If the Legionaries had any decency at all…

They would fork the whole $60 million dollars back over to the family. But being the Evil Robot of Destruction Maciel built the organization to be, I highly doubt the Robot will go on doing anything but what Maciel programed the robot to do: take money, cover up evil, and destroy.

The whole thing needs to taken apart bolt by bolt until there is nothing left. The Church is in the business of redemption and I admire the people who are trying to see if there is something to be done to salvage the work done by all the nice, kind, good and duped Legionaries who just wanted to serve God. But the organization itself is designed and built by a monster precisely in order to exploit the good work of nice people and pervert it to the ends of the founder.

You may be the sweetest, kindest data entry person in the world. The fact remains that machines don’t do what data entry people *want* them to do. They do what they are *designed* to do. The Legionaries is a machine designed to enrich and enable a monster, while covering up his monstrousness. It will continue doing what he built it to do. The only way to help the people caught in the machinery is to take the machine apart, and connect them with something authentically of Christ elsewhere in the Church.

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  • John

    Mark, you err in assuming it’s all a sham and nothing is done with the money. Mrs. Mee gave that money freely, not under coercion. The many missionary works are real – not shams, not fakes, helping real poor people. I’ve seen them with my own eyes. 14 K-8 schools for the utterly poor in Mexico City alone. 3 entire towns for the poor – to help them into the middle class permanently called CIDECOs. One outside Mexico City, one near Acapulco and one in El Salvador. the Medical missions, the mega-missions involved 20,000+ teens mobilized for Holy Week… th “un kilo de ayuda” food drives…. you can’t fake 2,000 full time lay missionaries being subsidized by the LC.
    Yes, like any organization, the LC is flawed and has evil doers (many who are dead or gone) and many people – perhaps most – who were totally duped by Maciel. But to claim it was all a sham and they were all doing evil…. is completely unjust.
    I am no longer affiliated with them, have not been for years, but it is unjust to lump the good and innocent in with the evil and bad. It is unjust to nuke the whole time zone.

    • chezami

      How on earth do you get “They were all evildoers” from what I wrote?

      • Imp the Vladaler

        You didn’t. But you said “If the Legionaries had any decency at all they would fork the whole $60 million dollars back over to the family.”

        Refunding the entire $60 million would be depriving good people doing good works of money. If the entire sum was sitting in the bank doing nothing, returning the donation would be simple, but much of that money that has already gone to help the poor. I’m pretty sure that you don’t want to go to the alien, the orphan, and the widow and put your hand out for a refund.

        By the same token, I’ve thrown a lot of money into the collection basket over the years and given to the bishop’s annual appeal when asked. Some of those bishops have turned out to be not-so-hot in the don’t-protect-the-molesters department. Should I demand a refund of my donations? Oh, and given that the Lavendar Mafia seems to have opened up a Legitimate Businessmen’s Social Club in the Curia, perhaps I can ask for my Peter’s Pence money back, too.

        • HappyTrails2U

          John & Imp,
          The LC works for the poor are sideshows created by Maciel to deceive weak minded bishops and gullible catholics. Your LC promotional brochure level knowledge of LC finances is simply astounding. The CIDECO projects are funded by the Anahuac University (college for rich kids) and the work of building them is done by the students (free labor). The Legion is not paying to maintain these communities. The Un Kilo De Ayuda is funded by mexican consumers who grab a donation card at a local supermarket and give $10 pesos per card. The Legion of Christ manages the income, but what % of the total goes to the poor is anyone’s guess. The Mano Amiga schools are funded by donors who send their donations to Catholic World Mission, Fundacion Altius, World Fund (Carlos Slim) and other foundations. The Legion of Christ is not funding them and if the Legion went belly up, they would theoretically continue on their own with their own funding. The Legion’s instruments to fundraise bring in more money than actually goes to the works for the poor.

          In part you need to understand how finances work in the Legion. Regarding donations to the Legion of Christ – all donations go to a centralized bank account managed by one person – Fr. Jose Felix Ortega who takes his orders from an administrator in Rome and the Territorial Director. The money is then sent to Rome. The Legion’s US administration makes a transfer request according to their payables. Some of the money sent to Rome comes back and the administration and the superiors decide where that money goes.

          For example, the Legion sent out a milk letter – the brothers in Cheshire need milk. The donations from that campaign did not go to the administrator in Cheshire to pay for the 4 month old milk bill, but rather it goes to the central bank account after being processed in their fundraising offices. After the milk letter went out, the Cheshire administration was still as far behind in their payments to the dairy company as before the solicitation.

          If you call up Catholic World Mission and ask for a paper copy of the bank transfer statements from the US to Mexico, they will not provide you with that nor will they ever. They will only offer you a 990 tax statement. All charity organizations send out their yearly statements to their donors with clear accounting totals – Catholic World Mission only sends out the 990 when a donor insists.

          Regarding the Mano Amiga schools, the parents of the students pay anywhere from 25% to 100% of the tuition. The students have to buy their own books and their own school supplies.

          The Legion’s work for the poor are less than 1% of the Integer Group (Grupo Integer) budget – the Legion’s management wing which has a $650 million dollar budget.

          And don’t forget about the Integer Ethical Funds (about 22 billion dollars being managed by the Legion of Christ) http://integerethicalfunds.com/objectives.htm. How much of that money was Mrs. Mee’s???

          My word of recommendation – don’t be duped by the propaganda. And don’t leave uneducated comments as if you are doing someone a favor. Set aside the Legion of Christ propaganda books & brochures and walk into the land of the truth.

          The Legion’s “good works” in Mexico help less than 20,000 poor children despite collecting millions and millions of dollars in donations. In Mexico there are more than 18 million very poor kids. What the Legion does is a drop in the bucket, but it certainly looks good on paper and in 5 color photos.

          The Legion can pay back the $60 million and it would not affect them in the least.

          • lizphelan

            Good point XLC – and if they have been discouraged from buying off the curia in recent years they’ll be so much the richer there as well. But then overall donations have been down a bit (at least in the US) so maybe they actually do need some of that $60 million for bread and milk.

          • Imp the Vladaler

            Take it down a notch, sparky. No need to be “astounded.” Like I said, if the money is just sitting idle in a bank account, go ahead and grab it. But even after that whole tl;dr post, you still conclude that “The Legion’s ‘good works’ in Mexico help less than 20,000 poor children despite collecting millions and millions of dollars in donations.”

            Okay. So it’s “only” 20,000 poor Mexican kids we’re going to ask for refunds from. (And some parents have to pay 25% of the tuition – screw them, I guess, because they’re not getting a 100% subsidy. If they can afford to pay a uquarter of the tuition, they can come up with the other 75% of the subsidy). Gotcha. That’s much better. Go to them with your hand out.

            • HappyTrails2U

              You need to read others comments completely before commenting.
              There are 4 huge charities collecting money for Mano Amiga, Medical Missions, etc. They are Fundacion Altius, Catholic World Mission, World Fund & a few others. The 20k kids have their costs more than covered by private donations and the families pay a part (25% to 100%) of the tuition costs, all of their book costs, school supply costs and their school uniform costs.
              Returning $60 million in no way would affect these kids, does not affect Un Kilo De Ayuda, does not affect Cideco, etc. This is private money. Not the Legion of Christ money.
              Where are you getting the idea that somehow the Legion pulls from their own bank accounts to cover these kids school costs? The one’s who pay for their education are private donors, the families and each school has local sponsors. The Legion just manages the money and have never given an account of how that money is managed other than vague 990 tax statements.
              So returning a donor’s money in no way affects these kids. These schools can survive on their own without the Legion of Christ which just acts as a mediator and not a very transparent one at that.
              Are you telling me that the Legion can not spare $60 million from their $650 million dollar annual budget (Integer Group)?

        • Brad

          They very systematically set up camp in wealthy neighborhoods and did very little for the poor in Denver. They even had the nerve to ask those in RC to bring them meals and food while they were banking all that money. The refund has nothing to do with whether or not they have spent the money. They can sell assets if need be.

    • Michelle

      You seem to be forgetting that Mrs. Mee gave this money when she was
      under the impression that Fr. Maciel was a “living saint” instead of a
      lying, scheming, swindling scuzzball and predatory molester in a Roman collar. There’s nothing “free” about a donation when the recipient has his hand out under false pretenses and with intent to deceive. If refunding the donation to Mrs. Mee’s family causes suffering for the poor, then the blame and responsibility for that is on the Legion, not on Mrs. Mee’s family. In any case, the last thing we need is for the Legion to continue to be entrusted with the education and religious formation of children. Those schools you are marveling over should be immediately removed from the Legion’s control and governance.

      • PSiena

        Bravo Michelle! This organization just does not get that deceit robs the committed of their freedom, and gravely so. It is an injury that requires reparation. How can a single vow or promise in that place ever be considered valid- at least prior to 2010?

    • PSiena

      Perhaps the perspective Mark is proposing is to sink the ship (machine), but save the good men/women in it, via any number of other ecclesial frameworks- one that is free of this sordid historical legacy and influence. Trying to have to spend the next decade proving to themselves and to the world that an overt liar, thief and abuser could transmit a path of holiness seems to not at all offer what world or the Church needs right now. We need these men and women some place else.

  • I don’t normally read this page. A friend of mine on facebook shared the link, so I looked it up. Some how I feel a strong disconnect between the pages header and the article. I didn’t get the sense that the author was Catholic and Enjoying it. It felt like the Author was Disappointed and Upset about it.

    • Rebecca Fuentes

      Read some of his other posts–he does enjoy it. No one is happy when they see injustice done, though.

      • I’m sure he does enjoy being Catholic, just like I enjoy being Catholic. I guess I’m just tired of posts that harp on old news as if they were bitter about something.

        I used to be a Legionary. I could spend my entire life discussing what could be wrong and what could be right about the Legion. But as far as I’m aware, the Vatican took over that job and I’m content to let them handle it. I, for one, have complete confidence in the Vatican and in our current Pope. Recently Pope Francis expressed that he was pleased with the direction of reform the order was taking. If the Pope is pleased, so am I.

        I know Mark Shea wrote for the National Catholic Register while it was run by the Legion of Christ. I trust him as an educated writer. But you can rest at ease, if you trust that the Vatican is capable of doing the right thing. I do.

        • Newp Ort

          Take your smug superiority and go rest at ease back at facebook “Trebor.”

          • Wow. Thank you. I wasn’t aware I had bothered anyone. Sorry. I’ll leave this conversation, I didn’t mean to spark comments like “smug superiority”.

            • Newp Ort

              Farewell, Fairwell!

              (edit: I’m a dumbass)

              • You aren’t what you say you are, Nerp. If you’re involved in these conversations, you’re most likely a great person who cultivates two very important virtues. Faith and and sense of Humor.

                In someways I’m sure “smug superiority” could be a compliment to my personal security and high self-esteem. I’m working on my self-esteem. (no, not really)

                I shared you comment about my “smug superiority” on Facebook. People “liked” it.

                • Newp Ort

                  Not what I say I am? As they say, on the internet no one knows you’re a dog.

                  Seriously you’re too kind; remind me of Therese of Lisieux vowing to be as nice as possible to that a$$hole nun.

                  I’d guess I’m roughly 5% faith, 5% seeking faith, 15% sense of humor, 75% jerk, 110% full of sh!t. But thanks for pointing out the good parts, I’ll try to cultivate those. Actual ease can be mistaken for smugness, especially through the cynical eye of the internet.

            • Newp Ort

              Aw crud, I’m sorry Trebor. That was totally uncool of me and for no reason at all; won’t even try to explain because there’s no reason to say that kinda stuff. Maybe I got up on the wrong side of the bed, but anyway I was a dick, my apologies.

              Don’t go back to facebook, we need new voices here. (also facebook sucks)

              • Rebecca Fuentes

                I was going to tell him not to take your comment too seriously, though it did seem a little out of character for you. We have much more fun here than on Facebook anyway. From where I’m standing, Facebook is still rehashing what really, real modest women should wear. STILL!

        • Rebecca Fuentes

          You are welcome to take issue with his presentation of the Legionnaires and discuss that with him, I just thought I would assure you that Mark is not always griping.

          • I didn’t mind your comment at all, Rebecca, and I understood it. But Newp Ort has kindly asked me to return to Facebook and I’ve decided to honor his request. I hope you all have a lovely and lively discussion.

    • lizphelan

      Trebor, where do you disagree with Mark Shea? Do you have points of fact or are you basing your assessment on what you are sensing and feeling?

      • I never said that I disagree with any of his facts. In fact, if you’ll read my reply to Rebecca you’ll see that I admit there was nothing perfect about the Legion; having been a member, I would know.

        I simply took issue with the fact that this blog titled “Catholic and Enjoying it!” posted an article that doesn’t help anyone enjoy being Catholic.

        I don’t think we should ignore the fact that the Fr Maciel was a criminal of historic proportions. But I think we can already begin to relegate his crimes to the history books.

        There are many more inspiring, uplifting, and equally true stories that would help me enjoy my faith. For example, only yesterday there was a Eucharistic miracle in Guadalajara. And what about the craziness going on around Pope Francis in Brazil?

        I haven’t disagreed with any of Mark Shea’s facts, and I intentionally avoided mentioning his argument. I didn’t even touch upon the debate that followed this blog over whether or not Mark thinks all Legionaries are monsters. The Vatican is currently managing that situation, and I have nothing new to add to their investigation.

        My one very simple point is that a blog title “Catholic and Enjoying it” has surprised me with an article about how corrupt a Church organization was in the past, and how it very likely will always be corrupt in the future. Catholic and Enjoying it!

        • Shane

          No, no his crimes will not be swept under the rug and “relegated to the history books”. I have known people who have been abused by this order, and as long as they are hurting, you damn well better believe I will talk about it.

          “Focusing on the good things” is often an excuse to ignore problems and injustices, and that is precisely what you are advocating.

          • First off, my original point was simply that I would expect a Blog titled Catholic and Enjoying it to be a Blog about Catholics enjoying their faith. And the article I read left me feeling more disappointed and upset.

            Secondly, I’m not sweeping crimes under the rug. I WAS in the legion. In some ways, I WAS HURT BY THE CRIMES THEY COMMITTED. I was sent fundraising for the Legion literally days after the scandal became news. I was essentially going door to door, apologizing and then I was supposed to ask people for money. I did it because I had taken a vow of obedience, but I felt terrible doing it.

            I have never gone out of my way to defend the Legion as an institution. Personally, I don’t know how the Legion will end up. I’ve heard a thousand theories…all just as likely as the next. They could simply cease to receive recruits, they could be suppressed, they could be renamed, they could be isolated, they could be vaccinated…something is wrong, and something IS being done.

            Through acquaintances I have in the Legionary community, I’ve followed them at a distance, I’ve asked how the rules have been changing, and my opinion is not naive or excessively optimistic. At this very moment in time, I believe the Church is handling the situation as it should. I really wish the scandal had been uncovered years before I had joined. Fact is, it hadn’t been. And I’ve accepted that as part of life.

            I’m friends with hundreds of guys who joined the Legion and left. I’m friends with hundreds of families who joined Regnum Christi and left. And I personally know people who used to donate to the Legion, and don’t anymore. So many of them spend too much time talking with each other about “The Legion” and how it is corrupt, how it ruined their lives…and they have become obsessed with the legion’s problems. And these people are now involved in an unending war which, honestly, can only be resolved by the actions of the Vatican.

            Myself and many others chose a different path. When we left the Legion, we left the Legion. We focused on rebuilding our lives. We managed to release any attachment we had towards the Legion. We’ve moved on with our lives. Sure we keep on eye on the Legion because we know people, great people, who belong to that order and we care about them.

            I’m not ignoring injustice. I’m very aware of the injustice. I’ve already recognized the sinners…but I’ve accepted that its not my duty to pass sentence. I’ve managed to retain enough trust in the Church, that I’m comforted by its guidance. In the case of the Legion, it falls to the Vicar of Christ to determine just punishment and decide their future.

            • lizphelan

              Trebor, your candor is heartfelt and I believe you are honestly trying to move on. Can I please ask a question: why exactly did Mark Shea’s article leave you feeling disappointed and upset? Is it that he chose to opine on a topic that’s upsetting, or is it the niece’s actions which seem disappointing (maybe because it seems that SHE won’t let the issue go and move on herself) or is it the Legion’s very actions themselves, or what exactly?

              Obviously news out of the Legion has been upsetting for many these past four years (actually these past seven if you begin with the 2006 Vatican communique). Frankly, most of these upsetting stories seem to originate within the Legion itself. No one’s making these stories up. Shouldn’t the Catholic world know when a congregation might be up to further shenanigans – esp. when it assured everyone that honesty and transparency was Point Numero Uno? If the Legion’s own behavior conflicts with that point, isn’t it actually the RESPONSIBILITY of the Catholic press to report and comment?

              • I’m not trying to move on. I already have moved on. I’m actually a very happy, very normal person. Perhaps its because so much of my life has previously been saturated with all the negative news surrounding the Legion that I feel it is now overkill and simply a pity party for some. I suppose I wish I could help the rest of the world move on. Because, in my mind, the scandal is over and the Church has taken matters into her own hands.

                This may be why I feel like some are circling like vultures around the Legion, waiting anxiously for it to die. It very well could be that there are still some people who haven’t heard the news about the Legion. My experience has been, though, that most people intrigued by the Legion’s reconstruction are simply waiting for it to die. My experience has also been that most articles about the Legion are written from the same perspective.

                I’m not saying that is Mark’s intention, though he does seem to infer that their only redemption is through dissolution. A lot of people seem to be afraid of the possibility that there are other options.

                Wouldn’t it be more honest to describe the current facts. That the Vatican has taken control of the Legion’s reconstruction, and the Vatican has shown that she is pleased with the Legion’s progress. Cardinal Velasio de Paolis is still busy, hard at work. The task is by no means complete. Isn’t it true that where there is Christ there is Hope? As Catholic press, shouldn’t we our reporting be colored by Reason and Faith?

                I guess, this is my problem with the article. It did leave me feeling upset. Calling the Legion an “Evil Robot of Destruction” seems presumptuous, especially when the Vatican seems to believe the Legion is something well worth saving. This would then pit Mark’s opinion against the present disposition of the Church. That is bothersome.

                • lizphelan

                  Well, I’m glad you’ve moved on – although I do question whether that’s really the case given what you are saying about feeling upset. You clearly had invested quite a bit in the Legion and it’s a shame you were let down (if not betrayed outright).

                  As to the facts of what Mark said: yes, he certainly does believe that the structure created by Maciel is a very bad thing. The Holy See confirmed this assessment in its 2010 communique. There has been nothing from the Legion to suggest that this structure will be fundamentally changed. So that remains a potential problem, even as they emerge from their chapter in early 2014. Mark has also pointed out that the Church is trying to salvage the good work of many Legionaries. His opinion pulled no punches but it wasn’t a personal attack on Legionaries. He has a major issue with the structure. We will see what happens over the next several months.

                  But please educate me on a couple of things:

                  1) you have mentioned a few times that the “pope is pleased with the progress . . . ” etc. Where does Pope Francis say that exactly? His latest communicaton states that the extraordinary chapter and approval of the constitutions “will be fundamental steps in the path towards the authentic and profound renewal of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and, indirectly, as well for the activity of the whole Regnum Christi Movement.” Sounds to me like he’s saying the Legion and Regnum Christi are really just getting started. What are your thoughts?

                  2) What is the charism of the Legion and Regnum Christi, in your view? In other words, what attracted you to the institute in the first place?

                  • My current interest in the Legion exists because of the friends I still have in the Legion. Please don’t question whether or not I’ve moved on. It is condescending.

                    To answer the first problem, you are clearly more familiar with the Pope’s letter than I am. But in that letter, the Pope tells Velasio that it is his duty to oversee the election of new Government. And this would solve the problem of structure. And I’m as curious as anyone to know where the next Chapter will take them.

                    I’d like to ask your forgiveness. Nowhere has the Pope stated that he is pleased with the Legion’s progress. My bad. I suppose I’m interpreting comments made by Cardinal Velasio as expressions of the Church’s position. Forgive me.

                    “My presence here manifests a word of confidence on the part of the Holy Father. He named his Delegate for the Legion and for Regnum Christi because he had confidence both in the Legion and in the Regnum Christi Movement. He named his Delegate not to destroy, but to revitalize, discover, and renew the great energies that exist in the Legion and in Regnum Christi.” http://www.regnumchristi.org/english/articulos/articulo.phtml?id=36115&se=359&ca=84&te=782

                    A letter to Regnum Christi states: “our reflection on the vocation of consecrated life in Regnum Christi was on the right path; that your vocation is authentic, and there was a renewal of the commitment to preserve and persevere in it.”

                    Sure there’s a need for change. I’M NOT DENYING THAT. But the process for change has begun and is headed in the right direction.

                    The last question you ask is very personal. I’ve had several conversation with Legionaries where they have asked me the same question, I’m not joking. Currently, the Charism of the Legion has not been officially determined. But every letter from Cardinal Velasio that I have read reiterates that there certainly is Charism, and by definition Charisms must come from the Holy Spirit.

                    What attracted me to the Legion? Legionaries were the only priests I knew that expressed enthusiasm and sincere passion for their vocation. I don’t know what their Charism is, the Legion itself doesn’t quite know what it is. In the end, it turns out I wasn’t really attracted to the Charism.

                    • lizphelan

                      I apologize for appearing condescending. I should not have made that comment, esp. as you are the best judge of whether or not you have moved on.

                      Now, the delegate is the representative of the Holy See so in effect speaks for the pope. De Paolis has been a bit more effusive then either Benedict or Francis (although the latter can perhaps be excused for having arrived late on the scene). De Paolis has clearly communicated his support for the institute – even going so far as to construct (with the help of Ghirlanda) a set of “Charism Principles”. It’s crucial that the Legion be able to describe it’s charism in it’s own words. Your testament confirms that many – if not all – of the Legion simply cannot describe coherently what their charism is. And that is very problematic.

                      I think by “government” is meant who will take the reins (general director, vicar general and general secretary were/are the most recent leadership designations). Structure will be determined by the constitutions approved in the extraordinary Chapter. Will it actually “solve” the problem? That was certainly the purpose of the extraordinary Chapter. However, as indicated in the 2010 communique, the three -year renewal process was supposed to CULMINATE in the new constitutions and chapter. Yet Pope Francis has indicated that renewal will extend beyond 2014 and that the approval and submission of the constitutions for review by the Holy See are “fundamental” (ie foundational) steps in the process. Would you have known that fact by reading the Legion’s press releases?

                      I wish you well in your continued support of your friends who remain in the Legion. Pope Francis, in the same letter I mentioned earlier, stated: “I am invoking the aid of the Holy Spirit so that He will inspire in all the religious a greater dedication to the task of discernment regarding their vocation within the Church and the world.” A GREATER dedication??? Mark my words they are just getting started on the process of renewal.

                    • I agree that the Legion needs to discover its charism. I agree that the government needs to get fixed. And I know for a fact that Legionaries themselves understand that the structure needs to be changed. The meetings they’ve been holding to discuss these matters have pretty much redefined their lives. One seminarian told me that they spend time every week in meetings to reevaluate the Constitutions (And I’ve read the constitutions, the largest part of the Constitutions deals with the internal structure of the Legion.) Channels have been established for the comments and reflections on each number of the Constitutions to reach Velasio or his own delegates.

                      The stress of “greater dedication to the task of discerning their vocation with the Church” refers to this need of discovering the Order’s Purpose within the Church. I think he means that its time to put your apostolic endeavors on hold, because the first job ya’ll need to do is figure out your Charism. And foremost on the minds of all my legionary friends is that question. What’s our charism?

                      One of the greatest virtues I see in my Legionary friends is their sincere obedience to the Pope. I’m sure the letter you referenced has been their source of meditation and prayer for many days, if not weeks. They’ve read it, analyzed it, and are hard at work applying its message.

                      I don’t think the process is just beginning. I know the process of renewal began three years ago. Are they renewed yet? No. But I was in the Legion when big things began to change three years ago. I was in France, we held the first series of meetings about the Constitutions, and I know those meetings are still being held today on a regular basis.

                      If you need examples of serious change, here is one rule that has changed, and I’m not sure everyone grasp the importance of it: the rule on family communication.

                      It used to be that you could call your family once a month, and visit them twice a year. Your superiors opened your letters before you received them. And to call your family you needed the permission of your superior. That was life while I was there.

                      Now that things REALLY are changing. You can call your family whenever you want, just grab the phone and dial the number. Letters are not opened, you have to open your own letters. And there are no restrictions to family visits. I know a lot of Legionaries who have spent month long vacations with their families now.

                      You might think these are stupid little changes, but they aren’t. One of Maciel’s devices was this control over contact with the outside world. That, and many other devices have been found out and removed. The structure of the Legion is being repaired. And the process began at least three years ago.

                    • lizphelan

                      Yes, I was aware of the family visit change. Certainly those types of changes would be welcome from the majority of Legionaries.

                      Question: what is your sense of how well the leadership has embraced renewal and purification? That is, it’s one thing to reflect on the constitutions – and the Legion and Regnum Christi are very organized and able to fit in those types of meetings beause I’m guessing it can substitute or enhance the team encounter or similar session. But it might be very difficult for an older superior or director who was formed for decades under Maciel to embrace the idea that the structure was seriously flawed. What has the Legion done to address that potential problem (being that the very individuals who may struggle – directors and so forth – would be the ones putting mechanisms in place to address it.

                      Even more profound – you say they actually have been prayerfully reflecting on the constitutions for three years. And recently the LC communicated that the draft constitutions have been sent to the territories for “vetting”. So a form of the new governance has been put in draft form already. But they still don’t have a charism on paper (only principles which De Paolis and Ghirlanda wrote up for them). Doesn’t structure, governance, rule of life, etc. actually flow from the charism? How can they be “moving forward” if they don’t really know what their charism is yet? You have to have a reason to be together – other than love of orthodoxy and love for unity – in order to be an authentic religious institute. At least that’s what theologians and canon law have indicated.

                      At any rate the current pope has indicated that their renewal will need to continue and I just pray that the structure and governance they are putting in place will support that.

                    • The leadership actually has been changed incredibly over the past couple years. Those running things in the Legion now are not priests who were trained directly by Fr Maciel. Territory Directors have been changed, assistants for Religious life have been changed, superiors of centers have been changed…there have been a lot of changes.

                      I disagree that it would be difficult for the leadership to implement changes. You are talking about an order of priests who pride themselves on their sense of obedience and fidelity to the Magisterium. This comment could be misread. I mean to say that many, if not all the individual priests in the Legion (I’m referring to a personal quality, not to the the institution) will celebrate mass in their bathing suits if the Pope, or the Pope’s delegate asked them to. I’m 100% confident in their ability to accept and apply whatever changes Cardinal Velasio sees necessary.

                      I remember that it was mostly the older priests who sought to talk with the Apostolic Visitors, not to complain, but to propose what changes they themselves thought should be made. The younger seminarians could talk to the Apostolic Visitors too, but the younger seminarians hadn’t been around long enough to detect what was wrong.

                      One thing to understand about a Charism is that you don’t invent a Charism. Charism is a gift from the Holy Spirit to the Church. It comes from the Holy Spirit. It pre-exists the human understanding of its nature because its source is divine. The Legion has a Charism, this much the Church has made extremely clear. The Legion is really in the process of re-Founding. Rather than one man understanding God’s inspiration to found an order, the Legion has to break down pre-conceptions and dig through their actual and personal inspiration, pool that all together and uncover a common Charism. They’ve been hard at work on this question, and I’m sure the answer will surface after the Extraordinary Chapter.

                      There Charism is there, regardless of their clear understanding of it. The structure of the Legion will mostly be determined by Canon Law and less on their unique Charism. True, an understanding of their Charism helps, but the Charism isn’t invented, it is a gift that has to be discovered. It could take many years for the precise Charism to be discovered. In the meantime, the Legion clearly has a general idea about the good it tries to achieve for the Church. A priest I spoke with said that he feels the Charism of the Legion has something to do with teaching Catholics how to be apostles. I’m sure that’s not everything…but there certainly is a need for an order whose purpose is to rekindle the flame of the faith in the laity.

                      From what I understand, they are also redefining their concept of Regnum Christi as an integral part of the Legion’s Charism.

                      There certainly is a unique Charism, because I’ve seen it. It wasn’t for me, but it was also something I’ve not found anywhere else. The French have a great phrase: “Je ne sais quoi”. It means, I don’t know what. And the Legion has a “je ne sais quoi” that is very hard to describe, but very real and very different. If it weren’t different we could say, “oh, the Legion, they’re just like the Jesuits.” But they aren’t.

                      The “private vows” as they were called have been changed. They are no longer called “private” and there is no longer a vow to not criticize authority. This has embraced, I don’t know why that would be surprising?

                    • lizphelan

                      Luis Garza is director of the US territory so that’s a big exception to what you have said about newer priests being in charge.

                      And then regarding the leadership embracing change, you need to read or reread the Legion’s response to the original 2006 communique removing Maciel from public ministry to a life of prayer and penitance. Read also Owen Kearns’ editorial in the National Catholic Register around the same time. It is to be noted that Maciel died comfortably in a residence in Florida so it wasn’t like he had retired to a private monastery. He probably had lots of visitors as well. Do you think any of those examples demonstrate obedience to the pope’s wishes? It seems that the leadership was very willing to obey up to a point. And this is the leadership who is revising and/or vetting the constitutions.

                      Older priests could have been discussing changes with the Visitators for a couple of reasons. One, as you suggest, is to help implement constructive change, understanding there may be real problems. Two, directing and controlling what the Visitators actually hear. I personally suspect both. Take a leader who may have been complicit in Maciel’s gross misdeeds but wants to detract attention towards real problems but away from his own participation in it. Of course this is just speculation but we really don’t know what came out of the visitation other than what was communicated in the Holy See’s 2010 communique. Remarkably, that communique seems to have pinned all the deception on Maciel alone, which seems incredibly unlikely. Keep in mind, as well, that the Thomas Williams baby scandal is yet another example not only of a priest deliberately NOT living his vows for a period of time but of other priests lying and covering for him even while under the authority of the delegate. These examples are not the result of a mistake or a one-time wrong but an institutional decision to excuse, cover, and deceive. Not particularly obedient either to the pope or to vows or chastity – or even to the norms of the congregation! And yet we are to believe that the leadership wants change. Interesting thought but I think it’s a bit of a stretch.

                      I agree that charisms are not invented but members of an institute should have a good idea of what makes them distinct. Just so you know, the Legion DID at one point like to describe themselves informally as “the new Jesuits” (because of their professed obedience to the pope which was, atone point, an integral part of Jesuit life). It seems that in creating the Legion Maciel took what he liked about the Jesuits and Opus Dei and mixed them together. So it’s not new, it’s just copied. Again, just my personal opinion and certainly I’ll be delighted to find that I’m wrong.

                      Finally, regarding the so-called “private vows” the one pertaining to criticizing your superior just sounded bizarre and of course provides a GREAT cover for your superior or director doing all sorts of misdeeds simply by utilizing this intricate understanding of “charity” as a threat against potential witnesses. Maciel either had co-founders who were against it – because they recognized the real problems and even crimes it could allow to go undetected – or they were for it in which case some of them could easily and without detection emulate the founder’s behavior. The Thomas Williams case is just one suggestion that they were for it – and that they did NOT, as you indicate, embrace the change all that readily.

                    • lizphelan

                      An addendum to what I just wrote: In your view, have the “secret vows” of charity (don’t criticize a superior, report on whoever does) and humility (don’t aspire to a leadership position) truly been abolished? Benedict took action on this in 2007 or so. How well has the congregation (particularly the leadership) embraced that change?

                    • The leadership has largely been changed during the past three years, so much so I hardly know any of the new major superiors. During my time all the changes requested by the Vatican were applied promptly and thoroughly without a moment’s hesitation. This much I know from experience.

                    • lizphelan

                      The leadership is certainly making changes. But we don’t know their intent or degree of authentic cooperation on this issue nor will we know until well after the extraordinary Chapter. Are they implementing change because they WANT it or feel they HAVE to in order to survive? No one outside the congregation can be sure. Given the shameful history of the founder (and there is no evidence that he somehow went off the deep end after an exlemplary life but there are suggestions that he was a bad ‘un from the early days of the foundation) it’s certainly reasonable to be of the opinion that the burden of proof is on the Legion.

        • lizphelan

          I see, thank you for clarifying. It seems pretty clear that you believe unpleasant news within the Church can dampen the faith of some of the membership so it’s better not to mention it.

          I’m guessing you would have the same response to someone who mentioned the Church sex-abuse scandals and any continuing fallout from that?

          Unfortunately, as the Garden had the serpent, so too our Church has the evil one lurking about within it’s sanctum and tempting it’s members to do evil. And we still talk about the Garden and the continuing fallout from what happened there. Is that topic also inappropriate for Catholics who enjoy it, in your view?

  • Sean P. Dailey

    Defenders of the LC at this late date? Jeez, people.

  • Dan C

    I am all for the LC continuing as it is, amd the 60 million can go to continue its good works.

    I am unsure I would let in new members, though.

    I favor the LC continuing as kind of a containment program for those formed in this manner. It would prevent contagion. Leaders, in general, always become leaders in some other institution. It is like the game of chess- all the peoces get killed except the king. The king is never captured. Priests leaving the LC leadership would end up somewhere high up in a diocese or the Vatican. At least, in the LC, the leadership would be marked by a Chernobyl-level of radioactivity.

    60 million is a generous gift. The only question about this gift would be an honest assessment of being defrauded as to the nature of the organization to which she was donating. My evaluation is not a legal matter, but a more moral matter.

  • When you have a sick animal, sometimes the most compassionate thing to do is to put it down out of its misery. You love the old companion, but it can’t be saved in its current state, and letting it continue to live is both cruel and inhumane.
    There’s no way the good in the Legion will ever be able to overcome the fact that their founder was a monstrous sociopath who ruined not just the lives of those children, but of countless faithful who were scandalized by his actions, and the institution of the priesthood itself.
    There’s no coming back from that. Religious orders have been surpessed before, and the Church has survived. Time to do the same.

  • Les

    In the Gabrielle Mee court case, I find the comments of the presiding judge to be quite telling. Remember, these are the words of an impartial judge, not some bitter or wounded ex-member.

    But Silverstein’s decision showed striking sympathy to Dauray’s argument. The “transfer of millions of dollars worth of assets,” the judge wrote in a lengthy ruling, “from a steadfastly spiritual, elderly woman to her trusted but clandestinely dubious spiritual leaders raises a red flag to this Court.” Silverstein cited extensive information from discovery documents unavailable to the public.


    • Les

      Sorry, I should have placed quotes around the last paragraph to make it clear I was quoting the ncronline article.

      But highlight this one phrase – “trusted but clandestinely dubious spiritual leaders” – sums it up nicely.

  • Survivor

    Very well said!