Response to LC/RC communiques


I just finished reading the two letters/communiques put out by the Legion of Christ/ Regnum Christi (LC/RC) over the weekend. I did so line-by-line. Here is my initial impressions, in point form, for those who are interested:

- The letter from Fr. Alvaro seems to be written for the inside, that is current members and close supporters of Regnum Christi and the Legion of Christ. Whereas the communique signed by Fr. Alvaro and various Legion superiors seems to be written for the broader Church community and perhaps society at large. Until LC/RC clarify otherwise, this is my assumption in reading and interpreting each piece of correspondence

- The LC/RC appears to have read the ecclesiastical tea leaves from Pope Benedict's apology to the Irish, and the recent interview with Msgr. Scicluna. Whether this is good or bad will depend upon how the movement conducts itself in the future.

- I'm guardedly optimistic that LC/RC superiors may finally be moving in the right direction. Nobody can reasonably expect perfection overnight, so I won't quibble over the weaknesses or ambiguities in the letter or communique. However, the communique seems to make progress. It admits Maciel sexually abused seminarians, it apologizes to Maciel's victims, it lays out the other accusations involving three mistresses (of which one is admitted and two are alleged) and several children (one admitted and others alleged), it admits the response to the movement's victims was too slow, it states concern for the victims should be paramount, it admits that some within LC/RC probably covered up for Maciel, it admits the movement made a mistake in not believing the victims when they put forward their accusations, and it comes clean with the real reason the Holy See invited Maciel to retire in 2006.

- I'm also not going to quibble over the movement, at this stage, renouncing Maciel's example as founder rather than renouncing Maciel as founder. Yes, it's a distinction that still recognizes Maciel as founder. However, I find myself guardedly optimistic when reading it, especially in light of another statement within the communique admitting the Church will never place Maciel on the same pedestal as other founder-saints like St. Ignatius, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bruno, St. Dominic, St. Benedict, St. Josemaria Escriva, etc. That and I am really not sure how LC/RC can renounce Maciel as founder prior to an official refounding overseen by the Holy See. After all, the historical record is clear - Maciel founded both LC and RC.

- Please note that my optimism is guarded. The reason for this is that many of my predictions vis-a-vis LC/RC since this scandal began have now come to pass. However, readers who have followed the blog over this past year know that the one area where my predictions are consistently wrong is with regards to giving LC/RC the benefit of the doubt over major communiques. Three notorious examples? 1) When the movement first admitted to Maciel's daughter, I predicted the movement would quickly follow the lead of Changobeer, Fr. Berg, Jay Dunlap and Tom Hoopes in recognizing the validity of previous allegations put forward by Jose Barba, Juan Vaca et al. 2) I actually believed LC/RC sources last March when they assured us an official statement and apology was forthcoming. 3) I accepted publicly as a good faith attempt the letters signed by RC territorial directors in Germany and the U.S. last fall, putting my credibility on the line, then was forced to retract several days later when the letter signed by Spain's territorial director failed to mention directly Maciel's sexual abuse of young seminarians, thus leaving many readers with the impression that the Holy See had retired Maciel in 2006 for fathering a daughter. So this time around I want to see how the movement follows through with the communique, both in word and in deed, before letting my guard down.

- I feel the same way toward the Legion's claim they will adhere to any reforms suggested or imposed by the Holy See as a result of the apostolic visitation. Let's see if the movement does so in both letter AND SPIRIT before letting down our guard.

- That being said, this may be a sincere move toward reform, or it may be a last-ditch effort for LC/RC current leadership to hold onto power before the Holy See releases the results of the apostolic visitation. Or it may be both if the current leadership is trying to use this communique and letter to hold on to power, while rank-and-file are trying to co-opt it to usher in reform. We will know soon enough.

- Has the communique been communicated to everyone on the inside? I'm talking brothers/seminarians, rank-and-file priests, 3gf and Regnum Christi members?

- My own response to the communique as a blogger, to borrow a police/military analogy (meaning I'm speaking metaphorically) is to not accept a cease-fire requested by some LC/RC supporters. I can, however, agree to a check fire. This means one ceases firing and engages the safety. However, one's weapon remains cocked and loaded, with the target clearly in one's cross-hairs and one's finger near (but not cradling) the trigger. This allows LC/RC leadership and supporters to further clarify and act upon their intentions if they are sincere, while allowing Catholics to defend ourselves at a moment's notice if it turns out that the letter and communique are LC/RC's latest attempt at double-speak.

- If LC/RC proves sincere through subsequent actions and words, we as orthodox Catholics must prepare ourselves to forgive and welcome members back into the fold. Of course this does not oblige us as individuals to support or participate in LC/RC-sponsored organizations. Nor does it mean that we stop voicing constructive criticism when appropriate. We are simply giving LC/RC members an opportunity to prove they can reform their movement and live in peace with other Catholics.

- Put another way, I'm willing to give LC/RC another chance to prove itself based upon this letter and communique, and I encourage them to continue down this path. However, I will wait to see if they do so before I feel some degree of trust or comfort.

- A good next step would be to unilaterally revoke the terms of settlement imposed upon any of Maciel's victims - including ReGAIN - in civil lawsuits that previously silenced victims. This does not require an investigation by the Holy See to carry out. Neither does reimbursing these victims for their legal costs. (On the other hand, I can see why LC/RC would wait for the results of the apostolic visitation before canning any upper leadership who intentionally or through negligence covered up for Maciel.)

- Any response from LC/RC leadership becomes moot if the current clergy sex abuse crisis hitting the Europe spreads to Italy in the next few weeks. I doubt even the movement's strongest current supporters in the Roman Curia will continue to protect the order, if the Cardinals find their own heads on the line.

- Most serious churchmen, Church experts and Church observers with whom I have spoken believe that the Holy See will attempt to remove Frs. Alvaro, Garza and Sada as part of a decapitation of the movement's upper leadership. History may yet vindicate Fr. Alvaro down the road if he goes peacefully, fully supportive of the Roman reform/refounding, and the movement's rank-and-file accept the reforms/refounding in both letter and spirit.

- Please continue to pray for LC priests and seminarians reportedly stuck on the inside.


I'm still on the RC email list and got both the communique and the letter two days before anyone mentioned it in the blogs. So I can only assume that it's been disseminated to all the section heads everywhere.

Although you probably predicted this comment, I have to say your critique, while well qualified is still a little soft, even if trying to give hope.
Sandro Magister makes this assessment:
But how trustworthy is this distancing of the Legion's leaders from their founder, and in particular from the "sudden revelation" – or so they say – of his misdeeds?.... According to some of the testimonies given to the apostolic visitors in recent months, some in this group knew about the founder's double life, about the carnal acts he performed with many of his seminarians over the span of decades, about his lovers, his children, his drug use. But in spite of that, a fortress was built around Maciel in defense of his virtues, devotion to him was fostered among his followers, all of them unaware of the truth, his talents were emphasized, even among the upper hierarchy of the Church. This exaltation of the figure of the founder was so effective that even today it inspires the sense of belonging to the Legion among many of its priests and religious.
We note today the upper brass are still using the title: "Nuestro Padre"; they still are creating a quasi-anonymous anthology of his texts; we note that this letter insincerely claims only a recent awareness of the sins of MM, when blaring evidence everywhere exists to the contrary; we note the subtle jab at the American contingent- the old differences in culture argument- reappearing (Anti-Americanism is very strong the Mexican controlled governance of the LC); we also notice the omission of a reassuring spiritual framework for those leaving the order given the bait and switch injustices of decades. Essentially the message to the flock is if you want to be like Mary- you have to suffer all this and be faithful to your commitment to the LC/RC.

My whole sense is this does not have the character of a sincere desire to change, but an begrudging acknowledgment of what they have failed to convince the media of over the last decade. Passive Agression continues. It's a perfect summary to date of what concession they have now relent to given the Media's effort to bring them to conversion, rather than their own.


As always, your commentary is compassionate and intelligent, and I understand why you'd rather err on giving the LC leadership the benefit of the doubt whenever they seem to move in the right direction.

As one who knows these people darn well, and one who deeply understands how they act, think and feel, I can tell you that neither AC, LG, ES or any of the top leaders have changed a single iota over the past year. They are INCAPABLE of changing because they simply LOVE -- yes, LOVE Nuestro Fraude too much. Nothing that they'll ever discover or admit about him will make them change how they feel or think about him.

The rest of the thinking world has come to understand that Nuestro Fraude has been one of the most effective and corrupt con artists, one of the most perverse manipulators, and among the worst of criminals the Catholic Church and humanity have ever seen, and these guys are still grateful for all the "good" he did for them and still wonder in awe how the Holy spirit mysteriously "inspired" this man to start a legitimate organization within the Mystical body of Christ?

Nothing short of dissolution or complete removal of ALL the LC/RC superiors and chapter members will rid the Church of this scandal that Nuestro Fraude put us in and that the LC/RC leadership have so eagerly perpetuated.

Mark my words.

mExRC: Somehow you saying all this, as you have on other blogs, helped me to see a key hole for LC's current self-defense: They just are not shocked at all that any LC leader let this go on in any way shape or form without screaming bloody murder. These early men were to be the first and best of their day in the holiness of the institute- and this is what they delivered? The current leadership has signed off to not asking what type of control was hanging over them and still is there that put them in all of this denial: i.e. how could the exalted high level LCs of past - Frs. Alfredo, Raphael Arumi, Guillermo Izquierdo know and DO NOTHING. I mean that is sick, sick, sick.

Pete, would not put Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer on the same pedestal as other founders. Its way too early. His lightning fast canonization may backfire, as it occurred during the time when JP2 was starting to be ill, OD members were in powerful positions at the Vatican and the MM cover up was occurring. What did Navarro-Valls and Cardinal Herranz know? Weren’t they fully involved in internal Vatican affaires during that time? In fact Navarro-Valls stonewalled Berry’s investigation, according to the NC Reporter. OD double speak (the real meaning of Opus Dei is over 1000 years old, and simply means the Liturgy of The Hours), clever canonical non-status of numeraries etc… seemed have been used as template for RC. The full story is yet to be written, in light of recent revelations.

I think the Legionaries need to be reminded that, as members of the Legion of Christ, they are in fact of Christ: Not of another person. St. Francis made this clear to his followers: They did not belong to him, they belonged to Christ. Therefore, he was not their master but their servant, the steward to whom Christ has entrusted his children, and like a good steward he must take care of the Lord's own and not take them away from the Lord. His last words - "I have done my part, may Christ teach you yours" - are a summary of his obedience to Christ. He is now and the Franciscans must not rely on him but upon Christ. They have his words and example, but these are only Franciscans in as far as they are Christian, and only Christians as fa as they follow Christ: Hence, the Franciscans rely on Christ through St. Francis' words and example, which are as reminders of belonging to Christ. So the Legionaries must do the same for their founder's words and example, and they must be told who they belong to and what subordinate role their founder had to Him whom they belong.

He is now gone*

I think your wording would only aid them in their denial now. The cult of the founder was lived for 60 years on the basis of a truth they twisted out of all proportion about religious life, one that has been affirmed over and over again by the Church: that a founder must imprint a personality on the work, he must give it what is its specific way of imitating Christ in a way that leads to holiness.
So to escape now the bad consequences of a founder's life that is all perversion, they are now saying it was never about him, it was always about Christ. What they cannot say is what is the specific path of holiness that is proper to the Legion as they imitate Christ. They have no real answer, they are lost and without it, the Church will shut them down.

Dear Pete,
I am agreeing to a check-fire as well. I've been fairly vocal in my criticisms over the past year, but like you I feel cautious optimism.

I dismiss Fr Alvaro’s letter as nothing more than his usual syrupy meanderings. The best I can say about that letter is, with his demotion imminent, it’s probably the last letter he’ll ever be sending to the RC/LC faithful.

The essential element for me with the communiqué is that they've finally said what they should have said a year ago - that they first believed MM, that they are shocked, and that they now have to set the record straight and are sorry for disbelieving victims.

I’m not letting them off the hook for saying they were caught by surprise. I think it’s believable that SOME were caught by surprise, like Fr Scott, who is really a boy in a man’s body and role, having grown up in the apostolic schools. I don’t think he’s capable of critical thinking, and I am sure he (and others, there are a bunch of names of Territorial Directors signed at the bottom) were clueless. That Fr Garza or Sada might have known – I’m content to let God and hopefully the Vatican deal with their deception.

Like Alvaro, I expect many or most of those LCs who signed the communiqué will soon lose their leadership roles, so this may be their swan song as well.

In their vague way, they’ve set the record straight on the 2006 Vatican Communiqué – they linked it in their communiqué. They’ve also said “given the gravity of his faults, we cannot take his person as a model of Christian or priestly life.” This is a pretty strong statement, for the Legion.

The pivotal point in the communiqué is that they have said that the abuse took place. They did apologize. I know it’s a weak apology. However, silly as this may sound, I feel a lot of peace because I was “right”. I never needed vindication for myself, because I knew I made the correct decision to follow my conscience and leave RC. But I must admit, it has felt very good to be at mass lately, and see all those women who one year ago were exhorting me to be serene and focus on “good fruits”, who looked at me with such incomprehension when I brought up the victims. They have been looking very sober, subdued indeed. I feel like I am standing very tall. These poor people, they refused to believe the abuse happened until the Legion TOLD them it happened. That’s the sad situation when you give your conscience over to a cult-like group.

I just can’t get into the “too little too late” discussions. We’re not discussing this as average folks, we discuss it as Catholics. The prodigal son did not come home to hear “too late! You blew it!” Jesus didn’t tell the woman at the well “sorry, that was one husband too many!” If the Legion has moved in a significant way, I agree with you, "if LC/RC proves sincere through subsequent actions and words, we as orthodox Catholics must prepare ourselves to forgive and welcome members back into the fold.”

I am afraid this is a very unpopular position on the blogs; in fact, I think we may be the only 2 experiencing cautious optimism!

One final comment, Pete, I appreciate your leadership in organizing us in prayer for all involved in this scandalous mess. Let’s continue to pray for all involved.

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This page contains a single entry by Pete Vere published on March 29, 2010 1:16 AM.

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