From Opus to the Legionaries of Christ: the 'ultra heritage' of John Paul II that Francis wants to bring to justice

"If the Pope has dared with Opus Dei, with the traditionalists or with Communion and Liberation, anything is possible." A senior Vatican official, very close to Francis, thus defines the current moment of tension that is being experienced within the Church, with a Pope who is fragile in health but not in spirit or mind, whom “harass” some powerful enemies, which curiously formed part of the Praetorian Guard of both Benedict XVI and, especially, John Paul II. They are the ones that Bergoglio wants to return to the path of the Catholic Church and that they join the model of a synodal Church, participatory and far from the strategy of involution of the Second Vatican Council that meant the long pontificate of the Polish Pope and the interregnum of his successor, Ratzinger.

Francis will not have it easy: in forty years of conservative papacies, many new ultra-ecclesial movements and realities have proliferated in the Vatican structures and are now revolting against the organizational reforms of the Argentine Pope. However, Bergoglio seems determined to bring these groups to heel. As pointed out by a report prepared by Settimana News Regarding the phenomenon of these groups, "it is indicative that in the hundreds of new ecclesial families there are fifteen founders under examination and some 80 institutes 'commissioned'" for issues that have to do with "charisma, government, abuses and theological censorship- liturgical”.

The most recent case, and the one that has captured the attention of all the foci, it has been that of Opus Dei. Untouchable institution to date, the only personal Prelature of the Church, which the Pope has forced to restructure, becoming dependent on the Congregation for the Clergy and stripping its prelate of the status of bishop.

The Motu Proprio – normative document prepared by the Pope – 'Ad charisma tuendum' (To protect the charism) that came into force this Thursday, August 4, is, beyond an organizational formality, a clear commitment to break the dynamics of a movement based on hierarchy and the exercise, sometimes even abusive, of power. Cases of women exploited in houses of the Work in Latin America or the recent cases of abuses, with firm sentences included, that members of the institution have suffered, without it having asked for an unmitigated pardon, are key to understanding the papal movement. The organization has had a letter of marque since, 40 years ago now, John Paul II granted them, through the Apostolic Letter Ut sit (So that it may be), privileges that no other Pope, in modern history, had granted to any other movement. .

It is not the first case in which Bergoglio gets involved in ultra-conservative movements. Since the Pope intervened in the Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception -a neoconservative organization-, another of its objectives has been to limit the influence of those groups that, under the guise of defending the tradition of the Church in the liturgy, -masses in Latin and with their backs to the people, separating men and women–, conspired to stop the winds of reform sponsored by Bergoglio since he published Amoris Laetitia and opened the door to the communion of the divorced and remarried. The trickle of interventions in ultra-conservative institutions in France or Italy, and especially the prohibition of the use of the missal prior to the Council, they are a sign that the Pope is serious. And that the enemies are many.

A few months ago, the Pope acted on another of the most powerful groups inside the Vatican (his great rival in the last conclave, Cardinal Scola, is a member of it), Communion and Liberation. Rome has intervened in the Memores Domini association, the secular branch of the movement founded by Don Giussani, and has forced his successor, the Spaniard Julián Carrón, to present his resignation. And it is that Francisco considers, and so he told the representatives of all the movements last September, that there could not be life-long charges.

In fact, a regulation promoted by Bergoglio in November prohibits the leaders of the new movements from being at the head of the organizations for more than ten years and only grants exceptions in the case of the founders. It is the situation in which, for example, Kiko Argüello finds himself, initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way, the 'kikos'.

In the case of the cielinos (as Communion and Liberation is known), the Holy See, through the prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, has asked the movement not to "promote a climate of distrust towards the Church and resistance to its indications".

In other cases, the interventions have as a visible reason abuses of authority, power and sexual abuse, which have led, as in the case of the Schoenstatt movement, to the paralysis of the process of canonization of its founder, the priest Josef Kentenich, "to waiting for the accusations weighing on him for the abuse of nuns to be fully clarified.” Rome has also intervened Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana, after proving the abuses committed by its founder, the Peruvian Luis Figari, and indiscriminate abuses of nuns belonging to its female branch – the Servants of God's Plan – as revealed by the Chilean journalist Camila Bustamante in her investigation Servants (Planet). A story that is very reminiscent of what happened years before with the predator Marcial Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ, who today, in the process of being refounded, continue to carry some of the evils that Francis wants to eradicate from the life of the Church .

Similarly, the Heralds of the Gospel, whose presence in Sevilla la Nueva has unleashed the controversy revealed by, are also being intervened for problems related to the economic situation and complaints of mistreatment of schoolchildren in Brazil, with the appointment of pontifical commissioner included.

Still, the purge is not just limited to ultra-conservative movements. Thus, in Italy, the intervention of the Community of Bose, an interdenominational congregation, founded by the charismatic Enzo Bianchi, with a direct link to Pope Francis and which was committed to the practical unity of the different Christian confessions, made an impression. In this case, there were also situations of abuse of power, associated with the charisma of the founder.

Perhaps, the only great movement to which Francisco has not managed to put in the path are the neocatechumenals. And that, in 2014, in his first audience as Pope to the movement, warned them of the need to "give up living in all the details what your itinerary would require, in order to guarantee unity among the brothers who form the only community ecclesial, of which you should always feel a part”.

And it is that a good part of the criticism of the Way, and the reason why its statutes took so long to be definitive, is its exclusive nature, its masses in which no other non-Neocatechumenal Catholic cannot participate (with exceptions), and a liturgy and very specific parish presence. "Wherever a community enters, basic parish life disappears," explain several parish priests. This same summer, receiving Kiko Argüello and several thousand 'fans', Bergoglio did remind them to do “everything within the Church, nothing outside the Church”. The next chapter? We will see.

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