Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Scarlet Letter for Regnum Christi members?

I just saw a posting by Joan Kingsland over at the "Live Regnum Christi" blog.

"The events of the last few years have inspired me to reread Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter. As a consecrated woman of the Regnum Christi Movement I see a striking similarity between the harsh call by some people for the dissolution of the Legion and the words of the puritan women as they awaited the adulteress Hester Prynne to issue forth from the prison wearing her elaborately embroidered letter. These “self-constituted judges” as Hawthorne calls them, deemed that for the good of their society she ought to have been put to death for her sin."

Joan continues,

"for myself and many others who are choosing to remain in the Legion and Regnum Christi Movement, a scarlet letter has been bestowed on us not as a result of our own wrong actions, but of our founder. I have wept at the wrongs perpetrated by my founder and wish to apologize here to all those who suffered from him. I’m sorry for the deep hurt he caused to some as well as for the appalling scandal within the Church. I’m sorry as well for anyone else who has been wounded by Legionaries or members of the Regnum Christi Movement. When I joined the Movement it was for the sake of helping to bring many people to heaven not for causing harm."

It's been a very long time since I left the organization but I relate to Joan's hope:

"that our situation can be remedied with some elbow grease on our part, the paternal help of the Holy Father, the maternal help of the Church and a lot of grace from on high."

 Well said!

Read the full posting here.


Anonymous said...

I think that she has a point, Jack. Myself, I prefer the company of poor devils to that of those who give them a hard time. The good Lord did the same and gave us the example. I won't be disowning my scarlet letter any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Some people call for the end of the Legion and RC because they have suffered great harm, and wish for others to be saved from experiencing that harm.

If I contract food poisoning at a restaurant, am I painting it with a scarlet letter if I warn my friends about my experience?

If a former employee of mine uses my name as a job reference, am I painting them with a scarlet letter if I give an honest, if unflattering reference?

People who wish for an end to the Legion or Regnum don't feel that way without good reasons. If I have been harmed (and I have) doesn't it make sense I'd want the cause of that harm to end? Isn't it a kindness to wish that no one else suffers as I have?

I think it's unfair to people like me, to suggest I am slapping a scarlet letter on RC/LC for the actions of the founder. I think it shows a willful denseness on the part of this RC woman to make it sound as though she is being judged for MM's actions. My family and I were harmed by the actions of Legionaries, a LC school, RC members, and RC consecrated, and it happened well after the death of the founder.

Monk, you had a post here recently about showing mercy, yet I find your comments consistently lacking in mercy towards people like me.

Anonymous said...

Anon2, people get hurt by other people all the time. That is the human condition, and how we respond to the suffering visited upon us by others determines what kind of people we become. Given the choice, I will pick the scarlet letter over the vendetta.

Anon 1

Anonymous said...


People get hurt all the time, it's true, I guess I was deluded when I expected not to be harmed by priests or people who professed to be living gospel charity.

In my spiritual direction with an LC, he never rationalized my sins by saying "hey, people get hurt all the time"...



Anonymous said...

"he never rationalized my sins by saying "hey, people get hurt all the time"...

Were your sins, sins of vengeance?

"I guess I was deluded when I expected not to be harmed by priests or people who professed to be living gospel charity. "

You certainly were naive. They are people just like the rest of us, and there is no special magic in the clerical or religious state that exempt people from sin or making mistakes. And there are institutional webs of sin all around us that ensnare us in a society that is full of injustice and oppression of others. Open your eyes and see your participation. None of us are innocent.

May God have mercy on our souls.

Anon 1

Anonymous said...

There's that word "vengeance" again.

I would classify my actions towards LC and RC who have harmed me as more a case of turning the other cheek, giving the benefit of the doubt, and praying long and hard for them all.

Not exactly what I'd call vengeance.


Anonymous said...

anon 2, you are hardly being consistent in your postings.

Anon 1

Anonymous said...

You've never stated what you mean by "vengeance".

I've merely stated that I/we have been harmed. I've stated this to help you understand why you cannot assume that you're being unfairly labelled with a scarlet letter. It is possible for someone to reasonably feel it would be better for the LC and RC to end, because they do not wish to see anyone else go through the same suffering.

Back to Hester Pryne. She committed adultery, and yes, that was wrong. But her sin did no harm to anyone else. Nothing was gained by condemning her for her sin, by attaching to her a scarlet letter. On the other hand, if I am wary of LC and RC, as I should be, having been harmed by these people, then it would be wrong of me to allow others to suffer as I have.

What is your problem? Do you think I am wrong to warm people away from suffering? Or do you simply disbelieve my suffering? I know it's been common in RC and LC to disbelieve people who have been harmed by the movement, maybe this is your point?

I don't doubt you have entered into RC and participated faithfully with good intentions. So did I. But there is a sobering reality I wish you could face - when and if you are reformed/refounded/renewed, that will be wonderful for you and for the Church, but people who suffer will still be suffering.


Anonymous said...

It is important to assume your own responsibility for your suffering. That is why praying for those who harm you is important---God gives you insights into your participation.

However, when you tar individuals not responsible for causing your suffering, with causing your suffering, there is a problem. And here we are back at the social networks of sin that we participate in, unwillingly.

I note that the Holy See has seen much good in the individuals, and has noted the ways in which they were harmed by their founder, and how it is invested in their reformation.

That some people wish them harm may be understandable, but it is hardly just, hardly merciful. Being a Christian is indeed very, very difficult in these circumstances, but I find that the lack of an attempt to try is as scandalous as the original attempt. Hence the vendetta that increases the suffering of hundreds of poor devils who sacrificed everything with the best of intentions only to discover that nothing was for real.

So you have two victims: the victim and the perpetrator. Christ died for both, and both must come to a reconciliation. This is the task imposed upon us by the Pope. It is a very difficult one.

To insist on licking your wounds, and nurturing your feelings of injury to justify the destruction of the fabric of the community that is the only holding the others from a free fall into despair, is to perpetuate the cycle of violence that Christ died to end.

That is why I choose to embrace my scarlett letter rather than condemn. God's justice is tempered by God's mercy. And if we cannot do this ourselves, and we really can't, we can only do it with His help.

So, if we are to be like God, in the example of Jesus, we must insist on reform, and work so that those things that hurt us be corrected, while being merciful and walking with the consecrated, the brothers and the priests so that they can come through this with us. The is the way to the Resurrection is through the Cross. And this is the path Benedict has laid out for us.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot to sign my post:

Anon 1

Anonymous said...

You'll never understand me until you face the same harm. Or you see your own child harmed. Oh believe me, I take full responsibility that my child was shattered by your movement.

I once sounded like you. Exactly like you.


Anonymous said...

The LofC (after the founder's death) required a vast sea of Vatican time and resources to determine the founder was corrupt, criminal, and devoid of religious sentiment, that the charism is not yet known, and that purification is required. The May 1 Communique (unlike Anon 1) did not accuse critics of "sins of vengeance", they thanked them for their perseverance.

By all means, stick with a religious group which has become a huge embarrassment and burden to the Church and to Pope Benedict, has been responsible for many victims, lost faith, abuse of conscience, has been banned in many dioceses, etc. Critics of the Church have been handed more ammunition against the Church, thanks to your group. You will know them by their fruits.

Grow up, and spare us all the "poor us" siege mentality when people are wary or critical of your scandalous group. You picked your own poison.

Anonymous said...

I understand you more than you know. I was exactly where your child was at, now more than 48 years ago. And the intervening time has given me enough perspective to know that there is a bigger picture. Your wounds are fresh, but if you pray for your enemy, God will speed your healing. Trust in the Pope, and try to follow that difficult path of reconciliation. Don't get so attached to your anger that it becomes too rewarding to leave it behind. May your recovery, and that of your child, be speedier than mine was.

Anon 1

Anonymous said...

Anon 3, the LC is part of my diocese and are responsible for two large parishes. They are doing a splendid job. I am not going to stand apart from my Bishop and my Cardinal. Our Church is blessed by their youth and their energy.

Anon 1

The Monk said...

Spirited debate on a very touch subject. That's good, especially if we can make an effort (as you seem to be) to "reconcile" different perspectives. "Looking together in the same direction" sometimes help reconcile a dilemma. "Dilemmas" can't really be solved.

Reading your comments, I thought it might be useful to cite the last point from the Vatican, May 1, 2010 communication about the LC/RC:

"Finally, the Pope renews his encouragement to all the Legionaries of Christ, to their families, and to all the laypeople involved in the Regnum Christi Movement, during this difficult time for the congregation and for each of them. He urges them not to lose sight of the fact that their vocation, which originates in Christ’s call and is driven by the ideal of being witnesses of his love to the world, is a genuine gift from God, a treasure for the Church, and the indestructible foundation on which each of them can build their own future and that of the Legion."

Anonymous said...

Monk settles a debate by siding with the RC, not with the victim of the RC.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Anonymous said...

Last Anon, Jack quotes the Vatican, and you accuse him of taking sides. In Christ, there are no sides, only reconciliation.

Anon 1

The Monk said...

Anonymous@ 1:30 AM

"Monk settles a debate by siding with the RC, not with the victim of the RC."

I haven't settled any debate, nor do I intend to!

There are "victims" on both sides of the LC/RC debacle. By and large, in the blogs, I think people are talking at each other rather than to each other. Each "side" looking for the clever retort, the conclusive argument to bury the other's position. I actually think your debate was very interesting. Don't ruin it by saying I've settled it. Not true.

To my mind, we have a "dilemma" - in the sense of an an argument presenting two or more equally conclusive alternatives. What is distressing or painful about a dilemma is having to make a choice one does not want to make. You don't "solve" a dilemma. You can only reconcile opposing points of view - usually achieved by both sides finding a third, different alternative they can agree on. That's the "looking together in the same direction" I mentined. (St. Exupery suggested that's the way to love.)

What do you think the Pope is saying in the point I quoted from the May 1 Declaration? Do you agree with him? How do you deal with his refusal, so far, to condemn anyone other than the Founder?

You seem to imply that by simply quoting the Pope I side with the RC. Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

You quoted part of the Pope, the part that encourages the RC. There was also alot of sobering bad news.

I'm disturbed when people in the movement lash out at critics, suggesting it's vengeful or "wishing harm" to hope for an end to the LC/RC. Set aside my own lousy experience (I've spoken to my bishop, pastor and the visitator about that, as was my right and Christian duty. It's done)

I care about the future for most of the LCs I knew and especially the LC brothers. They were like family. I don't wish for them to go through this long awful process of attempting to fix this mess. Make no mistake, this is an attempt at reform, it is no sure thing (Please don't tell me I lack confidence in the Pope, I am very confident in him. I am not confident that every one of the 800 LCs will be fully cooperative or even on the same page as one another in this endeavour) It worries me to see these young men I know struggle in a congregation that's in confusion, turmoil, and a major identity crisis. What the charism is is anyone's guess at this point. They don't know. They don't know, today, what they will be in 2 years or more. I'd love for these young men to instead enjoy a vocation where they can do great good for the Church, free of scandal, free of suspicion, and free of the problematic aspects of their formation that worries the Vatican enough to appoint a delegate.

Say for example, my sister is engaged, and there are issues with her fiance that make it less than ideal to marry him - maybe he has anger issues, or he drinks. Before she embarks on that vocation of mariage with him, I'm not trying to harm him by suggesting to her that it's not a good idea - that marriage should be built on a sturdy foundation, that marriage and family life is challenging enough. Make sense?

Now, to the 3gf. Same deal. Their situation is precarious. They don't have status in the Church. Their situation is so troublesome, they had to ASK for their own visitation. Their circumstances were set up by the Legion. The Legion has never offered them anything better, it never occurred to the LC PTB, to better the status of the 3gf. If there had never been a Visitation, nor an opportunity for people to write the Visitators, the Legion would never have thought to improve their standing or status or living arrangements. To this day, those 3gf would have continued to live in a sort of limbo, between lay life and religious life, without the traditional security enjoyed by true religious. Why would I ever want to see friends' or fellow parishioners' daughters drawn into this mess?

RC recruits to RC and the LC. The only vocations I have seen come out of my RC section have gone to LC and RC. Not to the diocese, not to the Universal Church. The Universal Church is hurting for priests. Every time I see a LC priest leave and go to a diocese, I rejoice. He is free from a congregation that's in need of purification, an experiment that may not even succeed (when has a refounding, purification, renewal of this magnitude ever happened before?) and his vocation is preserved and offered in service to the Universal Church, not a small (RC) corner of the Church.

The good LCs - I wish for them to be free. I love the Universal Church, and I wish for it to survive with strong, healthy, well-formed priests. Scattering the LCs to the world appeals to me, like taking a wrong and making it right.

What I envision isn't "harm", it's saving vocations, and saving people from an organization that has been responsible again and again and again of serious damage to people and to the name and reputation of our Mother Church. That offends me a great deal, with or without my own bad experiences.

The Church will do as it will, and I am free to agree or disagree, now, and whenever and however this whole awful, scandalous mess is resolved.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Oops! Sorry for the multiple posts! It kept telling me it was too big to send, but it sent!!

(red-faced anon2)

The Monk said...

Anonymous - thanks; I deleted the repetition. There is not much in your comment that I would disagree with. Probably just a matter of nuance - for better or worse, the LC is part of the Universal Church. Not every young man who felt called to the LC will be able to jump easily to another congregation or to diocesan priesthood. Some have and I hope they do well. I don't think it is as easy or straightforward as some people think.

I share your hopes, especially for the good people in the organizations.

And the 3gfs. They are most definitely among 'the victims" and I hope the Vatican will act compassionately and quickly in reviewing their situation. I have always worried that their "rules" were even more dysfunctional than some of the LC ones.

At this stage, I think all we can do is hope and pray for the overall good of the Church. Personally, I'm inclined to think that the MM scandal will turn out to be one of those dastardly events that ultimately will be a major "wake up and smell the coffee" moment for the Church that will provoke reform and ensure that the hurt suffered by so many will have redemptive value. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Anon 2, I am in full agreement with the objectives that you outline in your last posting. One of my fears is that a "scarlett letter" of condemnation will bind, rather than free. Hester's red letter was not discreet, if you remember. She made it large, and very visible, and used it to confront the hypocrisy that condemned her. It increased her alienation, her seperation, and her status as outcast, even in her own mind.

The scarlett letter's objective was to take away her human dignity and reduce her to less than what she was.

This is why I say that I will wear the red letter in solidarity with MM's victims, those purehearted souls who are presently sacrificing everything in order to serve the Church. IF we want people to be free, we have to give them more human respect and consideration for their needs than MM ever did, or the PTB presently do.

Anon 1

irishmexguate said...

i see the Monk's blog has got a lot of reactions and good for him. Dont forget to read his book, and mine, "Our Father Maciel, who art in bed, a Naive and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ. It seems that the Scarlet Letter has taken on a life of its own, and so Joan 3gf must also be congratulated.
In an attempt to move beyond the personal, the passionate and the pious I would posit that the Question is not Fr Maciel's personal life but something deeper, and I think it is what the Apostolic Delegate is supposed to be working on:
Does LC/RC have a real, specific, concrete charism - gift to the Church [which normally comes down from the founder] - distinct from other orders and institutions in the Church?
Can a psychopath found a religious order?
These are some of the questions I am asking

Anonymous said...

One can only pray that the Vatican will