Fr. Connor’s Damage-Control Strategy: Divide and Conquer Maciel’s Accusers

 
 

After the Legion of Christ Chapter General in early 2021, the New -first US born- General Director (Superior General), Fr. John Connor set about damage control.

He would take action to compensate the victims of Legion of Christ -now morphed into Regnum Christi Federation- Founder Fr. Marcial Maciel’s rampant sexual abuse of his seminarians in the 1950s, an albatross still hanging around the “reformed” institution’s neck.

Fr. Connor set about his task in a very Legionary and Roman way: Divide and Conquer. In order to do things à la Legion -like any cult would do- he would have to break up the group of seven plaintiffs who had not been taken care of for seven decades (1950-2020). Their case would have forever languised in Vatican archives unless investigative reporters Jason Berry and Gerald Renner had bravely brought their plight to the notice of the English-speaking world in February 1997 with a ground-breaking article in the Hartford Courant. https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-marcial-maciel-02-1997-story.html

Our readers are familiar with later developments, reported here and in other Catholic media:

  • Mons. Charles Scicluna’s interview of twenty Maciel victims in New York and Mexico City 2005, brings damaging information to soon-to-be-pope, Cardinal Ratzinger.
  • Pope Benedict’s slap on the wrist: Vatican Communiqué re Maciel May 19, 2006, eschewing a canonical trial.
  • Maciel’s death in January 2008 revealing sordid details of his double or multiple life, including mistresses and children.
  • Vatican investigation (euphemically called “visitation”) of the Legion and Regnum Christi, March 31, 2009,
  • Vatican “renewal” -never called “reform”- of Maciel’s brain child appoints Mons. Velasio de Paolis as Apostolic Delegate on July 9, 2010. Velasio de Paolis was with the Legion for four years, terminating his intervention at the congregation’s General Chapter in 2014. His work was hampered by his surrendering to the charms of LC Director Fr. Álvaro Corcuera and his coterie, and, among other problems, the desperate and fruitless search for the Legion of Christ’s charism and specific mission.

Fr. Connor’s task was daunting. But, like a Good American, he set about it forcefully and with a clear plan. As we have stated in our previous article, the fate of those early victims of Fr. Maciel’s abuse in Spain and Rome was a stumbling block to damage control among the members ad intra, and image laundering ad extra.

How to break that stubborn monolithic block of the remaining 7 accusers?

Divide and Conquer. The strategy was clever. The men were in their eighties. They had been abused in the late 1940s and 1950s and had left the sect not long after in various states of mental and emotional disarray. As we wrote previously, there had been at least twenty victims in that generation. Twenty that were counted. If we were to flesh out (forgive the expression) the total number -realizing how only a small percentage of sex victims acklowledge their abuse and come forward- the number would increase exponentially. Maciel had taught his henchmen how to control leaks and numbers. There could easily be a hundred, just from that period. Remember, we are talking about a serial sexual predador dressed in priest’s clothing. Several of his victims suggest that Maciel founded the Legion of Christ Catholic Religios Order, in the first place, to cultivate his ephobophile harem. Harsh words, and not the writer’s. Remember Maciel’s refined sexual appetite targetted emerging puberty. He, the founder, specialized in initiating the innocent boys into their sexuality. That way he would have total control, body and soul, of “his men”, as he called them.

LEGION OF CHRIST GENERAL STRATEGY

regarding Founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel’s, accusers and other cases of sexual abuse by him and by other Legion seminarians and priests.

  • DISCREDIT: “angry, resentful, vengeful”, “disgruntled old men”! (Fr. Owen Kearns, LC); a vendetta against the holy founder by ambitious former members, Richard John Nehaus in his “Feathers of Scandal” defense of Fr. Maciel in 2002. (Article since vanished from Internet to a large degree so as not to discredit Fr. Neuhaus, R.I.P. and Legion of Christ.)
  • STONEWALL UNTIL THEY DIE!
  • DIVIDE DIE-HARD ACCUSERS: as in the case of recent accusations against Fr. Fernando Martínez, abuser of 8-9 year old girls in Cancun, Mexico, 1991-3; and Maciel’s accusers.

 

IN THE CASE OF FOUNDER FR. MACIEL’S ACCUSERS:

Divide the group of Maciel’s “classical” victims, the ones who would not go away, would not shut up, and had not done the Legion the favor of dying off.

  • Sidestep and isolate resolute group leader, José de Jesús Barba, PhD Harvard, who demanded Legion leaders approach the survivors as a group and arrange full settlement of all damages: sexual, physical, personal, psychological, interpersonal, emotional, spiritual, religious… (several still suffer from some form of PTSD)
  • Deceive Barba into thinking and agreeing to work with Fr. Connor and Legion leadership, through a mutually agreed mediator, to reach a full settlement with victims. Meanwhile Fr. Connor is working diligently behind his back to implement the Legion’s strategy. Legion sign agreement with Barba, with a gag clause. Simultaneously disregarded agreement in order to reach their goal. ( cult characteristic: the end justifies the means).
  • Approach members individually and secretly, beginning in early 2020 -unbeknowned to Barba- offering them each an “Easter Egg” ($5,000.00, five thousand UScy), as a sign of caring and friendship -not as a settlement. they swear-, knowing that these men were now in their eighties and some of them were living in deep poverty (no property of their own, no steady income, little family support, failing health…)
  • As the first victims began crumbling and accepted the gift, leak to Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi members -the notice would slowly reach the public- “the victims are being taken care of”.
  • Take advantage of any chinks in the armor of Maciel victim- accusers to get them to accept gifts and sign agreements.

– Four victims accept the Legion overtures.

-Barba holds to agreement signed with Legion Leadership, refusing to enter into individual negotiations.

-Fernando Pérez Olvera also refuses, but cancer strikes…

Around March 2020 Fernando Pérez Olvera, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Legion pounces with the Easter Egg ruse. Pérez Olvera refuses to accept tiny nest egg. Legion leaders prevail with his wife to accept $10, 000.00 (ten thousand dollars) for his hospitalization.

On May 30, 2020 Fernando Pérez Olvera succumbs to pancreatic cancer in Monterrey, Mexico; with his dying breath he demands Justice from the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation, led by Fr. John Connor.

Saúl Barrales dies, April 5, 2021, as reported in ReGAIN article

On the other hand: Mission Accomplished Fr. Connor! You are a worthy son of arch -schemer, pedophile, imposter, impersonator and malignant narcissist, Founder of the Legion of Christ -now called Regnum Christi Federation-  to distance itself from the much maligned, yet Vatican approved, Legion of Christ religious congregation.

P.S. Spanish language article in respected newspaper (El País) three victims of sexual abuse accuse Fr. Connor of cover-up. 

LEGION OF CHRIST/REGNUM CHRISTI’s Cultic Dynamics: Former Legionary of Christ/Regnum Christi interviewed by International Cultic Studies executive director

                                                                  ,

Dear Readers,

thought you migh be interested in this “clinical” interview of ReGAIN board member, and former LC/RC, Lennon, conducted by Dr. Michael Langone, executive director of International Cultic Studies Association. Dr. Langone helps us to understand the dynamics of recruiting, retention, and control of members in the LCRC in a serious, analytical and objective way.

Sit back, learn, enjoy

Hope it will be helpful to others who want to understand their personal experience, the experience of family, friends and loved ones, male and female in these and other potentially harmful groups.

Vatican orders all Heralds of the Gospel boarding schools to be Closed!

Heralds like XX Century Knight Templars

The students are to be sent home to their families

https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/vatican-wants-boarding-schools-run-heralds-gospel-be-closed?fbclid=IwAR3MV3RCyG7dRKEuGHaBsBDA8jLiCjyIU4aziuQphhJdV-vSFE1uHpZ057s

Names of Non-Compensated Sexual Abuse Victims of Fr. Marcial Maciel, Founder and Superior General of the Legion(aries) of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation

Fr. Maciel (1920-2008) began abusing his adolescent seminarians soon after the foundation in Mexico City 1941. He was investigated twice by the Vatican, never went to trial in canon or civil law, and lived out his days in luxury and pleasure, unrepentent.

 

Names of Not Compensated Sexual Abuse Victims of Fr. Maciel, Founder and Superior General of the Legion(aries) of Christ -now morphed into Regnum Christi Federation

 

Recently deceased while the Legion/Regnum Superiors played cat and mouse, waiting for them to die off:

Saúl Barrales Arellano    (maternal surname goes last in Spanish; although people can be named by their maternal surname in certain cases, as in the case of Francisco González, called Parga )

Félix Alarcón Hoyos

Fernando Pérez Olvera

 

Living Survivors in their 80s,

two of whom are living in abject poverty and illness

José de Jesús Barba Martín

Alejandro Espinosa Alcalá

Francisco González Parga – together  with  Alarcón, the only other victim                                    ordained to priesthood-  went public in 2005 when  victims                                    were  interviewed by then Vatican Prosecutor, Mons. Charles                                Scicluna, in Mexico City)

Arturo Jurado Guzmán

José Antonio Pérez Olvera

How Coercive Groups Work

 

ICSA E-Newsletter

15 May 2021

 

ICSA E-Newsletters share articles or other information of interest or importance to ICSA members . Content of e-newsletters is not necessarily endorsed by ICSA, its directors, staff, volunteers, or members.  ICSA provides information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue among interested parties.      E-Newsletter Archive

 

Deception, Dependency, and Dread in the Conversion Process

 

Michael D. Langone, PhD

 

Farber, Harlow, & West (1957) coined the term “DDD syndrome” to describe the essence of Korean war thought reform with prisoners of war: debility, dependency, and dread. Lifton (1961), who also studied thought reform employed in Chinese universities, demonstrated that the process did not require physical debilitation. Contemporary cultic groups, which do not have the power of the state at their disposal, have more in common with this brand of thought reform than with the POW variety in that they rarely employ physical coercion. In order to control targets, they must rely on subterfuge and natural areas of overlap between themselves and prospects. As with all Korean era thought reform programs (those directed at civilians and at prisoners), however, contemporary cultic groups induce dependent states to gain control over recruits and employ psychological (sometimes physical) punishment (“dread”) to maintain control. The process, in my view, can be briefly described by a modified “DDD syndrome”: deception, dependency, and dread.

 

Although the process here described is complex and varied, the following appears to occur in the prototypical cult conversion:

  • A vulnerable prospect encounters a cultic group.
  • The group (leader[s]) deceptively presents itself as a benevolent authority that can improve the prospect’s well-being.
  • The prospect responds positively, experiencing an increase in self-esteem and security, at least some of which is in response to what could be considered “placebo” The prospect can now be considered a “recruit”.
  • Through the use of “sharing” exercises, “confessions,” and skillful individualized probing, the group [leader(s)] assesses the recruit’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Through testimonies of group members, the denigration of the group’s “competitors” (e.g., other religious groups, other therapists), the tactful accentuation of the recruit’s shameful memories and other weaknesses, and the gradual indoctrination of the recruit into a closed, nonfalsifiable belief system, the group’s superiority is affirmed as a fundamental assumption.
  • Members’ testimonies, positive reinforcement of the recruit’s expressions of trust in the group, discrete reminders about the recruit’s weaknesses, and various forms of group pressure induce the recruit to acknowledge that his/her future well-being depends upon adherence to the group’s belief system, more specifically its “change program.”
  • These same influence techniques are joined by a subtle undermining of the recruit’s self-esteem (e.g., by exaggerating the “sinfulness” of experiences the recruit is encouraged to “confess”), the suppression or weakening of critical thinking through fatiguing activity, near-total control of the recruit’s time, trance-induction exercises (e.g., chanting), and the repetitive message that only disaster results from not following the group’s “change program.” These manipulations induce the recruit to declare allegiance to the group and to commit to change him/herself as directed by the group. He or she can now be considered a convert embarking on a path of “purification”, “enlightenment”, “self-actualization”, “higher consciousness,” or whatever. The recruit’s dependency on the group is established and implicitly, if not explicitly, acknowledged. Moreover, he/she has accepted the group’s authority in defining what is true and good, within the convert’s heart and mind as well as in the world.
  • The convert is next fully subjected to the unrealistically high expectations of the group. The recruit’s “potential” is “lovingly” affirmed, while members testify to the great heights they and “heroic” models have scaled. The group’s all-important mission, e.g., save the world, justifies its all-consuming expectations.
  • Because by definition the group is always right and “negative” thinking is unacceptable, the convert’s failures become totally his or her responsibility, while his or her doubts and criticisms are suppressed (often with the aid of trance-inducing exercises such as meditation, speaking in tongues, or chanting) or redefined as personal failures. The convert thus experiences increasing self-alienation. The “pre-cult self” is rejected; doubts about the group are pushed out of consciousness; the sense of failure generated by not measuring up to the group’s expectations is bottled up inside. The only possible adaptation is fragmentation and compartmentalization. It is not surprising, then, that many clinicians consider dissociation to lie at the heart of cult-related distress and dysfunction (Ash, 1985).
  • The convert’s self-alienation will tend to demand further psychological, if not physical, alienation from the non-group world (especially family), information from which can threaten to upset whatever dissociative equilibrium the convert establishes in an attempt to adjust to the consuming and conflicting demands of the group. This alienation accentuates the convert’s dependency on the group.
  • The group supports the convert’s dissociative equilibrium by actively encouraging escalating dependency, e.g., by exaggerating the convert’s past “sins” and conflicts with family, by denigrating outsiders, by positively reinforcing chanting or other “thought-stopping” activities, and by providing and positively reinforcing ways in which the convert can find a valued role within the group (e.g., work for a group-owned business, sell magazines on the street).
  • The group strengthens the convert’s growing dependency by threatening or inflicting punishment whenever the convert or an outside force (e.g., a visit by a family member) disturbs the dissociative equilibrium that enables him or her to function in a closed, nonfalsifiable system (the “dread” of DDD). Punishment may sometimes by physical. Usually, however, the punishment is psychological, sometimes even metaphysical. Certain fringe Christian groups, for example, can, at the command of the leadership, immediately begin shunning someone singled out as “factious” or possessed of a “rebellious spirit.” Many groups also threaten wavering converts with punishments in the hereafter, for example, being “doomed to Hell.” It should be remembered that these threats and punishments occur within a context of induced dependency and psychological alienation from the person’s former support network. This fact makes them much more potent than the garden-variety admonitions of traditional religious, such as “you will go to hell if you die with mortal sin.”

The result of this process, when carried to its consummation, is a person who proclaims great happiness but hides great suffering. I have talked to many former cultists who, when they left their groups and talked to other former members, were surprised to discover that many of their fellow members were also smilingly unhappy, all thinking they were the only ones who felt miserable inside.

 

References

 

Ash, S. (1985). Cult-induced psychopathology, part 1: Clinical picture. Cultic Studies Journal, 2(1), 31-91.

Farber, I. E., Harlow, H. F., & West, L. J. (1956). Brainwashing, conditioning, and DDD (debility, dependency, and dread). Sociometry, 20, 271-285.

Lifton, R. J. (1961). Thought reform and the psychology of totalism. New York: W. W. Norton.

 

International Cultic Studies Association, Inc.

PO Box 2265
Bonita Springs, FL 34133

http://www.icsahome.com

mail@icsamail.com

 

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