“Our current culture is secularized, infected with immanentism and relativism. Such a mindset is the hallmark of the culture of our times and of those who today shape opinion or are considered the drivers of culture. It is a matter of culture and therefore a matter of leadership, i.e.: of those who hold the reins of society in their hands. We have before us a society that no longer evinces personalities of Christian and markedly Catholic cultural depth. At the same time, we know that the faith cannot be pushed back merely to the private level. If today’s society is to be Christianized, it needs people capable of assuming responsibility for the society of tomorrow, and who are formed in schools and universities. It needs priests, consecrated people, and committed lay people, all well formed. It needs apostles for the new evangelization.” – Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, October 19, 2010
Nothing seems to create more discomfort among critics of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi than our methodology of “working with leaders.” Frankly, explaining the concept sometimes seems to be difficult for our own members.
Perhaps that is because many people confuse the process of working with leaders with the end goal. As Cardinal De Paolis says, we need apostles for the new evangelization. We need those apostles to Christianize society. Thus, the Legion and Regnum Christi aim to form apostles, working with leaders from all walks of life who can help the evangelizing efforts of the whole Church
Frankly, there isn’t anything sinister or terribly original about the concept. Successful organizations, including the Church, have been doing it since a carpenter’s son recruited 12 apostles and set out to save the world. That’s right; Christi enlisted local men, formed them in leadership and the faith then launched them into apostolic action.
We see the wisdom of working with leaders all the time in our parishes. In my parish, we have an annual gala to raise money for our school. Our pastor, one very holy priest, always asks a leader in the parish to head the gala – someone with strong organizational skills who is hard-working and knows lots of people who can help. He makes sure it is someone with strong faith because it is a difficult job.
During Lent, the Ladies Guild has a soup night to raise money for charitable causes. They pull together the leading cooks in the parish to create really special soups and the event draws large and hungry crowds.
If our parish needs to raise money for a repair or special project, our pastor first approaches people who are financially successful. He knows that if he gets financial leaders on board, they will convince others and the project will be adequately funded.
If you want to get something done, a powerful way to start is to enlist the help of people who are influential and will bring resources (including other people) to the table. In other words, it makes sense to work with leaders.
But in the case of the Legion and Regnum Christi, we work with leaders and we form apostles. And we’re thankful that other groups do the myriad things they do to serve the Church. In their work, they also must – to some degree – enlist people who are leaders in whatever aspects of service they choose to engage.
Most groups – including the Legion — will need to find benefactors who can fund their work. And if someone of financial means becomes an apostle there is much he can accomplish.
Still, it is important to remember that being wealthy is very different from being a leader. There are some leaders with virtually no personal economic resources – and there are some wealthy people who are totally devoid of leadership.
In the case of Regnum Christ, our handbook makes it absolutely clear that we are a way to live Christian life within the Church and we are open to everyone:
47 Regnum Christi is open to all Catholic faithful without exception, men and women, youth and adults, of whatever state of life and social condition. God uses a great variety of means and avenues to invite those he wants, offering them the Movement as a resource and a way to live Christian life within the Church, and thus contribute to the sanctification of the world and fulfill the vocation for which he has chosen us in Christ before the creation of the world, so that we might be holy and spotless through love, and be imitators of God. – Regnum Christi Handbook, page 38
Have we always lived up to the ideal as stated in the handbook? Undoubtedly, we have not. In our drive to get numbers and results, we have sometimes focused too much on the pursuit of those who can help the most financially, or are, perhaps, the most attractive or popular.
Today, we realize we need the help of leaders of all manner and that apostles come from all walks of life. As Christ told his disciples in the Gospel of Mark: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”