ReGAIN MANIFESTO

                     Fr. Maciel embraces Paul Lennon on November 26, 1969, just                               after Paul was ordained at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe,                         Rome

Dear Reporter:

  • The American press sometimes refers to the Legionnaires of Christ, perhaps in an allusion to the French Foreign Legion, or American Legion, and maybe because it sounds better to U.S. ears.… I believe the official name is Legion of Christ and Legionaries of Christ. The order/group, founded by Mexican Catholic seminarian  Marcial Maciel in Mexico City in 1941, sprouted a lay movement in the 1960s called Regnum Christi -along the lines of the Opus Dei movement- and, together they morphed into Regnum Christi Federation a few years ago.
  • I joined at the age of 17 in Dublin in 1961. I could be considered an Irish co-founder of the order, “cofounder” being a coveted title at the time. I became bilingual and bi cultural Spanish during my 23 years in the Legion, leaving in 1984 after an  altercation with then superior general Fr. Maciel. I have the honor of being one of the few members who ever dared to confront the untouchable founder in front of other members.
  • Maciel garnered the admiration of popes, especially Pope JP II, until his pedophilia and philandering were finally acknowledged by Church Hierarchy and Legion around 2005 -by which time Maciel was 85! Just imagine the decades of silence, avoidance, minimization and coverup!
  • I  have been monitoring the order since 1985, founding regainnetwork.org in the 1990s and writing the first version of my memoir in 2008 which was released more recently as A Naïve and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ.
  • ReGAIN sprung from the concern of parents, friends and former members in the late 1980s seeking to help active, exiting and former members to recover from their traumatic experience.
  • ReGAIN has published extensively about the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi Federation since the 1990s where you will find an abundance of info/critique, perhaps the largest in the English language. Presently there are other blogs in Spanish and French that carry out the same mission: facebook’s Legioleaks, La Verdad os hará Libres, and l’énvers du décor
  • U.S. Catholic investigative reporters, Jason Berry and  Gerald Renner, were instrumental in bringing the story of Maciel, the sexual abuse of his seminarians, the secretive nature of the order,  and the founder’s  love of money and luxury to the world beyond Mexico and Spanish speaking countries to world-wide attention in the Hartford Courant in 1997, and later publishing their critique of Maciel and the Legion with  Vows of Silence (2004).
  • Don’t forget the Legion was founded by Mexican priest, Fr. Marcial Maciel, and most of the literature about it is in the Spanish language. Fr. Maciel saw the Irish as the Legion’s gateway into the USA and other English-speaking countries. Although the Legion would like to cast itself as an international organization – it is present in many countries- there has always been a strong Mexican element: most major superiors are Mexicans, followed by Spaniards, Irish and U.S., with an occasional German or Italian thrown in for good PR. Unfortunately, Legion and Regnum Christi leadership has consistently been tainted by the leaven of founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, arch abuser, conman, manipulator of conservative Catholics and popes, and a bare-faced liar.
  • ReGAIN, in principle, avoids criticizing “The Church” as we believe that the Catholic Church consists in the union of all baptized catholics, irrespective of their rank (dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium, chapter 2, The People of Gd. We, thus  distinguish between the Catholic Church and the Catholic Hierarchy (LC chapter 3). In general, we also avoid criticizing “the pope”, as if he were solely responsible for every sin that every one of the billion members of the Catholic Church commits.
  • On the other hand, we hold pope, hierarchy , clergy and religious responsible for their actions and omissions, especially when it comes to grevious offenses against children and the vulnerable.
  • Together with many other Catholics, Christians, believers, and people of good will, we complain about the way the Catholic Hierarchy has failed to punish Fr. Maciel, and to investigate and censure several cult-like or coercive religious orders and movements approved by and operating freely within its boundaries.
  • ReGAIN has consistently  defended and supported all those abused  in any way by Legion founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel and Legion and Regnum Christi superiors and directors.
  • Together with many other Catholics and Christians we are becoming more aware of other forms of abuse beyond sexual and physical abuse, such as moral, psychological, spiritual and conscience abuse  which have been rampant in churches and religious groups.

APPENDIX: incomplete list of books about Maciel, Legion, Regnum in English,  Spanish, and French.

Aristegui, C. (2010). Marcial Maciel, Historia de un Criminal. Mexico City: Grijalbo.

Athié, A., Barba, J., González, F.M, (2012). La Voluntad de no saber: lo que sí se conocía sobre Maciel en los archivos del Vaticano desde 1944. Mexico City: Grijalbo.

Barranco, B., coordinador (2021). Depredadores Sagrados: Pederastia clerical en México. Mexico City: Grijalbo.

Berry, J. & Renner, G. (2004). Vows of Silence. New York: Free Press;

—– (2006). El Legionario de Cristo. Mexico City: Random House Mondadori.

—– (2011). Render unto Rome, The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church. New York: Crown Publishers. Fr. Maciel, Lord of Prosperity, pp.156-196

Erdely, J., Escalante, P., González, F., Guerrero-Chiprés, S., Mascareñas, C. & Masferrer, E. (2004). El Círculo del Poder y la Espiral del Silencio [The Circle of Power and the Spiral of Silence], La Historia Oculta del Padre Marcial Maciel y Los Legionarios de Cristo. Mexico City: Grijalbo.

Espinosa, A. (2003). El Legionario [The Legionary]. Mexico City: Grijalbo.

—–    (2014, 2nd Edit.). El Ilusionista, Marcial Maciel (The Illusionist, Marcial Maciel). Charleston, SC: Createspace

González, F. (2006). Marcial Maciel. Los Legionarios de Cristo: testimonios y documentos inéditos [Marcial Maciel, The Legion of Christ: New testimonies and documents]. Mexico: Tusquets Editores,

González Parga, F. (2012). Yo acuso al Padre Maciel y a la Legión de Cristo. Charleston, SC: Createspace. (Maciel victim; early Legionary).

Keogh, J. (20100. Driving Straight on Crooked Lines, How and Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mind. Iveagh Lodge Press. (A well-written testimony by one of the first Irish-born LC members).

Léger, X & Nicolas, B (2013). Moi, ancien légionnaire du Christ, 7 ans dans une secte au cœur de l’Église. Paris : Flammarion. (Testimony of French LC)

Lennon, J.P. (2012, 2nd Edit). Fr. Marcial Maciel Pedophile, Psychopath and Legion of Christ Founder, From Fr. Richard John Neuhaus to Pope Benedict XVI. Charleston, SC: Createspace. (LC 1961-84)

Martínez de Velasco, J. (2002). Los Legionarios de Cristo, el nuevo ejército del Papa [The Legionaries of the Christ, the Pope’s New Army]. Madrid: La Esfera de los libros.

—– (2004). Los Documentos Secretos de los Legionarios de Cristo [The Secret Documents of the Legion of Christ]. Barcelona: Ediciones B.

Sada, E. (2018) Blackbird – A Memoir; The Story of a Woman Who Submitted to Marcial Maciel, Became Free, and Found Happiness Again. Amazon Digital Services. (Prominent recruiter of Regnum Christi ‘consecrated’ women.)

Ramírez Mota Velasco (2013). El Reino de Marcial Maciel, La Vida Oculta de la Legión y el Regnum Christi. Mexico City: Temas de Hoy. (Prominent superior of RC women)

Ruiz-Marcos, José Manuel. (2006). La orden maldita. La historia oculta de los Legionarios de Cristo [The Accursed Order, the Secret History of the Legion of Christ]. Mexico City: Editorial Planeta.

 Torres, A. (2002). La Prodigiosa Aventura de la Legión de Cristo [The Marvelous Adventure of the Legion of Christ]. Madrid: La Esfera de los libros.

—– (2004). No nos dejes caer en la Tentación, Escándalos, dinero y guerras de poder en la Iglesia española [Let us not Fall into Temptation]. Madrid: La Esfera de los libros.

 

Paul Lennon, MA, aka J.Paul Lennon, author

 

Religious Teachings according to the Mind of Mons. Escrivá, founder of the Opus Dei.”

ReGAIN is proud to reproduce, with permission and in its totality, an in-depth article from OD Watch, December 2017 issue.

Vatican City, January 20, 2018

Startling parallels appear between the Opus Dei and the Legion of Christ as regards spirituality, training, systems and Modus Operandi. Both organizations have come under scrutiny since their inception until the present day because of their questionable methods; the author describes the following areas:

  • Recruitment}
  • Production of a vocation
  • Loss of faith
  • Voluntarism
  • Double truth (double-speak)
  • The Opus is Mortally Wounded

The comments made in the article could be applied to other questionable groups inside and outside the Catholic Church and may help readers understand how such groups, recruit, train and retain members; and to grasp the situation of loved ones who may be inside… and thus estranged from family and friends, among other things. Continue reading “Religious Teachings according to the Mind of Mons. Escrivá, founder of the Opus Dei.””

Fr. Maciel, Legion of Christ Founder, Instrument of God or Satan?

 POPE FRANCIS AND CHURCH LEADERS, PLEASE WAKE UP!

Pope Francis with a group of Legionaries

August 3, 2015

I have just attended the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests annual conference in Alexandria, VA and have been discussing Maciel, the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi with a good and knowledgeable friend. This brought to the surface the following convictions:

 

MANIFESTO

  • After thirty years ministering to Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi survivors, I clearly see once again the path of destruction left by Marcial Maciel/Legion/Regnum in the lives they have sailed through. Because it is not just sexual abuse; it is abuse of all kinds: physical neglect, psychological illnesses, confused consciences, depression and suicide, loss of faith in the Church, Christ and God, financial abuse of members, families and vulnerable adults; as well as exile, calumny, ostracism, lawsuits and threats for those who will not submit.
  • The Popes and the Vatican, after their investigation of Maciel and the Legion, chose to save the Legion of Christ religious order. Pope Francis rubber-stamped his predecessors’ conclusions.
  • Telling us: Maciel bad; Legion good, and asking us to believe that God used the flawed Maciel to create His Work, the Legion of Christ Catholic Religious Order and the Regnum Christi lay movement.
  • The Vatican did this by ignoring and/or twisting centuries of Christian Faith and Tradition which link a religious order’s validity and authenticity to the charism, holiness and inspiration of the founder.
  • We are asked to believe that God performed a new miracle, that the rotten tree has produced healthy fruit.
  • Or is it just that the business created by entrepreneur Maciel, the Legion of Christ Inc., continues to mass-produce priests, astutely recruit well-meaning Catholics, and bring in millions of dollars into the Church, an institution reeling from accusations of corruption and abuse which is losing the allegiance of thinking and discriminating members?
  • What if Marcial Maciel, the verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually abused little Mexican boy, who never sought or received help for his own damaged and warped psyche, became a sexual predator and manipulative exploiter with airs of grandeur, creating the myth that he was chosen by God to save the Catholic Church, Christianity and the world by founding a new and better religious order?
  • Maciel totally lacked self-awareness and restraint, simply acting out his sexual, controlling and ambitious appetite:. Maciel, the psychopath, the Traumatizing Narcissist, who deluded himself into thinking he was creating a religious order and not a sect to satisfy his own desires, using and abusing others in the process?
  • What if the Father of Deceit, and not the Holy Spirit, took possession of that damaged psyche, to create a cleverly crafted diabolical sect within the Catholic Church, endowed with the same spirit that possessed Maciel: lies, deceit, smoke-screens, spiritual pyrotechnics, control, and self-aggrandizement that would continue to wound, damage and deceive generous, idealistic and naïve people in their sexuality, self-respect, maturity, discernment, human dignity, and in their very souls?
  • What if Maciel was able to fool Church authorities and con them into approving his fraudulent order?
  • What if Church authorities have never wanted to acknowledge they were conned by Maciel and refuse to correct their mistake?
  • I throw down the gauntlet and challenge blind Catholic Church leaders, dazzled by glittering images, to see the deceptive “cult in their midst”!

J. Paul Lennon, LC 1961-84, Licensed Professional Counselor.

!URGENTE!.. Atencion ex-miembros de Grupos Coercitivos/Manipulativos/High Demand/Sectas/Cults!

AYUDAR CON UNA ENCUESTA AMBICIOSA E IMPORTANTE SOBRE EL IMPACTO DE ESTOS GRUPOS
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A todos los ex miembros de grupos coercitivos/manipulativos, os pido encarecidamente que colaboréis en este ambicioso estudio. Con vuestra participación estáis colaborando en avanzar en la elaboración de nuevas herramientas de evaluación para avanzar en este campo. Este estudio ha sido elaborado por investigadores de tres universidades españolas. Os pido que por favor, colaboréis con vuestra participación. La participación es confidencial y todo se hace “online”. Sólo es para ex miembros, no para familiares. Muchas gracias de antemano por colaborar. Os dejo a continuación la descripción y el enlace:
Estamos estudiando los grupos abusivos, sus prácticas y los efectos que producen en sus miembros. Para ello resulta imprescindible conocer a fondo las experiencias de las personas que habéis sido miembros. Por eso te pedimos que reserves un rato en los próximos días para contestar el cuestionario online que encontrarás en el siguiente enlace web:
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Por favor, distribúyelo también entre todos los exmiembros que conozcas para poder conseguir resultados significativos que muestren la relevancia social del fenómeno. Se trata de uno de los estudios más ambiciosos sobre esta temática. ¡Necesitamos tu ayuda!
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Muchísimas gracias,
Omar Saldaña, Álvaro Rodríguez, Carmen Almendros y José Miguel Cuevas
Universidad de Barcelona, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid y Universidad de Málaga
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Is the Regnum Christi Movement a “Safe Religious Community”?

Safe Religious Communities

By ReGAIN staff

What are the guidelines to use to evaluate whether or not a particular religious group may be considered “safe” in the sense that a leader or groups of leaders do not exploit or take advantage of its own members to serve some hidden agendas?

In the latest issue of ICSA Today, the International Cultic Studies Association has published an article about safe religious communities. http://www.icsahome.com/articles/a-safe-haven-church-an-introduction-to-the-basics-of-a-safe-religious-community

The author, Neil C Damgaard, defines safety (for members of religious communities) as “the practice and sense of security, freedom and respect as one is joined and engaged with a particular social system or a specific group.”

He explains that in healthy religious communities God’s grace flows outward from Him, through His people, to the general community.  In unsafe religious groups, instead of grace there exist “control, undue influence, harshness, legalism and other unhealthy maladies.”  Such practices damage and injure people even though the groups and their leaders espouse theological orthodoxy.  Discernment is required to distinguish between two groups that may appear to have similar beliefs yet one is healthy and the other is damaging.

Mr. Damgaard provides an example of a pastor of a religious group who was a gifted speaker but was highly controlling and legalistic.  As a result of the leader’s manipulations, fifty of his group became damaged and hurting and they left the organization.  The leader called the group of fifty “trouble-makers”.

The article describes a number of basic features that a potential member or family member can use to assist in discerning whether the group’s members are in or would be in a safe and healthy environment.

Following is our summary of some of the things to look for based on the above article:

  1. Generally Relaxed Environment – Is there a rigid dogmatic legalistic uptight atmosphere or are people free to enjoy a spirit of lightheartedness where people are able to express joy and to laugh?
  2. Regarding essential elements of the religious denomination, are there clear distinctions made between primary, secondary and tertiary doctrinal priorities or do members feel that they are obliged to consider all of the group’s teachings as absolutely and equally essential?
  3. Are members allowed and encouraged to question group’s teachings and is there an openness to have intelligent discussion about anything they may feel uncomfortable about?
  4. Is there an environment where forgiveness is normally expected to be offered or are there ongoing grudges?
  5. Is there a healthy sharing of power among the group leaders?
  6. Is there a healthy balance of power between the leaders and members of the group?
  7. Are there periodic changes of individual leaders in different levels of authority in the group or is there an individual or small group who retain tight control?
  8. Are the group leaders open to sincere and honest questions from the members in a transparent manner and is there any withholding of information?
  9. Is there a good balance of formality and informality in the group and allowance for humor?
  10. Is there genuine friendliness with strangers?
  11. Is there excessive focus on expanding membership (and fund raising)?
  12. Is there a healthy relationship with the parent organization, (e.g. the local parishes)?
  13. Are members free to leave without undue pressure to remain?

The author concludes with a caution to watch out for legalism, a feeling of being report-carded, excessive monitoring of accountability, heavy handed authority or oligarchy (concentration of power with a small elite group).

We encourage those interested in this topic to read the entire article for a more accurate presentation of the information covered.

 

ReGAIN Comment

Considering the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi (especially the 3gf consecrated) two questions come to our minds as we read the I.C.S.A. article.

During the decades when Fr. Marcial Maciel was in control, were his organizations safe and healthy?

Since the appointment of a Vatican delegate and a renewal, are these organizations safe and healthy for their members today?

The first of these questions is easy to answer based on the hundreds of articles on this website and the many articles written by credible authors over the years.  ReGAIN and other websites were started and some have continued because of concerns about what we and many ex members and some Catholic Church leaders consider unhealthy and unsafe conditions for members.  Our primary concerns are based on what we believe to be the loss of free will and the excessive level of dependence required for the Legionary priests and the consecrated members of Regnum Christi.

We are aware of the psychological, emotional and spiritual abuse many of them have suffered and the sexual abuse that some former members experienced when they were very young from the very founder of both organizations.  The abuses were carried out within a secretive, isolated and militaristic environment.

Since the Vatican became directly involved, we recognize that there have been some improvements in the conditions.  Consecrated members are now allowed to have more time with their family members. The number of written rules and the rigidity of following those rules have decreased.  Members receive their mail unopened.  We are aware that there are other changes being considered.

We continue to have a high level of concern regarding the freedom of mind and the independence of consecrated members and can offer several of our reasons as follows:

In our opinion, neither the Legion nor Regnum Christi has ever existed primarily to serve God and humanity.  Because of the good intentions of individual members, there are some good fruits that happen but we believe that the fundamental purpose of the upper echelon of leaders has to do with money and power for themselves.  One obvious indication of this is the huge accumulation of wealth that has been reported by Jason Berry and other writers in Grupo Integer, the financial wing of the Legion.  If the primary purpose was to do good then there would be more to show for the enormous amounts of fund raising associated with the Legion.

Until the Vatican intervened, we believe that the Legion showed little if any initiative or strong desire to have more freedom for their members.  The Legion/Regnum cooperated with the Vatican because if they wanted to continue as Catholic organizations they were forced to.

In the years between when the senior leaders of the Legion discovered about their founder’s secret lives, they chose to pretend that he was a saint and continued to encourage their members to believe he was a living saint.  They treated outside critics as “evil detractors” and discredited them in various ways.

During the years of scandal and uncertainty they kept on recruiting new members as if there was nothing wrong.

The Vatican commissioner’s limited scope of work was primarily to oversee the writing and approval of new constitutions.  The commissioner’s expertise was in canon law and financial matters.  His primary role was not to investigate and reform the cultic methodology and structure.  Some improvements have been made that resulted from his review of the regulations but we question whether there is a strong will among the leaders to make the types of changes needed to truly create a safe and healthy environment.

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