A personal apology to Maciel's victims


Loyal reader Anon out of RC said something in her following comment that really disturbed my conscience:

I was a leader in RC and for years I said the same story that I was told, especially after 2006 - the sexual abuse victims and any of those associated with their cause were "enemies of the church" and wanted to bring down the LC, Maciel, Pope JPII and the Church. I did it innocently, although after 2006 I was so proud of my charity to Maciel and obedience to my superiors by not reading anything except what the LC told me - that he was innocent and suffering like Jesus on the cross. That was pride on my part (and also a learned feeling of guilt for checking out other sources) and not good discernment but the Lord allowed it.

After Feb 2009, I read, prayed and made my own discernments instead of just what I was told by LC. I have since apologized online at American Papist and in my heart and soul to Maciel's original sexual abuse victims for my part in spreading the lie that they were not telling the truth and they were "enemies of the church". It was freeing.

It finally came together after Mass today. Our pastor had touched upon the need to apologize for one's sins - both of commission and of omission - during the homily. For the past year I have been urging LC and RC to come clean and apologize to Maciel's victims. Yet I have never apologized for my own sins toward them.

It's time to correct this injustice. Maciel's victims truly remind me of how Christ suffered during His passion. Their reputations were murdered. They were accused of spreading falsehood and being enemies of God when what they had spoken was truth. Their persecution was initiated by the religious authorities of the day, to preserve a system already in place, and the persecution spread to the masses. And the victims' suffering was multiplied by the religious persecutors turning to civil authorities to enlist the sword of the state in the silencing of truth.

Yet where Maciel's victims most remind me of Christ is in their treatment shown to former persecutors who have apologized sincerely for helping to spread the lie, and who have asked for forgiveness from the victims. Not one of Maciel's victims has refused forgiveness in situations that I am aware of. All have treated their former persecutors with mercy and tenderness, reassuring their former persecutors that they too were once on the inside. So they too understand.

But back to my own sin toward the victims. Unlike Anon out of RC and so many others reading this blog, I cannot claim to have acted in good faith. Mine are sins of omission. Mine are the sins of the Apostles who fled when the angry mob came for Christ, despite knowing that the victims were innocent.

From the moment I first heard of the allegations against Maciel, I knew they were true. A close relative is a civil attorney who in the Canadian legal system is considered an expert in cases alleging clerical sexual misconduct. While studying canon law I had been taught by one of the Church's most respected canonical experts on this topic - a former consultor to the Holy See. The Church's sexual misconduct crisis was all over the North American media, and I had represented accused priests. With the canon law community I had also voiced strong support for Fr. Tom Doyle (not a popular figure at the time) and strong criticism for the failure of Churchmen to put children first. So I had the professional knowledge and experience to know better.

Yet there is one circumstance that aggravates my sin even more than any of the above. It is that I first heard the allegations FROM SOME OF THE VICTIMS THEMSELVES. Personally, not through Jason Berry or Tom Doyle. In person, not over the phone or by email. At a hotel in Atlanta, shortly after delivering the following paper (scroll down a page) to an international conference on cults, on the topic (ironically!) of what the Church considers signs of cultic behavior in new religious movements. Over supper with Giselle who introduced me to the victims. I sat with Aaron, Jose Barba or Juan Vaca (I cannot recall who) [UPDATE: Giselle has confirmed both were present at the meal.] and some of the other victims. They looked me in the eye and described the sexual abuse they had suffered. Their faces were the faces of every other legitimate victim of clergy sexual misconduct I had met in person. The modus operandi they described was that of many priestly abusers whose cases I had worked on. I knew these victims spoke truth.

And if I had any doubts about their veracity - I didn't - several of my colleagues in the canon law world confirmed the horror I experienced, sharing experiences with former LC that corroborated my own, but warning me as a young canonist to tread carefully since the LC and Maciel were at the height of their power within the Church. "Everything you heard is true," said one respected canonist familiar with the situation through previous work in Rome. "But I'm convinced that nothing can be done about it until the next Pope." And that is what pains me still about the situation, given the love and admiration I feel for Pope John Paul II.

So I fled. I refused to take a public stand on the issue, or communicate directly with the victims (Giselle knew how to get hold of me - discretely - if they needed canonical advice), or put my name to anything that could be traced back to ReGAIN or Maciel's victims. I guarded my words carefully and spoke in ambiguities when a high-profile North American representative of the Legion confronted me afterward about my meeting with Maciel's victims. I resorted to the same verbal gymnastics when approached by people I knew to be LC, RC, friends or family of members, or movement supporters.

I continued to critique LC/RC quietly on other issues of concern to canonists, using the general consensus in my profession as cover, but I avoided mention of the victims. I kept quiet about the allegations, and hurriedly changed the topic whenever they came up.

It took me until 2006 to steel my courage and speak up publicly in support of the victims. Only when the Holy See released its 2006 communique "inviting" Maciel to retire to a life of prayer and penance. But by then I knew the gig was up. It might take LC/RC years or even decades to come around to the truth about Maciel. Some likely will never come around. But as Msgr. Scicluna noted in his recent interview, for any semi-competent canonist there was no sugar-coating what the Holy See meant by its 'invitation'. Speaking out at this point required little moral courage.

In light of all this, I wish to apologize:

- To Maciel's victims and other victims of alleged abuse within the movement for not speaking up sooner in your defence, despite knowing that you were speaking the truth.

- For the not returning your phone calls or emails, for insisting that I be contacted anonymously and quietly through Giselle.

- To Giselle for making you take time away from your family, and for the inconvenience I caused by putting you in the role of mediator.

- For not defending you when your reputation was sullied in public by supporters of Maciel and his movement, despite knowing that you were innocent of the accusations against you and that the persecution was unjust.

- For contributing to the delay of justice in your case, which also means that justice was denied to you.

- For putting my professional career as a canonist and Catholic journalist before your pain and the correction of injustices against you.

- For re-victimizing you through my silences and other sins of omission.

And to members of LC, RC, friends and family of people on the inside, fellow parents and other Catholics, I apologize:

- For my use of ambiguous language whenever you approached me with concerns, whether you shared them or had simply heard rumors.

- For allowing you to continue believing in good conscience that Maciel was innocent and his victims were liars.

- For not speaking up sooner and warning you, when I knew the truth, that Maciel was an abuser and that his accusers were victims.

- For any harm to you, your family or your friends that may have come through my silence, use of ambiguous language, or other sins of omission.

Please forgive me. Please pray for me. Please join me in apologizing to victims of Maciel and the movement whose reputations were unjustly tarnished for coming forward with the truth.

And please note that there are no hard feelings toward you from my end. As noted by Anon out of RC, there is nothing more freeing than the truth of an apology.


Did you ever visit the prisoners?

Thought not.

Not Richard,

You were asked in an earlier thread to give some information about yourself. Are you, or were you, in Regnum Christi? This is not to harass you, but to see where you are coming from, your perspective.

Pete's been clear about his association with LC/RC.

Ok, my turn. I've had a close family member in RC.

Your turn.

Pete: Jose Barba and Juan Vaca were both there and at that meal, I believe. I will forward this link to them and I know they will embrace you with the same love and forgiveness that they always show, no matter how long it came to speak in their defense. It has been a privilege to know them -- they are the authentic torch-bearers of Christ's charity.

Dear Not Richard,

please don't be cryptic. What do you mean by "did you ever visit the prisoners"?

Are you here to discuss in good faith? There are questions for you here, waiting for answers.

I know you are practically choking on your own pain. I've been there. A really good cry before the blessed sacrament is helpful. Get it all out before the Lord.

Actually, the offensive part of Not Richard's post was not the question "Did you ever visit the prisoners?", it was what followed it: "Thought not."

What happened to thinking the best of people unless otherwise given information?

And given that Pete actually does visit those in jail, I believe he is owed an apology.

Pete - you give me courage to go to our pastor, currently we have R C listed as one of our church ministries.

I pray for all of us ...

To understand the non-innocence of the victim, I recommend that you make a study of Miroslav Volf: Exclusion and Embrace, a Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation.

With regards to Pete, my question related to those he put away.

@ Not Richard :
Whoa. Your last post is classic of the spirit of the Movement. You call names in previous post, you speak indirectly in the next and pass judgment, then you go for the kill with your mind games. That is a sick way to communicate.
I have to say they usually go about their cruelty with more finesse.

@Not Richard:
Perhaps I completely misunderstood your post. We will not know because it is a mark of the Movement to leave confusion and to be able change the meaning of one's utterances. That's just one reason I call it mind games.


At this point, I think it is fair to say that if "Not Richard" were treating any of the rest of us the way he is treating you, you or Richard C. would probably revoke his privileges to comment here (or block him, or whatever) if that is possible.

I really don't think he should be allowed to treat you with so much venom and disrespect.

That's just my two cents. I think if it was one of us, you would easily see it. Sometimes we don't stand up for ourselves like we would for others.

I say: Sianora. He's demonstrated he's not interested in dialogue.


P.S. Beautiful apology.

Not Richard,

What the heck are talking about "With regards to Pete, my question related to those he put away."

Where has Pete ever referred to putting anyone away?

Pete, is Not Richard one of your former clients that was invited to retire?

"As a more experienced canon lawyer than myself once told me - and he has shut down or reformed literally hundreds of religious orders and movements that went wonky - there's dozens of false visionaries and former religious praying for his death at any given moment"

So in some circles the repo man is more popular than you. Nice.

Pete, that was some apology. It did my heart a lot of good to reflect on my own past judgements (and "wonky" loyalties) and fears over this past year. I was one of those staunch supporters who believed in the "enemies of the Church" as regards the victims. There are many people who are beginning the process of examining themselves. Here in Atlanta, the sheer quantity of LC/RC families equates to a vast difference in the pace of "understanding the truth" among people. Many, many people are starting to see. Thanks for your example of a good conscience exam. It shows your authenticity. God bless you and all you do to educate the faithful. You have helped me immensely.


Thank you for your apology and story. I have read most of your comments on Giselle's blog since 2/09 and always appreciate and respect your perspective. I know it takes a great deal of humility and personal insight to apologize as you have in such a revealing way. I hope that the victims receive your apology sincerely and that God's grace will be with both you and them.
Although, in the past, you dodged the victims, the LC/RC families and their questions (so you say) please know that IMHO you have more than started to make up for it with your lucid explanations. You have educated and enlightened so many people, more than you can ever know. Consider that your atonement and reparations.

Thank you. Sometimes it got lonely in my corner (and I've only been at this for 4 1/2 years so I know there are many, many others who have earned your apology in a much bigger way; Paul, Juan, Jose and the others have been TR's "Man in the Arena" for a very long time) but I honestly don't believe I would have cared anywhere near as much about the Legion's problems if I hadn't been abused by my childhood pastor myself. There are a lot of things I still need to heal from, others that are just hard-wired since I was so young (7), others I just need to take a deep breath about (eg, preadolescent daughter going for face-to-face confession!), but there's one thing I have no intention of getting over, recovering from: Child-molesting priests get My. Full. And. Undivided. Attention.

All along, I've come across people who just can't come forward, just can't speak up about the damage the Legion has done to them. For some of them, it was a big act of courage just to whisper thanks, to be seen with me. We do what we can, when we can. Your "warning signs" post was a great help to me when I was trying to warn parishioners, was begging them to "research the Legion before getting involved". The problem in 2005 was that anyone who publicly came out against the Legion was discounted as "biased" and "liberal" (the proof being that they were against the Legion!). But I was able to show your list to people and say, "Look and judge for yourself. He's a well-known canon lawyer and doesn't come out on either side. Read what he says." So a lot of parents were able to make an informed decision about the Legion; most stayed out, and several others went in with eyes wide open (but not for long for most of them). I don't know what God called you to do, but it worked out okay here, anyway. Peace.

Good post, as usual, Pete!

Trying to understand why such diabolical events happen in what we expect are sacred institutions ! What comes to mind is the abortion holocaust ; there are possibly many parents who are in the grip of hatred and guilt over such issues , blaming themselves for having taken hints /pressure from those who seemed to have power over them , to do the atrocious act !

And they can see how evil does not spare any , if allowed to come in and that that they too are worthy of mercy !

As to pope John Paul 11, again, the comparison may be to Judas ; unsure if our Lord had allowed His human nature, the full knowledge of what Judas was capable of doing , again possibly to help many who would come later who too could not know how some of these angels of light have darkness in them ; so is the case in families too - many carry the darkness of hatred which is the basic patholgy of narcissism and they try to cover it up as people of the lie , using that hatred in many ways , to control, lie and destroy those around them , to make cult like groups and so on .

Just like Bl.Mother had said 'my soul magnifies The Lord ' , these events and persons also serve , in His mercy, to magnify what we are dealing with , in many persons these days - the evil of hate, selfishness , all possibly a sequelae of the sins of abortion, immorality , even contraception.

Good to be prudent, prayerful,preventive 9Bl.Mother hopefully to help here ) since only His mercy can help these hardened sinners and help the victims too, to forgive and pray for them !

"If" there is any serious repentance coming from anyone who was associated with either the LC or RC movement, especially in leadership positions,
You would think "they" would make efforts to refund money, property and/or offer any other type of restitution, to at least make more serious effort to help repair the damage that's been done.
Being sorry isn't enough.
We're all sorry we've been duped !
It's what you're doing with this newfound reality, that will make any or no difference to the rest of us, who were innocent victims from all the lies and abuses, because of the cover up,
especially within the Church hierarchy.

Thanks, Pete. An example to be emulated in all sorts of ways. Nice reminder during Lent. Cheers.

There is more to the LC RC controversy, the "Unique Methodology" supposedly developed by Father Maciel was almost an carbon copy of the
Latter Days Saints Community Methodology. Having lived amongst Mormons for over 9 years, I recommend every RC member to read Judy
Robinson's book "Out of Mormonism" to discover Fr. Maciel's methodology is not unique at all. When I confronted the leaders of the RC Movement at our LC school in the suburbs of St. Louis, I was told at first, "How ridiculous, RC is completely Catholic, and what a ridiculous accusation! How could you possibly compare it to Mormonism?" Then I explained I was not saying the theology was like the Mormons, just the methodology. They replicated the Mormon methodology to the tee. A RC woman's lifestyle in the "movement" was so identical to a LDS member's lifestyle in their movement, I challenged a RC leader to read "Out of Mormonism", and then tell me what she thought. This woman was a staunch defender of Fr. Maciel, and everything RC. She called me back 3 days after reading "Out of Mormonism", your right, she said, "We're not Catholic, we're Mormon!" She was horrified by the exact replication. I confronted the Priest, Fr. Edward Hopkins, at first he denied any similarities, saying he had heard the accusations of cult-like
coincidences, then he said," but the Mormons? Why would you ever say we were like the Mormons? I said I had lived amongst Mormons for over 9 years, visited the temple many times, and the similarities are more than uncanny, thier methodologies are identical. Then he shut the door, and explained to me that the Mormons are the fastest growing church in Mexico, so Fr. Maciel mimicked the methodology to stop the hemorrhaging from the Catholic church to the Mormons, and said they were taking what was good from the Mormon Methodology, and leaving the bad, like it says to do in the Bible." That was when I left, I find nothing redeeming from the Mormons.
Mormons are encouraged to do what the call "organized shunning" to punish church members who disagree with Church leadership. Organized shunning is for the erring church member's own good they say. The organizational structure is almost identical, Fr. Edward would not have denied the similarities at first if he had not known I had so much familiarity with the LDS movement, then making excuses for it made me think I am not the first person to see the correlations. I was soon shunned for speaking the truth, even thought Father the similarities were glaringly obvious to anyone who ever spend time with LDS movement members. The similarities are so many, I highly recommend RC members read "Out of Mormonism" by Judy Robertson, the irony was that the women who accused me of making a ridiculous claim was so outraged that she had been fooled by Fr. Maciel that he had come up with this "Unique Methodology", he had claimed credit for devising a system that has been in play within the LDS movement for over 100 years. She seemed to be able to believe the pedophilia claims were false, but now after reading "Out of Mormonism" she could not longer believe the "Unique Methodology" was original, as we have all learned his supposed
"original" writings were also plagiarized. So, nothing was unique, or original, or honest it seems. I left because I felt an enormous fraud was being enacting on the unsuspecting members of this RC movement, and their own blind loyalty was perpetuating it. I also felt uncomfortable when I was told that Father Maciel asked that his devotees not begin efforts toward his canonization till at least 30 years after his death. What saint would even propose that he would be considered for sainthood? One unifying characteristic of saints was their profound humility, Fr. Maciel seemed to lack humility entirely. Well as the old saying goes "you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool, all the people all of the time."

I am also known as SQ, Susan, and "Someone who took Peter Vere's advice."

I would also like to publicly apologize for whatever I have said or withheld that contributed to the pain of Fr. Maciel's victims, those who have supported them, or for any distress I may have caused to those whom I recruited to the RC movement. (By the grace of God there were not very many.) I apologize for all the times I said, "It doesn't matter, look at the fruits." By the grace of God I know now that whatever fruits are those of the Holy Catholic Church. Maciel tried to remake the Catholic Church into his own image. He created a false definition of charity that not only allowed his vices to continue, but permeates the methodology and formation. This continues to alter the psychology of its members. This is why the accusation of "parallel church" is so profound.

I continue to pray for the victims - past, present, and future. I pray that all members listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to them personally, not through a Regnum Christi spiritual director, about what "to do" now. We were all given the Holy Spirit by our Baptism and we have been given the tools to discern. Go to confession, receive the Eucharist, and listen to the whisper in your soul. Find the true peace of Christ and His Church.

I also hold no animosity toward the beautiful, Christ-loving souls who recruited me and guided me while I was a member of the Movement. The gifts you have and give belong to and are from God, not RC. Bring them to your family and your parish - they need you. Do not lose your faith over this horrific scandal. The Lord is teaching us something about humility and true charity. Charity and Truth, especially the hard truths of scandal, are not mutually exclusive. Charity is not silence, but telling the truth in Love. May this scandal increase our prayer and sacrifice for the victims, our Bishops and Priests, and the Holy Father.

Pete, thank you for this post.

I was told by a cult expert that there are only so many ways of implementing mind control by cults and this is why (regardless of beliefs) they all use very similar methodology to control peoples' behavior, information, thoughts and emotions.
They all tend to open personal mail, monitor and control phone calls, access to family, rules of behavior, "buddy system" focus on charismatic leader, keeping people overly busy, repetitious prayers or reading, etc. All the methodology of the typical well known cults use the same techniques and it can attached to any belief system including authentic Catholicism to achieve hidden agendas of the head people who are always out for money and power. The vows/promises of poverty, OBEDIENCE, chastity plus the secret ones (especially the one to never criticize any leader) were made to order for a cult leader to use to have absolute power over people.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." was never more germane.

It was an open secret in Mexico since the late 80's, and yet those who did nothing allowed this monster to continue. You certainly weren't the first, nor the last.

Perhaps we'll all learn from this?


As a sister "IN" Christ, along with others, I applaud you for the courage it took to come forward and to speak the truth concerning the Legion and Maciel. Many from the outside recognized the stranglehold that the Legion had on all of its members and that "to break ranks" by being honest, meant that anyone doing so would be completely ostracized from the Legion and life as they grew to know it. Many times I have prayed that Almighty God would give someone the courage and the integrity to come forward outside of the Legion and to speak the Truth. I thank God that you saw the light and that you were man enough to ask forgiveness. May God Bless you with His best!


We in The Church are familiar with life of St.Maria Goretti , an uneducated 11 y.o who resited her attacker heroically .

Not trying to wound those who already have been hurt terribly and many of whom already have found the grace to forgive the offender, thus being there for our Lord, not to add to His agony in The Garden and measures taken by the involved, to support more such means of forgiveness would be good ; unsure money would be the best way to do so - somehow it could cheapen the concept of forgiveness .

Yet, funds spent to look for soem root causes may be well worthwhile, for the Church at large ; one area that can be looked at closely could be if these children somehow came from families where there has been a 'spirit of abuse ' - esp. in the sexual realm ,in the form of the easily forgotten sins of contraceptives use and all such sins !

Such an understanding then could initiate far better preventive measures, including The Church making efforts for far more persons, to benefit from The Feast of Mercy , to set us ree from the debt of sin and the better awareness of how evil is also interconnected ( a reverse on the communion of saints !
God bless !


What was an open secret in Mexico?


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Pete Vere published on March 14, 2010 12:35 PM.

"Private Apparitions in the Life of the Church" was the previous entry in this blog.

UPDATE: Vaca 'source' of Legion's 'charism', ex-Legionary 'suggests' is the next entry in this blog.

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