Tag Archives: Xavier Leger

Human Damage From Abusive Practices in Groups Such As the Legionaries of Christ

Georges Pontier, Archbishop of Marseille, President of the Conference of Bishops of France, recently responded to calls for recognition of the human damage caused by ecclesial movements such as the Legionaries of Christ and others that are guilty of abusive practices. Click Here

The archbishop was responding to a group of forty victims of various abuses suffered as members of Roman Catholic ecclesial movements and religious orders they had formerly belonged to. One of the three leaders of the group addressing the archbishop was Xavier Leger, a former member of the Legionaries of Christ, who has posted several articles on ReGAIN.

The letter that was submitted by the victims in French may be seen at Click Here The Archbishop’s response is included with the above letter from the victims.

The article stated that::
Critics of the several new ecclesiastical communities had complained of the ‘destruction of personalities’ by cult-like practices. The complaints had centered on groups such as the Legion of Christ, the Beatitudes community, and the Community of St. John – all of which had seen formal charges of misconduct lodged against their founders.

The Archbishop, while warning against the dangers of generalization, did acknowledge difficulties with some groups, involving the manipulation of individual consciences, adding that French bishops oppose such practices, and that the Gospel of Christ, which we seek to serve, is a school of spiritual freedom.

Archbishop Pontier, in his address to the French bishops, gathered in a plenary session issued a call to denounce the human damage that the forty victims had suffered as a result of their membership in the religious orders and movements involved. Such damage he said included depression to suicide or destruction of personalities.

What was new in this case was not the reporting of sexual abuse that plaintiffs have suffered but the spiritual abuse that they suffered. The article referred to the way that founders of these groups have used their spiritual power on young impressionable people and how they take advantage of people by making them become dependent, thus creating an imbalance of power in some cases leading to destruction of personalities.

Another new issue in this case is that it is the first time that such a group of the new religious movements that have been seen as symbols of the new evangelization have been lumped together in these types of circumstances.

In his letter, Archbishop Pontier clarified in his letter that his main concern was the issue of spiritual freedom i.e. manipulation of consciences. He went on to explain that The gospel of Christ we want to serve is a school of spiritual freedom.

He said that in the past, some bishops have warned the public and families about certain groups but he now wishes all bishops to do a better job of listening to accusations from those claiming to be victims. Archbishop Pontier said that there needs to be respect for canon law regarding freedom of conscience.

ReGAIN Comment

We heartily endorse the work of Xavier Leger and the others who presented their testimonies and we are absolutely delighted to hear a member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy recognize that some groups, including the Legionaries of Christ do spiritual damage to some of their members. This is the message that ReGAIN and several others who have pounded away at for years, without positive acknowledgement from the Legion leaders or from the Vatican. It is obvious that until problems of spiritual abuse, manipulation of conscience and abuse of power and the resulting destruction of personalities that can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts are recognized and acknowledged, there will be no progress.

Perhaps if Cardinal DePaolis had dug a little deeper and spoken to ex members and some of Father Maciel’s victims during his three years as Apostolic Delegate, he might have become more aware of the extent of all the damage that has been done and is still being done by Legion leaders other than just the founder.

We sincerely hope and pray that Archbishop Pontier, who seems to have an understanding about human damage done by cult like practices will pass this information on to members of the Holy See and to the Pope so that they might become aware that a reform for a group such as the Legion requires more than superficial changes to their legal documents.

The Catholic Church’s neglect of the sexual abuse problems and failure to deal effectively with it resulted in horrendous consequences including additional suffering for victims, billions of dollars of settlements and loss of millions of Church members, who expected better of the One True Church established by Jesus Christ. We expect that if the Catholic Church continues to enable cult groups such as the Legionaries of Christ to flourish, while they are causing spiritual, psychological and emotional damage and if the Church fails to act, there could be another tsunami of shipwrecked souls, lost membership and further billions of dollars in costs. Can the Church afford for this to happen or can they find a more effective way to stop the spiritual bleeding of people who have a genuine desire to serve God and their Church?

What would Jesus want His representatives in His Church to do?

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Has The Action To Date From Rome Been Too Lenient?

Xavier Leger comments: The system will not survive very long. The wreck began, water entered the ship and now, despite the desperate efforts of crew members to save the furniture, I do not think the Legion will survive. In the whole history of the church, it never happened that a congregation has been founded by a monster lacking in any religious sentiment?.

To see the entire article and comments:
Bonum Verum Pulchrum Website Click Here

Xavier Leger – Testimony of His Life During and After the Legionaries of Christ

He Who Would Act The Angel Acts The Brute (Blaise Pascal)

My name is Xavier Leger. I’m 33 and I’m French. I come from a fairly liberal Catholic family. I studied philosophy at a Catholic institute, the Faculte Libre de Philosophie Comparie. When I entered this college, I had not been practicing my faith since my childhood catechism. But the wise teachings I received there and the friendship of the students helped me to get closer to the Church.
In 1997, I went to the World Youth Days in Paris. This experience moved me deeply. I came out transformed… There are a lot of things that I cannot explain. I can only say that I understood that God was a GOOD FATHER. From this time on I never lost my faith, even during the toughest years I spent in the Legion.

During the World Youth Days, I also met the Legion of Christ, thanks to a young Mexican deacon, Father R.M, LC. He had been sent to France as a Legion recruiter -of course, I was not aware of that at that time. After the WYD, he urged me to join the Regnum Christi. I was bothered by his intrusive manner. I felt he was too insistent and, besides, he had even managed to make me leave my previous spiritual guide in order to take his place.

But probably being too naive, I followed him. From the moment of my spiritual experience during the WYD, I really wanted to become a priest. Quickly recruited into the Regnum Christi, I did not try to compare it with other paths … And I joined the Legion in 1999.

I have to say that, contrary to some former Legionaries who say they were very happy in the Legion, I was never so. Maybe, to feel normal, I convinced myself at times that I was; but honestly, I have very bad memories of my life in the Legion … Six years of suffering, going against my better judgment, my real conscience.

Coming from a family of artists, I am a very emotional person. I need freedom and sometimes solitude. I need to walk at my own pace. I hate to be under pressure.

During my novitiate I had the feeling of being constantly spiritually raped. Because I had studied philosophy, I appreciated the wisdom of St Thomas Aquinas, in particular regarding the operation of will and reason in moral action. In the Legion I had the impression of being in an opposite system, where everything was duty and obligations… our own will was denied, even placed under suspicion.

I remember that during one of the first quiete (time allotted to conversation in small groups), some brother asked me who my vocational recruiter was. I was disturbed at what he said… My what? Vocational recruiter? I was discovering the human part of the methodology… and felt very humiliated on realizing I had been the prey of a recruiter… I felt betrayed and, in hindsight, I was beginning to understand why Fr. R.M. had urged me so many times to quickly join the novitiate.

But maybe because I was too weak, I trusted their promises (stay one year at least, and then, you choose…), believing that maybe I had a legionary vocation. I stayed six years and a half.

This might be easier to say today, but I must confess that I always felt repulsion towards Marcial Maciel. While I was following all the instructions and learning all the details about the virtuous life of Maciel, inside my heart I could not compel myself to love him. I was often thinking back to a book, in which the author, Daniel Pennac, explained that there are verbs that cannot take the imperative form. We cannot say love!, since the act of love is created, not by the strength of the will, but by the kindness of the object. I was feeling very bad about all the devotions we had for Maciel, a man that I did not know, and that I had to venerate as a father and a saint.

A haunting image came to my mind all the time, during my prayers or even in my dreams: there was a shadow between me and the light. This shadow had the shape of Maciel. I was angry. I wanted to tell him to go away, because it prevented me from seeing the light.

I was ashamed to think that. It made me feel guilty.

During my years in the Legion, I suffered many humiliations. Some of those humiliations took place in public, in front of the community… Today, I think that the priests who did this, who used their authorities to gratuitously humiliate me, were simply poor unfortunate guys, very unhappy themselves. But the worst thing is that there was no room for me to defend myself. The superior was right, always. And I could do nothing but accept with bowed head.

From the novitiate of Gozzano to my internship in France

After my novitiate in Italy, I was sent to Salamanca, thence to Thornwood, and finally back to France during the summertime of 2003 to do fund raising.

I had a lot of very bad personal experiences in the Legion but since they only concerned me I accepted them. When I was sent to do apostolate, however, and asked to follow the methodology for fund raising and recruitment, I slowly sank into a deep breakdown.

I still tremble when recalling some shameful situations… For example, when I begged some old people for money: they where trapped between two young brothers wearing clerical collars… I often ask God to forgive me for that.

At the end of the summer, having worked in fundraising for two months, the Territorial Director Fr. H G asked me to stay in France to work with ECYD (Study, Education & Sports). The reason for that was very simple: before joining the Legion, I used to be a Boy Scout leader in a parish that was very close to the Territorial Direction Center. When my former boy scouts learned I was in Paris, they gathered to greet me. It was a wonderful moment. Fr G was surprised to discover that I was very well known here. Some weeks before I arrived in Paris, the brother who was taking care of ECYD in Paris had suddenly left the Legion. So Fr. G saw an opportunity and I was asked to stay.

I was happy to be back in my own country. My family was only 30 minutes away from the Territorial Direction, and I could see them more frequently. During the last four years, I had had very few occasions to be with them. My older brother was married… and I had not been allowed to be present for the wedding. This was an enormous mistake by the Legion… because from that moment on my family got less and less enthusiastic about my vocation.

During my stay in Paris, I witnessed a lot of strange events. I saw how Fr. R.L. successfully infiltrated the French Jet Set. I met some very important people at the TD. One day, I was even asked to be acolyte at a private Mass for Cecilia Sarkozy, the former wife of our President. I remember that on one occasion Maciel came to Paris for a special dinner with some of the biggest French leaders. I was not allowed to be present at the dinner, so I went into the chapel that was just beside the dining room. I caught some snippets of conversation while trying to say my night prayers. I was appalled when I overheard Maciel making a strong comment: he accused the last French governments of letting too many Muslims into France. I was deeply deeply shocked to learn that the Legion had rented a magnificent classic car to chauffer Maciel in Paris. And that he was staying in one of the most expensive hotels in Paris. How could such a thing be possible? The Territorial Direction is a grand house, located in one of the wealthiest private avenues of Paris… Why doesn’t Maciel stay here? Why rent a very expensive car when we already have Fr. G?s beautiful car? I could not sleep any more.

One activity that I enjoyed among my various apostolates was the catechism I taught at a small parish near the Territorial Direction. The Legion was trying to infiltrate the dioceses of Paris and my superiors had sent me to participate in some diocesan events. I was feeling much better in this atmosphere than inside the Legion. For the first time I began to dream of leaving the Legion and joining the diocese of Paris.

Leaving the Legion

After two years, I was totally exhausted and disgusted with the bad example of some recruiters working in France. I was thinking seriously of leaving the Legion, but I did not feel able to go through this tremendous humiliation. As you all know, the brainwashing of the Legion leads us to think that doubting about one’s vocation is a serious sin… I was feeling like a graft that was not taking. My superiors sent me to Rome in order to save my vocation. This was in September 2005. When I arrived in Rome I felt lost in the enormous Center of Study, like a sheep lost in the enormous flock. I could not bear the rhythm of daily routine anymore. Every moment was painful. The superior of the Center of Studies, who was also my Spiritual Director, made me many promises in order to prevent me from making the decision to leave. But in January 2006 I told him that I had made up my mind: I wanted to leave. At that moment he said something that totally shocked me: he said that he had also been thinking about me and had come to the conclusion that in fact I did not have a legionary vocation… And he also added that it would be better for me to abandon the idea of the priesthood altogether. He advised me to get married and to keep on with some apostolates with Regnum Christi. I still feel bitter when I recall this final conversation.

My worst moment ever came the day of my departure. I felt that I was making the worst mistake of my life: I was putting my salvation in jeopardy; I was betraying my vocation, my mission… the very reason of my existence. As usual, they had chosen to send me home during a time the community was out. This was a tough humiliation: the superior of the Rome house and the brother who had been my Assistant for religious life took me to the airport with an expression of compassion in their eyes. When I got on board the aircraft, I was trembling… saying to myself: What have I done! My God, I have betrayed You!

Arriving home I threw myself into my mother?s arms and wept. I was suffering. My parents did not know how to handle my condition, but they took me back as their son. During the next few weeks I lived at home; a kind of new birth. My dear parents, with love and without any judgment, took care of me.

I was almost thirty years old. Time had passed, and I was lost. I had to rebuild my life from scratch. But I knew I was too weak. There was still this sword of guilt in my heart, and this feeling that whatever I did after was only a means of justifying myself. I had betrayed my vocation. I had disobeyed the will of God…

A New Start In Life

But things began to change more quickly than I imagined. I remembered that the only place were I had been successful was in my work with youth. I had been a Boy Scout leader. I had worked in catechism in different places… I could not imagine myself working in an office, too far away from my former experience. So I thought that the best thing I could do, at that moment, was to find a job with youth, in a Catholic atmosphere.

Some months before I left the Legion, I had met a parish priest who was the director of an important oratory in Paris. I don’t know why, but I had a strong hunch: I should offer him my help. I found his phone number and called him:

Hello Father, I do not know whether you remember me. I was in the Legion of Christ. I just left the order. I do not know what I am going to do now but I need time to think. If you are still looking for counselors, I would be glad to help you.
That’s amazing! I have just learned that the leader of the children’s activities is in the hospital. I need you tomorrow!

The following day I went to the oratory and worked during the whole day with the children. At the end of the day the director came up to me and said: You, you stay here.

This was the best thing that I could have hoped for. At first I was working only on Wednesdays and during the weekends. I had a lot of experience in working with youth, and after some weeks I made a bunch of proposals to the director in order to revitalize the activities. The central point of those little reforms consisted in creating a service to help the children with their homework. This was necessary in order to gain the confidence of the families: If the children could stay in the oratory after school and do their homework, the parents would be glad to entrust their children to us. The idea was very simple, and easy to carry out. For that, I needed people to give of their time to helping the kids do their homework. I looked for some schools requiring the students to volunteer work. And I was successful. When summertime arrived I was able to present a project proving to the director that the oratory could hire me. I had a solid financial project, including the creation of different activities for every age group. The director consulted his team, and in September I had a full time job. I also found a small apartment near the oratory. Despite some hesitations at the beginning, most of the activities worked even better than I had even hoped.

This period was a very important stage in my life as it was part of my healing process. I began to recover from the serious damage that my experience in the Legion had done to my self-esteem. I was still very weak, and I had kept some ties to the Legion. The director of the oratory advised me to cut myself off all ties. I had to start a new chapter in my life.

Like many ex members, I experienced a very strong breakdown in my spiritual life. I was feeling anxiety each time I came into the chapel. I could not pray at all. At the time I did not know that this was normal because I was suffering from post-cult trauma. I was confused, feeling guilty at progressively abandoning any kind of prayer. But, strangely, at the same time I became able to formulate some light criticism of the Legion.

I remember that at that time I began to read some articles on ReGAIN and other web sites. I was as excited as an adolescent secretly reading porn sites… ReGAIN and the other web pages critiquing the Legion were doing the work of the Devil! Of Course! But since I was already bound for hell what would it matter? Anyway, I was still so suppressed that I did not read very much… In my mind all these accusations against the Legion could simply not be true because the order was at the center of the Church. The Legion seemed so strong, so huge, so successful…

The keystone of the movement in France leaves the priesthood

Something happened at this moment which totally blew me away. Fr R.L., the French Jet Set Legionary priest I spoke about already, sent out an email announcing that God was calling him to a special mission in South America. He had to leave ASAP… Well, this was strange because Fr, R.L. was the most important Legionary in France. Nobody could replace him. He was at that time the keystone of the apostolate the Legion was developing in France. Something strange was going on…

The true version came through the priests of the diocese. The director of the oratory told me that Fr R.L. had left the Legion, and even the priesthood. The Legion was trying to hide the scandal, but it was already too late. Fr R.L. had left the Legion to meet up his former girlfriend (the girlfriend that he had left when he decided to join the Legion).

The departure of Fr. L, and the way the Legion tried to hush up the scandal, pushed me one step forward in my ability to critique the Legion. There was something wrong with the Legion. I could say that at least,

Making the Decision to Join the Paris Seminary

In June 2007 I asked to join the seminary of Paris.

My intentions for coming back onto the rails of the priesthood were very muddled. I had the firm conviction that God was calling me to become a priest. There are elements of my life, very personal, that I cannot explain right now. Inside my heart there was also an intuition, which I could not explain with words, but I was thirsty to have another experience of the Church. I understood that I NEEDED to come back to a totally different kind of training system… because I was looking for answers and healing. I also had the hope of getting a second chance.

When the Director of the Oratory learned that I wanted to join the seminary of Paris he published an announcement in some catholic newspapers seeking to hire someone for my post. I was very proud of my achievements because most of the activities I had created were working quite well.

During the last days of June the director of the oratory was receiving many applications by post. One day as I was strolling in the oratory I recognized a man who was waiting in front of the office. It was an ex-member of the Legion, J D. I knew him quite well because we had spent one year of novitiate together in Italy. He had even been appointed to be my guardian angel to introduce me to the religious life.

I was not aware that he had left the Legion and above all I was very surprised to see him without a cassock or clerical collar.

I walked toward him. He startled, very surprised at seeing me. He did not know that I was actually the leader of the youth activity center. I greeted him and I asked him what he was doing here… Well, he confessed, he had just left the Legion and that he was looking for a job -showing me the newspaper with the ad. I explained to him that I was the one who had created this post and that I was leaving now to join the Paris seminary. I felt a bit of embarrassment on his part… We shared our phone numbers and I told him that, after his meeting, I would invite him to take a beer together in order to share our recent experiences.

I was thinking to myself: well, I have had an extraordinary opportunity with this job. Thanks to it I have been able to overcome many personal difficulties. I was sure that if I supported his candidacy JD would have the job. But for some reason I quickly approached the director in his office and said: Father, I know the man who is about to meet you for the job. He is a former Legionary. I cannot explain why, but I feel this guy is very fragile. Please, trust me, do not hire him. And the Director accepted my suggestion (A new twist to this story will be told later).

The Year Zero

The seminary director asked me to start all over again. The diocese of Paris was very suspicious of the Legion of Christ and its training system. So they wanted me to spend a year at the Maison Saint Augustin (San Augustin House), considered year zero. Why year zero? Because during this year we were not yet seminarians. This is a special year for spiritual foundation and discernment. From the very beginning I was told that nothing compelled me to stay on this path. It was a time to discern the will of God and to test my own capacity for the priesthood. We were immediately told that participating in the year of discernment we were being very generous with the Church and therefore the diocese was contributing to our social care and our individual retirement. It was explained to us that although the above was very expensive it was the diocese? moral duty. And with all our needs covered by the seminary the diocese was also offering us a small salary. I could not help thinking about the 500 Euros the Legion had given me day I left after six years in the order…

The pedagogy at the Paris Seminary was absolutely different from my former experience in the Legion of Christ. Everything was based upon trust and freedom. There was some discipline, of course, but also great flexibility. We were not being constantly watched. For the first time I was told about a principle I had never heard of in the Legion: a spiritual guide or director should never be in position of authority over the seminarians. Never! We did not speak of Spiritual Director, but of Spiritual Guide… And we could even choose the one we wanted!!!

Everyday we gathered in the chapel to pray the liturgy of the hours at lauds and vespers. The atmosphere was again very different. The formation of the diocesan priests revolved around the study of Holy Scriptures. We had very good teachers to introduce the readings… I was amazed and ashamed to discover that, after having spent six years in the Legion, I was totally ignorant about the Bible. During that whole year I studied and read the entire Bible, book by book. This work began to transform many things in my mind… I was beginning to understand that many things in the Legion were somewhat in contradiction with the pedagogy of God which I was witnessing through reading the Bible.

In contrast to this new template I was also beginning to understand that the driving force behind the whole system of the Legion was based on two principles: guilt and seduction. I do not know how many hours I spent that year with my spiritual guide. During our conversations I began to throw up my former experience… becoming more and more aware and convinced that the Legion of Christ was indeed one powerful machine for crushing personality and vocations.

The healing process allowed me to exteriorize the anger I had repressed inside myself for too long. I was angry but, strangely, I was getting better; I was breaking down the walls of inhibition that the Legion had created in my mind. This anger was not bad! As a temperature is a good thing when we are sick because temperature means that our body is defending itself by producing antibodies… my conscience was progressively rejecting all the pathogenic aspects of the Legionary methodology.

I remember that one day a fellow companion asked me during a meal what I thought about the Legion. Spontaneously, I answered: It?s a cult! This was the first time I used the word… and I felt relieved to affirm it.

Admitting this idea, however, leaded me to others difficulties: If I was right it would mean that the Legion of Christ, that was growing in many parts of the Church, having more and more responsibilities in the Vatican, was pushing the Church in a wrong direction.

At that time, however, I could not yet believe that Maciel was guilty of pedophilia… It was too horrible to be true… Even if, somewhere in my mind, I was thinking that it would explain a lot of things. But no, such depravity could not be possible… for many reasons:

    – First of all, despite some cult-like behavior that I was finally admitting, there were the fruits: the enormous centers of formation, the growing number of vocations, the mega-missions, and all those enormous apostolates… all those things were visible proofs of the holy origins of the Legion. Weren’t they? Would God choose a pedophile to create all that?
    – Second, the Legion had introduced an irrefutable defense: on the Web Site of Wikipedia, they had explained regarding the accusations that one of the accusers, Miguel Diaz, had withdrew his accusations, confessing under oath, that he had been approached by people who were trying to attack Fr. Maciel so as to satisfy their personal desire for vengeance. Other people had also confirmed that they had been approached with the same purpose. This defense was very strong: would those people, and the leaders of the Legion, lie without scruples and sell their souls to defend Maciel?
    – Third, there were the many approvals of the Church authorities. Could they have been so blind? And what’s about the Great Blessing? The Church had already carried out an investigation 1955-58… How could those Visitors have been fooled? And all the marvelous stories about the incredible life of Maciel… all were lies?

Informing the Church’s Authorities

Nevertheless, during the vacations of February 2008 I decided to write to my Bishop, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, who was also the President of the French Bishop’s Conference. Such a task was very difficult and hazardous. I was not yet accepted into the seminary… And I was afraid because criticizing a religious congregation blessed by the Church could be seen as a serious lack of humility.

Nevertheless, I had reached the point of no return. Keeping silent meant that I was in league with lies… I had to do it. I had to inform Church authorities about the danger rife in the Church. At this point I felt that I had to take the role of Judas… because the roles had been subtly reversed.

So I wrote a ten pages letter, adding ten other pages of documents. To get it down I spent an entire week alone in my room. As I wrote the first draft I became increasingly upset. Everything was becoming clear in my mind.

I told the Cardinal that I was struggling with my conscience because of my former experience in the Legion, and that I wanted to entrust my doubts to the Church. I explained him that, according to my humble opinion, there were many cult-like behaviors in the religious discipline and in the apostolic methodology. There were many internal contradictions that I could not understand. I put the emphasis on the lack of discernment, the means that the Legion used to make the members feel guilty, the poverty of the spiritual formation, the voluntarism leading to transform faith into an ideology, the idolization of the founder, and the culture of secrecy.

I finally explained that I was very worried about the Apostolic School of Mary-sur-Marne. According to me, there was something very dangerous for the students… It appeared to me that because of the lack of privacy, the lack of freedom, the spirit of guilt… the Legion of Christ could create frustrations among the religious. I told him that I was worrying that this atmosphere of frustration, added to the almighty powers of the superiors, could generate or set off psychological disease leading to pedophilia. I had learned that a light case of pedophilia had recently occurred at the Apostolic School. According to my informant, this was not a big deal because the religious brother perpetrator had been stopped very quickly. He was only accused of some caresses.

Regarding the accusations against the founder, I told him that I did not believe they were true because of the declarations of Miguel Diaz and other reasons I already explained. I sought possible explanations, saying that Fr Maciel, like other founders, had a strong character…

My letter was introduced by a special word of the superior of the Year Zero house. He had followed my thought process and gave his approval for my initiative.

Cardinal Vingt-Trois did not answer me but I know he read it. At the end of the year he visit our house. He greeted me with a friendly smile. I understood that he had read with attention my letter. I began to feel relieved.

Summertime, before Joining the Paris Seminary

At the end of the Year Zero I formally requested to join the seminary. I was feeling much better. At this point I was hoping to put the Legion issue behind me. But there was still something that I could not get out of my conscience: there was a student at the Apostolic School who had joined the school because of me when I was still in the Legion.

Now he was already 16 years old and was going through a troubling period When he was at home for a weekend he called me. I spoke with him very calmly for two or three hours. He could not bear the life in the Apostolic School anymore. He needed to breathe! As I listened I grasped how the Legion had succeeded in brainwashing him. He was full of prejudices about diocesan priests; he was showing off about belonging to the best branch of the Church… At the same time he was trying to find a way to get out – a strange contradiction, very common among legionaries.

As we conversed I helped him understand that it was not a shame to leave. I insisted about the fact that God was a good father: what is the most important thing for a loving father? the personal success of his son… or his happiness? I helped him to analyze some words of his superiors who were trying to make him feel guilty. I told him that this was not fair. This was not true. Those superiors were going above their authority. And I explained to him why. He was relieved by my counsel and was able to leave the Apostolic School despite some bad comments from his Assistant accusing him of fostering rebellion among the students.

But I made a mistake letting him know that I had written to my bishop about my problems of conscience. He shared it to his mother who got upset and immediately informed the Legion Territorial Direction. After a couple of days I received a message from Father J, superior of the Legion?s Paris community. He wanted to meet me urgently. I answered quickly that I could not meet him at this moment because I was about to take care of a summer camp. There were eighty children and I was the person in charge… No time, sorry. In hindsight I understand how my letter could have upset them: The Legionaries had been working for a couple of years to infiltrate the diocese of Paris. They were trying by all the means to seduce the priests and the authorities of the diocese. My letter was jeopardizing all their attempt to infiltrate the diocese.

I was clearly becoming an enemy of the Legion.

The mother of Bernard suspected me of having encouraged his son to leave the Apostolic School. This poor woman who had joined the Regnum Christi Movement became furious. During the summertime she sent me hundreds of text messages everyday insulting me.

But I was becoming free, and relieved to be able to finally act according to my conscience.

First Weeks in the Seminary

At the end of summer I joined officially the seminary of Paris. I thought that the worst was behind me. But something happened once again.

It happened on the very first day of classes. All the students of the Studium were gathered for a special conference by the dean of the studies. There were about one hundred and fifty people in the conference room: around seventy seminarians, maybe thirty teachers, and the remainder were composed of lay students and other people working for the school. At the end of the conference the dean presented the youngest student of the Studium: P N., an 18 year old girl from a family that lived in the Paris suburbs.

I was very surprised. I knew this family.

Flashback:

In 2005 I had been contacted by her parents because they had two children wanting to become priests. Some of their friends, who were members of Regnum Christi, had spoken them about the Apostolic School. They wanted to know more about it. So they invited two Legionaries to dinner.

During the meal I became very moved by the kindness of those people of such modest means. Amidst the typical hubbub of a large family I could feel the joy and spontaneity of people of faith… Something similar to the joy I had felt in other occasions before joining in the Legion. Now I had taken religious vows and wearing a clerical collar but I was spiritually dry. The family invited us to participate in their night prayer, a very simple moment taking no more than ten to fifteen minutes. All the children were gathered together, kneeling or seated around a small altar that had been decorated with drawings and holy pictures. Parents and children began to spontaneously pronounce some words of worship, thanking God for this or that… In the depth of my heart something was moving deeply. There was in the simplicity of this prayer more truth, joy and sincerity than I had experienced during all my years in the Legion. I was very moved. But I had to contain my emotions because I was sent there with the mission of recruiting their children for the Apostolic School.

After the prayer the children went to bed. We stayed alone with the parents. They told us that they had received more information about the apostolic school and were not disposed anymore to entrust their children to the Legion of Christ. One way or the other, I had a good time with them. They were very kind and respectful. As I and my Legion confrere drove home that night I felt someone had slapped me on the face with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I, the consecrated religious coming to evangelize the family… was knocked out by the shinning example of this simple family. The brother who had come with me looked upset.

So, when the Dean of studies said that name I startled. I did not know that girl personally because when I came to visit her family she was not at home. At the break I approached her and told her that I knew her family. The girl was surprised. I said:

A few years ago, I used to be a religious. Your family contacted me to learn a little bit more about the minor seminary run by my former religious order.
Were you in the Legion of Christ?
Yes, I was.

She looked confused. And answered firmly:

My brothers have left the Apostolic School. My parents are disappointed with this congregation.
But, I thought that your brothers did not enter the school…
Yes they did, in 2006. But my parents took them out, two months ago.

She explained me that after our visit her parents were still wondering whether to send their sons or not… They visited the Apostolic School, and later received a visit from Fr. M. Finally, attracted by the good appearance of the school, they accepted to entrust their children to the Apostolic School. But they realized progressively that something was wrong: their children were losing their spontaneity. They were speaking always about Father Maciel, more than Jesus Christ. And, by the way, the academic level of the school was very low.

On this particular day I happened to be carrying a copy of the letter I had written to Cardinal Vingt-Trois. During the next class, I sat at the back of the classroom and wrote a letter to the parents. I briefly told them that I had left the Legion of Christ but had kept a wonderful memory of my visit to their home. I invited them to read the letter that I was attaching to my message begging them not to disclose it to anybody.

That night P N?s mother called me. She was very emotional. She had carefully read the whole document with her husband. She told me that they were finally able to understand what was going on with the Legion. During the two years their children were in the Apostolic School they felt that something was not right. She said something that I will always remember, because I think it summarizes the whole issue: When they joined the Legion, they were praying. When they came back, they were reciting their prayers.

She added that the Legionaries had tried by all their means to prevent the children from leaving the Apostolic School. They even dared to threaten the parents. They became very upset. She told me that I should have spoken more about the cases of pedophilia because that was very serious. I asked her to tell me more. She answered that there was two cases that happened later on. Many children had been psychologically wounded. The first pedophile was French, and the other one, Mexican.

A French brother? But I know all the French brothers in the Legion! I asked her his name but she could not remember. She asked me call back; she would find the name.

Right after this call I made another call; to B, the young boy I already spoke about. His mother answered. She was still very angry at me but she accepted the call. I told her that the family N. had informed me about two cases of pedophilia in the Apostolic School. The mother immediately questioned her son who answered that the N. family was lying because they hated the Legion.

I called the N. family once again. The mother gave me the name of the French offender: Brother J D Brother J D used to be in charge of the Apostolic School students. At night when the children were going to bed he used to call a child into a separate room and fondle him. It happened in 2004 during the General Chapter while the rector was in Rome. From information she had gathered she knew that the rector was willing to e-mail the families, but Fr. G the Territorial Director, forbad him to do so. So, some families learned through other families that their children had been abused… Afterward, the rector went to visit all the families and cried in front of them to express his shame and beg pardon… The Legionaries were acting that way to cover their traces. Without proof they could not sue the Legion.

I could not believe it. Brother J D this ex-brother who had tried to get my job at the oratory. But could it be possible? After our encounter in the oratory he had become my friend of Facebook. A few months later, I learned that he got married. I had sent him a message for the occasion, saying jokingly that he had been very quick… I remember that I had noticed the presence of a Legionary in the wedding picture that he had published on Facebook.

I had to confirm this information. I needed to know the truth… I called him. But he did not answer. I called him, again and again but as soon the phone began to ring he hung up. I tried another number. He answered. I told him very quickly that I had to speak with him about a very serious issue. There were bad rumors about him. I asked him: what happened in the Apostolic School? He became furious and angrily said: You are meddling with things that do not concern you! If you really want to know, you should ask the Legion authorities. And he hung up.

His answer was an acknowledgment. I began to weep alone in my room. I was thinking about the children he could have abused in the oratory if he had been hired…

I called B?s mother again. I told her that I had received confirmations about the abuses, and I told her the name of the French brother. Her son finally confessed:

Yes, it is true.
But you lied to me? You lied to your own mother?
Yes, but you know that in France the media and the government are trying to expel the Legionaries… We must protect the Legion!

I think that this issue led me to appreciate the seriousness of the matter. The last veil that was still over my eyes was torn to shreds. In my mind the Legion was not a real catholic order any more, but a cult suffering from a persecution complex. I told him that we should never fear the truth. But I did not try to argue.

The families of the victims did not sue the Legion. One of those families explained me that they had been invited by the Territorial Director to personally meet with him. The parents thought that Father G wanted to present his personal apology but when they arrived at the Territorial Direction, instead of Father G they had to face the Legion of Christ lawyer. And this lawyer explained to the parents how they would deal with the issue.

French justice is still doing an investigation (in France, for this kind of serious issue concerning sexual abuses of children there is automatically an investigation lead by the police). But without a complaint from the families there is no serious threat for the Legion.

Xavier Leger’s Testimony Part 2 of 3

The False Appearances of Holiness

So, this is how my first weeks in the seminary of Paris began, which in contrast revealed the lack of morality of my former superiors… After that, keeping on my path to the priesthood became very difficult. Past and present were mixing up all the time in my mind. All was lies, lies, lies… All around me, all the years I had spent in the Legion. All lies.

But I still lacked some of the keys to be able to interpret all that. I received those keys during a retreat in Tressaint, a Foyer de Charite, located in the west coast, a couple of days before Christmas, 2008.

The priest chosen to preach this retreat to the seminarians was an old and very humble man. He dedicated the retreat, the spiritual fight, based upon some passages of the Book of the Genesis. One thing he said then struck me deeply. He explained indeed there was something curious about the two trees of the Garden of Eden. Indeed, there is a contradiction between Gen 2,9 and Gen 3, 2-3. The latter states:

The woman said to the serpent, From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat from it or touch it or you will die.

This affirmation is not true. The tree that the text had specifically located in the middle of the Garden, in Gen 2, 9, was the tree of life. Why did the woman only speak about the tree, as if the other one, the tree of life, did not exist?

The priest told us that this could mean that she was really not aware that there were two trees in the Garden. Maybe she had been informed in the past, but over time, the prohibited tree had taken the place of both, as if the tree of knowledge was the tree of life, making the latter disappear behind its branches and leaves.

From this idea, the priest continued his meditation about the false appearances of holiness, describing how we can be seduced in our life by some very beautiful fruits, that are a delight to the eyes, that have all the appearances of holiness, but only the appearances, because they stop us in our journey, and lead us to turn around toward ourselves, in a context of narcissism.

He went through a full description of those false appearances of holiness. He described all the traps of a spirituality based upon appearances. The main problem of those traps is that they freeze us in a fixed, one-way life, while the very principle of the Christian life is precisely to be a journey of freedom. He explained to us how those false appearances of holiness led us to get fossilized, and, as a result, unresponsive to the actions of the Holy Spirit, which are always uncontrollable.

During this meditation he had described, unintentionally, the whole spirituality of the Legion. This meditation helped me to put words on the intuitions I was constantly dealing with. I was finally becoming aware of the real threat that the Legion could introduce into the whole Church, and which could be summarized in one word: narcissism. And, according to the priest, narcissism leads naturally to the unpardonable sin, the blasphemy against the Spirit.

Everything became clear in my mind. I was now able to go forward: the whole spirituality of the Legion was not holy or even healthy. Indeed, there was no spirituality in the Legion, but an enormous spiritual trap, a great bluff.

Now, this anti-spirituality was absolutely the fruit of Maciel’s thought. When this latter had died, some months before, I remember that I had come to the chapel, and said to him Well, I am maybe wrong, but I do not understand you. If you are really a saint, I ask you to please intercede for me and help me to understand you. I smiled thinking in my naivety, No, Maciel was not a saint, because there is no holiness in the Legion, since, on the contrary, the Legion is nothing but a trap for people aspiring to holiness.

And because all the anti-spirituality of the Legion was the very fruit of his will, it could not be what it was supposed to be. Now, considering that narcissism is also the root of many sexual perversions, I came to the conclusion that the accusations of pedophilia were true.

There is an American movie Groundhog Day that describes with sharpness this link between narcissism and sexual perversion: At the beginning, Phil Connors, the principal character, who is a very ego-centric man, tries by all the means to seduce Rita, his personal coach. A prisoner of time, in a day that restarts over and over, he follows his instincts and personal desires without any attention to the rest of the world or to the old tramp that dies in the cold winter… all his life revolves around himself. And the way he tries to seduce Rita, learning all the details about her tastes, dreams and customs is the manifestation of a very perverse mind. He wants her for himself. But why is he so in love with Rita? Because Rita is a nice and generous person.

Here is the point: the ego-centric Phil feels attraction for the generous Rita. Why? Because she is happy and he is not. He is not in love; he is fascinated by her joy. And, because he is not able to interpret correctly this fascination, his only way to interpret it is through his sexuality.

This is the key to understanding many sexual perversions, especially against children: a desire to steal the grace from them. The opposite of love is not hatred, but possession. And now, it was obvious, at least in my eyes, that Maciel was guilty of the accusations of pedophilia; it appeared to me that the whole anti-spirituality of the Legion originated from the same root of sexual depravity. I came to this conclusion a bit more than a month before the official revelation about the double life of Maciel.

The Double Life

On February 5th, I received a letter from Brother V. C., who was at this moment the personal secretary of Father Corcuera explaining through many circumlocutions that our Father founder, Father Maciel, that we love so much and we will always love as being our founder despite his limitations, his falls and sins, has in the past made some mistakes, unfitting with the sacerdotal condition.

The letter was long, and full of contradictions. He was warning anybody not to judge Maciel, since the only one who can judge is God. He added: One thing is sure: this man has taught us to love God and our brothers. This is the only thing that I would like to remember from his life. He repeated a couple of times, that Father Maciel had sinned as each one of us…, and that, for sure, the Legion was not his work, but undoubtedly the work of God. Brother V. ended up his letter saying: This has nothing to do by the way with the accusations of pedophilia against him from a long time ago.

So, I was not so surprised by this news; it was even a confirmation, and, in some way, a relief. His last point about the charges of pedophilia was absurd, and clumsy. It was a desperate and ridiculous way to hide the wood behind the tree.

When I first received the information, I felt uncontrollable laughter. For more than two or three minutes I laughed about this totally irrational and incredible news; so, this is Maciel, the holy Maciel, the son of saint Mama Maurita, prepared from all eternity to give birth to the man that would save the Church (taken almost word by word from the Second General Chapter).

But, after that, I sat down and began to cry. I wept as a child, considering all the consequences: for the Church, for my former companions, considering that all the former accusations were true, and that the head of the Legion was someone lacking the slightest degree of morality. I wept thinking of my experience in the Legion, about the time I spent in a state of anxiety, trouble, of guilt.

Here are some parts of the letter I sent to V:

?Dear V.,

I thank you for your mail and for your trust.

Personally, I am not surprised. I may scandalize you, but I had perceived for a long time that there was something wrong with the spirituality of Father Maciel. Just looking at some of his letters, or at the practical exams… is enough to catch it. I remember a conference that he gave us in 2002, in Salamanca. He had spoken very aggressively about those Legionaries who were wearing a mask, and were leading a double life. He spoke about eternal damnation… and I was thinking to myself: how can this man say such things to young novices, most of whom were still adolescent, far away from their families, living such a tough life…? How could he make them feel guilty that way? I do not think that we help a man to grow by humiliations and guilt.

You know that we used to say that we judge others as we are. This is a great principle of psychology. It seems to me that Father Maciel has simply transferred to his spirituality the fears of his own sins. Do not be saddened: this is very good news, indeed.

Needless to say, his reaction was very violent. With a great measure of arrogance he answered with a long letter to make me understand that I was lacking charity, that I needed to apply the principle We judge others as we are to myself, that I should read Saint Therese of Lisieux, etc, etc. He tried to explain to me that if I was feeling bitterness about my former experience in the Legion… and that this was maybe because I had problems of conscience, implying that I may not have been faithful to my Legionary vocation.

I was upset with his reaction, and shocked by his manner of making me feel guilty. There was not the slightest doubt. I was witnessing that he had fallen into a very deep state of psychological anxiety. He was acting like a wounded dog biting anyone who touched it.

I answered again a long letter. In vain.

Meeting Father Jacques

For a couple of months, Father Jacques Dupont, superior of the community of Paris had asked to meet me. He was embarrassed by the open criticism I had expressed to my bishop and to some other priests of the diocese. Finally, I accepted his last request that he had sent me some days after Christmas. I wanted to get rid of him, and thought the best way would be to have a long discussion. I had already built my own opinion, and I was able to argue, I invited him for lunch on February the 14th.

But the revelation of the double life of Maciel occurred between my invitation and the lunch. So, I was naively thinking that he would have changed his opinions about me and the objectivity of my concerns. But he did not. I tried to keep calm, to explain quietly my thoughts. In vain.

When I dared to say that Maciel was probably guilty of the charges of pedophilia he became angry and answered that we should be prudent, and stick only to the facts – It is impossible for us to know if those charges are true, because they are too old, and full of contradictions. We will indeed probably never know.

All that, all I got during the lunch was a haughty look and snickering about some of my remarks. He had answers for everything, with no room for the slightest doubt. He responded like a robot. There was no possibility for discussion between us. I was already too far away from his world. I had to get rid of the ideology. He was still in it.

I told him that I was aware of two cases of pedophilia in the Apostolic School. But he told me I was exaggerating. He said it was not a big deal, only a few caresses, irrelevant in the cases of pedophilia. Then he told me that there was a police investigation in process. I was surprised, because I thought that the Legion had been able to hush up the scandal. At that time, I was not aware of this aspect of the issue and was taken by surprise (afterwards, I would discover that the Legion had been able to protect itself, despite the investigation).

After no more than one hour, I gave up any attempt to have a real discussion. He was always right, and I was always wrong. So, there was no point in going further. But, at a certain point, he turned the conversation on me. And he said: I do not understand clearly. Do you really want to become a priest? But, but, but you certainly know that a priest is a man of peace. How will you be able to become a priest if you are not looking for peace?

My greatest fault is to be always too naive. And I did not expect such an argument. He was sure of himself, and looked at me as we usually look at someone to give him serious advice. I was not as strong as I thought or rather I had not even imagined that he could say such thing. This accusation was pathetic, and I was devoid of any riposte. He was turning the problem onto me, as usual, challenging me to become a priest.

I asked him to leave. I had nothing left to say to him.

Opening My Eyes

After that, the end of the year in the seminary became more and more difficult to bear. I needed to know the whole truth about Maciel because I knew that I would not be free until I could get the whole truth. But my spiritual guide did not understand me. As my superior, he wanted me to turn the page, and to concentrate on myself and my present formation.

During the last years, I had been through a long process of healing and re-interpretation: passing from some intuition to a conceptualization of the cult-like behaviors of the Legion. This intellectual process was very painful, because it was based on supposing that I acknowledged my own mistakes. The Legion makes its members become, at the same time, victim and butcher: there is no way to be able to formulate a serious criticism without having acknowledged that I had also accepted, consciously, some of the sectarian principles of the Legion.

I was worried, because I was aware that the Legion had been able to infiltrate most of the main offices of the Holy See. I knew that during the previous decades the influence of the Legion inside the Vatican had grown so much that some aspects of its methodology were penetrating slowly and steadily into all the main organs of the Church. Even if the Legion is able to adapt its methodology to train diocesan priests, trainers of diocesan seminaries, and even bishops some aspects of its methodology, including the false appearances of holiness, the hierarchical vision of the Church, the erotic picturing of the priesthood, etc. were penetrating into Catholic culture. I remembered how one of my former superiors in the Legion had reported proudly that Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, the Prefect for the Congregation of the Bishops, had chosen to hold the annual training for the new bishops at the Center of Study of the Legion, in Rome, because he wanted to show them that it is possible. So, the Legion template was pointed out by the greatest authorities of the Church as the ideal way to imitate without paying attention the reality of the system behind the appearances.

I suspected the Legion of to be, indeed, a kind of virus that was actually contaminating the whole Church. And the Church was indeed very receptive because She was struggling with the drama of the massive de-Christianization of the western world. The Legion had confused the concepts of evangelization and seduction. So the Legion was giving to the Church the apparent solution for which She was desperately looking.

In some ways I had also participated in this amazing attempt to penetrate the Church and to attack Her from within, using the good will of the Legionaries. During the next months I spent a lot of time thinking about that. It felt like there had been a bomb put inside the Church. And I was in some way responsible for that.

The diabolical genius of Maciel was that he had been able to penetrate the Church and to attack Her from within, using the good will of the Legionaries. This is absolutely brilliant. Having convinced his followers that they had to save the Church and to serve Her hasta morir en la raya[to the death]: they were introducing into the Church some false principles. It appeared to me that the toxicity of the Legion was paradoxically proportional to the holiness (or more exactly the dedication) of its members. The more perfect crime is the one that does not leave any trace but that leads the victim to his own suicide. Could it be possible? Could the Legion be an instrument in the hands of the Devil to lead the Church, by her own hand, to Her own destruction?

The story of the Church is full of heresies but in the case of the Legion the problem was different. We were not dealing with doctrinal issues but interestingly with an excess of apparent orthodoxy. Is there a problem with being too faithful to the Magisterium of Peter? Well, we have to consider that, as I already said, the life of faith is a journey; we are traveling from one place to another. Jesus, during the three years he spent with the disciples did not impose his divinity on his disciples: He led them from their personal background to understand gradually some aspects of His real identity. The pattern established by Maciel in the Legion was quite the opposite; from the very beginning, you have to kneel, and to follow a rhythm of life denying indeed any kind of liberty and, as a result, the natural path of love that requires time and taming, according to the fox in the Little Prince of Saint Exupery.

There’s no doctrinal heresy in the Legion, but difficult pastoral issues, leading nevertheless to some kinds of subtle heresies, because the contradictions between the message of the Gospel and the Legionary way of life necessarily lead to twisting some concepts. Here is the main problem: some words do not have the same meaning when spoken by a Legionary than when said by Jesus: freedom, charity, self-denial, holiness, sacrifice, all those words, in the mind of a Legionary, convey specific meanings forged by a way of life and a spirituality that does not allow him to think otherwise. This is the problem of the signifier and the signified.

Life in the Legion is an absolute, an ideal that Maciel dreamed to make real on earth. But men are not angels. After having laid the principles of the perfect life, Maciel taught his followers that their paths to holiness consisted in living in this wonderful world, as well as possible. There was no room for personal doubts. No room for discernment. No room for thinking differently. No room for breathing apart. Holiness does not consist in the expression of personal will but will indeed, to the contrary, a self denial ordered to fitting in with the way of life of the group. The more you deny yourself, the holier you are.

This concept, though using different words, is not much different from other heresies. The fact is that it forms frustration in us. As the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal said: Man is neither angel nor beast; and the misfortune is that he who would act the angel acts the beast. A life of denial naturally creates frustrations, i.e. double personalities. The vision of God and of His mercy is also twisted since the Legion leads its members to admit that God has a singular way-of-life for them, with no freedom. If so it means that, in the end, God does not really love me for myself, but only for His own glory. I am nothing but a means, a simple tool.

The dream of Maciel was the result of his personal frustration. We cannot live on earth, as if we were already in Heaven. In fact, this attempt to have a perfect life could actually be a good image of Hell. The Center of Studies of Rome is the achievement of the perfect life pictured by Maciel: all is perfect. It is a world in itself, where everything is clear, nice and orderly. There is no need to go outside, since everything you need is inside: even two swimming pools, a dental practice and a gas pump. Life in the Legion is designed like the mechanism of a clock. It’s as if we were using the Jacob’s s ladder to build the tower of Babel.

But this system, so fascinating, is nothing but a means of crushing personality and generating frustrations. The perversity of the system is evident in the fact that the more you pray the more you move away from God a strange contradiction that I have witnessed through so many testimonies. In this sense, religious discipline in the Legion is nothing but spiritual rape. And the worst thing about rape is that when it happens to a woman she struggles afterward throughout her life with this psychological wound because the act of love will always remind her of the violence of rape.

But the strength of the Legion consists also in making you feeling guilty for not being in love with your vocation. Here we find the worst aspect of the perversion: The Legion leads us to lie to ourselves. Indeed, most of those who were affirmed with conviction their happiness, turned out confessing, sometimes ten or twenty years after having left the order, that they were suffering. The Legion issue is a very interesting subject for psychologists: how men are able to convince themselves that they are happy, while they are enchained.

Since becoming more aware of the threat that the Legion posed to the Church, I felt impotent, being merely a poor seminarian. I was not allowed to speak, and the silence in which I was immersed became unbearable. Nobody could understand me. I was feeling so lonely.

In France the revelation about the double life of Maciel did not make any scandal in the media, only a few lines in some newspapers. How strange, Maciel, who spent his life crying wolf and denouncing his enemies, got nothing but the greatest indifference at the revelation of his double life.

Problems with my Superiors

Even in the seminary of Paris I began to feel like a stranger. My superior did not understand me and reproved me strongly without even having tried to understand what I was going through. This arrogance, and the inability to hear, made me feel worse. How could they have believed me? It was too big, too improbable, like someone startled at seeing a mouse who does not pay attention to the elephant. They could not imagine the seriousness of the trouble I was dealing with.

I have to say something here to explain a little bit more about my psychological state in relation to obedience.

As I already said, I am a very emotional person whose main characteristic is to be naturally enthusiastic. The fault of this quality is the lack of self-confidence. That’s why I never feel comfortable with people that have too much authority. Some circumstances of my personal history have led me to often feel guilty and to lose my convictions and my ability to speak when someone attacks me. On the other hand, other events of my personal history had taught me to be fair and honest. Both aspects have created in me a personality in which rash judgments easily become a personal drama.

In the Legion, as I already said, I endured very harsh and totally unfair humiliation. I do not want to dwell on these events that belong to the past but I know they created in me very deep spiritual wounds. I was wounded because of my personal weakness and my lack of self-confidence. The worst thing about humiliation is to feel victimized by a totally irrational and free hatred, without any chance to explain the truth to the accuser because he is superior and needless to say that he is always right.

Some of my superiors in the Legion abused their authority in order to vent their anger on me. They were totally almighty and nobody could prevent them from doing it. During those years I learned to bow down in front of the most unfair attacks. While we were asked to live between us the legendary Legionary charity I experienced the strongest lack of charity I have ever seen, from my own superiors.

So, after having left the Legion, dealing with people of authority has become a real issue. As soon as I started to experience manipulations, rash judgments, psychological abuses. I felt I was going crazy.

As I used to bow down in front of those people during so many years, I felt incapable of responding to the accusations of the superior of the seminary. And the anger began, once again, to grow in me. Not again. Please, my Lord. Not any more. That’s enough… The superior of the seminary accused me of not being concerned for my own formation. The fact that I had changed from religious life to the diocesan way was suspect. The fact that I was still dealing with this issue was a proof I lacked the aptitude to become a priest. His judgments were strong and stark. I needed a superior who could help and support me. Instead I found once again a judge who totally misjudged me.

What’s Going on With The Church?

During the same period of time, three strong and successive incidents shook the whole Church.

The first one occurred in January: the Pope decided suddenly to withdraw the sentence of excommunication from the bishops who had been ordained by Msgr Lefevre. This decision was totally meaningless and for those who know a little bit more about the issue it was very shocking. The Society of St Pius X had a very aggressive speech against the Vatican II Church and cultivated ties with the National Front, a far-right political party. One of those bishops, Msgr Williamson, had openly expressed his doubts about the real existence of the gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps.

I witnessed the crisis from within the Church. Seminarians, priests and bishops were all appalled. Monsignor Vingt-Trois, the Bishop of Paris, got the information while reading his newspaper. One hour later journalists were knocking at his door asking for his official statement as President of the Conference of the French Bishops. Now the thing is that most of the people following this group are French and throughout the nearly ten year investigation, led by the Pontifical committee, Ecclesia Dei, French Bishops hadn?t been consulted about the issue.

There were some indirect ties between this issue and the Legion of Christ. First of all, both movements shared a fairly similar view of the Church Triumphant and a highly negative opinion about our times of decadence, together with a great measure of persecution complex. Second, the two prelates who had worked on the issue were Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos and Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. Both were very good amigos of the Legion, unconditional defenders of its cause.

The second scandal occurred at the beginning of the month of March: Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of the coastal city of Recife, in Brazil, excommunicated the family of a nine year old girl who had been raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather. The family members had chosen to have the girl undergo an abortion. The Church excommunicated the doctors who performed the procedure as well. Rape is less serious than abortion, said the archbishop.

I am not a defender of the abortion cause, but I know that morality allows some exceptions on account of the double effect principle. Secondly, in this kind of awful situation, making such a strong judgment is totally out of context, and of charity. It was a pure media suicide. But the worst thing is that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re supported the Archbishop of Recife. This scandal, in France, led people to consternation.

The third scandal occurred a couple of days later. While Pope Benedict was aboard an aircraft to Africa, he answered some questions from the journalists. A French journalist asked him how the Church was dealing with the problem of massive HIV contamination in Africa. Pope Benedict made a tactless answer saying that distribution of condoms aggravates the AIDS crisis. Now, in the context of his answer he was absolutely right. And, as a seminarian, I defended him steadily by circulating emails explaining the whole issue: The fact is that he was not speaking from a moral point of view, but from the sanitary politic perspective. Indeed, the only countries in Africa that have succeeded in curbing the scourge of contamination were the countries having fostered sexual abstinence and fidelity, by increasing the peoples? awareness of the risk of contamination from any sexual relations. One of my companions, in the seminary, who had worked for several years in Gabon, Africa, told me that the Pope was indeed absolutely right.

But this affirmation created an enormous scandal in France. It was much more serious than the other scandals, I think, because it was the Pope and not just some unknown and old cardinal of the Roman Curia. French political Alain Juppe, a Catholic and believer, revealed in an interview that he was very concerned : This Pope is becoming a real problem. I have a feeling that he is in a state of total autism.

The real problem is that the Pope was right, but should have been informed that such an answer could easily be misinterpreted. If he had offered this clarification during the interview, saying perhaps well, I won’t speak on a moral point of view, but only on a sanitary politic perspective. The Church is very concerned, because the scourge of AIDS keeps on growing in most of the countries of Africa, except those having conducted a policy of fidelity and abstinence, etc. he would have defused the scandal and really helped the cause.

So, living those scandals from within the Church was very depressing. I do not know how the scandals have been perceived in other countries but in France I can actually say that the Church lost Her remaining credibility. We can argue that the media are working against the Church, that the enemies of the Church are taking advantage of the situation to discredit Her, but the truth is that the Church authorities were not dealing correctly with the world, and therefore, were giving to the folks a theoretical speech, barely audible. And this was serious.

At that point, I could not prevent myself from making a connection between the wonderful world of the Legionary way of life and the tactlessness of the authorities of the Church involved in those successive scandals. From a personal point of view, I admire Pope Benedict for his tremendous intelligence. I had read some of his books with delight but I was shocked and sorry about those scandals. Some people were telling me that they did not want to have their children baptized in the Catholic Church; for they were rejecting a Church that judges.

The common point among the scandals was that the speeches of the Church authorities were only theoretical, far away from the actual reality which is always very complex. People are not able to comprehend this kind of speech or to live according to all the best principles of morality. And it is necessary to adapt a speech, since the very first mission of the Church is to announce God’s mercy to all mankind.

Now, it appeared to me that the Vatican authorities were living too far removed from the world, locked in a kind of bubble – and the Legion was not guiltless for that, because they have fostered inside the Vatican such a veneration for the Pope and the Roman authorities, that they were creating a wall between the Vatican and the rest of the world. Each time the Pope greeted pilgrims from his window, there were hundreds of Legionaries and enormous groups of students coming from the Legionary schools, shouting tons of We love you to the Holy Father. Even the normal attitude of obedience and respect toward the successor of Peter had been transformed into an ideology. While the Church authorities need people on the ground to help them without giving up their principles of morality to adapt their speeches to the complex world, the fervent shouts of the Legionaries were there to cover up the dissonant voices of the suffering world and reassure the Church authorities: Do not worry, Eminence, WE love you.

Idolization is not good, even with the Church authorities.

Leaving the Seminary, Once Again

The Church?s decision to conduct an investigation gave me some consolations. Always too naive, I really thought that the situation would be corrected. The visitors would discover the whole truth and the problem would quickly be put behind us. I could not imagine that the Legion would try to manipulate the Visitation.

I thought that my first duty was to inform the visitor for France and to meet with him. As soon as I learned that Msgr Blazquez was appointed by the Pope,
I sent him an email telling him that I was a former Legionary and an actual diocesan seminarian in Paris. I told him that I was very concerned about the situation of the Legion of Christ and that I was willing to meet him. He answered quickly that he would meet me when he came to Paris but in the meantime he invited me to send him my thoughts through registered mail.

So, I worked during all my free time taking my letter with me to Cardinal Vingt-Trois again and reviewing it in depth. The result was a 20-page letter, with 20 additional pages of documents. It was a lot of work written in French. I sent the letter in July, adding an introduction which explained that there were some other people (ex-Legionaries, concerned families and ex-consecrated women) who absolutely wanted to meet him because in the meantime I had been put in touch with other people who were like I was very concerned. I attached a list of those people, with a short description for each including their addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.

During the previous several months I had been through a time of personal difficulties. I was exhausted, struggling between my concerns for the Legion and for the Church, and my personal formation in the priesthood. I had a kind of breakdown. When coming back to my room in the seminary I could not compel myself to study. I was feeling drained and disgusted.

So, during the month of July I escaped from my summer internship to make a retreat. With the advice of my spiritual guide (a wise Jesuit) I decided to take a break in my formation. I needed to breathe and I could not continue in the seminary at that time.

So, I sent an email to my Bishop explaining briefly that I had been very shaken during this last year because of the revelations about Maciel. Those revelations had led me to recognize and admit to even more personal consequences – all of which were painful and depressing. I told him that I needed time and that under the present conditions I could not continue my studies at the seminary.

My Bishop answered me in a very kind manner telling me that he understood me and he offered to help me in any way that he could. The doors of the seminary would remain open for me.

Part 3 – A Machine That Generates Sexual Frustration”

Part 3 A Machine That Generates Sexual Frustration

Xavier Leger Testimony of His Life During and After the Legionaries of Christ

Part 1 He Who Would Act The Angel Acts The Brute Click Here To Read Part 1

Part 2 False Appearances of Holiness In The Legion

Click Here To Read Part 2

Part 3 Introduction:

This final portion of Xavier Leger?s testimony contains considerable wisdom and revealing insights from his personal experience. As you read his explanations of how Fr Maciel’s perversions resulted in an unnatural environment where people lose their ability to make moral decisions it feels as if light switches are being turned on. It provides clear explanations how people in cults surrender their free will to the group, thereby losing such an essential part of their humanness.

ReGAIN shares Xavier?s concern that the Church is avoiding such valuable participation from ex members. It seems similar to attempting to improve conditions in an insane asylum by asking only the inmates what needs to be corrected. It is not yet clear that the Church recognizes that they are dealing with a cult and that it warrants getting professional guidance from those who have expertise in helping people to recover from cult involvement. Xavier has raised some excellent questions that we hope will be considered by those responsible for the reform process. So far they don’t seem to have shown a desire to face all of the real issues.

ReGAIN editors are grateful to Xavier for his courage in speaking out about the truth even though he has faced opposition from the Legion.

The author has kept the names of Legionaries who are public figures, changing the names of rank and file.

Part 3 A Machine That Generates Sexual Frustration

Back To The World

Once again, I was leaving the seminary, but this time in completely different circumstances. I was feeling good at peace. In the meantime, I had learned that Brother Vincent (the personal secretary of Father Alvaro Corcuera about whom I have already spoken) had suddenly left the Legion. He sent me an email in June, in which he asked for my prayers, because he discovered that after nine years in the Legionit was possible that God was not calling him to the priesthood. I detected a lack of maturity in his message: everything was reduced to the will of God, as if the will of God, indeed, was some kind of cosmic fatality. So I invited him to meditate upon the passage in the Gospel concerning the blind man, Bartimaeus, to whom Jesus had said: What do you want me to do for you? (Mk 10, 46-52).

I heard from some friends that he had left the Legion. According to them, he was actually in a state of euphoria, suggesting that he was living proof that the Legion was very respectful with the liberty and the discernment of its members. He was claiming that he had finally understood that God was not calling him to the priesthood, but to serve the Church through the Regnum Christi. He was eternally thankful toward the Legion for the wonderful years he had spent in it, but had to accept the will of God! All this drama sounded somewhat ridiculous.

Anyway, once again I started a new life. This time I settled in the mountains, needing to be alone in silence. In my mind, I had left the seminary for only one year. I wanted to be available to meet the Apostolic Visitator, and then, to make a real break. I began to think that I could use this sabbatical year for an enormous project something a bit crazy. When I was fifteen years old, I had done a summer-camp in the USA, in which we took a whole week to hike the Pennsylvanian portion of the Appalachian Trail. I had great memories of this magical experience, and thought that one day I would return to hike the entire trail. I thought it was the time to fulfill this dream.

I quickly found a job as a seasonal worker, starting in December. This job would allow me to finance my project. It was also a time for me to experience more of the real world, outside of any ecclesial context. From the month of August until the beginning of the winter season, I had a couple of months that I reserved for myself. Hiking, painting, swimming… I was not bored. I wanted to be available all the time, ready to go back to Paris as soon as the Visitator arrived there. Even when I was hiking in the mountains, I brought my cell phone in order to check my emails regularly. The others families were, like me, waiting to be contacted by Msgr. Blazquez.

I also used those months to begin my personal investigation about the true history of the Legion, spending hours and hours on Internet. At this time, without the Internet at home, I had to find free access elsewhere. I needed to know how Maciel had been able to fool all the Church authorities during his whole life. I needed also to solve the mystery of the Great Blessing: what had happened during the first Apostolic Visitation?

Thanks to all the information I gathered here and there, I finally got the true version. One of the websites that helped me in that work was the blog of Cassandra Jones. Then, I discovered also the TVN Chile Report Los Pecados de Marcial Maciel [The Sins of Marcial Maciel]l, in which I heard and saw, for the first time, the victims telling their awful stories of abuses. I was becoming aware, progressively, of the extent of the depravity of Maciel. I was so nauseated that I personally made the whole translation of the report and put it on YouTube with the French subtitles an enormous job. It was a real nightmare… the kingdom of lies and spiritual terrorism.

After having discovered all this crap, I was feeling very angry. The blog led by Landon Cody gave me a lot of consolation. I needed to shrug off my anger through humorand exlcblog.com was a very healthy place to let off steam.

Astonishment and Consternation

I was still waiting. September, October… still nothing. I did not want to seem too insistent. Msgr. Blazquez had told me we would meet in Paris, but I was beginning to worry. Someone told me that there were so many Legionaries to meet in Spain that his visit in Paris would come later.

I had received some worrying news. For example, I had heard that Cardinal Rode had said to Father Alvaro Corcuera, after the revelation about the scandal of Maciel: If you change the charism, I’ll kill you! I had also learned that the Legion was trying to defend itself, insisting that there was nothing to change in the Legion, despite the faults of the founder, because mysteriously, his sins did not have any consequences for the congregation. A family, whose son had left the Legion during the summer, reported to me how the superiors of Salamanca had announced to the whole community that Msgr. Blazquez had been chosen to fulfill the Visitation in Spain: Do not worry said the superiorMsgr. Blazquez is a great friend of the Legion! But, why worry? Why be afraid of a Visit? The truth is the truth… we cannot fear it! What was the meaning of all that?

Finally, I learned that Msgr. Blazquez had indeed come to France. He had visited the Apostolic School and had played soccer with the pupils. According to my sources, the Visitor had shown a great liking toward the Legionaries. He had told them that he acknowledged the charism of the congregation and assured the pupils that the Apostolic School would go on. I have received this information from two different persons. According to one of these persons, some families of the Regnum Christi had been chosen by the Legion to meet the Visitator (I have no other confirmation of this information).

One of the families who wanted to meet the Visitator had also personally asked the Territorial Director in France to be notified when the Visitator would be here. And the Territorial Director had promised them to do so. But, unfortunately, when this moment came, he suddenly forgot! Such a pity! And then he came to meet the family, thinking that his personal visit would be a good consolation for them…

A last element would prove explosive: Vincent, with whom I had kept an occasional correspondence (usually very heated, since he was always trying to lecture me) told me candidly: Personally, I have had a private meeting with the Apostolic Visitator for France at the end of September. And I will go back to meet again the Visitator for Italy in December in Rome.

That was too much, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew that Vincent was still deeply under the influence of the Legion and that his recent exit from the Legion could not provide the insight that the Visitors needed in order to understand the whole issue. I do not think he had been sent by the Legion, but I knew quite well that he was feeling a compulsive and irrational need to defend the Legion.

Some friends sent an email to Msgr. Blazquez. In his answer, he offered to meet me in Spain. I considered this option, but we were already in November. My job was about to start, and my personal finances were very low.

It was too much. A couple of days after Vincent?s note, I created my blog exlcblog.info, with the title Prevention A l’Egard de la Legion du Christ. It was the first French blog and would certainly make a lot of noise, which was deliberate considering that I was not dealing with well-intentioned people. I knew, unfortunately, that the Legion would take advantage of the silence of the victims in order to grow, and to keep infiltrating and manipulating the Church. I had to speak.

The Legionary Original Sin

During the first month, I received many positive reactions. Among the personal messages, there were some words of encouragement from two Legionary priests who were teachers. Through one of them, I learned that most of the Legionaries were still kept ignorant about the true life of Maciel. I felt happy to be supported by those priests, because I had always thought that the teachers were the only people with a little more information, and were thus preserved from the pathogenic aspects of the apostolic methodology.

The troubles began in January 2010, after the publication of an article in which I proposed a personal interpretation about the fundamental origins of the cult-like behavior I had noticed in the Legion. To suggest that Father Macieldespite his sinshad been the miraculous instrument of Providence was a totally idiotic remark. I tried in this article to explain why, through a very simple analysis of a text in Genesis, to show that sin is never an isolated act or lacking in consequences, but was more like a bomb whose shock waves causes disorders at different levels. In the case of the Legion, the sins of Maciel had affected the whole structure of the order. And I pointed out that the Legion was indeed particularly damaged about sexuality.

[The article can be found here.]

The Reaction of Father Jacques Dupont

My article generated a scandal. I first received some very offensive comments on the blog. Most of those comments were badly-written with spelling errors and vulgar words. I did not pay much attention to them, but I have to confess that I was surprised to see that they were using and deforming some aspects or events of my own personal life to accuse me. Some days afterward, I received a pithy email from Father Jacques Dupont, the superior of the community of Paris:

Dear Xavier:

Hello!

From time to time, I receive your work.

It is interesting, even if I think that the logical and theological aspects are often slipping. Maybe because the principle that you noticed: we judge others as we are, you neglected to apply it to yourself. But, well, this is your liberty!

I was thinking some days ago: well, let’s create a LC blog in order to answer point after point to all that sounds me true and false in the literature that we find here and there.

But, the time of light will come. Now, we should rather keep silent.

I often think of you and pray for you.

This message was awesome!! I could not expect more stupidities in so few words. In a couple of hours, I wrote an answer that I published immediately on my blog, removing the name of my interlocutor, of course.

Hello Father,

I thank you for having taken the time to offer me this commentary. I received your opinion with some sadness, but I respect your opinion and I have decided to answer through an open letter.

First of all, you have to know that your interpretation is contradicted by the many messages of support and encouragement that I have received since the beginning of the blog, including from actual Regnum Christi members and even some Legionaries (yes).

You affirm, speaking of my articles, that the logical and theological aspects are often slipping… I would be glad if you could deepen a little bit more this comment. I suppose that your judgment refers to the article in which I proposed a fundamental reflection about the problem of sin and its consequences from the Book of Genesis. You have to know that this analysis is nothing else but a summary of the great book God and His Image, by Father Dominique Bartholemy, OP, who was, as you certainly know, one of the greatest theologian of the 20th century. I invite you, by the way, to read the second chapter of the book, in particular the second part concerning the disfigured God. You will find, more or less, the origin of my reflections on this matter.

What deeply bothers me about your message is that you allow yourself to judge my intentions, accusing me to take my own personal problems out on the Legion of Christ. If you have carefully read my article, you will certainly have noticed that the principle that I speak about we judge others as we are (Cf. Dieu et Son Image, p.58) fits into a reflection upon the question of sin. I think that this analysis is very interesting, because it shows, from the Scriptures, how sin disorganizes the relationship between God and man, and among men.

If I allowed myself to take up this reflection of Father Bartholemy, it’s simply to try to understand to what extent the many and serious sins of Father Maciel could have consequences on the structure, the organization and spirituality of the Legion of Christ. It belongs to what we call, in morality, the principle of double effect.

I would never allow myself to apply the principle to anybody, since, as you certainly know, this accusation would be a serious sin against the 8th commandment, called rash judgment, as the Catechism says:

2477. Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor.

But since you doubt my intentions, I have decided to answer to you in order to try, maybe, to free you from this awful and unfair prejudice against myself.

The reason why I have decided, with the help of some other people, to create this blog, is because the Lord has given me, since I left the institution (destroyed after six and a half years of having been made to feel guilty), the chance to rebuild myself. When I look, in hindsight, at what I have done during those last four years, I can only marvel at it. I never needed to lookfor things came to me. And I seized them. I met people along the way who helped me to put myself back on my feet. Coming back into a diocesan seminary, I succeeded, with the help of some wise priests, to put into words all those things that were still running through my mind. It was not easy, but I confess that this path gave me a great peace. Gradually, by way of contrast with my former experience, I became aware of the seriousness of the issue, and of the huge gap between the ideological interpretation of the Gospel that I had experienced inside the Legion and a more correct interpretation, as it was lived and taught in a seminary that was respectful toward its seminarians.

After some months, I decided (always with the blessings of my superiors and my spiritual guide) to alert the ecclesial authorities. Certainly, it was very hazardous: who am I to dare denouncing some practices of a Congregation of Pontifical Right, whose founder was still considered as a saint? I simply wrote to my bishop, telling him that I was bothered that I was dealing with serious problems of conscience, and that I wanted to entrust my doubts in the hands of the Church.

Afterward, well, you know: I learned about the two cases of sexual abuse in the minor seminary of Mary-sur-Marne. I finally discovered, in a very surprising way through some families, how the Legion had managed to hush up the scandal.by making the families feel guilty, and by avoiding all written traces. And then a couple of months ago, the appalling revelations about the double, triple, quadruple life of Father Maciel. All that saddened me deeply

When Pope Benedict announced the Apostolic Visitation, I rejoiced, thinking that finally, the whole truth would be known, and that the Legion would go through a real process of purification. I sent a long letter to Msgr. Blazquez, and he answered me that he would receive me when he would come in Paris. And then… nothing. We have been neither contacted, nor received.

When I saw that the Legion was going on with the vocational recruitment, that the ordinations in Rome were maintained, that an important cardinal of the Roman curia had said, jokingly, to Father Alvaro: If you change the charism, I’ll kill you… well, yes, I confess that I really began to worry. And the Apostolic Visitation??? Are the Legionaries aware of the seriousness of such an investigation coming from the Holy See? Don’t you think it would be a matter of decency to stop recruitment and ordinations?

The reason for this blog, Father, is simple: I consider that I have had the chance to go through a process of healing. And I think, humbly, that I have understood the serious difficulties inherent to the Legion of Christ that prevent it from fulfilling its mission as God wants it. It might look presumptuous, but this is my conviction. I have not received any kind of private revelation, but I believe that God speaks in our conscience, as taught in the Catechism:

1778. Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law.

The first Apostolic Visitation had cleared Father Maciel. I hope that this second one won’t clear the Legion of Christ. I feel that I have the duty, in conscience, to speak. And that, because I am also a son of the Catholic Church.

And if, because all of this, I should someday renounce the path to the priesthood, it does not matter! I prefer following my conscience, and to be able to look at myself in the mirror, rather than keeping silent and letting lies spread. During all the years that I spent inside the Congregation, I felt always compelled to act against my better judgment, using inappropriate or even immoral means to announce the Gospel. Today, there is not a single day that I don’t ask God to forgive me for having collaborated with that institution.

The blog has received the warmest of welcomes. I have received messages, from different parts of the world, from people who had been wounded by the congregation, and they told me that my articles had given them some consolation, support and hope. I even received, as I told you at the beginning of this letter, some words of support from some actual members of the Legion. Among those, there is one having important responsibilities in the congregation, and who told me:

I just began reading your blog today, and I couldn’t stop. I find it very sad, intimate and interesting. And I have to say that much of what you write rings true. I have no objections to make but wanted to encourage you to keep it up. I am sure that what you are doing will help many souls. Please continue.

I cannot reveal the identity of the author who entrusted to me his doubts. I felt a great suffering in the rest of his message. He confirmed to me that the Legionaries were still kept in silence… and most of them were not informed about the serious sins of Father Maciel. Yes, the Legionaries, the very ones who are questioned by the Apostolic Visitators, are kept in ignorance, as it appears through the many testimonies of those Legionaries who leave the congregation, one after the other.

Personally, I don’t have anything against the Legion of Christ. It would be easier for me to keep silent and to turn the page. But it would not be fair. I refuse to stand there with my arms crossed, when I see the Legion of Christ spreading a methodologyone I believe mistakento the formators of seminaries (Conference of Leggiuno), to the future formators of seminaries (Maria Mater Ecclesiae), and even to the Bishops.

Recently, an ex-Legionary, who left the Legion of Christ some months ago, told me that one of his former superiorsto prevent him from making the decision to leavetold him: How do you imagine that you will be able to get married and be faithful to a woman, if you have not been able to be faithful to God? (I do not have any doubt about the authenticity of the testimony, because I have heard this argument many times, when I was in). And yet, you know, this priesta great formator in the Legion of Christ, participates every year in the Conference of Leggiuno, given to the formators of seminaries. Do you really think that a man who carries this kind of thoughts has the requirements for such an important mission? I do not.

I believed that the sins of Father Maciel have had a serious impact upon the spirituality of the Legion. Indeed, this impact is very deep. The formation system of the Legion leads to recurrent doubts about personal liberty, always suggesting that one acts out of pride. The fear of lacking in generosity is not a principle of discernment. This is out of the love that we have to follow Jesus, and the superabundance of desire to announce the Gospel. Otherwise, everything turns into a crushing ideology, and models in the hearts the image of an intolerant God. Is God not first a GOOD FATHER??? And does a good father not want first his sons to be happy? Personally, my parents have always respected my choices. Becoming a priest, or a garbageman, or a leader of an enterprise… it did not matter so much. The thing they really wanted is that I would be happy. And I think they are right.

You recommend silence as wisdom. This silence has destroyed lives for too long. Today is the time for light and truth. Some weeks ago, a terrible scandal has exploded in Ireland. Nevertheless, there is one thing that has saved all the rest: the courage of the Archbishop of Dublin, Msgr. Diarmuid Martin, who, contrary to some of his predecessors, broke the law of silence, and opened widely the diocesan archives to legal scrutiny. Then he begged pardon, kneeling humbly to all the many victims of those shameful abuses.

Father Maciel has made us believe that we had to defend the Church and the Pope, and that we had to be ready to die on the battlefield… We believed him, and we are all responsible for that. Because, nevertheless, with the generous intention to help and protect the Church in those difficult times, we allowed the smoke of Satan to penetrate the Church. That’s why, Father, I call all the members of the Regnum Christi Movementas well as all the Legionariesto act according to their conscience. Now it is time to blow up the Bridge over the River Kwai.

I thank you for praying for me, and I am sure that the Lord will hear the prayers of a priest.

On my side, I prefer another less arrogant expression: Let’s be united in prayer.

Xavier LEger, fs (fs: forgiven sinner)

PS. I am very interested in your idea of creating a blog to correct, what, according to your opinion, is false in the literature about the Legion. The only problem is that, I do not clearly understand how you will do it without infringing, again, the 8th commandment? It would be maybe easier to make your personal corrections among the comments of my blog. If they do not contain any personal attack, they will be published. Be sure of that.

This answer was an important step for me. Responding to the bad accusations of Father Jacques. provided a kind of liberation for me. As I already said, I lacked self-confidence; now I was able to speak and arguewithout feeling fear or shame. I was becoming myself, and getting free from my inhibitions.

A machine to generate sexual frustrations?

Now, I would like to deepen a little bit more my thoughts about the consequences of the sexual deviances of Father Maciel in the Legion of Christ, with a striking illustration that I received last year, during a conversation with a priest, the superior of a foyer vocationnel.[vocational household] Some dioceses in France, have created small communities for adolescents aspiring to the priesthood. Those structures are indeed very interesting, since they are working in a totally different way than the Apostolic Schools.

Well, this priest was worrying about the Apostolic School, since he had received in his house a couple of ex-pupils from the Legion?s apostolic school, Mary-sur-Marneboys who had been removed from the school by their parents. He told me he had noticed that these teenagers were struggling with difficulties to live in community. Most of them were presenting the same syndromes. In brief, he told me that these boys had great difficulties when dealing with girls, money and authority. They had several kinds of complexes, very concerning. He told me, for instance, that when they met girls, they became totally crazyunable to have a normal conversation with them. He also explained to me that they had clearly selfish tendenciesbeing unable to participate gratuitously in service to the community.

To go deeper and be able to understand the cultic mechanisms at stake in the Legion, I needed some tools that traditional philosophy could not offer. Some friends spoke me about a book written by a French psychoanalyst, Macha Chmakoff (I know, the name sounds Russian, but she is French). This psychoanalyst had written Le Divin et le Divan after having worked for many years with people leaving new religious orders or movements. I read the book three times, totally amazed by so much intelligence. I found her phone number and I called her. I needed to know if she had known the Legion when she wrote her book, but she did not.

This book, and other readings, helped me, progressively, to understand what was going on, on the other side of the picture. The main difficulty in grasping the dysfunction of the Legion is that we are facing the problem of the visible vs. the invisible. Because the visible side is fascinating, it hides the invisible side, which becomes very difficult to understand. To get into the core of the problem… we need to follow the secret that the fox had taught to the Little Prince, after having been tamed by him: And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

According to psychoanalysis, sexual impulses are a structural strength that governs many aspects of our psychology. There is no need to see here something dirty, or shameful, but simply a natural aspect of our psychology, whose strength aims to reproduction and life. But because man is a rational creature, the sexual process is long, and difficult. Adolescents have to interpret these strengths, that areat the beginningtotally blind. The process of identification/castration leads children and adolescents to orientate their sexuality.

But, because of the rational and social aspects of our nature, this process is not as easy as we would think. It seems to me that it is important to lay this down first, because I thought at the beginning that the Legion was fostering a representation of the priesthood that was impregnated with homosexuality. But after reflection, I understood that the problem was not so simple, and could be even cutting and unfair. In other words, the problem is not homosexuality, but sexual frustration and perversion.

Because sexuality is a natural strength, it creates in our psychology a continuous tension that becomes particularly strong during adolescence. Teens usually feel surprised and sometimes frightened to discover their inability to control their impulses. The only way to finally overcome this difficulty is through another process, which is more spiritual, indeed: it deals with love.

Now, since love is not created by the strength of the will, but by the kindness of its object that deepens a desire in the heart, there is a normal process of taming requiring time, respect and liberty. And because love is a personal process that also leads us to others, it can fit with sexuality, by channeling the impulses in a way of expression and of gift. In the case of religious celibacy, sexuality is never denied, but channeled. Most of mystics have spoken about that, using indeed the words of sexuality to express the union with God.

But if this process is not respected, it means that people are denying their humanity, the very aspect that makes us different from a dog, or a chimpanzee. And the subconscious perceives it as a trauma. In the case of religious celibacy, it may leads to dramatic consequences. If the process of taming is not perfectly respected, the will cannot grasp and embrace its object, and, by way of consequence, when the natural impulses get stronger, for any reason, the subject will not have the ability, out of love, to peacefully overcome the temptation. As the roots of a tree sometimes destroy a wall to find a way to the water, repressed sexuality leads men to find other ways of satisfaction.

This is where, in my opinion, the sexual perversions of Maciel are able to reproduce themselves in the system. This is not only a problem of the pedophilia chain (i.e. some people who have been abused are likely to reproduce that abuse) but a problem of structure. Of course, I do not mean that all the Legionaries are frustrated, but that the climate, the atmosphere created by a system in which most of the members:

    -have joined the group because they have been the prey of a vocational recruiter, -have joined the group, at a very early age, sometimes even before beginning the process of sexual maturation, -have lived, for years, in a context of guilt, with no place for privacy during the period of adolescence, -have lived, for years, in a kind of perfect world, far away from the reality, and where any picture of femininity is banned, -have been compelled to follow a rhythm of life, denying any kind of liberty, since individuals have to renounce themselves for the sake of the group, -have been asked to renounce any kind of real friendship and to repress all their affections, constitutes the most fertile ground for generating sexual frustrations. It is therefore totally uselessand illusoryto try to curb the scourge of pedophilia, with a multiplication of controls when the system itself generates it. I do not think, actually, that my former novitiate companion who committed abuses in the French Apostolic School was a pedophile at the beginning. But he was fragile. And I am afraid that the system has aggravated his fragility.

According to Macha Chmakoff, a morally coercive life leads naturally to a phenomenon of splitting of consciousness that can happen in two different ways: the splitting of the object, and the splitting of the subject:

The splitting of the object is a mechanism that allows the subject to split the object with which he is in relation in two parts: one good, one bad. The unconscious mechanism avoids acknowledging that the object is both good and bad; Thus, it can be and remain idealized. Instead of accepting the shade and ambivalent reality, the subject cuts the object in a good part, with which he remains in relation and that he keeps on idealizing, and he denies the existence of the other part, which is bad.

The religious environment offers possible ways of deploying this mechanism of splitting.

The world, as some believers depicted it, is split in two parts, between the faithful and the unfaithful, the allies of the faith and their enemies. This splitting is rooted in an archaic foundation, that of Manichaeism. In a more general way, any reality is classified in good or bad. What is good immediately is drawn into comparison with what is bad, in counterpoint. The criteria of judgment borrows more from personal values and the loyalty toward one?s environment than to religious values. The way of dressing, of decorating the house, of receiving guests, of expression, nothing escapes his judgment and binary classification. In view of the external reality, the person is in a higher position. He rejects anything that he doesn?t know, and avoids any kind of reappraisal. He identifies himself with what has been labeled good. By this system he defends himself (Macha Chmakoff, Le Divin et le Divan, pp 52-53).

But in reality, this system becomes a spiritual trapespecially for those aspiring to holinessshutting them in an illusion.

According to Macha Chmakoff: when the psychoanalytic structure of the self ideal, which is like an internal compass, is replaced by the collective ideal, consciences do not to do any work of evaluation. Indeed, all acts are pre-judged on the simple conformity or non-conformity with the norms stipulated by the collective ideal. When the conscience is treated that way, it atrophies and loses its competence. The collective ideal ends up replacing not only the self ideal, but even the conscience itself (Macha Chmakoff, Le Divin et le Divan, p.90).

While the realm of conscience is progressively reduced, the speech becomes more and more repetitive, simple and right-thinking. The religious becomes unable to deal with problems that do not fit with his template. Sexual scandals appear to him as defeating his ideal. So, he excludes it from any interpretation. Confronted by reality, in order to protect himself he is tempted to deny and delete it from his mind.

The second aspect developed by Macha Chmakoff, is the splitting of the subject:

The ego splits in two parts, without any relations between them, while the subject is not aware of that. This mechanism of self defense constitutes the core of the perverse structure, in which the subject works simultaneously in two registers that are incompatible with each other. On one hand, the subject is adapted to the reality; on the other hand, he commits reprehensible acts. As in other mechanisms of defense, the splitting of the self is a strategy to fight against the anguish and the depressive collapse. Nevertheless, it can become the mean for the subject to find his pleasure in the exploitations of the others, until their psychic, or even physical, destruction.

The extreme modality of that is pedophilia. The expression of the sexual deviance is paradoxically supported by environments supporting morality, justice, and the respect for others. Indeed, one of the forms of pleasure of the pervert, in general, and of the pedophile, in particular, beside the psychic and physical exploitation of others, is linked to the dissimulation of the transgression.

The splitting of the self may be oriented toward the pursuit of pleasures that are not directly sexual. A priest or a religious may be seductive without having committed any reprehensible acts. Conformity to morality remains intact, but the pursuit of gratifications of different kinds is excessive and not always conscious, as to compensate a non integrated abstinence for a really spiritual life. They can unconsciously give themselves the power of becoming indispensable, by arousing an admiration, defending themselves from having provoked it. But, once again, it is their human evolution that suffers as a result. They are becoming more and more divided, between a poor style of life, and an attachment, partly unconscious, to many narcissistic satisfactions. (Macha Chmakoff, Le Divin et le Divan, pp 55-60)

The Problem of Fanaticism

F

rom the middle of the month of January I became the object of many attacks: someone used my email address to register on some dating websites, with profiles of a sexual pervert, and on a great quantity of porn web sites. They were trying to frighten meas they could. I also received many bitchy phone calls, to bother me all the time, even in the middle of the night, to prevent me from sleeping. I began to worry, because I was getting aware that those people, unfortunately, did not have any limits. I was beginning to fear for my life. I had to make regularly records of those events for the police.

One day, the host of my blog wrote me to tell me that I was the object of a complaint. But to do so, the accuser had had to write to my web host, without thinking that the host would forward me his letter of complaint. I recognized immediately the style of many ignominious comments that I had received on my blog. His complaint was garbled and unclear… he was even accusing me of having deleted the comments he had posted on my blog, proof that I was slandering the Legion of Christ and not being opened to discussions (when I think to the disgusting comments that I had to remove… it’s chilling!)

Well, it was not very difficult to answer this complaint, and fortunately, the host rejected the complaint. I guess my answer made them laugh.

Now I could finally identify my persecutors, or at least one of them, because, by some cross checking, I suspected a small group of 4 or 5. Most of them were ex pre-candidates, still under the influence of the Legion. One day, I got the full version, because one of them, who had participated to these attacks, felt regret, and confessed the whole truth to me. He explained to me that Vincent had set the whole section of young RC members of Paris against me. He was the one who manipulated them. Some of themmaybe too impressionablehad decided to take justice into their own hands.

At the same time, however, those free and violent attacks led me to understand another aspect of the problem: the methodology of the Legion leads to some kinds of fanaticism. People taken in by the ideology lose their ability to distinguish good from bad.

I would like to deepen this point a little bit:

Men build their moral judgment progressively, mostly during their childhood and their adolescence. How do they form this judgment? Quite simply, by exercising it. One of the most delicate parental tasks is to accompany the child along this process which leads to autonomy. It consists of giving advice, examples and sometimes reproachesbut most of all the freedom to make mistakes. Through the experiences of their own mistakes (and successes) children discover, step by step, how to adapt the principles of morality to the complexity of reality.

They understand, progressively, that the end does not justify the means, or to be more precise, that some means are better suited to some ends, because there is a natural relationship between the means and the endswith the result that choosing some means rather than others provides a testimony that we are indeed looking for the best end. Sometimes it happens that the best endtaking account of the complex reality and of other principles of morality (as for instance the fact that people cannot be used as mere means)cannot be fulfilled immediately. A good moral judgment consists in being able to choose the best means. Good ends and good intentions are not enough, and as we say in French: l’enfer est pave de bonnes intentions (the road to Hell is paved with good intentions).

But now, the drama of the Legionary formationand above all in the apostolic schoolsis that the children are in a system where they do not have the ability to exercise and form moral judgments, since they are asked to follow a rhythm of activities that does not allow them to do that. In this setting, the discernment process of means-ends is simply short-circuited.

At the same time, the excess of religious activitiesmeditations, Masses, rosaries, conscience exams, spiritual readings, spiritual direction, etc.compel them to turn their look exclusively toward the end: the Kingdom of Christ. This is similar to the blinkers we put on horses, allowing them to look in one direction only. But this end is presented to them in such a dramatic and urgent way that it creates in their mind an existential anxiety. The mission to save the world against the enemies of the Church becomes an oppressive reality. Freedom towards their vocation is simply crushed: and that is not according to the will of God.

And as a result, they lose touch with reality, accepting many aspects of the methodology that are indeed totally immoral: the use of seduction and lies to recruit children for the Apostolic Schools, the classification of possible benefactors according to their means, etc. Another consequence is that they are willing to do anything to protect and defend the Legion. It is so shocking to think that these people, who look so nice and kind in their perfect world, could be so violent and heartless when they face unexpected threats against the Legion.

If the morality of our actions deals much more with means than ends -even if, as I have explained, there is a natural relationship between means and ends, so that if we choose bad means, it means that we are indeed not looking for the good end- it appears to me that what makes a man an adult is precisely his ability to distinguish correctly among the meansthe good ones and the bad ones. Sometimes it happens that to go from A to B we need to pass through C and D.

There’s a striking example about the moral confusion of Father Maciel. I have been told onceI don’t remember the exact circumstancesthat Father Maciel had watched a movie with the community. It so happens that this movie provided a reflection about precisely this principle of morality: The Patriot (with Mel Gibson and Jason Isaac), taking place during America?s Revolutionary war. The movie deals with two main characters: Benjamin Martin, an American, father of a large family and former successful soldier, who tries by all the means to avoid participating in a war that would damage the country; and Colonel Tavington, who leads a unit of British soldiers, repressing the insurrections through very cruel means. The movie is somewhat of a caricature, but the deeper reflection is worthwhile. Colonel Tavington thinks that all those who are disloyal to the British Crown deserve death, although by the final battle he is the corrupt one who is disloyal to the British Crown.

Now, in the last scene, there’s a great battle between the Continental-American Army and the British Army. After the first attack, the Americans are overwhelmed and start to retreat. Then the hero of the movie, Benjamin Martin, grasps the American flag, and rides into the battle. Seeing him, his companions are so impressed with his courage against the enemy that they turn back into the battle, and are ultimately victorious.

When Father Maciel saw this movie, he was totally fascinated. That’s what the Legionaries have to do in the Church! While everyone else flees from the battle, the Legion must turn into the battle, to save the Church. The paradox is precisely that he was identifying himself immediately with the good ones, while his life was indeed far closer to that of Colonel Tavington. How can a man reach the point of such enormous contradictions?

Some Words of Conclusion

As I finished my time as a seasonal worker, I began feeling much better, and I decided not to fulfill my dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail this year. I wanted to stay in the battle and could not allow myself to leave for six months of backpacking. Indeed, during this last month, I have been contacted by many journalists and have helped them understand the whole truth.

When I learned that Msgr. Blazquez in Spain and then Msgr. Chaput in the USA had agreed to ordain some Legionaries to the diaconate, I was dismayed. I recognized, once again, the Legionary strategy of seduction. It was a masterstroke: Legionaries had been able to get two of the Visitators to collaborate in the ordinations, and in that way to stick out their tongues at their critics. I was wondering how such a thing could be possible. I am not omniscient, but from what I know, I have more than a few doubts about the actual liberty of the seminarians and their ability to receive Sacred Orders, according to the law of the Church. How have the Legionaries been able to escape almost one year of investigation led by five authorities of the Church? I am still wondering.

It is always very difficult to criticize the judgment of the Church, but the first Apostolic Visitation has proven that the Legion was indeed able to manipulate and fascinate even the ministers of the Church.

Once again, I do not think that the Visitation was carried out correctly, for two reasons:

First, few ex members have been consulted. The methodology adopted for the Visitation was wrong from the beginning, and could not have led to better decisions. Meeting mainly Legionaries was not very useful, because they do not have the insight to help the Visitators, as I tried to explain through my testimony. There may have been some courageous ex members who dared travel to meet them, but they are so few in comparison with the hundreds of meetings they had with Legionaries.

Second, it did not take into account the compulsive need of Legionaries to defend their ideal, even by manipulating members: cutting discussions short in the name of charity, excluding dissidents, preventing Legionaries from knowing the whole truth about Maciel, etc.

Someone told me once: But, you are criticizing the judgment of the Church! You look like a Protestant! (Typical reductio ad protestantem). Well, you know, Protestants wear pants, and you wear pants, but that doesn?t make you a Protestant. I do not doubt the judgment of the Church authorities, but know clearly the ability of the Legionaries to manipulate them. And then, Church authorities are mensinners like you and me. If they don’t understand a problem, that does not mean that there is no problem. One of the greatest saints of my country, Joan of Arc, was once condemned by the Church authorities, and has been since declared a saint.

So I was not surprised by the letter of Msgr. Velasio de Paolis, only sad to see he had fallen so quickly into the trap. The affirmation that the Legion of Christ was undoubtedly a work of God brought to mind the Communique that the LC superiors had published in March 25th, that had struck me with the compassion they were showing toward the victims, which boiled down to: Sorry, guys, you have been fooled, raped, calumniated, manipulated and robbed, but it was mysteriously part of God’s will

It was deeply unfair for the Delegate to reaffirm such a statement, and in my humble opinion, it even went against the second commandmentwhich demands that we not use the name of God in vain. Once again the visible sideso seductiveis deceptive. Considering all the techniques used by the Legion to recruit and to keep its members, nothing proves actually the divine origin of the so-called Legionary miracle. Here, human causesand only humanare enough to explain the miracle. Who would dare to maintain that God has chosen a narcissistic pervert-pedophile-bisexual-liar-plagiarist-incestuous-manipulator to do God’s work?

In his letter, the Delegate used a subtle way to get rid of the doubts: The Founder’s responsibilities cannot simply be transferred onto the Legion of Christ itself; and yet one word in this sentence is used inadequately: responsibilities. We all agree that most of Legionaries are victims, and that they are not responsible for all the faults of their founder. But this is not the problem. The problem is that the whole structure of the Legion works like a cult, because the founder indeed transferred his frustrations and phantasms to the structure. Listening just a little to the victims is enough to understand the terrible wounds generated by a spirituality based upon guilt and seduction.

He could have said that the Legionthrough a deep conversion, including accepting the real history of the order and honest reparation to the victimscould start on new foundations, and become, why not? a work of God. But he did not.

The most troubling aspect of the letter was the picture he painted of the worldwhich justified the existence of the Legion:

Our current culture is secularized, infected with Immanentism and Relativism. Such a mindset is the hallmark of the culture of our times and of those who today shape opinion or are considered the drivers of culture. It is a matter of culture and therefore a matter of leadership, i.e.: of those who hold the reins of society in their hands. We have before us a society that no longer evinces personalities of Christian and markedly Catholic cultural depth. At the same time, we know that the faith cannot be pushed back merely to the private level.

I do not agree with him. And I go even further: this kind of discourse can only lead to foster proselytism instead of announcing correctly the Good News. The fear of the world is indeed one of the roots of the problem. And starting a mission by putting men in confrontation with the world, naturally leads them to consider the world from above, which contradicts what Christ taught us by his example.

To illustrate this, I would like to tell a story that I have been told, some years ago, by my former instructor of novitiate. I do not remember precisely the circumstances or details, but he told us that one day, a prelate of the Vatican came to see Father Maciel with a small statue of the Virgin Mary shedding tears of blood. It was during the time that Father Maciel appeared to the Church authorities like a Saint Francis of Assisi, or a Padre Pio. So the Church authorities came to him, thinking he was divinely inspired and could give a confirmation of the miracle.

Father Maciel took the little statue in his hands, and said to the prelate that he believed indeed that it was a miracle, adding that it was not surprising at all, considering the millions of abortions committed every year in the world.

The prelate, as well as all the Legionaries who had witnessed the scene, were won over by the perceptive judgment of Father Maciel.

But they have been all fooled. The interpretation of Father Maciel was awful, since he shifted the fault onto one category of people, excludingof coursehimself. Christ teaches us not to judge, if we do not want to be judged. Becoming the judge of our neighbors through this kind of argument leads us to deprive the women who abort of any kind of redemption. And that’s a serious sin.

Don’t be afraid, and do not accuse the world too strongly for its sins, because it is God?s baby. The best way to announce His Mercy to the world is by being part of the world, by recognizing first one’s own weaknesses, and being close to the littlest ones.

God is not a bogyman or a tyrant, but a GOOD FATHER. When all is said and done, this is the only important thing.