- 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