November 08, 2005

Vigilance called for when Legion priests visit


A reader from the Southwest e-mailed recently to inform us that two priests who are members of the Legionaries of Christ recently celebrated Mass at his parish. This reader was concerned that the order might have designs -- as it has demonstrated elsewhere -- on taking over a parish school.

The fear is justified. In too many cases the Legion has moved in with congregations unaware. We have reported on several instances where the order has taken over a school, revised curriculum, set up some rather strange ways of getting their message across and fired long-standing professionals -- from administrators to teachers -- who raised questions (NCR, Nov. 3, 2000).

There are, undoubtedly, good and sincere priests who belong to the Legion.

There are also, undoubtedly, good reasons why several bishops have banned the order and its ancillary groups from operating in their dioceses. Too often those groups come off as sneaky and underhanded in the way they operate, and some of the practices that have been reported in the way they run their schools are bizarre.

Any bishop or pastor who invites the Legion in should require that the order practice maximum transparency, being clear about its aims and informing education officials and the bishop of all of their activities. Parishioners should have a say in whether a school would be placed in control of the Legion, and there should be opportunities for public dialogue if the order intends to propose changes in personnel or curriculum. Given past history, any involvement of Legionaries’ clergy or Regnum Christi members in a Catholic school ought to be disclosed. No one should wake up feeling that the Legionaries have “taken over” their child’s school.

Posted by kshaw at November 8, 2005 07:50 PM