End In Sight For Current Legion Leaders Who Covered Up For a “False Prophet”

An article entitled With Maciel Buried, His Centurions’ Fires Are Burning Out appeared in CHIESA recently. Sandro Magister points out that although the leaders who covered up for Fr. Maciel still retain their positions of authority, their days may be numbered. Their credibility is being questioned as Legion members are starting to speak more openly about the slow pace of the reform process.

To read this article Click Here

ReGAIN Comment: Sandro Magister mentions that revolt is stirring.

Finally, some signs of life and free thought are stirring. People are starting to think for themselves, to question and even to criticize their leaders, just as ordinary people do in most other places.

There is a place within an authentic and healthy religious congregation for obedience. But surely it is contrary to God’s will and unhealthy to impose mindless robotic obedience to a plethora of oppressive rules in a militaristic tightly controlled environment that has been the way of things in the Legion for so many decades. It is our great gifts of intellect and free will that differentiate us from lower members of the animal kingdom. We need to have the ability to make personal decisions about our lives.

Perhaps the pace of the reform has necessarily been kept to a snail’s pace, waiting for those on the inside to express an eager desire to see things change. This has been proved in the highly successful 12 step program that starts with a recognition that a person’s life is out of control and that he or she is powerless to change.

We hope and pray that the lack of significant change to date and the increasing pressure now from those on the inside as well as many from the outside is not because the new commissioner is being won over by the old guard of the Legion to their way of thinking but rather because successful long lasting positive change in this case must come primarily from within.

If the demands coming from the lower levels of the Legion are signs that their minds and wills are becoming more free and this is because Cardinal DePaolis has recognized the need to pace the necessary changes one step at a time we see a glimmer of hope for cautious optimism.

Fr. Richard Gill Ex Legionary Priest Asks Can The Legion Be Repaired?

Fr. Gill points out how Maciel’s legacy continues to weigh negatively on the Legion through the superiors who were connected to him and who still lead the congregation. The Chiesa article including Father Gill’s analysis may be seen <a href=http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1346646?eng=y>Click Here</a>
Richard Gill shares his main reasons for leaving the Legion, following the sordid double life of the founder and his personal conclusion that such a person who he describes as <q>the most despicable character in the Twentieth Century</q> could transmit any valid charism.

But he says that the way the current Legion superiors (all of whom remain in place) failed to act or acted in ways to deliberately mislead the membership bothered him more than the actual scandals related to the founder. He observed a systematic effort to deny and minimize the facts.
He states that last year, the Legionary superiors attempted to rush through a revised version of the constitution but this was quickly turned down by Cardinal DePaolis.

He then lists 10 questions of the stumbling blocks that make the reform exercise a monumental and perhaps impossible task.
Some of the key issues identified in the questions provided include:

<ol>How can the Church accept the Legion as a “work of God, considering the many defects?

There has always been great ambiguity and confusion regarding the charism and this has not yet been generally admitted by the Legion.

The Church and Legion superiors enabled Father Maciel in many ways over decades and allowed him to continue his abuse and immoral lifestyle. There is a need to delve into the history of the founder and to bring the true history into the light.

The version of Regnum Christi statutes approved in 2004 by Cardinal Rode was considerably different from that which promulgated among the members.

So far, individuals who took part in deceit relating to the founder’s secret life have not been held accountable. Further investigation and justice is required to avoid similar things happening in future.

There has been no change in leadership and this has led to questions relating to trust within and outside the Legion.

The long standing problems that limit real dialogue remain. Voices of dissenters were dealt with effectively over the years and this still happens. Modern technology has been recently implemented (including very aggressive industrial spyware?) to improve monitoring of email correspondence.

Ex members with valuable insights have so far been left out of the reform process.

Richard Gill mentions the Latino mentality (which he says if more tolerant of misconduct and corruption and dishonesty) that pervades the Legion, continues to create stress particularly in Spain and America.</ol>

In his conclusion Father Richard Gill questions how a religious order can be reformed when the founder has been recently labeled as <q>a false prophet</q> by Pope Benedict XVI. Other Catholic religious orders that have reformed have based their reform on returning to the charism and example of the original founder. In this case that is not an option.

<b>Regain Comment:</b>

The excellent questions posed by Father Gill demonstrate the importance of having ex members involved in the reform process. Could he have written such an analysis at any time when he was a Legionary priest? Would he have been able to have access to information to allow him to formulate such opinions? Living in an atmosphere of blind obedience where nobody was allowed to criticize a superior in an open manner what would have happened to him if he had issued these statements? It is necessary to be outside to be able to see the Legion as a hall of mirrors.

The points he makes about the futility of any attempt to return to the founding charism and principles (and saintly example) of their founder, the cultural tensions and the problems of the collective attitude of the current superiors (who wanted to rush through a quickie update of statutes to get this little diversion over and done with) are going to be huge obstacles for the Apostolic Delegate to deal with.

For ReGAIN and friends who have been analyzing these sorts of issues for many years, we know that the excellent points and issues raised are only the tip of the iceberg. There has been overwhelming spiritual, emotional, sexual, physical, financial and mental damage done to many, many victims, inside and outside, including volunteers, benefactors and unfortunately to the Roman Catholic Church itself. Richard Gill touches on the Legion’s contribution to disharmony within the Church hierarchy at the highest levels, with two cardinals simultaneously expressing completely opposite views about the founder. He asked: what does it say about the internal culture of the Vatican that while Maciel was being praised at his 60th anniversary in 2004 by Cardinal Sodano, he was being investigated by Cardinal Josef Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith?? Insights into this disharmony may be found at <a href=http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/george-weigel-whitewashing-history>Click Here</a> ReGAIN reported on Jason Berry’s article in December about how the founder was able to buy influence in the Vatican at senior levels.

ReGAIN applauds Richard Gill for speaking out some things that need to be said and for asking that the facts be brought out into the light and dealt with in a way to avoid future false prophets from being welcomed and encouraged within the Catholic Church.

Father Luis Garza Steps Down as Vicar General of the Legionaries of Christ

According to a report from Catholic News Agency (CAN) written by David Kerr, Click Here Fr. Luis Garza is stepping down as Vicar General of the Legion and will be relocating to take over as Territorial Director of North American activities. The two existing territories “New York and Atlanta” will be merged into a single territory under Fr. Garza as of August 1.

This announcement comes just a month after Fr. Garza had announced that he had no intention of stepping down from his (second-in-command) position in the Legion overall. He had said that he expected possible changes in leadership only after the General Chapter meeting, which could still be several years away.

ReGAIN Comment:
The announcement raises several questions to Legion watchers:

Why is Fr. Garza, the Number 2 Legionary relocating to the U.S.?
Is this a demotion or is it a new opportunity for the powerful Legionary?

Possibly this was a move by the Vatican Delegate, Cardinal DePaolis to send Fr. Garza far away from Rome because he was seen as being an obstacle to reform. On the other hand, Fr. Garza may have chosen to locate to a place where he could manage his financial empire undisturbed by prying Vatican officials.

He may have chosen to come here to try to do some damage control considering the loss of vocations, reputation and donations in the U.S. market. He may see the move as an opportunity to increase his power and influence in North America and to strengthen his position to reestablish himself into senior management of the Legion at the next General Chapter.

It is a significant change but for the time being it is difficult to tell what the long term consequences will be for the Legion and for Regnum Christi. The details of archbishop Blazquez?s report for his visitation to Regnum Christi have not yet been officially revealed. Unofficial reports claim that he recommends separation of Regnum Christi from the Legion. If that is the case, then the timing of Fr. Garza?s move and the consolidation of the two territories into one could be related to the long term situation.

Based on an announcement on Regnum Christi?s website Click Here Fr John Connor, the former territorial director of Atlanta has been appointed chaplain of the Lumen Institute and will assist in fund raising in Atlanta. Fr Julio Marta? has not yet been reassigned.

Power Point version of John Paul Lennon’s presentation at the 2011 ICSA Conference in Barcelona

Paul Lennon, MDiv, LPC, a licensed professional counselor and a founding member and editor of ReGAIN was asked to take part in special session entitled <q>Are there Cultic Aberrations in the Catholic Church?</q> at the ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association) Conference in Barcelona in July, 2011.
<b>THE CASE OF THE LEGION OF CHRIST: HISTORY AND CURRENT STATUS</b>
Are There Cultic Aberrations in the Catholic Church?

<b>ABSTRACT:</b>

Mr. Lennon will give a brief history of the Legion from its founding, describing how the founder, Marcial Maciel, was able to deceive Church authorities for decades, and how the perseverance of certain former members of the Legion ultimately resulted in the Church?s recognition of the correctness of their allegations and the need to reform the Legion.

<b>Prologue</b>

Perhaps there are two questions contained in the above abstract, the first one being: How was Fr. Maciel, <q>The serious and objectively immoral behavior of [whom], supported by incontrovertible evidence, at times constitutes real crimes, and manifests a life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious feeling</q>, able to remain undetected and undeterred by popes and Church for sixty years? There is no easy answer. Such paradoxical reality may be explained by a paradoxical parable:
Luke 16:1-8 The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

The second question could be to use an image from the Wild West: how did the posse finally catch up with Fr. Maciel and what did they do to him – The <q>posse</q> being Catholic authorities. And even before, How did Fr. Maciel?s victims convince the posse to get moving? It?s a long tale.
<b>METEORIC RISE</b>

The Legion of Christ, a Catholic Religious Congregation [in popular parlance, <q>order</q>] was founded on January 3rd, 1941 in Cotija, Michoacan, Mexico by a 21-year-old Mexican seminarian called Marcial Maciel.

<b>VICTIMS AND CRITICS RAISE THEIR VOICE</b>

Around 1955 one of Fr. Maciel?s aide-de-camps and the founder?s personal secretary brought concerns regarding the Nuestro Padre?s personal life and his use of donations to Vatican authorities. In 1956 a Visitation (i.e. investigation) was launched ordering Fr. Maciel to leave the order for a while. Before leaving he prepared the members for the investigation telling them that he was being libeled and that <q>enemies of God</q> wanted to destroy His Work. When the seminarians were questioned by the investigators nobody backed the accusations. Fr. Maciel returned triumphant in 1959. Those who did not see eye to eye with him or had <q>doubts about their vocation</q> left. His exile would be referred to as <q>The War</q>. (Later this would be changed to <q>The Great Blessing</q>).
Just before his 1956 exile Maciel had begun drafting a <q>Private Vow</q>, never to criticize the person or actions of a superior and to inform the superior as soon as you found out that another member was so doing</q>. Upon his return the vow was immediately enacted.

Outside Legion confines a group of seminarians who left just after Maciel returned as superior general (circa 1960), got in touch with each other. In their conversations they serendipitously realized that several of them had been sexually abused by the founder in similar ways and with the same methods of deceit and manipulation.

Jason Berry found their testimonies to be credible and after much research by both reporters they decided to publish an article in the Hartford Courant. Thus, the first time Maciel?s abuses came to the notice of the <q>outside world</q> was during the 1990?s. The Legion threatened to sue the papers but valor prevailed and on Sunday February 23, 1997, their article Breaking the Silence, Head of Worldwide Catholic Order Accused of History of Abuse appeared lending a voice to the heretofore unknown and disempowered survivors.

Further research by Renner and Berry spawned their 2003 Vows of Silence book where they raised the specter of Vatican complicity in the silence regarding Fr. Maciel?s licentious life.
REGAIN [Religious Groups Awareness International Network] . Its goal was to help former members network, whereas the Legion ostracized and isolated- support each other, prevent premature recruitment and uniformed donations. The group also launched a webpage with information and articles explaining the Legion/Regnum phenomenon to unwitting Catholics and the general public.

The Legionaries, following the example of their founder, met these accusations with flat denial and by accusing the accusers of lies and defamation. They found stout defenders among some Catholic conservatives and intelligentsia. This defense was epitomized by the 2002 Robert J. Neuhaus? Feathers of Scandal articles in First Things.

Fr. Maciel was very adept at keeping the Legionaries despite their relatively small numbers- in the forefront of Vatican, Papal and American eyes. It was not usual to see Legionary seminarians assisting the pope in Vatican ceremonies. An Irish Legionary priest wrote the pope?s English-language audiences at the Vatican, and a Spanish Legionary priest took over the official paper, L?Osservatore Romano?s Spanish edition. A still greater coup for the Legion founder was organizing Pope John Paul II?s missionary visits to Mexico.

<b>VICTIMS? VOICE REACHES THE VATICAN</b>

In Mexico since the 1960s Jose Barba and his team pursued the official church route in search of truth and justice re the Rev. Marcial Maciel. After many personal approaches, letters and petitions, including an open letter (never translated into English) addressed to Pope John Paul II , they brought their case directly to the Vatican courts. On Saturday, October 17th, 1998, they filed an accusation of absolutio complicis (absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the 6th Commandment, i.e. a sexual sin, and which had no statute of limitations) to the Vatican court.

Hypotheses abound about how or why Cardinal Ratzinger brought the case forward. What is known is that in early 2005, and as Pope John Paul II?s health deteriorated, it was announced that a prosecutor had been named to investigate the allegations against the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement.

<b>VATICAN ACTIONS</b>

On May 19, 2006, the Vatican released a statement acknowledging the long-standing accusations against Maciel and ordering him to cease from public ministry and to observe a life of prayer and penance.
Maciel, for the most part, ignored the restrictions, continuing to live the high life of travel, hotels, and tributes until the day he died. A number of actions and event followed on the heels of the Vatican statement.
– Dec 13, 2007: <q>New report offers confirmation that Pope dissolved secret Legion vows</q>

<b>DEATH AND SCANDAL</b>

News of the founder?s death in January 2008 was shrouded in mystery; the immediate cause of Fr. Maciel?s death was not clear nor was the precise place where he died: Florida, Houston or Mexico. Rumors circulated about a woman being at his death bed and there were contrasting reports about his last moments, whether or not he had received the <q>last rites</q> of the Catholic Church, made his confession, and gone to rest in peace.

<ol> February 4th, 2009 LC Spokesman: News that founder fathered child causes Legionaries pain.
CNS? Cindy Wooden quoted in what used to be the Legion?s National Catholic Register
<q>February 05, 2009, Legionaries of Christ founder led double life
CN Catholic News blog
On March 31, 2009, Vatican orders an apostolic visitation of Legionaries of Christ
Pope Orders an Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries of Christ
By John Thavis Catholic News Service

On May 1, 2010, Vatican releases the results of the Apostolic Visitation </ol>

Simply stated the Apostolic Visitors confirm the Legionaries worst fear about their Founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado. In one paragraphs they state:
<q>The Apostolic Visitation was able to ascertain that the behavior of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado has caused serious consequences in the life and structure of the Legion, so much so, to require a journey of profound re-evaluation.

The serious and objectively immoral behavior of Fr. Maciel, supported by incontrovertible evidence, at times constitutes real crimes, and manifests a life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious feeling. The large majority of Legionaries were unaware of that life, particularly because of the system of relations created by Fr. Maciel, who had skillfully managed to build up an alibi, to gain the trust, confidence and surrounding silence and strengthen his role as a charismatic founder.

Not infrequently the lamentable disgracing and expulsion of those who doubted his upright conduct, and the misconception of not wanting to harm the good that the Legion was doing, had created around him a defense mechanism which made him untouchable for a long time, thus rendering knowledge of his real life difficult.</q>
<ol> On July 9th, 2010 news was released (by the Legion):</ol>

Pope names Velasio De Paolis papal delegate to the Legionaries of Christ.

<b>PAPAL DELEGATE BEGINS REFORM OF LEGION</b>

<ol> On July 10th 2010 the Papal Delegate Addressed the Legionaries at a special Mass at their Rome headquarters.
The papal delegated homily to the Legionaries was very paternal and pastoral, and full of encouragement. The letter he handed Fr. Corcuera was also very conciliatory as if he were trying to avert a general stampede of members. The following paragraph, recommending patience:
October 10, 2010, De Paolis got down to the business of letter to the Legionaries. Despite being more concrete than his previous addresses the Papal Delegate dashed the hopes of many critics and reformers by confirming the present superiors in their positions:
Establishment of special commissions:
Commission for the revision of the constitutions.
Commission to approach those who have in some way put forward claims against the Legion.
Commission for financial matters.

De Paolis staunchly defended the Legion?s charism bequeathed by Maciel: <q>Another very delicate question is that of the charism of the Legion. The absence of a distinction between constitutional norms and norms of law has perhaps hurt efforts to specify the charism. But it seems undeniable that it is sufficiently clear and precise; and it is also more than ever for this time. There is the need to reflect and study this in depth.</q>

For the delegate the crisis is over; there seems no reason to continue to question, to doubt, to second guess, to leave: <q>It seems to me that we can and must expect a positive path of renewal.</q></ol>

<b>IMPLEMENTING CHANGES</b>

Following on the path he laid out for the Legionaries the Papal Delegate and his team continue to implement changes. The commissions already mentioned are established and begin to function. The <q>new</q> Legion of Christ is providing updates on the work of reform.
<ol> Legion Creates Commission for Maciel’s Accusers

Commission for Financial Affairs
<q>The papal delegate for the Legionaries of Christ, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, C.S., has created a commission for the study and revision of the congregation?s financial situation. The commission has a consultative function and will report to the papal delegate and the general director with their respective councilors.

Fr. Ghirlanda presented the process for revising the Legionary constitutions, and informed the superiors about the details of the territorial commission that will assist in the process. The Europe based Superiors met in Rome on January 28, for the same purpose, with the papal delegate…

Concrete Reform: Legionaries use of E-mail and Internet
One concrete, if minor, reform instituted by the Apostolic Delegate was to review the norms binding Legionary students and seminarians. In a nutshell, they may have use to e-mail and Internet but in a very regulated and gradual way according to their state of formation. The new rules, in vigor until the Chapter General, are slightly less stringent than the previous.</ol>

<b>CONCLUSION</b>

How did Fr. Maciel go undetected and undeterred for so long may remain a mystery. Not a <q>mystery of faith</q> such as the dogmas of the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity but a mystery of human deceit, self-righteousness, negligence and pride in self and institution; a mystery of evil. Part of the answer lies in Fr. Maciel?s guile and other skills associated with a pathological personality. The truth regarding Fr. Maciel?s true nature surfaced only after his death (2008) and can be attributed to the perseverance of his victim/accusers, the diligence of a Vatican prosecutor, and because for some strange, mysterious, reason, in 2009 the Legion chose to reveal his dalliances with women and his fathering of children. Old and new scandals prompted Vatican authorities to <q>intervene</q> the order and begin a path of reform whose final destination is unknown.

The importance of the ten original accusers now reduced to eight – one died and one recanted – and of two Catholic reporters cannot be minimized.
During the past few months some important members have <q>defected</q> from the Legion; for the most part they have transitioned to local dioceses. They exit the Legion in the middle of the reforms and while the commissions are getting underway. As the papal delegate works with the Legion hierarchy to bring about the announced changes requesting a vote of confidence from the rank and file some important Legionaries are voting with their feet. But the vast majority is staying, hoping that the announced reforms will bring them a new, healthy, and vibrant Legion.
<b>Paul Lennon?s Followup Interview With Cult Expert Steve Hassan</b>

Following the international cult conference Paul Lennon was interviewed by top cult expert Steve Hassan and details of this interview are available here on ReGAIN at <a href=http://www.regainnetwork.org/article.php?a=47246180> Click Here </a>

Paul later commented that his presentation could have been entitled <q>The Legion of Christ Reformed From the Outside</q>. In his closing statements he questions why the Vatican Delegate has been so lukewarm and conciliatory to the current leadership and wonders if the Delegate has <q>fallen under the spell of Father Maciel and his intimate disciples.</q>

Another well informed former Legionary priest, <q>Aaron</q> commented on life-after-rc blog regarding (lack of progress in) the reform process that is being carried out by the Vatican Delegate (who is known to have financial expertise):

<q>He has not taken the initiative in any point regarding the Legion reform. He is overSEEing it quite literally – we have put way too much hope into his office. That is not to say that he is negligent or doing a bad job: his job is to let the Legion manage itself and rubber stamp or not what the legion wants.

Prime example: the General Director and the General Council have consolidated the two North American territories and appointed Luis Garza as the TD of the new USA/Canada territory. Velasio de Paolis: I find no objection…
i.e. The LEGION decided to unite the territories, the LEGION decided to appoint Luis Garza. After the LEGION’s decisions, Cardinal DePaolis said: Yup that?s fine with me</q>.

Aaron goes on to comment that the Delegate seems to have too much trust in the old guard Legion leaders and suggests that all the leaders should be fired and that the excessive control of peoples? every action (e.g. always eating bananas in a prescribed manner) should be relaxed.

<b>Editor?s Note:</b>

Every time I hear about an <q>approved</q> Catholic religious order or movement referred to as a <q>cult</q> by knowledgeable experts such as Steve Hassan or other recognized authorities with the International Cultic Studies Association, I cringe inside. As a Roman Catholic, I feel uncomfortable and I long to hear a Church Authority show that the Church really does understand that cults and mind control do not belong in the Church and that they have a definite plan to really <q>clean the filth from the Church</q> this time around.

Some of us had great hopes when the Vatican appointed a new commissioner with sweeping powers to take control of the Legion. Has anyone noticed LC priests or RC consecrated women tearing the peels off their bananas yet?

Vatican Proposes Autonomy For Women In Cult-Like Group Within Troubled Legionaries of Christ

Nicole Winfield, religious writer with the Associated Press has written an article commenting on the preliminary remarks made by Cardinal DePaolis, Vatican appointed commissioner of the Legion following a year long visitation that was requested by the women of Regnum Christi.

The A.P. article <a href=http://ca.news.yahoo.com/vatican-proposes-autonomy-women-cult-group-within-troubled-204234011.html>Click Here</a> contains interesting comments about concerns that continue to plague the Church as well as the organizations created by Fr Maciel until they are resolved.
<ol>
– <q>Of particular concern is that they have no legal status in the church</q>.
– <q>The Vatican has proposed giving hundreds of women who live like nuns within the troubled Legion of Christ order greater autonomy</q>.
– <q>The women described emotional and spiritual abuse they suffered if they questioned their vocation, and of how they would be cast aside if their spiritual directors no longer had any need for them</q>.
– <q>One of the great scandals about the consecrated women is that they were told the Vatican in 2004 had approved a set of over 1,000 rules dictating how they were to behave when, in fact, the Vatican approved only about 150 general norms</q>.
– <q>Up until recently, some 18-year-olds would make their lifelong commitments to being consecrated after a mere six-week candidacy program</q>. </ol>

The article also contains a testimony from the mother of one of the current consecrated women (3gf’s) sharing her feelings of ongoing daily grieving for her daughter.

<b>Regain Comment:</b>

The pace of the reform process has increased finally from dead stop to painfully slow but there is some hope that it is at least going in the right direction.

We applaud any effort made to find a truly unique God given charism for the consecrated women that is independent from the Legionaries of Christ and the progress that has been made to loosen the iron grip of the Legionary upper echelon over the women of Regnum Christi.

Arguments (not very good ones) have been presented by Legion and Regnum Christi spokespeople defending the validity of their style of <q>consecration</q> claiming that it is included in Canon Law along with <q>other forms of consecration recognized by the Vatican</q>.

Finally, the plight of women who have entrusted everything they have in life to their superiors, believing that they will be looked after for better or for worse is being recognized. If they become too sick or too old, there is no commitment from the Church or from their movement to keep them around in worst case scenarios.

There is some hope that the aggressive recruiting techniques that lead to force vocations are being reviewed and some day will be changed so that young people will not be taken advantage of.

Although the women were supposed to be able to choose their own spiritual director within or outside the Legion or Regnum Christi, it has been impractical for the consecrated women (who have no money, almost no free time and who live in a regimented environment with over a thousand rules and who have had limited access to the outside and who have had to be accompanied everywhere they go) to make a free will decision to actually select and get to any outside spiritual director on a regular basis.

The reform process has shown some signs of life as family members such as members of the Tattle family continue to grieve for their formerly <q>young and vibrant, intellectually alive and athletic daughter</q>. Our thoughts and prayers are with these family members and all of those who are waiting and watching as the process inches its way forward. In the meantime, the consecrated women continue to be committed to follow the Vatican approved (in 2004) statutes that were developed by their founder, Fr Marcial Maciel.