The Apostolic Visitation only covered the Legion, and possibly the ‘consecrated’ women. Your average Regnum Christi member is pretty much on her own right now. The Church isn’t going to tell her whether to stay or go – the Vatican doesn’t have that kind of authority over the laity. Unless the local bishop bans Regnum Christi, the members are going to have to come to a decision on their own.
So here are the cold hard facts of the matter:
-Regnum Christi takes its ‘charism’ as a movement from Maciel.
-Maciel didn’t actually HAVE a charism. He was simply using the people in the movement to fulfill his own insatiable desires for sex, power and money.
-Most Regnum Christi sponsored groups use Legionary priests for spiritual guidance. While these priests probably have good intentions, they’ve been formed by men who have been formed by Maciel. Maciel could NOT form good priests, because he was not a good priest himself.
Basically, Regnum Christi is going to die a slow death. Those of us on the outside are not going to trust our children to programs like K4J, Challenge, and Conquest. A simple Google search or two can reveal the Maciel connection. Even if the local leaders are good people, why should we participate in groups tainted by their links to Maciel? There are other programs that accomplish the same ends with better means.
So where does that leave current RC members? Chances are that the Visitation will sever the ties between Legion and Regnum – which leaves Regnum as collection of apostolates that ultimately answer to a central authority (The Mission Network.)
But you know what? The whole IDEA of the Mission Network goes against Church teachings on Subsidiarity. The Church urges us to try to do as much as possible at a local level. Instead of imposing a standardized national program, we need to step back, observe, and really see what our individual parishes need.
This also follows what Christ taught us about Charity. He didn’t say “If you meet a man with no cloak, and you have two, organize a national coat drive with huge fundraising capabilities and multiple levels of bureaucracy.” No. You’re just supposed to see his need and solve it on the spot, by giving him one of your coats.
The Knights of Columbus provide a good example of how to do this. They’re a national organization (mostly for Life Insurance purposes, as far as I can tell!), but they do an incredible amount of charitable work at the local level.
Check out the back pages of Columbia magazine some time. Their projects tend to run along the lines of “Knights from the St. Jerome Council in River City Iowa noticed that the parish wheelchair ramp was falling apart. They raised funds, purchased materials for a new ramp, and spent Saturday afternoon installing it with volunteer labor.”
This is how we are called to practice Charity. It’s personal, it’s helpful, and it doesn’t seek any reward.
It also presents a way forward for current Regnum Christi members. You joined because you loved God, and wanted to serve the Church. You thought that Maciel was a holy man, who could teach you how to love Christ. You were fooled.
But you don’t need Regnum Christi. You have your parish and you have your family. You can model your family on the Holy Family – Mary didn’t serve God by organizing fashion shows. She took care of her family and neighbors. When you bring dinner to a new mom, you’re serving God and the Church. When you give an elderly neighbor a ride to the hospital, you’re serving God.
These are quiet acts of charity. There’s no ego boost with them, no feeling of accomplishment. But they are huge gifts to the people on the receiving end, and a way of making God’s Love present in their lives.
You need time to heal. You need time to recover. You need time to unlearn the bad that Maciel gave you and to immerse yourself in the good that is your local church. You don’t need to do big things right now. It’s enough to pray, love your family, and love your neighbor.
* A quick side note for people wondering how this mess affects their children:
If you have small children, you obviously don’t want to go into the details of Maciel’s perversions. You can just explain that sometimes bad men pretend to be good and holy – and then they can trick people. (There are lots of fairy tales and folktales that teach this lesson.) But, it’s OK because God never tricks and he always keeps his promises.
For slightly older children, C.S. Lewis’s “The Last Battle” deals with this problem very well. Heck, it’s a great read for adults, too. Lewis was a very wise man. If you read it with Maciel as the ape and RC/LC as the donkey, you have a great allegory for the current situation.
For teens – I’ve noticed there’s a certain anti-teen element in a lot of what Maciel taught – the whole idea of ‘Lost Vocation, Sure Damnation’ and sending boys to the Apostolic schools to ‘protect’ them plays into a lot of parental fears about the teen years.
You’ll need to be honest with your teens. And for good advice on how to encourage your teen to stay Catholic, check out These links. Father Longnecker has thought a lot about how to bring teens to the Church, and he has a great approach that values their intelligence and freedom.
** One last digression***
For those of you wondering how this will effect the Visitation - The children of Maciel have been working with the Visitors since the beginning. In fact, I wonder if the reason all this is coming out now is because Benedict WANTS it to come out. After all, you need to bring the filth to light before you can clean it up. And the revelations of Maciel’s crimes will help current members understand the Vatican’s actions.