuidado con esto. Después de todo, la Iglesia tiene una larga y honorable tradición de órdenes contemplativas y de clausura que hacen a sus miembros vivir las actividades del día a día en aislamiento respecto del mundo exterior. Sin embargo, incluso esas órdenes que pertenecen a la más estricta observancia animan a mantener ciertos tipos de comunicación con amigos, familiares y el mundo. Por tanto, es causa de preocupación cuando una asociación, particularmente cuando está formada por laicos, anima a sus miembros a romper completamente sus vínculos con amigos, familiares y el mundo exterior. En suma, uno debería estar atento a aquellas asociaciones que animan o exigen a sus miembros a vivir o relacionarse socialmente solo con otros miembros de la misma asociación o grupo. Incluso debería estar atento cuando se anima a los miembros a asociarse o relacionarse con amistades de fuera del grupo solo para cumplir objetivos del grupo.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Each new association within the Church has its own unique charism. Nevertheless, the goal of every new association should be to fulfill a particular need within the Church. An association becomes dangerous if allowed to place its own interests, or those of its founder and/or leader, before the common good of the Church — both local and universal.

If more than a couple of the above warning signs are found to be present while assessing a particular association, then Catholics ought to be wary about becoming involved with the group in question. Such an association is likely to encounter several difficulties with legitimate Church authorities and possibly even degenerate into a cult — a destructive group that does psychological harm and poses a spiritual danger to its members.

 

Pensamientos finales

Cada nueva asociación dentro de la Iglesia tiene su propio carisma único. Sin embargo el objetivo de cada nueva asociación debería ser llenar una necesidad particular de la Iglesia. Una asociación se convierte en peligrosa cuando se asienta sobre sus propios intereses, sobre los de su líder y/o fundador, anteponiéndolos a la primordial comunión con la Iglesia, tanto local como universal.

Si más de un par de los signos de alarma anteriores se encuentran presentes en una asociación particular al ser evaluada, entonces los católicos deberían ser muy cautelosos a la hora de participar en ese grupo en concreto. Tal tipo de asociación probablemente encontrará serias dificultades con las autoridades legítimas de la Iglesia y posiblemente degenere en una secta, un grupo destructivo que provoca daños psicológicos y supone un peligro espiritual para sus miembros.

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

© Copyright 2005 Catholic Exchange (www.catholicexchange.com).  Reprinted with permission.  This article is based on a conference presentation to ICSA/AFF in Atlanta, Georgia, October 15-16, 2004.

Pete Vere is a doctoral student with the Faculty of Canon Law at Saint Paul University. He recently co-authored Surprised by Canon Law: 150 Questions Catholics Ask About Canon Law (Servant Books) with Michael Trueman and More Catholic Than the Pope (Our Sunday Visitor) with Patrick Madrid. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Ottawa, Canada.

.

CHICAGO CATHOLIC PARENTS, PROTECT YOUR DAUGHTERS FROM REGNUM CHRISTI!

 

Regnum Christi Young Women Recruiting in Chicago
See Add
    Beware of the Leaven of the Legionaries of Christ!

cropped-header1b

 

Regnum Christi not fully approved by Pope yet.

In true astute Legion of Christ fashion, they are jumping the gun on full Vatican Approval. The Legion of Christ has a history of anticipating/assuming Vatican approval and presenting the Pope and the Holy See with faits accomplis difficult to reverse.

Read carefully official November 2014 statement by Vatican Information Services below regarding status of Regnum Christi:
“(…) Relationship (Ed., of Legion of Christ) with the Regnum Christi Movement: The General Chapter of the Legion of Christ and the General Assemblies of the Consecrated Men and Women of Regnum Christi expressed their desire to be united in the Movement Regnum Christi. The numbers 1,2o; 16; 112 and 130 § 2, which express this desire, show up as not approved. They will have to await a definitive legislation regarding the canonical configuration of Regnum Christi. The revision process of the Statutes of Regnum Christi is under way, with the expert advice of Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlandaio who is serving as Pontifical Advisor. This issue is projected to be resolved in the next general chapter of the Legion in the year 2020. (More information regarding the process to define the canonical configuration of Regnum Christi can be found here.)”

Full OFFICIAL text of VATICAN: Communique

&&&&&&

CHALLENGE MIDDLE SCHOOL RETREAT IS TO RECRUIT YOUR DAUGHTER INTO ECYD, A REGNUM CHRISTI AFFILIATED ASSOCIATION
See invitation
Parents, if you want to start losing your daughter to the clutches of the Legion of Christ & Regnum Christi leaders and so-called spiritual directors, let them go to this retreat!
If you don’t believe us, do due diligence and research who and what they are. They appear harmless, nice, even holy but they belong to an organization that has not worked through its own growth problems yet.
Isn’t it Prudent to Wait?
Contrary to what RC untrained “spiritual directors” will tell your child IN THEIR SUBTLE BRAINWASHING:
 GOD IS IN NO HURRY TO IMPOSE A CALLING ON ANYONE, AND
 ESPECIALLY DOES NOT EXPLOIT A YOUNG PERSON’S EMOTIONAL VULNERABILITY AND
 FORCE PREMATURE COMMITMENT

Why do young Westerners join ISIS …or the Legion of Christ?

 

ICSA just shared with us the following article. It occurred to ReGAIN to write the above title because, despite the differences, there are parallels between joining ISIS and the Legion of Christ; the article presents the psychological explanation and “reasons” why young people join certain organizations.

Remember that the Legion likes to recruit young people, “the earlier the better,” often beginning in pre-adolescence, through their “front organizations” such as Challenge, etc.

Many of us joined in adolescence when we thought we were mature!

The article may give the reader insights into why young people join a relatively young and controversial religious order such as the Legion of Christ and other Catholic “fringe” organizations such as Miles Christi, the Magnificat Meal Movement, Love Holy Trinity Mission, Ireland’s own House of Prayer and a myriad of others that the ordinary Catholic or Christian does not know exist, sometimes right in his/her own backyard/parish.

In case you deem these claims outrageous or far fetched the blogger calls your attention to the following concepts which are common to young people joining ISIS and Legion of Christ:

life transition

quest for certainty

loneliness

a powerful, simple ideology with a crystal clear elaboration of the transcendental meaning for their lives

 

Psychiatric Times

 

09/10/15

Omar Sultan Haque, Jihye Choi, Tim Phillips, and Harold Bursztajn

The relatively sudden rise of the terrorist group ISIS in the Middle East has surprised many in the West. Equally surprising is that financially stable foreigners from the West are over-represented among ISIS fighters (1). As helpless observers of the inhumane and disproportionate violence that ISIS has exacted on the people of the Middle East and the rest of the world, it is easy to wonder: what could possibly be the appeal of such a murderous, intolerant, and authoritarian organization to so many young people in the West?

This question is easier to answer when imagining the motives and rationales of locals in Iraq and Syria. Perhaps these locals join in what they believe to be a righteous cause. They may want to fight their perceived enemy in a global war, just as many Americans join the US Armed Forces to fight ISIS and other perceived enemies. But what could possibly compel otherwise financially stable young Westerners (non-Muslim as well as Muslim) to leave their families, friends, and home culture, and take up an uncertain future by joining a terrorist organization like ISIS?

It’s not about poverty or religion

Clearly, poverty is not causing people to join ISIS, neither is religion. The vast majority of the West’s 50 million Muslims do not join terrorist groups. (2). Even among those with radical Islamic beliefs, only a very few act on those beliefs and join a terrorist organization (3). Background beliefs do not explain the motivation that compels people to join such groups—even as fundamentalist organizations go, ISIS is particularly extreme. It has been roundly condemned by many prominent Islamic institutions across the world as illegitimate, in violation of Islamic Law, and as not a part of Islam; it has even been rejected by the quite radical group Al-Qaeda (4).

The true answer is more disturbing and psychological, and has little to do with evil psychopaths finding their true home in ISIS, or of innocent youths being brainwashed into mindless soldiers. Rather, it involves the interaction of conscious and unconscious processes with unique features of ideologies like ISIS, and existential (but not material) vulnerabilities inherent in contemporary American life. One way to summarize our answer is that as an ideology, ISIS provides existential fast food, and for some of the most spiritually hungry young Westerners, ISIS is like a Big Mac amidst a barren wasteland of an existence. Much of the worldview of ISIS appears intellectually vapid and brittle, even silly when seriously considered as religious or philosophical propositions. Just as a person can get lost, a religious movement can also get lost in a forest of bad ideas. But most people do not get a PhD in philosophy of religion before deciding what to believe. The heart’s longings lead the mind, and the existential filler of ISIS nourishes the desperate and vulnerable soul, however much one is surrounded by material comfort.

Who actually joins ISIS? Not psychopaths or the brainwashed, but rather everyday young people in social transition, on the margins of society, or amidst a crisis of identity. According to anthropologist and psychologist Scott Atran who has studied the motivations and demographics of terrorists, it is mostly youth in transitional stages in their lives—immigrants, students, those between jobs or girlfriends, or those who left their homes and are looking for new families. For the most part they have no traditional religious education and are “born again” to religion. They are self-seekers who have found their way to jihad in myriad ways (5).

Why join ISIS?

Have you ever purchased junk food when tired, irritable, and jet-lagged at an airport? For lonely young people in transition, ISIS provides a quick fix to the perennial problems of human life. Vulnerable people don’t tend to fact check when existential relief is easily and cheaply attained with little effort. Specifically, the relief in question concerns the human desire for identity, certainty, social connection, meaning, the optimal amount of freedom, and glory.

At crucial developmental periods in adolescence and early adulthood, the formation of one’s identity is a primary concern, and a riddle to be solved. These years are a time for figuring out who one is, where one belongs, what one values and finds meaningful, and what one can become and prove to the world (6).These years are also a time of increasing awareness of an exciting yet frightening internal world with conscious and unconscious conflicts around envy, competition, self-control, and self-esteem (7).For youths on the margins of Western society, and in transition from one community to the next, this process of identity formation can become a hopeless task. When one has become a fringe member of one’s home community in America during crucial phases of identity formation, it is very tempting to join what appears to be a righteous struggle against one’s oppressive community. Even superficial Internet exposure (much less direct marketing) can convince the young that they too may participate in a world-historical narrative in which the enemy of America is a beacon of hope for solidifying their emerging self. This may evolve into a counterphobic attitude toward the society in which they feel helplessness, with a full embrace of a cult of death such as ISIS (8).

Humans tend to live with a quest for certainty in their hearts, and uncertainty is experienced as aversive (9,10). Whatever its factual merits, a pluralistic worldview denies its adherents the delights of absolute certainty, and it takes much cognitive effort to maintain. ISIS provides an ideology in which the world is divided into absolute good and evil, no compromises are possible, radical Islam is the solution to all human problems, and any other interpretation of Islam is unthinkable. Why settle for shades of grey in a messy world when “The Truth” is packaged and delivered in under 30 seconds via Internet sound bites? This black and white picture of truth may seem simplistic for the critically minded, but it can provide epistemological crème brûlée for drifting and unanchored Western youths. These youths are looking for answers to existential questions within a home culture perceived to be permissive and relativistic. In the midst of all this, an ideology that does not compromise the quest for certainty can be very appealing to the most vulnerable.

 

The underside of individualism

Americans pride themselves on their individualism, but the underside of individualism is loneliness (11). The desire for social connection is a human need as basic as food and sex, and the most obvious source of terrorist seduction for the lonely hearted (12). Social networks construct the web by which individuals are drawn to action, and social connection is a common attraction for everyday wholesome clubs as well as nefarious cults of all persuasions. Terrorist organizations are no exception, and most people join due to the influence of friends, kin, and others in a social network (13,14).

Although joining based on the influence of one’s friends and kin is a primary factor, recruitment from ISIS also occurs. ISIS has initiated a number of systematic online efforts to target and respond effectively to young Westerners in transition at the margins of society, who can be easily tempted by the false allure of quick and easy social connections amidst an individualistic society from which they feel alienated (15). Rather than contemplating and deciding whether the ideas within the ideology of ISIS are rational and worthy of assent, the young are more likely to be drawn in by attachments to those already embedded in ISIS as a way to thwart loneliness.

By most accounts, Americans are happy people, and the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence. But Western definitions of happiness tend toward happiness as present pleasure and self-expression, rather than happiness as meaning, moral struggle and sacrifice, and aligning oneself with sacred purposes beyond the self (16, 17). The latter meaning-oriented definition of happiness is more crucial for mental and physical health, but it is more common in non-secular cultures (and in the religious traditions within secular societies) (18). For Western youths drifting between communities and belief systems amidst pluralistic America, the allure of a powerful, simple ideology with a crystal-clear elaboration of the transcendent meaning for their lives and struggles would be akin to an ice cream cone on a hot July afternoon. This desire for meaning—to be a part of something much larger than oneself, especially if it is transcendent—is a very deep wish in human nature, and not the same as routine motivations concerning status or in-group preferences (ethnicity, race, or religion) (19,20). Thus the same need for meaning that propels a youngster to want to join ISIS can also lead an American businessman who achieves financial success to yearn for something beyond the accumulation of wealth, to something more meaningful and significant such as philanthropy, political office, or supporting a war (21).

Relatedly, as Atran notes, people join ISIS because they seek adventure and want glory. ISIS presents to the bored, secure, and the uninspired in Western liberal democracies a “thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends. Jihad is an egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer: fraternal, fast-breaking, glorious and cool. . . Many are just ‘vacationers’ for jihad, going to Syria over school breaks or holidays for the thrill of adventure and a semblance of glory.”

A seemingly paradoxical reason some Westerners join ISIS and other totalitarian organizations is that too much freedom can be experienced as burdensome. In 1941, the psychologist Erich Fromm in Escape From Freedom (22) explained why so many were attracted to the Nazi ideology in Germany by pointing to a feature of human nature that is afraid of being free and thus would rather submit to authority than be responsible for creating a life of one’s own. As in 1941 for Nazism, so also in 2015 for ISIS. Clearly, being a slave is no fun. But maximal freedom may also not be ideal, and humans vary in the degree to which additional freedom is experienced as beneficial. For someone who is socially integrated and stable, and more willful by nature, more autonomy can be a liberating means to self-create a life amidst hospitable institutions. In contrast, young adults in transition or on the margins of society may experience freedom as oppressive, since they lack the personal or social means for actually using a high degree of freedom to improve their lives. A totalitarian cult such as ISIS, which promises a strict ideology, rules, and a social order to which one can bind and submerge oneself, appeals to youths, especially those on the fringes of Western society for whom high amounts of freedom do not feel liberating but instead, oppressive.

Finally, these many vulnerabilities to joining terrorist organizations are combined with a deep but selective empathy. For example, an Iraqi-American youngster who perceives that Iraqis are persecuted by Americans might expand his empathy for suffering Iraqis over Americans and decide to join ISIS. Alternatively, a 5th-generation Italian-American youngster could find himself on the fringe of American society and start to develop deep empathy with the sufferings of America’s perceived enemies. Empathy is indeed a source of joining terrorist groups. The same empathy we may feel for the cherished victims of our favorite causes, others may feel for non-Americans. Empathy can be free of this paradoxical effect and fulfill its ethical possibilities only when empathy is generalized to all humans who suffer, not just to those in our in-group.

The reasons that youths join terrorist organizations such as ISIS have little to do with being poor, brainwashed, a Muslim, or a psychopath, and more to do with vulnerabilities in human nature exacerbated by aspects of Western societies. This diagnosis is echoed by journalists who have interviewed many ISIS fighters; a recent analysis of ISIS fighters remarks that “what draws people to ISIS could easily bring them to any number of cults or totalitarian movements, even those ideologically contradictory to Salafist Jihadism” (23).

If we Westerners are lucky, we have identities, certainties, social connections, meanings, generalized empathies, freedoms, and individual pursuits of glory that can be taken for granted. However, for those Westerners in transition, marginalized, lonely, lost, bored, uncertain, spiritually or existentially dispossessed, burdened by too much freedom, and empathically selective, ISIS and other shallow but contagious ideologies will remain tempting as quick fixes for the deep predicaments inherent to the human condition.

Acknowledgment—We would like to thank Dan Jones for helping us find some of the sources quoted in this article.

Disclosures

Dr Haque is Co-Director, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, American Unit; Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, Providence, RI; Program in Psychiatry and the Law and Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Ms Choi is Associate at Nonprofit Finance Fund, Boston; Harvard Mediation Program, Harvard Law School. Mr Phillips is Co-Founder of Beyond Conflict, Cambridge, MA. Dr Bursztajn is President, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, American Unit; Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Founder of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston. The authors report no conflicts of interest concerning the subject matter of this article.

References

(1) Stern J, Berger JM. ISIS: The State of Terror. New York: Ecco; 2015.

(2) Kurzman C.The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists? NY: Oxford University Press; 2011.

(3) Neumann PR. The trouble with radicalization. Int Affairs. 2013;89:873-893.

(4) Hassaballa HA. Think Muslims haven’t condemned ISIS? Think again. http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2014/08/think-muslims-havent-condemned-isis-think-again.html. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(5) Atran S. Jihad’s fatal attraction. The Guardian. September 4, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/04/jihad-fatal-attraction-challenge-democracies-isis-barbarism. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(6) Erikson EH. Identity and the Life Cycle. Vol 1. New York: WW Norton; 1980. Erikson EH. Identity: Youth and Crisis. No. 7. New York: WW Norton; 1994.

(7) Klein M. Envy and Gratitude: A Study of Unconscious Sources. New York: Routledge; 2013.

(8) Fenichel O. The counter-phobic attitude. Intl J Psychoanalysis. 1939;20:263-274. Unfortunately, current diagnostic taxonomy does not facilitate an empathic understanding of what can be helpfully understood as a counterphobic response to the trauma of adolescence (see: Bursztajn HJ, First MB. PTSD diagnoses can avoid avoidance as an absolute criterion. Lancet Psychiatry. 2014;1:332-333).

(9) Hogg MA. Subjective uncertainty reduction through self-categorization: a motivational theory of social identity processes. In: Stroebe W, Hewstone M, eds. European Review of Social Psychology. Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley; 2000;11:223-255.

(10) Weary G, Edwards JA. Causal-uncertainty beliefs and related goal structures. In: Sorrentino RM, Higgins ET, eds. Handbook of Motivation and Cognition: The Interpersonal Context. New York: Guilford Press; 1996;3:148-181.

(11) Putnam RD. Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. J Democracy. 1995;6:65-78.

(12) Baumeister RF, Leary MR. The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychol Bull. 1995;117:497-529.

(13) Sageman M. Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; 2011.

(14) Atran S. Talking to the Enemy: Religion, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists. New York: Ecco; 2011.

(15) Callimachi R. ISIS and the lonely young American. The New York Times. June 27, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/world/americas/isis-online-recruiting-american.html.

(16) Baumeister RF, Vohs KD, Aaker JL, Garbinsky EN. Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life. J Positive Psychol. 2013;8:505-516.

(17) Oishi S, Diener E. Residents of poor nations have a greater sense of meaning in life than residents of wealthy nations Psychological Science. 2013.http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/2/422.abstract.

(18) Fredrickson BL, Grewen KM, Coffey KA, et al. A functional genomic perspective on human well-being. PNAS. 2013;110:13684-13689.

(19) Frankl VE. Man’s Search for Meaning. New York: Simon and Schuster; 1985.

(20) Markman, KD, Proulx TE, Lindberg MJ. The Psychology of Meaning. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2013.

(21) Phillips T, Eisikovits N. For some Muslim youth, Islamic State’s allure is a meaningful alternative to Western values. Global Post. April 24, 2015. http://www.globalpost.com/article/6527455/2015/04/24/muslim-youth-allure-isis-meaningful-alternative-western-values. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(22) Fromm E. Escape From Freedom. NY: Farrar & Rinehart; 1941.

(23) Weiss M, Hassan H. ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror. NY: Regan Arts; 2015.

Linked Articles

The Ultimate Violation of “Do No Harm” at Fort Hood

Fort Hood and DOD Independent Review

The Fort Hood Aftermath—Army Accountability Review and Psychiatrists

Immigration and Post-Adolescent Psychology of Young Terrorists

The Making of a Homegrown Terrorist

Why Are Young Westerners Drawn to Terrorist Organizations Like ISIS?

Psychiatric and Societal Impacts of Terrorism

Psychiatric Times

 

09/10/15

Omar Sultan Haque, Jihye Choi, Tim Phillips, and Harold Bursztajn

The relatively sudden rise of the terrorist group ISIS in the Middle East has surprised many in the West. Equally surprising is that financially stable foreigners from the West are over-represented among ISIS fighters (1). As helpless observers of the inhumane and disproportionate violence that ISIS has exacted on the people of the Middle East and the rest of the world, it is easy to wonder: what could possibly be the appeal of such a murderous, intolerant, and authoritarian organization to so many young people in the West?

This question is easier to answer when imagining the motives and rationales of locals in Iraq and Syria. Perhaps these locals join in what they believe to be a righteous cause. They may want to fight their perceived enemy in a global war, just as many Americans join the US Armed Forces to fight ISIS and other perceived enemies. But what could possibly compel otherwise financially stable young Westerners (non-Muslim as well as Muslim) to leave their families, friends, and home culture, and take up an uncertain future by joining a terrorist organization like ISIS?

It’s not about poverty or religion

Clearly, poverty is not causing people to join ISIS, neither is religion. The vast majority of the West’s 50 million Muslims do not join terrorist groups. (2). Even among those with radical Islamic beliefs, only a very few act on those beliefs and join a terrorist organization (3). Background beliefs do not explain the motivation that compels people to join such groups—even as fundamentalist organizations go, ISIS is particularly extreme. It has been roundly condemned by many prominent Islamic institutions across the world as illegitimate, in violation of Islamic Law, and as not a part of Islam; it has even been rejected by the quite radical group Al-Qaeda (4).

The true answer is more disturbing and psychological, and has little to do with evil psychopaths finding their true home in ISIS, or of innocent youths being brainwashed into mindless soldiers. Rather, it involves the interaction of conscious and unconscious processes with unique features of ideologies like ISIS, and existential (but not material) vulnerabilities inherent in contemporary American life. One way to summarize our answer is that as an ideology, ISIS provides existential fast food, and for some of the most spiritually hungry young Westerners, ISIS is like a Big Mac amidst a barren wasteland of an existence. Much of the worldview of ISIS appears intellectually vapid and brittle, even silly when seriously considered as religious or philosophical propositions. Just as a person can get lost, a religious movement can also get lost in a forest of bad ideas. But most people do not get a PhD in philosophy of religion before deciding what to believe. The heart’s longings lead the mind, and the existential filler of ISIS nourishes the desperate and vulnerable soul, however much one is surrounded by material comfort.

Who actually joins ISIS? Not psychopaths or the brainwashed, but rather everyday young people in social transition, on the margins of society, or amidst a crisis of identity. According to anthropologist and psychologist Scott Atran who has studied the motivations and demographics of terrorists, it is mostly youth in transitional stages in their lives—immigrants, students, those between jobs or girlfriends, or those who left their homes and are looking for new families. For the most part they have no traditional religious education and are “born again” to religion. They are self-seekers who have found their way to jihad in myriad ways (5).

Why join ISIS?

Have you ever purchased junk food when tired, irritable, and jet-lagged at an airport? For lonely young people in transition, ISIS provides a quick fix to the perennial problems of human life. Vulnerable people don’t tend to fact check when existential relief is easily and cheaply attained with little effort. Specifically, the relief in question concerns the human desire for identity, certainty, social connection, meaning, the optimal amount of freedom, and glory.

At crucial developmental periods in adolescence and early adulthood, the formation of one’s identity is a primary concern, and a riddle to be solved. These years are a time for figuring out who one is, where one belongs, what one values and finds meaningful, and what one can become and prove to the world (6).These years are also a time of increasing awareness of an exciting yet frightening internal world with conscious and unconscious conflicts around envy, competition, self-control, and self-esteem (7).For youths on the margins of Western society, and in transition from one community to the next, this process of identity formation can become a hopeless task. When one has become a fringe member of one’s home community in America during crucial phases of identity formation, it is very tempting to join what appears to be a righteous struggle against one’s oppressive community. Even superficial Internet exposure (much less direct marketing) can convince the young that they too may participate in a world-historical narrative in which the enemy of America is a beacon of hope for solidifying their emerging self. This may evolve into a counterphobic attitude toward the society in which they feel helplessness, with a full embrace of a cult of death such as ISIS (8).

Humans tend to live with a quest for certainty in their hearts, and uncertainty is experienced as aversive (9,10). Whatever its factual merits, a pluralistic worldview denies its adherents the delights of absolute certainty, and it takes much cognitive effort to maintain. ISIS provides an ideology in which the world is divided into absolute good and evil, no compromises are possible, radical Islam is the solution to all human problems, and any other interpretation of Islam is unthinkable. Why settle for shades of grey in a messy world when “The Truth” is packaged and delivered in under 30 seconds via Internet sound bites? This black and white picture of truth may seem simplistic for the critically minded, but it can provide epistemological crème brûlée for drifting and unanchored Western youths. These youths are looking for answers to existential questions within a home culture perceived to be permissive and relativistic. In the midst of all this, an ideology that does not compromise the quest for certainty can be very appealing to the most vulnerable.

 

The underside of individualism

Americans pride themselves on their individualism, but the underside of individualism is loneliness (11). The desire for social connection is a human need as basic as food and sex, and the most obvious source of terrorist seduction for the lonely hearted (12). Social networks construct the web by which individuals are drawn to action, and social connection is a common attraction for everyday wholesome clubs as well as nefarious cults of all persuasions. Terrorist organizations are no exception, and most people join due to the influence of friends, kin, and others in a social network (13,14).

Although joining based on the influence of one’s friends and kin is a primary factor, recruitment from ISIS also occurs. ISIS has initiated a number of systematic online efforts to target and respond effectively to young Westerners in transition at the margins of society, who can be easily tempted by the false allure of quick and easy social connections amidst an individualistic society from which they feel alienated (15). Rather than contemplating and deciding whether the ideas within the ideology of ISIS are rational and worthy of assent, the young are more likely to be drawn in by attachments to those already embedded in ISIS as a way to thwart loneliness.

By most accounts, Americans are happy people, and the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence. But Western definitions of happiness tend toward happiness as present pleasure and self-expression, rather than happiness as meaning, moral struggle and sacrifice, and aligning oneself with sacred purposes beyond the self (16, 17). The latter meaning-oriented definition of happiness is more crucial for mental and physical health, but it is more common in non-secular cultures (and in the religious traditions within secular societies) (18). For Western youths drifting between communities and belief systems amidst pluralistic America, the allure of a powerful, simple ideology with a crystal-clear elaboration of the transcendent meaning for their lives and struggles would be akin to an ice cream cone on a hot July afternoon. This desire for meaning—to be a part of something much larger than oneself, especially if it is transcendent—is a very deep wish in human nature, and not the same as routine motivations concerning status or in-group preferences (ethnicity, race, or religion) (19,20). Thus the same need for meaning that propels a youngster to want to join ISIS can also lead an American businessman who achieves financial success to yearn for something beyond the accumulation of wealth, to something more meaningful and significant such as philanthropy, political office, or supporting a war (21).

Relatedly, as Atran notes, people join ISIS because they seek adventure and want glory. ISIS presents to the bored, secure, and the uninspired in Western liberal democracies a “thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends. Jihad is an egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer: fraternal, fast-breaking, glorious and cool. . . Many are just ‘vacationers’ for jihad, going to Syria over school breaks or holidays for the thrill of adventure and a semblance of glory.”

A seemingly paradoxical reason some Westerners join ISIS and other totalitarian organizations is that too much freedom can be experienced as burdensome. In 1941, the psychologist Erich Fromm in Escape From Freedom (22) explained why so many were attracted to the Nazi ideology in Germany by pointing to a feature of human nature that is afraid of being free and thus would rather submit to authority than be responsible for creating a life of one’s own. As in 1941 for Nazism, so also in 2015 for ISIS. Clearly, being a slave is no fun. But maximal freedom may also not be ideal, and humans vary in the degree to which additional freedom is experienced as beneficial. For someone who is socially integrated and stable, and more willful by nature, more autonomy can be a liberating means to self-create a life amidst hospitable institutions. In contrast, young adults in transition or on the margins of society may experience freedom as oppressive, since they lack the personal or social means for actually using a high degree of freedom to improve their lives. A totalitarian cult such as ISIS, which promises a strict ideology, rules, and a social order to which one can bind and submerge oneself, appeals to youths, especially those on the fringes of Western society for whom high amounts of freedom do not feel liberating but instead, oppressive.

Finally, these many vulnerabilities to joining terrorist organizations are combined with a deep but selective empathy. For example, an Iraqi-American youngster who perceives that Iraqis are persecuted by Americans might expand his empathy for suffering Iraqis over Americans and decide to join ISIS. Alternatively, a 5th-generation Italian-American youngster could find himself on the fringe of American society and start to develop deep empathy with the sufferings of America’s perceived enemies. Empathy is indeed a source of joining terrorist groups. The same empathy we may feel for the cherished victims of our favorite causes, others may feel for non-Americans. Empathy can be free of this paradoxical effect and fulfill its ethical possibilities only when empathy is generalized to all humans who suffer, not just to those in our in-group.

The reasons that youths join terrorist organizations such as ISIS have little to do with being poor, brainwashed, a Muslim, or a psychopath, and more to do with vulnerabilities in human nature exacerbated by aspects of Western societies. This diagnosis is echoed by journalists who have interviewed many ISIS fighters; a recent analysis of ISIS fighters remarks that “what draws people to ISIS could easily bring them to any number of cults or totalitarian movements, even those ideologically contradictory to Salafist Jihadism” (23).

If we Westerners are lucky, we have identities, certainties, social connections, meanings, generalized empathies, freedoms, and individual pursuits of glory that can be taken for granted. However, for those Westerners in transition, marginalized, lonely, lost, bored, uncertain, spiritually or existentially dispossessed, burdened by too much freedom, and empathically selective, ISIS and other shallow but contagious ideologies will remain tempting as quick fixes for the deep predicaments inherent to the human condition.

Acknowledgment—We would like to thank Dan Jones for helping us find some of the sources quoted in this article.

Disclosures

Dr Haque is Co-Director, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, American Unit; Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, Providence, RI; Program in Psychiatry and the Law and Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Ms Choi is Associate at Nonprofit Finance Fund, Boston; Harvard Mediation Program, Harvard Law School. Mr Phillips is Co-Founder of Beyond Conflict, Cambridge, MA. Dr Bursztajn is President, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, American Unit; Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Founder of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston. The authors report no conflicts of interest concerning the subject matter of this article.

References

(1) Stern J, Berger JM. ISIS: The State of Terror. New York: Ecco; 2015.

(2) Kurzman C.The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists? NY: Oxford University Press; 2011.

(3) Neumann PR. The trouble with radicalization. Int Affairs. 2013;89:873-893.

(4) Hassaballa HA. Think Muslims haven’t condemned ISIS? Think again. http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2014/08/think-muslims-havent-condemned-isis-think-again.html. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(5) Atran S. Jihad’s fatal attraction. The Guardian. September 4, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/04/jihad-fatal-attraction-challenge-democracies-isis-barbarism. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(6) Erikson EH. Identity and the Life Cycle. Vol 1. New York: WW Norton; 1980. Erikson EH. Identity: Youth and Crisis. No. 7. New York: WW Norton; 1994.

(7) Klein M. Envy and Gratitude: A Study of Unconscious Sources. New York: Routledge; 2013.

(8) Fenichel O. The counter-phobic attitude. Intl J Psychoanalysis. 1939;20:263-274. Unfortunately, current diagnostic taxonomy does not facilitate an empathic understanding of what can be helpfully understood as a counterphobic response to the trauma of adolescence (see: Bursztajn HJ, First MB. PTSD diagnoses can avoid avoidance as an absolute criterion. Lancet Psychiatry. 2014;1:332-333).

(9) Hogg MA. Subjective uncertainty reduction through self-categorization: a motivational theory of social identity processes. In: Stroebe W, Hewstone M, eds. European Review of Social Psychology. Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley; 2000;11:223-255.

(10) Weary G, Edwards JA. Causal-uncertainty beliefs and related goal structures. In: Sorrentino RM, Higgins ET, eds. Handbook of Motivation and Cognition: The Interpersonal Context. New York: Guilford Press; 1996;3:148-181.

(11) Putnam RD. Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. J Democracy. 1995;6:65-78.

(12) Baumeister RF, Leary MR. The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychol Bull. 1995;117:497-529.

(13) Sageman M. Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; 2011.

(14) Atran S. Talking to the Enemy: Religion, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists. New York: Ecco; 2011.

(15) Callimachi R. ISIS and the lonely young American. The New York Times. June 27, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/world/americas/isis-online-recruiting-american.html.

(16) Baumeister RF, Vohs KD, Aaker JL, Garbinsky EN. Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life. J Positive Psychol. 2013;8:505-516.

(17) Oishi S, Diener E. Residents of poor nations have a greater sense of meaning in life than residents of wealthy nations Psychological Science. 2013.http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/2/422.abstract.

(18) Fredrickson BL, Grewen KM, Coffey KA, et al. A functional genomic perspective on human well-being. PNAS. 2013;110:13684-13689.

(19) Frankl VE. Man’s Search for Meaning. New York: Simon and Schuster; 1985.

(20) Markman, KD, Proulx TE, Lindberg MJ. The Psychology of Meaning. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2013.

(21) Phillips T, Eisikovits N. For some Muslim youth, Islamic State’s allure is a meaningful alternative to Western values. Global Post. April 24, 2015. http://www.globalpost.com/article/6527455/2015/04/24/muslim-youth-allure-isis-meaningful-alternative-western-values. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(22) Fromm E. Escape From Freedom. NY: Farrar & Rinehart; 1941.

(23) Weiss M, Hassan H. ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror. NY: Regan Arts; 2015.

Linked Articles

The Ultimate Violation of “Do No Harm” at Fort Hood

Fort Hood and DOD Independent Review

The Fort Hood Aftermath—Army Accountability Review and Psychiatrists

Immigration and Post-Adolescent Psychology of Young Terrorists

The Making of a Homegrown Terrorist

Why Are Young Westerners Drawn to Terrorist Organizations Like ISIS?

Psychiatric and Societal Impacts of Terrorism

 

 

The Dog, the Wine and the Psychiatrist: Part 3, Legionaries’ Paradise (in Cancun)

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3rd part of Legionaries’ Paradise

(written by Emiliano  Ruiz Parrra, originally appeared in Spanish on the Gatopardo blog:Gatopardo )

The Dog,  the Wine and the Psychiatrist
Fr. Pablo Pérez-Guajardo walked around in a stupor all day every day.

His “depression” did not get better despite taking medication.

Until he decided to stop taking his Legion-prescribed medication, Diazepan[1], and gave it to one of the guard dogs in the mother house at 677 Via Aurelia, Rome. Pablo gradually became less drowsy. The dog, for its part, slept all day and lost its zest. “The superiors became very concerned about the dog. More than about me,” he recalls testily.

Once fully awake, Fr. Pérez-Guajardo became one of the Legion’s harshest critics. He never was a superior in the order but during his time in Rome. as a member of the archives team, he was close to the Legion’s leadership cadre and to Fr. Maciel, the founder. From 1986 until 2006 he belonged to the community that lived at the mother house, first as a seminarian and later as an ordained priest.

One can find Fr. Pablo in dated photos of the Legionaries at St. Peter’s Basilica from January 3rd, 1991. To celebrate the Legion’s 50th Anniversary (it was founded in 1941), Fr. Maciel orchestrated having 60 Legionaries ordained to the Catholic priesthood by Pope John Paul II. Fr. Pablo appears with prayerfully joined hands, scarcely a few steps from the pope. He was being ordained a priest after 15 years of Legion training.

He is pictured again in Una Iglesia de corazón misionero, libro de nuestra historia, the booklet the Legionaries published to mark the Chetumal-Cancun Prelature’s 40th anniversary. He is pictured three times in the booklet: inside the back cover with all the other Legionaries in Quintana Roo, and on pages 132 and 133. We find him in a panoramic view surrounded by scores of people, mostly children, his community at the chapel of San José in the working-class Colonia Guadalupana, Playa del Carmen. On the next page he appears microphone in hand as he approaches a little boy.

These images portray the years of his close attachment to the Legion. But on September 29th, 2011 he sent a scathing, “Carta de Fuego” letter to the then superior general of the Legion, Fr. Álvaro Corcuera, in which de demanded the Legion cut all ties with the founder, Marcial Maciel:

“A drunken pedophile womanizer dressed in priestly garb. (…) Not only did he mock God, the Church and us, the members, but you and many other superiors have mocked the pope’s authority by accompanying our pedophile founder on trips with his concubine and his sacrilegious daughter. (…) Your lips have kissed the corpse of a false prophet which you and the major superiors have presented to us as Another Christ while he was in reality an Anti-Christ.”

Another dozen letter followed after in which he denounced money-laundering, systematic cover-up of pedophile Legionaries, the cult of Maciel’s memory, the financial exploitation of the Legion’s educational enterprises and many other abuses.
Slightly built, with green eyes, pointed ears and scant hair, Fr. Pablo Pérez-Guajardo was officially expelled from the Legion in May 2015. They had already kicked him out of the San José chapel in Playa del Carmen in September, 2012; after that his lifestyle became nomadic. When he was interviewed by the reporter in September, 2014 he had transformed a garage in a poor neighborhood into a chapel. “The bishop (Monsignor Pedro Pablo Elizondo, LC) has forbidden me from entering Catholic schools and hospitals” (to perform my priestly duties).

The interview lasted three hours. Fr. Pablo’s most traumatic stage of Legion life was in Rome. In 1986 he had been posted to the mother house in Rome.

Legionary life took a heavy toll on Fr. Pablo’s emotional state. He became very depressed. The Assistant Superior General at the time, Fr. Luis Garza Medina, asked him to go visit Dr. Francisco López -Ibor, son of the very renowned Spanish psychiatrist, Juan José. Pablo refused. But later, founder Marcial Maciel himself suggested Fr. Pablo see the famous psychiatrist. Fr. Maciel’s suggestions were orders for a Legionary. Fr. Pablo obeyed -though he was unaware at that time how Maciel was in the habit of sending problematic Legionaries to the Madrid clinic.  There Pablo was evaluated and put on medication. Every four months he would obediently travel to Madrid to have his prescription refilled: The meds kept him drowsy, listless and lifeless.

In Rome Fr. Pablo was able to get on the Internet. Surfing the net he found that his dose of “antidepressants” was heavier than needed and he realized his despondency was due to stresses of the religious life, loneliness, long term separation from his family of origin (he hadn’t seen them since he joined the Legion aged 18), and lack of incentive. That was what prompted Fr. Pablo to start giving his meds to the German shepherd dog zealously cared for by house superior, Fr. Juan Manuel Dueñas-Rojas.

Stopping the meds, he gradually became more energetic and alert. But this had a price. His emotions awakened with angry outbursts and bouts of deep sadness. His parents were getting old and ill and he wanted to spend their last years with them. He never reached his father in time. When Pablo’s plane touched down in Mexico City, the family was already mourning his passing.
Memory of a particular Legionary life scene provokes Fr. Pablo’s indignation during the interview. Regular priest members were allowed to drink only one glass of wine with dinner in Rome. The superiors had two or three “because they had special permission from Fr. Maciel.” Pablo’s displeasure got the upper hand and he decided to raid the wine cellar and hide bottles of wine in the bathroom and in the air ducts.
One evening a superior called Fr Pablo to his quarters to rebuke him. Padre Pablo had been expecting something like this. When he entered the office he was hiding two bottles of uncorked wine under his cassock. To the superior’s surprise, Pablo began pouring the two bottles over the superior’s desk.

-“How dare you!, fussed the superior, you know there are Letters of Nuestro Padre [Maciel]! here” (And what if there were, muses Fr. Pablo many years later! When most of these Letters of Nuestro Padre were plagiarized or written by others –Maciel was such a fraud!)

Tired of Fr. Pablo’s  insubordination, his superiors allowed him to live in a Mexico City house, where he would be closer to his mother who was suffering from cancer.

Spilling the wine was the beginning of Fr. Pablo’s disobedience. Looking back he sees it as a calculated action to get his superiors’ attention and prompt his transfer. In perspective, it could even be considered a prank. His real opposition came later when he began to publicly denounce the Legion in hundreds of pages and when he opened up in his “Confessions,”a flood of memories which gradually put together the jigsaw puzzle of the Legion’s frauds and abuses.

The evening of the interview, some of those scenes popped into Fr. Pablo’s head:

  • The night before Fr. Pablo took his vows, Fr. Maciel called one of Pablo’s companions to his bedside and spent the whole night with him! Once ordained, this priest was sent to the Chetumal-Cancun Prelature. After it became public that Maciel had a daughter, the abused priest –now aged fifty- could not stop telling the story of his abuse to anyone who would listen.
  • Or about the time Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, told a group of Legionaries: “Blessed are you because there are many bishops and cardinals but there is only one founder!”
  • Or when he learned that Assistant Superior General, Fr. Luis Garza-Medina –a brother of Dionisio Garza-Medina (Monterrey, Mexico, Alpha Group) – had hatched a plan to get full control of the Legion and how he had hired a group of private detectives to trail Maciel; once he had the dirt on Maciel’s double life he planned to blackmail him to hand over control of the Legion’s finances.
  • During his forty years in the Legion, Fr. Pablo Perez has seen and heard hundreds of stories but he kept silent because of his Private Vow[2]

After his assignment to the religious house in Mexico City his superiors sent him to the Chetumal-Cancun Prelature. According to his story he was told to live at the Church of the Sacred Hearth, at that time the cathedral, residence of Legion bishop emeritus Monsignor Jorge Bernal. He revitalized morning Mass and went out into the streets to offer baptisms “free of charge” to the poor. When new bishop Pedro-Pablo Elizondo saw this he called Fr. Pablo to Playa del Carmen to take charge of a working class neighborhood.

Fr. Pablo has many pleasant memories of his time working at the Colonia Guadalupana, Playa del Carmen, in what he calls, using a Mexican play on words, la zona atolera (referring to the simple native corn drink, atole) in contrast to the zona hotelera (hotel zone). In this article we will focus on his remarks on the Chetumal-Cancun Prelature.

He first formalized his impressions of the apostolic work of the Legionaries in a letter he wrote to Bishop Pedro-Pablo Elizondo on September 24, 2012. In it he states that Legion founder, Marcial Maciel, used the Prelature from its inception as a place to warehouse undesirable members of the order; meaning those members who did not buy Maciel’s vision, either because they did not want to work in schools for the rich or as, in the case of the Irish, they had joined the Legion to become missionaries and did not savor being chaplains for the upper classes.

The Prelature had espoused three causes/businesses, according to Pérez:

  • The glamorous weddings celebrated in the luxury hotels: he accused the Legion priests of becoming the “escorts” to rich and famous Catholics: always impeccably dressed, with the hair always cleanly parted to the right, so as to adorn the weddings of the well-to-do. Pablo notes that hotel employees, the proletariat, were excluded from theses Masses.
  • The second favorite project was The City of Happiness (La Ciudad de la Alegría), a complex housing orphans, seniors and terminally ill patients. According to Fr. Pablo it is used to furnish some local businesses/benefactors with tax free receipts. Fr. Pablo refers in particular to the businesses owned by one, Fernando García Zalvidea, a Legion favorite and protégé.
  • A third source of income for the Prelature are the donations from the United States and Europe which are spun as “for the Missions”, the evangelization of the Maya peoples. “They (the missions) have never received these moneys – complains Fr. Pablo- Most of these poor areas and colonies lack medical dispensaries, Catholic schools, churches, parishes and social services.”

When he was expelled, Fr. Pablo left the Prelature. He sought support in his home diocese of Saltillo, (Coahuila State, Mexico) under Bishop Raúl Vera-López, a promotor of human rights and antagonistic to the Legionaries. The firebrand from Playa del Carmen clashed with the charismatic bishop –accusing him of using the poor to his own benefit, Vera-López, for his part, accused Fr. Pablo of being a plant- and after only eleven months their relationship came to an end.


Translator’s notes:

[1] Diazepam (also known as Valium) is a benzodiazepine (ben-zoe-dye-AZE-eh-peens). It affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with anxiety. Diazepam is used to treat anxiety disorders, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or muscle spasms. Diazepam is sometimes used with other medications to treat seizures.

This medication would be counter indicated for Depression and would increase Depressive symptoms instead of reducing them. Its recommendation in the case of Fr. Pablo demonstrates either ignorance or a purposeful plan to keep him dumbed down.

[2] Members of religious orders take three vows: poverty, chastity and obedience. But the Legion had a fourth vow: “Never to criticize a superior in any way and to tell your immediate superior about it if you became aware of another member breaking his vow.”

————————–

Slightly built, with green eyes, pointed ears and scant hair, Fr. Pablo Pérez-Guajardo was officially expelled from the Legion in May 2015. They had already expelled him from the San José chapel in Playa del Carmen in September, 2012, after which his lifestyle became nomadic. When he was interviewed by the reporter in September, 2014 he had transformed a garage in a poor neighborhood into a chapel. “The bishop (Monsignor Pedro Pablo Elizondo, LC) has forbidden me from entering Catholic schools and hospitals” (to perform my priestly duties).

“Where could I go now that I was sixty?” the priest asked himself. So he traipsed back to Playa del Carmen, to the working class neighborhood, setting up a chapel in a garage of a house under construction. When the reporter met him Fr. Pablo was going around in an old dirty Chevy, with the seats falling apart. He was living with a family, surrounded by bags of cement and dust curtains. The Legion had expelled him in 2015. “In canonical terms I do not have ministerial faculties, although I am not sanctioned for any reason nor do I have any canonical censure against me because I have not committed any ecclesiastical crime (pedophilia, sexual partner, fraud, doctrinal problems or errors in moral or doctrinal teachings).”

As they spoke the reporter noted the Padre’s fatigue after four years of accusations and no success except to keep trudging along performing baptisms and building his chapel. When asked why he had spent so much energy writing the hundreds of protest pages, he said he had hoped that the Vatican would hear his plea and would depose the Legion of Christ from the Prelature. “Quintana Roo needs a Franciscan, Jesuit or diocesan bishop who will dress in sandals and jeans, carry a backpack and rub shoulders with the workers and native peoples of the interior and not with the hotel zone magnates.”

The Legend of the holy money launderer
Fernando García Zalvidea was one of the thousands of immigrants attracted to Cancun tourist growth. Driving his limousine he would offer excursions to gringos fascinated by the Caribbean paradise. One of them exclaimed to him on a certain occasion: This is my best day! Fernando liked the phrase and he made it his. Cancun was growing in leaps and bounds and it was fertile soil for an entrepreneur such as García Zalvidea who, with his meteoric rise as a hotel baron, created a public relations network of public, political and religious dimensions with the Quintana Roo elite. His savvy made him owner of a whole chain of hotels, Real Caribe, and Best Day, pioneering all-inclusive travel on the web.

But came the day in 1998 when his empire began crumbling. The Mexican Attorney General named him in association with “Maxiproceso,” an investigation into drug smuggling and money laundering for the Juarez Cartel in the state of Quintana Roo. State governor, Mario Villanueva-Madrid, nicknamed El Chueco (The Crook)), stood accused of having placed the state prosecutor at the service of drug boss, Ramón Alcides-Magaña, alias El Metro (One Meter). García-Zalvidea was accused of money laundering for the cartel in the purchase of the Gran Caribe Real hotel. He was detained and sent to the infamous Reclusorio Sur in Mexico City.

The investigations results were ambiguous. Former governor, Villanueva-Madrid was detained, imprisons and extradited to the USA where he is still incarcerated.

His punishment was unusually harsh by Mexican standards. Most of the accused were absolved of their crimes. García Zalvidea was released on March 4th, 2000 after only fourteen months.

Three years later, a magazine called Contralínea published a series of phone conversations between former Attorney General Antonio Lozano-Gracia, ex presidential candidate for the PAN party, Diego Fernández de Cevallos, and García-Zalvidea’s lawyer, Germán Rangel-González in which the PAN members discussed “political moves” to free the hotel owner and eventually have his case closed by the country’s attorney general.

Upon his release Fernando García-Zalvidea became the Legion’s greatest benefactor in Quintana Roo. He helped to build the City of Happiness in 2000, the largest social work of the Prelature, a center embracing schools, retirement home, homes for orphans and the terminally ill and a center for addiction treatment.
But the man in question went far beyond that, extending his political network through his brother, Juan Ignacio, El Chacho who became a member of the house for the PAN party in 2000 and later jumped ship to the Green Party. Under the green banner he won the election for Lord Mayor of the Benito Juárez Delegation (which includes Cancun) in February 2002. He was the first major of the opposition party (not from the PRI) in the city of Cancun. In 2004 El Chacho approached the leading candidate for the Mexican presidency, leftist Andrés Manuel López-Obrador.

Juan Ignacio proclaimed that he wanted to be a candidate for governor of Quintana Roo state representing the opposition. A few months after making his aspirations public he lost his seat in congress and later incarcerated on charges of over-spending the Cancun treasury. He was incarcerated for over a year until his brother, Fernando, paid a bail of 71 million Mexican pesos (five and a half million dollars.)

The García Zalvidea were one of the most powerful families in Quintana Roo state. El Chacho demonstrated his allegiance to the ruling party, PRI’, by participating in the present governor, Roberto Borge’s, campaign. While on the other side, Fernando was supporting the PAN party in 2012, organizing fundraisers for the PAN presidential candidate, Josefina Vázquez-Mota, among hotel owners. Bishop Pedro-Pablo Elizondo was invited to one of these events.
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