Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pope Begins Reform of Legionaries of Christ

The Vatican said the pope wanted to assure the Legionaries and members of the order’s lay movement, Regnum Christi, that “they will not be left on their own” and that the church will “accompany them and help them on the path of purification that awaits them.”

As for future steps, the statement said the pope has “reserved to himself” those decisions, beginning with the naming of his delegate and the commission to study the order’s constitutions. He will also name a visitator for the Regnum Christi movement, at their request.


The complete article from Catholic News Service Blog:

Posted on by John Thavis

VATICAN CITY — In initial steps toward reforming the Legionaries of Christ, Pope Benedict will name a personal delegate with authority over the order and a commission to study its constitutions, the Vatican said today.

In a lengthy statement, the Vatican indicated that the Legionaries would need to undergo very deep changes, including a redefinition of the order’s religious charism and a revision of the way authority is exercised among its members.
While the pope will have the final word on whatever changes are eventually imposed, one Vatican source said after seeing today’s statement: “It looks like they are calling for a refoundation of the order.”

The pope met Friday with the five bishops who conducted a visitation of the Legionaries’ institutions over the last year. They visited almost all the order’s religious houses and most of its pastoral institutions, meeting with more than 1,000 Legionaries.
The Vatican emphasized what it said was a high degree of sincerity and cooperation shown by the Legionaries, and said the visitators encountered many young priests who were “exemplary, honest and full of talent.”

The Vatican statement castigated the Legionaries’ founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, who had been found to have fathered children and sexually abused seminarians. His “most grave and objectively immoral conduct” calls for “a path of profound revision” in the order, the Vatican statement said.

It said Father Maciel committed “true crimes” that reflected “a life devoid of scruples and of authentic religious sentiment.” Most Legionaries didn’t know about his conduct because Father Maciel was able to skillfully “create alibis and obtain the trust, confidence and silence of those around him,” it said.
Most Legionaries, because of their “sincere zeal,” believed that accusations against Father Maciel could only be lies, it said.

The Vatican said the visitation highlighted three primary requirements:
– The need to “redefine the charism” of the Legionaries of Christ, preserving “the true nucleus, that of ‘militia Christi’ (the army of Christ), which distinguishes the apostolic and missionary action of the church.”
– The need to revise the exercise of authority in the order, in a way that “respects the conscience” and is closely connected with truth.
– The need to preserve the enthusiasm and missionary zeal of younger members through adequate formation.

“In fact, the disappointment about the founder could place in question the vocation and that nucleus of charism that belongs particularly to the Legionaries of Christ,” it said.
The Vatican said the pope wanted to assure the Legionaries and members of the order’s lay movement, Regnum Christi, that “they will not be left on their own” and that the church will “accompany them and help them on the path of purification that awaits them.”

Part of that path, it said, is a reaching out to those inside and outside the order who were “victims of the sexual abuse and of the system of power put in place by the founder.”
“To them at this moment go the thoughts and prayers of the Holy Father, together with gratitude for those among them who, in the face of great difficulty, had the courage and the constancy to demand the truth,” it said.

As for future steps, the statement said the pope has “reserved to himself” those decisions, beginning with the naming of his delegate and the commission to study the order’s constitutions. He will also name a visitor for the Regnum Christi movement, at their request.
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And from The National Catholic Reporter:


Today the Vatican released a comminque summarizing the results of a year-long investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, indicating that Pope Benedict XVI will shortly appoint a special delegate to lead the order and a commission to review its founding documents.

The language of today's statement is remarkably blunt, referring to a "system of power" created by the founder of the Legionaries, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, designed to hide "true crimes" and a private life "without scruples or authentic religious sentiment." The statement indicated that the Legionaries must follow a "path of purification," including a "sincere encounter" with victims of sexual abuse inside and outside the order.

After years of denial, the Legionaries have recently been forced to acknowledge that Maciel lived a double life, including having a child out of wedlock with a woman with whom he was in a long-term relationship and to whom he provided financial support. Maciel has also been accused of sexual abuse of former members of the order.

The Vatican statement expressed Pope Benedict's gratitude for the "courage and steadfastness" of those who brought charges against Maciel over the years.
The following is an NCR translation of the Vatican communique, released this afternoon Rome time in Italian.

COMMUNIQUE OF THE HOLY SEE
1. From April 30 to May 1, the Cardinal Secretary of State presided over a meeting in the Vatican with the five bishops who had been charged with carrying out the Apostolic Visitation of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ (Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez of Valladolid, Spain; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colorado; Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Concepción, Chile; Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Alessandria, Italy; and Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi of Tepic, Mexico). The prefects of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the substitute for General Affairs of the Secretary of State, also took part in the meeting.

One of the sessions took place in the presence of the Holy Father, to whom the Visitors presented a synthesis of their presentations, which had already been sent in.
In the course of those visits, more than 1,000 Legionaries were met, and hundreds of written testimonies were evaluated. The Visitors went to virtually all the religious houses and many of the apostolic works directed by the congregation. They listened, either in person or in written form, to the judgments of many diocesan bishops in countries in which the congregation works. The Visitors also met numerous members of the “Regnum Christi” movement, even though it was not the object of the visit, in particular consecrated men and women. They also received considerable correspondence from laity involved in the movement and from the families of members.

The five Visitors testified to the sincere welcome they received, and the spirit of active cooperation demonstrated by the congregation and by the individual religious. Although the Visitors acted independently, they arrived at an amply convergent evaluation and a shared judgment. They attested that they had met a great number of exemplary, honest religious, full of talent, many of them young, who seek Christ with authentic zeal and who offer the whole of their existence for the diffusion of the Kingdom of God.

2. The Apostolic Visit was able to determine that the conduct of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado has caused serious consequences in the life and the structure of the Legion, which requires a path of profound revision.

The extremely grave and objectively immoral behavior of Fr. Maciel, which has been confirmed by irrefutable testimony, takes the form of true crimes and demonstrates a private life without scruples or authentic religious sentiment. That life was hidden from the great majority of Legionaries, above all because of a system of relationships constructed by Fr. Maciel, who was adept at creating alibis for himself and winning the trust, confidence and silence of those around him, reinforcing his role as a charismatic founder.

By discrediting and pushing away those who doubted the correctness of his behavior, as well as through a mistaken desire not to undercut the good the Legion was doing, they created a mechanism of defense around [Maciel] that made him immune to attack for a long time, consequently making an awareness of his real life extremely difficult.

3.
The sincere zeal of the majority of the Legionaries, which also emerged during the visits to the houses of the congregation and their many works, which are widely appreciated, caused many in the past to believe that the accusations – which gradually became more insistent, surfacing here and there – could only be calumnies.

For that reason, the discovery and realization of the truth about the founder has provoked among the members of the Legion surprise, upset, and profound sorrow, which were distinctly manifested to the Visitors.

4. From the results of the Apostolic Visit, the following points, among others, have emerged with clarity:
a) The necessity to redefine the charism of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, preserving the true nucleus, that of being a “Militia Christi,” which distinguishes the apostolic and missionary action of the Church, and which is not identified with efficiency at any cost;
b) The necessity to review the exercise of authority, which must be connected to truth, in order to respect conscience and to develop it in light of the Gospel as authentic ecclesial service;
c) The necessity to preserve the enthusiasm of the faith of the young, the missionary zeal, the apostolic dynamism, through an adequate formation. In fact, delusion about the founder could call into question the vocation, and that nucleus of a charism, which belongs to the Legionaries of Christ and is rightfully theirs.

5.
The Holy Father wants to reassure all the Legionaries and the members of the “Regnum Christi” movement that they will not be left alone: The Church has a firm determination to accompany them, and to help them in the path of purification which awaits them. This path also implies a sincere encounter with all those, inside and outside of the Legion, who have been victims of sexual abuse and of the system of power put in place by the founder. The thoughts and prayers of the Holy Father are with these victims right now, together with gratitude for all those who, despite great difficulties, had the courage and the steadfastness to insist upon the truth.

6.
The Holy Father, in thanking the Visitors for the delicate work they performed with competence, generosity and deep pastoral sensitivity, has taken it upon himself to indicate very soon the form this “accompanying” will take, beginning with the appointment of a Delegate and a commission of study of the order’s constitution.
For the consecrated members of the “Regnum Christi” movement, who insistently asked for it, the Holy Father will send a Visitor.

7.
Finally, the Holy Father renews his encouragement for all the Legionaries of Christ, their families, and the laity involved in the “Regnum Christi” movement, in this difficult moment for the Congregation and for each of them. He exhorts them to not lose sight that their vocation – which comes from the call of Christ, and which is animated by the ideal of giving witness of his love to the world – is an authentic gift of God, a richness for the Church, and is the indestructible foundation upon which to build their personal future and that of the Legion.

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