VATICAN CITY, JAN. 31, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II sent a message to the Legionaries of Christ inviting them to live and transmit faithfully the charism they received from God through their founder, Father Marcial Maciel.
The Pope addressed his message today to the general chapter of the congregation, under way in Rome. Father Maciel, 84, recently declined re-election as general director, citing his age and his desire to support his successor’s first steps.
The papal message begins by greeting the founder and Father Álvaro Corcuera, the newly elected general director of the Legion and the Regnum Christi Movement.
“You find yourselves in a historic moment for the life of the Institute, in which you begin a new stage,” the Pope said in the text sent in Spanish. “You had the good fortune to journey for 64 years under the guidance of your Founder.”
“Thus you grew and developed until you reached maturity. Now you must continue that journey guided by your new General Director, though not without the support, paternal affection and experience of Father Maciel, who has declined a new period of governance,” the Holy Father added.
“This obliges you to faithfully safeguard, live and transmit the gifts you received from the Lord through him,” he said.
The Pope proposed to the Legionaries the task “of developing the work inspired in the Founder. The Institute attempts to distinguish itself by selfless service to the Church and in forming youth in solid human and Christian principles which, based on personal freedom and responsibility, in fidelity to the Magisterium and in full communion with the Pope, contribute to their spiritual, social and cultural maturity.”
The Holy Father expressed satisfaction that on several occasions, he has been “able to personally participate in the life of your Congregation, concretely with the definitive approval of the Constitutions in June 1983 and, recently, approving the Statutes of the Regnum Christi Movement.”
“I encourage you to continue radiating your spirituality and apostolic dynamism, with its rich variety of works and its constant openness to new expressions, in accordance with the most urgent needs of the Church in every time and place,” added the papal message.
“Your contribution to the evangelizing mission of the Church will be really fruitful if you are faithful to the charism of the Institute and remain firmly united to the Rock of Peter,” the Pope concluded.
Last Thursday, at the invitation of Father Maciel, Archbishop Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, presided at a concelebrated Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, at the parish in Rome run by the Legionaries.
Addressing Father Maciel, the Holy See representative said: “After having exercised with great prudence, wisdom and firmness the function of general director for more than 60 years, you leave the leadership of the Legion in younger hands, with the legitimate feeling of having fulfilled your duty as a true soldier of Christ, supported by the veneration and gratitude of your sons.”
“I am certain,” Archbishop Rodé said, “that fidelity to the very precise norms you have left to the Legion of Christ, and that make it a model of harmony and maturity, will continue to shine in the congregation as a luminous beacon for future generations.”
The archbishop also expressed his “best wishes to Fr. Álvaro Corcuera to continue the plan of God.”
The Legion of Christ, founded in 1941 in Mexico, has close to 650 priests and 2,500 seminarians. The Regnum Christi Movement, also founded by Father Maciel, comprises 65,000 members, laypeople, deacons and priests worldwide.