A.L. – Chain of Sexual Abuse in the Legion of Christ

Editor?s Note: As of March 05, 2010 there has been no response from the Legion to the below letter:

Portstewart
BT55 7JJ
N. Ireland

14th December 2009

Dear Alvaro Corcuera,

I have been following very closely recent developments in the Legion of Christ regarding Marcial Maciel over the past few months, indeed years.

Recently former LC and Maciel victim,  Juan Jose Vaca, told me about your recent phone call with him. This has prompted me to write to you directly.

I was a Legionary for five years – two years in Dublin and three in Salamanca. In 2001 I made a complaint to Assistant Superior General, Fr. Luis Garza Medina, about the sexual misconduct of Fr. Eoghan Devlin LC (no longer a priest). I made this complaint with the assistance of the vicar general of my Diocese – Down and Connor.

The Legion?s response at this time to my detailed complaint of sexual abuse was inadequate and hurtful. The Legion of Christ simply asked Fr. Eoghan Devlin if what I said was true. Of course, he denied this, and the Legion simply believed him and asked me how could I come up with such a story.

I retreated into myself and continued to try and heal through counseling, provided by Faoiseamh, an Irish Charity for those abused by Clergy. This charity is funded by CORI – Conference of Religious in Ireland, and by some Catholic dioceses.

The fact that Fr. Eoghan Devlin LC – in spite of my serious complaint against him – was still allowed to exercise authority as a superior in Medellin, Colombia, S.A., as director of the senior and junior school there, as the head of the Regnum Christi juvenile section made me sick. I worried so much that he would continue to hurt other trusting young men.

In 2005 this led me to report my complaint again, but this time to the Irish Police. I was encouraged and assisted to do so by the Child Protection Services of the Dublin Archdiocese. This was a very big decision for me to make – the prospect of going to court, of having to tell publicly what happened to me etc. was very frightening. Nevertheless, I decided that I could not live with the fear that Eoghan Devlin would continue to abuse – that he got off with it.

Again the Legion of Christ’s response was inadequate. Fr. Luis Garza Medina phoned me within 24 hours of knowing that I had made my complaint to the police, and he told me on the phone that the Legion had never had a complaint of sexual abuse brought to them before my complaint, and that the Legion of Christ did not know how to behave appropriately.

I do not believe for one moment that the Legion of Christ had not had any complaints about sexual abuse brought to them. I know that Fr. Luis Medina Garza told me a bare-faced lie.

Further correspondence from the Legion by roving ombudsman,  Fr. Raymond Cosgrave, was also misleading and deceptive: the Legion invited me to speak with an independent person for the purposes of information gathering. The Legion mentioned the name of the person as Johanna Merry but failed to point out that Johanna Merry is usually referred to as Dr. Johanna Merry and is a psychologist. It also failed to mention that it was paying Dr. Merry.

When I found out this information, my mistrust of the Legion prompted me to reject these requests. Why would the Legion employ a psychologist for the purposes of information gathering and not disclose that this person is a psychologist? Why not, for example, appoint a notary or solicitor to gather the information? I had already provided the Legion with very detailed information; I was satisfied that they had more than enough information on which to act. Was the Legion trying to evaluate me psychologically without me knowing?

I had made the same detailed complaint to the police and local health services. Why did I need to make it again, in person, to the Legion when the Legion had rejected my complaint, when the Director General of the Legion, Fr. Marcial Maciel – a known child abuser – was still in charge of the Legion?

The Legion of Christ also rejected my many requests in my correspondence with you. I requested that you send me a copy of your protocol regarding your process upon receiving complaints about sexual abuse. By 2005 I know for a fact there were other cases of similar complaints. I felt that my correspondence to the Legion of Christ was unanswered and ignored.

I learned that in Medellin, Colombia, where Fr. Eoghan Devlin LC was then assigned, a letter had been sent by the directors of the male and female schools to all the families of the schools that they were not to believe any false rumours that were circulating, and that they should only accept the truth from the directors themselves. I know that Eoghan was removed from his ministry because of the police investigation, and I know that this fact was known to some families in Medellin. Families were told by the Legion that Eoghan had left to go home to visit his family, that there was illness in his family in Ireland.

The Legion and RC members in Colombia told lies about this situation to the families of the children in their care. Your duty was to make everyone know about my allegations so that other victims might have the courage to come forward, and for the Legion to offer full support to them.

I wonder why you covered up with lies the truth about Eoghan Devlin to the families in Medellin.

I learned that Eoghan left the priesthood and the Legion of Christ and, even though the department of public prosecution deemed that there was not enough evidence,  actually this was a relief for me. I found some closure in knowing that Eoghan was no longer working with children, nor could he be protected by the Legion.

Nevertheless I was worried that once again he lived in the same country as me – would I bump into him? Would he look for me? I learnt also that he was receiving a substantial monthly payment from the Legion of Christ. This angered me.

Going to the police and thereby removing Eoghan from ministry and taking him away from children really meant a lot to me. This helped me heal. It is unfortunate that I had to go the police in order for this to happen. I hoped that my initial complaint in 2001 would have done this. Indeed, if you had acted properly at that time, this part of my healing would have taken place sooner.

In my detailed complaint I made known my concerns about inter-generational abuse in the Legion. I will reiterate my concerns to you now, upon learning of a possible new generation of abusers in your institute.

In your phone call to Juan Jose Vaca you ask his forgiveness from Juan for the abuses perpetrated by Fr. Marcial against him and the others. You have not said this directly, but you imply that you acknowledge that Maciel sexually abused him and the others as children and young adults. If you believe this – I can only presume so as you have never said this – then you will share my concerns.

Here is how I see the chain of abuse:
Marcial Maciel sexually abused Fr. William (Guillermo) Izquierdo, who would later be Novice Master in Dublin,  when William  was a minor seminarian. Other victims of abuse are witnesses to this – they have told me this directly, first hand.
Guillermo Izquierdo went on to sexually abuse one of his Irish novices,  P. M.K, who also told me this first hand.
Guillermo Izquierdo was also sexually inappropriate with I. C., whom he asked to strip naked in his bedroom and wait on his kneeler for Fr. William to inspect him. This was given as a penance in confession. Again I.C. was brave enough to tell about this directly.

It turns out I.C. was with Eoghan Devlin in the Dublin novitiate under Fr. William (Guillermo) Izquierdo.

That is to say that Eoghan Devlin made his novitiate under a known sexual abuser, in an environment where sexual abuse of minors took place.

I am convinced that Eoghan Devlin was one of Fr. Izquierdo’s victims. This explains to me how he copied the abuse that Maciel subjected his victims to. Eoghan once mentioned to me that serial sex abuser Fr. Maciel treated Eoghan specially when he visited the LC in Dublin; which might lead us to believe that Fr. Maciel abused Eoghan as well…

Another Irish-born LC priest from our same generation has recently – months ago – been accused of posing highly sexually inappropriate questions to children and adolescents he worked with in the Instituto Irlandés in Mexico City. These detailed questions about sexual fantasy, about the size of the children’s penises etc. are an echo of the questions that Eoghan Devlin asked me in his process of preparing me – grooming me – for abuse. As I stated in my detailed complaint, Eoghan asked me questions such as these.

This recently accused Irish LC priest was a novice with me under Fr. Eoghan Devlin Novice Master.

This latest news re another possible sexual abuser from my generation has greatly upset me and caused me considerable anxiety.

I want you to know that my life has been interrupted greatly since I joined and subsequently left the Legion. I am still at counseling, still have nightmares, am still trying to understand the effects of sexual abuse on me and all my relationships.

I turned to other ex-legionaries for help and support, and found over and over again so many hurt people. The website www.exlegionaries.com was a great help and resource to me. When the Legion of Christ sued ReGAIN, INC in August 2007 to shut that discussion board down and send it into cyber oblivion, it was another blow. It is a great shame that you denied so many people a means to heal. In the light of recent developments and acknowledgment of Maciel’s plagiarism, I would hope you allow that  discussion board to be restored as it was originally and repay the legal costs to those affected.

I am angry, and it is so unfair that my life is still on hold. What do I have to do to heal? What do I need to change my life and live again? When will the Legion and Fr. Eoghan be a closed chapter in my past?

  • As a victim, I believe that the following will help me greatly:A sincere and detailed apology. An apology which acknowledges and names the wrongs done to me by the Legion. This must include an admission that I was abused and that my reporting of this abuse was mistreated by the Legion.
  • I believe that you should make a substantial financial contribution to the organisations that have paid for my counseling over the years. I have been fortunate enough in that I have received high quality and very helpful counseling for free since 2001. I am angered that the resources of charitable people and organisations are being used by me when I feel you should be paying for this.
  • I believe you should make financial restitution for the effect my abuse and the Legion’s response to my complaints have had on me and continue to have on me.

Alvaro, I too was a Legionary of Christ. I blindly and devotedly followed Our Founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel.  I believed his every word and held him to be a living Saint. I ate the scraps off his plate when I served him as guest waiter. I cried thinking about what sacrifices he made in his life.

I would have died for the Legion.

Like you, I have learned a different story about Fr. Marcial Maciel. I learned about his excessively luxurious lifestyle, about his sexual abuse, about his disregard for anyone around him, his drug use, his lying, his not writing his famous Letter and Psalter (Cartas, Salterio),  etc., and so much more.

Please believe me when I tell you that finding out the truth was a terribly painful experience for me. My whole world collapsed.

I do not want any of this pain any longer – I want you in the name of the Legion to respond adequately to my complaint of abuse and help me forget about the Legion and forget about what happened.

Give me resolution.

Hopefully,

A.L.

A.L.’s original testimony on Regain Website may be found here

(Article reviewed and edited by co-editor on February 20, 2020)

Anonymous – A Catholic Father’s Lament For His Regnum Christi Daughter

July 2008

 

I remember one of the first things that I noted on the Regain website when I discovered it several years ago was the checklist for cults provided by Father Cronin. I had taken several courses previously about cults (never thinking that there would be any in the Catholic Church). As I went through the check list it helped me to confirm that our daughter (a 3gf Regnum Christi member since 1988) was in a cult.

She had gone on a trip to find herself and we were expecting her to come home eventually. She was a bright light in our family – a sharp mind and a wonderful joyful sense of humor. Our family always gathers for special occasions such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, special birthdays, picnics, camping expeditions, family holidays as well as for special spiritual events such as baptisms, first communions and, of course, for marriages. Our daughter never returned from that trip. We grieve continually in a similar way to families who have someone missing. She is alive but has been taken from us for no reason. Whenever we meet together for any occasion, we know that one of us is no longer available to us, except for two days a year.

There is no great joy when the 2 days come because she is different and cannot really enter into the spirit of things with the rest of us. It is NOT because she is holier than us. It is not because she is serving God in some special way. If she were working for Mother Theresa’s order of nuns in Calcutta, we would have some sense of there being a purpose for her absence from our family. Is she an evangelizer as she thinks or a brainwasher as some of us believe? Is she a teacher or is she becoming a manipulator?

We concluded some time ago that there is no question that Regnum Christi is a CULT that serves an elite group of people to achieve power and money for them. I believe that they operate as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Just as the sexual abuse committed against the original children who had put their trust in MM was about power and not sex, there continue to be new victims who lose their free will and their ability to live normal lives and have friends and live in a loving family environment so that the heads of RC can have more power politically and in a spiritual environment. They say Catholic things and associate with Catholic leaders and they profess Roman Catholicism to give them respectability. The brainwashed members sometimes achieve things that serve the Church and give them some legitimacy. But underneath, I feel that there is no real difference between what RC does and what Scientology or the Moonies do. They promote elitism, they isolate, they are manipulated into idolization of the phony image of a false megalomaniac pedophile saint, they don’t have health insurance, they use a buddy system, they use spiritual direction as a weapon of control, they deceive, they control behavior (through rules), information, thoughts and emotions the same way other cults do.

Most unfortunately, I feel that the Roman Catholic Church, which proclaims itself to be the one and only true apostolic Church that provides justice internally has some rotten apples in the barrel that have been successful in sustaining this life destroying cult as an integral part of the Church. To me it is like a festering gangrene on the Body of Christ that must eventually be cut off if the Church is to remain healthy. The current reform by the Church including elimination of the secret vows, reducing their targeting of younger teenagers, etc., will not make a significant difference. I think this would be like the government going to the Mafia and getting them to stop selling drugs to 12 to 14 year olds. If they comply, they would still be the Mafia. A total reorganization of RC including replacement of the entire leadership and a new spirit – a new mission (no longer parallel to but in harmony with the Church) and run by truly dedicated experienced people with some limitations on their personal power and money they could extract from it. In the meantime, our grieving for our lost daughter goes on as key leaders in the Church continue to turn a blind eye.

 

Mary Therese Helmeuller – My Experiences with RC Recruitment Tactics

By Mary Therese Helmeuller

 

Mary Therese Helmueller
137 E. Downs Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55117

Mary Ann Glendon
1575 Massachusetts Ave.
Harvard Law School
Cambridge MA 02138

Dear Mary Ann Glendon,

April 16, 2002

Thank you for defending the celibacy of the Priesthood in your recent interview on the ABC news program This Week with George Stephanopoulos. I agree with you that a renewal of the seminaries is definitely necessary. However, the renewal must not only include the seminaries but also some religious orders and dioceses.

It is understandable that while looking at the Legionaries of Christ one can be quickly impressed with the reported overflowing seminaries but some one with your intelligence, accomplishment, and importance should be aware of the excellent priests, and seminarians who are leaving, and those who have already left.

I am confident you will understand the gravity of the issues below, since you are a member of the Boston Archdiocese’s Social Justice Commission and having also served as a representative of the Vatican at the Beijing Conference for Women.

I experienced the recruiting techniques of the Legionaries of Christ through Regnum Christi in February of 1995, when Norma, a consecrated woman, called and said you have been chosen by the Holy Father to participate in a project as a reporter for the Beijing Conference. Well, it sounded strange but who was I to say NO to the Holy Father? However strange or unlikely this was I trusted them because they were a part of the Legionaries of Christ. Norma went on to say this is a secret project and no one is to know about it-not even your family. Your life may even be required of you. She continued by explaining that I would need to go to Rome for training and that we would be instructedby Vatican officials.

So I quickly spoke to Al Matt at the Wanderer who gave me a press pass and then I worked to get the required clearance documents from the United Nations. All the while there was great pressure to come to Rhode Island to consecrate myself.

I was invited to a retreat in the formation house of Regnum Christi in Rhode Island during Holy Week, April 1995. I was told that there would be a necessary meeting afterwards of the women who were going to Beijing. So I decided to go. There was no meeting but there was a lot of pressure to enter the consecrated life! And this I would not consider doing at such a fast and quick pace.

So several months later I received the necessary documents from the United Nations and I made reservations, with payments, to a hotel in Beijing that was required for reporters. Finally I made my flight arrangements to Rome —all at my own expense.

When I arrived at the Mother House of Regnum Christi in Rome I explained who I was and why I was there. The consecrated woman at the door replied I ‘m sure the Holy Father would approve if he knew about it!

I stayed three weeks at the “Mother House” and was with the top Regnum Christi women including Patricia Bannon (Father Anthony Bannon’s sister). There were approximately 8-12 of us who were planning to go to the Beijing Conference. I was the only one with documents as a reporter and so it was decided that the others would go as observers. All the while there was increasing pressure to consecrate myself.

With each passing day it became obvious there would be no training sessions or meetings with Vatican Officials. Finally, several days before the conference began, a Legionary priest from Spain came and so did the 27 year old Mother Superior , Maleni, who outlined the program for Beijing. Why were they going to Beijing? The number one, important goal was RECRUITING [Spanish ‘Captacion’]: a technique that includes attracting attention by smiling, flattery, and charm until you can actually ‘get’ the person for the RC cause. We were told to show them what kind of a woman you are.

When I announced, that as a reporter, I was going to associate myself with Fr. Paul Marx and the pro life groups during the Beijing conference I was told No you can’t do that; they are too negative. I was shocked and disgusted to hear this coming from consecrated women with years of so called religious formation.

Wasn’t there something more important happening at the Beijing Conference other than recruiting for Regnum Christi? I wondered if this was the intention of the generous donor who gave $40,000.00 for this project? In the end, I refused to participate in this ridiculous project of recruiting that ultimately mocked the importance of defending human life and the family.

Before leaving, I confronted Norma, a consecrated woman, with everything: the lies, the disrespect, the arrogance, the cult like pressure, the mind control, the secrecy, etc. I clearly had felt used as well as emotionally and psychologically abused. I demanded some answers. Norma finally admitted that this Beijing project was used as the hook to get me consecrated. The hook is a recruiting technique taught by the Legionaries to increase numbers.

Then after revealing the truth, Norma warned and threatened me: There will be serious repercussions if any of this is made public; and you know what I mean. I understood it to mean that my brother John, who had final vows in the Legion would be made to suffer. So out of fear I remained silent but gradually could not contain the injustice. While praying for my brother to get out of the Legion I began sharing my experience with others in hopes of helping other young woman and their families.

I eventually spoke to Fr. Anthony Bailleres L.C. by phone and reported everything to him. As of yet there has been no apology for wasting my time or for the thousands of dollars I had spent on their fabricated lie. It took until December of 1998 for my brother to leave the Legion but from 1995-1998 he had literally suffered through hell. After asking a few questions and showing concern for fellow Legionaries who were obviously suffering depression and mental breakdowns, my brother John was sent to a Legionary house in Rhode Island to cook and clean for Fr. David Chavez L.C.

Fr. Chavez L.C. bragged of ‘breaking’ four previous vocations!!! Now after 11 years and final vows in the Legion, my brother was asked to start thinking about getting married!Daily Mass was not offered and so he walked 1 and ½ miles one way to Mass each day. It was forbidden for my brother to talk to anyone outside the house and when he asked permission to contact Bishop Carlson he was denied.

Thanks be to God my brother finally left the Legionaries of Christ and he was ordained a priest by Bishop Carlson on June 23rd 2002. He is now serving in the largest parish of the Sioux Falls Diocese.

Mary Ann, I am very grateful for all your work in our society and in the Catholic Church. However, I think it is time to reflect: Why are good priests and good seminarians leaving the Legionaries of Christ? (Some whom you know and perhaps are unaware of their change) What kind of religious formation would permit or even promote a recruiting technique referred to as the hook in which lies, deceit and abuse are used to gain numbers? What kind of spiritual direction is there when a seminarian with 11 years and his final vows is forced into isolation and demanded to think of getting married? Is isolation proper treatment for asking questions or showing concern? Is 3-6 years of fundraising really considered part of a solid priestly formation? Or should it be considered as cheap labor? If everything is fine with the Legionaries of Christ, then why the secrecy? the lies? the arrogance? the destruction? and the injustices? Whose Kingdom are they building? Christ’s or Fr. Maciel’s?

There is so much more to say and even more to question but, as you mentioned in your interview, it is indeed a time for reflection.

Thank you for your time. Please feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss this letter.

Mary Therese Helmueller
137 E. Downs Ave.
St. Paul MN 55117
Tel: 651-488-8468
Fax: 651-488-6827
Email: mthelmueller@hotmail.com

P.S. I am a college graduate with a BA in Nursing. I have 15 years in Critical Care and I have also studied in Mexico and speak Spanish. I own a company incorporated in the state of Minnesota that conducts international pilgrimages to approved Catholic Shrines.

CC: Bishop Robert J. Carlson
CC: Al Matt-Wanderer

*****************
As a postscript to this testimony we offer this short note written by Fr. John Helmueller, an ex Legionary that was later ordained a diocesan priest. He writes it to a fellow ex Legionary of Christ who was told to get married when they suddenly kicked him out after several years of stringing him along in a Legionary vocation:

Dear xLC,

Thanks for your note. Believe it or not, I was told the same thing while I was in the Rhode Island house. In virtue of my vow of obedience, Fr. Jose said I had to forget the priesthood and think about getting married. I tried to compromise with him. I said I would try it for three days, but I couldn’t help thinking how stupid this exercise was. Keep in mind I was already perpetually professed! I had already given my whole life to God! I was in my 11th year of LC formation! Some of my classmates were already Deacons! Why was I supposed to start doubting my vocation now! It didn’t make sense to me.

Well, I better stop writing or I’ll get upset. For me, the LC is history. It’s a book on the shelf and that’s where it’s going to stay. I don’t understand what is going on in the LC. The leaders seem hell-bent on self-destruction without knowing it or admitting it. They feel somehow superior to the rest, Super Priests, and the LC feeds right into this. Too bad a lot of innocent men are still stuck in there with them.

FJH

 

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