ROME — The papal delegate overseeing the Legion of Christ has announced that the embattled order's general chapter will begin Jan. 8, 2014, to establish new constitutions and elect its new leaders.
“The general chapter should represent the whole institute and be 'a true sign of its unity in charity,'” Cardinal Velasio De Paolis wrote in an Oct. 4 letter to the Legionaries of Christ.
“The upcoming extraordinary general chapter comes at the end of a long journey of spiritual renewal and will have as its principal purpose the conclusion of the revising of the constitutions,” he said.
Cardinal De Paolis was appointed as governor of the Legion by Benedict XVI in 2010, after an apostolic visitation determined the order needed “profound re-evaluation.”
In 2006, the order's founder, Father Marcial Maciel, had been removed from public ministry and invited to a life of penitence and prayer. It was discovered he had led a secret life of scandal and sexual abuse and that other priests of the Legion were involved as well.
Cardinal De Paolis said in his letter that he “thought that it would be good to announce [the general chapter] on the day that the Church celebrates the memory of St. Francis of Assisi. Let us place this important event under the protection of the Poverello of Assisi.”
“It comes at the conclusion of a long journey of spiritual renewal and effort revising the constitutions,” he said.
The chapter is expected to last through February and will consist of meetings held in Rome among more than 60 representatives of the Legion. One-third of these delegates will participate by virtue of their office within the order, while two-thirds will be elected by their peers.
Cardinal De Paolis reminded the Legionaries that “this chapter’s 'main tasks will be the election of a new government for the institute and the approval of the new constitutions,' which will have to be presented to the Holy Father.”
He added that other questions will be considered, within the time constraints, and that any member of the order can freely send his wishes and suggestions to the general chapter.
In a statement accompanying Cardinal De Paolis' letter, the Legionaries asked “one and all to pray that Our Lord pour out abundant blessings on all of us during this extraordinary general chapter.”
The chapter will also concern Regnum Christi, an affiliated lay apostolate.
The Legion owned the Register from 1995 to 2010, when EWTN acquired it.
“Let us prepare spiritually for this moment of grace,” Cardinal De Paolis told the Legionaries, “begging for the Holy Spirit’s assistance and the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession.”
He said, “I hope the Lord brings you every good thing. I am keeping you in my prayers.”