Catholic religious right wing: Legion of Christ
Frank L. Cocozzelli's weekly series of posts on "The Catholic Right" (listed here) includes quite a few posts about Opus Dei.
There's another, similarly ultra-orthodox Catholic religious order he might want to examine in future posts: the Legion of Christ, a "religious congregation of pontifical right" for priests and seminarians, and its associated lay "apostolic movement," Regnum Christi. Like Opus Dei, the Legionaries have a reputation for authoritarianism, secrecy, and courting the rich and powerful.
The Legion of Christ was founded in 1941 by the Rev. Marcial Maciel of Mexico, who died recently. Maciel has been accused of sexual abuse and, in 2006, was disciplined by the Vatican, although he was never charged. The Legion of Christ denies the accusations.
Here in the United States, the Legionaries run schools, some mass media, and various other "apostolates". According to Michael S. Rose"s review of Vows of Silence by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner:
The Legion and the neocons, both reputed to be interested in money and power, are allies. It's "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."
The Legion's tentacles are far-reaching, as many staunchly conservative Catholics who have been burned by the Legion or Regnum Christi are afraid to speak out, for fear of retribution.
The above was written in 2005. I don't know whether and to what extent the Legion's influence may have diminished due to the sex scandals and other accusations, nor do I fully know how influential they were to begin with, here in the Unites States. These would be good questions for an investigative reporter to look into.
The Legion's seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut is still going strong, according to the Meriden Record-Journal, CT - May 19, 2008.
The Legionaries run 12 universities, mostly in Latin America and Europe, including the Pontifical Academy Regina Apostolorum in Rome. The latter includes a theological seminary which teaches, among other things, the Vatican's course on exorcism, a course which has also endorsed Italy's recent wave of "Satanism" scares. (See Italian University helping priests fight Satanism - Catholic News Agency, Rome, Feb. 18, 2005. See also my page about Italy's recent Satanic panic and my list of news stories about the Vatican's exorcism course and related matters.)
For more information about the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, see:
- The Legion's own website
- Rick Ross's collection of news clippings about the Legionaries of Christ, including With elite backing, Catholic order has pull in Mexico, by Jose deCordoba, Wall Street Journal via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 23, 2006, and Rise of the Catholic Right: The ultra-orthodox Legion of Christ displays its clout by Joseph Contreras, Newsweek International, June 16, 2003 - about the Legion's influence in Mexican politics. Ross's site contains articles about various controversies such a long history of sex abuse allegations against the Legion's founder.
- ReGAIN (Religious Groups Awareness International Network) - Catholics critical of the Legion of Christ
- Life-after-RC - blog by a Catholic critical of the Legion of Christ's Regnum Christi movement
- Legionaries of Christ found new Roman university (October 1, 2004) and New European University devoted to Christian culture (January 10, 2006) on Catholic World News. Note that the Legion appears to be on the warpath against Europe's secular culture.
- Pope Praises Controversial Founder of Legionaires of Christ by Peggy Polk, 12-02-04, on EthicsDaily.com (Baptist)
- LegionaryFacts.org - Legion's responses to various allegations against it