Friday, February 6, 2009

In Earthen Vessels

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.

This week we received painful, disturbing news regarding the life of the founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi. Needless to say, we were shocked to discover that he'd been living a duplicitous life (at a minimum, investigations have determined Fr. Maciel fathered a child with a mistress some 22 years ago) and saddened to our core that we had placed so much confidence in the holiness and sincerity of Father Maciel.

It remains unclear exactly how the Regnum Christi Movement and the Legion will move forward under the direction of Father Alvaro Corcuera, LC. It may be that there will be some form of "reconstitution" of the groups -- at this point we just don't know.

Here is an article in Zenit News which quotes directly from Legionary spokesman Jim Fair regarding the news of Father Maciel.

If you'd like to read equitable and charitable coverage of this disturbing news, check out Patrick Madrid's blog post of February 3.

Our Sunday Visitor also did an interview via email with Fr. Thomas Williams, LC which you can find here.

Also, if you're interested, Raymond Arroyo will be hosting Father Thomas Williams, LC and Father Jonathan Morris, LC on The World Over Live tonight (Friday) on EWTN at 8 PM Eastern Time to interview them and get their responses to this recent news.

We ask for your prayers as we Regnum Christi members (70,000+) struggle with this difficult news, as well as for all the faithful and holy Legionaries and Consecrated around the world who are bearing this heavy cross.

We know that God chooses to act through frail human instruments, which is why I began this post quoting from St. Paul. Truly, God began this work to build up His Church, but chose a weak earthen vessel through which to do it. I take comfort in knowing that the charism of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi has been affirmed and reaffirmed in and through the Church and that as long as we are faithful to the direction we receive from Rome, we will forever be in the Heart of Christ. I am thankful that Cardinal Rode, Prefect of the Congregation of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, has affirmed the mission of Regnum Christi despite the personal failings of our founder.

Please pray especially for our current General Director, Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, LC, as he has an enormous burden to bear. This must be so personally distressing to him, as he was close to Fr. Maciel and had the responsibility of revealing what his own internal investigation unearthed, however unpleasant the news. Here is a link to a beautiful letter that he wrote to all Regnum Christi members if you'd like to read it.


Br. Matthew Augustine, OP said...

You guys have been in my prayers regarding this. It is a good and humbling reminder of the amount of harm a priest or leader in the Church can cause. I'll be praying for his victims: both those who were sexually abused and those who have had their trust in him (but hopefully, please God, not their faith in Christ) shattered. Hopefully the many devoted and generous members of RC (like yourselves) can find a way to move forward with their work for souls after this painful pruning. Anyway, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi, Carrie,

Maybe you've seen this already. I thought this was the best statement yet about the transparency that has been so desperately lacking in Regnum Christi.

I was a member for 6 years before I could no longer reconcile going along with the recruiting methods, hero-worship of Maciel and a laundry list of other things. While I learned a lot during my time as a PC and then as a member, I also realized healthy questioning and constructive criticism/fraternal correction is necessary in any movement. This does not mean that I do not think there are sincere and faithful people in RC--there are plenty. But there is much housecleaning that must be done in RC. As a former PC and member, I have insight and reflections into Regnum Christi from the inside and now the outside. If you're interested in reading them, I'll be posting at them on my blog. Praying for you all during this sorrowful time and especially for the victims of Maciel who for years suffered calumny and were nearly silenced.

Tom and Carrie said...

Jenny, thanks for your comment and perspective. We received Fr. Berg's email through another RC member.

We agree that it is fruitful for any movement in the Church to receive constructive criticism and fraternal correction, especially a movement as young as the Legion/RC.

Our own experience with Regnum Christi has been somewhat different, it sounds like, from yours. Neither of us felt pressure to join, and, since joining, have not felt pressure to recruit others.

Until a couple weeks ago, it had always been the case that RC members would revere and look to Fr. Maciel as a spiritual guide. But -- again, speaking from our our own experience -- it never reached the level of hero-worship.

Regnum Christi has had a profoundly positive impact in our lives. From the silent retreats, to our weekly encounters, to our daily prayer commitments, to the National Catholic Register, to Sacred Heart Radio -- we have a hard time finding fault with the movement itself.

With our founder, of course, the very opposite is true. This is the painful cross members now must carry.

I imagine our current situation is probably similar to the twelve year old who first learns that his mother was a prostitute. He was adopted by a loving family but now lives always with the cross of knowing the shame and sin of his biological parents -- sinners who gave him life.

As members of Regnum Chrisi, this is as close an analogy we can find. It is painful. But like the adopted boy, we are grateful to God for bringing good out of evil; for our lives as members of this spiritual family.

Anonymous said...

Instead of responding back here, I'd rather talk to you in person, especially since it seems that my comment was somewhat misunderstood. What I will say is that I did not mention anything about pressure to recruit, but the recruiting methods. Regarding fraternal correction--constructive criticism of questionable decisions of leaders and especially the middle/lower management type RC members was not allowed, and if someone dared to speak up, their concerns were summarily dismissed, and they were looked at as if they had two heads. I am glad that you have not experienced it, and hopefully you have not treated anyone like that b/c they had questions. Most members I have met over the years have been wonderful people, and I have great friends from it, several of whom were precandidates with me. And then there are some who seem to act as if it's their (RC)way or the highway and have an air of condescension and superiority that is difficult to tolerate. This is not something I am assuming. It's something I saw in each city I lived.

I, too, experienced a lot of good things-retreats, talks, human and spiritual formation. However, after seeing the comment you left on Patrick Madrid's blog, I knew I had to repsond in some way here--since you used the same term I did-- "laundry list." I could only assume that you were referring to me. I was not "dragging out a laundry list." Perhaps that was a poor term that was misunderstood and misinterpreted. Rather, there were multiple negative and many times harmful things that I saw from inside the formation center and then as a member. Please realize that what I and my family, other members and former LCs and consecrated experienced was real, and we are correct in having righteous anger about it and a desire for the health and perseverance of the Church through the health and perseverance of its movements. Righteous anger is not the same as the bitterness you mentioned on the other blog. I am really hoping that you are not assuming that I and many others are 'bitter' and that you were not referring to me. That would be very unfair and incorrect. I am hoping I am mistaken about this and would be grateful to hear from you in person if it was a generalization of all former members or aimed at myself or something else entirely. Thanks a bunch.

Tom and Carrie said...

Oh Jenny! I wasn't referring to you at all! I'm sorry if anything I said led you to believe that I was. Not the case at all, and I'd love to talk with you about this in person whenever you have time. I see that our experiences have been vastly different, and I completely welcome your perspective - it's as valid as mine. I'm just hoping that we can all move forward with a necessary purification so that we can continue building the Church that we all love so much.

Erin said...

I know so many people, including my own family, have been suffering over the sad and hard news about Father Maciel. I truly pray for healing for all, especially the true victims (his daughter, men that were abused, people that were kept silent etc) and pray for all those that have devoted their life to important vocations and works within L/RC. I do believe that our Holy Father has been taking serious steps to cleaning and fixing issues since he has become POpe and I believe will continue to do so. I have found a wealth of good information and links to profound statements, such as George Wiegel adn Father Gill, at this site:

I think it would be very difficult to have the "foundation" and the image of your founder and the principles he spoke up so shaken and hard to instruct, train and encourage young members etc when his picture is being taken down and people will have to try and separate the "founder" life from the personal life of such an important name and face to the movement. I hope all those good and authentic catholics who find themselves at a crossroads or in sadness over teh news can remember that the church offers so many ways to serve it and others and continue on their personal journey of faith and service. I do hope that the truth is shared with all and that clear direction from our Holy Father and those in positions of leadership will come forth over the next several months.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Carrie,
Thanks for your post. I don't like or want to assume anything about anyone. That's why I wanted to clear it up with you and I really appreciate your willingness to talk about it. Thank you!

My intent is not to be accusatory towards RC members striving towards holiness. It's my goal to support the good works of the Church and aid in keeping movements transparent before God and the people who give much time to them. It's my prayer that healing will come to the people abused by Maciel and the justice will come sooner or later to those involved in covering anything up, and for peace and perseverance to those who will continue the work of RC.

I've met such good people in the years I gave to RC. There were certain consecrated and priests who were instrumental in my spiritual growth. For their work and sacrifice, I am eternally grateful.