The following was sent to every member of the Regnum Christi by Legion of Christ Superiors yesterday by email or fax. This is the full, unedited text.
Make your own observations.
Guidelines for answering some questions
All our words should be inspired and guided by Christian charity, knowing that “the triumph of truth is charity” (St. Augustine).
This is a time of great pain for Legionaries of Christ, members of Regnum Christi and everyone associated with the Church. There is the great mystery of how the Holy Spirit can play beautiful melodies on a broken instrument. But we must remember that for those who have been hurt, we cannot excuse their suffering by reminding them of the good that God does through the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.
We must speak and act in light of the Gospel and the principles of Catholic morality that we find summed up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the truth, charity and upright behavior in regard to other people’s defects.
We must demonstrate faith, hope and charity – particularly to those who have been hurt— and entrust all of us to God’s mercy with great peace and serenity.
There are some people who, out of respect, sensitivity, Christian mercy, profound gratitude, etc., don’t want to go into details about Nuestro Padre’s behavior. Their response is to pray, and to be humanly and spiritually close to those who are confused and hurting. We should respect and encourage this attitude, as much in ourselves as in others. The starting point is the acknowledgment and gratitude for all the good we have received.
All these conversations must he held without getting into an argument, with the greatest possible serenity, with a supernatural view of things, and letting people know that it’s perfectly normal for different people to have different points of view, different tones to their answers, etc. This is also due to the state of suffering, tiredness and pain that we are all experiencing, and it calls for a lot of patience, understanding and the certainty that we all want the same thing. If all this is making us suffer so much, it’s because we all love the same thing.
We love Christ by listening to others, offering our sympathy and accepting our own human failings and imperfections.
We should always ask for support, prayers, understanding and a lot of trust, as members of the one family, one body in the Church and in the Movement. We should make sure to support everybody that needs it.
These are times of prayer, humility, unity and charity.
POINTS TO BE MADE:
1. We apologize to anyone hurt by Father Maciel’s actions.
2. We regret any scandal to the Church
3. We offer our prayers to all who are suffering as the result of this and ask
for the prayers of the faithful for us.
4. In all our considerations, actions and words, our departing point is the
following: We have sought to act, and we are trying to act according to
what Jesus Christ would do. We have tried to illuminate our decisions
with the light of the Gospel, following the Catechism of the Catholic
Church, having heard the advice of many and in unity with the Holy See.
The principles that guide us are those of justice, charity and mercy with
What do you have to say about Father Maciel?
To our surprise and pain, we recognize that some of our founder’s behavior was incompatible with his priestly condition. We are deeply sorry for the offenses he committed and we ask pardon for the scandal this has caused.
It can be helpful to read the letter Father Alvaro Corcuera has written to Regnum Christi members and friends, and the Zenit article about this. These texts provide guidance on the interior attitudes towards this situation (the letter) and concise information (the article).
Even so, we can’t forget that our founder was the instrument that passed on, in all its integrity, the charism God gave him and the Church approved. For that, we are forever grateful to him. At any rate, he has passed on and his judgment is in the hands of God’s infinite mercy.
What did Father Maciel do?
As you know, it is public knowledge that he fathered a daughter. Out of respect for the privacy of the persons involved, it is not our place to spread further information.
Was there financial impropriety?
First, I want to be clear that our financial systems are very thorough and there are procedures of accountability and oversight in place to prevent misuse of funds. In the past, Father Maciel was so trusted that he was able to have funds available for his personal use. We simply do not know the extent of those funds or what portion may have been used inappropriately. And because much of this happened long ago, it is likely we will not be able to determine the amount.
How do you explain Father Maciel’s behavior?
It’s very hard to understand. We are not able to grasp it fully, and we probably never will. It’s part of the mystery of human behavior, and involves: moral and psychological factors, circumstances, etc. It’s especially hard to mesh all the good that we knew about him with the facts that are emerging now. At any rate, he has already passed away.
What about the accusations of previous years?
The subject of the accusations of sexual abuse by Father Maciel has resurfaced. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was in charge of investigating them according to its procedures.
In May 2006, bearing in mind Father Maciel’s advanced age and his delicate health, the congregation decided to forgo a canonical trial. It invited him to a reserved life of penitence and prayer. The Legion of Christ accepted the Holy See’s decision. Given the Holy See’s action, it seems likely that some of the accusations were deemed credible. There never was a trial, however, and the competent authority did not issue a verdict. At this time, we do not have conclusive evidence about particular accusations.
The Legion of Christ wants to reach out and help whoever was hurt by our founder. We are undertaking a review of our responsibilities as a congregation in this regard. We are profoundly sorry for anything that could have happened.
Were the superiors aware of these facts?
The superiors had no evidence of these facts, and they suspected nothing.
And how was that possible?
We all trusted our founder; it never occurred to us to be suspicious of his behavior. Frankly, with 20/20 hindsight we see that we should have been more alert to possible signals.
But the superiors acted unsuspectingly; they never knowingly collaborated with his misdeeds or covered up the situation once they found out.
When did they find out about them?
When Father Maciel was no longer general director, in 2005, certain facts started to emerge little by little. After the Holy See’s communiqué in May 2006, during the final months of Father Maciel’s illness and after his death, further clues and first-hand evidence surfaced. The superiors contacted the appropriate authorities of the Holy See and more recently, in accord with the principles of justice and charity, began to personally inform the Legionaries and consecrated members of Regnum Christi, much as happens in a close-knit family faced with a similar situation.
What will you do if you learn that members of the congregation were complicit in Father Maciel’s inappropriate activities?
We certainly do not know that is the case. But if we learn of such a situation it will be dealt with seriously and in accord with the principles of justice and charity.
How are you dealing with the situation?
Well, first of all, it hurts and deeply saddens us. Even more, we feel the real shame that anyone in the congregation – especially our Founder – could bring scandal to the Church and pain to the faithful.
We are turning more intensely to prayer and are strengthening our commitment to Christ, focusing our attention on him. We are also more keenly aware of the mission that the Legion is entrusted with in the Church.
We are deeply sorry for all the hurt and the scandal this has caused, and for those who may have suffered.
We are struggling through these days of mixed emotions and we all need time to pray, to reflect, and to assimilate the consequences of this situation. As we process all this, we are holding onto Christ and to our identity as a part of the Church, the sacrament of salvation.
We look to the future with confidence, with the commitment to continue serving the Church and others.
What will the Legion of Christ do going forward?
Clearly, we are reviewing our procedures to ensure that nothing like this happens again.
We put our trust in God. And we know that our mother, the Church, walks with us and “gratefully recognizes the worthy apostolate of the Legionaries of Christ and […] Regnum Christi” (Communiqué of the Holy See Press Office May 19, 2006).
Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life reminded us of this in Chile this past December:
“Then I told him (the Holy Father) that I was going to meet the groups of the Regnum Christi Movement and my friends, the Legionaries of Christ, and the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, told me: ‘Tell them that I know them, I esteem them, and I appreciate them. Tell them that my blessing accompanies them; tell them to follow with great conviction the path marked out by the charism given to the Regnum Christi Movement, and to be great witnesses of Christ and of his Church in today’s world.’”
We have always tried to speak and act in light of the Gospel and the principles of Catholic morality that we find summed up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church about the truth, charity and upright behavior in regard to other people’s defects.
We also know that others both inside and outside the Church have been hurt by these revelations. We understand that we have a responsibility to demonstrate our faithfulness and work hard for the Church.
We count on the closeness and support of the Holy Father and Cardinal Rodé and many other churchmen who appreciate the charism and the works of apostolate of the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement. They are strongly encouraging us to move onward, faithful to our vocation of service to the Church according to the charism God gave us.