[Translated from the Original Spanish]
Rome, February 27, 2014
159. As chapter fathers, we have reflected on the apostolate of the Legionaries and the service we offer the Church. We would like to offer a synthesis of our deliberations in order to renew our apostolic enthusiasm and continue to bear witness to the newness of life brought about by Christ.
160. We want to begin by recognizing the gift of God. With the founding of the Legion of Christ, God gave life to a new charism in the Church that has flowered and borne fruit in Regnum Christi with its great richness in different states in life. Each of us forms part of this spiritual family to which the Heart of Jesus has called us.
161. We have been able to follow and imitate Christ in the Legion. At the same time, we have communicated this experience to others simply and directly. We have announced to many men and women that he calls them out of love to be apostles and Christian leaders to “sum up all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10). After these years of analysis and examination, we feel a desire to renew the gift of God, regain vigor in our dedication and reignite our apostolic zeal.
1) Bright spots and shadows in our apostolic action
162. When we chapter fathers reviewed the Legionaries’ situation and attitudes with respect to the apostolate, we noted a certain loss of passion in our apostolic zeal. As well, there are instances of mutual distrust that have made it difficult to work and live in communion. Strengthening communion among Legionaries and the other Regnum Christi members will be one of our major tasks over the next few years and a strong witness of Christian life we can offer the world.
163. We have experienced hesitation and uncertainties when it came to defining and applying our apostolic charism. For this reason, we have not always managed to impart an adequate formation to our religious in order to live and carry out this charism in practice. Nor have we prepared ourselves sufficiently for the mission. As well, we recognize that our institutions have only partially evangelized many of the people that have attended them and that, because of this, they have not always managed to become true centers for the formation of apostles and Christian leaders.
164. We have also discovered in some cases a certain overvaluing of the human elements, of prestige and of institutional strength. We have insisted on getting results, putting a lot of pressure on some people. Today, we are seeing a certain rejection of any type of evaluation, even when we all understand the need for it. There has also been a certain “rush” to get immediate results and a desire to grow too quickly. In some cases emphasis was placed on the methods instead of the objective and at times we have treated persons as means to reach an objective.
165. Individualism has also made itself present in our apostolic action. There is a certain tendency to work in an isolated way, without relating to other Legionaries or seeking communion. We have not trusted enough in the capabilities of the laity and have not shared enough responsibility for the mission with the Regnum Christi members. At times we have isolated ourselves from the local Church and have not sufficiently taken into account the bishops’ pastoral plans and projects.
166. In the territories and localities, our apostolic plans have not always been conceived realistically. At times we have let the opportunities of the moment guide us, and we have not sufficiently adapted to the situations of persons and the circumstances of different times and places.
167. In the past we had already recognized the need to correct our vocation work and give it a new impulse. We have not always managed to integrate our vocation work within the framework of our apostolic activity and the service we provide to dioceses. On occasions we lacked sufficient discernment with young men who wanted to join the Legion. As well, many religious were asked to spend long periods out of community in order to dedicate themselves to promoting vocations, with negative effects on the spiritual and religious life of some of them.
168. With the whole Church, we are confronting the burden of a growing secularization that has made the Gospel challenges incomprehensible to many Catholics. We have not always been able to adapt to the new situations. We are facing the challenge of the new evangelization.
169. However, though there have been dark spots and limitations in our apostolate, the light of God’s action has been much more powerful. Despite having pointed out a certain reduction in apostolic zeal, we also note among us now a longing for deep renewal so that we can be what we should be and work together to establish the Kingdom of Christ in people’s hearts and in society.
170. In general we find a sincere love and a great desire for service, communication and collaboration with the universal and local Church, with pastors and laity. We recognize with gratitude that God chose to use us to bring about the conversion of many individuals and families and the formation of numerous apostles. Thanks to the work of Legionaries and Regnum Christi members, the Church now has a considerable network of institutions that seek to evangelize and help persons on their journey towards eternity. There are also noteworthy efforts, including some large-scale ones, to transform culture and society in light of Christ. We believe that God has given us an attractive charism that truly responds to some of the most urgent needs of the Church. We are convinced that the Movement as a whole is a help in evangelizing and represents a hope for the future.
171. The trial of these years has made us discover the spiritual and human caliber and the zeal for the salvation of souls of many priests, consecrated members and lay Regnum Christi members who have been able to hope against all hope. These brothers and sisters in the mission are the greatest gift that God has given us to build up together Our Lord’s Kingdom of love. We all want to say with St. Paul at the end of our lives: “I have fought the good fight to the end, I have run the race to the finish, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).
2) Our apostolic charism
172. The chapter fathers offer, in synthesis, the essence of our apostolic charism, looking to numbers 1 and 4 of the Constitutions that were recently revised and approved by the General Chapter.
173. The first thing we should affirm is that the Legion considers itself part of the Regnum Christi Movement and shares the same mission (cf. CLC 11). A Legionary lives this mission as a priest and religious consecrated to God by the evangelical counsels. We are journeying together with the branches of Regnum Christi seeking an ever deepening understanding of the meaning of God’s marvelous plan for us.
174. The Legion within the Movement, working person to person and in communion with the other Regnum Christi members, is called to establish the Kingdom of Christ by forming apostles, Christian leaders at the service of the Church (cf. CLC 4). We endeavor to bring these apostles to do the same in order to form a chain by means of which God’s grace will reach people’s hearts, families and society. Likewise, together with them we seek to create and direct Catholic institutions that are truly evangelizing (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem 5-7). On the basis of a personal experience of God’s love and aware that Christ is the one who transforms the hearts of men and women, a Legionary always embraces this mission as his own, even when the ministry he carries out only lets him accomplish it indirectly.
175. It is important to propose the vocation to Regnum Christi to the persons we work with and, if they feel called, to help them discern before God if they should formally join.
3) Apostolic renewal
176. In the Chapter, we are aware that, together with the rest of the Regnum Christi members, the Legionaries are trying to define new forms of participating in the apostolate. We ask the new government, in light of the analysis made in the Chapter hall, to draw up a plan to give impetus to the apostolate that will involve the territories and the localities, keeping in mind the Regnum Christi Member Handbook and in coordination with the other branches. We also present some points that we consider to be particularly important in the current context. The central, territorial and local governments, and all Legionaries, should work on them over the next few years:
1) The experience of Jesus Christ’s love is the source of our apostolic zeal (cf. CLC 3, 12.1). If we want to enkindle our apostolic zeal, we need to let ourselves be possessed by Christ’s love. For this reason, we ask the Legionaries to make union with God the center of their life. We invite the superiors and spiritual directors, through their prayer, witness and guidance, to encourage all Legionaries to constantly nourish themselves by contemplating the mystery of Jesus Christ and to live their personal and community acts of piety with conviction.
2) Communion with the local Church (cf. CLC 14.3). We should always live and work in communion with the local Church and actively participate in the diocesan presbyterate. Our charism is the gift with which we serve the Church. We do so principally by means of our own institutions, and also when we collaborate with a mission that the diocese entrusts to us. It is our obligation to understand the pastoral plans of the dioceses where we work and to put them into effect. We should humbly serve the dioceses where we work since when we serve the Church, we serve Christ himself.
3) The new evangelization. The world is undergoing a deep and accelerated process of secularization in which relativism, materialism and hedonism reign. To avoid succumbing to the seductions of the world, a Legionary needs a solid spiritual formation, combined with a deep cultural and apostolic formation that will qualify him to carry out the new evangelization. Further, since each generation has a different cultural language, it is necessary to find the ways of reaching out in order to call and welcome people where they are (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 119, 127; CLC 12.2). Many times we must begin with the first steps of the faith, giving reasons for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15), before bringing people to an encounter with Christ and a deep, active commitment with him. We invite the Legionaries to bring new passion to the apostolate and to constantly renew our methods so we can fulfill our mission.
4) Personalized formation. We have noted the need of studying with each Legionary what tasks are best adapted to his possibilities and his personal situation and of accompanying him so that he can meet the apostolic challenges that his mission entails. For this reason, we ask the new government to emphasize formation for the specific apostolate of the Movement and to establish a plan to train members in specific competencies and to accompany them during the period of apostolic internship and the first years of priestly ministry (cf. CLC 100). In formation it is necessary to ensure that our religious learn to be good spiritual directors, understand in depth the laity’s call to holiness, and be prepared, according to their capacities, to promote, direct and engage in team work in our apostolates and institutions.
5) The apostolate of a Legionary. A Legionary should carry out his mission in light of his identity as a priest and religious. First off, this is up to each one of us. We invite the Legionaries to value what is proper to us as priests and religious: intercessory prayer, offering our life so that others will receive grace, bearing witness to the goods of the life to come, our community as an essential element of our life and the starting point for carrying out our mission, sacrifice as a priestly act, selfless love for souls, etc. We exercise our spiritual fatherhood specifically in the Regnum Christi family, dedicating ourselves to preaching, formation, directing souls, administering the sacraments, and establishing or directing its structures together with other members of the Movement. Based on humility, after the example of Christ, we should be a source of unity, charity and harmony within Regnum Christi. Given the importance and breadth of this task, we request the central government to establish a study commission that will help us better understand and assimilate our apostolic mission from the theological and pastoral point of view, within the current context of the Movement.
6) Organization in the localities. A good number of religious and territorial assemblies have requested that the Chapter pronounce itself regarding organization within localities. We know that we can only give strength and projection to our apostolate if we start there, since that is where evangelization is actually carried out. Since participation of the whole Movement and the different branches is required to be able to define this, we consider that this task is not within the competency of this Chapter. Besides, it is important to consider the great diversity that there is between one city and another, and between one country and another. So, we ask the territorial directors to study the reality of the localities in their respective territories, under the guidance of the general director and in coordination with the authorities of the other branches, in order to lay down basic guidelines and principles of action. To help in this task, we underline the following principles, among others: 1) Organization of a locality aims before all to establish a plan of apostolic action and to help carry it out, in line with the pastoral plans of the diocese and in dialogue with the local pastors, so that, besides being effective in the mission, the Regnum Christi sections and apostolates will be coordinated, communion and charity will have appropriate channels, and osmosis and synergy will happen. 2) According to the principles of canon law, there are only three levels of authority (international, territorial, local); on the other hand, just autonomy should be granted to the works of apostolate. For this reason, the local structures cannot have authority over the works of apostolate or over their budgets, since they depend on the territorial director. Nevertheless, if judged necessary, some authority can be delegated to the local coordinator of apostolate. 3) Proposed solutions need to be flexible and simple so they can be adapted adequately to different times and places. 4) For the proper functioning of a locality, an attitude of collaboration and a sense of unity should be fostered in all, aware that the whole must be privileged above the parts and thus achieve a good formation for dialogue that can serve as a basis for any joint endeavor.
7) Some apostolic priorities. We have a charism that obliges us to concentrate on a few priorities. Given our current situation and the apostolic challenges that we have in this moment, we ask the central and territorial governments to keep the following priorities in mind when making personnel assignments so that they can be implemented in an organic and integrated way, and so achieve an adequate consolidation of each of them over the next few years:
a. Evangelization of the family. We have found that it is necessary to evangelize the whole family, paying special attention to married couples. For this reason, all the institutions and sections of the Movement need to collaborate with each other in order to attend the family as a whole.
b. Evangelizing young people. It is important to renew our youth work, a challenge that the whole Church is facing. We should endeavor to respond to the real needs of young people, seeking to bring them to meet Christ, make a commitment with him and be apostles of his Kingdom. Keep this in mind especially with those who desire to join ECYD and Regnum Christi.
c. Catholic education. Our schools and universities, above and beyond offering an excellent formation, should create communities full of faith and love for God, the Church and souls. They should be focal points of evangelization and our charism should radiate from them. We should ensure there is adequate coordination between Regnum Christi groups and these institutions.
d. Evangelizing and helping the neediest. In line with the social teaching of the Church, the Legionaries, as we are already doing in the Prelature of Cancún-Chetumal, in Mano Amiga and in other projects, will continue making ourselves
present to the poor: 1) as far as possible, we will try to have all Legionaries dedicate part of their ministry to serving the neediest; 2) we will endeavor to further develop our educational centers for the most underprivileged and our institutions that provide them with material support and Christian charity; and 3) we commit to continue helping economic, social and political leaders recognize the need to respond adequately and decisively to situations of underdevelopment, poverty and injustice in the world.
e. Promoting vocations. Promoting vocations is not a “program” but a living impulse that arises from love of one’s own vocation, from the personal conviction that Regnum Christi is a work of God with a transcendent mission to fulfill and from the passion to see it grow so that many people will come to know Jesus Christ. Vocation work is a concrete way of thanking God for the gift of one’s own vocation. All of us participate in it through prayer, sacrifice and apostolic action in our locality. The central and territorial governments should relaunch the promotion of vocations, first of all because every vocation is in itself a gift, but also because of the situation in which the Church and the Legion find themselves. Because of the communion that unites us, we ask all Legionaries to support the consecrated men and women in their vocation work.
177. In 2001, John Paul II, with his prophetic words, highlighted certain aspects of our apostolic charism. Many things, both sweet and bitter, have taken place among us since that memorable moment. Even so, these words of the Vicar of Christ have the same force today and we offer them on this occasion hoping that they will inspire us all:
“Another trait which distinguishes your charism is apostolic zeal. You show this in all the many works you have undertaken, especially in education, evangelization, social communications, the spreading of the Church’s social teaching, the cultural and human promotion of the poor, and the formation of diocesan priests.
In all of this you strive to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, who constantly renews the face of the Church with gifts and charisms which enrich and strengthen her. In a secularized world such as our own, built in large part on neglect of truth and transcendent values, the faith of many of our brothers and sisters is sorely tried.
Because of this, there is a need today more than ever for a confident proclamation of the Gospel which, casting aside all crippling fears, announces with intellectual depth and with courage the truth about God, about man, about the world. To you, Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi members, I repeat the words of St Catherine of Siena that I proposed to the young people at the World Youth Day: ‘If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!’” (John Paul II, January 4, 2001)
1 Translator’s note: The abbreviation “CLC” refers to the constitutional text which was approved by the Holy See on October 16th, 2014.