Monday, July 12, 2010

On Regnum Christi and Shunning

I’ve been hanging around on Life-After-RC for some time now, and I need to comment on a disturbing trend, one that seems to be unique to Regnum Christi.

Many women have reported that when they leave the movement, they are shunned. Their children are shunned. The women who have been their friends for years, sometimes decades, suddenly treat them like garbage.

They feel like they’re going crazy. They’re lonely and depressed. They wonder if it was really worth it to leave in the first place.

If you left RC and are being shunned, You are not the crazy one. Your former “friends” are not the ones suffering, like Christ, from betrayal. You are the one suffering betrayal.

For those of us on the outside, the shunning seems like madness. Catholics don’t shun. Even if someone leaves the Church, we’re supposed to love them as Christ loves them. And the women who’ve left RC haven’t left anything close to the Church. They’ve basically left a club. The Knights of Columbus doesn’t shun inactive members. Why does Regnum Christi?

I think the whole practice of shunning is evidence that RC has, in fact, set itself up as a parallel Church.

The most famous examples of religious shunning in America are the Mormons and the Amish. Both groups shun lapsed members – they cut them off entirely from friends and family. Shunning usually has two purposes: 1. To pressure the shunned woman into returning to the congregation and 2. To protect the people still inside from her ‘taint.’

Why do Mormons and Amish feel justified in delivering such a cruel punishment? Because both groups believe that they hold the keys to salvation. By leaving, the woman has damned herself. If she encourages others to leave, she is damning them as well.

Now, look at the women who’ve left Regnum Christi. They’re still Catholic. They still attend Mass, go to confession, volunteer in their parishes and believe in Christ. THEY ARE NOT DAMNED. They’ve just decided that there are problems in Regnum Christi, and that the best decision for their families is to pull back and focus on more important things. In the eyes of the Church, they are like a woman who decides that Vincent De Paul is eating up too much time, and so decides to quit volunteering.

Actually, given the CDF investigation, they’re more like a woman who prudently decides to avoid an unproven Apparition. She should not have to defend her reasons for avoiding “Our Lady of The Bridge” or whatever she’s avoiding. The burden of proof is with the people who choose to stay with a group that was founded by a man without scruples or religious sentiment and that is UNDER INVESTIGATION BY THE CDF.

Yet Regnum Christi continues to shun ex-members. They have no reason to shun unless they believe that “Outside Regnum Christi there is no salvation.” They’re equating RC with the Church. THIS IS HERETICAL. The very fact that they shun is proof that the group is not Catholic.

Catholics don’t shun. Even if you believe someone has left the Church, Catholics, like St. Monica, love, pray, and entrust precious souls to the Blessed Mother.

If you’re currently being shunned by Regnum Christi, I am praying for you. You’ll need strength and grace, but God will prevail.

If you’re currently shunning those who have left, I am praying for you as St. Monica prayed for St. Augustine when he was ensnared by the Manicheans.

If you are in Regnum Christi, and are afraid to leave because of the shunning, take courage. There are more Catholics on the outside than on the inside, and shunning takes its power from group-think. Step outside the group.

Regnum Christi is not the Church. More and more, it’s looking like it’s not even vaguely related to the Church.

17 comments:

Roger said...

If the charism of Regnum Christi is, in fact, to live the Charity of Jesus- then unity should be a manifestation of this. Let the chips fall where they may.

And, what about the priests who have left the LC for greener pasture? Shunning is now less a danger (at least from the individual members who have not lost their true perspective on the vocation to the priesthood- not necessarily the LC hierarchy) and many are actually looked up to and admired these days for their bravery on leaving the protective bubble and venturing out on their own.....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, Deirdre.

I was a very active member of my RC team, and also held a position on the AFIRE team (Apostolate, Formation, Integration, Recruitment, Economy = AFIRE) and attended every event with great commitment. Yet once I had left, it was like they never knew me, never shared faith, gospel reflections, the joys and the sorrows of life, Catholic sisterhood, and so on. In my case, it was a lonely time, but I can't say I miss such friends, if they were never really my friends.

I wonder, in other situations in their lives, how do these people act? for example, if there was one player on their son's baseball team who suddenly stopped showing up, would any of the teammates or parents of team members ask, "what happened to Bobby?" or maybe phone Bobby's mom to see what was going on? If a lady in the book club stopped coming and her name was never mentioned again, wouldn't they think it odd? Yet RCs serenely sailed past me at mass, never asked what had become of me, never called, or emailed to say "where have you been?" or "I hope you're doing ok". It is really quite revealing of the cultishness of RC that no one can act with good old fashioned manners towards me.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it shocked me at the shunning and the inability to be civil. I was literally turned away or avoided. Eerily true. It's not quite as bad anymore because so many are leaving here, but it's awful to think that Christians can act like this. I can understand that people will feel awkward or a little nervous about encountering an ex-RC person, but outright lack of civility or manners is really ridiculous. Totally agree with Anonymous that said: "They weren't really friends to begin with..." In fact, I said to our section director when I told her I was leaving, "I hope we can see each other; we may not have RC in common anymore, but at least we have 'such and such' in common." She actually said, "I think you know that won't be possible." People in RC are incapable of real friendship as long as they are invested in RC. All friendship is put to the service of RC and thus ceases to be real. Of course, depending on one's integration, you'll see varying degrees of examples like this.

Lauren

Kristi B. said...

Deidre,

Since I have left the movement recently after several years of being very "integrated" I feel compelled to comment about this post. Have I experienced "shunning"? Not exactly...but I have endured a rather difficult exchange as a result of my leaving. Once I made my decision to leave I informed my spiritual guide and another woman who is my very dear friend (she also happened to be my superior). My spiritual guide did not respond promptly, but after about a month and an inquiry on my part, I did hear from her and it was very kind and she let me know that she very much desired to continue our friendship. The other exchange with my friend/superior did not go so well...she took a month to talk to me about my decision and the tension between us was quite intense and it seems to linger still. After that exchange, I must admit that I just didn't have it in me to personally inform some of the other women in my section that I was closer to, but never outside of RC. So in a sense, I have chosen to "shun" them as well. With that being said, there are women in my section that I am still in contact with and I have not been shunned at all by them. In fact, my friendships with my former team leader and former team members are as strong as ever and there is absolutely no tension, just true Christian sisterhood. Also, I spent many years as a TL and in that timeframe, some women on my team chose to leave, but I did not let that affect my friendships with them, as many of those friendships continue to this day. So I am not sure if as a whole, my situation is an aberration, but I just wanted to share it with you and others, so that there is truth, openness, and balance.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Kristi -- I'm glad your experiences don't match up! A group can't shun unless the entire group agrees to go along with it-- if a few women stand up for what's right, shunning doesn't happen.

If your old group isn't shunning you, that speaks well of the people in it.

I'm fairly passionate on this topic, because I WAS shunned in sixth grade, and I can't imagine how much harder it must be for an adult, who thought she'd moved past such things... especially if her kids get shunned too.

I've heard rumors of shunning in my own area, and I hope they're not true, because it would mean that people I like and respect were acting like schoolyard bullies.

I think it is important to remember, that in the eyes of Christ, we are not defined as beloved because we're part of some group. He loves each of us as an individual. We need to try to love each other as individuals too!

Anonymous said...

Where does the shunning actually come from? It is not policy as far as I am aware, but it happens. Is it an unintended consequence of something else that is wrong in the group.

Shooting in the dark a bit... But, it seems to me a very self-identified faith-life team, becomes cult-like when it closes in on itself becoming also the social group, and crisis support group, the mom's toddler play group, etc... So to leave the core part- the faith-life group, creates a lot of relational pressure in the group, among members, that you have to leave all of it. They cannot bear the pain of loss- it makes them insecure and threatened, as if they own each new justifications about choices rather than respecting them. Hmmm this will take work.

Anonymous said...

Where does the shunning come from?

IMO, it comes from denial. A committed RC can't maintain denial about the sometimes detrimental effects of the movement if they actually face others who have left precisely because of those negative effects. I don't know that the shunning is malicious so much as survival.

I also believe certain LCs can have a hold on some of these women. Rather than discuss their unease over the departure of their RC friends, some may opt to save those discussions for their Spiritual Director LC. If Fr Trustworthy says "the movement needs people just like you to help us rebuild" or "seeing your old (ex RC) friend Trixie may shake your RC vocation" these sorts of comments can feed the pride ("he needs my help to rebuild!") and sow doubt about old friends ("Trixie is too angry, she'll mess with God's plan for my role in advancing His Kingdom!") Father Maciel wasn't the only LC to enjoy a "cult of personality". imo

Anonymous said...

Just to add - something I've observed - the ladies who stayed in RC after I left, the ones who continued to speak with me despite the awkwardness, they have almost all left now too. The ones who could not speak to me, or acknowledge that I'd left, they're in deep, and I doubt they'll ever leave.

I'm sad for the one's stuck in, but glad for the ones who took a lot longer than I did, but still came to the same conclusions. These friendships are now healing, thanks be to God.

Genevieve said...

Kristi B: as Deirdre says, Christians don't shun. Perhaps what you're doing is more akin to "detaching in love." You cannot wrap yourself emotionally around those who are playing head games, so it's best to simply back away (for the time being).

As for why the shunning? With women, I think it's part of the larger reality that many are uncomfortable with others who choose differently. The conscious choices of others (whether bottle vs. breast, stay-at-home vs. daycare, etc.) have the potential to indict our own choices if we have any insecurities (or the tendency to judge). Men roll with such things, but women take everything so personally.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Anon 6:35 Am-- on the one hand, your comment gives a bit of hope--perhaps there's not an ORGANIZED shunning going on. Perhaps each woman involved believes that she's the only one who needs to avoid "Dolores the Defector" --for her own spiritual well-being, of course.

On the other hand, that means a PRIEST is behind any organized shunning. A grown man charged with the care of souls is acting like a 6th grade girl..... that's even worse, in a way.....

There's a great examination of conscience written by Fr. Hardon that includes the question:

10. Did I try to carry on a conversation today with someone who is difficult to talk to?

Avoiding difficult conversations is the easy way, but it's not the Catholic Way. (and, of course, I say this as someone who HATES difficult conversations and gets zinged on this one all the time...)

Marcy K. said...

I think each person who commented added another good layer of why people are shunned. I was a Team Leader and never once was it discussed to shun someone who left, but I think the culture in RC is such that when someone leaves they are no longer useful. If you are trying to "build the kingdom," and are looking for people to recruit, and supporting your team, you just don't have the time to deal with people who have left.

Also, you have to face the facts of why they left, and apply that to your life, and you would not want to "damage your vocation" by putting ideas in your head.

I think the "usefulness" reason is very important in the shunning. A friend of mine who was very integrated and very, very good friends (or so she thought) with the Section Asst. (later Section Director) was shunned when she left.

Being in the Movement was putting stress in her marriage, and also she had some health problems that made it difficult to participate in RC to the level she once did. Once she got sick, instead of RC people coming to her aid, they ignored her. No phone calls etc. She was not useful to the team she had been in for years. She was really truly hurt.

My friend then realized that the Section Assistant she thought was her friend, was only friends with her because she was useful to her. Once she stopped being useful, she gave her the cold shoulder. These were friends who socialized together, were always at each other's house, their kids were friends and were together all the time.

This happened a year or two before Maciel died. Other things my friend saw about how the business was done in RC in upper levels disillusioned her and she left. Not one person called.

Only later as the scandal broke and some women left did she see people by accident and they talked. A group of them are now together to do bible study, etc. Some have joined Opus Dei, etc.

When I left (and took most of my team with me) soon after the news of Maciel's "double life" broke, no one called. I frankly would have been surprised if they had.

Anonymous said...

Amen to this, Marcial got his members to believe that if the RC/LC is criticized, so is the church. I was LC for 11 years, shunning begins the moment you decide to leave. LC/RC attracted good people because it gives structure, but its methods are far from Catholic, Christian, or humane. Good people were duped into a mind control structure
under the all-encompassing word of "Charity". "Charity" means not allowing suspicions that your superior could be screwing you over, "Charity" means never critically thinking about all those little red flags that crop up, "Charity" means suspending judgement and remaining "Serene". Charity in the movement is surrender of your mind to the methodology of Marcial.

The holier-than-thou attitude morphs into you-are-not-good-enough-for-us once you leave.

Anonymous said...

The year I escaped RC was the worst year of my life. When I left all things RC, I avoided my RC friends because I was afraid they would shun me. I didn't want to give them the opportunity to hurt me. This was five years ago. Now, I don't avoid them, but our paths rarely cross (oh that's because there parallel). One day at a convention or something I ran into a RC "friend". I approached her to say hello. We chatted for a moment. Then she suddenly turned her back to me and begun a brand new conversation. IT was clearly done on purpose. I sat there blushing. But, then I just chuckled. And I went back to my lowly seat beside my very sincere non RC friends. There are two RC women, who do on occation talk to me. I was friends with both of them BEFORE any of us even heard of RC. One is still trying to get me involved again. I just don't get it. I think around here they are so big they do not even know how to keep track of the instruments of the devil. So many of us walked away at the same time. Now, non-Rc, makes for a strong bond. Thanks for this disscusion.

Anonymous said...

I don't doubt that there is some form of shunning happening to some people. But I also think some of these experiences are not conscious or organized shunning. I would never presume which experiences are or aren't but suspect most are just plain old awkward situations where tensions and uncomfortability factors are high.

For the record, I am still an active RC member, am disgusted with the Fr. Maciel (and find it hard to pray for his soul, but am working on that), am very active in my local parish (both with RC programs and without) and my diocese.

I have had friends leave the movement. One left before the scandal broke, but was doubtful of Fr. Maciel's innocence. I sat on the other side of the fence and we had a civil personal discussion about it. No big announcement, no angry emails flying around, just honest heartfelt explanations. We left on good terms (still disagreeing about the accusations) and are still friends to this day.

Another left quite suddenly after the revelations from the Legion about Fr. Maciel were admitted, with really no warning, and with a flourish, letting everyone know in no uncertain terms how bad the movement was, how they felt trapped and manipulated for years, and many other strong words. I don't doubt they felt this way, I just bring it up to express the shock many of us felt since this was the very first we had heard about this. There was never any hint of this before, and suddenly it was all dumped on us. I know a few members got in touch with this person, not to talk them out of the decision, but to acknowledge their concern and say that they would be missed. A quite terse response was given back to them. After that I am sure there has been no other attempted contact.

Now, how would you feel when you ran into that person again? Yes, the Faith asks us to be charitable, but that is easy to say, hard to do. Our fallen human nature rebels against this. I am not excusing it, but I think we need to look at both sides.

Also, when someone leaves RC like that, I obviously want to respect their decision to not be involved. But I struggle with things like, what do I invite them to? Will they be offended if I invite them to a non RC event where there may be other RC members? Do I invite them to any RC events? Do I only invite the one who left that I am still friends with, or both, or neither? What if I invite one and not the other and they find out?

Sounds silly, but these are concerns I have, and I am sure others do to. Even in conversations, if they ask what's new, do I mention anything about and RC event coming up? Do avoid the topic completely? It's not an easy thing on either side of the equation.

It may look like shunning in certain situations, but probably is alot of brokenness and confusion on both sides. One could accuse people of shunning who have left RC and feel uncomfortable in keeping in touch with active RC members, but it is NOT shunning.

I just want to be clear. I don't doubt that some people may be shunning, maybe even on both sides. That is wrong, uncharitable, and very unChristian. But charity also asks us to assume the best. Assume that those that don't speak to you just don't know what to say, are uncomfortable, embarassed, etc. and pray for them. Pray for the shunners too!

Anonymous said...

I don't doubt that there is some form of shunning happening to some people. But I also think some of these experiences are not conscious or organized shunning. I would never presume which experiences are or aren't but suspect most are just plain old awkward situations where tensions and uncomfortability factors are high.

For the record, I am still an active RC member, am disgusted with the Fr. Maciel (and find it hard to pray for his soul, but am working on that), am very active in my local parish (both with RC programs and without) and my diocese.

I have had friends leave the movement. One left before the scandal broke, but was doubtful of Fr. Maciel's innocence. I sat on the other side of the fence and we had a civil personal discussion about it. No big announcement, no angry emails flying around, just honest heartfelt explanations. We left on good terms (still disagreeing about the accusations) and are still friends to this day.

Another left quite suddenly after the revelations from the Legion about Fr. Maciel were admitted, with really no warning, and with a flourish, letting everyone know in no uncertain terms how bad the movement was, how they felt trapped and manipulated for years, and many other strong words. I don't doubt they felt this way, I just bring it up to express the shock many of us felt since this was the very first we had heard about this. There was never any hint of this before, and suddenly it was all dumped on us. I know a few members got in touch with this person, not to talk them out of the decision, but to acknowledge their concern and say that they would be missed. A quite terse response was given back to them. After that I am sure there has been no other attempted contact.

Now, how would you feel when you ran into that person again? Yes, the Faith asks us to be charitable, but that is easy to say, hard to do. Our fallen human nature rebels against this. I am not excusing it, but I think we need to look at both sides.

Also, when someone leaves RC like that, I obviously want to respect their decision to not be involved. But I struggle with things like, what do I invite them to? Will they be offended if I invite them to a non RC event where there may be other RC members? Do I invite them to any RC events? Do I only invite the one who left that I am still friends with, or both, or neither? What if I invite one and not the other and they find out?

Sounds silly, but these are concerns I have, and I am sure others do to. Even in conversations, if they ask what's new, do I mention anything about and RC event coming up? Do avoid the topic completely? It's not an easy thing on either side of the equation.

It may look like shunning in certain situations, but probably is alot of brokenness and confusion on both sides. One could accuse people of shunning who have left RC and feel uncomfortable in keeping in touch with active RC members, but it is NOT shunning.

I just want to be clear. I don't doubt that some people may be shunning, maybe even on both sides. That is wrong, uncharitable, and very unChristian. But charity also asks us to assume the best. Assume that those that don't speak to you just don't know what to say, are uncomfortable, embarassed, etc. and pray for them. Pray for the shunners too!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, it posted twice by accident.

Anonymous said...

I have read several explanations of "shunning" that make sense apart from any organized shunning, i.e., individual spiritual or clerical advice given independently to many, being at a loss about what to talk about, feeling excluded or blamed by the shunee, and respecting the leaver's decision. However, all of these explanations only highlight a real problem with RC, which is that it takes over the life of a person. How can it be that one would have nothing else to do or talk about, or have one's personal feelings so wrapped up with another's attitude toward a group, or would subject your will to another in that way, or that one would sinply not have the wherewithal to converse charitably with someone who was presumedly a friend. Definition of cult: it takes over your whole life in an exclusionary way. Christianity takes over our whole lives in a way that brings a radical openness to others. PS I give up on remembeering my password, so I have to post anonymously, but I am Mary.