ROME, JULY 30, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican-appointed commissary endeavoring to write a new constitution for the Miles Jesu ecclesial group has affirmed that it has a “right to a future” though the founder of the organization was guilty of an “inappropriate exercise of authority.”
A statement Wednesday from Precious Blood Father Barry Fischer explained the investigation and work that has been done to help the group since the founder was removed from the office of superior-general in 2007.
The commissary affirmed that during his 17 months with the ecclesial family, he had come to “know and admire the membership.”
“All are filled with love of God and a sincere desire to dedicate their lives to God’s service and to the Church,” he observed, noting the members are “actively involved in the drawing up of new Constitutions and a complete review of the customs and practices of the Institute in the spirit of the Gospel and in fidelity to the teachings of the Church.”
Father Fischer’s statement notes that the founder, Father Alfonso Durán, was judged in 2007 “unable to continue in his position [of superior-general] by the ecclesial authorities,” due to his “serious mental and physical health problems.”
It was at that time that 13 members of the institute requested an investigation from the Vatican due to “alleged irregularities in the practices of Miles Jesu.”
An apostolic visitation was held in which “a number of irregularities and questionable practices came to light” as did the “behavior of Father Durán in regards to certain questionable conduct and his exercise of authority.”
The conclusion of the apostolic visitation was that an outside person should work with Miles Jesu to renew the institute; in March of 2009, Father Fischer was assigned this role.
“The mandate is to write a new Constitution which defines the charism, spirituality, and apostolic nature of the Institute; to develop adequate vocational discernment and formation policies — ratio formationis; to review the financial policies, and in general to completely revise all its practices and customs,” Father Fischer’s communiqué explained.
Outside Church discipline
The priest noted that it has become “clear and undeniable” that the founder “presented erratic behaviors that were totally beyond the scope of the powers given to him.”
“Some members have identified wounds caused by the inappropriate exercise of authority under his leadership,” he continued. “The mistaken sense of allegiance and obedience instilled in the membership facilitated his behavior, which was totally unacceptable and not in accord with the discipline of the Church nor supportable in any way by a healthy sense of consecrated life.”
Most members were unaware of the “improper conduct of the founder,” Father Fischer clarified. He added that some allegations against him are “hearsay and have not been verified.”
“However, many are factual,” he said. “It is important for all that the truth be disclosed, which is the reason for this public statement.”
The commissary affirmed that Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Pope’s vicar for the Diocese of Rome, “wishes to assure the membership and also the lay associates — “Vinculum” — of his concern and of his assurance that he accompanies them in this process with his prayers and with his conviction that the membership today has a right to a future. We are in close communication as he follows with interest the process of renewal we are undertaking.”
Father Fischer expressed his “deep concern” for those who “may have been hurt in the past due to the manner in which authority was exercised.”
And, he said, “[t]hough this communication may come as a surprise and be painful to many members […] the truth cannot be hidden. Only in truth can a better and healthier future for Miles Jesu be achieved.
“The work of renewal is already in progress and there is enthusiasm for the future that the members are building together. United in prayer and in fraternal love, and assured of the Church’s motherly care, we will get through this time of difficulty and come to the dawning of a new day.”
Miles Jesu was founded in the United States in 1964.
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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-30043?l=english