Catholic World News

Legionaries of Christ begin extraordinary general chapter; ‘the first stage of the new Legion’

January 09, 2014

Nearly four years after Pope Benedict appointed Cardinal Velasio de Paolis as his special pontifical delegate to oversee the reform of the Legionaries of Christ, the community has begun an extraordinary general chapter to clarify its charism and approved revised constitutions.

The prelate described the chapter as “the first stage of the new Legion, with the appointment of new superiors and the approval of the new text to which you are called to conform your life.”

The goal of his work during the previous four years, the prelate said during his opening homily, “was the chapter, together with the specific commitments it entails; namely, the appointment of the new government of the congregation, and the approval of the constitutions, which, with the efforts of all involved, the congregation of the Legionaries has reviewed profoundly.”

“It has been repeatedly stressed that the revision of the constitutions cannot simply be considered a technical effort, but should be accompanied by a process of examination of life, of review and of spiritual renewal for the institute,” he continued. “Thus far, we have only completed the process of preparation.”

The revised constitution, which will be submitted to Pope Francis for approval, “will be an expression of a common vocation, a common ideal, a common mission, a common path to healing, an impulse to strive in common striving for the fulfillment of God’s plan for the congregation and for each of you, for the glory of God and service to the Church and to the Legion,” he said. “The heart of the constitutions is the charism, or spiritual patrimony, of the Institute. The Pope, although he showed us that the main purpose of the journey undertaken and the Chapter should be the review and approval of the constitutions, also stressed that in such a work, the very charism of the Institute should be examined in depth.”

Cardinal de Paolis emphasized the importance of reformed governance:

But even if the main purpose of the Chapter is the approval of the constitutions, no less important is the appointment of the government of the Institute. The primary task, in fact, of the superiors is to preserve and promote the Institute’s charism; the charism is only guaranteed when authority is exercised as service, in the spirit of the Gospel and in fidelity to the norms of the Church. It is a point which should always be given special attention, especially for you, who have a history of suffering in this regard. It is important not to forget that.

“You have suffered much, both internally and externally,” he said toward the conclusion of his homily. “You have suffered the shame of being accused, viewed with suspicion and of being exposed to public opinion, even within the Church. You have been able to accept this suffering out of love for your vocation, and out of love for the Church and for the Legion. Suffering has purified you, matured you and made you experience God’s grace and love, who has called you to share in the mystery of redemption through the cross and through sorrow. You have participated in the pain of those who have suffered because of some members of the Legion. You have chosen the only way the Gospel knows for the redemption of evil: not escape, not rejection, not the condemnation of others, but participation, solidarity, and love that enters into sin and sorrow so as to redeem them from the inside.”

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 09, 2014 8:31 PM ET USA

    It has taken 4 years to reach this "first stage"? This is quite pointless. The ghost of Maciel will continue to haunt the Legionaries, sad to say.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Jan. 09, 2014 6:09 PM ET USA

    Maybe they will remove the portrait of their decadent founder from view and store it away until his misdeeds are clouded by history. Gone but not forgotten.

  • Posted by: Jason C. - Jan. 09, 2014 5:28 PM ET USA

    The treatment of the Legionaries (superiors allegedly forcing subordinates into every manner of vice) and the treatment of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (superiors allegedly forcing subordinates to celebrate the traditional Mass and Office) would probably be an enlightening study.

  • Posted by: normnuke - Jan. 09, 2014 2:54 PM ET USA

    'only guaranteed when authority is exercised as service' This is wonderful stuff. Needs a broader audience and application.