Saturday, 10 August 2013


Legion of Christ's deception, unearthed in new documents, indicates wider cover-up

  • Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, greets Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square in 2000. (CNS/Catholic Press Photo)

Newly released documents in a Rhode Island lawsuit show that the scandal-tarred Legion of Christ shielded information on their founder's sex life from a wealthy widow who donated $30 million over two decades.
In 2009, the widow's niece, Mary Lou Dauray, sued the Legion and the bank that facilitated key transactions, alleging fraud. At Dauray's request, backed by a motion from NCR and three other media outlets, Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein revoked a protective order the Legionaries had secured and released discovery findings Friday.
The thousands of pages of testimony, financial and religious records open a rare view into the Legion culture shaped by its Mexican-born founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado.
Maciel built a power base in Rome as the greatest fundraiser of the modern church. He won the undying support of Pope John Paul II, who called him an "efficacious guide to youth" and praised Maciel in lavish ceremonies even after a 1998 canon law case at the Vatican in which the cleric was accused of sexually abusing Legion seminarians.
The Vatican is not a defendant in Rhode Island, but decisions by John Paul and Pope Benedict XVI permeate a larger story rising from the files.
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A key strand in the new material aligns with an admission by Cardinal Franc Rodé, who told NCR and Global Post in a recent interview that "in late 2004 or early 2005" he saw a videotape of Maciel "with a mother and child represented as his." A Legionary, whom Rodé did not identify, showed him a tape of Maciel with a girl identified as his daughter.
The cardinal did not confront Maciel about paternity, but says he told a Vatican canon lawyer who was under orders from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to investigate the pedophilia accusations. On that front, Ratzinger, as Pope Benedict, dismissed Maciel from ministry in May 2006, but the Vatican communiqué did not specify why or acknowledge the victims. Those explanations only came in 2010, after a Vatican investigation of the Legion prompted by news reports of the order's disclosure that Maciel had a daughter, a fact the Vatican had known since 2005.
Two sons by a second woman, with whom Maciel had a longstanding relationship, came forward later.
The Rhode Island documents, coming less than a week after Benedict announced his resignation from the papacy, add another chapter to the scandals that apparently were on his mind when, in his final public Mass as pope, he spoke of the face of the church that "is, at times, disfigured."
Fluent in French, Gabrielle Mee was conservative and refined; she felt she had found a spiritual home with the ultra-orthodox Legionaries for her twilight years. She became a consecrated woman in the order's lay group, Regnum Christi, living in a religious home while steadily ceding her enormous wealth to the Legion by giving power of attorney to Fr. Anthony Bannon, an Irish-born Legionary who divided his time between Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Like everyone else in the order's closed environment, Mee was taught that Nuestro Padre, as Maciel was called, had his enemies, but that he was a living saint for his leadership as an evangelist, drawing the church back from liberal abuses of the Second Vatican Council and attracting young men to a strict religious life. That was the Legion message.
By all accounts, she believed that message until her death at 96 in May 2008, just four months after Maciel's funeral in Mexico. She never knew Maciel had sired three children, two of whom, as previously reported in NCR, he secreted into private papal Masses celebrated by an apparently clueless John Paul.
At his death, the Legion website announced that Maciel had gone to heaven. Yet at that very time, Fr. Luis Garza and other top Legionaries were scrambling to decide how, and when, to reveal that Maciel had a grown daughter -- a fact the Vatican had known for three years.
Mee had long embraced the Legion's public campaign against nine men who in 1997 accused Maciel of abusing them as seminarians. This is referenced in a bank document.
Mee's husband, Timothy, was on the board of trustees of Fleet Bank. By the time he died in 1985, he had established a charitable trust in his name and a separate trust for Gabrielle. Three years later, she gave her first donation of $1 million to the Legion after her close friend Marguerite Garrahy, a former first lady of Rhode Island, spoke favorably of the Legion. Mee and Garrahy attended daily Mass together.
Bannon immediately notified Maciel in Rome of the million-dollar gift. But, he insisted in a deposition, "I did not control her checkbook."
Maciel made a practice in Mexico of cultivating wealthy widows and the wives of wealthy men. The Legion prep schools catered to affluent families, recruiting parents to Regnum Christi. The schools fed young men into the Legion. Bannon, referring to Mee, also testified on how Regnum Christi and Legion members donate their own assets to the order:
She would assign the management of those assets to somebody she trusts, and then before taking her final commitment would decide what is to be done with those assets. When there are assets that come as an inheritance, the same. ... It's my belief in the premise, and the way I've always acted is a person's assets is something God has given to him through family or through their own good work, and they are the owners and managers of that, and it's up to them to see what God wants them to do with the money.
I always speak to them about the needs that we have, but always respect their decision.
Troubles emerge
A bank memo suggests Bannon acted with greater self-interest when the order was threatened.
On Feb. 23, 1997, Gerald Renner and this writer published an investigative report in the Hartford Courant detailing a long history of sexual abuse by Maciel based on lengthy on-the-record accounts by nine former seminarians or ex-Legion priests. Maciel refused to be interviewed but claimed innocence. The Vatican refused any comment.
The Legion at the time had several major accounts with Fleet Bank and a mortgage on a former IBM complex in Thornwood, N.Y. It had plans to establish a college that involved zoning issues that were drawing strong resistance from Westchester County residents. The Legion purchased the property for $33 million in January 1997 with major help from Mee and carried a mortgage balance at the time of almost $25 million.
Prior to the Courant publication, the Legion sent affidavits of Maciel supporters to the newspaper, purporting to show Maciel's innocence in the face of a conspiratorial effort by the men to defame him.
Meanwhile, Garza, the order's vicar general, traveled to Legion houses in several countries to warn of the forthcoming article, claiming it would be based on lies and telling Legionaries and Regnum Christi members not to read the report should they see a copy.
Legionaries took a special vow never to criticize the founder, or superiors, and to report on anyone who did. This "special vow" -- which Benedict abolished many years later -- protected Maciel from criticism and rewarded spying as an act of faith.
In this environment, five days after the article was published, Bannon and another Legionary met with two Fleet officials at the bank. A summary memo from a bank official explains:
We discussed the Legion's public relations strategy and we will all follow any further developments in the news media.
We determined the most effective way to measure the health of the Legion's fundraising stream and cash flow on a real time basis was to monitor monthly cash flows to determine whether there has been any fall-off in revenues.
The memo states that Bannon asked Fleet to write a letter to the Courant "to complain about the story." The bank never did.
The memo continues:
In terms of additional credit concerns the Legion was concerned about the impact of the surprise on Fleet. Father Bannon offered to pledge the cash flow stream from the Mee trust funds in order to provide additional security in this uncertain period. I thanked him, but communicated that it would be a significant conflict of interest if we were to seek a perfected security interest in the Mee funds because we are also a trustee [for Gabrielle Mee and for the Timothy Mee Charitable Trust].
"There is no evidence that Mrs. Mee knew of the detailed allegations against Maciel nor the existence of the Hartford Courant article," plaintiff attorney Bernard Jackvony told NCR. "Rather, it shows that she was in the dark."
Regnum Christi posted a notice in its residences saying that Nuestro Padre was under attack in a false article. But that, it appears, is the extent of what Mee knew.
"She was totally unaware that the Legion was using her wealth as a negotiating tool with the bank," Jackvony said. "It shows how the Legion at that point essentially treated her money as theirs. They took such liberties with her funds without her even knowing, and treating [it] like they were entitled to it."
In 2001, Bannon obtained sweeping power of attorney, drafted by the Legion's lawyers, for Mee's affairs. The Legion sued Fleet to obtain greater access to the combined Mee funds, with Gabrielle testifying for the Legion. The two sides settled out of court. Fleet later merged with Bank of America. Because of the 2001 agreement, Dauray's lawsuit includes the bank as a defendant with the Legion on allegations of fraud.
Just how many Legionaries knew of Maciel's secret life -- or how Maciel funded it through the coffers of a religious charity -- is unclear from an initial review of the documents. But Maciel was drawing $20,000 a month from the Legion in his later years, according to the transcript of a speech by Garza, the longtime vicar general, to a Regnum Christi group in Monterrey, Mexico, after the Legion divulged existence of the daughter in 2009.
Garza's speech was not evidence in the lawsuit, nor was he questioned about it. A Legion spokesman told NCR he could not respond to questions.
Garza's testimony is a pivotal part of the legal action. As vicar general, he was Maciel's second in command and "responsible for overseeing key areas of logistical governance," according a Regnum Christi profile, "involving constant analysis of numbers and personnel, structures and organizations, risks and opportunities."
Garza grew up with five siblings in Monterrey, a scion of one of Latin America's wealthiest families, often compared to the Rockefellers.
Maciel cultivated the Garza family for years, ingratiating himself with the parents. Three of the siblings became immersed in Regnum Christi; the other half reacted against Maciel's tactics.
"Our family is hopelessly split to this day," said Roberta Garza, the youngest sibling. "One of my aunts gave Maciel a house."
A 1978 graduate of Stanford with a degree in engineering, Luis Garza joined the Legion after a period in Regnum Christi. The family made huge donations over the years, with Luis reported by one former Legionary as donating several million of his own. He earned a canon law degree from the Jesuits' Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Maciel named him vicar general as a sign of his rising authority.
In 1989, Mee went to Rome and met with Maciel to see the progress of the Legion seminary being built with her generous help.
Jackvony, a former Republican lieutenant governor of Rhode Island, asked Garza in deposition: "Were you aware of a gift [Mee] made to the Legion in 1989 of a million dollars?"
"No, I was not aware."
"Did you ever become aware of that in your official duties?"
"Did you become aware of it later?"
"I don't remember."
Jackvony bore down: "In 2002, there were a total of four million dollars in gifts, including a condominium in Narragansett?"
"The only thing I know about this is it's a condominium."
"In 2003," Jackvony continued, "there were gifts totaling about $3,600,000. Are you aware of any of those gifts?"
In contrast, Fr. Stephen Fichter, chief financial officer for the Legion in the late 1990s, gave often detailed answers despite 11 years' distance. Fichter left the order in 2000, uneasy with the internal rigidity, yet believing then Maciel was innocent of the seminarians' accusations. In 1997, before the Hartford Courant investigation profiled nine ex-Legionaries recounting how Maciel abused them as boys, Garza had traveled to Legion houses in three continents, telling Legionaries and Regnum Christi members that certain accusations soon to be published were lies and none of them should read the media account if they came across it. Computer access was tightly limited in those years.
Fichter joined the Newark, N.J., archdiocese and earned a doctorate in sociology. He divides his time as a New Jersey pastor and in a research position at Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in Washington.
"While I firmly believe that God can write straight with crooked lines, and that he brought some good into my personal life through the Legion," Fichter testified, "I personally feel deceived, defrauded, lied to" by the scope of information on Maciel that surfaced by 2011.
Fichter recalled reviewing Gabrielle Mee's bank investment files in Rome and storing her donation records "in paper form in some filing cabinet."
Maciel drew money in a manner "totally inconsistent" with ordinary Legionaries. "I would always have to give him $10,000 in cash; 5,000 in American dollars and 5,000 equivalent in currency to the country he was traveling," Fichter said. "I do not know what he used that money for. He never gave an accounting of that money."
"Rhode Island's attorney general [Peter Kilmartin] has the right to intervene in our case because it involves a charitable trust," Jackvony said. "The fraud by Maciel and the Legion of Christ demonstrated in these documents also deserves immediate attention to determine whether laws against financial abuse of the elderly have been violated."
Maciel hid his pathological sex life behind a wall of wealth and an image of militant orthodoxy, charming John Paul II. He capitalized on footage of a beaming pope, celebrating Maciel and his cheering Legionaries at a public audience. A 30-person fundraising office at the Legion's U.S. headquarters in Cheshire, Conn., marketed cassettes of the event as a pivotal item in the Legion fundraising. A scene of John Paul embracing Maciel at the altar dramatized his standing for wealthy benefactors, like Mee.
By 2004, the Legion had a $650 million budget and $1 billion in assets for the prep schools, seminaries and universities in Latin America, Europe and North America. In 2005, with John Paul's death, Ratzinger broke with the pope's resistance to prosecuting Maciel and ordered Vatican canon lawyer Msgr. Charles Scicluna to investigate. Scicluna worked at Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is housed in the majestic palazzo called the Holy Office where Galileo was convicted of heresy. The upper floors house certain Roman Curia officials, including Rodé, 78, now retired as the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
A secret safe
In 2004, Rodé became prefect of the congregation that governs religious orders. His predecessor, Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, took a $90,000 gift from Maciel, according to the priest who carried the envelope. Martínez Somalo refused interview requests.
Rodé said he took no cash gifts from the Legion.
"I esteem the charism of the Legionaries," Rodé told NCR in a Nov. 29 interview at his apartment at the Vatican. He saw young men of rock-solid orthodoxy, their numbers rising in Latin America as vocations sank in Europe and North America. Rodé gave celebratory speeches for the Legion in Brazil and Chile and praised the founder after Maciel's ouster.
Asked whether that was a mistake, he couched his answer in the context of papal loyalty. "It is difficult to say it was a mistake by the pope," he said, referencing John Paul's praise of Maciel long after the 1998 case filed in the doctrinal congregation. "I don't know. I wasn't there" to know what John Paul knew, or would not consider, about Maciel.
Rodé defends the Legionaries as a phenomenon apart from Maciel, a position Benedict took in the Vatican takeover to reform the order.
A former Legion priest, speaking on background, said he met with Rodé after Maciel's death and the cardinal told him of a VHS he had seen when Maciel was superior general of Maciel and his young daughter.
Asked about this, Rodé gave a somber nod, saying it was "late 2004, or early 2005." The Legionary who showed it wanted him to have the information before the order's election for superior general, the position Maciel held for decades. Rodé says he persuaded the 84-year-old Maciel, by then under investigation, to step down. Maciel was re-elected and then retired.
What did Rodé do about the videotape showing Maciel's daughter?
"I told Msgr. Scicluna all about the problem," the cardinal said.
Scicluna reported directly to Ratzinger.
As the prefect over religious orders, why did Rodé not punish Maciel?
"It was not for me to pronounce the penalty," he said. "But he was, in the end, corrected" -- by Benedict's 2006 Vatican order sending Maciel to a "life of prayer and penitence."
Did the cardinal confront Maciel about his child?
"It was not my obligation."
Why not?
"I was not his confessor." Rodé paused. "It was my obligation as prefect for religious to get him to step down, and I did."
The cardinal's interview lends validity to another dimension of Garza's testimony: his mounting suspicions about Maciel having a child and what it took for him to confirm it. This occurred almost two years after another Legionary showed Rodé the videotape.
By 2005, Maciel was showing "basic evidence of dementia, like forgetting things, repeating things in a conversation," Garza stated in his Rhode Island testimony.
After he stepped down as superior general, Maciel left Rome and began traveling. He spent time that spring in his birthplace, Cotija de la Paz, Mexico, where the Legion has a religious house. Photographs of a reunion with his former paramour, Norma Hilda Baños, and their daughter, Normita, 23, later appeared in a Mexican gossip magazine.
Maciel's final months
Yet even as he battled dementia, Maciel was a domineering figure. Who oversees an ex-superior general long revered as a living saint? But the Legion high command worried about Scicluna's investigation as well as Maciel's stability following a visit he made to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Garza's testimony reveals his concern that Maciel, in a slow mental decline, was still traveling whenever and wherever he pleased. After the visit to Mayo Clinic, Maciel in the spring of 2006 checked into Sawgrass, a five-star hotel in Jacksonville, Fla. The Legion, as always, paid his expenses. The evidence suggests he was in Jacksonville that May when the Vatican announced his dismissal to "a life of prayer and penitence."
There is no indication from the lawsuit that Garza, born 1958, had knowledge of Maciel abusing seminarians a generation before. The Legion's counterattack on the original accusers insisted that those men in their late 50s from Mexico and Spain hatched a conspiracy to bring Nuestro Padredown. The motives were never explained, but Maciel's charismatic personality and the many financial gifts he dispensed to curial officials and others over many years were among the reasons a chorus of defenders spoke out in the late 1990s. Among those who echoed John Paul's admiration for Maciel were Fr. Richard John Neuhaus; William Bennett; George Weigel, a biographer of John Paul II; and Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, who later became the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.
The Vatican order of dismissal threw Garza into an awkward situation. The Legion's response contained contradictory elements. The order proclaimed its loyalty to Benedict while comparing Maciel to Christ as falsely accused, facing his new life with "tranquility of conscience." In this bizarre fandango of language -- the Vatican ordering Maciel into penitential life while praising the Legion, and the Legion comparing their founder to Christ -- Maciel was running up charges in a Florida luxury hotel.
And so the Legion bought a house in a Jacksonville gated complex and installed several priests to live with Nuestro Padre.
"And what was the purpose of them being there?" Jackvony asked in the deposition.
Garza replied, "To create a community."
"Why?" Jackvony asked.
"For Father Maciel to live a life of penance and absence from public ministry," Garza said.
Yet even with his new home, Maciel pined for Rome. He flew back in September 2006, hoping to attend the canonization ceremony of one of his uncles, a bishop in Mexico. The timing of Benedict's dismissal order was undoubtedly tied to that canonization. Vatican officials did not want a beaming Maciel at the ceremony knowing, as one official later told NCR, that he had molested "more than 20 but less than 100" victims.
Garza does not specify how they persuaded Maciel that he could not attend the canonization, but he returned to Jacksonville.
Garza by then was suspicious of Normita, 23, and her mother, Norma Hilda Baños, in her late 40s, who had been at the Sawgrass Hotel and were spending time with Maciel in his life of penance at the Legion house with the pool.
Among the group at the house was Javier Maciel, Nuestro Padre's brother. The priests and Javier, Garza testified, "knew the women" but would not say who they were. As Garza's suspicions grew, he stayed at a less-expensive hotel on his trips to Jacksonville, not at the "community" in the newly purchased house. In October 2006, Garza asked Norma "if the girl was the daughter of Father Maciel," he testified. "She confirmed that."
Garza tracked down her birth certificate and determined that Normita had studied at a Legion college in Mexico.
Garza was, like all Legionaries, beholden to the "private vows" never to speak ill of Maciel or superiors, never to seek higher office in the Legion, and to report to the superiors any criticism overheard about the founder. Maciel had imposed the vows to safeguard his sexual secrets. Benedict would later order the vows abolished. But at that time, Garza had only one person in whom to confide: the new superior general, Fr. Alvaro Corcuera.
By early 2007 the Legion was in an existential drama with the Vatican. Maciel was gone, sort of. Corcuera and Garza, who had long defended him of the pedophilia accusations, faced a huge internal issue: how to tell Legionaries, Regnum Christi members and the donor base about Maciel's shadow family.
Garza was also concerned about the impact on the women. Normita, he testified, said "she had this father that was very caring for her but in many instances very absent." Norma supported herself by "property that she leases," raising further questions of fraud in the legal action. How did she gain title to rental real estate when she apparently did not work?
Maciel met Norma in Acapulco, Mexico, in 1980. Normita was born three years later. In 1997, he moved them to Madrid, providing support in an upscale apartment, according to Spanish reports.
Through the year 2007, Maciel's paternity stayed hidden. The Vatican made no disclosure, nor did the Legion. How much each side knew about the other is not clear from the available evidence.
Maciel's dementia was getting worse by the end of that year, according to Garza's testimony. He sank into his final illness in late January 2008. According to a report in Madrid's El Mundo, as Norma and Normita joined the priests closest to Maciel in the Jacksonville house, Corcuera, his successor as superior general, tried to anoint him, to which he reportedly yelled, "I said no!"
The body went back to Cotija de la Paz for burial in a family tomb. The Legion announced that he had gone to heaven. Garza and Corcuera were trying to decide how to reveal the truth as Vatican officials looked on.
Gabrielle Mee died four months later in Rhode Island.
In July 2008, the Legion's American communications director, Jim Fair, traveled to Rome to discuss ongoing media strategy. Fair gave a deposition in the litigation too. In the Rome meeting, he stated, Corcuera revealed that Maciel had a daughter: They had to prepare for news coverage when it was disclosed. "We were very emotional in our response to this," Fair testified. "I think the only question any of us asked is, are you sure, and [Corcuera] said yeah."
In a telephone interview with NCR on Sunday, Fair said no Vatican official attended the meeting, nor did they discuss Vatican involvement.
Why did the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which had investigated Maciel and then the Legion, not release the information or prod the Legion to do so when Benedict dismissed Maciel in 2006?
Why did the Vatican sit on the information all those years?
José Barba, the retired Mexico City college professor who filed the 1998 recourse against Maciel in the doctrinal congregation tribunal, argues that the paramount issue for Benedict was protecting John Paul II's reputation.

"Ratzinger wanted to elevate John Paul to beatification," said Barba, coauthor of La Voluntad de No Saber ("The Will Not to Know"), an analysis of Vatican documents on Maciel. The book's publication last March and Benedict's refusal to meet with Maciel victims on a trip to Mexico ignited an onslaught of bad press for the pope. Benedict had to reckon with the embarrassment of John Paul's praise of Maciel after the 1998 case, in essence scoffing at allegations against one of the most notorious sexual criminals in church history. By keeping a lid on Maciel's secret life, Barba said, Benedict hoped "to defend the sainthood case against the accusations that John Paul protected predators."


  1. Evil, evil, evil! But I cannot bring myself to judge because of my basic Christian principles, yet I know that they thrive on the back of such principles!! Bishop what aree we to do? How do we move forward?

    1. What are we to do?

      1. On the basis of the Gospels and our commonsense know the difference between RIGHT and WRONG.

      2. Speak out and openly say what is RIGHT and what in WRONG.

      3. Make our relationship with GOD our number one priority.

      4. If a pope, bishop or priest tells us something - only believe it if it is in line with the teachings of Jesus.

      5. Know that the church is two things:

      A. The pure Family of God.

      B. A thoroughly corrupt man made institution that is all
      about POWER, MONEY and ABUSE.

      6. Recognise the difference between good clergy and bad clergy.

      7. Pray to God to keep you on the right path.

      8. Always use your God given conscience.

      Bishop Pat

  2. Calls for "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Immediately!" erupted during the 2005 funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II. More recently there have been questions raised regarding his record-fast beatification, even from some of his supporters, based on lingering concerns about the flaws of his papacy.

    “Many Vatican watchers — point to the scandal of the Legionaries of Christ as perhaps the greatest failure and scnadal. The pope held up the wealthy, conservative religious order as a model of orthodoxy. Yet for years, he and his advisers actively or passively ignored allegations that its founder was a pedophile who created a twisted cult-like movement so secretive and oppressive that his crimes went unchecked for decades. Perhaps this is the real culture of RCC herself!!!

    How can they declare that John Paul had lived a life of "heroic" Christian virtue, this is a very mockery and I for the first time am questioning saints etc, is it all just a means of control? I am so confused by this!


  3. I recognise John Paul II's holiness, his powerful presence and the positive image he projected for the Roman Catholic Church throughout his papacy and he deservedly holds my admiration.

    At the same time, I am also painfully aware that for many years, the Legion flourished during John Paul II’s papacy based to a large degree on the Vatican and Papal “approval” of the Legion and Regnum Christi.

    The Holy Father did promote Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legion and Regnum Christi as an 'efficacious example for young people'. Based on the testimony of those who have been negatively affected by the Legion, Regnum Christi and revelations about the evil, deceptive and perverted lifestyle of their founder which have been publicised and generally acknowledged by the Vatican and by the Legion, there are now legitimate questions about the Pope’s positive statements about the Legion and the founder.

    Is it possible that Pope John Paul II was unaware of the serious charges of Fr Maciel’s sexual abuse of his own teenage seminarians? Was he misinformed by his top advisors? Was he personally involved in the decision to block investigation into those charges which had been made by credible victims? Was the former Pope influenced by those around him to ignore legitimate cries for justice? What was his personal role in the policies of secrecy and cover-ups for the clerical sex abuse scandal that took place during his papacy?

    Many people would be better able to celebrate John Paul II’s elevation to sainthood if these questions were answered before the Church rushes ahead to remove any clouds of doubt.

    Trying my best to be balanced, but it is getting more and more difficult in our Church!

    Thinking Catholic

  4. During Pope John Paul II’s watch, the Legion claimed to be the fastest growing religious order of the Catholic Church and that they were fully approved by the Pope.

    In their aggressive fund raising and public relations promotions they made effective use of pictures that depicted a sense of personal friendship and closeness between the Pope and Fr Marcial Maciel.

    We expect that the personal relationship between these two men was probably not as close as the Legion claimed. Or is that a PR stunt, they were tennis buddy's after all!!

    But whether fact or mostly fiction, the close association of John Paul II with the Legion founder is now detrimental to his cause for sainthood, or at least it should be, but we have an autocratic leadership!

  5. Among the worst of the scandals were those involving the highly charismatic, sexually prolific, and Vatican-favoured Fr. Marcial Maciel and his powerful organisation the “Legion of Christ.”

    Pope John Paul II was a huge Maciel fan, Maciel was a money machine for the Pope and sent lots of his takings to the Pope, and Ratzinger at the time was John Paul’s “enforcer” with regard to sex scandals.

    A tricky combo. Ratzinger and his Vatican organisation the CDF (formerly know as “the Inquisition” — seriously) oversaw the response to all of the child-sex scandals, including the ones involving Pope John Paul’s golden goose, Fr. Maciel and the Legion of Christ. Ratzinger, John Paul, and Maciel are knee-deep in each other’s history.

    Is it time for the Catholic people to wake up, if they do not speak out in my view, they are just as bad.

    Oratory Priest

  6. What do we know? For all you canon legal people, in fact no evidence is suffice for you as you are canonical 'sick'!

    We know what the Vatican response to decades of scandal looked like from the outside — an obvious and massive worldwide cover-up of global criminal activity. To read one example of how the Church responded to just one set of criminal revelations, try this: “Catholic Church enslaved 30,000 Irish women as forced unpaid labour in Magdalene Laundries until 1996” — horrible stuff; truly the devil at work.

    Or consider the cushy retirement of Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law, or former New York Cardinal Edward Egan’s retracted apology for the child-sex scandal (Egan now says the church didn’t do anything wrong.)

    Now thanks to a woman in Rhode Island, we may get a look at the Papal cover-up process from the inside. She has a lawsuit against Maciel’s Legion of Christ for defrauding her now-dead aunt out of $60 million, by influencing her to rewrite her will. This suit has been going on for years. A Rhode Island judge has just ordered all documents in that suit be made public.

    That’s all documents; according to the lawyer for the plaintiff, there are “yards” of them — all depositions, all discovery, everything will be made public. If anything involving the Legion of Christ’s relationship with the Vatican — and in particular John Paul and Ratzinger — is in those documents, they will be public as well.

    Yes, sounds like the work of a saint to me!!!

    I smell a rat or two.


  7. Who and what was Fr. Marcial Maciel?

    Marcial Maciel was one of the most prolific abusers of boys (and father of children by several women) in the modern history of the Church. John Aravosis wrote about Maciel in April 2005, when Ratzinger was first made pope. From John’s post about Maciel:

    “[Father Marcial Maciel] pushed my hand onto his penis. And I didn’t know anything about masturbation,” Juan Vaca, who was first abused when he was 11 years old, told ABCNEWS. “And he says, ‘You don’t know how to do it. Let me show you.’ And he gets my penis himself and starts to masturbate me. I was in shock.”

    Shocking stuff, but we’ll leave it there. Needless to say, there’s an iceberg beneath that tip.

    Maciel and his group of priests and seminarians (which Maciel treated almost like a harem) were also close to Pope John Paul II, and thus to Cardinal Ratzinger, John Paul’s “enforcer” as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Ratzinger’s nickname there was “God’s rottweiler“.

    A taste of Marciel’s relationship with Pope John Paul and the Vatican:

    Called to accompany Pope John Paul II on his visits to Mexico in 1979, 1990, and 1993, Maciel was also appointed by the Pope to the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Formation of Priests in Circumstances of the Present Day (1990). … The golden anniversary of his priestly ordination was celebrated on 26 November 1994, with 57 Legionary priests ordained on the anniversary’s eve. … Maciel collaborated extensively with the pope [John Paul II], either in person or through members of his organization, the Legion of Christ. …

    He received many donations from Mexico’s richest. Maciel and the Legion gave the Vatican money, and some claim that this kept for years the Church from acting over allegations of sex abuse by Maciel.

    Investigative journalist Jason Berry wrote in an April 2010 article in The National Catholic Reporter, “the charismatic” founder of the Legion of Christ “sent streams of money to Roman curia officials with a calculated end … Maciel was buying support for his group and defence for himself, should his astounding secret life become known.”

    But you know what - the Catholic people do not even want to know how corrupt their leaders are, sad and pathetic really!

  8. Bottom line on Maciel and the Vatican :

    Maciel was a prolific sexual abuser, incredibly charismatic, who led the “Legion of Christ,” a highly-favoured organisation of acolytes (priests and seminarians), many of whom were his victims. His group had a knack for getting the rich to give them money, much of which Maciel passed to the Vatican.

    John Paul was a big fan of Maciel (no, there’s zero indication of anything sexual). Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge of “dealing” with the Maciel scandals, along with all the others.

    Saint - for God sake give us all a break, I think Hitler would deserve the title more!

  9. For years, the Vatican and JPII ignored complaints against Father Maciel, who enjoyed a strong cult of personality.

    But in 2004 Cardinal Ratzinger reopened a stalled investigation into the order when he was the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, sending a Vatican official to interview Legionaries and accusers of Father Maciel worldwide.

    Why are they even thinking of making JPII a saint? Are they actually out to destroy any goodwill left in ordinary Catholics?

  10. When Fr Marciel was a seminarian was he expelled twice from 2 seminaries!(by the Jesuits) and yet he was still ordained by his Uncle who was a bishop! Somebody had their suspiscions about him even before he started the Legion!

  11. Why did Fr. Marciel travel under a different identity? (he had 2 passports!).

  12. Why did Fr. Marciel travel under a different identity? (he had 2 passports!).

  13. Why were Legionary priests buying prescription painkillers under their own names for Fr. Marciel?

  14. I therefore suggest that there is something fundamentally wrong with the whole idea of basing an order on any character at all other than Jesus Christ himself, that if one examines the details, then the characters upon whom the Church of Rome establishes orders seem to have totally different values from the great characters of the Scriptures

  15. If you were to actually examine the details, and I mean examine them properly, you would find that the founders of religious orders and prelatures, from St Benedict of Norcia to St Josemaria Escriva, have all earned their sainthood, not because they founded an order but precisely because their virtuous and exemplary lives were a reflection of that central character of all the Scriptures, Jesus Christ Himself.

  16. The empire-building of the Legion in the United States is simply astounding. The amount of walking-around $$$ they have for starving "orthodox Catholic" activists, writers, academics, etc. is astonishing as well. They are also trying be the dominant force in the Catholic component of the American "religious right" warring against abortion (which they should) scourging homosexuals in general (not so good). The Legion is a HUGE promoter of quack ex-gay psychotherapy. How can anyone take their anti-gay views seriously when everyone knows that its founder was addicted to teenage cock? I mean, COME ON!!!

    Even when their apostolates are good, they will have no ability whatsoever to change the culture, because the culture at large will simply write them off. And their ambitions to take as much of the American Catholic infrastracture that isn't tainted by heresy is highly disturbing. Simply stated, everything that the Legion touches from now on will be tainted, and Catholics have to do everything possible to keep their grubby hands away from our Church.

  17. St John Chrysostom wrote "it is not hypocrisy to speak better than we act. If it were , good Lord, we would all have to remain silent!". Only time will tell if what Marciel Maciel founded came from God. If it did then the sins of the founder will not destroy it.

  18. I am a Reformer Clergyman and the more I hear the more I feel sad for the RC Church, seriously what is wrong with you, reform for goodness sake!!!!!!!!!!

    The extent of paedophilia among RC clergy which is coming to light is having hugely damaging consequences for the mission of the RC church in secular western society. Parents no longer wish to bring their children to a church many of whose clergy seem incapable of resisting the urge to abuse children. I know it seems harsh, but ex-catholics speak to me like this, in plain English.

    When a serial offender like Maciel is exposed, what do the authorities do? Not work out how to stop it, but how to get him canonised, despite what appear to be serious criminal as well as moral offences. So, what now, canonise his friends and protectors!! I am sorry to be blunt again, but your morality is perverse my friends, you are morally 'ill'!

    Do your seminaries make no effort at all to teach students the difference between right and wrong? Or do the rules not apply to your priests?

  19. I am glad to be an Anglican. Our problems are as nothing compared to the corruption which keeps manifesting itself in sexual abuse by RC clerics.

  20. Where piety coexists with wealth and influence there is always the risk of moral corruption, on the one hand because the standard of morality is so much higher, and on the other because the level of temptation is so much greater.

    This was the case during the Reformation when many "rightly" protested at the abuse of wealth and worldly power by a post-Renaissance Church , but who tragically went too far and span off into theological error. We must not make that same mistake.

    Horrified as we are by such abuses and by the suggestion that they go may deeper, we must understand that the sinfulness of the former leader, and possibly of any other individual, does not in any way diminish the genuine piety of the faithful or the overwhelming majority of the clergy.

    Did the blasphemous profanity of the Apostle Judas who first lied to the Lord's face at the Last Supper, and then betrayed Him to an agonising death for money, did that in away way diminish the value of the Apostles and disciples?

    Of course it did not. In fact Jesus valued them so much that after He had gone He sent down His Holy Spirit upon them and gave them His extraordinary graces.

    So instead of a witch hunt, we need to offer support for all the genuine members of that organisation and recognise the good work it has done in the past, and more important, the good work it will do in the future.

    Meanwhile, I am any sure that with the help of the Holy Spirit any lingering "accomplices" of the disgraced former leader, if they exist, will be rooted out and dealt with appropriately.

  21. If he ever confessed his 'sins' in a confessional, and the priest to whom he confessed respected the confidentiality of the confessional, then he had accomplices.

    Withholding important information may be in line with the requirements of the Church of Rome, but it incurs the wrath of God (as the book of Leviticus makes clear). And, as there is a God in heaven who punishes the wicked, those priests who listened to the confessions of Fr Maciel and remained silent can therefore look forward to a lost eternity where they burn in hell, because they chose to obey the rules of the Church of Rome rather than the will of God.

  22. There was a wise observation in a book about St. Bernadette - when describing her great trials: No one resembles a true saint more than a false saint.

  23. The problem with cults, and the Legionaries/Regnum Christi is a cult, is that all manner of abuse and damage always eventually happens. This is where the SSPX are different: they are a movement, not a cult. Offence and bewilderment at loopy views is one thing but the consequences of cult life are infinitely worse. The approach of the Francis to these groups is an example all true Catholics should follow.

  24. Indeed, as early the 1940’s and -50’s, the founder of the Legionaries had been accused of sexually abusing seminarians and novices who were minors, but also of consuming drugs. Benedict XVI had asked him to resign from all public ministry in May of 2006; he passed away in January 2008. In early 2009 his memory was sullied by the revelation that he secretly had a daughter and then later that there were several other children. Speaking to the press on May 1, Fr. Lombardi confided that “The pope is taking this affair very seriously.” The determination of Benedict XVI, at a time when the Church is weathering the storm of the pedophile priest scandal, confirms that the pope intends to bring this whole matter to light. It is even more impressive, since there is a significant risk that the affair could have consequences for the beatification process of John Paul II (1978-2005), who was especially attached to the Legionaries of Christ and to their founder. The American press recently reported that several close collaborators of the Polish pope, including Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Eduardo Martinez Somalo, as well as the Polish bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, at that time the pope’s secretary, received money donated by Fr. Maciel so as to put an end to the investigations concerning him. According to the National Catholic Reporter, Cardinal Ratzinger refused the “offerings” of the Legionaries’ founder.

  25. he Vatican is investigating seven priests from the troubled Legion of Christ religious order for alleged sexual abuse of minors and another two for other alleged crimes, CBS News has confirmed.

    The investigations mark the first known Vatican action against Legion priests for alleged sexual assault following the scandal of the Legion's founder, who was long held up as a model by the Vatican despite credible accusations — later proven — that he raped and molested his seminarians.

    The Legion, which is now under Vatican receivership, has insisted that the crimes of its late founder, the Rev. Marciel Maciel, were his alone.

    But the Vatican investigation of other Legion priests indicates that the same culture of secrecy that Maciel created within the order to cover his crimes enabled other priests to abuse children — just as abusive clergy of other religious orders and dioceses have done around the world.

    But the Catholic people keep giving their money to these people!

  26. George Weigel suggests

    He has just made an interesting commentary, in the context of the upcoming beatification of Pope John Paul II, on the the sordid case of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, whom the late Pope supported.

    To focus so much attention on Maciel at the time of John Paul II’s beatification, as if his case offered a privileged window into a 26-year pontificate that changed the history of the Church and the world, is rather like obsessing on the disastrous raid on Dieppe and the bombing of Dresden at Winston Churchill’s funeral. It’s grotesquely disproportionate, from any serious historical point of view.

    A recent article by Jeffrey Mirus, President of offers a complementary perspective on Weigel's comments by placing the Maciel scandal in context.

    Given this long-standing concern that has surrounded the work of the Legion of Christ, an outsider would be unlikely to share Fr. Gill’s (a former Legionary of Christ priest) assessment that Fr. Maciel has inflicted more damage on the Church’s reputation and evangelizing mission than any other single Church leader. The Legion would have had to be far more successful and far more trusted than it ever was for this to be the case, let alone for an impartial observer to regard the damage as in any sense fatal.
    Again, a little distance is salutary. I am not saying that people were not hurt (though I am remembering as well that a great many were also helped). But with a little distance, we find that the Legion’s power and influence over souls was not as great as Fr. Gill might suggest. The Legion was not everything, nor is its current crisis the end of everything. Unless the Church herself falls, there remains to all of the fallen a source of grace and healing.

  27. I am Legion. We are money

  28. "Maciel’s envoys would regularly deliver envelopes with thousands of dollars in cash to key Church hierarchs. Private audiences with the Pope commanded as much as $50,000 dollars per visit, money that was channeled through Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish priest who was the Pope’s private secretary from 1966 until John Paul’s death." (Pope John Paul "the Great" and his crime syndicate: Part I, Fr. Maciel).

    Worth a read!

  29. The Way of Marcial Maciel Degollado: Simony & "Polite Bribery"

    For those of you who do not yet know, and I have encountered those who don't,
    the founder of the 20th Century religious order, Legionaries of Christ, is known as
    the modern church's version of Frankenstein's monster, only far more evil. Marcial
    Maciel Degollado and his religious order contained a completely unnecessary troop
    of boys on Legion property who were far too young for seminary courses. They
    were recruited by Legionarie priests under the claim that they had vocations to the
    priesthood. It turned out that the youth served the function of sex toys for the reli-
    gious order's founder. By his habits, it's clear that he declared war on nature and
    the vows of ordination, operating a cult under the guise of a religious order.

    So cultic was the religious order founded by Maciel that its priests took a complete-
    ly unique and repressive vow that consisted in promising to never speak ill of Maciel
    or any other superior of the order. It was called a vow of charity, but it had nothing
    to do with charity per se. After all, this religious order consisted in Maciel hitting the
    rich up for as much money as was available and then giving large sums of it to the Vat-
    ican, as if Maciel founded a lobbyist group.

    The religious order founded by Maciel mostly consisted in taking from the rich and
    giving to the rich. After all, when an entity like the Vatican needs money, all that it
    has to do is sell a fraction of its priceless art. The Vatican is already rich, no matter
    how often it is made to look like a house of orphans one step away from bankruptcy

  30. Maciel's Diabolical Con Game

    Do not let yourself be deceived into thinking that Maciel's Legionaries of Christ is an
    arch-conservative religious order holding a fanatical allegiance to the papacy. Rather,
    think of it as a con game designed to put the pope and the Vatican on high finance pup-
    pet strings. The habitually negligent John Paul II fell for the con. Here was Maciel's

    If Marcial Maciel could trick humanity into believing that John Paul II was the great-
    est pope ever, and if Maciel could simultaneously make himself look like John Paul's
    right hand man, then Maciel would have succeeded in deceiving mankind into regard-
    ing him as an equal to what the laity would have been lead to believe was history's
    greatest pope. Maciel would then have succeeded in getting mass delegations of
    humanity to cow-tow to his every wish.

    John Paul II publicly called Maciel "an efficacious guide of youth" in 1994, falling for
    Maciel's ploy. This resulted in testimony being sent to the Vatican in 1998, by one
    of Maciel's victims, solely out of a sense of conscience. Other corroborative testi-
    monies from other Maciel victims were then sent. Predictably enough, the original
    victims of the serial molester were made out to be the villains, as soon as each one
    would come forth with his corroborative testimony. None the less, according to
    Jason Berry, the journalist who diligently investigated the Legionaries, allegations
    against the Mexican predator were sent to the Vatican as far back as the 1970s
    and 1980s, only to be ignored by the Vatican.

    Maciel Was Already Suspended as Far Back as the 1950s

    Maciel was removed from ministry (for drug misuse) during the reign of Pius XII, in
    1956. An investigation of Maciel and his newly established religious order was then
    conducted by members of the time-tested Carmelite order. The confounding feature
    which sabotaged the investigation was that each of the molested youth who were ques-
    tioned lied . . . admittedly so, years after the fact, out of a sense of fear and duress.

    From the point in time when the young men lied to the Carmelites, everything to be
    gained by Maciel and the Legionaries would now be gained principally through the
    lies told in the 1950s. The truth would probably have resulted in the Legionaries of
    Christ being disbanded, aka "suppressed," being that it was still the reign of Pius XII.
    Anything obtained through a lie constitutes an ill-gotten gain. Therefore, the financial
    assets of the entire Legionaries of Christ religious order is an ill-gotten gain.

  31. How the Snake Escaped from the Sack, According to Jason Berry

    One calendar year after Pius XII's 1958 death, Maciel was readmitted to the ministry,
    compliments of Clemente Cardinal Micara, a cleric given the equivalent of $10,000 by
    Maciel one calendar year after WWII ended, when $10,000 was a sizable sum of mon-
    ey. Maciel ended up having his "faculties" reinstated in 1959, meaning that he was once
    again allowed to hear confessions, conduct Masses, preach, etc.

    Then came 1960, when the Third Secret of Fatima was to be read, indicating that some-
    thing evil at that time would be on the loose in the Catholic Church, contributing to the
    church's ruination. Maciel was ever so coincidentally on the loose in 1960, perverting
    the church, after having been canonically chained for a few years. Then came Vatican
    Council II, the ecumenical council from Hell.

    Maciel was cited as having targeted the wives, widows, and daughters of wealthy men,
    for money. In fact, a seminary in Spain was built, in large part, due to the daughter of
    a former Venezuelan dictator. There was the donation of a house from a member of the
    famous Garza family, and the equivalent of $50 million dollars was alleged to have been
    donated by an industrialist's widow, Flora Barragán. Carlos Slim, richest man on earth,
    also donated to the Legionaries.

  32. Death Without the Sacraments, while Priests Were Placed on Standby

    It's important to note that, at his Jacksonville Florida death, Maciel forcefully refused
    to let the last rites (viaticum) be administered to him, stating that he didn't believe in the
    forgiveness of God. This was arrogance in his thinking that his sinfulness was greater
    than Divine Mercy. This furthermore shows that Maciel had zero faith in Catholicism.
    He was using the Catholic Church to his advantage, for his twisted agenda, all the while
    posing as a man of faith, hope, and charity. Maciel amassed wealth, but in the end, he
    couldn't take it with him, dying in the company of one of his mistresses and his only known daughter.

  33. The World of the Dark Arts

    If the mean-spirited sector of humanity versed in the Satanic arts attempt to make use
    of Maciel, it might backfire on those people. This is because the church offered him
    the sacraments before his death, and because of the church's gesture of mercy, God
    will protect the church from the harmfulness of a Maciel who died outside of the sa-
    craments, disbelieving in the Mercy of God. None the less, it would be wise if some-
    one somewhere would pray for us to be protected from the damned humans and fall-
    en angels who have been seeking our everlasting ruination. Mentioning Maciel by
    name wouldn't hurt.

  34. A Rehearsed Campaign Slogan

    It was admitted by a member of the Legionaries that the youth attached to the order,
    via Regnum Christi, were coached into spilling out the slogan, "John Paul II, we love
    you." Ladies and gentleman, it was all fake - the public praising of John Paul, that
    is. The logic was that, if John Paul II were made to look great, then it would make
    Maciel look great, because John Paul II called the long-term molester of youth an
    "efficacious guide of youth." That was the con game.

  35. John Paul the Great Tribulation of the Devout

    The phrase, John Paul the Great, was also artificially contrived. It was alleged that
    the title "was first coined by Cardinal Angelo Sodano himself, on the event
    of Pope John Paul's death." Yet, the players at the Vatican and elsewhere made
    it look as if the common citizenry in Rome coined the phrase. It's apparent that So-
    dano and company were trying to make the pope who presided during the Altar Boy
    Molestation Years look like a Francis of Assisi, a Margaret of Costello, a John of
    God, or Catherine of Siena. This was apparently so that the Legionaries would end
    up looking as good as the pope who praised their founder. Now, the difference is
    that the aforementioned saints spontaneously moved the citizens of their locales, up-
    on their deaths. No cardinal was there, contriving the people's words on puppet

    Margaret of Costello was a homeless hunch back dwarf who became a Dominican
    and then who quickly performed miracles after her death. She was also an extreme-
    ly heart touching person. Such are the real saints . . . not the plasticized presenta-
    tions of a thoroughly corrupted Vatican in an era prophesied by the Virgin Mary as
    one which would be marked by a horrendously immoral clergy. In the 17th Century,
    the Virgin Mary appeared to a South American prioress, prophesying in her mystical
    beauty. She stated that the 20th Century clergy would be corrupt. The prophesy
    turned out to be 100% true.

    The thing about saints such as Margaret of Costello and John of God, as well as Ber-
    nadette Soubirous and Theresa of the Child Jesus, is that they suffered and sacrificed
    in life. John Paul caused the untold suffering of others, in his stubbornness and negli-
    gence. Meanwhile, he lived in luxury for decades. If you don't care about others,
    then you are not a saint.

    There once was a papal election that was later declared invalid. The same type of
    mechanism can be applied to fraudulent beatifications and canonizations. In fact, a
    couple names of saints were removed from the canon of the Mass, meaning that they
    were removed from the martyrology. This era is the era of untold outrage, operat-
    ed by those who acted as if nothing were wrong, until the press revealed what they
    were concealing. In their stone hearted arrogance and insistence on maintaining the
    Bella Figura of the church, they disfigured the church, losing the trust of multitudes.
    These clerics did more to destroy the church than did all the priests of the Church
    of Satan combined.

    Just my rants!

  36. The Timeless Observation of Saint John Chrysostom

    It is written that he who receives a prophet receives a prophet's wages. Well, he
    who promotes a false prophet receives a false prophet's damnation. Maciel was
    the falsest of prophets. Sodano promoted him. In Angelo Sodano, we see the
    personification of the truth in St John Chrysostom having stated that "the road
    to Hell is paved with the skulls of Bishops." Do not let yourself be deceived.
    Hell never ends ... ever.

  37. Added noted: For those unfamiliar with the Christian Bible, the title posted above
    is a play on the scriptural passage, I am Legion. We are many. One day, Jesus came
    ashore, to a town called Gerasenes, where he was met by a possessed man who spent
    a long time dwelling in nearby tombs and deserted places. The possessing demon
    pleaded with Jesus, asking not to be sent to the Abyss of Hell. That was when Jesus
    asked the demon to reveal his name, where upon the possessing demon answered,
    I am Legion. We are many

  38. I sat with Legonaire Students in the Philosophy classes in the Gregorian Uni in Rome in 81-83. They were like little Darleks from Dr Who. Identical to a fault. They arrived in their own bus-heads bowed. They wore identical soutanes, shoes & high roman collars. To us irish college students of the day it looked like they were encouraged not to speak to the riff raff. As for the above article, while not contesting the content I find it too many words to read comfortably in one sitting. Perhaps on a blog, less is more-With respect, Sean

  39. Interesting photograph! That is a masonic handshake!

  40. I believe they balance out the good with the evil. This world is evil therefore man must change

  41. No one hears our mother...mother earth. For many we dont have a planet b. You need Four buckets. One for plastics, one for woods, one for metals and one your scraps. Once collected for the week take them yourself's to the reuse center. Find your connection