Fr Thomas Berg has offered a fascinating piece with a new twist: the Legion was corrupt and is still an unhealthy congregation, the reform has been grossly insufficient, but the charism may have grown out of the dynamic good will of the Regnum Christi movement.
The Movement attracted men and women of great spiritual caliber. Many, to be sure, were attracted to something in Regnum Christi, but never felt an attraction to Maciel; some in fact reported years later that they even felt a repulsion for the founder—although at the time they could never quite put their finger on the cause. Can it be the case, then, that the Holy Spirit inspired an unknown number of Regnum Christi members with a genuine charism, and that by sharing in that charism, the Legionaries will discover their own raison d’être in the Church? This is at least a theological proposition that merits serious consideration.
Having been a member of the Movement for seven and a half years (one who was never attracted to Maciel, as he indicates) I should be flattered in some way, but instead I am deeply troubled by this suggestion. Besides the fact that the Church has never understood charisms to emerge this way, we have to deal with the following:
- Historically, "the identity of each Institute is bound up with a particular spirituality and apostolate, which takes shape in a specific tradition marked by objective elements. For this reason the Church is concerned that Institutes should grow and develop in accordance with the spirit of their founders and foundresses, and their own sound traditions" (John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, 48);
- To separate the institute from the founder and to suggest that God needed Maciel to plunder and abuse the Church's treasures in order to create this group to form the next generation of Catholic leaders is theological madness;
- Those who remain in Regnum Christi are the ones who have been (1) most "captivated" by the original mission that was built on ego and elitism, (2) least horrified by the actual suffering of the victims, and (3) most susceptible to the false appeals to "authority" that allowed the cult-like atmosphere -- the rest have left and apologised;
- This means that if the Church finagles an explanation that MM was wicked, his intentions depraved, and his actions unconscionable -- but the Holy Spirit side-stepped him and gave the grace of foundation to those he brought into his fold, the members will be in a spiritual hall of mirrors in which the pride that was stroked to lead them to incorporation will be doubly fed by the Church herself.
This suggestion is more toxic than anything I've heard to date -- not only because of how it runs contrary to the entire history of foundations within the Church -- but because it feeds the very demon that Maciel applied to as he built his empire. Imagine the mental game that now ensues in the head of every member: I'm sorry that Maciel scammed the Church, I'm sorry he raped so many and blasphemed, I'm sorry I didn't believe those who said this is an ongoing scandal that will cause pain as long as it lasts -- but hey! Through it I found my vocation. I am the true founder!
Maciel couldn't have said it better -- in fact I believe Macielistas floated this idea a few years ago themselves. I know Fr Berg means well, and they were always told to flatter the RC members for MM's ends, but even now the end result is a perverse flattering that will only feed the beast. Please, no!