Monday, June 23, 2008

A Frank Dialogue

Archbishop O'Brien Meets with Regnum Christi members concerning the Legion of Christ Matter.

From Fr. Murphy's Blog:

"This is not the usual matter for this blog. Typically, my subject matter is a bit lighter than this. However, as this is an important issue in my diocese (and many beyond are interested too), I thought I would provide some further input on the Archbishop O'Brien - Legionaries of Christ/Regnum Christi matter.

On Saturday, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien met with a group of members of Regnum Christi after the priesthood ordination in Baltimore. Recognizing that they probably had already heard much of what was the impetus for the meeting, the archbishop told the roomful of 150 people, “It is out of pastoral concern that I speak to you. … I want you to hear [these things] directly from me.” He began the meeting by restating the content of his letter that went to Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, the head of the Legion of Christ in Rome. In restating these concerns raised in the letter, O’Brien emphasized again the three areas of concern he had with regard to the operations of the Legion and Regnum Christi in the Archdiocese:
First was the lack of pastoral transparency in the sharing of information about programs and participants. Second was the nature of youth programs and activities that seem to show a lack of respect for parental rights and duties, and a call to cease ongoing spiritual direction with children under 18. And finally was a need to respect the parental role in encouraging and fostering vocations.

After his brief words of explanation, the archbishop opened the discussion up to the concerns and comments of the assembly. Most of the comments reflected the very positive role that involvement in Regnum Christi has had in the lives of the families who participate. They said that they are closer to their Church and Jesus, and that they have been active and integral participants in their parishes as well. They didn’t feel the “coercion” or the “flaws” that the archbishop’s letter had referred to.

Some who spoke acknowledged their skepticism about RC and their schools and programs but did not deny the positive effects that they saw with their families as a result of this ministry. One man asked O’Brien, “Are you open to this dialogue?” noting that his comments – especially those in the interview with John Allen – seemed “offensive” and “not very open” to a process of healing. Others pointed out that there could have been a tendency on the part of ex-members to “misinterpret” the problems of RC and that their input represented only one, biased side of the issue.

Many things were said in defense of RC and LC, and O’Brien listened attentively. Some folks mentioned that there was an orthodoxy in teaching by the LC that was not encountered from diocesan clergy. This was the attraction of the Legion’s activities. There was a question as to whether or not the archbishop was looking for “PR” in this controversy. O’Brien assured them that “I’d be wasting my time if this was for PR.” For him, it is a real issue that must be addressed openly and candidly.

From what I have seen and known about Archbishop O’Brien thus far, to say that this is anything other than true pastoral concern on the part of a shepherd of the Church would be disingenuous. Hopefully, with this dialogue initiated, we are on the way to an open, transparent road to the future. The people spoke, and O’Brien “got what they were saying.” “I love you and what you are doing,” he told them. Now, he says, it is up to them to be open and honest in approaching their pastors – parish priests – and share the best of who they are – something the LC have already taught them to do for God. In a letter sent to Baltimore priests as a follow-up, O’Brien tells us “In my opinion, many members of Regnum Christi are exemplary in doing fine work in this Archdiocese. However, unique among many apostolic groups, LC and RC suffer a strong negative image among many of our clergy in Baltimore and beyond. Until this factor is addressed candidly, tensions will remain. I suggested that members of Regnum Christi speak with their parish priests, relating their account of Saturday’s meeting and seeking ways to collaborate more closely with parish life.”

The dialogue, it seems, has begun. We’ll see where this takes us."

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