Legionary Priest Expresses “Shock and Sorrow” at Fr. Maciel's Moral Failings

February 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

I’ve known and admired Father Thomas Berg, L.C., as a friend for many years. I admire him even more after reading his brief but forthright statement, posted publicly today, which reads in part:

“In shock, sorrow, and with a humbled spirit, I want to express my deepest sorrow for anyone who, in any way, has been hurt by the moral failings of Fr. Maciel. Of my readers, I ask your prayers for each of them. They count not only on my prayers, but also on the personal acts of reparation that I intend to do to implore for each of them the grace, healing, and comfort that only God can give. I am so sorry for each of them, and for the scandal this has caused to the entire Church.” (read more)

Legionary Priest Expresses “Shock and Sorrow” at Fr. Maciel’s Moral Failings

February 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Fr. Maciel, Legionaries of Christ

I’ve known and admired Father Thomas Berg, L.C., as a friend for many years. I admire him even more after reading his brief but forthright statement, posted publicly today, which reads in part:

“In shock, sorrow, and with a humbled spirit, I want to express my deepest sorrow for anyone who, in any way, has been hurt by the moral failings of Fr. Maciel. Of my readers, I ask your prayers for each of them. They count not only on my prayers, but also on the personal acts of reparation that I intend to do to implore for each of them the grace, healing, and comfort that only God can give. I am so sorry for each of them, and for the scandal this has caused to the entire Church.” (read more)

Important qualities to look for in a spiritual director

October 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Over the last 25 years or so, I’ve noticed with bemusement an unfortunate trend in the United States in which an increasing number of lay people arrogate to themselves the title of “spiritual director.” I regard this as unfortunate because, except in certain rare exceptions, lay people are simply not qualified or competent to serve as spiritual directors.

Even lay people who have some formal training in theology do not, by virtue of that fact, have the requisite qualities necessary to be spiritual directors.

I’ve seen some real messes result from lay people attempting to give spiritual direction to others. For example, Regnum Christi (RC), the lay movement associated with the embattled Legionaries of Christ religious order of men, had for years appointed numerous goodhearted, sincere, and wholly unqualified RC lay women to be “spiritual directors” for other RC lay women in the absence of a priest. As you might imagine, problems and misunderstandings ensued. Eventually, at least here in the U.S., the Legionaries and RC leaders abandoned the moniker “spiritual director” in favor of the less dubious “spiritual guide.”

My guess is that virtually all lay people who style themselves as spiritual directors (including those who are regarded as such by others, even by some deacons and priests), are really just confusing spiritual direction with counseling. That such a benign confusion is prevalent these days shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, upwards of three generations of Catholics nowadays are, by and large, woefully under-catechized in the doctrinal and spiritual teachings of the Catholic Faith.

This is not to say that those goodhearted  and sincere lay men and lay women who present themselves as spiritual directors are necessarily themselves woefully under-catechized (although some may very well be), but their laudable service to others, insofar as they seek to offer helpful advice of a spiritual nature, does not make them spiritual directors in the classical Catholic sense of the term.

Don’t get me wrong. By all means, Catholic lay people should strive to offer good counsel and spiritual advice when the need and opportunity arises. Counseling can be done informally or formally, such as in the case of a man or woman who is properly trained in the art of counseling (for example, having earned a master’s degree in that field). But counselling and spiritual direction are not the same thing. It’s proper and good for lay people to engage in the former though, in my view, not the in latter.

Now, since I am confident that my remarks here will elicit some push back from those who are convinced spiritual direction is indeed suitable for lay people, I’d like to advert to the wise and erudite advice on this question from the late Father Jordan Aumann, O.P. (1916-2007), who wrote Spiritual Theology, a masterful explanation of the ways and means of the spiritual life, including what to look for in a spiritual director. While he doesn’t come right out and declare that spiritual direction is not a suitable domain for lay people (except, as I’ve said, under certain, rare circumstances), I think you’ll see that the cumulative force of his explanation militates inexorably toward that conclusion.


PERHAPS NO WRITER HAS OUTLINED with such clarity and precision the technical qualities of a good spiritual director as have St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. She states that a good spiritual director should be learned, prudent, and experienced. St. John of the Cross also maintains that a director should be learned, prudent, and experienced, and he places great emphasis on experience.

Learning. The learning of a spiritual director should be extensive. In addition to having a profound knowledge of dogmatic theology, without which he would be exposed to error in regard to matters of faith, and of moral theology, without which he could not even fulfill the office of confessor, the spiritual director should have a thorough knowledge of ascetical and mystical theology. He should know, for example, the theological doctrine concerning Christian perfection, especially regarding such questions as the essence of perfection, the obligation to strive for perfection, the obstacles to perfection, the types of purgation, and the means of positive growth in virtue. He should have a detailed knowledge of the grades of prayer, the trials God usually sends to souls as they advance from the lower to the higher degrees of prayer, and the illusions and assaults of the devil that souls may encounter.

He also needs to be well versed in psychology so that he will have an understanding of various temperaments and characters, the influences to which the human personality is subjected, and the function of the emotions in the life of the individual. He should also know at least the basic principles of abnormal psychology and psychiatry so that he will be able to recognize mental unbalance and nervous or emotional disorders.

A priest should realize that, if he is not competent to direct a particular soul, he should advise the individual to go to someone who possesses the necessary knowledge. A priest incurs a grave responsibility before God if he attempts to direct a soul when he lacks sufficient knowledge. In recent times, with the wider dissemination of knowledge of mental illness, the priest must especially be warned that, as regards the field of psychiatry and the therapeutic methods proper to that branch of medicine, he is a mere “layman” and is incompetent to treat mental sickness. If he suspects that a penitent is suffering from a mental illness, he should direct that individual to a professional psychiatrist, just as readily as he would expect a psychiatrist to refer spiritual problems to a clergyman.

Prudence. This is one of the most important qualities for a spiritual director. It comprises three basic factors: prudence in judgment, clarity in counseling, and firmness in exacting obedience.

If a spiritual director lacks prudence, he is usually lacking several other virtues as well. Prudence enables an individual to do the right thing under given circumstances. Spiritual direction is not concerned with the general doctrine of spiritual theology, nor with theoretical situations that one may imagine, but with the individual soul placed in concrete circumstances at a given moment or in a given phase of spiritual growth.

The director is not called upon to make decisions regarding general doctrine; most people could find such answers in any standard manual of spiritual theology. The director’s role is precisely to recognize the particular circumstances of a given situation and to give the advice needed at that moment. In order that the advice be prudent, a spiritual director must have the empathy by which he is able to place himself in the given circumstances and must have the patience to listen attentively. Of the various factors that militate against prudence, the following are especially common: lack of knowledge of the various states of the ascetical and mystical life, lack of understanding of human psychology, prejudice in regard to particular states of life or particular exercises of piety, lack of humility, excessive eagerness to make a judgment.

The second characteristic of prudence in the spiritual director is clarity in the advice given to the one directed and in the norms of conduct prescribed. In order that he may be clear in his direction, he must. possess clarity in his own mind. In speaking to the soul he is directing, he should avoid any vague or indecisive language, but should always express himself in concrete and definite terms. He should resolve problems with a yes or a no and, if necessary, he should take the time for further deliberation before making his decision. If a soul perceives that the director is not sure of himself, it will lose confidence in him, and his direction will lose all its efficacy.

Moreover, the director should always be sincere and frank, without any partiality or selfish motives. It would be a serious fault if a director were to avoid offending the person directed lest that person should go to some other priest for direction. Those priests who place great importance in attracting and retaining a large number of followers are, by that very fact, disposing themselves to failure as spiritual directors. The director should never forget that he acts in the name of the Holy Spirit in directing souls, and that he must endeavor to treat those souls with kindness and- understanding, but with firmness and utter frankness.

The director must also take care that he does not become the one who is directed. Some persons are extremely competent in’ getting their own way in everything, and even the director is in danger of falling under their power. For that reason, once the director is certain of his decision and the course that should be followed; he should state his mind with unyielding firmness. The individual must be convinced that there are only two alternatives: to obey or to find another director.

But the director should not forget that he should never demand of a soul anything that is incompatible with its state of life or vocation, its strength, or present condition. He should realize that there are some things that can be demanded of advanced souls but could never be required of beginners; that some things would be perfectly fitting in dealing with a priest or religious but not with a lay person. Excessive rigor does nothing but frighten souls and may cause them to abandon the road to perfection. There is, therefore, a world of difference between firmness in demanding obedience and an excessive rigidity that discourages the soul of the penitent.

Experience. This is one of the most precious qualities of a good spiritual director. Even if he is less perfect in knowledge and somewhat deficient in prudence, experience can make up for these deficiencies. This does not mean that the experience of the director must necessarily flow from his own spiritual life, for he may obtain the benefits of experience from his observation and direction of others.

As regards the personal experience of the director, if it is a question of the guidance of the average Christian, he needs little more than the experience any priest can obtain from the faithful fulfillment of his duties in the sacred ministry. If it is a question of advanced souls who have already entered the mystical stages of the spiritual life, it is desirable that the priest himself have some experience of those higher stages. If he lacks this, a delicate sense of prudence, coupled with competent knowledge of the mystical states, will suffice in the majority of cases.

But personal experience alone is not sufficient to make a spiritual director as competent as he ought to be. There are many different paths by which the Holy Spirit can lead souls to the summit of sanctity. It would be a serious mistake for a director to attempt to lead all souls along the same path and to impose on them his own personal experiences, however beneficial they may have been for himself. The spiritual director should never forget that he is merely an instrument in the hands of the Holy Spirit and that his work must be entirely subjected to the Holy Spirit. If, through a lack of understanding of the variety of divine gifts and the multiplicity of roads to perfection, he were to force all souls to travel by the same road, he would become a veritable obstacle to the workings of grace in the soul.

Moral Qualities of a Spiritual Director . . . (continue reading)

The National Catholic Register’s “About Us” section is about to change

January 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

For years, the Legion of Christ has emphasized that being involved in the media is an “integral” aspect of its (once) ever-expanding mission. This thinking was borne out in the Legion’s 1995 acquisition of the National Catholic Register and Twin Circle magazine (whose name was changed to Catholic Faith & Family). Its in-house media arm, Circle Media, was established that same year to administer these two publications as well as publish books, promote Internet ventures such as Catholic.net, and the like.

But these days, since the sordid double-life of the organization’s founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, came to light in 2009, the prevailing winds are no longer blowing in a favorable direction for the Legion or its closely intertwined lay affiliate, Regnum Christi. Many young American Legionary priests have abandoned the order, most having transitioned into diocesan ministry. Thousands of disheartened and disillusioned lay members of Regnum Christi have likewise bolted. Donations to the Legion are down. Vocations are down. There are indications that both are, in fact, way, way down, which would explain why the Legion’s already determined belt-tightening has recently moved into high gear. It would appear that the belt has become a tourniquet.

The Legion’s U.S. publishing entity, Circle Media, is now kaput. Its abrupt disappearance fits the ongoing pattern of retrenchment taking place within the once far-flung and powerful network of Legionary owned and operated ventures. True, Circle Press, the Legion’s book-publishing subsidiary of Circle Media, still has an Internet presence, but that seems to be only because, with a load of inventory still sitting on the shelves and needing to be depleted, it only makes sense to try to sell product for as long as possible. Prices for their books have been slashed dramatically, some down to just $2.00.
Over the last two years, waves of layoffs have hit the lay employees of the organization’s many lay apostolates and business ventures. The wide-swinging layoff scythe has whickered remorselessly through the ranks of the Legion’s in-house lay staffers. The order’s real assets are also being downsized. Once-important properties in the Legion’s American holdings are being sold off. I am told that enrollment at their Center Harbor, New Hampshire, apostolic school for boys (grades 7-12) has been steadily dwindling. Three of my own sons attended that school in the 1990s, back when enrollment was booming and a splendid new dorm-gym complex was constructed to accommodate the ever-increasing number of boys who felt a call to become Legionary priests.

Now, however, at least one grade at the once thriving school is comprised of fewer than five students. I can only assume that if enrollment there continues to dry up, the Legion will be forced to do one of three previously unthinkable things: either 1) sell the school outright or 2) import students from other countries, such as Mexico, in order to keep the place operational or 3) convert the facility from a school to a retreat house or something of the sort. It’s unclear whether the same diminution in enrollment has affected other Legionary seminaries, but time will tell.

In the meantime, the cost-cutting scythe will swing twice more in a few days.

The next two strategic pieces on the Legionary chessboard to be eliminated are the National Catholic Register and Faith & Family Magazine. As will be announced in the next few days, both publications have been sold by the Legion and will be changing hands soon. Out of respect for the Register’s new owner, I won’t name names — you’ll know who it is soon enough — but I can tell you that the new owner is an organization run by good and dedicated people who are thoroughly Catholic and certain to ensure that the paper is faithfully Catholic and journalistically excellent.

Personally, I am very pleased at this new chapter in the Register’s saga. And as for Faith & Family, well, it has always been an exceedingly beautiful publication, perhaps the most lush and elegant Catholic periodical around on the American scene. (And I’m biased in this regard, because I publish Envoy Magazine, which I think looks pretty good, too).

You’ll be hearing the official news of these changes in the next couple of days. I have high hopes for both publications and encourage all of you to subscribe to them as a vote of confidence for their new circumstances and their new owners.

How to Start a Movement

January 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog



The psychology of leadership and followership, explained here in just three minutes, rings true. As I watched this, I thought about great movements, started by a lone man or woman, that have accomplished great good for many people. Examples that come to mind are St. Ignatius of Loyola — the Society of Jesus, Blessed Mother Teresa — the Missionaries of Charity, and St. Benedict of Nursia — the Benedictine Order. Of course, there are many other great founders of Catholic religious orders who are rightly included in this category (St. Francis, St. Dominic, etc.).

But it’s also true that “lone nuts,” as the video presenter Derek Sivers says, can effectively start movements, too, by getting enough people to follow them until a tipping point occurs and the “movement” gains enough momentum to become a force. Sometimes, they are bad and destructive and, amazingly, sometimes they can be good and beneficial. A notable example of a leader who left a path of some good but also a great deal of destruction and misery in his wake would be Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Pope Benedict recently branded Maciel a “false prophet,” which seems to be an apt description of his devious, squandered life. As for the religious order he founded and the lay movement associated with it, we’ve seen many of his former followers walk away from them, shaking their heads in bewilderment, sadness, and disgust. Many more who feel that way, from what I’ve been hearing lately, are poised to walk away soon. Personally, I think they should, given what we now know about what Fr. Macial hath wrought and how he went about wroughting (and rotting) it.

Anyway, it seems to me that the moral of this little video is that each of us should be consciously aware of at least three things:

1) Just because someone is out there doing something attractive, daring, and noteworthy is not in itself sufficient evidence that he or she is worthy of being followed by you or anyone else. Yes, it’s certainly possible that he is worthy of a following, of course, and it’s true that what he is beckoning others to join in with him to accomplish may also be an excellent and worthy cause. But it’s just as possible that he isn’t and neither is his cause. It’s usually more prudent to take a wait-and-see approach, especially when it’s the Church’s wait-and-see approach. In due time, the truth or error or admixture of both will come to light, sometimes shocking those who thought they had it pegged, only to discover that they were wrong. (“Signs-and-wonders” enthusiasts and devotées of unapproved alleged Marian apparitions should take special note of this. Just ask those unfortunates who avidly fell in with Veronica Lueken and fell for her false but widely believed [for a time] “apparitions” at Bayside, NY.)

2) Just because others — even many others — are flocking to a movement or an alleged apparition is not in itself evidence that the movement or alleged apparition is worthy of being followed. Even if everyone in the Catholic “in crowd” is jumping into the conga line behind some charismatic leader or alleged apparition “seer,” don’t let that suffice as proof that you should jump in too. It’s not. That tendency to follow the crowd is known as falling for the fallacy of argumentum ad populum, and a lot of people get suckered into bad situations because they don’t recognize that. In other words, fifty million Frenchmen can be wrong.

And 3) If you are Catholic, don’t forget that you already are a duly registered member of the One True Movement established by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: the Catholic Church. The older I get, the more I’ve come to see that while sub-movements such as religious orders, lay apostolates, an
d other worthy groups are surely necessary, important, and helpful to the life of the Church, they should never become substitutes for the Church. They should never be allowed to morph into, as sometimes happens, a religion within a religion. Good, wise, and holy founders like St. Benedict and St. Ignatius would have been horrified at the thought of their movement becoming for some a substitute for the Church.The danger, it seems to me, is that we can forget, slowly and imperceptibly, that Jesus Christ is our leader and the “movement” He has called us into is the Catholic Church. The more consciously determined we can become to be spiritually and materially active there, in the Church — in our parishes and dioceses, united with the pastor and the bishop, most importantly — the better. Anything else, however good it may be, is purely secondary.


Another Prominent American Priest, Fr. Richard Gill, Leaves the Legionaries of Christ

January 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

This news is being reported on various blogs, including Genevieve Kineke’s “Life After RC” site, which contains the text of Father Gill’s January 9th letter announcing his departure from the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ.


I am not surprised to hear of this development, as there has been a significant, though quiet, exodus of LC priests and seminarians from the order in the past year (my friend Father Thomas Berg, for example). I am aware of other priests who, not having left the order quite yet, are definitely moving toward the exits, and I am happy to see that at least some of the departures are being publicized this way.

Historically, the Legion has been very intent on preventing the news of defections from the order by its priests and seminarians from becoming known among the rank and file membership of the Legion and its lay affiliate, Regnum Christ. The euphemism that “Father So and So has been reassigned to a different front” has long been a standard opaque response given when someone inquires as to why a certain LC priest is suddenly no longer around.

But with Father Gill’s open letter explaining the reasons for his leaving to seek incardination as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, there can be no doubt as to why he left and where he went. I suspect that more than a few of his LC confreres will follow his lead and that of other Legionaries who exited before him because of the Fr. Maciel scandals and the mishandling of the scandals which have engulfed the order over the past year.

I’ve known Father Gill personally for nearly 20 years now and have always known him to be a dedicated, cheerful, and energetic priest. I have no doubt that he will excel in whatever new ministry the Lord guides him to carry out. He’s a good man. It’s such a crying shame that so many good men have been caught up in the putrid machinations of the founder of this religious order (see my previous commentaries about that) — so many excellent years in the prime of their priesthood spent grinding away in a system that, it now appears quite clearly, was orchestrated by the founder primarily as an engine of cash, pleasure, power, and influence for himself.

Good for you, Father Gill. I admire your courage of conviction and I wish you well in this new chapter of your priestly ministry. You can count on my prayers and, I am certain, the prayers of a great many others who feel the same way. God bless you.

The further adventures of "Jaime Alberto Gonzales"

August 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

Although you probably know him as Fr. Marcial Maciel, “Jaime Alberto Gonzales” was allegedly one of the aliases he went by during his assignations with young Mexican women (queue to 7:00 for that). More details are available here and here, and for those who understand Spanish, these CNN videos provide fuller details, straight from a lawyer who’s working this case. Start with this one:


Legionary Troop Movements in High Gear

July 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of “troop movements” within the Legionaries of Christ, and it’s not entirely clear to me yet what is behind it. To be sure, for a large, multi-national organization such as the Legion to have some level of constant movement of personnel is quite understandable and quite common to any group of this type, secular or religious.


But some of these recent LC perigrinations are unusual both in that they involve priests and lay people abruptly leaving the organization — a number of them high-profile folks (Fr. Thomas Berg, Tom Hoopes, Paul Bernetsky) — and others who are being transferred far afield at precisely the time of the apostolic visitaion, which is undertaking the Vatican investigation of the alleged problems within the order, in the wake of the recently disclosed Father Maciel scandals.

These new movements are in addition to the rumor that upwards of 25 Legionary priests (a dozen of whom are said to be Americans) are soon to depart en masse from the order to establish a new religious congregation. Keep in mind that that is merely a rumor. But given the recent high-level LC and RC defections, it is a plausible rumor.

Legionary-watcher “Cassandra” offers some intriguing tidbits about all this in a recent post. Some of these I’ve known about, others are new to me. But all of them, taken together, indicate a new pattern of LC personnel changes that is, at the very least, curious.


Father Antonio Rodriguez, for ages academic dean at the Legionary seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut, has removed to Switzerland. How will he now be able to testify to the apostolic visitation about the seminary?

Tom Hoopes, National Catholic Register editor, resigned this week. Together with Brendan McCaffery, Chief Operation Officer for Circle Media, let go last week, these represent decades and decades of experience at the highest level of Legionary operations in Connecticut. Will the visitation seek them out in Kansas or Les Avants-sur-Montreux or wherever or lose forever their testimony?]

[Updated] Life-after-rc the other day reported that there is evidence that the Legionaries have been moving members around possibly to make them less available for the apostolic visitation to interview.

History may be repeating itself: that’s certainly what the Legionaries did in the late summer of 1956 in the face of the first apostolic visitation. Legionary Brother José Domínguez, who had recently helped Father Maciel draft the fourth vow, was moved for the duration to Massa Lubrense on the southern extremity of the Bay of Naples. Brother Saúl Barrales spent nine months of 1957 in the Canary Islands. (See González “Testimonios y documentos inéditos” 278 and Berry and Renner “Vows of Silence” 182.)

In light of that, interesting:

Father Jonathan Morris, formerly vice rector of the Legionary seminary in Rome, is now on sabbatical for six months or more at Old St. Patrick’s in Manhattan. (exlcbloglinks to the Old St. Patrick’s bulletin with this information.)

Yesterday, July 16, the National Catholic Register’s accountant was let go. This may have been another cost-cutting move – in the downturn the Register became a bi-weekly — though cost-cutting was not the purpose of the acquisition of Southern Catholic College e="color:#3333FF;"> announced yesterday as well.

Such movements would provoke an important procedural question for the apostolic visitation: will the visitators interview only Legionaries and employees currently in place or will they also seek out former Legionaries, those on sabbatical, and those no longer employed? It’s not as if Father Morris can hide in lower Manhattan, but how can Bishop Versaldi, whose responsibility includes Italy, interview him if he is not in Rome? How will Archbishop Chaput, whose responsibility includes the US, interview him if he is on sabbatical from a Legionary assignment? (continue reading)

Legionary Troop Movements in High Gear

July 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of “troop movements” within the Legionaries of Christ, and it’s not entirely clear to me yet what is behind it. To be sure, for a large, multi-national organization such as the Legion to have some level of constant movement of personnel is quite understandable and quite common to any group of this type, secular or religious.


But some of these recent LC perigrinations are unusual both in that they involve priests and lay people abruptly leaving the organization — a number of them high-profile folks (Fr. Thomas Berg, Tom Hoopes, Paul Bernetsky) — and others who are being transferred far afield at precisely the time of the apostolic visitaion, which is undertaking the Vatican investigation of the alleged problems within the order, in the wake of the recently disclosed Father Maciel scandals.

These new movements are in addition to the rumor that upwards of 25 Legionary priests (a dozen of whom are said to be Americans) are soon to depart en masse from the order to establish a new religious congregation. Keep in mind that that is merely a rumor. But given the recent high-level LC and RC defections, it is a plausible rumor.

Legionary-watcher “Cassandra” offers some intriguing tidbits about all this in a recent post. Some of these I’ve known about, others are new to me. But all of them, taken together, indicate a new pattern of LC personnel changes that is, at the very least, curious.


Father Antonio Rodriguez, for ages academic dean at the Legionary seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut, has removed to Switzerland. How will he now be able to testify to the apostolic visitation about the seminary?

Tom Hoopes, National Catholic Register editor, resigned this week. Together with Brendan McCaffery, Chief Operation Officer for Circle Media, let go last week, these represent decades and decades of experience at the highest level of Legionary operations in Connecticut. Will the visitation seek them out in Kansas or Les Avants-sur-Montreux or wherever or lose forever their testimony?]

[Updated] Life-after-rc the other day reported that there is evidence that the Legionaries have been moving members around possibly to make them less available for the apostolic visitation to interview.

History may be repeating itself: that’s certainly what the Legionaries did in the late summer of 1956 in the face of the first apostolic visitation. Legionary Brother José Domínguez, who had recently helped Father Maciel draft the fourth vow, was moved for the duration to Massa Lubrense on the southern extremity of the Bay of Naples. Brother Saúl Barrales spent nine months of 1957 in the Canary Islands. (See González “Testimonios y documentos inéditos” 278 and Berry and Renner “Vows of Silence” 182.)

In light of that, interesting:

Father Jonathan Morris, formerly vice rector of the Legionary seminary in Rome, is now on sabbatical for six months or more at Old St. Patrick’s in Manhattan. (exlcbloglinks to the Old St. Patrick’s bulletin with this information.)

Yesterday, July 16, the National Catholic Register’s accountant was let go. This may have been another cost-cutting move – in the downturn the Register became a bi-weekly — though cost-cutting was not the purpose of the acquisition of Southern Catholic College announced yesterday as well.

Such movements would provoke an important procedural question for the apostolic visitation: will the visitators interview only Legionaries and employees currently in place or will they also seek out former Legionaries, those on sabbatical, and those no longer employed? It’s not as if Father Morris can hide in lower Manhattan, but how can Bishop Versaldi, whose responsibility includes Italy, interview him if he is not in Rome? How will Archbishop Chaput, whose responsibility includes the US, interview him if he is on sabbatical from a Legionary assignment? (continue reading)

New Legionary Imbroglio Erupts Over Probate Fight With Wealthy Benefactress's Family

July 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog


The Hartford Courant (a newspaper that has for years been vociferously antagonistic in its coverage of the Legionaries of Christ and their founder, Father Maciel) reccently reported the story of a new court fight between the Legion and the family of the late Gabrielle Mee, a wealthy widow who, in her old age, became a consecrated member of the order’s Regnum Christi women’s branch.


Mee’s family is fighting to recover the millions in cash and real estate that she donated to the Legion. They want the money returned to them, arguing that, “Had she been aware of what is going on with the [order and its leader] there is no way she would have left everything to them.”

It will be interesting to see who emerges victorious in this struggle over the money, mainly because the court’s ruling could portend how future such lawsuits may be adjuticated if more are brought by others who have the same type of complaint against the Legion.

In addition to the Courant’s report below, be sure to also read an opposing view of this matter, written last month by someone identifying himself as a relative of Mrs. Mee who disagrees with the arguments the rest of the family are making against the Legion.

When Gabrielle Mee died in May 2008 on the Greenville, R.I., campus of the Legionaries of Christ, her caregivers mourned the loss of the order’s “grandmother.”

Leaders of the secretive Roman Catholic order rushed from Connecticut and New York to pay their final respects. Six of her consecrated “sisters” carried her plain wooden coffin to the cemetery where she was buried next to her husband, Timothy Mee.

None of her family attended the service for Mee, who was 96 when she died. In fact, many of her relatives didn’t find out that Gabrielle Mee had died until nearly a year later when a letter from the Legionaries’ lawyer arrived, notifying them that the Probate Court in North Smithfield, R.I., was about to administer her will.

What relatives discovered is t
hat since the mid-1990s Gabrielle Mee steadily turned over real estate and money — upwards of $7.5 million — to the Legionaries of Christ, which is headquartered in
Orange, Conn.

Stunned family members are accusing the church of taking advantage of a lonely, deeply religious older woman. They have hired a Providence attorney to contest her will . . . (continue reading)

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