No god but the Legion, and Maciel was his profit

A friend in Regnum Christi draws my attention to the following news release, which shows up on Marketwire complete with Legion of Christ logo:

SOURCE: Legion of Christ
Aug 19, 2009 15:10 ET
Four Women Called to Serve Christ; Their Stories Available on CD
GREENVILLE, RI–(Marketwire – August 19, 2009) – Why does a woman choose consecrated life over a business career, husband and family or the opportunity to compete as a world-class athlete? The CD gives the answers.
As in Abraham’s day, God continues to call, and souls continue to answer. The new CD “Count the Stars,” created by the Regnum Christi consecrated women in Greenville, RI, tells the story of four women who heard that call and answered with their lives.
On the new CD, Luly Fernández and Lauren Hawkesworth both read their stories in first-person. Lisa Small reads Mary Maher’s story, while Stephanie Kielhorn reads Dorrie Donahue’s.
The “Count the Stars” audio book also features an original song, “Question Answered,” composed by the sophomore class at Mater Ecclesiae College, the institution of higher learning where the consecrated women of Regnum Christi prepare for their life of service to the Catholic Church.
The CDs are on sale at the price of one for $15 or two for $25. For online or credit card payment options, or if you have other questions and comments, please contact Susan Girard at (401) 949-2820 or send an e-mail to
For more information on both the book and the CD, visit the Mater Ecclesiae College web site at
Regnum Christi, with more than 70,000 members worldwide, is the lay movement of the Legionaries of Christ.
For an interview with one of the “stars” of the CD contact:
Jim Fair
Communications Director
Legion of Christ

Legionary detachment vs. Catholic reality

Former Legionary of Christ exorcist Fr. Damien Karras weighs in with a new commentary here. As is typical of his blog entries, he shares a lot of inside information, which can overwhelm at first. The whole piece is worth reading, however, allow me to pull out and comment upon just a few of his insights:

The Secretary General is on a whirlwind tour of LC centers spinning the yarn that there is a basis to the Legion that was not invented by the disgraced Founder and was never contaminated by his web of secrecy and falsehood.

One cannot help but think of the baptismal promises one makes every Easter: “Do you renounce Satan and all his evil works?”

Because of its ‘mystique’, the Legion can and should remain untouched by the scandal of its Founder’s life, the glaring questions about its internal structure and operations as a religious congregation and the lethal virus of doubt and distrust spreading silently through the ranks of its members.

This is my experience as well. The sense of “detachment” is a complaint I hear frequently from those on the inside. “Our superiors don’t live in the real world,” they tell me. “Their reaction to this scandal makes no sense.”
Actually, it does. And it speaks to the debate over the Legion of Christ (LC) and Regnum Christi’s (RC) charism. The detachment apparent among the movement’s superiors is not unlike the detachment lived by the founder. Remember that the spirituality preached by Fr. Maciel was severed from the life that he lived. Remember too that the Legion’s current superiors were handpicked by Fr. Maciel for their detachment; they themselves admit that they failed to notice his detachment from the doctrine that he preached. Thus Fr. Maciel imparted to his inner circle his detachment from what was real.
There’s an old saying in Catholic spirituality: “One cannot give what one has not received.” This is why the priest communes before the faithful during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He must first receive Christ before giving Him to the faithful.
Fr. Maciel’s detachment was not Catholicism. Ours is a very real religion, existing in the physical world. What separates man from the angels is that God bound our spirit with flesh, giving our bodies five real senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch). What separates us from non-Christians is our belief that God took on this flesh for Himself, real flesh from the womb of a real virgin. And what separates us as Catholics from our protestant brethren is that God continues to grace us through the sacraments, which are real and tangible acts of God’s love. Hence the reason we refer to the Eucharist as the Real Presence. Real bread and wine become the real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, giving us the opportunity to experience God through our physical senses.
To detach oneself from the real world, as Fr. Maciel and the Legion have done, is completely contrary to the spirit of Catholicism.

At the same time, a book recently distributed internally, ‘Cristo al Centro’, offers an anthology of Fr. Maciel’s writings and sayings – unindexed and sometimes slightly retouched – mixed with quotations from other, less dubious sources as a thinly disguised attempt to revindicate the Founder’s contribution to LC spirituality. Now we can quote the Founder without mentioning his name, read some of the things he said and wrote without that direct and oh-so-uncomfortable reference to his person. They’re already talking about revisiting the writings of Fr. Maciel some years down the road when all this ‘persecution’ has blown over…

It seems that every thousand years or so, the Church must wrestle with those Christians who profess secret knowledge. Gnosticism was the bane of the early Church, while the medieval Church faced controversy over the Knights Templar (who allegedly kept a double set of books and initiated new members through secret rites).

The Superior General has just sent an eighteen page letter meant, apparently, to motivate and strengthen the LCs in these difficult times. The meandering missive never even names the problems that are rocking the congregation to its core and basically offers three bits of advice to its confused, anguished and frustrated priests: pray, don’t read the newspapers and trust the superiors.

Thus Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, the Legion’s current General Director, continues to pass on what he received from Fr. Maciel. This cannot but speak to the debate over the Legion’s charism. The time has come for the LC/RC to get real.

Pope John Paul II and Fr. Maciel

UPDATE: Damian Thompson also weighs in on the controversy, over at the London Telegraph blog.
Cassandra Jones, one of the most insightful commentators on the Fr. Maciel expose, is back. This time Cassandra tackles how this crisis with the Legion of Christ is hurting the papal legacy of John Paul II. (For an earlier blog on this topic, please click here.) I’ve quoted some of Cassandra’s more pithy observations:

The circus nevertheless threatens to distract from the issue more important than Father Maciel’s personal depravity, which, if not fully, we knew about already: accounting for the damage the Legionaries have done to the Church. What interests me is how the scandal now threatens to derail the legacy of Pope John Paul II.
What the Legionaries used to say in their vile and dishonest attempt to discredit [Hartford Courant reporter Jason] Berry’s triumphantly vindicated journalism, that he is an enemy of the pope, was distortedly true insofar as Berry has expressed unsympathy for orthodox Catholic understanding in some matters. To have decoupled truth from Gospel witness in its members is one aspect of the disaster the Legionaries have inflicted on the Church. The National Catholic Register used the same voice both to proclaim pro-life and their loyalty to John Paul and to lie in defense of a serial child rapist.

Cassandra is right. Without some serious evidence to corroborate accusations that John Paul II was aware of the situation, we ought not allow this scandal to undermine our affection for the late pope. However, we must recognize that he was not perfect, and that he made a serious mistake in trusting Fr. Maciel.
Moreover, Legion apologists should recognize that they are doing themselves, orthodox Catholics and the memory of Pope John Paul II a great disservice in invoking the pope’s approval.

Maciel, Mom and the Messiah

While ExLC was translating the latest news to come from Spain (click here) and Giselle was surveying Regnum Christi membership decline in local sections (click here), I thought I would take a moment to poke through alleged LC constitutions available on Wikileak. (As an aside, has anyone heard from Cassandra or Fr. Damien Karras concerning recent allegations?)
I won’t go into the Legion’s structure, or ask why they include regulations on how to properly tip one’s soup bowl when dining. Rather, what stood out to me in glancing through the documents was the following hagiography of Mama Maurita, venerated among LC/RC as Fr. Maciel’s mother. In fact, the movement is currently pushing her cause for beatification:

Historical material pertaining to Our Founder

472. To gather historical material pertaining the family of Our Founder, especially Mama Maurita [the mother of Marcial Maciel Degollado], the instrument chosen by God to give life to Nuestro Padre and to prepare the earth in which his vocation as a Christian, a priest and the Founder of the Legion of Christ would germinate.[emphasis mine]
473. We consider it appropriate at this time to inform you that the Commission for the Cause of the Beatification of Mama Maurita has now been put in place and will in time be releasing information on the steps which it has been taking. Meanwhile, the Chapter Fathers invite our legionary brothers to intensify their prayers so that God may grant us the grace of seeing in the not too distant future Mama Maurita placed on altars, for the good of the Church, of the Legion and of the Movement.

Okay, anybody else troubled by this?
Not to say Fr. Maciel’s mother wasn’t a holy woman. She may or may not have been – I don’t know and that’s not where I’m going here. However, whatever her level of sanctity, does she deserve the same to messianic hagiography as the Blessed Mother, who prepared the way for Christ? Especially given that Fr. Maciel ended his life a disgrace to the Church.
The contemporary Church doesn’t even use this type of messianic language for St. Monica, who bore St. Augustine – a great convert, confessor, father and doctor of the Church, not to mention founder of the institute bearing his name. However, in Advent-like narrative, Mama Maurita was uniquely chosen by God to prepare the earth for and give birth to Fr. Maciel!
Suddenly, I understand why Fr. Maciel compared himself to Christ suffering on the cross in silence when the Holy See invited him to retire to a life of prayer and penance.

A dozen and counting

I’m wondering whether Rob Zombie will announce that his next film project is a biography of Fr. Maciel…
Yesterday’s El Mundo, which I am told by Hispanic readers is Spain’s second-most-widely read newspaper, and which carried the original interview with the mother of Fr. Maciel’s daughter, has just published a new article alleging that the Fr. Maciel illegitimate children count is up to twelve. ExLCBlog has an English translation here.
The only positive is that at least nobody is accusing Fr. Maciel of sending his concubines off to the abortuary. Of course, who knows what new allegations will arise tomorrow?