An encouraging admission by the Legion - REPORT


Two breaking news stories today have interrupted my week catching up on other projects. The first concerns the release of a decision in a major case before Canada's "Human Rights" Tribunal that, to everyone's surprise, came down on the side of freedom or speech and religion. For the past decade anti-Christian activists have been using the tribunals to persecute Christian organizations like the Knights of Columbus, Fr. de Valk (Canada's equivalent to Fr. Frank Pavone) and Christian Horizons for promoting traditional Christian morality. For more information, check out my book with Kathy Shaidle (featuring an introduction by Mark Steyn): The Tyranny of Nice.

In writing this book, I noticed several similarities between the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and the Legion of Christ in how they try always to promote "the appearance of nice", treat those who dissent and express legitimate criticism of their methods, and how they create hierarchies of power and contribute to a culture where the average person is reluctant to speak the truth.

The second story is the following letter reportedly sent to Regnum Christi members in Atlanta and New York by Fr Scott Reilly and Fr Julio Marti. Giselle has posted it here. Assuming this letter is legit (I haven't confirmed with Legion sources [UPDATE - a Regnum Christi source confirms receiving the letter]) my overall impression is that this is both encouraging and substantial. It may not be perfect - and here I agree with Giselle's criticisms, and have a few questions of my own (like "How can we be sure Fr. Alvaro and other high-ranking Legion superiors didn't know while Maciel was still alive?") - but these questions can be resolved later. For now, I believe this is a significant step in the right direction, and we as Catholics need to encourage the Legion and Regnum Christi to keep walking along this path.

Unfortunately, I don't have time right now for an in-depth analysis. But here is a summary of why I believe this reported letter is significant, substantial and important step in the right direction. These points are listed in no particular order of importance, and some of the quotations are out of order from which they appear in the letter:

- "We also hope to remedy some of our shortcomings in communication - for which we are sorry-, so that together we can continue walking what will surely be a long path of healing and reconciliation with those who have been hurt by the misdeeds of Father Maciel." This is both an admission and an apology for the Legion's questionable communication strategy thus far.

- "As priests, our hearts go out to all those who have been harmed or scandalized by [Fr. Maciel's] actions. To all we extend a special apology on behalf of the Legion and our General Director..." This is admission that Fr. Maciel's actions have both harmed and scandalized the Church, and a clear apology for the harm and scandal.

- "We also regret that our inability to detect, and thus accept and remedy, Father Maciel's failings has caused even more suffering." This is an admission and an apology on several levels - for not accepting the truth about Fr. Maciel sooner, for not fixing the problems sooner, and for additional suffering caused to Fr. Maciel's victims because of inaction on the Legion's part.

- "In the recent past, after Father Marcial Maciel had retired, we came to know that he had had a relationship with a woman and fathered a child. Even more recently, there have been allegations of other relationships and other children." and "All this leads us to value even more the wisdom and pastoral approach of the Holy See concerning the allegations of past sexual abuse against Father Maciel that had surfaced." The expressions "fathered a child" and "allegations of past sexual abuse" is clear language, unlike vague euphemisms like "the founder's double life." I also believe it's the right (and most charitable) language for the Legion to use in these circumstances. It spares us the sordid details, which the vast majority of us don't need to know, but is specific enough to inform us what Fr. Maciel allegedly did.

- "Given the partial nature of the information available and the impossibility to evaluate immediately and in a definitive manner these complex allegations, the Legion of Christ cannot, at this time, make a statement regarding them." The Legion is telling us what they don't know, rather than try to avoid their potential to be true or continue to attack the alleged victims.

- "As it was stated in the communiqué published on May 19, 2006, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith investigated these issues and invited him to a reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing all public ministry." Given the context in which this statement appears, the Legion is de facto admitting that the 2006 invitation from the Holy See was not a reward for Fr. Maciel's exhaustion after a "lifetime of building God's Kingdom," nor are they maintaining Fr. Maciel's innocence like Christ suffering on the cross.

- "As an institution, as a family and as individuals, this unexpected turn of events has been traumatic. Being weak humans, even if reacting with Christian virtue, many of us have gone through experiences of shock, anger, disbelief, denial and fear, both humanly and spiritually. These emotions, the vast tangle of information, supposition, speculation and opinion, the different cultural sensitivities, and the Christian duty not to publicize the sins of others, have made it difficult to publish the sort of direct statement that many expected of us." The Legion is admitting to a wide-range of human emotions, that such emotions are normal, instead of resorting to Legion "happy talk" about "serenity" and other Stepford impulses.

- The Legion also states the problems are beyond its capacity to handle internally, and what steps it is taking - involving outsiders - to recognize, address and correct problems within its internal culture.

- There are several statements in which the Legion tries to identify - I believe sincerely - with those victimized by Fr. Maciel.

- The Legion appears to repudiate the "lost vocation, sure damnation" mentality of the past, saying it's okay to leave the Legion, take a break from the Legion, seek confessors and spiritual direction outside the Legion, and one is not any less Catholic or acting contrary to God's will in doing so.

- Instead of passing the blame to the Church, the Legion is taking responsibility for its actions, showing where the Church is acting to correct the Legion's problems, and attempting to restore trust in the Church.

Again, it might not be 180 degree turn, but given the Legion's past handling of this crisis, 160 degrees is both substantial and encouraging. It shows the Legion is taking the scandal seriously, is taking responsibility for the problems leading up to it, and that the internal culture that led to this scandal is starting to change.

My advice to the Legion? Words need to be followed up by action. Now that the Legion is turning in the right direction, they need to begin walking forward. My advice to current LC/RC members is as follows: The one point from this letter where you are open to fair criticism concerns the claim that the Legion has tried to contact Fr. Maciel's potential victims.

We know the Legion has contacted the RC membership, that it was in touch with Maciel's mistress Norma and her daughter who is also named Norma. We know that Fr. Anton spoke with at least one alleged victim who had been a seminarian with the Legion. But what about those former priests and seminarians who initially brought forward the allegations in public?

Up until now they deny having been contacted by the Legion. Their allegations were public, so to a certain degree they have forfeited their right to privacy in these matters. Was there an effort to contact them? If so, when, where and how?

If not, does the Legion intend to contact them? If the answer is yes, when, where and how?

This is a point I think current RC members need to press the Legion on. How the LC answers this question will impact how everyone else continue to view the order.

My advice to the Legion's critics? Of course this will require baby-steps at first, until the Legion is sure of its footing. So while it's important that we keep pushing them forward, we must be careful not to push them down. As my former spiritual director use to tell me: "God doesn't expect perfection from us overnight. But he expects improvement." So let us continue to encourage the Legion to improve, by encouraging the Legion where it is making significant improvement.


The simple fact is this: The Legion has lost all credibility with their initial response to the crisis. They have a history of deceit and manipulation (learned well from the Father Founder).

Why should we believe anything they have to say? Give me ONE reason.

I read the entire letter and was struck by the continuity of their thought process---they are suffering SO much. Please, enough already. We've heard about the suffering for the past 65 years. How about some action instead of talk? How about not recruiting until you figure out if your problems are surmountable?

How about no more justification of methods like the 4th vow? How about not only stating that the 2006 communique was a condemnation of Maciel but also admitting you committed blasphemy (perhaps unknowingly?) by comparing him to Jesus Christ?

How about THANKING the original victims and hailing them as heroes for trying to sound the alarm and protect the children for all those decades that the Legion was putting our children at risk?

How about acknowledging the very valid question of whether there is any charism at all instead of assuming there is?

Sorry, Pete, but what I see here is more of the same. Martyrdom, manipulation, and a tremendous amount of pride.

There is no talk of their own sins or even the founder's sins. I am, quite frankly, sick of the word "failings". I fail when I don't get dinner on the table at a decent time or the laundry done when the kids need clean clothes. I SIN when I lie, deceive, manipulate, and abuse people. There IS a difference.

It's interesting how they equate normal emotions with being "weak humans". Note the manipulation: if you are experiencing these emotions, it's because you are weak.

What is the "Christian duty" not to publish sins of another? I've never heard that before. I guess it's a sin to publish a list of registered sex offenders, then? Honestly! Is it a sin to air a news program on serial killers? Sins that present a public danger SHOULD be aired publicly. We are talking about the protection of children here. Ugh, yet more of the twisted notion of charity.

I like this one, too: " All this leads us to value even more the wisdom and pastoral approach of the Holy See concerning the allegations of past sexual abuse against Father Maciel that had surfaced." Even more??? They didn't value the wisdom of the Holy See ONE IOTA back in 2006, when they loudly proclaimed Maciel innocent, like Jesus Christ. What a joke!

Pete, I appreciate what you are trying to do here, but I have to say that I don't think ANY communication full of lies should be taken as a sign of encouragement. Seriously. It's pretty sad when you have to proclaim a statement to be encouraging just because the lies within it are not QUITE as pathetic as all the lies that have been told prior.

The Legion is still lying, BIG TIME. I'm not impressed. If anything, I am apprehensive that the Legion is simply changing strategy to look better to the Holy See. It's scary to think that this order has deceived so many people for 65 years. Why SHOULDN'T they keep lying? It always works so well for them.

Oh, one last thing. Mention is made of Alvaro's wonderful ability to lead during this crisis: "We are grateful to God for the gift of his leadership, full of Christian prudence and charity. We are confident that the Lord assists him with his grace in the difficult task he has at this time." What in the WORLD makes anybody believe there has been charity or prudence involved here? The Legion admits they have known of Maciel's deceit for some time, yet Alvaro kept up the scam, treating Maciel as a veritable saint. To call this prudence and charity makes mockery of those virtues.

The Legion can't give up on the cult of personality. They are just trying to replace Maciel with Alvaro. Those of us who have been around the LC/RC block for many years aren't buying the scam.

It's interesting to notice what is acknowledged and what is not.

The letter speaks of "our inability to detect, and thus accept and remedy, Father Maciel’s failings", but the "our" may just refer to the letter's signatories and no one else. It doesn't appear to claim that Fr. Alvaro was unaware of Maciel's dealings.

I do not believe that Fr. Maciel is guilty of any of these charges. I believe that what we are seeing here is a very good attempt to destroy an order of Priests and a lay movement of Consecrated people. If Jesus were crucified again on Calvary today in the media world we live in, He would have been again accused as a Criminal,a blasphemer, a troublemaker, a child abuser, and a womaniser. Fr. Maciel suffered the same fate as Christ, he was stripped of his good name at the end of his life. Humiliation, disgrace has dogged his steps. I do believe that certain men entered his order to deliberately set out to destroy it and that is what we see today and we can see by the amount of Catholics who choose to believe this utter lie, that they almost managed to destroy it. There are souls in this world who are victim souls and some are chosen to suffer the very same fate as Christ. Jesus was crucified by His own people, let us not forget that. We must remember that there is a spiritual battle going on here and it is a fierce and mighty one.

Please tell me then how you explain these not accusations but FACTS admitted by the Legion of Christ order:
-a mistress whom MM impregnated over 20 yrs ago.
-a daughter who acknowledges that MM was her Father and that for yrs he lied about who he really was to her.
-a private trust in the name of MM's child(ren) to provide for her (them) after they are gone (it has not been denied by the Legion but proven to exist)

IF MM is NOT guilty of any of these facts then how do you explain their existence! He is not being simply accused...the accusations have been proven and you are in lala land if you think they are simply accusations.
And obviously you are in "LCland" because all of what you say is a "recording" of what you have been hearing from them all these years. "Maciel was the victim" which is really truly remarkable when there are so many former priests, brothers, members, who are psychologically damaged and physically harmed by their time inside. YOU HAVE NO IDEA!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE ACCEPT THE TRUTH!

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 2, 2009 10:52 AM.

Mgr. Palud corrects me, and he's looking for vocations was the previous entry in this blog.

For whom the bell tolls... is the next entry in this blog.

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