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Turn to Jesus (Article)

What We Hold In Common
Pontifical Delegate recaps the Legion renewal process including the involvement of the Regnum Christi Movement

Cardenal Velasio De Paolis
Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, papal delegate for the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.

Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, Pontifical Delegate to the Legion of Christ, has released a letter summarizing the renewal of the congregation, including how the process will now involve the Regnum Christi movement.  He acknowledges the “common mission” and “shared purpose and mission” of the religious, consecrated and lay members in the first and second degrees, and recommends a period of “joint reflection” resulting in a “fundamental norm” or “rule” common to all members.

The text of the letter follows:

The original Italian version can be read here.


To the members of the Regnum Christi Movement and the members of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Since I was named Pontifical Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in July, 2010, I have focused my energies, with the help of my counselors, strictly to the Legion and its various problems.  Particularly, we started the process of revision of the Constitutions – the main responsibility that the Holy Father entrusted to me – as an important moment in the journey of renewal of the Congregation.  During this period we have addressed other problems as they have surfaced.

After the apostolic visitation carried out by His Excellency Mons. Ricardo Blázquez, Archbishop of Valladolid, Spain, together with my counselors, I have dedicated time and attention in a particular way to the consecrated persons who form the 3rd degree of the Regnum Christi Movement.  This part of our responsibilities, particularly the feminine branch, has demanded much time and attention and has distracted us more than a little from the problems of the Legion.  It has been a tiring and complex journey which has had its painful moments. Today, we can look at things with greater serenity.  Of course, the job is not finished, but good principles have been put in place which allow us to look to the future with hope. The Lord who has been with us and has brought us through difficult moments will not leave our side in the coming phases of the process.  At this moment, a provisional Rule for consecrated men and women has been prepared.  After a very wide consultation, individuals have been named for the internal government of the consecrated persons. After a long illuminative phase, aimed at reflecting on and verifying the vocation in Regnum Christi, which has been very positive for the commitment of all the consecrated members, we are working on collecting the conclusions that have sprung forth in order to begin the revision of the Statutes that govern the consecrated persons in Regnum Christi.  To help the consecrated members on this journey, I have entrusted the guidance of the men to Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda and the women to Fr. Agostino Montan. 

In this work, we have become aware of another beautiful reality of great relevance and meaning: the reality of the first and second degrees of Regnum Christi.  Up until now, this reality has received little and insufficient attention.  The visits that my counselors and I have made to Mexico, Spain, Brazil and Chile, as well as Italy, have helped us witness this beautiful, hopeful reality with our own eyes.

Thus, we have been brought face to face with the complete reality which is committed in the apostolate of Regnum Christi: the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement with both its components of lay and consecrated men and women.  These are realities that are clearly related in their spirituality and apostolate. They share in the same charism, lived by each group according to its particular identity: the lay identity rooted in baptism, the identity of consecrated persons who live the evangelical counsels in the world as an association, and that of religious priests.

On the journey that we are carrying out, each group is advancing along its own path, seeking a more clear and precise identity.  The Legionaries are committed to revising the Constitutions, as an institute of priests and religious; the consecrated men and women, having accepted and enacted, at least in part, the principle of proper autonomy, are preparing to revise their own Statutes as an association of faithful consecrated in Regnum Christi.  At the same time, in some territories similar activities have been organized among members of the first and second degrees to reflect on the mission and spirit of the Movement.  In fact, the lay members of the first and second degrees feel a necessity to revise their own statute and reformulate it in a more precise and up-to-date way.  But these are realities that are called to work together, since they participate in a common charism.  As each group is carrying out the journey in search of its own identity, it seems necessary to formulate a common platform regarding the charism and some norms that would regulate reciprocal relations in the life of the Church and in the apostolate according to the identity proper to each group.  It has become clear that this is an important issue upon which all interested parties must reflect under the guidance of the Pontifical Delegate and of his counselors.  Furthermore, we have noticed that this theme has presented itself in the right moment for the journey that each group is already carrying out. 

In particular, the general report of the Central Commission of the Legionaries for the revision of the Constitutions mentions, among other things, that some communities and territories desire to continue reflecting on the contents of the first theme of reflection, regarding the nature and purpose of the Congregation, its “charism”.  Furthermore, the Central Commission has already elaborated the guidelines for the reflection on the themes for the year 2012 and is sending them to the Legionary communities.  In these last two months, this Commission has sought to identify the best way to confront the reflection upon the fourth and fifth parts of the constitutional text, regarding government and administration of the Congregation.  For various historical and canonical reasons, the current text exclusively refers to the religious Congregation.  It has become clear that it is impossible to properly and completely consider the government, apostolate and administration of the Legion of Christ without also taking the broader reality of Regnum Christi into account.  Nor is it possible, on the other hand, to think of the reality of Regnum Christi without referring to the Legion.  A glance at the apostolate and administration of works and apostolic initiatives makes this evident. 

For this reason, it seemed opportune to specifically address this theme in a meeting that was convoked convened for this purpose in Rome, which took place on June 19.  The general director of the Legion with his counselors took part as well as the newly named leadership* of the consecrated men and women.  The Pontifical Delegate presided.  There was a general agreement on the central issue. 

The results of the reflections on the Constitutions clearly show that almost all Legionaries of Christ recognize and appreciate the profound unity which exists between the Congregation and the Regnum Christi Movement.  In fact, they see it as one charismatic reality that includes religious, consecrated members and lay members in the first and second degrees.  They all recognize a common origin and the fact that they share the same purpose and mission, and live the same spirituality, each according to the state and condition in life to which God has called him.  

Furthermore, it has been recognized that consecrated life in the Regnum Christi Movement is a gift for the Church and for each of those that have consecrated their lives to the Lord and to the service of their brothers and sisters.  This is a good reality which must appreciated and protected so that it may be purified and thus develop for the good of the Church and the world.

As well, the members of the first and second degrees enrich their own Christian lives participating in the spirit and activities of the Movement and, at the same time, generously give themselves to many efforts of apostolate and of evangelization, some of which have a great scope.  They even go so far as to dedicating themselves full time for the spreading of the Good News. 

We have concluded that all are in agreement that it is necessary to develop a joint reflection regarding the identity of Regnum Christi, regarding the elements that are common to the whole Movement and regarding those elements that are specific to each of the groups that make it up. 

It will be necessary to continue forward in the reflection on the Constitutions and of the Statutes with the necessary coordination between the different parts, together, without hurrying.  It is clear that the consecrated members need time and that it could be damaging to disregard the rhythms that this reflection imposes. 

Only in light of a joint reflection on the identity and mission proper to the whole body and the one family will it be possible to identify the characteristics proper to each of the parts and their mutual relations.  Finally, this joint reflection will enable us to reflect properly about the instruments of government and administration that best correspond to the unity of the whole of Regnum Christi, as well as to the necessary autonomy of each of its parts. 

It seems to us that the journey of the Legionaries and of the rest of the members of Regnum Christi should begin with a reflection on the common charismatic reality in which they participate, in the bosom of the Church.  As of today, this common reality has not been the object of an explicit reflection in the path we have travelled so far.

For this reason, we have become aware that it is necessary to reflect on the diverse components of Regnum Christi in light of its history, its identity, its common spirit and mission and the particular role that corresponds to each part in the whole. 

We are not creating something new.  Instead, we are seeking to interpret and renew what already exists in light of the recognition that the Church has given when it approved that Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and its Constitutions (1983), and, subsequently, the Regnum Christi Movement and its Statutes (2004).

Reflecting on this, we have decided to organize a brief but intense period of joint reflection between Legionaries of Christ and the other members of Regnum Christi.  For this reflection, it will be necessary to prepare the draft of a text and afterwards, to reflect on it together.  One could say that we are seeking to elaborate a “general statute” or a “fundamental norm”, or a “rule” common to all the members of Regnum Christi, including Legionaries.  The text in question will guide the reflection. 

It has seemed convenient to me to entrust the elaboration of a first proposal of a guiding text to the Central Commission for the revision of the Constitutions.  This first draft should be elaborated with the participation of members of the diverse components of Regnum Christi, it should take the results of the “illuminative phase” regarding consecrated life in the meetings in Rome, Mexico and Brazil into account, as well as the different suggestions that have been sent from other members of the Movement.  As far as possible, it will be presented to the Pontifical Delegate in September so that he can submit it for examination to the general governance of the Legion and the leadership* of the consecrated members, following the indications that will be given at that time.  The ulterior journey will be indicated once the first draft has been evaluated. 

Meanwhile, each member can continue forward with his or her own work in light of which component he belongs to: the Legionaries according to the legislation for religious, consecrated men and women and other members according to their own rules, at the same time taking care of the relation between the different parts.  As the specific elements of each part are defined, we should underline the principle of unity. 

Insofar as it contributes to the reflection, we will also begin a historical investigation regarding the origins of the Regnum Christi Movement. 

While we work on the revision, the life of the Legion of Christ and of the Regnum Christi Movement continues on.  We are in an intermediate, necessarily provisional, phase, which requires much patience, collaboration and availability on the part of all.  It is not a period without law.  Where the contrary has not been affirmed, the existing norms remain in force, as well as the Constitutions of the Legion of Christ. 
The concrete problems that can arise must be addressed by the competent authorities according to the spirit that characterizes the present stage, with possible recourse to those who accompany you. 

I cannot conclude this letter without giving thanks to God for the light and strength with which he is accompanying our journey.  My mission and that of my counselors is to help you, not to replace you.  You must live out this journey, seeking God’s will for your life with docility and responsibility.  May God grant to all the grace of perseverance in the vocation and mission that each has received. 

I entrust all the persons, works and initiatives of the Regnum Christi Movement to Mary.  Let us be more intensely united in prayer to collaborate with the Holy Spirit intensely and with docility, in this time of grace that God has permitted us to live.  I am available for all.  I bless each and every one of you and remain your affectionate servant in Christ,

+ Velasio Card. De Paolis, C.S.
Rome, July 11, 2012.  Feast of Saint Benedict.

Original text in Italian
*Translator’s note: in the English language it is difficult to find an apt word for the title Responsable.Leadership was chosen for lack of a better term.



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