UTILITARIANISM OF THE REGNUM CHRISTI MOVEMENT
Using People, the Church, and Fear for their Own Ends
The act of faith is of its very nature a free act. Man, redeemed by Christ the Savior and through Christ Jesus called to be God*#39;s adopted Son, cannot give his adherence to God revealing Himself unless, under the drawing of the Father, he offers to God the reasonable and free submission of faith. It is therefore completely in accord with the nature of faith that in matters religious every manner of coercion on the part of men should be excluded (Second Vatican Council Documents,
Declaration on Religious Freedom,no. 10).
UTILITARIANISM OF THE REGNUM CHRISTI MOVEMENT
Using People, the Church, and Fear for their Own Ends
The act of faith is of its very nature a free act. Man, redeemed by Christ the Savior and through Christ Jesus called to be God's adopted son, cannot give his adherence to God revealing Himself unless, under the drawing of the Father, he offers to God the reasonable and free submission of faith. It is therefore completely in accord with the nature of faith that in matters religious every manner of coercion on the part of men should be excluded (Second Vatican Council Documents,
THE POST VATICAN II STORM
A brief history of the Church in recent decades explains the extraordinary growth of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement. As many know, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) intended to integrate the timeless teachings of the Church with the modern world. This pastoral council changed no doctrine, eradicated no prior beliefs, and eliminated no Sacred Traditions, but simply suggested that the methods of transmitting the Truth of Christ be updated so that the present and future generations would find the faith more compelling and accessible.
Sadly, many zealous and overhasty Catholics embraced the idea of meeting modernity head-on, interpreting it to mean that renouncing legalism meant rejecting the Law, and evangelizing the culture meant elevating popular sentiment at the expense of the age-old 'sensus fidei'. Few need to be reminded of the chaos that followed the close of the Council, as spontaneity and innovation dominated the Sacred Liturgy and creative theology swept through Catholic schools.
On a personal level, Catholics received questionable teachings in many venues, saw droves of family members and friends leave the Church, and witnessed the marginalization of those who held firmly to traditional theology and devotions. That the faithful felt the earth shifting beneath their very feet would not be an exaggeration. Once known for their unique world view and strong family culture, now Catholics were hardly distinguishable from non-Catholics in the way they lived their daily lives.
"THOSE HANDSOME YOUNG MEN IN CASSOCKS
Almost every orthodox Catholic's first encounter with the Legion of Christ has been accompanied by relief and joy. Here were exuberant young men in traditional garb participating in reverent liturgies. Not only did they love the Pope, the Church, and Our Lady, but they wanted to share that love with everyone they met. They were on the lookout for any young men or women with vocations, families who wanted their children to share their zeal through age-appropriate youth groups, and adults they could invite into Regnum Christi to work alongside them for the Kingdom. Wasn't this the long-awaited answer to prayer?
One of the most common comments about the Movement is that they spend a lot of time and energy on recruiting new members. It is understandable that if someone has found something he finds highly valuable, he wants to tell everyone about it. This would be true of a promising stock, a beneficial medicine, or an inspiring book, and it is the assumption that souls who find authentic Catholicism through the Legion want others to find it there as well. From the youngest members in youth groups to the seminarians and priests on recruiting teams, every member is encouraged to bring others to Christ through the Movement and to make it grow.
Zeal to spread the Kingdom could account for many of these directives, but one gradually senses that each member is responsible for bringing others of a certain caliber to the ranks, who then are pressed in the same way. Highly valued are the high-profile recruits whose incorporation will attract others by their mere association. It is standard procedure in youth groups to dangle well-known guests, such as popular athletes, to draw youngsters to retreats. This would not be controversial, except that the intensity of the recruiting never lets up and it becomes evident that people are used more as tools than as ends in themselves.
Recruiting one-on-one is bolstered by the growth of apostolates that will attract Catholics who can then be invited to Regnum Christi events. A seemingly solid defense of these apostolates is that they
Most important, it is the treatment of members who cannot recruit or benefit the Movement which reveals the utilitarianism of the Legion. Regnum Christi members discover that each apostolate has to raise its own funds, be self-staffed, and also provide money and new members for the Movement. The Legionary charism of
As a side note, having focused on energetic and apostolic Catholics to fill their ranks, the Legion uses the initiatives of its members to bolster its own image. Each team member is encouraged to brainstorm for new ways to spread the faith, and in this framework the Legion then takes credit for spreading the kingdom by means of its methodology. A recent medical story provides an analogy. It was reported that the use of the birth control pill lowered the risk of heart disease. Seeing a red flag immediately, pro-lifers pursued the facts to discover that there was no study to this effect, but just some statistics. Analysis of the statistics showed rather quickly that the lower incidence of heart disease was the result of doctors discouraging women with heart disease or a family history of such from using the Pill. The deck, in essence, was stacked. In the same way, if the Legion only invites enthusiastic and thriving families into its ranks, it can take credit neither for their initiatives nor their formation. It is not the methodology that is blessed but the faith of the members who were already pursuing God's will for their lives. But that doesn't stop the Legion from using them for PR. 1
It is with great sadness that one must suggest that the Legion uses the Pope, the sacraments, and its own spiritual direction for its own ends, and not necessarily for the good of its members or even the Church at large. There are pictures of the founder with the Pope, the seminarians with the Pope, the papal Masses, the trips to Rome, the papal endorsement, the endless string of anecdotes indicating the personal affection of the Pope for the Movement, as well as the endless promotion of the
What are the facts? The Church has emphasized that this is the
Add to this fact that the Legionaries offer spiritual direction to members which is directed towards cementing the members to the Movement. Those who become overwhelmed at the demands of their service to the Movement are encouraged to soldier on, those who indicate family problems or children who want to back away from youth activities are instructed that their souls may be in jeopardy, and those who criticize the methodology are reminded that this group is an approved gift of God that cannot be questioned. It would seem that
Finally, as the introduction indicated, the lay faithful want to serve the Church and ensure the sanctity of their loved ones in a world that has drifted far from a Judeo-Christian ethic. The mistakes that their children can make are not only dangerous but even deadly. Promiscuity, illegal drug-use, sexually-transmitted diseases, abortion, and father-absent homes are but a few of the dangers lurking all too readily in the wings. Surrounding the children from an early age with companions of good moral repute is one way to minimize temptation, and
It is this very idea of
Anyone who has spent time in the company of members of the Movement must concede that the zealous and focused profile offered here is warranted. Many have excused their behavior because their cause seems Catholic enough and the urgency to fight for the Church is well-placed. The so-called papal approval has silenced many a critic whose sense of justice and forthrightness has led him to question the methodology. Even those who witness dishonest, aggressive, or questionable tactics on the part of members of the Legionaries or Regnum Christi excused them as growing pains, individual excess, or a necessary evil when fighting in a fallen world. Let's not allow the Kingdom they're building to cloud our judgment over the way they lay the bricks. One might pause to consider the legitimacy of their claims to being
1 Some would counter that the strength of the RC Movement is the structure which can foster good works and encourage holiness. That is another argument and will require another article to study the fruits of
Legionary apostolates.It was shown above, for now, that the window dressing of apostolates would seem to serve recruiting goals rather than serving the Church at large.
2 The membership numbers provided to Rome are provided by the Legion and impossible to verify, even by the Vatican.
3 Countless anecdotes have been documented of streamlining invitations to participate in apostolic outreaches to those who were
Regnum Christi materialor eligible to help the Legion in some way.
The author has been closely associated with Regnum Christi since 1992 and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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