Friday, February 7, 2014

AP, Skepticism, but above all - HOPE

Nicole Winfield, Vatican correspondent for the Associated Press, contacted me yesterday asking my opinion on the election of the new superiors of the Legion of Christ.

Here is the article she published.

The following is my full response to her questions.

Dear Nicole,
Thank you for your balanced approach reporting on the Legion and the Chapter. I, like many others, have followed the events with a great deal of skepticism, but always hopeful real change would come about. 
 You can see what I think of Fr Eduardo Robles-Gil on my blog leavinglc.blogspot.com. I really want to stress an attitude of fairness. I don't know what changes have come to pass in heart of Fr Eduardo or any other of the elected superiors. Transparency has not been part of the whole process. 
 The election of the new superiors, for me, was not shocking, but it was disappointing. It was not shocking given the Legionaries that make up the General Chapter. Who else could they choose from? All of them are entrenched in legion-think. 
 If more legionaries will leave after this announcement is a good question. I think many have been waiting to see the results of the General Chapter. The election of new superiors is just part of that process. I think the publication of the New Constitution will be more important. That's where any real changes will be made obvious. 
 Even though the Holy See appointed Frs Arrieta and Sabadell, it doesn't mean much. I knew them both. They were very much LC hardliners in my day. Again, who knows if they have had a real change of heart. Fr Juan Sabadell's letter asking for forgiveness was pretty revealing. 
 I do think the balancing act of Card. dePaulis was an attempt to keep the peace in the Legion and avoid more from abandoning the LC. I was particularly offended by the tone he used when referring to those of us who left. It always seemed to me that he was looking down on us as heretics. 
 Though I have been somewhat critical of the renewal process, I haven't lost hope. I still think there is a great deal of potential for change in the Legion. The Communiqué the Chapter Fathers published today shows signs of hope. It shows they have taken into consideration the respect for the privacy and conscience of the legionaries, and that the exercise of authority was very much broken. I hope they are able to make the necessary changes in practice and not just on paper. 
 Thank you again, Nicole. 


Thursday, February 6, 2014

How I knew Fr Eduardo Robles-Gil

In 2002, after the World Youth Day in Toronto, I was sent to Rio de Janeiro as assistant to the Vocational Director, Fr Eduardo Robles-Gil, who was also the superior of the community at that time.

Previously, I had been living a period or exile, stripped of all apostolic activity, in Cheshire, CT. That period lasted two years.

I willingly went to Brazil to show my superiors I wasn’t a defective cog in the machinery. I hadn’t yet come to the conclusion that the machinery itself was defective. So I got right into the work (first of all, learning Portuguese) with all my heart.

Fr Eduardo was supportive, encouraging, and in my opinion, sincere. He immediately confided in me and gave me an active part in his vocational work. I had done vocational work in the States from 1995-1996, so it wasn’t new to me.

I learned a lot from Fr Eduardo, much of which I still use today.

Unfortunately, he was bound to obey his superiors, and Fr Maciel as General Director. 

Before he left Brazil in 2004, he began to question me in spiritual direction about my vocation, why I hadn’t left yet knowing that Fr Maciel had already determined I had no future in the Legion. My torment began all over again.

Now, I want to be absolutely fair. I know that Fr Eduardo grew up in an LC school, was Ecyd, RC and all that. I know that he was a consecrated member of the Regnum Christi along with Fr Luis Graza, Alvaro Corcuera and Florencio Sanchez, and entered the Novitiate of the Legion of Christ with them. I know that he was and LC insider, part of the club of superiors with all the perks. But, again, I want to be fair:

I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON IN HIS HEART THESE PAST SIX YEARS!

Nor do I know what is happening in the hearts of so many other legionaries, those in the General Chapter and those who sent them there. There hasn’t been much communication by the legionaries these past few years, which has only led to a lot of speculation, harsh criticisms and a general sense that nothing productive is being done. I too have been suspicious of them and have written critically.


But, I want to be fair, and I believe Fr Eduardo wants to be fair. I am avoiding jumping to rash conclusions now that a new team of superiors has been elected and the General Chapter will be coming to a close. I do not want to judge based on what little I know. I only ask that the Legion begin a new era of transparency, honesty and justice.  

New General Director and Path of Renewal

The Legionaries of Christ announced today that they have a new General Director. They also published a Communiqué regarding Fr Marcial Maciel, an apology to victims, and their path to renewal.

Here is a run-down of the entire outcome of the election:

-       General Director: Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil, LC. 
-       Vicar General: Fr. Juan José Arrieta, LC.
-       General Councilor: Fr. Sylvester Heereman, LC. 
-       General Councilor: Fr. Jesús Villagrasa, LC. 
-       General Councilor: Fr. Juan Sabadell, LC.
-       General Administrator: Fr. José Gerardo Cárdenas, LC. 
-       General Procurator: Fr. Clemens Gutberlet, LC.      



Communiqué of the Legion’s General Chapter regarding thepath of renewal of the Legion of Christ

The communiqué includes:
·      A conclusive pronouncement regarding Fr. Marcial Maciel, including an apology to those who were hurt by Fr. Maciel or by the Congregation’s shortcomings.
·      A summary of the conclusions of the “Outreach Commission” and the “Economic Affairs Commission”.
·      A commitment to continue on the journey of conversion and renewal which “has advanced, but has not yet ended.”
ROME (February 3) – The representatives of the Legion of Christ meeting in an Extraordinary General Chapter this week approved a wide-ranging communiqué.   The document is an effort by the chapter members to define conclusively the posture of the congregation with respect to the behavior of Fr. Marcial Maciel and his role as founder in continuity with the decisions of the Holy See and previous statements by the Legion.  It concludes with an apology to any and all who have been hurt of the congregation’s shortcomings.
Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil, LC, the newly elected General Director of the Legion, summarized the intention of this communiqué in the following way: “The Chapter marks both an ending and a new beginning.  This is what many of the chapter fathers feel and that’s how we have expressed it in the chapter hall.  But, so that it can truly be a new beginning, it is necessary to put the challenges of the past in their place.  This is why the Chapter decided to publish a statement for the Legionaries, the members of Regnum Christi and for all those who have been following our recent history.  We can’t erase the past.  We have to learn the lessons, mourn what occurred, trust in God’s mercy and, like St. Paul, run forward in pursuit of the goal of reaching Christ.”
The General Chapter issued this communiqué simultaneously with the publishing of the results of the electionof the new central government.
Regarding Fr. Maciel
The communiqué offers a summary of what has been learned of Fr. Maciel’s misbehavior to date, how his actions influenced the Legion and what the Legion is doing in light of these discoveries.
“When we ponder the magnitude of the evil and scandal caused, we realize that we are under the merciful gaze of God who, with his providence, continues to guide our steps.  United with Jesus Christ, we hope to be able to redeem our painful history and overcome with good the consequences of evil.  Only in this way can we consider what has taken place in light of the Gospel and build our future on the solid foundations of trust in God, of fidelity to the Church, and of the truth.”
 “Our founder died in 2008.  We ask God to have mercy on him.  At the same time, we want to express our deep sorrow for the abuse of minor seminarians, the immoral acts with men and women who were adults, the arbitrary use of his authority and of material goods, the indiscriminate consumption of addictive medicines and the act of presenting writings published by third parties as his own.  We find the incongruity of presenting oneself as a priest and a witness of the faith continuously for decades while hiding this immoral behavior to be incomprehensible.  We firmly condemn this.  We are grieved that many victims and other affected persons have waited so long in vain for an apology and an act of reconciliation on the part of Fr. Maciel.  Today, we would like to issue that apology as we express our solidarity with these persons.”
“Many times we gave undue, universal value to Fr. Maciel’s directives and clung too much to them because of an inadequate understanding of the concept of founder and an excessive exaltation and uncritical way of considering his person.”
“The Pontifical Delegate has first of all led us to an adequate comprehension of the role of Fr. Maciel in relation to the Legion.  In the past, the Congregation stipulated that it cannot propose Fr. Maciel as a model, nor his personal writings as a guide for the spiritual life.  We recognize his condition as founder.  Nevertheless, a religious congregation and its essential features do not have their origin in the person of the founder; they are a gift of God that the Church accepts and approves and that afterwards live in the institute and in its members.”

Apology
The chapter fathers extend various apologies to “all those who in one way or another were hurt by the sad events of these years and our shortcomings.”
“We are grieved that many victims and other affected persons have waited so long in vain for an apology and an act of reconciliation on the part of Fr. Maciel.  Today, we would like to issue that apology as we express our solidarity with these persons.”
“We acknowledge with sadness the initial incapability of believing the testimonies of the persons who had been victims of Fr. Maciel, the long institutional silence and, later on, the hesitations and errors of judgment when setting out to inform the members of the congregation and others.  We apologize for these shortcomings, which have increased the suffering and confusion of many.”
“To all of our brothers, religious and priests, who during this period have left the Congregation, we want to express our sadness that we no longer have you among us.  We sincerely apologize for the times we have not listened to you or been there for you in the spirit of the Gospel.  We would like to maintain your friendship and fraternal dialogue.”
“We would like to apologize and reiterate our desire to reconcile with all those who in one way or an-other were hurt by the sad events of these years and our shortcomings.”

Conclusions of “Outreach Commission”
The communiqué offers a summary of the conclusions of the “Outreach Commission”, established by Cardinal De Paolis in January, 2011, to attend to “the persons that have requested a response from the Legion of Christ because of the events that have a direct or indirect relation with Fr. Marcial Maciel.”
“The commission has completed its task and no case pertaining to its area of responsibility remains open.  In each case, the Congregation has acted in accord with the proposals of the commission.  The opportunity to be listened to and the material help offered to the victims have contributed, insofar as is humanly possible, to relieve their wounds and foster reconciliation.”
Conclusions of “Economic Affairs Commission”
The communiqué offers a summary of the conclusions of the “Economic Affairs Commission”, established by Cardinal De Paolis in February, 2011, in order to analyze “the handling of funds and the financial situation of the Congregation.”  The report of the commission “underlined that they did not find embezzlements of money or other irregularities in the fiscal actions that were reviewed.”
“The first urgent aspect to address in this area is that of the reduction of the debt with banks that has resulted from various causes: the excessively rapid expansion of the institutions of the Congregation, the world economic crisis and the fall-off in donations.  In some countries the debt is very high, but continues to be manageable considering the income and the assets of the Congregation as a whole.
“On the other hand, the Commission has pointed out the need – and this will be a task of the next government – of adjusting and simplifying the administrative structure to foster the responsibility proper to the territorial and local superiors, to both the branches of consecrated members of Regnum Christi, and to the directors of the works of apostolate.”
Commitment to continue journey of conversion
The chapter fathers repeatedly express their awareness that there is still much to be done before the conclusion of “this process of renewal and conversion.”
The communiqué repeatedly pauses to make reflections like: “All of this demands of us not only a change in legislative texts, but also a continual conversion of mind and heart.”
“The consideration of all of these issues has led us to conclude that the journey towards an ‘authentic and profound renewal,’ confirmed by Pope Francis, has advanced, but has not yet ended.  The events of these years will mark the identity and the life of our Congregation.  When seen in light of Providence, we can accept, confront and transform them into a stepping stone towards a new stage in our history.”
“Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, was a witness of the redemptive power of Crist that conquers evil and sin.  To her, our Mother, we entrust our future with great confidence.” 



Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chapter timeline

The Extraordinary General Chapter of the Legionaries of Christ is under way. I have been very curious as to the timeline they would follow. It has been published on their site dedicated to Chapter. Here is a paragraph that explains what will happen.
The first phase of the Chapter, scheduled to last approximately 20 days, will  consist mainly in the revision of the new constitutions. After that the election of the new leadership will follow, the results of which will be made public. Then the second phase of the Chapter begins, which will address various issues regarding the life of the Congregation. 
That means the revision of the Constitution, which is supposedly the beef of the matter of renewal, will be done under the supervision of the old guard of superiors still in place. After that they will elect new superiors. So the ones who have closely guarded the whole process will be in charge of seeing it to the end, then pass it on to the new superiors once finished. That's pretty nifty, don't you think?

The results of the election of the new superiors will be made public, but I can't way to see if the make public the results of the revision of the Constitution. I think not, but we may be surprised.

You can follow their progress on the General Chapter site. It's in Spanish, but the press releases have and English translation.

===UPDATE 5/2/2014===

This note appeared on the above mentioned website today:
Based on the progress made so far, it is expected that the review of the constitutions will be finalized in the coming days.
If this is true, then the election of the new superiors of the legion should take place shortly. There has been a rumor that this already took place and Vatican approval is pending. On January 26, Card. DePaulis addressed the Chapter regarding the role of the superior in the Congregation. But no mention was made of an election. We will have to wait and see. Whoever is chosen as General Director will give a clear indication of the path the Legionaries have chosen for the future.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy new year to one and all.
The new year is a time to reflect on what we did this past year and to make resolutions for the next. Deep down we all hope 2014 will be better than 2013. We know the world will give us more of what it gave us, but personally we want to be better. But that will only come about if we make amends and change our lives.
There are plenty of thing I need to change. Lots of leftover stuff from the LC. It is a constant battle to root out the bad habits and live the truth. You can't give up. You have to keep on fighting.
To all who are struggling with the same battles as I, let's keep giving it the good fight. The truth will set us free.
God bless.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sound reasons for leaving

I don't normally translate other people's stuff and paste it in my blog, but this piece went pretty much unnoticed in the English speaking blogosphere. Given that Fr Deomar de Guedes was a member of the General Council of the Legion, appointed by Cardinal Velasio de Paulis, his opinion should carry a lot of weight. But you will see in his personal reasons for leaving that opinions that do not conform to the mainstream, imposed talking points of the Legion are shunned.

The Legion manipulates everything to protect its own image. It is a self-serving organization that cares little about the damage it does to its members or those who contribute to it. This malignant narcissism was imbued into the Legion by its founder as a protective mechanism so he would not be exposed as the drug-addictive, child-abusing impostor that he was. Unfortunately the system continues to work its wonders.

Here is Fr Deomar's letter to the acting General Director, Fr Sylvester Heereman. I have omitted his personal history, not because it is of no interest, but to give


Rome, November 8, 2013
Dear Fr. Sylvester in Christ:
Now that I have decided to leave the Legion, I would like to leave in writing, by way of hindsight, the reasons for my departure. I do this after much prayer, without rancor or hatred, and yes, with a sincere desire to work with this institution where I fought for last 21 years of my life. I hope my leaving, and that of so many other of our brothers, helps you reflect on the reason for this phenomenon.
[Personal history omitted]
Now I will like to explain the reasons for my separation, first the personal, then the institutional motives.
Personal reasons:
1. After the truth of allegations against the founder and the system he created to hide behind exploded into the news media, a system I was part of and partook in, believing that it was all part of religious life; total obedience where everything was the will of God, I began to see how much my conscience had been manipulated  by these principles.
I began to see that I had been used and, unfortunately, I had participated in this system where the institution is more important that the person. here an individual is a piece in a machine as long as it is useful, then thrown away. Men who gave 20 or 30 years of their lives are dismissed almost like they were bad persons or invited to leave the congregation by the superiors. 
2. From the moment I started to present my ideas and my way of thinking, little by little, I was separated from any kind of preaching. Where I once preached two or three spiritual exercises a year, from 2009 to the present, I've only preached two exercises to consecrated women in Brazil, but none for the legionaries. Then I noticed that I was seen as "bad" by the system. There was no room for my way of thinking in the Legion. Even after being appointed to the General Council, I have always in the minority and my opinions rejected. 
 3. My discernment, within this system of "total obedience," was always done "from the outside" by my superiors. When it came to my perpetual profession, my superior sent me to do a three-day retreat because I was to profess the perpetual vows and then be ordained a priest the following year. It was not a personal choice; it was an act of obedience. I might have professed the vows all the same, but I want to make it clear that there was no personal discernment made ​​in freedom.  
4. Gradually my frustration grew. I felt that my vision of the Legion was increasingly in the minority (fewer and fewer people) and that my struggle was futile. Today, before God, I see that I did everything in my power but largely was fighting a losing battle out of pride, not because God asked me to. A sign of this was the lack of inner peace and the growing frustration I was experiencing.
 5. I've made my decision, as I have said, through personal discernment done with my spiritual director and in God’s presence. I can no longer continue without placing my priestly vocation and my psychological health in danger. I cannot continue, and to do so would be reckless.  
Institutional reasons:  
1. I do not believe in a renewal that does not revise the black past of the Institution and the repeated and systematic abuses by the founder of children who were seeking the priesthood in the seminary. Without purifying this past, recognizing it, asking for forgiveness from the victims and making this recognition public, I believe you are building on mud.  
2. I could never understand the administrative system of the Legion and I think that few could. The management of properties using civil entities is a mockery to ecclesiastical law. I do not agree with the different lifestyles, some living in abundance while others are very poor from one Territory to another, despite the centralized economy, and the use of donations not according to the intention of the donor. 
3. Formation that does not believe in the one being formed and is based on distrust and surveillance, monitoring, revising rooms and monitoring emails using “Zscaler” which allows the administrator to view whatever computer he wants. 
4. The non-renewal of superiors who remain in office for decades or are changed from place to place, but always as superiors. There are legionaries have never been subjects in their lives. A true renewal without renewing superiors is not possible. 
5.  I believe a change of mentality is needed by removing all remaining methods and systems that are "marcialist", especially those who remain in the same position for years and who heavily influence decision making and the elaboration of documents even though they do not occupying official positions. 
6. What is the charism of the Congregation? Is there a charism? Church documents invite us to look to the charism of the founder. What is the charism of the Legion? I think this question needs to be answered. 
7. The apostolic centrality of the Legion. I see the Legion seeking to serve itself more than a disinterested service of the Church. The lack of participation in diocesan pastoral works and the refusal to dedicate personnel to diocesan works is a sign of this self-serving culture. 
8. The Legion is undergoing a serious crisis of confidence. Maybe this is its most serious problem. There is no confidence because there is no appreciation and care for its people. Trust is not earned by decree or the superior asking subjects to trust him. Trust is earned, based on principles, giving credit to people, showing appreciation for them. I think there is much to do in this field. 
I believe that is all, Father. I hope it has been helpful. I will be praying for you in the renewal process. I sincerely entrust the Legion in its renewal process in the General Chapter. 
Fr. Deomar de Guedes, LC

Monday, December 16, 2013

First Love Syndrome

For those of us who are outside the influence of the legion or the RC it is easy to see how we were influence and manipulated. For those who are still in, it’s not so clear, and it is quite impossible.

There is something I like to call the “First love” syndrome, not because it is an illness, but because it helps to understand a person’s loyalty. Many present day Catholics came back to the Church by way of movements like the Charismatic Renewal, the Cursillo Movement, Opus Dei, Shalom and so many others. Regnum Christi and the Legionaries are included in the list. No doubt many have left behind worldly ways and begun to live their faith more fully with the help of one of these moments. Once converted, a person makes a conscious decision to never go back to living like they did before. There is a deep gratitude toward the movement as an instrument of that conversion. It is, for many, their first true love.

I see this often in my parish. I have helped two dozen couples who were living together to marry in the Church, and they are devoted unconditionally to the parish: they would not think of giving their time to another. Like any parish we are made up of imperfect sinners, beginning with its Pastor. But that doesn’t matter. People are grateful for the grace received through the parish.

The same can be said for loyal Legionaries and Regnum Christi members. They are grateful God has touched them through the Legion and the Movement. Many still hold to their devotion to the Founder.  They are willing to forego, and even accept the manipulation and the lies. It is, for them, just fallen human nature. And the support they receive from others who are equally manipulated and lied to helps them get by day to day.

Someone is deeply in love with and unfaithful spouse is capable of forgiving the infidelity at all costs. Many Legionaries and Regnum Christi members are deeply in love with the Legion, Movement and its Founder. That’s a fact. It’s their first love. It doesn’t matter how much they have been (and are being) deceived. They cannot turn their backs on their first love, and they cannot turn their backs on God.  

It is only when one steps outside the box that the real destructive effects of this can be seen clearly, as many of us have experienced. The manipulation and lies clouded our reason and freedom to the point of unconditional fealty sometimes tainted with fear of losing faith if we denied total surrender to the gift received. But now we see that renewed faith came from God through an instrument that is no longer necessary. Our faith lives despite that instrument.


Others have lost their faith in God and the Church on leaving the Legion or Regnum Christi. I pray for them. I don’t judge them. God never abandons his children. After all, it is not their fault if their first love let them down. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I saw him. Do you know what I mean? I SAW him.

Again, I can't remember if I wrote about this on my blog or in the com box of another blog. But there was something Fr William Izquierdo said that has stuck with me, something that seemed so odd when he said it, but was so shrouded in mystery that I couldn't quite get a handle on it then.

Fr William would often tell stories of how Maciel came to his seminary in Comillas, Spain, and how the seminarians were attracted to his style of celebrating the Mass. He would tell us stories of the early days of foundation, stories of his personal experience with the Founder. But there was one story that struck me.

Fr William told of how he was outside Maciel's bedroom door. I don't remember if he was called upon or if he just wanted to go and see Maciel. Maciel was ill. At one point the Brother who was taking care of Maciel opened the door. Fr William then related, "I saw him, brothers. Do you know what I mean? I SAW him!"

He never said exactly what he saw. We talked about this afterwards. Some thought Fr William saw a mystical experience of Maciel. Maybe he was elevating or in ecstasy. But I had my doubts. If Fr William saw something supernatural, why didn't he just say it? Why leave us wondering?

When the accusations against Maciel started popping up in the press, I remembered this and wondered if Fr William saw something less than mystical. "I saw him, brothers. Do you know what I mean? I SAW him!" Did he see him in the buff?

Now that the Legion has admitted that Fr William has been accused of sexual misconduct, I am more than certain he saw something that marked his life forever. I wonder how many of the early co-founders were molested by Maciel and kept silent, acting out in turn and scarring others. I can only feel pity for them, for they were victims psychologically trapped in a system that didn't offer any healing.

(If anyone else can remember Fr William telling this story, help me fill in the details)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fr William and public humiliation

I entered Novitiate of the Legion of Christ in 1986 and Fr William Izquierdo was my novice instructor. Hearing of the charges of sexual misconduct against him have provoked dozens of memories of my experience with him in Cheshire. Thankfully I was never knew of any of this while I was there, and was never a victim of that kind of abuse. But that doesn't mean I have all fond memories of the man.

Anyone who was one of his novices can attest to how he treated us. How many times were you told, "You are stupid, brother." His favorite for me (and others) was, "You're lazy, brother, 'flojo'." I worked a full-time job lugging coke cans before I entered the legion, and I loved the heavy work. The jobs I was given in the novitiate I always sought to do well, not to gain the praise of my superiors, but because I am a perfectionist. But being called lazy and stupid time and again was his way of breaking you down.

It all came down to public humiliation. How do you justify that in a Congregation that preaches Christian charity as its charism?

I can't remember if I told this story before, but if I did, it's worth telling again.

One day we were practicing in the band in the dining room in Cheshire on a work day when Fr William came in making his rounds. I don't remember what I said or what he said, or even if I said anything at all, but at one point he jabbed me in the temples with the knuckles of his index fingers. I was furious. I'm sure the other brothers could see it in my face. But I held my tongue. Fr William just giggled and walked away.

I wasn't the only victim of public humiliation. There were many others, if not all. Even the hand-picked special few, the pretty boys he surrounded himself with were humiliated. Maybe more than others. Makes me wonder what kind of treatment they were given behind closed doors to make them so submissive to him.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Time and prayers. Lots of prayers


It is a fact that the Legion of Christ is in the process of revision or reform. Whether it will be a reform or a revision is yet to be seen. The Congregation Apostolic Delegate, Cardinal Velasio de Paulis, has convoked an extraordinary General Chapter to begin in January 2014. 

While many have blogged their ideas about the reform, and others have blogged their experiences of life in the Legion of Christ or the Regnum Christi Movement, it is also a fact that little is known about what has been done to reform the Legion in the last three years. 

Now it is time to wait and see what comes of this revision/reform. It is a matter of time, and prayers: lots of prayers, because of no real reform takes place, there will be another wave of priests and religious who will leave. Many are just waiting to see what happens. Pray for them. Leaving is not easy.

-----------------
An update to this post 11/7/2013
The news of Fr Deomar de Guedes departure from the Congregation is all the more reason to pray for those who are still in the Legion and possibly contemplating their exit. I sincerely ask you to pray for them. Pray that their faith in the Lord may not fail, and they will be warmly accepted in the dioceses they choose.  The decompression process is painful and at time confusing. They need our support and prayers. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

So happy I'm out

The period of "reform" of the Legionaries of Christ is coming to an end, and little has been done to make substantial changes to the problems that afflict the congregation. At least, that is the general consensus of those of us on the outside trying to figure out what is going on in the Legion. Will there be substantial changes come January when the congregation celebrates its Extraordinary General Chapter. Time will tell. 

For my part, I am so happy I am out. Many legionaries who have had legitimate reasons to leave have stuck it out hoping for real change. Some have expressed their disillusionment but have stayed all the same. Others left and have suffered withdrawal symptoms. Those who did leave were seen as weak by those who stayed, even by the Apostolic Delegate. All in all, I'm out and I'm happy. 

It has been over three years since I departed on my own two feet. It is almost three years since I was named Pastor of the Nativity of Mary Parish in Brasilia, Brazil. I would be dishonest if I were to say I haven't had issues due to my time in the Legion. There are scars that only time can heal. Others that only a sincere apology can reconcile. I don't expect any of this from the Legion or Legionaries. It is easy to make a general apology to all those hurt by the Founder's actions. It is more difficult to say "I was part of the system and caused you harm".

Little by little I have been stripping myself of the programmed way of doing things I learned in the Legion, and have become more a pastor of souls. I am also aware of some who were accepted in to diocesan parishes and were not able to adapt, and have left their ministry. I don't judge or condemn them, but support their decision. It is the right thing to do. Legionaries are not formed to be parish priests, and don't receive the support they need for this demanding ministry. I am grateful for the support of my Bishop and fellow priests who have known how to help me transition into a completely new life. 

I, like many, am following the progress of the legionary "reform". Whatever the outcome, I'm out and I'm happy. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Forced Limbo

I recently received an email from a Legionary Priest I had been close to before leaving the Legion, and for a time, after. I hadn't had any contact with him for many months. He sent me an Easter greeting, and I replied. From there I was able to find out a bit what is going on in his life. I was disturbed by this interchange of emails. I will keep his name and personal data private, out of respect.

It seems he is no longer living in a Legionary community, but has not sought a diocese. He is living in his home town in a private residence with a family member. This is source of great suffering for him. He is in a real state of limbo, neither here nor there. Imagine what that means for his priestly ministry.

My heart went out to him when I heard this. I know that in the past he was called to Rome, normally a period in time they give to dissident religious or priests to get them back on track though spiritual direction and studies. I doubt he was very happy in that setting.

I don't know how his present situation came about, but for him to have to seek refuge, either willingly or by force, is not a sign that all is well behind the curtain of Legionary charity. All I know is that, when you are in limbo, as I had lived more that a couple of time in the Legion, what do you say to others, how do you explain to them what you are going through. You live in constant humiliation. From there comes a life of lies to protect the honor of the Congregation, who couldn't possibly be doing anything wrong. You lie, swallow your pride and keep on plugging along, hoping things will get better.

Obviously things are not getting better. This similar situation with this priest has lead him to live outside his religious community but not accepted into a diocese. That is tragic. So much for "We'll help you with whatever you need."

All this calls to mind the Legionary practices outlined in the Communiqué of the Holy See dated May 1, 2013:
a deplorable discrediting and distancing of those who entertained doubts as to the probity of his [Fr Maciel's] conduct;
the need to review the exercise of authority, which must be joined to truth, so as to respect consciences and to develop in the light of the Gospel as authentic ecclesial service.
Obviously, this issue of Legionary procedure has not been addressed.

I have given up hope that a true renewal will take place in the Legion long ago. This exchange with this priest has only helped to cement this conviction. We can only pray that our Lord will intercede and rectify this situation. The Legion must not be allowed to continue using people and abusing individual's generosity.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Benedict vs Maciel

Pope Benedict's announced retirement has sparked abundant reflection. I could care less about the media hype. It will sell for them just like any other big story. The Church will follow its norms and elect a new Pope. Benedict will fade away for a while. Then he will pass away, there will be pomp and a solemn funeral, and a media will slobber and slander again. It will be what it will.

What concerns me is the decision itself. Here is a man who was thrust to the Throne of Peter (which we celebrate today). Here is a man who accepted and fulfilled his mission. And when his strength began to decline, when he realized his health would start to be an impediment, man of God that he is, he decides to step aside and let someone else bear the cross.

That mind-boggling humility leaves a lasting impression. We have seen over the past few years men who have fought and killed to hold on to power, only to be imprisoned or murdered by their own people. Then come Benedict who renounces power because he loves his people. He saw that there was something in the way of being able fulfill his mission, so he relinquished the mission for love of the mission. That's courage.

It is inspiring to me, and should be for future popes and all who have been called to serve God's people.

Fr Marcial Maciel was a man who too was unable to fulfill his mission, albeit for different reasons. He was unable to control the desires of the flesh, was dependent on narcotics, at least during periods of his priestly life, fathered at least three children with two women, molested seminarians, and was absent from all contact with his congregation for long periods of time. Any honest man would see that this type of behavior was no way near the ideal of priestly life, not to mention a founder of a religious community. Any honest man would step aside and let someone else take the reins.

But Maciel was not an honest man. He deceived his followers from the beginning. He deceived himself and his Lord. He should have resigned years before he was forced to a life of prayer and penance. He was not a courageous man.

The more I reflect on Benedict's decision, the more I wish Maciel had done the same for the good of the Church.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict's resignation and the Legion

The announcement this morning that Pope Benedict XVI would be resigning at the end of the month caught me, as well as the Church and the world, by surprise. It didn't upset me in any way, for the Church is always in the hands of the Holy Spirit. The transition process will start, less the normal mourning period when a pontiff passes away, and before long there will be a new Pope.

The period between the death of a pope, and in this case the resignation of a pope, is called "sede vacante", empty see. During that period the governing of the Church basically is put on hold. The bishops and cardinals that have been named as heads of the Congregations, Dicastaries, Institutes, etc, cease to hold their possitions. Their secretaries continue to take care of the most immediate issue until a new Pope is named. 

In this case, I am wondering what will happen to Cardinal Velasio de Paolis who, since July of 2010 has been the Papal Delegate overeeing the reform of the Legionaries of Christ? Since he is the delegate of Pope Benedict XVI, does his authority over the Legion end on February 28? It would seem so. But in the interim, will the legionaries take action to change things on their own? 

This we may not ever know. There is really little we know about what is really going on inside the Legion. We don't know all the details of the reform, or if there has been a substantial reform of the internal governance of the Legion. The abuses in the Legion can all be attibuted to the superiors. This same body of superiors, for the most part, the same ones in place after Marcial Maciel died, surely have the same mentality they did before Pope Benedict iniciated the Pastoral Visitation and the reform process. I may be wrong, but I don't have any proof to the contrary. The Legion would do a great service to the Church to spell out clearly what has been done and what still remains to be done, and how they will conduct themselves during this period of Sede Vacante.

===UPDATE - 2/20/2013

Fr Sylvester Heereman of the Legionaries of Christ has sent a farewell Letter to the Holy Father. Here is a link to the letter: http://bit.ly/XNhj2P It is filled with all the same lingo that is characteristic of the Legionaries: promise of unwavering fidelity, gratitude for all the Holy Father has done for the Legion. They do express their saddness at his resignation. I still think there is a bit of joy behind the tears. That's my opinion, probably unfounded.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fallen nature

I am watching Oprah Winfrey's interview of Lance Armstrong. Impressive. I just want to comment on a few things.
1. It's not easy to come out publicly and tell the world how you have been deceiving them. On that account, I give credit to Lance Armstrong. That's not to say I approve of what he did.
2. There are a lot of parallels between Lance's story and another man I knew: the founder of the congregation I was a part of for 24 years. Fr. Maciel, like Lance Armstrong, committed many abuses, denied the abuses, accused those who wanted to expose him as liars, and had a whole team of people around him helping him to cover up the story.
3. Unlike Lance Armstrong, Fr Maciel never admitted his guilt. And that's the truly sad thing about this. Fr Maciel was a priest, a defender, a preacher of the truth. But Fr Maciel never had the courage of Lance Armstrong to come out publicly and admit his errors.
4. Many people were hurt by these mens' deceptions. Some will be healed by hearing Lance Armstrong's story. Others will not.
5. Many of us hurt others by our willing deceptions, and pride and fallen nature lead us to keep on living the lie to protect our own pride and self worth. What redeems us is when we accept or failings, accept responsibility for all errors, and asking for forgiveness, first from God, then from others, we are able to live a new life.
6. I don't presume to know anything about Lance Armstrong's faith, but he is on the right track.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Prayers for Frs Alvaro Corcuera & Antonio Izquierdo

On December 30, Fr Alvaro Corcuera went to the hospital in Hartfort, CT because he had been suffering from strong headaches. This seems to be the reason why he took a sabbatical. They found an abnormal growth in his brain and are running tests to find out what it is. He may have to undergo surgery, always a very delicate situation. Let´s join in prayer for Fr Alvaro.

Article on Legionary web site.

Also on December 30, Fr Antonio Izquierdo passed away. He preached the last spiritual exercises I did in the Legion, 30 days in Rome. It was during these exercises that my desire to leave the Legion solidified. He was an excellent professor. He will be missed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Best Christmas present 2012

I was doing my morning exercises when the phone rang. It was just after 9:00 AM, so I thought it was the parish secretary who starts work at that time. To my surprise it was Archbishop Sergio. He called to let me know that he was sending the final paperwork to Rome after having received the letters granting exclaustration that I mentioned in another post.

This was excellent news. It means the end of the process is not as far off as I had imagined. It turned out to be the best Christmas present I could have received.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Exclaustration... Really?

Yesterday, a Legionary priest came to visit me. He is the Assistant for Religious life in the Territory of Brazil. He he personally delivered Cardinal Velasio de Paulis' letter (copy of which I had received from the Archbishop of Brasilia) and offered an explanation of what has been happening in regards to priests and religious who have left the Legion.

It seems the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life under Cardinal João Braz de Aviz has delegated to Cardinal de Paulis authority in everything regarding those who are leaving the legionaries.

That seems very odd to me. But I have no basis this.

Cardinal de Paulis has instructed the territorial directors to contact the priests who have left the congregation personally to show support and to speed up the process. He offered his apology for having taken so long.

I explained to the legionary priest that the letter he brought me took me by surprise, that I was under the impression I was nearing the end of the process, and exclaustration was merely the beginning. He promised to communicate this to the Cardinal through his superiors.

I am still dumbfounded by this letter. I mentioned earlier that I was expecting an indult to arrive at any time. I guess that 21 year old bottle of Scoth is going to have to wait.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Exclaustration... What?!!!!

I just received a letter from Cardinal Velasio de Paulis, and I can't say I'm happy with it's content. Basically, the Cardinal has granted me exclaustration. In other words, he, as superior of the Congregation, has granted me permission to live outside the community while in the process of being incardinated into the Archdiocese of Brasilia.

When I read that I said, "What?" It has been 29 months since I left the Legion and have only been granted exclaustration now? Isn't this the very first step in the process?

I am very confused. I really thought my petition to the Holy See to be dispensed from the vows in the Legion was going to arrive at any time. I thought I was in the final stages. Now it seems the process has only just begun.

I am looking for answers. I need to know where I am right now. I so wanted closure and to get on with my life.

In closing, the Cardinal addressed the letter to Fr John Stegnicki, LC. Arghh. It has been a long time since I signed my name like that. In fact, I don't consider myself a legionary anymore. But the cruel fact is I am. That's what was so disturbing about this letter.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I resign

I resign!

In all my years in the Legion, to utter the words "I resign" was unheard of. You just did not resign. You couldn't. Holy obedience would not allow it. I was against God's will manifest through the superiors.

Now there is new the Territorial Director of Brazil, Fr Leonardo Nuñez has resigned. That is the word used on the LC page (in Portuguese). Fr Nuñez  was made territorial director of Brazil shortly before I left the Legion. When he was named it gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. I knew him as a LC hardliner. Maybe I was wrong. But he had all the characteristics of an insider.

But back to the point. He resigned. His resignation was accepted. An interim Territorial Director has been named. It just seems so strange to me. I didn't think I would see that happen in the Legion.

But then again there is the case of Fr Alvaro Corcuera. He didn't "resign", but took a leave of absence, or was it a sabbatical, until then next elections. But in effect he resigned. What is happening? What is going on in their minds. I would love to get inside to find out. But no, I took all the courage I had to get out.

Anyway, it doesn't look good for the Legion when it's top brass are resigning.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving in the Legion

I'll be heeding home in the next few days to spend Thanksgiving with my family. It will be the first time since 1985. Seems incredible, doesn't it? But that's the way it is.

Now, if you are an American in the Legion, your Thanksgiving experience could be very different depending on where you are on the world. If you are in the states, you will more than likely go to Cheshire, CT for your monthly retreat over the Thanksgiving weekend. You'd pay football in the morning and watch an NFL game in the afternoon. There'd be a big turkey dinner, and of course the spiritual stuff you would expect on a feast day.

In Rome it's celebrated, not like Cheshire, but, at least there's something. But if you are anywhere else, forget it. It's just an ordinary day. Needless to say, you don't go home for holidays in the Legion.

Since I've been out, I've gone home for Christmas. Now it's time to go for Thanksgiving. It will be quite a feast. I know I'm going to put on the pounds. But heck, it's been 27 years!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Legion - America - Freedom

I don't normally write about politics because, as I have stated, this blog is about my exit from the Legionaries and how I am living and adapting now.

But the election results have made me stop and think, because there are some similarities between what I experienced and the changes in America.

Life in the Legion was regimented, scheduled and controled. You were asked to offer you freedoam and will up to God as an oblation. In return, the Legion provided your every need: food, clothing, education, family, etc. Sounds good, right? The only problem is that it dehumanizes the person and opens the door to abusing individuals. That's how I see it. That's what happened to me.

The trend I see in America now is similar. People are increasingly willing to offer up their freedom to the government in exchange for the promise it will take care of their needs: health care, food and even a free phone.

I find that disturbing.

Freedom is a fundamental human right, and no one should be tricked into giving it up to anyone or anything. Not even God asks us to do that. Rather he invites us to follow him. But he respects our freedom absolutely.

That's all I have to say.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Home for Thanksgiving

I'll be heading home for Thanksgiving this year. Went on line the other night to check out the prices, scared they would be outrageous seeing as it is a holiday and all. But avoiding the heavy travel days I was able to get a good rate.

So, home for Thanksgiving with the family. How long has that been? Let me think? I entered the Legion in August of 1986. The year before that I was in the University of Steubenville. Did I go home for thanksgiving that year? I think so. So it's been 27 years since I've spent Thanksgiving with my family. Twenty-seven freakin' years! I'm 52. It's more than half a lifetime.

That's a whole lot of turkey and stuffin' I'm going to have to eat to make up for it.

I have to admit, Thanksgiving in the Legion was a really fun day, one of the most enjoyable of the year. But Thanksgiving is a family holiday, and all the fun can't bring back the lost years. There is so much I missed. Hope to get caught up on a lot more this time.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fr Alvaro steps aside

While not officially handing in his resignation, Fr Alvaro Corcuera has asked for and been granted a "sabbatical", handing over his duties as General Director to Fr Sylvester Heereman until the next General Chapter.
My take. He is resigning. The next General Chapter will elect the new governing body of the Legion and Regnum Christi, and may just elect a new General Director. Therefore, in effect, it is a resignation.
You can read Fr Alvaro's and Cardinal Velasio de Paolis' letters here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

$9,064.00

According to an article published in Spanish, Fr Alvaro Corcuera established how much economic help Legionaries who abandon the congregation should receive. Here's the breakdown.

According to these criteria, a novice who leaves the congregation receives a maximum of 100 euros (129 dollars), the first period of religious vows about 300 euros (388 dollars) while the second and third period of vows 1,000 euros (1,294 dollars).
Religious professing perpetual vows will be supported by 1,500 euros (1,942 dollars) while the priests with over 15 years in the congregation a maximum of 7,000 euros (9,064 dollars).
I was in the congregation for 24 years, professed my perpetual vows, and was ordained a priest.

So the question is...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Waiting for an indult

Today I learned that all the necessary documents have been turned in to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life requesting that I be dispensed from the Evangelical Counsels in the Legionaries of Christ and incardinated into the Archdiocese of Brasília. This is the final step. The only thing left is to receive the indult from the Holy See and I will be officially out of the Legion. I wish I had a date so I could do a count-down.

I think I already mentioned this... I have a bottle of 21 year old Scotch I'm going to break open with some priest friends the day the indult arrives.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

There are feast days, and then there are feast days

Just celebrated the Patroness of my parish this weekend, or better yet, the Birthday of our Patroness, the Birth of Mary.

Just some striking differences between how we celebrated this feast and how the legion celebrates its feasts.

1. The Novena.

  • For nine days before the Feast of Mary's Birth, we prayed the rosary together, celebrated Mass in her honor with a homily on her virtues preached be guest celebrants, prayed the novena prayer at the end of Mass and sang song honoring Mary. 
  • In the legion a novena means nine days where there is a special talk preached by one of the superiors about the virtues the Sacred Heart, the Holy Spirit, the Birth of Christ, all according to the charism and methodology of the legion. 
2. The Feast.
  • We had a motorcade and drove through the city streets with the Statue of Mary mounted on a pickup truck; lots of holy water to bless people, their images of Mary and their homes; live music over loud speakers singing hymns to Our Blessed Mother and more than 50 cars honking their horns.
    The image of Mary was brought into the Church in procession by the Legion of Mary to clapping and shouts of praise.
    Our Mass was solemn, but very joyful. The songs were uplifting and exuberant.
    The children were dressed as angels and sang songs in honor of Mary at the end of Mass. They crowned here as queen and tossed rose petals at her feet (and just about everywhere else).
    We had booths set up outside selling hot-dogs, soups and cakes, and a live band playing Christian songs. 
  • In the legion the early morning Mass is after an hour of "meditation" and before breakfast. It is in Latin which very few really understand, and the homily, like the novena is about a legionary virtue faithful legionary superior. There is a big meal, and that means a lot more work, then sports until you drop and merienda-cena, which means more work.
    At first I looked forward to feast days. Then I dreaded them. 
3. The fruits
  • Masses during the novena were full, not to mention the feast itself. People who hadn't been to church in a while came to Mass. Many of these will keep coming. Others won't. That's alright. We are all free. But a seed was planted in the heart of each and every one. 
  • In the legion, the younger members will be pacified for a time, until the next feast day, and won't think too much about their families, the pain they are feeling, the lack of friendship, the humiliations. Their bellies were filled with good food and maybe a little wine. They heard a moving homily on God's will, and maybe saw a documentary on the founding of the legion. As time goes by, and they are further integrated and the option of leaving becomes treason, they will no longer need these feast days to placate their consciences. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Busy, busy, busy. Time is kingdom

Busy, busy, busy. You had to be busy all the time. It wasn't normal to have some idle time. Time is kingdom.

The pressure to be productive was incredible. Every minute had to be dedicated to something. You couldn't be caught doing nothing.

Even during retreats or spiritual exercises you had to employ every minute. You were required to fill out a free time schedule and hand it in to you superior for approval. (To tell the truth, my most fruitful moments during retreats were walks, just thinking and praying.)

I would see priests and brothers in front of computers at their desks or the computer room for hours at a time "working." On what? Building the kingdom, of course. In fact they spent these hours in front of a screen opening and closing windows and files, tweaking and revising, but not saving their work in the end. It was all an illusion of being busy.

There were all consuming apostolates. But there were others that had a lot of down time. Those who were sincere used their time well, maybe reading a book. But books had to be approved. You couldn't read a book that was seen as wasting time. Novels, for example, were only for vacation. But who would want to spend those precious two weeks with you nose in a book when you were sitting behind a computer screen all year long? So if you wanted to read, it had to be something that would help build the kingdom. You had to be busy.

If you weren't constantly busy, you felt guilty. You were even encouraged to mention wasting time as a sin in confession.

Idle talk was frowned upon. God forbid you were caught talking about anything enjoyable. Conversations had to revolve around, you guessed it, building the kingdom. At meals, if a superior was at the table, all attention had to be on him so he could drive the conversation, of course, to the greatness of the apostolate.

You had to be busy at all times building the kingdom. Time is kingdom.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I had a dream


Some have mentioned that they have frequent dreams, even nightmares, about their experience in the legion or the movement. I don't normally have that kind of dream. I forget most of my dreams. 

But I had a dream the other night that was so vivid, it stuck with me. Not only that, it had an intermission. 

The long and the short of it was that Muslim terrorists had declared 15 legionaries had to die. Why? I don't know. So the superiors gathered us in the conference room and read the list of names. It was kind of like how they would give out new assignments each year. My name was on the list. 

The shock of being on the list woke me up. I got up, drank some water and went back to bed. 

Then came part two which was how the superiors were planning the day and means of execution. At the same time I was planning my escape: I would steal a legionary car and high tail it out of there. Finally, all fifteen condemned were sitting in a circle, like an encounter with Christ. The lethal pills were ready. Last thing I remember was opening the door to leave. Then I woke up. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

And what about lying...?

An unknown blogger commented on my last post, "And what about lying...?"

True, I didn't mention lying as an instrument used in manipulating. It really goes without saying. After all, what is being manipulated is not so much the person as the truth. The question is, how can you justify manipulating the truth to obtain you end? I have found that Legionaries tend to base this justification on a sound principle, albeit badly applied.

Consider #2489 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. the good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. the duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it
It is obvious that, if Larry is speaking to Charlie, Larry does not have to reveal embarrassing or scandalous details about Thomas unless keeping them secret would harm Thomas or someone else. But for Larry to willfully conceal the truth about Charlie from Charlie to get Charlie to do or say something, that's manipulation. Simple, right?

Take my case, for example. At one point I was told Maciel decided I should leave the Legion. I asked why? But the only response was, that's what had been decided. I had the right to know since the burden of asking to be dispensed from the vows was squarely on my shoulders. I was not being expelled. I was told to ask to leave. Is that manipulation, or what?

There are so many other facets to the Truth equation in the Legion. I don't want to get into every detail. But the fact is, they manipulated the truth to obtain their ends.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Manipulate or die

I wanted to follow up on the idea in my previous post that it is essential for a legionary to manipulate others. The fact is, twenty four years in the congregation gives you a chance to know a lot of people and a lot of legionaries. It was a real Noah's ark.

We were all thrown  into the same boat. Some made it to the deck, some navigated, some took the helm, and the great majority swabbed the deck. I swabbed.

But what was it that got you to the deck? What was it made you stand out and make it to the top? Everyone that entered had talents. Some more than others. That was no guarantee that you were going to be called to the deck. There had to be another quality that was sought after, something that made you stand out.

Leadership qualities were a must. But it was in the definition of a leader that we find so many answers. A leader in the Legion (in practice, not in theory) is anyone who is able to manipulate other to the desired end.

I mentioned a priest I knew who had many personal problems, but was given a pass on these and honored because he was so successful in getting rich people onto the boat. The quality that dictates success is to win people over to the cause, get inside their minds, convince them, no matter what the cost to you or them.

It is a very calculating way of doing things. You need to plan, get to know the person, play on his or her weaknesses, and promise rewards. It is very much akin to the Prosperity Gospel so common in Brazil where evangelical churches preach prosperity under the guise of God's blessing. It's more subtle in the legion, but it's there. Maybe it's not material blessings in this life, but it is eternal salvation.

And those who are able to latch on to this way of doing things are the ones that survive, or persevere in legion lingo.

If you don't get it, you are marginalized or pushed out. It's as simple as that - manipulate or die.

The striking thing is the vision of personal holiness preached in the legion is not rewarded.

I knew another priest who was a real example of authentic priestly zeal. People loved him for this. There were no limits to his generosity. He would dedicate hours to confession, visit the sick, council anyone who asked, and spend quality time in prayer. But he was marginalized, because he wasn't getting the required fruits. He was ridiculed by other legionaries as being a new St John Vianney. And that was sad: a man who was truly on fire for the Lord and for souls was treated as second rate, or lower.

The number of superiors and other honored legionaries I knew who had very visible faults but were given great prestige was countless. Sometimes I would hear mid-morning snoring coming from their rooms. Others would waste time on unholy practices on the computer; nothing immoral - just not measuring up to the standard they preached of using time well.

I don't know if you can call it a double standard. In a way it was. But it didn't matter how many vices or defects you had, as long as you were bearing the right fruits: money and vocations.

Just a final word on marginalizing. The Legion is good at creating place to send unwanted priests. The Mission Territory of Quintana Roo in Mexico is the best of all. But there are administrative positions created, auxiliary posts, and so many other places to send non-productive priests or religious. I held a lot of these posts. But I could never be satisfied with that. I wanted to be more productive. I wanted to feel more fulfilled.

I do feel more fulfilled now than ever. Parish life is very rewarding. I try very hard not to manipulate people. I listen to them and offer solutions, and respect their freedom. After all, that is what God does.