Category Archives: Marcial Maciel

Effects of Involvement with Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi on Cradle Faith: Questions for Pope Francis, LC Leadership and Catholic Bishops

             Shipwrecked

Effects of Involvement with Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi on Cradle Faith: Questions for Pope Francis, LC Leadership and Catholic Bishops

Presentation at the International Cultic Studies Association Annual International Conference, Stockholm, July 2015

 

By John Paul Lennon, MA, STL & Aura Bethancourt-Lennon

 

The author’s experience[i], plus contacts with hundreds of other former members of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi by email, phone and/or in person, led him to believe that involvement with this Movement affected one’s cradle faith. “Cradle faith” being simply defined as the faith one is born into and raised in. It is now common knowledge that former members of this group, erstwhile devout Catholics, on leaving the LC/RC no longer considered themselves Catholics, or even Christians. Some even consider themselves agnostics and atheists. How did involvement with this bona fide Catholic Movement have such a deleterious defect? Further reflection modified that initial a priori hypothesis.  There appeared to be a need to find facts and explore this area with the help of a survey.

The experiment would be based on the following rationale: on entering the organization all candidates are devout Catholics. After “walking away” or been “thrown away not all are devout Catholics. How would they describe themselves today?  The experiment was designed to solicit feedback from former members visiting a webpage, http://www.regainnetwork.org, for former members and their families.

 

DESIGN

A member is recruited and belongs to the group for x number of years. He may leave after a certain amount of time, either as a throw-away or as a walk away. Each member experiences his recruitment/joining, belonging as a member and leaving in a personal way. The stages could be hypothesized as follows:

Pre-entry into the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi, it is assumed that the member is in full “communion” with the Catholic Church. Firm and unshaken belief in the Catholic Church as a divinely inspired religious institution; veneration and trust in the clergy (priests, bishops, pope)

  • Involvement as a fully observant lay member, abiding by marriage and birth control laws, etc.
  • A regular Mass goer who receives Communion (Sacrament of the Eucharist), “goes to confession” (Sacrament of Penance) at least once a year and “contributes to the support of his/her pastors.”

 

Membership in LC/RC

  • All of the above, plus
  • Involvement in the Church as a minister, religious or committed lay member of RC

 

Post exit from the LC/RC Movement some members are unscathed, “keeping their faith intact” while others have left or renounced full communion with the Catholic Church in varying degrees

  • Full communion with institutional Catholic Church as in Pre-Entry and good relationship with LC/RC
  • Full Communion with Catholic Church but lost faith in the LC/RC organization with an attitude of
    • Indifference
    • Criticism
    • Opposition

 

  • Partial communion with the Catholic Church
  • Leaves the ministry and/or religious life.
  • No longer fully observant lay member.
  • No longer a “practicing Catholic” but does not reject the notion that the Catholic Church is divinely inspired.
    • Occasional Mass goer; rarely, if ever “goes to confession”; contributes little, if any, to the support of the ministers, the institution and its works (Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, etc.)
    • May not be “married by the Church,” nor heed Church birth control laws
    • May not baptize his/her children ‘in the faith.’

 

  • Lost faith in the Catholic Church as a divinely inspired religious institution; lost veneration for and trust in the clergy (priests, bishops, pope)
    • Retains partial communion with the Church (some residual attraction to Church such as family tradition, liturgy, sacred music, etc.)
    • Joins other Christian community
    • Joins other major religion
    • Declares him/herself agnostic or atheist

 

The medium to be used would be the ReGAIN webpage which has a steady stream of former members. The author assumed -not a very scientific attitude but common sense- that some or many of the visitors to the site -which constantly questions the official version of the Legion and the Regnum- would be among the more “disenchanted” Catholics, that their responses could tend to be
“negative” and that some kind of a balancing measure might need to be applied.

 RESULTS:

A total of 78 valid responses were delivered. Of these only 41 had been former members of the LC/RC; and of these 4 were currently active members.  Responses described visitors’ current relationship with the LC/RC in the following way:

Relationship with the LC/RC:

  • Average/Non important 13/41
  • Poor/Negative 21/41
  • Angry/they hurt me 1
  • I hate them 2
  • Positive 3
  • As good as could be             1

Relationship with the Catholic Church:

  • Fully Practicing 24/41
  • Partially Practicing 8
  • No longer a Catholic 8
  • * Incomplete response 1

 

 INTERPRETATION

Relationship with the LC/RC: “Average/Non important” answers indicate that a significant number of respondents have “taken the experience in their stride.” This could also indicate that former members have chosen not to dwell on their experience and have chosen to “get on with their lives.” But it is significant that 21 state unambiguously that they have a negative relationship/attitude toward the group they initially joined so enthusiastically and generously.

Recently a Spanish language blog called Legioleaks [ii] was launched on Facebook in which many of the contributing 120 disaffected former members vent their frustration, criticism and anger at their alma mater. While one might wonder “Why are you so angry?”, this begs the flip question “What has the institute done to make these young men so angry?”

In fact, only 3 respondents on the ReGAIN survey described his/her attitude as angry or hating. Therefore, criticisms on the blog may help interpret the finds of our survey and discover some of the flaws in the Movement’s system.

Results of “Relationship with the Catholic Church” could be considered surprising; in the sense that 24 of 41 described themselves as fully practicing Catholics, thus indicating that the respondents cannot be dismissed as “disgruntled ex-members”. Real cause for concern stems from 8/41 considering themselves partially practicing Catholics and another 8/41 saying they are no longer Catholic; in common parlance this means that one out of four “have left the Church.”

Catholic bishops may want to consider this result when they allow the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi to recruit in their dioceses.

 

Questions for LC/RC leadership

A study of the results prompts the author to raise some questions for consideration by the LC/RC Movement’s leadership:

  • Whether there exist elements in the Movement’s training (formation) that tend to alienate or otherwise hurt the members, producing in them feelings of rejection, anger and resentment toward their alma mater upon leaving.
  • Whether such flaws in the Movement’s training system are serious enough to cause exiting members to alienate not only from the Movement but also from the Catholic Church.
  • Whether the Movement needs to refine its screening process for recruits and its evaluation of new candidates.
  • Posters in Legioleaks point out the need for a deeper process of discernment of the religious vocation. The writer presented a pater at the I.C.S.A annual conference in Stockholm, 2015, warning about the dangers of undue influence and foreclosure, i.e. premature commitment to the religious calling[iii].
  • Posters in Legioleaks return time and again to the fact that their religious vocation appeared to be a forgone conclusion once they entered the group, prompting the question: Whether the Movement prepares the members for the possibility/option of exiting the organization.
  • Whether the members are given the necessary instruments for handling departure and transitioning to a new life outside the Movement.
  • Whether departing members have access to their legal documents, academic degrees and a minimum of job training.
  • And if the member decides to leave, whether the Movement has -and implements- concrete guidelines to help the departing member leave in a healthy, positive and constructive way.

 

 

These results beg comparative studies regarding how other religious orders fare with former members.

 

Instrument limitations:

on reflection, it would appear that one important factor which was not taken into account in the survey was “for how long” the person had been a member of the group. A priori, this would seem an important element as, if it were assumed that the effects were negative, the damaging effects would possibly grow and worsen over time. Related to this factor would be “at what age did you join”, again with the assumption that earlier exposure could cause more deleterious effects.

 

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Historical note:

Fr. Maciel’s sexual abuse victims:

When cultic abuse is compounded by sexual abuse, the impact on the faith of the victim would appear to increase exponentially. The eight Maciel former seminarians who brought their case to the media and to Vatican authorities feel alienated from Catholic authorities.  The spectrum of the survivors’ “faith” –or lack thereof- is very wide and in general terms goes from atheism, through total alienation from the Catholic Church, to minimal participation in the Church. With the exception of Fr. Alarcon, a retired priest, none of Fr. Maciel’s Legion of Christ seminary victims, Senores Barba, Vaca, Jurado, Barrales, the brothers Olvera, Espinosa would consider himself a “fully practicing Catholic.”

 

[i] Described in detail in Our Father Maciel who art in bed, a Naïve and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ, the exiting was long and tortuous. Each one ‘struggles’ with is religious question, and with the whole recovery task, in his own individual way.

[ii] https://www.facebook.com/groups/623513181133578/  Currently with over 1,000 members.

[iii] https://regainnetwork.org/2015/07/25/do-the-legion-of-christ-and-regnum-christi-exert-undue-influence-by-recruiting-children-and-minors/

 

 

Scandal at the Vatican (New Video on the Legion of Christ)

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Thanks to the initiative of the former Legionary, Xavier Leger, the Irish, RTE, English language dubbing of the original French documentary, is now available.

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Legion of Christ “trainers” Play Strip Poker with boys in their pastoral care

 

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An indignant mother cries at callous Legionary behavior

Legionary ‘formators’ (formadores) Play Strip Poker with ECYD Boys in their pastoral care

ReGAIN Scoop

Below, the reader will find a letter written by an indignant Mexican mother. From the context we gather that the events happened during the Vatican ordered Apostolic Visitation (2010-2014) headed by Archbishop Velasio de Paolis.

“I have left the names in just to demonstrate that only the LC superiors were (made) aware of what happened and that, ultimately, they did nothing to address the problem.

The final bad experience -a SERIOUS one- we experienced there (at the school) was an end of term activity organized by the school to celebrate my 12-year-old son’s graduation from elementary school). The children were under the care of the school chaplain, Fr. Bruno Montekio, LC., of the ECYD leader, Brother Felipe Villagómez, LC, and of a group of Regnum Christi collaborators and teachers.

On a certain night they organized a game of casino (strip poker), in which the children were supposed to begin gradually taking off their clothes as they ran out of money to bet; until they were left in their underpants. Fr. Bruno witnessed this and Bro. Felipe took photographs.

I am attaching the email I sent to Fr. Luis Garza-Medina, LC, expressing my husband’s and my profound indignation for taking photos of the children, and because Bro. Felipe gave a CD with the photos to each one of the boys who participated in the “camp”; and also because of his attitude later on when a group of mothers questioned him about this activity; how he stuck to his opinion and never admitted any wrongdoing. We never received any explanation or apology from the school principal, either.

I cc this email to Fr. Alvaro Corcuera (editor’s note, then LC Superior General, now deceased) and to Fr. Rodolfo Mayagoitia, Territorial Director for Mexico and to Fr. Evaristo Sada, Secretary General of Regnum Christi; neither of them deigned to answer my message. Only Fr. Luis (Garza Medina) begged my forgiveness and acknowledged there was a lack of good judgment and common sense.

Fr. Bruno was assigned this year to work for the Legion in Dallas, TX. Bro. Felipe is finishing his theological studies at the Legion’s Major Seminary in Rome (Centro de Estudios Superiores)

THE CASE WAS PRESENTED TO (APOSTOLIC DELEGATE, ARCHBISHOP)   DE PAOLIS AFTERWORDS AND THIS LED TO A LETTER OF APOLOGY FROM VILLAGOMEZ TO THE FAMILY IN QUESTION. IT WAS WRITTEN DURING THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES LEADING UP TO HIS PRIESTLY ORDINATION. OBVIOUSLY, THESE PRACTICES WERE NEVER INVESTIGATED. MAYBE THE LEGIONARIES PUBLISHED A PROTOCOL SUCH AS: ‘MAY OUR MEMBERS NEVER TAKE PHOTOS OF CHILDREN IN THE ECYD MOVEMENT IN THEIR UNDERPANTS’ OR SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT.”

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(Original Spanish language message: EL MANEJO DE SITUACIONES IMPROPIAS

Dejo los nombres de los participantes sólo para poner en evidencia que nadie supo, más que los superiores, de este caso. Y que finalmente no pasó nada.

La última mala experiencia, GRAVE, que vivimos ahí fue en una actividad de fin de curso dirigida por el colegio para la generación de uno de mis hijos de 12 años. Los niños estaban a cargo del capellán del colegio, el P. Bruno Montekio, LC; del encargado para el Ecyd, el Hno. Felipe Villagómez, LC; y un grupo de colaboradores del Regnum Christi y maestros del colegio.

Una noche se organizó una dinámica, casino, en el que los niños iban perdiendo prendas de su ropa pues no tenían dinero para apostar, hasta quedar todos en calzoncillos. El P. Bruno
estuvo presente y el Hno. Felipe les tomaba fotografías.

Anexo el correo electrónico que intercambié con el P. Luis Garza Medina, LC, expresándole la profunda indignación y la de mi marido por el hecho, por las fotografías que se les tomaron a los niños, por haber entregado el Hno. Felipe una copia de las fotografías en un cd a cada niño que asistió a dicho campamento y la actitud que él tuvo después, cuando un grupo de mamás nos acercamos a él para preguntarle por dicha dinámica y él se aferró a su criterio y nunca pudo admitir que lo que había sucedido estaba mal. Nunca recibimos por parte del director del colegio una aclaración ni una disculpa.

Este mail lo envié con copia al P. Alvaro Corcuera, LC, Director General y al P. Rodolfo Mayagoitia, Director Territorial de México; y al P. Evaristo Sada, LC, Secretario General del Regnum Christi, de quienes tampoco recibí respuesta. Sólo el P. Luis me pidió que perdonara y reconoció que había sido una falta de criterio y sentido comun.

El P. Bruno se encuentra desde este año trabajando para la Legión en Dallas. Y el Hno. Felipe terminando sus estudios de teología en el CES de Roma.

EL CASO SE PRESENTÓ A DE PAOLIS DESPUÉS Y CONCLUYÓ CON UNA CARTA DE DISCULPA DE VILLAGÓMEZ A LA FAMILIA EN CUESTIÓN ESCRITA EN LOS EJERCICIOS ANTES DE ORDENARSE. OBVIAMENTE NUNCA SE INVESTIGÓ NADA SOBRE ESTAS PRÁCTICAS. A LO MEJOR SACARON UN PROTOCOLO DICIENDO “EVITEN LOS NUESTROS SACAR FOTOS DE LOS NIÑOS DEL ECYD EN CALZONCILLOS”

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(video) Pope Francis, Legion of Christ, Opus Dei, Miles Jesu and Undue Influence inside the Catholic Church

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Cult expert, Steven Hassan –Combating Mind Control author- interviews former Legionary of Christ, therapist, cult student and concerned Catholic; link: Paul Lennon

 

The Maciel Affair

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The Maciel Affair.

19 May 2006 – 19 May 2016

Ten years ago today one of the most extraordinary cover-ups was played out in public. It was so public that it was hidden in plain sight.  The Vatican emitted a 23 line communiqué of which only six lines were truly significant. The first 15 lines reviewed a process of investigation that purportedly had started in 1998. Then the communiqué goes on to say:

“ After having submitted the results of the investigation to an attentive study, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the guide of its new Prefect, his Eminence Cardinal William Levada, decided – taking account of the advanced age of the Reverend Maciel and his delicate health- to renounce any canonical process and to invite the Father to a reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing every public ministry. The Holy Father has approved these decisions”  (Translation of communiqué from original Italian emitted by Vatican Press office 19th May, 2006)

                It is a sublime masterpiece of Machiavellian literature.  What makes it so cunning?

Firstly and most importantly it makes absolutely no mention of the victims. It does show great concern for Maciel, his health and his age, but nothing for those who had been abused. This outrageous attitude towards Maciel’s victims has never changed. Pope Benedict refused to meet with them in his visit to Mexico in 2012 as did Pope Francis in his visit in 2015.

The second noticeable element is the use of age as a factor in avoiding a canonical hearing. Canon law has no canon that excludes a person because of their age from being submitted to due process. The great minds in the Vatican conjured up a loophole so that Maciel could escape justice and conveniently avoid a situation where the Vatican’s own complicity might be made evident.  The age of the victims wasn’t an issue but the age of the perpetrator was.

And if age itself was not enough of an excuse to exonerate him from a trial. The Vatican also uses Maciel’s health as a pretext .  What about the health of the victims? What about the years of pain, vilification and guilt to which they had been submitted? That didn’t really matter to the Vatican.  It was never mentioned.

But the use of Maciels health is a masquerade, a pantomime of justice. To what health checks was he submitted ? Which doctors reviewed him to declare him unfit for trail? What diagnosis was required for him to become exempt from the law? The answer is of course; there was no health check, there were no doctors, there was no diagnosis. … there was no proper procedure. It was all a lie.

A person is deemed unfit for trail if he is unable to understand the charges brought against him. This was not the case with Maciel, the same day the communiqué was published Maciel declared his innocence through a Legionary note:

“Father Maciel, with the spirit of obedience to the Church that has always characterized him, has accepted this communiqué with faith, complete serenity and tranquillity of conscience, knowing that it is a new cross that God, the Father of Mercy, has allowed him to suffer and that will obtain many graces for the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement”  (Statement of the Legionaries of Christ, May 19th 2006, published in Zenit.org)

It was all a farce. In fact Maciel was in good health for his age. After the 19th May 2006 he was well enough to made long intercontinental flights and was able to live independently with his concubine and daughter in Mexico and later in Jacksonville, USA.

A third element that stands out in the note is the “invitation” to a life of prayer and penance. He was declared unfit to stand trial then deemed fit to do penance.  The logical conclusion for a person deemed incapable to stand trial would be for that person to be sent to a hospital or put into care.

But the “invitation” itself is a travesty. An invitation can be declined, turned down or snubbed. An invitation is certainly not a punishment nor a declaration of guilt.  Maciel had no intention of accepting such a pious invitation. It was a get-out-of jail- card which he played with great delight.

In what court or process have we ever heard a person being invited to a life of prayer and penance. The “invitation” mocks the victims, mocks the process and mocks the Vatican. It signifies the lack of sincerity there was in bringing Maciel to justice and it highlights the utter disregard there was for the sufferers of abuse.

No one was ever held responsible for the injustices that were meted out to Maciel’s victims in this fake process. There was no independent investigation,  no cardinals were called to explain how a whole legal procedure was forged to let Maciel off the hook; no one lost their job; no one went to jail. Ten years later Maciel’s victims are still ignored by the Vatican.

 

                Peter Francis Byrne

“All it takes for evil to advance is for good men to do nothing”