Regnum Christi

Fr. John Connor

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Regnum Christi Federation: Unofficial Translation from Italian Original

ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

to the Regnum Christi Federation

February 29 2020

(Unofficial translation from the Italian original)

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am pleased to be able to meet with you as you are concluding a phase of your journey under the maternal guidance of the Church. You, Legionaries of Christ, have just concluded your General Chapter and you, both Consecrated Women and Lay Consecrated Men of Regnum Christi, your General Assemblies. These were a chapter and assemblies which produced your new General Governments, concluding a phase in the journey you have undertaken. This means that the journey continues and is not yet completed.

The criminal behavior of your founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, which emerged in all its gravity, produced a deep crisis in the whole of Regnum Christi, both as an institution and individually. While, on the one hand, it cannot be denied that he was the “historical” founder of the entire reality you represent, on the other hand, he cannot be considered as an example of holiness to be imitated. He made himself the point of reference, through a false image that he created with his double life. Moreover, his long centralized government had, to some extent, tainted the charism that the Holy Spirit had originally given to the Church; and this was reflected in its norms, as well as in the practice of government and obedience, and in its style of life.

Faced with these revelations, the Church did not fail to show her motherly concern and reached out to you in various ways, placing alongside you people of great human and pastoral sensitivity and recognized juridical competence. Among them I wish to recall the late Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, Pontifical Delegate. The new Constitutions and the new Statutes are truly “new,” both because they reflect a new spirit and a new vision of religious life consistent with the Second Vatican Council and the guidelines of the Holy See, and because they are the product of three years’ work, in which all of your communities have been involved and which has led to a change of mentality. It was an event that brought about a real conversion of heart and mind. This was possible because you were docile to the help and support that the Church offered you, having realized the real need for a renewal that would bring you out of the self-referentiality in which you had been enclosed.  You opened yourselves with courage to the action of the Holy Spirit, thus entering the path of true discernment.

Accompanied by the Church, you have carried out with patience and willingness a demanding task to overcome even very strong tensions which sometimes arose. This prompted a further change of mentality, because it required a new vision in the mutual relations between the diverse realities that comprise Regnum Christi. I know well that it has not been easy, because what we are most strongly attached to are our own ideas. We often lack holy indifference, to which we must be open by an act of will, to allow the Holy Spirit to work within us. The Spirit leads us to detachment from ourselves in the search for God’s will, because only from God’s will can come the good for the whole Church and for each of us.

This work has led to the establishment of the Federation of Regnum Christi, composed of the Religious Institute of the Legionaries of Christ, the Society of Apostolic Life of the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi and the Society of Apostolic Life of the Lay Consecrated Men of Regnum Christi. Numerous lay people, who do not profess the evangelical counsels, join this Federation individually, thus constituting a “Spiritual Family,” a broader reality than the Federation itself. The Federation is a canonically “new,” but also an “old” reality, because this unity and autonomy was already existent, in fact, since 2014. There remains a vast area which must be the subject of continued discernment on your part. Therefore, the journey must continue, looking forward, not backwards. Look back only to find confidence in God’s support, which has never been lacking.

At hand is the question of determining the concrete application of the Statutes of the Federation. This requires the discernment of both the collegial governing bodies, and the general and territorial governments of the three federated realities. The Statutes must always stimulate discernment. However, if discernment is not easy on a personal level, it is much less so on the level of  government. Discernment requires of everyone humility and prayer; the latter, nourished by contemplation of the mysteries of the life of Jesus, leads one to become more like Him and to see through His eyes. In this way, you can progress with objectivity, with a healthy detachment from your own ideas: this does not mean that you should not have your own evaluation of reality and the problems to be confronted, but it means submitting your personal opinion to the common good.

You have elected the new general superiors and their councils. Certainly, the first person responsible for the direction of the Legionaries of Christ or the Consecrated women or the Lay Consecrated Men of Regnum Christi are the directors, but the councils have a very important function, even if the counselors are not superiors.  In fact, the councils must be a valid help to the superiors in their government, but at the same time, they also have a responsibility to supervise the work of these superiors. In fact, they are called to govern with respect for persons and in keeping with the common law of the Church and the proper law of the Institute or of each Society. For this reason, canon law provides that when a matter is submitted to the consent of the council, the superior does not vote, precisely in order to leave the councilors with more freedom (cf. can. 627 §2; 127 CIC; Pont. Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, response of August 1, 1985, in AAS 77 [1985] 771).

I hope that your new governments will be aware that the journey of renewal is not over, because a change of mentality in individuals and in an institution requires a great deal of time for assimilation, and therefore a continuous conversion. It is a change that must continue in all members of the Federation. To return to the past would be dangerous and meaningless. The individual governments of the three federated institutes are called to follow this path with perseverance and patience, both with regard to their own Religious Institute or Society of Apostolic Life and with regard to the Federation and the laity associated to it. This requires that the three governments have a vision consistent with the will that the Church has shown in all these years by her closeness and by all the concrete means she has put at your disposition.

You, members of the new general governments, have received a mandate from the Church to continue the path of renewal, reaping and strengthening the fruits matured in these years. I exhort you to act fortiter et suaviter: energetically in the substance, and gently in the form, knowing how to grasp with courage, and at the same time with prudence, the other paths that must be taken, which have been outlined and approved by the Church. If you humbly place yourselves in the school of the Holy Spirit, you will not be overwhelmed by fear or doubt, which disturb the soul and prevent action. I entrust you to the motherly protection of the Virgin Mary; I accompany you with my affection and a sure place in my prayers, and from my heart I impart to you the Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to the whole Family of Regnum Christi. And please do not forget to pray for me.

 

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis to the Regnum Christi Federation: Unofficial Translation from Italian Original Read More »

Father John Connor, an American, is elected the new superior general of the Legionaries of Christ.

02.06.2020

  • Father John Connor, 51 years old, was born in Maryland (USA) where he has served in priestly ministry and has had governing responsibilities since 2001. Most recently he was the territorial superior of the Legionaries of Christ in the North American Territory. He has also lived in Germany, Italy, and Spain.
  • He is the first superior general of the Congregation that is not Mexican.
  • The General Chapter elected Father John after two weeks dedicated almost exclusively to dealing with the topic of sexual abuse so as “to bring justice to victims, change our mentality, our ways of acting, and the institutional culture that have made so much pain possible.”

The General Chapter of the Legionaries of Christ has elected Father John Connor, LC, an American, as the new general director of the Congregation. The Chapter spent two weeks focused on sexual abuse, attention to victims, and clarifying next actions.  It has also made the commitment to “publicly releasing the results of its reflections and resolutions on this matter, when all its work is finished.”

The voting took place on February 6. With this election, Legionary Father Eduardo Robles-Gil’s term is concluded. In upcoming days the Chapter will elect the six members of the government that comprise the General Council, according to the Constitutions approved by the Holy See in 2014. These Constitutions are a result of  the renewal process the Legionaries underwent with the Church’s guidance. . The chapter will also elect the general administrator.

Father John Connor

Father John Connor, LC, is 51 years old. Since 2001 until the present he has exercised priestly ministry in the United States, mainly in New York, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. He holds a degree in finance from Loyola University (Baltimore). He has lived in Germany, Italy, and Spain. He studied philosophy and theology in Rome, where he was ordained to the priesthood on January 2, 2001. From 2014 until his election as general director, he was the territorial director of the Legionaries of Christ in the North American Territory and a member of the Territorial Directive College of Regnum Christi in that territory.

Resolution and transparency to deal with abuses

The new general director will have the responsibility, together with the rest of the government, to carry out the directives of the General Chapter now in session, which is the highest governing authority in the Congregation.

On January 24, the Chapter made the public resolution to deal decidedly with the topic of sexual abuse. They dedicated two weeks to this “with hearts and minds focused on the victims… to analyze the magnitude of the damage done, the intensity of the suffering inflicted, the causes, and the consequences; thus the Chapter will be able to validate measures already applied and to establish new measures.” The chapter has committed to “publicly releasing the results of its reflections and resolutions on this matter.” The Chapter Fathers have had the opportunity to listen to the testimony of two victims of sexual abuse, and to Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, who urged them to reach out to victims.

The upcoming days will be dedicated to finishing the election of the members of the General Council and the election of the general administrator. In upcoming weeks the Chapter will tackle other topics such as the apostolic mission of the Congregation and its relation with the other vocations in Regnum Christi, the formation of seminarians, living of poverty in the Congregation, community life, vocation promotion, and religious discipline in general.

Official Site

The official website of the Chapter is https://legionariosdecristo.org/capitulo2020/, where frequent summaries, photographs, and official communications are published. English translations of Chapter communications are offered on www.legionariesofchrist.org.

Father John Connor, an American, is elected the new superior general of the Legionaries of Christ. Read More »

Letter From Fr. John Connor To Members

 

NA-LC 00354-2020

Class. VII.9.32

February 2, 2020

 

Dear Regnum Christi members,

 

Today is our day off from the General Chapter meetings here in Rome. I want to use this time to reach out to you personally as I know there has been a lot of difficult information in the news, on social media and from our Congregation to you over the past couple weeks.

Since the Legionaries of Christ released the December 2019 report on the history of abuse in the Congregation, it has reopened wounds for victims and it has generated a lot of conversation in the media. But, it has also helped victims of abuse find their voices and the courage to come forward to share their experiences. We must pray that these victims receive the healing they need and that those who are still trying to find the courage to come forward are able to find it.  This is an important part of the healing process for victims and it’s important for the Congregation to listen to the experiences of victims so that we can make reparation and be further purified.

Some of you may be wondering why we are revisiting all of these cases now. As we state in the December 2019 report on the history of abuse in the Congregation:

  • In the 2014 General Chapter, the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ highlighted the need to reach out to victims and seek reconciliation. Since then, work has consisted above all in the prevention of abuses and in dealing with accusations. Nevertheless, in 2019, the superior general clearly noted the need to address with greater depth, fairness, rapidity and resoluteness, the cases of sexual abuse of minors committed by some members of the Congregation that arose prior to the implementation of the Safe Environment Policy in 2015.
  • In this regard, the superior general of the Congregation decided to submit to the General Chapter—the highest authority of the Congregation [which is meeting now here in Rome]—a report on the situation, detailing the progress and challenges still to overcome. To this end, on June 20, 2019, Father Eduardo Robles-Gil, superior general of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, after consulting with his council, created the “Commission for past cases of abuse of minors and attention to those affected.” The superior general gave the commission authority to request information and collaboration from relevant governmental departments of the Congregation, to propose and conduct interviews to clarify cases from the past, and to access archives (observing the pertinent data management policies) to better understand the history of abuse of minors and promote reconciliation with those affected.
  • […]The commission did not address the issue of abuse of power and conscience, nor has it delved into the shortcomings of the actions of some superiors to analyze where there may have been cover-up, negligence or omissions. The commission is aware that this is an important pending task and next steps are being looked at for how to proceed with this in the General Chapter.
  • […] The commission reported its findings to the superior general and the territorial superiors of the Congregation, so that the competent authority: (1) would investigate the cases of Legionaries currently residing in their territory; (2) collaborate with the investigation and reach out to the victims of cases of Legionaries accused of acts perpetrated in their territory; (3) ensure that sanctioned Legionaries residing in the territory comply with the restrictions imposed on them.

The Chapter Fathers are reviewing this report and charting a course for moving forward. The General Chapter of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ began, January 20, in Rome. After reviewing the topics and tasks that the General Chapter must address, the chapter fathers chose to give priority to the issue of sexual abuse perpetrated by some members of the Congregation and the way in which superiors dealt with this abuse in the past, postponing other matters until later. (General Chapter Informative Note 1General Chapter Informative Note 2)

We haven’t always addressed these cases well and we have a responsibility to revisit them in light of the information that the commission has provided. So, as I promised in my January 22nd letter, as information regarding other cases is forthcoming and I have enough certainty about that information to share it, I will make it available to you, even if it’s about situations in other territories. We will publish this information on our websites legionariesofchrist.org and 0abuse.org. Should you like to receive this information directly by email you can sign up to receive these and other important announcements from us here.

Some of you have asked what would happen if we received an allegation of sexual abuse today here in the United States and I want to address this. We have a policy on how to respond when abuse allegations arise, which we call our Rapid Response Plan. We also have a code of conduct that outlines how our priests should behave. I include links to both for you here and encourage you to read through them. In the United States and Canada, once we receive an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, we inform the civil authorities and do an initial inquiry to see if there is a reasonable possibility the sexual abuse of a minor has occurred. If so, we remove the priest from ministry and launch a full investigation by a third party.

Friends, we in the Legionaries of Christ must not only live with but wade through the sins of our past. We have a responsibility to those who have been hurt by the Legion, to all of you and to the greater Church that we serve. At times, it may feel like a lot is being shared with you and the rest of the world, and this will likely continue to generate difficult conversations for our Regnum Christi family and for those who support us in so many ways. In a way it may feel like you are wading through the sins of the Legion’s past with us – I am sorry for that. I know personally just how difficult and heavy a burden on the heart that can be. I ask your forgiveness for how the deplorable acts by some Legionaries continue to affect each of you today.

Facing our past is a road that must be traveled and addressing these wounds is how we build Christ’s Kingdom. Christ calls us to the same dedication in these difficult matters as he does to the mission of evangelization. At this moment it is a mission that Christ is calling us to, a mission of healing his Church and his children. It is a long journey, a journey which we will walk the rest of our lives, while we strive to see every single victim experience profound healing. Please do not lose faith in us as we walk this difficult path. And please pray for us, as we’ll be praying for you too. Christ will be with us, with you, and with his Church in the difficult times of purification as he was with his apostles on the boat during the storm. If along the way you get weary or you have questions or concerns please contact us and we will do our best to walk with you awhile, answer your questions or just listen.

It is my sincere hope this letter reassures you of our commitment to a safe environment for all those we serve through our ministries and though this path we walk will be difficult that you will not lose faith in us. I believe we are doing the right thing for the victims, for our Congregation, for our Regnum Christi family, and the Church. Please pray that the Lord show us the next steps in our effort to care for victims and our flock.

 

Yours in Christ and the Legion,

 

 

 

Fr. John Connor, LC

Territorial Director

 

 

 

Letter From Fr. John Connor To Members Read More »

Legionaries of Christ Release a Letter: Our Commitment to Safe Environment

December 21, 2019

 

Dear Regnum Christi members and Legionaries of Christ,

I encourage you to pray for the Church who over the past several years has been undergoing a crisis as she deals with the sexual abuse committed by her priests. Ask Christ to purify his Church, to uproot the evil within her, and to make her grow in holiness. Ask him to comfort the victims and to bring them healing.

Over the years more and more victims are getting the courage to come forward. They are beginning to grapple with the injustice and devastation wrought by unfaithful priests. They had expected their priests to be an example of holiness, to be good shepherds of their flock, and ministers of forgiveness.

Unfortunately, some priests did not live up to their priestly commitments. They broke their promises or vows. They used their priestly status to take advantage of minors for their own purposes. They hurt many people who opened up to them as priests, shepherds of the flock.

As territorial director for the Legionaries of Christ in the North American Territory, I speak for all Legionaries under my care. We abhor the actions of those priests who have misused their priestly authority for their own purposes. We are committed to creating and maintaining safe environments in the institutions and places where we conduct our ministries. I ask you to pray for the victims of the priests asking God to bring them healing.

We are accredited by Praesidium, an independent agency dedicated to the promotion of safe environments. We have a code of conduct to which we hold each Legionary of Christ in our territory accountable. When we receive an allegation with a reasonable possibility of sexual abuse of minors by one of our priests, we take it seriously. The priest is immediately removed from ministry. We refer the allegation to the civil authorities. We also hire our own external investigator to investigate the allegation, to determine the facts and to offer a finding regarding the accusation. Those findings are brought to a review board made up of mostly lay people with different areas of expertise. Based on the nature of the allegation, the findings, and the recommendation of our review board, we determine whether further civil and canonical actions are required, such as re-reporting to civil authorities and/or permanent removal from ministry.

In the recent past, my predecessor and I have publicly released the names of those Legionaries who have committed abuse of a minor or have a substantiated allegation of abuse. I am again releasing their names in accordance with the practice of the majority of dioceses and some religious congregations throughout the United States, as well as at the requests of many dioceses where the Legionaries of Christ are active. The release can be found here.

In November 2018 we also asked Praesidium to conduct a full review of all our territorial files, this should be finalized soon. Should new information arise we will update the list accordingly. The list does not reflect unsubstantiated claims, open investigations or boundary violations. We are in the process of reviewing our policy on when and how we communicate about boundary violations.

The general government of the Legionaries of Christ, has commissioned a task force to review the congregation’s internal files and today they released a report of the findings. The report addresses abuse throughout the history of the congregation. An English translation of the report is available here. This report will be reviewed by the Legionaries of Christ General Chapter delegates when they meet in mid-January, in Rome. The delegates will also review several proposals for next steps in continuing our worldwide efforts for safer environments in all areas of our ministries.

If you are aware of a Legionary who has abused a minor or vulnerable adult please contact our Safe Environment Coordinator Father Frank Formolo, LC, at [email protected] or 770-407-6064.

I ask you to pray for the victims asking God to bring them healing. I also ask that you pray for their families who in their own way have been victimized.

Sincerely,

Father John Connor, LC

Territorial Director

Legionaries of Christ

North American Territory

 

Legionaries of Christ Release a Letter: Our Commitment to Safe Environment Read More »

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Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!