Recent Homily by Archbishop Velasio De Paolis Presented to Legionaries of Christ Members in Rome

Dear brothers in the Lord:

Rome. July 10, 2010
In the letter of June 16, 2010, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has named me his Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and has given me the task of governing your Religious Institute during such time as is necessary to complete the journey of renewal and lead it to the Extraordinary General Chapter, which will have as its main goal to complete the revision of the Constitutions. The Holy Father, while highlighting the necessity and urgency of a the way of profound revision of the charism of the Institute, expresses his desire to stay close, support and guide this way. For the Pope, the Papal Delegate is his personal delegate. This, in fulfilling its task, must act as a tangible witness of (his ) presence, so that he acts in his name to the religious family. In this family, or your congregation, the Pope recognizes the presence of a large number of members who demonstrate sincere zeal and fervent religious life. The pope does not give more details on how the delegate will fulfill its task, but refers to the necessary concretions to a later decree, which must establish some additional arrangements for the implementation of this Office. Pending such arrangements, we can already start our journey, sustained by trust and prayer, and the blessing of the Holy Father and so many good souls who esteem you and appreciate your work in the Church.

At this time I am pleased to emphasize that the Church, after having given the necessary and indispensable attention to facts, events and people, who would have radically threatened this congregation even this church, with his love filled with wisdom, inspired not by the criteria of the flesh but of the Spirit, would have omitted intervening - now the Church, moved by that same love, considers the glorious reality that is you, your congregation. The Pope, through me, now wants to accompany you on your journey, so that, without leaving you discouraged by the sad events that remain on your back, you can rejoice at your present, the gift of religious vocations, priestly and missionary that you have received . Such a vocation comes from the Heart of Jesus, from his love. He who has begun his work in the heart of every one of you, who has preserved you from the dangers that have threatened you, wants to bring it to completion. Therefore, it is first of all a matter of giving thanks to the Lord for the work he has accomplished in so many ways. Certainly, the Lord's intervention in you through the ministry of the Church has been decisive and the same Lord wants to continue now through the Church. I invite you therefore to thank the Lord for his goodness, his mercy and faithfulness.

With thanks we went to start the journey of renewal that the Holy Father invites us to. This involves taking a clear view of the situation in which we find ourselves and identifying clearly the causes which have led to internal unrest and the interior suffering of today. The Pope also shows us the way: mainly a re- consideration the charism of the institute, and more specifically the constitutional norms that are its expression and protection. The goal that the Holy Father gives us is holding an extraordinary chapter of the Congregation, in which will be approved the new text of the Constitutions. It will be an individual and communal journey, supported by a posture of humility, of intense spiritual commitment and the strengthening of vocation. We hope that the road results in a renewed commitment of fidelity to the Lord in religious life and priesthood, with an agreement that renews the covenant of love between you and the Lord, so that the Lord, in a way that the eternal fidelity of the Lord's eternal fidelity corresponds in each of you your own fidelity, with a new commitment to Him forever, in the service of his kingdom. I think that you find yourselves among those the Holy Father calls the great number of members full of zeal and fervor.

The road of renewal is not to challenge one's vocation, but to re-consider in depth and renew with a new spirit and a more intense participation's adherence to it

.

I can understand that some are going through tough times, some have already thought of other ways, and perhaps some are considering them now. The vocation is too serious to be able to take a decision on it in a moment of disorientation. It is necessary to rediscover the serenity of spirit and soul, because the decision is to be taken before God, in faithfulness to Jesus Christ, that you have chosen as king of your life. Let us be patient. With humility and faith we walk the path of renewal, let us consider together again religious consecration in the light of the charism of the congregation; Reread the constitution on which you committed your life. It has to do with freeing your lives from those elemens that can obscure your charism, so that the vocation to the profession of the evangelical counsels fully shine in all its beauty, to reinforce in your life royalty of Christ, which is manifested in fullness in the mystery of his Passover. Following Jesus, who in his way of love offers himself freely to the Father and brothers to create in his resurrected body, the new creation. Your vocation, as your congregation, is in your hands, is entrusted to your responsibility. The Church accompanies you, the Lord is merciful and generous: He gives His Spirit without measure! His grace precedes you, accompanies you and leads you to the finish.

On this journey, let us help each other in prayer, especially before the altar of the Lord, and let us encourage each other to sustain us in fidelity to Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of lords: the whole of our life.

I am pleased to entrust all of you to the heart of the Holy Mother of God and the Church, each of you personally and the entire congregation. She, founded by the Lord custody of his son and the Church, protect you and holds on their love all of you and your congregation. The Lord bless you and make his face shine upon you peace and love.

(Original text in Italian)

+ Velasio De Paolis, C.S.

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Pope Grants His Delegate Sweeping Powers to Take Full Command of Legion

The decree spells out that Archbishop De Paolis:

  1. Already has been given full authority in the name of the Supreme Pontiff himself to fully control everything and everyone associated with the Legion.
  2. Will have four personal advisors initially to assist him and others may be appointed as needed
  3. May intervene whenever and wherever he chooses
  4. has the full power of approval over any acts of any of the existing leaders at every level
  5. has full power of approval over everything such as novitiate admissions and personnel changes
  6. oversees everything such as apostolic schools, novitiates and seminaries
  7. is free to obtain assistance from anyone he wants either inside or outside the Legion
  8. has full access to all information
  9. is fully accessible to everyone in the Legion
  10. Everyone in the Legion is to act in communion with the delegate.

Archbishop De Paolis asked for the decree to be distributed to the entire congregation and he authorized its publication on the Internet.

ReGAIN is grateful to the Holy Father for his recognition of the serious nature of the Legionaries of Christ situation and his willingness to accept this enormous challenge and provide a means for implementing real reforms in the Legion. We know that there will be obstacles but we offer thumbs up for giving his delegate the clout that he needs before stepping into the hornets nest.

The decree issued by Cardinal Bertone reads as follows:
DECREE
MODALITIES OF FULFILLMENT
OF THE OFFICE OF PAPAL DELEGATE
FOR THE CONGREGATION OF THE LEGIONARIES OF CHRIST

In his letter of June 16, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI:
– appointed His Excellency Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, CS, Titular Archbishop of Telepte and President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as his Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ;

– conferred on him the responsibility of governing this religious institute in his name for as long as it takes to complete its path of renewal and lead it to the celebration of an extraordinary general chapter, whose main purpose will be to bring to completion the revision of the Constitutions

;

– considered the need and urgency of a path of in-depth revision of the Institute’s charism and expressed his desire closely to accompany, sustain, and guide this process through his own personal Delegate for that Religious Family, who would both be a concrete sign of his closeness and act in his name;

– left for a specific Decree some further modalities regarding the fulfillment of this Office

.

II. Now, by this Decree, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, issues the following specifications and instructions approved by the Supreme Pontiff regarding the modalities in which the Papal Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ will fulfill his Office:

  1. The broad authority granted by the Holy Father to the Papal Delegate, to be exercised in the name of the Supreme Pontiff himself, covers the entire institute. It extends over all the superiors at the various levels (general, provincial, and local), all communities, and the individual religious. This authority regards all the problems proper to the religious Institute and the Delegate may always exercise it when in his judgment it is necessary for the good of the institute itself, even overruling the Constitutions.
  2. The superiors of the Institute at every level exercise their authority according to the Constitutions and under the authority of the same Papal Delegate. Therefore, they remain in their positions, ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, unless it becomes necessary to provide otherwise.
  3. The Institute’s superiors are to act in communion with the Papal Delegate. He is to be informed of the life of the institute, in particular the most important matters, and in addition, only he can approve the decisions of the general government itself: decisions regarding persons (admission to novitiate, profession, priesthood; appointment and transfer of personnel); apostolic and formation choices (seminaries, academic institutions, schools), and extraordinary administrative matters or the disposal of assets.
  4. If necessary, the Delegate himself may act firsthand or indicate the decision to be made in specific instances.
  5. Everyone has open access to the Delegate and all can deal personally with him. The Delegate, in turn, has the power to intervene wherever he sees fit, including in the internal government of the Institute, on all levels.
  6. As he goes about his task, the Delegate will have four personal advisors to aid him in carrying out his work according to the circumstances and possibilities. These aides may be assigned specific tasks, particularly visits ad referendum. With their help, the Papal Delegate will identify, discuss, and clarify the principal topics as they arise during the process he is called to lead.
  7. Whenever it becomes evident that certain topics, regarding either persons or things, need to be studied more deeply, the Papal Delegate may appoint study committees using either personnel internal to the Congregation of the Legionaries or competent external persons.
  8. At his own discretion, when it seems opportune or necessary, he may select someone other than his advisors to study a point or make a visit ad referendum.
  9. The paramount task of the Papal Delegate is to initiate, accompany, and complete the revision of the Constitutions. This implies a profound knowledge of the Congregation of the Legionaries, their history and development. All members of the Institute must collaborate in the revision of the Constitutions, both as individuals and communities, following a plan to be drawn up and activated from the outset. Therefore, a Commission for the revision of the Constitutions is to be created as soon as possible on the various levels of the Institute, with the participation especially of the members of the Institute itself, who must feel personally responsible for revising and rewriting their own plan of gospel living, always in harmony with the teaching of the Church. The president of the central Commission for the revision of the Constitutions will be the Papal Delegate himself.
  10. The Papal Delegate coordinates the Apostolic Visitation to the Regnum Christi Movement, following the indication of the Holy See.
  11. Appeals against acts of the superiors of the Institute will be directed to the Papal Delegate himself; regarding acts of the Papal Delegate, it will be possible to appeal to the Holy Father.

From the Vatican, July 9, 2010
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State

For those who wish to contact the Papal Delegate he may be reached at the following address in the Vatican:

Most Reverend Velasio De Paolis, CS
Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See
00120 Vatican City State
Europe

How To Bring About Change In The Legion Of Christ

By ReGAIN Staff

 

Presentation at the International Cultic Studies Association 2010 Annual Conference, New Jersey, July 2, 2010
ReGAIN’s J. Paul Lennon, M.A., was invited by the organizers1 to take part in a panel discussion on the topic: How to bring about change in Controversial Groups?
He shared the panel with Anuttama Dasa, an active member and leader in the Hari Krishna Movement. During the morning session Mr. Lennon presented a review of positive changes that continue to take place in the Legionaries of Christ Roman Catholic priestly religious congregation and its Regnum Christi movement. In the evening Mr. Lennon took part in an open discussion on this same subject which was attended by religious leaders, psychologists, sociologists and professionals, and by former members of High Demand Groups, their friends, and relatives. Mr. Lennon was impressed by the openness of fellow presenter, Mr. Dasa, in taking part in a public discussion at an organization which has been critical of some Hari Krishna practices, and by his courage in facing an audience which included several former Hari Krishna members.

 

SUMMARY
Paul Lennon postulated, based on a lifetime of experience, study, and observation – including fifteen years’ involvement as a Legionary priest – that although the Vatican had the power to “pressureâ€� the Legion to change, it failed to do so for decades. The Legion of Christ leadership, with a self-sufficient and siege-like mentality, totally rejected any doubts or criticism, and was incapable of self-analysis or reform. Extraordinary forces working from within and outside the Legion finally brought about the positive changes that are happening.
Certainly, Pope Benedict XVI, who has a greater awareness of clergy sexual abuse, deserves credit for demonstrating a sense of justice and the need to repair the damage to those victimized by the Founder and the Organization. But the recent Vatican interventions were greatly influenced by a long process of internal and external pressures including those from former members, in particular victims of sexual abuse by
the founder, concerned Catholics, investigative reporters, and the media.

CHANGES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    • The founder, Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado has been exposed as a seriously flawed priest and the Vatican has publicly acknowledged that the life and structure of the Legion, an orthodox Catholic religious order had been adversely affected by the founder’s serious and objectively immoral behavior so as to require a process of in-depth revision.
    • Following investigations regarding the founder and the Legion the Church has recognized the need to change the group’s methodology and training to improve transparency and provide a “healthier� and freer environment for members and more access to family members.
    • In the short term, a number of members have voluntarily left the Legion.
    • Group members are allowed to have improved choice in choosing spiritual directors and confessors.
    • The Legion has been shown to be in need of deep reform.
    • The Church recognized the need to appoint a Church representative to carry out the needed reforms (A Commissioner with sweeping powers has been appointed by the Church and a separate investigation is underway for Regnum Christi).
    • The leadership has publicly apologized to some victims (in the past there had been denial of any wrongdoing and a failure to acknowledge any need for reform).

INTERNAL PRESSURES

    • As a result of members’ complaints in the mid 1950’s regarding his despotic leadership, questionable relationship with seminarians, and misuse of money Vatican authorities temporarily removed the founder. He did not abide by his “exile� was able to return triumphantly; he then imposed a secret vow to never criticize any superior and to report anyone who did.
    • Victims of sexual abuse registered complaints regarding the founder to superiors and other authorities. They were met with blanket denial, ridicule, punishment, demotion and exile by Legion superiors. Members of the Church hierarchy suggested they “offer up their sufferings to God�. Reports submitted to Rome were either lost or ignored.

EXTERNAL PRESSURES

    • In Mexico a number of former Legion seminarians discovered their common abuse, bonded together, and demanded accountability. Their efforts within the church were rebuffed until they went public through the Hartford Courant in 1997. There were repercussions especially from the American public and in Mexico, with ripple effects in Spain, Italy, and other Catholic countries.
    • Some English speaking former members who were seeking healing communicated and eventually created a forum to outreach other affected ex members, families and friends. The ReGAIN website3 was initiated and a discussion board http://www.exlegionaries.com was established to share experiences and question the system.
    • ReGAIN and the Mexican former members joined forces to share common objectives.
    • In Spain, a former Legionary, Patricio Cerda, launched his own crusade in favor of the victims.
    • The latter redoubled their efforts and brought their case before the Vatican tribunal during the reign of John Paul II. However, the Legion founder had infiltrated and influenced the Vatican in his favor, successfully quashing a church investigation.
    • The ICSA Cultic Studies Association showed interest in the testimonies of victims of sexual and psychological abuse from exposure to the Legion, inviting them to participate in regional and international conferences.
    • TV coverage began locally and nationwide, including ABC’s Brian Ross
    • One survivor, Alejandro Espinosa, published his memoir “El Legionario� in Spanish in 2001
    • ReGAIN built alliances with S.N.A.P., O.D.A.N., and other groups demanding accountability and advocating changes in the way the Catholic Hierarchy monitors suspicious groups inside its gates.
    • ReGAIN accessed healing resources such as re-FOCUS for ex-members.
    • A book and later a documentary entitled “Vows of Silence� exposing details about the founder and his groups appeared in the USA, where the Legion had its strongest hold.
    • Without ever having acknowledged his crimes, Fr. Maciel died in January 2008. As in life, there were strange rumors of the circumstances when he died; including stories that he had an ongoing sexual relationship with at least one woman.
    • “Unpublished Testimonies and Documents� by Fernando Gonzalez was released in 2008, presenting an historical analysis of documents from the 1956-59 Vatican investigation of Fr. Maciel.
    • Early in 2009, the Media and the Legion released a statement acknowledging that Fr. Maciel had indeed fathered a daughter with a Mexican woman and that mother and daughter had been living in a luxury apartment paid by him. A deluge of scandalous information continued to pour in and the Legion publicly admitted that their founder was not the saintly defender of Catholic Orthodoxy that they had promoted.

VATICAN ACTION:

    • Around 2004 amid rumors of a new investigation into his life, Fr. Maciel stepped down as Superior General (but remained as a powerful figure) after having been reelected by the General Chapter.
    • In 2005 the Vatican dispatched its prosecutor to NYC and to Mexico to interview victims and other witnesses in the USA, Mexico and Rome amid Legion denial and media confusion.
    • In 2006, the Vatican censured Fr. Maciel, separating him from his priestly functions and ordering him to retire to a life of penance and prayer.
    • The Vatican privately abolished the private vow to never criticize any superior to inform on whoever does so and the abusive practice of restricting members’ freedom of conscience by forcing them to confess to superiors.
    • In early 2009 the Vatican announced the “Visitation of the Legion� after the Legion publicly acknowledged that their founder had fathered a daughter, used funds for his own needs and lived an otherwise disreputable life.
    • Following the visitation, the Vatican released their “Communiqué�, describing Fr. Maciel as being “devoid of
    • scruples and of genuine religious sentiment� and questioning elements of the Legion’s structure and methodology.
    • The Vatican later appointed an Apostolic Delegate with broad powers to overhaul and reform the Legion, including rewriting the constitutions and redeveloping a charism.
    • The Vatican has also agreed to conduct a similar visitation process for Regnum Christi, which had the same founder and similar practices.

PRESENT STATUS:
At the moment positive changes are contemplated. However, it is important to be aware of the powerful dark forces that have allowed such a controversial (and in many ways cult-like) group to be established and approved by the Catholic Church and even to be praised by senior members of the hierarchy including more than one Pope.
Although a few recent battles have been won, the war is not over. ReGAIN feels the need to continue its mission to inform, and educate; to discourage further deceptions, manipulation, overly aggressive recruiting tactics, abuse of funds intended for specific purposes; to facilitate communication with and between former members, providing networking, guidance, and support; and to exert pressure to bring about permanent reforms and justice.

    1. Executive Director, Michael Langone, PhD, in a very thoughtful article, Reflections on the Legion of Christ, questioned the Legion’s Modus Operandi in 2006, http://www.icsahome.com/infoserv_articles/langone_michael_legion_en0502.htm
    More aggressive “cult-watch� organizations, such as Steven Hassan, http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/groups/l/legion/, and Rick Ross, http://www.rickross.com/groups/loc.html, had already noticed the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi and placed them on their lists.
    They have been approached by parents wanting desperately to “exit� their children from these groups.
    2. Aware that no English language testimony existed Lennon published his 2008 Our Father Maciel who art in bed, a Naïve and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ; more recently he published his brief discussion with the founder of First Things, R.J. Neuhaus, Duped by the Legion of Christ; Lennon has also published two spiritual booklets in Spanish from his time
    as an active Legionary: Un Cura Lucha con Dios -meditations, and Viaje hacia la Pascua –radio talks.
    3 http://www.regainnetowork.org was sued in 2007 by the Legion of Christ and took down its discussion board as part of the settlement.