In a recent letter sent to members of the Legion of Christ, Director General Father Alvaro Corcuera, L.C., urged members to be charitable towards each other during their internal discussions regarding the future of the congregation.
In response to a growing exchange of emails between Legionaries about two main issues: the role their founder should play in the future of the congregation, and also the measures that should be put in place to prevent similar situations from happening, Fr. Corcuera called on members to “console each other and accompany each other mutually,” as Simon of Cyrene did for Christ.
Fr. Marcial Maciel founded the Legion of Christ in 1941. Though he died in 2008, revelations of his inappropriate behavior as a priest and leader surfaced early in 2009.
Responding to criticism by some in the Legion who accused their current leaders of being accomplices in the misconduct of their founder, Fr. Corcuera asked members to help one another “live this gift of peace, mutually encouraging one another, understanding one another, truly loving each other, mutually forgiving one another, without recriminating or judging each other, much less humiliating each other.”
A veteran Legionary who spoke with CNA to provide the context of the letter, explained that Fr. Corcuera has asked that the email exchanges, which express “charitably but energetically” conflicting positions regarding the future of the congregation, come to an end.
“These are differences that more or less run along cultural and linguistic lines,” he said, with some English-speaking Legionaries calling for an open discussion about the errors of Fr. Maciel and a change to the “internal culture” of the order. On the other side, many from Spanish-speaking countries think the sins of the founder should be left in the past and that the evils should be corrected “by the faithfulness of the members to the foundational spirit.”
The email exchanges, which have been ongoing for a month, motivated Fr. Corcuera to send a second letter on January 24, calling for an end to the email debates.
“I believe the exchange of opinions through emails between numerous groups of priests, as has taken place recently, is a display of trust and the love we have for each other. But I think that it will never end if we continue like this and we may even cause misunderstandings and opposing positions,” Fr. Corcuera wrote.
“We must all continue working, and seek the best path to allow everyone, especially priests, to calmly contribute with their gifts and reflections to responding to what God is calling us to at this time, especially through the direction which we expect to receive from the Holy See. For now we must let it mature in the hearts of each one of us, as a family, helping each other to purify and build up this work to which God has called us,” the letter stated.
At the beginning of the year, renowned American Legionary, Fr. Richard Gill, announced he was leaving the Legionaries of Christ over irreconcilable differences with his superiors about the direction the congregation is taking following the revelations of Father Maciel’s double life.
Currently, five bishops are conducting an Apostolic Visitation of the Legion and are expected to conclude in March 2010.