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

January 15, 2011

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

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 makes good sense to try to sell the remaining 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, as 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. 


  1. Drats, I only saw 2 books slashed to $2.00 at Circle Press.

  2. I just found out that an LC school is in my area when a former Chaplain there was assigned to my parish. Another LC priest from that school has since been to my Parish to cover when our new priest is unavailable. They are the only two LC priests I've ever met and they are truly wonderful. My impression of the LC has changed dramatically since I met them and it breaks my heart to see their order go through such turmoil.


  3. Ben. Its wonderful to see a positive comment about the LC's. They are not responsible for the sins of their founder. I live in Dublin, Ireland. The LC priests are wonderful here too. Thanks Martina Kealy.RC Member

  4. Praise God. I just cannot trust them anymore, even in a publication. And I cannot fathom giving one more dime to any apostolate. We all need to move on with our lives in the real Church, rather than the fake, catholic utopia.

  5. This is very sad for the LC's and the movement. Ican't say one negative thing about them since my reversion happened through the tools and formation offered by the LC's and the movement. It's sad that some wil abandon the mission Christ called them to because of Judas...

  6. Tima,
    If I may ask: who is abandoning the mission to which Christ called them and in what way are they doing that. Accusations of abandoning Christ and infidelity to Christ and His will are the kinds of manipulative, guilt-inducing tactics that cause Catholics (and others) to consider the Legion and the movement a cult. The selling of the NCR and Faith and Family is simply a good business decision considering subscribership is down and they’re probably losing money. I would think that the sale of the publications to an outfit that would boost circulation would be a good thing. So who is abandoning the mission of Christ? The Legion? The employees? Those who cancelled their subscriptions to the NCR or F&F?

  7. Tima-- There's a diffence between leaving a Lly movement and leaving the Church. Is a man who stops going to Knights of Columbus functions abandoning Christ? How about a family who stops donating to VdP?

    Regnum Christi does not have some special, privaledged place in the world of Free Associations of the Faithful. Anyone can walk away at any time, with no sin or guilt.

    In fact, at this point, since it was founded by a 'False Prophet' and a man without scruples or religious sentiment, prudence and prayer might demand that a member run away as quickly as possible.

    Because no Catholic needs to follow teachings and spirituality developed by a false prophet. There are plenty of saints who can show you how to follow Christ-- why follow a depraved abuser instead?

    A few to get you (and anyone else on the fence) started:

    1. St. Augustine's Confessions-- his search for Truth included a few wrong turns before he found his way.

    2. St. Therese's Story of a Soul -- She lets us see how to love God where we are, in our state of life!

    3. St. Thomas Aquinas-- because the Summa is awesome! :)

    4. G.K. Chesterton's life of St. Francis--- A saint's life brought to life.

    Actually, in terms of more dramatic accounts--- Van Der Wohl's "Set All Afire" --a biography of St. Francis Xavier, SJ -- was awesome....

    Take some time off and immerse yourself in the patrimony of the Church--the teachings that those who leave LC and RC are rediscovering and clinging to...

    They aren't abandoning Christ--they're just realizing that Judas is not a legitimate spiritual father.....

  8. I'm glad to hear that the Legion is selling the NCR. I hope the new owners are orthodox Catholics who will get rid of a certain blogger who is a intellectual bully reknowed for his foul mouth. I might be willing to subscribe to it if this is done.

  9. Tima's response is a perfect example of the misguided faith of those in RC/LC. I thought this way too. I was "abandoning my vocation to RC" if I left. God "called me to RC." This is the manipulation that goes on so those in RC/LC think that RC=the Church. It's horrid and abusive. The abuse of Maciel lives on in this formative "method" of LC/RC. And oh, by the way, you cannot separate LC from RC. They are one in the same in terms of methodology of formation.

  10. All for the best. The Legion needs to do some deep soul scrubbing. The entire order needs to take a long sabbatical and decide who they are and what they are about. They were running on fumes and acting as if nothing was stained from the sins of their founder. Both publications will be better off in other hands.

  11. Now...if only that other NCR(National Catholic Reporter) would be sold to a more orthodox
    Catholic publisher. In its present state of rebellion it should called the "National Anti-Catholic Reporter".

  12. Any word if they'll be selling ZENIT as well?

  13. While leaving LC or RC may be the best thing for most members, and both organizations may need to be suppressed, this does not make it an easy decision to leave.

    As many have noted, LC and RC have in fact done good, despite their "false prophet". Most members joined because they felt a particular call from God to join. Their confidence and assurance of knowing God's will is shaken by Maciel's betrayal.

    In other words, I suggest compassion and support for people trying to discern anew a vocation they thought they had discerned well already.

  14. Robert-- part of the problem is that what RC/LC called 'Discernment' was not what the rest of the Church considers 'discernment.'

    Many of these folks did NOT 'discern' a vocation. Rather, they were INFORMED that they had a vocation by Maciel-trained priests in a retreat environment while emotions were running high.

    Not authentic discernment at all. So I think step one is that RC/LC members need to work to find out what discernment really IS.

    Also, they 'discerned' under false pretenses. They thought they were following a movement founded by a holy man.

    True Discernment involves knowledge and reason. Now that they have the knowledge that Maciel was a false prophet, reason should eventually lead them to see that the 'call' must NOT have been from God, since God would never call us to follow a false prophet.

    But first, a crash course in what discernment is and is not would be helpful-- maybe in retreats run by members of other orders who were formed in less questionable spiritualities? A few good Carmelites could really help here, I think.

  15. I am thrilled to hear that the Legion is relinquishing control of the National Catholic Register. I stopped writing for the paper about five years ago when it became obvious to me that the overlords of the paper were doing everything in their power to squelch any of the bad reports coming out about the Legion Founder, Maciel. It was clear that the Legion was not cabable of running a journalistic enterprise because their own organization was in need of a serious investigation and exposure.

    I look forward to contributing to the Register again in the future. This has been a long sad chapter, but the paper is greatly needed to serve the Church in the States.

    God bless -

    Barbara Nicolosi

  16. @Deirdre Mundy -

    Granted they discerned under false pretenses, and often with less than ideal methods and guidance.

    However, it does not follow that "the 'call' must NOT have been from God, since God would never call us to follow a false prophet." I recall the example of St. Vincent Ferrer, who was an ardent supporter of the Antipope Benedict XIII during the great Western Schism. His vocation as priest, religious, and preacher were entirely valid, although he was in error about which authority to follow. His fervent loyalty was in him a path to sanctity - in part through his eventual humble admission of his error.

    Likewise, I would not discount the call that someone felt to LC or RC simply because of an error. So long as the LC and RC are not suppressed, then there is a possibility of a genuine vocation.

    That said, those institutes may very well be suppressed, and I would shed not one tear if that happened.

    It is not the institutes that I am arguing for; it is the need for each individual member to be taken seriously in his or her discernment, including the discernment they attempted in the past. So I think your suggestion of retreats on discernment by solid religious - and I would add, solid lay movements - is an excellent one.

  17. Perhaps my analogy was not the best suited for this situation. I meant to say that I am sad by those who have turned their back on the movement because of the frailties and faults of it's founder.
    If I am asked to judge a tree by it's fruit, then I cannot deny the "fruits" I have witnessed in seeing Christ's action in the loves of others and in witnessing the new found peace and hope that now exists in my family. I never followed a false prophet, I followed Christ and He led me here.
    I was once asked how I can be affiliated with a movement that is stained with scandal, and my response then is the same now, that is like asking me "How can I be Catholic?" The Church itself has a history of scandals, not just the movement. I am here to serve Christ, in whatever capacity He see's fit.

  18. And yet, Tima, there is another way of looking at this that I would respectfully ask you to consider.

    There are many former members of both the Legion and RC who did not turn their backs on the movement simply because of the "frailties and faults" of the founder. These have turned their back on the movement because of the serious problems they encountered within the movement itself. Having spoken with many former legionary priests — good men who walked away from the order in disgust and frustration — I can tell you that the dislike that many of these former members feel is not reserved solely for Fr. Maciel. Their view, which I share to a great extent, is that there are, or at least certainly have been, serious deficiencies and problems with the order and the movement themselves, not simply with the man who launched them. Also, for what it's worth, please note that when RC members speak so delicately of Fr. Maciel's evil deeds as "frailties and faults" that is seen by many disillusioned former members as a symptom of what is wrong with the RC & LC: namely, an almost pathological unwillingness to accept reality and deal with it head-on, without attempting to ignore or sugar-coat it.

  19. Patrick, as one of those LC priests who is leaving, I think you hit the nail on the head. I addressed this issue (in Spanish) on my blog here, in response to a diocesan priest who takes a position like that of Tima. I may translate my post into English, because this mistaken understanding seems wide-spread, and people need to hear the reasons why many of us leave in order to understand.

  20. Tima-- another thing to consider-- When Christ and the Church talk about fruits, they're not talking about followers or money or big apostolates or conferences or even numbers of vocations and whatnot. They're talking about the Fruits of the Spirit!

    So, (CCC736) : Charity (not the same thing as never seeing the bad, btw-- RC/LC definition of Charity is NOT the same as the Church's), Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

    Yet, over the years we have seen the Legion sneak around in various dioceses, obey the letter of the law while violating the spirit, encourage shunning and rumors, decieve donors, lie about what constitutes a vocation, treat SD without confidentiality, attack all naysayers, etc.

    ALSO, the people who've been IN the Legion (as opposed to just RC members) have testified about abuses of authority, conscience and freedom in Legion houses of formation.

    The fruits are not good. Which makes sense, since the root of the order is the founder, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

    Now, in some cases, good limbs were grafted onto this bad tree, so they bear decent fruit--but it's not the tree in those cases, it's the grafted limbs-- and if they were grafted onto a BETTER tree, they would bear better fruit.

    The good things that Legionaries and RC members have produced are a fruit not of the order and its flawed methodology, but of their membership in Christ's Church and their participation in the sacraments. When they leave, they still have the sacraments and the church-- they're just leaving the twisted methodology of a false prophet.

    I pray that those who left may heal, grow, and maybe eventually found something like the congregation they THOUGHT they were joining, instead of the one they actually got sucked into.

    BUT they need a fresh start to do that-- Maciel's spirituality cannot be a path to know Christ, because Maciel chose to turn his face, and the faces of his followers, AWAY from Christ and towards a false image of what the Church is.

    To further complicate matters, he used Church-words (Charity, Discernment, Vocation) in twisted ways, so that it's even harder for followers to get out.

    But, Tima -- If you are married, your vocation is to MARRIAGE, not RC. A priest (like advenus) has a vocation TO THE PRIESTHOOD. He is still living and embracing his vocation.

    Founders matter for religious groups. You can't get away from that.

  21. Just saw the news about EWTN-- awesome!

    So, It wasn't clear from the press release--are they taking over F&F too, or is another group picking that magazine up?

  22. Posted by Keith,
    Although I cannot respond to all the vitriolic comments that Patrick and some lady named Deirdre Mundy have heaped on the Legion, it seems they are based off of comments from people who have *left* LC or RC. Have you spoken to people who have stayed in LC/RC? Although the writings of the founder were emphasized prior to the scandal, the spirituality of the movements is based on St. Ignatius. And, the movements are focused on Christ and His Church, not on following some man other than Christ.

    Deirdre claims "Yet, over the years we have seen the Legion sneak around in various dioceses, obey the letter of the law while violating the spirit, encourage shunning and rumors, decieve donors, lie about what constitutes a vocation, treat SD without confidentiality, attack all naysayers, etc." As an RC member for several years, I have NEVER seen any of this sort of activity; not anything even close. The LC priests I know are some of the best formed that I have met. Be prepared to defend yourself of such accusations of *good* people when you meet God.

  23. Keith, I'd be sincerely interested if you could give me a specific example of something I said in my post that was "vitriolic."

    You ask if I have ever spoken to someone who's stayed in the RC. The answer is, yes indeed. I have, including members of my own family who remain in RC. Please keep in mind that I was referring not only to former RC members but also to a good number of the former U.S. Legionary priests who have left the order recently (over 2-dozen and counting). They certainly have a valuable perspective on what they regard to be wrong with the order and the movement, one that I wish you would at least stop and consider on its own merits rather than simply dismiss as "vitriol" simply because their stories happen to conflict with your personal views.

  24. Patrick, this blog has been a place for people to dump their hatred on the Legion. As an RC member, this is not new and I've read some of the comments (on other sites) about LC/RC being a 'cult' and how it isn't true to the Catholic church. This is frustrating to me as someone who never met the founder, but has met some incredible LC priests. The charism and how these men live it out (not to mention the RC members and their authentic Catholic lives) was one of the things that brought me to Regnum Christi. I think you've gone too far when you seem to ascribe "good men who walked away from the order in disgust and frustration" and "...seen by many disillusioned former members as a symptom of what is wrong with the RC & LC: namely, an almost pathological unwillingness to accept reality" too broadly. These comments are too general for all RC members, and imply that those who are left in LC are not 'good'. There are *many* excellent LC priests who remain in the order - and they are *orthodox*.

    As an RC member, there has been much confusion about how to absorb the scandal. And, I think (a natural) tendency prior to the revelations of Fr. Maciel to reject the claims without seeing proof or having the information come from reliable sources. (I can't read every blog and I don't trust the secular media very much.) But, no one I know is "unwilling to accept reality". We are working with the Vatican to accept any and all direction they want the movements to go in.

    Okay, maybe 'vitriol' is too strong a term for your comments...but not for many of the other comments on this and other blogs. Those comments are off the mark of the reality I see. The Legionary priests are good men; the RC members are good people.

    BTW, I read just a bit on your other blog on Belmont Abbey College and, as someone living in the Charlotte area, am glad to hear your daughter is a student there.

  25. One other note: you mention you talked to RC members who remain, but only LC priests who have *left*. I suggest speaking with LC priests who remain in the movement - they also have a valuable perspective.

  26. Keith &amp, Gretchen:
    When I asked an LC priest why the upcoming youth retreat in Columbus was moved from a retreat center to a campground he said it was "just to try something different." He didn't tell me the bishop had banned their activities. That's a lie. And holding the retreat at a U.S. campground (kind of like being on an indian reservation) was his way of evading the bishop's ruling--and that's lying.

    When an LC priest made 3 visits to our house to hang with my sons he said it was because "our ministry is to families." When, on the 3rd visit, the big pitch came for our sons to enroll in their pre-seminary in New Hampshire and we said no, he never came by or called again. Left our family cold. Why? because he wasn't ministering to families. He was a salesman making sales calls and because he couldn't fill his quota with us, he moved on. And he lied about his premise for the visits.

    When the Regnum Christi consecrated woman told my daughter that God implanted it on her soul, from conception, that she was meant for Regnum Christi, she was taking away my daughter's free will to discern her vocation in life. This was one of the most coercive forms of soul abuse imaginable. That's lying.

    These are all true incidents. There has been a lot of manipulation and lying by RC and LC priests and consecrated. The sins of Maciel extended into the formation and methodology of the movement, and that is why you are seeing this deep cleansing and purging going on.

  27. Also, see this analysis by a Jesuit on why it's improper to consider Legionary Spirituality "Ignatian."


    I have nothing against the members of Regnum Christi or the Legion. Some of them are my friends. But it pains me to see good people following a false prophet without realizing the ramifications of their choices.

    I can't change anyone's mind or heart. But I can do my best to make sure that the info is available via Google, so that when the Holy Spirit creates an opening, the Truth can get in.