Tag Archives: Legion of Christ

Why do young Westerners join ISIS …or the Legion of Christ?

 

ICSA just shared with us the following article. It occurred to ReGAIN to write the above title because, despite the differences, there are parallels between joining ISIS and the Legion of Christ; the article presents the psychological explanation and “reasons” why young people join certain organizations.

Remember that the Legion likes to recruit young people, “the earlier the better,” often beginning in pre-adolescence, through their “front organizations” such as Challenge, etc.

Many of us joined in adolescence when we thought we were mature!

The article may give the reader insights into why young people join a relatively young and controversial religious order such as the Legion of Christ and other Catholic “fringe” organizations such as Miles Christi, the Magnificat Meal Movement, Love Holy Trinity Mission, Ireland’s own House of Prayer and a myriad of others that the ordinary Catholic or Christian does not know exist, sometimes right in his/her own backyard/parish.

In case you deem these claims outrageous or far fetched the blogger calls your attention to the following concepts which are common to young people joining ISIS and Legion of Christ:

life transition

quest for certainty

loneliness

a powerful, simple ideology with a crystal clear elaboration of the transcendental meaning for their lives

 

Psychiatric Times

 

09/10/15

Omar Sultan Haque, Jihye Choi, Tim Phillips, and Harold Bursztajn

The relatively sudden rise of the terrorist group ISIS in the Middle East has surprised many in the West. Equally surprising is that financially stable foreigners from the West are over-represented among ISIS fighters (1). As helpless observers of the inhumane and disproportionate violence that ISIS has exacted on the people of the Middle East and the rest of the world, it is easy to wonder: what could possibly be the appeal of such a murderous, intolerant, and authoritarian organization to so many young people in the West?

This question is easier to answer when imagining the motives and rationales of locals in Iraq and Syria. Perhaps these locals join in what they believe to be a righteous cause. They may want to fight their perceived enemy in a global war, just as many Americans join the US Armed Forces to fight ISIS and other perceived enemies. But what could possibly compel otherwise financially stable young Westerners (non-Muslim as well as Muslim) to leave their families, friends, and home culture, and take up an uncertain future by joining a terrorist organization like ISIS?

It’s not about poverty or religion

Clearly, poverty is not causing people to join ISIS, neither is religion. The vast majority of the West’s 50 million Muslims do not join terrorist groups. (2). Even among those with radical Islamic beliefs, only a very few act on those beliefs and join a terrorist organization (3). Background beliefs do not explain the motivation that compels people to join such groups—even as fundamentalist organizations go, ISIS is particularly extreme. It has been roundly condemned by many prominent Islamic institutions across the world as illegitimate, in violation of Islamic Law, and as not a part of Islam; it has even been rejected by the quite radical group Al-Qaeda (4).

The true answer is more disturbing and psychological, and has little to do with evil psychopaths finding their true home in ISIS, or of innocent youths being brainwashed into mindless soldiers. Rather, it involves the interaction of conscious and unconscious processes with unique features of ideologies like ISIS, and existential (but not material) vulnerabilities inherent in contemporary American life. One way to summarize our answer is that as an ideology, ISIS provides existential fast food, and for some of the most spiritually hungry young Westerners, ISIS is like a Big Mac amidst a barren wasteland of an existence. Much of the worldview of ISIS appears intellectually vapid and brittle, even silly when seriously considered as religious or philosophical propositions. Just as a person can get lost, a religious movement can also get lost in a forest of bad ideas. But most people do not get a PhD in philosophy of religion before deciding what to believe. The heart’s longings lead the mind, and the existential filler of ISIS nourishes the desperate and vulnerable soul, however much one is surrounded by material comfort.

Who actually joins ISIS? Not psychopaths or the brainwashed, but rather everyday young people in social transition, on the margins of society, or amidst a crisis of identity. According to anthropologist and psychologist Scott Atran who has studied the motivations and demographics of terrorists, it is mostly youth in transitional stages in their lives—immigrants, students, those between jobs or girlfriends, or those who left their homes and are looking for new families. For the most part they have no traditional religious education and are “born again” to religion. They are self-seekers who have found their way to jihad in myriad ways (5).

Why join ISIS?

Have you ever purchased junk food when tired, irritable, and jet-lagged at an airport? For lonely young people in transition, ISIS provides a quick fix to the perennial problems of human life. Vulnerable people don’t tend to fact check when existential relief is easily and cheaply attained with little effort. Specifically, the relief in question concerns the human desire for identity, certainty, social connection, meaning, the optimal amount of freedom, and glory.

At crucial developmental periods in adolescence and early adulthood, the formation of one’s identity is a primary concern, and a riddle to be solved. These years are a time for figuring out who one is, where one belongs, what one values and finds meaningful, and what one can become and prove to the world (6).These years are also a time of increasing awareness of an exciting yet frightening internal world with conscious and unconscious conflicts around envy, competition, self-control, and self-esteem (7).For youths on the margins of Western society, and in transition from one community to the next, this process of identity formation can become a hopeless task. When one has become a fringe member of one’s home community in America during crucial phases of identity formation, it is very tempting to join what appears to be a righteous struggle against one’s oppressive community. Even superficial Internet exposure (much less direct marketing) can convince the young that they too may participate in a world-historical narrative in which the enemy of America is a beacon of hope for solidifying their emerging self. This may evolve into a counterphobic attitude toward the society in which they feel helplessness, with a full embrace of a cult of death such as ISIS (8).

Humans tend to live with a quest for certainty in their hearts, and uncertainty is experienced as aversive (9,10). Whatever its factual merits, a pluralistic worldview denies its adherents the delights of absolute certainty, and it takes much cognitive effort to maintain. ISIS provides an ideology in which the world is divided into absolute good and evil, no compromises are possible, radical Islam is the solution to all human problems, and any other interpretation of Islam is unthinkable. Why settle for shades of grey in a messy world when “The Truth” is packaged and delivered in under 30 seconds via Internet sound bites? This black and white picture of truth may seem simplistic for the critically minded, but it can provide epistemological crème brûlée for drifting and unanchored Western youths. These youths are looking for answers to existential questions within a home culture perceived to be permissive and relativistic. In the midst of all this, an ideology that does not compromise the quest for certainty can be very appealing to the most vulnerable.

 

The underside of individualism

Americans pride themselves on their individualism, but the underside of individualism is loneliness (11). The desire for social connection is a human need as basic as food and sex, and the most obvious source of terrorist seduction for the lonely hearted (12). Social networks construct the web by which individuals are drawn to action, and social connection is a common attraction for everyday wholesome clubs as well as nefarious cults of all persuasions. Terrorist organizations are no exception, and most people join due to the influence of friends, kin, and others in a social network (13,14).

Although joining based on the influence of one’s friends and kin is a primary factor, recruitment from ISIS also occurs. ISIS has initiated a number of systematic online efforts to target and respond effectively to young Westerners in transition at the margins of society, who can be easily tempted by the false allure of quick and easy social connections amidst an individualistic society from which they feel alienated (15). Rather than contemplating and deciding whether the ideas within the ideology of ISIS are rational and worthy of assent, the young are more likely to be drawn in by attachments to those already embedded in ISIS as a way to thwart loneliness.

By most accounts, Americans are happy people, and the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence. But Western definitions of happiness tend toward happiness as present pleasure and self-expression, rather than happiness as meaning, moral struggle and sacrifice, and aligning oneself with sacred purposes beyond the self (16, 17). The latter meaning-oriented definition of happiness is more crucial for mental and physical health, but it is more common in non-secular cultures (and in the religious traditions within secular societies) (18). For Western youths drifting between communities and belief systems amidst pluralistic America, the allure of a powerful, simple ideology with a crystal-clear elaboration of the transcendent meaning for their lives and struggles would be akin to an ice cream cone on a hot July afternoon. This desire for meaning—to be a part of something much larger than oneself, especially if it is transcendent—is a very deep wish in human nature, and not the same as routine motivations concerning status or in-group preferences (ethnicity, race, or religion) (19,20). Thus the same need for meaning that propels a youngster to want to join ISIS can also lead an American businessman who achieves financial success to yearn for something beyond the accumulation of wealth, to something more meaningful and significant such as philanthropy, political office, or supporting a war (21).

Relatedly, as Atran notes, people join ISIS because they seek adventure and want glory. ISIS presents to the bored, secure, and the uninspired in Western liberal democracies a “thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends. Jihad is an egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer: fraternal, fast-breaking, glorious and cool. . . Many are just ‘vacationers’ for jihad, going to Syria over school breaks or holidays for the thrill of adventure and a semblance of glory.”

A seemingly paradoxical reason some Westerners join ISIS and other totalitarian organizations is that too much freedom can be experienced as burdensome. In 1941, the psychologist Erich Fromm in Escape From Freedom (22) explained why so many were attracted to the Nazi ideology in Germany by pointing to a feature of human nature that is afraid of being free and thus would rather submit to authority than be responsible for creating a life of one’s own. As in 1941 for Nazism, so also in 2015 for ISIS. Clearly, being a slave is no fun. But maximal freedom may also not be ideal, and humans vary in the degree to which additional freedom is experienced as beneficial. For someone who is socially integrated and stable, and more willful by nature, more autonomy can be a liberating means to self-create a life amidst hospitable institutions. In contrast, young adults in transition or on the margins of society may experience freedom as oppressive, since they lack the personal or social means for actually using a high degree of freedom to improve their lives. A totalitarian cult such as ISIS, which promises a strict ideology, rules, and a social order to which one can bind and submerge oneself, appeals to youths, especially those on the fringes of Western society for whom high amounts of freedom do not feel liberating but instead, oppressive.

Finally, these many vulnerabilities to joining terrorist organizations are combined with a deep but selective empathy. For example, an Iraqi-American youngster who perceives that Iraqis are persecuted by Americans might expand his empathy for suffering Iraqis over Americans and decide to join ISIS. Alternatively, a 5th-generation Italian-American youngster could find himself on the fringe of American society and start to develop deep empathy with the sufferings of America’s perceived enemies. Empathy is indeed a source of joining terrorist groups. The same empathy we may feel for the cherished victims of our favorite causes, others may feel for non-Americans. Empathy can be free of this paradoxical effect and fulfill its ethical possibilities only when empathy is generalized to all humans who suffer, not just to those in our in-group.

The reasons that youths join terrorist organizations such as ISIS have little to do with being poor, brainwashed, a Muslim, or a psychopath, and more to do with vulnerabilities in human nature exacerbated by aspects of Western societies. This diagnosis is echoed by journalists who have interviewed many ISIS fighters; a recent analysis of ISIS fighters remarks that “what draws people to ISIS could easily bring them to any number of cults or totalitarian movements, even those ideologically contradictory to Salafist Jihadism” (23).

If we Westerners are lucky, we have identities, certainties, social connections, meanings, generalized empathies, freedoms, and individual pursuits of glory that can be taken for granted. However, for those Westerners in transition, marginalized, lonely, lost, bored, uncertain, spiritually or existentially dispossessed, burdened by too much freedom, and empathically selective, ISIS and other shallow but contagious ideologies will remain tempting as quick fixes for the deep predicaments inherent to the human condition.

Acknowledgment—We would like to thank Dan Jones for helping us find some of the sources quoted in this article.

Disclosures

Dr Haque is Co-Director, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, American Unit; Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, Providence, RI; Program in Psychiatry and the Law and Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Ms Choi is Associate at Nonprofit Finance Fund, Boston; Harvard Mediation Program, Harvard Law School. Mr Phillips is Co-Founder of Beyond Conflict, Cambridge, MA. Dr Bursztajn is President, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, American Unit; Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Founder of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston. The authors report no conflicts of interest concerning the subject matter of this article.

References

(1) Stern J, Berger JM. ISIS: The State of Terror. New York: Ecco; 2015.

(2) Kurzman C.The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists? NY: Oxford University Press; 2011.

(3) Neumann PR. The trouble with radicalization. Int Affairs. 2013;89:873-893.

(4) Hassaballa HA. Think Muslims haven’t condemned ISIS? Think again. http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2014/08/think-muslims-havent-condemned-isis-think-again.html. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(5) Atran S. Jihad’s fatal attraction. The Guardian. September 4, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/04/jihad-fatal-attraction-challenge-democracies-isis-barbarism. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(6) Erikson EH. Identity and the Life Cycle. Vol 1. New York: WW Norton; 1980. Erikson EH. Identity: Youth and Crisis. No. 7. New York: WW Norton; 1994.

(7) Klein M. Envy and Gratitude: A Study of Unconscious Sources. New York: Routledge; 2013.

(8) Fenichel O. The counter-phobic attitude. Intl J Psychoanalysis. 1939;20:263-274. Unfortunately, current diagnostic taxonomy does not facilitate an empathic understanding of what can be helpfully understood as a counterphobic response to the trauma of adolescence (see: Bursztajn HJ, First MB. PTSD diagnoses can avoid avoidance as an absolute criterion. Lancet Psychiatry. 2014;1:332-333).

(9) Hogg MA. Subjective uncertainty reduction through self-categorization: a motivational theory of social identity processes. In: Stroebe W, Hewstone M, eds. European Review of Social Psychology. Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley; 2000;11:223-255.

(10) Weary G, Edwards JA. Causal-uncertainty beliefs and related goal structures. In: Sorrentino RM, Higgins ET, eds. Handbook of Motivation and Cognition: The Interpersonal Context. New York: Guilford Press; 1996;3:148-181.

(11) Putnam RD. Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. J Democracy. 1995;6:65-78.

(12) Baumeister RF, Leary MR. The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychol Bull. 1995;117:497-529.

(13) Sageman M. Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; 2011.

(14) Atran S. Talking to the Enemy: Religion, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists. New York: Ecco; 2011.

(15) Callimachi R. ISIS and the lonely young American. The New York Times. June 27, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/world/americas/isis-online-recruiting-american.html.

(16) Baumeister RF, Vohs KD, Aaker JL, Garbinsky EN. Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life. J Positive Psychol. 2013;8:505-516.

(17) Oishi S, Diener E. Residents of poor nations have a greater sense of meaning in life than residents of wealthy nations Psychological Science. 2013.http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/2/422.abstract.

(18) Fredrickson BL, Grewen KM, Coffey KA, et al. A functional genomic perspective on human well-being. PNAS. 2013;110:13684-13689.

(19) Frankl VE. Man’s Search for Meaning. New York: Simon and Schuster; 1985.

(20) Markman, KD, Proulx TE, Lindberg MJ. The Psychology of Meaning. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2013.

(21) Phillips T, Eisikovits N. For some Muslim youth, Islamic State’s allure is a meaningful alternative to Western values. Global Post. April 24, 2015. http://www.globalpost.com/article/6527455/2015/04/24/muslim-youth-allure-isis-meaningful-alternative-western-values. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(22) Fromm E. Escape From Freedom. NY: Farrar & Rinehart; 1941.

(23) Weiss M, Hassan H. ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror. NY: Regan Arts; 2015.

Linked Articles

The Ultimate Violation of “Do No Harm” at Fort Hood

Fort Hood and DOD Independent Review

The Fort Hood Aftermath—Army Accountability Review and Psychiatrists

Immigration and Post-Adolescent Psychology of Young Terrorists

The Making of a Homegrown Terrorist

Why Are Young Westerners Drawn to Terrorist Organizations Like ISIS?

Psychiatric and Societal Impacts of Terrorism

Psychiatric Times

 

09/10/15

Omar Sultan Haque, Jihye Choi, Tim Phillips, and Harold Bursztajn

The relatively sudden rise of the terrorist group ISIS in the Middle East has surprised many in the West. Equally surprising is that financially stable foreigners from the West are over-represented among ISIS fighters (1). As helpless observers of the inhumane and disproportionate violence that ISIS has exacted on the people of the Middle East and the rest of the world, it is easy to wonder: what could possibly be the appeal of such a murderous, intolerant, and authoritarian organization to so many young people in the West?

This question is easier to answer when imagining the motives and rationales of locals in Iraq and Syria. Perhaps these locals join in what they believe to be a righteous cause. They may want to fight their perceived enemy in a global war, just as many Americans join the US Armed Forces to fight ISIS and other perceived enemies. But what could possibly compel otherwise financially stable young Westerners (non-Muslim as well as Muslim) to leave their families, friends, and home culture, and take up an uncertain future by joining a terrorist organization like ISIS?

It’s not about poverty or religion

Clearly, poverty is not causing people to join ISIS, neither is religion. The vast majority of the West’s 50 million Muslims do not join terrorist groups. (2). Even among those with radical Islamic beliefs, only a very few act on those beliefs and join a terrorist organization (3). Background beliefs do not explain the motivation that compels people to join such groups—even as fundamentalist organizations go, ISIS is particularly extreme. It has been roundly condemned by many prominent Islamic institutions across the world as illegitimate, in violation of Islamic Law, and as not a part of Islam; it has even been rejected by the quite radical group Al-Qaeda (4).

The true answer is more disturbing and psychological, and has little to do with evil psychopaths finding their true home in ISIS, or of innocent youths being brainwashed into mindless soldiers. Rather, it involves the interaction of conscious and unconscious processes with unique features of ideologies like ISIS, and existential (but not material) vulnerabilities inherent in contemporary American life. One way to summarize our answer is that as an ideology, ISIS provides existential fast food, and for some of the most spiritually hungry young Westerners, ISIS is like a Big Mac amidst a barren wasteland of an existence. Much of the worldview of ISIS appears intellectually vapid and brittle, even silly when seriously considered as religious or philosophical propositions. Just as a person can get lost, a religious movement can also get lost in a forest of bad ideas. But most people do not get a PhD in philosophy of religion before deciding what to believe. The heart’s longings lead the mind, and the existential filler of ISIS nourishes the desperate and vulnerable soul, however much one is surrounded by material comfort.

Who actually joins ISIS? Not psychopaths or the brainwashed, but rather everyday young people in social transition, on the margins of society, or amidst a crisis of identity. According to anthropologist and psychologist Scott Atran who has studied the motivations and demographics of terrorists, it is mostly youth in transitional stages in their lives—immigrants, students, those between jobs or girlfriends, or those who left their homes and are looking for new families. For the most part they have no traditional religious education and are “born again” to religion. They are self-seekers who have found their way to jihad in myriad ways (5).

Why join ISIS?

Have you ever purchased junk food when tired, irritable, and jet-lagged at an airport? For lonely young people in transition, ISIS provides a quick fix to the perennial problems of human life. Vulnerable people don’t tend to fact check when existential relief is easily and cheaply attained with little effort. Specifically, the relief in question concerns the human desire for identity, certainty, social connection, meaning, the optimal amount of freedom, and glory.

At crucial developmental periods in adolescence and early adulthood, the formation of one’s identity is a primary concern, and a riddle to be solved. These years are a time for figuring out who one is, where one belongs, what one values and finds meaningful, and what one can become and prove to the world (6).These years are also a time of increasing awareness of an exciting yet frightening internal world with conscious and unconscious conflicts around envy, competition, self-control, and self-esteem (7).For youths on the margins of Western society, and in transition from one community to the next, this process of identity formation can become a hopeless task. When one has become a fringe member of one’s home community in America during crucial phases of identity formation, it is very tempting to join what appears to be a righteous struggle against one’s oppressive community. Even superficial Internet exposure (much less direct marketing) can convince the young that they too may participate in a world-historical narrative in which the enemy of America is a beacon of hope for solidifying their emerging self. This may evolve into a counterphobic attitude toward the society in which they feel helplessness, with a full embrace of a cult of death such as ISIS (8).

Humans tend to live with a quest for certainty in their hearts, and uncertainty is experienced as aversive (9,10). Whatever its factual merits, a pluralistic worldview denies its adherents the delights of absolute certainty, and it takes much cognitive effort to maintain. ISIS provides an ideology in which the world is divided into absolute good and evil, no compromises are possible, radical Islam is the solution to all human problems, and any other interpretation of Islam is unthinkable. Why settle for shades of grey in a messy world when “The Truth” is packaged and delivered in under 30 seconds via Internet sound bites? This black and white picture of truth may seem simplistic for the critically minded, but it can provide epistemological crème brûlée for drifting and unanchored Western youths. These youths are looking for answers to existential questions within a home culture perceived to be permissive and relativistic. In the midst of all this, an ideology that does not compromise the quest for certainty can be very appealing to the most vulnerable.

 

The underside of individualism

Americans pride themselves on their individualism, but the underside of individualism is loneliness (11). The desire for social connection is a human need as basic as food and sex, and the most obvious source of terrorist seduction for the lonely hearted (12). Social networks construct the web by which individuals are drawn to action, and social connection is a common attraction for everyday wholesome clubs as well as nefarious cults of all persuasions. Terrorist organizations are no exception, and most people join due to the influence of friends, kin, and others in a social network (13,14).

Although joining based on the influence of one’s friends and kin is a primary factor, recruitment from ISIS also occurs. ISIS has initiated a number of systematic online efforts to target and respond effectively to young Westerners in transition at the margins of society, who can be easily tempted by the false allure of quick and easy social connections amidst an individualistic society from which they feel alienated (15). Rather than contemplating and deciding whether the ideas within the ideology of ISIS are rational and worthy of assent, the young are more likely to be drawn in by attachments to those already embedded in ISIS as a way to thwart loneliness.

By most accounts, Americans are happy people, and the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence. But Western definitions of happiness tend toward happiness as present pleasure and self-expression, rather than happiness as meaning, moral struggle and sacrifice, and aligning oneself with sacred purposes beyond the self (16, 17). The latter meaning-oriented definition of happiness is more crucial for mental and physical health, but it is more common in non-secular cultures (and in the religious traditions within secular societies) (18). For Western youths drifting between communities and belief systems amidst pluralistic America, the allure of a powerful, simple ideology with a crystal-clear elaboration of the transcendent meaning for their lives and struggles would be akin to an ice cream cone on a hot July afternoon. This desire for meaning—to be a part of something much larger than oneself, especially if it is transcendent—is a very deep wish in human nature, and not the same as routine motivations concerning status or in-group preferences (ethnicity, race, or religion) (19,20). Thus the same need for meaning that propels a youngster to want to join ISIS can also lead an American businessman who achieves financial success to yearn for something beyond the accumulation of wealth, to something more meaningful and significant such as philanthropy, political office, or supporting a war (21).

Relatedly, as Atran notes, people join ISIS because they seek adventure and want glory. ISIS presents to the bored, secure, and the uninspired in Western liberal democracies a “thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends. Jihad is an egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer: fraternal, fast-breaking, glorious and cool. . . Many are just ‘vacationers’ for jihad, going to Syria over school breaks or holidays for the thrill of adventure and a semblance of glory.”

A seemingly paradoxical reason some Westerners join ISIS and other totalitarian organizations is that too much freedom can be experienced as burdensome. In 1941, the psychologist Erich Fromm in Escape From Freedom (22) explained why so many were attracted to the Nazi ideology in Germany by pointing to a feature of human nature that is afraid of being free and thus would rather submit to authority than be responsible for creating a life of one’s own. As in 1941 for Nazism, so also in 2015 for ISIS. Clearly, being a slave is no fun. But maximal freedom may also not be ideal, and humans vary in the degree to which additional freedom is experienced as beneficial. For someone who is socially integrated and stable, and more willful by nature, more autonomy can be a liberating means to self-create a life amidst hospitable institutions. In contrast, young adults in transition or on the margins of society may experience freedom as oppressive, since they lack the personal or social means for actually using a high degree of freedom to improve their lives. A totalitarian cult such as ISIS, which promises a strict ideology, rules, and a social order to which one can bind and submerge oneself, appeals to youths, especially those on the fringes of Western society for whom high amounts of freedom do not feel liberating but instead, oppressive.

Finally, these many vulnerabilities to joining terrorist organizations are combined with a deep but selective empathy. For example, an Iraqi-American youngster who perceives that Iraqis are persecuted by Americans might expand his empathy for suffering Iraqis over Americans and decide to join ISIS. Alternatively, a 5th-generation Italian-American youngster could find himself on the fringe of American society and start to develop deep empathy with the sufferings of America’s perceived enemies. Empathy is indeed a source of joining terrorist groups. The same empathy we may feel for the cherished victims of our favorite causes, others may feel for non-Americans. Empathy can be free of this paradoxical effect and fulfill its ethical possibilities only when empathy is generalized to all humans who suffer, not just to those in our in-group.

The reasons that youths join terrorist organizations such as ISIS have little to do with being poor, brainwashed, a Muslim, or a psychopath, and more to do with vulnerabilities in human nature exacerbated by aspects of Western societies. This diagnosis is echoed by journalists who have interviewed many ISIS fighters; a recent analysis of ISIS fighters remarks that “what draws people to ISIS could easily bring them to any number of cults or totalitarian movements, even those ideologically contradictory to Salafist Jihadism” (23).

If we Westerners are lucky, we have identities, certainties, social connections, meanings, generalized empathies, freedoms, and individual pursuits of glory that can be taken for granted. However, for those Westerners in transition, marginalized, lonely, lost, bored, uncertain, spiritually or existentially dispossessed, burdened by too much freedom, and empathically selective, ISIS and other shallow but contagious ideologies will remain tempting as quick fixes for the deep predicaments inherent to the human condition.

Acknowledgment—We would like to thank Dan Jones for helping us find some of the sources quoted in this article.

Disclosures

Dr Haque is Co-Director, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, American Unit; Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, Providence, RI; Program in Psychiatry and the Law and Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Ms Choi is Associate at Nonprofit Finance Fund, Boston; Harvard Mediation Program, Harvard Law School. Mr Phillips is Co-Founder of Beyond Conflict, Cambridge, MA. Dr Bursztajn is President, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics, American Unit; Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Co-Founder of the Program in Psychiatry and the Law, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston. The authors report no conflicts of interest concerning the subject matter of this article.

References

(1) Stern J, Berger JM. ISIS: The State of Terror. New York: Ecco; 2015.

(2) Kurzman C.The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists? NY: Oxford University Press; 2011.

(3) Neumann PR. The trouble with radicalization. Int Affairs. 2013;89:873-893.

(4) Hassaballa HA. Think Muslims haven’t condemned ISIS? Think again. http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2014/08/think-muslims-havent-condemned-isis-think-again.html. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(5) Atran S. Jihad’s fatal attraction. The Guardian. September 4, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/04/jihad-fatal-attraction-challenge-democracies-isis-barbarism. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(6) Erikson EH. Identity and the Life Cycle. Vol 1. New York: WW Norton; 1980. Erikson EH. Identity: Youth and Crisis. No. 7. New York: WW Norton; 1994.

(7) Klein M. Envy and Gratitude: A Study of Unconscious Sources. New York: Routledge; 2013.

(8) Fenichel O. The counter-phobic attitude. Intl J Psychoanalysis. 1939;20:263-274. Unfortunately, current diagnostic taxonomy does not facilitate an empathic understanding of what can be helpfully understood as a counterphobic response to the trauma of adolescence (see: Bursztajn HJ, First MB. PTSD diagnoses can avoid avoidance as an absolute criterion. Lancet Psychiatry. 2014;1:332-333).

(9) Hogg MA. Subjective uncertainty reduction through self-categorization: a motivational theory of social identity processes. In: Stroebe W, Hewstone M, eds. European Review of Social Psychology. Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley; 2000;11:223-255.

(10) Weary G, Edwards JA. Causal-uncertainty beliefs and related goal structures. In: Sorrentino RM, Higgins ET, eds. Handbook of Motivation and Cognition: The Interpersonal Context. New York: Guilford Press; 1996;3:148-181.

(11) Putnam RD. Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. J Democracy. 1995;6:65-78.

(12) Baumeister RF, Leary MR. The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychol Bull. 1995;117:497-529.

(13) Sageman M. Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; 2011.

(14) Atran S. Talking to the Enemy: Religion, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists. New York: Ecco; 2011.

(15) Callimachi R. ISIS and the lonely young American. The New York Times. June 27, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/world/americas/isis-online-recruiting-american.html.

(16) Baumeister RF, Vohs KD, Aaker JL, Garbinsky EN. Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life. J Positive Psychol. 2013;8:505-516.

(17) Oishi S, Diener E. Residents of poor nations have a greater sense of meaning in life than residents of wealthy nations Psychological Science. 2013.http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/2/422.abstract.

(18) Fredrickson BL, Grewen KM, Coffey KA, et al. A functional genomic perspective on human well-being. PNAS. 2013;110:13684-13689.

(19) Frankl VE. Man’s Search for Meaning. New York: Simon and Schuster; 1985.

(20) Markman, KD, Proulx TE, Lindberg MJ. The Psychology of Meaning. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2013.

(21) Phillips T, Eisikovits N. For some Muslim youth, Islamic State’s allure is a meaningful alternative to Western values. Global Post. April 24, 2015. http://www.globalpost.com/article/6527455/2015/04/24/muslim-youth-allure-isis-meaningful-alternative-western-values. Accessed August 11, 2015.

(22) Fromm E. Escape From Freedom. NY: Farrar & Rinehart; 1941.

(23) Weiss M, Hassan H. ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror. NY: Regan Arts; 2015.

Linked Articles

The Ultimate Violation of “Do No Harm” at Fort Hood

Fort Hood and DOD Independent Review

The Fort Hood Aftermath—Army Accountability Review and Psychiatrists

Immigration and Post-Adolescent Psychology of Young Terrorists

The Making of a Homegrown Terrorist

Why Are Young Westerners Drawn to Terrorist Organizations Like ISIS?

Psychiatric and Societal Impacts of Terrorism

 

 

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Legionaries’ Paradise, Part 2: The Pedophiles

 The Pedophiles

Four minor seminarians, 11-14 years old, reach out to Fr. Juan José Vaca, who has just come to the seminary in Ontaneda, Cantabria, Spain, as their new spiritual director. They reveal to him that Fr. Jesús Martínez-Penilla, the rector, had taken them to bed to masturbate them. Their stories implied that the abuses had been going on for two or three months.

As a good Legionary, Fr. Vaca called Fr. Maciel immediately. “Don’t worry, Juan José. Talk with those junior seminarians and calm them down. Tell them not to tell their parents.”

Within three hours Martínez-Penilla was on the train to Madrid. From there he flew to Mexico City and immediately headed for Chetumal where Monsignor Jorge Bernal, the Legionary of Christ apostolic delegate of the prelature, appointed by Marcial Maciel, was waiting to give him his next appointment, the Parish of Isla Mujeres.

Thousands of miles away from his victims, Martínez-Penilla was front line in all the most important religious celebrations of the Prelature. On March 19th, 1974 he accompanied Bishop Bernal through the streets of Chetumal as Bernal was consecrated bishop head of the Chetumal Prelature. Four other bishops follow in procession behind the newly consecrated bishop.

Martínez-Penilla continued his ecclesiastical career in the prelature as a pastor. The church directory of 1991 has him as pastor of the St Joachim Parish, Bacalar, Quintana Roo.  In 2007 he is pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in José María Morelos township.

In the Anniversary brochure published by the prelature in 2010, “Fr. Penilla” appears surrounded by the parish leadership group at Immaculate Conception parish in Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

In his deposition as part of initial investigation into sexual abuse of children at the Legion’s Instituto Cumbres, Mr. Villafuerte accuses Legionary of Christ, Eduardo Lucatero Alvarez of “having known the facts and having limited himself to terminating a predatory gym instructor at the Instituto Cumbres in Mexico City”. Lucatero was accused of advising the abuser’s family to leave the country because he was going to have problems. According to Villafuerte, the gym instructor was not the only abuser in the school; he names Guillermo Romo, Francisco Rivas and Alfonso NJ, other Cumbres employees of ‘touching children.”

“He also knows and saw that sometimes the assistant principal, called Eduardo Lucatero, LC, was hearing the boys’ confessions; that said person also took the little girls, the boys’ sisters, and caressed their intimate parts obscenely.” But when the case came to court Fr. Lucatero was only sentenced for covering up the abuse.

Before going to legal authorities, one of the victim’s mother approached the Instituto Cumbres administration directly. It was a huge mistake. “My life turned upside down. I lost my work because of them. I lost my lifelong friends. I lost my condominium, and overnight I was swallowed up by a huge hole in the ground. They are very powerful people. They threatened me. They tried to ride me off the beltway (periférico) more than once with a Mustang to frighten me out of going to court.”

Lucatero-Álvarez also ended up in the Chetumal (now Cancun-Chetumal) Prelature where his presence was never hidden. On the inside back page overlap of A Missionary Church he can be seen in the second row of active clergy, vested in priestly robes and in a prayerful posture. The group is headed by the present bishop of the Prelature, Monsignor Pedro Pablo Elizondo, another Maciel appointee.

The brochure describes Lucatero-Álvarez as belonging to Holy Trinity Parish in Cancun. On page 85 he appears in a group of twenty posing in front of the Cancun cathedral church. He is tall, with glasses, wearing a white guayabera and a cross on his chest, smiling.

The Prelature’s 2014 church directory describes him as a religious (LC) priest, head of the Doctrine of the Faith in the office for Prophetic Pastoral Ministry. In other words, he is in charge of protecting the discipline and dogmas of the Catolic Church in Quintana Roo state, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.incest_juan

Pedophile Paradise: Legion of Christ

Order continues to minimize and deny abuses, to protect abusers, to shy away from Church guidelines and avoid informing local Child Protection Agencies about Sex Abuse in its ranks.

girl_praying

Some would like to believe that with  the death of Fr. Maciel the Legion’s Sex problems are over. A fair amount of sweeping under the carpet has taken place. And Cardinal De Paolis must accept some of the responsibility from his comfortable position of washed hands; le mani pulite, as Italians like to say,.

Legion superiors, true to the tradition of the founder,pick up the brush and do their bit.

We cannot totally isolate Fr. Maciel’s predatory pederasty from the body Legion. He sowed his seeds in his victims -at least attempted to physically-  some of them became predators.

Recently, Legion of Christ US Provincial, Fr. John Connor, gave an “account” of how the institution has dealt with accusations of sexual abuse against its active members.

1] This article reproduces the reaction of a former Legionary who is a very successful lawyer:

2] ReGAIN in its comment insist that the Legion continues to sidestep Church and Legal Child Protection Guidelines.  In its statements regarding sexual abusers in its midst The Legion of Christ Catholic Religious Order uses SELECTIVE MEMORY, as a simple search in Google demonstrates:

-Vatican investigating Legion over 7 pedophile priest:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/vatican-investigating-7-legion-of-christ-priests-over-sex-abuse-allegations/

May 11, 2012

-Legion admits Fr. Izquierdo’s Abuses:

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/legion-of-christ-acknowledges-abuse-committed-at-connecticut-seminary

Dec 5,2013

1] Todd Carpunky
Facebook’s reaction for Fr. John Connor’s statement:

August 26 at 9:13am · Edited ·

<The statement from this priest is grossly misleading

http://www.regnumchristi.org/en/legion-of-christ-statement-on-past-sexual-abuse-cases/

(https://www.regnumchristi.org/…/legion-of-christ-statement…/).

Years ago a good friend of mine was repeatedly molested by a superior at the Legion’s minor seminary. The abuser, Fernando Cutanda, was a “brother” (not yet ordained) at the time, and my friend was in his early teens. Another boy saw my friend hiding under a bed in the dorm one night, and my friend told him why. That boy then informed the rector.

What happened next? Did the Legion inform the local authorities in NH or at least kick Cutanda out? No, they immediately sent Cutanda to Rome where they made him a superior (i.e., a “formator” of other seminarians), and a couple years later (1992) they had him ordained a priest despite the fact that they knew he was a child rapist.

A few years later in a sign of divine justice he was involved in a bad car accident in Mexico (where he was also in a leadership position), and he was still in a coma when I left the Legion in 1996. Years later I heard that he had left the priesthood and was living with his family back in Spain.

Then, about 5 years ago, I heard a distressing rumor that Cutanda was working in the Philippines with Catholic schools run by the Legion that are targeted at children from poor families. I used google and chats on Facebook with someone in the Philippines involved with the organization to confirm that it was the same Fernando Cutanda who had molested my friend. It was. I told the person in the Philippines what Cutanda had done. He then relayed it in the organization there. I’m told that there was then a group meeting there with Cutanda in which Cutanda’s excuse was that the child rape was just some “inappropriate excess of affection” he had with a student in the past.

Once I confirmed it was the same Cutanda, I emailed the Legion’s superiors in Rome (Corcuera, Garza and Sada) and cc’d the superiors in the U.S. who had known what Cutanda had done since the late 80’s (Legion Frs. Bannon and Bailleres). I told them that I knew Cutanda was working with their schools for poor kids in the Philippines, that I knew what Cutanda had done to my friend years ago, that I knew that they knew he was a child molester and that they still had him ordained a priest with that knowledge and now had him working with kids in the Philippines. I demanded that Cutanda be removed immediately from his current post with the schools in the Philippines or else. The response I received from the Legion was that (i) as a result of some organization-wide audit, they were already in the process of removing him from his post and (ii) he “is married now”, as though getting married somehow renders a pedophile no longer a pedophile and justified him working with kids again just because he is “married now”…. Their response didn’t deny any of the other accusations I made about Cutanda, including their longstanding knowledge or their failure to act after they knew. They also said that they apologized for any abuse the victim “may have suffered” and they were praying for him.

In my response to their email, I indicated, among other things, that they had never formally apologized to the victim for what they knew happened so long ago (and cc’d the victim) and asked whether a formal, direct apology to him would be forthcoming. They never responded. That was in 2010 (and I still have the emails).

So, FIVE years later they issue a statement in which they try to make it appear, for whatever reason, that they recently received allegations, promptly reported them to the local police in NH, had the allegations investigated independently, found them credible and promptly offered support to the victims. Those are LIES. They agreed to pay for counselling for my friend years ago only after his diocese had gotten involved. At that time (YEARS AGO) the Legion priest (Fr. Anthony Bailleres) told him that he was the only known case of sex abuse that had occurred in the Legion (which is now known to be very false). This statement is nothing more than a disgusting and disgraceful attempt at a whitewash. It has made me angrier and more disgusted than I have been in a long, long time

. ¡¡SINVERGÜENZAS,

QUÉ DESGRACIADOS SON!! ¡

¡QUÉ ASCO ME DAN!!>

This is not the first time Todd Carpunky has spoken out: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/a-secret-shame-inside-the-latest-scandal-to-rock-the-catholic-church-1739889.html

& & & & &

2] ReGAIN Comment

  • The Legion, master wordsmiths, refer in the title of their document to “past sexual abuse cases”, as if there were none in the present! What an assumption.
  • They mention only one offending Legionary who is no longer a Legionary; as if they have been no others. To learn about other Legion Sex Abuse cases search ReGAIN and use Google!
  • What is the Legion doing about Cutanda’s victims –whom they have denied and mistreated in the past? Fr John Connor, LC, the Legion’s director for North America, accepted the Board’s recommendation and arrangements have been made to give the victims suitable support. How vague can you get!
  • And what is this Presidium organization the Legion refers to?[1] It is an agency that gives accreditation for organizations who deal with children, to insure the atmosphere is healthy and safe for children.
  • However, this is not the same as holding abusers accountable. The Legion does not refer to the guidelines the Vatican[2] has already issued regarding cases of sex abuse by clergy and religious, May 3, 2011. We cite one paragraph:

<Vatican guidelines to bishops: e) Cooperation with Civil Authority

  • Sexual abuse of minors is not just a canonical delict but also a crime prosecuted by civil law. Although relations with civil authority will differ in various countries, nevertheless it is important to cooperate with such authority within their responsibilities. Specifically, without prejudice to the sacramental internal forum, the prescriptions of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the designated authority should always be followed. This collaboration, moreover, not only concerns cases of abuse committed by clerics, but also those cases which involve religious or lay persons who function in ecclesiastical structures.>
  • Nor does the Legion of Christ commit to abiding by civil laws and local Child Protection Enforcement agencies, which include informing the corresponding authorities when an allegation is made or a victim comes forward.
  • Connor’s statement continues: ‘Nothing further will be said” –Don’t ask any more questions, reporters or interested individuals- because we have “to respect the identity of the victims.” At least he refers to the two victims as victims.
  • In his report Fr. Connor mentions serial pedophile Fr. Fernando Cutanda, LC, who was accused 30 years ago! If we cut through the verbiage we see he has not been held accountable in any serious way.
  • Apparently the Legion has not reported offending members to civil authorities.
    They prefer to let decades pass before taking action: when accusations are made they deny or minimize or blame the victim;
  • they transfer the offender to another “front”, hide them away;
  • They may or may not keep them away from children (see case of senior LC priest and Maciel victim, an offender who has never been monitored by the Legion; it seems they don’t consider poor Mexican children to be important, Thy Kingdom Come!);
  • They wait for the offenders to grow old, become senile or suffer from dementia. Then they won’t do anything because they are old and suffering (see case of multiple offender, Fr. William Izquierdo, Master of Novices in Dublin and Cheshire, CT…)
  • The Vatican showed them how to do this by delaying Marcial Maciel’s indictment until he was in his 80s and then avoiding a church trial because he was too old and feeble…He brushed off the tap on the wrist and carried on as usual until he died unrepentant.

[1] http://website.praesidiuminc.com/about-praesidium/

Reference to Presidium an “accreditation agency” in this article from Vatican Radio that refers to approval of LC constitutions: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/11/02/legionaries_of_christ_learning_from_mother_church/1109988

[2] http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20110503_abuso-minori_en.html

Does Pope Francis really Understand the Legion/Regnum Christi Phenomenon?

Francis with Legionaries

Dear Readers,
ReGAIN appreciates your interest in the previous article highlighting Pope Francis’ comments regarding the Fr. Maciel/Legion of Christ phenomenon. The present article is a probing commentary follow up.
The first investigation of the Founder in the years 1956-59 ended with Fr. Maciel’s reinstatement as General Director in ambiguous circumstances: the interregnum between the death of Pope Pius XII and the installation of Pope John XXIII. More recently, after Fr. Maciel’s death in 2008 at the age of 88, the Legion revealed that he had committed many sins/crimes and lived a double life. These revelations shocked many Catholics, including members of the Legion of Christ religious order and its Regnum Christi lay movement; a good number left and that time and the bleeding continues.
The outcry spurred a second Vatican “visitation”/investigation which later led to a period of Vatican oversight led by Cardinal Velasio de Paolis and an effort to “renew” the institution founded by the depraved founder. When interviewed about the Maciel case Pope Benedict XVI decried the founder’s sins but decided that the Legion was worth “saving.” In a nutshell that is the watershed moment. To confirm this notice how the words used in Vatican documents always used the term “renewal” and never “reform” of the Legion of Christ. So this fundamental decision by Pope Benedict would mark the whole Vatican “intervention” with the Legion: many superiors, trained and hand-picked by Maciel, were allowed to stay in the posts. There was some slight re-shuffling of certain superiors organized by the Vatican Delegate and the Legion superiors, but no disciplining or holding accountable for collusion with the corrupt founder during his more than sixty years at the head of the Legion.

It is difficult to understand why the Assistant Superior General, Fr. Luis Garza, was removed from key posts and sent to Mexico. Could it be that there he could be closer to his rich family and to the Legion’s riches? Some important figures during the Maciel administration, his lackeys and hatchet men, were sent away from the USA -where they might be sued- and sent to “safer” places such as Ireland, Rome, Mexico and South America…De Paolis and the Legion superiors chose too Maciel clones, Frs. Corcuera and Robles Gil -originally handpicked by Maciel to found the Regnum Christi youth section- to lead the renewal and the new Legion.

It appears that the Legionaries’ anxious period of Vatican oversight is coming to an end with the successful conclusion of the Extraordinary General Chapter and culminating with the approval of their new constitutions. Pope Francis signed off on those constitutions.
Mexican reporter Valentina Alazraki’s interview with Pope Francis brought up some of the old doubts about the Pope and the Vatican’s intervention of the Legion of Christ. Pope Francis distanced himself from Maciel and the Legion of Christ and “defended” Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XIV’s actions. All of this in a wide-ranging and almost casual conversation with allowed Pope Francis to be very vague and slide away from unpleasant issues. This writer expressed his opinion in a brief introduction to the interview’s Spanish language version. It said:
“As ReGAIN has so much interest in this subject, we want to say a couple of words about the Pope’s comments. Our first impression is that the Holy Father does not totally comprehend the full malice of Father Maciel and the disastrous effects he and the men formed by him have had on others. Those of us who have been close to the (sexual, psychological, physical and spiritual) victims have the feeling that the Pope (and his predecessors) just don’t get it.
It is just not enough to say that Fr. Maciel was “a very ill person” a pedophile or a pan-sexual abuser; or that he was “an enigmatic figure” with “a life out of moral bounds,” as Benedict XVI described him in Light of the World. J. Paul Lennon has written the only English profile of the personality of the founder (Marcial Maciel, Pedophile, Psychopath and… http://www.amazon.com/Marcial-Pedophile-Psychopath-Founder-Benedict/dp/1475215797).  In Spanish, Fernando Gonzalez produced an in-depth study of the personality, history of Maciel and the Legion: http://www.amazon.com/Marcial-Maciel-Legionarios-testimonios-documentos/dp/9706991506/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427427167&sr=8-1&keywords=Marcial+Maciel%2C+Legion+of+Christ%2C+testimonios+ineditos .

So there remains a profound question to be answered: how could such a corrupt, destructive, psychopathic person, totally lacking in faith, hope and charity found a religious order? Critical minds remain unconvinced by Church leaders’ “Deus ex machina” answer: Maciel bad, Legion of Christ good; “God writes straight on crooked lines.” “God can use an unworthy instrument to create His Work.” That is all well and good, if we can stretch our puny faith another mile. As educated and thinking Catholics we posit that both Benedict and Francis fail to grasp the depth of Maciel’s depravity and deceit and by so doing avoid radical questions and actions regarding the nature of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.

At the risk of scandalizing our Catholic readers we request from our leaders a review of the late and lukewarm intervention of Church authorities in this case. Sadly, Pope Francis’ vagueness and hesitations seem like an effort to justify his predecessor’s omissions,” (writer later adde): “lack of oversight, due diligence and vigor in getting to the bottom of the Maciel/Legion murky mystery”.
These considerations lead to scary derivations:
• Could it be that three popes and their entourage were also deceived by the incredible con-man who portrayed himself as the founder of a new and healthy religious order? At this juncture there comes to mind the suggestion that Maciel’s powers of manipulation and deceit were well-nigh diabolical!
• If the popes and Vatican department were misled regarding the authenticity of the Maciel/Legion charisma, could they have erroneously approved the order in 1948, thus putting papal infallibility in jeopardy?
• Or, more fundamentally, is the Pope infallible when he decides to approve a religious order?
• More pointedly, did the pope/Vatican err in approving the Legion of Christ when Maciel played games with Vatican authorities and manipulated the bishop of Cuernavaca into canonically erecting the order back in 1948?

—————

One reader, wise2, made the following comment to the previously posted Spanish language article which gives another twist to the discussion:
“Editor,
from your comments here, I’m not sure if you get it.
The issue is not so much how could Fr. Maciel found this order, but it is the profound effect of Maciel on the Legion and how that effect is being propagated in the heart of the Church around the world, including a few minutes from where I live. It seems so much easier to talk about Maciel and not Maciel’s effect on this order. The scandal that nobody is mentioning is thousands times larger than anyone, even you, apparently, will even talk about. The stones are crying out!”
————

Translation of Introduction to original Spanish language article:
Teniendo ReGAIN tanto interés y conocimiento del tema, nos permitimos dos palabras sobre los comentarios del Papa. La primera impresión de nuestros editores es que el Santo Padre no se percata de toda la malicia y los estragos causados por el Padre Maciel y por los hombres formados personalmente por él. A los que estamos cerca de las victimas del Padre Maciel y de los superiores legionarios nos da la impresión de que, como dicen los norteamericanos, “He just doesn’t get it.” No basta decir que el Padre Maciel fuera una persona “enferma” ni que fuera sólo un pederasta. Y queda por resolver la pregunta básica: ?Como pudo un hombre tan corrupto, tan destructor de vidas, un verdadero psicópata, y totalmente carente de fe, esperanza y caridad fundar una congregación religiosa? A nuestro humilde parecer como creyentes católicos sostenemos que tanto Benedicto como Francisco se quedan cortos y rehúyen de los interrogantes radicales y profundos acerca del fenómeno de la Legión de Cristo y del Regnum Christi. Esperamos no escandalizar a nuestros hermanos y hermanas al reclamar a nuestros líderes una revisión de la tardía y tibia actuación de las autoridades en el caso Maciel/Legión. Es muy triste constatar que el Papa Francisco parece estar justificando a sus predecesores su falta de vigilancia y vigor en el caso Maciel y no reconocer que ellos también fueron víctimas de su engaño.
Traducción castellana del comentario hecho en inglés:
Estimado Editor,
Por lo que Ud. escribe yo no estoy seguro que Ud. tampoco comprende de lo que se trate. El problema no es cómo pudo Maciel fundar la orden sino el efecto profundo que Maciel dejó en la Legión y cómo esos efectos siguen propagándose en el corazón de la Iglesia por todo el mundo, incluso a poca distancia de donde vivo yo. Como que es mucho más fácil hablar de Maciel mismo y no sobre su efecto en la orden. El escándalo que calla todo el mundo es mil veces más grande de lo que nadie, inclusive Ud., quiere abordar. !Las mismas piedras están clamando!
Reply
1. Editor
March 16, 2015 at 1:17 pm Edit
wise2, Tell us more. We find you comment well taken.

Part 3: The Forgotten Legion of Christ Missionary

11246478_10203068526272912_857673576796572219_n_003

BIOGRAPHICAL info (Updated 5/27/15)

Fr.Raymond Kevin Comiskey Walsh, + 5/26/2015 was born on Jan 19, 1942 in Dublin, Ireland. He grew up in Whitehall and was an active member of the Legion of Mary. He joined the Legionaries of Christ in September 1961,  following in the footsteps of his friend Paul Lennon and influence of recruiter, Santiago/James Coindreau, at Bundrowes House, Bundoran, Co. Donegal, Republic of Ireland.

Some of the candidates from that same year who still are priests in the Legion are Brian Farrell, Fintan Lawless, Thomas Moylan, Donal Corry, John Walsh, John Devlin and Jude Furlong.

He was ordained to the priesthood at the Apostolic School in Tlalpan, January 29, 1970 (just 28) by then Apostolic Delegate (nuncio) Luigi Raimondi.

In 1971 he arrived in Chetumal, capital of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, and was soon assigned to the Parish of Santa Cruz, in the central town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto (Maya region). Fr Raymond studied Maya so he could understand the people and be understood by them when he administered the sacraments. He was ably assisted by two Maya bilingual “sacristans” /catechists and by the Madres de la Luz sisters.

Fr. Raymond spent decades there serving the Maya descendants in a very selfless and generous ministry.

Later he moved to Cancun and served the faithful there preaching fearlessly the Word of God and giving good example to his fellow Legionaries by his simple and austere life style.

When his illnesses caught up with him he elected to live (or was left to live) alone in Merida at the home of a friendly family. His health declined until he was confined to a wheelchair.

At this writing (5/27/15) the blogger does not have concrete information about the circumstances of his passing

                                                                     &&&&&

Part 3: THE FORGOTTEN LEGION OF CHRIST MISSIONARY

Visit to Bishop Emeritus Jorge Bernal-Vargas, LC,
Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón, Chetumal, Q. Roo, México
January 30, 2015

By John Lloyd Stephens,
Author of Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan

My mission had been simplified: to find an outlet for Father Ray’s writings. So as soon as I returned to the comfort of Merida’s hotel zone I searched for a place where I could copy his writings. Not such an easy task. I could not count on your normal American efficiency; no Kinko’s available. A few stores offered copying and other services. Copies were relatively expensive by US standards but I was determined to do Ray right. Choosing one that looked most professional I immediately requested my copies. The store accepted my request for three bound copies but I had a feeling it would be a laborious process.  I asked for them to be ready next morning. The employee asked for my phone number so she could call me when the copies and the bill were complete.
Anyhow the next day, after some delay and complications, they were ready and I was able to pick them up. Called Ray but got no answer. I set off for his place now knowing his proper address. Got there. Nobody there. Stretching my arm I pitched his copy through the wrought iron gate in the direction of his front door and made my way back.
I wanted to show the second copy to Monsignor Bernal his LC superior in Chetumal if I could meet him. I would keep another copy for myself in case Mons. Bernal did nothing with the copy I would deliver to him.
We drove back to Chetumal in our rented Renault. Victoria B wanted to hand a little present to Srta. Lilí Conde who had been so kind to us on our arrival to Chetumal two weeks previously. We were unable to meet with her again but left them with the hotel concierge.
John Lloyd still had to finish his mission. At around 8:00 pm he sought out Mons. Bernal near the Church of the Sacred Heart, Parque de los Caimanes. He knew the priests’ residence was nearby. Friendly neighbors pointed the way: “The big patio around the corner.” Walked in. To his left a young Legionary was teaching about 30 people in one of the classrooms. Kept going toward the main two-story building. “I want to see Mons. Bernal!” he called out loudly. A face peeked out through an upstairs curtain.
After a while Mon. Bernal came down the stairs wearing his usual attire, pants and a white guayabera. He had aged and the gaps in his front teeth were more pronounced. “Did he have good dental care here on the missions?” Lloyd wondered to himself. Monsignor remarked that Fr. Patrick, Lloyd’s companion for two years in Bacalar, was not around; he would be delayed because “he was giving talks at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.”

[From the get go Monsignor seemed to be in a hurry. He did not invite Lloyd inside to visit with the other members of the Legion community. The conversation took place strolling around the patio. Was he some kind of persona non grata?, ran through Lloyd’s subconscious.]
The usual pleasantries. Decades had passed since Mons. Bernal had sent his last report to Fr. Maciel regarding Lloyd’s behavior on the missions, since the day Lloyd had confronted Monsignor about him retaining some of Lloyd’s personal and confidential correspondence from the Cardinal Archbishop of Mexico. But all this was behind them. Safer for both to reminisce about the good times. The man of the cloth recalled those companions who had “gone before us in the sign of peace.

“How are you, Monsignor?                                                                                                                                                -“Really nobody now. Just getting old. I’m emeritus now.”
“And what about Raymond, Monsignor? I visited him in Merida and he is very ill.”
-“I know. Bishop Elizondo has been to see him.”
“I understand he is receiving financial aid from the Legion. I was wondering where that was coming from. I mean…”
-“Where from do you think?” –a little testily. (Meaning from local funds and not from Legion of Christ central administration.)
“Monsignor, you know he was written some stuff, homilies, etc. and I have a copy with me in case someone would like to publish.”
-“Ah-a” –otherwise no reaction…
“He is in pretty bad shape and being taken care of by his former secretary.”
-“You know he never took good care of his health. And he is stubborn. He prefers it that way.”
“Even so; he was a close friend of mine.”
-“Bishop Elizondo goes to visit him. He is taking care of him and handling it.”

Monsignor Bernal seemed to be getting increasingly nervous and Lloyd perceived his desire to terminate the meeting.
“Well, Monsignor, thank you very much for your time. Please give my regards to Fr. Patrick and all the other members of the community. Let us stay in touch.”
-“Thank you for your visit, Lloyd, and may God Bless you.”

“John Lloyd Stephens, author of Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan, turned and walked slowly across the concrete patio through the wide gate with a heavy heart at the emotional distance he had sensed during his interview; he was also chilled by Monsignor’s coldness towards his childhood friend cum Legionary. He tried to conjure up ways that retired missionary Raymond Cumiskey, officially registered as a member of the Legion of Christ Cancun religious community but living with a friendly family, would be better taken care of physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually during the remainder of his days.