Vatican Weighs In On Cult-Like Group In Legion of Christ

The Vatican has proposed giving hundreds of women who live like nuns within the troubled Legion of Christ order greater autonomy after a Holy See investigation found serious problems in their regimented communities.

Regnum Christi is a community of some 70,000 Catholics in 30 countries who have regular jobs and families yet help promote the movement’s aim of bringing people closer to Christ through missionary-type work.

The Associated Press reports

The pope’s delegate running the Legion, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, said in a letter published Monday that the problems of the consecrated women of the Legion’s lay branch were “many and challenging.” Of particular concern is that they have no legal status in the church.

In a 2010 Associated Press expose, former consecrated women spoke of the cult-like conditions they lived in, with rules dictating nearly every minute of their day — from how they ate to what they watched on TV — all in the name of God’s will.

The women described emotional and spiritual abuse they suffered if they questioned their vocation, and of how they would be cast aside if their spiritual directors no longer had any need for them.

The Vatican ordered the investigation after word of the abuses emerged during a broader Vatican probe into the Legion, a conservative order founded in Mexico in 1941 by the late Rev. Marciel Maciel.

After decades of denying allegations Maciel was a pedophile, the Legion in 2009 began admitting to his double life: that he sexually abused seminarians and had fathered at least three children with two women.

The revelations have put the Legion in a tailspin and cast a shadow over the Vatican since Pope John Paul II had held Maciel up as a model for his orthodoxy and ability to attract new priests and donations.

Maciel had created the consecrated branch of the Legion’s lay movement Regnum Christi primarily as a fundraising tool and to provide unpaid teachers for Legion-owned schools.

Scourge of America’s paedophile priests sets up shop in UK

For much of the past 25 years, Jeff Anderson has been the American Catholic Church‘s bête noire. Working out of a small office in St Paul, Minnesota, the 63-year-old US attorney has spearheaded more than 1,500 lawsuits against the Church, winning millions of dollars for his clients and forcing open the doors of one of the world’s most secretive institutions.

Now the tough-talking lawyer with a taste for Zen Buddhism has co-founded a London-based law firm to bring sex abuse cases against churches in Britain.

The new firm, Jeff Anderson Ann Olivarius Law, is a first attempt to create a cross-Atlantic practice dedicated to launching legal actions on multiple continents using aggressive litigation tactics honed for more than two decades in the US.

Vatican says condoms acceptable only in ‘exceptional’ cases

In a series of interviews to appear in a book published this week, Pope Benedict XVI says for the first time that while the use of condoms should not be seen as a “moral solution”, it could be justified in stopping the spread of AIDS.

But the Vatican moved Sunday to counter campaigners’ claims of a U-turn in Church policy, emphasising in a statement that condom use was acceptable only in highly “exceptional” cases, AP reports.

Our take: If you don’t play the game, you don’t get to set the rules. What people do in the privacy of their bedrooms is none of the Pope’s — or the Catholic Church’s — business. [Read more...]

Two Catholic Churches in Brooklyn Will Close

Facing a drop in attendance and a shortage of priests, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn plans to close two churches, fold six parishes into three and impose strict budget constraints on all 198 of its parishes.

The move, announced from pulpits on Sunday, was described by church officials as the first phase of a broad consolidation that will result in further closings or mergers over the next two years, eventually affecting every parish in the diocese, which serves an estimated 1.5 million Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens. [Read more...]