Xavier Leger – Has The Action To Date From Rome Been Too Lenient?

By Bonum Verum Pulchrum
Bonum Verum Pulchrum has posted his own thoughts and feelings regarding the Vatican action to date and added a quotation from Xavier Leger,blog master at exlcblog.info, supporting Pope Benedict XVI in the wisdom he has shown in not taking the more immediate drastic action such as closing down the Legion’s apostolic schools.
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

 

A Cult Conference Presentation Regarding the Legionaries of Christ Religious Order

When Faith is Corrupted Into a Coercive Ideology – The Driving Forces At Work In a Religious Community With Cultic Behaviors

 

By Xavier Leger

 

The Driving Forces At Work In a Religious Community With Cultic Behaviors

A Presentation Regarding the Legion of Christ Religious Order at the International Cultic Studies Association’s Annual Conference in Barcelona, July 8, 2011,

By Xavier L?ger

The following presentation was one of several included in Session 2 of the recent International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) Conference entitled:

Are there Cultic Aberrations in the Catholic Church?

 

Introduction

A Cult Conference Presentation Regarding the Legionaries of Christ Religious Order

When Faith is Corrupted Into a Coercive Ideology – The Driving Forces At Work In a Religious Community With Cultic Behaviors

By Xavier Leger

When Faith is Corrupted Into a Coercive Ideology – The Driving Forces At Work In a Religious Community With Cultic Behaviors

A Presentation Regarding the Legion of Christ Religious Order at the International Cultic Studies Association’s Annual Conference in Barcelona, July 8, 2011

By Xavier Léger

The following presentation was one of several included in Session 2 of the recent International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) Conference entitled:

Are there Cultic Aberrations in the Catholic Church?

Introduction

I would like to share with you a short extract from the famous French Novel: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry.

What does it mean to be ‘tame’? asked the little prince.

It is an act too often neglected, said the fox. It means to establish ties.

To establish ties?

Just that, said the fox. To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world

The fox teaches the little prince that any relationship is the result of a long period of taming. To tame, according to the fox, means to establish ties, to build relationships, to make someone become unique. In other words, it means that human relationships are built over time and that they require several steps, because we need to know each other to be able to appreciate the other. We all have this experience in our lives.

But what is true for people is also true in our relationship with God. The greatest mystics of the History of the Church have taught that the spiritual life is a journey. And so, we are traveling from one place to another. And this journey is directed towards a progressive encounter with God, which can be discovered in the Scriptures, the sacraments, the prayer and the people we meet along our journey.

The image that is often used by these mystics is the image of the bride who is looking for her beloved. God creates a desire in peoples’ hearts. He never imposes himself; otherwise it would mean that He contradicts himself, by denying the freedom He has entrusted to us. There are verbs, indeed, that do not support the imperative form. We cannot say love!, since the act of love is created, not by the strength of the will, but by the lovability of the object.

This idea ties into the very foundations of Christian anthropology which is drawn primarily from the Aristotelian philosophical tradition. It finds also many parallels in Holy Scriptures. Many exegetes have worked on this idea, showing how God created a spousal relationship with the Jewish people throughout the centuries and how the story of Revelation, during two thousand years is indeed a long pedagogy of taming.

But what is important to understand is that the biblical tradition, as well as the philosophical tradition, both show clearly that any spiritual life begins as a journey, which implies an act of freedom on the subject’s part. This journey, which is infinitely respectful, is indeed the very essence of any religious life.
But within some new groups in the Church it appears that this process of taming is totally eliminated. Now if you eliminate this stage, religious life loses its proper sense and herein lies the threat of cultic behavior. Where religious life lacks its proper driving forces, founders with guru pretensions will use other means to retain their members and to make their community grow including:

  1. a misuse of guilt to create an atmosphere of stress and coercion
  1. turning true Christian faith into an ideology

Guilt and ideology are the true main driving forces behind the cultic behaviour of fake religious groups

The First Driving Force: A Few Words About Guilt

  • In six years of life in the Legion of Christ, I never heard anything about discernment, but only about final perseverance.
  • Through conferences, retreats, homilies, teachings, they tell you again and again that God has chosen you from all eternity to accomplish this particular mission that nobody else can fulfill. If you decide not to fulfill your mission, then you are putting your eternal salvation in jeopardy.
  • Four times every day a Legionary is required to do an examination of conscience: the first one during the Morning Prayer, to remember all his personal commitments of human and spiritual personal reform. The second one occurs after the meditation, to examine his prayer. The third one is done before lunch, at noon, to examine how many sins he committed since the prior examination of conscience. And a last one is carried out during night prayers.
  • Every Sunday, he is required to do a written examination of conscience, which lasts half an hour. Let me provide examples of some of the questions taken from the handbook of this examination:
  • Have I ever serious doubts about my vocation? Are they frequent?
  • In these moments, have I sometimes thought that I had no vocation? Have I accepted this thought?
  • So, as you can see, in the Legion of Christ, the simple fact of discernment is already a sin.
  • When a religious makes a decision to leave the Legion, he must leave without saying goodbye to his fellow companions, even if he spent 20 or 30 years in the order. He leaves during a day when the community is out. When the community returns, the other members discover that brother X has disappeared. Nobody tells you officially that someone has left the order. And members are never allowed to speak about the departure of a brother.

So ? and I dare to say it, because I came through the same process when I left the Legion ? the aura of anxiety, phobia and shame that has been created around this decision to leave is so violent that you end up lying to yourself, justifying your decision by any kind of reasoning.

The Second Driving Force: Ideology

In the atmosphere of Catholic religious groups, the misuse of guilt immeasurable damage to the psychology of followers including anxiety, phobias, spiritual wounds and frustrations. These effects are more visible than others.

But guilt is only one form of coercion that is utilized by the Legion. The second driving force is the idealization of faith, acting on the will, by means of fanaticism.

Let me establish right away a fundamental distinction: the Christian faith is not exactly an ideology, but an adherence of the mind and of the heart to a person, and not to an idea. An adherence implies a sort of abandonment, of letting go.

I would like to try to show you how, in the Legion of Christ, the spirituality and the religious discipline not only do not leave any room for a personal path but even destroy the spiritual aspirations of the believers.

  • At first, I will analyze the issue of the ideology as such: how an ideology can exist inside the Catholic Church?
  • Secondly, I want to explain how the ideology is applied in the Legion centers.
  • Thirdly, I will deal with the consequences of these abuses: the impact of a destructive ideology on the spiritual life.

1- The Ideology As Such: How Can An Ideology Exist Inside The Catholic Church?

By ideology, I mean a simplistic way of thinking, which has all the answers, separating the world in two camps: The Church and the enemies of the Church. A speech without any nuance, written with a chainsaw.

In the Legion, the object of faith gets disembodied and becomes a kind of haunting ideal, which is to establish the Kingdom of Christ. Let me read some short excerpts of letters of Father Maciel, which will help you to understand what kind of literary semantics is generally used in the Legion of Christ. (There is still a debate whether the writings of Father Maciel may continue to be read. The dilemma is explained on Regnum Christi LiveClick Here that despite the weaknesses of Father Maciel, his works were miraculously good. For your information, for the moment, we know that Maciel was an abuser, perverse, a pedophile, bisexual, incestuous, a criminal, drug addict, plagiarist, intriguing, manipulative, charlatan, thief, sacrilegious and produced apostasy.

I have always dreamed the Legion that way: as a strong instrument, invincible in front of the enemies of God (CNP December 24, 1957)

There, we find the originality and the contribution of the Legion to the religious and priestly spirituality: A NEW TYPE OF MEN, of religious, of priests and apostles. The Legionary, as I have always conceived, is a man opposed to pride, avarice and lust. A man who lives polarized by the mission that the heavenly Father entrusted him: to establish the Kingdom of Christ in the world. (CNP, January 3rd, 1976)

Strangely, this kind of speech does not fit with the traditional teaching of the Christian faith. Jesus never called on people to conquer a Kingdom on earth for him. On the contrary, when people tried to make him their king, he withdrew from the crowd (Jn 6,15). When Pilate asked him about his kingdom, he replied: My kingdom is not of this world(John 18, 36). Jesus did not speak about an earthly kingdom, but about the kingdom of heaven (Mt 13, 24-43). He compares the kingdom of heaven to a tiny grain of mustard seed that grows into a huge tree, meaning that on earth, the Kingdom is only like a seed starting to germinate.

The spirituality of the Legion of Christ does not give room for any personal discernment. It is a black or white spirituality. No grey is accepted. You must accept the Legion’s version of Jesus as your Lord, and then you bow down in front of his divine will (which, of course, the Legion interprets for you).

2- How Is Ideology Applied In The Legion Centers?

Life in the Legion is an absolute, an ideal that Maciel dreamed of to make real on earth. After having laid out himself the principles of the perfect life, Maciel taught his followers that their paths to holiness consisted in living in his concept of this idyllic world. There was no room for debate or for doubts or for discernment. There was no room for critical thinking. His concept of holiness did not consist of free expression of personal will but instead a self denial that required fitting into a rigid structured way of life in the group.

The more you deny yourself, the holier you are.

But we cannot live on earth as if we were already in Heaven. In fact, this attempt to have a perfect life could actually serve as an 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 Jacob’s ladder to build the tower of Babel.

If some day, you have a chance to visit a center of the Legion of Christ, you may be very surprised and impressed by the beauty of the place, the kindness of the members and the feeling that everything is clean and orderly.

Behind the scenes, the wonderful world is only made possible by thousands of norms and rules as well as a repressive system that encourages mutual surveillance and denouncements.

Legionaries follow a crazy rhythm of life and all their daily activities are scheduled.

They are told how to carry themselves, how to introduce themselves, how to walk, how to smile, how to greet a guest. Everything is subject to norms, that are very detailed. Thus, the legionaries are not allowed to climb the stairs two by two; they are not allowed to run with their cassocks; when they sit, they must approach the chair by the left side and leave by the right side when they stand. They are not allowed to bite into their chips; they must eat them with a fork. They may not twirl spaghetti around their forks, nor peel oranges with their fingers. There are rules that govern about almost every single action.

Daily life in the Legion of Christ is so demanding and the atmosphere of surveillance makes it difficult to develop personal human relationships between Legionaries within such a formal environment. You know quite well that the smiling brother you are speaking with during the times allotted for conversation may be the one who will denounce you if you make any mistake or even a small critique about the Legion or the superiors.

Let me tell you this little story: after the novitiate, I came to Spain for the Juniorate (Humanities). I had not seen any movie since I had entered into the Legion, two years previously. So I was very happy the day of our first movie as I am fond of cinema. But the movie was very poor and I came out disappointed. In a discussion with others religious, I told them I did not appreciate the movie. A couple of days later, I was called into the office of our superior, who accused me with an icy smile, to have criticized the choice of a superior.

In any case, Legionaries are not allowed to have particular friendships with any other members, nor to speak about personal issues with anybody else other than the Spiritual Director.
When I lived in the enormous center of Rome, surrounded by four hundred companions, I felt lost in the flock, alone, desperately alone. I joined the religious life with the dream I would establish ties: ties with God and with like minded companions. It ended up being a process of isolation that eliminated all ties with anybody, even with God.

3- The Impact Of A Destructive Ideology On The Spiritual Life.

The Legionary totalitarian system, so fascinating and seducing from outside, is nothing more than a means of crushing individual personalities 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 experienced in many testimonies.

But how is that possible? How can a religious order take you away from God?

The vision of God and of His mercy is twisted. The Legion leads its members to admit that God has a singular way-of-life for them. If so it means that, in the end, God does not really take care of me or love me for myself. In some way, I am nothing but a means to an end, a simple tool.

Our understanding of God was damaged because of that. Who is this God who wants me to suffer like that? Who is this God who wants me to pray three hours a day, while I lack sleeping, I feel bitterness and I suffer with a strong headache? (If you have a headache you are supposed to offer your suffering to God). Who is this God who wants me to follow, day after day, this dry methodology of prayer that does not seem to fit?

Prayer, a place of encountering God, becomes a place of forced love. In other words, it is a kind of rape.

And the worst thing about rape is that when it happens to a woman she struggles afterward throughout her life from a psychological wound because the act of love always reminds her of the violence of her rape.

There is something obscene about the methodology of prayer in the Legion of Christ because there is no place for any spontaneity or originality. Everything is already written in the handbook of prayers. If prayer is the place for encountering God, such a dry and accurate methodology detracts from any sense of poetry. It is as if, before making love with a woman, you would follow a handbook explaining step by step the procedures to fulfill correctly the sexual relationship. I think you would agree with me this would not be very exciting.

Conclusion

After being tamed by the little prince, the fox told a secret to the Little Prince. I would like to share this excerpt:

And he went back to meet the fox.

Goodbye, he said.

Goodbye, said the fox. 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.

What is essential is invisible to the eye, the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.

It is the time I have wasted for my rose. said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.

Men have forgotten this truth, said the fox. But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.

I am responsible for my rose, the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

The secret of the fox is maybe the real solution to the issue. From the very beginning of its history, the Legion of Christ has always been able to escape and manipulate all the investigations and to defeat the immune system of the Catholic Church. Today, the Legion is certainly the most influential congregation of the Church. Legionaries are extremely present in the Vatican, and occupy some of the most important responsible positions there. Think for example about the information in the Vatican that is almost entirely controlled by the Legion of Christ.

Since 2001, every year, the Congregation for Bishops organizes a week of training for all recently ordained bishops from all over the world. And Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re wanted this training to take place in the Legionaries, Center for Higher Studies. Why? Because he wanted all the new bishops to see the example. The Legion formation system is the model that the Church puts forward: This is what we want for the Church!

How did we get to this point? Why does the Church continue to refuse to open her eyes to the very serious cultic behavior in the Legion of Christ?

An Apostolic Visitation was initiated two years ago, and we hoped that the nightmare would stop. But once again we discovered that the conclusions of this Visitation were decided upon before the visitation began. And we can prove that.

The Legion has been designed by its founder to be a machine to seduce, where nothing is done but for the show. So, if you want to understand something about the Legion, and not be dazzled by the smokescreen, take seriously the secret of the fox:

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Deal Hudson, the Legion, and Strange Bedfellows

Until last year, the Legion of Christ used a testimony written by Deal Hudson (Editor & Publisher, Crisis Magazine) in 1997. When allegations surfaced of Mr. Hudson’s prior improper sexual relationships with a young female student surfaced, the Legion was quick to defend him. When Mr. Hudson resigned as an advisor to George Bush over the sex allegations, admitting his past errors, the Legion quickly dropped the testimony from their websitehttp://www.legionaryfacts.org
The testimony that praised the Legion follows. The link to the admissions of Mr. Hudson precedes.

 

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?

Has the Vatican Reform of the Legion of Christ been Botched?

Has the Vatican Reform of the Legion Been Botched?

Cardinal DePaolis’ three year term as Vatican Apostolic Delegate is almost over and during the next few months, the Legion and Regnum Christi will hold their general assemblies to present and review their new constitutions and statutes. When these new documents have been approved and accepted by the Vatican the reform process is likely to be considered complete. That is unless Pope Francis takes a personal interest in this situation and decides to dig a little deeper.

Has the reform been botched? We might ask whether or not there was a genuine intent by the Legion’s elite leaders and some (cooperative) members of the Vatican hierarchy to identify what really needed to be reformed and to follow through with the appropriate follow-up actions or whether or not the reformwas simply an exercise to buy time.

One difficulty in assessing the reform process is that different parties involved held different objectives and essential information was withheld from those participants who genuinely wanted to reform.

The May 1, 2010 Vatican communique, although vague on details of any wrongdoing by the Legionary founder or his upper echelon identified that there had been serious consequences for the life and structure of the Legion The communique identified a need to improve in the following areas:

1. Redefine the charism

2. Review the exercise of authority, which must be linked to truth, in order to respect conscience.

ReGAIN has assembled comments since 2010 from a sampling of those whose lives were directly affected by their involvement with the Legion or Regnum Christi regarding the success or failure of the reform to achieve their expectations. In each case ReGAIN has provided the source for reference to the full article for those who wish to obtain the entire context of what is being quoted.

Fr. Peter Francis Byrne July 27, 2010

Click Here 8/31/2010

  • the figure of Maciel continues to have visibility and weight in the daily life of their communities all over the world.
  • Moreover, if it is true that full powers in the governance of the Legion today belong only to the papal delegate, Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, the fact remains that yesterday’s leaders are still in place, and maintain an extremely strong influence over many of the religious, on account of the complete communion of life that they shared with the founder.
  • They continue to say that they were always unaware of Maciel’s disgraceful behavior, until after his death in 2008.
  • images of Maciel continue to appear everywhere and that his birthplace, Cotija de la Paz, continues to be a destination connected to his memory.
  • I have also noticed that in Mexico, meetings are still being held among the leaders with the infamous lists that divide persons and families into triple-A, double-A, etcetera, and show the names of the priests charged with grooming these families and then tapping into their money.

Fr. Byrne concluded that: the structures of power imposed by Maciel still remain in force today.

Father Richard Gill: Chiesa – Sandro Magister Feb 9 2011

Former Legionary priest, Father Richard Gill posed his Ten Questions which was publicized in an article in Chiesa Click Here

  • The Legion recently began to install in all computers very aggressive industrial spyware to monitor all email and internet traffic of the membership.
  • What weighed on me even more than the scandals of Fr. Maciel however, was the manner in which the current superiors of the Legion, once they knew of the scandals, had failed to act, or acted in ways that consistently misled the membership.
  • In the aftermath of the revelations about Maciel, they led a systematic effort to deny and minimize the facts about Fr. Maciel and thus revealed a profoundly disturbing attitude of paternalism toward their own religious. It was as if the priests and religious had no right to know of serious matters that affected their future, their freedom, and the commitment of their lives to the Congregation. I came to recognize that this pattern of activity was fruit of an internal culture Fr. Maciel had created.
  • it is common knowledge within the Legion that strongly dissenting voices are still regularly marginalized.
  • There remains great deal of ignorance about what happened and how the scandal lasted over so many decades.
  • A second difficulty occasioned by Cardinal De Paolis was the apparent decision to put aside calls for a fuller investigation into the whole Maciel scandal than what was accomplished by the Apostolic Visitators in 2009-10. The Cardinal has made it clear on more than one occasion his task is that of overseeing reform efforts rather than in further forensic work.
  • For the most part, the same groups of superiors who were appointed by Maciel and who presided over the attempts to cover for him in the aftermath of his condemnation by the Holy See in 2006 are still at the helm.
  • A third weakness in the current approach is the apparent lack of concern for holding individuals accountable for their role in keeping secret from Church authorities what they knew of Maciel’s behavior, or if they even collaborated with Maciel by formal cooperation in those crimes.
  • Fr. Gill referred to: the extent to which, for lack of a better term, a Latino mentality pervades the Legion.
  • Father Gill concluded that for the Legion to flourish it would need to find outstanding spiritual leaders within who could with the help of the Holy Spirit articulate a new charism and a new vision for the future

Nelly Ramirez February 25, 2011

Nelly Ramirez, a former consecrated member of Regnum Christi for 12 years wrote a book in Spanish about her experience. Click Here

She was pessimistic about the likelihood of success by the Vatican?s intervention: what I believe will happen, according to the mentality of the institution, is that a few new statutes will have been created beforehand, there will be a simulation in which supposedly all are able to voice their opinion but on subjects that are already well developed. From there supposedly new rules will result and it is all over.

Nelly Ramirez when asked: What is the reaction among Legionaries about her book’s publication? replied: It varies. There is one group that wants to see a renewal, that is aware of the realities, and another that is steadfast, that thinks any change is an affront to God. I believe that, within the culture of the Legion, a book like this is seen as an act of aggression, which it is not. It is simply a proposal for change, and my objective is to facilitate an internal dialogue. They also told me that they would ask God to forgive me for writing this book.

Father James Farfaglia March 20, 2011

On a blog BishopAccountability.org
<a href=http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2011/03_04/2011_03_20_James_HighProfileDisasters.htm
Click Here Former Legionary priest, Father James Farfaglia wrote:

  • I have to conclude the following: we need much more accountability within the Catholic Church. When a priest lives on his own; when a priest has a lot of money behind him; and when a priest is very popular in my personal view, questions need to be asked and
  • the problems within the Catholic Church, are in my personal opinion, apocalyptic in nature.
  • No matter what happens to the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, it really does not matter. Integer owns everything and seemingly pulls all of the strings. And it does not matter what position Luis Garza has in the Legionaries of Christ because it appears that he is the man behind the curtain.

Fr. Juan Pedro Oriol May 31, 2011

When Father Juan Pedro Oriol, a well-known and highly regarded Legionary priest decided to leave the Legion, he publicly announced his decision. Click Here

The reasons given for their (Father Juan Pedro Oriol and his brothers) decision to leave relate to their dissatisfaction with the process of reform and to the lack of transparency of the Apostolic Delegate Cardinal Velasio de Paolis and Legionary leadership.

Father Pablo Perez – September 29, 2011

Click Here
Pablo Perez Guajardo, who had served for seven years in the Legion mission in Cancun publicly dissented from the way superiors handled the Maciel debacle and the so-called Reform of the Legion and he was dismissed. The local bishop, his LC superior, said he did not want him around disturbing the peace

Father Pablo Perez included the following remark as he was leaving:
We must all have the same opinions, just as our founder, Fr. Maciel, taught us.

Malen Oriol February 12, 2012

Click Here
According to an Associated Press article, Malen Oriol, the former head of the consecrated women in Regnum Christi revealed that:

a group of consecrated women had decided to leave the movement and live out their vocations under the authority of local bishops, a blow to the Legion that suggests that groups of reformers are now stepping outside the movement because their superiors are refusing to change.

Andres Beltramo Alvarez May 6, 2012

In an article in the Vatican Insider Click Here Andres Beltramo Alvarez said that:

One of Montan and De Paolis’ biggest concerns seems to be to avoid a further exodus of religious. For this reason, Montan stressed that without unraveling the bonds of prayer and friendship, the consecrated women of Regnum Christi, at this historic time, will avoid attending or soliciting invitations to attend meetings (of ‘Totus Tuus’).
(Father Montan had served as a temporary Superior of the consecrated after the resignation of Malen Oriol).

This advice is in addition to another recommendation by De Paolis, who in a February letter asks former consecrated to avoid proselytizing among women who chose to remain in the movement. According to several witnesses, the superiors of some Regnum houses have interpreted these directions as if they were orders, prohibiting any contact with old friends.

There is the story of a young woman who was almost expelled from her community after attending a meeting with her friends from ‘Totus Tuus’: the superior would have allowed her to get her things, but not to sleep for a final night in the residence where she had lived just a few hours before.

Father Thomas Berg June 22, 2012

In his article in First Things, Click Here
Father Thomas Berg commented:

  • The Cardinal has chosen to forego a thorough and independent investigation into whether any present or former members of the congregation knowingly abetted Maciel.
  • DePaolis doesn’t speak Spanish.
  • Legionary superiors, meanwhile, have fostered a culture of institutional opposition to the radical reform that is truly required.
  • . embrace and foster a culture of cover-up and lack of transparency.
  • continued signs of an institutional resistance to the vocational discernment so necessary to each of the priests and the seminarians who remain in the congregation.

Xavier Leger> – March 31, 2013

In his letter to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, Former Legionary member Xavier Leger included the following statements:

  • Today, all the signs lead us to believe that the Apostolic Visitation was not intended to really search for truth and justice but to save the Legion and prevent Legionaries from jumping ship.
  • Holy Father, the same mistake that had exonerated Fr. Maciel in 1958, at the end of the first Apostolic Visitation, was made again in 2010.
  • I beseech you to start the investigation of the Legion all over again, radically changing the investigative method; we have to begin by spelling out very clearly the real story of Maciel and the congregation and this involves using independent outside experts, as well as psychologists well versed in the cult phenomenon.

ReGAIN Comment

Does there seem to be any change of heart among the Legion leaders? Have any of the Legion leaders demonstrated the genuine religious sentiment that their founder was found to be lacking? Have these leaders provided authentic dynamic spiritual leadership and enthusiasm for getting to the root of the problem areas and changing Father Maciel’s creations into something pleasing to God? If this is the case then it is not evident, at least to those of us on the outside.

To date the emphasis by the Vatican Delegate and by the Legionary leaders seems to have been limited mainly to developing a new legal framework, including the development of new statutes. These legal documents are necessary of course, especially for the consecrated persons in Regnum Christi. A commenter on life-after-rc Click Here has offered an opinion that:

it was never a process of reform to begin with, as we now see, which is why the insistence of business as usual for DePaolis was insisted upon from the get go. Rather, it is best described as a process of justification.. justification of a charism, of the approvals it received and avoidance of all the embarrassment the opposite supposed…no not a reform at all.

However, as the sampling of statements above indicate, it appears doubtful at this late stage whether the types of issues that relate to the exercise of authority, which must be linked to truth, in order to respect conscience as required by the Vatican communique have been addressed in a satisfactory manner.

There has been a lack effort in facilitating true discernment and re-assessment of vocations for the Legionary priests and the consecrated women. The Delegate has even expressed concern about the loss of numbers from the consecrated women when Totus Tuus was formed.

The Vatican and the Legion leadership have not allowed real time out to assess the individual vocations, much less to assess the Legion’s recruitment and training systems. Nobody seems to have hesitated or thought twice about whether or not the Legion and Regnum Christi actually possess a God-given charism, or whether or not the Legion/Regnum should have been founded in the first place (much Maciel trickery was involved in that process!) It appears that rank and file Legionaries have simply reacted to the Vatican intervention, either for or against.

There has been no stopping of business as usual. The Legion ship has not been taken out of the water and put in dry dock for a full overhaul. Thus changes have remained cosmetic. To use another metaphor, the Apostolic Delegate and Legion superiors have done some bodywork on the Legion but the engine and transmission systems have not been analyzed. There is no dirt on the Legion superiors’ hands or cassocks. And no mud on their face.

After so many decades, a golden opportunity to re-establish the Legion and Regnum Christi as something other than highly profitable businesses appears to once again be slipping through the Vatican’s fingers. In the meantime, the aggressive recruitment and fund raising have never missed a beat.

Letter to Pope Francis regarding Reform of the Legion of Christ

By Xavier Leger
Lyon, Sunday March 31, 2013
Solemnity of the Resurrection of Christ

Most Holy Father,

It is now two weeks since the College of Cardinals chose you to be the new bishop of Rome. Your benevolent pastoral concern for the most unfortunate, for the most fragile and the poorest has caused many of us to entertain new hopes. That is why I decided to write you on behalf of my old companions from the Legion of Christ who, like me, have seen their lives deeply affected, if not shattered, by this congregation and whose sufferings have not been to this day understood or taken care of by the competent church authorities.

We hoped that on discovering the endless list of Fr. Maciel’s crimes, your predecessor would have launched an investigation into the heart of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi to discover the effects of the founder’s vices on the life, customs, actions and thoughts of his disciples. However, it has been our painful experience that Fr. Maciel’s faults were facilitated by his entourage of the time who to this day go unpunished. Even more, the twisted spirit of the founder has sown in the hearts of his followers ambiguous and anti- Gospel behaviors hidden under a veneer of apparent holiness. Real discernment was needed, together with strong and appropriate measures, in order to bring an end to so much psychological and spiritual damage done to myriad souls.

Today, all the signs lead us to believe that the Apostolic Visitation was not intended to really search for truth and justice but to save the Legion and prevent Legionaries from jumping ship.

The least that should have been done was to put a halt to recruitment and priestly ordinations, at least for the duration of the investigation and spiritual reform. Was it reasonable to allow young people to join the Legion while it was still evident the congregation was affected by seriously devious sect- like dysfunction? Is it logical to continue to ordain young men to the priesthood knowing that they have not freely chosen their path?

The conclusions of the investigation seem to have been reached prematurely and haphazardly. Of the five Visitators only one met with Maciel’s victims: Mons Watty Urquidi. He was ill at the time and according to the victims, listened to them in an absent- minded way, without taking notes. The other Visitators interviewed Legionaries of Christ exclusively. So they only wanted to believe the infatuated members of a controversial organization, without having any knowledge of what a sect- like organization looks like. The Visitators should have started with those who had experienced the founder’s crimes and who had been able to step back and take a critical look at the situation.

Unfortunately, none of the latter was ever consulted. Worse still: in France, a dozen individuals and families explicitly asked to meet with the Visitators but they were never listened to.

Holy Father, the same mistake that had exonerated Fr. Maciel in 1958, at the end of the first Apostolic Visitation, was made again in 2010. In fact, in 1956, the superiors at the Congregation for Religious, alerted by several accusatory letters (from superiors and professors at the Jesuit University of Comillas, Spain, from some bishops and from two important members of the order) had sent Fr. Anastasio Ballestrero of the Holy Rosary, superior general of the Carmelites to carry out an investigation. Fr. Anastasio was not taken in by Maciel’s and Legion superiors’astuteness and his report dated February 11, 1957 is devastating. Later, in an effort to save the Legion, the Congregation for Religious sent more investigators, less perceptive than the first, who put together a new dossier from scratch, adopting the erroneous version defended by Maciel and the superiors appointed by him, despite the evidence at their disposition. The Legionary members, all of whom were under Maciel’s influence, lied so as to protect the Legion and the Founder. And that is how, after having white- washed Fr. Maciel in 1958, and continuing to let him prey on his seminarians and other vulnerable people, once again in 2010 the Vatican has white- washed an organization which continues to attack the integrity of the people who fall into its clutches. When will the nightmare end?

Most Holy Father, do not trust appearances. Blackmail, lies, manipulation, self- deception, guilt, ideology, moral harassment? all these techniques, working together, produce a devastating and deceptive effect which specialists call cult infatuation and which lies behind the prima facie success of the Legion of Christ. The true fruits of the Legion of Christ are not the hordes of seminarians who invade St. Peter’s Square to declare their love for you, but rather the thousands of human lives which are scorched by the infernal flames of this system and who no longer possess the strength to raise their voices. There are also innumerable collateral damages: specifically, broken families, as well as a number of people Fr. Maciel manipulated to get at their inheritance. And even more, although the damage is not quantifiable, there are the sins of omission: such as everything the Legion of Christ has not done and prevented from happening, such as the fight against poverty, against social injustice and corruption, particularly in Latin American countries. By systematically aligning with the rich and powerful has not the Legion of Christ ultimately aided and abetted iniquity? Is it enough for this religious congregation to produce a few charitable works, which are rarely effective in the long run, to erase that dreadful reality?

Most Holy Father, there are two ways to disobey you: the first, simple and direct, is to reject your authority and to walk out slamming the door behind. This way has at least one advantage: it is explicit and clear. The second way, Fr. Maciel’s and his disciples? way, is more perverse: it consists of playing the seduction card, going up front and telling how much they love you, promising you unconditional loyalty and so forth with the sole intention of influencing your judgment and selling you miracle solutions to all the Church’s problems; miracles which are no more than smoke screens. For the love of God do not make the same mistake your predecessors made! The fruits of this order may appear to be beautiful and attractive but behind the appearances they are ineffective, counter- productive, and even deadly.

The situation is dire because the Legion of Christ has had immense responsibilities entrusted to it during the past decades. For example, it ran a month- long summer course in Italy to train future leaders of diocesan seminaries. What a tremendous responsibility for the Church’s future! How not to be concerned when we realize that the instructors are almost all Legionaries of Christ, who live isolated in their own community without hardly any pastoral experience! To train a priest you need more than doctrinal knowledge because faith is not an ideology. What is most important for a priest is to know how faith takes on life in a parish, that is, to become a humble servant as you have reminded us last Thursday by washing the feet of the youth at a Roman prison!

Most Holy Father, all this is shocking, but it is only the beginning of the nasty surprises. Although the coercive system of the Legion conditions the religious to convince themselves that they are happy, the reality is that they suffer a martyrdom that has gone on for too long. I beseech you to start the investigation of the Legion all over again, radically changing the investigative method; we have to begin by spelling out very clearly the real story of Maciel and the congregation and this involves using independent outside experts, as well as psychologists well versed in the cult phenomenon. It entails doing justice to all the victims of the Legion and Regnum Christi, seeking their true well- being and not the institution’s material interests.

After I began to discharge my grave duty of conscience denouncing the sectarian aspects of the Legion, I was contacted by a number of former members of other Catholic religious communities, for the most part new, who have had similar experiences to mine in the Legion of Christ and so I realized that the Maciel debacle is not an exception or an isolated case; there are other, maybe worse, scenarios. Just as with the Maciel affair, their letters of denunciation sent to the Vatican were not heeded. All controversial Catholic religious communities should be investigated. As for those Vatican prelates who did not take the accusations seriously, they should be demoted for grave negligence and abuse of power.

Though grave, the situation can be overcome. Antidotes exist. I would like to inform you that for some time the International Cultic Studies Association, ICSA, a prestigious world- wide psychological and sociological organization, has been looking closely at cultic tendencies within the Catholic Church, in collaboration with competent priests and religious.

The explosion of studies targeting the cult phenomenon has created a marvelous opportunity for humanity and for the Catholic Church in particular. This research, the result of a multidisciplinary approach, offers us precise knowledge about the psycho- social processes at work in sectarian groups, and thus to grasp and identify the elements involved. The Church has a lot to gain by embracing these studies; they also provide her with an excellent examination of conscience with which to analyze her own practices with a critical eye. I truly believe that the Church could play a saving role in society, as Mother of Mercy, if she were to support and encourage combating and preventing sectarian groups.

I thank you for your attention and I hope you realize that this letter, just like all the other efforts I have made over the past few years, is nothing more than the exercise of my prophetic mission as a baptized Christian, following the dictates of my conscience. Be assured that I am willing to go to the Vatican, if you so desired, to answer all your questions in person.

Your humble servant in the Lord,
Xavier Leger

ReGAIN Comment:
ReGAIN feels that Xavier Leger has accurately expressed in his letter to Pope Francis in a respectful manner the key issues that have been on the hearts and minds of many of us former members and family members of Legionary and Regnum Christi consecrated members. We sincerely hope that those who are still concerned about the failed reform process will take similar actions to express their concerns to Church officials.

There are a number of recommendations stated or implied in the letter including the following:

Recommendations:

  • Stop recruitment until the reform process has been completed.
  • Stop ordinations (and consecrations) until the reform process has been completed.
  • Consult with those who have been victimized by Fr. Maciel and by his organizations and take action to provide justice.
  • Review the information from previous investigations.
  • Consult with qualified psychologists as well as knowledgeable cult and mind control experts.
  • Review especially the coercive methodology and use of manipulation and deceit.
  • Make further investigations into other controversial cultic groups within the Catholic Church and take action to bring effective reform (or suppression) as needed.