Pope Rafael Otieno Adika was a baptized Roman Catholic by 1954. According an article published in the Catholic World Report, on May 15th 2011, this is what he told journalist Travis Kavulla about his conversion to Legion Maria.
“I became severely ill in the 1970s and went to several hospitals but could not be healed. And then, when I heard of his powers, I went to Baba Messiah himself. He laid his hands on me and said a prayer, and I was healed all at once.”
And when asked to classify Legion Maria as either Pentecostal or Catholic, this is what the Holy pontiff said:
“We have not Pentecostalized Catholicism. Our church is a return to the original way of preaching the word of God, which emphasized the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially praying to the sick to heal their ailments and casting out demons. We heal those ailments that hospitals do not treat. In terms of Catholicism, we are still in Vatican I. We are not Vatican II.”
“We do not preach like Pentecostals, who go out in crusades. We do not go out in streets, but just preach in our missions.”
Indeed, in many ways, Legion Maria still resembles pre-conciliar Catholicism. Before parishioners can receive communion, they kneel down and hold their tongues. Priests live a life that is almost monastic, spending their time in missions engaged in intercessory prayers on behalf of their congregations.
The most essential difference between Legion Maria and Roman Catholicism has been a matter of emphasis on spiritual power and gifts. Legio takes seriously the role of the priests as conduits of the Holy Spirit, just as the apostles did in the book of Acts.
In contrast, modern Catholic Church has followed in the decrees of the Second Vatican Council which tended to deemphasize certain religious rituals in her traditions, including exorcisms, relics and the High Mass. And marginalizing these areas, the post-Vatican II Catholic Church tended to fall short of the expectations of some of her followers in Africa. In Africa, congregations expect their religious leaders to be powerful and expect priests to be gifted and capable of healing and exorcism.