No doubt many of you have read the shocking article in the Associated Press, about even more sickening sexual abuses by the Legionaries of Christ and their lay arm, Regnum Christi. It is now known that girls as young as six were brutally raped in the chapel at the Legionaries’ elite Catholic school in Cancun, Mexico, while their classmates were made to watch and read the Bible. And nothing has been done to punish the rapists, even though this has been well known for almost ten years– the ten years the Legionaries have had to reform under new leadership since their infamous founder, Marcial Maciel, was exposed as a pedophile and a con artist. The papal envoy who has been running the Legionaries knew about the case the whole time and did nothing.
Now, I say that this story is shocking and it is– it turned my stomach. But on the other hand, it’s not shocking at all. It’s exactly what we should have expected, when the Legionaries were ordered to reform rather than suppressed.
You can’t reform something that’s wrong from the beginning. That’s not how reforming works. You can only reform a good thing that’s gone wrong, and the Legionaries of Christ were never any good.
If I accidentally pour a bag of stainless steel nails instead of a bag of chocolate chips into my brownie batter– with a great deal of effort, I could get the nails back out and then pour in chocolate chips. It might not be worth the effort. It would be quicker to throw away the batch of batter and make a new one, if I could. But if I couldn’t make a new batch– technically, I could fix my error and go back to the point where I had only edible things in the mixing bowl. So, sometimes, if we have a good thing that’s become full of systemic evils, we can take a great deal of effort and root out the evils, to get back to what was supposed to be there.
The Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi aren’t like that. They didn’t start as a real religious order and go wrong somewhere along the way; they never operated legitimately in the first place. They weren’t founded by a saint seeking Christ, like the Franciscans or the Dominicans. They have been a cult for the purpose of abusing people and taking their money from the very beginning. That’s why Maciel started them in the first place; that’s what he designed them to do; that’s what he was completely successful in doing. You can’t reform something that was wrong from the start. It would be like trying to make brownies out of a bag of nails with no other ingredients and then claiming you’d take the nails out so nobody would break a tooth. There’s nothing to work with. It can’t be done.
A real religious order, such as the Franciscan Orders, could find out they’d gone terribly wrong and reform themselves to be more like their Seraphic Father. It might be difficult. It might be far more difficult than my silly example of picking a whole bag of nails out of a bowl of batter. Indeed, it’s not out of the question that a real religious order could go so horribly wrong that it would have to be suppressed by the Church altogether, just as I might have to throw away my baking attempt. But the Legionaries of Christ aren’t a real religious order in the first place. They weren’t founded by a saint through a movement of the Holy Ghost. They have no father; only a pimp. They were founded by a predator for the purpose of getting more money and new victims.
Of course the current leaders of the Legionaries and Regnum Christi can’t reform it. They were programmed not to. The priests and “Consecrated” of the Legionaires were brainwashed from the time they were teenagers to have no life or personality outside of the Legionaries and to never question a superior. This was explicitly stated in Elena Sada’s memoir about escaping the order; I wrote about that book recently. They only know how to do this. They’re doing what they were programmed to do. In order for them to do anything else, they need to be removed from the cult that abused them and taught to do something different. But the Vatican’s refusal to suppress the Legionaries meant that that was never done for them. So they went right on following their programming.
Of course they “refused to hold complicit Legion superiors accountable or investigate past abusers.” That’s their job. The Legionaries and Regnum Christi forced their consecrated men and women to take a secret fourth vow, in addition to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. That vow was a vow to never question or criticize a superior for any reason. Some of those men and women were made to take the vow at age sixteen without their parents’ permission– and that was after years of brainwashing “formation” at their infamous boarding schools. No one in the Legionaries or Regnum Christi ever really discerned a vocation; they were brought to those schools when they were too young to make a choice, and then spiritually abused until Stockholm Syndrome kicked in and they weren’t capable of saying “no” anymore. They weren’t going to suddenly become properly formed religious capable of questioning their “formation” just because Maciel was exposed. Expecting them to was unfair to them; it was horrifically negligent to their victims.
It doesn’t matter that the Legion has supposedly put in place a system of “checks and balances,” if the people formed by the Legion are incapable of knowing right from wrong. They might very well check and balance each other, squabbling over window dressing, but they’ll never actually do anything good.
“Former Legion priests say the scandal is a devastating blow that they long warned about, since a loss of credibility among wealthy Mexicans would deprive the Legion of its key base.”
And there you have it.
By their own admission, they still only care about money.
Thankfully, it looks like the Mexican bishops aren’t buying it anymore; they are calling for the abolition of the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases, which every Catholic bishop in the world ought to be doing in their own countries as well. They’ve called for the superiors of the Legionaries to step down as a “great gesture of humility,” which none of the superiors have agreed to do.
Why should they?
They haven’t broken the rules. They’re doing what they were formed to do.
There is only one ethical course of action for the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi: they must be suppressed and completely disbanded. Their members who committed crimes must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law of whatever country the crimes were committed in. The money running their propaganda machine must be distributed among their many victims.
I doubt that will happen. But it ought to. It’s the only thing that will put an end to their abuse.
(image via Pixabay)
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