Saturday, February 29, 2020

Pope Francis tells Regnum Christi Order "... a true conversion of heart and mind....was possible because you have been docile to the help...the Church has offered you, having realized the actual need for a renewal..."

Address of the Holy Father to the participants in the General Chapter of the Legionaries of Christ, and to the General Assemblies of the Consecrated Women and the Consecrated Laity of the Regnum Christi, 29.02.2020

We publish below the speech of the Holy Father Francis sent to the participants in the General Chapter of the Legionaries of Christ, and to the General Assemblies of the Consecrated Women and the Consecrated Lay People of the Regnum Christi:

Speech of the Holy Father

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am happy with this meeting with you at the end of a stage of the journey you are traveling under the maternal guidance of the Church. You, Legionaries of Christ, have recently concluded the General Chapter and you, Consecrated and Lay Consecrated Persons of Regnum Christi, your General Assemblies. They were elective events of the new general governments, the conclusion of a stage on the path you are taking. This means that it is not accomplished, but must continue.

The criminal behavior of your founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, which emerged in their gravity, has produced a strong institutional and individual crisis throughout the entire reality of Regnum Christi. In fact, on the one hand it cannot be denied that he was the "historical" founder of all the reality you represent, but on the other you cannot consider it as an example of holiness to imitate. He managed to make himself considered a point of reference, through an illusion that he had managed to create with his double life. Furthermore, his long personalized government had to some extent polluted the charisma that the Spirit originally donated to the Church; and this was reflected in the norms, as well as in the practice of government and obedience and in the way of life.

In the face of the discovery of this situation, the Church has not failed to give up her maternal concern and has come to meet you with different means, placing people of great human and pastoral sensitivity alongside her, as well as with recognized juridical competence. Among them I wish to mention 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 a three-year work, in which all your communities have been involved and which has led to a change in mentality. It was an event that brought about a true conversion of heart and mind. This was possible because you have been docile to the help and support that the Church has offered you, having realized the actual need for a renewal that would have brought you out of self-reference, in which you had closed yourself.

You courageously opened yourself to the action of the Holy Spirit, thus entering the path of true discernment. Accompanied by the Church, you have done patiently and willingly a demanding job to overcome even the very strong tensions that have sometimes occurred. This prompted a further change of mentality, because it required a new vision in the mutual relationships between the different realities that make up Regnum Christi. I know well that it was not easy, because what we are most strongly attached to are our ideas and we often lack real indifference, to which we must open up with an act of our will, to make the Holy Spirit work within us. The Spirit leads us to detachment from ourselves and to the search for the will of God alone, because only from it does the good of the whole Church and of each one of us come.

This work led to the establishment of the Federation of Regnum Christi, made up of the religious Institute of the Legion of Christ, the Society of Apostolic Life of the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi and the Society of Apostolic Life of the Consecrated Lay People of Regnum Christi. Numerous lay people who do not take on the evangelical counsels join this reality of the Federation, thus constituting a "spiritual family", a wider reality of the Federation itself. The Federation is a canonically "new" reality, but also an "ancient" one, because the unity and autonomy you already lived in fact in the years after 2014. There is still a very large field that must be discerned by your. So the journey must continue, looking forward, not backward. You can only look back to find trust in God's support, which has never been missing.
It is a question of determining the concrete application of the Federation Statutes. This requires discernment of both the collegial governing bodies and the general and territorial governments of the three federated entities. The Statutes must always stimulate discernment. However, if this is not easy on a personal level, much less it is in a government group. Discernment requires from everyone a lot of humility and prayer; and the latter, nourished by the contemplation of the mysteries of the life of Jesus, leads to assimilate to him and to see reality with his eyes. In this way you can act objectively, with a healthy detachment from your ideas: which does not mean not having your own assessment of the reality and the problem that you have to face, but it means submitting your point of view to the common good.

You have elected the new Superior Generals and their Councils. Certainly the Directors responsible for addressing the Legion of Christ or the Consecrated Women and the Lay Consecrated Persons of Regnum Christi are their Directors, but the Councils have a very important function, even if the Councilors are not Superiors. In fact, the Councils must be a valid aid to the Superiors in their government, but at the same time they also have a function of control over the work of the Superiors themselves. In fact, they are called to govern in the consideration of people and in respect of the common law of the Church and of that proper to the Institute or Society. For this reason, the canonical legislation provides that when a matter is submitted to the consent of the Council, the Superior cannot vote, precisely to leave the Councilors more free (cf. cann. 627 §2; 127 CIC; Pont. Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, Reply dated August 1, 1985, in AAS 77 [1985] 771).

I hope that your new governments are aware that the path of renewal has not ended, because the change of mentality in individual people and in an institution requires a long time of assimilation, therefore a continuous conversion. It is a change that must continue in all members of the Federation. Returning to the past would be dangerous and meaningless. This journey is called to travel with perseverance and patience the individual governments of the three federated realities, both with regard to their own religious Institute or Society of Apostolic Life and with regard to the Federation and the laity associated with it. This requires that the three governments have a vision consistent with the will that the Church has shown in all these years with her closeness and with all the concrete means she has made available.

You, members of the new general governments, have received the mandate from the Church to continue on the path of renewal, reaping and consolidating the fruits matured in these years. I urge you to act fortiter et suaviter: energetically in substance and gently in ways, knowing how to grasp with courage and at the same time with prudence what other paths are to be taken in the line drawn and approved by the Church. If you docilely go to the school of the Holy Spirit you will not be overwhelmed by fear and doubt, which upset the soul and prevent action. I entrust you to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary; I accompany you with my affection and my prayerful memory and from my heart I impart the Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to the whole Family of Regnum Christi. And please, don't forget to pray for me.

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