30 Dec 2010

Vatican names Spanish archbishop to investigate cult of consecrated women associated with disgraced Order

Google News - Associated Press September 29, 2010

Vatican taps investigator for group tied to Legion


VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has named a Spanish archbishop to investigate a cult-like group affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ, the conservative religious order disgraced by revelations its founder sexually abused seminarians and fathered three children.

Monsignor Ricardo Blazquez, archbishop of Valladolid, Spain, will head the probe into the so-called consecrated women of the Legion's lay movement Regnum Christi, according to an internal e-mail from the Legion's administrative branch. The Vatican confirmed the nomination late Wednesday.

Regnum Christi is a community of some 70,000 Catholics in 30 countries who have regular jobs and families yet help promote the movement's aim of bringing people closer to Christ through missionary-type work.

Some 900 of Regnum Christi's most devout are "consecrated women," single lay Catholics who make promises of poverty, chastity and obedience much like nuns do and work full-time for Regnum Christi, recruiting new members by running schools, summer camps and adult programs.

In an investigative report over the weekend, The Associated Press exposed the cult-like conditions in which these women live. [see links below] According to the testimony of former members and Regnum Christi's own unpublished statutes and rules, family members are kept at a distance, minute rules dictate nearly every hour of the day, members are told how to eat, speak and dress and what types of TV they can watch — all in the name of God's will.

The Vatican announced in May it was investigating the consecrated members after a series of abuses came to light during an eight-month Vatican probe into the Legion, a secretive religious order beloved by Pope John Paul II but now discredited by the revelations of the double life led by its founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel.

Maciel had been dogged for decades by allegations he sexually abused seminarians. But his Vatican protectors prevented any action from being taken against him until 2006 — a year after Pope Benedict XVI was elected pope — when the Vatican ordered him to a lifetime of penance and prayer.

He died in 2008 at age 87.

Benedict in May appointed a papal delegate to take over the Legion and rewrite its constitutions. The delegate in turn named four commissioners to help, including Monsignor Brian Farrell, a high-ranking Vatican official and Legion priest, as well as the Rev. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a canon lawyer and former rector of the Jesuits' Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Their names, and that of Blazquez, were announced in an internal e-mail obtained Wednesday by the AP from Grupo Integer, the Legion and Regnum Christi's administrative and management branch.

Current and former consecrated members say the last few months have been full of upheaval.

"It's not an easy time. I certainly never dreamed things would turn out this way," Mary Mather, who was consecrated in 1996 and now runs Regnum Christi youth programs in Chicago, said during a conference call this summer with the Legion's communications' director.

"But I have to trust that God works in mysterious ways, and there's so much good that I have experienced in the Regnum Christi movement," she said. When asked what good had been done, she cited missionary work in Mexico and Haiti and some weekly Spanish-English translations she had done for her local archdiocese.

But Margaret, a former consecrated who asked that her full name not be used, said no amount of good the movement might do cancels out the means used. After being consecrated a year after she graduated high school, Margaret said she required a full-on intervention staged by her family to extract herself from the movement.

She says she realized she was in trouble when she disobeyed her family's wishes and opened a secret e-mail account so she could be in constant touch with her superiors while home on vacation in 2007.

"I was lying to my parents, lying to the bishop. All my siblings thought I was being objective and fair and the whole time I'm totally tethered into all the structure of the mind control systems of the consecrated life," she said.

She said she left after her family discovered her e-mail account and "this house of cards began to fall."

This article was found at:



Former members of Catholic women's group Regnum Christi allege cult-like practices of psychological and spiritual abuse

Mexican Legionaries damage families, take away children in order to brainwash and control them

Son of priest-founder of Catholic Legionaries sues order for fraud and negligence, says his father sexually abused him  

Vatican finally decides to reform Legionaries years after founder exposed as immoral religious fake

Conservative Catholic order admits 5 years after investigation that founder, who fathered 3 children, was abusive pedophile

TV report from 1990s shows then Cardinal Ratzinger slapping reporter for asking awkward questions about evil child abuser Marciel Maciel

On Sex Abuse: The Pope, the Bishop and the Mexican Priest

Mexican reports reveal more children sired by founder of conservative Catholic cult Legionaries of Christ

Corrupt Legionaries exposed

Founder of influential, conservative Catholic order fathered a child and molested seminarians

Catholic Legionaries founder praised by Pope John Paul II sexually abused seminarians and raped his own children

Vatican investigates sexual abuses by founder of conservative Catholic cult, Legionaries of Christ

Pope's promise to restore the purity of Catholicism almost impossible with scandals implicating entire church hierarchy 

Hundreds of people in U.K. are abandoned, secret children of Catholic priests


  1. 2 Opus Dei Followers On Trial In France

    by The Associated Press September 22, 2011

    PARIS (AP) — Two Opus Dei followers and an association closely linked to the conservative Roman Catholic group went on trial Thursday, accused of forcing a disciple to work for more than a decade with little or no pay.

    Defense lawyers portrayed it as a case about labor law, while an Opus Dei spokeswoman says the plaintiff in a Paris court chose of her own free will to follow the group.

    But the trial is expected to shine a spotlight on the secretive group's practices. Dan Brown's bestseller "The Da Vinci Code" painted Opus Dei as a murderous, power-hungry sect, a portrayal the group vigorously protested. Opus Dei's founder, Spanish priest Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, was made a saint by Pope John Paul II.

    The trial came after a legal complaint by Catherine Tissier, who was 14 when she joined the Donson hotel school in eastern France, where the religious sacraments were led by Opus Dei.

    Under the guidance of a "spiritual director," she gradually chose to follow Opus Dei's spiritual path and began working as a "numerary assistant."

    "I was working from seven o'clock in the morning to ten o'clock in the evening every day, seven days a week. The three weeks of holidays we had were spent with Opus Dei, where they thought us theology and pursued in-depth studies on the spirit of the (Opus Dei) founder," Tissier told The Associated Press.

    She said she got paycheck each month, but was asked to sign blank checks by her employers and never saw the money. She described being encouraged to keep her parents at bay, and being diagnosed with depression. A doctor, whom she said was an Opus Dei follower, put her on medication.

    "I wasn't able to eat by myself, I couldn't even wash by myself, my head was hard to keep straight. Regardless of that, I still had the same workload in the Donson school," she said.

    At age 29, she weighed just 39 kilograms (86 pounds). During a weekend visit to her parents' home, they took her to see their family doctor, who said she shouldn't go back. "I started to live when I was 30. I started going out, I had never been to the movies," Tissier says.

    She first filed a lawsuit in 2001 accusing Opus Dei of "mental manipulation." Those charges were later dismissed. After a decade of investigation, two Opus Dei followers and the association that employed her are going on trial on charges of "clandestine work" and "remuneration contrary to dignity."

    "This isn't a crusade against Opus Dei, that's not what's at stake," her lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut said. His client wants compensation and for Opus Dei to "review the status of the numerary assistant," a job he called "dysfunctional."

    Thierry Laugier, a lawyer for ACUTE, the association that employed Tissier at the hotel, said the case revolves solely around an alleged breach of labor law. Beatrice de la Coste, spokeswoman for Opus Dei in France, said, "Catherine Tessier was an employee at the hotel school, she was of course in contact with Opus Dei and she chose that spiritual path."

    As of 2005, Opus Dei had 4,000 numerary assistants, all women, whose full-time, paid jobs are to care for the Opus centers, doing laundry, cleaning and cooking for the numeraries and priests who live there, according to the book "Opus Dei: Secrets and Power Inside the Catholic Church," by John Allen.

    Allen cites critics of the numerary assistants, who say they are recruited from poorer classes to do long hours of manual labor and are told it's a vocation from God to give up marrying or having children in order to serve Opus Dei.


  2. Vatican Weighs in on Cult-Like Group in Legion

    By Nicole Winfield ABC News, October 17, 2011

    Vatican City (AP), The Vatican has proposed giving hundreds of women who live like nuns within the troubled Legion of Christ order greater autonomy after a Holy See investigation found serious problems in their regimented communities. The pope's delegate running the Legion, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, said in a letter published Monday that the problems of the consecrated women of the Legion's lay branch were "many and challenging." Of particular concern is that they have no legal status in the church.

    In a 2010 Associated Press expose, former consecrated women spoke of the cult-like conditions they lived in, with rules dictating nearly every minute of their day — from how they ate to what they watched on TV — all in the name of God's will. The women described emotional and spiritual abuse they suffered if they questioned their vocation, and of how they would be cast aside if their spiritual directors no longer had any need for them.

    The Vatican ordered the investigation after word of the abuses emerged during a broader Vatican probe into the Legion, a conservative order founded in Mexico in 1941 by the late Rev. Marciel Maciel. After decades of denying allegations Maciel was a pedophile, the Legion in 2009 began admitting to his double life: that he sexually abused seminarians and had fathered at least three children with two women.

    The revelations have put the Legion in a tailspin and cast a shadow over the Vatican since Pope John Paul II had held Maciel up as a model for his orthodoxy and ability to attract new priests and donations. Maciel had created the consecrated branch of the Legion's lay movement Regnum Christi primarily as a fundraising tool and to provide unpaid teachers for Legion-owned schools. The consecrated women also run youth programs and work to recruit new members.

    The members, who at their height numbered about 900 women and a few dozen men, make promises of poverty, chastity and obedience like nuns do, though they enjoy none of the legal protections nuns have that make it difficult for their orders to kick them out. Legion officials have repeatedly declined to provide statistics on how many remain in the movement. Former members say many women have either left amidst the Maciel scandal or are taking time to discern whether they still have a vocation.


    Genevieve Kinecke, who runs an active blog read by many former Legion and consecrated members, said she hoped the autonomy envisaged by De Paolis will enable current and future members to truly discern whether they have a vocation. Up until recently, some 18-year-olds would make their lifelong commitments to being consecrated after a mere six-week candidacy program.

    "As long as the delegate relies on the existing superiors to guide his actions concerning these individuals, then we have a closed circle of conformity to the same methodology," Kinecke said in an email. While current consecrated members say they are happy and participating in the reform process, their choices haven't always pleased their parents.

    Kelly Tuttle said she grieves daily for the loss of her 27-year-old daughter, who gave up a partial medical scholarship to the University of Dayton, Ohio to become consecrated in 2003. "The Katie that I knew, I grieve for that Katie," Tuttle told the AP. "There's only the shell of her left. Because they've taken the person that I knew as my daughter, who was young and vibrant, intellectually alive and athletic, and they've taken that out of her." "It's like she's dead and gone," she said. Katie Tuttle declined to be interviewed, according to a Legion spokesman.

    read the full article at:


  3. French woman loses Opus Dei enslavement case

    A French woman has lost her "enslavement" court case against two followers of Opus Dei and an association closely linked to the powerful conservative Catholic group.

    By Henry Samuel, The Telegraph November 24, 2011

    Catherine Tissier, 40, had claimed that from the age of 14 until 27 she was forced to clean, wash and serve 15 hours per day, with no holidays or proper pay at a hotel school linked to Opus Dei.

    A French court ruled there was no evidence she had been trapped all that time without remuneration.

    She said as a "numerary assistant", she was forced to take vows of obedience, poverty and chastity and cut off from the outside world.

    She had filed for charges of "concealed work" and "payment contrary to dignity".

    Defence lawyers had insisted the trial, believed to be the first of its kind in Europe, was a simple labour dispute.

    But lawyers for Miss Tissier alleged the group's practices were physically and psychologically damaging to their client.

    Opus Dei features in the Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown's esoteric bestseller, where the group is depicted as ruthless, even murderous sect bent on global power. It is a portrayal the group, which in Latin means "Work of God", categorically rejects.

    The prosecution had called for the Acut association that runs the hotel school to be fined 30,000 euros. It called for the headmistress of its Dosnon school in eastern France and the secretary of the adjoining Couvrelles chateau to be fined 6,000 euros each.

    In her ruling, the judge made no mention of Opus Dei despite its links to the accused and said that Miss Tissier's claims of "concealed work" were "not demonstrated". It said she had been paid as tax authorities had records of her salary. Miss Tissier claimed the school hotel took the money back by forcing her to sign blank cheques.

    Miss Tissier's lawyer, Rodolphe Bosselut, said he was disappointed but "not surprised" by the ruling. "The extreme hostility of the court regarding my client led me to expect this decision," he said.

    Opus Dei said it had been vindicated.

    "Over the ten-year inquiry, the accusation has persisted in vain in seeking to implicate Opus Dei," it said in a statement, adding that the civil plaintiff had sought to portray via the media a "caricatured image of the institution".


  4. Pope’s envoy for cult-like group linked to disgraced Legion of Christ says rules invalid

    By Associated Press, November 24, 2011

    VATICAN CITY — The pope’s envoy running the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order says the 1,000-plus rules governing the cult-like life of some of its members are invalid and will be whittled down to a core set of norms.

    The rules that the Legion’s consecrated women and men live under cover everything from how to eat a piece of bread (tear off bite-size pieces, don’t bite into it) to what they can watch on television to how they interact with outsiders and family members.

    Pope Benedict XVI took over the Legion last year after the order admitted its Mexican founder sexually abused seminarians and fathered three children. A Vatican investigation determined he was a fraud and discovered serious spiritual and psychological abuses within the Legion and its consecrated branch — abuses the pope’s delegate says he’s now trying to fix.

    The Legion scandal ranks as one of the worst in the 20th century Catholic Church since Pope John Paul II held the Legion’s late founder the Rev. Marciel Maciel up as a model, even though the Vatican knew for over a decade about credible allegations he was a pedophile.

    One of the greatest scandals concerning the Legion’s consecrated members is that for years they were told that the 1,000-plus rules they lived by had been approved by the Vatican, when in fact only 128 general statutes had been approved.

    Former members have complained that they were told that disobeying any one of the rules was tantamount to disobeying God’s will — a heavy onus that created an unhealthy striving for perfection over the most meaningless of norms.

    But in a Nov. 21 letter, the pope’s delegate for the Legion, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, said the rules had no legal status since they were never officially approved. He said a small commission would be formed soon to “extract” from the rules only those that are “strictly necessary” for the life and governance of the group.

    This core set of rules will guide the consecrated until their whole governing statutes are revised, he wrote. Significantly, this revision process will be carried out almost independently of the Legion — part of the autonomy De Paolis envisages for the consecrated members.

    The rules aren’t public but were at one point posted on Wikileaks. The etiquette norms specify how to eat specific types of food: an orange (with a knife and fork); spaghetti (cut, not rolled around a fork) and chicken (with a knife and fork, except on picnics when it can be eaten with fingers).

    Members have defended the rules as a way to create unity in an international movement with people from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Critics have said the excessiveness of rules masks a lack of spirituality and constitutes a red flag about the cult-like nature of the movement.


    The consecrated women live like nuns, teaching in Legion-run schools and running retreats, youth programs and other initiatives to raise money and attract new members to the Legion’s lay branch Regnum Christi.

    They have no legal status in the church, however, since they’re not members of a religious order like nuns are and aren’t members of an independent institute of consecrated life.

    In his Nov. 21 letter, De Paolis said members must now reflect on what type of canonical status they should have as an autonomous movement from the Legion.

    Some “dissident” Legion priests and many former Legionary priests have complained that De Paolis isn’t moving decisively enough to reform the order and that none of the Legion’s superiors have been disciplined for having covered up for Maciel.

    Dozens of priests, more than 200 seminarians and hundreds of consecrated women have left the movement since the scandal broke in 2009.

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