|"We enter now into a new chapter of our history which must be focused on the pursuit of holiness and love for souls."|
September 3, 2009. Two days ago, the two territorial directors
of the Atlanta and New York territories sent out an
open letter to all Regnum Christi members and friends on
the current situation of the Legion and the Movement.
letter, presented below in its entirety, provides more information about
what concrete measures the Legion has taken, is taking, and
will take in response to the recent revelations about the
founder’s misdeeds. It also includes some thoughts and recommendations from
the general director, Fr Alvaro Corcuera, LC, on how to
navigate these painful circumstances in a spiritually fruitful way.
a whole, the letter is an effort to “remedy some
of our shortcomings in communication” and to keep Regnum Christi
members and friends informed about the current state of the
Legion and the Movement.
Traducción al español
September 1, 2009
To the Regnum Christi Members and Friends
in the Atlanta and New York Territories
Dear Friends in Christ,
Atlanta, we recently enjoyed a visit from our General Director,
Father Alvaro Corcuera. He celebrated Mass for Regnum Christi members
and friends at the Pinecrest Academy chapel. During his homily
he touched on important points in reference to the difficulties
we have all experienced during these past months, shedding light
upon them from the Gospel. He invited us to discover
God’s mysterious design also within the realities we are living,
which we never would have expected to experience. It was
an intense moment of prayer and unity, gathered around Christ.
|Fr Julio Martí, LC (left) and Fr Scott Reilly, LC (right)|
He has also traveled to Cheshire, Connecticut, to preside over
the ceremony of the profession of vows of a group
of novices and religious on August 29. With this important
step, these brothers continue their path to the priesthood in
the Legion of Christ, at the service of the Church,
by dedicating themselves to a mission that “is of fundamental
importance and is worth devoting oneself to with broadmindedness and
an unsullied heart…” (Letter of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to
Father Alvaro Corcuera, March 10, 2009).
We are grateful to God
for the gift of his leadership, full of Christian prudence
and charity. We are confident that the Lord assists him
with his grace in the difficult task he has at
With this letter we would like to share with
you some of the thoughts and recommendations that he has
been offering to members of the Legion of Christ and
consecrated members of Regnum Christi through his talks, homilies and
letters over these past months. We are sure they can
also be of help to you.
We also hope to remedy
some of our shortcomings in communication –for which we are
sorry–, so that together we can continue walking what will
surely be a long path of healing and reconciliation with
those who have been hurt by the misdeeds of Father
As priests, our hearts go out to all those who
have been harmed or scandalized by his actions. To all
we extend a special apology on behalf of the Legion
and our General Director, Father Alvaro Corcuera, who has, in
fact, begun to reach out personally and in private to
those he knows may have suffered most, offering his heartfelt
apology and consolation, and will continue to do so. As
he wrote in his March 29 letter: “We are
deeply saddened and sorry, and we sincerely ask for forgiveness
from God and from those who have been hurt through
this.” We also regret that our inability to detect, and
thus accept and remedy, Father Maciel’s failings has caused even
In the recent past, after Father Marcial Maciel had
retired, we came to know that he had had a
relationship with a woman and fathered a child. Even more
recently, there have been allegations of other relationships and other
children. Given the partial nature of the information available and
the impossibility to evaluate immediately and in a definitive manner
these complex allegations, the Legion of Christ cannot, at this
time, make a statement regarding them.
All this leads us to
value even more the wisdom and pastoral approach of the
Holy See concerning the allegations of past sexual abuse against
Father Maciel that had surfaced. As it was stated in
the communiqué published on May 19, 2006, the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith investigated these issues and
invited him to a reserved life of prayer and penance,
renouncing all public ministry.
As an institution, as a family and
as individuals, this unexpected turn of events has been traumatic.
Being weak humans, even if reacting with Christian virtue, many
of us have gone through experiences of shock, anger, disbelief,
denial and fear, both humanly and spiritually. These emotions, the
vast tangle of information, supposition, speculation and opinion, the different
cultural sensitivities, and the Christian duty not to publicize the
sins of others, have made it difficult to publish the
sort of direct statement that many expected of us.
to this, is the fact that we did not know
the whole truth, we may not know it yet, and
new information may well continue to come to light. What
we do learn, we will address, respecting the privacy of
those who request it of us.
As Legionaries, consecrated members
of Regnum Christi and Regnum Christi members of all walks
of life, we too have been experiencing a deep struggle.
We are all wounded by this news, and need the
comfort and support of each other. We want to thank
all those who have understood the depth of our suffering,
and offered their understanding and kindness. As we have just
mentioned, we wish to be close to anyone who has
suffered in any way, and at the same time ask
them to live the Christian virtue of pardon from the
depth of their hearts.
1. This brings us to a key point
in relation to you, our friends. It is clear that
all these facts lead us to think about the past,
the present and the future. Many of you have rightly
asked if the Legion has made or will make changes
in its life. Yes…we have, we are and we will.
a. One of the questions that come to mind refers
to the “safe environment and child protection” measures in our
communities and apostolates. Our Constitutions, other norms and many elements
of our discipline have always helped us to be particularly
careful in the dealing with minors. More recently we are
in the process of accreditation by Praesidium, a risk management
organization now helping a great number of religious institutions in
North America. Praesidium is conducting a full review of our
internal rules and policies, as well as our training of
all those who deal with minors. They will shortly be
conducting on-site visitation of several of our institutions to verify
that what is on paper is being applied. There are
twenty-five accreditation standards to meet, covering the areas of prevention,
response and supervision. Here in the U.S. we have also
set up an external review board so that in the
event of allegations of sexual abuse, we have the advantage
of “outside eyes” to weigh the evidence, issues and provide
us with recommendations. Praesidium accreditation is being promoted by the
Conference of Major Superiors of Men, which links all the
male religious orders in this country.
We also fully comply with
all diocesan standards, which vary from place to place.
b. On the
financial side, for a long time now we have had
yearly audits done by outside accounting firms. We could not
have acquired the loans we needed to purchase our seminaries
and found the many works of apostolate undertaken during these
years without systems in place of strict accountability and responsible
financial management. In recent years, due to the growth of
our operations, we have put in place a still more
professional system of business management through the services of Integer
Group. Staffed by lay professionals, Integer has further improved our
operating and management processes to ensure the integrity of all
c. A further area of adjustment which has begun and
continues in process is the way we refer to Father
Maciel in the Legion and Regnum Christi. While we cannot
deny that Father Maciel was our founder and did much
good, neither can we deny the reality of what has
recently come to light and his grave human failings. We
have taken progressive steps to make sure that there is
no inappropriate reference to Father Maciel (we have, for example,
removed pictures of him from our center; we have extensively
edited our websites; we are in the process of reviewing
new editions of other writings, brochures, etc.). All this has
led us to what is most essential: to center our
life, even more, in Jesus Christ.
This is an ongoing and
difficult process given the need to discern his person from
the solid Catholic doctrine that he transmitted and the legitimate
institutional aspects of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christ.
This discernment is not something that can be done lightly
or overnight. Father Alvaro has and will seek the advice
and guidance of learned and prudent men of the Church
to enlighten this difficult question seeking not to lose God’s
gifts to the Legion and Regnum Christi.
2. We are also
receiving enormous help from the Church, especially from the Holy
Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to whom we are truly grateful.
know that he has mandated an Apostolic Visitation of
the Legion. Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput of Denver has been
appointed as Visitor for the Legion in the United States
and Canada. Archbishop Chaput will visit our seminaries and religious
houses, see our life up close and interview whomever he
wants. His mandate will be to question, probe and assess
with depth and objectivity. Legionaries are free to speak and
write to him with all their comments and questions. He
sets his own timetable and the points he wishes to
probe, and he will present his findings and recommendations directly
to the Holy See.
For the moment, the Legion cannot make
any specific statements regarding the content or development of the
Visitation, since this would interfere with the work of the
b. Questions and comments have also been raised regarding the “private
vow of charity” that was professed in the Legion. The
rationale of this vow was to ensure that the grievances
one could have with his superior were brought to those
who could resolve them and thus avoid irresponsible criticism or
internal factions that degrade unity. This vow had been in
place since 1957 and was approved by the Church. Pope
Benedict XVI, who has the power to bind and loose,
asked the Legion to remove it, which we did two
c. In the past two years, also following the
indications we received from the Holy Father, we changed our
general practice of superiors being the spiritual directors of their
subjects. This practice was based on one of the century-old
monastic traditions that view the superior as Spiritual Father
and Mentor of his community. We are seeing positive fruits
from this change of practice.
d. There also have been changes
in the Legion regarding sacramental confession. In the past, members
were free to go to the Ordinary or Extraordinary confessors
(assigned by the General Director for each community). They were
also free to go to any other Catholic priest with
faculties for confession. Members often asked to go to confession
with their own superiors.
Following the instructions of the Holy
See, today superiors are no longer habitual confessors for those
under their authority.
e. We would finally like to mention that our
general director is in frequent contact with our superiors in
the Holy See and also with the Apostolic Visitors to
speak about these and other complex issues.
These are some of
the significant steps the Legion of Christ has taken. And
as we said, we expect more will come in time,
with judgment and prudence.
Understandably, in the midst of the present
circumstances there have been a few of our members who
have felt that they can serve God better by separating
themselves from the Legion and Regnum Christi; others have opted
temporarily to step aside to see and evaluate, waiting also
to see the outcome of the Visitation. The vast majority
has opted to continue doing as much good as they
can from where they are, knowing that our time here
on earth is limited, and trusting that with the guidance
of the Church whatever needs to be corrected in time,
and whatever is good will be confirmed. Each one has
made his or her choice before God, moved by their
love for him and their desire to serve him to
the best of their ability, and for no other consideration.
Let us have great Christian understanding and respect for all.
Each of us must presume the best and purest intention
in the other, pray for each other, and recognize that
each one of us suffers and recovers in different ways
and at different times.
As Father Álvaro told us in
his homily, in Cheshire, St. John Chrysostom teaches us fives
ways to reach reconciliation: asking for pardon, forgiving others, prayer,
almsgiving and humility (cf. ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Homilies, PG 49,
263-264). Let us ask the Lord to grant us the
grace to walk this path, inasmuch as each one of
us needs it, for his greater glory.
Loving, serving, and building
together –that has been our life in the Legion and
Regnum Christi. As tragic as the failings of our founder
are, they should not cause us to diminish our efforts
to bring souls to Christ, and to serve him and
the Church selflessly in all our brothers and sisters.
have worked so hard to create apostolates, build schools, run
youth clubs, form people in the Catholic faith – and
those efforts are good and real. Let nothing distract you
from loving and serving God in your neighbor. We enter
now into a new chapter of our history which must
be focused on the pursuit of holiness and love for
May we take inspiration from our Blessed Mother who
“meditated all these things in her heart” (cf. Lk 2:51).
She will lead us along the path of God’s will
and help us to respond as she did: “May it
be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
May Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians inspire us during
these challenging times:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of
all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so
that we may be able to comfort those who are
in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves
are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in
Christ´s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort
too.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
You remain in our prayers, and we
depend on yours.
Yours in Christ our Lord,
Fr Scott Reilly,
Fr Julio Martí, LC
New York Territory