Today marks the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Legion of Christ, the congregation which I joined in 1991 and which I am now in the process of leaving.
As novices we studied the history of the congregation. We all learned that the process of foundation had been fraught with complications and opposition, and only succeeded because of the persistence and ingenuity of the founder, Marcial Maciel, and his fidelity to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Little did we suspect just how complicated and obscure that process was. Over the past few years we have learned of a variety of abuses and transgressions on the part of the founder – dating back to the foundation and probably before – that force a reexamination and reevaluation of the facts, motivations, and results of the Legion’s 70 year history, and of its current practices, rules and leadership.
My own reflections and prayers on these revelations helped me to the conclusion that God no longer wants me to be a part of the Legion. However, the Vatican has invested important resources in trying to help the Legion overcome this crisis. While there must be some bad apples (as there are in any organization, and they could not have gotten into this mess without the founder having some accomplices), all the Legionaries I know well are talented, well-intentioned men whom I love and respect, and who have the desire to make whatever changes are needed to continue serving God through the Legion’s charism (although the exact nature of the charism is itself a topic of some debate right now). They need help to see clearly and judge correctly, with a healthy distance from the distorted views and habits of thought and behavior that have their origin in the profoundly disturbed psychology of the founder. There is significant good in the Legion, and it would be a tragedy to lose that good in the murky and pervasive bathwater that desperately needs to be flushed out.
So today, I’d like to ask anyone who reads this, to pray please for the Legionaries of Christ and members of their affiliated Regnum Christi lay movement. May this 70th anniversary of foundation mark a turning point in this crisis. Under the guidance of the Pope and his representatives, may they come to a clear and objective understanding of what comes from God and what does not, so they can leave the tragedy of the Legion’s past behind, make reparation where needed, and serve the Church in justice, truth and charity.
It’s a good day to re-read the Vatican’s communiqué following the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion, published last year.