Monday, May 11, 2009

LEAVING THE LEGION: THE HORNS OF THE DILEMMA - #14 "How to get a Loved one Out of the Legion & Regnum

In "Parsing Fr. Berg", @ Life After RC, Giselle has some very strong comments on his Adieu to Regnum Christi members, to the Legion, and to Catholics interested in the Legion and Regnum


As a Former Legionary Priest, now laicized, I can empathize with Fr. Berg and even admire him while at the same time agreeing with Giselle's trenchant reasoning regarding how Father is still under the spell of Legion sirens.

Harkening back to my own departure from the Legion I admire Fr Berg's presence of mind and his attempt to think through his leaving and to do it the best possible way. This is an admirable effort on his part. For some reason he has been able to preserve some sense of self as a separate entity from the Legion, the superiors, and the "mystique". He has some separate moral conscience. With his limited autonomy and self individuation he has been able to extricate himself from the Legion thicket.

The departing Legionary and Regnum Christ member faces a terrible dilemma: to leave or to stay BUT in reality

S/HE MUST LEAVE, OR AT LEAST STEP OUTSIDE, the institition in order to

- gain the objectivity that will help him/her see more clearly WHY s/he left; to

- understand the HOLD the institution still has on him/her; and to

- be able to see that same institution in a more OBJECTIVE light.



  1. IMex, a few reflections if I may.

    The core of the dilemma is identity and integrity.

    The Legion seeks to interfere with the fundamental religious question, "Who am I?" which necessarily entails some relation to God. The Legion seeks to cast that question in terms of norms and role models that are simply fraudulent.

    Therefore, there is a dissonance: What I discern God wants me to be (how God speaks to me in my daily religious life, believing that in fact he wants me to be happy and fulfilled not emotionally necessarily but ontologically, which entails the emotional), and what the Legion, to whom I have vowed obedience, says that God wants me to be (a seed in the ground, suffering endlessly, even mental illness, before 'abandoning the congregation').

    The disharmony between those two notes grows until one chooses.

    If one maintains a faith in God as a loving Father, which hopefully one has not allowed the Legion to uproot and recast as a 'Lord and Task Master' to be served and feared, then you have a chance of recovering identity and hopefully integrity by learning to love oneself properly, ie through Jesus. Only when we know and love ourselves properly can we be healthy enought to look on a congregation like the Legion of Christ with an unjaundiced eye to see the damage it does.

  2. I see several powerful spiritual, religious, Christian and Catholic principles and insights. I hope this continues to enlighten those who are struggling and pass by here.

  3. Hello, again,
    reading that very intelligent first comment...
    and wanting to continue the dialog

    There are some "if"s in the comment:

    IF the member has been able to preserve enough sense of self, enough "ego strength", to think and make decisions for him/herself. I strongly doubt that as I beleve the "formation system" quickly or slowly strips you of that

    "IF one maintains a faith in God as a loving Father"

    The comment is very much on target regarding one's image of/relationship with God

    On leaving I found solace in John Powell's "Why am I afraid to Love" for its positive God image. I belived that Henri Nouyen's "With Open Hands" and other booklets also helped. But I only found this spirituality after leaving. I was too much "in crisis" during much of my 23 years that I did not have much Peace or Presence of Mind/Soul. It would seem that Fr. Berg was not as troubled as that.

    But then, my old doubting self wonders why he would someone not be troubled in a cult like the Legion; did he make peace with it to some degree? did he buy into it to some extent?

    I admire and bless those who can rescue their "priestly vocation" from the ungodly and unChristly training they received in the Legion/Regnum. They are better men than me.

  4. Thanks for the reply and the book recommendations. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that sentimental Irish temperment, that big heart. I think Fr Berg simply doesn't feel things as deeply as others, he's on the cool side of things. Stuff just doesn't bug him as much (even if perhaps it should).

    I also don't trust any public statement from a priest trying to incardinate and needing help from the Legion. He does what he must to survive.

    Of course Father is rather young, and these journeys go on for many years, and the hand of God is very active throughout. Perhaps as the Legion-ingrained need to control wanes, he will pursue Christ along some other path. Who knows. I still believe in Jesus, who beckons with love and not guilt, who doesn't seek to control or manipulate, who brings peace and came to give us life to the full, not a series of check boxes and quotas and time slots to be filled in a approved by a superior to become quantitatively God's will so we can see what percentage of our life is holy.

    No todos podemos ser frailes, y muchos son los caminos por donde Dios lleva a los suyos al cielo.

  5. You must be my soul brother/sister and equally as bilingual as myself

    I wish many others could hear us dialog about these Legion/Regnum matters and our healing and recovery and new lives.

    I stand corrected -I can even remember what I wrote in my memoir!- I was introduced to Fr. John Powell, sj, way back in the 70s through a Mexican lady friend who gave me "Why am I afraid to love?" [now through Thomas More? publishers, previously with Argus Communications] which was perfect fit for me at that moment, opening up the image of a loving God which I was beginning to experience in my own life through an opening of my own heart....STOP! material for another memoir.
    Anyway, became enthused with Powell's blend of Fundamental Theology and Psychology; I began seeing the importance of pyschological health as a way of having a real relationship with oneself, others and with God...

  6. "I can'T even remember..."