Shipwrecked on a Beach in Brazil: the Legion of Christ’s Irish Armada



Shipwrecked on a Beach in Brazil:

The Legion of Christ’s Irish Armada, 1960-1980


By J. Paul Lennon

Easter, 7th April, 2016



To Michael Francis X,

former Legionary of Christ


                                                                          There is another God,

                                                                           and so different from

                                                                           the Legion of Christ’s;

                                                                            a paradoxical God

                                                                            who looks after his “little ones


 Some are still in the ranks. But many of those first brave sailors are scattered to the four winds -or continents. One, with a poet’s name, as far as Australia. Another, now a shambles, to Cuernavaca, Mexico. A third to Natal Province, Brazil. The greater the abuse, it seems, the farther the distance from the crime scene. Where does that leave me, living in La Antigua, Central America?

Me, of an older generation. Early enough to have met the first Mexicans, Spaniards and Irish -some of whom were sexually abused. Too late to know the middle generations personally: The Garza-Sada, Monterrey, Mexico empire. But I observed from the outside the Legion’s golden days of power and glory, as the darling of popes and princes, wealthy vulnerable widows, millionaire entrepreneurs like Carlos Slim, politicos Fox and Sarkozy; when the founder-player moved Queen Sodano and Rooky Dziwisz across the Vatican chessboard.

My personal claim to glory: a thorn in the side of the untouchable order, daring to strip naked the wantonness of Maciel and his “Work of God.”. I had my 15 minutes of fame; six months, rather, as Legion well-greased lawyers raked another “disgruntled old man” over the coals in the City of Alexandria -not Egypt- for daring to point out The King’s Magic Suite of Clothes. And for listening with an understanding heart to the buffeted survivors’ tales of woe.

But for some reason, Michael Francis is center stage in my mind-memory today. One of the very first Irish who felt the sting of Maciel’s venom in his own flesh. Who tried to confront him later from safer ground; but never got the chance -the viper always slipped away into the night to continue plundering other beds. Many are still ashamed to admit it. Michael dared to speak. He wrote to me. But the investigative reporter considered his angry writings too “off the wall” and I was left alone to rue that abuse. Until today.

He got away from the trauma, from the stifling Legion, and continued in the priesthood for several years; first in his dear County Sligo and then in Brazil where he worked with the poor -until losing faith in the Catholic Hierarchy. He fell in love with a warm woman who fell in love with a poor survivor she encountered on a lonely stretch of beach. Far from the maddening crowd of LC true believers in Dublin, Atlanta, Rome and Mexico City Michael found hope, life and love.

Facebook brings his children and his children’s children to me, filling me with a brother’s joy. They all look like him: the oval face, the shock of dark hair, the twinkle in the eye.

Oh, how the winds of misfortune have scattered us! But, oh, how we have survived! And how our Irish noblesse thrives!

There is another God, paradoxical and so different from the Legion of Christ’s, who looks after his “little ones.”




See Luke 4,18 related to Is 61,1:

“To preach the Gospel to the poor” (corresponding to the Hebrew, anawim, God’s little ones)


“Abodah Zarah 20b contains a discussion of R. Joshua ben Levi according to which “meekness (anwah) is the most important virtue, for it is written in Is 61,1: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He anointed me to announce to the poor (anawim) the good news”. It is not written ” to the pious”, but to the poor, which means that meekness is the most important virtue”. Meekness acquires a messianic and eschatological meaning.”[1]

[1] Fr. F. Manns, OFM, “The Jewish Roots of Jesus,” (Open Lectures 2006), Copyright Studium Biblicum Hong Kong:


Fr. Maciel, Plagiarist and Catholic Houdini

The new edition by Vicent Comes Iglesia in the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos (BAC) of Luis Lucia Lucia’s Salterio de mis horas, “Psalter of my hours” (Madrid 2014), allows us to consider, virtually for the first time, a poignant 20th century life and a noteworthy work of Catholic spirituality. It allows us also to do something less edifying: we can now compare the original work closely with its appropriation by Father Marcial Maciel as Salterio de mis días, ‘Psalter of my days”, esteemed for decades as a foundational work of spirituality among the congregation he founded in Mexico in 1941, the Legionaries of Christ.

New edition of Luis Lucia’s Psalter of My Hours casts light on Father Marcial Maciel’s appropriated version

Editor’s note on the Photo above:

taken at the Legion’s first house in Ireland, Bundrowes House, Bundoran, Co. Donegal, 1960-61; it features some founders and visitors: Theology student James/Santiago Coindreau LC, recruiter; recently ordained Fr. Neftali Sanchez LC confessor, Fr. Marcial Maciel founder, Bro Pearse Allen original Irish candidate dressed as novice, Bro. James Whiston original Irish candidate dressed as novice, and Fr. Alfonso Samaniego LC, prominent Legionary at that time -who was later demoted and ostracized by Maciel after questioning him in public.


Editor’s note on Article:

J. Paul Lennon published a sensible literary critique of Fr. Maciel’s Psalter decades ago, before the plagiarism was known publicly. The author decried LC/RC members’ fawning adulation of Fr. Maciel’s very mediocre poetic attempt. The Legion, . thought its expensive lawyers, sued, forcing the article to be removed from public view. But that was before Vatican Visitation telling Legion leadership to allow and encourage freedom of expression…(?)



 New edition of Luis Lucia’s Psalter of my Hours casts light on Father Marcial Maciel’s appropriated version

by Jean Boudet, investigative journalist



The new edition by Vicent Comes Iglesia in the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos (BAC) of Luis Lucia Lucia’s Salterio de mis horas, “Psalter of my hours” (Madrid 2014), allows us to consider, virtually for the first time, a poignant 20th century life and a noteworthy work of Catholic spirituality. It allows us also to do something less edifying: we can now compare the original work closely with its appropriation (ReGAIN, plagiarized) by Father Marcial Maciel as Salterio de mis días, ‘Psalter of my days”, esteemed for decades as a foundational work of spirituality among the congregation he founded in Mexico in 1941, the Legionaries of Christ.

Lucia wrote his Salterio while a political prisoner in Barcelona, 1937-40, condemned first by the Spanish Republic and then by Franco. It was politically indelicate and unpublished, emerging only in a small, private edition in Valencia in 1956. Coincidentally this was the year Maciel moved to Spain, having been restricted by Vatican authorities from Rome, where he had brought his congregation, and suspended pending investigation of allegations of drug abuse, sexual abuse, and other irregularities of religious life. Early on in what he called his exile, he encountered Lucia’s Salterio and made it his own. Maciel fashioned a new work that combined plagiarism, both verbatim and slightly adapted, with some original passages that imitated Lucia’s poetic style. And he found in it a poetic language and a theological structure with which to interpret the period of his suspension, 1956-59, as the years of the “Great Blessing.” Continue reading “Fr. Maciel, Plagiarist and Catholic Houdini”

Marcial Maciel & Walter White: Breaking Bad in Meth and Sex

Father Maciel and Walter White: Breaking Bad in Meth and Sex

Breaking Bad is an American crime drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. The show originally aired on the AMC network for five seasons, from January 20, 2008, to September 29, 2013. It tells the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, who, together with his former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), turns to a life of crime, producing and selling crystallized methamphetamine to secure his family’s financial future before he dies, while navigating the dangers of the criminal world. The title is from a Southern colloquialism meaning to “raise hell”. Breaking Bad is set and was filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Continue reading “Marcial Maciel & Walter White: Breaking Bad in Meth and Sex”

¿El Padre Maciel, Instrumento de Dios o del Demonio?

Que pasa si el Padre Maciel no fuera un instrumento de Dios sino instrumento de otro poder?

!Papa Francisco y el Vaticano, favor de despertar!

Washington, DC, a 3-11 de agosto, 2015

Acabo de asistir al congreso internacional de SNAP, la red de sobrevivientes del abuso sexual clerical, y ayer conversé acerca del fenómeno Marcial Maciel/Legión de Cristo/Regnum Christi con un amigo conocedor de la historia Maciel/Legión. Ahora quisiera plasmar las siguientes reflecciones.



  • Después de treinta años atendiendo a los sobrevivientes de la Legión de Cristo/Regnum Christi, veo claramente una vez más la estela de destrucción dejada por Maciel/Legión de Cristo/Regnum Christi en las vidas tocadas por ellos. Porque no se trata simplemente de abusos sexuales; se trata de abusos de todo género: descuido y abandono médico, estragos psicológicos, consciencias confusas, depresión clínica y suicidio, pérdida de fe en la Iglesia, en Cristo y en Dios, abuso financiero de los miembros, familias y gente vulnerable, destierro, calumnias, ostracismo, persecución legal y amenazas…
  • Me resulta difícil, si no imposible, creer que esta institución sea una obra de Dios
  • Los últimos papas y el sistema del Vaticano, luego de constatar la podredumbre del fundador y la deformación del institituto, decidieron salvar la Legión de Cristo.
  • Nos dijeron, cual nuevo dogma de fe: Maciel, Malo; Legión, Buena. Nos pidieron creer que Dios había usado de un instrumento corrupto para crear su obra, la orden religiosa de la Legión de Cristo y el movimiento seglar, Regnum Christi.
  • El Vaticano realizó este malabarismo teológico ignorando siglos de Fe y Tradición Cristianas que vinculan la validez de una orden religiosa con el carisma, y con la la santidad e inspiración del fundador.
  • Nos piden creer que Dios hizo otro milagro: que el árbol podrido produjo fruto sano. ¿O NO SERÁ que la organización creada por el empresario Maciel, llamada Legión de Cristo,  sigue produciendo sacerdotes en serie, reclutando a miles de católicos bien intencionados y llenando los cofres con millones de dólares a una institución golpeada por acusaciones de corrupción y abuso, y que pierde a diario la fidelidad de sus miembros más instruidos y analíticos?
  • ¿Y QUE SI Marcial Maciel, el niño de Cotija, Michoacán, México, quien fuera abusado verbal, emocional, física y sexualmente, quien nunca buscó ni recibió la ayuda terapéutica necesaria para su propio psique dañado y deforme, se convirtiera a su vez en un insaciable depredador sexual y en un explotador manipulativo con aires de grandeza, creando el mito de ser escogido por Dios para salvar la Iglesia Católica, el cristianismo y el mundo entero fundando una nueva y mejor orden religiosa?
  • Pues el Padre Maciel, careciendo totalmente de auto-conocimiento y auto-consciencia, se dejó llevar de sus impulsos sexuales, controlantes y ambiciosos: el venerable Padre, disque santo Maciel fue en realidad un psicópata, Narcisista Traumatizante quien se engañaba a sí mismo pensándose el fundador de una nueva congregación religiosa para satisfacer sus propias pasiones usando y abusando a los demás.
  • ¿Y QUE SI el Padre del Engaño, y no el Espíritu Santo, tomara posesión de ese psique deforme para crear una secta diabólica, astutamente diseñada dentro de la Iglesia Católica, con el mismo espíritu que poseía Maciel: espíritu de mentira, engaño, ilusiones, control, manipulación y megalomanía para seguir hiriendo y lastimando en su sexualidad, auto-estima, dignidad humana y hasta en sus misma almas a gente generosa, idealista e ingenua?
  • Lanzo este desafío a los líderes Católicos ciegos a o deslumbrados por rutilantes espejismos

J. Paul Lennon, LC 1961-84, Licensed Professional Counselor.

Fr. Maciel, Legion of Christ Founder, Instrument of God or Satan?


Pope Francis with a group of Legionaries

August 3, 2015

I have just attended the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests annual conference in Alexandria, VA and have been discussing Maciel, the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi with a good and knowledgeable friend. This brought to the surface the following convictions:



  • After thirty years ministering to Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi survivors, I clearly see once again the path of destruction left by Marcial Maciel/Legion/Regnum in the lives they have sailed through. Because it is not just sexual abuse; it is abuse of all kinds: physical neglect, psychological illnesses, confused consciences, depression and suicide, loss of faith in the Church, Christ and God, financial abuse of members, families and vulnerable adults; as well as exile, calumny, ostracism, lawsuits and threats for those who will not submit.
  • The Popes and the Vatican, after their investigation of Maciel and the Legion, chose to save the Legion of Christ religious order. Pope Francis rubber-stamped his predecessors’ conclusions.
  • Telling us: Maciel bad; Legion good, and asking us to believe that God used the flawed Maciel to create His Work, the Legion of Christ Catholic Religious Order and the Regnum Christi lay movement.
  • The Vatican did this by ignoring and/or twisting centuries of Christian Faith and Tradition which link a religious order’s validity and authenticity to the charism, holiness and inspiration of the founder.
  • We are asked to believe that God performed a new miracle, that the rotten tree has produced healthy fruit.
  • Or is it just that the business created by entrepreneur Maciel, the Legion of Christ Inc., continues to mass-produce priests, astutely recruit well-meaning Catholics, and bring in millions of dollars into the Church, an institution reeling from accusations of corruption and abuse which is losing the allegiance of thinking and discriminating members?
  • What if Marcial Maciel, the verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually abused little Mexican boy, who never sought or received help for his own damaged and warped psyche, became a sexual predator and manipulative exploiter with airs of grandeur, creating the myth that he was chosen by God to save the Catholic Church, Christianity and the world by founding a new and better religious order?
  • Maciel totally lacked self-awareness and restraint, simply acting out his sexual, controlling and ambitious appetite:. Maciel, the psychopath, the Traumatizing Narcissist, who deluded himself into thinking he was creating a religious order and not a sect to satisfy his own desires, using and abusing others in the process?
  • What if the Father of Deceit, and not the Holy Spirit, took possession of that damaged psyche, to create a cleverly crafted diabolical sect within the Catholic Church, endowed with the same spirit that possessed Maciel: lies, deceit, smoke-screens, spiritual pyrotechnics, control, and self-aggrandizement that would continue to wound, damage and deceive generous, idealistic and naïve people in their sexuality, self-respect, maturity, discernment, human dignity, and in their very souls?
  • What if Maciel was able to fool Church authorities and con them into approving his fraudulent order?
  • What if Church authorities have never wanted to acknowledge they were conned by Maciel and refuse to correct their mistake?
  • I throw down the gauntlet and challenge blind Catholic Church leaders, dazzled by glittering images, to see the deceptive “cult in their midst”!

J. Paul Lennon, LC 1961-84, Licensed Professional Counselor.

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