A Catholic Exchange on the Long Dropping of the Other Shoe: Foundational Shift for the Legionaries of Christ — Part One

In light of recent news events impacting the Legionaries of Christ, Catholic Exchange has gathered you to provide some insight to our readers.  Let’s begin with an introduction so our readers know who you are and what your background of involvement with the Legion is.  I will start with myself. I am Senior Editor of Catholic Exchange and am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of any organization associated with the Legionaries of Christ. I hope here to represent the concerns of our average reader with only minimal surface knowledge of the Legion.

My name is Fr. James Farfaglia. I am the pastor of St. Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church, a new parish in Corpus Christi, Texas. I joined the Legion of Christ after graduating college in 1978. I was ordained in 1987 and I was a member of the Congregation until May, 1999.

Pete Vere, JCL here. I’m a canon lawyer, Catholic journalist, and professor of canon law and catechesis at Catholic Distance University (CDU.edu). Prior to reconciling with the Church in the early 1990s, I was an adherent of the Society of Saint Pius X during their period of excommunication. Since earning my license in canon law in the year 2000, I have written extensively on Church law, new religious movements, and the Catholic Church — including volumes one and two of Surprised by Canon Law, published by Saint Anthony Messenger Press. My work has appeared in the Washington Times, CE, Zenit, Wanderer, and Canon Law Society of America Advisory Opinions.

Genevieve Kineke. I am married, the mother of five children and write extensively on the vocation of women. In addition to my book, The Authentic Catholic Woman (Servant Books), my writing has appeared in Catholic World Report, Inside the Vatican, and Homiletic and Pastoral Review. I also write a bi-monthly column for various Catholic newspapers. I was a member of Regnum Christi for seven years.

Isaac Chute. I was first exposed to the Legion from the ages of 15-21, attending various retreats and seminars several times a year, plus Christmas and Easter. I was a member of the Legionaries of Christ from the July 1980 to Oct 1983. I’m just an average lay person these days.

CE: The Legionaries of Christ and its lay arm, Regnum Christi, have been given some sad news recently that is of concern to the entire Church. By way of starting this discussion, would you please fill us in on the details as they have become public this week?

Fr. James Farfaglia: There has been a public admission that the deceased founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel, was living a secret, hidden life where he had at least one mistress and at least one illegitimate child. However, there is all sorts of news leaking out of the organization which frankly, really surprises me. Since there are so many rumors flying around that have alarmed a lot of good people, total transparency is needed. Someone should clarify exactly what is going on.

Pete Vere: Along with a number of rumors flying around this week, there have been both official statements and further details that are confirmed by various sources within the Legion and Regnum Christi. What has been acknowledged is that Fr. Maciel, the founder, fathered a daughter out of wedlock.

Only God knows the reason why it came out this week. However, if we keep in mind that the alleged corruption within the Legion was at the top, and that most rank-and-file Legion and Regnum Christi members were devout Catholics seeking to live a holy life, I can see God’s hand in this. The Legion and Regnum Christi have been going through a period of reform that began after Fr. Maciel was asked to withdraw from ministry in 2006, intensifying since Fr. Maciel’s death almost exactly a year ago. The two most important signs of this reform, in my opinion, were the repealing of the extra vows not to criticize the Legion, and the willingness of Legion and Regnum Christi members to work more closely with the dioceses, while continuing to subject themselves to Rome. Without this show of good faith, the Legion and Regnum Christi likely would have fallen apart or fallen into schism.

Every new Church community is to a certain extent wrapped around the personality and life of the founder. To sever one’s connection to one’s founder requires a tremendous amount of spiritual fortitude. This is why I think the details emerged this week. There is now a year’s space between now and the death of the founder so his memory is starting to recede from the organization and it coincides with the time of their annual retreat, making it easier to convey a sensitive message. Having already begun the process of bringing their institute more in line with Church practice, and having committed themselves to doing what is necessary to remain within the Church’s sacred bosom, the momentum is there to help them do what is necessary: help members face the facts, renounce the actions of their founder, and move forward.

Genevieve Kineke: While I respect the charity in Pete’s words, I have to side more with Fr. James in asking, “What exactly has been revealed?” There have been a host of charges over the years from drug use to pedophilia. First-hand accounts from within the Legion have them acknowledging that “some” accusations have proven true. That leaves a cliff-hanger — which ones? There is a remarkable sigh of relief in some about the revelations of a daughter, as though fornication is less distasteful than pederasty and that they can live with a simple “mistake” like that. None of this touches two important topics: where is the apology to those who have tried to share their stories of suffering at his hands and what about the institutional defects that allowed his cult of personality to flourish?

Pete Vere: Certainly I understand where Genevieve is coming from, and I don’t disagree with her analysis. However, I think we must also look at the historical context of what’s happening. Only a year ago, despite numerous allegations against the founder, you had an entire organization defending him, believing Rome had made a mistake in shuffling him off to a monastery for his final years. Today they have admitted he lived a double-life, and many key members of the Legion and Regnum Christi have come forward to repudiate his actions and apologize to victims. This is a major step forward, I believe. Hopefully it will serve as a launching pad for the Legion and Regnum Christi to address the systematic defects that permitted this to happen.

Isaac Chute: At this time no official statement clarifying the facts to the outside world has been made other than about Maciel, the founder, leading a double life “not consistent with the life of a priest,” not to mention a holy founder of a religious congregation. Hearing that Maciel has a daughter in her early 20s, which suggests that she was conceived when he was in his late 60s is quite disturbing and suggests that he may have had other similar affairs earlier in his career. There is also the suggestion that Maciel used Legionary funds to support this family. Neither have we heard of any apologies from the Legion to the men who accused him of sexual abuse while they were young members of the order over 50 years ago. What has been said officially through a Legionary spokesperson is that they still regard Maciel as their founder but acknowledge that he was living a double life. The current members of the Legion have a very difficult decision to make. They can 1. disband or 2. go through some radical reform and root out all the writings of Maciel, and I would even suggest re-write their constitutions. The Legion also owes a huge debt of gratitude to all those who have been spreading the truth about Maciel for years such as Jose Barba, Paul Lennon, et al. In addition they owe these gentlemen a sincere and deep apology. Those who spoke ill of the Legion were said to be spreading calumny, however it now appears that the Legion and Maciel are guilty of that crime.

CE: We certainly do not rejoice with unrighteousness, but we do rejoice with the truth. And while it is a matter of great sadness that any ordained person would be engaged in grave wrongdoing, there have to be mixed feelings about this when we consider the victims and the rough road that some of them traveled to bring this to light. Briefly, if you would, give us a bit of a synopsis of the history of this.

Fr. James Farfaglia: Once again, transparency on the part of the Legionaries would be helpful. There is a history of accusations of sexual abuse against the founder. He was sanctioned by Pope Benedict XVI to live a life a prayer and penance and have nothing to do with the internal running of the Congregation. The founder, God rest his soul, is dead. A telegram of condolences was never published by the Vatican and not one Vatican dignitary attended his funeral, to my knowledge. The Vatican’s silence on Fr. Maciel’s death is very significant, in fact, quite amazing. Since the intervention of Pope Benedict XVI against Fr. Maciel took place, I do know for a fact that the attitude in the Legion and Regnum Christi has been as follows: We will always love and obey the Roman Pontiff (essential element of Legionary spirituality which is terrific); the Holy Father made a bad decision based upon bad information regarding Fr. Maciel (this is classic denial); therefore, Fr. Maciel is being persecuted and he is a new Padre Pio (this is crazy).

Look, I do not know any of the original accusers of Fr. Maciel. I never ran into any one of them when I was in the Legion. I do not know any specifics about what is true and what is not true regarding their cases. However, now that I am out of the Legion and a parish priest, information comes to me and I have become aware of the situation of two of Fr. Maciel’s alleged victims who were young boys at the time. One is receiving therapy from a certified psychologist. The other was among the first groups of minor seminarians that Fr. Maciel brought to Spain.

I am not looking for any dirt on Fr. Maciel. He is dead and has been judged by God. Besides, I have a lot of work to do and I have really moved on from the whole Legion of Christ mess. Clearly, we need to pray for his soul and for everyone who has been harmed, whether directly or by scandal. But living close to the Mexican border and working pastorally with the Hispanic community, I hear things. Mexican people come to me with concerns. Some of them are hurt and very concerned for the Catholic Church. Now, according to the rumor mill, the Legion is shocked because the founder seemingly had a double life. They were in denial regarding Father’s possible homosexual proclivities, now they are shocked about Father’s possible heterosexual problems. I guess the Legion is waking up. This is going to be a very difficult time for the Congregation.

Pete Vere: Fr. Maciel is dead. For better or for worse, he has faced God and gone on to his eternal fate. There isn’t much we can do for him other than pray he made his peace with God before death. However, it is important that members know the truth. And it is important that members act on the truth. It’s important that the LC/RC apologize to victims, and support necessary reforms — such as greater transparency and accountability to the rest of the Church, including to bishops in whose dioceses the LC/RC minister.

Some have suggested the members renounce their founder completely, but I’m not sure this is possible. Facts are facts. The Legion and Regnum Christi were founded by Fr. Maciel. The apostolates have grown quite large and powerful within his lifetime. You can’t change that. However, the members can repudiate his example. The members can also purge his influence in several areas, and apologize to victims. Reform will be painful, but worth it. There is much the Legion and Regnum Christi can offer the Church once they get their house in order.

Genevieve Kineke: I am more jaded by this because of the years I spent counseling exiting members and family members of those inside. I have met the victims and find them eminently credible, but beyond their terrible abuse, we have a structure that allowed it, enabled it, covered for it, and now is trying to take the moral high ground about “recent discoveries.” We cannot ignore the fact that their existing structure allows no internal criticisms and has spread a wake of divisiveness in both parish settings and families. The Regnum Christi formation material promotes a system of “integration” which permits no questioning of directives, and subsequently leads to a method of isolating and shunning those who don’t conform. That’s not what our faith is about, and yet many fine Catholics have been very wounded by the the loss of friends and family because they had reservations about “the Movement”, as those inside call it. Whatever the sexual proclivities of the founder in the past, the present-day suffering continues — and that has to be counted as part of the fruits of this group.

Isaac Chute: Many people were scarred by the Legion in different ways. Now that the Legion is admitting both that Maciel’s immorality was over a long period of time and involved unidentified “others,” I cannot help but think about the men who have been continually coming forward accusing Maciel of having sexually abused them in their early years in the Legionary houses of formation. They tried for many years to reach Pope John Paul II with information on Maciel, a Mexican national who founded the Legion in the 1940s. However it took the noble German Cardinal Ratzinger to have the courage to re-open this case as JPII laying dying in Rome and guess what? The Holy Spirit chose him to be our next Pope. There is no better man alive who is as informed as Pope Benedict on sexual abuse by the clergy given his former role in the Vatican. Benedict’s verdict on Maciel was to banish him to a life of prayer and penance. Pope Benedict is slowly but surely working his way through things. I believe that Maciel having fathered a child was tantamount to him having his hand caught in the cookie jar and as this is something which can be genetically proven, the Legion had no choice but to save face by going public with this. However, I have heard of no apology to the ex-members who accused Maciel of having abused them. While this is all painful for the faithful, this is the hand of God at work via His most Holy Spirit, who is shining a cleansing light into the darkest recesses of the Legion of Christ.

CE: I’d like us to focus in on the impact that this revelation will have on the LC/RC and I think that to comprehend this we need to understand who the LC/RC understood Maciel to be and what their aspirations were for him.

Fr. James Farfaglia: I can imagine that this new situation is like a tsunami for the Legionaries and the Regnum Christi, because for whatever reason, a cult of personality was built around the life of Fr. Maciel. I don’t know why, but a spirit of unhealthy adulation always existed around the founder. I must admit that I too got caught up in this attitude, but never to the point of losing my sense of critical thinking. Whenever I saw something that we could do better or some situation that needed to be corrected, I always brought those few things to the attention of Father Maciel and my immediate superiors. I always had an open and frank communication with him and my superiors, and they with me. I had a great relationship with them all. However, when I left the Congregation, I had a major disagreement with my immediate superiors in Mexico and then with Father Maciel over a serious situation of corruption that I discovered in their Prelature of Cancun-Chetumal. I confronted that situation vigorously only to be persecuted by my immediate superior. I left the Order at that point because there was nothing more that I could do, so I moved on to diocesan life and I kept on working hard for the Church. This new situation with the Legion and their founder will be like a “night of the spirit” for the Legionaries. They need to take their focus off of men and put their focus entirely on the Lord.

Pete Vere: As Father mentions, this is a major tsunami for the Legion. Institutes generally draw their charism — that is, their unique spirituality and gift to the Church — from their founder. How an institute or apostolate conducts its daily affairs, from prayer to internal governance to interaction with the wider community, whether it be the wider Church community or the society in which it finds itself, is wrapped up in the vision of the founder.

Of course no founder is perfect besides Jesus Christ, which is why the Church, founded by Christ, is perfect, but not the institutes within the Church. And this is why Catholic organizations must turn to the Church for guidance during difficult times.

I recall attending a social event organized by another popular lay movement shortly after the canonization of one of their members. Sitting around the table were several early members of the group, who had worked alongside the founder during the early years. Also present were several younger and newer members of the group. The old-timers started reminiscing about all the mistakes they had made at the beginning, from having allowed their zeal to get the better of them to trying to cover up personal faults or actions inconsistent with Catholic teaching.

“Thank goodness local Church authorities stepped in and wrapped our knuckles,” one of the older members said, to the laughter of the other “old-timers” present. “We were no older than you young guys, and we were a big bundle of zeal without the common sense to act prudently. Fortunately, the Church stepped in, imparting her wisdom and correction where necessary, and guided us in the right direction.”

Genevieve Kineke: Perhaps that will prove to manifest the difference between a healthy spirituality and an unhealthy one, Pete. We will have a greater confidence in the sincerity of the Legion when there is evidence of actual changes in the way the group operates. Time will tell.

Isaac Chute: This will have a number of different reactions among current members. Some will leave as it will be the last straw after having spent a life serving something which they now perceive to be founded on a lie. Others will stay on believing that this is a trial by God. However there is really only one way out of this, actually two, 1. disband or 2. utter and complete reform; get rid of everything that Maciel contaminated, everything. The entire spirituality of the order is so bound up in the cult of the personality of the founder that it is hard to see how anyone can convince themselves that Maciel helped build a work of God; if anything it is the aspirations of the innocent good-willed current and former members that have built anything good that exists within the Legion today.

CE: I am reminded of a true story I heard recently about a man who had lived and died as the father of a family. He was a cruel and abusive head of the family, and they lived in want a good deal of the time. Some time after he died, his children discovered that he had been a bigamist and that he kept another wife and set of children in a neighboring town. The second family was kept materially at a much higher level and his treatment of the children was kind and left them with fond memories. We can imagine the deep sense of betrayal that his first set of children would experience at learning this, how cheated they would feel. I imagine this is something like what the LC/RC is experiencing. Can you give us a sense of what the emotional state is right now in the LC/RC?

Fr. James Farfaglia: Your question is quite interesting. Since I am no longer in the Legion of Christ I really don’t know what they are thinking at this moment. However, I can tell you what I have experienced. When I left my last assignment in Mexico I left with a profound sense of peace that God was now using me for another mission. Although I really loved my work in Chetumal, something huge had to happen to get me out of the Legion. I have very fond memories of my life in the Legion of Christ. I am very grateful for the formation that I received. I could never do what I do now without that formation. I lived among saints. I really miss the laughter. There was always laughter. The Legionaries are a very happy group of men. My last correspondence with the founder was when I had already left Mexico for the last time. I informed him of the corruption that I had discovered and how I was persecuted by my immediate superior. Fr. Maciel’s letter to me was devastating and it made me very angry. He never addressed the problems that I found and tried to turn the whole thing on me. I answered his letter clearly and forcefully. I remember what I told him too: One of the main reasons I joined the Legion was because of his stand regarding all of the problems going on in the post-Vatican II Church. I thought that the Legion was really going to bring about a reform and do something about the mess. Fr. Maciel frequently addressed the Church’s problems in his letters and conferences. I always agreed with his assessment of the situation and his solutions. Here is where I was really disappointed and angry — I told him to clean up his own house before trying to clean up everyone else’s.

Now, when the decision came from Pope Benedict against Fr. Maciel, emotionally I rallied to Maciel’s defense. Initially I too felt that the pope was making a bad decision based upon bad information. I was ready to defend Fr. Maciel. But, soon things began to surface. People started to come to me with concerns, questions, stories. Within a few months I then realized that Father Maciel really did have a problem. I was very angry. I felt totally let down and betrayed. I was angry for about a year and I dealt with this anger with my spiritual director. He advised me to really bring this situation into deep contemplative prayer. I did. I really feel healed from the anger. I feel totally detached in the true sense of the word. My total focus is on Jesus. Of course we need to work within the structures of the Church, but we need to realize that people are limited and sinful. We all are sinful and limited. The Holy Spirit is in charge.

Genevieve Kineke: Of course I left in 2000, so I don’t have a sense of current sentiment other than what comes to me in phone calls and emails. Most of the current members who contact me indicate it’s an emotionally trying time and I sense some fragility. They always add a heroic ending saying that Regnum Christi is still a valuable gift, that this is a cross that will require heroic grace, which is true — but I’m sensing a shift even in this brief time since the revelation, leaning towards some sort of gratitude that the inevitable “defect” was not more lurid. That is unfortunate, because it ignores decades of firm assertions from the Legionary hierarchy that Maciel was “the perfect Legionary” and that he “never said ‘no’ to God.” If there’s simply a quiet shift away from that teaching, the members will never address why that claim was made and what structures kept it in place for so long.

Pete Vere: I cannot speak personally to the issue of viewing him as a father, as I have never been a member of the LC or RC. However, I know several former members, as well as several current members. So I’ve watched this unfold over the past few years as a concerned friend. Moreover, I have faced similar situations as a Catholic traditionalist and a canon lawyer. I remember the devastation I felt when similar rumors began to surface about the Society of St. John in Pennsylvania, where I lived and worked as a canon lawyer. The same is true with the aftermath of the wider sexual abuse crisis within the Church that hit canon lawyers just like all other areas of the Church.

locAt first the feeling is shock — you don’t want to believe these individuals who you had been supporting, and ministering with, were capable of the allegations. Then it is followed by despair as the evidence overwhelms you and the truth comes out. This is where one’s faith is really tested. Then one realizes that one’s faith is in Jesus Christ, and not His imperfect human instruments, and that this is why He instituted a perfect Church — because we, His human instruments, are imperfect and the Devil will use our imperfections to tempt us with despair. Fortunately, we can turn to Christ and His Blessed Mother during these times. They are the perfection who see us through our imperfections.

Using the example you cite of the family with a father leading a double life, we can take this opportunity to heap further scorn and condemnation upon the family, at a time when they are most vulnerable, or we can offer the family members our support, even though it won’t be easy. One thing I have learned from my Tribunal experience is that children often carry the scars of their parents’ sins. To turn our backs now on rank-and-file RC/LC members will only force them to withdraw more inwardly, as they sense the opposition and ridicule of the outside world. This is the mistake the Church made with the SSPX and followers of Archbishop Lefebvre back in the 1970′s. Only now is this situation starting to heal.

I believe the Christian response is to step in as concerned family members and offer our LC/RC brothers and sisters in faith our prayers and support. Yes, they will need to ask some hard questions. Yes, they will need to change some of their practices. Yes, they will need to acknowledge their past wrongs. But all of their problems built up over several decades. We cannot, in charity, expect them to resolve these problems overnight. Fixing the problems will require both time and patience. More importantly, it will require prayer, discernment, and renewing one’s faith in Christ and trust in the wider Church community.

Isaac Chute: How about another example? Imagine you worked alongside St. Patrick when he came to Ireland to convert the Irish, you revered him as a saint and followed his every example to try to pattern your life on that of a saint so that you too might be a better person and leave a positive mark on the world. Then, 20 years after St. Patrick died and you have lived his example, you find out that at night he went out and did the opposite of all the things that he preached against during the cold light of day. Do you think we Irish would have converted to Christianity and stuck for so long if our noble Saint had been such a fraud? By the same token it is hard to imagine any sane person wanting to cling to anything that is Maciel’s legacy. Personally, I feel completely betrayed by the man whose hand I personally kissed so many times – makes me want to rinse my mouth out with Ajax – and I’ve been out of the Legion for many a year. I believe it is hard to imagine what must be going through current members’ minds. Remember it is the cult of the personality of the founder that everything was founded on. Where do you go from there? It is a far cry from the stone that was rejected that became the cornerstone. In actual fact Maciel was the preordained cornerstone that now has to be hacked out and what does that do to the building?

Pete Vere: I can understand Isaac’s feeling of betrayal. I’ve been there myself, most notably with the Society of St. John — a group of traditionalist priests I thought I knew, only to discover that they had been engaging in sexual misconduct and the abuse of seminarians. It’s not only a feeling — one really has been betrayed by those whom one held in high esteem spiritually. And this is where Christ comes in. The institute must separate Fr. Maciel’s legacy from that of Jesus Christ.

It won’t be an easy process, and it will require help from the larger Church community — for something of this magnitude, I don’t think the Legion and Regnum Christi are capable of reform on their own. However, the alternative is turn thousands of clergy and lay members out on the street, without the support system necessary to make sense of what happened. To return to the example cited in the question, you don’t correct the deceased father’s infidelity, abuse and neglect by breaking up what’s left of the family support structure — dysfunctional as it is — and turning the children out onto the street. Rather, you help the children.

Tomorrow, in Part Two, we discuss the future of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi.

[Copyright 2009 Catholic Exchange]

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  • http://catholichawk.com PrairieHawk

    Thank you, Mary, for allowing the details of this important situation to be brought to light. This sort of thing is why I read CE; I can always count on this website for accurate and unbiased information even when the truths are hard. I’ve had no personal contact with the LC but have heard things for years that gave me grave concern. It appears that concern was well-founded. We should all pray for the Legion and for its founder.

  • Shannon

    Thank you, Pete for being so charitable. “I believe the Christian response is to step in as concerned family member and offer our LC/RC brothers and sisters in faith our prayers and support. ” You seem to be a true man of God… and of the Church He founded.
    I do find it interesting that CE chose only ex-LC or ex-RC to “provide insight”…

  • Mary Kochan

    You might find it equally interesting that the several current LC we tried to include declined.

  • krby34

    Mary the fact that current LC/RC members declined to participate may have added a worthwhile line to the article to help the reader understand the openness and thoroughness that was put into this article. It is often stated in news reports that certain organizations or individuals were contacted for input but declined or had not been heard from prior to press time.

    I do appreciate your willingness to help make this information open to the scrutiny of the church. Light does not fear light but darkness does because it will be overcome by the light!

  • jmtfh

    I have only known the Legionaries and Regnum Christi from my conversations with them at conferences and through my friends and relatives involvement in their organization.

    Obviously, there are MANY concerns surrounding this movement that are not about sin and sexual misconduct. I have always been extremely concerned about many of the Legions/Regnum Christi’s cultish behaviors.

    Is there any other religious order where 18 year old girls take FINAL VOWS??? Why do they insist on so much isolation from family members even at such young ages?

    Mary, as a former member of a cult, could you speak to these “warning signs” that have existed for years and pointed to a less than healthy formation system and an over-legalistic bureaucracy?
    Why were these concerns not addressed earlier in the history of the movement?

  • Ann

    This article helps me understand what some of my LC/RC friends are going through and how to care for them. Looking forward to the continuation tomorrow!

  • James

    It is important to see how different perspectives can both be true. Look how parents deal with children. They are gentle but firm. We must respond to the hurt in a way that corresponds with justice.

    There is no doubt that Regnum Christi members often have manipulated and side-lined people, not only because they are imperfect humans but because of the structure to which they adhere. The sins of the father…

    Forgiveness of course… but mercy cannot play the mask of cowardice. Bishops should demand reform, and if they are to make a mistake in reforming their order, let it be a mistake of changing things that are in fact benign.

  • Mary Kochan

    Jmtfh, this movment goes back to the 1940′s, started in Mexico. I think that at that time, the warning signs you are speaking of would not really have been understood, because there had not been the kind of study of cult phenomena that has been done over the past 30 years. The only conceptual model for understanding coercive control that was available at the time really was communism — read Animal Farm by George Orwell, for example. Interestingly, Maciel admitted he was using communist techniques, but claimed he was doing so for a good cause. http://www.life-after-rc.com/2009/02/an-exlc-account.html

  • James

    Can someone, in the continuation tomorrow perhaps, explain the relationship that John Paul II had with the Legion. I have heard that they overemphasized their relationship with him, but it does seem strange that even with limited contact, the former pope did not see the problems inherent to the order. I wonder if there is anyone qualified to offer insight into this at all.

  • jmtfh

    Mary,

    Thanks for the insight.

    My sister and her family (who have been involved with LC/RC) are also very involved in another seemingly ultra conservative movement out of Mexico called Miles Jesu. One of my daughters went to a MJ weeklong summer camp with her cousin a number of years ago and it seems benign enough. It did seem like a small 1940’s enclave similar to the SSPX society. But I am concerned that without checks and balances in place, this movement could also go seriously awry.

    I have noticed that a good number of very committed Catholics, when they get caught up in legalism, end up focusing more on their movement/traditions/rules and regulations than they do on their Catholic faith and living this faith.

  • mscowartkc

    I would like to start off by saying, I am a RC member and am committed to RC. The Legion has been an integral part of my faith conversion and that of my family. I am eternally grateful to Christ for inspiring this movement.

    I believe we need to remember that the Holy See has officially approved of RC and the Legion and has re-confirmed this even after the allegations against our Founder were made known to them. It is also important to note, that Fr. Alvaro himself notified the Holy See of these findings as soon as he discovered them. No where has it been implied, except for in ex-Legion and RC circles, that Fr. Maciel was having a long time affair. I am not saying that it was or it wasn’t, but that that information was not released. Out of Charity, we should not assume the worst of people and we should not spread information that has not been confirmed.

    The Legion and RC has and always will be at the service of the Church and they have done many wonderful things for the Church and will continue, because it is a work of the Holy Spirit not the work of a man. God in his infinite wisdom has used many weak vessels throughout history for his good works. How many Popes and Bishops and Priests throughout history (not to mention the Old Testament) have failed humanly and the Church has still continued on. I do believe this is a test of our commitment to Christ and the mission of winning souls for Him. And I truly believe we will prevail if it is God’s will.

    My prayers is that forgiveness will reign in our hearts, as Christ’s, and that His work will not be slowed because of others hardness of heart.

  • Mary Kochan

    Is Father Thomas Berg ex-LC? http://www.westchesterinstitute.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=427

    And actually the problem from your perspective is not that the information has not been confirmed, but that it has not been confirmed by the Legion. Multiple witnesses to wrong doing don’t count if they are not in the Legion, right?

    And how is this a test from God? Are you saying that God put an immoral man in charge of a Catholic congregation in order to test people?

  • ckrempec

    Personally, I am always wary of the opinions or “insights” of ex-persons. Generally speaking, they usually do not have anything good to say about the person, institution, organization, etc that they are an “ex” to. After all they are an “ex” for a reason. As a convert to the Faith, it always perturbs me when the media goes to ex-priests, ex-nuns, and ex-Catholics for their opinions about the priesthood, religious life and the Church because it usually confirms some negative idea they want to promote about these institutions. I’ve never heard an ex-priest say anything good about the priesthood, only the negative things which led him to leave his vocation. Similarly, I’ve yet to hear an ex-Catholic expound on anything positive about the Catholic Church or her doctrines/beliefs, only the things they perceive to be wrong or what they think should be done to “fix” the Church.

    In light of this, I think it is unfair to LC/RC to ask ex-members (or non-members) to try to give a “sense of the emotional state” of current LC/RC or to give their “opinions” ,which are obviously biased, about what they think LC/RC should do.

    In particular, Genevieve seems to have an ax to grind for whatever reason which is evidenced by her blatantly false observations about the Movement’s structure. (which, by the way, has the approval of Rome). I quote: “we have a structure that allowed it, enabled it, covered for it, and now is trying to take the moral high ground about “recent discoveries.” We cannot ignore the fact that their existing structure allows no internal criticisms and has spread a wake of divisiveness in both parish settings and families. The Regnum Christi formation material promotes a system of “integration” which permits no questioning of directives, and subsequently leads to a method of isolating and shunning those who don’t conform.” These so-called facts may have been her misunderstandings about the Movement, but they are objectively FALSE!

    These kind of errors can be avoided by going to current members, not ex-members, or if that is not possible, just abstaining from reporting erroneous opinions in the first place. I just hope Catholic Exchange readers will take the “insights” of these ex-members with a critical view, as I do the “insights” of ex-Catholics.

  • mscowartkc

    I am sorry Mary if I have offended you in any way. I am not trying to defend Fr. Maciel’s actions. My comments were simply to state that we are all called to love as Christ did and to not slander others. I believe that we are all on the same side, the side of Christ and that if a spirituality is truly from the Holy Spirit, then the fruits should not be tainted by the vessel used to bring it forth. If we judged in this way, the Church would be the first to go, for we are all sinners. It is through Christ’s grace that we prevail, not that of our own merits.

  • Mary Kochan

    mscowartkc, you did not offend me and there is no need to apologize, but please deal with the substance of my questions to you.

    is it the confimation of witnesses testimony that you want or are you only satisfied with confirmation from the Legion?

    Do you think God set an immoral man up as a leader of a Catholic order to test people?

    Forgiveness is really not an issue here.

  • mscowartkc

    Mary,
    I am not going to get drawn into an argument over the validity of an organization that was approved by the Vatican. I’m not sure of your witnesses, but as far as I know, the Vatican has not released any details concerning the allegations, to protect those involved. I ddo not have anything against other trustworthy news organizations, but am going by what I have heard personally and what I have read from reputable news sources. I am very disapointed in the way Catholic Exchange has handled this issue, this is not a forum of ideas, this is a Legion and RC bashing. It is unchristian, uncharitable, and just plain ugly. From the title of your article, to the people you have chosen to respond, it reeks of the same bias you find in the secular media. I hope that others are able to see this also.

  • Mary Kochan

    So, ex-LC/RC people are no more credible than ex-Catholics, even when they are faithful Catholics?

    True there is a reason they left. Because this is the Church that Jesus founded and is necessary for the salvation of all her members, there simply is NEVER a good reason to leave the Church.

    But can we really extrapolate that to apply to every group within the Church? Or do you just apply that to the LC/RC? That there can never be a good reason to leave those groups, even if the person remains a faithful Catholic? So is anyone who leaves them under a cloud? Is it the case that it can never be the fault of the group, it is always the fault of the person who leaves?

    Let’s put the pieces together here: People had to take vows not to criticize, so if something was wrong, they were not allowed to discuss it inside and if they tried to, they were automatically wrong just for bringing it up. If it got so bad that they left, then their testimony of what went on inside could never be considered credible, because they left.

    So the problem (whatever problem it might be) was never REALLY the problem, the problem was that somebody was talking about it. Wow! That is a pretty strong control mechanism, isn’t it?

  • jay2000

    Mary, thanks for your hard work to offer an analysis of this new crisis in the Church, which was foreseen and allowed by God but which nevertheless will have its effects on us fallen human beings.

    I’m also a Regnum Christi member, and I could spend a long time telling you what a closeness to Christ I’ve discovered since I joined the movement 12 years ago. It has clearly been a gift to God and to the Church, and while there are certainly people out there who have been hurt by Legionaries and RC members, there are also many who have been brought back to the faith or to a deepening of their faith through the movement and its apostolates.

    I’m certainly the least qualified to offer a worthwhile historical perspective on this. But it may be worth recalling that even Popes were sometimes less than moral icons, who deliberately or accidentally hurt people in their path. Yet the identity and mission of the Church didn’t change as a result.

    We have confirmation from the Church that our charism and constitutions are sound — witness the relatively minor change that Pope Benedict made a couple of years ago, along with his many encouraging words; and the exhortation that Cardinal Rode (prefect of the congregation of the faith) gave to the movement just this past December, when he knew full well that Fr. Maciel’s sins would soon come to light: “Dear members of the Regnum Christi Movement, always be joyful men and women who share Christ, the true joy of every human being. May nothing and no one take this joy from you, may nothing and no one turn you away from your ideal….”

    What I and others I know are going through now is truly a grieving process, together with the alternating waves of anger, sadness, confusion, helplessness, peace, and frustration that are usually involved. I would welcome your prayers for me and the rest of the LC/RC members, who will strive to be faithful to God’s will just as we always have.

    Thank you again for your hard work.

  • elkabrikir

    I just became reactivated in a Regnum Christi team after a several year break.

    (The LC pulled out of my area for a time, then reorganized, are going strong now, and I have the time to devote to weekly encounters/meetings)

    Since my initial involvement with the LC I thought the priests were very holy and inspired holiness. However, the leadership’s interaction with the teams is VERY authoritarian!!!!!!!!!! You DON’T ask questions about ANYTHING……if you’ve ever read my posts, you know I am obedient but not a mindless robot….The funny thing is, my concerns involved organizational issues which weren’t working, and indeed failed! They WOULDN”T listen….I was marginalized and felt like a “bad girl”….”get in line”. I never said anything more, but just dropped out.

    I saw Fr MM in Atlanta in 1999. The whole experience was beautiful in that thousands of Catholics had gathered from around the world. However, it was creepy in that they adored Fr MM—-a living Saint. Frankly, I did not see in his eyes the love one sees in Pope Benedict’s or in St Josemaria Escriva’s. I noted it and told my husband that at the time. I never felt the warm fuzzies for MM, although his writings, such as Time and Eternity, are profound.

    I found the LC targeted wealthy people. If you weren’t connected with money, or you didn’t have a lot of kids—-too bad. Of course, it wasn’t a lack of charity on their part….they just needed the money to spread the movement……(While MM took tens of thousands for….whatever……and seminarians live in squalor and in the freezing cold sometime–saint building, I guess.)

    As RC I was appalled by the “harvesting” of children from large families. It was extremely disturbing. There is almost ZERO family contact once a man is ordained (no weddings, baptisms attended as a rule). But even before official vows, the children have less than 3 wks a year with their parents and siblings. They can’t have email contact, letters are censored, phone conversations are monitored, too. The parents rejoice, however, in the obedience of their children. “Yeah! I wish so and so was home more, but see how holy he/she’s becoming?” said one friend. Her son looked like a smiling zombie during one summer break! Horrible.

    These parents absolutely won’t listen to you. My husband and I have watched with dismay as one child after another has been harvested from MANY families we know.

    “Why are you still involved?” you may ask. I am lonely, that’s why. The RC women are beautiful, faithful Catholic women. I receive spiritual and physical comfort and support from them. In a way, I have felt like a “mole” because I’m not about protecting RC at all costs.

    Now that these revelations have come out, I will require complete transparency of the LC before I can actively continue. I can’t be part of a lie that makes excuses for evil. Also, there are victims who need to be ministered to. Some of the women on my team still say, “Don’t cast stones. We’re all sinners.” or “How could a saint do this?” (I answered, “Because he’s NOT a saint! Duh!!!!!!) sorry for the tone.

    Fr Farfaglia, I donate to Mano Amiga in Brazil. I have heard that LC appropriates a large sum of money for itself (administrative needs). I felt very suspicious about giving my moneyand asked questions, but got a whitewashed response. (I’ll fulfill my commitment and then not donate again.) Do you know anything about the allocation of those donations?

    I feel sad by this betrayal and for the loss of innocence and hope for many. Many people clung to the LC/RC because of the betrayal of the Church after Vatican II. The time was ripe for a con artist and fraud. (I think MM may have bee a type of “gigilo” in that it is believed that he courted wealthy women to gain funds for his movement. I can’t understand a fraud like this because it involves Jesus and his Church and truth. But, I guess con artists will search for the vehicle which works.

    Sadly, there are other con artists out there and many good people have a hard time discerning the true, good, and beautiful.

    The Holy Spirit is at work here, thank God.

    Thanks, CE, for running this commentary.

  • Mary Kochan

    But mscowartkc, I am choosing you to respond. You are RC. So please respond. I have asked you questions, but you did not respond, yet. The combox is right here. So feel free to speak up.

    Now I have another question for you. What is your definition of “Legion and RC bashing?” I read Catholic League materials all the time. They often speak about “Catholic bashing.” And I think I have a pretty good idea of what that is. it is misrepresenting something about the Church, lying, or mocking.

    Have the LC/RC been misrepresented, lied about or mocked here? But then, you might have another definition, and I wonder what that is.

    So now you have been asked three honest questions by me. And if you do not want to respond, perhaps another LC or RC member will.

  • mscowartkc

    Mary,
    You are obviously getting information that is incorrect. The Legion takes a vow of Charity, this does not mean they do not have a right to share what is wrong, it means that they do not complain to those who cannot do something about it. Just like in any organization or work place, complaining about something to someone who cannot do anything about it is unproductive and leads to unrest in the workplace or oganization. Legionaires are encouraged to share their opinions, and concerns with the person they have issue with first and then to their Superior who can rectify it, just as Christ told his disciples to do.

    MAT 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault,
    just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your
    brother over.

    16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every
    matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

    17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he
    refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a
    tax collector

    When sharing info. with others, we must first get the info. from the right sources.

  • James

    For any Regnum Christi people reading these comments, consider that you do not have to remain in the order. Look around. In the Church there are many groups who you can humbly submit yourselves for consideration. Is there such a specific charism that Regnum Christi has? Its charism is to be zealous in service of God and neighbor, and yet, in applying itself, it has often brushed aside the contributions of others. If the members of Regnum Christi bring their charism elsewhere, it may be purified and continue to greater and more lasting effect. Papal approval of the order does not prevent prudent action on the part of members. If Regnum Christi members seek to do the will of God elsewhere, will the pope issue a bull to stop them. Rome has approved other efficatious orders and movements.

  • jay2000

    Sorry, I made a mistake. Cardinal Rode is the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (not the Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith — there’s no such thing). He oversees all religious orders in the Church, which is why he would have been fully informed about the accusations against Fr. Maciel and the actions that the Church had taken in response.

  • jay2000

    In case you’re interested, the Cardinal’s full homily is here:

    http://www.regnumchristi.org/english/articulos/articulo.phtml?se=359&ca=84&te=782&id=22294&csearch=84

    Thanks again, Mary. Keep up the good work.

  • Mary Kochan

    But mscowartkc, what about Father Farfaglia’s testimony that he brought the matter to the attention of the right people? What about the testimony of elkabrikir above; she went to the right people. What about the testimony of by now hundreds, if not thousands, of former members who tried to bring attention to everything from sexual misconduct to misappropriation of funds for years and years and who were rewarded with discipline, expulsion, shunning and even lawsuits, even though they started off going to the right people?

    So now I have another question for you? What if the right people — the superiors — don’t do anything about the wrong?

  • Mary Kochan

    James is right. These many fine people of RC and LC are needed by the Church. We are sad for them and in fact angry for them. They did not deserve this.

  • mscowartkc

    Mary,
    I do not know why you are so upset with me. I have answered your questions. I can see now why the LC and RC people refused to join in. I am sorry that you are so upset with the Legion and RC. We are only here to serve the Church and to bring souls to Christ. In my own parish RC members work fervently to serve our Pastor and our Bishop and are eager to do whatever we can to help just as those who are not RC or are in some other movement. I do not see this as a bad thing. We are not a cult. Everything we do is in line with what Christ asks of all baptized Christians. Our charism is Charity and our ideal is Christ, I cannot see anything wrong with that. Christ says you will know a tree by it’s fruit and RC has a long list of fruits: National Catholic Register, Faith and Family, Conquest, Challenge, Pure Fashion, K4J,Catholic World Missions, Mission Youth, Christian Life, Zenit, etc. All are at the service of the Church, not against it.

    I pray that this forum brings truth and light. I must tend to my first vocation, that of wife and mother.
    God bless!

  • Mary Kochan

    mscowartkc, I am not upset with you. I am simply responding in a logical way to the things that you are saying.

    What you are responding with are not substantive answers, but cliches or talking points. I am glad you are here. I hope you stay around CE and I also hope that you think. Really think, rather than respond in a reflexive manner. So I will keep asking questions.

    How do you know you RC is not a cult? I am not saying RC or LC is a cult. But my point is that you have to have some kind of definition in your mind of what a cult is, before you can judge whether any group is or is not a cult. You have to have a set of criteria. So what is your criteria for a cult? Can you name a group that is a cult and tell why you think it is one?

  • jay2000

    Mary, I for one am not sure what a cult is. But whatever the dictionary definition may be, it is presumably well-known to those within the Church who are responsible for approving religious congregations and lay movements. So by their approval, we can conclude that the Legion and Regnum Christi are not a cult.

    Again, thank you for opening this discussion and moderating it in a spirit of true Christian charity.

  • elkabrikir

    National Catholic Register, Faith and Family, Conquest, Challenge, Pure Fashion, K4J,Catholic World Missions, Mission Youth, Christian Life, Zenit,

    Indeed, all blessings, which is why I cherish the LC/RC movement.

    I don’t know why any member would feel attacked by an honest investigation into somebody who has been proven to be a fraud.

    The temple must be cleaned and tables will be overturned….fruit will be scattered. That is the result of a man’s sin, one man Fr MM (and those who collaborated with him).

  • gskineke

    Mscowartkc: I am baffled by your close-mindedness when it comes to ex’s. Does this mean that you wouldn’t give credence to the testimony of an ex Jehovah’s Witness, but prefer the insights of someone who read about them in a book? Or give credit to an ex IBM employee about large corporate structures, but rather learn about it from a business teacher at the local community college?

    Surely, although an ex-priest may or may not have broken his vows (the cases vary widely) there is no sin to leaving Regnum Christi, even the consecrated state. We, the ex-members, did our best to state our case for our discomfort in the group. I’m stunned that anyone who leaves a group is categorically unreliable. Does that go for bridge clubs and golf associations as well?

    Mary made note of the fact that current members wouldn’t speak on the record. Thus, by your standards this story would not be possible. Could that have any bearing on how scandals in the Church flourish? Were the original victims supposed to remain in their abuse? This is the very abuse of “gospel charity” that allowed the founder to deceive so many for so long.

    I first read of allegations against the founder in the 1990′s, but was assured by LC’s that the charges were invented by enemies of the Church. I carried on. I witnessed all the dysfunction listed in comments above. I carried on. Only when I deliberated “broke the rule” and listened to numerous stories of manipulation and abuse of the good will of RC members did I finally connect the dots about why we were never to speak of anything negative. That’s a rule that abusers count on to continue their crimes.

    While charity often means not revealing the defects of others, there are very important times when prudence says otherwise.

    I sincerely wish you well.

  • gskineke

    Last thought, Mscowartkc. If a sex offender moved in next door to you, would you want the town authorities to tell you about it? Or would that be detraction?

    The motivation of the members of ReGain has always been to spare others from suffering. Where is the true charity here?

  • Mary Kochan

    Well, jay2000, the 4th vow was actually rescinded long after the constitution was approved. Every order takes vows of poverty, chastity and obediance but the vow of what mscowartkc calls “charity” that was used to keep people quiet was actually removed sometime in the past couple of years and people were released from it. Sometimes, even the Church does not know how something is going to work out in practice and the Church’s approval of religious orders and their constitution is is not infallible like her teaching on faith and morals, but is rather a matter of prudential judgement.

    Even if it were found that experts on cults agreed that the LC/RC were cults, that would be based on their actual behavior, not on their constitutions. I’m not even saying that is the case, only saying that it is not valid to claim they could not be cults because of Church approval. The Church does not approve the abuses to which something can be put and abusive behavior is the key element in a cult.

    To use a simple example: the Church approves a certain scripture text for reading at Mass. Iif someone misreads and mispronounces and thereby alters the meaning of the text, whether intentionally or not, the Church’s approval of the text has nothing to do with it. If the sound system in the parish has a glitch so that the voice is amplified to such an extent that the congregation’s ears are hurt, the Church’s approval of the text is not at fault.

    What we have here logically is a category error. The subject of the complaints of those who have left is not Church approval, nor is it what the Church approved; it is misconduct, corruption and immorality. You can’t tie the two things together.

  • jay2000

    Well, that’s a good point, Mary.

    So I guess I have to add that in addition to the Church’s approval, the LC/RC have long had the gratitude of Popes and others for the fruits of their apostolates. In fact, this gratitude was reiterated by the Holy Father even as he was removing Fr. Maciel into a private life of penitence and prayer.

    Again, I’m not claiming to be an expert on cults, but in the Gospel it says that we’ll know them by their fruits. And I guess the negative emotions of the commenters above are fruits of the Legion just as are those fruits that garnered the affection and gratitude of the Popes.

    So where does that leave us? In my opinion that leaves the Legion with some house-cleaning to do, which arguably began with the removal of those two extra vows.

    I have to say that the recent comments from the current general director (see http://www.legionariesofchrist.org) give me reason to hope. He appears very sincere and down-to-earth — acknowledging his own humanity and that of others. The same goes for the post by Fr. Thomas Berg, which you included above, and the one by Fr. Owen Kearns and http://www.ncregister.com.

    My guess is that the Legion and Regnum Christi are going to emerge from this stronger, healthier, holier…. and eventually larger in number as a result of these other virtues.

    We’ll only know in time. Again, thanks for your guidance of this discussion.

  • Mary Kochan

    Jay2000, you are very insightful when you say: I guess the negative emotions of the commenters above are fruits of the Legion just as are those fruits that garnered the affection and gratitude of the Popes.

    That is a balanced and sane approach. To list the “good fruit” over and over as though by somehow repeating it, the bad fruit just kind of disappears into the ether, is not sensible. Also the good fruit does not excuse the bad fruit. Remember the moral principle that we cannot do evil so that good might result.

    Maciel was intentionally using communist techniques of manipulation and control. Even if he were not immoral sexually, he could never justify his treatment of people in order to do good for God’s Kingdom.

    IF accomplishing all the “good fruit” listed above REQUIRED the abuse, manipulation and deceit of people, then guess what? The fruit is not good.

    If the fruit IS really good, than it all could have been accomplished WITHOUT the evils being done.

    Another thing about popes and gratitude. Suppose someone goes to see the pope and takes him a gift. He will say thank you. He will not know if the person stole it, obtained it through extortion, bought it with the proceeds from selling drugs or running a prostitution ring, or any number of other possible details that could be the case. Suppose later someone points out that that thing was extorted from him, would it be reasonable to say, “There was nothing wrong done to you because the pope is grateful.”

  • jay2000

    Mary, I completely agree that the end doesn’t justify the means. I’m not trying to justify the bad fruit for ANY reason. But I think we’d be jumping to conclusions if we believed that the good fruit was only possible as a result of this manipulation.

    The fact remains that there are members of the LC/RC who have had no experience of being manipulated, and who lead holy and fruitful lives. So I believe the conclusion we have to draw is that there were two kinds of fruit which must have come from this group. If I can borrow your analogy above about the lectors at Mass: we have readings that are being read properly, and others that are not. Or else we have readers who are often reading correctly but sometimes not…. whether the problem lies in the readings or the readers, and WHICH readings or readers, is frankly pretty far beyond me.

    It’s also true that these same bad fruits have resulted from many groups withing the Church through the centuries, but it didn’t lead anyone to revamp the organization. Some bad fruit (and not necessarily bad fruit on the scale of whatever Regain can claim, but SOME bad fruit) may just be the result of our fallen human nature, and unavoidable in a Church made up of His human children.

    I do believe that the Legion has some house-cleaning to do. But it may be that this will only happen over time, as the result of continued reflection and sincere effort on the part of those responsible for implementing this “new” charism (by which I mean the original charism minus the 2 extra vows). It’s hard to imagine a more direct “surgery” being successful in even finding the problem, let alone fixing it.

    One thing’s for sure: everyone both within and without the Legion is going to eventually have to forgive. And that ALWAYS takes time.

  • jay2000

    In response to your addendum about Popes and gratitude, I can only repeat my point about the good fruit. Many cardinals and bishops (and many, many others) have visited the Legion’s centers and been impressed by the authentic witness of Christian charity that they found there.

    And unlike a material gift that you could hand the Pope, authentic Christian charity can only come from one place. So God must be involved with this group in some way.

  • Mary Kochan

    God sure is involved! The Holy Spirit lives inside of them. And I was by no means saying that the fruit is bad. I was saying that the Pope’s gratitude is not germaine to the issue: a pope can be misled or information can be withheld from him. I will bet that Maciel never mentioned his mistress and daughter when he was talking to JPII!

    And since we are balancing everything, let me just note that some bishops have been alarmed by methods used by the LC, especially with regard to youth, and have taken steps to suppress their activity.

  • Mary Kochan

    Jay2000, just another thought that I shared with a lovely RC woman who wrote to me today. I am not telling anyone to leave — that would be the prerogative of the pope, I think. I do believe people should be free to leave with no reprecussions (like shunning for example) but making choices in true human freedom is imperative and is what the Church wants for all her children. People like you who are balanced and reasonable, I think, will be needed for there to be reform if that is what the Church decides should be what happens.

  • tommymore

    How prophetic that Fr Maciel was revered as “Nuestro Padre”–a dad indeed he was!

    In all seriousness, people should be praying for his daughter, as one can only imagine the deep spiritual damage and scandal that have plagued her life. May she come to know the healing love of her Heavenly Father.

    Mary, has anyone interviewed the daughter? Is she a practicing Catholic? Has she been well taken care of? Does she know he is her dad? Did they have a relationship? What about the mother–how old? Long term relationship? Was she a student/devotee? These are legitimate inquiries that may help us understand better Maciel and the circumstances, not to mention the facts.

  • Shannon

    Thanks, krby34 for your first remark. You’re right! The contact attempt should have been mentioned.
    I have been at work all day, and I would like to respond to the “ex” remarks. Yes, of course those voices must be heard! I’m a tad bit partial to those “exes”… my husband is an “ex RC”! Years ago, my husband joined RC only to realize that it was not for him personally. My two college aged daughters belonged to Challenge (girls’ club) when they were younger but are not in RC now. Both are active in diocesan and campus ministry and Teens Encounter Christ (T.E.C. is not RC), but they will let you know that Challenge really helped them in their faith life. Bottom line is, while RC apostolates helped them, they did not feel a call to join, and they had the complete freedom to make that decision. No pressure. Certainly no “shunning”…
    Obviously, that is not the case with other people and their experience… maybe it has to do with the area? I’ve been RC for over ten years and have never experienced that with my family nor witnessed that. Most of my fiends are not RC, and so what? I can’t even imagine “shunning”… Anyway, RC has been very positive for my family.
    I would also like to go on record as saying that my commitments are to JESUS-not to any person. My faithfulness to my Catholic faith does not depend on my pastor’s faithfulness to his call nor does my fidelity to my prayer commitments depend on the faithfulness of the founder of the movement to which I choose to belong. I am not going to leave the Church because of any MAN. I struggle enough on my own, thank you very much. The RC spirituality is very much Christ centered, and we commit to spending time meditating on the Gospel and focusing on the words and actions of Jesus. I intend to keep working on that.
    Again, thanks to all of you who are praying for all those hurt, victimized, and betrayed. I have no doubt that God will bring good out of this. He is AWESOME!!!!

  • James

    Wow!! What an impressive dialogue everyone.

  • Mary Kochan

    Shannon, your committment to the Church and to Christ is such a blessing and I am glad that your family has been spared some of the painful expeiences of others. PTL!

    I know that the two main things RC members are instructed to meditate on are the Gospels, and the writings of Maciel. As your sister in Christ, I would like to encourage you to do a couple of things.

    First, continue to meditate on the Gospels, but select some other spiritual authors for your other reading if you have not been doing so.

    Also, since this is the year of St. Paul, try spendng some time with him during your Bible reading time. That will help you to be more connected to what the Church at large is considering at this time.

    And try making use of the liturgy of the hours. A simplified form of it for lay people is published in the Magnificat.

    God bless you and your family as you continue to serve Christ together.

  • Shannon

    Thanks for your friendly advice, Mary, but, no, I have not been instructed to meditate on Fr. Maciel’s writings. We do commit to meditation, but we are free to choose the material. I happen to love In Conversation With God. It’s my all time favorite book (actually series) next to the Bible itself. I’ve been using it for years, and it was not written by Maciel nor a LC.

    I second the kudos to Magnificat as I already have a subscription. They also publish a great resource for children called Magnificat for Kids.

    In this Pauline Year, I also like reading his letters with commentary through the Navarre Bible series. I guess we all have our personal favorites! Thanks for sharing ideas!

  • Shannon

    OH…off the topic, but my sister, some friends and I have “dared” each other to complete The Love Dare. It’s not Catholic, but it’s a great little book for marriages. Nice follow up to Fireproof the movie. Sorry to digress…

  • Mary Kochan

    Our Associate editor for The Integrated Life channel, Randy Hain, loves In Conversation with God and is getting me very interested in reading it. The variety you have in your spiritual diet sounds great, Shannon.

    I invite you to start a thread on our forum, either on the main page of CE, or in Today’s Catholic Woman to discuss The Love Dare. I’ll bet you could get some more people interested in that! Good stuff.

  • popejp2rules

    Hi all,

    I have been so disappointed to learn that Father Maciel had these moral failings. I still don’t know what exactly these failings were. Regardless, I did not believe that a man who had started such a faithful order of priests and lay movement could do such things. I kept thinking; “You shall know them by their fruits”.

    I have read here of people who had bad experiences–but that was not my experience with the Legionaires or RC Movement members. I first went on spiritual exercises with a Legionaire priest about 14 years ago and it changed my life. I had been raised in a Catholic home, but had not “made the faith my own” and was living a sinful life. That weekend was a real turning point in my life. To this day I pray daily for that priest because it was through him and his example that God reached me.

    Other Legionaires or seminarians that I know are wonderful, holy men. They are giving their all to help as many souls as they can. This goes for consecrated lay members, as well.

    I became an RC member 5 years ago. The Movement has been an incredible means of spiritual formation for me, drawing me closer to Christ and His Church through prayer and the sacraments. It has helped me to realize my responsibility to live my Catholic faith and then to go “out there” and share it. Whatever Father Maciel has done, I can’t deny any of this.

    Hearing this news about our founder is disheartening for the Legion and RC members. It also discredits us and any work we will try to do. Please readers, pray for us all. We love God and want to do what He wants. We will need your prayers in this difficult time to discern what that is. And yes, Shannon, I agree–somehow God brings good out of all situations. I trust He will for all of us involved here too.

    In Christ,
    Mary

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    I’m with Amy Welborn on this one: http://amywelborn.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/way-truth-and-life/

    “What is the appeal of Regnum Christi and its apostolates in the United States? The appeal may be negative in some ways, but those I have met who have been drawn to it are thirsting for solid faith content. They know that their children live in a challenging world and have no confidence in what passes for catechesis in the parish or even in many Catholic schools to equip them for that world. They do not see these programs or liturgies seriously oriented toward bringing those participating into a deep, committed relationship with Christ.

    “So something substantive appears…it appeals.

    “Take note.”

    It’s one thing to slam Maciel, though ultimately pointless now that he’s dead. It’s yet another thing to slam the Legion — though perhaps doing so is justified. I don’t really know. But if our religious leaders really want to solve this problem, they must fill the void in Catholic life that the Legion has sought to fill.

    At the end of the day the real question to ask is why it is even necessary to join this or that movement within the Church in order to be fed with the full teaching of the Church? Why can’t we simply be fed properly at our parishes, under the proper direction of the local bishop, with no dissent, no disobedience, and no “winging it”?

    Why not? Whatever condemnations come out of this, they too are pointless. It will be nothing more than a bunch of hot air — even if it be episcopal air — if the Church does nothing to fill the void present at the parish level.

  • Mary Kochan

    Movements and orders exist because there are many ways to be Catholic. They are part of the richness of our faith. Even if we had perfect catechesis at the parish level there would be orders of priests, monks, nuns.

    However, she is correct in noting that people were attracted by their own hunger for orthodoxy. Doesn’t that make the abuses even sadder? People becoame involved with this group for the right reasons, for good reasons and for deeply spiritual reasons. That is why abuse of persons within such a setting is called spiritual abuse. It is a profound betrayal.

  • ourfamily

    I went to one Regnum Christi women’s retreat and couldn’t wait to get away. It was like being induced to join a cult. The priest called me at least three times over the year, trying to get me to come to him for spiritual direction (four hours away!) and because I had a young son, the Legion sent priests “passing through our area” to recruit him. I finally had to ask them to leave us alone. I have been a Catholic for 15 years and nothing comes close to the creepiness I experienced from those two groups. We have friends whose lives have become so wrapped up in RC that there is nothing else, nothing matters. Their kids are a wreck. It is really sad. I do NOT understand why anyone can get so wrapped up in the teachings of a living man – my goodness, wait a while and see if he is canonized! There are plenty of genuine saints we can learn from. The adulation of Maciel made me ill. My friends wrote it off as my leftover Protestantism refusal to submit to authority!!! (they are no longer friends). I am happy to think that real reform may happen, but will not be surprised if both groups just fade away. SHAME ON CATHOLICS for being so led like sheep by a man who says he speaks for God!!

  • jay2000

    Mary, I started my own blog by accident tonight, and I thought I’d invite you to hear my most recent thoughts. Please pass it on if you think it’s of value; I won’t be offended if you don’t. Thanks again for all of your hard work for the Church.

    http://charityandtruth.blogspot.com

  • GaryT

    I too am a member of RC. My experience has been a very positive one, although from reading the experiences of others I realize that this is not universally true.

    As I’ve reflected on the events of the past few days, I’ve felt more sorrow and sadness at the situation.

    Fr. Maciel preached a very demanding gospel message. That he clearly did not live up to the standard I find incongruent. I personally don’t understand how anyone could live that way.

    I am also saddened that over the years many people within RC and LC attacked those who accused Fr. Maciel. In reality, they did not know the facts, and so to assume the accusers were liars was uncharitable and obviously hurt those persons. I’ve found myself that if I don’t know the facts with certainty it is best to assume the good intentions of both parties, until proven otherwise. I know from the times I have been wrongly accused I have been grateful for others who did not leap to conclusions of my guilt based solely on an accusation.

    I am also saddened that some people seem to be concluding that any and all accusations made against Fr. Maciel are true and that the Legion is hiding them. Many, maybe all, of the accusations could be true, but I will not leap to the conclusion that they are all true based on accusations alone, or even some evidence. The Legion has not attempted to deny accusations over the last couple of days, but unless they know with certainty that any particular accusation is true, they cannot state to be true what they are not certain is true.

    It has been said that the LC was a cult of personality as if somehow the whole LC/RC committed the sin. However sin is individual, and to the extent that members of LC/RC have projected an image of sainthood upon Fr. Maciel (including Fr. Maciel himself), the fault belongs to those individuals, not to the movement as a whole. We are all Christians and know full well that our only perfect role model is Christ. I was never told to hold up Fr. Maciel as a living saint, nor have I ever presumed that to be the case.

    As for the vow of charity, this was specifically to do with charity in speech. As I have read it, my understanding was always to avoid speaking negatively about others who have no influence over the situation. This is also called gossip and anyone who has experienced an environment of gossip knows it is unproductive, seeds distrust, and needlessly harms people’s reputations. I have never interpreted “charity” to mean “don’t criticize” but rather “limit your criticisms to people who can actually do something about it – i.e. the person in mind or their superiors”. If it was simply “don’t criticize”, I doubt the Vatican would have ever approved such wording. In the instances where members of LC covered up sin under the guise of “charity in speech”, these would certainly be misapplications of charity in speech. In other words, the fault lies with the individual who is covering things up, not with the spirituality.

    I’ve never been asked to keep my membership in RC a secret.
    I’ve never been asked to give the Legion money beyond “we’re collecting a donation for the Legion”, you can drop money in the basket when it comes around if you want to.
    I’ve never been asked to turn my back on my family; rather the LC priests have emphasized the importance of family first.
    I’ve been exposed to Fr. Maciel’s writings, but I’ve never been asked to read Fr. Maciel’s writings for my spirituality – much less exclusively. I have been asked to read the gospels, papal encyclicals, and the catechism.
    I have never been pressured to do something I did not feel called to do and I have never been asked to do anything contrary to the gospel.

    I am not intimately aware of changes the Legion is making. I am aware that the Legion is removing pictures of Fr. Maciel and is of course not holding him up as a role model.

    Finally I’d like to say something about the LC priests I know. While I’ve seen many on these and other posts complain about watered down homilies, LC priests’ homilies are the gospel with all of its challenges. For some, they encounter this gospel the same way as the young rich man – they are not ready for it and they turn away. I think readers of CatholicExchange would very much appreciate the orthodoxy and challenges these priests offer and strive to live.

    These priests are understandably hurting and need our prayers. I believe that most of these priests honestly want to live their vows and live for Christ. I know some members in RC are hurting as well and also need our prayers. The RC people I know seem to genuinely wish to live their faith in fidelity to the gospel, the magesterium, and the pope.

    Mary and Catholic Exchange, thank you for providing space here to discuss this.

  • GaryT

    Mary,
    I think NFPDad is not asking why movements exist, but rather why can’t Catholics get solid catechesis and the fullness of our faith in parish life.

  • http://saintslppr.com fjindra

    HomeschoolNFPDad wrote: “…At the end of the day the real question to ask is why it is even necessary to join this or that movement within the Church in order to be fed with the full teaching of the Church? Why can’t we simply be fed properly at our parishes…”

    As a diocesan priest, and a member of a secular institute of priests attached to a family of apostolates (not connected with LC/RC), I would like to try to answer your “why”. I have unfortunately found a wide variety of spiritual desires/tastes in parish work over the last 25 years, ranging from the CAPE Catholics (Christmas, Ashes, Palms, Easter) to very spiritually awake Catholics who are hungry for everything they can get.

    Unfortunately, those “hungry” Catholics cannot always find the sustenance for their spiritual hunger from the local parish. So they reach out to different programs and groups, then recongregate within their parishes to work for renewal within the local parish.

    Now, the next part I hate to have to say, but in order to try to bring people from being CAPE Catholics to awake Catholics requires more attention to the CAPE-side of things within the parish than the awake-side when I preach. (Even as I try this, I’ve been told I am “too Catholic” for some parishioners’ tastes – too bad … not changing or watering down the Truth!)

    So in answer to why we need these “movements,” they are necessary for the continued growth of those who have a desire to go further than the minimum. (In fact the favorite phrase of OUR institute’s founder was “Apostolic Maximalism”)

    Now, if I may address something for the whole of the thread: I find it disturbing that there appears to be talk of dismissing all of Fr. Maciel’s writings.

    While I have never read anything by him, I would encourage a deep review of his writings by competent Church authorities to discern what is of solid spiritual value. I think that should be done by those within the LC/RC movement concomitant with Church authorities. There are – no doubt – some valuable spiritual nuggets to be mined from his writings, and to just throw them all out because of the reported failures of the man seems too severe. Haven’t we had enough “knee-jerk” reactions in the Church recently? (oops! sorry, REALLY biased comment!) Yes, corrections need to happen. But, please let’s be careful.

    Fr. Frank

  • Mary Kochan

    Dead on, Fr. Frank, the discernment regarding his works is above the pay grade of most of the people opining on it.

  • daughterofthechurch

    Thank you so much for this discussion. I was a member of Regnum Christi for 7 years, 5 of them as 2nd degree. I left after serious disillusionment. I struggled with major red flags for 3 years before I could finally make the decision to go inactive so I can empathize with the anxiety felt by current members. I feel that the evil of the LC is endemic to the very structure of the organization. The latest revelation of Fr. Maciel only confirms that. The evil that I experienced was the same as others have experienced all over the country. Thank God for Regain! It is the LC priests that are the culprits. They use Communistic methods to psychologically manipulate members, especially members that they want to go inactive because they are beginning to catch on to the bigger picture. It is very traumatic. I complained about the “reporting system” that is used across the board and the lack of confidentiality in spiritual guidance. I was disturbed by the grave abuses of charity, the supposed queen virtue of the movement, that the LC priests were encouraging. From that point on a process of psychological abuse began to induce me to go inactive. The following is a summary of the abuse:

    I was a member of RC for many years. I was very (100%) committed to it for a long time. I remember when I first heard stories about abuse in LC/RC. I had a panicky feeling that if these stories were true what would I do? If I had to let go of RC I don’t know if I would know who I was. My very identity was tied to this movement. So I did what every member who is inordinately attached to RC/LC does; I rationalized every gnawing feeling I had. I found a way to blame the accusers. I let the mesmerizing words I heard from the LC priests drown out the voice of my conscience. But God did not let my peace from this coping mechanism? last for long. He began to gradually reveal the reality of the situation. I was living in an illusion. I really thought that LC/RC were a foundation in my life. I associated this foundation with Christ. What I came to find out through much heartache was that my faith in RC/LC was built on sand. Through a series of events my eyes were opened to the truth and I began to question and object. At that point I became not useful to them any longer. Once you become useless to them psychological abuse takes the place of the previous flattery that had been the Modus Operandi.One of the modern techniques(so much more is known about psychology) that is used today by evil is inverted psychiatry (using it to hurt someone). There are subtle threats to damage your reputation if you let the truth be told; you are purposely isolated from your close friends; the LC priests purposely try to stir up jealousy between you and your friends; the LC priests try to provoke outbursts of anger by stirring up your pride or vanity; whisper campaigns are started against you to undermine your influence as you are indirectly pressed to go inactive. The legionaries are trained in emotional manipulation. The know exactly how to say the bare minimum with just the right look or sigh to plant seeds of doubt or to steer your very dear friends away from you. At the same time they appeal to the pride and vanity of your friend with flattery to secure an inordinate attachment to them and this is another potential source of division between the flattered friend and the rejected member. These are just a few aspects of the MO that is part of the methodology of the movement. It is not just the weakness of the priest. This is the way the more integrated priests of the LC are trained to force the useless member out of the movement. Stories like this are common in all parts of the country.
    When someone is considered useless? to RC/LC it is usually because that person has begun to catch on to the bigger picture of what is going on simultaneously with all the good fruits? Their conscience has begun to be very bothered over the very uncharitable way seemingly holy priests, consecrated women, and other formators treat certain people and this member begins to question and object to these sins against charity (the supposed queen virtue of the movement). This causes a gradual disintegration for the disillusioned member. That is when the methodology of promote to remove, press to release, and isolate come into play. As if that is not enough, the psychological abuse goes deeper. At the same time the LC priests cover their tracks legally by publicly offering the secretly blacklisted member aids to persevere in their RC vocation so it seems to the rank and file members that everything is being done out of charity to help this person who is struggling with their vocation. What the rank and file members do not see are the psychological abuses that are going on simultaneously. On a side note, The blacklisted member has never been directly told that they are being kicked out so he/she is very confused as he/she tries to read between the lines. Talk about evil. Many accusations like these are being investigated by the vatican.
    The best way to defeat this evil, I believe, is to cooperate with God in using our suffering for the good of the Church. We are so lucky to have the charism of redemptive suffering available to us.

    RC members need to know that there is so much more to the story than Fr. Maciel and God is gradually revealing everything. Be prepared for MUCH more.

    God willing, as we, the victims of LC/RC, grow in true charity by offering up our suffering(in union with Christ especially in the Mass) for the very ones who inflicted this on us,God will continue to act and all will work for the good(Rom 8:28). This suffering can also be used for penance for our own personal sins as a purification(purgatory). In the mean time we are given the opportunity to grow in the patience of God and true charity(love Him above all things and everyone else as He loves us). As we attend Mass and offer ourselves and our suffering with Him our hearts will begin to heal and we will be overcoming evil with good(Rom 12:21) Our suffering will not be in vain. It will be used for an eternal purpose. Our speaking out is very important as well. I found needed support from Regain as have many others. The isolation that is part of the psychological abuse of the legion is greatly overcome from the testimonies of Regain. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Our Blessed Mother will help us to be a part of crushing the head of the serpent and to defeat him by blood of the Lamb(Mass) and the word of their testimony(regainnetwork).(Rev12:11)Let us unite together for this purpose. Thank you regain for letting us know that we are not alone!!!

    To the current RC members: My heart goes out to you! You are in my prayers especially as more and more of “that which is hidden in darkness comes into the light.” Thank God your pain and suffering have redemptive value.

  • Pingback: A Catholic Exchange on the Long Dropping of the Other Shoe: Foundational Shift for the Legionaries of Christ — Part Two | Catholic Exchange()

  • Shannon

    GaryT,

    I second your “I never…” section!!! THANKS for sharing! I’ve been RC for awhile(about 12 years), and I agree totally with you. That is not to diminish the obviously negative experiences of others. Again, maybe it has to do with the area?? I don’t know.

  • Mary Kochan

    Shannon, GaryT, j200 and other in the RC who have had only positive experiences, I wonder if you can address what your responsiblities, if any, might be within your organization to help stop the abuses.

  • Shannon

    daughterofthechurch,

    WOW! I posted my last remark without reading your comment. I am so sorry for all the pain you have gone through. I don’t know what to say because that has not been my experience at all- including when I went inactive while my husband was in grad school…and when he quit RC…

    I can’t even imagine feeling like I was useless or blacklisted. The people I know would not do that to me or anyone who has left our team. Nor have I been asked to do that. We are ALL part of a family. That is so inconsistent with the Gospel! I am sorry you have gone through that, and my prayers are with you.

  • Mary Kochan

    TO: I don’t know who! I think I may have accidentally deleted your comment when I was deleting spam comments this morning. So if you commented before 10:15am EST and your comment is still not showing up, please post again. Sorry!

  • attica98

    With all due respect and charity to “daughterofthechurch” I hope you are seeking help. Your note leaves one to believe you have deep issues.

    My experience with LC began about 10 years when my son and I were part of a Father- Son Boys Club for about 3 years. I atteneded every meeting and retreat with him. The LC priests and Brothers were great. The formation was fabululous for both of us. In those 3 years his personal and spiritual formation was much greater than the formation he recieved from 12 years of Catholic School education.

    I personally became a memeber of RC 3 years ago due to the holiness of LC Priests and other RC memebers and not able to find anything similiar in our local parishes. The formation it offers is phenomenal! The life changing benefits of growing deeper in faith, holiness, virtue have been enormous. My wife also joined recently in order to benefit from the formation.
    Certainly, at no time did I feel I was in a cult or the subject psycholgical, communist tricks.
    We are taught Christ is our ideal and the center of our lives (not the founder).
    At no time did I hear anything contradictory from LC / RC to the teachings of the Catholic Church nor have I read anything from Fr. Maciel that contradicted Church teachings. Although I have heard contradictory Catholic Church teaching from pastors and in our childrens Catholic Schools.
    All of us in the Church have to be saddened that Fr. Maciel succumbed to temptation, temptations to sin that any of us are vulneable to. We pray for those who have been hurt by anyone or any organization in the Catholic Church.
    But we have to be confident, the Legion will be guided by the Holy Spirit to make apporpriate changes and in the end will be more holy order.
    Let us also keep in mind, we are Roman Catholics first and our mission is to be more like Christ and to bring Christ to a world which is rife with sin. A world where evil exists, which seeks to destroy families and individuals through pronography, divorce, abortion, drugs, alcohol, lack of Truth and virtue.
    We can not let the sin of one man destroy the good name and holiness of the whole. We can not let this fracture the Church and destroy the good work of countless Legionaries and RC memebers who are fighting the good fight for Christ and His Church. Who are forming others to do good and avoid evil.
    We ask all of you for prayers.

  • daughterofthechurch

    Shannon,
    You said, “The people I know would not do that to me or anyone who has left our team. Nor have I been asked to do that.”

    Read the following again and notice that nowhere did I say that anyone was asked to do anything. The LC wouldn’t directly ask you to do these things. They subtly and sometimes not so subtly manipulate friendships and emotions to get what they want. If they feel someone is a threat to the movement, instead of directly asking them to take a break for a while to pray about it, they do all of the following to get them to choose to go inactive without directly saying it “for the sake of the movement.” They do all of the following to manipulate one person to leave and the others to stay:

    “There are subtle threats (from the LC) to damage your reputation if you let the truth be told; you are purposely isolated from your close friends; the LC priests purposely try to stir up jealousy between you and your friends; the LC priests try to provoke outbursts of anger by stirring up your pride or vanity; whisper campaigns are started against you to undermine your influence as you are indirectly pressed to go inactive. The legionaries are trained in emotional manipulation. The know exactly how to say the bare minimum with just the right look or sigh to plant seeds of doubt or to steer your very dear friends away from you. At the same time they appeal to the pride and vanity of your friend with flattery to secure an inordinate attachment to them and this is another potential source of division between the flattered friend and the rejected member. These are just a few aspects of the MO that is part of the methodology of the movement…
    …At the same time the LC priests cover their tracks legally by publicly offering the secretly blacklisted member aids to persevere in their RC vocation so it seems to the rank and file members that everything is being done out of charity to help this person who is struggling with their vocation. What the rank and file members do not see are the psychological abuses that are going on simultaneously. On a side note, The blacklisted member has never been directly told that they are being kicked out so he/she is very confused as he/she tries to read between the lines. Talk about evil. Many accusations like these are being investigated by the vatican.”

  • daughterofthechurch

    attica98,

    In response to your suggestion: “With all due respect and charity to “daughterofthechurch” I hope you are seeking help. Your note leaves one to believe you have deep issues.”

    The deep issues lie within the LC. They are the ones that need to seek help.

  • Mary Kochan

    Attica, with all due respect to you, your communication with daughterofthechurch is abusive. I am going to show enough respect for you to explain why it is abusive.

    It is abusive, because it makes HER the problem instead of the problem. Instead of focusing on the real events that occurred to her, you tell her that she has deep issues.

    Everyone who is subjected to abuse has “issues.” Issues are questions. Actually everyone has “issues” because everyone has questions, but in this case we are talking about the kind of profound and searching questions that are provoked when a person is subjected to manipulation and deceit. These things cause an internal rocking of one’s sense of self and having “issues” IS A PERFECTLY NORMAL RESPONSE. Pain is also a perfectly normal response to being hurt. Expressions of pain upon being hurt DO NOT mean that something is wrong with the person who experiences the pain!

    By making her the issue instead of what occurred, you are discounting what happened as not being worthy of attention, examination, investigation, explanation, and CORRECTION.

    You then proceed to use your experience to dismiss hers.

    There are some substantive problems with what you wrote that I will address further in another post but for now I have some questions: Is that kind of abusive communication your native style? Did you learn it in the home when you were a child? Or is it something that you picked up since you were in the RC? Does it represent the ordinary communication style of people who have spent time in there or are you an aberration?

    Finally, if everything that happened to her REALLY HAPPENED to someone you KNEW and LOVED, what would your response be?

  • attica98

    Wow!
    Mary, that was quite a diatribe. When a person comments on their preceived abuse and shares their deep issues, do you not think it charitable to ask if that person is getting help to deal with those issues? If my inquiry offended anyone, I offer my humble apologies, as that was not my intent.

  • gskineke

    Attica: I’d also like to point out your integration into the Movement — you gave the classic RC response. You just isolated “daughterofthechurch” and neutralised her testimony as unreliable by hinting that she’s (whisper, whisper, wink, wink, sigh) unstable.

    I once listened to a heart-rending testimony from an exLC, previously highly-placed who “had issues,” according to Mary Kochan’s definition. He saw things that were very upsetting but that conflicted with his veneration of the founder. They conflicted SO badly that he couldn’t sleep, eat, or even function well. Using his vow of obedience, they gave him drugs (they self-medicate each other without prescriptions regularly, read the testimonies) although he begged to be excused. He spiralled into a nervous breakdown. Even during his testimony, when he came to that episode, he shook and turned ashy, fought tears and struggled for words.

    Now he is fine, and as he moved past that episode he brightened again and finished the story.

    BUT: that is a classic example. He is effectively neutralised as a critic because (whisper, whisper, wink, wink, sigh) he was known to be “unstable.”

    Attica: you proved the point by parroting their line. It’s never the Legion, it’s the critic. Also, by the fact that you’re a man (and probably a reasonably healthy, straight-forward guy) you cannot grasp how some men know how to manipulate the women. That was the essence of her testimony, and I’ve heard similar stories for years.

  • gskineke

    Attica: our last responses passed each other in cyberspace. Perhaps you meant well, but “help” has only been available thus far through Regain (www.regainnetwork.org) which the Legion has labeled as disgruntled enemies of the Church (with REAL issues!)

  • Mary Kochan

    Attica, now I am going to deal with some of substantive issues in your post. Please note that I am not going to dismiss your experience. I am however, going to take a critical look at some of your assertions and conclusions.

    You wrote: Certainly, at no time did I feel I was in a cult or the subject psycholgical, communist tricks.”

    What do you think being in a cult feels like? Please answer this question. Anyone else who wants to answer, please do. I think this is a very important question and I will make a separate post on it after there are a few responses.

    You wrote: “At no time did I hear anything contradictory from LC / RC to the teachings of the Catholic Church nor have I read anything from Fr. Maciel that contradicted Church teachings.”

    I hope you understand that no assertion has been made to the effect that the LC priests are teaching contrary to Church doctrine or that Maciel did. The issue here is not doctrine, but practice, and very specifically how formation is carried out an how problems are dealt with.

    You wrote “All of us in the Church have to be saddened that Fr. Maciel succumbed to temptation, temptations to sin that any of us are vulneable to. “

    Is sadness the only response we are allowed? What about outrage? What about righteous anger? If one of your sons was molested, is sadness the only emotion you would allow yourself? if money you gave to help spread the gospel was used to carry on immorality, is sadness the only thing you would experience? If you tried for years to expose crimes that were committed against you and others for DECADES and were vilified for it, is sadness all you should feel? And guess what? All of us are not vulnerable to serial sexual predation of children. Really we aren’t.

    You wrote:”We pray for those who have been hurt by anyone or any organization in the Catholic Church.”

    I am reminded of the great line in Joan Baez’s song about her failed love affair with Bob Dylan called “Diamonds and Rust”: “You were always so good with words and keeping things vague.” Can you say that you are praying for those hurt by the Legion, by people in the Legion who were obediently following the directions of a thoroughly corrupt person? Can you come right and say that the Legion hurt and damaged people?

    You said: “But we have to be confident, the Legion will be guided by the Holy Spirit to make apporpriate changes and in the end will be more holy order.”

    Why do we have to be confident of that? We don’t HAVE to be confident of that at all. Some of us might choose to have that confidence after prayer, but some others, after prayer might feel confident to think of the Legion as the Titanic and be looking for a lifeboat. Who are you to tell people how they must think and feel?

    You said: “Let us also keep in mind, we are Roman Catholics first and our mission is to be more like Christ and to bring Christ to a world which is rife with sin.”

    That is true; we are Roman Catholics first. But has Roman Catholic first or Legion first been the general policy of the Legion? I don’t mean written policy; I mean actual attitude and behavior.

    You wrote: “We can not let the sin of one man destroy the good name and holiness of the whole.”

    Why do you say the Legion has a “good name”? A good name among whom? There are plenty of people within and without the Church among whom the reputation of the legion stinks and has stunk for decades. Don’t you know this? And how do you know the whole is holy? (I assume you mean the whole Legion?) How do you know there aren’t others who were complicit with Maciel? Do you call the treatment of daughterofthechurch an example of holiness?

    You wrote: “We can not let this fracture the Church and destroy the good work of countless Legionaries and RC members who are fighting the good fight for Christ and His Church. Who are forming others to do good and avoid evil.”

    True. There are a lot of good people in there. But what about the Legionaries who are doing bad things to people like deceiving them and defrauding them and abusing them? Shouldn’t we destroy their works?

  • Mary Kochan

    Attica, regarding this:

    Wow!
    Mary, that was quite a diatribe. When a person comments on their preceived abuse and shares their deep issues, do you not think it charitable to ask if that person is getting help to deal with those issues? If my inquiry offended anyone, I offer my humble apologies, as that was not my intent.

    What I wrote was not a diatribe. It was very analytical and you have not given a substantive response to it. I am not concerning myself with whether your “intent” is charity. Your intentions were not the subject of my post. Your communication and why it is the wrong way to respond to a fellow human being was the subject of my post.

    Who taught you to respond that way?

  • attica98

    Mary,
    Thanks for your insights. I must confess this is my first time blogging and my last. As I said, if I hurt anyone’s feeling by asking if their getting help for issues from a deep hurt they have experienced from RC I APOLOGIZE. If anyone had been hurt my RC/LC I PERSONALLY APOLOGIZE AND OFFER MY PRAYERS.
    My intent was to share my experiences in RC and have an exchange of ideas, not to hurt anyone’s feelings.
    As I conclude my “blogging” career I am left to ponder one question:
    1. Is the intent of this blog to help LC / RC to correct: ” how formation is carried out and how problems are dealt with” since that seems to be the problem you identified? Or is to marginalize the Order and members?

  • Mary Kochan

    Attica, if this weren’t so pitiful and serious, I would be laughing.

    We don’t believe in marginalization of people around here. We believe in holding people in the bosom of the Church and in our hearts. What we want for members of LC/RC is healing and restoration to the rest of the Church. Since I am not the pope, I don’t know if that will have to be as individuals or as a group. Pete Vere, in part two, talks about the need to deal with the groups as cohesive entities for the good of the members and that seems wise to me, but Pete is not the pope either and he would be the first to tell you that we aren’t privy to what options the Holy Father may be considering but we trust him.

    And, please note, we believe in answering questions because that is how dialogue and communication take place. You see how I just answered your question?

    But you have not answered any of the questions that I asked you. So if I am responding to you, but you are not responding to me, who I ask you, is marginalizing somebody? Since you most likely won’t answer, I will tell you. You are marginalizing yourself, buddy.

    If you want to do that, go ahead, but just don’t go off and claim that someone else has done it to you.

  • mmante

    I too am new to this, and I can’t think of a nice way to ask this, but if “daughter of the church” deserves respect and charity (and she does), why doesn’t “son of the church” deserve respect and charity as well?

    There seems to be much effort attempting to understand one group while very little effort and even hostility toward another group. I don’t know the whole story, but it is obvious that there are victims on BOTH sides. Pete Vere is right on target acting in a truly Christian way and showing true concern for all involved.

    As an outsider, I can tell you how sad this is. No wonder people are flocking to Joel Osteen and other welcoming Evangelical churches.

  • Mary Kochan

    Mmante, I think you asked very nicely and here is my answer:

    They both deserve respect. And I do respect both of them (I am assuming that by “son of the church” you mean Attica, but if I have misunderstood you, please correct me.) Explaining what is faulty about someone’s reasoning or asking questions to get the person to analyze his or her own thought process is a very respectful thing to do. It means that you are meeting the person as a rational and good-willed person who is willing to engage with you in a search for truth.

  • Mary Kochan

    Mmante, trying to understand and answer you.

    You said there were victims on “both sides” — what are the both sides you are referring to? I think everyone in the LC/RC as well as all people who have left have been victimized by Marciel. Is that what you mean, too?

  • Mary Kochan

    WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE IN A CULT?

    In honor of the all too brief appearance here of Attica (who is welcome back any time) i want to address the issue he raised in his post when he said that all his time in the RC he never felt like he was in a cult.

    He declined to answer my question about what he thought it felt like to be a cult, so I decided to answer it. Here goes:

    1. It feels very companionable. You feel like you have a lot of very good friends that you can always rely on and with whom you are very solidly bound.

    2. It feels very meaningful. You feel like you and your friends have a high and noble purpose and that you are working shoulder to shoulder for a great cause.

    3. It feels like a privilege. You feel very blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group of people, to be accepted by them and to be a participant in the exciting — if demanding — work they are doing.

    4. It feels special. You feel set apart from the ordinary because of the unique characteristics of your group that give it its distinctive “mission.”

    5. It feels important. You feel like you have latched onto something that really matters and found a way to really make a difference. And you are willing to sacrifice to do that.

    6. It feels holy. Because you are engaged and emotionally invested in what you believe to be God’s work day in and day out, and because this occupies so much of your thinking, you feel close to God. Besides, the close companionship of others and the rigors of the group schedule may truly help you to overcome bad habits and fight certain temptations.

    Conclusion: Being in a cult really feels good.

    How do I know? Because that is how I felt during most of the 38 years of my life that I spent as a Jehovah’s Witness.

  • GaryT

    Mary,
    In response to your question, I am not in a position of authority within the movement. However I have been pondering what my responsibilities are. Clearly there are people who have been hurt by LC and RC. I have not intentionally hurt anyone, but if I have, I am sorry for it.

    I do feel it is my responsibility to ask questions of ourselves. How were people hurt? Are there sins justified for “the sake of the movement”. Are people within the movement placing their identity with the movement rather than with Christ? Have people placed the growth of the movement above true charity?

    Mary, since I don’t know Fr. James, could you ask him to report his accusations to Fr. Alvaro and the Vatican? If they are true, which I have no reason to believe otherwise, they ought to be investigated. Perhaps where Fr. Maciel was not interested investigating, there will be a renewed interest.

    We all have to seek the truth and not fear where it will take us – because the truth always leads us to God. I’m certain that there is bad things in LC and RC because it is composed of people. I am also certain that LC/RC has many good things in it. We need to honestly look at ourselves and get rid of the bad fruit and strengthen the good.

  • GaryT

    I can see that this is a very emotional issue for many people here.
    Mary, here is my response to my involvement with RC:

    1. It feels very companionable. You feel like you have a lot of very good friends that you can always rely on and with whom you are very solidly bound.

    No. I’m not in RC looking for friends. Most of my friends are outside of RC.

    2. It feels very meaningful. You feel like you and your friends have a high and noble purpose and that you are working shoulder to shoulder for a great cause.

    Yes. Spreading the gospel is important.

    3. It feels like a privilege. You feel very blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group of people, to be accepted by them and to be a participant in the exciting — if demanding — work they are doing.

    My interest in RC has nothing to do with the esteem others in RC may or may not have for me. (To be dependent as you suggest would be to fall into the sin of vanity and should obviously be discouraged). The attraction to me has to do with using the tools RC provides me in formation and apostolic work.

    4. It feels special. You feel set apart from the ordinary because of the unique characteristics of your group that give it its distinctive “mission.”

    Set apart in the sense that this is my particular calling, then yes. Yours is to Catholic Exchange. There are many valid and unique ways to live our Christian mission. RC is not the “best” way, but a particular way.

    5. It feels important. You feel like you have latched onto something that really matters and found a way to really make a difference. And you are willing to sacrifice to do that.

    Well yes, I do think the Gospel is important. I suspect you do too. RC is one means to proclaim the Gospel. Catholic Exchange is another.

    6. It feels holy. Because you are engaged and emotionally invested in what you believe to be God’s work day in and day out, and because this occupies so much of your thinking, you feel close to God. Besides, the close companionship of others and the rigors of the group schedule may truly help you to overcome bad habits and fight certain temptations.

    Yes living my vocation as a Christian feels holy. This includes living as a husband, father, and apostle. I wouldn’t make any sacrifices if I thought that they did not ultimately help build the kingdom of God.

    Again my closest companions are not in RC. Many I have never invited to join, much less pressure, because I see that their calling to serve Christ is in a different means.

    Mary, if you don’t mind, could you answer your own questions with regards to your apostolate of CatholicExchange? I’m curious to see how different they are from mine.

  • Mary Kochan

    I will let Fr. James know of your suggestion, Gary. Perhaps this website could become some sort of hub for those who want to see reform in the RC. http://charityandtruth.blogspot.com/ It was started by a poster here.

    You are asking courageous questions and it shows how honest hearted you are: “Are there sins justified for “the sake of the movement”. Are people within the movement placing their identity with the movement rather than with Christ? Have people placed the growth of the movement above true charity?”

    Yes, those are the things that need to be analyzed. Isaac suggested that the ex-members should be asked about their experiences and for their suggestions on how things can be improved. That is another good idea. Genevieve can put you in touch with some people, probably.

    Thank you for being so humble as to be willing to take a hard look at all this. I know how hard this is. We all want to derive purpose and meaning from what we do and we do not want it tainted. But to get past this is going to require that everything be put on the table and examined.

    Some people who work professionally in post cult rehabilitation can give counsel regarding how to create a healthy environment within the group and help you examine rules (written and unwritten), communication styles, authority structures, grievance procedures etc.

  • Mary Kochan

    CE is not a group I belong to, Gary. It is my job. I work for CE in the same way that my husbnd works for his company. I do believe CE has its small role to play in the New Evangelization, but I don’t identify myself with CE as a “member.”

    I wouldn’t even really describe it as my vocation, although I do think that I have talent as a writer that God wants me to use somewhere. My vocation is to be a wife and mother, and grandmother. So I don’t think its really analogous.

    Good question though!

    My point BTW, was really that the things that attract and keep people in cults are good things, and I am not even saying that the LC/RC ARE cults. I am just responding to the statement someone made that he didn’t feel like he was in a cult. So I asked, what he thought being in a cult felt like. I never felt like I was in a cult all those years in the JWs either! But now I know I was.

    Also, on the cult issue — this is something that lies along a continuum, you know. A group can be more or less cultic and it may not even be homogenous — there may be a lot of variation from region to region. I do not think there is any doubt that the LC/RC was a “cult of personality.” That is a bit different from what we mean when we say that JWs are a cult.

    What we all want is for all the diverse groups in the Church to be healthy places for spiritual growth. If studying how cults operate can help us understand how to get there and make correction of some things, good. But just throwing the word “cult” around as an insult is useless.

  • Mary Kochan

    Something else, Gary. You seem like a balanced person who is not submerged into RC. With your outside friends and interests, you have incorporated parts of their spirituality into your life, in what appears to be a healthy way.

    Do you know of any people who are not so balanced? Can you think of things that can be done to help them? I think it will take insiders like you to reach them because I know that some are very suspicious of non-members and ex-members.

  • Shannon

    I don’t know Gary, but he seems to be the NORM for the people I know in RC. I have about ten women on my RC team, and we all have different friends, and our kids go to a variety of schools. A couple of husbands are RC, but most aren’t.

    Mary, you asked if Gary knew people who “are not so balanced”. I can’t speak for him, but, honestly, I don’t know anyone like that. I will definitely bring that up at our next gathering to see if that needs to be addressed with our particular group.

    My RC friends all have different personalities, and we all like different things. Some of us are big LSU fans, some of us hate football. Some of us love Mardi Gras while others go on vacation during Mardi Gras to escape the crowds. We all have different groups of friends, yet we share a sisterly bond. We share a love for God and, well, you get the picture. Our lives get busy, and sometimes we make it to meetings, etc., and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we participate in different apostolates, and sometimes we don’t. And it’s perfectly fine either way! It makes me sad that this is not what’s going on with all teams.

  • Mary Kochan

    Shannon, how do you account for all the abuses?

    There are a few stories in these comboxes. And many more here: http://www.life-after-rc.com/

    I have recieved a good number in private emails and this has been going on for a long time, way before this story was even on the radar.

    In an internet age, certainly this is not the first time you have heard of them. So I wonder what goes on in your head about that. Has it changed since the revelations of the past week?

  • daughterofthechurch

    Did you read this one:

    Let’s recall some of the rules of the Legion…

    Never ask a superior a curious question. What is that on your desk, Father? Where did you go, Father? Not permitted.

    Have edifying conversations. If they are not edifying, tell your superior. (How many times did you FINALLY get to quiete only to be trapped by Br. X who wants to talk about MM boyhood years in Tlalpan…ugh. If you asked: who’s in the superbowl? you were “too American” or “not edifying”).

    -go to confession with your superior. Who is also your rector and spiritual director.

    -A don’t talk to section B. Novices don’t talk to juniors. Juniors don’t talk to PC’s. No one talk to the priests. It was like my family at Thanksgiving- all under the same roof but no one talks to each other.

    -Edited newspapers. Read mail. Screened calls. Spliced news segments. Outside information was not allowed.

    When you add all this together… what do you get? MIND GAMES. Where’s Fr. Maciel going? Don’t ask that. Hmmm, hey brothers did you ever notice MM disappears for a long time? Tattle tales: Fr. Alvaro, Br. Benjamin is talking about MM in an unedifying way… BAM off you go to Chile. Bless me father for I have sinned I noticed this things about MM when paying bills or preparing his meals…BAM off you go to Brazil. In Spiritual Direction: Fr. Rector I noticed that MM makes a lot of phone calls to a woman in Spain…BAM no longer a receptionist.

    Mind games. Complete control. Just sing your songs about MM, raise his flag, read his letters, but don’t ask questions.

    Asi fue, hermanos. This is how it was. And still is. How do I know? Because I was, after all

    -a former superior

  • Shannon

    okay..I’m back home again and ready to respond…

    If what you mean by “abuse” is the isolation, blacklisting, and shunning, I never witnesssed that. I think if that were happening in my area, I personally would have experienced it since my husband quit RC. At one time during the last 12 years I went inactive because my life got extremely busy with my husband in grad school. At another point, I was in charge of the section’s Challenge group. Things got hectic at work, and I didn’t feel I could handle the extra responsibility of running that apostolate. I called Diane, the Consecrated in charge, to quit, and she reassured me that I was to always put my family first. She didn’t put me down or pressure me to run the apostolate. If you find that hard to believe, I can’t really help you.

    And, no, I didn’t know about the people who felt “abused”. The Catholic sites I have time to read either haven’t addressed that until now, or I missed it. How many stories has CE done on this topic? It’s been my homepage for quite awhile, and I don’t recall any articles on that. I never saw any on Catholic Online either (my email site). Please don’t think that I am dismissing people’s feelings just because I didn’t have that same negative experience.

    Now, if what you mean by “abuse” are the sexual allegations against Maciel from over 50 years ago, yes, that I knew about. I figured the investigations would continue, and we would find out the truth eventually. This resurfaced around the same time I was teaching at a neighboring parish school. The popular pastor there was accused of molesting two boys and was under investigation. The priest crisis was in full swing across the country. What really could we do but pray for the victims and all involved and wait for the authorities to investigate each case? Time would tell, and meanwhile,I would keep my eyes off the raging sea and on Christ.

    I definitely thought about the possibilty of his guilt. I asked God what would that mean for me and my vocation. The answer came quickly, and I knew that Maciel’s faithfulness could not determine mine. No more than those parishoners in the neighboring parish could base their fidelity on Fr. Pat’s.

    Yes, I admit I hoped they both were innocent. I hate how the infidelity of a priest does so much damage to the reputation of all the other good, holy priests with whom our Church is blessed. My own pastor, for example is a very holy man of God. Why can’t all parishes have that? I think the devil wants us to be preoccupied with the few unfaithful and fail to see the many, many good priests (order or diocesan)out there.

  • Shannon

    I am a little confused… How are you a “daughter” of the church and yet a former superior?

  • Shannon

    Oh… I think you were quoting someone else who doesn’t want to be named.

  • deirdrew

    We cannot save souls. Does the Church say we can? My opinion is that we can offer our lives as examples, and preach the Gospel. We can and should do works of charity. God saves souls. People allow God’s grace to work within them. Am I wrong in my understanding of this zeal to save souls? We are called to be apostles, to spread God’s word…but we cannot force others to be saved. This is the opposite of free will. Correct?

  • deirdrew

    Has anyone seen the documentary about Jim Jones? When a group of people are so forcefully asked to change their lives on the basis of a man’s personality, that is a cult. I think a priest I know said things best some years ago. No matter the sins of a Pope, they did not change Catholic teaching.

    My problem with Fr MM is that if he abused people in any way, his writings need to be tossed. It doesn’t matter if he wrote only truth, if he lived his life in an abusive way, then he is a demon. They can conform themselves to live up to peoples’ expectations, and then act out their evil.

    Many of you are writing about his as if he was a good person, beset with faults. We all have our faults. To me instead, and I admit I have not read his writings, nor do I want to, he is the epitome of a molestor. This evil is so insidious, so manipulative, that we cannot say the evil is by accident. If he is such a person, then even the beginnings of this order need to be seen as suspect. The intelligence and cunning of such people can be only seen as orchestrating every move to gain what they desire. Control, advantage, power. POWER. Earthly power, the very thing that Christ commanded us to NOT seek.

    I know this sounds harsh, but I have studied these things for a long time. I am sure good comes of many things. God can make good come of evil, always. But I am so angry that this Church ignored the people who said they were abused. THAT IS SO WRONG. I am so angry with PPJII that he ignored so many vicitms over the years of so many priests. I think the man was wonderful in many ways but I just cannot comprehend on any level his abandonement of those sheep who needed him.

    There are people who think that there are priests who are ”good,” for the msot part, and there are those who are good who fall, but pick themselves up. I believe that, but I also believe there are predators who are drawn to the secrecy of the Church, of the power, of the vulnerability of many, of the resoluteness and control they can exhibit, and truly care nothing about the souls of anyone – including themselves.

    I will not read the teachings of Hitler to gain political wisdom, nor will I read anything by a spiritual monster, if this person is proven to be that. A writer does not have to be a perfect saint. We struggle with many things. But intentions and habits of mind, body and spirit are just at the heart of The Word.

    If the man offered no apologies to the people he wounded, then he is not to be accepted into the role of teacher.

  • deirdrew

    These questions just seem like gossip to me. I am curious, too, but for heaven’s sake, she should be allowed her privacy. Exploitation of her leads to no enlightenment. If someone wants to speak out, it’s a different thing. But do not cause more pain to innocent people.

    ”Mary, has anyone interviewed the daughter? Is she a practicing Catholic? Has she been well taken care of? Does she know he is her dad? Did they have a relationship? What about the mother–how old? Long term relationship? Was she a student/devotee? These are legitimate inquiries that may help us understand better Maciel and the circumstances, not to mention the facts.”

  • deirdrew

    By the way, feeling good the way you describe it is not a bad thing. What you write about is also the way people feel if they are in a friendly church, a volunteer fire department, the girl scouts, a healthy fraternity, a great school, etc etc.

    The difference about a cult is that you rely on it to make your decisions for you. The feeling good is also tinged with some degree of fanaticism. Or, a LOT! YOUR WAY IS THE ONLY WAY. Everyone else is wrong. You do not interact with others outside of your group in a healthy way. You look to a leader for approval, for your self-worth. You do not use reason (which the Church does encourage) to come to conclusions. Black is black and white is white because the leader says it is. Secrecy rules, openness is discouraged. You can be encouraged to tell all your problems only to the people in charge. A cult is not about the way you feel. You are controlled because of the way you feel. That feeling is like a drug. A cult is a cult when you are not making your own decisions, when you have no free will. EVER. You cannot choose what clothes to wear, whether to leave or when to eat. This is different say, than joining the Army, because you are presented with choices. Life can be very hard, making choices can be hard. I would say that cults reach out for those troubled by the responsibilities of life.

    And it often does not benefit you, even if it feels like it is. Even if the feeling of belonging is so strong to keep you inside the cult. The cult ”benefits” the leader, or leaders, and enslaves you.

    How do you know you’re not in a cult? If you can think for yourself. If your leaders encourage you to ask questions, and think for yourselves. If simple choices are encouraged and offered, you are not in a cult.

  • deirdrew

    I meant, a cult is not a cult JUST BECAUSE of the way you feel.

  • deirdrew

    Shannon, I believe that daughterofthechurch (aren’t we all?) was quoting either the stated or unstated rules, that she or anyone was not to ask a superior questions…She is not the superior in the statement…

  • daughterofthechurch

    The following is very interesting as well:

    Do you all know the story about MM’s tomb in Rome?

    It was already designed by him with the intention of, upon his canonization, being accessible from the main church and ready for a place of pilgrimage.

    It was a semi-circular niche under the main altar to be covered in the same gold/beige tiles found in the CES chapel around the tabernacle. In the middle a large cross and on the tomb, a freestanding marble sarcaphogus, the words “Ego sum via veritage et vita”.

    Maybe MM thought those words were about himself….

    Anyway- Rome wouldn’t give the construction permit so MM had the LC reapply under the falsehood of building underground parking. Rome agreed as you all remember the parking nightmare on Via Aurelia and how small the Guadalupe church’s parking lot was.

    So they constructed it, dug under the foundation, even built fake car ramps to throw off the city inspectors (though those ramps would never really be used- it was just a lie).

    And across from his tomb a mausaleum type structre- graves shelves if you will- 10 across by 6 high where the VIP cofunders would all be buried along with him.

    Ah yes… the life of MM. All show, all facade, all glamour and praise for him the great fraud of our lives.

    I wonder if they will fill that crypt up now- or really just park cars. Maybe they can bury his whores there? Or the crushed faith and brusied souls of those he molested.

    Money well spent MM! Just like the money you spent on your whores. And the hush money for the children. And the money for the lawyers, publicists, investigators, cars, jets, concord tickets, heliocopters… maybe you rape the pocketbooks of more Americans to build your museum shrine in Cotija?

    Ah yes… what will happen to the Legion? Will the benefactors get their money back? Will the victims get their lives back? Will the former members get their souls back? Will the current members get their minds back?

    -a former superior

  • daughterofthechurch

    More of the bigger picture:

    The only thing that can save the credibility of the Legion is for the major superiors to resign and for Fr. Alvaro to ask the Holy see to appoint new leadership.

    The post before mine gets it because he is a former LC. The RC members, the family and friends- you guys (no offense) have no idea of the gravity of the situation.

    Take today- Feb. 6th- Decretum Laudis. Here’s how the day went:

    Flags at dawn: Marciali- pax vita subditorum amor et salus perpetua: a hymn about MM.

    Then Meditation where inevitably everyone chose something from Vol II of Las Cartas de Nuestro Padre.

    Then a homily about: MM

    Then after a decent breakfast a video composed by david Murray about: MM.

    Then before lunch we would read Acta Legionis about? MM

    In the Rosary: the intentions were for: MM

    Quiete, merienda cena, flags again… all about MM. The instrument of the Holy Spirit thru which Christ founded his Legion and we receive our sanctification. How often were we told that: Christ called us to be holy IN THE LEGION.

    You think just expunging the NAME MM will do the trick? A Zenit article and some time for prayer is all we need?

    There is a maffia of mexican priests that surrounded MM and enabled his behavior and undoubtedly knew something was wrong and they did NOTHING for decades. Garza, Corcuera, Sada you all need to step down NOW and you need to make every other major superior resign.

    Maybe then you can weather the storm. But MM is too much in your blood- and his secret methods and his world of halftruths is all you know. For this reason you will implode.

    -a former superior

  • daughterofthechurch

    From another former member:

    read the following for the full account:
    http://steveskojec.com/2009/02/04/something-i-missed/

    …And questioning was something that was strongly discouraged in the Legion. Once, when a Brother (their term for seminarians) wanted a friend and I not to tell the truth to our youth group about another brother who left after discovering that it was not his vocation, we resisted. We knew the kids would find out anyway, and that it would be better for them to hear it from us so that they knew we could be trusted, and that discovering ones true vocation (whatever it is) is a positive thing. We were told that we were scandalizing them, and the Brother in question was visibly upset. He reported us to the superior of the house where we were living as lay members of the apostolate. We were angrily questioned, asked what we were thinking, why we would be willing to scandalize these children. We were told that one of them, having found out the truth from us, was now wondering whether or not he really had a vocation – he was in the seventh grade.

    I responded that it was our obligation to be truthful with them. “We can’t act like parents who are afraid to teach their children about sex, Father.” I said. “Sooner or later, they’re going to hear about it, and it’s better for them to get it from us than their peers so we can talk to them about it.” He stared me down, contempt in his eyes, and said nothing for several seconds. Then,

    “ARE YOU QUESTIONING THE CHARACTER OF THE REGNUM CHRISTI?” He snapped.

    “Yes. I suppose I am.” I responded…

    [...W]hat about the time a Regnum Christi woman told me that one of the consecrated ladies from the former Soviet bloc found herself startled by the similarities of Regnum Christi methodology and Soviet Communism, only to be reassured by Fr. Maciel that “In a way, it is like communism – but with a good end.”

    Or the time that several priests were bragging about how Fr. Maciel had lied to benefactors in Mexcio, telling each that one of his competitors was giving a certain amount of money to the Legion for building a school, and if he didn’t want to look bad he’d better do the same. Except none of them made the pledges until after they were fed the lie?

    The founder of this order was a sexual predator. Sexual predators are known for their ability to spot psychological vulnerabilities and exploit them to their own endgame. The Legionaries I knew never made a single inappropriate sexual insinuation around me, but they exhibited the training of psychological predation. They knew how to exploit my weaknesses – my desire for acceptance, my search for strong male role models, my passion for my faith, my zeal for serving God, my scruples. They pushed every button I had.

  • daughterofthechurch

    From an Ex-RC member on Charlotte was both blog:
    I am a former member of RC. The LC priests traveling through our area stayed in our home for several years. I love them all and am praying for them. Many years ago, however, I sensed that there was something not so right about how the LC operated. It was very lock-step. I dropped out because I felt the priests were taught to manipulate rich women into following their spirituality, apostolates, and direction. Some women listened to the LC priests more than their own husbands and I felt that the priests took advantage of this fact. It was weird. This manipulation resulted in these good women bringing in their children to LC and RC events — of course for the LC and the consecrated RC women to quickly recruit for vocations. It also led to the LC meeting with their husbands to try and recruit them for RC membership (at which they were much less successful) and to try to get big donations from them. Once Maciel was silenced and then in 2007 I heard about sex- abuse allegations at the apostolic school being suppressed — I knew that there was pure corruption at the top of the LC leadership. Let us all remember that birds of a feather flock together. I believe the top LC leadership has known about Maciel’s sins for a very, very long time. It would be impossible for them not to have known. I suspect in the coming days and weeks that there will be a flood of victims coming forth. Those victims that have come forward in the past have been attacked by LC and RC members — now the truth is starting to come out. I am afraid we are just beginning to scratch the surface. Again, I am in prayer for all the good LC priests whom I love and admire and all the RC members whom I know and love. But both LC priests and RC members need to stop drinking the Kool Aid. Wake up and use the brain that Your Heavenly Father has given you. And parents, I say this out of great love: bring your daughters and sons home from the RC and LC schools/seminaries that are boarding situations (i.e. where your kids are not living at home with you and your family) until the corruption at the top of the LC leadership has been cleaned up.

  • Mary Kochan

    I don’t know if the daughter has been interviewed. I hope for her sake she is not pursued by the media.

    Daughterofthechurch, thank you for posting some interesting information from other blogs, but since this thread is so long, I would suggest you might just summarize or put up a teaser and just include a link to the comment, if it is very extended.

  • dismus

    Former Superior, I’ve followed your posts here and scattered all over the blogsphere. Just when and where did you draw the line? What made you decide to part ways with the Legion?

  • Mary Kochan

    Former superior has not been posting here; another poster has been copying some of his posts over to here.

    Daughterofthechurch, may you could tell what blog former superior seems to hanging out at, so this person could ask him directly.

    If you are interested in a number of accounts from former Legionaries at various levels, there is a collection here http://www.regainnetwork.org/category.php?c=245671646

  • Mary Kochan

    deirdrew wrote: By the way, feeling good the way you describe it is not a bad thing. What you write about is also the way people feel if they are in a friendly church, a volunteer fire department, the girl scouts, a healthy fraternity, a great school, etc etc.

    True, that was my point. You can’t assume that you would know you were in a cult by how you feel.

    deirdrew wrote: The difference about a cult is that you rely on it to make your decisions for you. … You do not use reason (which the Church does encourage) to come to conclusions. Black is black and white is white because the leader says it is. Secrecy rules, openness is discouraged. You can be encouraged to tell all your problems only to the people in charge. …A cult is a cult when you are not making your own decisions, when you have no free will. EVER. You cannot choose what clothes to wear, whether to leave or when to eat.

    No, this is not true, while all cults diminish the areas of member’s freedom varying from a little or a lot, it is not the way you describe; it is much more subtle. Please look up some information on the subject of bounded choice to understand this phenomena better.

    deirdrew wrote: Life can be very hard, making choices can be hard. I would say that cults reach out for those troubled by the responsibilities of life.

    No, this is another fallacy. Cults do not want to recruit misfits or troubled people; they want to recruit high acheivers.

    deirdrew wrote: And it often does not benefit you, even if it feels like it is. Even if the feeling of belonging is so strong to keep you inside the cult. The cult ”benefits” the leader, or leaders, and enslaves you.

    This is correct, everything revolves around the leader/s; decisions that are made and things that are taught, while they maybe presented for the supposed benefit of members are really for the benefit of the leader/s.

    deirdrew wrote: How do you know you’re not in a cult? If you can think for yourself. If your leaders encourage you to ask questions, and think for yourselves. If simple choices are encouraged and offered, you are not in a cult.

    Again, bounded choice provides the illusion of freedom of thought even in a very controlled environment.

  • Mary Kochan

    Shannon, thank you for your answer. I’m really just trying to understand. I try to think it through for myself. Like let’s say I was considering joining a group. One thing I know I would do is look it up online and read pretty extensively on the history, comments of current and former and non-members, try to ascertain such things as the authority structure, financial obligations and accountability etc.

    But I do understand how you might come into contact with this group through friends and not go through that process. Besides, why would you not trust a group in which you saw good fruit, orthodox Catholicism, Church approval etc.

    And yes, you are correct, CE has not been running stories about this.

    So may I ask you the rest? How are you processing this now? You know Maciel is guilty of sexual sin and perversion over a long period of time and you understand that you can not dismiss the accounts of abuse from people like daughterofthechurch. Your response to her has been very open-hearted btw, but how do you handle there being hunderds, maybe thousands like her? What are your thoughts now? Do you think that your own local group could perhaps continue to support one another using some other resources? It sounds like your group operates with maybe some autonomy more than others do. Is that a factor in what goes on?

    Hey, don’t feel like I am demanding you answer all these at once. LOL. I appreciate your time and I know you are thoughtful. So as you can, when you get a chance. Thanks so much. Blessings on your Sunday.

  • Mary Kochan

    Spanish news reports are now saying that the mother of his daughter was only 15 when she was impregnated. http://www.canonlaw.info/blog.html

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    The canonlaw.info article links to an SDP Noticias article that reports, “It is said that the daughter of Father Maciel, who is now twenty years old, wants to sell her story. For this reason the order [i.e. the Legion] is coming out now, in order to reduce the impact of this revelation and to prevent greater damage being done.” SDP Noticias appears to be a Mexican news outlet.

    A link to the source article is http://tinyurl.com/c4c4so (will redirect to the SDP Noticias article). If you can read Spanish, please be warned that some of the comments attached to the article use vulgar language.

  • Mary Kochan

    So which was it? An internal investigation they launched to get to the bottom of things as they claimed last week? Or the threat that it was going to be exposed and the desire as much as possible to control the message?

  • daughterofthechurch

    Shannon,

    I wanted to clarify the difference, as I see it, between your experience of going inactive for a time and mine. Based on what you said your decision to go inactive was based strictly on the fact that your life became too busy to allow for you to participate in RC activities. That is in no way a threat to the movement therefore I would not expect that you would have experienced the psychological abuse that I did. My decision to go inactive was a result of psychological manipulation, in LC terminology – the “art of persuasion,” orchestrated by the LC priest in my section. This manipulation followed a series of events which had led me to strongly question and object to GRAVE sins against charity that he and other LC were perpetrating. The abuse that I experienced was directly related to the questioning and objecting. I had become an obstacle to the movement.

  • Mary Kochan

    What does active vs inactive mean?

    (BTW an “active” Jehovah’s Witness is one that goes door-to-door for at least one hour every month and a JW is considered “inactive” if he does not do that, even if he comes to every meeting. As you might guess being “inactive” makes you pretty low on the totem pole.)

  • gskineke

    Technically, none of us in Regnum Christi were told how to disassociate ourselves, so the numbers were always somewhat suspect in my mind — taking them at face value is a matter of trust. But that said, if one couldn’t keep up with weekly team meetings and helping with apostolates, he or she would ask to go “inactive” until circumstances allowed active participation again. Some returned when things settled down, others simply never came back for one reason or another. The team leader was responsible for passing all this information up the chain of command.

  • Mary Kochan

    What’s the chain of command?

    Why would the chain of command need to know that someone was going inactive?

    How would a consecrated person who was working full-time for them go inactive?

  • gskineke

    First question, you tell me. They always wanted numbers, an overview of “boots on the ground” I think. There were always list of potential recruits as well.

    Second question, they just walk away. There are many standing by to help them out and get them home if they want to take some time to think this through.

  • Mary Kochan

    So you don’t know who is in your chain of command?

    In the JWs we had Study Servant (usually an elder) >>> Congregation Overseer >>> Circuit overseer >>> District Overseer >>> Zone Servant >>> Governing body >>> Jesus >>> God (not to be confused; they are Arians). You could go over the head of the next one above you if you thought that something was amiss — they might team up to squash you though, so it was dicey.

    But are you telling me you only knew the one person over you so that you could never appeal anything he said or did? You could never go over his head?

  • marianas

    I was member of RC for 25 years. I received many blessings, and it helped me living my faith and gave me a solid formation.
    Nevertheless, when I read the Church invited to MM to retire to a life of penance and prayer, I decided to open my eyes and seek for the truth.
    When I was in the group, I thought reading about the accusations made to MM was almost a sin, I couldn´t beleive it and didn´t want to know anything about it. But when the Church gave the communication, I decided that we SHOULD look for the truth.
    Now I don´t understand the people who say they will continue in the Movement because it is good, even when the founder was a pederast. That´s a contradiction. I said I received blessings, good things, but that was because when you get close to God in any way, you receive good things. I know people who left the Catholic Church (who were not really practicing their Catholic faith) and joined a non-Catholic group and they became praying and going to retreats, etc, and they feel nearer to God and are grateful to the group, and they can say they received many good things from it, but they are not searching for the truth.
    My family didn´t react like me, and it was useless trying to convince them (my siblings) to search for the truth, to read all the testimonies of people abused, hurt by the LC, to read the testimonies that say that the sexual abuses were repeated by other priests, that some children suffered abuses in the Apostolic Schools… it was useless. They preferred to trust and closed their eyes. I told them: You have children, you are sending them to the Legion Academies, in the future they may tell you they want to go to the Legion Seminary or to be consacrated, your children are the biggest blessing God has given you, you have the obligation of caring for them, at least talk to them, tell them the precautions they should have (since in the Academies they will be far from you) of never being alone with an adult in a closed room, don’t let anyone touch you if you don´t feel well, etc., even when he is a priest… Well, they said it was incredible that I was thinking like this, and they didn´t want to read any testimonies because the LC and RC were approved by the Church, etc. They even threw away a book (from González) that had a lot of information about the truth of the history of the Legion, based upon very reliable sources, that I had bought and lend to them so we could talk about it later.
    For me, this is a behaviour that shows that the RC has some cult-like characteristics. “Even when my own child is in the group, will go to another country with this group, I know there exists accusations of sexual abuse by several priests of the order… I choose to close my eyes and don´t want to read anything that talks against the group. I beleive because I have had a good experience and what I see is vey good and I see very holy priests. All that I haven´t seen, and the leaders of the group tell me I shouldn´t beleive, must be a lie.”
    If you want to continue belonging to a group founded on a complete lie and whose founder is a pederast, because it helped you with your faith, ok. For me, this is a complete contradiction. It´s healthier to accept we were being lied to and betrayed. Do you beleive the LC who are now saying they just got the sad news? Of course they knew the truth, not all the LC, of course, their communications are completely controlled, but the ones at high positions, beginning with F. Alvaro, of course they knew the truth and the suffering of many innocent people, and were hiding it from all the faithful members. Are you still grateful to them?
    Sorry for my bad English, my native language is Spanish.

  • Mary Kochan

    Marianas, wrote: “When I was in the group, I thought reading about the accusations made to MM was almost a sin, I couldn´t beleive it and didn´t want to know anything about it.”

    Boy does that sound familiar. As a Jehovah’s Witness I was told that reading anything critical of the organization was reading “spiritual pornography.” After I left I found out that Mormons use the same term for things critical of Mormonism.

    BTW Marianas, you did a great job of writing in English! Thanks for being here.

  • lidyc

    Does anyone else find it strange/unusual that there are no websites for “recovering” ex-Franciscans or ex-Jesuits or ex-Dominicans?

    Why SO MANY for ex-Legionaries and ex-Regnum Christi?

    This obviously says a lot about the Legion and RC movements/

  • lidyc

    jay2000 –you said: “We have confirmation from the Church that our charism and constitutions are sound — witness the relatively minor change that Pope Benedict made a couple of years ago,…”

    You think that what Pope Benedict did was a “relatively minor” change? Really? Letting the priests and lay members actually voice their concerns is minor?

    If you go back, see what the priest who was in the legion for 14 years and was CFO for a time, sorry I cant place his name at the moment, said about giving Fr. Maciel $5000 in American currency and $5000 in the currency of the country he was visiting every time he went on a trip. A few years ago he went to the Vatican with the information. He couldn’t before because the vow of silence.

    Where did that $10,000 come from? Good hardworking people who believed that the money was going to the formation of good, holy priests. NOT to his lover and their daughter.

  • lidyc

    One more, very important thing:

    We know that God will bring good even in this bad situation.

    I know a very good young man who is crushed by these revelations (I won’t say allegations because we know now that they are true). I am seriously concerned for his faith. He said that he was taught to, and was only too eager, to defend Maciel because he believed in him only to find out these things now coming to light. He is now questioning his own faith and spirituality and having much self-doubt. His family is crushed and all his close knit friends are all also crushed and don’t know what to think.

    Please pray for him.

  • Mary Kochan

    Great letter from Fr. Thomas Berg (this man has a real pastoral heart). Please share with all RC members:

    Dear everyone—

    Christ’s peace.

    I write to you this Sunday morning with my heart in my hand. I know personally that so many of our priests, section directors, have been working for hours on end, meeting with groups of RC, first to break the horrible news and then to accompany them, often themselves reduced to the point of tears. Then there have been the endless follow—up phone calls, private conversations. Believe me, we have all been trying to do everything possible to reach out to all of you personally.

    But my heart aches because our best efforts have not been enough. I want to reach out to you as a brother and friend this morning and try to assure you, if nothing else, that we are here. I know further efforts are underway to attempt to respond more adequately and formally to the confusion you all feel, not to mention the hurt and betrayal. I beg you, in the midst of such pain and hurt, please bear with your directors.

    At the same time, however, I also beg you forgiveness for the disastrous response which this crisis has received from our upper LC leadership. There is no other way to say it: in so many respects, Legionary superiors have failed, and failed miserably to respond adequately to this crisis, and not surprisingly, have engendered in many of you and understandable lack of confidence. Those are the facts and your reaction is natural and reasonable. With all my heart, on their behalf, I apologize. Our superiors are human instruments; I know in their hearts they have trying to do the right thing, under inhuman pressure. Please understand that.

    I am not making any excuses, however, for the fumbled media responses (which I believe have been too often unfairly attributed to Jim Fair our communications director who needs your prayers and has earned a very high place in heaven for what he has had to endure this week), for the appearances of being less than forthcoming, for the lack of information, for the confusion of messaging. For that, there is no excuse in a way, and tragically is largely due to the ineptness of many of those in leadership positions to respond with expertise and diligence in a crisis management situation like this.

    But it is more than just crisis management. The thing I am most pained about—I share this as a brother—is the near absence of but fleeting suggestions of sorrow, and of apologizing for the harm done, both to alleged victims of Maciel, and, frankly, to all of you. I am deeply, deeply sorry, and I personally apologize with my heart in my hand to each and every one of you.

    I understand your feelings of betrayal. For twenty-three years I have loved and tried to follow Christ in the Legion. I can say before God, in spite of my many human frailties, I have been faithful. I have also, more than many of you to be honest, gone out on limb after limb, trying to defend Maciel. I have lived my priesthood always with that cloud hanging over me, always having to essentially apologize for being a Legionary. You feel betrayed? You feel rage? I can only say that the rage, and raw emotions that I have felt these past days (the hardest days of my entire life, emotions like I have never experienced) are only a glimpse of the unspeakable hell that victims of priest sexual abuse must go through. My thoughts and my heart have been so often with them these days…

    I know that many of your are utterly confused about what you are feeling and about where we go from here. In no particular order, let me offer my advice and counsel as follows:

    1. Most of you are going through the stages of mourning. Understand that and know what that means. This is a very useful site: http://www.cancersurvivors.org/Coping/end%20term/stages.htm

    2. Keep talking to your section directors. Let them know how you feel. Let them know if you are satisfied with their response to you.

    3. Many of you might find it to be a wonderfully freeing and healing experience to offer acts of reparation for those suffering the effects of priestly sexual abuse. You might also find it healing to reach out to persons who, in any way, have found themselves hurt by their experiences with the Legion or RC.

    4. For your own spiritual needs right now:

    a. Remember you are free to speak with anyone, inside or outside the Movement about your pain, your reactions to this tragic news, and for ease of conscience to speak to whomever you believe can best help you at this time. I would encourage you to reach out to and find guidance from priests whose holiness and sound judgment you trust, whether Legionaries or not.

    b. Your spiritual experiences—even when they came through the letters of the Founder—are valid, and real. God was working through those instruments. The sad revelations about Maciel do not change that. Try to thank God for the past, and sing his praises for the way he has done in your lives through RC. Prayer of thankfulness will help you. Prayer of thanksgiving for this deliverance he has given us now, and for the purification which we are undergoing will also be very helpful.

    c. If you still find the letters of the founder helpful in prayer, feel free to use them. But it is certainly OK to leave them aside. Remember that in many ways, the spirit and charism we have lived is Pauline. Continue to nourish your spirit on the letters of St. Paul.

    d. In your meditation, go back to the bedrock truths of your life and ponder them serenely before God and let him use that meditation to soothe your hearts: the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Redemption, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, your Baptism, your call to a more deeply committed Christian life, and a loving meditation (“Mary meditated on all these things in here heart”) of all the wonders God has done in your life.

    e. I also recommend using The Better Part by Fr. Bartunek, and any other spiritual writings be Legionary priests. You might find those helpful. Your section directors should also be able to point you in the direction of other sources on which to nourish your souls. Share your ideas with each other.

    Finally, I encourage you to speak to Legionary leadership, and even in the form of petition letters, demand nothing less than full transparency regarding the case of Fr. Maciel. Demand that Fr. Alvaro seek an independent third party investigation (perhaps in the form of a temporary review board or Visitation team from the holy see) into uncovering any Legionaries who may have been accomplices to Maciel. Demand that a similar body guide Legionary leadership in introducing any needed reforms into the internal culture, methods and religious discipline of the Legion.

    And remember: “Entrust your life to the Lord, and He will act.”
    Let’s pray for each other. With all my love, gratitude to all of you for your fidelity.
    In Jesus,
    Fr. Thomas Berg, LC

    P.S. Please spread my message far and wide to as many RC members as you can.

  • Pingback: Debra Murphy » Blog Archive » Fr. Maciel, the Legionaries, and patterns of scandal in the Church: part 2()

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  • Judy OBrien

    Good stuff. I am a life long Catholic and learning all the orthodoxy I can and loving it at the age of 72. Praise God for my good fortune. Judy OBrien Marietta, GA

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