Dear Rick,

Thanks for the piece about violation of confession and spiritual direction. Like other ex-LC's I believe the LC/RC breach elements of canon law by having religious superiors double as confessors and spiritual directors. The goal of this system [hard to pin down in writing but certainly an integral part of the legion praxis] is control of the members and damage control. I call it religious and spiritual abuse, a violation of conscience and an instrument of control.

As you can see from many testimonies, people are afraid, even after leaving the institution, of doing or saying anything critical. The 'gag' strategy that the LC and RC employ to silence criticism seems to carry over into the post-LC/RC existence.

Ex members are subtly threatened that secrets from their past will be shared with lay people, priests or bishops in positions of power if they dare to criticize the legion. This is particularly insidious for priests who are seeking to rebuild their lives in the diocesan clergy. This is often a bluff used to get ex-members to settle in a 'safe' place where they can cause no damage to the institution.

However if the ex-member makes a move to speak out about the institution these threats will sometimes be put in writing to him/her [I have seen such letters written by Father Raymond Cosgrave LC, one of Father Maciel's left-hand men...The Director of the Institution in the US, Fr. Anthony Bannon will also weigh in if necessary]. Threats may eventually be carried out if the ex does not pull back. Insiders know that there is a 'private vow' in the institution 'never to criticize the decisions or personalities of superiors and to inform superiors [ i.e. snitch] if one becomes aware of another member doing this'. This gagging by threat is a powerful instrument that has protected the legion since its beginning in 1941. It was frequently used by the PRI Mexican political party to stay in power for seventy years...

One way to break this conspiracy of silence is to take the risk of speaking out. I personally have done that and will continue to do so. I am fortunate to be out of the institution and in a position where I have nothing to fear. I will listen to and help [though my financial resources are practically nil] any ex-member of LC or RC who wishes to contact me. I would like to know if there already exists a web page where the healing of ex-members is taking place so as not to reinvent the wheel.

Another control strategy, i.e. a very strong stigma of failure, shame and paranoia about leaving, prevents many from getting out and continues to cloud the lives of ex-members. While this inhibits those inside and outside from getting help it also prevents the ugly secrets of the institution from seeping out. Thanks to pages like yours the silence is partially broken and spirits are being freed. BRAVO!

Paul Lennon, LC 1961-84, Mental Health Therapist

Note from Rick Salbato:

A web site by Paul Lennon to help ex members of LC/RC and those who are trying to get out is being planned and will be linked to this web site. In the mean time, if you would like to email him, I will forward any message to him.