Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the papal delegate overseeing the groups' reforms, approved the text of the Regnum Christi principles. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Regnum Christi charism not to be identified with founder, cardinal says

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • October 29, 2012

ROME - A new list of core principles defining the charism, or special gift, of the Regnum Christi movement requires a process of "clarification and, where needed, purification," not radical change from the past, said a spokesman for the Legionaries of Christ.

The three-page final draft of principles shows "the fundamental characteristic of our spirituality is Christ-centeredness," Legionaries Father Benjamin Clariond told Catholic News Service Oct. 26.

"The principles are not meant to introduce changes," he said in an email response to questions, but rather describe "elements which are essential to our service to the church and society."

The papal delegate overseeing the Vatican-led reform of the Legionaries and its lay movement, Regnum Christi, said a charism is not meant to be identified with the person of the founder, "especially not with his or her holiness or sin."

Pope Benedict XVI ordered the reform and reorganization of Regnum Christi and the Legionaries after revelations that their founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, had fathered children and sexually abused seminarians.

Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the papal delegate overseeing the groups' reforms, approved the text of the Regnum Christi principles, which were posted on the order's website Oct. 21.

In his letter to the order, the cardinal said the principles are meant to be "something like a 'general statute' or a 'fundamental norm,' or a 'rule' common to all the members of Regnum Christi, including the Legionaries."

Pope Benedict had said that the results of a 2010 visitation of the order's religious houses and most of its pastoral institutions "made clear" the urgent need for an "in-depth revision of the institute's charism."

The text of principles defining the movement's charism is not definitive and "does not propose any innovations," Cardinal De Paolis said in a letter dated Oct. 19, but it does attempt to clarify and reflect more deeply on Regnum Christi's nature and identity.

While a charism is a grace from God "given by means of the person called the founder," it "is not to be identified with the person of the founder, especially not with his or her holiness or sin," he wrote.

A charism is "an extraordinary gift from the Holy Spirit to the church," and it is the church that ultimately decides what forms part of the charism, he wrote.

"The Holy Father, while he recognizes this charism (of Regnum Christi), also requests that it be revised because of the historical circumstances in which it developed," the cardinal wrote.

"Any charism is by its very nature bound to history and its contingencies" and is called to "adapt to the different situations of history, without losing its nature or being dissolved," wrote the papal delegate.

The principles define Regnum Christi as "an ecclesial movement" that promotes "the powerful and personal experience of the love of Christ."

It invites its members "to foster, in a particular way, five supernatural loves: love for Jesus Christ, love for the church and the pope, love for the Blessed Virgin Mary, love for souls and love for Regnum Christi."

Its apostolic nature reflects its desire to evangelize with "initiative, zeal and passion," using "all the licit and good means available," the text says.

The most effective apostolic action depends on deep Christian formation and an organized outreach by "those groups of people who can have the greatest evangelizing influence in society," it says.

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