13-year-old faces damnation


Former LC seminarian/brother Bonum, Verum and Pulcrum recently blogged several allegations surrounding his experience of being shipped off to a Legion apostolic school as a young teen. Particularly gripping is the following, which I've broken up into paragraphs. The first paragraph describes Bonum's homesickness, the second how communication reportedly was cut off between the teen and his family, and the third delves into what many would consider spiritual extortion:

I was thirteen years old and I was heartbroken. First day on the ground there in New Hampshire and the first of many heartbreaks had arrived in full force. I was so homesick I felt physically ill for the first four months or so. To make matters worse the fathers and brothers intercepted phone calls from my parents for the first two weeks, telling them not to call for awhile in order to let me settle in. They also opened all my mail before I got it in order to "safeguard my vocation". As if my "vocation" was so fragile that I wouldn't be able to handle a bit of bad news from home.

My letters to my folks were also screened before being sent. I submitted a letter to my mom and dad and the brother returned it to me and chastised me for submitting it closed. He told me that there were no secrets here and that from now on I was to leave all my envelopes open in order for the priests and brothers to read them first. This was a crucial time for them to start indoctrinating me and the other boys that had arrived.

We were told from the get go that our discernment process was over. God had led us to the Legion and it was safe to assume that was how he let us know that we all had vocations, all of us! We were told, in no uncertain terms that Christ had entrusted souls to our care. We were told that failure to remain in the Legion would result in the loss of those souls and certainly our own as well, was that something we could live with?

Read Bonum's entire story by clicking here. I believe Bonum's experience also answers former Legionary Jack Keogh's (aka Monk) protest that "it's gross overstatement to suggest that [LC/RC] 'stake their souls' on Maciel's spiritual path."

Anyway, I'll leave it to readers to judge what's 'beyond the pale" for a 13-year-old receiving religious instruction while away from his family. At that age, my biggest worry was that the neighbors would think I'm a geek because my parents prohibited me for religious reasons from listening to Iron Maiden:


If anyone could clarify for me, I thought that any spiritual direction for anyone under the age of 18 was prohibited by the church?
I hope that's true.

My heart absolutely breaks for this young man, abandoned by his parents in this manner. It also breaks for his parents who thought they were doing the right thing by him in leaving him with the L.C.

Those who are in control of this diabolical cult have a lot to answer for . . .

I would say that this was a standard experience for those who attended junior seminaries of any number of orders. Some kids didn't take to it. Others just thrived. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Redemptorist junior seminaries were very like this. And the constraints: vetted letters, limited parental visits, and home visits only twice per year were standard. No phone calls in those days at all in those days. And the pressure to have a vocation? That was a certain thing in all of them.

Ever hear those jokes about surviving the Jesuits? Nope? Then you're too young. They were common currency 40 years ago.

Other orders eventually relaxed the rules in the 60ies, and then lost personnel in such large numbers after Vatican II that the junior seminaries were closed. No vocations. No new vocations either.

All of these complaints strike me like a whole bunch of post-modern whining from people who have no institutional memory of junior novitiates and the guts it took to thrive in them. Diabolical cults indeed!

"All of these complaints strike me like a whole bunch of post-modern whining from people who have no institutional memory of junior novitiates and the guts it took to thrive in them. Diabolical cults indeed!"

RC--That must mean you will be happy with whatever Benedict decides, considering he himself was in a junior seminary, and he himself has a fantastic "institutional memory" for these past customs you describe.

So you will rest peaceful and assured that if he does vote somehow "against the Legion" or "for" refounding, etc., that he will do so with full wisdom, knowledge, and a perfectly sound "institutional memory" to aid him.

RC, Thanks for the history lesson. However, just because other orders did it doesn't mean it is RIGHT! Vocations should NEVER be forced. Of course the other orders did not have new vocations after they closed their Jr. seminaries. They stopped their "recruiting" methods. I think it takes more "guts" to realize that what you are being forced to believe is wrong and get out. Discernment requires freedom. To be told you will lose souls to Christ, and your own soul, if you leave is just plain manipulation. It is not whining to speak out about it!

This is an interesting story. I don't know the first thing about Maciel and his legionaries, other than that they seem to be rather intense.

I remember a conversation I had with an old missionary priest who came from a little town in PA not too far from Bethlehem. He told of the day he left home to go into the junior novitiate. As he was being driven by his home (he had been picked up at the rectory with a couple of other boys) he pointed to it and commented that thet was where his family lived. The priest driving them said that they weren't his family any longer; the order was. Or something to that effect.

On another occasion he was called into the Rector's office. He was handed a letter from his mother and an empty box. "Thank your mother for the letter and the socks," the Rector said. He added that he was keeping the socks and would give them to someone else.

"We were tougher than the Marines," the old man said.

As regards Christ entrusting souls and all that... That reminded me of something my wife told me a long, long time ago. She said that the sisters used to have the young girls pray for their future husbands. It was a practice her mother endorsed, and one she followed for years.

Does it have anything to do with the Legionaries? I haven't the faintest idea. It's just what occurred to me after reading the story.

Peadar, I agree with what you say. The junior seminaries were places that set a very high standard, and your anecdotes would not have been out of place in the convent I attended in the 50ies (Assumption Nuns). They would have been a lot more common amongst those junior seminarians in the Great Depression of the 30ies and 40ies. The thing about the junior seminaries, is that even when the young men did not enter the priesthood, they entered lay community as fully formed Catholic men ready to play a leadership role in their communities. They were familiar with sacrifice and with discipline. And yes, even then there were those that were broken by the experience. Those convents and junior seminaries played a major role in forming us, the older generation. And sacrifice, instilled in the papa's boys of Latin American oligarchs, is well worth the effort. Diabolical? You haven't convinced me.

The toughness of junior seminaries past has its own drama with elements that may or may not work today. Formation in this sense is semper reformanda, always adjusting itself the psychology and spiritual maturity it finds its candidates in, in their historical moment.
Nonetheless there is one thing they did not do- manipulate consciences. The boys who went really had to want to be priests or they would leave, and with reasonable peace- they just were not 'cut out' but they were not traumatized with guilt. Receiving candidates with the idea that all they need is to be "open" to the idea of priesthood, then make them feel guilty for trashing the priesthood when they have a hard time or want to leave is manipulation of the first order.

So what, "RC"? If the junior seminaries were bad back in the day, they are still bad today. THAT is why they no longer have junior seminaries.

It stands to reason that a child, at the age of thirteen is not really able to discern a call to anything of life changing importance.

I have personally witnessed children sent off to these schools back east come back several months later, shattered because they let their families down, they did not do what they were told to do - some with chronic illnesses - others that went very wild in their personal behavior.

No - at thirteen a child needs to be in a family with their parents and loved ones. There are other ways to discern a call to a religious life.

So there are few junior seminaries today. The seminaries were not shut down because of some kind of enlightement on anyone's part. Some morphed into something else. Others died through attrition. And some still exist as boarding schools for two-power-career parents who don't have time to parent.

As far as I am concerned, "bad" is a statement of personal opinion. When I grew up the junior seminaries/convent schools for girls were elite places, and sometimes the only places where you could get a high school education. My father, uncles, brother, were a product of junior seminaries. They survived, and were better people for it. Those institutions were not diabolical places, though they had their own unique pressures. So to condemn Legion junior seminaries for things that were common to all junior seminaries lacks credibility as it points to a mere generational difference, and also a cross-cultural one, because there may be a real need for such institutions in the 3rd world.

When it comes to complaints about the Legion, some simply lack in credibility, like this one though the personal experience of those who went through them and emerged battle-scarred remains valid. The comparison to the Marines is bang on.

Not Richard, do 13 year olds join the Marines?

The Church is clear that the vocation is fostered in the home.

If you do not have experience with LC/RC you do not know what you are talking about.

I have been to mornings of reflection where we were told that there are many things "of this world" that disqualifies a "legion" vocation. That "it is the fathers that prevent vocations, most of all." Thank goodness, I say, for the father is the head of the family. The father, through the grace of God, is the one that helps his 13 year old make good choices. It is he, along with the mother, that "loves" (agape) the child. The Legion cannot make this claim, nor should they.

The Legion manipulates parents by fear - fear the world. This kind of manipulation does not account for grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This kind of manipulation does not empower parents in fostering vocations in their family - it makes them fearful that they are incapable of fostering them. It goes against the Church.

I am not discounting that minor seminaries have their place. The Legion, however, stifles the freedom to choose the Lord. They force people to choose the Legion. They pound it into you that by choosing the Legion you are choosing Christ. They do this through a twisted definition of "Charity," causing people to experience guilt and fear if they do not choose the Legion. After all, if you do not choose the Legion you are then not choosing Christ! You are not "generous." This is indeed what is diabolical. They have taken the Truth out of Charity.

Not Richard - in your comments about junior seminaries you hit the nail on the head! Well said! Before joining LC (and after joining) I never 'liked" the idea of junior seminaries. I could never understand how parents would let their children leave home at such a tender age. Then I became familiar with the LC junior seminaries in Spain and Mexico. The kids were happy, well adjusted and rambunctious. Later, they became my companions in Novitiate and seminary studies - I was quite amazed at how "normal" they were! Many went to AS because it was the family's only viable option to educate (at least) their eldest son.

You are right to point out that understanding and accepting the phenomenon requires a generational, cross-cultural and socio-economic perspective not common in the comboxes. The result is a lot of uninformed 'outrage" against (for instance) LC junior seminaries which I think detracts from the credibility of the valid complaints to be made about the LC.

SQ, you have no idea the pressure we were under for vocations in the apostolic schools/convents that educated the older generation of Catholics. Things only softened up in the 70ies. Before that, fear was the rule. So if your intent is to take a slap at the Legion know that you are unwittingly slapping a large number of like institutions run by religious congregations that you might even like. How did we get through it? Our numbers were large, for one. And those who adjusted had fun. And time cures all wounds.

Pete, you need to put apostolic schools within their proper context--and there seems to be a consistent failure to do so. For me, the real issues regarding the Legion are smothered by a whole bunch of petty complaints that muddy the waters.

If Opus Dei is thriving, that is great. It has been around for a long time. And while it is not every body's cup of tea, there are many who find a home within it. And those who don't come out with similar complaints.

And if Holy Cross is thriving, all the more power to them. The Church needs them both.

Is fear, other than the spiritual gift of "Fear of the Lord," something that comes from God?

Freedom to choose Him does not come from fear. The Legion sets itself up as "the Church" by instilling the fear to leave. RC also.

I know the Church is the body of Christ; I should be afraid of "leaving" the one true Church. I should fear the pains of Hell by not ascending to the teachings of the one True Church. This should not apply to the Legion, nor any other order.

Does this analogy work? The Church has approved the Fatima apparition, yet believing it is not something on which my salvation is dependent. (I do, FWIW) Is it safe to say that an order is a similar thing? The Church has approved it, yet my salvation (or a young man's salvation) does not depend on belonging to it.

The Legion AND RC are something set apart. (They are self-fulfilling and self-serving.) They instill in the members that "this is your vocation." "God has chosen you to be here." "Be generous and give yourself to this vocation that God has called you to, here in the Legion. (or RC)" _They set themselves apart._ They may be approved, which may have been under false pretenses, but even if not, my salvation does not depend on my so-called vocation to the Movement. This is wrong. This is not freedom.

If this indeed is what has gone on in the past, it was wrong then too.

Perhaps this is the reform that Vatican II called for among the consecrated life. I will be the first to admit that many of the orders went way too far.

"Additionally, Holy Cross vocations are notoriously stable - that is, few Holy Cross priests will ever leave the order or the movement once ordained."

I also understand that in the rare cases that Opus Dei priests do leave Opus Dei, they almost always remain priests. They do not leave the priesthood. Compare that to the Legion which not only has a great number of priests who leave the Legion, but a great number of priests who leave the priesthood.

Pete, you mistake my reference to numbers. We were lots of kids in those institutions. We outnumbered the priests or the nuns entrusted with our care. I was not referring to the number of vocations that resulted, but the adult/child ratios in those places.

With regards to the fear factor, either you learn to live your faith as an adult, with primacy of conscience as your guide, or you don't. And if you don't take responsibility for yourself, blaming others for your choices only perpetuates the original problem. Coming of age is always painful, regardless of the circumstances.

Not Richard - do NOT insult a Marine Mom with your comparisons...the Marines do not twist the teachings of the Church.

By their fruits they shall be known - eh Pete?

Pete, I was referring to child adult ratios as a factor in our resiliency while in apostolic/convent schools. To end this, I will accept the reality that because you had no direct experience with the system, that you cannot understand it.

All orders recruit from mature men these days, which frustrates the young men immensely. One of my young friends with an interest in the Jesuits was told after university grad to come back when he was 25. Another was told the same thing by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and ended up with the Legion because they took him right away. Right away he was in the company of young men. Paul never limited the Church to just himself, so why should anyone else?

The accusations with which you end your post are interesting. Let us take Life Teen, as an organization with a similar problem: attractive and talented founder with serious vices, at the head of a popular and growing movement. Now what are those accusations again, and how do they apply to all of those parishes with Life Teen groups and the young people in them? Guilty of the sins of the founder?

Not Richard - you make excellent points and you state them very powerfully!

When I first went to Mexico as an LC in 1965 there was understated but very real rivalry between OD and LC. MM was very concerned to make some strategic moves with which he hit paydirt - we had schools and a university up and running to mark LC turf in Mexico. We called the "Irish Institute" (which I helped start) "Irish" precisely to jump the gun on the very Spanish focused Opus.

One of the very first alarm bells I heard about LC was from an Irish Bishop, friend of my father, who worried that too few priests and seminarians were leaving the LC (compared to other congregations at that time - he wondeered if we were not allowed to leave.) I'm not casting any aspersions on the perseverance of OD priests. But those numbers arguments go both ways.

In the 1960s the Opus Dei (at least in Mexico) was much criticized as an ultra-secret, ultra-conservative, ultra-wealthy and ultra-powerful organizations. They do and have done an enormous amount of good. I think some of the comments here, comparing Opus and LC are naive and uninformed beyond belief.

Not Richard, I do hope you continue to contribute - your point of view offers more light than heat. Very refreshing!

Pete, Monk was comparing Opus Dei to Legion of Christ, not to Holy Cross, and comparing both institutions within the context of Mexico.

BTW, you did not answer my question re Life Teen, and the guilt of the rank and file for the sins of the founder.

What an interesting conversation. I am going to jump in here with some comments about minor seminaries. First of all, the group chosen to investigate the sex abuse scandal in the U.S. priesthood, the John Jay Commission, stated that they believed that minor seminaries contributed to the sex abuse problem by isolating young men reaching puberty from a normal life of interaction with members of the opposite sex. This isolation, they believed, for some, resulted in the development of same sex attraction. If you couple that isolation with an unhealthy attitude toward sexuality in the culture in general, you can have a volatile situation. It would be interesting to see how many of the abusive priests attended minor seminaries--the number must have been significant if the commission pointed to the these seminaries as part of the problem.

I believe it was Dr. Conrad Baars who, in the 1940's or so, predicted, in a sense, this scandal because of the many unhealthy people in religious life he, as a psychologist, treated. His books are interesting reading if you are curious about the subject. Vatican II was called for a reason and it was termed a pastoral council in that it was, I believe, to work on internal affairs rather than combatting a major heresy or other external problem.

If you then bring in John Paul II's and Dieterich von Hildebrand's teachings on sexuality, you can begin to see some of the problems. Certain elements in the Church seemed to have taken on the Puritanical perception of sexuality as bad and if you couple that with the opinion that one had to repress sexual thoughts and desires rather than allow God to purify and transform them in a healthy way, a formula for disaster developed in the seminaries. Not to mention the sexual revolution which so inundated our culture with overt immoral sexuality that it would take superhuman strength to repress sexual thoughts and desires as continually as they must have occurred.

Another fact which makes minor seminaries a negative reality today is that children are not allowed to mature psychologically today in the same way as in the past. Parents today tend to control a child's every move and deny them any responsibility until they are quite old resulting in very immature teenagers. Teens today are not ready for the rigors of seminary or convent life in the same way that they were in the past. Most of the Church seems to have recognized this but somehow it was overlooked in the Legion.

Pete, I thought you were referring to the Fathers of the Holy Cross recently founded in Ottawa. I don`t know anything about the priests affiliated to Opus Dei. I am not interested in comparing numbers. If Opus Dei fares well in recruiting priests, then so be it. I certainly have no objection.

I find it surprizing that you accuse the entire rank and file of the LC and RC about the terribly poor crises management shown by the narrow circle of Legion senior management. They should have hired an MBA with that kind of specialisation to direct their response, and quite frankly, I don`t know why they did not. Lifeteen had the better response. In a hierarchy, the buck stops at the top. So again, why are the rank and file LC and RC the exception?

Lauretta, the great majority of young men who went through the junior seminaries never became sex abusers. I think you need to compare numbers of sex abusers between the professions that deal with the young. There are a huge number of sex abusers who are teachers, but sex abuse within the school system does not get the media attention that sexual abuse within the priesthood gets, even though the numbers of teacher sex abusers are a lot higher. So how many sex-abusing teachers went to junior seminary? My response is not to attribute to a minor factor, and a speculative one at that, a greater importance than it warrants.

Pete said: Now why would the Companions of the Cross in Ottawa draw seminarians only from active Opus Dei members, when the Companions are a separate movement with a separate founder?

Beats me.

Pete said: Then why raise the issue in the context of other religious orders?

Because attending junior seminaries was common 40 years ago, and the circumstances were the same as those encountered in the Legion's junior seminaries. The Legion's junior seminaries and their practices were just like the others.

Pete says: As long as the rank-and-file are defending the senior management's handling of this crisis, rather than call the management to account, one cannot separate the two.

You are blaming the misinformed and those who were not involved in decision making?

That no one is calling the management to account is pure speculation, easily refuted by the fact that there is an AV going on, and a well-defined channel of communication with a decison-making authority, a third party, that can actually make recommendations that will have an impact.

Pete said: ? participated in the tarring-and-feathering of Maciel's victims who came forward.

Who was tarred and feathered? On what day did this occur? Who did it? Who were the witnesses? What is your evidence?

Pete asked: Do you really think it (hiring an MBA with crises management expertise) would have helped the situation?

It makes for a great case history on how to mis-manage a crises.

Probably rooted in many years of ineptitude in dealing with MM. Now, THERE is the real breach of trust issue that needs investigation.

Pete says: one should apologize forthright for one's wrongdoing in order to preserve consumer confidence. The need to apologize to the victims of one's wrongdoing is taught in every decent children's catechism.

I'll stick to the big one for adults, published in 1993 (original French version). Give me the numbers please. I'd like to cross-reference your assertion. I am especially interested in how the catechism defines the one, and how it extends this to the many. I am especially interested in the Catechism's reference to consumer confidence.

Pete said: The average member of Life Teen, a teenager, has not completed high school let alone graduate studies in business.

There are more people involved in delivery of the Life Teen program than just the kids.

Pete says: Yet a group of "orthodox" Catholic priests boasting several international media figures, book contracts, and advanced degrees in moral theology need a Vatican investigation to figure out a teaching contained in volume 1 of the Baltimore Catechism?

Why do the nuns need one too? Seems to me that they also have international media figures, book contracts, advanced degrees in moral theology and other thigs, and they might not all be "orthodox". So go figure.

Pete said: This is why many orthodox Catholics outside the movement (and several on the inside, according to contacts who email me regularly) have grown wary of the movement over the past year.

Give me that WHY again? There are reasons to be wary, but I think that mine have a more solid foundation.

Pete said: This crisis is not about Maciel's sins. It is about the movement's failure to see Maciel's sins through the eyes of the victims.

So this is not about Maciel's sins, who the victims were, who collaborated in them, who knew about them, who covered them up and why?

Sorry Pete, but those questions are pretty vital to me. We definetly part ways here, because those are the ones I want answered.

Pete, why are you refusing to answer my questions?

Who are the victims?

And how did those who were not involved in their abuse tar and feather them?

You made references to the Catechism in terms of guilt, but you refuse to substantiate those references.

Even your answer to who did it lacks clarity.

Do you even know?

Pete, you cannot list your complaints with precision, and instead substitute for clarity of thinking vague references to links and the Catechism without even explaining why you are using them as justification. You are not even able to list who Maciel's victims are.

And then you accuse me? On what grounds?

Where is your legitimacy? Where is your evidence? And where is your argument?

Not Richard - Maybe I can help give an example.

Here is the link to Article 8 of the Catechism - The 8th Commandement - You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. "The eight commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others" and I did learn this in 2nd grade. It is a great read for all of us to really ponder what the Church and our Lord teaches on truth. "Since God is true, the members of his people are called to live in the truth". Good stuff and something that we all should be striving to do in this mess.


Pete already provided some LC examples that speak for themselves and these are the ones in public. There are many more examples of LCs sharing Maciel being innocent and the victims being the perpetrators..we all heard them many times.

I am an RC example. 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 really came down with a decision - who do you believe? I used to believe Maciel and the LC story - now I believe the victims (with the help of the LCs pronouncement that Maciel did in fact father a child and lead a double life), therefore I am not making rash judgements, but using my critical thinking skills and following our Pope's lead in 2006, "independent of the person of the founder".

Here is a great link by Fr. John Hardon explaining the 8th commandment and also shows why it is OK to call Maciel what he was in public since he was a public figure and it is necessary for the protection of others and for the truth to be told to anyone in LC/RC (which has not always happened) and to potential recruits to LC/RC that they know they are entering an order whose founder has been accused of abusing children, seminarians, women, lived a double life, plagiarized, fathered children out of wedlock, stole our money and proclaimed he was innocent even to the Pope. Those are just facts.


Below is what I think anyone in LC/RC (who did believe and promote the lie that the victims were liars) are called to do somehow, someway since we all bought Maciel's lie over the truth of his victims. This is just the truth and will break the lie and provide healing. Each person has to decide in their conscience their own part. Most of us promoted Maciel in good faith but our promotion of this lie allowed what Tom Hoopes so aptly referred to as "victims twice, the second time by calumny." Some have done it and did it quickly (Fr Berg, Fr. Richard Gill, Tom Hoopes). Their consciences were peaked. I still have not seen the LC leadership specifically apologize and provide restitution to the original sexual abuse victims whose courage and strength helped bring out the truth that God wants us to live in as stated in the 8th commandment That is one of the main reasons I left.

"All that we said about detraction applies to calumny, with the added malice of falsehood. Moreover, since an untruth was told about another person, reparation is more urgent and mandatory. Somehow the slanderer must not only undo the harm done to his victim's reputation, but he must also correct the falsehood he spoke; it may be with considerable embarrassment to himself."

By the way, I talked with an ex-LC the other day and he said that there is such a tie to Maciel in the LC leadership that will be hard to break. He felt that it is not that they are purposefully not doing the right thing - it is that they loved Maciel as a father and a "spiritual father" and were taught by the Master of deceit and do not know any other way to do it....so an MBA communicator would not help. Not even the Pope's statement in 2006 stopped them from promoting Maciel as a saint and our example praying for us from heaven (hence we all continued to promote him fully especially after 2006).

I hope that helps give you some more concrete examples.

P.S. interesting how the LC shared with the world the extortion claim from one of Maciel's alleged sons. They were bragging how they were doing the right thing and the son was not. I am not sure we all needed to know that and how that fits in with this 8th commandment.

Not Richard,

If you want to play in traffic there isn't much Pete can do for you.

Not Richard,

I don't know where you are coming from, but you apparently have come very late into the discussion. When Pete says "tarred and feathered" I hope you realize he was speaking metaphorically. It has been many years since the first accusations against Maciel were made, and until very recently the LC and RC (from the top-down) called them liars and enemies of the Church. Even now (with a few notable exceptions mentioned earlier) they have not apologized for this slander, instead offering only a vague apology for Maciel's own sins.

The information is out there. If you can't take the time to learn the history of this affair then don't blame Pete for not holding your hand. Quite frankly, you are coming across as a belligerent ass.

Pete is the one who accused me, so I am waiting for Pete's response.

One minor clarification: the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross is not an "order", but an association. It includes not only priests who are incardinated in the Prelature of Opus Dei and the Holy Cross (to use the full name of "Opus Dei"), but also diocesan priests who feel called to seeking holiness and doing apostolate through their professional work. It is entirely composed of secular, not religious, priests.

Back to the main topic: please join me in praying for two of my godsons, currently at a Legion AS in California.

Anon out of RC: I am sorry that your coming of age has been so painful. Mine happened many years ago, and under different circumstances, but I still remember the rage. Only God is God. We human beings are so unworthy.

Not Richard, as another stated, you may have come to these discussions late. When we refer to "the victims", we generally mean the men who came forward in 1997 to report their sexual abuse at the hand of Marciel Maciel.

[Certainly, since then, we have been made aware of other victims (such as Aaron Loughery, a regular poster at Life After RC, and whose own experience of abuse at the hand of a different LC is detailed here
And here http://www.life-after-rc.com/2010/02/a-question-of-trust-ii.html)]

These are the men we usually refer to as "the victims" and whose treatment Pete has correctly described as having been "tarred and feathered".

See the following links:



The original victims (quoting from the above link) -

The Rev. Felix Alarcon, 63, of Venice, Fla., who opened the Legion's first U.S. base in the Woodmont section of Milford, Conn., in 1965.
Professor Jose de J. Barba Martin, 57, a Harvard-educated literary scholar who teaches at the Instituto Tecnological Autonomo de Mexico, Mexico City.
Saul Barrales Arellano, 62, Catholic school teacher, Mexico City.
Alejandro Espinosa Alcala, 59, rancher, rural Mexico.
Juan Manuel Fernandez Amenabar, left statement before he died Feb. 7, 1995; former Legionary priest and president of the Northern Anahuac University in Mexico City.
Arturo Jurado Guzman, 58, instructor, U.S. Defense Department School of Linguistics, Monterey, Calif.
Fernando Perez Olvera, 62, engineer, Monterey, Mexico.
Jose Antonio Perez Olvera, 59, lawyer, Mexico City.
Juan Vaca, 59, of Holbrook, N.Y., college guidance counselor, president of the Legionaries in the United States from 1971 to 1976.

Speaking from personal experience, when I was considering joining Regnum Christi, I was told that these men were liars, enemies of the Church, jealous, doing Satan's work, etc. This was the message from the senior-most LC to our section as well as by my Section Director. I believe that would qualify as "tarring and feathering".

I am aquainted with one LC who has stated honestly his firm belief that the abuse accusations against Maciel are true.

Not Richard,
I'm not surprised Pete didn't go through the effort of answering all of your questions, since immediately after he answered some of them, you accused him of refusing to answer.
Many, many of us have been speaking out about the Legion's problems and many,many of us have been viciously maligned for having done so. Many people used to come to the exlegionaries website for help in recovering from their involvement in the Legion or Regnum, where we learned that our experiences were very similar. I and many others came to the conclusion that "false innuendo against people who speak up against the Legion" is a Legion M.O. There is no one place where you can learn about the "tarring" (especially after Peter Hopkin's 'Legion of Christ, Inc' sued to shut down the exlegionaries.com website); it's the collection of nasty false innuendo that show the quality of Legion "fruit".

Oh, and about the minor seminaries:
You said, "Lauretta, the great majority of young men who went through the junior seminaries never became sex abusers."
The John Jay report noted that a disproportionate number of child-molesting priests came from minor seminaries, as Lauretta said. If you don't understand the difference between what she said and what you denied, perhaps you could consult with someone who understands statistics. (If you do understand, then I suspect you of attacking a straw woman.)

Yes, the US nuns are also undergoing an apostolic visitation; yes, they also have many big problems; no, many of them aren't being cooperative, either, so you won't be in the detention room by yourself. Congratulations. Now write, "I will listen to the Pope next time he tells me to separate myself from a pedophile founder" fifty times. As soon as Sister Eileen changes out of her liturgical dance leotard, she'll join you; she'll be writing something else.

There is a difference between accusations and people proven to be guilty. In my country, there is a presumption of innocence until proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The first indication that something was seriously amiss was the Holy See's sending MM off to a life of penance. The sign was obvious to those strong enough to understand it. Unfortunately, the condemnation contained some ambiguity. Those with interior freedom were able to read it for what it was. This was more difficult for others who were close to the man.

Whistle-blowers have a difficult burden to bear in being bringers of bad tidings. This is a normal state of affairs. In corporations, many of these people are fired. In other situations, they are disbelieved until there is proof that their accusations are substantiated.

If there was a cover-up, the burden of responsibility and guilt are with those who knowingly perpetrated it. The buck would go no further.

For those who were credulous enough to disbelieve the Pope, it has been a long hard road to learning to think for oneself.

It is my belief that the list of victims is far longer than that stated here.

"Those with interior freedom were able to read it for what it was. This was more difficult for others who were close to the man."

I wasn't close to the man but I guess I did not have interior freedom because at that time I just looked for Maciel's answer and the LCs response to it. I did not want to look any farther. The Padre Pio analogy worked for me but as I said earlier, there was a huge learned layer of guilt I developed for even thinking Fr M may be guilty and going to the internet to think for myself. There were some RC who did it at that time and slowly slithered out of RC and we all thought something was wrong with them. I have since apologized to them because they were right!

This great post helps us see 2006 much clearer.


It is amazing how we see and hear what we want to see and hear.

"There is a difference between accusations and people proven to be guilty. In my country, there is a presumption of innocence until proven beyond a reasonable doubt."
There is also a difference between being found "not guilty" and being innocent. In MY country, there is a LEGAL presumption of innocence until proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But only an idiot would let his daughter date OJ.

Not Richard,
You've shown us one of the LC/ Regnum Christi dysfunctional communications pattern.

We have finally come full circle, Not Richard. You just said:

If there was a cover-up, the burden of responsibility and guilt are with those who knowingly perpetrated it. The buck would go no further.

For those who were credulous enough to disbelieve the Pope, it has been a long hard road to learning to think for oneself.

Ah yes, the reason why our 13 year olds should not go to LC Apostolic schools is because it IS A CULT (yes, I am shouting) and the young men are not even allowed to think for themselves, much less learn to think for themselves. It is dangerous. The people who perpetrated the cover up knowingly are continuing to perpetrate the cover up with the unknowing who are unable to think for themselves because they are in a cult!

Please tell me you are starting to understand, otherwise my other thought that you are just on a fishing expedition and that you are not arguing in good faith might be true.

SQ: wrote
Ah yes, the reason why our 13 year olds should not go to LC Apostolic schools is because it IS A CULT ..... It is dangerous. The people who perpetrated the cover up knowingly are continuing to perpetrate the cover up with the unknowing who are unable to think for themselves because they are in a cult!

The same for members/3gf who continue to cling to it.

It is important to note that we are referring specifically to LC/ Regnum Christi and not any other religious order or group

SQ: The whole Catholic Church is a cult. Love her or leave her.

"The whole Catholic Church is a cult. Love her or leave her"

Ladies and gentlemen.... the LEGION OF CHRIST.

All that crap about Maciel's retirement being like the persecution of Christ comes home to roost with crazy schismatic talk.

The Church bears the marks of Christ, RC, not the marks of a child molester.

It sounded like Not Richard implied that if you think the LC is a cult, then you don't love the Church, so leave the Church. No need to clarify, NR. Most likely you have an explaination that is not what you meant.

I don't see a love of the Church in Not Richard's or Monk's comments. I see twisted communication patterns which sacrifice the Church for the LC and Regnum Christi. This is classic LC/ Regnum Christi. Many probably don't realize it. It becomes second nature by the designs of the founder. You can see this by reading his instructions to members to refer all thoughts, emotions, the first movement's of the soul to the Movement. Maybe that is the strong reason that the organization should be shut down. Once free people would begin to learn to refer their soul to God and to the Catholic Church in truth. As long as the LC/Regnum Christi organization exists in any form, this ascent of their beings will probably continue to themselves.

Blame Canada taken to a whole new level. Thanks Maciel.

Next time a cancer cell tells me it's just part of me, I think I'll get a second opinion.

Was thinking of you, Giselle, Abpb Collins comments on SALT-TV etc.


Thanks, Jeannette, for covering my back again. I have been trying to post off and on all day but for some reason it doesn't show up. I had a long post but several of you said most of the the things I had wanted to bring up.

Not Richard, I agreed with most everything from your 5:04 post. There was a short time when I too was uncertain as to whether or not Maciel was guilty after the accusations came out, especially since the Pope so heartily endorsed him. When then Cardinal Ratzinger sent our Msgr. Scicluna, however, I was convinced that he was guilty.

The silencing of Maciel by the Church was a certain sign for anyone who had any openness to truth. The spin that the Legion put on it was laughable, especially since they were proclaiming to be so loyal to the Pope. How they could continue to proclaim loyalty after deeming him to be Pontius Pilate was bizarre beyond belief.

Yes, whistleblowers do bear a heavy burden and are often treated badly. However, as Christians, once the Legion knew that the victims were not lying, they had a serious obligation to seek to restore the victims' good names and offer restitution for all that was done to them.

I agree, also, that the responsibility and guilt belong to those who facilitated the cover-up. However, anyone who has a conscience would feel horrible about maligning the name and reputation of someone unjustly and would express contrition and try to make amends. This would apply to all Legion and Regnum members who had at one time or another told people that the victims were lying. Several people on the life after RC site have expressed remorse about doing this. Where are the rest of the group who have been complicit in this defamation? Their silence is deafening.

I agree as well that the list of victims is much longer than is usually discussed. Even Alvaro can be considered a victim since he has been under the control of Maciel from the time he was young. I believe that all who entered this group as children can certainly be considered victims. The adults who have gotten involved, I have a little less sympathy for since they have had the freedom to seek the truth and decide to leave whenever they wanted. They chose to be blind.

Your later comment about the entire Church being a cult, however, is quite confusing. You obviously are an intelligent person and certainly know that the word cult is used in varied ways with quite different meanings. Yes, the Church is a cult but not at all in the same way that the Legion is a cult. Why you would make that statement is truly difficult to understand.

I am torn between thinking of you as a bunch of immature crybabies who can't take responsibility for themselves, or as thought Nazis worse than anybody you accuse. One thing for sure, your moral theology is fuzzy, serving only as a rationalization to arbitrarily attack anybody who thinks differently from you. It is a pack mentality. Pack behavior. Circle an independent thinker and tear him to shreds. Pete Vere, you are a coward.

Dear Not Richard,
You may accuse me of sharing in the "Pack mentality", and maybe I should give up, but I'd like to understand your perspective.

Could you tell us about yourself? It occured to me that you're either an LC, an exLC, or the family member of an LC. If this is the case, I can imagine it would be hard to read so much criticism. For you, knowing your own situation, or that of a loved one, all the criticism must feel really unfair.

If this is your perspective, this could explain your assertion that a small group perpetrated a cover-up, that the "buck stops" at the LC leadership. This would explain your comment that there are many more victims, if you were implying that the unsuspecting, sincere LCs and RCs are victims as well.

I don't disagree with you, there are many victims of this awful sitution. However, like many, I see this from my persective, as a (now ex) RC member. I looked up to the LCs in my world, they were in a leadership role to me and my fellows RCs in my section. If these LCs were victims as well, yes, this would explain that the bad news about their revered founder was a shock and took some time to absorb. However, after the initial shock, I felt it was imperative that these LCs set the record straight - for me, and for everyone in my section. You can argue they didn't have the interior or moral freedom to do so. But that just makes the case for critics who believe the malformation runs too deep. At some point, my expectation was for all LCs to come to terms with bad news, look back on what went wrong and what needs to be corrected, and get to work on restoring what has been damaged - particularly with respect to victims.

Part of the reason I may be hard on LCs is because, in the time I was under their influence, they were hard on me. And rightly so - I had humility hammered into me, I worked to develop my sensitive conscience, and they never let me off the hook in spiritual direction or the confessional. I expected the LCs to be as hard on themselves as they were on me. If I went into SD with an LC, I could never say "I can't come to terms with this terrible circumstance, so I can't do the right thing", they'd never let me get away with that, nor should they.

If you decide to continue to participate here,imo, it would be helpful to know your circumstances, as I believe this would be helpful in understanding your point of view.

What do you think the Vatican should do? What do you see as the best outcome?

It's interesting how things have changed. Four and a half years ago, when I posted comments that were critical of the Legion, on various blogs, one of the criticisms that would frequently come back to me, was that I was clearly in the minority, no one agreed with me, Maciel was a saint, and it was soooo obvious that I was wrong because I was the only one. Now that public opinion has changed, I'm part of a pack mentality. huh.

"SQ: The whole Catholic Church is a cult. Love her or leave her."

Independent thinking? Or independent of thinking? You're shocked that drew a response? Slow down and think.

Another sign on DEpendent thinking of the Legion is, "Let's wait to see what the Holy Father says."

I, as a former RC, have succumbed to this. This Lent my Parish is concentrating on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. RC teaches us to be obedient to our SD's, for the Holy Spirit speaks through them. Again, this is anti-Catholic. For years I neglected to listen to the Holy Spirit who was saying, "Leave and serve your Parish." I kept wanting to "Love Christ, Serve People, Build Church," (to which they should add "by building RC and LC.") Thanks be to God, through independent thinking and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we all receive in Baptism, I came to understand Who was truly speaking to me.

Don't wait to see what the Holy Father says. He has spoken. Continuing to plug your ears and sing "la la la" until he speaks again is not the answer. This is what LC and RC are doing by saying, "We will wait and see how the Visitation works out." There is no need to wait. The evidence is clear. Be free, be truthful, be humble, and bring true Charity to your parish. Take this experience with RC and what you have learned and truly serve the Church in your Parish. They need you and your example, in charity and humility.

By the grace of God, I will never leave the Church. I am quite confused as to why NR implored me to "Love her or leave her." I pray that I can withstand whatever temptations to leave her that life may bring.

Not Richard - I do hope you will find a forum to continue contributing your needed perspective. Maybe it is a question of finding the "right" one or, as Pete suggests, starting your own. You certainly left a mark on this one! Please don't abandon it - maybe just reduce the dosage. In the business world you know that disgruntled consumers create a disproportionate amount of negative PR. Satisfied customers tend not to share their opinions quite as freely.

The other night I found myself channel surfing and came across EWTN's presentation of John Paul 11's life. When asked why he gravitated towards young people in the Church, he responded with a Polish saying - translated it is "you resemble the company you keep."

i guess that sums up my experience of LC?RC related blogs. On certain sites you will be quite virulently attacked if you contribute anything that someone might construe as remotely being in favor of the LC, no matter your perspective or personal experience. It takes a while, I suppose, to realize that those sites have their own "agenda." It took me a while to discover that their are several (mostly Spanish language) sites with more that a couple of hundred ex LC subscribers where you will get a different "take" on the LC debacle.

So, if you think that Polish saying quoted by the JP 11 makes any sense, choose your forum wisely!

"On certain sites you will be quite virulently attacked if you contribute anything that someone might construe as remotely being in favor of the LC"

Really Jack, How drolly you characterize NR's mild remark:

"The whole Catholic Church is a cult."

Do you really hang out in places like that?


Are you saying that anyone here has attacked Not Richard?

What I've seen is everyone disagree with him/her, but very politely. Not Richard, on the other hand, has called us crybabies.

Monk, Thanks for your thoughts. Right now I see the majority of the folks here so bound up in their straight jackets and thinking they are free, while hanging on for dear life to their monstrous rocks. Been there, done that, learned to let go. Right now there is such a chasm separating us that the only thing I can do at this point is bow out and let them go through their vale of tears. Nothing I say will liberate them.

Don't worry, NR (RC) it is not up to you or Regnum Christi/LC to liberate anyone. God has done that through Jesus.

anon3: Jesus came for the guilty. Remember that.

@(Not Richard RC) Praise God! Jesus is the hope for all mankind, the light of all nations and all creation depends on him. He gave us the Church and through Him all men may be liberated from sin. Wishing you and all people without exception an abundance of His grace.

Could it be that we have a misunderstanding of the objectives of the two "sides" of this debate? It seems to me that those who are critical of the Legion and desiring for it to be shut down feel this way because they do not want anyone else to be hurt in the way that they, or someone they care about, have been hurt.

This really has nothing to do with lack of forgiveness or calumny or detraction or anything of the sort. This has to do with protecting others from harm.

We should all be able to agree that Maciel harmed others physically and psychologically. It is naive, I believe, to think that a certain percentage of those he harmed in these ways are not going to abuse others in similar ways. That is just the nature of these sorts of abuse. They get passed on.

Yes, Jesus came for the guilty but, just as JPII did with his attacker, you don't leave the guilty free to harm others. They have to be stopped from continuing to do harm--by whatever means are necessary. In the case of the Legion, it would seem advisable to take them out of positions in which they could continue to harm others. This would indicate closing down schools, seminaries, etc.

The Church closed down several seminaries in South America for teaching liberation theology in a radical way. I don't think that this group has done anything less serious than those South American seminaries.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Pete Vere published on March 10, 2010 10:14 PM.

UPDATE: Recognize what was done to victims, says Holy See was the previous entry in this blog.

A Saint's words concerning the current situation is the next entry in this blog.

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