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



Shipwrecked on a Beach in Brazil:

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


By J. Paul Lennon

Easter, 7th April, 2016



To Michael Francis X,

former Legionary of Christ


                                                                          There is another God,

                                                                           and so different from

                                                                           the Legion of Christ’s;

                                                                            a paradoxical God

                                                                            who looks after his “little ones


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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


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

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


Common TRAUMA Symptoms After Leaving the RC/LC

Coping with Triggers and Floating… A Recovery Issue
by Carol Giambalvo

“Floating” is a word often used in association with “trancing out,” “spacing out,” “being triggered,” or “dissociation.” Ex-cult members describe it in several ways, including (but not limited to) feeling disconnected, feeling as though you’re watching yourself live your life, having spells where you experience uncontrollable emotions (usually sadness or anger) that is not appropriate to what is happening at the moment. It is also described as having exaggerated physical sensations, having anxiety or mild panic attacks, or having a fantasy or dream like vision, almost like a dream that invades your waking state. Most ex-members report that these experiences make them feel as though there is something drastically wrong with them; they feel as though they may be going crazy.

The purpose of this article is to take the fear out of these experiences and bring about some understanding that they are not abnormal.

Triggered experiences are common to people who have been through a traumatic experience or prolonged periods of stress. Life in a cult is stressful and, for some former members, extremely traumatic. In addition, cults induce altered states of consciousness in many ways. Continue reading

Post-Cult Problems

An Exit Counselor’s Perspective
Classification of Ex-Members

There are several classifications of ex-members, based on how they left the cult. Former members usually fit into one of the following:

  • Those who had interventions.
  • Those who left on their own, or walkaways .
  • Those who were expelled, or castaways

Walkaways and castaways need the most help in understanding their recovery process. Former members who were cast out of a cult are especially vulnerable; often they feel inadequate, guilty, and angry.

Continue reading

Sexual Assault in LC Seminary

Following are several pieces of information that have come to light regarding sexual abuse victims and different priests associated with the Legionaries of Christ. The first is a declaration of the abuse perpetrated upon Patrick Keane by two LC priests, Fr. Guillermo Izquierdo and Fr. Salvador Maciel (no relation to Marcial Maciel). We also offer the official response of the Legion to his complaint along with other background documents.

We present the personal story of another victim, James: his written testimony and the ABC local news program where he was interviewed about the incident and the response of Legion officials to his charges.

Seven Legionary Priests Investigated for Sexual Abuse Negative Fruits?

Associated Press has released an article by Nicole Winfield Click Here For Nicole Winfield Article reporting that the Vatican is currently investigating seven Legionary priests for alleged sexual abuse of minors and two others for other alleged crimes.

Nicole Winfield points out that the Legion has tended to insist that the crimes of its late founder, the Rev. Marciel Maciel, were his alone. The article then goes on to say that the Vatican investigation of other Legion priests indicates that the same culture of secrecy that Maciel created within the order to cover his crimes enabled other priests to abuse children.
According to the report, one of the cases involves recent events and the others involve alleged abuse from decades ago.

The AP report includes a reference to Aaron Loughrey, who has shared his testimony here on ReGAIN. Aaron left the Legion in 1995 before he was ordained and told AP that he has been in counseling almost ever since as he seeks justice from the order. Significantly, Aaron stated that the vow he took as a seminarian never to criticize the actions or deeds of a superior made him unable to question what the priest had told him to do.

The AP report quoted former RC member Genevieve Kineke, who runs a blog about the Legion and Regnum Christi and who said the investigations confirm that the problems within the Legion did not die with Maciel and are still hurting the order today.?

Genevieve went on to offer her opinion that the Legion has been recently claiming that their good fruits justify their existence and suggests that perhaps the bad fruit (over and above the bad fruit of the founder) should justify imposing a ban on recruitment activities.
ReGAIN Comment:

Once again Nicole Winfield has written a brilliant article, shining some light into the dark corners of the Legion and Regnum Christi.

On life-after-rc blog, Click Here a number of commenters showed their support for Aaron Loughrey in his prolonged search for justice, congratulating him because the Legion leaders have finally been forced into admitting that abuse in the Legion was not limited to the sins of their founder.

If we were to ask a question what would be the best way for a woman to become as much as possible like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the logical answer would be to join the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order that was founded by Mother Teresa and to emulate her by studying about her and becoming involved in the work that contuse by her followers.

If a person chose to want to become more like Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, it follows that the best way to do that would be to become a Legionary priest or a consecrated 3gf in Regnum Christi. Until as recently as 2009, many people did follow in the footsteps of Fr. Maciel, idolizing him as the perfect Legionary?, studying his writings and tapes and involved in the way of life that he established. Since 2009, very few Legionary priests would choose to follow in their founder’s footsteps and in fact many have claimed that his evil lifestyle did not affect others in the Legion or Regnum Christi.

Looking back in time to when the founder established the rules of his order and his movement, it is commonly believed that the rules, the secrecy, the vows of poverty, obedience and the secret vows to never criticize a superior and other factors he had control over created an ideal environment for him to be able to get away with doing whatever he wanted to do with his minor seminarians. The many testimonies of those including Juan Vaca and others on this website and on others have confirmed that the conditions made the junior seminarians powerless to deal with abuse.

These conditions established by Fr. Marcial Maciel continued until the recent Vatican intervention. So it is not surprising to us at ReGAIN or to others who have followed this scandalous situation that others might truly follow in their founder’s footsteps regarding abuse of minors. This would be particularly true for those Legionary priests who had themselves been victimized.

“Giselle� on her life-after-rc blog wisely points out the perfect Catch-22 the Legionary leaders now find themselves. When the Legion attempts to do damage control by claiming that these are not new cases; they already knew about them, then they would be admitting that they neglected to take responsible action. If instead, these are new cases that have come to light then it demonstrates that there is inter-generational abuse in the Legion and that they remain deep in denial.

Certainly it is becoming more difficult for the Legion leaders to continue their games of denial and obfuscation and deceit as the light continues to work its way further into the darkest corners, revealing the truth. In the Book of John 8:32, Our Lord said that if you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; you will know the truth and THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE?.

Los Angeles Help For Those Who Have Left Cults

Do you live the in Los Angeles Area?
Do you or does someone you know need help with?

  • Getting more education
  • Finding a good job
  • Finding a doctor, dentist or therapist
  • Finding housing
  • Planning and budgeting
  • Just organizing life after leaving a cult or other high demand group?

If so, check out the ICSA-sponsored pilot program at Venice Family Clinic. A case worker will help with all these and other issues clients may have.

The service is free and open to anyone with low income who has left a cult or other high-demand group, no matter how long ago. Call 310-664-7522 for more information or to make an appointment.


ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association)
[Formerly AFF (American Family Foundation)]
P.O. Box 2265
Bonita Springs, FL 34133
Phone: 239-514-3081 (new area code)
fax: 305-393-8193

The Legion’s Guide to Life after Legion of Christ

Leaving the LC required a very special effort to rebuild our relationships with our family,? writes G., a former legionary, in an online forum. We were never allowed to reveal to them any of our spiritual difficulties at any time, so our leaving the Legion always came as a shock to them. They always though that we were so happy. So many times I hear families say that their son seems so happy in the Legion. There is no way that the family could know anything different, since there is not communication of anything negative in this regard. We were trained in the phrases to use and themes to comment on in letters and phone calls.

For insight into the sorts of issues faced by legionaries who suddenly find themselves out of the legion and back in the real world, the Legion has created a website of what it considers to be helpful tips: or Its content is written by Joe S., who has served as a spokesperson for the legion. It shows just how inadequately the legion prepares its candidates for adulthood.

Since the Legion recruits very young people into its ranks, some as young as twelve, many former members have never had a checking account. Therefore, the site must explain that cash paper or coin money is useful, but in today’s world, a majority of purchases of over $50 is made by check or credit card. It adds, You’ll also need a bank account in order to deposit your job payments or to cash checks.? It notes that parents will naturally be extremely helpful? in setting up such accounts.

It must point out that “a debit card is essentially a card used to retrieve cash from your checking (or savings) account� as well as explain the importance of producing a credit history and what credit cards are and how to use them: “Credit cards are essentially short term and high interest loans made to private individuals for private purchases. They are useful in helping you cover high upfront costs such as buying a used car, a major appliance or some other major expense for which your current checking account simply could not cover.? According to this site ex-legionaries are not aware that employers pay their workers every two weeks,? so credit cards might be necessary to cover any financial shortfall.

Ex-legionaries must be told that they will be expected to work at least 40 hours a week at a job unless of course your parents are willing to put you through a graduate degree program. Apparently they do not know that there are many types of jobs in the American economy: those you can walk into immediately and those that need a more formal interview process to begin with. But for either type, they are told, you will want to make a good first impression on potential employers as well as learn as much about them as possible.?

They are given advice on how to train professionally: If you want to be a waiter, spend time watching waiters, if you spot a really good one analyze his style and how he does his job. If you want to be a salesman, go shopping and ask a lot of questions and then watch how good salesmen act.

They must be told of the importance of physical exercise: Having just left the Legion you’ll probably be in good physical condition. . . but if you don’t find or make the time to continue to exercise, within a year or two, you’ll begin to fill out and fall apart.

They must be told of the importance of proper diet: In general, Legionaries have few cavities but a year or two in the world, eating foods rich in sugar and calories has led not a few former legionaries to extended visits to the dentist’s chair.

They must be given advice on how to conduct their social lives: What you do with your free time is completely up to you to work out.

They must be warned that dating is a prelude to engagement and marriage, so it can be both expensive (flowers, candy, cards, teddy bears, dinners out, etc.) and time consuming (late night phone calls, constant emails, weekend walks in the park, etc.).

And of course they must be warned of the dangers women pose: Girls date in order to find husbands who will then take care of them for the rest of their lives. They are warned to avoid those girls who are physically attractive but morally weak. (Remember, if she is going to be the mother of your children, her moral virtue is a big deal.)

They must be told where to go to find out about the birds and the bees: If you want to understand women and learn useful anatomical details read serious books such as ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

They must also be lectured on the responsible use of time: Laziness is the devil’s workshop. . . You’ll probably pray a lot less than before, and time for reading or reflection will also diminish, but just be careful to not vegetate as your new mission awaits you: finishing an education, finding a career, discovering a mission, a wife, and becoming the man God wants you to be.

No preparation for adulthood

Most people will not disagree with most of the advice given by the legion in the above excerpts. What is telling, however, is that it more resembles the sort of advice one would give a child rather than a man in his twenties, thirties or even forties. For example, what does it say that the legion feels the need to tell exiting members that eating sugary foods leads to tooth decay?

Here is an organization, fabulously wealthy by all accounts with an annual budget rivaling that of the Holy See, yet many former members complain they receive little help, financial or otherwise, when they transition to the outside world .

This is an organization which counts among its benefactors not only some of the most powerful people in the Roman Curia, but powerful political and business leaders in Spain and Mexico as well. They have tremendous resources of financial knowledge upon which to draw, but do not tell their recruits what a checking account is. This is an organization that operates schools all over the world, including numerous universities in Spain, Mexico and Italy, but has failed to explain to its members how a credit card works.

One may ask, is this is deliberate? Is the legion purposely keeping its members in the dark? The legion generally only accepts adolescents or very young men as seminarians. Education is supposed to be the Legion’s primary mission, yet its own website suggests that it fails to educate its own members about some very basic aspects of modern life. One may ask, does the legion want them to be so naive about the world so they will never have the confidence to leave? The legion knows that most of the its candidates for the priesthood never make it to ordination. According to former members, of those who are ordained, many if not most leave after ordination. One may also ask, should the legion not be able to provide some sort of preparation that takes this fact into account?

Legionaries are kept in something resembling indentured servitude. They work night and day for years without receiving a salary or a stipend. They are not allowed to receive even small financial gifts from family members. If such gifts are given, they are turned over to their superiors. They relinquish every aspect of their personal lives to the legion with the assumption that they are making a lifetime commitment and that they will be financially taken care of. If the legion is not going to provide for individuals’ financial needs when they are dismissed abruptly without warning, as many are, why does the legion not at least provide them with some rudimentary knowledge of the more mundane aspects of life?

Perhaps the answer is because they know that, for those Legionaries who leave, the burden for supporting them will fall upon their parents. feeling I have lingers on.?