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.