Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Archbishop of Baltimore on the Legionaries

Comment: Archbishop O'Brien gives authoritative voice to many long-standing concerns about the Legionaries of Christ and its lay affiliate Regnum Christi, which have come to a head following the scandalous revelations about its founder, Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado. Here are some selected comments, which he made to his diocesan newspaper after meeting the order's superior in Rome.

"It seems to me and many others that this was a man with an entrepreneurial genius who, by systematic deception and duplicity, used our faith to manipulate others for his own selfish ends,"

"While it's difficult to get ahold of official documents," Archbishop O'Brien said, "it'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."

The archbishop said many members who leave the order suffer "deep psychological distress for dependency and need prolonged counseling akin to deprogramming."

"It's been said that the founder is alone called 'nuestro padre' ('our father') and that no one else can have that title," Archbishop O'Brien said. "All are bound to identify with him in his spirit, his mind, his mission and in his life. This would suggest that the very basis of the Legion movement should be reviewed from start to finish."

See the article in the National Catholic Reporter. H-T to Damian Thompson.

The Archbishop is quite right: the problem here is not one abberrant individual, but an institutional culture which is completely rotten and completely un-Catholic. Catholic spirituality and obedience is not about losing one's individuality. Maciel's exploitation of this culture for the grossest abuses is the icing on the top.

We agree with Damian Thompson: the Legionaires and Regnum Christi have to be dissolved. It will be painful, but they have to be helped to form themselves according to the charism of one of the Church's many great founders of orders - St Benedict, St Ignatius, St Francis, St Dominic - and leave behind the hideous pattern of Marcial Maciel.

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen