An important Spanish-language blog post has been published which we will be translating as readers assist over time. It concerns a recent conference by the current head of the Legion, Fr Heereman:
In his conferences, the analysis put forth by the Legionaries reveals a mental process of someone who has been submitted to a sectariancult/religious scheme. It is not for nothing that they are a religious congregation with many sectarian elements, which has been underlined by various studies in many places (there is even a doctoral thesis on this subject and it is a study theme in organizations dedicated to this type of social phenomena). An example of this is when he refers to those who have left the congregation, according to him, "for inadequate thinking;" that is, those who have followed a path of discernment and have decided to leave, by their very act of leaving, according to him "have inadequately thought." And he adds, "without sufficient simplicity and charity." They not only think inadequately, but they are also full of pride and lack charity.
In his conferences, Heereman saw fit to refer to the spineless attitude of Velasio de Paolis and to the disrepute that characterizes him. In this regard, Velasio de Paolis has incurred GRAVE NEGLIGENCE in exercising his mission which was charged to him by Pope Benedict XVI. For example (and always through what Heereman referred to), when something is said of the Legion or accusations reach him, he says "I do not know if this is true, but we have to verify." And nothing happens. Fossilized by the passing of time, even in the face of the report by the five Apostolic Visitor bishop, he says "I do not know what is true and what is not true, but we have to verify." But he has not verified anything, and went so far as to make a caricature of the report of the Visitors in his conferences and refused to allow the Legionaries to know what was asked of them. No wonder Mons. Ezzatti lamented the fact that having dedicated time and energy to the Aposolic Visitation, Velasio de Paolis would reject all of this work.
The piece is replete with quotes from Fr Heereman, which indicate (if true) that 1. nothing has changed in the Legion mindset, and more importantly 2. they don't believe that they ought to change or reform.
Those who have experienced this singular form of charity ("everyone must speak kindly, unless referring to any scoundrels who have the nerve to criticise us!") will not be surprised. If Fr Heereman has actually spoken as indicated about the Visitators and the Delegate, then the next generation of Legionaries will have the same Balkanised mentality which has brought about the current disaster.
As Pete Vere warned months/years ago, could they really be retrenching, and thus risking excommunication?
[Spanish-speaking readers who wish to help translate the rest are very welcome, and I'll add whatever is offered.]
Unfortunately, Heereman's true intention is obscured by the imprint of his Marcielist criteria. The May 1st communique says in point 4, letter a: "The need to REDEFINE the charism of the congregation."And Heereman, in his conference, with his characteristic Legionary manipulation, changes the words, and says: "The need to REVISE the charism." He later points out "it is not a matter of reinventing, but rather of better understanding," and he follows up with the valuation "because it has given such abundant fruits;" and lastly, he interprets "there were different definitions and we do not have a unified response and this is what the Visitors were saying."
Could it be that the German version of the communique says something else? But that text ( texto) says "die Notwendigkeit, das Charisma der Kongregation der Legionäre Christi NEU ZU DEFINIEREN." The English (inglés) and the official Italian (italiano) use the same word REDEFINE; but faithful to the style of his psychopath Founder, the vicar general changes words at his convenience.
The interpretation that the general council of the Legionaries gives of this indication of the Holy See (it is clearly understood that it has nothing to do with "in step with the Church"), determines the hermeneutics that creates the problem noted by the Visitors. Heereman says that the problem was that Marcial Maciel put forth many definitions of the charism and that this is what the Visitors were talking about. For this reason, the problem comes down to agreeing and finding a unified response... and this is what is being done with the assemblies. I find this authentic Marcial Maciel style. Look like you are obeying.... Sylvestre Heerman subconsciously puts on the sheep's clothing that has to be used by the one sitting in the seat left vacant by Marcial Maciel and Alvarito Corcuera.
If he really wants "to be guided by the communique of the Holy See", as he says in his conference, then don't prostitute the text, understand what the Holy See has communicated and what the Visitors discovered. Redefine, preserving the nucleus of the charism which is militancy in apostolic and missionary action of the Church. We do not want to go into this more since the adulteration is obvious. Why is it necessary to redefine something? Either it is not defined or it does not exist; or because it is so deformed that only the nucleus should be preserved. On this point, we will only mention that Pope Benedict XVI, in the session he attended (Cfr. Communique§ 2) spoke of REFOUNDING, according to two of the Visitors, but because or the ideological weight of the word "re-foundation", the term was not used.
Sylvester Heereman's exposition continues: he speaks with sincerity "I was offended by the Holy See's Communique". For those who are studying the works of Maciel from the cult/sect standpoint, is is very interesting to analyze the psychological mechanism that makes them (remember that Heereman speaks in the name of the general council) feel violated by the Holy See's Communique.
Referring to efficientism (citing the Apostolic See's Communique), Heereman once again lets his macielist talent by seen. "No one told me that the only important thing are results". And this is particularly shameful from the mouth of someone who has continually been a superior, of someone who was territorial director before reaching the canonical age. "No one told me that..."; but they even have an official text, in the Communique of the General Chapter of 1992, No. 228 "It is not enough to be busy, one must look for efficiency, effective results: fruits, fruits, fruits." What cynicism to say "no one told me that..."! We cite a text of the General Chapter, but there are many other references, from the General Chapter of 1980, form the interpretation of the Constitutions, etc. For example, in regard to "No one told me that..." Sylvester has a long career of being a superior, he has surely read the Communique of the General Chapter EXCLUSIVELY for superiors, in the one from 1980 where it speaks of the priorities for superior, many numbers are dedicated to the reports, communication, meetings, etc. only in a third and fourth instance does it speak of the treatment of religions, attention, etc. "No one told me that..." Cynically Macielist!
But we must recall that Heereman is trying to analyze things sincerely; he said in his conference that the Visitors perceive efficientism because of the expansion of the Legion in the '90s. And that the desire to grow led them to an excessive investment of human resources in vocational promotion and in fund raising tours above and beyond that of religious life and formation.
Before commenting on the examples of efficientism, let's review the topic of perception, a topic that is very important for those who study cult movements. The perception of those on the outside is distinct from that of members. The words Heereman uses are very indicative. He asks rhetorically, "in what way have we given rise to this being said?" instead of asking "where is there efficientism?" or "what in the charism gives rise to efficientism?, etc". It is not a semantic subtlety; but rather the profound difference between being and appearing. Heereman says "I do not feel identified with the label 'efficientism'", so, instead of asking himself if there is efficientism, heasks himself in what way have I give rise to this being thought...
Despite that fact that the Holy See has said it (in step with the Church?), despite that it be fruit of the Visitation of five esteemed bishops, despite the fact that so many exlegionaries and ex members of the Movement have denounced it, despite it all, the legionaries do not consider that there may be efficientism in their "charism"... Those on the "outside" do not understand and, Heereman says, some of the decisions and attitudes have GIVEN RISE to our being called efficientists. Let's take another look at the hermeneutics of redefine and revise. And Heereman asks himself "what has give rise to this warning (of efficientism)?"
The topic of formation is the one which he least understood, because, according to him, they were the non plus ultra in formative topics; even the founder "wrote" a book about priestly formation for the synod of bishops! But, Heereman says "there were aspects that needed attention" (again the hermaneutics of being and appearing). He says in his conference "it's because the studies of many were sacrificed who were sent to the apostolate" and other causes. However, to us the Visitors worry concerning the topic of formation does not only refer to specific aspects. Many of the legionaries who have left ministry argue a lack of discernment, pressure on the part of superiors, deception, etc. in sum, a lack of freedom (this theme comes up again later). It is a serious subject; among the more than 100 priests and legionaires who have left the congregation in the last period, many have asked for nullity of ordination! Evidently for lack of formation, both theological and canonical, since ordination, even though it may be illicit, is valid. However, the petition is significant in its audacity, because it is not just one or two isolated cases. Evidently the legionaries hide numbers when the can and they slowly present petitions of dispensation to the Congregation of the Clergy. The formative topic, therefore, does not only refer to some religious studying outside or if they did a lot of apostolate in formation centers (events that are real and in need of attention), but rather something deeper; in other words, to some cult mentality that permeates the entire work of Marcial Maciel.
When the Holy See's Communique speaks of authority, it uses the verb REVISE. There are only two lines with very delicate subjects: authority, truth, conscience, and service. But for Heereman and for the general council of the Legion in their macielist hermeneutic, the subject is not a profound problem (the should be), but only some punctual problems (the seems to be). Because of this, even though they accept that there have been problems in the Legion, Heereman says "they were out of obedience"?! (another marcielist concept: service of authority was violated, but out of obedience, and, the legionaries say, "he who obeys is never wrong". In what way was authority violated? For the general council and for the legionaries the violation was that superiors were left too long in their positions, and they did not have councils, and so the principle of authority was exalted too much...True things, but nothing deep.
The communique speaks of authority and truth. Heereman has been a member of the superiors clan from the start of his formation and for this reason surely has assimilated that a superior can manipulate the truth for the good of the Congregation, and can adulterate statistics that are sent to the Holy See to impress, that the director general can present an economic report to the legionaries full of lies and imprecision, that they do not tell religious the reason for a change, for the denial of perpetual profession, or renewal of vows, etc. The general council of the legionaries does not recognize a government structure damaged in its conception, given that the local superiors lack the authority since the decisions are made in Rome.
The communique speaks of authority and conscience. But Heereman says that "it was out of obedience"; because of this, one of the territorial directors in Mexico admitted that he acted against his conscience out of obedience; out of obedience, many superiors drug priests and religious to silence them or to get them out of the way; it was out of obedience to the system that superiors violated the internal forum of their subjects reporting on them to the general direction...
The communique speaks of authority and service. But Heereman says that it was a sacrifice; for this reason the superiors formed a caste in the Congregation; for this reason, there was a Communique of the General Chapter for the common folk and another EXCLUSIVELY and secret for superiors; for this reasons the Communique EXCLUSIVELY for superiors speaks of identifying those who have qualities that pertain to the caste of superiors and of slowly initiating them...
The governmental structure of the Legion is a profound topic; but it is outside the reach of the questioning of the general council.
Many have pointed out that this is only a whitewash of the work of Maciel. Sylvester Heereman firmly corroborates this sad truth when he affirms "our problems were almost always exaggerations of positive principles". and later "they are mere imbalances"; underneath it is because "it was in the context of foundation". But he stupidly contradicts himself when he affirms that the bulk of the problems are from the last 20 or 30 years. Being logical, if the problems are in the context of foundation, the closer to the beginning, the more serious the problems and not the last few years, when the foundation period was well behind. If it was in the context of foundation, how is it that the older legionaries are not involved in the experience... non sequitur.
The Legion founded by Maciel has been characterized by voracious recruitment; where candidates are admitted for their qualities with little or no vocational discernment. The subject of family visits has been handled as a merely disciplinary aspect and it seems a "conquest" to many. However, this is not getting to the heart of the matter; the psychological development of adolescents with their natural relations, their affective maturity and authentic discernment. Maciel was accused of cutting all ties with the outside in order to abuse without detection; even though this is over, the system is still impregnated. It is not a solution to increase days or frequency of visits, it is the heart of the matter that needs attention.
Although I could continue to explain Heereman's exposition, I will only add the subject of the victims. He claims that agreements have been reached with 12 people; but Velasio de Paolis, installed in a throne, waits for victims to come knocking at his door... does the edition of the Gospel that is read in the Legion have a fifth chapter in Saint Matthew? It seems that is doesn't, and Velasio does not know it: "If you come with your gifts to the altar, and you realize that your brother has something against you, leave your gifts at the altar and first, reconcile with your brother and then come to offer your gifts" (Mt 5,23) Heereman says we know there are more victims, but "we can't go further than that."