Vatican Appoints Jesuit Canon Lawyer as Advisor to Legion of Christ

Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda to Act as Consultant on New Canonical Configuration

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A Jesuit priest has been appointed by the Vatican as an advisor to the Legion of Christ.

Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, announced Thursday that canon law maven Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, has been appointed advisor to the central government of the religious congregation for the next few years.

His task will be to serve the Legion’s government as a consultant, especially in the area of relations between the different components of Regnum Christi and in the search for a canonical configuration for the movement as a whole. 

The Vatican asked that such a position be created during the congregation’s General Chapter earlier this year. The Legion of Christ has undergone extensive reform after being thrown into turmoil by revelations of grave misconduct by its founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, who died in 2008. 

Cardinal Braz de Aviz stressed that Father Ghirlanda’s new role will be strictly consultative, and that he will not be part of the government of the Legion but participate in the meetings of the general council in his role as advisor as he sees fit.

In a statement, the Legion said “it is hoped that he will be able to continue supporting the Legion of Christ in overcoming the institutional crisis that has taken place in the past few years.”   

Father Eduardo Robles Gil, LC, the Legion’s general director, said Father Ghirlanda’s expertise will be “of great help as we continue to confront the challenge of renewing the Legion in communion with the Church.” 

In a letter written Thursday to the Legionaries of Christ, Father Gil said Father Ghirlanda’s “experience and personal gifts, as well as his familiarity with the Legion and Regnum Christi – which he acquired as a personal councilor of the Pontifical Delegate – fill us with confidence.”

Father Ghirlanda, 72, has been assisting the religious congregation in various areas since 2010. Most recently, he acted as a consultant to the Central Commission for the Revision of the Statutes of Regnum Christi, beginning the work in March this year.  

During a visit to the Legion’s headquarters on Thursday, Cardinal Braz de Aviz expressed satisfaction with the constitutional text that the Chapter had approved.

The Legion said yesterday that its central government will shortly submit modifications to the new constitutions to the Congregation of Religious. The new constitutions will then be published once they receive definitive Vatican approval.  

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