EXPLOSIVE: Behind Opus Dei’s Veil of Secrecy (see Regnum Christi 3gf “Consacrated Women”) Part One

EXPLOSIVE: Behind Opus Dei’s Veil of Secrecy – Part 1

By: Randy Engel 

An Interview with Ex-Opus Dei Numerary Eileen Johnson – Part 1

Introduction           

The following interview with ex-Opus Dei numerary, Eileen Johnson, was conducted over a period of several months in 2020 and 2021.  Eileen is a native of Yorkshire, England, where “a spade is called a spade, and not a bloody shovel.” And indeed, she obliges us with her extraordinary candor and honesty in response to my in-depth questions concerning her more than ten-years-experience as an early high-level member of Opus Dei in the United Kingdom (UK) in the 1960s.

– Randy Engel, Catholic investigative reporter and editor of ODWATCH [1]


Engel: By way of introduction Eileen, would you give our readers some background on your family and education, and how Opus Dei entered your young life?

Johnson: Yes, of course. I was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1943, into a Catholic family on my mother’s side. My father was an agnostic. I have two older brothers. As the youngest and only girl, I attended a Catholic primary school and later a convent Grammar school, which I think your American readers would call a Catholic high school. I was a pious child with a lively spirit who loved to sing and dance. At the age of 15, I seriously considered a religious vocation.

It was about a year later, at age 16, when Opus Dei entered my life – surreptitiously, I might add.

I was an excellent student and class leader. French was my favorite subject. So, it was not surprising when our new young French teacher took a special interest in me and took me under her wing. I was flattered. She was aware of my regular lunchtime visits to the school chapel as she also frequently visited the chapel.

One day she invited me to join her at an international summer school for girls at the Rydalwood University hostel in Manchester where, she said, I could “teach English” and also practice my French. My parents, especially my father, encouraged me to take advantage of this opportunity. They trusted my teacher.  I had just turned 17, and this was my first trip away from home on my own. Naturally, I was excited!

Engel: Was the venture successful?

Johnson: As it turned out, I was invited to Manchester under false pretenses.  

First of all, I was unable to practice my French because there were no French students taking the course. I wasn’t qualified to teach English either. The invitation was, in fact, a ruse to introduce me to Opus Dei within a closely-controlled Opus environment apart from my family. But I was oblivious to the reality.

Engel: Wasn’t there a visible sign designating Rydalwood[2] as an Opus Dei University hostel when you entered the building?

Johnson: No. The centres have secular names and are not openly identified as being run by Opus Dei. It wasn’t until my French teacher, herself an Opus numerary, started to explain to me what Opus Dei was, that I began to understand the real reason for the invitation. You see, neither I, nor my family or friends, had ever heard of Opus Dei. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Opus was just getting established in the UK. So, it was all quite new. After a few days, at Rydalwood my teacher told me I had a “vocation” to Opus Dei.

I resisted the pressure to join “the Work” at first. However, a few months later, after I had attended an Opus weekend retreat back in Manchester, I changed my mind.

Engel: What attracted you most to Opus Dei?

Johnson: Bear in mind that I was only 16 when Opus’s grooming and “love bombing” began. I came from a comfortable, happy home, but hadn’t been exposed to cosmopolitan ways. I was on the threshold of my newly-discovered independence and found the Opus members and the beautiful atmosphere at Rydalwood very appealing. I took my Catholic faith very seriously and had already been thinking of becoming a nun. I was attracted by the fact that the numeraries at Rydalwood were lay women fully dedicated to God.

Also, as a language student, I was immediately drawn to the Latin flavor of the centre and the gaiety and friendliness of the numeraries, most of whom were Spanish. They were well dressed, well groomed, well perfumed. And they made such a fuss over me – something I wasn’t used to as I was a lonely child and teenager.

Looking back, I remember the first time that my parents drove me to the Manchester campus and visited Rydalwood. As they were leaving my mother asked me, “Do you think you would like it so much if it wasn’t so attractive?” It was a rather prophetic question.

Engel: So, you initially joined Opus Dei as a supernumerary, not as a numerary, correct?

Johnson: Yes, in December 1960. At the time, I was still living at home, and studying for my A level exams. I planned to enter Manchester University in the fall.  I remember fervently reading and studying The Way[3] and other Opus publications. I even sold copies of the publications to my friends at school. I was obviously totally enthralled with Opus Dei.

Engel: What’s the difference between an Opus Dei supernumerary and a numerary?

Johnson: The degree of commitment.

Male and female numeraries are lay celibates; they live in Opus centres; they hand over their total income to Opus Dei; and are closely monitored and controlled. Supernumeraries are married, or at least free to marry. They are also expected to make significant financial donations to Opus. They have Opus confessors and spiritual directors, and a Plan of Life.[4] Both are fully committed to the recruitment of new members and spreading the message of Opus Dei through their families and their work.

I should mention that there are celibate members who live at home. They are called Associates.

Sometimes they have to care for aging or disabled parents.

Engel: Did you take vows of any kind like religious do?

Msgr. Josemaría Escrivá with Pope John XXIII, Ides of March, 1960

Johnson: When I joined Opus Dei in the early 1960s it was called a “Secular Institute.” Escrivá adamantly wanted to avoid any perceived connection between a “lay vocation” in Opus Dei with a “religious vocation.”

So, to answer your question, I took what were called, “private vows.” For me they were binding, even before I formally took them. From the day I “’whistled” (OD jargon for writing the letter to Rome to request admission), I lived as a committed member in every way. The understanding was that the commitment was for life. The Admission ceremony took place six months later in the Opus oratory in the presence of an Opus priest, my directress, and one other numerary.

After Opus Dei was awarded the unique status of “Personal Prelature” in 1982, the term “vow” was changed to “contract,” but the nature of the commitment remained basically the same.

Engel: Was your family present at the Admission ceremony?

Johnson: Hardly. They didn’t know I had joined Opus much less that I had made a lifelong commitment to the Work that included perpetual celibacy. Neither did any of my close friends. As a new recruit I was told not to tell my parents. From the start, it was explained to me that for our apostolate in Opus Dei to be effective it must “pass unnoticed.” Opus Dei deemed our dedication was to be a very private matter between us and God and our sisters in Opus Dei. What many see as “secrecy,” Opus calls “Holy Discretion.”

Engel: No matter what you call it, for a minor to engage in such deception and be instructed to keep such a life-changing association secret from his or her parents is a violation of the Fifth Commandment to honor one’s father and mother. Didn’t your obvious delicate conscience send up a red flag?

Johnson: If it did, I wasn’t paying attention. As I said earlier, I was just bowled over by this new and exciting version of a secular life so fully dedicated to the Church – the Work of God – yet, so upbeat, so vibrant, so warm, and so friendly.

Engel: We’ll be returning to the issue of secrecy as formal Opus policy later in this interview, but for now I’d like to ask you about your relationship with your boyfriend at this time. Was it serious? Did he know about your commitment to Opus?

Johnson: Yes, to both questions. We were serious. We even discussed the possibility of marriage after we graduated from the University. We also came to share a deep attraction to Opus Dei and we both became supernumeraries.

Like me, my boyfriend kept his membership in Opus a secret from his parents. He resided at an Opus Dei men’s University residence. We both were aware at the time that Opus was grooming both of us, but not for each other. Eventually, Opus was able to manipulate our total separation and he eventually joined as a celibate numerary. I found out that he had become a numerary when the directress told me to speak to the priest in the confessional. I was instructed not to contact him again.

Engel: Did he ever pursue the occupation he studied and trained for at the University after graduation?

Johnson: No, I don’t think so. He was a Physics graduate, but Opus needed him elsewhere for internal work. In his early 20s, he became the Director of a male Opus University Centre in London. Later, he was asked by his superiors to become a priest of Opus Dei. He was ordained in Rome at the age of 26.  He later became the Counselor (later called Vicar) of Opus Dei for the UK.

Engel: And you?

Johnson: I was told before joining Opus Dei that I would be free to pursue my chosen studies and career in languages. That never happened. In February of 1962, at the age of 18, three months after I separated from my boyfriend, I also changed my supernumerary status to that of a numerary (lay celibates who live in Opus centres) so I could devote my entire life to Opus Dei. This meant I had to “whistle” again and write to the Father to ask to be admitted as a numerary. I never spoke to my boyfriend again.

I was also told by my directress that I would make a good journalist. That idea lodged in my mind and I began to perceive a journalistic career as part of my vocation to serve Opus Dei.

Engel: How did Opus Dei influence your academic and campus life?

Johnson: Well, during my three years at the University, I found myself focusing more on my “Plan of Life” and proselytism than on my studies. In my third year, I was appointed Assistant Directress of Rydalwood, which further detracted from my studies. At the age of 22, I was appointed a member of the Advisory[5] in London. This came as a surprise, and I felt very flattered.

Although, theoretically, Opus places a high premium on excellence in academics as well as work, in my case dedication to the internal needs and tasks of Opus and its expansion in the UK took priority over my personal choices and priorities, and jeopardized my career.

Also, when I entered the University, I had hoped to join the Gilbert and Sullivan Society and the Scottish Country Dance Society, but these were nixed by Opus because they would expose me to the opposite sex. Going to the theater, cinemas and mixed social events were also prohibited.

Engel: At what point did you reveal your membership to Opus Dei to your parents?

Johnson: In June 1964, after I had graduated from the UniversityI told them that I had an interest in joining Opus now that I had turned 21, which was the age of majority in the UK back then.[6] That was a lie, of course. I had already been a member for years, first as a supernumerary while I was still living at home, and then as a celibate numerary and as an Assistant Directress at Rydalwood.

Engel: So, your parents helped pay for your college costs for four years not knowing of your life-long commitment to Opus?

Johnson:  Yes, my father paid a “parental contribution,” to supplement the grant from my local education authority.

Engel: And Opus, who would benefit from all your educational skills and talents after your graduation paid how much?

Johnson: Nothing.

Engel: How convenient, I mean, for Opus.

Johnson: I should add a caveat here to say that during my undergraduate at the University, my father had become ill, so my parents were not as aware of my campus life as they might otherwise have been.

I recall my directress telling me that I needed to “get a balance.” “Since your parents don’t know about your vocation, you can’t stop going home for the holidays,” she advised me. I was reminded of The Way, 644: “Be silent! Don’t forget that your ideal is like a newly lit flame. A single breath might be enough to put it out in your heart.”

On the few occasions that I actually spent at home, my mother did express concern about my social isolation and tried to introduce me to a young man, but that was out of bounds for me as a celibate numerary.

Engel: What about your family relations after your graduation in 1964?

Johnson: After graduation I continued to live at Rydalwood. I rarely saw my parents. Not even at Christmas. As for my brothers, I had almost no contact with them or my sisters-in-laws or their children. Opus did permit me to be a godmother to two of my nephews, but that was before I had informed my family that I had joined Opus Dei.

Overall, Opus discouraged members’ attendance at family events like weddings and funerals. When my cousin, who had been my longtime playmate was married, I went to stay at my parents’ home, but on the morning of the wedding, I feigned illness so as not to attend. I felt no remorse. Rather, I was pleased with myself that I had found a way to “obey.” When my aunt, my mother’s only sister died I didn’t go to the funeral. Mum was very hurt. On this occasion I did feel bad as I had started to question my membership in Opus Dei.

Visits with old friends were discouraged unless the motive was to recruit them.

Genuine friendships disappeared. Over my many years as a numerary, I had no real friends. I had fallen prey to the Opus way of using “friendship” as a tactic, in a very manipulative way. By the time I left Opus I was friendless.

Gradually I became more and more emotionally distant from my “blood family” and my old friends. I couldn’t wait to get back “home” to my new “supernatural family” – Opus Dei.[7]

Engel: I’m a little more than curious to learn more about your life as a numerary in Opus Dei. Maybe you can start by describing your early formation or orientation to what is called “the Spirit of Opus Dei,” especially since ex-members are generally hesitant about revealing this type of information to “outsiders.”

Johnson: The so-called “Spirit of Opus Dei” is gradually conveyed to new numeraries in a variety of ways. There was the weekly “Circle” and “Fraternal Chat.” There were meditations given by an Opus priest at the monthly Days of Recollection, and also an annual five-day retreat. At the three-week Annual Course held at an Opus women’s centre, more experienced numeraries gave talks on the “Spirit of the Work” (Discretion, Obedience, Poverty, Divine Filiation, Apostolate, the Norms, and Mortification) and we had regular guided meditations from an Opus Dei priest, who also gave classes on the teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Engel: Speaking of mortification did you wear the cilice [a sharp spiked ring worn on the upper leg used to suppress desire]?

Johnson: Yes, I wore the cilice on my upper thigh for two hours a day in the afternoon, and used the discipline [a small whip of knotted cords applied to one’s buttocks] for five minutes on Saturday. These were an obligatory part of my life as a numerary.  I should add that these practices were only revealed to us after we became members.

Engel: Let me get this straight, Eileen. These programs of formation and mortification you described were in addition to…

Johnson: … In addition to the other norms and requirements for a numerary that included two half hours – one in the morning and one in the evening – of mental prayer daily; Mass; the Rosary; the Angelus; the Preces; Opus Dei prayers and the examination of conscience. Major Silence was kept from bedtime until after Mass the next day, and Minor Silence during the afternoon.

Engel: And what about your internal work as Assistant Directress of Rydalwood and your part time job teaching English to immigrant children at a local school? And later, your appointment to the Opus Advisory as Secretary of Saint Raphael’s Work[8], which must have required a great deal of time and energy? Frankly, this doesn’t seem to be in the realm of an “ordinary” or “normal” life for a non-religious. When did you have time to breathe or think your own thoughts?

Johnson:  What can I say? I was hooked. My real self was being overshadowed by my newly acquired cultic personality, but not entirely, thank God. At times, I was exhausted. I remember particularly the time when the Advisory worked through several nights, preparing the annual report and contribution for Rome. I had to go to bed (well, to lie on the floor) because I couldn’t work any longer.

In theory, we were supposed to take breaks, in the form of a “weekly walk,” and a “monthly excursion,” but with our work ethic, these down times were often overlooked.

(To be continued)

[Part 2 will be published on Wednesday, March 3]


ENDNOTES

[1] OD WATCH was first published in November 2017 by Catholic writer Randy Engel, a long-time critic of the Prelature and its organizational tentacles of numeraries, supernumeraries, associates, and cooperators. It is a free electronic mailing based on background information, news, and commentaries on Opus Dei from around the world. To subscribe, contact  Randy Engel at rvte61@comcast.net.

[2] Rydalwood was the first Manchester centre of the OD women’s section. It was a University hostel with accommodations for about 35 students.

[3] Josemaría Escrivá, The Way: The Essential Classic of Opus Dei’s Founder, containing Scriptural passages and personal anecdotes drawn from Escrivá’s life and work. The booklet presented Escrivá’s 999 points for meditation.

[4] The Plan of Life comprises the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly commitments of members.

[5] The Advisory oversee the activities of all the Opus Dei centres of the Women’s Section in the UK, and acts as a go-between or facilitator between local centres and Rome, constantly transmitting instructions. The Advisory is presided over by the Counsellor (or Vicar).

[6] In 1969, the age of majority was reduced from 21 to 18 in the UK.

[7] Escrivá claimed the Work is a true family, not metaphorically. And that the bonds in the Work are stronger than those of blood. See “Pastoral Letter of the Prelate,” Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, October 11, 2020, on the restructuring of the Prelature.

[8] St. Raphael’s Work [Circles] of formation, meditations, recollections, and retreats is directed at young people. Initially, ‘cultural activities’ are organized as a means of attracting young people to the centres. They are then invited to participate in the spiritual activities. Escrivá stated that visits to the poor are one of the traditional means of St. Raphael’s work, although he himself as the founder of Opus Dei was rarely seen among the poor.

Does the Regnum Christi Federation exert Coercive Control?

As many of you know, ICSA director Rod Dubrow-Marshall, PhD and Linda Dubrow-Marshall, PhD began a Master’s program on the Psychology of Coercive Control at the University of Salford (UK) three years ago. For the 2020-21 academic year, the master’s program will be delivered completely online. Go here for more info, including how to apply to the program which begins late September (www.salford.ac.uk/pgt-courses/psychology-of-coercive-control).   Because of a law passed by the UK government in 2015 ( Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act), the concept of coercive control encompasses psychological as well as physical actions and effects. The Salford master’s program elaborates upon this concept and prepares students to work with those affected by cults, domestic violence, trafficking, and other areas of coercive control. Rod and Linda will lead a special ICSA 60-minute webinar on coercive control and the Salford master’s program which will be broadcast on Friday July 24th at 12 pm eastern time (New York time). The Link for this webinar will be sent to the ICSA network nearer to the date.   Register for this webinar now, while tickets are available. Choose the “Coercive Control Webinar” ticket (https://icsahome.networkforgood.com/events/14026-webinar-and-online-conference-registrations-2020).

(Video) Part 4 Our Father Maciel who art in Bed, a Naive and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ now Regnum Christi Federation

Da Man is on youtube under J.Paul Lennon youtube; there will find part 2 and 3, if interested. In these troubled times it might take your mind off this terrible epidemic with its forced stay at home.

This episode features chapter four of his memoir, “Relocating Suddenly to Sunny Spain” and describes the experience of the very first group of Irish recuits to the then unknown and exotic new order….

El Problema de los Heraldos del Evangelio (Arautos do Evangelho, Heralds of the Gospel) III parte

REVISTA ISTOÉ (BRASIL)

19/9/2019

LOS HERALDOS DEL ANTICRISTO

Una serie de denuncias de padres y exintegrantes, apoyadas en vídeos que muestran ceremonias agresivas que involucran niñas, colocan en jaque las prácticas de los Heraldos del Evangelio, organización ultraconservadora católica que también es sospechosa de corrupción.

Por André Vargas, Guilherme Novelli y Giulio Ferrari

En nombre de la fe, la secta ultraconservadora católica Heraldos del Evangelio corrompe, agrede, humilla y acosa a sus devotos – en especial a jóvenes adolescentes –, mientras recauda dinero y promueve la idea de que el apocalipsis cristiano está por llegar. Hay hasta denuncias de violación. Poco a poco, esas quejas ganan el conocimiento de la opinión pública, de la justicia y de las autoridades eclesiásticas, rompiendo una red de silencio que dura más de 20 años y alcanza a 78 países, en especial en Brasil. En Estados Unidos, el FBI ya recibió quejas y una investigación está por iniciarse – IstoÉ entró en contacto con el agente federal encargado.

Nacida de una cisión de la también ultraconservadora denominación religiosa brasileña Tradición Familia Propiedad (TFP), los Heraldos del Evangelio surgieron en 1997, asumiendo un carácter más religioso y menos político que sus antecesores. Mientras la TFP levanta banderas contra temas espinosos de la vida contemporánea, como aborto, feminismo, reforma agraria, socialismo, minorías, ciudadanía LGBTQ y multiculturalismo, los Heraldos son una especie de TFP radicalizada, vueltos hacia una visión del mundo limitada por el concepto de lo que llaman “Reino de María”, que surgiría después de un período de grande inestabilidad llamado “bagarre” (del francés, lucha o caos), anunciado en las apariciones de Fátima, en Portugal, en 1917. O sea, mientras el mundo avanza, ellos se preparan para vivir en comunión con Dios en una existencia que mezcla las escenas de “Mad Max” y “El Señor de los Anillos”. Por tanto, instalan a sus devotos en “castillos”, grandes edificios que imitan palacios de estilo gótico que sirven de morada y templo cristiano – cuatro de ellos en los alrededores de Sao Paulo, cobijando a 500 alumnos. Existen escuelas en 16 países.

Ahora, cualquiera puede creer lo que quiera. Es una cuestión de fe – y ella debe ser respetada. El problema son las acusaciones de crímenes perpetrados en los “castillos”, mientras el fin prometido no llega. En 2017, un grupo de 50 madres de víctimas de los Heraldos denunció el grupo a la Fiscalía de Sao Paulo y al Vaticano. La investigación secular sigue en secreto de justicia, así como la religiosa. Pero nuevos casos fueron apareciendo. En una de las denuncias, el fundador, monseñor Joao Clá Días, de 80 años, es acusado de abuso sexual por una exintegrante. Huérfana de madre, una joven canadiense, hoy con 27 años, vino a Brasil a estudiar a los Heraldos. Ella relata en carta que, cuando tenía 12 años, fue abusada por Joao Clá, que tocó sus senos y nalgas y la besó. En 2014, a los 22 años, se consiguió apartar de la congregación. Su hermana mayor, que era su tutora, permaneció. Su denuncia está registrada. De los 46 relatos entregados a las fiscalías y secretarías estatales de educación, cuatro son de abuso sexual. Los otros involucran malos tratos, alienación parental y abuso psicológico. Hubo hasta un registro de suicidio. En junio de 2016, Livia Uchida, de 27 años, se habría tirado de una ventana del cuarto piso del convento de Monte Carmelo, en Caieiras.

Videos obtenidos por IstoÉ muestran a monseñor Clá agrediendo a niñas con bofetadas. En uno de ellos, una adolescente asegurada por los brazos mientas está siendo filmada por adultos, dice: “Tengo que salir”. Son escenas de pura humillación. Es forzada a hacer votos de obediencia, castidad y pobreza. En otro video, se fuerza a una niña a besar los pies del religioso. Son los “ósculos sacrales”, besos sagrados dados por el líder como una forma de obtener gracias por parte de la víctima, sea lo que sea que eso quiera decir. En la ley escrita para una sociedad laica y plural eso es crimen.

Sin compresas (toallas higiénicas)

En Carapicuiba, del Gran Sao Paulo, la dueña de casa Flavia Silva Nascimento, de 42 años, pasó penurias para rescatar a su hija S., hoy de 17 años. Procurados por predicadores de los Heraldos que visitaban la parroquia de San Lucas, la familia, que es católica practicante, vio la oportunidad de colocar a su hija en una buena escuela religiosa. No fue lo que ocurrió. A los 12 años, S. pasó por un proceso de lavado cerebral. En vez de estudiar, tenía que rezar y memorizar los textos de Joao Clá y Plinio Correa de Oliveira (1908-1995), fundador de la TFP. Viviendo bajo una disciplina rígida, inspirada en normas militares, ella no tenía ni siquiera acceso a compresas para menstruación. Ella y sus colegas no recibieron nociones de salud ni orientación sexual. En vez de eso, fueron obligadas a hacer sus “votos” como si fueran religiosas adultas y responsables por sí mismas. Durante las vacaciones familiares en la playa, la adolescente se negó a sacarse la túnica de los Heraldos. Sólo pisó la arena el último día. Estaba con botas.

Alérgica y con crisis de asma, la salud de S. se fue deteriorando. La médica con quien la familia solía atenderse fue la que dio la alerta. La madre decidió rescatar a la hija, incluso contra su voluntad inicialmente, después de asistir un video en que Joao Clá aparece como si estuviese practicando un exorcismo en una joven que está siendo asegurada por los brazos. La niña parece asustada y es abofeteada por el religioso. “La familia entró en crisis”, cuenta la madre, al recordar el proceso de retirada de la hija del yugo de los Heraldos. S. huyó de casa dos veces. Hasta que poco a poco entendió que la vida era mejor del lado de afuera. Antes con buenas notas, percibió que se había quedado atrás, pues no había aprendido ni química, ni física, ni biología, ni historia. Incluso así, todavía viste ropas más conservadoras que su madre y conserva algunos resquicios de disciplina. S. relata que la adoración a Joao Clá llega a niveles extremos. Ella y sus colegas ingirieron agua que, afirman sus superiores, habría sido dejada en un recipiente después de que monseñor se enjuagó. “Tuve problemas emocionales, llegué perturbada, pero hoy estoy mejor. Los Heraldos dicen que uno tiene que sufrir. No creo más en eso”, dice.

“Tuve problemas emocionales. Los Heraldos dicen que uno tiene que sufrir”. S., de 17 años, que volvió a casa después de 3 años de internado donde se enfermó.

Está también el brutal caso de un fiel que fue drogado e internado en una clínica psiquiátrica sin autorización de la familia. Residente en la ciudad de San Carlos, estado de Sao Paulo, Alex Ribeiro de Lima, hoy con 39 años, nos contó frente a las cámaras su desgracia. Tenía 15 años cuando ingresó a la TFP, migrando a los Heraldos justo después, donde actuó como lego. Ya adulto, su función era levantar fondos, misión que lo llevó a Portugal e Italia. Eficiente en el trabajo, besó los pies del monseñor y participó de una ceremonia de “sagrada esclavitud”. Su vida se derrumbó después de 18 años de sumisiones. A los 32 años fue internado a la fuerza en una clínica para drogadictos en Jundiaí (Sao Paulo), después de una crisis de ansiedad. Alex mal se acuerda de ese período, pues quedó bajo una fuerte medicación, sin que su familia tuviese conocimiento. Sólo le dieron el alta después que su hermana descubrió todo y amenazó con llamar a la policía. “Quedé amarrado y tuve mucho miedo. Yo decía que no estaba loco”, cuenta. Alex llora y pide disculpas cuando relata su calvario personal, que terminó en abandono. “Ellos me usaron y me dieron una patada. Sólo quieren controlar a las personas”, dice.

Frente a tantas barbaridades, también aparecieron otros crímenes. Exintegrantes afirman haber visto armas de fuego en algunos castillos. Serían revólveres, pistolas y hasta escopetas. La relación de los artefactos con la actividad religiosa no está aclarada. Tampoco se sabe el origen de las armas. El exheraldo Daniel del Río, de 46 años, cuenta que hubo también contrabando y evasión de divisas. Dinero de donaciones que entraría a Brasil oculto en las ropas de los heraldos al regreso de presentaciones de la orquesta y viajes de recaudación. El dinero serviría para apresurar las licencias de construcción y ampliación de los monasterios, además de “agrados monetarios” para autoridades civiles y religiosas. ExTFP, Del Río fue de los Heraldos por seis años y salió en 2002. “Quiero derrumbar a esa organización”, dijo en audio enviado desde España, donde volvió a vivir.

¿Culpa de la víctima?

En medio de la investigación de este reportaje, hubo una tentativa de censura previa. Abogados de la entidad interpusieron un “pedido de tutela anticipada” para impedir cualquier publicación sin oírlos – lo que fue denegado por la justicia. Procurados por ISTOÉ, la entidad sólo se manifestó por medio de sus representantes legales y por escrito.

Sobre las acusaciones de malos tratos, exigen pruebas y responden con represalias legales. Los videos están ahí. Ellos argumentan que nadie fue agredido y que las imágenes fueron captadas de “manera ilícita” y en “contexto de piedad privada, en el ámbito de inmemoriales prácticas litúrgicas de la Iglesia Católica”. También dicen que las alumnas pidieron tal procedimiento. O sea, cargan la responsabilidad a las víctimas. La argumentación de los abogados podría hasta ser usada por radicales musulmanes para justificar el apedreamiento de mujeres hasta la muerte. Cuando les preguntamos sobre eventuales castigos a los involucrados, alegan que “la autoridad competente para evaluar ese tema es la eclesiásticas”. Se consideran víctimas de persecución religiosa de una minoría de descontentos. Puro cinismo. Pegar a un niño es crimen en Brasil, así como abusar sexualmente, maltratar e impedir el convivio con los padres. El día que los Heraldos se purifiquen de las máculas de sus integrantes, lo que sobra será mero conservadurismo.

Asiste a los vídeos

Testimonio de Alex Ribeiro, exheraldo que fue internado a la fuerza en una clínica psiquiátrica des pues de sufrir una crisis.

Joao Clá abofetea niñas en nombre de la fe. La agresión ocurre al minuto 1:08.

Another Legion of Christ being accused of sexual abuse of a minor: flawed training and lack of ethics?

Collège-Lycée de l’Immaculée Conception
High school in Méry-sur-Marne, France
Address: 48 Grande Rue, 77730 Méry-sur-Marne, France

ReGAIN has just learned from two reliable sources that a young man has brought sexual abuse charges against another Legionary of Christ. It seems that the offense took place at the Legion’s Apostolic School in France about ten years ago. Details are still sketchy. We can state that the accusation is presently being reviewed in French civil court to see if it meets the requirement to open a case ; the alleged perpetrator would be a Legion consecrated religious who at the time was a teacher/superior at the infamous junior seminary.

There is a referral in the French language WIKIPEDIA to two Legionaries previously being convicted of sexual assault at the school in the same time frame.

WIKIPEDIA

“exactions récentes contre des mineurs

Deux frères légionnaires du Christ de l’école apostolique de Méry-sur-Marne (diocèse de Meaux) tenue par la congrégation sont accusés en 2004 et 2005 d’avoir commis des attouchements sur huit adolescents. L’un d’eux est en fuite. Ils ont été jugés à Meaux et le substitut du procureur a requis deux ans de prison contre le frère E. deux ans de prison avec mandat contre le frère T. F., de nationalité mexicaine, enfui au Mexique. Délibéré le 2 mai 2013 . le frère E. a été condamné à deux ans de prison avec sursis, mise à l’épreuve et soins psychologiques, et 10 000 euros de dommages et intérêts. Le frère T. a été condamné à deux ans de prison ferme avec mandat d’arrêt, et près de 12 000 euros de dommages et intérêts. Les deux hommes ont été inscrits au FIJAIS (Fichier judiciaire automatisé des auteurs d’infractions sexuelles ou violentes) .”

Putting the pieces together: this member of the Legion of Christ religious congregation (with religious vow), then a seminarian in training, is being accused of sexually abusing a minor under his pastoral care. Brother X would then have continued his “training” (Remember Fr. Maciel’s ghost-(Gonzalo Miranda LC?) written bestseller, The Integral Formation of the Priest! ), and was later ordained to the Catholic priesthood in the Legion. One source affirms that after ordination, now Fr. X was sent back to the same junior seminary (students are High School age) to continue teaching or as a formator. A few years ago, Fr. X left -or was asked to leave- the LC and transitioned to the diocesan priesthood where he continued to minister to Catholic families. Another case of the Legion of Christ unloading a problematic priest on an unsuspecting bishop?

ReGAIN’s criticism points, not so much to this individual accused of sexual abuse of a minor, but to the lack of responsibility = Ethics of Legion superiors and leadership cadre. The case opens a Pandora’s box of questions:

What outreach to victims?

What spiritual guidance, pastoral counseling, compensation offered to victims?

What psychological and pastoral help to the offender? Pastoral care, psychological treatment by trained therapists – not by in-home personnel ?

What steps to prevent recurrence? Just ignore the problem, pass it on, get rid of him, unload him on a diocese?

Information is hard to come by; perhaps the French court has put a gag order in place to prevent the victim’s name being made public and/or the whole case may be gagged while investigations are underway.

Let’s see how effective is the Legion of Christ’s damage control.