Friday, July 23, 2010

Vatican details the parameters of the Delegate’s authority in the reformation of the Legionaries of Christ

July 23, 2010. Rome, Italy. The Legionaries of Christ have published an unofficial  translation of the Vatican Decree which gives details about how the Delegate to the Legion, Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, is expected to accomplish the task of examining and reforming the Congregation. The Decree, issued by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, with the Holy Father’s approval was given to the the general council of the Legionaries of Christ on July 21, 2010. The original Italian text can be read here,


I. In his letter of June 16, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI:

- appointed His Excellency Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, CS, Titular Archbishop of Telepte and President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as his Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ;

- conferred on him the responsibility of governing this religious institute in his name “for as long as it takes to complete its path of renewal and lead it to the celebration of an extraordinary general chapter, whose main purpose will be to bring to completion the revision of the Constitutions”;

- considered the “need and urgency of a path of in-depth revision of the Institute’s charism” and expressed his “desire closely to accompany, sustain, and guide this process” through his own personal Delegate for that Religious Family, who would both be a concrete sign of his closeness and act in his name;

- left for a specific Decree “some further modalities regarding the fulfillment of this Office”.

II. Now, by this Decree, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, issues the following specifications and instructions approved by the Supreme Pontiff regarding the modalities in which the Papal Delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ will fulfill his Office:

1. The broad authority granted by the Holy Father to the Papal Delegate, to be exercised in the name of the Supreme Pontiff himself, covers the entire institute. It extends over all the superiors at the various levels (general, provincial, and local), all communities, and the individual religious. This authority regards all the problems proper to the religious Institute and the Delegate may always exercise it when in his judgment it is necessary for the good of the institute itself, even overruling the Constitutions.

2. The superiors of the Institute at every level exercise their authority according to the Constitutions and under the authority of the same Papal Delegate. Therefore, they remain in their positions, ad nutum Sanctae Sedis, unless it becomes necessary to provide otherwise.

3. The Institute’s superiors are to act in communion with the Papal Delegate. He is to be informed of the life of the institute, in particular the most important matters, and in addition, only he can approve the decisions of the general government itself: decisions regarding persons (admission to novitiate, profession, priesthood; appointment and transfer of personnel); apostolic and formation choices (seminaries, academic institutions, schools), and extraordinary administrative matters or the disposal of assets.

4. If necessary, the Delegate himself may act firsthand or indicate the decision to be made in specific instances.

5. Everyone has open access to the Delegate and all can deal personally with him. The Delegate, in turn, has the power to intervene wherever he sees fit, including in the internal government of the Institute, on all levels.

6. As he goes about his task, the Delegate will have four personal advisors to aid him in carrying out his work according to the circumstances and possibilities. These aides may be assigned specific tasks, particularly visits ad referendum. With their help, the Papal Delegate will identify, discuss, and clarify the principal topics as they arise during the process he is called to lead.

7. Whenever it becomes evident that certain topics, regarding either persons or things, need to be studied more deeply, the Papal Delegate may appoint study committees using either personnel internal to the Congregation of the Legionaries or competent external persons.

8. At his own discretion, when it seems opportune or necessary, he may select someone other than his advisors to study a point or make a visit ad referendum.

9. The paramount task of the Papal Delegate is to initiate, accompany, and complete the revision of the Constitutions. This implies a profound knowledge of the Congregation of the Legionaries, their history and development. All members of the Institute must collaborate in the revision of the Constitutions, both as individuals and communities, following a plan to be drawn up and activated from the outset. Therefore, a Commission for the revision of the Constitutions is to be created as soon as possible on the various levels of the Institute, with the participation especially of the members of the Institute itself, who must feel personally responsible for revising and rewriting their own plan of gospel living, always in harmony with the teaching of the Church. The president of the central Commission for the revision of the Constitutions will be the Papal Delegate himself.

10. The Papal Delegate coordinates the Apostolic Visitation to the Regnum Christi Movement, following the indication of the Holy See.

11. Appeals against acts of the superiors of the Institute will be directed to the Papal Delegate himself; regarding acts of the Papal Delegate, it will be possible to appeal to the Holy Father.

From the Vatican, July 9, 2010

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Priests take new path from scandal-plagued order

"Dozens of Legion priests have moved to leave the order in the year since the Vatican launched a sweeping investigation of Maciel and the Legion," said Jack Keogh, a former priest who recounts 20 years in the order in his memoir, "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines."

"Many, especially younger American recruits, resent the fact that the Vatican and their superiors hid the truth about Maciel from the rank and file for so long," he said.

Actually, I said a lot more! But such is the world of journalism. A long interview to produce only one small quote - although I like to think that perhaps I had some impact on the "tone" of the article which appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. You can read the full story, by Annysa Johnson,  about two Legion of Christ priests who have recently joined the Milwaukee diocese HERE.

Legionary of Christ helps fundraise for a gift to the Vatican

This past July 5, a new fountain made its official debut in the Vatican Gardens, thanks in part to the fund-raising efforts of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, an organization headed up by...... Fr Mark Haydu, of the Legionaries of Christ. Why is this fact worth a mention?  On the one hand, it's a good excuse to take a look at this video which gives a view of the Vatican Gardens not often seen by outsiders. On the other hand, it reminds us of how supportive the Pope seems to be of the much maligned Legionaries of Christ.

Pope Benedict took decisive action against Fr. Marcial Maciel the disgraced founder of the Congregation. He then had a thorough investigation conducted of all aspects of life in the Legion. Most recently he named Archbishop de Paolis, an expert in finance and canon law, as his personal delegate to oversee the reform of the controversial group. Along the way, some of the Pope's lieutenants have been accused of accepting "gifts" from Fr. Maciel (now deceased) and friends of the Legionaries. Time will tell if these accusations are the result of malicious gossip, total ignorance of how the Vatican operates or if indeed there was financial malfeasance.

Meanwhile, the Legionaries have, once again, collaborated with the Holy Father and the Vatican this time thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, an organization headed up by a Legionary of Christ, Fr Mark Haydu, LC. It's hard for me to believe that the Pope takes the allegations of Fr. Maciel "buying" Vatican influence seriously - if he did, he would hardly preside over the donation of a new fountain orchestrated, however tangentially, by the Legionaries of Christ.

Vatican Delegate to the Legionaries of Christ introduces himself

On July 10, 2010 in Rome, Italy, Pope Benedict's papal delegate to the Legionaries of Christ, Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, CS, visited the Legion´s headquarters as well as the Center for Higher Studies, both in Rome.

After the meeting at the General Directorate, Archbishop Velasio De Paolis went to the Center for Higher Studies to celebrate Mass with the Legionary priests and brothers stationed in Rome and delivered the following homily which I reproduce here directly from the Legionaries website. It is an important statement delivered to those most directly affected by the scandals caused by Fr. Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Congregation - the members of the Legion of Christ. I think it is an intimate and reassuring speech -tailored to a very specific audience and not intended to assuage the anger of so many bloggers and commentators who see no other solution for the Legion dilemma other than its complete dissolution. I think it is a message of hope and, in all humility, I must say that it is the only message I expected to hear. Maybe I learned a thing or two about "Vatican speak" when I worked there many years ago. As time permits, I'll come back and make some comments on this homily. Meanwhile, here is the complete unedited text. 

In these weeks, I’ve lived in a state of agitation ever since the Secretary of State, first, and then the Holy Father, spoke to me about this mission of being the pontifical delegate for the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.

Yesterday the official communication was made, and now my interior state has intensified even more, hearing so many people tell me, “Good, congratulations for your assignment, but it will be a difficult one.” And at the same time, everyone has assured me of their prayers, because this assignment’s difficulty can be at least intuited in prayer. It is an assignment that with the Lord’s grace can and must be fulfilled.

Speaking here today, I am still a little emotional. But seeing this spectacle of all these priests and students who fill this chapel today, I feel more peaceful with myself and with the task I must fulfill. I have already spoken with your superiors, those who are at the top of the congregation. I presented the letter with which the Holy Father gave me this assignment, and I also gave them a letter of my own, to communicate my feelings and also my exhortations for you at the beginning of this task.

I do not think it is necessary or fitting to repeat these things, because your superiors will find the way to convey them better and also to help you understand them. It is about the assignment of the pontifical delegate. The Pope says that—given the situation—he believed it to be, on the one hand, urgent to begin a process of reflection that he himself, the Holy Father, wishes to accompany. The Church that helped you earlier by sending its visitators to carry out a first discernment, the same Church, in the person of the Holy Father, today sends you his delegate. A delegate who, as the Pope says in the letter, has the task of witnessing to the Pope’s closeness to all of you. And it is in the conviction that we are in the Church and that we have the task of fulfilling God’s plan that we have this mission of ours, this task.

You yourselves, with your presence, are a testimony that brings hope and imbues us with encouragement. The Pope sends his delegate to tell you that he loves you and that he is close to you. At the same time, he states—he says in his letter—that a great number of the members of this congregation have great zeal and live with great fervor.

Your presence is a witness to a reality that goes beyond us: it is your vocation, with which you celebrate this Eucharist today. You received the vocation of being members of this congregation from the Lord. The Lord raised up this vocation within you and has accompanied you until today, and the works of the Lord—as we know—are never left incomplete. St Paul tells us, “He who began his work in you will bring it to completion.”

It is the mystery of Christ that we celebrate now with your presence. It is the mystery of his love, of his mercy, of his grace that never abandons us. And it is still the time of departure, of an examination of conscience, because we need to reflect at times, to pause for an examination of conscience. Not to reflect constantly about the past, but to take stock of our present, to realize our situation, giving thanks to the Lord before all else. The first word that should spring from the depths of our heart is “thank you.” Thank you to God who called us, who called you to priestly and religious life in this institute. Thank you to God who accompanies you. Thank you to God who can bring his work to completion. Thank you to God and thank you to the Church, because the risen Lord lives in his Church and fulfills his work through the ministry of the Church. And this Church that has carried out a first process of discernment today wants to complete the work—through the pontifical delegate—of reconstruction, of restructuring, or rather, of a new commitment in our spiritual journey.

We know that in critical moments, so many thoughts go through our minds; sometimes they even nestle in our heart. And in the confusion that sometimes besets us, we are tempted to make accelerated decisions, to make decisions in the time of darkness without consulting. In the time of confusion, we only need to recover our serenity, we need to discover God’s presence, believe in a new way in his love, and then return to the path of fidelity. With our presence, we celebrate the eternal fidelity of God’s love. God never fails in his love. The one who has called you continues calling you still, and he awaits a new response, but a deep response, on the path of fidelity. To the Lord’s eternal fidelity we must respond with our “Yes,” our fidelity.

We are called to walk a path, the Pope tells us, a path of renewal particularly in the norms with which we govern our life, so to proceed—renewed and with new understanding, new awareness, and new strength—to the celebration of an extraordinary chapter in which we will re-confirm our fidelity to the Lord, where we will re-confirm our commitment to follow Christ in the profession of the evangelical counsels, where we will re-confirm that the Lord is our everything. We have given our life for him, and we want this life to belong to him totally and forever; this is my desire at the start of this process we want to undertake. We will be more secure, more serene, more full of confidence if we renew our alliance with the Lord; and since the Lord is always faithful and never fails, thus we will also find the courage of our fidelity, our self-giving, and our total dedication to the Lord.

Today, Saturday, the day dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, we want to remember the presence of Mary alongside the mystery of Jesus. On Sunday we remember the mystery of the glorious resurrection of the Lord and the new creation. On Good Friday we remember the day of the passion and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. And Saturday is the day of silence. It is always the day of shadows; it is the day on which the entire earth falls silent before the mystery of the death and burial of the Lord Jesus. But on that Saturday, there was also one heart, at least one, in which the believer, Christian tradition, represents the image of Mary who kept her faith and her love for Christ, her Son, intact in the silence on that Saturday. She knows that death cannot be the last word; she knows that her Son lives; she knows that her Son has triumphed over the darkness and has triumphed over death. And Christian tradition represents Jesus who, after his resurrection, appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary before all others.

To celebrate Sunday well, we must pass not only through Friday, but also through the silence of Holy Saturday, keeping intact our faith in the presence of Jesus among us and in the midst of any circumstance of life, but with the certainty that the last word is the triumph of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that the last word is the triumph of life over death, that the last word is the mystery of God’s love that transforms our heart and with his grace makes it capable of responding with the same love to Our Lord Jesus Christ. We will overcome the darkness that at times can oppress us; we will overcome the difficulties also of our human weakness and fragility, because the mystery of God is greater than all human weakness.

It is the mystery of God that, upon entering into our life, makes us capable of the impossible: the vocation of Isaiah, whose story we heard. Every man is a vocation, the Pope tells us in the encyclical Caritas in veritate; he has a vocation. Why? Because man is by nature a being who listens, a given being; before him, there is another who gives meaning to his life. We came into the world because there is someone who loved us first: at the beginning is always love, the gift, and when we consider ourselves, we realize that we feel the need to redirect ourselves toward the source from which we come. We came from the eternal love of God.

And when we enter into the mystery of God’s love, we feel almost a fear, a tremor, like the prophet Isaiah. Contemplating the mystery of God, it almost seems like we are dying, because we feel all our fragility and weakness; but when the mystery of God enters into even our fragility, into our weakness, it purifies us. God does not enter into our lives to annihilate us, but to free us and allow life to be manifested in its fullness. And purified by God, we discover untold energy within us, and then if man by himself can do nothing, man with God can do everything. Nothing is impossible for God, and we are called every day— we created beings, we who have a vocation— we are called every day to rediscover the eternal mystery of God, to experience our weakness and fragility, and at the same time, to experience the merciful and renewing grace of God. And on God’s side, under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with Jesus who has risen and called us to be his friends and brothers, we can do great things. We can be at the service of his kingdom and make the kingdom of God triumph first in ourselves and then by the witness of life we want to give.

With grace, everything is possible, and the grace of God has triumphed in us, in you, up to today. And it will triumph again today and also tomorrow until the mystery of God is fully revealed. With this confidence, we want to commit ourselves to prayer, in humility, in the awareness of our limitations, but above all in the certainty of God’s infinite and merciful love. The Lord has big plans for each one of us; the Lord has a mission for each one of us. Let us not abandon the Lord. He is always faithful. May we also remain faithful in our meeting with the Lord at this time, particularly in this Eucharist. He nourishes us with his word, and he becomes our body and blood. He becomes our life, and with the Lord’s life in us, we become transfigured people, always able to bear witness to the mystery of the love of God who walks in time.

More than 1,300 young boys are currently studying in minor seminaries in Spain.

In "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: How an Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mind" I mention that many present day Legionaries of Christ studied at minor seminaries run by the Legion in Spain and Mexico. The minor seminary is no longer very familiar in the English speaking world, as it once was in Europe. The Legionaries however run three minor seminaries in the US as well as one in Canada plus schools in Mexico and Spain..

Minor seminaries or "Apostolic Schools" as they are called in the Legion are secondary boarding schools created for the specific purpose of enrolling teenage boys who have expressed interest in becoming priests. They are designed to prepare boys both academically and spiritually for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. I first came across them in Spain, which in the sixties was typical of cultures and societies where literacy was not universal, and the minor seminary was seen as a means to prepare younger boys in literacy for later entry into the major seminary.

Yesterday, the Spanish newspaper "La Razon" published an article claiming that more than 1,300 young boys are currently studying in minor seminaries in Spain. My best guess is that perhaps about one hundred of them might be in the Legion's minor seminary in Ontaneda in the north of Spain.

The Spanish daily La Razón reports

The article, signed by Álex Navajas, argues that while "some boys their age dream of being footballers, businessmen, doctors, or bullfighters, these Spanish lads who are just peeking into adolescence want to be priests." The newspaper published several testimonies like that of Alvaro Pinero, a 16-year from Toledo who joined the school-seminary in Las Rozas de Puerto Real, in Madrid. Alvaro realized he wanted to be a priest when he was 12 years old but had doubts. "The school helps me a lot, there is a great atmosphere, where we build good friendships, and my teammates are like my second family" he says. Adrian, at the tender age of 5 years wanted to be a priest and altar boy at Monturque, his hometown. At 12 he entered the seminary of St. Pelagius. Now 16 years old he explains that at the junior seminary "our ideal is Christ. We develop our prayer life because without prayer we can achieve nothing. Santiago Fernández, 18, has finished two years in the minor seminary and in September he will move on to the seminary. “At first, my friends did not accept my decision. Then, seeing that I was doing well they supported me," he recalls. Bishop Demetrio Fernandez, the current Bishop of Cordoba, also found his vocation in childhood and attended a minor seminary. "I wanted to be a priest since I was 7 years old.” After being an altar boy with his pastor’s agreement he entered the minor seminary in Talavera de la Reina. "They were the happiest years of my life. Everything I can say about the minor seminaries is very positive," he says.

According to the newspaper Bishop Fernandez is not the only Spanish bishop who studied at a minor seminary. Zornoza, Auxiliar Bishop of Getafe, Asenjo, Archbishop of Seville, Rodriguez the Bishop of Toledo, the Bishop of Jaén, Ramón del Hoyo, are just some of them. Cardinals Rouco and Cañizares felt the call to the priesthood when they were just children. In fact, according to Antonio Prieto, rector of the Minor Seminary of Córdoba, 'more than 60 percent of the clergy of our diocese passed through these rooms." “For the vast majority of people, it is true that you can not tell what a child wants to be when he grows up. However, there is a small group who do know what they want to be,’ says Manuel Vargas, rector of the seminary of Las Rozas. He concludes, “The best advertising for a minor seminary is that the kids are very happy.”

Friday, July 9, 2010

Holy Father appoints Archbishop Velasio de Paolis, C.S., as his delegate for the Legion of Christ

The following annonuncement is taken verbatim from the Legionaries of Christ website.

Rome, July 9, 2010. Today the Holy Father appointed Archbishop Velasio de Paolis, C.S., as his delegate for the Legion of Christ, as announced  in a July 9 bulletin from the Holy See´s press office.

The practical details on how Archbishop de Paolis will fulfill his charge in the Legion of Christ will be defined in the upcoming weeks.

Archbishop de Paolis has broad experience and proven competence in his own religious congregation, in university teaching, and in service to the Holy See. He is currently the president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and a consulter for the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

As they welcome the pontifical delegate, the Legionaries of Christ once again express their deep gratitude to the Holy Father for his fatherly solicitude, and put themselves completely at the disposal of Archbishop de Paolis.

About Archbishop Velasio de Paolis, C.S.

Archbishop Velasio De Paolis was born in Sonnino (Lazio province, southeast of Rome) on September 19, 1935. He entered the congregation of the Missionaries of St Charles Borromeo (the Scalabrinian Fathers) at a young age and received his formation in the congregation’s seminaries. He made his perpetual profession on October 4, 1958 and was ordained to the priesthood on March 18, 1961.

He went to Rome to continue his academic formation, obtaining a doctorate in canon law from the canon law faculty at the Pontifical Gregorian University, a licentiate in theology from the theology faculty at the University of St Thomas (Angelicum), and a law degree at La Sapienza University in Rome. He also completed a two-year degree in moral theology at the Alphonsian Academy.

From 1965 to 1970, he was a professor of moral theology and canon law in one of his own congregation’s centers for philosophical and theological formation. Afterwards, he was named rector of the Scalabrinian Fathers’ International College in Rome (1970-1974) while also serving as provincial vicar. In 1974, he was called to the general government of his congregation as counselor and general procurator. From 1971 to 1980,  he was an extraordinary professor, and from 1983 onward, an ordinary professor of the canon law faculty at the Gregorian University. From 1987 on, he was also named a professor at the Pontifical Urbanian University, and became dean of the canon law faculty in 1998.

He has authored many books and articles, and is a regular contributor to the magazine Periodica de re canonica. He is a member of various associations dedicated to the study of canon law.

Throughout all these years, he has dedicated himself to apostolic activity, especially to preaching spiritual exercises.

On December 20, 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed him as secretary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, where he was already an officer. He received his episcopal consecration on February 24, 2004 and was assigned the titular see of Telepte.

On April 12, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, raising him to the dignity of archbishop. He is currently also a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and a consulter for the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Regnum Christi, Legion of Christ and "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines"

The following review of my memoir "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: How an Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mind" just appeared on Amazon.  I don't know the person who wrote it but, I have to admit, I am very pleased to read her comments.

In another posting, I mentioned that some few people suggested that the Legion or members of Regnum Christi would not want to read my book. In fact, the opposite has proved true - I have heard directly from several Legionary priests who say they thoroughly enjoyed it because it helped them make sense of the stories they heard about the founder. Former Legionaries, many of whom I never knew, share the same reaction and flatter me by saying they found the stories "inspirational".  By now you will have read Paul Lennon's (author of "Our Father - Maciel - who art in bed") thoughtful review.

This new review from Rachelle is the second written one from a member of Regnum Christi. I am taking the liberty of copying it here because I think it reveals a very healthy and encouraging pattern in the thinking of those who are still involved with the Legion and the Movement. Thank you Rachelle for being wise enough to want to understand the difficulties and for seeking to support Legionary priests who, together with you, face big challenges as they seek to purify the family from the sins of the father. I'm in your corner.

An Excellent Book on One Man's Experience of the Legion of Christ, July 1, 2010
By Rachelle Cournoyer

In the recent scandals involving Father Maciel, I wondered how the founder of the Legion of Christ could have established a powerful order of religious priests and a large lay movement within the Catholic Church while living a double life. Jack Keogh, in these memoires, recounts how he was recruited at the age of 17, and how he poured the energies of his youth founding key institutions in Mexico for the love of Christ. It is the story of idealism, dedication, generous service, and we see Jack flowering under the huge challenges that are given to him. The tension of living in a religious community is recounted with good humor, and anyone who has had the opportunity of living with religious orders will recognize themselves in his funny tales. We see a young order growing through the commitment and enthusiasm of its young men, under the direction of a mysterious. charismatic and charming leader who does not live in the community but drops into it periodically to give it inspiration and direction. Father Maciel is able to draw the best out of his young men, and does so repeatedly, squeezing every ounce of sacrifice from them, while remaining oblivious to their human needs. How Father Maciel betrays Jack Keogh comes like a punch in the gut. But this is not the end of the story, because through resilience, determination, and indomitable spirit, Jack is able to overcome formidable obstacles, put the Legion behind him, and embrace a new life. I recommend this book to anyone wanting a good human story that is full of hope, and to anyone wanting a fresh look at the inside story of the foundation and growth of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi.

I particularly recommend this story to other Regnum Christi members because it will increase our understanding of the challenges that we face and how we can better support our young priests in the Legion in the upcoming Vatican-mandated reformation.