The Baltimore Affair

New Commentary:
June 23, 2008
Meeting of RC members in Baltimore with the Archbishop

June 6, 2008
Archdiocesan Decree in form of letter to Fr. Alvaro Corcuera:
Letter of Understanding between the Legion of Christ and the Archdiocese of Baltimore

June 11, 2008
Explanation by the Archbishop from the Catholic Review (Archdiocese of Baltimore Newspaper)
Hopefully, a meeting of the minds

June 12, 2008
Interview with Archbishop O?Brien by John Allen

June 13, 2008
Email sent to Regnum Christi Members in Baltimore by Legion of Christ Superior

Dear Regnum Christi members of the Archdiocese of Baltimore,
It was a joy to meet with our General Director, Fr Alvaro Corcuera, at Our Lady of Bethesda last Wednesday night. I can?t tell you how moved he was to meet all the wonderful families of the Regnum Christi of the Baltimore and D.C. area. The next day our community had lunch with him and he couldn?t stop talking about the love and great spirit that he encountered among all of you.

I wanted to mention to you that on Friday Fr Alvaro had a good meeting with Archbishop O’Brien. They had a fruitful and substantive discussion that laid down the groundwork for the Legion’s continued ministry in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. They were able to clarify issues and came up with concrete points that we will work on. I was told by Fr Parker, the Archbishop’s secretary that it would be fine to share this letter with you, so you will find it in the attached PDF file. You will see in reading it that there have been serious issues regarding the Legion?s work. We are grateful for the opportunity to address these matters. I would hope that all Regnum Christi members will also see this as an occasion to love and serve the Church.
I look forward to supporting the Archbishop?s efforts to spread the Gospel in this great and historic Archdiocese. Please continue to pray for Archbishop O’Brien and Fr Alvaro, that the Lord may bless them abundantly for the tremendous leadership they give to us.
God bless,
Fr Steven Reilly LC

June 20, 2008
Article by John Allen
Three things to understand about the Legionaries of Christ

Being- Not Doing

My story in Regnum Christi is probably not that unique or different from others. As I read testimonies of others and talk with people who have left RC, I am finding that many of us have the same experiences; many of us echo the same sentiments about how we felt in this constricting hi-jacked spirituality. Many of us also feel the need to talk about our experience. Somehow sharing one?s story is like a purging and helps us make sense of our experience in this cult. All of these points hold true for me in writing this short testimony. I wish to present my story to help myself continue to heal and make sense of this surreal experience of leaving RC. Moreover, I wish to validate and encourage others in their struggles to leave RC or to heal from its effects in their lives.

I was member of Regnum Christi for 11 years. I incorporated into Regnum Christi as a single woman; I eventually married a man that became RC before we married, and we began raising children with the desire of putting them into the RC clubs. I loved Regnum Christi and believed it was a gift that God had given me to help me become holy. I was excited to be in an orthodox but dynamic Catholic organization. I tried to live the RC vocation to the fullest, striving to fulfill the prayer commitments, living the apostolic dimension to the fullest, working in various apostolates and even launching apostolates in a remote area.

What brought this love, excitement, and zeal for the Movement to an end?

The beginning of our end in Regnum Christi started after we moved from an area in which RC was not established in order to be closer to the heart of RC. My family moved so we could attend a Legionary school and be in the same city as the established section of our area. Our expectation in moving was that we thought we would have an increased sense of camaraderie among like minded friends. We believed we?d find support in our vocation as parents. We believed we?d grow as Catholics and our children would thrive.

What happened in actuality was the opposite. We actually felt more alone, became more and more worn out, and I became depressed. This was not a good recipe for a happy family life!

The overarching concern that my husband and I always had after we moved was the lack of friendship we had. We revisited this idea so often. It was a question I posed to my spiritual guide, and it was a discussion my husband had with our local Legionary. We went to both of them stating that we understood the busy-ness with everyone in modern times, but it seemed natural to us that we would develop friends with Regnum Christi families since we all had the same vocation and the same spirituality. However, with everyone doing apostolate, trying to recruit, saying prayers, making resolutions and trying to fulfill them, doing acts of charity, going to encounter….and on top of all that, taking care of our real vocation our families we quickly found out that there was no time for friendship.

In all of this activity apostolate and charity we as members of RC weren?t truly present to one another. We didn?t really know each other. I couldn?t say that anyone truly knew me (except my spiritual guide). I couldn?t say that I had a friend I could call if I were having a rough day. I couldn?t say I had a friend that had time to be a friend and do what friends do together to enjoy each other?s company.

Sure, I could say my husband and I socialized; he and I saw families at events and visited, and we were great at making small talk. Each of us were very adept in conversation and could talk about what was going on in apostolate and be polite. But the friendship did not feel real.

In hindsight, having left the Movement, I can see now that I did not know how to be a real friend. I had taken the RC mandates so seriously for the past 11 years, that I almost forgot how to just be “real” with someone. Legionary and RC lingo imbued my thoughts. I always was on as an apostle for Christ, objectifying the people I met. At times I felt a twinge of guilt like I was feigning interest in someone or making small talk only to get to the bigger picture of recruitment, but I would quickly dismiss my difficulties with the RC party lines and circle logic: You have an obligation to present the vocation to others; they may have a vocation to Regnum Christi, and if they miss this opportunity to hear about RC, they may miss their vocation…and you would be responsible for this loss before God. I was constantly assessing and judging people (not judging them morally, but judging them to figure out how they fit into the RC mission/plan). I did not know how to just be with someone. I didn?t know how to just call someone to talk, to find out how they were. I needed a reason to call an event to invite them to, a question about apostolate to speak with them about, etc.

Wow! What a pressure to be under – to be responsible for someone missing their vocation which would help them grow closer to God! Funny how easily I dismissed the solid Catholic teaching that sacramental Christian marriage was the legitimate and sufficient means to grow in holiness that Christ had given me and the many others I was trying to recruit. Funny how I couldn?t see that being a true friend meant just being present to someone, a journeying with someone in his or her life, both the good and the bad. This is the type of friendship for which my husband and I were longing and yet we couldn?t give that to others because our heads were so buzzed with RC talk – the next project, apostolate, meeting, contact, etc.

There were many other things that God showed us in order to give us the strength to leave Regnum Christi and find freedom in our real vocations as husband and wife; father and mother. Some of these truths we had to face about Regnum Christi and about ourselves were very painful. The truth is freeing, not necessarily easy to face. But the deep desire for friendship was pivotal for both of us. This lack of being real and /”being present was the first step that made us realize something was out of balance with our lives.

Now that we have left Regnum Christi a beautiful thing is occurring: we are becoming less and less human doings and more and more human beings. My husband and I are growing in the process of learning to be present to God, allowing Him to just love us and inspire us gently. We are learning to be present to our children, enjoying the gifts that they are and their preciousness. We are learning to be present to each other, listening without the pressure of other outside obligations. And, yes, finally, we are forming authentic friendship; we are making solid friends. I am getting together for play-dates with other women and their children and we have fun! My husband and I are going out with other couples for dinner and enjoying ourselves. We have found that our lives are now filled with a new joy and richness that was not there before. And while things are never perfect, nor will they be in this life, this life out of Regnum Christi is far better than the one I had in it.

To discuss this testimony, click here

Former Legionaries applaud Vatican action allowing internal criticism

Church investigators are sought to monitor compliance with the new decree.
By Eugenia Jiminez

Milenio

(Mexico)
November 21, 2007

 

According to former legionaries, the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to suspend the private vows of the Legion of Christ will put an end to the chain of silence? to which the congregation’s seminarians and priests have been subjected for decades. But they warn that the Vatican will have to designate visitators (church investigators) to monitor the congregation’s internal compliance with the Pontiff’s decree.

The ex-legionaries who accused the legion’s founder, Marcial Maciel, of sexual abuse and of absolution of accomplices, said that it has taken them many years to be able to put aside these vows for fear of being excommunicated if they did not adhere to them.

Former legionary, Jose Barba, said he is happy with the pope’s decision because it will cut a long chain of structural silence within the Legion’s organization. He explained that they have been called secret vows since the 1950 and that he took them one by one in a chapel in front of the order’s superior. He noted that later they came to be called private vows because the term secret vows suggested a hint of something strange. He said it was decided later to refer to these as vows of charity, adding that this was deceptive since every Christian must practice charity without having to take a vow, because doing so is intrinsic to being a practicing Christian. This fallacy, he said, made him and others fall victim to Marcial Maciel’s coverup, which confused us for years and which we did not denounce for fear of being excommunicated.?

The Legion’s vows were written in 1956 by an ex-legionary, Jose Dominguez Moreno, who has acknowledged that he knew nothing about canon law.
Antonio Roquez, a canonist, said that they did not have the appropriate legal theological documentation.

Saul Barrales, another ex-legionary, noted that, by doing away with these two vows, the pope eliminates the mistakes that they caused, adding that it is a favorable development for making legionary attitudes more transparent. He adds that the vows violate human rights because they do not allow people to act freely. He warned, however, that it is important to see if the Legion actually abides by the pontiff’s decision, noting that its internal structure will not allow them to fully accept it.

Former legionary, Jose Antonio Perez Olvera, said that the decision is late in coming and questioned the willingness of the Legion to implement it, noting that they are already accustomed to acting in a certain way and it will be difficult for them to change.?

The office of the Legionaries of Christ in Mexico said that they will issue no public announcement since it is an internal document that affects only the lives of its seminarians and priests, adding that it is a decision that has been in effect for several months.

“Vows of Silence” Author Gerald Renner Dies

By RINKER BUCK | The Hartford Courant
6:50 PM EDT, October 24, 2007

Gerald Renner, who won international recognition for his pioneering reporting in The Courant on allegations of sexual abuse within a Roman Catholic religious order, died Wednesday after a battle with cancer. He was 75 years old.

Renner joined The Courant as the religion writer in 1985, after serving as editor and director of Religion News Service in New York, and vice president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Earlier, he worked as a reporter in the U.S. Navy, at a newspaper in Pennsylvania, and for United Press in Washington, D.C.

Until his retirement in 2000, Renner wrote hundreds of Courant news and feature stories on religious topics.

Gerald Renner
Around The Courant newsroom, Renner, who was raised as a Roman Catholic, was known for his encyclopedic reach on topics touching all faiths, whether profiling a Bloomfield rabbi returning to his native Belarus to provide a proper burial for Jews massacred by the Nazis, or chronicling the growth of Islam in America. Interfaith issues, attempts at canonizing new saints, and the acceptance of gays and lesbians in churches were recurrent themes in Renner’s work.

He reached his widest audience with a series of articles and a book he co-wrote about the Legionaries of Christ, a secretive and conservative Roman Catholic order whose American headquarters is in Connecticut.

Renner learned of the Legionaries while traveling in Rome for The Courant in 1989, when Archbishop John F. Whealon of Hartford pointed out the headquarters of what he called “that controversial, conservative religious order that has a seminary in Cheshire.”

Intrigued, Renner returned to Connecticut and began researching an article about the rapidly growing order, which was founded in Mexico in 1941 by the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado and enjoyed close relations with the Vatican. He published his first Courant article about the order in 1996 and teamed with writer Jason Berry of New Orleans, the author of an early book about sexual abuse by Catholic priests, to produce an in-depth story on Maciel in The Courant the following year. The article documented how, after decades of silence, nine former seminarians from Mexico and Spain accused Maciel of abusing them in European seminaries from the 1940s to the 1960s.

“I did the reporting from Mexico, while Jerry did the reporting in the U.S. and dealt with Rome,” Berry said. “Jerry was particularly a delight to work with because he was trained like a laser to get the facts, but never at the expense of being unfair to people.”

Renner and Berry teamed up again to write a book, “Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II,” which was favorably reviewed after it was published in 2004. The book argued that Pope John Paul II had protected Maciel and that the church covered up other reports of sexual abuse by priests. “Vows of Silence” was credited with helping to force the Vatican to remove Maciel from the active priesthood in 2006.

The Rev. Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theologian, book author and TV commentator who was interviewed by Renner several times, said: “Renner, Berry and The Courant blew the whistle on the priestly pedophilia crisis way before anyone else in a really groundbreaking way. The Legion people were very upset but they couldn’t lay a glove on Renner because the facts were so solid.”

Before the 1997 story ran, The Courant was under great pressure from the Legionaries and its law firm.

“Jerry had incredible resolve and was always focused and argued for his story in a gentlemanly way,” said Stephanie Summers, who edited the 1997 piece. “During all these conferences with Courant lawyers and editors, he was both the iron man and the wit.”

That wit came in handy when Renner was assailed by sources unaccustomed to tough reporting on the religion beat. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, Renner worked on a series about Brother Julius Schaknow, a cult leader from Connecticut, who proclaimed that he was Jesus Christ reincarnate and had also amassed a real-estate empire.

“One day, while Renner was interviewing Brother Julius in the New Britain bureau, the cult leader asked Renner, `If I blinded you right now physically, would you believe that I’m God?'” fellow reporter Dan Jones recalled. “Jerry didn’t miss a beat and said, `No, I’d have you arrested for assault.'”

Among friends, Renner was known as a doting grandfather who loved telling stories about his offspring, and who wrote a heartfelt and often hilarious Christmas letter every year.

Renner, a native of Philadelphia, served in the U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955, part of that time aboard the battleship USS Missouri. He was the recipient of the Templeton Prize awarded by the Religion Newswriters Association and was also recognized by the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting.

He lived in Norwalk with his wife, Jacqueline Breen Renner. In addition to his wife, he leaves behind four daughters, a son and 10 grandchildren. Magner Funeral Home in Norwalk is handling arrangements, with calling hours Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., and a service at St. Thomas the Apostle in Norwalk on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Jason Berry writes
Gerald Renner was a reporter in the truest sense; he sought and valued the truth, wearing no ideological outfit in its pursuit and in his willingness to speak truth to power. He did so with great achievement. Jerry was a gentleman, polite and sensitive to others, even as he followed the trail of facts. With a genial Irish wit he was capable of standing back in the heat of a moment, grinning at life’s comic complexities. He was a loyal husband to Jackie, a proud father and devoted grandfather.

In the work we did investigating Maciel and the Legion of Christ — for the Hartford Courant, then National Catholic Reporter, and finally for the book “Vows of Silence,” we began as colleagues and became close friends. Over the long haul we stayed in each other’s homes, befriended each other’s families, shared some laughs, drank some Bourbon and even Amaretto along the way. My mother Mary Frances, my wife Melanie and my daughter Simonette enjoyed times with Jerry and join me in sending condolences to his family and all who knew and cherished him.

The brave men who left the Legion and shared their anguished chapters with us saw in Jerry, as I did, a journalist of high principle and great heart. He was one of the finest men I have known. I miss him now and will miss him more as time passes. How fortunate I was to have had him as a friend. God speed, good pal.

Legion of Christ Attempts to Silence ReGAIN

Early in May, 2007, ReGAIN received a letter from Beirne, Maynard & Parsons, a law firm located in Houston, TX, which states that it represents the Legion of Christ and demands that ReGAIN remove certain content on the basis that the content constitutes alleged copyright violations of so called “spiritual” works of the Legion. (the “Cease & Desist Letter”)

Primarily, the demand is focused on the site http://www.exlegionaries.com (“Exlegionaries Discussion Board”). While ReGAIN has an electronic link on http://www.regainnetwork.org to the Exlegionaries Discussion Board (among links to many other sites including the home site of the Legion of Christ), ReGAIN neither owns nor operates the Exlegionaries Discussion Board. As it is clearly stated by ReGAIN on in its disclaimer statements:

*This site is independently owned and operated.

Please be aware that messages on this board are the opinions of each
individual poster. Consequently, the views and assertions of fact posted here are not necessarily endorsed by ReGAIN, Inc.

Notwithstanding that the vast majority of the content identified in the Cease & Desist Letter is posted on the Exlegionaries Discussion Board, and is, therefore, outside the control and discretion of ReGAIN, ReGAIN would like to make the following points to illustrate that the sole purpose of the Cease & Desist Letter is not to protect any monetary interest in the works, which is the intent of copyright law, but to silence any discussion (or critique) of the works. This is the trait of a cult, not an institution of the Catholic Church.

  1. After research and several consultations on the matter, we have found that no other religious group has ever threatened suit in this way against anyone who has published their “spiritual writings”, with the sole exception of Scientology, which is considered by many to be a cult. Indeed, no other Catholic institution has ever done so
    http://www.lermanet.com/cos/press.html
    http://www.xs4all.nl/~kspaink/cos/rnewman/harass/timeline-95.html
    http://www.scientology.org/en_US/news-media/news/2002/0204.html
    The Legion of Christ continually insists on sharing its so called “spiritual patrimony” for the good of the Church. Even Pope John Paul II encouraged them to do so: “Dear brothers, I encourage you to continue radiating your spirituality”
    http://www.legionariesofchrist.org/eng/articulos/articulo.phtml?se=91&ca=264&te=193&id=11917
  2. However, if the writings of the Legion of Christ and its founder are reserved for a “members only club” or for those few who are sufficiently enlightened to truly understand them as they climb the ladder of membership (degrees of Regnum Christi, stages of formation in the Legion), the Legion of Christ is creating a Gnostic Cult within the Church. See
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06592a.htm
    ReGAIN makes no monetary profit from any writings of the Legion of Christ. We are a non-profit organization, and we sell no products or services to the public.
  3. To the extent that any material has been posted on the ReGAIN website, the posting of such excerpts falls under the “Fair Use” exception of the U.S. copyright law. Specifically, given the First Amendment of the US Constitution, copyrighted material may be used in certain circumstances without the permission of the copyright holder. A four prong balancing test is used to determine whether such use is permitted without violating any copyright laws. Those prongs are the following, all of which the postings on ReGAIN more than satisfy:
    1. “the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes” (Since the postings are on a non-profit website which exists solely to educate the public on the Legion of Christ and given that the excerpts posted on ReGAIN are for the sole purpose of educating by critiquing those excerpts, this prong is clearly satisfied);
    2. “the nature of the copyrighted work” (The copyrighted works constitute the religious writings of a non-profit institution that claims to be an institution of the Catholic Church, and, accordingly, such works form part of the patrimony of the Catholic Church. Therefore, the quoted material should be the property of every member of the Catholic Church. In fact, as a non-profit member of the Catholic Church that claims that such works will help the recipients grow closer to God, any sale of the works should be on a cost basis without any expectation of profiting);
    3. “the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole” (Any allegedly copyrighted material on the ReGAIN website constitutes excerpts of such material, not all or a substantial portion of such works); and
    4. “the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work” (As previously stated, the Legion of Christ is a non-profit organization that claims to be a part of the Catholic Church, and, accordingly, such works should constitute the patrimony of the Catholic Church. Moreover, any excerpts that may be posted on the ReGAIN website are limited to the very valuable purpose of providing a criticism of the underlying work and the Legion of Christ itself. This very important educational purpose and First Amendment right cannot be outweighed by the minimal to non-existent impact the posting of such excerpts could have on the alleged market value of the underlying works).
  4. Most importantly, the Cease & Desist Letter only proves the point that ReGAIN has been making for years now: The Legion of Christ has cult-like qualities and is obsessed with secrecy, not with the saving of souls in communion with the Catholic Church.

Cease and Desist Letter

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