Apr 27, 2024

Regnum Christi: ‘It would have been easy to run and hide,’ but the Church is ‘purifiying’ us

Nicolás de Cárdenas
ACI Prensa Staff
April 27, 2024

The Regnum Christi Federation will hold its first general convention in Rome from April 29 to May 4, the first such assembly since its statutes were approved in 2019 after a long process of listening, purification, and a hopeful look toward its future.

The ecclesial movement was shaken to the core by the revelation of numerous cases of sexual abuse and abuses of power primarily involving Father Marcial Maciel, the deceased founder of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement.

The Regnum Christi Federation is comprised of four vocations: the Legionaries of Christ (priests), Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, Lay Consecrated Men of Regnum Christi, and lay members.

Regnum Christi is now defined as an apostolic body and spiritual family led by a general board of directors, consisting of the directors general of the Legionaries of Christ and the Consecrated Men and Women of Regnum Christi, with the assistance of two laypeople who both have an advisory voice and vote.

Since 2019, ‘we’re walking without crutches’

Layman Álvaro Abellán-García explained to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that the institution has spent “many years in the intensive care unit, with the healing presence of the Holy See” and that, “although it would have been easy to run and hide, the Lord, through the mediation of the Church and thanks to the testimony of many whom we didn’t know how to listen to in time, led us to the light and in the light is purifying us.”

Since 2019, with the new statutes, “we are already walking without crutches,” a time in which “collegial government, the growing co-responsibility of the laity, and the greater participation of all in apostolic discernment” have been fundamental, he noted.

“We still have a way to go and we’re not all at the same point,” Abellán-García acknowledged. However, he is convinced that the federation “is today more prepared than 15 years ago to make the kingdom of Christ present.”

‘Taking responsibility for the past without being paralyzed by it’
Nancy Nohrden, director general of the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, said that an important path of renewal has been followed “full of experiences and learning, taking responsibility for the past without being paralyzed by it, seeking to respond to the needs of the world and of the Church.”

The general convention, which opens Monday, begins with some progress already being made and with the conviction that “hope for the future and trust in what God wants for us are ever more present.”

The convention represents, Nohrden said, a hope “that remains fresh, even when we realize that we are fragile, because God is more powerful. And a hope that is not frightened in the face of apparent human failure, because God has other criteria, another logic, other plans.”

A discernment ‘that reaches out’

Francisco Gámez, the other layman who is a member of the board of directors as an assistant, explained that between 2013 and 2019 when the new statutes were approved, the federation experienced “a process of discernment from within” in which institutional renewal went hand in hand with spiritual renewal.

Since 2019, the task has been to “implement both dimensions,” which are the canonical organization and the spiritual aspect. “Now that 2024 is here, the Holy Spirit asks us for a discernment that goes out, that looks outward, apostolic discernment,” Gámez explained.

This means that “God asks us to go out, carrying in our traveling bags our lived experience, the sufferings and the joys we have gone through, to give a testimony of hope and of a God who is all mercy and love.”

Finding a way to have that presence in a world “that is full of distractions,” Gámez pointed out, is demanding, even more so when “with all humility, we see what God is calling us to do,” he commented. However, the lay leader is confident because “for God nothing is impossible.”

“Putting all this into prayer and communion will be precisely the discernment we hope to have,” he said, adding that one of the main fruits of the convention would be to determine what God wants for Regnum Christi.

Beyond the difficulties

As is evident, the road traveled by those who make up the new federation has not been without difficulties.

Félix Gómez Rueda, director general of the Consecrated Laity of Regnum Christi, shared that “facing the difficulties of implementing a new form of government is not easy, taking into account the complexity of the extension of the presence of Regnum Christi in the world [present in nearly 40 countries on five continents] and a large number of practical and operational issues.”

For Gómez, the general convention “is a very important way to face these difficulties” and will analyze the limitations, progress, and challenges.

However, he emphasized, “we don’t want to stop there.” The objective is to find “ways to better serve the evangelization of society” aided by “the contributions of the different places where Regnum Christi is present and always open to the action of the Holy Spirit.” 

Father John Connor, LC, director general of the Legionaries of Christ, told ACI Prensa that the members of the religious congregation are approaching the first general convention “out of a commitment to be apostles for the Church and for the world, but not alone, but in Regnum Christi, as a single apostolic body and spiritual family.”

Furthermore, they will do so by “promoting and participating generously in collegiality, mission, discernment, prayer; together with all the vocations of Regnum Christi and promoting the growing co-responsibility of the laity.”

For Connor, the specific way in which the Legionaries of Christ are going to take part in the general convention also involves participating “as a community of apostles together with all the members, making contributions and complementing each other.”

“We are constantly praying to God to be able to continue being docile to his Spirit that renews, refreshes, and brings newness,” he said.

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