A version of this article appears in the April 11 print edition of the Register.
In a communiqué dated March 25, the top leaders of the Legionaries of Christ acknowledged and asked forgiveness for the “reprehensible actions” of their founder, Father Marcial Maciel.
Jim Fair, communications director for the Legion, said March 26 that the communiqué was issued during the general director’s annual meeting in Rome with his general council and the territorial directors after a discussion on the current state and future of the order.
Though the scandals surrounding Father Maciel have been alluded to by leaders within the movement in previous documents, homilies and conferences, the recent statement is the first one to be jointly written and signed by all the territorial directors of the movement.
“We had thought and hoped that the accusations brought against our founder were false and unfounded, since they conflicted with our experience of him personally and his work,” reads the statement. “However, on May 19, 2006, the Holy See’s Press Office issued a communiqué as the conclusion of a canonical investigation that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had begun in 2004.
“At that time, the CDF reached sufficient moral certainty to impose serious canonical sanctions related to the accusations made against Father Maciel, which included the sexual abuse of minor seminarians. Therefore, though it causes us consternation, we have to say that these acts did take place.
“For many, especially the victims, this time has been too long and very painful,” the leaders said. “We have not always been able, or found the way to reach out to everyone in the way we should have, and in fact wanted to. Hence the need we feel to make this communiqué.
“We ask all those who accused him in the past to forgive us, those whom we did not believe or were incapable of giving a hearing to, since at the time we could not imagine that such behavior took place. If it turns out that anyone culpably cooperated in his misdeeds, we will act according to the principles of Christian justice and charity, holding these people responsible for their actions.”
Looking ahead to the end of the apostolic visitation, carried out by five bishops who will present their final report to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on April 30, the Legion leaders wrote, “We will embrace with filial obedience whatever indications and recommendations the Holy Father gives us as a result of the apostolic visitation, and we are committed to putting them into practice.”
The communiqué concluded by listing multiple “resolutions” that the group will now adhere to, including honoring the “truth” about their history, continuing “to offer safety” for minors, improving cooperating with bishops and other institutions in the Church and redoubling their “dedication to their mission of offering Christ’s Gospel to as many people as possible.”
Father Alvaro Corcuera, the Legion’s general director, wrote a letter to Legionaries and members of the Regnum Christi Movement on March 25, explaining the intent behind the communiqué. In his letter, Father Corcuera said that leaders of the order hope to “close this chapter of history and open a new one.”
“It has been a very painful time for everyone, even traumatic,” Father Corcuera wrote. “The sudden revelation of some facets of our founder’s life that were so opposed to what we lived by his side, was a totally unexpected surprise for us all. We were not prepared for it.”
“In recent days,” he added, “I have been thinking through all of this with the general counselors and the territorial directors. Together, we have seen that once we have all read and assimilated this page in the life of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, our task is to take a step forward, individually and as an institution, to close this chapter of our history and open a new one.”
“We have tried to make every decision and take every step in the presence of God, trying to discern how Jesus Christ would act,” he wrote, adding, “But I am not infallible. I don’t know if I got it right. For certain, not in everything.
“The other directors also may very well have committed some mistakes amidst countless wise actions. But what is beyond doubt is that God can write straight with crooked lines. In spite of the great limitations and defects of his instruments, God has guided our path in the past, and he will continue to guide us in the future.”
Catholic News Agency/EWTN News
The complete text of the communiqué follows. (PDF version)
Thy Kingdom Come!
regarding the current circumstances
of the Legion of Christ
and the Regnum Christi Movement
March 25, 2010
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
As we are gathered for the annual meeting of the territorial directors with our general director, we wish to write to our brothers in the Legion of Christ, to the consecrated and all the members of Regnum Christi, our families and friends who accompany us at this juncture in our history, and also to all those who have been affected, wounded, or scandalized by the reprehensible actions of our founder, Fr Marcial Maciel, LC.
It has taken us time to come to terms with these facts regarding his life. For many, especially the victims, this time has been too long and very painful.
We have not always been able, or found the way to reach out to everyone in the way we should have, and in fact wanted to. Hence the need we feel to make this communiqué.
1. Regarding some facts in the life of our founder, Fr Marcial Maciel, LC (1920-2008)
We had thought and hoped that the accusations brought against our founder were false and unfounded, since they conflicted with our experience of him personally and his work. However, on May 19, 2006, the Holy See’s Press Office issued a communiqué as the conclusion of a canonical investigation that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had begun in 2004. At that time, the CDF reached sufficient moral certainty to impose serious canonical sanctions related to the accusations made against Fr Maciel, which included the sexual abuse of minor seminarians. Therefore, though it causes us consternation, we have to say that these acts did take place.
Indeed, “the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, […], mindful of Father Maciel’s advanced age and his delicate health, decided to forgo a canonical hearing and ask him to retire to a private life of penance and prayer, giving up any form of public ministry. The Holy Father approved these decisions” (Communiqué of the Press Office of the Holy See, May 19, 2006).
We later came to know that Fr Maciel had fathered a daughter in the context of a prolonged and stable relationship with a woman, and committed other grave acts. After that, two other people surfaced, blood brothers who say they are his children from his relationship with another woman.
We find reprehensible these and all the actions in the life of Fr Maciel that were contrary to his Christian, religious, and priestly duties. We declare that they are not what we strive to live in the Legion of Christ and in the Regnum Christi Movement.
2. The Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement in the face of these facts
Once again, we express our sorrow and grief to each and every person damaged by our founder’s actions.
We share in the suffering this scandal has caused the Church, and it grieves and hurts us deeply.
We ask all those who accused him in the past to forgive us, those whom we did not believe or were incapable of giving a hearing to, since at the time we could not imagine that such behavior took place. If it turns out that anyone culpably cooperated in his misdeeds we will act according to the principles of Christian justice and charity, holding these people responsible for their actions.
We also ask our families, friends and benefactors to forgive us, and all other people of good will who have felt that their trust has been wounded.
In addition, as members of the Mystical Body of Christ we feel the need to expiate his sins and the scandal they caused, making reparation with a Christian spirit. We ask all the members of our religious family to intensify their prayer and sacrifice.
It is also our Christian and priestly duty to continue reaching out to those who have been affected in any way. Our greatest concern is for them, and we continue to offer them whatever spiritual and pastoral help they need, hoping thus to contribute to the necessary Christian reconciliation. At the same time, we know that only Christ is able to bring definitive healing and “make all things new” (cf. Rev. 21:5).
For his own mysterious reasons, God chose Fr Maciel as an instrument to found the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, and we thank God for the good he did. At the same time, we accept and regret that, given the gravity of his faults, we cannot take his person as a model of Christian or priestly life.
Christ condemns the sin but seeks to save the sinner. We take him as our model, convinced of the meaning and beauty of forgiveness, and we entrust our founder to God’s merciful love.
3. The apostolic visitation
We wish to express our gratitude to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, not only for renewing “his solidarity and prayers in these delicate moments” (cf. Letter of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, SDB, to Fr Alvaro Corcuera, March 10, 2009), but also for offering us the Apostolic Visitation as a means to help us “overcome the present difficulties” (ibid.). Thus we hope to take the necessary steps to reinforce our foundations, formation and daily life as Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi members.
We thank the five apostolic visitators, Bishop Guiseppe Versaldi, Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez, Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati, SDB, and Bishop Ricardo Watty, MSSP, for all the work they have done with such dedication and fatherly concern.
We will embrace with filial obedience whatever indications and recommendations the Holy Father gives us as a result of the apostolic visitation, and we are committed to putting them into practice.
4. Looking toward the future
In the time since January 2005 when we held our last General Chapter and Fr Alvaro Corcuera, LC, was elected as our general director, we have striven to guide the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi in fidelity to all we have received from God and has been approved by the Church. Humbly and gratefully we acknowledge the blessings and fruits that the Lord has granted us up to now, and we accept our responsibility to deepen our understanding of our history, charism, and spirituality.
We face the future with hope, knowing that our one support is God. We trust totally in him and in his all-powerful love which, as St Paul says, “makes all things work for the good of those who love him” (Rom. 8:28). We know that as we follow this path we will be aided by the Holy Spirit and the Church’s motherly guidance.
Our purpose as individuals and as an institution is to love Christ, live his Gospel, and extend throughout the world his Kingdom of peace and love. We know that if we are to do this we must constantly renew ourselves as individuals and as a community, in fidelity to the tradition of consecrated life, the better to serve the Church and society. The past months have helped us to reflect on our identity and mission, and they have also moved us to review various aspects of our institutional life, humbly and in all simplicity.
We are resolved, among other things, to:
- Continue seeking reconciliation and reaching out to those who have suffered,
- Honor the truth about our history,
- Continue offering safety, especially for minors, in our institutions and activities, both in environments and in procedures,
- Grow in a spirit of unselfish service to the Church and people,
- Cooperate better with all the bishops and with other institutions in the Church,
- Improve our communication,
- Continue our oversight to insure that our administrative controls and procedures are implemented on all levels, and to continue demanding proper accountability,
- Redouble our dedication to the mission of offering Christ’s Gospel to as many people as possible,
- And above all, seek holiness with renewed effort, guided by the Church.
We cannot end this communiqué without thanking the thousands of Legionaries, consecrated men and women and all Regnum Christi members who have given and continue to give their lives to God in the service of the Church and society with absolute generosity, and all those who work in our centers and works of apostolate. Thanks to you and your work, we can say that today Christ is more known and loved in the world. We also express our gratitude toward every person that has always been there to support us with their faith, prayers and suffering united to Christ’s.
Signed today, March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord. Through the intercession of his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, may the Lord grant us the grace to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of the Love of God made man, and to live and share it with renewed fervor.
Fr Álvaro Corcuera, LC, general director
Fr Luis Garza, LC, vicar general
Fr Francisco Mateos, LC, general counselor
Fr Michael Ryan, LC, general counselor
Fr Joseph Burtka, LC, general counselor
Fr Evaristo Sada, LC, general secretary
Fr José Cárdenas, LC, territorial director for Chile and Argentina
Fr José Manuel Otaolaurruchi, LC, territorial director for Venezuela and Colombia
Fr Manuel Aromir, LC, territorial director for Brazil
Fr Rodolfo Mayagoitia, LC, territorial director for Mexico and Central America
Fr Leonardo Nuñez, LC, territorial director for Monterrey
Fr Scott Reilly, LC, territorial director for Atlanta
Fr Julio Martí, LC, territorial director for New York
Fr Jesús María Delgado, LC, territorial director for Spain
Fr Jacobo Muñoz, LC, territorial director for France and Ireland
Fr Sylvester Heereman, territorial director for Germany and Central Europe