Legion of Christ Awaits Results
But this was nothing compared to the control exercised over consciences. The handbook for the examination of conscience at the end of the day was 332 pages long, with thousands of questions.
And then there were - and are - the statutes properly speaking. Much more extensive and detailed than those provided to the bishops of the dioceses in which the Legionaries have their houses. The five visitors went through a lot of trouble to obtain the statutes in their entirety.
From the statutes one gathers that in addition to the three classical vows of religious orders, of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Legionaries were bound by two other vows - plus a third called "of fidelity and charity" for the select members of the congregation - which prohibited any kind of criticism and at the same time required telling the superiors about confreres seen violating the ban.
These extra vows were supposed to have been removed by order of the Holy See, in 2007. But the rank and file of the Legionaries do not seem to have been notified of this revocation.
The boundary between the spirit of obedience and the spirit of subjection is not always clear in the congregation founded by Maciel.
Among the Legionaries, the competition encouraged by the rules is to see who can make the most proselytes. And the novice immediately enters a collective machine that completely absorbs his individuality. Everything is meticulously overseen and regulated, in a thicket of limitations. From personal mail to reading material, from visits to travel.
Over the eight months of the apostolic visit, this control was relaxed only in part. Some priests told the visitors about the things they believed were wrong. Others have left the congregation and been incardinated into the diocesan clergy. Others have continued to defend Maciel's legacy. Others feel lost. Still others, finally, have faith in the rebuilding on new foundations of a religious congregation that is part of their lives and that they continue to love.
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Chiesa is a wonderful source on all things Catholic in Europe. It is skillfully edited by Sandro Magister. SANDRO MAGISTER was born on the feast of the Guardian Angels in 1943, in the town of Busto Arsizio in the archdiocese of Milan. The following day he was baptized into the Catholic Church. His wife’s name is Anna, and he has two daughters, Sara and Marta. He lives in Rome.
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