Maciel's sins are proof of RC's charism?!?


What would cause orthodox Catholic parents and sexually-permissive feminists to express agreement on a public blog? The following post by a reader calling herself Priscilla...

I comment both as a Regnum Christi member and board member of a local Pure Fashion program. Accept my sincere apology on behalf of the Regnum Christi movement for the scandalous behaviour and infidelity of Fr. Macial, founder of the Legion of Christ. All the more does his behavior indicate the need for Pure Fashion, an excellent program for anyone who wants to purchase it for their group, to support young women in their self-discovery. [Emphasis mine]

The comment is in response to a sexually-permissive feminist fisking of a recent Marie Claire article promoting Pure Fashion, a RC-affiliated apostolate that revolves around fashion and modeling. Before I link to the original blog entry, please be aware [WARNING!] that it is not safe for children or for work. Click here.

Two thoughts:

1 - As one of Canada's most famous converts to Catholicism, media theorist Marshall McLuhan, once quipped: "The medium is the message." What message is being sent to our daughters about chastity and modesty when Fr. Maciel is the medium?

2 - Come to think about it, what's Pure Fashion's message? In scanning photo and video galleries posted to their website, I'm surprised none of the feminist bloggers (or Catholic parents for that matter) picked up on the absence of more heavyset models (For previous discussion on this topic, click here). After all, this is a concern with the fashion industry that feminists and orthodox Catholics have often shared. And given the underlying context of character development, one would think all young ladies could benefit, not just those of a certain body type.


Pete, following your advice of asking pointed questions, here are two of my own. How is Maciel the medium for Pure Fashion? What do you mean by "heavy-set"? You speak of "being a man". I take umbrage that you, a man, are denigrating women who are trying to live Church-taught modesty simply because the original founders and many but not all of the current promoters of the only program they have found to help them live that modesty were motivated by a movement founded by someone who has post facto been found to be a criminal. But those Catholic women's motivation remains pure, does it not?

Thanks for linking to our post! (And "sexually permissive feminists" is one of the nicer ways that we've been described on conservative sites, so we'll take it, haha.)

We appreciate all of the comments on our post about Pure Fashion, and we were glad that we weren't the only ones who were...taken aback by the implications in Priscilla's comment.

You make a great point about the lack of 'diversity' among Pure Fashion models. We quoted a statement from ReGAIN that made a similar point and questioned how the girls who weren't chosen might feel. We respect the fact that we may not entirely agree on how valuable a program like Pure Fashion is for young women, but as feminists we can agree that it's important to question why a so-called "character formation program" isn't focused more on character and less on looks.

Dear Pete: Regarding "Maciel the medium," you can't rewrite history, much as it would be handy sometimes. Pure Fashion was set up by RC members while Maciel was leading them, but unless you have information to the contrary it was not something set up by Maciel himself.

You seem to be saying that anything done by any RC or LC people at any time over the last half-century or so has no validity because of the connection to Maciel. I really think you are allowing your hostility to Maciel get in the way of a balanced judgment.

In their statement they offer an apology and reinforce this by saying his bad conduct makes more evident their work - hardly an endorsement of Maciel.

They can't deny Maciel's role as the founder of RC - that's an historical fact. So while we can certainly reject his conduct it's hardly fair to denigrate the good work done by many RC members.

Dear Pete: I agree with your criticism of the letter you refer to, and I think your citation of this example supports my argument. That is, re-writing history is dishonest and should be called as such. RC and the Legion is inevitably connected to Maciel and you can't change what happened - he was the founder.

Clearly a more complete apology and distancing from the conduct of the founder is needed, and in that sense I agree with your post about the recent letter from two of the directors in America as a step forward. More needs to be done, but I also think that it's important to encourage the RC and LC members to do this, rather than just negative all the time.

Richard asks: But those Catholic women's motivation remains pure, does it not?

I don't think Pete knows, nor can you know unless perhaps your family is involved? Some good friends of mine are involved and they are great women. However, knowing that does not mean that I don't think it's perfectly legitimate to question one, the absence of heavier girls, and two, the strange assertion that Fr. Maciel's crimes are a reason why we need such a program. I guess I'm confused, are you saying those are not legitimate questions? Because, wow, that quote blew me away. Hearing that, I would definitely steer anyone I knew away from this program, unless there is some clarification on it.


You say: " Pure Fashion was set up by RC members while Maciel was leading them, but unless you have information to the contrary it was not something set up by Maciel himself.

You seem to be saying that anything done by any RC or LC people at any time over the last half-century or so has no validity because of the connection to Maciel."

I can't speak for Pete, but my problem is this: Pure Fashion was started up by RC members. RC was founded and designed by Maciel. Maciel was a criminal, a sexual deviant, and a liar of the first order. It now seems apparent that much of the methodology of the LC/RC was designed by Maciel to allow him to live out 65 years of abuse and fraud. The methodology of RC would most likely be incorporated into any apostolate they start. It's the methodology that is a massive concern---and yes, because of the methodology of Maciel, everything touched by his organization is suspect. NOT because of his individual sins and crimes, but because of the way he designed everything to allow himself to perpetrate those sins and abuses for 65 years.

Plus, there had to be top LC officials in the know in order for him to get away with this astounding hoax for 65 years. Any order of priests (and lay order associated with them) founded on fraud, abuse, and corruption, is going to be suspect. Any apostolate founded by such orders will be suspect as well.

The apology Priscilla offered would seem much more genuine if she seemed cognizant of the fact that this organization (
RC) has participated (whether knowingly or unknowingly) in a massive system of fraud and abuse for decades. Instead, she incredibly posits that somehow Pure Fashion is the solution to the problem. And uses the founder's crimes as an advertisement for her apostolate! There are so many things wrong with this on so many levels.

Like it or not, the stench of Maciel DOES extend to anything that has even the remotest possibility of being touched by his corrupt methodology. I'd never allow any of my children to participate in Pure Fasion, especially as Pete has pointed out that there is ample reason to believe Maciel's methodology IS present within it.

I'm sorry, but this whole Pure Fashion idea is buying into the secular message of the day, trying to baptize a fundamentally disordered worldview.

It's all "look at me" (even if I'm pure). "I'm to be imitated." "Aren't I pretty (and modest)?"

Can you imagine Our Lady participating in a fashion show? I didn't think so.

Keep your daughters far away from this aberration. Just another bad fruit of the RC/LC.

You seem to be saying that anything done by any RC or LC people at any time over the last half-century or so has no validity because of the connection to Maciel. I really think you are allowing your hostility to Maciel get in the way of a balanced judgment.

Michael, your comment goes straight to the issue of whether there is any charism.

Every religious order or movement is permanently and inextricably bound to it founder(s), who are the medium through which the order/movement's particular and distinctive WAY of following Christ Its source of renewal and reform is always a return to the founder, including a reflection on his life and writings.

Unless and until there is some sort of "refoundation" everything that Regnum Christi members and Legion priests do will tainted by association with Maciel and his scandalous life.

Saying so isn't a criticism of individual RC members or a denial of their good intentions. On the contrary, if they are ever to accomplish anything effective, they need to helped to separate themselves definitively from Maciel by repudiating his life and works.

I have personally witnessed some of the LC/RC fashion shows -- and the preparation that went into them.

The program is "pure" only when compared to the completely impure and immodest dress and behavior of most young women ages 13+ -- and let's fact it, often younger.

The LC/RC fashion shows do not at all develop or reinforce the true ideals of Catholic womanhood, as revealed in the person of Our Blessed Mother. In fact -- far from it.

My advice to other parents is -- with any program tainted by connection to LC/RC -- just say "No!"

Whether it's Pure Fashion, K4J, ConQuest, Challenge, or any of the other myriad apostolates that RC runs and "do so much good", the question that every Regnum Christi co-founder needs to ask him/herself is: "knowing what I know now about the scandalous life of the founder, would I join this movement today?" Whether the answer is "yes" or "no", the RC co-founder then needs to ask "WHY?" and answer with a very sincere conscience.

It would be great if Pure Fahion existed to promote modesty with the youth but it is unfortunately one more example of the RC/LC using orthodox, appealing means to disguise the real agenda. For Pure Fashion, as any other RC apostolate, it is to recruit. Pure Fashion was designed as a means to recruit young girls to the coworker program and/or consecrated life. They require the models to attend a retreat run by the consecrated, whereby spiritual direction will be recommended. Then they can begin the real work of recruiting these unsuspecting young girls into the Movement.

"The works of apostolate that don't give new members to the Movement, independent of their success, are not accomlishing the plan of God".
Fr. Marciel Maciel

I am an EX RC member who was very involved in Pure Fashion for 6 years. I left RC because I couldn't be part of a group that protected and elevated anyone, let alone their founder, who had committed the crimes that MM did (I can't call him Father.) BUT I feel that I need to defend Priscilla's statement. First I would like to thank her for the apology on behalf of the RC movement for the scandal that MM caused. I don't think she has any official capacity to do that but apologies are very much needed. Secondly she meant that MM's behavior needed the message of Pure Fashion. Pure Fashion would never blame women for the abuse of men.
In the 6 years that I was in Pure Fashion we never recruited one model to Pure Fashion. Now I can honestly say that it gives me a sense of peace to know that our Pure Fashion committee was considered unsuccessful because of this.
Also, we had models of ALL sizes from 5' tall to 2X. I had several young ladies that we shopped in the plus size departments to fit them for the show. The large girls were always more confident than our petite models.
Putting on a quality Pure Fashion program and show takes a lot of money! It started in church basements but moved to larger venues to attract the attention of merchants, vendors, designers, and shoppers. They are the ones who affect what is in the stores to purchase. For many years fashion styles have been too tight, too short, too revealing, and too sheer. It's difficult to find a cute ensemble that covers and flatters the average figure. Anyway, I knew our finances and I don't see how any of it went to the Legion or Regnum Christi.
Our world is in desperate need for modesty and purity. There is freedom in having self-control. Freedom from bad reputations, bad relationships, STDs, being an unwed mother or substance abuser. We need more programs that can influence teenagers and young adults to make better choices through positive self-esteem. Pure Fashion is one program that attempted to make a change. I still think that Pure Fashion is a wonderful program and any mother would be welcome to participate with her daughter as a volunteer to monitor the RC influence. I'm no longer part of Pure Fashion but I do hope that it will continue without recruitment attempts by RC.

I appreciate the fact that you had a better experience with Pure Fashion than many, but that does not change the fact that Priscilla used Maciel's behavior as a selling point for Pure Fashion. That is VERY messed up, even if she was not consciously implying that his sinful behavior was the result of women who were less than "pure".

The elitism and pride contained in the assumption that the message of Pure Fashion is the answer to Maciel's behavior is astounding. Not to mention ludicrous, as many of Maciel's crimes had nothing to do with women whatsoever. The molestation of little boys, drug abuse, and embezzlement have nothing to do with the "purity" of women.

Maciel's crimes were abuses of power, not so much sins of lust, although he may probably had that problem as well. But the thematic sins that seem to have pervaded his entire life are those of abuse of power and deception. How is Pure Fashion's message going to help massive fraud and abuse of power?

Many of us who know LC well know how important good looks and fitness are to them. (recently a family member told me about how an LC priest once told him in response to a comment this family member made about the incredible contributions of St. Thomas Aquinas to our Church, "But it appears he had a problem with food" and grimaced in disgust). So it is not surprising to us to check out Pure Fashion's website and see all the beautiful people. In LC, the ugly need not apply---or the fat, for that matter. While your particular local Pure Fashion may have been able to avoid that particular pitfall, from the looks of Pure Fashion's website, it's the cookie-cutter pretty girls who get highlighted. I didn't see a single homely or less-than-ideally-shaped girl there! In the real world, many of us have weight issues and are hardly typical Barbie beautiful.

I was a virgin on my wedding day (so was my husband), and we managed it without programs like Pure Fashion appealing to our vanity and our pocketbooks. God's grace, pure and simple, is all that was required. And He gives that freely to all of us through the beautiful sacraments in our Church.

I will never let any of my girls near Pure Fashion. I've always been turned off by vanity (I've got plenty of other faults of my own, don't get me wrong) and don't want my girls to be tarnished by it. I don't want them relying on their clothing to get their sense of self-worth, either. I want their inherent sense of self worth to come out in the clothing they choose to wear.

And even if it weren't for that, I'd never enroll my children in any RC apostolate given the quote from Maciel that Freetobe cited above:

""The works of apostolate that don't give new members to the Movement, independent of their success, are not accomlishing the plan of God".
Fr. Marciel Maciel"

While you may have been blessed to be in a section of Pure Fashion that was "unsuccessful" in recruiting, that is NOT the ideal, and you know it. The goal is recruitment, pure and simple. I don't want my children involved in anything created as a recruiting tool, and EVERYTHING designed by Maciel and LC/RC is a recruiting tool.

Thank you for writing, Cindy. I can see that you meant well by your good work -- but the money quote in your comment is that your committee was considered "unsuccessful" because of the way you operated. You lent your good name and hard work to a group that was looking for something else. If it were only what you tried to make it, I don't think that it would receive the criticisms that it has. There is much work to be done in this field for the good of our daughters, but unfortunately, Regnum Christi is not the vehicle.


Your comments about the fashion shows are very insightful. It appears LC/RC has co-opted the word "pure" now (along with "good", "holy" and "charity") -- so it doesn't mean at all what it really means.

In the Catechism (paragraphs 2521, 2524):

"Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.
"The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person."

So focusing on the appearance of young women, often by parading them before mixed "audiences", does not foster a respect for the human person, but rather encourages interest in superficial qualities and detracts from the still-forming inherent dignity of the young person.

I did mean to say that we didn't recruit to Regnum Christi. The consecrated did want us to try and offered several suggestions, but our PF chairwoman didn't feel comfortable recruiting because our Bishop disapproved of RC/LC.

For us the money that was left at the end of our show was divided 3 ways; 1) seed money for the next year, 2) local crisis pregnancy center, and 3) our local Challenge Club. The Challenge Club used it for scholarships for camp and missions. This year our left over money bailed Challenge out of a canceled camp. There were deposits that had to be covered. Our money wasn't enough and she had to pay out of her own pocket to cover the rest of the costs. Perhaps if the RC families who were sending their daughters to this camp had to help with some financial responsibility, it would help wake them up to the reality of what is happening with this movement that they love so much.

I'm as disgusted and heartsick over MM as everyone else. I left RC in March and wrote a letter to my bishop in April to tell him that I wanted to be released from my RC Commitments. The way that the members interpret "charity" doesn't include people like me who can't believe how the Legion and Regnum Christi is handling this. And so I spend hours everyday reading the blogs and trying to make sense of how something like this was perpetuated for so long!

"And so I spend hours everyday reading the blogs and trying to make sense of how something like this was perpetuated for so long!"


You are not alone in your confusion! Although never RC (had another bad Catholic-movement-type of experience earlier in my life that left me with heebie-jeebies over any group that worships a mere mortal, especially a mere mortal as creepy as Maciel appeared to be), we have been involved with LC in various ways for years. I was not surprised by the news of Maciel's perversion back in February, but I WAS surprised when I started to realize just how much his corrupt methodology is present everywhere within LC/RC programs/apostolates. The biggest wake-up call to me was the reaction of LC in February. I honestly (boy was I naive back then! LOL) believed that February was going to be the LCs shining opportunity, the golden moment in which they totally and humbly acknowledged their foundation was a fraud, apologized humbly to all those hurt by Maciel and the LC's calumny over the decades, and began a serious self-examination to discover the ways in which Maciel's deviancy, abuse, and fraud were incorporated into the methodology.

Instead..........nothing. We waited and waited for a statement, but none was forthcoming. Father Berg and others gave us some early glimmers of hope, but then Fr. Berg was (apparently, albeit temporarily!) shuffled offstage and silenced, and that was the end of hope. By March I knew it was a foregone conclusion that the Legion was utterly incapable of any kind of humble truth-seeking. (During this time, I also had the opportunity to discuss the situation at length with several local LC priests and was shocked to discover that all they could do was regurgitate the "talking points" to me---this is when the malformation of even the rank-and-file LC priests began to dawn on me). Once I realized the Legion was incapable of a Christian response in any way, shape, or form, I had to begin to face the fact that I allowed my family to be involved with these priests (even had some children in LC schools/programs for years) KNOWING Maciel was most likely a pervert, liar, and a deviant. Talk about guilt! (still have quite a bit of that, actually). But somehow I had lulled myself into believing the priests in LC weren't affected by Maciel because they looked so "holy" and "good". How could I, a rational, thinking human being, not have cared enough to dig deeper into this organization founded by what I knew was probably a molesting fraud? How could I have been tranquillized into believing it was all good because it all looked so "good"? It was then that I began to eagerly research online to see what I could discover.

It's been very enlightening, frightening, humbling, confusing, infuriating, and encouraging, all at once. I am glad to hear that more and more of us are waking up to the corruption and malformation of this order and all its apostolates. Maciel's methodology is woven into EVERYTHING. It's so clever that it's actually rather fascinating at times! I just hope we can all learn some valuable lessons from this debaucle.

Ginger wrote: It's been very enlightening, frightening, humbling, confusing, infuriating, and encouraging, all at once.

Wow Ginger, I could've written every word of your post, except I myself was RC. I was so hopeful when I read the Berg letter and I think the moment I really knew it was over was when I heard, "We think that letter is a fake. It's not very well written and it just can't be him." WAAAAH???

I keep thinking I have to move on, but I really am still reeling from it all and feeling everything you described above.

Yep! You said it well Ginger, in April I finally decided that the LC was never going to own up to anything. Besides prayer, is there anything that can be done for those who won't read the blogs?

Thank you for your invitation to me to clarify my comments about Pure Fashion. PF exists as an RC program, yes, or as a Parish program. In our parish, the program is a parish program led by amazing and generous non-RC volunteers who spend hundreds of hours at the service of the youth they believe in. The program is effective precisely because it is a character formation program, aimed at building in our young women the understanding of their inherent worth as children of God. Equipped with this truth, the young women become free to love themselves and others according in ways that make them ever more free to know and love God. Their developing sincerity and maturity become a light to their friends and a witness to their communities about the action of Christ in the hearts of the young. Thank you for your promise of prayers for those of us who have freely and knowingly chosen to continue to serve the Church in the RC charism. We value them.

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This page contains a single entry by Pete Vere published on September 14, 2009 5:39 PM.

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