An emotional “open letter” from Father Julien Durodie of the Legionaries of Christ in Paris to his brother priests of the movement has reopened debate within the order over how to proceed in the immediate future. The Legionaries are currently undergoing an apostolic visitation by order of the Holy See.
Despite the fact that Fr. Durodie told CNA, “I do not intend to open a debate, as if I did not feel free to speak with my superiors and brother Legionaries in a constructive conversation outside email exchanges,” his open letter has reached a vast number of current and former members of the Legion.
The priest went on to explain that by sending the open letter, he was not going against the directives of the movement's Superior General Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, who explicitly requested on January 24 that all email debates among members of the Legion come to an end.
“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.
Fr. Durodie added in his email to CNA that his “open letter is only intended to console the souls entrusted to me in Paris (for this reason it is in French, and I never asked nor wanted it to be translated into Spanish or English).” Nevertheless, his letter has been widely circulated among members of the Legion and Regnum Christi in several languages.
In his letter, Fr. Durodie said he wanted to “do justice since, in the name of the truth, I have heard various negative things about the Legionary vocation.”
“I have been a Legionary of Christ since 1989, when I entered the novitiate,” the priest wrote. “I was 20 years old. I was seeking the way to respond to the call God had given me three years earlier at a Benedictine abbey: the call to become a priest. I was seeking community life that was full of charity, and I found it. I intended to give my life to the Lord without counting the cost, and I found it. I was seeking a youthful Christ, passionate for his mission, in love with souls, and I found him. I was seeking fidelity to a Church that was being divided, I was seeking authentic love for the Pope as the representative of Christ on earth, and I found it. I was seeking Mary, my Mother, and I found her. I was seeking to join a dynamic community capable of being a part of the new evangelization, and I found it. And for all of this, I give thanks to God.”
“After 12 years of formation,” Fr. Durodie continued, “I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ in the Legion of Christ. I felt free, I accepted the conditions for friendship with the Lord manifested in our holy Rule, approved by the Church and marked with the seal of Peter. My religious vows until today have been a path to sanctity in poverty, obedience and chastity.”
“Yes, my mail is checked. So what? Yes, the apostolic work is intense and tiring. So what? Yes, I get up early, I pray three hours a day, I live a disciplined life. So what? Yes, I am under obedience, that is, I freely renounce my own ability to make decisions in submission to my superior. So what? Yes, I am poor amidst the modern technological resources I use for the apostolate. So what? Yes, I am chaste and I am careful not to have preferences or special friendships. So what? Either I take this on, or I leave. Nobody is forcing me.”
“I see the Legion as a work made by human hands and therefore needs to be purified and perfected. It has made mistakes, yes, and it will continue to do so. Any organization facing such a situation is entitled to differences and hesitations. Benevolent exterior criticism is also normal and understandable. All of this is now clearer than ever. And although I may be wrong, I have no fear, because I know how to tell the difference between God and his works.”
“I also believed, especially after living with Fr. Maciel for three years at the headquarters, that he was holy. Why not?”
“But,” the French priest explained, “I never put my supernatural trust in him as a human person. My faith is not affected by his disordered life, but on the contrary, it is purified. Of course I am affected by the scandal, and the cries of the victims fill me with sorrow. But all of this does not call into question God’s call.”
Fr. Durodie added, “I do not judge those Legionaries who have left to join the diocesan clergy. I give thanks to all of the others who have given me the testimony of their freedom."
“It is easier to leave the boat passing through the storm than it is to stay on board. It is easier to live a peaceful life or to journey down a long and tranquil river. But i know in the depths of my heart that God called me to the Legion."
“I wanted to share with you some sentiments that encourage me on this day marking the anniversary of the Legion’s 'Decretum Laudis' decreed by the Church,” the priest wrote. “I offer heartfelt thanks to all those who understand this, who have accompanied us as members of one family.”
“I also thank all those who have doubted and those who have walked away from us at least for the moment: they teach me humility and the joy of living for God,” he concluded.