A sense of dissolution


In the combox of the recent schism thread, reader Richard Sutcliff (who has graciously taken on the role of resident SandPounder), raises the following question:

Here is an entirely hypothetical question, but one which I would like Pete to address.

We talk about the possibility of a rump of LCs going into schism if the Pope doesn't rule their way.

What are the possibilities of the opposite happening, that some of the Legion's critics refuse to accept Rome's verdict were the Vatican (again, this is hypothetical) to allow the Legion to continue on?

In my experience? I've never seen it happen. Certain individuals may abandon Rome for the Eastern Orthodox Churches, evangelical Protestantism, or even atheism - but I've never seen a formal schism over something like this. So I consider it unlikely.

I also consider it increasingly unlikely that the Holy See won't act in some in some dramatic way to dissolve or refound the movement, especially in light of growing allegations like the following from reputable media sources: "Among the conclusions that he will present in breve to Rome, Blazquez [one of the apostolic visitators] seems to understand clearly that the the intermediate command of the Legion knew about the double life of Maciel as well as as some scandals which occured in Spain, and not only did they do nothing to stop him, they silenced some of the victims."

If this allegation is true - that the Legion's middle leadership knew of Maciel's double-life earlier, but continued to cover up for him and attack the victims (the moral equivalent, I feel, of World War II Germans hiding Nazis in their attics) - then I don't know how the Holy See can avoid decapitating and dissolving the movement.

Moreover, as one of my former canon law professors use to say: "Rome is never hasty unless you bring the Church hierarchy into disrepute, especially in financial matters. Then she acts swiftly and the consequences are always painful." There's no question among many orthodox Catholics outside the LC/RC that Maciel's actions and the movement's response have brought the Church and Pope John Paul II's legacy into some disrepute. Especially since apologists for the movement continue to link its credibility to that of the late pontiff.

Among the Legion's critics, both internal and external, one also sees a growing consensus for dissolution of the congregation in lieu of attempting reform (although critics are divided on whether the Holy See should permit the movement's current members to attempt a refoundation). I get the same feeling I had back in February, when Catholics from across the faith spectrum came to a consensus that the Legion was incapable of handling the crisis internally, and that intervention from the Holy See was necessary. Yeah, pro-Legion apologists kicked up a fuss at the time, accusing critics of lacking faith in the Church. When momentum continued to grow anyway, the same apologists tried to spin it into saying that any outside intervention or investigation should come from Cardinal Rode. In contrast to these pro-Legion apologists, Pope Benedict agreed with the sensus fidelium.

Having said that, I think the greater danger for the Legion right now is that orthodox Catholics won't accept a refoundation should it come about. Why? Because we're parents. It's one thing for us to accept the Holy See's verdict that a movement can be refounded, but quite another to involve our own families in the refoundation. There are other options for orthodox Catholics, you know.

Which is why, to give a potential refoundation a fighting chance at taking root,the Holy See must do three things in my opinion:

1 - Impose several deep reforms upon the movement.
2 - Appoint outside superiors to implement these reforms.
3 - Apologize publicly to Maciel's victims and offer them reasonable restitution.


Even if the Holy See puts the three conditions in place that you mentioned I will NEVER trust anyone affiliated with LC/RC EVER again!
The trust is gone, and the Medium will always remain the Message!


Richard Sutcliff's question is posed as if the LC critics and the LC defenders were in symmetrical positions, but they're not.

If defenders don't like the Pope's directives after the visitation, they can't just quit the Legion: that would mean giving up their cause. Internal critics of the LC leadership, on the other hand, could easily get permission to leave the LC, seek a new foundation, and carry on their lives as Catholics in good standing.

Since the defenders have fewer options, the temptation to rebel against unfavorable directives would be greater for them.

My opinion on the papal mandate for the Visitation, is that it came when 2-3 leading Prelates- Cardinal Pell, etc.. went on record about it's need. The sensus fidelium is a rather hard thing to pin down, but when the rumblings start moving among Bishops you can take it as a more definitive factor for Rome.

The problem in the case for dissolution is no Bishop in his right mind will weigh in officially while the Visitation is going on, only when it is concluded will some commentary be made,and only then after a bishop has some tangible sense as to where the Visitators are headed in their conclusions. They do not like to cross lines with each other as a rule.

I would like to believe the clarity of mind manifested by the Archbishop, but I sincerely have my doubts about the 2 stories coming out of Spain.

First, the Archbishop is under a code to reveal his findings and conclusions only to the Holy See- his conclusions will be cheapened if he has leaked them all over creation; and the America Mag. blog story did carry some gross inaccurancies- e.g. 600 Legion priest in Spain (!?). I thing the author needs to do some more reading and improve his sources if he wishes to preserve credibility on the issue.

The same blog says that dissolution and refoundation would mean turning over all properties to the dioceses in which they are found. Hmmm... I wonder what the LCs would do, go to soup kitchens and homeless shelters to consider starting their re-foundation? Not a very well thought out proposition.

Given Archbishop Chaput is still very early on in his own tour of LC institutions I do not see the "Americans" vs. "Spaniards" conclusion as credible yet- ie.the American side has not yet fully weighed in. The conclusion is believable yes, but not solid based in evidence.

Right now all official Pre-Visitation commentary still out there from the Holy See remains eminently positive. No one close to the Holy See has hedged in any way from support for existing leadership and core structures.

Well I suppose we will have to keep vigil a while longer to see the shape of things to come. Good for blog business at any rate.

Regarding the LCs in a post dissolution phase, I think most will painfully but faithfully take whatever place the Church assigns to them, exceptions will always be there.

I am not sure what inside joke is being referenced by the term "SandPounder." Nor do I believe my question has been satisfactorily answered. I am not saying the Legion will not be dissolved, but I am interested in possible reactions to the opposite happening (very hypothetical, I know). Were the Vatican to re-approve of the Legion's charism, would you, Pete Vere, continue to believe that ancillary RC programs like K4J and Pure Fashion are still tainted and therefore unacceptable to orthodox Catholics because of their association, however tenuous, with the founder of LC/RC?

As a Catholic. I understand you would not (indeed, have not) involve your children with RC/LC activities. But there are those of us who, applying 793 to our personal situation, would be happy to continue our involvement in K4J and Pure Fashion were the charism behind those apostolates to be approved by the Church. My question is whether you would still consider that to be a wrong decision.

Let's turn the question around:

If a parent didn't want his or her child to be involved with an Opus Dei-sponsored youth movement, would that be a wrong decision?


I am curious as to what you think was the right thing for parents to do after the First Visitation, particularly after the sexual molestation allegations became publicly known against Maciel, and even more particularly after the 2006 communique? Do you think parents did the right thing by keeping their kids in these programs even after there were clear signs that something was very wrong with Maciel? (btw, lest anybody think I am being harsh on these parents, I AM one. I let the Pope's high opinion of the Legion lull me into thinking all was okay with the order---despite the fact that I believed Maciel was probably a pervert based on internet research I had done in the late 90s).

I look back now and realize I checked my brain in at the door and based my decisions (about the well-being of my children, no less!) upon the very poor judgment of a Pope and the Vatican hierarchy. I won't let that happen again---I feel much guilt about this and do not believe I can answer to God for my naivete by pointing at the Pope and Vatican and saying, "But they told me so!". God expects us to use our heads. And there were clear signs something was very wrong with this outfit many years ago.

I can't answer for Pete, but I will answer for myself: I do not trust the Pope and the Vatican to protect my children. Church hierarchy can be wrong---dead wrong!--about these matters, and it's my responsibility to protect my children. Because of what I now know about the methodology behind the whole order (a methodology of deceit, fraud, and twisted notions of charity, humility, purity, docility, etc), I will not agree with the results of the Apostolic Visitation if it results in a mere slap on the wrist for LC, along with a bit of lip service to reform.

As Richard Chonak pointed out, we are not required to agree with these kinds of opinions and decisions and have a right as faithful Catholics to respectfully voice our disagreement in the interest of Truth.

When did so many Catholics forget that we have that right---not only the right, but the DUTY--- to speak out if we see injustice, even if that injustice is being perpetrated by our very Church? I started to realize this was a problem back when JPII was alive, and one was practically named a heretic just for pointing out disagreements with the pontiff!! That's when it began dawning on me that something is very wrong when faithful Catholics can't use their brains without being quickly denounced by other Catholics. Somebody SHOULD have told the Pope he was DEAD WRONG when he took a child molester and held him up before the world as an "efficacious guide to youth". It would have been the most charitable thing all around for somebody to have given some gentle fraternal correction to our Holy Father on the matter.

That's my .02. I am going to hold onto my right to use my brain and will continue to try to rightly form my conscience so that I have a solid sense of right and wrong. You cannot and should not rely on somebody else---even the Pope--to do that for you.

And that is completely correct, Anonymous 6:33.
Infallibility is fortunately limited to matters of faith and morals when they are declared ex cathedra.
Always remember that! Always!

As regards our previous pontiff - I find it strange the harsh coming-after of Archbishop Lefebvre and his antimodernist stance and at the same time the heavy Vatican weight behind the pervert Maciel...... something is seriously wrong in the State of Denmark.

That would be confirmed by Fr. Corapi here:


It is one thing not to get involved oneself; it is another to pooh-pooh those who do get involved. My sense after re-discovering Pete's blog is that he looks with suspicion on those who choose to be involved with the Legion and Regnum Christi. My question is whether he will continue to look with suspicion on them were the Vatican to re-approve the Legion's charism. I have found Pete's writings to be insightful and lucid, yet I have been filled with some unease at his unwillingness to see any good in LC/RC inspired activities. I cannot tell whether that is because he fears that the Church does not approve of the charism behind those activities (in which case a re-approval of the charism would resolve the situation), or because he personally does not agree with the activities themselves, regardless of Church approval of the charism behind them. If the former is the case, then I entirely agree with Pete's encouragement to wait for the result of the visitation. If the latter is the case, then this becomes a question of de gustibus non disputandum est.

The Church already approved the charism once. Has the Vatican even said anything at all about the charism itself being questioned? For all we know, that's not even an issue for the Vatican. To the best of my knowledge, all that has been said about the charism by any Vatican official is an exhortation for the RC/LC to keep living it and "growing" (Cardinal Rode, I believe). The idea that the Vatican is going to reevaluate the charism is speculation, isn't it? Apostolic Visitations are not generally about evaluating charism, are they?

So the charism has been approved. It was approved years ago. Many of us believe the LC/RC to be a very dangerous, insidious, cult-like evil that has wormed its way into the Church. Why would our thinking change just because the Church affirms the charism once again? If we have no difficulty being highly suspicious of LC/RC right now, why would that change just because the church re-affirms the charism?

As far as I understand it, affirmation of charisms is not a doctrinal teaching of infallibility that we are required to believe as Catholics. If the Church does re-affirm the charism, I will still remain suspicious of any and all LC/RC programs and will continue to pray for all those people who have been sucked into this abusive organization.

Pete writes in his Is Schism Possible? entry:

The following line stands out in America Magazine's latest blog on the LC/RC crisis: "[The apostolic visitators'] main task, apparently, is to assess whether the order's members will be accepting of whatever Rome decides." (Emphasis mine).

If it's true that that is the main task of the visitators, it does not bode well, IMHO, for the LC/RC. If Rome anticipated a favorable decision, acceptance of it by the members would be obvious.

As for the charism, I think that is the crux of this whole issue. If the charism is re-affirmed, it will be business as usual for Maciel's kingdom no matter what other fallout may occur. That will be the battle cry of all co-founders, "Our charism is re-affirmed and assured by Rome!" However, reaffirming the charism of an organization founded by such a man as MM sets a dangerous precedent for the Church in the future and weakens its credibility.

Richard S,
Just because a charism is approved, or a group is allowed to operate as a Catholic group (I bet Pete has a neato word for that), or a Marian apparition is approved!, it doesn't mean that it's an article of faith. I am allowed to call JPII a fool or St Jerome a cranky old fart or say that Fatima, Guadalupe and Lourdes were delusions. I can say that altar girls are a bad idea and I can argue that the Church should allow married men to become priests. I can wrinkle my nose at LC, Neocats, Jesuits, Knights of Columbus, Opus Angelorum, Miles Christi, Opus Dei and Miles Jesu, and forbid my underage children to get involved with any of them, and I am still a Catholic in good standing (though I wouldn't have many friends left once I got about halfway through the list). I can say that Communion in the hand is a really bad idea.
I may not dispute that Fr Jerome, Fr Escriva, Bernadette Soubirous or Ignatius are in heaven, I may not attempt to accomplish married priests or proclaim a Mass with altar girls to be invalid. I cannot say that the Novus Ordo is an invalid Mass (if I said that after everyone else had long since run away, would it still make a sound?)

Feel free to correct any of the details..

I think the very question hints at why it would be problematic to NOT dissolve or refound the Legion.

Not dissolving the Legion isn't the same thing as an affirmation of it. Virtually nobody outside of Regnum Christi trusts the Legion or RC anymore, and papal reforms that fall short of suppression won't change that fact a bit.

Even the Pope can't alter history: This is a movement founded by a lifelong liar and serial sexual abuser, the antithesis of religious. It cannot survive long, whether the Pope decides to suppress it right now or let it stumble on a bit longer.

At this point, however, any papal action short of suppression/refoundation will be SPUN by Legion apologists as an affirmation of the Legion and rebuke of its critics. That would be entirely unwarranted by the facts, but dissimulation is their modus operandi, so that's what I expect.

Remember, the first Apostolic Visitation in the 1950s resulted in a recommendation that Maciel be proscribed from hearing confessions and giving direction. But for half a century the Legion got away with claiming Maciel had been "exonnerated."

No Catholic is bound to agree with any "reaffirmation" of the Movement's supposed charism.

Let's be frank: A papal decision not to suppress the Legion would really only amount to a decision to give it more rope to hang itself with. The Pope himself cannot change the basic fact that this Movement and its supposed charism derive exclusively from the life and works of a lifelong liar and serial sexual abuser. The Legion has zero credibility among non-Regnum Christi members so long as Maciel is considered its founder.

But anything short of suppression will be SPUN by the Legion as some sort of papal affirmation of the Movement. This will be false, but it will be in keeping with the Legion's m.o. Remember, these guys claimed falsely for half a century that the first Apostolic Visitation had "exonnerated" Maciel.

This likely spin is a consideration that, IMHO, should weigh strongly in favor of dissolution. However, I trust the Holy Father's judgment as to what is prudent here. No matter what, I won't trust the Legion if it survives. Neither will many other Catholics.

Thank you, Pete for the correction!


To clear up Richard S's question about "Sandpounder" - there was a poster at American Papist many months back who went by the name "Sandpounder".

Richard S said:
"It is one thing not to get involved oneself; it is another to pooh-pooh those who do get involved. My sense after re-discovering Pete's blog is that he looks with suspicion on those who choose to be involved with the Legion and Regnum Christi. My question is whether he will continue to look with suspicion on them were the Vatican to re-approve the Legion's charism. I have found Pete's writings to be insightful and lucid, yet I have been filled with some unease at his unwillingness to see any good in LC/RC inspired activities."

I can't speak for Pete, but I "Pooh-pooh" those who get involved because I simply do not see how that can stay involved when the Legion cannot apologize to Maciel's victims for calling them liars, enemies of the Church, etc., and all for the "crime' of going public with their experience of abuse at the hand of Maciel.

I don't care how much "good" there is in LC inspired activities, the lack of apology is offensive to my Catholic sensibilities. Why is it not offensive to yours?

People are free to stay in RC, to continue to support the movement and the Legion, and to carry on with business as usual, but I don't get it, and yes, it impacts my regard for them. I think there is something very callous in stating "my experiences are all good" or "my family has benefitted" as though that makes ignoring the cries of abuse victims "OK".

Leave a comment

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

You write, we post
unless you state otherwise.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Pete Vere published on September 19, 2009 10:14 PM.

How do you solve a problem like Morena? was the previous entry in this blog.

Fr. Euteneuer tried to warn Legionaries is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.