Monthly Archives: February 2009

Open letter to Legionaries by Dr. Germain Grisez []

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Posted February 5:

Open letter to Legionaries by Dr. Germain Grisez

An open letter to the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, by Dr. Germain Grisez, Flynn Professor of Christian Ethics at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

This morning I found the attached Catholic News Service report posted on the National Catholic Register website, which suffices to convince me that the report’s content is substantially accurate. I attach it so that you may know exactly what has moved me to write this message to you, who are the only Legionaries of Christ I know well and regard as friends. I hope that you will realize without my saying so that nothing true of Father Maciel could ever lessen my admiration and affection for you, my readiness to associate with you, and my desire to cooperate with you whenever our different vocations make doing so appropriate. As your friend, I am thinking about your plight, and wish to offer the help I can give you. You must be feeling great pain at your spiritual father’s betrayal of Jesus, of his Church, and of you and all your good and faithful confreres. You also must be feeling great anxiety at the dimmed prospects for the unfolding of your vocations to priestly life and service. I try to imagine and do sympathize with those feelings and pray that the Holy Spirit will console you and strengthen you to console your good and faithful confreres. In my draft of chapter three of my volume on clerical and consecrated service and life, I wrote: While good close collaborators never renege on their total self-gift, some do leave the diocese or institute to which they first committed themselves in order to enter another, form an entirely new institute, or undertake a different sort of consecrated life. But they only undertake such a change if convinced that God is calling them to make it. Many saints have discerned such a calling and responded. Their example makes it clear that their commitment to and membership in particular dioceses or institutes is a stable but not always unalterable way of carrying out their fundamental commitment, namely, their self-gift to Jesus and his Church. If I were you, I would bear in mind that your fundamental commitment is to Jesus and his Church. The question that should be uppermost in your minds is how to continue carrying out that commitment most faithfully and fruitfully. You and all your good and faithful confreres share a common good that includes realities of great value: your communio with one another, your experience and habits of working together, and material means of carrying on your common service and life. All that should be protected, salvaged, and, if possible, kept intact. I do not think that good end can be realized by the juridical person, the Legionaries of Christ, and its present leadership. Sex-abuse involving diocesan clerics and members of religious institutes has been dealt with up to now solely by sanctions against those guilty of abusive activities and by measures to prevent such activities. The bishops, religious superiors, and others who were guilty—of complicity in such wrongdoing, lying about it, irresponsibility toward victims, and so on—have in general not honestly admitted, much less rectified, what they did and failed to do. For that reason, the injury to the Church continues to fester. Still, those past experiences might seem to some Legionaries to provide a model by which your present plight can be overcome. That would be a grave mistake for two reasons. First, no matter how corrupt the hierarchy may be, faithful Catholics cannot do without it, but we can do without any particular religious institute. Everyone realizes that Father Maciel’s double life required the complicity of associates, some of whom surely are still members of the institute, and some of whom probably are functioning as superiors. Unless those who shared in the betrayal are identified and faithful Legionaries cleanly separate from them, the latter group’s common good will not continue receiving the support of faithful Catholics, and will not be preserved. Second, when a bishop dies, the diocese’s priests cease cooperating with him. But even after the death of an institute’s saintly founder, its members’ service and life continue as cooperation with him or her. Regardless of Father Maciel’s subjective moral responsibility—which only God knows—the evidence of his objective betrayal of his commitment makes it impossible for you and other good and faithful Legionaries any longer to carry on your service and life as cooperation with him. Unless you and your confreres proceed as quickly as possible to terminate the juridical person, the Legionaries of Christ, and reorganize yourselves into a new institute, the common good you now share will begin to decompose: very few new men will join you, many in formation will leave, some professed members will separate, and the collaboration and support of the lay faithful will shrink. The Pope is the ultimate superior on earth of every religious institute. Only the Pope can oversee the termination of the Legionaries of Christ, the salvaging of its faithful members and other assets, and their reconstitution into a new institute. Therefore, if I were you, I would at once appeal to the Pope to fulfill his responsibility toward you, to appoint two or three prelates—members neither of the Legionaries nor of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life—as an ad hoc papal commission to conduct a thorough visitation, identify those complicit in Father Maciel’s wrongdoing and its concealment until now, and work closely with faithful, professed members in carrying out an orderly termination of the existing Institute, election of a small group to serve as founders of its replacement, and the preparation of an entirely new and reformed body of particular law for the new institute. Some of your good and faithful confreres undoubtedly will tell you that following my advice would violate your vow of obedience and constitute grave disloyalty to your superiors. Those sincere men will be mistaken. Your vow is to obey morally acceptable precepts. In the present disaster, it is, in my judgment, your grave moral duty to appeal to the Pope, as your superior, to save the common good of the faithful members of the Legionaries of Christ by terminating the present juridical person, and seeing to the formation of a new institute. I am sure that most who were complicit in Father Maciel’s wrongdoing were constrained by a false sense of loyalty. Do not follow their bad and disastrous example. Remember instead your responsibility to Jesus and to his Church—to all those whose souls are still to be saved by your service and that of the members of the new foundation.


New York Times: Catholic Order Jolted by Reports That Its Founder Led a Double Life

New York Times:

Catholic Order Jolted by Reports That Its Founder Led a Double Life

February 3, 2009

The Legionaries of Christ, an influential Roman Catholic religious order, have been shaken by new revelations that their founder, who died a year ago, had an affair with a woman and fathered a daughter just as he and his thriving conservative order were winning the acclaim of Pope John Paul II.

Before his death, the founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, had been forced to leave public ministry by Pope Benedict XVI because of accusations from more than a dozen men who said he had sexually abused them when they were students.

But most members of the Legion continued to defend Father Maciel, asserting that the accusations had not been proved. Father Maciel died in January 2008 at the age of 87, and was buried in Mexico, where he was born.

Now the order’s general director, the Rev. Álvaro Corcuera, is quietly visiting its religious communities and seminaries in the United States and informing members that their founder led a double life, current and former Legionaries said.

The order is not publicly confirming the details of the scandal.

Jim Fair, a spokesman for the Legionaries, said only: “We have learned some things about our founder’s life that are surprising and difficult for us to understand. We can confirm that there are some aspects of his life that were not appropriate for a Catholic priest.”

Some former members said they expected the order to renounce its founder, but Mr. Fair said: “He is the founder and he always will be the founder of the order. That’s one of the mysteries that we all see in life is that sometimes good things come out of less than perfect human beings.”

In Catholic religious orders, members are taught to identify with the spirituality and values of the founder. That was taken to an extreme in the Legionaries, said the Rev. Stephen Fichter, a priest in New Jersey who left the order after 14 years.

“Father Maciel was this mythical hero who was put on a pedestal and had all the answers,” Father Fichter said. “When you become a Legionarie, you have to read every letter Father Maciel ever wrote, like 15 or 16 volumes. To hear he’s been having this double life on the side, I just don’t see how they’re going to continue.”

Father Fichter, once the chief financial officer for the order, said he informed the Vatican three years ago that every time Father Maciel left Rome, “I always had to give him $10,000 in cash — $5,000 in American dollars and $5,000 in the currency of wherever he was going.”

Father Fichter added: “As Legionaries, we were taught a very strict poverty; if I went out of town and bought a Bic pen and a chocolate bar, I would have to turn in the receipts. And yet for Father Maciel there was never any accounting. It was always cash, never any paper trail. And because he was this incredible hero to us, we never even questioned it for a second.”

Mr. Fair said he had no comment about whether Father Maciel had misappropriated money, fathered a child or sexually abused young men.

The Legionaries, founded in 1941, have grown as the church in many countries has shrunk. It has 800 priests in 22 countries, and 70,000 members worldwide, many of whom are lay people in its affiliate, Regnum Christi.

Tom Hoopes, managing editor of The National Catholic Register, which is affiliated with the Legionaries, posted an apology on the Web on Tuesday for having dismissed the sexual abuse accusations, saying, “I’m sorry to the victims, who were victims twice.”

“Written in Our Flesh: Eyes Toward Jerusalem” — a compilation of the writings of Robert A. Brungs, S.J., co-founder of ITEST, ed. and Foreword by Marianne Postiglione, RSM

Written in Our Flesh: Eyes toward Jerusalem

Publication Year: 2008,  ID: BK025

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Institute for Theological Encounter with Science and Technology ITEST © 2 ID: BK025

Astronomy Cosmology Breakthroughs and the God Question

Abstract: This book provides a guide to the vision of the late Fr. Robert A. Brungs, SJ, in his nearly four decades of study and reflection on the faith/science&technology dialogue. Co-founder and Director of the Institute for Theological Encounter with Science and Technology (ITEST) in 1968, Father Brungs almost singlehandedly furthered the faith/science mission and ministry to people throughout the world. The immediate need he addressed in 1968 was to alert Christian Churches to the scientific and technological advances being made in scientific laboratories around the world and their imminent affect on Christian belief. Through his personal letters, messages from the quarterly ITEST bulletin, reflections and articles found in this volume, he combined his love for science and technology with his love for the Church and the Christian Faith. This book is best enjoyed as an experience of meditative reflection and prayer. The title is an excerpt from a letter to a friend “… Our history before God is written in our flesh….we strain forward toward the New Jerusalem to discover whom we are truly meant to be …”

Table of Contents: Acknowledgments……………………………..viii Foreword…………………………………………………………………………………x

Chapter One:…………………………………………………………………………….1

Priesthood: from an unpublished manuscript, The Body Beautiful “… to bring Christ to creation and creation to Christ.”

Chapter Two:…………………………………………………………………………..27

Excerpts from Letters: “Join me in the cosmic dance.”

Chapter Three:………………………………………………………………………..119

Benchmarks in Faith/Science: “…coming to love the Lord more and more.”

Chapter Four:………………………………………………………………………….187

Summaries and Interventions from ITEST Workshops and Conferences: “Theology should bring us to our knees.”

Chapter Five:…………………………………………………………………………..223

The Three Last Articles from the ITEST Bulletins: Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms And God Got Lonesome: Our Response to God in Faith The Faith/Science Interface

Chapter 5 Index Appendices:

1. Robert A. Brungs, SJ, Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………..322

Additional Photos…………………………………………………………328

Obituary from the Missouri Province…………………………………………………………………………..336

2. Reflections on You See Lights Breaking Upon Us: Doctrinal Perspectives on Biological Advance (1989) by John Cross ITEST © 3 ID: BK025     …………………………………………………………………………………………….     340

3. Review of You See Lights Breaking Upon Us by John F. Kavanaugh, SJ     …………………………………………………     342

4. Homily at Fr. Brungs’ Funeral Mass by John F. Kavanaugh, SJ     ……………………………………………….     344

Foreword: By Marianne Postiglione, RSM

Over a decade ago I hesitantly suggested to Fr. Brungs that we should edit and publish a compilation of his writings: articles, letters, reflections and excerpts from the ITEST conferences as an archive of the work to which he had devoted so much of his life. After smiling somewhat benignly, he wondered out loud who would be interested in reading such a volume. And, even if anyone could be found, who among them would be capable of choosing the “best” of his efforts over the years. He immediately eliminated himself from the task, saying that in his experience the author should be the last person to judge what should be published. I decided then that the answer was not a definite “no” but perhaps a “maybe” or even “We’ll know more later.” The impetus for this volume arose from that short conversation, sprinkled with so many “if’s” and allowed to marinate in the “juices” of time. But after Father Brungs’ death in May of 2006, the idea for publishing a remembrance surfaced with more and more frequency, nudging me ever more insistently to get to work on this project as a tribute to the memory of Fr. Brungs and his dedication to the Church and science, both of which he loved. John Cross, a long-time ITEST Board member and a professor emeritus of psychology from Saint Louis University, agreed to work on this volume with me. John concentrated on the book, You See Lights Breaking Upon Us: Doctrinal Perspectives on Biological Advance. I focused on Fr. Brungs’ (mostly personal) letters, opening messages from the ITEST Bulletins and excerpts from workshops and conferences that highlighted his thoughts and concerns in the faith/ science dialogue. Dr. Cross found it difficult to categorize Fr. Brungs either as theologian or scientist — though he was both; he characterized him rather as a religious thinker – one deeply in love with God. And, like Fr. John Kavanaugh, SJ, he saw him: a “romantic scientist” – simultaneously a physicist, a theologian, and “a seer of mystic realities in the sacrament of the cosmos.” The letters I chose to include span from 1988 to 2006 – until just a few weeks before his death. Surprising – to me at least – is that most of the letters were written to women, more than 30 of them, and many were intensely personal. With only a few exceptions, we include just his letters, not those sent to him. And we omit the names of his correspondents in all but a very few instances where the reader would benefit by knowing the identity of the person Fr. Brungs was addressing. You may recognize a letter he sent to you many years ago – or perhaps one from within the last few years. In any case, we have protected the privacy of those to whom he wrote. Why did we choose the letters? Perhaps more than in any of his other writings, the letters reveal the “heart” of the man who cared for the individual. In his letters he shared his wisdom, his humor, and his playfulness. His letters include accounts of his almost constant physical pain – often making light of it but at the same time conveying his concern over whether he would be well enough and strong enough to continue serving the Lord in his Church for many years to come. ITEST © 4 ID: BK025 The opening messages from the ITEST Bulletins (Benchmarks in Faith/Science) posed a different challenge. From 1969 or so Fr. Brungs had written close to 140 messages. I chose to include those that apply most appropriately to our world today – for example, evolution, the seasons of the church, war, biotechnology and many others; fifty in all. Most difficult of all for me was choosing the Forewords to conferences/workshops and excerpts from the discussion sessions of those meetings. The sheer amount of material – ranging from 1988 to 2005 – was overwhelming. And I found gems of wisdom in all of them. My charge, however, was to select the brightest of the gems and allow them to illuminate the rest. Shortly after his death in May 2006, we received many messages of condolence, most of them addressed to me, as a member of the ITEST staff. We printed most of them in the Summer Bulletin 2006, but we thought that, like good music, art or poetry, they could be enjoyed over and over again. Hence, we decided to reprint excerpts from these messages as “script text” on pages throughout Chapter 2. We’ve also included photos of the Klosterman/ Brungs family and the ITEST family. We’ve also included three of his articles that best summarize Father Brungs’ outlook and attitude about the faith/science mission and ministry. To me, they are his “last will and testament” – his legacy – to the faith/science community. Also included is his chapter on the priesthood from an unpublished manuscript on the body. In this chapter he explains how he heard the call of his vocation. He shares his growing up in Cincinnati and his years in seminary and novitiate. While he doesn’t mention it in this chapter, had he not entered the Jesuits upon graduating from Gonzaga High School in 1949, he would have been awarded a scholarship to The Catholic University of America to study architecture. Rather than designing and erecting buildings, however, he spent his life crafting a spiritual architecture of science and faith. He built no skyscrapers to honor human achievements in the secular realm; rather, he built other spiritual structures that touched the very heavens, supported by spiritual girders and I-beams rather than concrete, mortar and steel. A word about the use of “inclusive” language. We decided not to change Father Brungs’ use of he and him in referring to God since a portion of his material dates from an earlier time when referring to God in masculine terms was commonly accepted. We hope that this book finds a place in your home – if not at your bedside table, at least on your bookshelf. We view it as more than a book of memories or a perspective on Father Brungs’ 40 years of service in the faith/science apostolate. We hope you will pick it up from time to time, either as a companion to prayer and meditation or as a “good friend” – as books so often are – to be savored and cherished. How did we arrive at a title for this book? Because Fr. Brungs devoted much time, prayer and effort to the reality of “the body” in God’s plan of redemption and salvation, Written in Our Flesh emerged as the most appropriate opening phrase. A sub-title also from Brungs’ writing also suggested itself: Eyes toward Jerusalem. A letter to a friend and editor from Rhode Island who often provided valuable assistance and encouragement for his many forays into this rich and fruitful area of tradition highlights his thinking on this issue: Our history before God is written in our flesh. As members of Christ’s body, and sharers in his divinity, we look back neither to Eden nor to the Palestine of Christ’s earthly life to discover the fullness of our human identity. Instead we strain forward toward the New Jerusalem to discover whom we are fully meant to be. …Scripture opens in a garden and closes in a city – the New Jerusalem.

– Letter to Jean Cavanaugh in the 1980’s

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