For whom the bell tolls...


I cannot recall this many readers disagreeing with me. I didn't expect my analysis on the recent letter from the U.S. LC/RC to be popular with most of you. But to say that reader reaction was 99 percent critical (I don't consider constructive criticism to be negative) would be to exaggerate the support I received.

Besides the comment shared by a reader on CL, you can read Giselle's reaction and those of her readers here. RC Is Not My Life also critiques the letter and respectfully challenges my position, with 100 percent reader support (as of this writing), here. Moreover, these comments are typical of the reaction I'm hearing from friends still in the RC. Which may be why none of the movement's apologists have shown up in the comments section of American Papist to defend the letter (as of this writing). I won't even speculate about potential comments from ExLC and his gang, should he decide to the post the letter. Given that his audience tends to be lean toward former LC rather than former RC, reactions there to LC/RC correspondence are often the most cynical.

That being said, I still believe this letter is a positive step forward for the Legion, despite its weaknesses identified by others. Yet for those on the inside of LC/RC, there's the dark cloud to this silver lining. And it's coming not from Giselle or other critics who have left the movement - of course they're going to be a tad wary of anything coming from the Legion or Regnum Christi - but from those still on the inside. It's coming from those who gave Legion superiors the benefit of the doubt last February when the news first broke.

This dark cloud was foreseen by Fr. Damien Karras, a 30-year-veteran of the movement who defended Fr. Maciel up until news broke of his daughter. As Fr. Karras stated in a blog to Legion superiors last March:

The tragic comedy of the past few months, with superiors running around telling and not telling, promising transparency but only deepening the murkiness that engulfs the LC, has made their lack of credibility evident to even the most gullible among us. I rank highly on that scale.

And now, no one believes you.

It doesn't mean that there aren't LCs who have other motives for toeing the line or flying beneath the radar and making their peace with a system they've figured out how to survive in (and some quite nicely).

It doesn't mean that the LC will run out of yes-men who unctuously cater to authority and offer the same safe old cliches and pre-approved commentaries as they nervously munch their Maria cookies at merienda-cena...

It means that they do not believe you.
And if they don't believe you, they certainly don't trust you.

This should not be overlooked or underestimated as you meet in Rome these next few days. Your lack of credibility - not Fr. Maciel's past sins - will eventually buckle and break the Legion.

I have always endeavored to give hope to those still in the Legion, if only they would apologize to Maciel's victims and begin a process of self-criticism leading to a reform of the Legion's internal culture. But I'm no longer sure what - if anything - the Legion can do to restore institutional credibility in English-speaking countries. And believe me - just because most Canadians, Brits, Aussies and New Zealanders haven't been as vocal as the Yanks, doesn't mean we don't support them. Americans enjoy the support of most people I have spoken to from other English-speaking countries. And as for members from Spanish-speaking countries, it's Mexico and Spain that are driving this story right now, Spanish-speakers are uncovering new allegations, evidence to support these allegations, and breaking this news to the world.

But back to the apology. Yes, it's the right thing to do. Yes, God will see the members through as individuals if they trust Him. However, there's a difference between individual and institution. And there's a difference between this letter receiving a cold response from former members who helped Maciel's victims bring their allegations to light, and the letter being savaged as insufficient and "more of the same" by those still in the movement (who hope the Apostolic Visitators will reform the Legion and Regnum Christi).

The former speaks to the need for a thorough process of reconciliation and reform. The latter speaks to the internal loss of one's institutional credibility among those who carry out the movement's day-to-day apostolate. As any soldier can tell you (given LC/RC fondness for military imagery) no army can function when generals lose the confidence of senior non-commissioned members and junior officers - that is, those responsible for overseeing operations on the ground.

Usually the generals are the last to know. They find out only after the war has been lost.


I think you have to give the Legion the benefit of the doubt in order to believe this letter is anything but more of the same. And why should we give them that? We gave that to them for years, and they carried on what has to be one of the greatest cons ever pulled-off in the history of the Church.

If you have a child who is a pathological liar, and this child comes out with a statement that is still a lie, albeit a less offensive one than her usual lie, do you regard it as a step in the right direction? Perhaps, but ONLY if you believe that child to have a deep desire to change her sinful ways and are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

If, on the other hand, you realize this child is changing the tone of her lies as part of a strategy to lull you into complacency, her change in tactic is all the more alarming. If anything, it is a much WORSE sign that the child is becoming more deviously cunning.

As I have absolutely no reason to believe the Legion powers-that-be have good intentions at heart (as exhibited by the continued pride, manipulation, and lying in this letter), this letter simply comes off as a tactical move on their part, designed to soothe the ruffled feathers of the American masses.

To me, this letter is indicative of a deeper level of cunning and deception, timed to reassure the AV and to try to stem the tide of RC/LC members bailing out.

I agree with you on this: I don't see how this order can function in any way with NO credibility.

Definitely a Stage 3 tone to that letter: Bargaining.

Two forces work toward the good here, even if the letter would be a cynical manipulation (a question I don't have an opinion about).

Even if the steps to dismantle cult-like control mechanisms were only adopted as a concession to external pressure, the changes will still have a positive effect on the members.

Also, people's actions shape their attitudes. The constructive actions leaders have promised will, if carried out, tend to change the leaders' own habits of thinking.

I think many people go through a conversion process slowly, impelled toward a new system of thinking but only yielding to it in phases.


I agree that actions taken to "dismantle cult-like control mechanisms" may truly be beneficial to members. However, I would question whether these actions will truly be taken. Point in case: the removal of the Vow of Charity by Pope Benedict. Several former LC/RC's have noted that LC priests are still adhering to the "spirit" of that vow and believe it to be holy and good. Lip service and some perfunctory gestures do not constitute true changes.

"The constructive actions leaders have promised will, if carried out, tend to change the leaders' own habits of thinking." Again, the key point being "if carried out". We have no reason, based on the Legion's previous behavior, to believe any promises that are made.

I would like to be as optimistic as you and Pete, but having witnessed Legionary behavior for well over 10 years, I have no confidence whatsoever that this isn't just more of the same deception.

After all, they managed to convince the first Visitation that all was well. They are experts at lulling the masses.

My reservations regarding the letter have to do with the fact that the Legion, whenever it makes a statement about any aspect of the truly scandalous behavior of its own founder are always to members of the Legion and Regnum Christi. They are never public. They operate two quite public means of communication to the public: Zenit and The Catholic Register. When those two media resources officially cut ties with Maciel, I'll believe that the Legion is serious about separating from the Founder.

So, I do not accept this as a public admission. Nor do I read the letter as directed toward the true and direct victims of Maciel's depravity.

Of course we understand that the Legion and RC are reeling from these "revelations" (a true irony, three years late, at the least).

But where is their courage and manliness? Why is every statement directed toward the choir? Why is their response to this crisis "me me me"? Why do they couch their request for forgiveness in terms that enjoin their accusers to live in the depth of their (the victims') souls the "Christian duty of pardon" or however they put it? Do they, when they go to confession, preface their act of contrition with a reminder to Christ to remember who He is and what he promised?

Do they not see the grievous wounds that are the direct result of the founder's assault not only upon the direct victims of his duplicitous life, but upon Christ himself? The very last victim I want to hear about right now is the Legion and RC.

Stop talking about yourselves!!!

This is a leaked letter that was intended originally to staunch the bleeding among the faithful LC and RC members who currently are on the fence regarding whether they will stay or go. At worst, it's a cynical attempt to influence Archbishop Chaput's impression regarding Legionary willingness to make the right kinds of changes. It's a tactic (again, at worst) calculated to be reckoned in some kind of bargain that will insure survival of the Congregation. At best, it's infantile mewling.

Their last care, right now, should be about their own survival. Their only care should be for the expiation of the wounds that have been visited upon the Church and her faithful by--not Maciel's sins but--the Legionary's and Regnum Crhisti's own continuance of the consequences of those sins through their own actions. They compared Maciel to Christ in their explanation of the 2006 comminique regarding the Church's discipline of one of her errant and sinful followers. They continued to venerate their founder after they knew that he had led a double life (their letter claims they knew of the existence of at least one child after Maciel's retirement and, presumably, before his death). And yet, the leadership continued to extol the virtues of the Founder as an encouragement to Legionary priests and Regnum Christi lay followers--even as they knew they were lying (if their now tacit (in this letter) admission to a time-line regarding who knew what and when is to be believed).

The letter expresses a deepening of gratitude for the pastoral care offered to them by the Holy See--even as it continues to tie itself to the "good" that Maciel did regarding his foundation of the Legion and his passing to them some "charism" that no one, at this point, seems to be able to articulate either to their own or anyone else's satisfaction.

Legionaries and RC members: You have been running around consoling your own members, privately, that the Encounters are Franciscan; that the retreats are Ignatian; that the spirituality is Pauline.

So why not shout to the world that the Legionaries have no original charism and let the healing begin?

In short, why don't you come back to the Body of Christ, the Church? We MISS YOU!!!!


Thanks, Anonymous. Back at you.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Pete Vere published on September 2, 2009 8:39 PM.

An encouraging admission by the Legion - REPORT was the previous entry in this blog.

UPDATE: Who were Maciel's first victims? is the next entry in this blog.

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