(Part 1 of The Elephant in the Living Room can be found here)
In Regnum Christi (RC), I knew I was missing something, but I didn’t know what, except that perhaps God was calling us to another movement or mission within the Church. There were just so many mysteries, silence, and tranquil smiles…
RC had taught me how to look at everything as a positive ‘case study.’ In pretty much everything, we could find Christ. I was also taught not to criticize and I was taught to make excuses for people I felt tempted to judge. I wanted so badly to adopt these attitudes that they became etched in my heart as the way I MUST be in order to become holy. But during our difficult year, I started losing the energy to be so positive, to make everything into something that “Christ was asking of me” and that as a woman of the Kingdom I should accept gracefully. I was losing gracefulness as life started beating us up, and I started crying out spiritually… I felt abandoned, desolate, on the brink of despair, and I just couldn’t make any of it sound cheerful, which others more experienced in RC seemed to have a knack for doing. I felt like a real loser, and I felt that it must mean I lacked in holiness.
Near the end of 2008, after much thinking and praying and having begun the road to financial recovery in our family, my hubby and I came to the conclusion that we were lacking peace about being members of RC, and that this was a sign that God was calling us elsewhere. We didn’t take it to mean that there was something wrong with RC, only that we weren’t a right fit anymore. And so we started to look into another movement that focussed on sanctity of life mission work. We used 2009 as a time of discernment for where God was calling us, or IF He was calling us, into any particular mission within the Church.
As we stepped more officially away from RC, and moved to a very devout Catholic parish, things started to appear more clear to me about RC, and I started noticing little facets of the movement that didn’t sit right with me. But nothing seemed groundbreaking, or even a big deal, and I chalked it up to my personal preference…
I would never have left the movement if it had been my choice and circumstances hadn’t prevented me from being involved. In fact, even though I wasn’t attending the prayer meetings, it was not easy to detach my heart and mind from what had become my way of life. There were certain facets of the movement that had become ingrained in me, and for a reason I couldn’t quite identify, I felt I was sinning if I didn’t practise certain ideals that I was taught. Even ‘leaving’ felt like a sin because I had made ‘promises’ in a ceremony to God Himself that I would be faithful to the movement for life. Was I cheating on God? Was I abandoning Him? Was I a major lazy slacker? I didn’t quite know… and always had a little doubt in my mind as to whether I had made the right decision, even though I didn’t feel at peace staying in the movement either. I was confused…
And then, in 2009, the news of Fr. Maciel’s scandalous behavior, the founder of Regnum Christi, was released to the lay people.
I thought I had moved past RC, for the most part. I thought I was an outsider… but it turns out I wasn’t. I was angry at the news. Hurt. Betrayed. Bewildered. And I knew I had to drive the long drive into town, early in the morning, to meet with my dear sisters and support them in this horrible trial.
What I discovered was a mixture of reactions, which is to be expected of any group of people, considering different personalities and pain thresholds. But I did encounter one reaction more common than my own… that ‘tranquil peace’, the ‘joy’, the gratefulness that Fr. Maciel was also a sinner like the rest of us… the ‘let’s move on’ attitude, especially from our suffering priest leaders…
My reaction then turned to shock. Having been actively away from the movement for over a year, I could not believe what I was hearing, and I discerned that truly, what didn’t sit right with me was not a matter of personal preference. It was the belief in an ideal that sacrificed the intellect; that asked us to continue down a road when we had been lied to by the founder of our group and his cohorts… grave lies and deception, and that we were supposed to believe that our remaining associated with the founder and his movement would bear good fruit, and we were supposed to gloss over it, move on, and simply focus on Christ.
Don’t get me wrong… there has been tremendous good fruit borne from people in Regnum Christi. I myself grew spiritually while I was part of the movement. There are amazing RC apostolates that continue to help build up Christ’s people and His Church… But I believe these good fruits do not spring from Fr. Maciel or even the Regnum Christi movement iteself. They spring from the goodness of God and His Church, and the holy people that would be responding to Him no matter what movement they are a part of.
Since the recent scandals have been released in the past couple of months, I know now that God was protecting us, that He knew because we were going through such a difficult personal time, we didn’t need added burdens, and our pain was lessened last year and this year as the scandal news broke. We had already ‘moved on’… not from the beautiful people within the movement, but from the movement itself that was founded and associated with Fr. Maciel in any way. We are quite simply members of the Catholic Church, which was founded by Christ, Who is perfect.
I have heard some compare Fr. Maciel to King David who committed grave sins, or St. Peter who denied Christ. But I don’t think those comparisons are accurate. Both of these Saints repented publically, in Scripture, for all to see, and amended their life. I compare Fr. Maciel to Judas. Judas must have been an amazing man… he was picked as one of the Twelve, by Christ, and even the apostles didn’t realize he would be the betrayer at the Last Supper. Judas was brilliant with money and brilliant at deceiving even the other apostles and disciples, and he had influence over the top religious leaders: the Pharisees. He did have remorse for his sin… but did not repent, and committed the ultimate sin against the Holy Spirit and took his life. Satan had entered his heart, no matter how brilliant he may have been… and his name is etched in Scriptures as ‘the betrayer.’
There is no way to make Judas look good, or gloss over his sin. We should never start a group imitating Judas or claiming him as our leader, or associating with anything even related to him. BUT… God used this sin of Judas to redeem the world… not because we should have ANYTHING to do with Judas, but because God is so infinitely good and omnipotent. God did not inspire Judas’ sin, anymore than I believe God inspired Fr. Maciel to found an order. But God has, and will, bring good out of this man’s grave sins.
It grieves me to write this, as I know there are some whom I love who may not like these words, and may feel I am being uncharitable or that I am joining in on the bandwagon of criticism. I am terribly imperfect, and these are just my thoughts, but I am sharing them not to hurt ANYONE… but rather to say, the elephant has been exposed, and elephants are elephants, no matter how attractive we want to make them. To deny the elephant is to sacrifice our God-given intellect, and that is a sign that we may have fallen under the influence of someone or something with power over our mind, however minor, and that is a dangerous place to go, because Jesus doesn’t ask us give up our intellect.
The entire Church is suffering greatly now because of this man’s sin, and we don’t know how far this persecution will reach. It is no light matter, and nothing we can simply ‘move on and start a new chapter with’ without deep thought and prayer, and acknowledgement of Truth, no matter how attached to the movement we may have become.
We do know God will be victorious in the end. My prayer is that we ALL cling to Truth Himself, and stay close to our Holy Mother Church in these times when “even the elect can be deceived.” (ref: Matthew 24:24)