Category Archives: Cult-Like Features

The Legion of Christ, like Cults, muzzles whistle-blowers

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(image above from funeral mass for Fr. Raymond Comiskey, LC, who had been abandoned by his superiors for years prior to his death in a private house in Merida, Yucatan: note coat of arms of Regnum Christi which had done nothing for him during his long illnesses. We are not implying Fr. Raymond was a whistle-blower. He was, however, a man of firm principles who believed he could get better care for himself outside the institution than inside. He died a priest and a Legionary, albeit outside a community.)

Just came across an article from International Cultic Studies Association which illustrates how cults and cult-like, high-pressure, high-demand, coercive-persuasion…groups legally muzzle those who dare question or criticize.

The author, taking a page from the English version of House of Cards, cannot comment on the title of this article. He may, however, encourage the intelligent reader to research old and new, high and low.

Here is the I.C.S.A supplied  article 

that explains how such groups do it.

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Lista de Características de Grupos Cúlticos/Sectarios – Revisado

Resultado de imagen para Legion of Christ

Lista de Características de Grupos Cúlticos/Sectarios – Revisado

(Characteristics associated with Cultic Groups -Revised)

 

Michael D. Langone

for original English[i]

 

Intentos coordinados para influenciar y controlar, forman la esencia de los grupos, programas y relaciones sectarias (ingl., cultic)[ii].  Muchos miembros, ex miembros y colaboradores de este tipo de grupos no están del todo conscientes de en qué forma y con cuánta intensidad han sido manipulados, explotados o incluso abusados. La siguiente lista de patrones socio-estructurales, sociopsicológicos e interpersonales pueden ayudar a asesorar a grupos o relaciones particulares con dichas características.

Compara estos patrones con la situación en la que estuviste (o en la que se encuentre todavía algún familiar o amigo tuyo). Esta lista te puede ayudar a determinar si hay razones para preocuparse. Ten en cuenta que esta lista no es una métrica del control que pueda ejercer cierto tipo de grupo ni mucho menos una lista de requisitos para determinar si cierta comunidad se ha convertido en una secta (cult). Tampoco es un instrumento de diagnóstico, sino una herramienta de análisis.

  1. El grupo manifiesta un celo excesivo y una entrega incuestionable hacia su líder (vivo o muerto) en miras a abrazar su sistema de creencias, ideología y prácticas como la verdad absoluta o una ley inquebrantable.
  2. Cuestionar, dudar o disentir del grupo amerita una censura para quien lo hace, o incluso un castigo.
  3. El uso de técnicas de debilitamiento mental (meditaciones, cantos, hablar en lenguas, sesiones de corrección pública, sesiones de trabajo extenuantes) para eliminar cualquier tipo de cuestionamiento del grupo y sus líderes.
  4. El líder impone, a veces con lujo de detalles, cómo deben pensar, actuar y sentir los miembros (por ejemplo, los miembros deben pedirle permiso para verse con alguien más, para cambiar de trabajo o para casarse. También a veces los líderes imponen un cierto tipo de vestimenta, en qué lugares se debe habitar, si se debe o no tener hijos, cómo corregirlos y demás…
  5. El grupo es elitista, se declara especial y superior a los demás por sí mismo, por sus líderes y sus miembros (el líder es considerado una especie de Mesías, un ser especial o gurú- o el líder/grupo tienen una misión especial para salvar a la humanidad).
  6. El grupo tiene una mentalidad claramente polarizada del “nosotros contra el mundo”, lo que le ocasiona problemas para ser aceptado por la sociedad en general.
  7. El líder no tiene por qué rendirle cuentas a ninguna autoridad superior (cosa que no sucede con maestros, generales del ejército, servidores públicos, sacerdotes, monjes, rabinos o líderes de las religiones dominantes).
  8. El grupo enseña o sugiere que los fines superiores que persigue justifican cualquier medio que se considere necesario para alcanzar dichos fines. Esto provoca que los miembros participen en actividades o tengan comportamientos que antes de pertenecer al grupo les hubieran parecido poco éticos o moralmente reprobables: mentir a sus familiares y amigos, recaudar dinero para falsas caridades.
  9. El líder procura inculcar sentimientos de culpabilidad o vergüenza en los miembros para influenciarlos o controlarlos, A menudo, esto se hace a través de la presión ejercida por los demás miembros del grupo o a través de formas muy sutiles de persuasión.
  10. La subordinación al líder o grupo exige que los miembros corten sus lazos naturales con familia y amigos y que sacrifiquen sus metas personales, así como las actividades a las que solían asistir antes de llegar al grupo.
  11. El grupo se preocupa constantemente por incrementar su número de integrantes.
  12. El grupo se preocupa constantemente por recaudar más dinero.
  13. Se espera que los miembros consagren cantidades excesivas de tiempo al grupo y a las actividades del grupo.
  14. Se exhorta a los miembros a vivir y socializar solamente entre sí.
  15. Los miembros más leales al grupo (los “integrados” o “verdaderos creyentes”) sienten que no puede haber vida verdadera fuera de los confines del grupo. Piensan que no hay otra manera de ser y temen que haya consecuencias para sí mismos o para sus seres queridos si dejan (incluso si solo piensan en dejar) el grupo.

 

 

Nota:

 

Esta lista ha sido revisada en diversas ocasiones desde que el autor la presentara por primera vez en la década de los noventas (1990). Muchas personas han hecho sugerencias o contribuido durante las diferentes revisiones, sobre todo Carol Giambalvo, Janja Lalic, Herb Rosedale y Patrick Ryan.

 

 

 

Tradujeron al español E.E. Escobar & J. Paul Lennon

 

[i] http://www.icsahome.com/articles/characteristics

[ii] Primer párrafo en el original inglés:  Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL NOTES FOR TREATING A MEMBER OF THE LEGION OF CHRIST OR REGNUM CHRIST, with input from Marigold

                              Resultado de imagen de the legion of christ

 

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL NOTES FOR TREATING A MEMBER OF THE LEGION OF CHRIST OR REGNUM CHRISTI

J.Paul Lennon, MA Ph., Th., Counseling, LPC

updated June 1, 2017

With spiritual and theological notes by former RC, Marigold

 

Dear Colleague,

Your client Robert(a) has written me to say s/he is under your therapeutic care but that you have no idea what the Legion of Christ is and how his/her involvement with them may have affected them. I have known the client for a while, and the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi for a long time, and would be glad to provide you with some pointers.

 

Perfect Little Catholic Toy Soldiers:

  • The Legion of Christ is a Catholic religious order, of about 800 priests and 2,000 religious men with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in training for the priesthood. It also controls several thousand non-clerical members who live out the Legion’s ideals in their daily lives in the Regnum Christi Movement, somewhat similar to the better-known Opus Dei.
  • The Legion’s founder, a Mexican serial-pedophile priest, Marcial Maciel, believed in converting the powerful in society so that these elites would influence and trickle down to the masses and thus imbue society with his version of Christian values.
  • To achieve its goals, the Legion/Regnum recruit good, solid, conservative Catholic youth from the middle-through-wealthy classes. In Spain and Latin American countries, the LC/RC has thrived on recruiting children -as young as 10 or 11- into its ranks. Surprisingly, it has even had success with such “Apostolic Schools” in the USA and Canada.
  • Thanks to the founder’s wiles, the Legion/Regnum is approved by the Vatican, favored by recent popes, efficiently attracts young men and women, produces good-looking priests and has strong financial resources. In the USA it has appealed, for the most part, to conservative, traditional families who bring up their children to be obedient, with strong Catholic faith, strict sexual morals, and who are for the most part innocent, naive, generous and idealistic.
  • Underneath the veneer of piety and holiness the Legion leadership is a ruthless control machine, gradually taking over the members’ lives. It employs coercive persuasion methods to turn out a finished product, the Man of the Kingdom: pliable in the superiors’ hands and attractive to the Catholic public that hungers for clean-cut priests who preach Traditional Doctrine and “follow the pope”.
  • Over the past decades, keener-minded critics have been zeroing in on the Legion which was then observed and studied by some of the most respected “cult watch groups”: The International Cultic Studies Association, Steven Hassan and Freedom of Mind, Rick Ross Cult Education et al. Because Legion “formators” operate in a subtle and deceptive way, recruits don’t realize that their Behavior, Ideas, Thoughts and Emotions are gradually being controlled. Before they know it, they been turned into perfect little Catholic toy soldiers.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Marigold”s reflections:

 The other thing that I’d add is that

  • the LC seminarians are taught to recruit and raise money.
  • They are never given any pastoral training; most could not administer the sacraments of Baptism, Marriage or Last Rites.
  • Confessional seal is regularly broken.
  • The “Front Organizations’ of the LC/RC juggernaut continue and are rebuilding the base and donors; but under many new organizations that do not appear at first glance to be connected with the Legion.
  • Finally, I’ve found very useful the examination of the LC’s activities and influence on people in terms of “Motivation” — what is the motive and intention for doing something or going after someone? It is important that this is included because the LC/RC is such a hall of mirrors; they reflect both the bad and good of the institution of Church Temporal.
  •  I have become more Christ-centered, thanks to the Legion, even as I’ve become less Church-centered, but continue to go, out of the need for communion with others and the Sacraments.  
  • How many lives have been broken and misled, how many good families ruined — because of the evil of this criminal outfit?
  • Thanks, ReGAIN!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Beyond the Façade: Sex and Submission

  • The Mexican founder, Fr. Maciel, was a serial pedophile, specializing in sexually initiating his pubertal seminarians. With his favorites, he carried on an increasingly explicit relationship into their early adulthood. Some of these early victims claim that he only wanted to create his own personal harem. In a word, Maciel was an amoral person, without scruples.
  • As a psychopathic conman he projected an aura of holiness, love of the Catholic Church, of the Pope and of Jesus Christ while living a double/triple life.
  • His charismatic leadership created a very efficient system for recruiting, training (controlling, brainwashing) the members
  • With his business acumen he successfully fund-raised, built many apparently successful, schools and universities in Mexico, the USA and over twenty countries in Europe and Latin America.
  • Astutely, he rode out two separate Vatican investigations into sex abuse, misuse of money, abuse of authority and drug abuse.
  • To achieve his goals, Maciel also used secrecy, deceit and manipulation. After the first Vatican investigation (1956-59), he implemented a special vow that made it impossible for the members to talk among themselves, exchange personal concerns and experiences or criticize their superiors.
  • Whenever his authority was challenged or his methods were questioned, Maciel would implement more stringent measures of internal and external control over the members, often instilling fear of divine retribution for not following “The Founder” chosen by God.
  • Not until after his death in 2008 did further crimes become known. Despite an investigation that revealed further aberrations, the Legion and the Vatican found a solution to the funder’s sinful life by separating the Founder from the Foundation: Maciel bad; Legion good. Some scandalized and frustrated members left the priesthood, the religious and consacrated life around 2010 and donations were affected; stalwarts and supporters dug in their heels and still believe in “The Movement” which, for its part, changed cosmetically under Vatican surveillance.
  • If we combine sexual abuse with secrecy, we can imply the order has been continuously contaminated since the beginning. The Founder’s Modus Operandi still lives on:
    • The Legion does/did not carefully psychologically evaluate candidates by indepependently trained therapists,
    • Or provide any serious sex education to its trainees
    • Their “formators” and educators are in-home trained
    • The general policy is/was silence and secrecy
    • Sexual challenges are spiritualized and sublimated prematurely.
    • From here, many members’ sexuality remains latent, un-examined, repressed or devious.
    • Some of Maciel’s victims became perpetrators; because of secrecy, the extent is still unknown:
    • Strict obedience is observed, giving the superiors much power in the day to day operations; some superiors have used this to indulge their pedophile and/or homosexual proclivities. There is some evidence of intergenerational sexual abuse of the young members by superiors.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me through ReGAIN,

Yours sincerely

 

 

Internacional Cultic Studies Annual Conference in Bordeaux, France, June 29…

Join former Legionaries of Christ, Xavier Leger,  Paul Lennon and other former members of Catholic  and Christian high demand   groups and learn how European and other countries deal with questionable groups and communities, enjoy comeraderie and support of people who know where you are or have been…

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Addict, Idol and Cult Member: Reflections on the Loss of Self: A Phenomenological Examination of Destructive Cult groups

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My paper and talk are a phenomenological morphology of religious and political extremism. In the presentation, I give a detailed exposition of seven key elements that are present in the mind of the successfully indoctrinated group member. These seven elements include: absolute leader, absolute teaching, hierarchical social structure, the psychology of the adversary, the ends justify the means as a modus operandi, crisis psychology and the inner circle. The second part of my presentation includes an examination of the variables at play during the process of recruitment and indoctrination: milieu control, communication web/the manipulation of intimacy, peak experiences and planned spontaneity, the splitting phenomenon: the experience of evil, metaphor and ritual: the binding chains, the repudiation of the conscience, the rejection of the critical faculties and the colonization of the imagination understood as an experience of god. My remarks will be punctuated by anecdotal material from my life in the Unification Church including my direct contact with Sun Myung Moon. In addition, I shall be drawing on my 27 years as an addiction counselor working with alcoholics and addicts in county jails and state prisons.

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Step Three: Finding the Ruin

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

Step Four: Fear of Worsening

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

Step Five: Bring to Understanding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step Six: Reinforcement

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

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

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

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

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

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