Legionaries of Christ’s Sins of Omission in Latest Report on their Sexual Abuse

LEGIOnaries of Christ’s Sins of Omission in Latest Report on their Sexual Abuse, March 22, 2021 –

Artículo parcialmente Bilingüe

¡y siempre puedes usar el botón de Traducción al castellano!

 

Towards a Culture of O Abuse in the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ

Report by Legionaries of Christ on their official English Language page March 22, 2021 https://www.0abuse.org/accountability/#abusecases

 

Like everything else produced by the Legionaries of Christ, this document needs to be examined with a fine-tooth comb. Not that this analysis will be so fine. But it will explain the nature of sexual abuse of minors and point out some of the document’s limits or deficiencies.

 

“Child Sex Abuse Statistics

According to a recent study Darkness to Light,

https://www.cc-cac.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/all_statistics_20150619.pdf:

 

  1. What is child sexual abuse? FACT: The definition of child sexual abuse is broader than most people realize. Often a traumatic experience for children and teens, child sexual abuse is a criminal offense punishable by law in many societies. Child sexual abuse includes: • any sexual act between an adult and a minor, or between two minors, when one exerts power over the other.
    1. forcing, coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act.
    2. non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism, and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or Internet.

 

  1. What is the magnitude of the problem?

FACT: Child sexual abuse is far more prevalent than most people realize.

FACT: Even with declining rates of sexual abuse, the public is not fully aware of the magnitude of the problem. • The primary reason is that only about 38% of child victims disclose the fact that they have been sexually abused. Some never disclose. (The author believes that disclosure in Catholic and Latin American countries may be lower because of taboos, shame, and machismo). There are also privacy issues surrounding cases of child sexual abuse. For instance, public police reports do not name the victim, and most media concerns have a policy that precludes naming victims.”

 

 

Superiors/directors/assistants/spiritual directors/employees who Aided and Abetted Abuse

 

Not mentioned in Legion Official Report.

The report mentioned superiors who were abusers; for example, Canary Islander Fr. Guillermo (William) Izquierdo, a novice master whose fetish was to contemplate naked novices under his pastoral care – Greek statues in human flesh. (the author has this first-hand from one of the several victims).

But the official report does not mention the grave problem of people in authority who hushed up abuse:

  • knew about it,
  • did nothing about it,
  • expelled offender and victim indiscriminately,
  • gave them no help -spiritual, emotional, psychological, financial-
  • expelled them,
  • moved them to another city of country… etc.

As psychologist, historian and researcher Fernando González so eloquently and precisely explained in a recent tv interview with Carmen Aristegui, https://aristeguinoticias.com/2403/mexico/falta-que-legionarios-toquen-la-red-de-arriba-que-apunten-hacia-el-vaticano-investigador-video/, there is a systemic problem, present in the Legion since its inception and the first accusations against Maciel in 1943, that has not been addressed. González went on to posit that this scandal even splashes members of the Roman Curia who were complicit with cover-up of Maciel’s crimes. He quotes the Prefect for the Congregation for Religious, Cardinal Braz de Aviz, who, when discussing accusations against Maciel in Vatican archives since 1943, spoke of a veritable Mafia https://regainnetwork.org/2019/01/04/vatican-admits-knowing-about-legion-founders-sex-abuse-since-1943/   practicing the code of keeping absolute silence, omertà.

A former Legionary spontaneously reacted to the LC report on the Legioleaks Facebook page (4,500+ subscribers, mostly disaffected Spanish-speaking former members, “walk-aways” or “throw-aways”)

 

(English translation)

Ubaldo Pilar Rodríguez

With these new official publications, the next step (before they die from old age) is for current directors to demand that “former directors” or anyone in positions of moral responsibility and with knowledge of the issue:

– one: come forward via social media and beg forgiveness (that is the minimum they must do, even if as a result they suffer public harassment).

– two: such people resign from any position of responsibility they may occupy (including economic, legal within the institution and foundations, associations or companies created by the same).

– three: (internal human and spiritual resolution) let himself be crucified. Is  today not Friday of Sorrows? (….). I take advantage of this occasion and make a  connection with (Divine) Providence (which I no longer practice, because I am an abuser of ecclesiastical authorities).

Oscar Juan Turrión, Tote Nuñez, P. Alberto Simán LC, Alberto Castellanos Franco, Please Stand Up!

– And I add a fourth point: let yourself be helped: physically, emotionally, in your rationality, mentally, spiritually, and humanly: It’s much more than a “comprehensive repair.” It is a need of anyone within a FAMILY: to go to the origin for true reconciliation. Why not?”

To which one reader replied: “Wishful thinking!”

 

(Original Spanish with minute edits.)

Ubaldo Pilar Rodriguez

Con estas nuevas publicaciones oficiales, el paso siguiente (antes de que fallezcan por vejez) es que los directores actuales obliguen a los “exdirectores” o cualquier persona que tuviera cargos de responsabilidad moral, con conocimiento de causa en esta materia:

– uno: que salgan a la luz vía redes sociales pidiendo perdón (es lo mínimo que deben hacer, aunque sufran acoso público).

– dos: dimitir de cualquier puesto de responsabilidad (y económica, jurídica, legal dentro de la institución y fundaciones, asociaciones o empresas creadas en el entorno de la misma)

-tres (resolución interna humana y espiritual) dejarse crucificar. ¿Es hoy viernes de dolores? (…). Aprovecho la casuística del día y la relaciono con la (Divina) Providencia (que yo ya no la vivo, por ser un abusivo eclesial). Señalo a

Oscar Turrión, Tote Nuñez, P. Alberto Simán, Alberto Castellanos Franco – Y añado un cuarto punto: dejarse ayudar: física, emocional, lógica, mental, espiritual y humanamente:

Es mucho más que una “reparación integral” . Es una necesidad de cualquier persona dentro de una FAMILIA: ir al origen para una verdadera reconciliación.

¿Porque no?”

 

Vatican’s Flawed Investigation

The above reflections point to a Vatican problem beyond the Legion/Regnum Christi problem. Readers can check ReGAIN and see that we have seldom, if ever, engaged in “Vatican bashing”. So, we do not come to this issue lightly.

After the latest scandalous post-mortem revelations regarding Founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC (ever a priest and ever a Legionary) hit the headlines, the Vatican ordered an investigation into this religious congregation in 2009

https://www.archbalt.org/vatican-orders-apostolic-visitation-of-legionaries-of-christ/?print=print

The Vatican’s, always-carefully-drafted document, named Monsignor Velasio de Paolis as Apostolic Delegate (mark, not as a commissioner) to help the Legion renew itself (mark, no mention is made of “reform”). Charmed by then then Superior General, Fr. Álvaro Corcuera, R.I.P., the Vatican delegate did not to dismiss the leadership cadre (Corcuera, Garza, Sada and other members of the Monterrey, Mexico powerful elite who manage the Legion’s financial empire), choosing to make documentary changes. Many of Maciel’s hand-chosen men remained in their positions. Critics alleged substantial change, cleaning out of the Augean stables, was not accomplished. Cosmetic changes were made; key movers -including Maciel die-hards- and systemic problems remained. And they remain to this day, as we have briefly demonstrated above. Further disillusioned former members coined the term el Fracasado Pontificio (The Pontifical Failure) for now deceased Archbishop De Paolis.

Why is the Legion always treated by the Vatican with kid gloves? Is it because it is the priest-and-money-making machine? Sad question for us believers hanging onto our Faith, and hard questions for the Vatican, during Holy Week 2021.

 

Ongoing Cover-up of Child Sexual Abuse by Legionaries of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation

promise, proposal:  Legionaries of Christ promises, proposes, declares “Our Commitment to Safe Environment”

Ongoing Cover-Up of child Sexual Abuse by Legionaries of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation

By Adriana Lozano González

Facebook, Legioleaks, 3/14/2021

English Introduction, Original Spanish language testimony; Microsoft/ReGAIN English translation

Fr. Jorge N, #LegionarioDeCristo,  was rector of the Apostolic School in Ontaneda, when he was accused of covering up countless sexual abuses of the children who lived there.

As a result, he was sent, again as rector of an Apostolic School (seminary for young boys), but this time to Chile. There he was accused of cover-up of the abuses that were going on in there and of pedophilia (public case).

From Chile he was sent to Argentina… where he was accused once again of abuse of a minor.

Finally, he was sent as a parish priest to a parish in the Cancun-Chetumal Diocese, Yucatan Peninsula, where he continues to exercise his priestly ministry, in contact with minors and vulnerable people.

 

I leave you the TESTIMONY (authorized) of one of the children who writes us about what he witnessed in Chile.

What should concern EVERYONE most (which is why it is made public, according to the manual of child protection #44), is that someone who has been charged for various crimes, in different countries, remains a priest  and in a position of authority. Please help spread the word so that Catholic Church Leadership acts quickly in these cases and does not keep exposing our children or vulnerable adults.

—-

Original Spanish:

El P. Jorge N, #LegionarioDeCristo era rector de la escuela Apostólica en Ontaneda, cuando fue acusado de encubrimiento de un sinnúmero de abusos sexuales a los niños que ahí vivían.

A raíz de esto fue enviado, nuevamente como rector de Apostólica, pero ahora en Chile. Ahí fue acusado de encubrimiento de los abusos que sucedían en este lugar y de pederastia (caso público).

De Chile fue enviado a Argentina…acusado una vez más, de abuso a un menor.

Finalmente, fue enviado como párroco a una Iglesia de la Diócesis Cancún-Chetumal, en donde sigue ejerciendo su ministerio, en contacto con menores y personas vulnerables.

Les dejo el TESTIMONIO (autorizado) de uno de los niños que fue testigo de lo que vivían en Chile.

Lo que más debería preocuparnos a TODOS (razón por la cual se hace público, según el vademécum de protección al menor 44), es que alguien que ha sido acusado por varios delitos, en diferentes países, siga como SACERDOTE y autoridad. Por favor ayuden a difundir para que la Iglesia actúe con rapidez en estos casos. Y no se siga exponiendo a nuestros niños ni adultos vulnerables.

 

 

English translation of testimony by former Legionary junior seminarian eye-witness of sexual abuse at Legion of Christ house in Chile.

[Editor’s note: in Spain and Latin America, particularly, junior seminaries have been functioning for centuries. There, young boys, 11-15 years old, live in a residential setting and are educated with a view to their becoming future priests. If the seminary or Apostolic School is part of a religious order or community, their next step will be the novitiate, two years of spirituality which prepare them for their first vows, after which they are called “religious”, and addressed as “Bro. X”.]

Monday, February 10, 2020

Dear X (female)

Greetings from Chile hoping you are well. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for helping truth prevail. This will not be easy because of the feelings and lived experiences which make it hard to reveal the following events.

My name is XX. I am thirty-five and I was a Legionary of Christ for 14 years. I entered the vocation center in Santiago de Chile (junior seminary) in January 1997. There were about 70 of us children that summer. The rector and novice master at that time was Fr. Pedro Pablo X, LC, who was at this post until July of that year because they decided to close the novitiate, and Fr. Jorge X, LC, took over as rector, as he had more experience than Fr. Pedro Pablo working with minors.

I remember clearly my first “spiritual direction” session with Fr. Jorge because he told me I shouldn’t be there because my family was not well off, and he would do his utmost to make me go home. I was very surprised by this as he should have been someone to help me discern my divine calling to the priesthood, and not someone who was going to make my life so miserable I would have to leave the seminary.

1997 was a very tough year for me because of so many changes and the arrival of Fr. Jorge who make things even worse. I will not go into details regarding his training methods which were really antiquated to say the least: weeks-long silence and incommunicado, public humiliation, and other such.

I want to be clear that I never saw or heard anything about him personally abusing one of my fellow seminarians. I did hear from other seminarians about a religious brother who touched boys while they were sleeping, and sometimes pulled back the bedclothes to be better able to fondle them when lights were out. He must have begun doing that in 1998 or 99; the religious in question was called Marcel X who had a New Zealand background.

When I learned about these events I do not know whether Fr. Jorge knew that the Bro. Marcel was fondling the young seminarians or that several of us knew about the abuse. What I do know is that one day Marcel disappeared: when we came down for morning prayers, Marcel was nowhere to be seen. His name was never mentioned again. However, there was another religious brother -I can’t remember whether he and Marcel were ever there at the same time. The new religious was called Salvador. He had been a vocation recruiter in Santiago City before being assigned to the junior seminary. We had seen him before because he would bring the candidates to the junior seminary on weekends to show them around.

Salvador chose his special moments when the children were milling around the door trying to get in,  when his touching would be less noticeable. Or he simply came up to you and put his hand on your bottom when you were reading the notice board. I saw this with my own eyes and also felt his hands on me.

It was at this time when one of my companions in the group of minors – we were divided into three groups, younger boys, older boys and precandidates (for noviciate) according to age- approached me and told me he was being fondled by the Assistant (the name given to the religious with vows who supervises child seminarians). This companion told me  about the situations where the abuse was taking place. So I started looking into these situations and watching the Assistant. And sure enough I saw him. When I started getting between him and the other little boys, he touched me too. If it happened only once it could have been an accident but it was repeated. Nobody wanted to tell Fr. Jorge about what was happening. In reality we did not trust him much and were afraid he would punish us for speaking ill of the religious. I started pushing that religious away from me; I even came to blows to defend myself.

Finally, some of us informed Fr. Jorge. He called us one by one to his office. I don’t remember much about the conversation but I did tell him who were being abused by the assistant and where and how he touched my companions. Just as in the previous case, Salvador was taken out of the community, he was given a weekend sabbatical and later he disappeared. Years later I learned he was no longer a Legionary. I think he is married now. We could not talk about this with “outsiders” because the dirty linen is washed at home.  My family might have heard something but, naturally, I denied everything, and we went about our lives just as before.

I cannot state that Fr. Jorge had previous knowledge about these harmful  actions; I hope he did not because if he did have previous knowledge that would make him a monster; what I can inequivocably state is that he did know about the abuse during and after it happened. The strategy of removing the offender and keeping silence has always been part of the Legion of Christ modus operandi, and sadly of the Church.

We were there to follow Christ and not to experience that abuse! Having to protect ourselves, abused by those who were supposed to take care of us and want the best for us in the name of God! I was fifteen or sixteen and was lucky enough to be bigger physically than others my age; but my companions were thirteen and fourteen! We had to run away from our assistants. You got nervous whenever they approached, and even more so if they touched you -even it was just on the shoulder! No child deserves that!

I litterally had to punch another person to keep him away from a little boy! In a so-called seminary! These are horrible things that are just seeing the light, because back then they were minimized!

I am sharing these experiences with you in the hope that these abuses are not repeated, and that no child be exposed to them.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share these events; it also helps just to able to discuss these experiences with somebody else.

Affectionately yours,

XX, former Legionary of Christ.

 

 ReGAIN observes:

This is the straightforward testimony of a young man who has gone to the trouble of dragging up painful memories in the hope of preventing further abuse. One wishes Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi superiors not react defensively but take the complaint to heart and take action.

The testimony does not mention one very important point:

There is no mention of any spiritual or psychological help being offered to the victims or to the offenders. Surely, this is a very grievous omission and lack of responsibility on the part of Legion/Regnum formators and superiors (directors). ReGAIN, for its part, prays that Catholic authorities, in the person of Archbishop Charles Scicluna and his team, look into this and similar testimonies so as to “promote justice.”

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

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

By: Randy Engel 

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

Introduction           

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Engel: Was the venture successful?

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

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

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

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

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

Engel: What attracted you most to Opus Dei?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnson: The degree of commitment.

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

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

Sometimes they have to care for aging or disabled parents.

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

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

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

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

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

Engel: Was your family present at the Admission ceremony?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Engel: And you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnson: Nothing.

Engel: How convenient, I mean, for Opus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(To be continued)

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


ENDNOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2: Legion of Christ Avoids Compensating Victims of Sexual Abuse by its Founder, Father Marcial Maciel, LC

                                      

Part 2: The Legion of Christ Avoids Compensating Victims of Sexual Abuse by its Founder, Father Marcial Maciel.

 

March 4, 2021, under the patronage of Apostle Nathanael

 

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit’                                                                   John 1,47

 

Responding to concerns of our readership, we  will try to clarify statements made in Part 1.

 

The current director general of the Legion of Christ/Federation Regnum Christi, Father John Connor, has not yet met personally with The Group of Victims of Sexual Abuse at the hands of their founder, Father Maciel.

 

  1. The original number of eight complainants has been reduced to six due to the deaths of Mr. Fernando Pérez Olvera in late 2020 and Father Félix Alarcón in 2021:

 

    1. José de J. Barba Martín
    2.  Saul Barrales Arellano (seriously ill)
    3. Alejandro Espinosa Alcalá (extreme financial hardship)
    4. Arturo Jurado Guzmán (ill)
    5. José Antonio Pérez Olvera (extreme financial hardship)
    6. Francisco González Parga, who was not of the original group of 1997 but who bore his testimony before the prosecutor, promoter iustitiae, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Monsignor Charles Scicluna in CDMX April 2005 – and who would come to replace Juan José Vaca who received compensation several years ago directly from Father Alvaro Corcuera, Q.E.P.D., then director general of the Legion of Christ.

 

  1. Father Eduardo Robles Gil, LC, not Fr. Connor, was the one who met three times with representatives of the group – Barba, Pérez Olvera and Jurado – at a CDMX hotel between late December 2019 and early January 2020, in the presence of a legal mediator. He was accompanied by Father Simán, LC (he of the calculator).

 

  1. A letter with three requests was submitted in writing to Father Robles Gil:
    • Reparation  of the moral damages of the group by the Legion of Christ in 1997: The Legion motivated three men of their trust (AA, JLG, VV) to bear false testimony against the victims, claiming that they lied and formed a conspiracy against innocent Father Maciel. At the same time, the Legion of Christ forged letters (a ruse often used by Father Maciel) from an elderly Chilean bishop to strengthen Father Maciel’s defense in the Hartford Courant newspaper.
    • Reach an agreement through a panel representing both sides to agree on the amount of financial compensation for victims.
    • To notify the representative of the group, Dr. José Barba Martín, of any communications the Legion might have with the victims. (To ensure the honesty of negotiations and avoid divisions.)
          • The letter was delivered to Father Robles Gil and signed as received by him in the presence of witnesses.
          • The Legion required the three victims to sign a (unilateral?) confidentiality document.

 

  1. During the general chapter of the Legion of Christ in Rome in January 2020 the change of director general was made, with Father John Connor being elected. He sent an email to Dr. Barba in January explaining that he had been elected and that the Legion saw it as a priority to solve the problem of the victims (at least those in question; it was not clear whether he had the other victims of Father Maciel recognized by the Legion in mind). -Hence the reference in the first part to the chapter documents already mentioned.- Fr. Connor alluded to his knowledge of Father Robles Gil’s CDMX encounters with the victims. He did not say directly that he had seen such a letter or that he had read it. The reader might suspect that this was about two legionnaires passing the hot potato. Moreover, the lack of clarity – not to say confusion – and the lack of coordination of the leadership gave Father Connor time to think about how to proceed in such a delicate matter.

 

  1. In the first part of the article, we accused Father Connor of putting loyal correspondence with Dr. Barba and the group of victims to one side, preferring to launch his astute personal crusade to win over the remaining victims,  approaching them individually with the Easter Egg trick- a five-thousand-dollar-small cannonade- to soften them, divide the group of victims, and  drive the members away from Dr. Barba’s leadership. Barba  remains incorruptible and has stood firm regarding the fair  conditions  of an arrangement with the leaders of the Legion/Regnum.

 

  1. Early this year when Dr. Barba reminded Father Connor that a whole year had gone by without the Legion responding to the Father Robles Gil letter, Father Connor replied that Dr. Barba’s letter and requests are “too sophisticated” and as such deserve no consideration. (Although the mediator had not objected to the letter when it was presented to Father Robles Gil and was accepted for consideration by the Legion director general.) Father Connor remains politely in contact with Dr. Barba by email.

 

  1. ReGAIN would hope that all active and former members of the organization work and pray for an equitable solution to this seemingly endless saga.

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED AS NEEDED

ReGAIN drafting under the

patronage of Saint Nathanael (Bartholomew) and

protection of St. Michael the Archangel

 

Part One: The Legion of Christ  Continues to Avoid Compensating Victims of Sexual Abuse by its Founder, Father Marcial Maciel, LC.

The Legion of Christ  Continues to Avoid Compensating Victims of Sexual Abuse by its Founder, Father Marcial Maciel, LC.

One year ago, the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation proudly published  its chapter documents “Conversion and Repair”, “Protect and Heal” and the “Report of Abuse…” [i] in which it formally promised to compensate  the  victims for the damages  of sexual abuse suffered  at the hands of founder, Father Marcial Maciel, LC.

Today we want to inform the public what has become of such   words, documents and  promises: that in fact  the Legion of Christ, as represented by Father  Robles Gil and Regnum Christi Federation, Fr.  John Connor, have once again de facto  answered:   “NO”, “NO, WE WILL NOT” to the historical victims.  Another year has gone by WITHOUT EFFECTIVE  REPARATION.

WHAT DID THE HISTORICAL VICTIMS DEMAND OF DIRECTOR GENERAL (Father John Connor) AT THE MEETING THEY HAD A YEAR AGO?

  1. That the LC/RC publish an apology in the same media in which victims were falsely accused and unjustly libeled in 1997, so as to repair their good name, reputation and that of the relatives inheriting their name. That it be declared unambiguously  that they were not conspirators, that they were telling the truth; that the Legion’s false accusation had caused them to lose their jobs, and/or effected their careers, income, relationships, friendships and even families for decades after.

HOW DID THE LEGION OF CHRIST RESPOND? IN THE NEGATIVE:

“We will not publish anything in major newspapers or with international reach, and less in the Hartford Courant.” (newspaper in which the Legion published the false accusations and documents against Maciel’s accusers  in 1997.)

  1. That a team of six be chosen -three by the LC and three by the victims- to determine together the extent of damage the LC had caused them, and reach an agreement on just

 HOW DID THE LEGION OF CHRIST RESPOND? IN THE NEGATIVE

At  said meeting, a Legion priest representative  pulled out his pocket calculator in front of them, maid calculation re Mexican minimum wages, and offered 450,000 pesos approx. ($22,500  UScy)  to each victim to repair decades of international abuse, harm, and  defamation.  The Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation demanded they sign a Confidentiality Agreement  (mug order) as a requirement to continue deliberations.

  1. José Barba, PhD, who had legal representation, requested in writing from the Director General that any communication or communication relevant to deliberations go through him, Barba, their representative.

HOW DID THE LEGION OF CHRIST RESPOND?

Saying “OF COURSE,”,  BUT PROCEDING TO DO THE OPPOSITE!

The present Director (Superior) General of the institution, Father John Connor,  personally and directly, approached several victims, going over the head of legal representative, José Barba, and secretly offering them  $5,000  UScy individually  – “not as compensation but as an Easter Egg Gift” (sic). With this treacherous strategy, Fr. Connor effectively split the group of plaintiffs and weakened their position.

Where in the Name of God is the honest good will of this apparently bone fide Catholic religious order? One cannot help wondering now:

IS THE LEGION/REGNUM WAITING FOR VICTIMS TO DIE OFF AND THE PROBLEM TO GO AWAY?

The Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi waiting game continues. The eighty-year-old victims are dying: Fernando Pérez Olvera Esq in 2020 and Father Félix Alarcón  Hoyos in 2021. To protect its public image, the institution helped to defray costs of their  terminal illness and funeral expenses. BUT IT HAS NOT COMPENSATED THEM in the proper and agreed manner. The group’s de facto consistent priority is, as in other questionable groups, recruitment of the young and vulnerable together with fund-raising to train recruits, expand its projects, and promote its image.

If things go on like this, will the LC/RC ever honor its obligations to the remaining victims and to the deceased’s dependents?

Hopefully,  they will not answer the same as always: “What can be done after such a long time. But don’t worry. We will pray for you.”

Support Network of  Victims of Sexual Abuse by Founder of the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation, Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC

February 26, 2021

 

 

[i] https://legionariosdecristo.org/

[i] https://legionariosdecristo.org/tag/conversion-y-reparacion/