Skip to content

Legion of Christ, Opus Dei, Focolare accused as Sect-like Aberrations by French Catholic experts

close up of a sign against white background

Photo by Tayeb MEZAHDIA on Pexels.com

                          

            THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE

 

Translation of an article by Pascal Hubert, La verité vous rendra libres, Golias, Magazine, #174, Mai-juin 2017, pp. 2-13 ; (a commentary on the book De l’emprise à la Liberté. Dérives sectraire au sein de l’Église. Témoignages et réflexions, Éditions Mois, 2017)

 

Proscenium

The Truth will set you free”, according to Jesus’ famous words, in the Gospel of John. The problem arises from the fact that inside certain (Catholic) religious communities or movements, freedom is restricted and even perverted to the point where serious deep sect-like aberrations are present (as we will demonstrate in the following dossier). This fact is often hidden and minimized by the Church and its institutions. The victims’ word is seldom understood, often disparaged, which leads to increasing their pain. It was therefore important to confront this denial, to write a book like De l’emprise à la Liberté, which gives voice to those who have been victims of these sect-like aberrations. It is equally important that these testimonies be analyzed and interpreted by a diversity of experts: a theologian, a philosopher, a psychologist, a lawyer, new evangelization experts, and a canon lawyer. This way, the existence of these sect-like aberrations can be recognized, leading to a global and precise vision of this devious phenomenon. Among others, three Catholic movements are described in the book: Focolare, Opus Dei and Legionaries of Christ. At the heart of these movements, the most troubling point is that they spring from a dogmatic theology based on devotion to pain (Fr., le dolorisme) and blind obedience. Let us say it straight off: these are among the most conservative movements inside the Church; each one proudly proclaims it, unwilling to accept modern changes as something positive.

Thus, once we have applied the litmus test of freedom, it becomes perfectly normal to discover that certain ecclesial movements lack proper freedom. A costly freedom for former members who will often have to struggle for years to escape their mental bondage and recover freedom. The witnesses also wanted to describe this for us. Let us heed the words of Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor:

Man’s most pressing need is to find a being on high to whom he can delegate the gift of his freedom…Men rejoice being lead once again like a flock of sheep.

 

         From Bondage to Freedom: A Textbook Case

Let us say it clearly: sect-like groups in the heart of the Church are a scandal. Remember that they portray themselves as prophetic and often rail against society’s morals.

It is necessary to point out how the Church, and certain movements inside it, find it hard to ever question themselves. They are used to observing the law of silence – to save their reputation- instead of protecting the victims from their devious maneuvers; a sad and painful reality, clearly proven by the world-wide pedophile scandal.  Very often it is the victims themselves, with the help of the media and support associations, who have to denounce the crimes committed. And so, as recently as March, 2017[1], the Cash Investigation team and journalists attached to Mediapart, through their articles and the book, Église, la méchanique du silence[2] have decried the Church’s silence and accused 25 bishops -five of whom are still in office, the others have retired or are deceased-  to have “covered- up” 32 “predators” who attacked 339 victims. These cases go back as far as the 1960s but half of the events “were proven after 2000”[3].  When invited to react to this documentary, the episcopal conference declined, preferring to denounce in their communiqué the lack of journalistic ethics.

And even more astonishing than the above is this other reality, until now almost unknown to the public, of serious sect-like aberrations in the very heart of the Church.

The aim of De l’emprise a la Liberté. Dérives sectaires au sein de l’Église. Témoignages et réflexions, is precisely to break this other taboo, using the testimonies of former members who have left three ecclesial movements: Focolare, Opus Dei and Legionaries of Christ.

As the opening flyleaf reveals: “motivated by spiritual thirst, by a desire for holiness and closeness to Christ, they have approached these movements full of trust; treated, however, with un-Gospel-like manipulation, they now feel deeply betrayed. The collection of their testimonies leaves no doubt this sentiment is justified.”

Such testimonies -in the form of answers to a questionnaire about their experiences inside these movements- have provided the raw material for a variety of experts to explain and clarify said movements. The experts are the following: Dominque Auzenet, priest, exorcist (France); Vitalina Floris, cloistered nun (Belgium); Vincent Hanssens, a psycho-sociologist, professor emeritus, Catholic University of Louvain; Jean-Marie Hennaux, S.J., professor at the Jesuit Faculty of Theology, Brussels; Pascal Hubert, practicing lawyer in the city of Brussels; Damiano Modena, former personal assistant to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, (Italy); Renata Patti (Italy); Miguel Perlado, psychoanalyst (Spain) and Monique Tiberghien, psychotherapist (Belgium). Louis-Léon Christians, professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, wrote the preface.

Let us not deceive ourselves, these testimonies, no matter how eloquent, only point to a much wider and deeper reality, denounced for decades without major success[4].

Among many other books, one appeared already in 1996 which sounded the alarm:

Shipwrecked in the Spirit. Sects in the Catholic Church[5] The authors explained how “everything happens inside these communities and inside the Church in such a way that there is a kind of taboo, a never-articulated but de facto control. Problems are systematically eluded or hidden, or simply become the subject of misinformation. In a certain way, the Church in its institutional places, just as in the charismatic institutions themselves, demonstrates an astonishing inability to face reality (…)”.

That same year former Focolare Gordon Urquhart’s The Pope’s Armada[6] appeared. His well-documented study focuses on sect-like aberrations within three new movements: Focolare, Communion and Liberation and the Neo-Catechumenate.

A third, highly informative book, by Olivier Legendre[7] appeared in 2010 which revealed a Cardinal’s daring statements: “There are four main movements that have been accused of sect-like aberrations: the Focolare, The Neo-Catechumenal Way, the Opus Dei and the Legion of Christ. It would be dangerous to cover over these accusations with a mantle of silence. It would be better to investigate and reach clear conclusions.

The serious and wide-spread reality of sect-like aberrations was made known by the French press in 2013. Remember how the president of the French episcopal conference, Monsignor George Pontier, answered a group of some forty victims of sexual and spiritual abuse at the hands of fourteen communities, movements and religious communities[8]: Béatitudes, Famille monastique de Bethléem, Legion of Christ, Regnum Christi, Fraternité Eucharistein, Emmanuel et Fraternité de Jesus, Soeurs mariales d’Israel et de St Jean, Ancien collaborateur du père Labaky, Memores Domini (Communion and Liberation),  de Nazareth (Community of Nazareth, Opus Dei, Points-Coeur,  Communautés Saint Jean (Communities of Saint John) and Fraternité diocésaine de Saint-Jean-de-Malte.

Only five of the fourteen above-mentioned communities were the subject of canonical process or public exposure: Béatitudes (suspension of their founder, Brother Ephraim in 2008), Legion of Christ (suspension of the founder, Fr. Maciel in 2006), Points-Coeur (canonical punishment of the founder, Fr. Thierry de Roucy in 2011), Communauté Saint-Jean (accusations officially acknowledged in May 2013 against the founder, Fr. Phillipe) and the Anciens Collaborateurs du père Labaky (forbidden to officiate in June 2013).

In his response letter, Monsignor Pontier stressed: “The Gospel of Christ that we are called to serve is a school of spiritual freedom and he who does not serve this freedom does not belong to the Gospel. Several times in the past we have alerted the faithful and families to the danger of certain groups which do not appear to us to promote a true Gospel behavior. We have called upon the leaders to answer our questions. Often, however, we have received from them only mistrust and silence. Let me tell you it is scarce comfort to know that our remarks were justified. Certain behaviors that you denounce are related to the penal code. Nobody is above the law. It is useful to remember. Victims who so wish, have the right to bring their complaints to civil court when the matter so warrants.

Pope Francis himself has denounced the manipulation of consciences by “the spiritual engineer[9]. Addressing the World Congress of Church Movements and New Communities on November 22, 2014, he reminded those attending that “man today experiences serious identity problems and difficulties making his own choices. Hence, the tendency to let himself be conditioned, to delegate important decisions to others. We must resist the temptation to take the place of people’s freedom, to guide them without waiting for them to really mature.” He went on to warn: “spiritual or moral progress built on people’s immaturity is only apparent success, and headed for shipwreck.”It is better to be less numerous and go ahead out of the limelight.” He invited the movements to an attitude of “communion” among themselves, instead of competitiveness marked by divisions, rivalries and comparisons.”[10] In the same vein, it is useful to recall the pope’s discourse a month later, December 22, when offering his Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia at the Vatican[11]. He enumerated fifteen “maladies” that could affect the Holy See’s collaborators: mental and spiritual “petrification”, excessive planning and bureaucracy, “spiritual Alzheimer’s”, rivalry and vanity, existential schizophrenia, putting bosses on pedestals, closed circles, worldly profit and exhibitionisms.

Afterwards, in practice, what really changed? Very little. The Church and the movements or communities inside her struggle with reforming themselves in depth. First the statutes must be reformed and the doctrine re-written, namely the founder’s. But it serves for nothing if the doctrine is changed but the spirit remains basically the same. So, in practice, the aberrations continue.

These movements and communities are the spearheads of a Church in decline.

As the Cardinal reveals to Olivier Legendre: “These movements have learned to make themselves useful to the Church or to certain Church leaders. They have conducted their public relations with one and the other, building solidarities and friendships… In a word, there is a network at the heart of the hierarchy which supports these movements for a variety of reasons.[12]

In answer to the question: “Why not eradicate the problem? What is at the bottom of all this? A form of denial? A culture of secrecy? A style of governing?” Yves Hamant[13] lucidly responds: “Some of these communities are already relatively established, and they have a number of important members spread throughout the world. Some are clearly irreformable. Dissolve them? Then what to do with the members inside? I pray for them every day. Try to reform them despite it all? It would take considerable human resources. Instead cosmetic changes are made; all kinds of justifications are found; it is pointed out that the founder’s teachings were not totally heretical, etc. Besides, there are people inside the communities who have not been contaminated because they draw their interior resources from elsewhere. Summarizing, things carry on and the young are allowed to join. To fix this problem much courage is needed, together with effort, means and the cooperation of the whole episcopate. But even when it is the case of recent small communities, the bishops drag their feet… Another reason is the institution’s inability to communicate. When it detects a problem in a community, in the best of cases it mandates a canonical investigation, a kind of audit. There has to be a document ordering this? It is secret. The ensuing report? Naturally, secret. The processes ordered by ecclesiastical justice? Secret. The sentence? Secret. The concern of protecting the anonymity of those involved, laudable and legitimate, but could they at least publish the findings? This opacity favors all the rumors and deprives justice of one of its effects: heal and prevent.

What is a cult-like aberration? (Fr., dérive sectaire)

According to France’s Interdepartmental Mission to oversee and combat sect-like aberrations (acronym Miviludes), it has to do with the “corruption of freedom of thought, opinion or religion” characterized by “the employment by an organized group or an individual (…) of pressures or techniques aimed at creating, maintaining or exploiting in a person a state of psychological or physical subservience, depriving them of part of their free will.”

The characteristics usually associated with a cult-like aberration are the following: adulation of founder or foundress, totalitarian authoritarianism, blind obedience to the superiors, depersonalization, loss of identity and autonomy, recruitment pressure, harassment, proselytism, members informing on each other, being kept busy to prevent critical thinking, unhealthy relationship to money, moral and sexual abuses, verbal and physical threats to members wanting to leave. Based on numerous testimonies, Sister Chantal-Marie Sorlin[14], circuit judge in Dijon and chief of the CEF sect-like aberrations bureau, has drawn up four major criteria:

  1. Personality cult; the founder takes the place of Christ
  2. Cut-off from the outside world: from family and from outside news.
  3. Mental manipulation: fast recruitment, pressures, inducing guilt (“doubting is from the devil”), blurring the line between internal and external forums, forbidden to criticize the leaders in the name of holy obedience…
  4. Practical incoherence (money, morals…)

One single criterion is not enough to define a group as cult-like aberration but when you have a handful of these signs you can start thinking of a pathological group.

Dominique Auzenet goes into more detail in the book, “the movements from the perspective of sect-like analyses criteria[15].

Then what is this “charism” which causes so many aberrations?

We must begin by underlining how the three movements in question were founded before Vatican II and never assimilated one of its turning points, namely: openness to the modern world and to contemporary culture. They do not acknowledge the Church as “a people”.

In the Focolare movement the central idea is unity

In his contributing chapter[16], Jean-Marie Hennaux, professor of moral theology and Mariology, minutely studies the concept of unity to find out whether the Focolare idea is faithful to Jesus’ words in St. John’s Gospel:

It is necessary to state that, concretely, this ideal of unity means renouncing one’s freedom of thought and action. The “me” is despicable; only “us” is valued in this community. However, in practice, this “us” is in fact the personal thought of the foundress, Chiara Lubich, who identifies herself with Christ: “Every Focolare soul must be an expression of me and nothing else […]. Unity is therefore the Unity of one single soul: mine the soul of Jesus among you, which is me” (from a 1950 letter). This is not the unity of autonomous and free persons but rather a fusion, a confusion within the foundress’ “me” …

Such a concept of Unity can only create an idolatrous worship of the foundress and her writings.

In the Opus Dei ranks, the central idea is holiness in ordinary life

Here, too, the idea is quite seductive. But, in practice, the demand for holiness passes through blind obedience to the power of the clerics to reach this impossible goal.

A reading of The Way, the founder’s central work, makes it clear: “Be strong. -Be virile. -Be a man. And then… be an angel”[17] Members are also told to: “love, bless, sanctify and glorify suffering!”[18]

Besides, the Opus is known for its elitism, and its juridical statute as the pope’s personal prelature. The dominican priest, Pierre Emonet, stresses: “As regards the married lay person, he better accept not being more than a second-class Christian. If leadership positions are closed to him it is because “marriage is for the flock and not for the commanding officers of Christ. -While eating is an individual need, procreation is only a demand of the species, which individuals can forego.”[19] Thus, the Opus Dei organization is the result of a mutilated ecclesiology, which forgets that the Church is first and foremost a People where all members are equal.”[20]

Finally, we want to make known that the Opus Dei in Belgium did react to the book by means of a public letter published on April 12, 2017. Not, as one might expect, to acknowledge some cult-like element in its womb, but solely with the intention of protecting its reputation and that of its members. While acknowledging “errors” and “blunders”, these “do not constitute aberrations”.

For the Legion of Christ, the central idea is the Evangelization of the World to hasten Christ’s return

In real life, this ideal turns into a frenzied proselytism, leaving little space for freedom of conscience and personal maturation.[21]

Behind the idyllic tableau hides the reality of a perverse founder[22], Marcial Maciel, who for sixty years was the object of Vatican favors. As so often happens in the Church and the movements under study, the accusations of many victims are deemed calumnies to tarnish the reputation of God’s work.

On the occasion of Benedict XVI’s trip to Mexico in 2012, Maciel’s victims published a manifesto.

Their letter expressed legitimate disappointment at the Church’s deafening silence: “Just like our hopes for truth and justice in the Church, some of the old Legionaries of Christ who were the co-signers of the open letter addressed to you predecessor, John Paul II, have passed away. Since 1997, we had hoped, just like them, that instead of being ignored and reprimanded by church authorities, we would receive some response to that letter; and also, that the Church would respect the truth, charity and law owed to us due to the canonical complaint we had lodged in Rome on October 17th, 1998 with the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, presided over at that time by Your Holiness. […] But we were not listened to, or believed. For the longest time, we have been ignored for being just simple faithful. […] We never received the least response to our legitimate complaints, even when this goes against the rules of Canon Law established by the Church herself. And then, after being reprimanded on several occasions by church authorities for expressing our convictions through the media, it was only through these very media that we learned about the doubtful and confusing Vatican decisions regarding our complaint. And let us insist that this complaint was lodged on October 17th, 1998 at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under your direct responsibility as Prefect. […] Objective facts, followed closely and analyzed during stressful years, have proven that -more than obedience and respect for the rights of the human person- only public indignation and the weight of universal lay opinion have been able to change, albeit extremely slowly, the attitude of denial maintained for such a long time by the Church’s hierarchy. Like many of the faithful, we hoped for a little clarity and reasons to trust. But instead, we have observed an almost systematic ambiguity and, worse still, contradictions between orthodox doctrine and putting it into practice, which have troubled us deeply and caused painful spiritual malaise.”[23]

Which means to say that the light regarding sect-like aberrations takes a long time to reach the top of the Vatican hierarchy. In other words, here as elsewhere, one cannot count on a sect-like movement to question itself.

The law of silence[24] was able, one more time, to protect a reputation, to the detriment of the victims’ healthy truth…

Some similarities between Focolare, Opus Dei and Legion of Christ

Even though each founder has received a “divine inspiration” and each movement possesses its own peculiar “charism”, (unity for the Focolare, holiness in the ordinary for the Opus, evangelization of the world for the Legion of Christ), it is evidently clear that they all possess the same sectarian aberrations which play out in similar characteristics:

  • Theological and moral conservatism,
  • Anti-intellectualism,
  • Aspiring to ecclesiastical and temporal power, based on their financial strength,
  • Tendency to function as a “Church within the Church”,
  • Strongly hierarchical structure,
  • Strict control of the members and the organization.

Rights of members of sect-like aberrations?

Victims of sect-like aberrations may in some cases have recourse to civil and penal justice.[25]

Thus, French legislature (About Picard law, June 12, 2001, Penal Code article 223-15), followed by the Belgian (law of November 26, 2011, Penal Code article 442) have deemed it right to insert a specific crime, the abuse of vulnerability.

Penal action can be taken against a person who, aware of the vulnerable (physical or mental) condition of the victim has fraudulently abused him to lead him to an action or to abstain from an action gravely endangering his physical, mental integrity or inheritance.

These actions or abstentions may concern the victims’ inheritance, their health, their professional activity, and even their family and affective lives.

It is worth noting that this not only criminally penalizes acts of mental destabilization as in the case of certain sects. It applies to the abuse of vulnerability in general, particularly regarding the elderly, the sick and the handicapped.

Besides the abuse of vulnerability there exist evidently other infractions, especially: swindling, breach of trust, and extortion. Among personal attacks:

  • Homicide or involuntary injuries, not assisting a person in danger, deprivation of care;
  • Sexual attacks and corruption of minors;
  • Violence and threats.

Finally, in the absence of a proven penal infraction, it is still possible to sue in civil court for reparation of moral and or material damages committed by the ecclesiastical institution or one of its members (article 1382, French and Belgian code of civil law).

By way of conclusion

Pedophilia in the Church, as well as sect-like aberrations she harbors, have shown the needs for “look-outs”, because victims are rarely understood by the Church, the movements and the communities.

As Maud Amandier and Alice Chablis have written in Le déni: “The institutional Church has built a façade – rites, liturgical vestments, dramatizations, mass religious celebrations – against the background of the Vatican square. Although the façade is still beautiful, it is beginning to crack, and saving the appearances becomes a priority”.[26]

It is a crushing fact that the Church, structurally saturated with the culture of secrecy, has not taken, or has chosen not to take, the measure of sect-like aberrations in it womb.

On the contrary, it supported Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, before sanctioning him. And despite its colorful past, Pope Francis granted his order a “plenary indulgence” (pardon of their sins) as it began its process of purification and renewal.

John Paul II canonized Jose Maria Escrivá de Balaguer, founder of the Opus Dei, despite him being a promotor of supreme clericalism. If the simple lay person doubts this, The Way, the founder’s favorite work, and the continuous source of The Work’s inspiration, will disavow him: “when a lay person puts himself forward as a master of morals, he frequently deceives himself: lay people can only be disciples.” The lay person is nothing more, in fact, than a second-class Christian.

Let us hope that the Church will see clearer in the case of Focolare founder Chiara Lubich’s cause for beatification, opened on January 15th, 2015 (we know that the Church’s official recognition is a sign of orthodoxy and cultishness…).

Bondage advances in disguise, the opposite to freedom… and it is right and just that the “Christian at the base” is aware of what is going on too often behind his back, at the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy. After all, isn’t he not “King, Priest and Prophet”? He has, therefore, every baptized person’s right to know…

Certainly, the truth that makes us free is not necessarily the one we believed in. But this is the price of freedom. It is always an interior path which one discovers little by little… never a distinct thought or a definitive answer. “Freedom is a country without a road”, said Krishnamurti, a poet of the true path.

So, as we began our presentation with the words of Jesus (“The truth will set you free”), it might be good to remind the movements and communities of these words of Pope Francis: God’s truth: “is inexhaustible, it is an ocean whose bank we barely perceive. It is something we are just starting to discover right now: let us not become slaves of some kind of paranoid defense of our own truth (if he has it; I can’t have it). Freedom is a gift that is too big for us; and precisely because of this it makes us bigger, it widens us, it raises us up. And it places us at the service of this gift.”27

  1. «Pédophilie dans l’Église : le poids du silence – Cash Investigation», https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-YvIB63nHU; voy. also:  http://www.alterinfo.net/Dans-le-silence-des-Eglises_a129409.html
  2. http://www.rfi.fr/emission/20170423-eglise-mecanique-silence-perisse-gastaldi-martiniere

3.http://www.20minutes.fr/societe/2034947-20170321-pedophilie-eglise-quatre-revelations-emission-cash-investigation-diffusee-soir

  1. See Pascal Hubert, «Les mouvements au regard du Droit. Les dérives sectaires au sein de l’Église et la Loi », in De l’emprise à la liberté. […], p. 199 footnotes and bibliography, Sp. pp. 315 à 318; see also : http://www.lenversdudecor.org/_Xavier-Leger_.html ;   http://pncds72.free.fr/ ;   http://pncds72.free.fr/300_01_intro_eglise.php; http://pncds72.free.fr/30003elements_information.php;

http://gamaliel21.pagesperso -orange.fr/

  1. Thierry Baffoy, Antoine Delestre, Jean-Paul Sauzet, Les naufragés de l’Esprit, des sectes dans l’Église

Catholique, Seuil,1999 (1996 pour la version anglaise, aux éditions Corgi Books, London).

  1. Gordon Urquhart, L’Armada du pape, Golias, 1996.
  2. Olivier Legendre, Confessions d’un Cardinal, J.-C. Lattès,2010, p. 266.
  3. Yves Hamant, Xavier Léger, Aymeri Suarez-Pazos, Appel de Lourdes 2013 : nous avons été entendus ! http://www.lenversdudecor.org/Appel-de-Lourdes-2013-nous-avons-ete-entendus.html . See also : Golias Hebdo, n° 312, 21 au 27 novembre 2013.
  4. Termes repris  par  le  Pape  François  lors  de  son  discours du  21  septembre  2013,  aux  participants  à  l’assemblée  plénière du Conseil pontifical des communications sociales, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/fr/speeches/2013/september/documents/papafrancesco_20130921_plenaria-pccs.html
  5. Frédéric Mounier, Le pape   invite   les   mouvements d’Église   à   ne   pas   «conditionner»   les   consciences, LaCroix,22/11/2014, http://www.la-croix.com/Religion/Le-pape-invite-les-mouvements-dEglise-a-ne-pas-conditionner-les-consciences-2014-11-22-124135
  6. Pape François, le texte intégral du « discours des 15 maladies, La Croix, 24/12/2014, http://www.la-croix.com/Religion/; Actualite/Pape-Francois-le-texte-integral-du-discours-des-15-maladies-2014-12-24-1258379
  7. Olivier Legendre, Confessions d’un Cardinal, J.-C. Lattès, 2010, p. 267.
  8. Yves Hamant, « Je ne crois pas que les choses aient beaucoup changé », La Vie, 21 mars 2016 (http://pncds72.free.fr/300_03_elements_information/300_03_3_hamant_lavie.pdf)
  9. http://pncds72.free.fr/301_derives_eglise/301_15_grille_gamaliel21_20.pdf
  10. De l’emprise à la liberté, op cit., pp. 245 à 276.
  11. De l’emprise à la liberté, op cit., sp. pp. 115 à 129.
  12. Chemin, n. 22.
  13. http://www.ciaosn.be/presse130312-2.htm; see also the information on : http://www.vigi-sectes.org/opus-dei/ ;   http://opuslibre.free.fr/ ;   http://www.opus-info.org/index.php?title=Category:Essai
  14. Chemin, n. 28.
  15. Pierre Emonet, « L’Opus Dei, une Église dans l’Église ?», http://www.lenversdudecor.org/L-Opus-Dei-une-Eglise-dans-l- Eglise-par-Pierre-EMONET.html
  16. See also information available at : http://pncds72.free.fr/311_legion.php
  17. « La vraie vie du père Maciel », http://www.lenversdudecor.org/La-face-cachee-du-pere-Maciel.html ;  see also: http://www.lenversdudecor.org/-Pere-Marcial-Maciel-.html ;« Légion du Christ : comment l’Église a voulu étouffer le scandale », Golias, n° 152, septembre 2013,  http://pncds72free.fr/311_2_legion_xleger/311_2_04_interview_xl_2014;pdf ; http://www.lenvers dudecor.org/ La-Legion-du-Christ-ou-la-re-ecriture-continuelle-del.html
  1. http://www.exlcblog.info/post/2012/03/21/Manifeste-publique-à-l-attention-de-Benoît-XVI.-Mars-2012 ; http://www.rtl.be/info/monde/international/des-victimes-d-abus-sexuel-diffusent-un-manifeste-adresse-au-pape-28327 5.aspx24 .
  2. « Le silence comme protection contre la perversion : le cas Maciel », in Maud Amandier et Alice Chablis, Le déni. Enquête sur l’Église et l’égalité des sexes, Bayard, 2014, p. 275 ff.
  3. See La contribution de Pascal Hubert, « Les mouvements au regard du Droit. Les dérives sectaires au sein de l’Église et la Loi », in De l’emprise à la liberté. […], pp. 183 à 212.
  4. Maud Amandier et Alice Chablis, Le déni. Enquête sur l’Église et l’égalité des sexes, Bayard, 2014, p. 253.
  5. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Scegliere la vita. Proposte per tempi difficili, Milan, Bompiani, 2013, p. 78 (propos repris en français dans le livre L’Église que j’espère. Entretien avec le père Spadaro, s.j., Champs essais, 2014, p.90).
  6. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Scegliere la vita. Proposte per tempi difficili, Milan, Bompiani, 2013, p. 78 (propos repris en français dans le livre L’Église que j’espère. Entretien avec le père Spadaro, s.j., Champs essais, 2014, p.90).

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding Coercive/Cultic Behavior: Examine your Group/Community/Church

greyscale photo of masks on a stick

Photo by Ghost Presenter on Pexels.com

Dutch cult expert Frances Peters gave this masterly power point presentation at the International Cultic Association’s International Conference in Bordeaux, July 2017.

ReGAIN believes it is of great value to members, parents, friends, helpers and professionals involved with controlling, coercive, harmful groups.

ReGAIN wants to remind the public that such harmful groups can exist even in the heart of mainstream – including Christian and Catholic –  churches and communities. We will post upcoming articles re questionable Catholic Communities and Movements.

Please click title below:

Frances Presentation ICSA Bordeaux 2017[6354]

Common Features of Harmful Catholic Groups

men in black and red cade hats and military uniform

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Common Characteristics of Harmful Catholic Groups

 

J. Paul Lennon submits this educational brief formatted like the now classic Langone-Lalich List of Cult Characteristics and on his research for I.C.S.A. Philadelphia Annual Conference July 2018 paper, Brief Overview of Some Harmful Catholic Groups, presently under review for publication.

  1. Abusive founder and/or leaders-Leadership, including but not limited to serious criminal sexual abuse of members and followers
  2. Manipulative/deceptive/ aggressive recruiting of members (young, idealistic, inexperienced, in life transition…),
  3. Unscrupulous fundraising and fraudulent money-management, “financial irregularities”
  4. Insufficient or faulty Discernment of calling and life path.
  5. Foreclosure (Premature major commitments made suddenly or too early, without due deliberation): for example, giving up all earthly belongings, inheritance, going on a faraway mission, rashly embracing celibacy and the priesthood.
  6. Isolation from family, friends and previous support system; exclusion of “outsiders” and former members.
  7. Systematic Control of Behavior, Information, Thoughts and Emotions
  8. Leaders’ excessive authority and influence, demanding blind obedience: they directly represent God and speak in his name. Members put them on a pedestal and want to please.
  9. Superiors and or “spiritual directors” tell members whether or not they “have a vocation,” a special call from God from all eternity binding them to this particular life style in this specific group.
  10. Trainers/formators/superiors/spiritual directors…
    1. do not explore or respect candidates’ and members’ sexual orientation.
    2. May tell them to remain single or marry, and whom to marry…
    3. Want to control when, where and the how a member can leave.
  11. Black and White thinking prevails; “no half measures”; with selective scripture quotes to bolster: “He who is not with me is against me.” No room for questioning or doubting.
  12. Emphasis on Discipline, with Unreachable Goals of Holiness or Perfection -often fleshed out in a multiplicity of rules- which lead to obsessive-compulsive neurosis , guilt feelings and low self-esteem. (Naturally, the member is going to fall short).
  13. Community Confession and Shaming (“Chapter of Faults”) may be used; public humiliation; leaders harshly criticize members in public, “make an example” of them. Members are expected to snitch on each other.
  14. Elitist and Us Vs Them, siege mentality. “We are special, chosen by God”, “others would not understand,” Critics “hate and are out to destroy us, the Catholic priesthood, the Church, His Holiness the pope”
  15. Heavy-handed retention: Loss of vocation, sure damnation. Straight to hell! You won’t make it on your own out there. You will fall into serious sin and vices. You are betraying Jesus Turning your back on God!
  16. Ostracism, emotional cut-off and despising exiting and former members: “failures,” “unfaithful,” “traitors,” “disgruntled old men,” “envious,” “vengeful”
  17. Opponents are harassed, threatened, pursued and even sued in the name of God, Jesus, the Church, the Group, Truth, Charity…

Help for Spiritual Abuse and High Demand Groups

 

adult business close up friendship

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Call for Papers: ICSA 2019 Annual Conference

University of Salford

Greater Manchester, UK

July 4-6, 2019

More info: http://www.icsahome.com/events/callforpapers

 

Recovering From Spiritual Abuse: A Conference for Survivors, Churches, and Helpers

October 26-27, 2018

Hartford, Connecticut

More info: https://www.spiritualabuseresources.com/conferencesevents/spiritual-abuse-conference

 

Recovering from Cults and Coercive Control: A Workshop for Former Members and Families

October 13, 2018 (Saturday)

Los Angeles, CA

More info: http://www.icsahome.com/events/los-angeles-2018-workshop

 

Controversies in Religious Contexts

October 26-27, 2018

Rzeszów,, Poland

More info: http://www.icsahome.com/events/conference-europe

 

Surviving and Moving On After a High-Demand Group Experience: A Workshop for Those Born/Raised in Cults

April 26 – 28, 2019

Chester, Connecticut

More info: http://www.icsahome.com/events/workshopsgas

 

________________________________________________

 

ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association)

P.O. Box 2265

Bonita Springs, FL 34133

Phone: 1-239-514-3081

fax:  1-305-393-8193

E-mail: mail@icsamail.com

Web site: www.icsahome.com

Conferences and workshops  http://www.icsahome.com/events

 

 

 

Become a member of ICSA and gain access to an e-Library with over 23,000 items.

http://www.icsahome.com/membership

 

The Crimes of Uncle Ted and Father Thomas (Williams, Legionary of Christ)

 

Resultado de imagen para Cardinal McCarrick

Resultado de imagen para Fr. Thomas Williams, LC

THE TEXT REPRODUCED BELOW IS AN EXCERPT FROM ANN BARNHARDT’S BLOG:

BARNHARDT     Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non-sancta.

Here is the link: https://www.barnhardt.biz/2018/07/29/cut-the-crap-in-the-antichurch-boy-raping-prelates-are-a-valuable-commodity-to-be-leveraged/

 

ReGAIN wants to make it clear that this commentary is solely Ann Barnhardt’s opinion. ReGAIN will not second  condemnation of Pope Francis, for that would be a wrong interpretation. Nor can we make a public expose of these “fronts” that Pope Francis -and Pope Benedict before him- opposes by preaching a poor church and small faith communities.

ReGAIN also points out to our readers that its primary focus is not so much with individual members of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi Movement as with the modus operandi of this institution which it considers to be “a business that looks like a religious order”: the enterprise possessing several features of an intra-ecclesial Catholic cult. This does not exonerate individual members from their misbehaviors, crimes and misdemeanors but does place these in the context and environment we are alluding to: an atmosphere where -among other immoral principles bequeathed by the founder- the end (promoting the Legion of Christ) often justifies the means.

Finally, ReGAIN believes that the anger expressed in this article demonstrates the disappointment and righteous indignation of many Catholics who feel betrayed by their pastors and do not yet see a purifying light at the end of the tunnel.

 

(Back to the Barnhardt article)

“In the wake of the #CatholicMeToo phenomenon which is still holding traction and moving along nicely, pretty much everyone is naively asking the question:

How could they not know that McCarrick was so evil? How could this man have possibly been elevated and advanced up the hierarchical chain the way he was? How could such an evil person acquire so much power?

The answer in one sentence:

The fact that McCarrick was an open homosexual[i] predator was considered a FEATURE, not a bug, and the higher he ascended, and the more powerful he became, the more valuable he became to those around him who sought to LEVERAGE CORRUPTION AND CRIMINALITY for their own gain, and the more intensely those around him covered for his crimes against young men and boys.

Folks, we’ve all got to wise up here if there is any hope of prosecuting this war against the infiltrators and forces of evil.  When out Lord says, Be wise as serpents…, He isn’t just whistling Dixie.  The near-unanimous failure of people to grasp these dynamics is frustrating.  You can’t win a war when every general is a doe-eyed Pollyanna constantly looking around and asking, “Why are those angry-looking men pointing guns at us?”

Look, Diabolical Narcissist Psychopaths attract other DN psychopaths.  These demoniacal creatures flock together.  If you are asking questions such as, “What did Donald Wuerl know about McCarrick, and when did he know it?”, I can tell you the answer right now.  He knew damn-near everything and knew it from the beginning.  The same goes for Kevin Farrell.  And not just other prelates, but clerics and laypeople that are employed by or otherwise make their livings off the Institutional Church as well.  The rot is deep. One might even say hopelessly deep, barring supernatural intervention.

I think the best way to explain this is with a specific case, and that specific case is the former number three and public face of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Thomas Williams.  The other reason why this specific example is particularly helpful, is because there are people claiming that people on the so-called “right” are only going after the McCarricks and Wuerls because they are on the so-called “left”.  Well, Fr. Thomas Williams and the Legion of Christ are the perfect examples of criminal psychopaths running their racket in the Institutional Church, wrapping themselves in the mantle of “conservatism”.  So, let’s kill two birds with one stone here, and show how this cancer infects every corner of the Church – from hard left to soft left to neo-conservative to conservative to Trad – the whole spectrum.

Fr. Thomas Williams, who is now laicized, was the pretty-boy face of the truly evil racketeering organization, the Legion of Christ, for many years – pretty much from the late 1990s until 2012.  Fr. Thomas Williams lived for YEARS with the satanic founder of the Legion of Christ, Marcial Maciel, who was a drug-addled, bisexual incestuous child rapist.  That’s right, not only did Maciel sexually assault and rape Legion seminarians right and left, Maciel also RAPED HIS OWN SONS.  And Fr. Thomas Williams LIVED WITH HIM. For YEARS.

This is very, very similar to now-Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who was also top-ranking Legionary until he left in 1984 to climb the career ladder to the Cardinalate as a diocesan priest and SHARED AN APARTMENT FOR YEARS with his mentor and patron, “Auntie Blanche” McCarrick, who was likewise an open sex criminal, assaulting and raping seminarians and boys, as everyone knew.  Farrell, like Williams, is an inveterate and facile liar – a hallmark of Diabolical Narcissist psychopaths, and simply adopted the strategy of “deny, deny, deny, deny.” It doesn’t matter how open the secret is.  The universal strategy is DENY, DENY, DENY.  The Clintons perfected this in the 1990s, specifically in the Lewinsky scandal.  DN psychopaths all over the world watched and learned from the Clintons’ tutelage.

Back to Fr. Williams.  You can read a very brief summary of the Fr. Thomas Williams scandal in THIS PIECE which Frank Walker at Canon212.com broke last summer on his blog, http:/www.StumblingBlock.org   .  Just a couple of high points with additions and details that have been shared with me over the years about these truly deplorable people: Fr. Williams, flying high as the number three of the $30+ BILLION-dollar Legion of Christ criminal racketeering organization, was recruited by Neo-con Catholic darling and John Paul II advisor Mary Ann Glendon to recruit Glendon’s Machiavellian apostate daughter, Elizabeth Lev, into the Legion.  Glendon and Williams were both teaching at the Legion’s University in Rome.  Williams, it should be noted, was no less than the DEAN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MORAL THEOLOGY.  Glendon’s daughter, Lev, was a hyper-promiscuous art history major who had just relocated to Rome.  Glendon knew that her notoriously sexually aggressive and amoral daughter would, despite her apostasy, be more than happy to enter “spiritual direction” with Fr. Williams with an eye towards a sexual affair with this “sexy” priest.

Sure enough, Lev conceived two children by Fr. Williams in the early 2000s.  The first was miscarried, but the second was born with a very severe case of Down Syndrome.  Lev, by now in her late 30s, was clearly trying to get pregnant by Fr. Williams as a means of getting her claws into the $30+ Billion Legion of Christ, leveraging her womb into a multi-million-dollar blackmail/child support package.  It worked.  Fr. Williams put Lev on the payroll of Zenit, the Legion of Christ’s news publishing business, and Lev was thrown all manner of work as a tour guide for Legion of Christ’s millionaire recruiting junkets, and quickly became one of the most powerful people in the massive money-making machine that is the Vatican Museums – which the Legion of Christ and Opus Dei essentially run.

Fr. Williams, desirous to maintain his plum position at Maciel’s right hand, denied that he was the father, (phrase edited out by ReGAIN staff).  Lev called the conception “a one-night stand”, which given her extreme sexual promiscuity was enough to cast doubt in the Rome Anglo social circle.  Lev’s flamboyantly gay “best friend”, (who also had a penchant for sex with priests and seminarians – hey, friends have got to have shared interests, right?) was enjoined to publicly and theatrically “propose marriage” to Lev (which was, after a sufficient period of suspense, theatrically rejected), stood as godfather while Fr. Williams baptized the child, and then Fr. Williams and Lev essentially made the homosexual godfather the child’s caregiver, while both Fr. Williams and Lev aggressively pursued their respective careers in Rome – being sure to grease the gay godfather’s palms, which continues to this day. Remember this when Thomas Williams claims that he left the priesthood to care for his son.  This is a man that happily stood by and watched while his son – suffering from mental retardation so severe that he is unable to speak and thus ever report abuse of any kind – was put in the care of a homosexual man.

Now to the Unpleasant part.  In ARSH 2005, Fr. Williams finally admitted after years of lying to the General Director of the Legion of Christ, and Williams’ immediate superior, Fr. Alvaro Corcuera (now deceased) that yes, the rumors were true, and he was, in fact, the father of Liz Lev’s youngest child.  Fr. Corcuera ordered Williams to immediately start withdrawing from public ministry.

Not only did Fr. Williams disobey these orders, Williams turned around and increased his presence and appearances on American broadcast television, essentially being the “face of the Catholic Church” and “Vatican Analyst” for both NBC and CBS news.  Williams had also started a racket in book publishing.  The business model was simple: have Legion of Christ slaves ghostwrite mass-market books on Catholic “morality” and “spirituality”, have glamour shot photos taken of the somatic narcissist Fr. Williams, slap Williams’ name and picture of the cover, and market the books to the kind of middle-aged American women who buy books by celebrity priests based upon how “sexy” and “dreamy” the priest is.  Williams was pushing his brand and pushing it hard – after being ordered to withdraw from public ministry. All the while, he continued to carry on his sexual affair with Liz Lev OPENLY – frequently co-hosting parties at Lev’s million-dollar apartment overlooking the Vatican, serving as the bartender.  Lev and Williams were often seen having romantic dinners in Rome, with Williams in civilian clothes, most notably at the infamous Roman restaurant Pergola. As if that weren’t enough, Williams was openly having sexual relationships with students at the Legion’s Rome University where Williams was, in case you have forgotten, the dean of the department of MORAL THEOLOGY. Classy.

And here’s the point, and the million-dollar question:

WHAT DID FR. THOMAS WILLIAMS KNOW ABOUT MARCIAL MACIEL AND HIS SEX CRIMES, AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT?

Given how brazenly and aggressively Williams disobeyed direct orders and carried on after being told in 2005 to withdraw from public ministry, how can it not be thought possible that Fr. Williams knew about Maciel’s crimes, and the crimes of other top-level Legionaries, and LEVERAGED THAT KNOWLEDGE IN ORDER TO PROTECT HIMSELF AND MAINTAIN HIS OWN LIFE OF SEX AND MINOR CELEBRITY?

Why did Fr. Thomas Williams and his baby-mama’s mother, Mary Ann Glendon, spend years working together character assassinating anyone who tried to blow the whistle on Marcial Maciel?  But I think the big tell came in January of ARSH 2014, when Williams, having just married Lev (who wore a snow white dress, naturally) in New York City a few weeks before, published an “interview” with the unctuous Robert Moynihan in which he claimed that he was unable to process how it could be possible (cue the violins…) that Marcial Maciel, a man that Williams “knew so well” could be anything other than the living saint the Legion racketeering cult claimed that he was.

Oh, COME ON.  Maciel was carrying on a double life just exactly like Williams was carrying on a double life.  Maciel’s double life was “possible” in exactly the same way Williams’ double life was “possible”.

I strongly, strongly suspect that Fr. Thomas Williams knew damn good and well what Maciel was, and what the other top-tier Legion toadies were – carrying on sexual affairs with both males and females, and how Legion seminarians were being sodomitically abused, and instead of screaming bloody murder and blowing the whistle and trying to PROTECT INNOCENT YOUNGSTERS as any morally sane person would, Fr. Williams proverbially rubbed his hands together, licked his chops, and considered his ability to blackmail the shit out of everyone around him and over him in the Legion as positively ideal.

Sit in stillness with that and consider what a complete monstrosity a human being would have to be to think and operate that way.

If you want to see something that will turn your stomach, watch this clip of Fr. Thomas Williams appearing on CBS news in ARSH 2009 hawking one of his ghostwritten glamour-shot “moral theology” books for lonely middle-aged women.  The best part is when Williams says that to be a trusting person makes you a better person, and that trustworthy people are themselves more trusting.  That’s rich coming from a dead-eyed psychopath liar whose entire life revolved around abusing trust.  I also find it informative that Harry Smith’s question is, “What is the reward in trusting God?” and Williams never makes any mention whatsoever to the one and only real answer to that question – eternal life.  Yeah, that’s telling.

And this is the point.  It isn’t just the boy-raping homosexual monsters like McCarrick that are the problem.  Cleaning them out, while certainly a step in the right direction, won’t even come close to solving the problem, because you will still have an army of Diabolical Narcissist psychopaths who actively want these monsters around and in power, so they can LEVERAGE THEIR CRIMES INTO THEIR OWN CAREER ADVANCEMENT, SECURITY AND POWER.  If you can blackmail the shit out of the “boss”, then when you tuck yourself into bed at night, you can lull yourself to sleep with the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with the knowledge that YOU are really the boss.

Thus, the bigger the crime, and the higher the office, the more valuable the commodity men like McCarrick and Maciel become.”


[i] ReGAIN editor has replaced the original text’s  use of “sodomite” with “homosexual

 

 

Veritas Liberabit Vos

Religious Groups Awareness International Network, Monitoring harmful groups in mainstream Churches

ReGAIN

Religious Groups Awareness International Network, Monitoring harmful groups in mainstream Churches

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: