The Legionary Machine needs to be disassembled…

bolt by bolt, piece by piece until there is nothing left of the monstrosity the Monster created. It has many nice members and decent people in it. But it is an organization created by a monster to do one thing: facilitate, protect, and propagate his monstrous evil.

Machines don’t do what we want them to do. They do what they are designed to do. The parts of the machines cannot fight what the machine was built to do. They can only get out of the machine and disassemble the vile thing.

There are lots of other apostolates in the Church where the decent, betrayed, and exploited members of LC and RC can go. Those apostolates need their helping hand. I would urge members of LC and RC to pitch in there and stop trying to salvage the work of this monstrous reprobate who died refusing the sacraments. May God have mercy on his miserable soul, but I cannot see that anybody is under any obligation to keep his monstrous robot rumbling on. Let it die.

My 2 cents.

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  • Anthony

    I was surprised that Maciel refused the sacraments before death so I went and looked it up and from what I can see it’s more rumour than fact. Oughtn’t we be careful what we say when we don’t 100% know or am I missing something?

  • S. Quinn

    Utterly horrendous and very depressing story. This is not just some unknown priest, but one who was the “face” of Catholicism for a number of secular media outlets. What in the name of all that is holy is wrong with these celebrity priests? Do they truly not know what DAMAGE their behavior does to the faithful and to the hope that we can have ANY credibility among nonbelievers ? This man broke his vows years ago, yet went on presenting himself as a good and faithful priest, appearing on television, etc. etc. etc.?
    When these priests do these things (and I speak as someone very, very familiar with another celebrity priest who had an affair with an adult woman), why can’t they IMMEDIATELY take responsibility, leave the public eye and do humble, hidden work somewhere? What kind of egos do these men have?
    I have a family member studying for the priesthood, and now am once again listening to nasty, snide remarks….and these fine young seminarians don’t deserve it.
    Most revolting of all….this priest would not have said a WORD, just lived his lie, and only spoke because he was “outed” by someone in Chile.

  • Luis

    Mark, I consider you my brother in Christ, but I think you’re way out of line here. I am not a LC, nor am I associated with them in any way, shape or form, but I do know two things: If every place in Christendom, whether the Catholic Church or any Christian denomination that exist, would have to close if their leaders fall into disgraceful sins, there would not be a single place where the faithful would be able to worship. Second and more important, I know great priests from the LC and I think that they have the right to serve where they feel called to serve. This should not depend on the opinion of anyone. Opinions my friend, as you yourself have acknowledged, are cheap.

    • SDG

      Luis, the Legion’s crisis is unique in that its scandals begin not with its leaders but with its FOUNDER. In Catholic spirituality a group’s charism is inseparable from the spirituality of its founder. Whatever Opus Dei’s current founders may do, the ongoing mission of Opus Dei presupposes that St. Josemaria Escriva was a holy man. When a group is FOUNDED by a monster like Maciel, it is an existential quandary for the group. I agree with Mark that the LC should be disbanded.

  • Dan C

    Piety seems to get a “pass” on so many things in Church governance that caring for the poor never seems to give the practitioner. The LC is has a virtue of piety in many ways within its organization. As such, it is provided by the Vatican with a degree a reverence of that virtue (a virtue which is important).

    In terms of closing or keeping this group open, I will not offer an opinion, except that it gets many privileges based on apparent piety and, by some measure, power and wealth. I would only suggest that those who perform works of mercy to the poor receive the same generous patience that this group gets.

    • Ted Seeber

      I have about as much patience for LC as LCWR. To me, both groups- one in Piety, one in Social Justice- have given their charisms a major black eye by supporting what I can only describe as lying to cover up sin.

      One thing I really like about Knights of Columbus, is our transparency with our members. As a GK of a new council, I’m still in the learning stages- but I’m impressed that we can’t even spend a penny without the OK of 6 men AND the work of those six men being reviewed by the council AND 3 of those men having the job of watching the other three AND twice yearly audits to make sure all the rules were being followed. Brothers who do work with children have background checks completed that must be signed by the Grand Knight. And while we do have our secrets- any priest or any Bishop can ask to sit in on any of the secret meetings- and in fact, are encouraged to do so (in my new council, to the point that I scheduled one of those secret meetings around my pastor’s schedule just so he could attend).

      We have our scandals, but mainly they’re about politicians who are members voting against Church teaching (because without a priest’s ok, we can’t get rid of an individual for that).

  • Jack Swan

    Conspicuously absent from this “apology” is any sense of responsibility for leaving a child to grow up without a father, and a mother to bear the entire burden of child-rearing by herself. Very revealing that he refers to “her child”. This man needs prayers.

  • Would this be the Fr. Thomas D. Williams, LC, ThD, who wrote “Knowing Right from Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience”?

    • Michele

      Yep, that’s him. :/

  • John

    I distinctly recall reading a thread of yours about “docility” and how important it is for us to have. And I also recall reading that the Vatican wants to save the Legion (and legionaries) which is why there’s an Archbishop in charge of the Legion right now. So… in the context of “docility” which we’re to practice, I think the Catholic thing to do would be to patiently and in faith, follow the lead of the Vatican on this one and let the reform continue rather than build up vastly complex theories about what the LC was and is based on very little knowledge other than what’s general public knowledge. Legionaries for all the faults of Maciel still went to daily Mass. Had daily rosary. Daily eucharistic adoration. Daily reading of Papal documents. Daily exercise and community life. For all the faults of Maciel, most seminarians lived happy lives in communities marked by genuine charity and a sense of brotherhood. Yes they have ‘systemic’ problems – name me one Catholic group who doesn’t have a problem either in execution of the charism or due to cultural blindspots. Yes they’re men so they’re sinners. But the very point of double-lives and con men is that their corruption is secret. No one joined the Legion to become a pedophile or sex addict. No Legionary priest promoted heresy or schism from the pulpit or classroom. Dissent from the Pope or Vatican II was not promoted or winked at. They do need reform but those who know them the most and closest to them are talking reform and renewal not suppression and disbanding. Docility would counsel that we follow suit.

    • Ted Seeber

      “No one joined the Legion to become a pedophile or sex addict. No Legionary priest promoted heresy or schism from the pulpit or classroom.”

      I would disagree with both parts of this. The Legion was created by a pedophile *specifically* to use piety to feed his sex addiction. I can’t imagine that such a cultish system with such secrecy would NOT attract pedophiles and sex addicts. Promiscuity is indeed a crime against chastity and a heresy- perhaps THE heresy of our time.

      • Arnold

        My understanding is that Maciel committed sexual abuse with seminarians et. al. but was not aware that he abused pre-pubescent children. That would make him a pedophile.

      • Maciel abused the children that he himself fathered.

  • John

    Oh and Dan, the Legion is more than “piety”. You want to talk about actual good works? They run 100 K-12 schools in Mexico, including 14 K-12 academies for the poor that are subsidized by their network of private schools. And 13 Universities. And a mission diocese serving 500,000 mayans. And a network of 100 non-profits that in Mexico alone fed over 100,000 poor people on a regular basis. They built 3 entire towns for earthquake victims – so it’s not “nothing” and they’re not just all dressed up acting pious and holier than thou….. they actually have had a huge impact on the Church in Mexico. I’d stack their “social justice” programs against anything else in the Church so while they’ve definitely got problems, it’s the height of both injustice and stupidity to claim that they’ve no value worth saving. If you ‘take them apart’ all those apostolates and works will crumble too.

    • Dan C

      I did not hold piety as anything but a virtue. I am also aware of their activities and charities. Their public face has been that of piety, though.

    • Ted Seeber

      ” They run 100 K-12 schools in Mexico, including 14 K-12 academies for the poor that are subsidized by their network of private schools. And 13 Universities. ”

      Feeding children into positions where they can be abused. Nice candy shell but rotten at the core.

      “And a mission diocese serving 500,000 mayans. ”

      Preying on a native people who are oppressed by their own government, and thus not likely to complain.

      ” And a network of 100 non-profits that in Mexico alone fed over 100,000 poor people on a regular basis. ”

      If you’re going to have secret sex slaves, you have to feed them.

      Their charities seem ripe for abuse to me. But that could be that I went through a period where I rebelled against church teaching on chastity myself; and with my autism not understanding the consequences of my actions on other people, I very nearly fell into the trap of pedophilia and have spent decades trying to live a life of chastity (and largely succeeding for the past 15 years or so, with the help of God).

      • Therese Z

        I really don’t get your position: better they remain starving and in ignorance because the LC’s somewhere have a small percentage of predators somewhere in their order?

        Better to die than live and read after being fed and educated by people who belong to a flawed organization, huh?

        • Ted Seeber

          “I really don’t get your position: better they remain starving and in ignorance because the LC’s somewhere have a small percentage of predators somewhere in their order?”

          No, better that these institutions be given away wholesale to an order that accepts basic protection methods like background checks and not allowing children to be taken care of by a single adult.

  • John

    Maciel was a con man – but precisely because of that he didn’t preach heresy. The charism was approved by the Church via their constitutions and other norms. His followers followed him based on “letters” which he supposedly wrote about what the Legion’s charism was – now whether he wrote them or not is open for debate, but if someone proposes a charism to you and on the premise of that proposal you sign up and join them to promote that particular way of being Catholic…and the Pope approves that particular ‘insight’ as good and OK….. but then the original writer or ‘copy-cat’ con man is revealed as such…does that automatically prove those proposals to be heresy or wrong?


    Marxism isn’t wrong because Marx was a monster. It’s wrong regardless of Marx’s personal life.
    But Legionary spirituality was not just premised on Maciel’s reputation as a saint – that at most gave him “the benefit of the doubt”; the LC spirituality (Christocentric, marian, Papal, entreprenuerial and about taking personal initiative to build up the Church…) those things aren’t “intrinsically evil” or dependent on Maciel’s moral standing to have validity.

    Then there is the question of praxis or methodology… is door to door evangelism ‘intrinsically wrong’ because the Mormons do it? No.

    In Regnum Christi spirituality they did spell out the proper proceedure for vocational discernment…but then did not follow their own guidelines! (resulting in people being recruited without proper discernment and then feeling used – as indeed they were as they weren’t properly invited in the first place. But does that mean the spirituality is wrong or just not followed to the letter? One could substitute “Vatican II documents” for Regnum Christi above and ask the same question: if you don’t follow the letter of the law and bad things happen…is it YOUR FAULT or the letter of the law’s fault?

    Alot of armchair theologians and Catholic pundits would assume its’ the RC’s fault but then do a 180 and excuse Vatican II…. or they’ll blame Vatican II for post hoc ergo propter hoc….but excuse Trent for the rise of Atheism in Europe….

    Me, I try to keep my criteria of judgment from hypocrisy and double-standards – but that’s just me…

  • I think there are many, many good people in the Legion, and they do a lot of good. I have also noticed a lot of rotten things that the Legion and Regnum Christi does, probably inherited from the corrupt founder. The best thing to do would be to have a new foundation, which Legion members would then be free to join. The Legion itself needs to be disbanded, though.

    I am sure the Vatican has matters in hand, though, and will determine the best way to go about the future for the members of the Legion/RC.

  • Kirt Higdon

    I’ll go with whatever the Vatican decides on this one – that’s why the Pope is paid the big bucks, LOL. The legionaire priests I met seemed like good men. They did not try to recruit me or even hit me up for money. They urged me to work with my own parist, which I do. This advice was given when Maciel was still in charge and still highly thought of, so the legion couldn’t have been all bad or simply predatory even under his leadership.

  • Anna

    Why, oh why are their seminaries currently allowed to remain open and recruit new members? Given that their constitution and all formation documents and systems are under review, how can they continue formation? And now that there are clearly other issues with abuse and not merely problems with formation, how can they be allowed to continue as if nothing has happened? I know some LC priests are deeply shaken and grieved at the whole mess – and I don’t worry so much about them as that shows some current clarity of vision – but I know others who are still adamant that nothing very serious is or was wrong, and they do worry me as those are the types who will perpetuate the whole rotten culture that Maciel began.
    And, yes, there *is* a difference between a founder who is a sinner like anyone else and a founder whose entire life was “devoid of true religious” feeling or practice. Maciel’s life means that nothing he wrote about growth in virtue and formation of a strong spiritual life can be trusted – but he’s the founder on which their spirituality is based. Any order must have something particular to offer the Church, some specific reason to exist. It’s not enough to say that the LC members are expected to do the things any member of the Church is expected to do, like be obedient to the Magisterium and not teach heresy. But the LC’s specifics come from Maciel; hence the description of their problems as “systemic” – it’s not merely a problem with some people not following the system correctly or falling into sin, it’s a problem with the system itself which is not trustworthy.

  • Joannie

    Here is what I think about this particular story. This is the fifth American Priest in the last few years that had a scandal involving him. The main problem here is that it involves the Legion of Christ and its continuing problems despite the Vatican’s attempts to reform this order and the lay order. I had read somewhere that they are losing many members just over the Founder’s actions revealed in 2009. Now we have this. I also believe that there still exists a strong Personality Cult of the founder and also its undeniable connection to John Paul II. By the way just recently I received from them a Prayer Card for Vocations with John Paul’s picture on it. He really botched this particular thing up because of his loyalty to the Founder and the Groups continual refusal to acknowledge what the Founder did and officially apologize for the whole mess instead of continually asking me for money or for their Sweepstakes. I think also they may need to be disbanded as a order.

  • John

    They have 800 priests and probably lose about 10 per year. That’s bad, but it’s not unprecedented compared with big archdioceses or other orders. (*more Jesuits die of old age each year than new Legionary novices join up so there’s also a question of scale here…)

    Then there’s the governmental issues – why did the LC superiors do this or that, why did RC leaders do this or that…all prudential decisions about which honest and good people can debate and disagree without necessarily meaning anyone is in the wrong or operating from a systemically evil premise.

    The cult of personality was never an Obama-like cult , but it was still there. After the revelations most of the elements (pictures, use of his writings, etc.) have been stripped away. But old habits die hard apparently. It’s easy for us outsiders to cast stones but I think the current ‘insiders’ have quite a lot to deal with on their own – and they’ve been run by the Vatican for at least 3 years already so things are not staying put. Changes are happening, superiors are being rotated out, new ones are being rotated in…. As for JP2 not somehow magically knowing the double-secret life of Maciel…well, how exactly was he supposed to know absent an internal CIA for the Church? Maciel’s double-life was a secret to virtually every Legionary – 99.9% of them were not “in on it”. There were warning flags – but only in hindsight for most people. People predisposed to dislike the Pope or “traditional’ orders would naturally suspect the worst based on the flimsiest of ‘evidence’ – so what else is new? Is the Pope supposed to give great weight to evidence-less accusations and discount the daily presence of Legionaries in the Roman universities, masses and local parishes of Rome? How exactly was the Pope supposed to know all the dirty details when none were available to him much less to the other Legionaries? Here’s the deal…. be careful with the criteria you use to judge the Pope and the Legion…can it be used against you? If not, why not?

    • Ted Seeber

      ” how exactly was he supposed to know absent an internal CIA for the Church? ”

      Perhaps that’s exactly what we need, a return of the Inquest.

      • It was called the Inquisition and it never left. It’s now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

        • Ted Seeber

          I meant the concept of the Inquest (as a part of the Inquisition). The concept of the Inquest (subset) was that the Church *should* have tribunals that imposed a method on such witch hunts. The CDF is pretty good, but it is slow and ineffective against the type of secrecy groups like the LC, RC, and LCWR practice.

          An arm of the CDF should be investigators that track down *every* complaint by a victim.

  • Estudiante

    Unfortunately, I had to run into the LC a lot at Belmont Abbey College. The school’s president allows them and Regnum Christi to have their gatherings on campus and the LC priests are always around. They’ll concelebrate at mass with the monks sometimes and are always present for no apparent reason. I remember walking out of my dorm at 10:30pm and a few were just hanging outside in the courtyard – mind you, the dorms are a far ways off from the church/monastery. Even the monks have rules about not going in residential areas after a certain time.

    As a female student, I just thought it was very inappropriate for them to be near the dorms at that hour for no apparent reason, especially considering the scandal surrounding their order. They were likely not intending to do any harm, but still, given the circumstances, stupid on their part.

  • Tony

    Nice work Mark, Vatican needs to blow this horrible group up

  • John

    This “horrible” group – as though you know for sure that all those members are “horrible” or that they joined out an intentional desire to hurt people.

    In reality, this train wreck is not so cut and dried, not so “black and white”. Indiscriminate “death by zip code” is neither the Vatican way nor the Catholic way. “systems” are not people, they are habits of thought and action of people. And Jesus came to save people.

    If you’re scandalized by a sinner – be he a priest or a president, the “solution” is to look to the person, not assume that by getting rid of the “system” of priesthood or politics that we’ll somehow eradicate evil in our world. That’s not how evil enters our world!

    • Ted Seeber

      “This “horrible” group – as though you know for sure that all those members are “horrible” or that they joined out an intentional desire to hurt people.”

      Those that don’t, need to accept commonsense precautions against sin as well as “looking to the person”.