Fr. Dwight Longenecker on the founder of Miles Jesu: "The guy gave me the creeps from the start."
From Fr. Longenecker's blog:
http://gkupsidedown.blogspot.com/2011/01/miles-jesu-founder-dismissed.html I'm pleased to report that the founder of Miles Jesu has been dismissed for 'totally unacceptable behavior'. I got to know the members of Miles Jesu when I lived in England. American Steve Ryan was the leader of the community of celibate, consecrated laymen. Steve is an intelligent, devoted and spiritual man who lived a very sacrificial life in service of the church. The guys at Miles Jesu organized the annual Path to Rome conference in London at which various converts to the Catholic Church were invited to speak. At a couple of the conferences the founder, Fr. Alfonso Duran turned up with his retinue. I have to say that the guy gave me the creeps from the start. My impression was of a sinister, power hungry leader of a cult.
However, this was simply my personal, subjective impression, and always wishing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and not liking to accuse anyone of being a Catholic Darth Vader, I kept my opinions to myself. Nevertheless, I was not surprised a few years later to discover that Miles Jesu was under investigation, that my friend Steve Ryan had left the organization, nor that he was being persecuted and having false allegations made against him by those members who remained loyal.
The case is too much like the problems of the Legionairies and Fr. Marcel Marciel. Anyone associated with this kind of religious behavior will recognize that it is not only a problem with Catholicism. There are fundamentalist, Evangelical colleges, churches and other organizations that operate with the same cult-like mentality--demanding total loyalty and black listing and ostracizing those who criticize or leave the little fortress of faith. The problem is complex and is not only the blame of the domineering cult leader. Those who belong to such groups collude with the leadership, and a sick symbiosis of the dominator and those who wish to be dominated develops. Often those who follow such leaders desire the security and absolute certainty that comes with membership and the totally unacceptable demands for loyalty and mindless obedience that are part of the system.
The same problem can exist within marriages, families, parishes, schools and workplaces in a less extreme form. Anyone who demands total, unquestioned loyalty and anyone who wishes to submit themselves to such a regime or relationship is living out a frighteningly immature and irresponsible reaction to life's challenge. Such systems, wherever they occur, breed infantilism--not the proper child-like trust of the saint--but a diabolical counterfeit that controls and oppresses (and even more sickly) desires to be controlled and oppressed. Saints are not made in this way. All that results from such a life is spiritual, social and psychological abuse of a profound nature which produces not saints, but sad and stunted souls.
Finally, we should understand that those who are involved in this sick relationship are more often sick than evil. The dominator really thinks he is doing God's will and is simply exerting the necessary discipline to produce saints. The dominated really thinks he is doing God's will by living out a life of sacrifice and total obedience. Most often the great growth of such organizations, their ability to raise funds and attract followers and their undoubted good works make them difficult to criticize. Their deception operates at many different levels to both themselves and outside observers. Either way, sick or evil, such religious behavior has to be exposed and rooted out.