dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

Dear Regnum Christi... (UPDATED)

The head of the Legion of Christ has written a letter to the group's lay movement in response to the revelations about Maciel. He doesn't allude to the news until the sixth paragraph.

As regards truth, the first thing we see in Christs presence is that he is the Truth, which leads us to look at everything through him. In the present case, regarding the person of our Father Founder, I cannot but recognize all the good I received through him. Through the charism he passed on to us, many people have received from God what has given meaning to our lives: love for Christ, the Blessed Virgin, the Church, the Pope and souls. These are our loves. On a personal level, I am grateful to him for being the instrument God used to give my entire life meaning, seeking eternal salvation, the path to God. This is the truth I experienced, and it would be impossible to find enough words to thank him.

It is also true that he was a man, and these things that have hurt and surprised us--and I dont believe we can explain with our reason alone--have already been judged by God. It is true that we are going through much suffering and a great deal of pain. As in a family, these pains draw us together and lead us to suffer and rejoice as one body. This circumstance we are living invites us to look at everything with much faith, humility and charity. Thus we place it in the hands of God, who teaches us the way of infinite mercy. For my part, I ask forgiveness for all this suffering. And I beg God with all my being to help us all to see it from the heart of Christ.

'INAPPROPRIATE' BEHAVIOR THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED UPDATE: Blogger Thomas Peters has a letter from a Legion of Christ school principle to parents.

As many of you likely recall, back in 2006 prior to his resignation asthe Legion General Director in 2005, and his death one year ago, theVatican embarked on an investigation in response to allegations madeagainst Father Maciel. At the conclusion of the investigation, theHoly See sent a communiqu directing him to a life of prayer andpenance.Upon embarking on its own internal inquiry, the Legion hasacknowledged actions "that were not appropriate for a Catholicpriest." As a result of these conclusions, the Legion and itsleadership have been working hard over the last months informing theappropriate constituents, beginning within the Vatican, the Legion,and as of the last few days, its Apostolates (schools, Regnum Christi,etc.) and the Archdiocese.This is sad and disturbing news for everyone, and I am sure even moreso for those who were closest to Father Maciel, particularly ourpriests, brothers, and consecrated. But what we are remindingourselves here at the school is that the Legion, Regnum Christi, andits apostolates (i.e. the school) are a work of God and they belong tothe Church, not to any one individual.

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

Appeals to mercy can be misused.Truth is the foundation for any moral action. If the Legion refuses to acknowledge the full truth about Maciel and those who enabled him, its appeals to mercy are blasphemous.Truth is the foundation. Did Maciel abuse boys? The Pope seems to have believed it. Why doesnt the Legion ask forgiveness for its attacks on the victims? Why doesnt it try to make atonement for the harm its has done?Maciel never repented. He lived a life of lies to the very end. The Legion seems to take that as the example it should follow. The Father of Lies is the father of those who keep lying and live a lie.

Allow me to borrow from the business world. When a company declares bankruptcy or its founder is found quilty of misdeeds, it impacts morale, employees, family members. Whether we like it or not, having a job, career, feeling that you contribute to something is a part of most people's psyche. When that is threatened, folks face grief, stress, anger, denial, depression - have been involved in working with companies who downsize, go out of existence, re-invent themselves, survive bankruptcy (this is rare), survive acquisitions. Any of these business moves create significant impact on people.LC/RC is now going through these stages. Experts will tell you that successful companies are those that communicate frequently, honestly, directly, and empower their folks. They bring in outside experts to support their folks.LC/RC need to confront the reality - can they re-found themselves? Some religious orders have been able to do that (e.g. Vincentians in the early 19th century when each province had drifted off into doing their own thing and losing the charism of Vincent dePaul); but studies indicate that most religious orders/movements have a life cycle of roughly 200-300 years and then they die out. 80% or more of all religious orders have gone this way. What makes this even more difficult is the nature of the LC/RC internal rules (secrecy, restrictions on travel, communication, etc.). Some times you have to finally say - the grace of God was present and this group made a significant impact on the church but it is time to move on.

To what extent, as I've said elsewhere, should the Church, be it the legion, the SSPX, or the Vatican act like any business and practice damage control?It probably sounds naive, but Christ didn't practice damage control.

It is also true that he was a man, and these things that have hurt and surprised usand I dont believe we can explain with our reason alonehave already been judged by God. What if their founder is in hell?

Was there ever a founder of a religious group as flawed as Maciel? Need we assume that he truly had a charism, i.e., a gift from the Spirit? It seems rather like assuming that Madoff was really a financial genius who just happened to use it to run a con game. The ability to captivate and motivate others to put trust in one as in a leader who must not be questioned may arise from certain kinds of personal pathology and from a perverse use of natural talents From all we have heard this looks like the case with Maciel. His charism was not of the Spirit. That he fooled thousands proves nothing. That he fooled JPII proves nothing. Madoff was apparently no less persuasive. The Vatican should provide help to Maciel's victims, inlcuding those who do not believe they were victims. But they must also face the truth, which may help them to grow up and truly set them free. The Vatican approved Maciel. It must confess to having being fooled also.

The damage has been done. I think Bill is right: Can the LCs reinvent themselves? Can they get rid of their apparent penchant for secrecy and related? Can the LCs use this latest lukewarm acknowledgement as a step toward more fully examining their founder's behavior? If need be, can the LCs revise their goals and objectives as a religious community?Given the experience with Maciel, should not the Vatican reexamine its imprimatur of religious groups and communities of a more "orthodox" or conservative bent? These organizations seem to attract folks who gravitate toward authoritarian leaders and paternalistic group psychology. Events of recent years should more than show the inherent dangers of this kind of culture that elevates the ordained and subordinates the laity. The Vatican should also give a clear and complete accounting (if it hasn't already done so) of what it knew during the ponfificate of JPII and predecessors about Maciel.

For some time now, I have felt the major issue in the Church is its imbalance -an imbalance that has caused the drift (or more) of many -an imbalance to the right that is more clericalistic and given to support more "orthodox"(their word) loyalists.The Legion, Opus Dei (pace John allen) and with the readmision of SSPX are all of a piece.The recent events have created even greater credibility issues in this regard, so much will be done to smooth out perceptions of these rightist groups.Somewhere back when, we talked about centrism and extremes, but only scandalous events as in recent days allow some (though very few in the hierarchy) to step forward and call for a return to real balance.So I think Joe is right on, but I have little hope of more than the usual put on the best face from leaders of the Legion, SSPX or the Vatican

Well said Bob and Joseph.Mr. Gallicho - the high school principal's letter is shocking, to say the least. It is indirect, cover-up, excusing, and filled with half-truths. As a former high school teacher and formation director, this only reinforces my feeling that this group needs to be suppressed for the good of its own. It is a cult.

Headline at Zenit today: "Legion Regrets Founder's Conduct." not much new in their story:

The Legions Rome spokesman, Father Paolo Scarafoni, said: "We cannot deny the existence of these facts but we can't go into detail because we have to respect the privacy of people involved."In response to reporters questions whether or not the Legion will renounce Father Maciel as its founder, Fair said that there was no intent to rewrite history: "He is the founder and he always will be the founder of the order. Whatever Father Maciels human failings, we remain grateful for the charism we received through him. One of the mysteries that we all see in life is that God does good works with less than perfect human instruments."

They also quote "Pete Vere, canon lawyer and author of several books on the Code of Canon Law," saying, "Obviously given the size and given the effect they've had on the Church, there is something good there." And they quote praise of the LC and RC that accompanied the Vatican's announcement about Maciel in 2006. Under similar circumstances most news outlets would see fit to add, in the interests of full disclosure, that they are related to the religious order in question... But you'll have to go to "All About Zenit" and scroll down a ways before you'll find that "ZENIT is promoted by the religious congregation of the Legionaries of Christ."

Is there any independent verification of the story of the Maciel's woman and child? Is it possible that it is a cover story designed to explain the action taken by Pope Benedict in 2006 without revealing Maciel's other sexual activities?

Jesus said that when you have done all the things you were supposed to do say that "we are unprofitable servants." Give God the glory and credit not yourselves. The monarchichal church has responded with the personality cult. Throw in some exaggerated cures and they are off to the races. Some have even made Constantine a saint. The other great error is that if a saint said it it must be true. The worst part, certainly a part of Catholic history, are the lies. There were many more but there are still Catholic historians who believe it is good to lie "for the good of the church."In another age those who exposed Maciel would have been drawn and quartered andmade an example of.

Fr Corcueras letter to Regnum Christi is a river of pious rhetoric designed to soothe and exalt and intoxicate the members of Regnum Christi, and to insulatie them from ugly realities the writer cannot bring himself to admit. The letter to the families of the high school students purports to give the parents the facts they need to explain things properly to their children, but is painfully evasive in spelling out what the fuss is about. After indicating that unexplained allegations resulted in the Holy Sees direction that Maciel undertake a life of prayer and penance it immediately goes on to mention that the Legions own (it would seem rather slow?) internal investigation has led it to acknowledge actions of its founders that were not appropriate for a Catholic Priest. Parents who hadnt read the newspapers might well assume that the reference was to the original allegation of pedophilia, rather than the story we gather they are putting forth about a mistress and child. But the Legion seems oddly willing to let the press present its facts and speculations instead of telling the truth, for once. Unfortunately telling the truth doesnt seem to be one of their charisms. Consider what one would still find on their websitedespite the conclusions that came out months ago : a rapturous account of Maciels life that reads like something out of the Golden Legend, with no mention of the allegations about him or the Vaticans direction that he take up a life of penitence. It merely says Father Maciel did not wish to accept a final reelection as general director in 2005. He preferred to see another priest of the congregation take on this responsibility during his lifetime as founder. And his required period of penitence is described as completely voluntary: Father Maciel spent his final years in a private life of prayer with a sprit of obedience, submission, and love for the Catholic Church which he had always loved and taught others to love. N.B.:Can you imagine sending your children to be educated by people like this? Or going to LCs for Spiritual Direction? Or letting them educate your priests or seminarians or the priests who teach those seminarians? Heaven help those who have fallen into their hands. They need to be stopped.