Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Ex-Legion of Christ members lambast old regime

Top leaders of Regnum Christi, the lay wing of the Legion of Christ, knew as early as 2006 that Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the scandal-tarnished founder of the order, had a grown daughter, but concealed the information from the members at least three years, NCR has learned.

In exclusive NCR interviews, Elizabeth Kunze, who spent 16 years as a consecrated celibate in Regnum Christi, and Legionary Fr. Peter Byrne, who is leaving the order, denounced rooted secrecy and betrayal in the order and a bungled Vatican reform effort.

Kunze, of Milwaukee, called Regnum Christi a "cult" and said the Vatican 2010 visitation, or investigation of the Legion, "was rigged."

"I've winced for years every time someone challenged [Regnum Christi], saying it was a cult or cult-like," said Kunze, 47, who works as a bilingual counselor for a Milwaukee Catholic school in a Latino community.

"Even now it is painful for me to consider that description, but a year ago I told someone about the movement" -- as Legionaries and Regnum Christi members call the joint effort -- "and I said quite plainly it was a cult. I feel ashamed for having been caught up in a cult for so many years. It is not easy to admit, but I finally feel free enough to say what I believe."

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