Disturbing and Sad

I just read an article on the life-after-regnum-christi blog and was further astounded by the depravity of Fr. Maciel, the founder of the Legion and Regnum Christi. Warning, some graphic descriptions in the article. Also, a brief digression I don’t buy the implication that John Paul II and various cardinals were “given money” by the Legion in return for the Church turning a blind eye to them. Fr. Maciel was sadistic and evil, and he fooled a lot of good people, including John Paul II, but that doesn’t mean that JPII was evil or was bribed.

What amazes me is that Fr. Maciel wasn’t unmasked in the late 1950s when the Church, responding to many allegations against him, suspended him from the Legion, removed him for over 2 years from the Legionary communities, and conducted an Apostolic Visitation.

What evil could have been prevented had he been found out then. I don’t know why it didn’t happen. Maybe more of his victims needed to come forward? The tragic result of his exoneration at that time was that his credibility had stronger support given that the Legion and his actions were investigated for 2 – 3 years and found innocent. But by that time he had already committed horrible crimes.

When I looked into all the publicly available documentation a few years ago, both from the Legion and from those hurt by the Legion, one thing became clear: either Maciel was lying or his accusers were. There was no room in the middle. And it turns out that Maciel was the liar.

The fruit of Maciel’s life is bitterness and pain for his direct and indirect victims as well as tarnish and shame upon the work of many faithful persons who have lived at least part of their Catholic Faith in Regnum Christi or the Legion. Everyone loses here.

My advice, as it has always been, both when I was in Regnum Christi and now that I am out of it, is to look to the Church and follow her decisions on these sad matters. The hidden evil of Maciel has now been unveiled, and the healing for all can begin.

I’ve Left Regnum Christi

It is with both sadness and with determination that I have decided to leave Regnum Christi.

My friends in the movement–all of whom are solid men of faith whom I still consider my friends–will no doubt receive this news with sadness, and it is for the hurt that this will cause them that I am sad. However, I know that they will understand that I cannot remain in the movement when I do not think God is calling me to be in it.

Last year when I went inactive, I said that I would wait until the result of the Apostolic Visitation had ended. Well, its ended (at least for the Legion) and the preliminary response has been made by the Church. Whether the order’s refounding is ultimately successful or whether it fails, I do not feel called to remain in a movement created and now overshadowed by a fiendishly evil man.

For me, this decision was not too difficult, as I had only been in Regnum Christi for a year or two. I didn’t have the traumatic experiences–in fact, all of mine were good experiences–nor did I see the bad inner workings of the order or movement. What I saw were my friends each week, husbands and fathers like me who are striving to be Christ-like, most of whom had never even seen, let alone met, Fr. Maciel.

What Sucks About the Whole Thing

There’s lots of good, faithful, regular Joes and Janes like my old friends who have been hurt by Maciel’s actions. His direct victims deserve the most compassion and support, and his indirect victims are too numerous to count.

Some people are calling for the dismantling of the order and the movement. That may be what ultimately happens if the refounding fails–I’ll let the Church decide, and I can see either one happening–but there are people, even ones not in Regnum Christi, who work at its schools, publications, and other places of operation. Annihilating the whole thing means they lose their jobs and means of supporting their families. Is that the biggest concern? No. But it is an example of the collateral damage to people’s lives which could happen.

Why Live Under a Shadow?

Ultimately, as I mentioned before, I didn’t want to live my Catholic Faith under the shadow of some evil person. Maciel is someone I cannot comprehend, a man who must have given his life to the Devil a long time ago. To talk the talk he did and then to do every evil thing privately–all as a Catholic priest–is a disgusting horror. Is there anything good in his creations? I don’t know. What I do know is that there are good priests who can be salvaged and healed of any bent formation they received through his influence, and they can serve the Church and God, if not through the refounded Legion, then through other orders and dioceses.

I pray that God will bless and be with all of Maciel’s victims, first with the ones he directly hurt through his malice and twisted selfishness, and secondly with the ones he indirectly hurt through his institutional influence.

The Road Map for the Legion of Christ

I was a member of Regnum Christi from 2004-2008, at which point I left the Movement with serious doubts about Father Maciel’s purported innocence and about the spiritual fruitfulness of the Legion and Regnum Christi.  I was burned out on apostolate and had a bad taste in my mouth when it came to my spiritual life.  My leaving was amicable, insofar as I remained friends with all the very wonderful women I knew from my RC days, but my heart ached for some Legionaries and RC members who seemed spiritually stunted.

So, when the news about Father Maciel’s clandestine life surfaced in February 2009, I felt great relief.  Because, now, hopefully, the Legion and Regnum Christi would purify their spirituality from any taint imparted by their founder’s personal sins and become truly fruitful according to the plan of God.

Except, as far as I can tell as an RC outsider who still has friends in the movement, that didn’t really happen.  Apart from a few high-profile Legionaries who became diocesan priests–Father Thomas Berg comes to mind–life seems to have continued apace in the Legion and RC.

Thanks be to God, therefore, Pope Benedict called last year for an apostolic visitation of the Legion of Christ and, now, the results are in.  And, they are fantastic, in the sense that they are just the strong measures needed for healing and purification to happen, God willing.

Here is the link to the official communique from the Vatican, which is especially good reading for anyone in RC.  And, here is an excellent personal account from a former RC member, Steve Skojec; he articulates what I also experienced.

God help and bless and strengthen those involved with the Legion and RC, as well as  those entrusted with the task of reform.  Time will tell whether the tree is good and simply needs pruning or whether it is fundamentally rotten but has, by the merciful grace of God, borne some good fruit in the process.