Edwin F. O’Brien, the Archbishop of Baltimore, has written to the Superior General of the Legionaries of Christ, Monsignor Alvaro Corcuera Martinez del Rio, asking the leader of the prominent religious order to identify all Legionary-associated clergy, ministries, apostolates and youth programs in the archdiocese. The archbishop also asked Father Alvaro to impose certain restrictions on vocations promotion in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Some critics of the Legionaries of Christ have said that the order recruits people under age 18 for vocations and doesn’t explicitly identifying groups and apostolates associated with the order.
In his June 6 letter to Father Alvaro, Archbishop O’Brien noted the importance of ecclesial movements and communities and the calling of bishops to “reach out to those groups with love.” He then made several specific requests from Father Alvaro.
The archbishop first requested that the superior general appoint a priest by June 13 to be liaison from the Legionaries of Christ to the archdiocese. The archbishop said the liaison should be knowledgeable about the Baltimore-area activities of the Legion and its affiliated association Regnum Christi, which is an apostolic movement that includes laymen and women as well as deacons and priests.
Archbishop O’Brien then detailed the requests he will make of the Legion’s liaison.
First, the liaison will need to report to his office the names and ministry sites of all Legionary Priests in his archdiocese. Second, the archbishop asked that the contact be able to identify all Regnum Christi groups and all Legionary or Regnum Christi youth programs in the archdiocese and also report their “activities, meeting locations and schedules, membership rolls and methodologies for gaining new members.” He further asked that the liaison identify all other Legionary or Regnum Christi ministries and apostolates in the area, including their activities and frequency thereof.
Saying that the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life is an “important duty” of the Church, the archbishop wrote that he wishes to ensure that such promotion is “carried out in a way that respects the rights of parents in the upbringing of their children and the rights of young persons themselves to be able to make free and fully informed decisions about their futures.”
To this end, the archbishop asked that “ongoing and individual spiritual direction” not be given to those under the age of 18 “to avoid any undue sense of vocational obligation.” He said the Legionary liaison should notify the archdiocese of all of the order’s summer programs, including the names and addresses of participants under 18 years old. The archdiocese, Archbishop O’Brien said, will then give that information to the participants’ pastors.
Archbishop O’Brien also asked that the archdiocese’s vocations director be notified of all candidates for the priesthood and religious life who plan to attend the Legionaries’ high school seminaries or boarding schools. The archbishop said the vocations director will review such information with the parents and pastors of these candidates.
Citing the “deep commitment” of the Legion and Regnum Christi to their mission and charisms, he asked that every six months the liaison share with the archbishop the “long- and short-range planning goals and objectives” of the order’s groups as they relate to the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
In a statement Jim Fair, Communications Director for the Legionaries of Christ, said that Father Alvaro Corcuera and Archbishop O’Brien had a meeting on June 6 in which they had a “fruitful and substantive discussion” laying the groundwork for the Legion’s continued ministry in the archdiocese.
“They were able to clarify issues and came up with concrete points that we will work on,” the statement said. “We would hope that all Regnum Christi members will also see this as an occasion to love and serve the Church,” Fair said.
“We look forward to supporting the Archbishop’s efforts to spread the Gospel in this great and historic Archdiocese. We pray for Archbishop O’Brien and Fr. Alvaro, that the Lord may bless them abundantly for the tremendous leadership they give to us.”
Sean Caine, Communications Director for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, was also contacted by CNA for comment, but he was not available before press time.