.- The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, headed by Cardinal Franc Rodé, is not considering an immediate intervention in the crisis generated by the recent announcement that the deceased founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, Fr. Marcial Maciel, led a double life and fathered a child in the 1980s.
An official from the Congregation who spoke with Catholic News Agency explained Saturday morning that the dicastery – usually known by its short, inaccurate older name, the Congregation for Religious – has no immediate plans to intervene in the Legion of Christ. However, the official said that intervention could happen in the future in “case of necessity.”
The official explained that the dicastery usually intervenes in religious congregations in two circumstances: when it is requested by the organization itself, or when the internal crisis of an organization is perceived by the Holy See as “impossible to solve by internal means.”
When asked to describe cases of the latter, the official used the following examples: “a religious order or congregation in which a significant internal split takes place around the identity of their charism; when there is a significant number of members who question new or reigning authorities, or when economic or moral problems bring the organization to a crisis that cannot be managed by its current leadership.”
In that regard, the official cited the example of Lumen Dei, a spiritual family in which the dicastery recently intervened after the Vatican found the leadership could not deal with internal struggles.
The official explained that it is “too early” to tell if the Legionaries’ leadership is incapable of working through the crisis generated by the public acknowledgment of Fr. Maciel’s double life, and said that “there is no doubt the Church is expecting some kind of program for the future that will bring back confidence both internally and publicly.”
Asked if the dicastery would intervene if there is a “re-foundation” of the Legion, as suggested by some commentators, the official said that “‘re-foundation’ is too broad a concept to define a policy from the Congregation.”
“A ‘re-foundation’ could mean a complete renewal of their original charism and a deep scrutiny of the current leadership,” the official told CNA. “In that case, an intervention does not seem apparent.”
“But if by such a term we are speaking of a revision of the original charism, the discipline or even the name, then obviously the Congregation will have to be involved as required by the (Canon) law.”
Finally, the official highlighted that the fact that the dicastery is not announcing an intervention “in no way implies a lack of the sense of gravity of the issue.”
“It just means that any step should be decided according to the principles of charity, prudence and justice, moved by the well-being of those affected and the common good of the Church, and not in a rush to respond to short-sighted pressure.”