Veteran LC wrestles with the scandal


To readers just tuning in to the LC/RC scandal surrounding Maciel and the movement he founded, catching up on the blog conversation can seem rather daunting. One of the best sources for "tuning in" to the discussion is Changobeer - the blog of the pseudonymous Fr. Damian Karras (the priest in the movie Exorcist) written by a 30-year veteran of the Legion (commonly believed to be Fr. Frances Snell, LC). Although eight months have passed since Changobeer's last entry, the blog still offers insight into several facets of the scandal and Legion thinking throughout out.

Fr. Changobeer was close to Maciel. He believed in Maciel's innocence, and defended the founder up until news became public of Maciel's daughter. The same with regards to a charism within the Legion. But Fr. Changobeer also believed strongly in obedience and submission to the Holy See - not only in word, but in spirit. He often expresses discomfort with the Legion's response to words or instructions from the Holy See. He also recognized that some self-critique of the order was necessary for the movement to purify itself. Thus many of his blog entries concern questions that arose in an honest attempt to reconcile his belief in Maciel's sanctity and the Legion's charism with obedience to the Holy Father.

Here's a chronological index of Changobeer's posts as he wrestles with several issues concerning the scandal. Please let me know if I have missed any:

- May 05 - He points to the Vatican Secretariat of State letter as proof of Maciel's innocence.

- Jun 05 - He dismisses Maciel's critics and the allegations, but admits the Legion needs to engage in self-criticism, to stop being so secretive and to stop alleging conspiracy theories.

- Jul 05 - He disagrees with Sandro Magister's prediction Pope Benedict's action against Fr. Gino was a foreshadowing of what was in store for Maciel. Says the outcome with Maciel will be different.

- May 06 - He states that something confusing has just hit and he is still struggling to understand it, will post his best explanation but he is not satisfied with it. His next post states that the issue is the Holy See's communique inviting Maciel to retire to a life of prayer and penance, and the separation the Holy See draws between Maciel and LC/RC. He identifies and struggles with many questions.

- Oct 07 - Although normally quite critical of ReGAIN, he expresses disagreement with the Legion hiring high-powered lawyers to sue the organization. Compares it to Scientology.

- Jan 08 - Discusses Roman-mandated changes within the Legion, including suppression of the extra two vows. Optimistic for the changes, but concerned about the "serene" facade and interpretation of Legion superiors.

- Jan 08 - Tribute to Maciel upon his death.

- Feb 08 to Apr 08 - Writes five-part series attempting to explain and clarify the Legion's charism. (Part one, part two, part three, part four, part five).

- June 08 - He wrestles with Archbishop O'Brien's criticism of the Legion, and how closely the Archbishop came to banning the Legion in Baltimore. Renews call for transparency and self-examination in the Legion.

- Sept 08 - Strongly questions the credibility of Jason Berry and Maciel's other victims. Says he believes Maciel based upon working side-by-side with Maciel for several years.

- Sept 08 - Criticizes Legion, Church officials and the wider Catholic community for ignoring Maciel's death and funeral, and the cloud of suspicion this left concerning the founder.

- Nov 08 - Attends Cistercian retreat, describes how relaxing and rejuvenating it was compared to the frantic pace of past (presumably Legion) retreats.

- Jan 09 - News of Maciel's daughter breaks. Fr. Changobeer becomes first LC-affiliated priest in English blogophere to admit the significance of the news vis-a-vis Maciel and LC/RC. He is also the first to publicly call for full disclosure, for LC leadership to resign (if needed), and for an apostolic visitation from Rome.

- Mar 09 - Suggests that Legion leadership lacks credibility, and that the seeds of the Legion's methodology were rooted in Maciel's sins.

- June 09 - He argues that the only way forward for the Legion is to tell the truth.

- June 09 - Points out the difference between Maciel being flawed, and Maciel being a liar.

- June 09 - Explains why the Legion must purge itself completely of Maciel.

- Jul 09 - Refutes the "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" analogy being argued by the Legion and its supporters. Explains why any good accomplished by Maciel is irrelevant to this scandal.

- Jul 09 - Criticizes the movement for trying to downplay Maciel's sins and attempting to move forward, business as usual.

- Aug 09 - (Last post) - He reveals that LC superiors are trying to preserve Maciel's writings for future generations, while avoiding direct mention of Maciel and his actions.


This blog was a huge help in dropping the scales from my eyes. It was a brutally honest analysis of what was going on and this priest put God and the Church above the institution and was willing to see problems in the institution for years when others were too afraid to speak of it.

I felt like he did - so baffled that the priests that brought me closer to Christ and I looked up to were not living what they preached and begging them to step up to the plate in transparency and honesty because there is so much hope for LC/RC.

Wherever you are - Thank you Fr. Damian for helping an ex RC girl process this pain and confusion and start to heal. If you want to keep writing - I would love to continue reading your thoughts.


Fr. Damian writes:
"There was a time when it was severely frowned upon to refer to writers other than the Founder in our preaching, spiritual exercises and private reading. We were instructed to quote him often, to dedicate certain meditations to his person, virtue and vocation. We were to read his letters during adoration and as part of the liturgy of the hours."

Does this mean that they substituted Maciel's writings for the prescribed readings in the Office of Readings?

Rosemarie, I suspect (hope, pray) Fr Damien is moving forward in his new life outside of the LC, and may not want to write about it anymore. I hope he has found peace and new meaning in his priestly vocation.

Thanks Pete! I've been around for a year but have never read any of this.

Father Damien commented here yesterday....

Wow - that is interesting. He signed his comment "fr. damien karras, sj". It seems to soon for him to actually have been accepted as a Jesuit, but maybe that is the direction he is heading.

I am a catholic from India. I was shocked to read the duplicty of Maciel He might have done wonderful work, but he cannot be praised as a model. He brought shame and ignominy to the organisation founded by him. It is necessary that the set up of the organistion shhould be suitably changed and the administration brought under a really dedicated priest. The name of Maciel should remain buried

In order to curb the wrong doings, the authorities should on receipt of the first information investigate the same without delay and corrective action taken, including civil law action if necessary Prmpt action will sure help maintain discipline

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This page contains a single entry by Pete Vere published on March 18, 2010 1:10 PM.

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