Friday, September 4, 2009

The Reilly/Marti Letter. Why and Why Now?

For the past few days, I have been holding off on commenting and posting anything concerning the recent letter from two of the three territorial directors of the Legion of Christ to Regnum Christi members in the United States, and parts of Canada. Of course, I had initial reactions to the letter, but I wanted to let everyone express their opinions before giving my own on this matter.

The letter comes at a time when even more news has come from Mexico concerning some of Maciel’s children and their legal case. Some financial information was revealed by the Mexican attorney, Jose Bonilla. The particular article that Bonilla wrote was criticized by some, since he called for anyone with more information to contact him. But Bonilla is a wise public relations man, and both civil and criminal cases are often more about public relations than they are about in court strategy. Time will tell if Bonilla’s particular strategy will pay off.

My first reflection on the now infamous letter from Reilly and Marti has to do with the why and the why now of this missive. Even the casual observer of the Legion will know that the Legion of Christ is a highly centralized group: any decision, sometimes even seemingly minor ones, are vetted by the General Direction in Rome, Italy. And certainly any media releases are reviewed, and often written in Rome and then published under the signature of the Territorial Directors. (As I have mentioned often in the past, Scott Reilly is certainly not intellectually capable of doing something of this nature on his own and Julio Marti is not a native English speaker.)

Another interesting part of the “why” observation has to do with the fact that this letter was limited to only two territories in the United States (including parts of Canada), and, to the best of my knowledge, has not appeared officially in other countries. For some reason, the major superiors in Rome felt that there was some underlying problem specific to these two areas in the United States/Canada that warranted such a letter. Unfortunately, this tells me that the intentions, motivations, and expressions of sorrow and apology in the letter are less than totally sincere. Sincerity would have merited a much wider announcement, and not one so narrowly targeted.

Why now? The timeline, as with most things concerning the Legion is somewhat cloudy. Legion officials, and sometimes the exact same officials have hinted at in some instances, and definitively declared in others, that major superiors knew of Maciel’s behavior and siring of illegitimate sons and daughters at different times. However, the letter implies pretty strongly that these facts were known by Legion superiors in early 2005, when Maciel retired as Director General of the Legion of Christ. There are several testimonies now to the fact that at least one of Maciel’s sexual partners and at least one of his grown children were present near the time of his death. Persons present at the time have said publicly that Maciel’s attendants (Legionaries of Christ and Consecrated Members of the Regnum Christi) who were there at his bedside knew the identities of these persons. The question is why now after nearly five years is there a letter which finally acknowledges some of the sordid facts?

Some have postulated that the timing is due to the Apostolic Investigation. Others have guessed that it might be due to the revelations of Jose Bonilla in Mexico. But there has to be something that makes the timing apropos in the United States/Canada and in these two territories. Do special situations exist? I think that a clue can be found in the content of the letter. There seems to be no obvious and logical reason in the stream of content of the letter for mentioning what the Legion would call defections from the Congregation and the Movement. The very fact that the letter tries to minimize this occurrence indicates that there is more to it than the Legion is willing to admit publicly.

I do not pretend to have more information than the other brilliant sources that are now out there, but please do remember that Exlcblogger has never let his readers down, and has always had the facts, even when others claimed them to be outlandish.

Stay tuned for more reflections on the content of the letter.


Aaron Loughrey said...

I too have had a lot of thoughts about this letter - and the more I read it the angrier I get.

Concerning the timing of the publication, well I know for certain the 1st of September is the day that the European visitator (+Blazquez) returned from his official summer vacation.

Perhaps the other Bishops returned on this date?

The guise of this letter, to me, is really about regaining power and control over RC/LC members, taking the position of authority about recent events/investigation from the Vatican and back into the hands of the Legion.

Also I don't really think that it could have been written by two men in the short time between Alvaro's visits to Atlanta and Cheshire and the 1st of September.

That's all I will say for now, except that they need to check their catechism about admission of guilt and its relation to forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

It seemed to be timed with the buzz regarding Alvaro's visits to Cheshire and Atlanta. It was interesting that NOTHING leaked from the Atlanta interview. That was a coup for the Legion.

Anonymous said...

I meant, Atlanta Mass at Pine Crest.

Anonymous said...

Here's another person getting more angry as the content of this letter sinks in.

A couple of comments:

One, you are so right, Fr. Scott "We're all called to prayer and pennance" Reilly is not capable of masterminding anything.

Two, if any active RC people are reading this, why don't you ask your section directors how many people have left and also how many are on the membership roster right now? I bet you will find that the 'vast majority' have not stayed. And then, perhaps you should ask yourselves what other lies you might be being told.

Vast majority staying, I don't think so, at least not in the US.

Anon in STL

Pete Vere said...

My guess as to why it was released in the U.S. first?

1 - The U.S. situation is the most volatile in terms of members speaking out.

2 - They didn't want the letter to come directly from Fr. Alvaro.

3 - They wanted it out quickly, and didn't have time for multiple translations, and releasing it through the U.S. would ensure it got maximum coverage elsewhere in the shortest time frame.

Anonymous said...

I feel like they were testing the waters.

Question: With something so important as this, why trust the media to do your translations??

Anonymous said...

Frankly, because they're rather stupid (fortunately), as they have shown time and time again.

Anonymous said...

The letter came out in Canada too, at least Calgary was included.

Anonymous said...

The letter is also posted on the Regnum Christi website for all RCs to see.

On the website, it says it is addressed to "all North American members" or something like that.

Anonymous said...

They should open up comments on the RC site! Anon in STL

give me a break said...

I am in Atlanta and I can tell you that at best there were 200 people at the mass with Fr. A.
A big percentage were priests/consecrated and families who have someone working for the Legion/Integer.

The Atlanta section on paper may not look the same but MANY have stopped participating. People left officially (you write a letter) or went "inactive" but a large majority just aren't going to events or meetings, not donating money, etc.
The vast majority are ticked off. There is a small percentage that are "drinking the kool-aid". Many people won't openly talk about being mad that we were lied to and that we are still not getting the truth. The "faithful RC" have been told not to look at websites and that people who left or went inactive are lacking faith or they rationalize it and say all this Maciel stuff is no big deal...they think no one cares. Most of these people who are still buying into RC and LC believe the pedophile reports are not true and that those people are not the victims who were apologized to...they probably went away after reading that letter and still think the pedophile reports are false. It makes my stomache can't even reason with them b/c they think you have done something wrong by informing yourself with the facts...they have been told "don't look into the harsh will just upset's not necessary."

Anonymous said...

Maybe those 24 LCs are leaving that were rumored earlier?

Cindy Bradtmueller said...

I live in Fort Wayne. When I officially left in April, I knew of 3 others on my team who also told our team leader that we were leaving. I think there are others on our team that are in limbo and are inactive. I'm aware of only one other person in our section who has left and a family that left over a year ago. Several RC women have told me they would like to quit but "where would they go?" I know that there is still RC recruitment happening here but really don't know about membership and activity in the rest of our section. It's my belief that our numbers have not changed because new members became active when I left. I don't know of any local RC members who read the blogs. CindyB

Don said...

Pete, I think you're right that they didn't want the letter to come from Alvaro, even though he must have approved it, but that still begs the question, "why not Alvaro?" I think they want to maintain some level of deniability (i.e. if it came from Alvaro it would have the status of an official pronouncement, whereas now they can claim that Frs. Reilly and Marti acted independently if necessary.) I do wonder why the third Territorial Director (is that for the Western US?) did not sign this.

Anonymous said...


The letter was not released in the U.S. "first." It was and will be released ONLY in the U.S.

Fr. Alvaro never had, has or will have any intention whatsoever to say, reveal, or accept ANYTHING about the matter that he's not FORCED into saying, revealing or accepting.

The English-language websites of the Legion and RC already have said letter. The Spanish-language sites DON'T, and WON'T.

That's why Fr. Alvaro didn't sign the letter himself. He didn't want this to be widespread news to ALL LCs and RCs.

It's still the good ole Clinton approach with the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- don't concede to anything until you have no choice.

- mExRC

Anonymous said...

To prove my point that Fr. Alvaro et al still revere Maciel, please note the drop-down menus on the English-language sites of the LC website.

Where do you find the link to The Founder? In 9th place, next to last.

Go to the Spanish-language site and check the drop-down menus. Where is the link to the Founder's page? It's the 4th one, right under Spirituality.

Is this significant? You bet!

- mExRC

Pete Vere said...

mExRC wrote: "Pete, the letter was not released in the U.S. 'first.' It was and will be released ONLY in the U.S."

Doesn't matter in the Internet age, except for insofar as it raises questions about the LC/RC's sincerity in releasing it. But that's their problem, not ours.

Once released in the U.S., it will be picked up everywhere else. Which is why within 24 hours several Spanish-language blogs and news sources had picked it up and translated some of the more juicy concessions.

Pete Vere said...

Okay, my German is poor, but it appears that the Germans are following up:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the same old song, different language. I just zapped the article into my handy-dandy promt translator, so it's hardly a perfect translation, but enough to get the gist. I like this part, the standard exhortation to ignore the media regarding Maciel:

"It is to be seen that during the coming months the subject with always new variations will remain present in appropriate foreign media and some is taken up of it also in the German language area. I would recommend you not to let shake from every new detail., On the one hand, one often does not know what is right; on the other hand always new details also change nothing in the essential contents which are already known."

giselle said...

What's German for "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" ??

Don said...

Exlcblog: You state in your blog entry that the letter represents "two of the three territorial directors of the Legion of Christ to Regnum Christi members in the United States, and parts of Canada." Can you please clarify which is the third directorate of which you speak?

astrid said...

Actually the very same letter was released through Zenit Germany in German under the name of the German territorial director

Exlcblogger said...

I know that the American West coast, together with Korea, the Philippines, New Zealand and Australia were made a territory and had Daniel Polzer as the first territorial director. I am trying to confirm that this set up is still the case. Since I have heard nothing to the contrary, I assume it is still so.

Anonymous said...

To be completely cynical the USA is the only country where formal fundraising has taken place in the sense of aggressive inheritance inclusion and will donation, among other techniques: the fund raising campaign in the USA is massive, organised and professional.

This recent letter from the legion USA superiors strives to strengthen the singular raison de etre of the legion: rectruitment and wealth.

Anonymous said...

There is no strategy or secret intentions. Havent you realize they are nos smart enough to even have a communications strategy?
Or ask Lucrecia, maybe she knows...

Another exLegionary said...

There is a central strategy, but the problem is everything has to be approved by the GD. That's a cumbersome process, and makes everyone look foolish as they wait for permission to wipe their nose, etc. No one is allowed to express anything honestly.

Also, the North American fundraising is a flea on the dog that is the Legion, I'd guess it's at about $20 million a year, including major donors. The expense for the Legion in the US are probably what, $80 million? So you have a sizeable gap even taking into account tuition from the schools, minor dues from RC, etc.

And is it professional? Hardly, with stories about defrauded elderly coming out daily. It's a catch as catch can approach. The trust, wills and estates portion is miniscule. Biggest portion is the annuity pool (maybe 1800 annuitants for $20mm? a guess) which is also the oldest. That would be an interesting thing to unwind - when they shut down the Legion, do they just return a portion of the original payment or what?

The big money comes from Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps then, in the long run, as RC dies out in North America, financially and in terms of vocations, the majority of the Legion will move to Mexico, where the money comes from. This could in turn prompt more American LCs to leave the Legion, rather than move to Mx. No offence to Mx, but I suspect that many American priests will prefer to live in the US.

Pete Vere said...

Here's a copy of an unofficial translation of the German letter, provided by my blog-mate Richard Chonak:

Anonymous said...

I am not sure the Mexican funding will go unabated. Mainstream press & TV in Mexico have been much more outspoken than their US counterparts, for example, and they cannot be avoided even by the most fervid kool-aid drinkers. Also pieces of info provided (inadvertently) by silly old Lucrecia & the like reveal a lot about serious rank & file misgivings and discontent. As to having your LCs migrating to Mexico, no, thanks. WE don't want them either.

Anonymous said...

I meant it is professional in its organisation of fund-raising as a business, not professional in its ethics.

astrid said...

Exblogger New Zealand and Australia are part of the the territorial responsibilities of Fr Scott Riley. Fr Daniel Polzer looks after the Phillipines. New Zealand and Australia has a visiting priest, Fr John Bullock.

Anonymous said...

Alvaro did'nt sign the letter because he knows too much and was economical with the truth all along.
He does'nt say anything, so he can't be accused of withholding
Why North America?
Follow the money...give the fund raisers something to tout !