Dear Regnum Christi Friends,
With my greetings for a very happy New Year for 2010 and assurance of my continued prayers and Masses for you and your families, I have some news to pass on to you.
I’m writing to inform you that after 29 years, I will be leaving the Legionaries of Christ and will apply to become a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.
I leave with a heavy heart and as you can imagine, it is a very sad experience for me. But after long conversations and correspondence with superiors, and after having consulted with prudent and widely respected priests, I believe in my conscience it is the right thing to do.
The news of the various scandals regarding Fr. Maciel was truly shocking and horrendous for us and the whole the Church. In dealing with them I have tried my best to be honest and candid whenever I have spoken to you all about them and never knowingly misled anyone. I have believed that a rigorously honest approach to this terrible series of events was the only way to proceed. Furthermore, I felt that if done so, and counting on the help of the Holy See, it could even lead to true healing and renewal for the Legion and the Movement, even in spite of the truly serious questions it raises about the charism of the congregation.
I’m leaving more because the manner in which the Legion has handled the revelations since the Vatican took action against Fr. Maciel in 2006 has left me often frustrated and totally distracted. I’ve tried my best to communicate with the superiors over this past year, and they have been gracious and generous taking the time to listen. I believe I have had the opportunity to get my point of view across to them.
I have participated extensively in the Apostolic Visitation and gave my best input to Abp. Chaput on multiple occasions. He has been gracious, fair and objective. I feel I have done all I can in that regard.
My conclusion is that the reforms needed in the Legion (which the scandals have made clear) simply won’t happen in the foreseeable future with the current leadership’s approach to the matter.
I hope and pray the Apostolic Visitation somehow does bring about the needed changes, and remain ready to do whatever I can to help. But anything the Holy See can do depends also on the willingness of the Legion to examine itself and work on its own problems. Even in the most optimistic of scenarios, reform will take a great deal of time and will continue to be a very absorbing and frustrating experience. I don’t want to live my priesthood in frustration, but serve the Church as best I can in another capacity.
Nothing I have said should be understood to take away in the least the gratitude I feel for all the good I have received from the Legion over these many years. There are so many things about the Legion and the Movement that are extraordinarily unique and wonderful. It has been a privilege to serve among so many talented and holy brothers and priests, who have treated me with such kindness and charity. There are so many treasured memories and many fruitful apostolic works I have had the privilege to be associated with, as well as generous and loving lay people who have always edified me with their example of faith and love. Those are true blessings from God for which I will always be grateful.
I hope to keep in touch and I encourage you all to continue in your own vocation, attentive to the Holy Spirit and growing every day in love for the Lord and his will in your life. I will have you and your families very close in my prayers and Masses.
Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Richard Gill