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August 14, 2009

Analysis: Who Was Father Maciel's Moderator?

As the scandal-drama surrounding the late Fr. Marcial Maciel unfolds, more and more pointed questions are rising to the surface. Former Legionary priest James Farfaglia, for example, raises a series of such pertinent questions on his blog.

New questions arose in my mind recently as I studied an online dossier of "censored" documents, which purports to include lengthy excerpts of the constitutions of the Legionaries of Christ. Father Maciel, who served as the Legion's director general uninterruptedly for decades, mandated that the constitutions not be disclosed to the public and, therefore, few people outside the Legion have any clue what they contain (c.f., 254.2 and 417. §2 & 3).

A careful analysis of the rules which Fr. Maciel put in force yields many remarkable details, such as the fact that he exempted himself from the, now-abrogated, "private vow" in which every temporally or perpetually professed member of the order solemnly promises never to criticize other Legionaries, especially superiors.

What really caught my eye, though, was the section which mandates that a "monitor of the general director" must be appointed who will closely observe and "concern himself with the external aspects of the life of the director general, such as his dress, his diet, and his expenditures."

(I'm pretty sure, by the way, that the whole "expenditure" thing would fall squarely into the category of Father Maciel's now-verified, long-term habit of squandering Legionary money [i.e., benefactor donations] on frivolities such as trans-Atlantic flights on the Concorde, posh hotels, luxury cruises, succulent gourmet meals and, at least in his later years, of supplying an affluent upkeep for at least one child he fathered [it seems as though there may be others]).

According to the official description of the "moderator of the general director," it seems clear that the duties envisioned by the Legion of Christ constitutions was not something akin to those of a confessor or spiritual director, which would concern the internal forum of the conscience and, therefore, would entail a confidential relationship with the subject (Maciel) which could not be revealed to another under pain of serious sin. Rather, the moderator called for by the Legionary constitutions could be likened to a kind of "ombudsman," whose job it would be to help identify and correct problems with Maciel's externally discernible lifestyle (i.e., not in the internal forum).

I hadn't known that the Legionary constitutions required that someone be officially appointed to monitor Father Maciel's activities. But after checking with a few former Legionary priests and religious about this, and after their review of these documents and verification that they are indeed accurate, several intriguing new questions arise, such as:

1) Who exactly was Father Maciel's moderator? The constitutions require that this role be fulfilled by a Legionary priest, appointed by the general chapter, who is " a very spiritual man, with at least ten years of profession in the Congregation, who is at least forty years old, of balanced temperament, gentle and understanding of spirit, faithful and loving of the superiors, with a practical sense, and whose capacity of reserve, discretion, prudence and sensitivity are well-proven and recognized." If this requirement was fulfilled (the term is for 12 years), there will be records of it, which the apostolic visitators to the Legion of Christ will surely want to study.

2) Did the Legion's general chapters ever actually appoint a priest to fulfill this constitutionally mandated role as moderator of Father Maciel's activities? If so, who was he (they), when was he appointed, and what were his findings? Presumably, the Church's apostolic visitation process will, in due course, obtain and evaluate any documents that pertain to the issue of the monitor of the general director.

3) If the Legion did in fact observe this requirement, then how did the moderator fulfill his mandate to moderate, as the order's regulations stipulate, "all things related to the spiritual perfection and personal obligations of the director general, dialoguing with him about these things . . . [and to] concern himself with external aspects of the life of the director general, such as his dress, his diet, and his expenditures"? What, if anything, did he report about this?

Clearly, the frauds perpetrated by Fr. Maciel against the members of his own religious order, as well as the Church, his victims, etc., involved activities that would have, should have, could have been observed — and, one would assume, reported — by a genuinely dedicated, sagacious, honest, man of probity who had been formally entrusted with the task of "moderating" the general director.

So, again, it must be asked: Was there ever such a moderator? And if so, who was he? And if no one was ever appointed to this position, why wasn't it done?

If there was such a moderator, and if he performed his duties to observe Father Maciel's personal life and give advice or admonishment based on what he observed, did he report what must have been an endless series of strange anomalies in the director's travels, activities, and personal habits? If he reported them to the general chapter, why was no action ever taken?

After all, the general impression given is that everyone in the Legion — everyone — was caught completely by surprise when the scandal revelations began tumbling out. No one seems to have had even the slightest inkling of what this man was doing in his free time.

One section of the dossier I mention above, goes to the very heart of the sickness of secrecy at work here. It reads:

576. If the person chosen for this post [of moderator] exposes or criticizes aspects of the life of the director general, he should be removed from his post. In such a case, the council general, at the request of the director general, shall proceed to appoint, by deliberative vote, another to take his place, from a group of three proposed by the director general.

In other words, the Legion's internal laws required that a moderator be appointed to watch closely over Father Maciel's personal life — something that, if it had been carried out according to the LC constitutions, could have spared the Legion, Regnum Christi, and the Church as a whole all the Maciel-induced misery this scandal has engendered.

But those same laws stipulate that if the moderator were to "expose or criticize" any problems he might find, he would be summarily canned.

Huh? Given the Sword-of-Damocles position into which the constitutions encumber the moderator, what good could he be to the order? What beneficial purpose could he serve?

This disjunction in the LC constitutons would seem to explain why the official Legionary requirement of putting such a moderator in place may simply have been ignored. But if it was not ignored, and the order's general chapter did, in fact, appoint a priest to do what the constitutions call for, then let's hope that the appropriate apostolic visitator will have ample opportunity to discuss this issue in detail with that man.

(Read more of my previous commentary on this issue.)


  1. And he asked him: what is thy name? And he saith to him: My name is Legion, for we are many.

  2. I don't know but it sounds to me like this "moderator" was supposed to concern himself with the *upkeep* of the general director, kind of like a cross between the assistant in The Devil Wears Prada and the "consigliari" from the Godfather.

  3. Patrick, I would like to know where you are getting your info? From Wikipedia??? Wikileaks?? These are open sources to where ANYBODY with a gripe can post info. Who is James Farfagilia? I think before you try to take down an entire organization by yourself, you should let the Vatican do their investigations. Yes, apparently Fr. Maciel had a child who is now in her 20's, perhaps some of the other accusations are true, but you can't throw aside the good that the Legion is doing, how many people have been raised out of poverty, given an education and a place in the world. My oldest son was in the seminary at Center Harbor, N.H. for a year in his 9th grade year, he came home because of a heavy dose of homesickness, not because of abuse or any such claim.
    Please Patrick, you do great work for the Church, let the Church do it's investigation before you throw out all of these accusations.

  4. Raymond: First off, if you clicked on the link that Mr. Madrid posted, you'll find this;

    Father James Farfaglia is pastor of St. Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. His email address is fjficthus@gmail.com. You can visit Father's Electronic Parish at www.fjicthus.com. (He's a former LC priest who would have some degree of knowledge of these issues, I believe) I invite you to email him and seek some answers straight from the source.

    Additionally, with all due respect, I find the burden of proof to land much more heavily on the defenders of the Legion of Christ these days. The Legion AND LEGIONARIES who were forming your son spent years telling us all (myself included) that the attacks against the "saintly" character of Nuestro Padre/Fr. Maciel, were completely false and the doings of the evil one/the enemies of the Church. Then they would often give the underhanded "we won't go after the accusers because we'd unearth such terrible things about their characters that 'charity' compels us to remain silent." How uncharitable is that...character defamation hiding behind "charity" so that no shred of truth is required to back up your story!

    I have to strongly question the judgment of those well meaning but wrong priests and individuals...and what this may imply about their ability to guide souls spiritually. I feel that much more should be demanded of the Legionaries who "attacked" the accusers all these years and furthermore, the ad-hominem attacks against people like Mr. Madrid have to cease.

    As Mr. Madrid points out in other places on his blog, these are commentaries on "what's happening" peppered with some thought-provoking musings, not sweeping statements of condemnation or "accusations" with disregard for ecclesial due-process. We need good journalists to comment on the church and members of the church and for that I'll continue to thank Mr. Madrid.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Thank you for your good work, PM. You're a treasure.

    Poor Raymond, it's not easy for him and that multitude of others who have been hoodwinked, sandbagged, snookered, seduced, lied to, intimidated, threatened and deceived by Maciel and other "holy" men. He needs to direct his anger not at you, but where it should be. Give him time. He'll soon realize what his son has been saved from.

    Raymond, if you want to know who James Farfaglia is, why not just go to his blog? It is quite informative, but definitely not what you're wanting to hear right now. Suck it up and read what is there. Knowledge is power. Get empowered.

    And an apology to PM would be in order.

    God bless you and your family.

  6. I am a Regnum Christi member, with a daughter that is a sister in a different order, a son who attended the Legionary School in NH, and a daughter formerly in Regnum Christi, a daughter in Regnum Christi, and four other children of mixed charisms. I love all charisms that serve the Church. I am saddened by this whole matter of Fr. Maciel, and I do believe many have suffered due to his obvious sinful ways. However, I did not follow Maciel the man, I followed Christ, in the gospels,in prayer, in teachings of the Church. I trust the Holy Spirit to guide the Church in deliberating and delivering the truth and the consquences. I respect Mr. Madrid, but would caution all that while diligence for truth is good, it must not uncharitably hurt the innocent. With all my heart, my prayers are directed that in God's mercy and love that while truth is necessary, and secrets are destructive it is the greater good to desire that the many good souls in the Legion and Regnum Christi are provided guidance by the Holy Spirit and the grace to endure this trial - as difficult as it may be. To purge ourselves of this matter is good, no matter how painful. In the end I trust God will allow us to continue to be fruitful. The Holy Spirit will either continue to be with us or our work will dry up. I speak only for myself, but my commitment is to Christ not any man. As RC member, my sorrow is for our brother and sisters in Christ who have been hurt by deception and abuse. I can speak for many that we love you and pray for healing and consolation for you and us. Let us keep our eyes on Christ, serve Him with a continued committed love that is wiser and stronger. May God forgive us all of our sins, and bring us to unity.

  7. Thanks Grey crew mom.... you spoke for me and many others as well. We continue to trust in Christ and his church... the cross is painful for us, and we offer it for Maciel's victims, and for the Church, amazed that Christ can create beauty from fallen humanity. We just want to serve Christ and the Church. nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. I'm glad the Holy Spirit has ripped us open to expose diseased wound we didn't know - and heal it. Whatever God wants.

  8. As a recent former RC member, I became tired of the secrecy. Every time I asked questions I was told, "Because people don't accept us." The greater Church was not as orthodox and obedient to the Holy Father. Now that I am out, I can see how RC and LC indeed forms a parallel Church. Unless we are working within our Parishes, which are a home for the high majority of Catholics, we risk putting ourselves under our own authority. The many good apostolates, which have borne much fruit so far, MUST be given to the Church through the parishes. The Legion and RC cling to what is theirs, and do not want to do this. I worked in this particular area while in RC, so I know. There was much talk about being "giving" to our parishes and our dioceses, but it was only talk. Nothing would get done. The important decisions that had to be made at the top were never made. The inertia for anything done always went toward the Legion and RC, "to build the Kingdom." Until they decide that they truly want to build the Kingdom of Christ and not the Kingdom of Regnum Christi things will not get better.

  9. Where in the world do you get the idea that truth must not hurt the innocent?? Truth DOES hurt sometimes---especially when it has been suppressed by deceit and fraud for decades. And I fail to find any lack of "charity" in Mr. Madrid's sincere questioning of the checks and balances system written into the Legion's Constitutions. How is that uncharitable?? I'm sorry, but that reeks of Maciel's twisted view of charity that he instilled in all his priests through that hideous Vow of Charity---that same vow that allowed him to get away with 65 years of sexual predation, drug abuse, embezzlement and deception.

    I am sorry for what you are going through. But truly, it gets very tiring to hear of people continuing to proclaim the great "good" an organization has done when that same organization has treated the molested victims of its founder so poorly.

    I was willing to give the Legion a chance when the news of Maciel's perversion first came out in February. I hoped they'd show their true colors and use the opportunity to apologize profusely to the men who had tried to reveal this fraud and molester for what he was all those decades, while the Legion stood by and allowed them to be vilified as enemies of the church and workers of the devil for doing so. I hoped they would get rid of all those members of their hierarchy who knew about Maciel and covered for him.

    Indeed, the Legion DID show its true colors. The fact that this organization has not tried to contact or clear the names of these original molestation victims of their founder was the eye-opener for me. I don't need to know anything more to know that this organization is corrupt at its very heart.

    Please, these victims were somebody's children! And this organization has done NOTHING to try to restore their names or make restitution of any kind to them. Instead, the Legion continues to spin and try to cover its own hide.

    As a fellow mother, can you imagine what it would be like to have that done to one of your precious children? How can you continue to support and organization that has done that to somebody else's children? Please think about that.

    Our family's livelihood is tied to the Legion, which is imploding. Consequently my husband will most likely be out of a job, with many mouths to feed. But I still would rather have him be out of a job than have this corrupt organization continue to embarrass and scandalize our Holy Mother Church. The very existence of an order founded by a child molester, drug abuser, and complete fraud is a terrible disfigurement on our church's beautiful face. Imagine how much that knowledge alone must scandalize those outside the church! Who wants to join a church that allows child molesters to found orders so that they have a constant stream of prey?? A church that continues to allow the existence of such an order even after finding out what it was founded by and for?? I am not easily scandalized, but the very existence of the Legionaries of Christ is extremely offensive to many of us who love the Church. I am mortified our Church allowed such a thing to go on for 65 years and pray that the Church can learn something from this horrible chapter.

  10. I'm afraid the number of alleged children sired by Fr. Maciel is now up to twelve. http://exlcblog.blogspot.com has the story.

  11. First of all I dont believe that Fr. Maciel was guilty of any of the things he is accused of. Who are these Priests who accuse him. Was Jesus not betrayed by one of his own. Fr. Maciel claimed innocence until his death. I believe his innocence and that he was crucified unjustly by many of his own. Jesus died om the Cross and was seen by many as a criminal. It is very easy to accuse someone after their death of all these sins. There is no Mercy here.