Saturday, October 19, 2013

Legionary of Christ priest, Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, named Titular Bishop

Legionary of Christ priest, Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, LC, was named Titular Bishop of Villamagna in Proconsulari while remaining Secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

In August, 2013, the Pope appointed Fr. Vergez Secretary General of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

In a letter to Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State, Pope Francis said that “in consideration of such tasks” required of Fr. Vergez in his position with the Holy See, he has decided to elevate the priest to the episcopal order.

I mentioned Fr. Fernando in my memoir "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines" in the context of the founder's strategy to establish the Legionaries in positions of power:

In 1975, Pope Paul VI called Pironio to Rome to head the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes – the Roman Curia responsible for everything concerning Religious Congregations. A talented Spanish Legionary, Fernando Vergez, was assigned to him as his personal assistant. This was part of Fr. Maciel’s plan to install his Legionaries in strategic offices within the Vatican. Concurrently, Roberto Gonzales, another Mexican Legionary, served as secretary to Cardinal Biaggio – who took care of all business related to Bishops. And for about a year, I too had served as a secretary – to Cardinal Raimondi, who was in charge of the canonization of saints. Having his people work with strategic Vatican leaders was one of the many ways Fr. Maciel kept his finger on the pulse of the Church. It was part of his tactics to ensure Vatican acceptance of his new Congregation.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Legionaries announce much anticipated General Chapter

Members of the Legionaries of Christ will begin their extraordinary general chapter on January 8 to elect new leaders and approve a new constitution. This even will be an important step to renew the embattled order. Benedict XVI had ordered the reform and reorganization of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, its lay branch, after revelations that their founder, the late Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, had fathered children and sexually abused seminarians.

Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, appointed by retired pope Benedict XVI in 2010 to govern the order, announced the date of the opening of general chapter in a letter to the 953 priests and the hundreds seminarians of the Legion of Christ on October 4.

The chapter, he wrote, “comes at the end of a long journey of spiritual renewal and will have as its principal purpose the conclusion of revising the constitutions”, which set out the nature and purpose of a religious order, the way new members are brought in and formed, and govern all aspects of the members’ life together. The constitutions adopted by the delegates – expected to be about 60 priests – must be approved by Pope Francis before they take effect.

Fr Benjamin Clariond L.C., said that as of December 31, Regnum Christi has 85 consecrated men and 655 consecrated women.

A separate letter to the consecrated members of Regnum Christi movement, communicates that a general assembly for the consecrated men would be held on November 25 to December 1 and for the consecrated women on December 2-15.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Therapy and Coaching for former members of Regnum Christ and the Legionaries of Christ

It's been a long time since my last post! The inactivity is due in large part to a very heavy workload involving a lot of international travel. On the other hand, there has not been much news of note about the Legion of Christ. They seem to be working through the reform process and getting ready for the very important General Chapter, scheduled for 2014.

I have always been concerned by the difficulties faced by Legionaries who decide to leave the Congregation. In general, former priests, and religious - including consecrated men and women - have a tough time returning to "lay life." 

Legionaries and Regnum Christi people face the additional hurdle of feeling "shunned" by their former colleagues and companions. Many of them have told me they found my memoirs "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines" particularly helpful during their change of life. 

For residents of Mexico, transitioning out of the Legion, Regnum Christi, or religious life in general I am happy to mention that we (Keogh & Associates Consulting, LLC) have an office in Mexico City specializing in cognitive-behavioral therapy, coaching, and the Tomatis Method.

 Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common type of mental health counseling (psychotherapy). With cognitive behavioral therapy, the client works with a psychotherapist in a structured way, attending a limited number of sessions. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking, so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. It is a very helpful tool in treating anxiety or depression. Not everyone who benefits from cognitive behavioral therapy has a mental health condition. It can be an effective tool to help anyone learn how to better manage stressful life situations. 

If appropriate, we also complement the therapeutic approach with the Tomatis Method.
Dr. Tomatis, a French Ear, Nose and Throat physician, pioneered a multi-disciplinary science called Audio-Psycho-Phonology (APP) over 50 years ago. His work resulted from his curiosity about the vital influence of the human ear on a healthy mind, body and spirit. Tomatis noted that the ear is the first organ to grow in utero and as a result, a fetus begins to hear sound and learn language from its mother’s voice.
Tomatis concluded that overall human health sources from the health of one’s ear. He developed, researched and proved his theory:  the voice only produces what the ear hears. His theory was independently confirmed at the Sorbonne in 1957 and became known as the Tomatis Effect.
Listening is the one foundational skill that impacts all of our other skills. It can be developed and improved at any stage of life. Thousands of people annually around the world have used the Tomatis Method for many needs. Here are some needs and a sampling of those with whom we have worked.
  • Improve memory, word recall, name recognition
  • Calm constant mental chatter
  • Bring richness to their language
  • Jump start imagination and nourish new ideas
  • Strengthen self-motivation and self-esteem
  • Establish a positive view of life, easing worries
  • Renew relationships, finding fresh joy in living
  • Improve communications and work relationships
  • Strengthen team and leadership interactions
  • Bring clarity and focus to problem solving
  • Elevate energy levels, thereby improving productivity
  • Stimulate learning and comprehension
  • Develop keener awareness of self and others
  • Foster collaboration and teamwork
The office is conveniently located in a residential area of Mexico City. Please visit the website for more information on Coaching Therapy Tomatis Method.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Father Jonathan Morris is Program Director of "The Catholic Channel" on SiriusXM radio, Channel 129 and a Fox News contributor. He is the author of "God Wants You Happy: From Self-Help to God's Help" and "The Promise: God's Purpose and Plan for When Life Hurts. Like me, he is a former member of the Legionaries of Christ.  

So many people have shared their concerns with me over the recent decision by Pope Benedict to resign. Most are also looking for an opinion. What do I think? Because of a heavy workload I haven't had a chance to put my thoughts on paper. When I came across the following comments from Fr. Jonathan I felt what he says reflects my own point of view very well. That's why I am sharing his thoughts here. I hope you enjoy!

The ordinary management of the Church is now in the hands of the college of Cardinals. On Monday, March 4 they will gather officially for the first time. Their first priority will be to set a date for the beginning of the papal conclave where 115 electors will choose the next pope.
Then the Cardinals will begin to discuss the business facing the Church. That is expected to take several days. Once the conclave begins they will vote 4 times a day until they reach a two-thirds plus one majority decision. In my estimation the conclave is likely to begin on or near March 10.
Benedict was unafraid to say that he is old and weak.
If the conclaves of the last 100 years are indicative of what will happen now, this conclave will last between 2 and 5 days. The installation of the new pope will then take place on or around March 17.
For now, however, I wish to reflect on the reasons and significance informing Benedict's choice to leave the office -- something that no pope has done in the last 600 years.
On February 11, Pope Benedict surprised the world by announcing he will abdicate his office at the end of the month. He explained, very simply, that he believed, at this time, the church would be better served by someone of greater strength of mind and body. He was unafraid to say that he is old and weak.
While there has since been wild, and often irresponsible speculation, about an ulterior motive for his decision, we need only look back at an interview he did with his official biographer Peter Seewald a few years ago, in which he said he believed a pope could, and in some cases even should, resign if he is no longer able to carry out his duties. Pope Emeritus Benedict took his own advice seriously.
To understand how Benedict came to his decision, we should recall that during the long sickness and eventual passing of John Paul II then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict, headed the Vatican department that oversaw cases of clerical sexual abuse.
Cardinal Ratzinger would have witnessed -- first hand -- the consequences of a long-suffering pope without the full use of his faculties. He would have witnessed the dysfunctional handling of sensitive and urgent issues with far-reaching effects on the life of the church and on its members.
In many cases these issues were left in the hands of his personal secretaries and other Vatican officials without the power or the courage to act.
One of the sensitive and urgent matters he saw tragically mishandled was the case of Fr. Marcial Maciel, the founder of the once powerful and fast-growing religious order, the Legion of Christ.
When Ratzinger became pope he immediately removed Maciel from public ministry and sentenced him to a private life of prayer and penance for misbehavior that included the abuse of minors, drug abuse, misappropriation of funds, and the fathering of multiple children.
This case is especially present to me, since at the time I was a member of this religious order.
Four years ago, after Pope Benedict acted, and then when I eventually found out the truth about Fr. Maciel, I left the order and applied to join the Archdiocese of New York, where, thank God, I am very happy.
For many years, I had heard accusations against Fr. Maciel, but in great part because Vatican officials continued to praise Fr. Maciel, publicly, I assumed these accusations were patently false.
I now know that during the prolonged sickness of John Paul II the Vatican already had sufficient evidence against Fr. Maciel. But John Paul II's handlers, and other Vatican officials, who were running the shop as John Paul II grew increasingly weak, succeeded in keeping the case quiet.
In practice, this meant many young men and women, who thought they were devoting their lives to a religious order led by a saint, were in fact continuing to live in ignorance of the reality that their leader was in fact a sociopath.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has made a humble decision to step away from an office of great authority and responsibility. He has done so, fully aware, that the Church will be best served by a man capable of making tough choices. Most of these important decisions, thank God, have nothing to with sexual abuse.
Important and urgent however, they are.
Thank you, Benedict.

I join Fr. Morris in thanking Benedict for his courage.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Important chronological details revealed in the Marcial Maciel scandal


An analysis by Jason Berry in the National Catholic Reporter of newly released documents in a Rhode Island lawsuit makes sense of some previously unknown facts buried in the scandals involving the founder of the Legionaries of Christ Fr. Marcial Maciel.

The thousands of pages of testimony, financial and religious records unsealed by a judge’s order, open a rare view into the Legion culture shaped by its founder. In essence, it seems that at least by 2004, Legionary superiors and Vatican officials became aware of the double life of the founder.

Pope Benedict, dismissed Maciel from ministry in May 2006, but the Vatican communiqué did not specify why nor did it acknowledge the victims. Those explanations only came in 2010, after a Vatican investigation of the Legion prompted by news reports of the order's disclosure that Maciel had a daughter, a fact that was known since 2005.

Jason Berry’s account seems to be factual, balanced, and believable. Reading it enhanced my sense of “closure” with regard to the Maciel saga. If you have followed the history of the Legion up to now, you should read the article

Whether there is hope for the Legionaries as a phenomenon apart from Maciel, a position Pope Benedict has adopted in the Vatican takeover to reform the order, becomes the burning question. And a major challenge for the next Pope is to find a way to restore the credibility of the Church hierarchy in the face of the ingrained clericalism that has so affected the management of the abuse scandals in the Church.

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Movie about Fr. Marcial Maciel

According to several Mexican news outlets the Mexican Luis Urquiza will make his directorial debut with a movie called "Obediencia Perfecta" ("Perfect Obedience.") 

Scheduled for release during Holy Week, 2013, the movie allegedly will describe the life of Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ in a fictionalized format. The actors Juan Manuel Bernal and Juan Carlos Colombo will play Maciel at different stages in his life.

Not a lot of information has been released about the movie which has been filmed in secret. The fortuitous timing of the release date with the resignation of Pope Benedict will no doubt enhance its success at the  box office while serving to cast more doubts about what and when the Vatican knew about Maciel.