Every time I write about Regnum Christi, the lay arm of the Legion of Christ, and how it felt being compelled to go to their meetings as a teenager, current members of the disgraced lay movement appear in my comment box to tell me that the movement has reformed. They have cast off the long shadow of their sexual predator founder, Father Marcial Maciel, and are now humbly serving Christ and faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. They don’t want to abuse anyone, anymore.
I want to believe that that’s true. They will forgive me if I have been cynical about it.
I am especially cynical this evening.
Earlier today, on the Patheos Catholic facebook page, a member of Regnum Christi– not just one of their incorporated lay members but a young “co-worker” working at the Credim Faith and Family Center in Dublin, Ireland, posted a long screed of anti-Semitic propaganda in the comment section of a post by my Jewish Catholic friend Rebecca Bratten Weiss. According to Regnum Christi, “A coworker is a member of Regnum Christi who provides God with part of his life, one or more years, to serve as a minister of the Church in the apostles of the full-time Movement.” They’re not just members of a group or movement, but work full time for the movement as if they were consecrated members. They are definitely vetted by the movement before they’re accepted. This person’s name is Will Matthews. Matthews is not shy about his being a Coworker; his facebook page publicly describes him as such and proclaims “Long life in my Regnum Christi family!” And his antisemitism is beyond the pale. He accuses Jews of being the founders of freemasonry and plotting to destroy Catholicism in the name of Communism, besides providing all the usual violent dog whistles.
Yes, I have screengrabs:
“Freemasons infiltrated the Church to give Catholicism/Catholics a bad name. Have you seen Jews criticized for being communist and Jewish at the same time?” says Will Matthews. His memes proclaim things like “His blood be on us and our families” and other calls to violence against our Jewish brothers and sisters for supposedly being the murderers of Christ.
It’s time for Regnum Christi to lay their cards on the table. Have they really renounced their past? Do they actually want to be a Catholic movement this time, in obedience to the Magisterium and the teaching of the Church, instead of a breeding ground for evil as they were? Or are they going to tolerate their full-time representatives’ public defiance of the Church’s teaching? Are they really against abuse now, or only against violence against people who aren’t Jewish?
The Second Vatican Council’s declaration on non-Christian religions Nostra Acetae clearly states:
True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;(13) still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.
Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.
Besides, as the Church has always held and holds now, Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation. It is, therefore, the burden of the Church’s preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God’s all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows.
5. We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8).
No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.
Rome has spoken. If Regnum Christi tolerates public anti-semitism and even a hint at incitement of violence against Jews from its coworkers, then Regnum Christi is not serious about reform or obedience to the Magisterium. They cannot have it both ways.
All we can do now is wait for an answer.
(image via Pixabay )
1/03/19 update: Regnum Christi has responded to my request for a statement with the following:
Although we want to support all of our members with the volunteer work they feel called to, Fr. Juan Jose Hernandez, LC, men’s Regnum Christi Mission Corps Formation Director for the North American territory, has informed me that “Will Matthews is not a Regnum Christi Mission Corps Co-Worker. He is a lay member of Regnum Christi who is volunteering in Ireland.” This means that he has not applied to the North American territorial Regnum Christi Mission Corps program and has never went through the program.
The opinions expressed by Mr. Matthews through his personal social media account are his personal opinions and do not reflect the position, thoughts, opinions or actions of Regnum Christi, any of the four vocations of Regnum Christi, or any Regnum Christi affiliated apostolate or program.
As mentioned, Mr. Matthews does volunteer his time and talent at one of our affiliated organizations in Ireland and therefore we are grateful to be made aware of the situation that occurred and saddened by any pain that it may have caused. We will look into this more closely with Mr. Matthews.