By Devin Watkins
The Legionaries of Christ recently held their General Chapter in Rome, as the wider Regnum Christi Federation held its General Assemblies.
Pope Francis was scheduled to address the group on Saturday, but had to cancel due to a “slight indisposition”. The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said the Pope did celebrate Mass and keep his scheduled appointments in the Casa Santa Marta on Saturday morning.
In his prepared remarks which were read out to the group, Pope Francis said the “criminal behavior” of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado generated “a major institutional and personal crisis” within the Regnum Christi Federation.
The Pope said Fr Maciel was certainly the historical founder of the federation, but that he could in no way be looked to as an example of holiness to imitate.
“He managed to make himself a point of reference, through an illusion he created with his double life. In addition, his personalized government had to some extent polluted the charism that the Spirit had originally given to the Church. And this was reflected in the norms, as well as in the exercise of governance, obedience, and way of life.”
New path forward
The Church, said Pope Francis, took action when this situation was discovered, and amply showed her “maternal solicitude.”
He said the new Statutes and Constitution of the Regnum Christi Federation “reflect a new spirit and vision of religious life in line with the Second Vatican Council and the indications of the Holy See.”
“It was an event that brought about a true conversion of the heart and the mind,” he said. “You opened yourselves courageously to the action of the Holy Spirit, thus entering into a journey of true discernment.”
Based on discernment
Pope Francis acknowledged that the change “was not easy” but that there is still much work of discernment to be done.
“The journey must continue, looking ahead and not backward. You can look backward only to find confidence in God’s assistance, which has never been lacking.”
So he urged the Regnum Christi Federation to continue the struggle to renew itself, because “a return to the past would be dangerous and without meaning.”