As is well known, the Vatican is currently conducting an apostolic visitation of the Legion of Christ. Reports recently seem to indicate that there is a good chance that the Legion will be disbanded and then possibly reconstituted in a different form. If this happens, what does that mean for members of both the Legion of Christ and their lay apostolate, Regnum Christi? Where will these men and women go, the great majority of whom are faithful Catholics striving for holiness?
An analogous situation that happened here locally over a decade ago might give us some answers. There was a local Catholic charismatic group that grew tremendously in the 1970′s and 1980′s, attaining over 1,000 members at its height. People moved from all over the world to join this community and it was quite dynamic. However, complaints began to emerge about the leadership and its practices. The details are unimportant for our purposes, but in the end the Archdiocese of Washington decided to investigate the group. The result of this investigation was that major changes were made to the structure of the group, and the leadership was ousted by the bishop.
The aftermath was traumatic, even to this day. Many good people who had devoted much of their lives to this group felt betrayed and disillusioned. Their faith was shaken, sometimes irrevocably. There are still people who have deep-seated feelings of animosity and betrayal towards this organization. In the end, members of the original group followed one of four paths:
- They remained in the reconstituted organization. This was a small number of people, but they followed the bishop’s directions and remade the (now much smaller) group into something obedient to the Church.
- They left the group and formed a new organization under the direction of the ousted leadership and outside the oversight of the Church.
- They left the group and remained faithful Catholics. Many of these people still have misgivings about the group, but they recognized the difference between the Church and this specific group in their own faith lives.
- They left the group and the Church. This was unfortunately the decision of too many members (one would be too many). In their minds, they directly connected their membership in this group with their membership in the Church. This led to a rejection of both the baby and the bath water.
I think these are the options that will be considered by members of the Legion and Regnum Christi if the groups are disbanded (and re-formed). We need to pray fervently that all members of these two organizations choose options (1) and (3) given above, but I fear that many will choose to leave the Church over this scandalous situation.
St. Peter, pray for us!