Archivo de la categoría: Escuelas y Universidades

Legion Run Gateway Academy Closing at End of School Year

Gateway Academy, one of the Legion run schools in Chesterfield (about 25 miles west of St Louis, Missouri) that had hoped to remain open despite financial issues, will be closing at the end of the current school year.

Click Here For Gateway story

An informed source advised ReGAIN that the Legion had asked the Benedictines to sit on their board and say Mass primarily so they could retain their Catholic status. One of Gateway Academy founders jumped the gun and sent a notice to the parents (to encourage enrollment) stating that the Benedictines had agreed to help the school. This translated to the Benedictines taking over the school in the minds of the wishful parents and teachers but the Benedictines apparently were not considering managing the school.

Gateway Academy’s demise was for the most part due to financial issues (driven by the LC) but the power of the press was also involved in this case. Apparently it attached enough “creepy” stigma to have a significant impact on new enrollments.

As a result of the loss of this school, the Legion will lose influence in the area.

 

Anuncios

Mexican LC Run Schools in Financial Crisis

By Milenio: Javier Sepúlveda

 

Unofficial translation of recent article in Milenio:

 

Unofficial translation of recent article in Milenio:

Monterrey, Mexico – Schools run by the Legionaries of Christ in cities such as Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City are in a state of economic crisis due to a lack of students according to Fernando Gonzalez, a researcher and religious affairs expert.

Adding to the student enrolment crisis, these institutions have been freed from centralized control, leaving it up to each school to try to survive by its own means.

I have heard here and there that in some areas of the country the schools have begun to suffer financially, and they have even begun to talk of establishing a policy in which each legionary school would have to be self-supporting.

The researcher and psychologist reports that previously all the schools operated under a centralized administration, but that now this system has been abandoned in a attempt to allow each educational institution to control its own finances in an effort to survive.

The crisis stems from parents? fears about the wager that legionary schools presented in the past – that if you bring me your children, I will give them a formation which would place them among the country?s economic and political elite. Suspicions quickly began to arise that this was not true, according the the researcher from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

When expectations of having prestigious social connections as a result of being in a legionary school were shattered, says the author of the book Marcial Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ; Unpublished Documents and Testimonies, the order?s schools began to experience a crisis.

Fernando Gonzalez claims that, despite the credibilty problem the Legionaries of Christ are experiencing as a result of the scandals involving pedophilia and children secretly conceived by the order’s founder, the late Marcial Maciel, there is still a affluent segment of the population that continues sending its children to these schools as if nothing had happened.

He adds that the removal from power of the so-called legionary leadership continues apace after the decision by Pope Benedict XVI last January naming a commissioner to be in charge of the congregation?s finances.

Fernando Gonzalez, who was in Monterrey giving a seminar on research and psychoanalysis in the department of psychology at UANL, adds that the Legionaries of Christ have embarked on a sort of re-founding which will be reflected in a reduction of personnel in the top leadership.

He indicates that, after the forceful measures taken by the pope to reorganize the congregation, prominent Mexicans such as Lorenzo Servitje and Ricardo Salinas Pliego have radically changed their attitude in regards to the level of respect they previously lavished on the order?s founder.

The fact that Servitje would acknowledge that one of his daughters drafted a letter offering apologies for her initial stance of unconditional support for Maciel will have repercussions in the business community because it deals with one of Mexican Catholicism?s most emblematic figures from the private sector, says the academic.

This stance, he adds, indicates a search for a politically correct position after the decisions taken by Pope Benedict XVI to reinstate discipline in the order, and to remove from power the top leadership inherited from Marcial Maciel.

Javier Sepalveda

To see the article in Spanish
Click Here

 

TORCH Hijacked and Controlled by the RC/LC

Editor’s note: Since the publication of this article, it has come to our attention that NACHE is not now, nor has it ever been controlled by the Regnum Christi and the Legion of Christ. It is a totally independent operation.
For this reason, the title of the article has been altered.

 

Dear Friends:
I can tell you from our own sad personal experience that – at least in our case in [name of State] our homeschooling group was hijacked by people from TORCH. These are the same people who participate in Regnum Christi and who I believe have taken control nationally of NACHE (this is apparently why Seton Home School has a separate conference in the DC area each summer). see editor’s note above

We were led to believe this group was independent and a good support organization for home schoolers. However, the tactics used to get mothers to vote their way were certainly not Christian nor in the true spirit of Catholic fellowship. We found our group torn in two – and have since gone our separate ways. Unfortunately, deception was employed to drive a wedge between some mothers who were unaware of the unspoken agenda of the TORCH network – namely control of ideas, control of worship and control of money. Dues were instituted where none existed before. Previously the loose leadership group of 3 mothers and a dozen advisors, those who attended monthly mother’s meetings, employed free will offerings. We had no “Titled” leaders – only ad hoc volunteers. They wanted to formalize the organization – President, Treasurer, Secretary, etc. We wanted to avoid cumbersome paperwork that would sap valuable time away from mothers who need to be teaching and nurturing their children – not wasting their time on administration – which no one saw a need for.

We were very saddened that many who trusted our leaders – one of these is my wife – were duped and lost a bit of trust in the organization. We apologized for the failure to foresee the events that unfolded. We now know – from others around the country that this same scenario was played out before our coup and afterwards as well. The same tactics are employed – “we need to get organized, we need to charge dues to support our activities, we need to connect with a national network, we need a newsletter, we need to be directed by others, go to retreats and prayer groups led by TORCH leaders who are trained “(by Regnum Christi/Legionaries) and so on.

I suggest anyone facing this kind of proposal look at the TORCH website, understand their connections with other apostolic movements and comprehend the ramifications of changing or forming this kind of Home schooling support group before joining. The stated caveat for those considering membership in such a group is – “if you don’t pay the dues, you can’t come to the meetings, vote on issues, receive the newsletter, etc. “- we never excluded anyone who did not contribute to our free will offering collections either for paucity of income or other reasons. We also welcome non-Catholics and those families who were sending their children to private, public or diocesan schools who wish to learn more about the faith – this seemed to be a stumbling block for the TORCH group.

We are still feeling the hurt from almost 2 years ago when this division struck our peaceful statewide group of home schooling families – about 300 strong. Finally, I’ll say that many in the TORCH organization may not be in league with the leadership and have no ill will regarding their non-TORCH friends. However, the leaders are surely trained to achieve their objective seemingly by any means available – the end justifies their means!! We do not doubt their Faith nor their Orthodoxy, but we do object to their tactics and controlling methods. Similarly, we see the same signs and similar tactics among those in Regnum Christi prayer groups and among the Legion brothers who are actively recruiting our boys at a young age. Those of us who recognize these signs stay clear and generally keep quiet in charity and also fear – that we will be singled out and ridiculed or bad-mouthed for our lack of enthusiasm in their Movement. Again, if we are barriers to their ultimate objectives – we are to be “managed” out of the way. We love all our friends – no matter what group they join. We hold no grudge against anyone, however, we were deceived and will be extremely careful not to let these “leaders of the TORCH movement” lead us astray again!

If anyone has doubts either before or after joining a TORCH group – I suggest getting out and forming or joining a non-TORCH affiliated group that is Catholic or at the very least is a good Christian group that is not anti-Catholic. Non-denominational groups can also be helpful on teaching issues and sometimes can help with non-faith based curricular matters like math and english.

I hope this information is helpful.

National Consultants for Education (NCE) Another L.C. Sham

By Marie Consulaire, a teacher

 

Someone remarked recently that the Legion of Christ is nothing but a massive propaganda machine. Impressive websites and multiplicity of Legionary “front organizations� are contradicted by the reality beyond the well-polished image. This is as true of the National Consultants for Education (NCE) as any of the other Legionary “front organizations� (see the updated list published elsewhere on the Regain website).

In a recent letter from NCE to an inquirer seeking information about the Legionary/Regnum Christi schools, the NCE writes: You can find National Consultants for Education at http://nceducation.org. If you go to the link labeled schools you will see the location of each of our schools throughout the country.

Clicking on the site, I was definitely impressed! What a very sophisticated, upbeat, and inviting site (and, of course, linked directly to the Legion of Christ website). The NCE site claims that there are nineteen schools in various locations. I’d heard that another person who contacted the NCE director, Eduardo Grandio, was told that there were 20 LC schools in North America, where, in their own words: NCE is working with a growing number of schools to implement our educational method.

The visitor to the site is invited either to click on each city to contact the school directly, or to contact the central office of NCE at http://www.nceducation.org. I moved the mouse to open the school site in St. Louis, but it would not connect, nor open. I clicked on the schools in Chicago, then down south in San Antonio and Naples; no entrance there, either. Then the school in Calgary, Canada, but no go. Baltimore? No, nay, never. I tried them all and found that of the 18 sites (yes, 18, not 19 or 20), there were only five schools that could be accessed: Dallas (The Highlands School), Atlanta (Pine Crest Academy), Detroit (Everest Academy), Edgerton (Wisconsin), and Warwick (Rhode Island). The number went down to three schools if the schools at Edgerton and Warwick were removed, for these are not open to the neighborhood Catholic public, but are boarding schools for wealthy Mexican boys (Edgerton) and for girls (Warwick) who were being groomed to enter consecratedlife (n.b., According a Church canon lawyer, the consecrated ladies? of the Regnum Christi have no canonical protection, unlike women in other, authentic religious orders within the Catholic Church).

Regain has heard from those who have been employed at these three Legionary schools (Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas), or had children attending there, that each school has a consistent pattern of very serious, unaddressed problems — and of administrative denial and cover-up of these problems.

For instance at The Highlands, which was intended to be the Legion’s pilot school? in the USA. But from its beginning in 1986 as a tiny homeschool outgrowth, and especially for the past twelve years, it has had a shameful and tumultuous record. There has been a pattern of initial enrollment build-up, then subsequent loss of half of these families; this pattern of building up, then massive loss, seems to repeat itself every two or three years. Further, there is a very high attrition of teachers every year (90% of the faculty was lost four years ago). Each time this happens, the Legionary administrators claim to a new crop of parents and young teachers that: This time we’re over our growing pains and won’t make the same mistakes, again. Yet each time the same mistakes are repeated, despite the promises. There is high turn over of enrolled families, and each new crop of young Catholic teachers are, in their turn, bitterly disappointed with the lack of discipline and faculty backup, with the preferential treatment of the wealthy (especially wealthy Mexicans), with the overall lack of consistency of curriculum. These disappointments make the sacrifice they as teachers have made for their very low salaries to be not worth it.

This year (2003-2004), with enrollment up again for the opening of school, The Highlands School has lost a large percentage of their best families at the end of the first semester because of several cumulative events topped by at least one very serious incident. A gang of older Highlands boys began to do regular group masturbating in the locker room; they attacked/taunted those boys who did not participate, especially the younger boys. This same gang is reported to have attacked a third grade brother of one of their class who reported the perverse activity to school authorities. The third-grader was stabbed by a sharp pencil which penetrated so deeply into his back that its point had to be removed by surgery. When confronted by angry parents the school authorities down-played the stabbing (only a pencil!) and denied that the masturbatory incidents were happening or had ever taken place. There was no disciplinary action taken at all, for either matter.

A few years earlier, an equally bad gang of high school boys at The Highlands regularly took off their uniform pants, stripping down to their briefs, when their shy, young female teacher entered the afternoon classroom. Again, there was total denial and no disciplinary action taken against the boys, who claimed that they were only changing into soccer shorts.Nothing was done to stop this on-going harassment until some of the male teachers came to her defense; they took turns teaching their colleague’s class class. She — and the other teachers — have since left Highlands; the bad boys graduated. This website promised a very different kind of moral life and culture.

Not only The Highlands School in Dallas, but also the schools in Atlanta and Detroit are very impressive on the website, too, but have also been rocked with serious incidents and similar administrative cover-up. Incidentally, these three schools are the only true Legionary schools in existence. A Legionary school has a Legionary priest in residence. Simply that. All the other schools which the Legion may claim are Regnum Christi schools, that is, they are run under the Legion of Christ “directivesâ€� — and the tri-fold pay, pray, and obey? is joined by one more never, ever cross-talk (gossip) about what happens at the school. Why are these other fourteen or fifteen schools not to be reached by the NCE website? Are they either so tiny as have no regular buildings? Or is it that the schools are a P. R. nightmare — so troubled by internal crisis that cannot be covered up that NCE does not want anyone contacting the schools directly? Yet, the NCE claims that it is creating a unified curriculum for all of the schools, both Legionary and Regnum Christi.

The question is: why does the Legion want to run these schools, anyway? Those who have been formerly connected with the Legion and the running of the schools, whether Legionary schools or Regnum Christi schools, have an explanation. They claim that these schools are the main “birdfeeders� for the apostolic school or the seminary. However, even with a growing number of schools, the numbers of Legionary seminarians has dropped drastically over the past few years. (A misleading recent fund-raising letter from the Legion, claims 400 North American seminarians who need heat for the Winter; this 400 must surely include ALL Legionary seminarians, at all levels of formation, as the number of American novices entering the Legion this year could be counted on both hands! Just who is being included in the 400 that the fund raising letter numbers among their men? Does anyone know for sure?)

There may be a more pressing reason for promoting these schools, however: image laundering.

Perhaps, more accurately, the effort is not so much image laundering as pre-event damage control. What event? The publication of the upcoming book by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner, The Vows of Silence, that tells the truth about the Legion of Christ and its founder — the abuse of power in and by the Legion and the sexual scandal cover-up.

The propaganda of the National Consultants for Education is as impressive as their name. But behind the name? is the disappointing reality. And the last thing any of us needs in this day and age is any more disappointment, especially by the Church or even by those who masquerade as the (false) hope of the Church.

Pity, then, the families that entrust their children to these LC/RC schools of dubious good-effect, especially those families who were the founders of the little schools before the Legion moved in to help. And pity the young teachers who go starry-eyed with the mission of Catholic education, and then are so disappointed with the betrayal of their own hopes and of the authentically Catholic families who are too poor to pay the sky-high tuition (surprise!).

And we should save some pity, too, even for those hard-working and sincere young people at the NCE, who trust the Legion and their claim that they are transforming society through education. It is all so sad and bizarre. But as many of us have come to realize, the Legion’s big picture is created and driven by one of the most effective propaganda efforts imaginable.

Why Is The Legion Closing Their Schools in the United States and Elsewhere?

By ReGAIN Staff

 

The Sacramento Bee in their Religion News
>Click here for Article
reported that the Legion is ending their role in the Sacramento area following their decision in 2011 to close their only U.S Legion run university and their Immaculate Conception Apostolic School, a high school seminary in Colfax, California. The university formerly offered master’s programs in theology and catechesis.According to the Sacramento Bee: “Local officials say the local withdrawal is a product of the order shrinking and re-evaluating where to focus its priests�. The article also mentions some of the troubles that the Legion has had in recent years, specifically with “controversy and scandal in the past decade involving some of their best-known leaders�.

ReGAIN Comment:

ReGAIN would like to focus attention on the true purpose for the Legionary presence in Sacramento and in fact their true purpose for being anywhere and offer an opinion why they are closing schools in the US.

Why does the Legion have educational facilities? Were the schools in Sacramento and elsewhere established for a spiritual purpose to provide Catholic education? Or is it more likely that these institutions existed as a means to some end?

Let us suggest an answer by posing another question. Did the Legionary founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado show that he had a genuine burning desire to spread the gospel message through education? Was Catholic education the charism of the Legion and Regnum, Christi? Based on the Vatican May 10 communique it seems extremely unlikely that Father Maciel established his schools with a spiritual purpose in mind, because according to the May 1, 2010 Vatican communique: “incontrovertible evidence has confirmed, sometimes resulted in actual crimes, and manifests a life devoid of scruple and of genuine religious sentiment�.

What are Legionary schools like for the students who attend? A new blog entitled “49 Weeks a Year� Click Here provides actual testimonies of some of those who formerly attended the Immaculate Conception Academy in Rhode Island that prepares girls of high school age for a possible “vocation� to consider a “consecrated life� in Regnum Christi.

According to several of these testimonies, many of the former students suffered real mental, emotional and spiritual damage in their years at Immaculate Conception Academy. The home page of the blog states that the former students wish to share their stories “to warn parents of the very real dangers of handing your daughters over to this flawed institution�.

The testimonies are heart wrenching. Some suffered depression while others felt overly constricted by all the rules. Some felt isolated. The relationships between the teenage girls and their parents, other family members and former friends obviously deteriorated in some cases during the time they were in the school. Imagine attending a high school where you are not allowed to have particular friends and where your opportunities to have normal conversations with the other students is severely restricted and there is no privacy. What would it be like to be part of a group of young people who are never allowed to entertain negative thoughts or doubts or uncharitable feelings? One of the young ladies mentions how she was made to feel fearful of “losing all possibility of fulfilment and happiness (you can never be truly happy or fulfilled if you chose something else than God’s plan!), you face the life-long guilt of denying other soulsâ€� (being able to see God)â€�.

The conditions referred to in the 49 weeks blogspot match up well with those included in the ReGAIN article Click Here that compared the Regnum Christi consecrated women’s way of life to life for typical cult group members that are exposed to mind control.

So why were the schools really there?

Cult groups exist primarily to recruit and to fund raise to gain power and money for the supreme leaders. Could that be the primary reason for Father Maciel developing the Legionary schools? Those who consider enrolling their children in such a school have to decide for themselves. It seems obvious from the testimonies referred to above that there was excessive pressure being exerted (mind control) on these young people to mold them to become obedient to their spiritual advisers (the ones who the girls said were reading their mail). One result of mind control is to seriously impair a person’s critical thinking ability. This is certainly not a good objective for any educational system.

A key question that begs asking at this stage is why the Legion is shutting down their schools?

If providing Catholic education were an important part of the Legion and Regnum Christi’s primary reason for being, (as in charism) one would think they would do everything in their power to keep their schools going. If the Legion run schools were providing an excellent quality of education and spiritual formation then we would expect that the students and their parents would step forward to offer as much support as possible to keep them going. That does not seem to be happening. In fact, it is obvious that enrolments in areas such as Sacramento have dropped to the point where it is no longer profitable to keep the schools in operation.

So if you look at the situation from a perspective of following the money the logical explanation for the Legion pulling out of an area is because they choose to remain in those areas where the profits are the greatest.

This raises other questions. Is the Legion primarily a religious order or a business? Is it wise for a parent to choose a school system if the system is based on maximum profitability for itself rather than for maximum benefit for its students?

 

No To LC American Boarding & Apostolic Schools [and Novitiates?]

General Confession with Fr. Maciel and a tribute to my real father
By one of First Irish LC’s

The author explores the dangers of the Legion of Christ’s Apostolic Schools in the light of OLD & NEW allegations of sexual abuse by Founder Marcial Maciel of his younger seminarians and that of other Legionaries in minor seminaries. The article questions the training and credentials of Legionary seminarians as formators of adolescents. Structural discrepancies with official Church Teaching are mentioned.


Introduction
From Legion of Christ official website:

FOR YOUNG MEN WHO WANT TO BE PRIESTS
The Legion’s apostolic schools worldwide, including this one in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, aim to give young men in grades 7-12, who are really thinking about the priesthood, what they will need to discover Christ’s call and prepare for it.

LEGION NOVICES AVOID TRAINING IN ‘SAFE ENVIRONMENT’ FOR CCD CLASSES AT LOCAL PARISH
[from exlegionaries.com discussion board, thread: ‘safe environment’]

Posted on 9/19/2005 at 10:22 AM

Safe Environment ?
In the spring I stopped by St Brigid’s church in Cheshire and noticed in their bulletin that they were looking for CCD teachers because they would no longer have the services of the LC’s when I asked an LC why not they said they didn’t know. At WYD I met parishioners from St Brigid’s so I asked them why the LC aren’t teaching there anymore and they said the superior would not let them take the safe environment course required to teach in a parish school. I was wondering if that was to keep the seminarians from realizing they do not live in a safe environment?


Part One

WHAT IS CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE AND ASSAULT CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE.
One in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted before the age of 18

Handbook on Sexual Abuse of Children, Russell, 1988

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IS ANY EXPLOITIVE OR COERCIVE SEXUAL EXPERIENCE INVOLVING A PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 18. THIS CAN INCLUDE: VOYEURISM, EXHIBITIONISM, PORNOGRAPHY, FONDLING, ORAL/ANAL/VAGINAL INTERCOURSE, AND PROSTITUTION.

Child Sexual Abuse does not necessarily involve penetration or even physical contact. Often beginning with seemingly innocent intrusions into the child’s personal space, the offender slowly tests and conditions the child to accept abuse which may escalate over a period of time.

The stereotype of child molesters as mentally unstable, dangerous-looking strangers is not statistically accurate:

  • Only 10-15% of offenders are strangers to their victims.
  • Often, child victims have trusting, dependent relationships with their offenders.
  • Ordinary-seeming men and women, even respected community members, sexually assault children.

Child sexual abuse occurs within all racial, ethnic, religious, educational, gender, social, and economic classes.

Although offenders may use physical force to perpetrate abuse, more typically they rely on threats. bribery, emotional force, or simply the force of their authority over the child. Sometimes, this force is implied rather than overt.

THREATS: ‘If you tell you’ll be sent home and lose your vocation.’

BRIBERY: ‘You will have special exceptions to the rule and privileges.’

EMOTIONAL: ‘You won’t be my special friend any more’

AUTHORITY: ‘This is our secret -don’t tell. They wouldn’t understand.’
[Adapted by the

writer from: Child Sexual Assault brochure, VAASA, http://www.vaasa.org. Feel free to request]

 

WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT?
It is not ‘crime of passion’. IT IS A CRIME OF VIOLENCE, POWER, AND CONTROL. It occurs when a person is forced, threatened, coerced or manipulated and tricked into sexual contacts against his or her will. No one asks to be sexually abused -it is the perpetrator who decides to hurt someone. Sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault.

WHO ARE THE PERPETRATORS?
Because of the mistaken belief that sexual assault is sexually motivated, it is often assumed that anyone who would sexually assault a male is after sex. Therefore, we assume that a perpetrator of male sexual abuse must be either a heterosexaul woman or a homosexual man. But sexual assault is not about sex -it’s about violence, power, hostility and domination. It’s an attempt to hurt someone. It is possible for a woman to assault a man; and some men who commit sexual assaults are gay. But most sexual assaults of men are committed by ‘straight’ or heterosexual men.

WHY?
Sometimes, a person who wants to control or dominate others doesn’t care who they dominate. Sometimes, as IN AN ALL MALE SETTING, SUCH AS A PRISON OR A BOYS’ SCHOOL, ONLY MEN ARE AVAILABLE. AND SOMETIMES, MEN WHO ARE THREATENED BY THE IDEA OF HOMOSEXUALITY WILL ASSAULT MEN WHO THEY THINK MAY BE GAY -WHETHER THEY ARE OR NOT.

[See ‘Male Survivors of Sexual Assault’ brochure, VAASA, http://www.vaasa.org]

Part Two

THE LEGION OF CHRIST AS A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS PLACE
I am at Sanborns restaurant at the ‘Plaza de las Estrellas’ mall in Mexico City?s Anzures district on Saturday, September 10, 2005. Sitting across from me, Dr. Fernando Gonzalez interviews me about my experiences with the Legion of Christ, against the background of pedophilia. I tell him honestly I was never sexually abused in the Legion, nor was I ever approached in an inappropriate way by any member.

Entering the LC at age 17 and 7 months, I admit I was very immature mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; naive and sexually unaware, too. However, as the son of a warm and structured home, I had strong relationships with my mother her only son- and with my father -we were ‘boon companions’. He was very ‘blue collar’ and a man of simple pleasuresTogether we went to sports events on his Excelsior 125cc motorbike which would often breakdown. A small and practical man, he liked mechanics, electricity and carpentry, with a passion for soccer, boxing and fishing. Sitting by the side of this quiet and polite person as we waited for the fish to nibble off Dun Laoghaire Pier I learned the silence of men and the art of closeness without words.
NUESTRO PADRE, OUR FATHER, MACIEL

Soon after joining the Legion in Bundoran, County Donegal, my confreres and I were introduced to Fr. Maciel, a tall, thin, pale Mexican with thinning brown hair, big manicured hands, as he smiled through his glasses with cold blue eyes. He was the Founder of the Legion of Christ and a Holy Man. We were soon told that Legionaries called him Nuestro Padre , (Our Father;) though not as in the Lord?s Prayer, which in Spanish begins with the words in the opposite order, Padre Nuestro].

Our Father, with the help of the whole Legionary apparatus, was portrayed as a caring and solicitous father, who thereby evoked openness, trust and closeness in his children. But with me the closeness did not take. My relationship with my biological father was too strong and present. I did not need the affection of another father, even though this one was supposedly a saint. Perhaps, I was subconsciously not trusting of male religious figures. With one father in heaven and my dad on earth, I did not need the affection of a third.

Let us imagine, however, a teenager whose relationship with his earthly father is not firm and caring. Would he not tend to gravitate towards this Super Father who wanted to be his confidante, guide, and mediator with God?

FR. MACIEL AND THE FIRST APOSTOLICS
Let us imagine next a preadolescent boy who goes to the Apostolic School in Mexico City in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s. Nuestro Padre could be here, there and everywhere in the Legion house. There were not that many Legion members and few were the houses. When absent he made his presence felt through general and personal letters, as a form of community and individual guidance. What a strong impression he must have made on these first ApostolicosThey were leaving the relative anonymity of small Mexican towns for the exciting and attractive Apostolic School in Tlalpan with its playing fields, bright red uniforms, good education and a swimming pool with a diving board. Mexicans are fearless and skilled divers and swimmers. Mostly from families as large as five, ten or fifteen children, they must have felt very special when they received the personal attention of the Padre Prefects who supervised them and took care of all their needs. Above the prefects was the Padre RectorSpiritual Director. The Prefects and Rector became these children?s fathers in their regular lives. And above the Rector was Nuestro Padrewho would drop in occasionally, bringing relief from the daily routine. For Nuestro Padre was the Founder, a Spiritually Gifted Man of God. When he was with the community, everything was special and improved, including richer food, more games and recreation, movies and special excursions. To top it all off he would also celebrate a Solemn Mass, flanked by the Rector and Prefects.

ABSOLUTE TRANSPARENCY WITH AND TRUST IN NUESTRO PADRE
The greatest privilege of all was to go to confession to Nuestro Padre, because he was so close to God and he knew God?s Will for you. So you were sure you would get the right answer to your questions and doubts, especially regarding your vocation to serve God in the Legion

The Brother Bursar took care of one?s material needs. The Padre Prefect took care of one?s studies, discipline and ordinary religious life. Nuestro Padre took care of one?s spiritual needs, and what a privilege it was to have him around, he, the Founder, inspired directly by God, with a direct line to the Holy Spirit, a Living Saint, who could read your soul and guide you along the paths of the Lord.

Total Transparency and Complete Truest in your Superior is an essential element of Legion Spirit and Mystique, and this was heightened in the case of Nuestro Padre. The Apostolics opened up to and totally trusted this Other Christwith their histories, trials and tribulations. Many a tear was shed during those confessions and spiritual directions in the Legion the distinction if often blurred. Tears of relief after unburdening one?s soul, tears of gratitude, maybe even of tenderness as the boy felt Gods forgiveness through Nuestro Padre?s loving care. [As a young Legionary I read a booklet written by Fr. Javier Tena,LC, one of the first Apostolics from Mexico. Called Nuestro Padre in my Child Soul, ‘Nuestro Padre en mi alma de Nino’, it described in idyllic terms the Apostolic?s life.

MY GENERAL CONFESSION TO NUESTRO PADRE
I had the privilege of going to confession to Nuestro Padre for the first time before my Religious Profession in Salamanca, September, 1962 [I was 18 and 10 months old]. By then my Spanish was good enough. Together with my 7 Irish cofounder companions I took my temporal vows after only one year Novitiate ??mine mostly in crisis [major depressive episode?], interpreted as my own personal dark night of the soul. It was suggested to me by my spiritual director/superior that I make a general confession to Nuestro Padre to take advantage of the special graces I would thus receive through the Founder and as the best way to prepare me for the religious life.

During the relatively uneventful and sheltered life I had lived before entering the Holy Novitiate at age 17, I had accumulated two sins against purity which troubled my somewhat scrupulous conscience and about which I felt very ashamed. Before entering the Legion I had unloaded one to a Carmelite friar at St. Teresas Clarendon St., Dublin.

In fear and trembling I unloaded the 2nd to Nuestro Padre, Man of God. I do not recall any earth-shattering advice or apocalyptic revelation. I felt he was kind. At the end, I kissed the end of his stole as a sign of reverence and gratitude. He may have brushed my cheek with the tassel in a fatherly way. I experienced a great sense of relief because I had been able to get rid of that sin. I dont remember any advice. Now, I had no sin on my soul, I was free through the Sacrament of Confession, and I was ready to take on my vows. My interviewer Fernando insists, was there nothing, not the slightest sexual innuendo in this encounter with Fr Maciel? No, nothing. And you were not aware of any abuse going on around you as appears from the testimonies of others? Non whatsoever.

Against the background of the two dozen testimonies of sexual abuse from the 40s and 50s, and those which are beginning to appear regarding the 60s-70s, why was I and others so totally unaware? Could it be that Fr. Maciel is a Master of the Game of secret societies, with their isolated concentric circles of information/power? Maciel in the middle surrounded by a first cadre of unconditionals who silently acquiesce to his power? Only The Master knows everything. The unconditionals know more than the following circle, and so on. Those within the circle of abuse are isolated from the community at large, which is totally oblivious to what goes on behind the infirmary door? Reading the chilling descriptions in John Le Carres A Perfect Spy, and Solzhenitsyns Gulag Archipelago regarding secrecy, isolation and control might lead to such speculations…

SEXUAL ABUSE IN CONFESSION AND SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
One Legionary in pastoral ministry in Sacramento, CA, got into hot water a few years ago for questioning a child about his/her sexual problems. The Legion solution? Send him back to the Quintana Roo Mission? My question is: What about the Maya children? Are they not important? From this and other documented testionies there seems to be a recurring theme of Legion Spiritual Director/Superiors inquiring into students sexual experience. A THOROUGH HISTORY OF SEXUAL EXPERIENCE SEEMS TO BE PART OF A CANDIDATE’S SCREENING, CARRIED OUT BY LEGIONARIES SUCH AS FR OWEN KEARNS AND OTHERS. How vulnerable these children and adolescents are to abuse by unscrupulous, inquisitive, curious, prying, probing and potentially abusive superiors! Aren’t the ‘examiners’ in danger of giving in to their own prurient curiosity? Isn’t there a grave danger of such intimate material being used against the candidate in the future, through the Legion system of unprotected communication between superiors?

Think of all the Apostolics, Candidates and Novices that opened their histories and hearts to Nuestro Padre! Did he pry into their vulnerable souls? Did they feel obliged and privileged to tell him everything about themselves? Did he ask about their difficulties with Holy Purity? Did he ever overstep his boundaries with any of them? Did he walk through the doors that they in their naiveté left open, full of gullibility, innocence and trust?

When I recall now that confession with Nuestro Padre, in the light of allegations of sexual impropriety, I tremble. I am overcome with a sense of revulsion and of relief. Did the sin that I confessed somehow immunize me against improper approaches from Nuestro Padre and other Legionary Superiors? This is not idle speculation, as you will see from the following.

ONGOING VATICAN INVESTIGATION OF FR. MACIEL AND SHOCKING RECENT REVELATION
By all it is well known that a ‘new’ Vatican Investigation into Fr Maciel’s sexual abuse of his first seminarians is presently underway. This is separate from the 1956-58 wider investigation into his drug use, abuse of power and questionable relationships with his seminarians, carried out by the Sacred Congregation for Religious. I am not saying that the present investigator does not have access to the old archives. This investigation is being carried out by the Promotor of Justice for the Congregation for the Faith, a separate Vatican department with greater powers to sanction. As the investigation of the original 8 accusers was underway, more men from that generation and the following came forward, particularly in Mexico City during early April 2005 [see Regain Press Release and corresponding articles].

As I prepared to attend a conference in Madrid in mid July a shocking revelation was made to me by one of my Irish co-founder colleagues, in the sense that he too had been sexually abused by Father Maciel from 1962-1969. This allegation, out of the blue and totally ‘incomtaminated by’ the other accusations, is being clarified and researched by reporters, and has been reported to Monsignor Scicluna, the Vatican Prosecutor. I am not at liberty to disclose further information. This fact doubly impacts me: it proves that Fr Maciel’s sexual abuse did not stop with the early generations; and it brings the abuse even closer to home for me because I know the abused personally, we trained together, and I have even less reason to doubt the facts. It also prompts speculation regarding whether extensive sexual abuse by the Founder may have spawned an epidemic in the Legion and whether such abuse is now endemic to or widespread in the Institution.

PARENTS, DO NOT EXPOSE YOUR CHILDREN TO THE DANGER OF ABUSE!
What therapeutic skill do these Prefects, Teachers and Directors possess? Are they trained in Spiritual Guidance? By what institute? Are they trained in counseling and psychotherapy? Have they had the necessary background checks for someone closely involved in the education of minors? Remember, ONE EPISODE OF ABUSE WOUNDS A CHILD FOREVER!

At least two periods of serious sexual abuse has been documented regarding the Legion Apostolic School in Ontaneda, Santander, Spain. Isolated cases of sexual abuse have been reported about the New Hampshire Apostolic School. Testimonies exist regarding sexual abuse in the Irish Novitiate.

[From a posting on the discussion board:]

‘Protecting God’s Children’ – Virtus Program
mikeinnj – 9/14/2005 at 05:17 PM

Many (if not most) dioceses in the US now require abuse awareness training for all clergy, teachers, staff, volunteers through the Protecting God’s Children – Virtus program (which, by the way, I find very informative). Considering the large numbers of RC programs for children and young people, and the highly visible contact with young people that the LC has, are the LC’s/RC’s getting this same training that other Catholics around the US are REQUIRED to do? This would include teachers in LC/RC run schools. Are the bishops in those dioceses where there is an LC/RC presence making sure this training is taking place, especially for RC people working with kids? Or does the LC/RC consider themselves exempt from or above all this?

 

Finally

STRUCTURAL DISCREPANCIES WITH OFFICIAL CHURCH GUIDELINES
Even if the above considerations regarding the danger of sexual abuse and assault fall on deaf parental ears, Church Leaders still need to carefully review the Legion training system in the light of the official and authorized doctrine of the Catholic Church for seminaries. We respectfully submit that, besides the above mentioned dangers, there are other problems at Legion Minor Seminaries. Because of the lack of space, I will simply underline [uppercasing] some aspects. I am shocked to see how some BISHOPS seem to be turning a blind eye to gaping STRUCTURAL DISCREPANCIES, or at least potential dangers, in the Legion system. The following teaching’s last paragraph also shows Catholic parents that the traditional minor seminary or apostolic school is NOT THE ONLY OR BEST WAY to foster priestly vocations.

On another, though related, note, it is a crying shame that exiting members from the Legion and the Regnum Christi -particularly women- often do not have properly validated studies, thus unduly prolonging and jeopardizing their recovery process.
MINOR SEMINARIES

In minor seminaries erected to develop the seeds of vocations, the students should be prepared by special religious formation, particularly through appropriate spiritual direction, to follow Christ the Redeemer with generosity of spirit and purity of heart. Under the fatherly direction of the superiors, and with the proper COOPERATION OF THE PARENTS, their daily routine should be in accord with the age, the character and the stage of development of adolescence and fully adapted to the NORMS OF A HEALTHY PSYCHOLOGY. Nor should the fitting opportunity be lacking for social and cultural contacts and for CONTACT WITH ONE’S OWN FAMILY.

Moreover, whatever is decreed in the following paragraphs about major seminaries is also be adapted to the minor seminary to the extent that it is in accord with its purpose and structure. Also, STUDIES UNDERTAKEN BY THE STUDENTS SHOULD BE SO ARRANGED THAT THEY CAN EASILY CONTINUE SHOULD THEY CHOOSE A DIFFERENT STATE OF LIFE.

With equal concern the seeds of vocations among adolescents and young men are also to be fostered in those SPECIAL INSTITUTES, which in accord with local circumstances, serve the purpose of a minor seminary as well as among those who are trained in OTHER SCHOOLS or by OTHER EDUCATIONAL MEANS. Finally, those institutions and other schools initiated for those with a belated vocation are to be carefully developed.

[Decree on Priestly Training, number 3, II Vatican Council]

Legion Run Woodmont Academy Closes Its Doors

According to an article in the Howard County Times, the Legionary run Woodmont School, which currently has 185 students in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth grade is closing its doors.

Click here for Howard County Times article

In the article the school principal, John Farrell listed several reasons why recent enrollments had decreased. He said that “sometimes families want to enroll their kids in (other parochial schools) in the sixth grade, to allow them more time to experience the system. We have some leave. That prompts others. It snowballs.”

He went on to mention the faltering economy. Almost as an afterthought he said that another factor could be its association with the Legionaries of Christ.

ReGAIN suspects that parents’ concern would be a major factor in this case, considering publicity about the founder and ongoing concerns expressed by Baltimore Archbishop O’Brien, who we feel has shown outstanding leadership when it comes to dealing with Legionary high pressure recruiting tactics and activities in his archdiocese.

In June, 2008 Archbishop O’Brien had demanded greater accountability from the Legion.

Click here for 2008 National Catholic Reporter Article

As reported in the above article, the Archbishop had written a letter to Alvaro Corcuera instructing him to appoint a Legionary priest who could serve as a liaison with the Baltimore archdiocese. That priest, O’Brien wrote, must fulfill certain requirements, including providing names and ministries of all Legionary priests in the diocese, identifying all Regnum Christi groups, including their activities and methods of recruitment, identification of all youth programs connected to the Legion or to Regnum Christi including their activities and recruitment methods and identification of all other activities connected to the Legion or Regnum Christi including their location and frequency of meetings.

In a 2009 article in the National Catholic Review
Click here for National Catholic Review article

Archbishop O’Brien had expressed a number of concerns about the founder and the Legion, including the stifling of free will, the systematic deception and duplicity and the use of the Catholic faith to manipulate others for selfish ends.

Gateway School Also Closed
Earlier this year on March 10 the Legion advised students and teachers at Gateway Academy in St Louis that their school would be closing.

An article in News Magazine Network.com Click here for article re Gateway Closing

The article stated that shortly after the Vatican ordered the overhaul of the Legionaries of Christ, some parents had taken their concerns about the clergy to the archbishop of St. Louis. Those parents reportedly claimed that school officials used guilt to try to undermine their parental authority. According to Gateway’s school principal, the charges had been addressed.

ReGAIN Comment:
To date, it seems obvious that the Legion and Regnum Christi have not shown a willingness to change in spite of valid criticisms raised by credible ex members, school children parents, members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy even up to Pope Benedict XVI. The leadership of the Legion remains intact and they have given many indications that they intend to conduct business as usual following the policies instituted by their founder Father Marcial Maciel.

This seems like a battleship that has taken a number of torpedo hits trying to maintain a course into the open ocean when it should be heading for shore for repairs before it sinks.

The closing of schools such as Woodmont and Gateway along with other events since the exposure of the fraudulent lifestyle of the founder is reducing the influence of the Legion and Regnum Christi. This is likely to continue as more people become aware of the important issues raised by the Vatican and from excellent quality church stewards such as Archbishop O’Brien.

The best way for the Legion to save itself would be to acknowledge statements made in the Vatican communiqué and elsewhere, atone in a real way for the harm that has been done and reform its entire way of thinking and acting. Unfortunately, there has been no apparent progress. Hell has not yet frozen over.

 

More Legion of Christ woes in Atlanta

Holy Spirit fans, foes show their colors

 

By Gerhard Schneibel

 

 

Parents, grandparents and Holy Spirit Preparatory School students clashed with residents of the area of Long Island Drive, Hammond Drive and I-285 during a Planning Commission meeting July 17 that ended with no board action.

Supporters of Holy Spirit’s plan to build a sports complex on a vacant, 8-acre tract with an entrance on Long Island Drive wore green. Opponents wore red. After all the seats in the City Council chambers were filled, a security guard directed people into an adjacent room to wait. Hecklers interrupted the meeting several times.

Den Webb, a Smith, Gambrell & Russell attorney for the school, was the first to speak.

I want to emphasize that the supporters of this application live in the neighborhood next door to this property. They live in the immediate area of this property. They live in the district in which this property is going to be located, and they live all over Sandy Springs. And some of them have kids at Holy Spirit Prep, and some of them don’t, he said.

The school hopes to build a regulation-size football and soccer field with lights, a speaker system and bleachers for 400 people. The facility would include tennis courts, 150 parking spaces and a lap pool.

Original plans included a field house and an administrative building. Faced with opposition, the Catholic school combined the two into a single, 15,000-square-foot building with 12 offices for school staff.

Webb argued that the lot has been on the market for 22 years, is unsuitable for housing because of its proximity to I-285 and is adjacent to two nonresidential sites. There are some folks living there, however. I think the council has probably heard, back in January, the Sandy Springs Police Department swept that site and arrested a number of folks who were living in tents thereon. They were growing marijuana, and there was a marijuana package for sale.
He added that two squatters moved back to the site this month.

Webb praised the school’s efforts to address neighbor concerns and downplayed the possible noise.

The football program is small in scale, he said.

While the planning staff has said the Holy Spirit proposal doesn’t fit the city’s comprehensive plan, we simply disagree with that, Webb said. “Schools are allowed in every residential district of the city of Sandy Springs, period.”

Brad Skidmore, who lives on Long Island Drive, spoke against the school’s plan on behalf of seven homeowner associations.

We oppose this application and Holy Spirit’s plans to invade an area we call home with a lighted stadium and a sports complex that not only violates the quiet and pastoral nature of the area we call home, but also the comprehensive land-use plan so painstakingly adopted by the city, he said.

Insisting the site could be used for a residential development, Skidmore noted a number of houses abutting I-285 that have sold. Is this site any different? Absolutely not. It has its challenges just like any other location next to a highway but it can be residential.

Josh Tolchin, the chairman of the First Montessori School board of trustees, spoke on behalf of the neighborhood organizations. He said he is concerned about increased traffic on Long Island Drive, particularly inexperienced high school drivers.

These neighbors and these neighborhoods have been represented as uncooperative and unsupportive of school development, Tolchin said. Nothing could be further from the truth. These neighborhoods have a history of supporting Sandy Springs children and First Montessori.

“I’m having trouble with your even being here, Planning Commission Vice Chairman Wayne Thatcher told Tolchin.

I’m really wrestling with this because you folks that stand up here and say schools shouldn’t be in a neighborhood where are you coming from? Thatcher said. We sit here month after month after month, and we are your fellow citizens. We’re up here trying to do the best job that we can do. I’m concerned that the neighborhoods come every time in opposition to development.

He said neighbors should ask themselves whether they would rather have 35 town houses on the site.

Still, Thatcher was not entirely supportive of the Holy Spirit plan. He said administrative offices are “totally inappropriate for the site. This is an athletic complex that does not need an administrative building.

Thatcher introduced a motion to recommend that the City Council approve the school’s plan with conditions, including a maximum of 400 bleacher seats, office space for athletic staff only, a 40-foot height restriction on the field house, and a limit of eight uses of the light and sound systems and band performances per year.

Donald Boyken seconded the motion, but Susan Mayzar voted against it, tipping the balance of favor against Holy Spirit’s plan and preventing the motion from passing.

Legion of Christ withdraws New Castle seminary plan

By Elizabeth Ganga
The Journal News July 13, 2008

 

NEW CASTLE – The Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Roman Catholic order with a worldwide network of schools and universities, has withdrawn an application dating to 1995 for a seminary for 465 students, faculty and staff on Armonk Road.

The letter to the town of New Castle announcing the withdrawal of the special permit application did not state the reason for abandoning the long-standing plans but said the order reserves the right to submit a new application in the future. In the meantime the Legion of Christ, as it is also known, is pressing ahead with an application filed last year to expand the activities permitted on its property, which hosts retreats and marriage preparation classes.

Jay Dunlap, a spokesman for the Legion, also did not give a detailed reason for the withdrawal of the seminary application. He said the order wanted to focus on the retreat center. The property was developed for that use and is well suited to it, he said.

It seems, at this point, more practical to be focusing on the retreat center uses, Dunlap said. He said he was not aware of any longer-term plans.

The Zoning Board of Appeals, which had jurisdiction over the special permit, had given the Legion a July 1 deadline to begin moving the seminary application along or abandon it because the approval process had been suspended since April 2006.

The application had, we thought, become very stale, said David Levine, the former chairman of the Zoning Board.

Neighbors, who have long opposed the seminary plans and complained in the past that the retreat center was used more than the current permit allows, said they were thrilled the seminary application was withdrawn.

From the start, we thought this was an untenable proposal, said Sharon Greene, a neighbor who has long followed its twists through the town approval process.

Steve Krongard, another neighbor on Tripp Street, said he was concerned the expansion would have dramatically changed the neighborhood.

It’s a very quiet street, he said. It’s a very dark street. At night you can see the stars.

But even with the withdrawal of the larger proposal, the town still needs to look hard at the application for expanded events to understand exactly how the property will be used, Greene said.

I just think it needs to be brought out in the open what they’re doing there, she said.

The Legion bought the property at 773 Armonk Road in 1994 from the Unification Church. It was previously owned by the Sisters of the Cenacle and before that by theater producer and songwriter Billy Rose.

A permit for a seminary for up to 100 students was granted in 1994 and the next year the Legion applied for the expanded seminary for 465 students and staff on the 98-acre property.

In 1998, the Legion was granted a permit for retreats limiting the number of visitors and events, intended to be in place until the seminary was up and running. But for years the Legion has only intermittently pursued the seminary application, at one point substituting a plan for a center to train missionary women that was later withdrawn.

The existing buildings – the old mansion, living quarters built by the sisters and a chapel – total about 70,000 square feet of space. The seminary plan would have added about 315,000 square feet in a dormitory, recreation building, classrooms and other buildings.

Next door in Mount Pleasant, the Legion has plans to build a university for 2,000 students and faculty on 165 acres that is moving through approvals after hearings earlier this year on its environmental impact.

Reach Elizabeth Ganga at eganga@lohud.com or 914-666-6482.

Controversial order opens new boarding school, Ultraconservative founder draws criticism and praise.

By JEFF PARROTT

 

South Bend Tribune
September 12, 2005
Picture caption:
Kevin McKenzie, left, and Gregory Heslip, Legionaries of Christ seminarians, speak about the order’s new “minor seminary” at Rolling Prairie for grades 7 through 12. Both men, now 23 and 24, say they first entered such schools at age 12 and 14.

 

ROLLING PRAIRIE — An ultraconservative and controversial Catholic group has opened a new boarding school for boys interested in the priesthood at the former Le Mans Academy.

The Legionaries of Christ is calling this “minor seminary” school, its third in the United States, Sacred Heart Apostolic School. It ultimately is to contain grades 7 through 12, but has begun this school year with a group of 18 boys in seventh and eighth grades. The school plans to add a grade level each year with an ultimate goal of 100 to 120 students, spokesman Jay Dunlap said.

The orthodox religious order, which claims 600 priests and 2,500 seminarians in 20 countries, has been embraced by conservative Catholics such as the late Pope John Paul II and actor/director Mel Gibson, whose movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” enraged many Jewish people over how they were portrayed.

But critics say the Legionaries of Christ recruits boys at too young an age for the priesthood, isolates them from their families and “brainwashes” them to follow its conservative doctrine, forbids members from criticizing their leaders, is ruthless in its fundraising, and, among other things, violates the confidentiality of confession by forcing seminarians to confess their sins to priests who also act as their superiors.

On top of those concerns are sexual abuse allegations from at least eight men — some of whom went on to become priests — against the congregation’s powerful founder, Rev. Marcial Maciel.The men, most of whom are Mexican, say Maciel molested them in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s while they were seminarians.

The Legion’s sharpest critic is a group called the Religious Groups Awareness International Network which formed in 2003 as a communications outlet for men and women who have had bad experiences with the Legion or its lay movement, Regnum Christi. The network could contain up to 800 members, ReGAIN board member Glenn Favreau said.

Is there an investigation?

Favreau, 41, entered a Legion seminary at age 20 and by 33 was just a few months away from ordination as a priest when he quit. He is now a law student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Favreau said he left partly because he came to realize that Maciel leads an opulent life, despite the vows of poverty Legionaries are supposed to take.

“I began to see less and less of Jesus Christ and more of power plays of individuals,” Favreau said.

As a seminarian, Favreau said he was not allowed much contact with his parents. Those who want to leave find it difficult, sometimes because they are convinced that if they leave they will go to hell, and sometimes because they have no money or resources, Favreau and other former Legion seminarians have said.

“They control people to the nth degree … they brainwash,” he said. “They really put a clamp on your conscience and everything in your conscience is managed and reported to a very small number of superiors.”

Dunlap, the Legion spokesman, categorically refuted ReGAIN’s accusations, and called the group a “vocal minority.”

“They’re people who were Legionaries for some time but they weren’t happy, and now they’ve chosen to be negative about it, which is sad,” Dunlap said.

“Time and time again we’ve had families send more than one son to our schools because they see they’re getting an excellent education and spiritual formation,” Dunlap said. “The vast majority of families that have had an experience with our schools speak very highly of them.”

Dunlap said the Legion has investigated ReGAIN’s complaints and found no evidence of their validity. And he said the Vatican conducted a thorough investigation in the late 1950s into the sexual abuse allegations against Maciel, and found they were unsubstantiated.

Dunlap referred to a statement issued in May by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, reportedly a longtime friend of Maciel’s, which said there was no longer an investigation and none was foreseen. The statement was picked up widely by news outlets worldwide.

However, the National Catholic Reporter published a story a few days later noting that it is the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly headed by the man who is now Pope Benedict XVI, that has authority over such cases.

John Allen, who covers the Vatican for the National Catholic Reporter, told The Tribune that his sources, whom he does not name, say the investigation remains ongoing.

“The office that handles these cases has said nothing, but I and others have reported that they’re continuing their preliminary investigation,” Allen said.

More alleged victims came forward in 1994, after being angered when Pope John Paul II called Maciel an “efficacious guide to youth,” according to a National Catholic Reporter story.

Father Richard McBrien, a nationally known theology professor at the University of Notre Dame, believes the sexual abuse allegations are credible, based largely on his reading of a book detailing them, “Vows of Silence — The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II,” by Catholic writers Jason Berry and Gerald Renner.

In a review on the book’s cover, McBrien calls the Legion “cultlike.”

“If he were a United States priest living here under the new guidelines adopted by the Conference of Bishops, he would be removed from ministry,” McBrien said of Maciel, 84, who founded the order in Mexico City in 1941 and stepped down as its leader last year. “It reflects on the whole congregation, of course it does. What kind of organization do we have here?”

Dunlap said McBrien is more likely to believe the allegations because he is a liberal who disagrees with the Legion’s conservative dogma.

McBrien also has a problem with recruiting boys for the priesthood at such a young age.

“I think it’s pretty bad,” he said. “If I were a parent, I wouldn’t let them do it.”

But Kevin McKenzie, a 23-year-old Legion seminarian who works on recruiting, said he knew at age 7 that he wanted to be a priest.

“I said, ‘Hey, I can do this and maybe this is what God wants me to be,'” he said. “It’s not like everyone who goes there becomes a priest, it’s just an environment where you can focus on whether you want to be a priest.”

Not welcome everywhere

Bishops in Minneapolis/St. Paul and Columbus, Ohio, have banned the Legion from operating in their areas, while another diocese, Baton Rouge, La., has expressed concerns.

In a November letter to his pastors and parish life administrators, St. Paul/Minneapolis Bishop Harry Flynn said neither the Legion nor its lay group, Regnum Christi, were to be active in any way in the archdiocese. Flynn wrote that pastors “continue to sense that a ‘parallel church’ is being encouraged, one that separates persons from the local parish and archdiocese, and creates competing structures. That is simply unacceptable.”

Fort Wayne/South Bend Bishop John D’Arcy declined to comment on the Legion.

Gary Diocese Bishop Dale Melczek, in whose diocese Rolling Prairie lies, gave the Legion his permission to open the school, but not to operate programs, raise money or recruit future seminarians in diocese parishes, said his spokesman, Father Brian Chadwick.

McBrien urged Melczek to make sure the Legion confines itself to running the school.

“My advice to him is to be careful,” McBrien said. “Keep a watch over them because these types of groups try to push the envelope and expand their influence in the diocese.”

While the Legion of Christ has drawn opposition from some bishops at the diocesan level, it has benefited from some strong support in the Vatican.

In November, Pope John Paul II granted the congregation authority to operate the Pontifical Institute, “Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center,” in Jerusalem. The complex, which includes a church, restaurants, a conference center and a hotel, acts as a welcome center for visiting clergy and Catholic individuals and families from around the world.

Also, the Congregation for Bishops has entrusted the Regina Apostolorum, the Legionaries of Christ university in Rome, with annual training sessions for newly appointed bishops from around the world, and Maciel was in the front row for the pope’s 2001 visit to Mexico, Allen said.

Dunlap noted that the Legion plays an active role in many dioceses, such as Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis.

“Places where the Legion is known and its institutions are set, we’re just part of the landscape,” Dunlap said.

Favreau, with ReGAIN, claims the Legion is losing so many seminarians that it needs to bolster recruiting by opening new minor seminaries, in addition to its ones in Center Harbor, N.H., and Colfax, Calif.

But Dunlap said the opposite is true.

“We wouldn’t be starting a school here if we were shrinking,” he said. “We’ve started a school here because our school in New Hampshire is bursting at the seams.”