More On Toxic Cleanup

When toxins are widely distributed clean up is difficult. But if the original aim was to spread the toxins and the consumers were taught over many years to hide the toxins, then a cleanup is nearly impossible. The following quotes have been gathered to demonstrate the systematic poisoning of Christian ideals by Maciel and the falsifications of Christian life deliberately built into his system. They are organized under the following topics:
  • A false Gospel of Efficiency
  • A false Idol to Trust
  • A false Love for the Church
  • A false Obedience opposed to Truth

1. A False Gospel of Efficiency

Second General Chapter:
"I hope that in this way the image I have always cherished of our apostolate centers becomes a reality: a fish producing “tank” where fishermen are able to devote themselves to an intensive and unquestionably successful harvest... it still pains me to see that our schools and universities are not fulfilling their primary goal: the expansion of Regnum Christi, especially through the recruitment of leaders and the cultivation of vocations for the Legion and for the consecrated life of the Movement".
What's Wrong with the Legion of Christ?
If the Legionaries want to become disciples of John Paul in spirit and not just in the bureaucratic approval they wangled from him, let them recognize his “personalistic norm,” that human persons are to be respected for their own sakes, not used. Let them undergo “purification of memory” and account for the whole truth of their past, rather than admit to the minimum as circumstances require, grit their teeth, and move on with their putative charism as if nothing had happened. “This is not about orthodoxy. It is about respect for human dignity,” says Archbishop O’Brien.
The logic of "my experience"
During my six years in Regnum Christi, I heard it over and over. And yes, I admit, I said it myself: "My experience has been so good!"

I went in with my eyes wide open. I read the Regain and Legionary Facts sites. I kept up on the news from multiple online sources. I boldly proclaimed that I was unsure on the question of whether Father Maciel was guilty of any wrongdoing. I assumed that those who spoke of ill treatment, duplicity and using people for the kingdom had just encountered some bad apples in a great organization. It had to be, because my experience was so good.

And it wasn't just good for me. It was good for my family. My kids were getting amazing formation in Challenge and Conquest and ever encouraged to consider vocations. We got a lot of attention when my daughter signed up to attend a summer program for girls interested in consecrated life. And when she decided not to go, I didn't think twice about it.

But things changed for her. Her spiritual director made it clear that she thought it was a mistake. Not only that, but the fact that she was now interested in a boy at school met with overt disapproval. For a whole school year, she was told she owed it to God to go on that retreat and see if she had a vocation. During that time, her spiritual direction also included grilling about the other kids at school. Her spiritual director wanted to know who had boyfriends or who was having trouble at school. Her friends also told her that their spiritual directors asked about her as well.

I dealt with all of things in the Regnum Christi way. I went to my spiritual guide and then to the director of formation at her school. They totally agreed with me. This behavior was unprofessional and would be dealt with. Apparently I had found one of those bad apples, but it would be taken care of. I was so relieved. I knew it would be fine because overall, my experience was so good.

Because of the problems we had with my daughter and spiritual direction, I sent a letter to the school to let them know that we did not want her to have spiritual direction under any circumstances. I knew they would respect this because the Church teaches us that parents are the primary formators of their children. I was shocked when they continued to approach her for spiritual direction. One of the consecrated even said that it wasn't spiritual direction, but 'just a talk.'

I was so lucky though. My daughter told me everything that happened. I was able to intervene and coach her on how to say no. She was to tell them to call me personally if they had any questions. I recall thinking that not all kids would go to their parents and tell them what was happening and that not all kids would be so comfortable saying no. Again, I took my concerns to the people in charge. I made sure to cc many people on my final note reiterating my instructions that my daughter was not to have spiritual direction. I am ashamed to admit, I really just wanted it all to go away. I wanted these people to straighten up their act because I was sure that this was not an organizational problem because my experience had been so good.

Later that year, I was not shocked when the Vatican issued a communiqué asking Father Maciel to retire from Priestly life. After all, I had read all of that stuff, I always knew it was a possibility. I was sure that the good work of the Legion and Regnum Christi could continue, as the communiqué stated, 'apart from the Founder.' I truly believed it was time for the LC and RC to face up to the fact that some of the allegations about Fr. Maciel might be true, make restitution and move forward in humility.

I eagerly awaited the visit of Fr. Scott Reilly to let us know what was going on. Of course things would have to change and he was going to tell us how. I will never forget hearing Fr. Scott explain that we're all called to prayer and we're all called to penance. The Vatican was simply asking Fr. Maciel to do what we are all already called to do. I was livid. I knew no one would stand for it. I knew people would insist on more information and demand that we start to move on 'apart from the Founder.' Surprisingly, the few people I talked to said they were heartbroken because they knew that Fr. Maciel was innocent. They knew that the truth would come out one day and they admired him for being so Christ-like in accepting this directive with such docility.

I was aware that not everyone felt this way. I read angry comments online and wondered where those people were and if any of them were in my area. But in spite of my anger, I decided that surely this would not continue. Things would have to change. The Legion would realize that they needed to be more transparent about the past and their current operations. It had to be ok. Why? Because my experience had been so good.

So, I waited. I did hear of a few people who left. I wondered if they had actually gone to the people in charge and tried to resolve things and assumed they probably hadn't. I figured if they had, it would've been fine and they would've stayed. I couldn't understand why they would throw out so much good because of a few problems. I certainly wasn't going to do that. Yes, there were a lot of problems, but my experience had been so good.

As time went on, I didn't see any improvement in open communication. I grew more and more concerned. I wasn't really even surprised when it was revealed that yes, in fact Fr. Maciel had led a double life. I knew this was it. It was time for the truth to come out. Apologies had to be made. It was time for full disclosure and transparency. I waited. And I waited. Then I quit. And, I am still waiting.

Since I left, I've talked to some of my friends who are still in RC. If they ask me why I left, I will recount a few of the stories. They usually agree that those things are unacceptable. But then I hear it. "It's really hard because being in Regnum Christi had been so good for me." It didn't take too long for me to realize, to my great horror, that I myself had been using this same logic since I joined RC. I knew people had been hurt and not received any apologies or restitution. Yet, I stood with the people who had hurt them because my experience had been so good.

I was terribly wrong. It was wrong for me to ignore the red flags for all of those years because I wanted the benefit of being in Regnum Christi and it is still wrong today. To turn a blind eye to the injustice of others indicts the one who refuses to see.
Utilitarianism of the Regnum Christi Movement:
It is this very idea of Kingdom at the heart of the Movement that captivates so many Catholics and allows its members to use techniques that would otherwise lead them to question themselves. It is for God, they surmise, and the salvation of souls that friendships can be used, the Pope can be marketed, or fears can be exacerbated. As long as the destination is “orthodox Catholicism in union with the Pope,” members assume that it is all right to use people, to be less than forthright about associations, or to coerce attendance of young people. Can we really “save souls” by doing an end run around free will or total honesty? Can the Kingdom really be built at the expense of the inherent dignity of the human persons who will ultimately inhabit it?

Anyone who has spent time in the company of members of the Movement must concede that the zealous and focused profile offered here is warranted. Many have excused their behavior because their cause seems Catholic enough and the urgency to fight for the Church is well-placed. The so-called papal approval has silenced many a critic whose sense of justice and forthrightness has led him to question the methodology. Even those who witness dishonest, aggressive, or questionable tactics on the part of members of the Legionaries or Regnum Christi excused them as growing pains, individual excess, or a necessary evil when fighting in a fallen world. Let’s not allow the Kingdom they’re building to cloud our judgment over the way they lay the bricks. One might pause to consider the legitimacy of their claims to being “Christ-centered” if the end they promote is masking less than Christian means of arriving there. In the end, the question we must ask is, What would Jesus do? I sincerely doubt He would approve of these means.
Manipulating Virtue to Build a House of Cards:
It would appear – granted, from the outside looking in – that the default mode is that all persons are assumed to have a vocation; it is simply then a question of generosity. Elbow to elbow with zealous young Catholics, the young person is compelled to forget himself, to sacrifice his or her comforts, and to give all to God, Who cannot be outdone in generosity.

To suggest that one may not have a vocation is simply to cease to be generous with God and a sign of failure. This is not authentic discernment but coercion and group-think. Truly, heroic examples of virtue among one’s peers can spur on the faint-hearted but my assessment after many years on the atmosphere of these houses is not one of freedom and honest recollection but manipulation of piety and love of God to shame youngsters into stepping into vocations that may not truly be their calling.

It is also evident that women are invited to consecrate themselves after a remarkably short association, with the understanding that their private promise is as binding before God as the vow of a religious sister... Many a young woman has “married Christ” within the structure of the Movement with less than a year of formation or discernment on the basis that others can “see her vocation,” even if she cannot....She then joins a hierarchy of women who recruit others into their houses of formation and the cycle continues through schools, youth groups, and spiritual direction of other youngsters too immature to see possible manipulation of their good intentions.
I speak here from first-hand experience as well as from a wide array of testimonies given in confidence when I say that it is enormously difficult after a while to trust direction given by an organization that has clearly defined goals that are based on numbers and pre-ordained avenues of apostolates. One is invited to join Regnum Christi after a very short introduction, sometimes within the course of a week-end retreat, and immediately told that “God saw you from all eternity as Regnum Christi.” One is taught that this is not an addition to one’s way of life but the very foundation of it and that there is a way of doing everything through the methodology. In fact, it is said that the methodology is blessed to the point that, like the Magisterium, one can never go wrong when using it. It is sufficient for holiness, it is comprehensive in scope enough to color one’s entire life, and integration with this methodology is a key pursuit of all members from that point on.

Spiritual direction, based on a Program of Life, seems at first glance to be a marvelous way of pursuing self-knowledge and growth in virtue, but unfortunately as many have seen, it can be a subtle form of manipulation which ultimately serves the Movement and not necessarily the particular soul. We were told that the Holy Father specifically wanted the Regnum Christi Movement to grow a hundred-fold and thus recruitment was stressed at every turn. If one could see the good in one’s life that the Movement had helped to bring about, then one would want to share that good with everyone. Friends were targeted for recruitment, relationships were pursued for their possible help with the apostolates, and contrary to all teachings about the dignity of the human person for his own sake, all relationships were mined for “building Kingdom.” Souls were being lost, evil was permeating society, and no stone was to be left unturned in culling vocations to the Legion or Regnum Christi.

2. A False Idol to Trust

"[Archbishop] O'Brien objects to the “cult of personality” focused on Father Maciel and this raises another difficulty for the Legionaries, who wish, even while disavowing the Founder’s life, to keep his writings as a valid expression of Legionary charism. Father Owen Kearns wrote in the Register even after the disgrace that, “the Holy Spirit speaks to my soul through Father Maciel’s words.”
First General Chapter:
"The Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us of all that He has said (Jn 14, 26), making us understand the entire significance of his personality, life, deeds and the doctrine of Our Founder." (11)

"Integration with the Movement "means identifying with the Founder, with his spirit, his mind, his mission, his life. Integration which includes accepting, knowing, valuing, esteeming and transmitting a spiritual legacy that comes to us by way of the Constitutions, the writings and various orientations which are constantly being given value by the example of his life." (438)

The Norms of the Legion require of Legionaries "a total and intimate practical acceptance of the person and unique role of Nuestro Padre as Founder." (441)

"It is more urgent to think what we should give as individuals and in what way his spirit lives in us, how much we have internalized his ideals and his same spiritual experience. It would be better if he had not had to say, "Do not leave me alone," but we have already heard this from his lips. As cofounders we can give to history but a single reply: our loyalty." (449)
January 2009:
Up until very recently I defended Fr. Maciel in public and private, knowing that the very essence of my identity as a Legionary priest depended on it. Now there is nothing to defend. It has all collapsed, and with it, a lifetime of enthusiastic commitment and high idealism.

June 2009:

A Legionary priest, working in a women’s center of RC in South America, recently responded to the anguished questions of the Movement’s members about the fraudulent life of Fr. Maciel by saying, in short, that 'as a man he had his shortcomings, we should not be judgmental and we should look to the good that has come from the Legion in its works'”.

His shortcomings?

That’s like saying that Caligula had his quirks... or that Amy Winehouse has her occasional bad hair day.

June 2009:

There was a time when it was severely frowned upon to refer to writers other than the Founder in our preaching, spiritual exercises and private reading. We were instructed to quote him often, to dedicate certain meditations to his person, virtue and vocation. We were to read his letters during adoration and as part of the liturgy of the hours.

Every word, every gesture, every commentary, every scrap of paper scribbled on by the Boss was a treasure, an unforgettable connection between the inspired, saintly Founder and his intrepid, although still imperfect, co-founders.

For a long time the most piercing motivation the superiors could give us to live with greater fidelity the infinite rules and regulations of the order was: “Think of how Nuestro Padre suffers with even the slightest infidelity of his co-founders!”

He was our ideal... the true legionario tipo that we all so ardently aspired to imitate.

The spirituality of the LC, such as it is, is embedded in the writings of the Founder. His thoughts and his words are conserved in endless books, pamphlets, recordings and videos. In the LC we have often prided ourselves on how completely EVERY aspect of our lives has been defined and detailed by the Founder.

The double life of Fr. Maciel as inspired spiritual guide/fraud and sexual predator has totally negated his credibility. Nothing he has said or written to the LCs or the RC members can be believed or taken seriously. Who he was taints all he wrote. There is no separating the teachings from the life of the teacher when it comes to the all-consuming, conscience-binding religious vocation.

The writings – all of them, from the Constitutions to the Salterio – are as fraudulent as the life that produced them.

From now on, there will be an 800 pound gorilla in the room every time his letters are read during meals in spiritual exercises, every time the Constitutions are read and commented on in community, every time the wishes and words of the Founder are half-heartedly tossed around as motivations.

In essence, the visitation has to expunge every last vestige of the Founder from the Legion’s spirituality.

July 2009:

"Once we found out who he truly was, those same writings have turned into the cruelest of jokes, a most unholy parody of true spirituality and religious tradition, a sacrilegious satire that should make us all ashamed of having once proudly called ourselves co-founders".

The bathwater dissolved whatever baby there was long, long ago.

So throw it out with no regrets.

August 2009:

At the same time, a book recently distributed internally, Cristo al Centro, offers an anthology of Fr. Maciel’s writings and sayings – unindexed and sometimes slightly retouched – mixed with quotations from other, less dubious sources as a thinly disguised attempt to revindicate the Founder’s contribution to LC spirituality.

Now we can quote the Founder without mentioning his name, read some of the things he said and wrote without that direct and oh-so-uncomfortable reference to his person. They’re already talking about revisiting the writings of Fr. Maciel some years down the road when all this persecution has blown over…

3. A False Love of the Church

"That summer, Legionaries portrayed Father Maciel as crucified Christ, sheep mute before the shearers, willing to imply by analogy that Pope Benedict was Pontius Pilate. Spokesman Jim Fair was quoted publicly that 'he had absolutely no doubt that Fr. Maciel is innocent... and that any statements to the contrary amount to persecution of a holy man...

The press release from Legionary headquarters from Rome the day of the discipline said: “Facing the accusations made against him, [Maciel] declared his innocence and, following the example of Jesus Christ, decided not to defend himself in any way.”

At a memorial Mass in Cheshire, Connecticut, Father Joseph Burtka, the then New York territorial director, told the assembly, “while we used to pray with Nuestro Padre, we will now pray to him since he is in heaven.”
"Fr Alvaro said:
'We are always grateful to God for the Legion and for the Movement...“Thank you all again. Thank you for being willing all to be in the same boat. In a storm, you love the boat even more.'
The only way that the storm can further harm the Church is if Maciel's boat is allowed to continue the scandal. The Barque of Peter is the ony boat with a guarantee, the only boat that the Devil ultimately wants to Barque of Peter sink. Maciel is a tool of YKW to the degree that we allow his boat to call itself the flagship of faith, and only as long as we confuse fidelity to it with authentic Catholicism. The Legion's boat is in a storm of Maciel's making, which it then tries to shift into defining as the Devil attacking the Church.

You've all heard this before. You've heard the priest tell young men that to walk away from the Legion is to deny Christ; you've heard that to believe the accusations against MM is to be an enemy of the Church"
It is with great sadness that one must suggest that the Legion uses the Pope, the sacraments, and its own spiritual direction for its own ends, and not necessarily for the good of its members or even the Church at large. There are pictures of the founder with the Pope, the seminarians with the Pope, the papal Masses, the trips to Rome, the papal endorsement, the endless string of anecdotes indicating the personal affection of the Pope for the Movement, as well as the endless promotion of the “similarities” between the lives of Marcial Maciel and Pope John Paul II. This is the most attractive “hook” for any faithful Catholic who wishes to adhere to the teachings of Christ as espoused through His vicar on earth. It would benefit anyone considering this collaboration to step back a moment and weigh the facts.

...the Legionaries offer spiritual direction to members which is directed towards cementing the members to the Movement. Those who become overwhelmed at the demands of their service to the Movement are encouraged to soldier on, those who indicate family problems or children who want to back away from youth activities are instructed that their souls may be in jeopardy, and those who criticize the methodology are reminded that this group is an approved gift of God that cannot be questioned. It would seem that 'all roads lead to Rome' – but not in the classic sense. Rather, it eventually becomes clear that the Pope, the sacraments, and spiritual direction serve the Legion as distinct from the Church, and that even the apostolates don’t benefit anyone other than the Movement. By their good will, zeal, and sincerity, the members open themselves to their Legion superiors and yet, in the end, find themselves used by the very Catholic means which attracted them.
Dean and Laura VanDruff:
[ed. note: the VanDruff's are writing on Multi-Level Marketing here, but it all applies to Maciel's pyramid scheme]
Many readers will share the experience of observing MLMs divide families, friends, churches, and civic groups. Lifelong friends are now "prospects." The neighborhood is now "a market." Motives change, suspicions rise, divisions form. The question is begged: "Is it worth it?"

Especially nasty is the church situation. Will the pastor join? If not, he will take a dim view of MLM proselytizing at church functions; animosity will rise, factions will form. You are either "in" or out. If the pastor joins, then those who are not "in" will feel a little uncomfortable in this church.

A church (or any community group) can be easily torpedoed by an MLM.

Apparently, it is difficult for gung-ho MLMers to see how they look from the outside. They can watch lifelong friendships unravel, churches and civic groups poisoned, the avoidance of friends and family, etc., and never see that MLM was the cause.

If you try to point this pathology out, you are treated as if you have attacked the very gospel! Perhaps for some, the MLM approach is a new gospel?

They will claim to have made "new friends," most of which are MLMers or new acquaintances who could be considered "future prospects." The shallowness of these "new friends," the stilted conversations among the "old friends," and the embarrassment, in general, for what seems clear to everyone but the MLMer go unnoticed. Callousness sets in; standards are lowered.

Of course, it could be pointed out that this might have happened anyway. Perhaps the die-hard MLMers would have ruined their friendships anyway in some other non-MLM business failure. Is the MLM really the cause, or just the vehicle?

And so the MLM relationship "bull" tramples through the relationship "china closet," blindly ruining fragile and valuable things. Some never pull out of this, figuring the coldness they experience in their emotional lives is due to some other cause than their MLM participation.

One can't help but wish that the "neighborhood" could be like it once was. But an MLM storm has blown through, ruining valuable relationships with no regret or conscience.

What goes unnoticed to the MLMer is that when the neighborhood is turned into a marketplace, something precious is lost... which is not easily regained.

This aspect of the MLM experience should not be underestimated, and the reflective reader would do well to think twice about the value of friends, family, community, and church fellowship before joining or continuing in an MLM.

4. A False Obedience Opposed to Truth

First General Chapter:

"Every Legionary must faithfully accept "the directives, norms, works and attitudes of the Founder without discussing them or obstructing them, applying them with faith and operating in accordance with them." (440)

"He indicated that he is more concerned about the probable but vain attempt by some of his enemies who, owing to the demise of the Founder, will try from the outside to sow discord and division within the Legion. Because of this, he allowed himself to recommend that starting now, whenever by the will of God this crisis presents itself, a collective behavior of our members characterized by serenity, discretion, harmony, and prayer in the midst of pain be observed."(453)
Secret Constitution:
"They should not examine the nature of the order, even if it is difficult and unpleasant so that they will truly practice internal renunciation of their own judgement and will..." (300)
The seeds of duplicity, deceit, distrust and intrigue were sown from the congregation’s beginnings. The Founder led a double life all the while submitting us - his willing, enthusiastic followers - to a regimen of poverty, chastity, obedience and uncritical submission of conscience. The idea that the LC is God’s work and must be ‘defended’ at all cost and by any means was his only moral compass. Popes, cardinals, bishops and Vatican officials could be fooled and manipulated as long as it benefited the LC. Its own members are kept on a need-to-know basis, always suspect, always scrutinized for those telltale signs of lack of integration.
Cassandra Jones:
The Legion geared up to obstruct the visitation. In August or September, Maciel asked Legionary José Domínguez, Federico’s brother, to help draft an official religious vow for Legionaries to take, never to criticize a superior and to report those who do. Maciel explained this second private vow in a long letter dated September 15, 1956, addressed to all the Legionaries of the Front of Mexico. He wrote:
'The vow in question is a formal commitment contracted with God which consists in: First, not expressing externally, in any way, either orally, in writing, or by physical gestures, anything which might result in the detriment of the person or the AUTHORITY of the Superior. Secondly, notifying your Superior as a soon as possible if you should realize that another member of the Institute has faulted against the vow thus understood'….
Before leaving for Spain, Maciel issued instructions from the clinic he entered in outer Rome:
'Don’t tell them what they cannot understand and will misinterpret as a pretext to destroy the Legion.'
Fr. Berg: unhealthy suppression of personal freedom (which is a far cry from the reasoned, discerned and freely exercised oblation of mind and will that the Holy Spirit genuinely inspires in the institution of religious obedience) and occasions unholy and unhealthy restrictions on personal conscience.

...a simplistic, and humanly and theologically impoverished notion of God's will (its discernment and manifestation) that breeds personal immaturity.

...shielded as they are from virtually all negative information about the Legion and Regnum Christi... they lack the requisite interior freedom to genuinely discern God's calling in their lives at present.
Debra Murphy:
Connected to the issue of potential cover-ups, there is the fact that many ex-Legionaries and Regnum Christi members have spoken publicly about LC/RC practices which, given the nature of conscience and the statutes set up in the Code of Canon Law to protect its exercise among Christians, are disturbing: namely, practices which impose uncanonical restrictions on members’ exercise of conscience, spiritual direction, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation; practices imposed ostensibly to maintain charity and unity, but which also serve, conveniently, to silence legitimate questions or challenges; practices which are intended to prevent outsiders from finding out what goes on within the organization; practices that intend to maintain a public persona, whatever the "inside" reality, of piety, holiness, success, and the production of "good fruit."

Such practices were doubtless what prompted the recent comments of Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, “[I]t’s clear that from the first moment a person joins the Legion, efforts seem to be made to program each one and to gain full control of his behavior, of all information he receives, of his thinking and emotions…. This is not about orthodoxy,” he said, as reported by his archdiocesan organ, The Catholic Review . “It is about respect for human dignity for each of its members.”

Among the alleged practices: taking vows not only to obey Fr. Maciel, but also never even to criticize him; restricting (even prohibiting) members’ visits to non-LC/RC family and friends; shunning ex-members and attributing malicious or diabolic motives to critics and ex-members; discouraging or even forbidding members from seeking confession or spiritual direction from non-LC/RC priests; imposing spiritual directors and confessors on members, even with the spiritual director is also the member’s "boss" in some official capacity in the organization
The Superior General has just sent an eighteen page letter meant, apparently, to motivate and strengthen the LCs in these difficult times. The meandering missive never even names the problems that are rocking the congregation to its core and basically offers three bits of advice to its confused, anguished and frustrated priests: pray, don’t read the newspapers and trust the superiors.

Trust the superiors? Like we all trusted Fr. Maciel, our Superior General, for nearly 70 years?

If their end game is to retain power and conserve the organization founded to camouflage the double life of its disgraced Founder… perhaps our trust would be better invested elsewhere. Just a thought.