The Legion’s close ties with the elite are most evident in Monterrey, a city of four million that has long been dominated by businessmen in the so-called Group of Ten. For decades, Jesuits played a major role educating the children of the wealthy there, but the order veered leftward and was expelled in 1968 by the local bishop, who accused Jesuits of backing a strike at a local university. Since then, the Legion has set the social and intellectual tone for Monterrey’s wealthy through a web of schools, clubs and charitable organizations.
Many of Monterrey’s entrepreneurs and executives send their children to single-sex Legion schools where they make connections that last a lifetime. "They are very good educators," says Mr. Slim. "My children studied with them."
Middle-class parents struggle to pay the high tuitions of nearly $900 a month, convinced that their children will benefit from school ties, says David Martinez, a former member of Regnum Christi who studied in Legion schools and is now managing director of the New York-based hedge fund Fintech.
At the Legion’s after-school youth clubs, where the catechism is mixed with soccer and games, "vocation hunters" recruit candidates to become priests or consecrated women. As a first step, teenagers are encouraged to donate a year to the Catholic Church by volunteering for the Legion’s world-wide operations. Around Monterrey, Legion priests dress in smart double-breasted black suits and sport cufflinks along with a clerical collar. Consecrated women wear ankle-length dresses.
In October, Monterrey’s establishment turned out to see a newly ordained priest, the Rev. Benjamín Clariond — whose father and uncle are former state governors — celebrate his first mass in the city. The event was amply covered in the society pages of Monterrey’s leading newspaper, which put 64 photographs of the event on its Web site.
Like the Clarionds or the Garza Medinas, almost every prominent clan in Monterrey has a son who is a Legion priest or a daughter who is a consecrated woman. Talk at dinner parties of the "movement" or the "kingdom," referring to Regnum Christi, is common. Mr. Martinez, the hedge fund manager, says Father Maciel is "worshipped" by Mexico’s upper class because for 60 years he has made Mexico’s rich feel as if "Christ loves them more than other people, and is using them as part of a divine plan."