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What to do about the Legionaries of Christ?

I’ve been mulling over the whole issue of the revelations about the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Marcial Maciel.  By now you have most likely read the news that it has been discovered he not only had a mistress but even fathered a child with her and quite possibly even redirected Legion money to them.  The further stunning implication is that it is nearly impossible that at least some members of the Legion leadership were not in some way enabling this double life.  Such terrible duplicity at the heart of the order makes seeing an easy way forward for them nearly impossible.  My heart is broken for not only those direct victims of Fr. Maciel’s actions but those who found in the Legion or its lay arm, Regnum Christi, something that was right about the Church only now to find out how very wrong things were at the same time.

So, what to do?  First, this is not a situation to jump into with both feet and start zipping off directives in every direction.  An investigation must be made at all levels of the hierarchy including, I think, those involved in the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life as the reports suggest members of the Congregation did not process the revelations of Fr. Maciel’s actions appropriately.  The investigation must be performed, as George Weigel states, by someone hand-picked by and reporting only to the Pope himself.  The person must be, as near as possible in this fallen world, beyond reproach.  Further the selected person must understand not only religious life but also have experience in dealing with handling situations of sexual impropriety (to put it nicely) and helping organizations to straighten out after these experiences.  I don’t expect to see this name pop up, but someone much in the mold of Sean Cardinal O’Malley of Boston fits much of the bill of what I would hope to see.

Is it possible for the LC/RC to recover from this debacle intact?  Frankly I don’t see how, but my field of vision is far more limited than God’s so perhaps there is something out there I do not yet see.  When one takes into account all the good the LC/RC have done for the Church and the world it becomes hard to argue that there is not something there that is a core around which some kind of order and/or apostolate can be formed.  Yes, there is much regarding the secrecy in the LC/RC rules that needs to go away, and quite possibly even a good number of the membership who could not be trusted to lead a new order but there is clearly much there which is good.  We must restrain ourselves, however, from deciding the potential future fate of the LC/RC or any derivative thereof until a full and proper investigation is concluded.  Making those decisions now would be akin to driving without a map or surgery without the proper diagnostic information.  As painful as it is, patience is called for here.

Finally, what should we all do?  The answer comes as no surprise.  Pray.  Pray for the direct victims of Fr. Maciel’s actions, for those in LC/RC who are forced to come to grips with these revelations, for those who left LC/RC because of what they learned.  May God find a way to, out of this tremendous pile of pain, grow a rose of hope for the future.  With God, all things are possible.  Oremus!

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • keith February 10, 2009, 10:22 pm

    The whole thing is ugly and I hope the Vatican finds a solution. I’m concerned about these charismatic leaders (see also:LifeTeen) and there tendency to let their popularity go to their heads.

    Card. O’Malley opened the school year with a homily wherei. He said every priest should have “I am not the Messiah” etched on his bathroom mirror, so he’s reminded every day.

    • frival February 11, 2009, 7:06 am

      I think you’re right – any sufficiently charismatic leader is in a very dangerous position because they could easily forget that any good they’ve done is a gift from God and not themselves. Sadly worldly success can get to just about anybody.

      I like the good Cardinal’s idea. It goes with the one I read on NLM suggesting every sacristy have a “Silence” sign over its door to remind people of the levity of what happens when they leave that room. The great saints all thought of themselves as great sinners – it is certainly a trap to think of ourselves as great saints.

      Glad to see you can comment now. 🙂 Any other problems I should be aware of?

  • keith February 13, 2009, 11:13 am

    No problems… Occasionally, I just use my desktop, so I hope you didn’t change your comments on my account. If I feel the need to comment, I can use my big computer. 🙂

  • frival February 13, 2009, 12:29 pm

    The AJAX features were causing problems for another commenter too, so while the geek in me wanted the features, if they make it unusable it’s not worth it. I do, however, do whatever I can for priests and seminarians as a rule though. 😉

  • keith February 13, 2009, 4:24 pm

    Can you go to Mexico for eight weeks and learn Spanish for me too?

  • frival February 13, 2009, 6:32 pm

    Sure, although I’m fairly versed in the King’s Spanish already (i.e. Castellano, rather than the Mexican dialect). It was quite fun as a kid comparing the Spanish I was learning in school with the Spanish my mother was learning from the largely Puerto Rican immigrants with whom she worked.

  • keith February 14, 2009, 5:51 pm

    I kid. Actually, thanks to Rosetta Stone, I’m kind of excited about my eight week immersion this summer.

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