Some Observations On The Legionary Situation

With all the pontification lately about the visitation of women’s religious orders, as well as the call in some corners for “more women in the Church” as a means to combat the sex-abuse scandal, Kathy Lopez of National Review Online has done a real service by speaking with an actual religious sister for her perspective on the issues.

Sister Mary Prudence Allen of the Religious Sisters of Mercy in Alma, Michigan, has some thoughtful insights on the visitation, the decision to serve in religious life, and the roles of men and women in the Church. When asked whether we should “have more women involved [in the Church], as priests and in the hierarchy,” she responded:

Again, this question is wrongly framed within a political model of power struggles. Rather, the Church is a communion in which all the baptized are called to holiness through complementary vocations. In the apostolic letter “On the New Millennium,” John Paul II summarized it this way: “The unity of the Church is not uniformity, but an organic blending of legitimate diversities. It is the reality of many members joined in a single body, the one Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:12). Therefore the Church of the Third Millennium will need to encourage all the baptized and confirmed to be aware of their active responsibility in the Church’s life” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, #46).

As mentioned before, integral complementarity of vocations holds an interior tension between the fundamental equality of dignity and worth of all vocations and the significant differentiation of vocations. When one part or another of this tension slides out, the result is either a unisex model of interchangeable roles (the sliding out of significant differentiation) or a rigid polarity model (the sliding out of fundamental equality of dignity). This sliding out can happen in relation to a particular vocation, such as marriage, or it can happen in relation to the interrelation of the vocations within a parish or particular Church. 

In his essays on Genesis, Mulieris Dignitatem (9-11), and other documents such as The Gospel of Life (99), Pope John Paul II discussed the rupture in relations through the effects of sin. Simply put, for men this takes the form of a propensity towards domination of others, especially women, rather than the assumption of a properly held dominion in areas of responsibility; for women this takes the form of seeking to possess others, especially men, rather than fostering their personal growth. 

The answer to the final part of your question is “Sin”; sin is at the heart of the problems in the Church. The different vocations (not roles) of women and men, giving themselves in service to one another for the good of the Church and the world, are not a problem. They are the solution to the problem. 

Read the whole interview here.

 

By

Steve Skojec serves as the Director of Community Relations for a professional association. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he earned a BA in Communications and Theology. His passions include writing, photography, social media, and an avid appreciation of science fiction. Steve lives in Northern Virginia with his wife Jamie and their five children.

  • Austin

    At the risk sounding a little bit overly dramatic, this whole episode seems to have a whiff of demonic activity. Very scary.
    Pope Benedict needs to take serious action: replace the current leadership for starters, and replace them with priests from outside the Legion. When I see the pictures of this man with JP II, I am somewhat stunned. Why did JP II have such a blind spot regarding this man? JP II may have been a holy man, but he was not a good judge of character regarding Maciel.

  • Mere Catholic

    We must pray fervently for whomever Benedict will appoint as commissioner for the Legionaries. He will have his work cut out for him. God bless you Steve for speaking out on your experiences and for the link to life after RC and exLC. I never quite understood the depth of deception that so many faced in the Legion until I read some of the accounts on that website. It is heartbreaking to hear of faith corrupted and innocence lost for men and women who wanted nothing more than to serve Christ and His Church.

  • Mother of Two Sons

    It breaks my heart to hear how something so grevious can be kept hidden for so long! Do you know if he was duplicitous from the beginning or was it a gradually progressive departure from The Way? I think that the worst deceit of the Enemy of God is that what we have done is unforgiveable…. I can only imagine that Maciel, given the numbers who clearly sought out a strict and rigourous following of Christ to follow a call to his order, would have been a BIG and Important Target for the Devil! And though the devil doesn’t have to do much today to get people to sin, he is real and he does set out to kill and destroy those who could have an impact….
    Your love for God and His Church is quite evident in your writing…. so pleased that you clinged to Him through it all!

  • Rich Browner

    what you say here follows what I have read and gathered over the years.

    Sadly, I am no longer surprised by much that happens in human institutions, whether they be sacred, secular, or profane. All of are in need of God’s grace.

    I will pray for more humility, for myself, and for those around the world.

  • Steve Skojec

    It breaks my heart to hear how something so grevious can be kept hidden for so long! Do you know if he was duplicitous from the beginning or was it a gradually progressive departure from The Way?

    What I know and what I suspect are two different things. The reason I always knew it would be incredibly difficult to pin down the Legion is how well secrets were kept and how adept they were at both making defectors doubt themselves and assassinating their reputations.

    There are letters dating back to the 1950s that indicate the Vatican was aware something was very wrong with Maciel. You can view the letters here:

    http://is.gd/bSPSo

    For a good deal more background, including testimony and helpful links, you should go to the ReGain Network, at http://www.regainnetwork.org/

    The group is run by John Paul Lennon, a former Legionary priest from Ireland.

  • Austin

    I read that Cardinal Sodano and others in the Curia accepted money from Maciel [but not then Cardinal Ratzinger]. These Cardinals then would quash any criticism of Maciel. The whole thing makes me sick. It is time to clean house.

  • Mary Alexander

    Steve,
    This is an extremely well written article and I agree with it completely. I was praying that the Legion would be suppressed and am somewhat disappointed in the direction that the Vatican seems to be taking. I am heartened at the thought that this is merely an attempt to buy one. Your conclusion I believe is incontrovertible- what good can possibly come from the fruit of this rotten tree?
    Mary

  • Avignon Days

    Austin
    Read more on His Eminence Cardinal Sodano. Received money (1st link)…ok if he used it for others, if not …not ok. But the construction connection is clearly awful. He is the Dean of College of Cardinals (largely ceremonial) and his family profited from huge construction jobs for Maciel (second link) even when Legionaires complained of slow and bad work from the Cardinal’s nephew.
    The Vatican system needs an overhaul. Let them dress like normal people and maybe they will stop acting like Renaissance power figures from another age. Benedict already hugged Sodano in public recently. I think the sin of human respect may bedevil most in the hierarchy. If you are the type to confront the sinner, you probably do not make it to Rome in the first place. If you are diplomatic, you make it there but the weakness of the diplomat is the sin of human respect. That is why Rome produced no Christ like hero during the abuse scandal or this one.
    Fr. Corapi for example seems to confront the sinner but look again, he never confronts those at the Cardinal level. He confronts distant Bishops and priests and laity and theologians. Period.

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ld…41401.html

    http://www.americamagazine.org…ry_id=2749

  • Commentator

    Steve,
    I think the point about replacing the past with something else is the key. The Holy See chose enough pastoral language to keep hope in the group that it will keep them inward looking still- that “core of the charism” and the indestructible vocation leaves the LC world still stuck on itself. It has to set the record straight- this is about the end of a bad beginning as others have noted, and the start of a new future somewhere else or if enough wish in a totally NEW institute with a totally NEW patrimony that will consist of A, B, AND C.

  • georgie-ann

    there is something very amazing about the Word of God, its sacramental nature, and its Truth that permeates and enlightens our understanding, even transcending the level of failed human vessels, who may have handled it with less than pure motives,…the Word of God IS True and brings us Jesus, and Jesus teaches us about Himself,…

    Steve, you have certainly “paid your dues” on many fronts, some of which i recognize, & i sympathize with your trials for the Faith,…but, thankfully, God was also able to make Himself real to you, even in the middle of all that,…i have experienced similar difficulties myself, but i have hope for the sincere believers in the LC & RC, that if their focus can be turned fully to the Lord–understanding that man is just man, after all, and that it is God that we seek–that God/Christ can make Himself real to them again, and in a healing way,…

    the only good thing about a “bad example”–once you see through it–is the insight gained in what NOT to do,…and it’s also a lot harder to be fooled the second time around,…

  • Daniel

    Thanks for your excellent article, Steve. I agree 100% with your comments, and I agree with all of the other comments you have made about the LC/RC over the past few years on your website. As an LC brother, I witnessed your character assasination first-hand, by the hands of the LC priest I worked with. He said you were poison, someone to be avoided. I’m sorry I believed him then, but I know better now. That’s just one simple example of the Legion’s “fruits.” By their rotten, corrupting fruits, I think we have all come to know them indeed.

  • Steve Skojec

    As an LC brother, I witnessed your character assasination first-hand, by the hands of the LC priest I worked with.

    Thanks, Daniel, as always. It means a lot to have an eye-witness from the inside who knew what was going on.

    People who haven’t experienced it don’t know what the whisper campaigns were like, and how hard it is to substantiate this kind of thing. And I’ve since tried to have a dialogue with that particular priest, who continues to deny what you witnessed and I experienced.

    It’s sad.

  • georgie-ann

    the Cult Awareness Network went “bad” itself, i’m told, but it arose because there was a real need to expose and reveal the subtle psychological maneuverings and effects of powerful, but lying, influences on the naive, trusting, and unsuspecting “victims,” coming under their sway,…

    there is no blame or guilt toward the “innocent” prey,…often half-truths are very powerful vehicles of seduction,…gradual “brainwashing” is a common recruitment method along with that family “belonging” feeling,…but eventually the prideful “exceptionalism” asserts itself, and the false “liberty” of the
    “greater ones” to cross the barriers and definitions of sin and indulge in questionable practices is a strong temptation,…after all, somewhere and at some point along the line, satan began “calling the shots” for the “big shots,”…it does eventually become a compulsive “power game” with leadership,…and those attempting to leave or become “free” are rejected, slandered, and branded,…

    it is important to escape the negative vortex of the corrupted centralized leadership,…but where Real Truth has been involved for the seeker/adherent, it is also important not to lose True Faith,…”once bitten, twice shy” hinders many,…but truly, God Loves, Rescues and Heals,…

    the Truth really will “set us free,”…

  • Austin

    The more this scandal with Maciel unfolds, the more clear, who the real enemies of the Church are. The real enemies are not a few so called “dissidents” such as Fr Richard McBrien, Fr Andrew Greeley, etc. but rather the real enemies are Maciel, Sodano, Law, etc. It is curious to see some posters still defend the LC, as being “the ideal.” Indeed. The truth is rather interesting.

  • Jack Keogh

    “Looking back through the prism of the current situation, a lot of pieces are falling into place.”
    I agree wholeheartedly! I just published a memoir about my twenty years in the LC, working very closely with Maciel in Mexico. From 1962 to 1982 I can honestly say that I never saw or heard of anything suspicious – beyond the cultist nature of the organization as it evolved. (When I joined, the RC was still not a reality.) Indeed my experience was such that when the first allegations of misconduct by MM surfaced, they seemed impossible to believe. Despite my own sense of hurt as to how I was treated by MM when I chose to leave, I still found it hard to believe that one man could have deceived so many, so well and for so long. Now, as I look back, I can identify so many tell-tale signs – although few to warrant the reactions I feel to what I now know to be true. Current Legionary leadership is getting a fair share of blame – clearly, they must have known something over the past several years. I find myself being more critical of many of the “founding” first legionaries – the ones who lived with the victims, the ones who told us latecomers that the events of the 1950s were no more than a “great blessing.” The ones who didn’t speak up when the serious allegations became public. The ones who probably (I don’t know) never came clean with Fr.Alvaro Corcuera or Fr. Garza… letting them continue to buy the lie, as so many honest men did. I still want to believe the LC, with God’s grace, is “fixable.” Meanwhile, MM remains one of the truly great mysteries of my life – he defies the trite explanations and condemnations. I think we are only beginning to scratch the surface of what he was really all about. It obviously was not good!

  • Jack Keogh
  • hilary

    Now I know what to say to people who talk to me about the wonderful spiritual “fruits” of Medjuwhatsit. I read something recently that proposed these religious benefits reportedly associated with these various cults of enthusiasm are really just taken by the devil as the ‘cost of doing business’ he is willing to pay for the larger damage he can do to the Church with these things.

  • Maryanne Williams

    [smiley=think]I just want to say that my husband and I have not been directly involved with RC or the Legionaries except through Conquest. We were made aware of the scandal. We were given only blogger info at first. (We read alot of different blogs) I have to say in my opinion most of what I have read is GOSSIP and some VICIOUS behaviour. For example…..
    The way this blogger writes of the churches statement is taken out of context. The blogger quotes “the silence of the entourage”. That is a misquote. here is the actual wording……
    “The large majority of Legionaries were unaware of that life, particularly because of the system of relations created by Fr. Maciel, who had skilfully managed to build up an alibi, to gain the trust, confidence and surrounding silence and strengthen his role as a charismatic founder.
    Not infrequently the lamentable disgracing and expulsion of those who doubted his upright conduct, and the misconception of not wanting to harm the good that the Legion was doing, had created around him a defence mechanism which made him untouchable for a long time , thus rendering knowledge of his real life difficult.”

    I am not denying that wrong doing has not occured in the LC but these attacks in these blogs are in a way attacking the Catholic church. People need to stop blogging so much and read actual church statements. The church is working on it and I believe in the end the church will do the right thing. The bad guys will be caught in the end in this life or the next.
    Let us pray for those priests and religious who are caught in the middle of this and stop the gossip.
    As for my husband and myself we have decided to go with the church, not some bloggers opinions.

  • Is Mise

    I recall joining this religious order just less than half a century ago, to follow a vocation for the priesthood. Full of faith and willingness to serve Christ. Some of those that enter that decaying, damp, dark building in Dublin way back then have been faithful to that vocation since . That is the only experience of life they have had It should have been beautiful, fulfiling and rich in achievements, least of all in knowing that they have faithfully server God in answer to His call.
    After eight years we parted , having gained a varied (even if practically useless) education. And I feel cheated !

    Deception :
    How the comments made during “quiete” were used to manipulate our thinking, by pre-empting questions we might have, by depicing Maciel as some ordained Prophet, by taking us into their confidence in their “discrete” disclosure of some amazing fact about him, mostly by Izquierdo. This technique was follow in Salamanca by Arumi and Javier (?), and in Rome by Duenas et al.
    As young men we needed Ideals and Leadership. This Ideal was Christ and the Way was through the spirit and mystic of the Legion
    We were being faithful. We were fighting for a persecuted Pope and as the new reforming force in the Church. A force that was opposed by those who did not wish to change, those who saw the Legion as a threat and attacked the figure of Maciel as head of this reformed movement, so loved by the faithful members of the Curia. This was also the strategy to explain “The Great Blessing”
    We were taught what to think before we knew there was a question, and were told this was the way to fight for Christ, the Pope and the Church.
    And those who did not experience this wonder how we could be so deceived .
    Most who stayed were unaware of the underlying putrification in the core and served in an exemplary way, surrendering themselves wholly to the service of Christ, building the Legion and RC with the only currency they had…their lives.
    Most who joined can vouch for total ignorance of the behaviour of the Elite. The few who realised the morbid truth were ostracised and belittled as malcontents.
    That’s part of the story of how it worked.

    And also why it will survive, driven by those people who believe only in the higher ideal and , paradoxically, because they were excluded from the rotten core

  • Steve Skojec

    Maryanne,

    I’m afraid you’re mistaken. From the English translation of the Vatican statement, cited below Magister’s piece in Chiesa, under section #2:

    The extremely serious and objectively immoral behavior of Fr. Maciel, confirmed by incontrovertible testimonies, in some cases constituted real crimes, and manifest a life devoid of scruples and authentic religious sentiment. Most of the Legionaries were unaware of this life, above all because of the system of relationships constructed by Fr. Maciel, who skilfully created alibis, obtained trust, confidence, and silence from his entourage, and reinforced his own role as charismatic founder.

    This isn’t a minor semantic quibble. “Surrounding silence” is vague and lacks context, though it points to the same concept. “Silence of the entourage” is much more clear in condemning the complicity of those surrounding Maciel, if not by name, then as a non-specific group.

    Attacking the Legion for its various damaging behaviors, not all of which were directly tied to the sexual abuse of the founder (and others who allegedly perpetuated the abuses they suffered at his hands on their own subordinates) is categorically NOT a violation of charity, or simple gossip, and is most certainly NOT an attack on the Church – though there was complicity at the highest levels of the Vatican that should be exposed.

    I spent years being labeled as ungrateful, uncharitable, bitter, not generous, etc., because I was critical of the things the Legion did that hurt people. They couldn’t discredit my message, so they sought to discredit me.

    One of the reasons that the evils of this situation have come fully to light is the constant pressure put on the order by people who were unafraid to be slandered and attacked in their pursuit of the truth. Silence about wrongdoing that victimizes people and damages their faith is not an act of charity, it’s an act of complicity.

  • Lux

    Steve, Just to let you know that your reading about your experience was like looking into a mirror!!! My story is SO similar!…
    I’m still struggling to put things in their right place, to trust again, to recover the enthusiasm and zeal that I used to have… The experience I lived with the RC has left a huge mark in me, and I hope in time the heart will heal.
    Isn’t it incredible Steve when all of a sudden you ‘see’?… Like if the veil came off the eyes and suddenly you see with a pristine clarity!… It’s so difficult to explain, but it’s an immediate transformation and there’s simply no way back!… I suppose that’s the only reason that makes me try to be sympathetic with the ones still trapped and blind: the fact that I was also totally blind at one time and I believe it was God’s grace that helped me see…
    Regards from Mexico.

  • Jack Keogh

    Maryanne Williams makes some good points. There is lots of malicious, and misleading gossip on many blogs dealing with the Legion. The translation she reports is, as far as I can tell, the official Vatican translation as published by Vatican Radio and also by VIS (Vatican Information Service.) It is the translation I used on my blog – I don’t know where SM got his.

  • Maryanne Williams

    Steve,

    The translation I have regarding the vatican press release is what was reported by Vatican Radio. I’m not sure where you got your translation or why they would translate it incorrectly. Really, the two different translations speak quite differently. The translation I have says more that Maciel was more responsible for deceiving. The translation you are “quoting” is suggesting that all those around him knew of his actions and hid them. That may be true but my point is that we need to be responsible in our public reaction to the ongoing investigation. As I said before, you are not the only blog that is quoting peoples opinions or comments as fact. But I’ll give another example from your blog to prove my point…….you say, and I quote,

    “Evidence of this surfaces anecdotally. The Life-After-RC blog reported last month that a Regnum Christi member was at a talk by a Legionary priest known to me, wherein he observed that Father remarked that he and his brother have done research and determined that the LC is the healthiest order around, that bloggers are liars, and that even knowing all that he does, Fr… would do it all again the same.”

    more………..

    “Another e-mail I received recently revealed that this same Legionary priest is telling RC members in his area that what is happening with the Vatican right now are merely “tweaks” to the Legion.

    These reports lack independent substantiation, and as such should be taken with the appropriate grain of salt”

    This last comment you make is especially upsetting to me because it leads most people to believe it is true even though you and I both know, as you said, “it lacks independent substansiation”.

    These kind of comments are unecessary. My husband and I have good intentions and just want the truth but all of these comments are confusing and if you were a journalist working for a MORAL newspaper your story would not be printed unless it were in the opinion section. JUST THE FACTS PLEASE!!!!

  • Anonymous

    “there is lots of malicious, and misleading gossip on many blogs dealing with the Legion.”

    The Vatican has just clearly stated the Legion is a seriously flawed system of power devised by a criminal, and you are pointing fingers at the many bloggers who have suffered various abuses at the hands of this malicious system and are daring to call THEM malicious?

    Many who understand both Italian and English have emphasized that the strength of tone of this communique doesn’t really translate into English. It is a very, very strong statement of denunciation of the abuse of conscience, authority, and true nature of religious life that the Legion has perpetrated on generations of unsuspecting and well-meaning Catholics who have consequently been rendered blind, deaf, and dumb by an excessive “zeal”.

    I do not know what “gossip” you are referring to. Who is gossiping about whom?

    The Pope thanked all those abused by this system who kept trying to out the truth (I seem to remember how their blogs and statements were frequently referred to as “malicious gossip” as well, don’t you?).

    More and more people are discovering the truth through these very same “malicious” blogs you are referring to. To continue to refer to those sharing their terrible experience at the hands of this construct of a criminal as “malicious gossipers” heaps more abuse upon the victims. You may not realize it, Jack, but you are part of that heaping of abuse that Maciel so inculcated in his followers through his abusive power structure when you so virtuously point fingers at the truth-tellers and accuse them of malice.

    It is, quite frankly, nauseating.

  • Anonymous
  • MRA

    Maryanne and Jack, I don’t get it. VIS says:
    “Fr. Maciel, who had skilfully managed to build up alibis, to gain the trust, confidence and silence of those around him, and to strengthen his role as a charismatic founder.” I copied and pasted this from the Vatican website just now.

    That’s exactly the same in meaning as what Steve quoted: Maciel procured “the silence of his entourage.” It’s not the same as blaming “the surrounding silence,” a much vaguer and more impersonal formulation.

    If it’s Alvara and co. you want to save, good luck with that. If somebody truly knows nothing, they have nothing to tell, and nobody would need to “gain their silence.”

  • LC seminarian

    To Steve Skojec:

    As a member of the Legion I would like to offer a sincere apology to you and to all those harmed by the Legion and Fr Maciel. I am really sorry for all that you have gone through and thank you for those who spoke always the truth and persevered in it.

    Be sure that you are ALL in my poor prayers and sacrifices.

    God bless and please pray for us legionaries to be faithful to Christ and his Vicar on earth and for our renewal.

    Thank you also for all these comments though I cannot agree with some of them, like the assertions made by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

  • Jack Keogh

    Anonymous at 6:37 May 4 –
    A deep breath please! Nowhere am I suggesting that all blogs referring to the Legion mess are gossip. But I think you will agree that there has also been a proliferation of misleading and inaccurate information. Blogs are for opinion and commentary – but, in my experience much of the commentary is driven more by agendas than facts. Many blogs, in different ways, have proved helpful to shed light on an awful situation – I have no quarrel with them. Let me hasten to add that my intent to want to save “Alvaro & Co.” – at this stage I am content to let the Vatican do the talking. Indeed, that’s my point: the Pope has spoken – although I think he will have lots more to say, he’s only just started – the Vatican statement is blunt and unusually unambiguous. I think the statement opens the door to healing and pastoral care of all of the victims. Not sure what’s to be gained (going forward – I’m not talking about the comments here) by piling more wood on an already blazing fire. Today, on my blog, I posted George Weigel’s suggestions for the new Vatican delegate to the legion – they are tough, unambiguous and I agree with them. Because, ultimately, they are pastoral and constructive. Peace

  • Augustine

    TThe real enemies are not a few so called “dissidents” such as Fr Richard McBrien, Fr Andrew Greeley, etc. but rather the real enemies are Maciel, Sodano, Law, etc.

    Actually, the correct answer is “all of the above”. They all give scandal to little ones. Woe to them, woe to us.

    Miserere!

  • Augustine

    Actually, the original Italian says “silenzio dai circostanti“, which translates literally into “silence of the entourage”. “Surrounding silence” is a creative, but not faithful, translation, IMO.

    God, have mercy!

  • Longtime RC member

    I can vouch for the veracity of Steve’s “anecdotal” comments. I know the priest that you are talking about because he has said them to me personally on several occasions. He is one of the best priests around, so in his defense, I think we can agree that it’s hard to be self-critical. It’s easy to see what’s wrong with someone else, but can the Legion (or anyone) be objective and truly capable of honest self-analysis. It’s going to take an outside force – which the Vatican will provide in the form of the commission – to help them to see what is wrong. And like so many of us, there will be those within the Legion who will have a difficult time accepting that something truly is wrong and therefore needs to be fixed.

    I can also second almost all of Steve’s experiences (I haven’t been slandered against). After being involved in RC at so many different levels for more than a decade my experiences mirrored those of Steve’s – and of so many others which makes apparent the obvious – there is a systemic problem.

    It is with great sadness that I finally left. There are so many wonderful and good-hearted people in the LC/RC. But it is also true that there is a system of manipulation – it’s the formation taught by MM and passed down through the generations – all to serve his ego and desire for control. Many are manipulative without even realizing it – they joined at such a young age and learned it as part of the methodolgy. The question now, with the reform of the LC/RC, is can people unlearn it and see it as wrong after “growing up” that way?

  • Amanda

    Can someone tell me where the numbers came from in this passage?

    “But of the 800 priests of the Legion, only about 100 are now deliberately working for a “journey of profound revision.” Most of them are still disoriented, traumatized by the revelations about the founder, submissive to the authority of the leaders they see as their only source of stability.”

    thank you

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