Legion of Christ general counselor resigns

Rome, Italy, Nov 7, 2013 / 11:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Father Deomar De Guedes has resigned as a general counselor of the Legionaries of Christ, citing a lack of energy to confront the challenges of the position.

Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the pontifical delegate overseeing the reform of the order, accepted the resignation. The priest was one of six members of the Legion’s general council.

The Legion’s acting general director, Fr. Sylvester Heereman, said he respects Fr. De Guedes’ decision. He voiced gratitude for his work in renewing the congregation.

Fr. De Guedes had asked Cardinal De Paolis to be “exclaustrated,” that is, to live outside the congregation.

The Code of Canon Law deals with exclaustration under the chapter on “separation of members” from institutes of consecrated life. The “New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law” comments that exclaustration “demonstrates a conscious distancing of the individual from the institute,” though adding that “while living out of community” the exclaustrated person “is in fact still a member of the institute under vow.”

However, the commentary states that the procedure is “often recommended as a transitional time for one who intends to leave definitively.”

Cardinal De Paolis granted Fr. De Guedes permission to reside “extra domum” – outside the community – for one year, asking that he re-evaluate his situation after the election of the congregation’s new leadership, at a general chapter which will commence Jan. 8, 2014 and is expected to last through February.

Fr. De Guedes, a native of Brazil, joined the Legion's novitiate in 1992, and made perpetual profession in 1997. He had been in his position as general counselor since February 2012.

He previously worked in the formation of diocesan seminarians at Rome’s International Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae, and was rector of Brazil’s Maria Mater Ecclesiae seminary. He was also rector of the Mexico City formation center for consecrated men in Regnum Christi, the Legion of Christ’s lay affiliate.

The Legion of Christ's general chapter will both elect new leaders and establish new constitutions for the order. The group said Nov. 6 that the event is “an important step in the Legion’s renewal and purification process.”

In 2009, the congregation’s late founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, was revealed to have led a scandalous double life. He kept a mistress and fathered children. Fr. Maciel, who died in 2008, has also been accused of sexual abuse and financial embezzlement.

An apostolic visitation determined the order needed “profound re-evaluation.” Benedict XVI removed Fr. Maciel from public ministry, calling him to a life of penitence and prayer.

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