COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE HOLY SEE
1. On 30 April and 1 May, the Cardinal Secretary of State presided over a meeting in the Vatican with the five Bishops who had been commissioned to carry out the Apostolic Visitation of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ (Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez of Valladolid, Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, OFM Cap., of Denver, Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, SDB, of Concepción, Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Alessandria, Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi, M.Sp.S., of Tepic). Also taking part were the Prefects of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life as well as the Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.
One of the sessions took place in the presence of the Holy Father, to whom the Visitators presented a synthesis of the reports that they had submitted in advance.
In the course of the Visitation, more than 1,000 Legionaries were interviewed personally and several hundred written testimonies were examined. The Visitators went to almost all the religious houses and to many of the apostolic works under the direction of the Congregation. They took into account the spoken and written opinions of many Diocesan Bishops from countries in which the Congregation operates. The Visitators also met numerous members, especially consecrated men and women, from the Movement Regnum Christi, even though this lay outside the scope of the Visitation. They also received ample correspondence from lay associates and from the families of those belonging to the Movement.
The five Visitators testified to the sincere welcome accorded to them and the spirit of genuine cooperation shown by the Congregation and by the individual religious. While they acted independently of one another, they arrived at a broadly convergent evaluation and a shared judgement. They attested that they had encountered a large number of exemplary, honest and highly talented religious, many of them young, who are seeking Christ with authentic zeal and offering their whole lives for the spread of the Kingdom of God.
2. The Apostolic Visitation was able to ascertain that the conduct of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado has given rise to serious consequences in the life and structure of the Legion, such as to require a process of profound re-evaluation.
The very grave and objectively immoral actions of Father Maciel, confirmed by incontrovertible testimonies, in some cases constitute real crimes and manifest a life devoid of scruples and authentic religious meaning. This life was unknown to the great majority of the Legionaries, above all because of the system of relationships constructed by Father Maciel, who was able skilfully to create alibis for himself, to obtain trust, confidence and silence from those around him, and to reinforce his personal role as a charismatic founder.
Not infrequently a deplorable discrediting and distancing of those who entertained doubts as to the probity of his conduct, as well as a misguided concern to avoid damaging the good that the Legion was accomplishing, created around him a defence mechanism that for a long time rendered him unassailable, making it very difficult, as a result, to know the truth about his life.
3. The sincere zeal of the majority of Legionaries, which was evident in the visits to the Congregation’s houses and to many of their works – which met with great appreciation in some quarters – led many people in the past to believe that the increasingly insistent and widespread accusations could not be other than calumnies.
Therefore the discovery and the knowledge of the truth concerning the founder gave rise among the members of the Legion to surprise, dismay and profound grief, which was clearly brought out by the Visitators.
4. From the results of the Apostolic Visitation, the following elements emerged clearly, among others:
a) the need to redefine the charism of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, preserving its true nucleus, that of the militia Christi, which characterizes the apostolic and missionary action of the Church and is not to be identified with the drive for efficiency at any cost;
b) the need to review the exercise of authority, which must be joined to truth, so as to respect consciences and to develop in the light of the Gospel as authentic ecclesial service;
c) the need to preserve the enthusiasm of the young people’s faith, their missionary zeal and their apostolic dynamism, by means of adequate formation. Indeed, disappointment regarding the founder could call into question their vocation and the nucleus of the charism that belongs to the Legionaries of Christ and is proper to them.
5. The Holy Father intends to reassure all the Legionaries and members of the Movement Regnum Christi that they will not be left in isolation: the Church firmly intends to accompany them and to help them along the path of purification that awaits them. This will require them to give sincere attention to those people, both within the Legion and outside it, who were victims of the sexual abuse and the power system put in place by the founder: at this time they have a special place in the thoughts and prayers of the Holy Father, and he is also grateful to those among them who had the courage and the perseverance, albeit amid great difficulties, to demand the truth.
6. The Holy Father thanks the Visitators for the delicate work that they have carried out with competence, generosity and deep pastoral sensitivity; he will announce in the near future the form that this accompaniment will take, beginning with the appointment of his Delegate and of a Commission to study the Constitutions.
To the consecrated members of the Movement Regnum Christi, who have repeatedly requested it, the Holy Father will send a Visitator.
7. Finally the Pope renews to all the Legionaries of Christ, to their families and to the lay associates of the movement Regnum Christi, his encouragement at this difficult time for the Congregation and for each one of them. He urges them not to lose sight of their vocation: this has its origin in Christ’s call and its inspiration in the ideal of bearing witness before the world to his love, and it is an authentic gift from God, an enrichment for the Church, and the indestructible basis on which to build their personal future and that of the Legion.