Legionary priest opines on “The Powers That Be” within the Legion [http://changobeer.blogspot.com/]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

If the salt loses its taste…

Busy. Far too busy for my liking. It’s the bad busy, the task oriented, get this or that done, hamster wheel kind of busy. It’s the busy that comes with four inner-city parishes, too few resources and too many insoluble problems.

Just a little bit longer’, I keep telling myself…

Meanwhile, the PTB are gathering on Via Aurelia again for another damage control pow-wow. Normally, time is on their side and they know it. So policy in handling unpleasantries that have attracted the public eye usually favors the ‘let-it-languish, let-it-drag-on’ mode until the mass of detractors loses interest and the LC can continue with business as usual.

This time, who knows?

This time the sweet, sickening smell of decay is so strong, the shock that has struck the foundation so catastrophic, the cracks and leaks are so visible… they just may have to take serious action. Or it may be imposed by the Holy See.

Whatever the final outcome, the PTB should know something, because it will ultimately decide whether anything can be salvaged of our congregation at this point or not. It is simple enough, it is certainly evident enough… but I get the feeling you might not have noticed yet, so here goes:

No one believes you.

No one believes a word you say, a sentence you write or a promise you make.

No one believes either, that the present leadership of the LC can reform or save the congregation because you are (we are!) what we will always be: hijos fieles del P.Maciel…

What will ultimately make the LC crumble, what has caused the insufferable state of inner tension and foreboding in her rank and file is, quite frankly, the lack of credibility of its leadership.

The seeds of duplicity, deceit, distrust and intrigue were sown from the congregation’s beginnings. The Founder led a double life all the while submitting us – his willing, enthusiastic followers – to a regimen of poverty, chastity, obedience and uncritical submission of conscience. The idea that the LC is God’s work and must be ‘defended’ at all cost and by any means was his only moral compass. Popes, cardinals, bishops and Vatican officials could be fooled and manipulated as long as it benefited the LC. Its own members are kept on a need-to-know basis, always suspect, always scrutinized for those telltale signs of ‘lack of integration’…

The leadership of the Legion has inherited from Fr. Maciel the mentality and modus operandi that makes them fundamentally untrustworthy. Only now, there is no private vow to hide behind and the discontent is growing.

The tragic comedy of the past few months, with superiors running around telling and not telling, promising transparency but only deepening the murkiness that engulfs the LC, has made their lack of credibility evident to even the most gullible among us. I rank highly on that scale.

And now, no one believes you.

It doesn’t mean that there aren’t LCs who have other motives for toeing the line or flying beneath the radar and making their peace with a system they’ve figured out how to survive in (and some quite nicely).

It doesn’t mean that the LC will run out of yes-men who unctuously cater to authority and offer the same safe old cliches and pre-approved commentaries as they nervously munch their Maria cookies at merienda-cena

It means that they do not believe you.
And if they don’t believe you, they certainly don’t trust you.

This should not be overlooked or underestimated as you meet in Rome these next few days. Your lack of credibility – not Fr. Maciel’s past sins – will eventually buckle and break the Legion.

Please, PTB, do the right thing.

Friday, January 30, 2009

requiem for a dream

One year ago today the Founder of the Legion of Christ, our Founder – Nuestro Padre – passed away. Instead of recalling with pride and nostalgia my thirty year participation in the foundation in privileged close company of the Founder, I find myself nearly disconsolate. Outrage, grief, a deep unutterable feeling of betrayal and deception have been growing in my soul for nearly six months as bits and pieces of the truth have painfully been made known to me.

Up until very recently I defended Fr. Maciel in public and private, knowing that the very essence of my identity as a Legionary priest depended on it. Now there is nothing to defend. It has all collapsed, and with it, a lifetime of enthusiastic commitment and high idealism.

I sit here humbled and heartsick with one earnest plea for the present leadership of the Legion: please, do the right thing. For the love of God and in honor of the hundreds of men, like yourselves, that have given their lives to the Congregation, bearing the burden of a fidelity that our Founder demanded of us but was unable himself to deliver: do what is right.

Put the truth first. You owe it to us all. Tell us the whole story, tell us what our options are now and set about the reform of the Legion.

The Legion must go forward, purged of the toxins released into its bloodstream by years of machiavellian duplicity, and recreate itself solely on the merits of its works.

No more spin, no more platitudes, no more intimidation to keep the Legion’s men from thinking, questioning, seeking the truth. Step aside if need be and allow others – with clear motives and fresh eyes – to save all that is good in the Congregation and dissipate once and for all the inner culture of deceit and control. A canonical visitation conducted in rigorous transparency might yet save the Legion of Christ.

I am amazed and grateful to God that so much good has and continues to be done by a religious order that has venerated and nourished its spirit from a Founder now discovered to be the antithesis of the very spirituality and discipline he imparted to us while so brazenly and artfully occulting his other life from us.

So please, do not pretend that this is not devastating to all of us. Do not act like nothing has happened and that nothing should change. Have the basic decency to come clean with your own men and trust them enough to help you take the Legion to where it must go from here. Full disclosure is the only option. You’ve tried everything else, now, finally now, give truth a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised by the strength, resiliency and commitment of us all.

May God continue to guide us, in spite of ourselves.


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