As noted by several blogs this week, Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore has issued a letter to the Legionaries of Christ and its lay movement Regnum Christi requiring them to inform him of all their activities within the archdiocese--including names of priests, recruitment methods, the locations and schedule of their meetings, and descriptions of all their youth activities. The archbishop also barred them from conducting one-on-one spiritual direction with minors.John Allen has the story (along with an excellent interview with O'Brien):
The ban on counseling minors, OBrien said in an interview with NCR on Wednesday, is related to concerns that the Legionaries and Regnum Christi practice heavily persuasive methods on young people, especially high schoolers, regarding vocations.(...)I want to ensure that encouragement of vocations is carried out in a way that respects the rights of parents in the upbringing of their children and the rights of young persons themselves to be able to make free and fully informed decisions about their futures, OBrien wrote.Finally, OBrien asked to be updated every six months about the activities and objectives of Legionary and Regnum Christi groups in the archdiocese.The June 6 letter, OBrien told NCR, represents a last-ditch effort to repair relations. OBrien said he actually reached a decision two to three months ago to ask the Legionaries and Regnum Christi to leave the archdiocese, but was persuaded to stay his hand by three Vatican cardinals who asked him to meet first with Corcuera.That meeting, OBrien said, took place earlier in June.In the NCR interview, OBrien also expressed skepticism that the Legionaries will be able to implement needed reforms until they come to terms with seemingly persuasive evidence that Maciel, the founder, engaged in activity that was less than honorable, and maybe even sinful.
Throughout the interview, and to his great credit, O'Brien doesn't attempt to hide his skepticism of the Legionaries. He candidly admits the archdiocese's alarming level of ignorance regarding their activities. O'Brien cannot say whether the Legionaries have generated a lot of vocations. More troubling, O'Brien explains that for Regnum Christi's father/son weekends, "the father drives 14 hours, brings the kid up to New Hampshire and drops the kid off at 11 at night. Where's the father going to stay? Well, there's a place about 40 miles away, so the father's sleeping in the car overnight. Next day they're ready for the hike, but no, the fathers don't go, it's just the counselor and the kids. That's the tendency." And, according to O'Brien, the archdiocese can't get a straight answer about who's responsible. "Each time you meet with an official, [they say,] 'Oh, no, that didn't happen, did it? You should have let us know right away. That's not right.' But it happens over and over again." Over and over.And if the Legionaries don't comply, Allen asks, "you would be willing to take that next step of barring them from the archdiocese?""I think we'd have to." In fact, as O'Brien tells Allen, he was "tantamount" to barring them from the archdiocese a few months ago, but the Holy See asked him to hold off until meeting with the Legionary superior general.There's much, much more worth reading in the interview. Read the whole thing right here. It's rather stunning.