“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

July 23, 2009

Legionary Troop Movements in High Gear

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?]

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)


  1. Awesome reportage....who is your source?

  2. The Legion moves its priests around at this time every year. This is totally normal, unless you want to presume you know the motives for the moves. This type of speculation is just that...speculation.

  3. GAgirl, I guess you missed the part where I said:

    "it's not entirely clear to me yet what is behind it."

    As far as speculation goes, that was the whole point of this post: to speculate as to what might be the reasons for some movements that seem a little unusual.

    In addition to having been friends with many current and former Legionary priests, three of my sons were in the Legion's seminaries; one for 6 years and another for 9 years. My younger brother was a Legionary for 6 years, and a brother-in-law (whom you probably know, if you're from Georgia) was in for over 10 years.

    All this is to say that, over the years, I have become very familiar with the typical times & seasons of personnel changes in the Legion. And that's why this particular combination of changes caught my eye.

  4. Haha, I like how you call it "speculating" when it's really just gossip.

    And I just love the rude tone in which you answered GAgirl when she called you out for it.

    And "legionary watcher cassandra"? That's just histerical.

    I used to admire you until I read your blog... it's tone is more like a women's gossip column than the web log of an important american catholic apologist.

    Good luck with that.

  5. "Rude"? Hardly.

    You can disagree with the issues raised in this post, which is fine with me, but if all you're going to do is hide behind a fake name and take little ad-hominem pot shots at me, then you're wasting you're time, because then I can't take you seriously.

  6. @mamamia:

    I have a few questions that we, the readers, would appreciate your reply:

    1. What is the difference between speculating and gossip?

    2. Please, just as financial reporters disclose their stock ownership, could you please give us a detailed description of your bias in the issue of the Legionaries? Are you a member of Regnum Christi? Are you a Legionary? Children, Friends, Relatives in the LC/RC?

    This is helpful to make sure that you're not simply launching ad hominem attacks at Patrick Madrid.

    In my humble opinion, journalism is the art of connecting observations to make conclusions that are not completely proven and universally accepted... maybe that's why it's called "news" instead of "olds." Speculation is just connecting the dots of research/observations. I don't see why you could have a problem with dot-connecting. Dot-connecting applied to scripture is called exegesis/hermaneutics...do you have an issue with interpreting the bible?

    Finally, @mamamia: starting your post with "haha" shows a strident lack of respect for Mr. Madrid as well as the other readers of this blog. I think an apology is in order to Mr. Madrid.

    God bless,

    James Hill
    Former member of Regnum Christi
    Former Legionary Minor Seminarian
    Former full-time volunteer with Regnum Christi
    Regular Mass attendee
    Staunch supporter of Pope Benedict and Holy Mother Church

  7. I think the difference between speculation and gossip, in this case, may have something to do with the dispositon of the heart. If you want for the Legion's good and the speculation is directed toward that end that's one thing. If you are drawing these conclusions based on a negative bias that's quite another animal. Of course, I have no way of knowing what's in your heart but for myself, I am going to hold off speculating and conclusion drawing until the visitation is completed.

    My son will be ordained a Legionary in a few years so my interest in this issue runs very deep indeed.

    I also have close contacts at the Register and can tell you the visitation played no part in Brendan Mc being let go or Tom Hoopes taking the job in KS. You can lay that one to rest if you choose to believe me.

    God bless,

  8. Denial is very powerful. If anyone in the LC/RC wants hear testimonies of people deeply hurt by the organization and Maciel's twisted methodology go to www.life-after-rc.com It is a good place to make sense out of your experience with LC/RC. God Bless. The truth will set you free.

  9. GAgirl, please tell me what "these conclusions" are that you think I drew in this post. The only thing close to a conclusion was my comment that the recent spate of prominent departures from the Legion was "curious."

  10. Patrick,
    I know I'm coming to this post very late, but I'm wondering why your family members left? Did each of them have bad experiences and, if so, what were they? I have read from the ReGain site and others, but don't know of anyone personally that has experienced problems. I have met young men who have left, but they still had very positive things to say about their time in the Legion. What I have read from blogs and ReGain has been extremely sarcastic and hard to mesh with what our family has experienced. For the record, my son has been an apostolic for the past year and we had no prior contact with the Legion or Regnum Christi.