Fool Me Once. . .
In an article on the Legionary of Christ-published National Catholic Register, Fr. Owen Kearns, L.C., issues a statement admitting his founder Maciel’s wrongdoing, and issuing what I think is a tepid apology to Maciel’s accusers. The statements comes two weeks after the Legionaries’ own official statement distancing themselves from their founder, and after rumors that the Vatican would place the order in receivership started surfacing. Objectively speaking, one could say that it is an expedient rather than a prophetic apology.
As spokesperson for the LC, Kearns did not only defend his founder. He strongly attacked those who came forward to speak against him. He put in place an editorial policy for the National Catholic Register that downplayed the accusations. Arguably, this policy contributed to an active cover up.
Now some Catholics see no reason to doubt Kearns‘ claim that he was duped by the Legion. REGAIN doesn’t treat the apology with the same acceptance.
This raises a broader question that we’ve discussed below: As Christians, we are admonished to be charitable, and to forgive. Those of us who aren’t victims of Kearns’s false accusations or the LC don’t have standing to forgive, of course. But we do have standing to assess the statement, which is public. At what point does common sense trump charity? At what point does a sensible person judge that someone as far up in the order as Kearns ought to have been aware of some of the goings on in the order–and perhaps was willfully blind? How do we assess whether an apology is sincere? How do we reconcile “street smarts” and Gospel values?