Alvaro Corcuera, Superior General of the Legionaries of Christ unexpectedly announced that he was stepping aside according to Associated Press writer Nicole WinfieldClick Here
His replacement will be 38-year-old vicar general, the Rev. Sylvester Heereman, who will govern the Legion until a planned general assembly in 2013 or 2014 to elect a new superior.
The article reminds readers how earlier this year, Father Corcuera admitted that he knew in 2005 that the Legion’s most prominent priest, the Rev. Thomas Williams, had fathered a child, yet he kept the news secret and continued to allow Father Williams to keep teaching and preaching about morality.
The interim Legion Superior is German-born and was ordained in 2006—after Maciel stepped down (he had entered the Legion in 1994). He was head of the Legion in Germany and then all of Western Europe before being named vicar general in February.
The circumstances of Father Corcuera?s departure are somewhat vague. There are some unspecific references to concerns about his health were he to continue. The Legionaries of Christ website has a letter written by Cardinal Velasio DePaolis Click Here that explains:
But his efforts, carried out in a climate that was frequently one of suffering and misunderstanding, have weakened his energies to the point of causing us to fear that if he continued his efforts, especially in this year leading up to the General Chapter we might have compromised his health
The letter does refer to a discussion between the cardinal and the superior and an
invitation extended to the superior general after consulting with his collaborators and that the
invitation was accepted in humility.
There have been reports that Father Corcuera suffered from migraine headaches. This could possibly have been a factor in his
health concerns. It is not surprising that someone who is required constantly to act like a religious order and movement superior general, while living in an environment of deceit would suffer from some sorts of physical or emotional stress. Perhaps his conscience is crying out from within and causing some inner torment. Based on what is reported from the Legion and from the Vatican Delegate, it is impossible to know what is really happening. The environment of secrecy in the Legion has not changed noticeably since the reform process was implemented. The reports hint that Cardinal DePaolis has forced Father Corcuera (the founder?s appointee) to at least temporarily resign his post. Unfortunately, the lack of openness about what is happening constantly reinforces a conclusion that there is a lot to hide. It remains unclear whether or not this was a resignation or a firing, whether it is a permanent or a temporary change. The real reason for the change remains obscure. All of the founder?s main assistants that he formed and who covered up for him remain in the picture, albeit in different roles. The scope of the reform seems to be restricted primarily to rewriting the constitutions.
Those who are familiar with Father Heereman, the replacement for Father Corcuera see him as a yes-man, very similar to his predecessor (some would even say a
clone). Nicole Winfield mentions that he is still a product of the Maciel-era priest training program, having entered the Legion in 1994. Based on the comments of life-after-rc Click Here he is not known to be an independent thinker and as one commenter puts it he is:
clever enough to sell other’s decision’s but not enough to question them.
Although this change in Legion leadership could be seen as a baby step in reforming the Legion, it is seen by many as too little, too late.