Vatican Statement on Apostolic Visitation of Legionaries of Christ
(01 May 10 – RV) Below we publish a Vatican Radio translation of the Press Office Statement released Saturday May 1, at the conclusion of a two day meeting in the Vatican on the outcome of the Apostolic Visitation of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ:
1. On the days April 30 and May 1, the Cardinal Secretary of State chaired a meeting in the Vatican with five bishops in charge of the Apostolic Visitation of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ (Bishop Ricardo Blazquez, archbishop of Valladolid, Msgr. Charles J. Chaput OFM Cap., Archbishop of Denver, Mgr. Andrella Ricardo Ezzati SDB, Archbishop of Concepción, Mgr. Giuseppe Versaldi, Bishop of Alexandria; Mgr. Ricardo Watty Urquidi, M.Sp.S., Bishop of Tepic). It was attended by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and the Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.
One of the sessions took place in the presence of the Holy Father, to whom the Visitors presented a summary of their report, which had been previously submitted.
During the visitation over 1,000 Legionnaires were met in person and hundreds of written documents were examined. The Visitors have visited almost all the religious houses and many of the works of the apostolate directed by the Congregation. They heard, orally or in writing, the opinion of many diocesan bishops of the countries where the congregation operates. The Visitors also met several members of the "Regnum Christi" Movement, although it was not the subject of the visit, especially men and women religious. They have also received considerable correspondence from laity and family members of the Movement.
The five Visitors testified to a sincere reception and a constructive spirit of cooperation shown them by the congregation and individual religious. While acting independently, they have reached a widely convergent evaluation and a shared opinion. They testified that to having met a large number of honest and talented religious individuals, many of them young, who seek Christ with genuine zeal and offer their entire lives to spread the Kingdom of God
2. The Apostolic Visitation was able to ascertain that the behaviour of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado has caused serious consequences in the life and structure of the Legion, so much so, to require a journey of profound re-evaluation.
The serious and objectively immoral behaviour of Fr. Maciel, supported by incontrovertible evidence, at times constitutes real crimes, and manifests a life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious feeling. The large majority of Legionaries were unaware of that life, particularly because of the system of relations created by Fr. Maciel, who had skilfully managed to build up an alibi, to gain the trust, confidence and surrounding silence and strengthen his role as a charismatic founder.
Not infrequently the lamentable disgracing and expulsion of those who doubted his upright conduct, and the misconception of not wanting to harm the good that the Legion was doing, had created around him a defence mechanism which made him untouchable for a long time , thus rendering knowledge of his real life difficult.
3. The sincere zeal of the majority of the Legionaries - which also emerged from the Visitation of the congregation houses and their many works, and which is appreciated by many - led many in the past to believe that the charges, which gradually became more insistent and widespread, could only be slander.
Therefore the discovery and knowledge of the truth about the founder resulted in surprise, dismay and deep sorrow among members of the Legion, as clearly evidenced by the Visitors.
4. From the results of the Apostolic Visitation it has emerged clearly, among other elements:
a) the need to redefine the charism of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, preserving the core truth, that of "Militia Christi", which characterizes the apostolic and missionary action of the Church and which is not identifiable with efficacy at any cost;
b) the need to review the exercise of authority, which must be conjoined to the truth, in respect of conscience and to develop in light of the Gospel as an authentic ecclesial service;
c) the need to preserve young people's enthusiasm of faith, the missionary zeal, the apostolic dynamism, through appropriate formation. Indeed, disappointment about the founder could call into question the core of this vocation and charism that belongs and is specific to the Legionaries of Christ.
5. The Holy Father would like to assure all Legionnaires and members of the "Regnum Christi" Movement that they will not be left alone: the Church has a strong desire to accompany them and help them in the path of purification that awaits them. It will also mean sincere confrontation with all those who, inside and outside the Legion, were victims of sexual abuse and of the power system devised by the founder. It is to them, at this time, that the thoughts and prayers of the Holy Father go, along with his gratitude to the many who, even in the midst of great hardships, had the courage and perseverance to demand the truth.
6. The Holy Father, in thanking the Visitors for the delicate work which they competently carried out with generosity and deep pastoral sensitivity, assured them that he will soon indicate the modalities of this process of accompaniment, starting with the appointment of a Delegate and a Study Commission on the Constitution.
The Holy Father will send a Visitor to the Regnum Christi Movement, in response to insistent requests from consecrated members thereof.
7. Finally, to all Legionaries of Christ, their families, committed lay people in the Regnum Christi movement, the Holy Father renewes his encouragement during this difficult time for the Congregation and each one of them. He urges them not to lose sight that their vocation, which originated from Christ’s call and is animated by the ideal to witness his love to the world, is a true gift from God, a treasure for the Church, the indestructible foundation on which to build their personal future and that of the Legion.