Tag Archives: Maciel

Secretive Catholic Order Founded by Accused Pedophile Under Fire [Published on 03-15-2010] http://www.blacklistednews.com/news-7793-0-3-3–.html

[dated information but useful as history]

Secretive Catholic Order Founded by Accused Pedophile Under Fire

Published on 03-15-2010http://www.blacklistednews.com/news-7793-0-3-3–.html
Source: AOL NewsAs sex abuse scandals rock the Vatican, the results of an investigation into a rich, ultra-conservative and secretive Roman Catholic order founded by a priest accused of pedophilia and incest are due to be filed in Rome tomorrow.

The sordid story of the Legion of Christ, whose late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, was a close ally of Pope John Paul II before being forcibly retired by the Vatican in 2006, is a microcosm of the crisis currently enveloping the church.

At stake is whether Pope Benedict XVI will decide to take over the Legion and install new leaders from the outside or allow it to continue with its same hierarchy. Five bishops from five countries are expected to submit their reports about the Legion Monday.

Pope John Paul II gives his blessing to Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legion of Christ, at the Vatican in a November 2004 file photo. The late pope once called Maciel “an efficacious guide to youth.”
The controversy over the Legion, which is now barred or severely restricted from operating in six U.S. dioceses, is especially awkward for Benedict because he wants to have John Paul, a staunch defender of the order, canonized.

“Maciel was a sexual criminal of epic proportions who gained the trust of John Paul II and created a movement that is as close to a cult as anything we’ve seen in the church,” said author Jason Berry, one of two reporters who broke the Maciel story in 1997 and who directed a 2008 documentary about the priest called “Vows of Silence.”

“But he got away with it for years and still in a sense he’s getting away with it.”

The Vatican ordered a worldwide investigation into the Legion, founded in Mexico in 1941, last year. But its response to decades of allegations involving Maciel has been as slow and often reluctant as its reaction to the long-festering sex abuse scandals now erupting in Ireland, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

In 1997, nine former high-ranking seminarians accused Maciel, who died in 2008, of sexually abusing them when they were boys training for the priesthood. Last year, it was discovered Maciel had an illegitimate daughter born in 1986 in Spain. Two Mexican men who say they are Maciel’s sons claim he also sexually abused them as children.

With a leader said to be a manipulative monster who built a shadowy but powerful organization for elite, wealthy Catholics with schools in 22 countries – and a tradition of grooming handsome, clean-cut priests who all wear their hair parted on the left and black double-breasted suits — the Legion of Christ sounds straight out of a Dan Brown novel.

But while Opus Dei, the other controversial conservative Catholic order, was made famous in Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” the Legion of Christ is virtually unknown to most Americans – at least on the surface.

Two of the most visible priests in America are Father Thomas Williams, a movie-star-handsome CBS News analyst, and Father Jonathan Morris, who is sometimes referred to as “Father Knows Best” on the Fox News Channel. They belong to the Legion of Christ but rarely identify themselves as such on camera.

“Dan Brown got the wrong group,” said Genevieve Kineke, an orthodox Catholic who was a member of Regnum Christi, the legion’s lay movement, from 1992 to 2000 and writes a blog about her experiences. “The Legion of Christ is the scary cult embedded in the bosom of the mother church. Not Opus Dei.”

Though the Vatican knew of improprieties involving Maciel as far back as 1956, he was praised and protected by John Paul II, who became pope in 1978 and once called Maciel “an efficacious guide to youth.”

Even when the former seminarians went public in 1997 about Maciel’s sexual abuse and filed a formal complaint with the Vatican, the church at first did nothing while the Legion and other high-profile conservative Catholics called them liars.

A book, Vows of Silence, written by Hartford Courant reporter Gerald Renner and writer Jason Berry, was published in 2004 with what one reviewer called “horror stories… of brainwashing, manipulation, pederast seduction rituals, character assassination, bribes, drug abuse, gulag-type threats — you name it.”

Shortly after that, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would succeed John Paul, ordered an investigation that ended with Maciel being consigned to a life of “prayer and penitence” after John Paul’s death in 2005. But the Legion itself was not condemned nor the victims acknowledged.

It wasn’t until the discovery that Maciel had a daughter living in Spain that the Vatican ordered the worldwide investigation, reportedly to find out who in the Legion knew about Maciel’s behavior and how it was covered up.

“Of course we’re shocked and disappointed by all of this,” said Jim Fair, the spokesman for the Legion of Christ in North America. “It’s as if Father Maciel lived in two different universes, like some old science fiction movie. And now it’s all blowing up.”

Fair said the order has “toned down the veneration,” such as often removing the photographs of Maciel that adorned Legion facilities. He added that the Legion welcomed the apostolic visitation, which is what the Vatican investigation is called.

“He was obviously a very flawed man,” said Fair. “It’s hard to reconcile the guy we now know with the man who built hundreds of seminaries. But we will go on. The work of the church is bigger than humans. It’s a little as if we found out Abraham Lincoln was a serial pedophile after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.”

Interviews with former members of the Legion and Regnum Christi paint a chilling picture of Maciel as a sociopathic master salesman who knew how to charm the upper echelon at the Vatican as well as enlist the wealthy and elite to his fast-growing order, all while using cult-like techniques.

“He created a structure that allowed sexual abuse, financial fraud and spiritual improprieties to go completely unchecked,” said Kineke. “Believe me, the best and the brightest got sucked into this scam. I was one. I was an elite bully for Christ.”

Kineke said part of Maciel’s allure was that he represented an old-school alternative in a modern, post-Vatican II world.

“But these recent incest claims have rattled even the sturdiest of cages,” she said.

Paul Lennon, 66, was a member of the order from 1961 to 1984 and directs ReGAIN, an organization founded by ex-Legionaries.

“It was nothing short of mind control,” said Lennon, who wrote a 2008 book about Maciel called Our Father Who Art in Bed. “He conned everybody.”

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, 70, who was named the world’s richest man by Forbes last week, has long been a supporter of the Legion. His children attended Legion schools in Mexico.

Harvard professor and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Anne Glendon has also been a staunch supporter of the Legion.

But the man whom all Legionaries venerated as a near-saint and called “Nuestro Padre” (Our Father) allegedly led a double life as a pedophile and had at least two mistresses and three children.

“He destroyed my life,” said Juan Vaca, 73, a former superior of the Legion of Christ who said he was molested by Maciel for ten years beginning when he was 12. “I dreamt of being a good priest. He killed all my dreams.”

Vaca, like many interviewed by AOL News, doubts that the Vatican will make any lasting changes to the Legion of Christ, despite the investigation.

“The Vatican may distance itself a bit but the Legion is too powerful to shut down,” Vaca said.

Vaca who left the order in 1978, is an adjunct professor of psychology and sociology at Mercy College. He remembers the first night he was summoned to Maciel’s room. He said he found the man who was “a holy man, my mother and my father, everything to me,” masturbating in front of him.

“I turned into a block of ice,” said Vaca, who had left his family behind in Mexico to move to the order in Spain. “I was petrified.”

Vaca said 28 other young seminarians were sexually abused by Maciel at the same time he was, and adds that some of them “went on to abuse others as they grew up.”

That misuse of sex and power was an undercurrent that helped fuel the growth of the order, according to several former members of the Legion and Regnum Christi.

“Maciel always told me to recruit the most handsome boys from the best families,” said Vaca. “They were trained to approach rich women. I’m not saying they had sexual relationships with these women but they did know how to charm them.”

Kineke and others also said Legion priests are notoriously successful in winning over women to the church.

“They are spiritual seducers,” said another former Regnum Christi member. “They are the only priests I’ve seen who have swept people off their feet. These men woo women because they want access to our children and our husbands’ wallets.”

In an interview not long before his death in 2007, “Vows of Silence” author Gerald Renner said Maciel was not the only priest in the Legion who led a double life. Renner referred to one priest who he said was known as “the horndog of Rome” for his many affairs with women.

“The Legion by its very nature spawns people who lead double lives,” said Lennon. “Maciel was certainly not the only hypocrite in the Legion but he was definitely the worst one.”


The Legionaries’ Last Stand. An Exclusive Interview with Fr. Thomas Berg [http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1339296?eng=y]

Newsletter chiesa
13 luglio 2009

I Legionari alla battaglia finale. Intervista esclusiva con padre Thomas BergIl Vaticano mette sotto indagine i Legionari di Cristo, allo sbando per le malefatte del loro fondatore. E per la prima volta un loro membro autorevole rompe il silenzio sui cruciali problemi esplosi nella congregazione

The Legionaries’ Last Stand. An Exclusive Interview with Fr. Thomas Berg

The Vatican is investigating the Legionaries of Christ, which is reeling from the transgressions of its founder. And for the first time, one of their authoritative members breaks the silence on the crucial problems that have exploded in the congregation

Bataille finale pour les Légionnaires. Interview exclusive du père Thomas Berg

Le Vatican enquête sur les Légionnaires du Christ, qui sont en pleine confusion à cause des méfaits de leur fondateur. Pour la première fois l’un de leurs membres faisant autorité rompt le silence sur les problèmes cruciaux qui ont explosé dans la congrégation

Los Legionarios en la batalla final. Entrevista exclusiva con el Padre Thomas Berg

El Vaticano somete a investigación a los Legionarios de Cristo, a la deriva por las fechorías de su fundador. Y por primera vez un miembro estimado rompe el silencio sobre los problemas cruciales que han estallado en la congregación

Clicca qui se non vuoi più ricevere la newsletter / Click here to cancel e-mail subscription.

See also: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100003029/legionaries-of-christ-are-still-honouring-their-disgraced-founder/

First Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries of Christ: 1956-1959 — and other information since [http://cassandrajonesing.blogspot.com/]

See Cassandra Jones:  [http://cassandrajonesing.blogspot.com/]

The first apostolic visitation of the Legionaries of Christ: 1956-1959

The Vatican’s second decision to conduct an official investigation, a so-called apostolic visitation, of the Catholic religious congregation the Legionaries of Christ was made public on March 31, not long after the 50th anniversary of February 6, 1959, the day Legionary founder Rev. Marcial Maciel counted as the day of his reinstatement after the conclusion of the first. Few know the full story of the first visitation: it concluded obscurely and Father Maciel and the Legionaries were able to misrepresent it for fifty years afterward. But the visitation did occur and actually concluded that Maciel needed to be removed from office and that the Legionaries needed reform. The Legionaries defeated that first apostolic visitation with untruth, appetizing presentation, and the help of curial friends. This is something that anyone interested in the honest outcome of today’s visitation needs to be aware of. (This account of the first visitation draws substantially from Fernando M. González Los Legionarios de Cristo; testimonios y documentos inéditos (Mexico City: Tusquets Editores 2006), which has not been much discussed in English. González publishes documents of the case verbatim (some in facsimile) from two archives, one that of Father Luis Ferreira Correa, Legionary vicar general at the time, supplied by José Barba, and another made available to him by a source. This account also draws from Jason Berry and the late Gerald Renner Vows of Silence(New York: Free Press 2004), the standard account of the first visitation in English, which, however, González greatly supplements.)(Accompanying this article is a timeline of the first apostolic visitation of the Legionaries of Christ.)

Cardinal Valerio Valeri, prefect of the Vatican Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, ordered the first apostolic visitation of the Legionaries in 1956. He was prefect from 1953 to his death in 1963 at 79. He had been the apostolic nuncio to France accredited during the war to the Vichy government and then forced from France after liberation by Charles de Gaulle, to be succeeded there by Angelo Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII.

Though by 1954 Maciel hoped his institute was close to definitive Vatican approval and Valeri was supportive enough in February 1956 to have approved the new name “Legionaries of Christ,” Maciel, aged 36 in 1956, was becoming incapacitated from addiction to narcotic painkillers Dolantin and Demerol. On January 3, 1956 Spaniard Legionary Father Rafael Arumí, 29, novice master at the Legionary College in Rome, found Maciel so unstable from drugs that he summoned from Mexico Father Luis Ferreira Correa, 41, rector of the Legionary apostolic school (minor seminary) at Tlalpan in Mexico City and Legionary vicar general. The crisis lasted for days. Arumí, Ferreira, and Spaniard Legionary Father Antonio Lagoa, 36, rector of the Legionary College in Rome, considered how to deal with the scandal and contemplated Maciel’s replacement as superior. Valeri was hearing such things from sources in Rome and Mexico and himself saw Maciel in poor condition detoxing in Salvator Mundi Hospital in Rome in spring 1956.

Two Legionaries took responsibility (treasonably, as Maciel saw it) for informing authorities: Ferreira Correa and Spaniard Brother Federico Domínguez, prefect of studies at Tlalpan, who as Maciel’s private secretary had observed him closely.

In a letter dated August 24, 1954, Domínguez, then 27, had reported Maciel’s shortcomings to the vicar general of the Mexico City archdiocese: he doesn’t follow the religious rule, recite the Breviary, or meditate. He disrespects confidentiality in matters of conscience. He uses “lies, distortions, exaggerations” and acts as if “the ends justify the means.” He lacks the spirit of religious poverty, travels first class, eats luxurious food rather than that prepared for the community, spends more time in the houses of women donors than in his own religious houses. He considers his desire for sexual gratification to be a urological problem. He gives himself narcotic injections and carefully conceals it. “Under the effect of the drugs, he makes magnificent plans of apostolate and [violating confidentiality] talks publicly about the private defects of those he is with. This is understood by the religious who don’t know what is going on as a proof of Father Maciel’s ‘spiritual clairvoyance.’”

Domínguez’s letter got back to Maciel, who then to help him discredit Domínguez sought out Belgian Benedictine Gregorio Lemercier, prior of the Benedictine priory he founded near Cuernavaca. Lemercier was an unlikely potential ally, a pioneer in the use of psychoanalysis in vocational discernment and religious life and a well-read exponent of liturgical renewal, who ten years later would himself fall foul of Vatican authorities. Maciel had miscalculated: if Lemercier first had the impression that Domínguez needed counseling, he soon gathered that Maciel himself was the problem and instructed Domínguez, then Ferreira, to report the drug and sex abuse they knew about before leaving the Legion, as they intended to do.

By summer 1956, four Mexican bishops knew at least something about the Maciel problem, the archbishops of Mexico City, Morelia, and Yucatan, and the bishop of Cuernavaca. Cuernavaca Bishop Sergio Méndez Arceo wrote cautiously on August 14 to Arcadio Larraona, Secretary of the Vatican Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, recommending Maciel’s removal and an investigation of three charges: “devious and lying behavior, use of narcotic drugs, acts of sodomy with boys of the congregation.” On August 31 Mexico City Archbishop Miguel Darío Miranda also wrote to Larraona agreeing that “immediate intervention is necessary” in the Maciel case and reiterating those three charges: “sins against the sixth commandment committed with members of the congregation,” drug addiction, and mendacity to achieve his ends.

Ferreira had on August 23 written at length to the Mexico City vicar general about a number of cases of Maciel’s “impurely touching” apostolic school boys and subsequent explanation, when the boys had told Ferreira of this, that he had been in pain and must have been unconscious. He told the story of Maciel’s drug crisis in Rome in early January and wrote of Maciel’s lies and evasions and his theory of having a urological problem that required emission of semen.

The three letters from August 1956 – those of Méndez Arceo, Darío Miranda, and Ferreira Correa – document an important point: the charge of sexual abuse was part of what triggered the original investigation of Maciel. Maciel never admitted that, claiming, as in his book-length autobiographical interview with Jesús Colina, Christ is My Life (Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press 2003 (English version)), that what he called the “slanders” against him involved only drugs and lies. The standard understanding of this is conveyed, for example, in the Wikipedia article, “Sexual abuse scandal in the Legion of Christ”: “In 1956 the Vatican had him removed as superior and investigated allegations of drug abuse… There are no records of any members reporting sexual abuse at that time.”

Things moved quickly. On September 20 Larraona had the documentation sent to Domenico Tardini, Secretary of the Roman Curia, suggesting the Pope be informed and that Maciel step down and find help. Maciel’s suspension, signed by Valeri and dated the next day, was relayed through the Apostolic Delegation in Mexico, as Larraona had asked, sidestepping Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo, Secretary of the Holy Office, a Maciel friend.

Maciel arrived in Rome by October 1 and on October 3 wrote to Valeri, accepting his suspension by the Congregation respectfully, “with absolute submission and unconditional compliance,” and agreeing “to go to a clinic, suspended for that time from the exercise of my responsibility of superior general of the Institute.” All the same he claimed good health, enclosing as evidence a certificate from papal physician Ricardo Galeazzi Lisi (who as it turned out would be dismissed from papal service later in 1956 amid talk of gambling debts and caused distaste in 1958 by selling photos and stories of Pius XII’s dying days) and declared himself the victim of calumny. Maciel was exiled to Spain, restricted from Rome. Legionary administration for the time being was taken up by Lagoa, as College rector; Arumí, as novice master; and Ferreira, as vicar general, assisted by Domínguez.

On October 13 Valeri appointed as apostolic visitator Anastasio (of the Holy Rosary) Ballestrero, general superior of the Discalced Carmelites. Anastasio was 43, born in Genoa in 1913, a Discalced Carmelite priest from 1936. He served as general superior from 1955 to 1967 and would become archbishop of Bari in 1973 and of Turin in 1977 and a cardinal made by Pope John Paul II in 1979.

The Legion geared up to obstruct the visitation. In August or September, Maciel asked Legionary José Domínguez, Federico’s brother, to help draft an official religious vow for Legionaries to take, never to criticize a superior and to report those who do. Maciel explained this “second private vow” in a long letter dated September 15, 1956, addressed to all the Legionaries of the Front of Mexico. He wrote:

The vow in question is a formal commitment contracted with God which consists in: First, not expressing externally, in any way, either orally, in writing, or by physical gestures, anything which might result in the detriment of the person or the AUTHORITY of the Superior. Secondly, notifying your Superior as a soon as possible if you should realize that another member of the Institute has faulted against the vow thus understood….

The Private Vow has as its specific purpose the safeguarding of the criterion and principle of authority in the Legion and the making of a more efficacious government through the absolute ADHERENCE to the Superior as authority and as a person in order to ultimately obtain a compact and internal union as Christ ardently desired in the last supper: “That they all may be one… (John 17.21)”…

The Private Vow guards against all external criticism, not only [of] acts of government and authority of the Superior but also his entire human personality: temperament, character, physical, intellectual and moral defects and his way of proceeding in any area outside the exercise of his authority. Consequently the Superior MUST SIMPLY BE RESPECTED regardless of any negative aspect whatsoever….

The fruits of the vow were intended to be the “COMPACT UNION between Superiors and subjects,” “THE PRACTICE OF CHARITY,” and “SELF DOMINION.” He wrote:

I am well aware that because of the strong conflicting forces of our nature it is not an easy vow to fulfill. But it is Christ who has wished to inspire this providential means in his Legion and who will give strength to each and every one who makes it up and who forms its ranks so that this vow may be held in esteem and fulfilled as something that truly constitutes the heart of the Legion…

Though there is evidence for its existence in some form as early as 1950, the trademark Legionary “vow of charity” was a heritage of the very moment that occurred between the Mexican bishops’ letters asking for intervention and the appointment of an apostolic visitation less than two months later. The private vow was taken by Legionaries until Pope Benedict reportedly put an end to it in 2007.

The language of persecution and martyrdom came easily to Maciel, who grew up during the Mexican Cristero war. In August he told Juan Vaca, Legionary seminarian from Mexico, aged 19, and future accuser, “You know they are enemies. The devil has managed to put them inside the Vatican to destroy the Legion. If they destroy it, they destroy the work of God and your vocation.” In October he told seminarian Alejandro Espinosa, future author of El Legionario (2003), “Remember: you saw nothing, you know nothing, you heard nothing!” Before leaving for Spain, Maciel issued instructions from the clinic he entered in outer Rome: “Don’t tell them what they cannot understand and will misinterpret as a pretext to destroy the Legion.”

José Barba, another Mexican seminarian and future accuser, remembers Maciel’s tearful farewell speech on October 10: “I have been attacked and am subjected to a great test by my enemies… The Legion is said to be a good work, but what is the chance that the Legion, the tree, the branches, and the fruits are good, but I, the trunk, am evil? What sense is there in that?”

After Maciel’s departure, days before the arrival of the visitators, Legionaries of the time remember Lagoa calling them into assembly hall to tell them to be prudent, quiet, and faithful. Documents were secreted. Legionaries suspected of wanting to cooperate were moved away from Rome. José Domínguez, fourth vow drafter, was removed to Naples.

Ferreira and Federico Domínguez, who had reported Maciel to authorities, were marginalized. Domínguez said, “None of my old friends would talk to me. It was circle the wagons… The Carmelite was not getting any information from the people there.” Vaca admitted that, at the suggestion of Maciel himself, he would stir laxative into Ferreira’s morning coffee. Ferreira developed severe diarrhea, and, unable to discover its cause and sick for months, returned to Mexico in December.

Even from exile, Maciel managed a “mischievous presence” to his institute, in Alejandro Espinosa’s phrase. He would secretly meet Legionaries once a month on the outskirts of Rome or in a bus and joke, “I’m on a bus, not on Roman soil. I’m not disobedient!” The administration of Lagoa and Arumí served in some respects as a dodge for Maciel to continue to run the congregation.

Anastasio conducted his investigation of the Legionary College in Rome from October to February 1957, assisted by his own Discalced Carmelite vicar general, Benjamin (of the Holy Trinity) Lachaert. He interviewed each seminarian briefly and studied the Constitutions and the founder’s letters. Carmelite Father Ippolito (of the Holy Family) visited the Legionary apostolic school (minor seminary) in Ontaneda (Santander) Spain in the first week of December.

Conflicted young Legionaries were agonized, bound securely by vow of charity to the Legion and Father Maciel. If Maciel was a saint, as they believed, if the Church had approved the Legion, why was the Church now investigating? A Mexican seminarian, 19, José Antonio Pérez Olvera, remembers the visitator’s threatening him with excommunication unless he told the full truth, but lying even so: “I felt proud of my fidelity to Father Maciel. He was above canonical right, above the Church, its precepts, its magisterium. He had breakfast daily with the Sacred Heart… Still, my conscience would not let me rest… Canonically I was excommunicated.” “I lied,” says Barba. “I lied,” says Vaca.

Anastasio did not develop evidence about drug and sex abuse sufficient to render judgment. But in four months he nevertheless learned enough to reach harsh conclusions in his report, dated February 11, 1957. In the report, he recognized that the seminarians were reticent, uncomfortable, and coached and that he hadn’t gotten the full truth. The institute was “juridical chaos” with structures in violation of canon law and spiritually fragile. Its young members had been “fanaticized” by the founder, “but it is substantially healthy and well-intentioned and offers hope insofar as it can be freed from fanaticism. Which seems doubtful.”

Anastasio therefore recommended: return Legionary headquarters and schools to Mexico from Rome and Spain; allow the Legion new members only at the discretion of the Holy See; add Mexican episcopal oversight; forbid new initiatives; name an appropriate new superior from outside the institute; revise the Constitutions radically, abolishing the idiosyncratic Legionary vows. “Maciel must be removed from office as fundamentally and solely responsible for the many serious juridical irregularities and administrative abuses. Silence about the rest appears prudent for internal and external reasons, at least for the moment.”

Anastasio had worked briskly, taking time from administering his own order, filed his report, asked to be relieved, and must have thought that the work was done. But two new and less critical apostolic visitators succeeded him (for what reason is unclear) and they neutralized his recommendations.

On July 10, 1957 to succeed Anastasio in Rome Valeri named Msgr. Alfredo Bontempi, 62, rector of the Nepomucenum, the Czech Pontifical College in Rome. Born in 1894 in Castelfidardo, a town in the Marches, Bontempi served as rector from 1950 until his death in 1963. He would be ordained bishop and granted a titular see in 1962. After six months of his own experience with the Legionaries, Bontempi told the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious on January 24, 1958, that the Legionaries had warmed to him and that he was impressed by the “spirit of piety” in their seminary. He noted that the library lacked the works of Congar, de Lubac, and Maritain; he liked the vow of charity; he had told Arumí that his report would reflect favorably on the founder because “the tree is known by its fruits.”

Also appointed that day was a new visitator for Legionary houses in Mexico and Spain, a Belgian Franciscan missionary to Chile, Polidoro van Vlierberghe, 48, who from 1961 would become apostolic administrator and territorial prelate of Illapel, Chile. Polidoro became mouthpiece for Maciel’s versions of events: Anastasio should have been more balanced; ambitious Ferreira and the Jesuits had intrigued against Maciel; accusations came from bad sources; the institute has borne its sufferings with faith. In January 1958 Anastasio criticized Polidoro’s perspective to Larraona — the Jesuits must be given a chance to respond to so serious an accusation, for one thing — but did not prevail.

Though a 1964 curial summary of earlier documents noted that “the conclusions don’t appear to correspond to the logic of the facts,” the Maciel case was concluded along the lines of a compromise proposed on September 10, 1958, by Redemptorist Domenico Mozzicarelli, an official in the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious who dealt with apostolic visitations. Even if Maciel’s removal seemed advisable, the Legion was built on his “mysterious” personality and no new superior could replace his “heroic mysticism” or his ability to fundraise. Because of “its great good mixed with bad” the institute should continue. A smoldering wick should not be quenched. So a compromise: leave to Valeri when eventually to restore Maciel, reserve the right to further visitations, appoint the counsel general and financial officer required by canon law, and absolutely forbid Maciel from giving spiritual direction, much less hearing confession, or otherwise intruding on the internal forum of members of the congregation. (This last in accordance with 1917 Canon Law Code canon 530, which strictly forbade religious superiors from coercing a manifestation of conscience from a subordinate under obedience.) The Congregation of the Affairs of Religious wrote Cardinal Clemente Micara on October 13, 1958 reinstating Maciel on roughly those terms. On February 6, 1959 Micara wrote Maciel.

Pope Pius XII died October 9 and Pope John XXIII was elected October 28. It has never been clear why the reinstatement of Maciel was issued in the papal interregnum or why it fell to Micara, Cardinal Vicar General of Rome from 1951 to his death at 85 in 1965, to deliver it, or why he delayed it for four months. In any event, another curial summary from 1962 states that in settling the Maciel matter the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious could not go further than the Mozzicarelli compromise because of the “recommendations and interventions of high persons.” Who those were we don’t know, but in his autobiographical interview, Christ is My Life, for helping him survive the visitation Maciel thanks Cardinals Micara, Pizzardo, Gaetano Cicognani (Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura), Giovanni Piazza (Discalced Carmelite Secretary of what is now the Congregation for Bishops), and Federico Tedeschini (Apostolic Datary).

So Maciel and the Legion were cleared and moved on. The discontinuity in Vatican administration in October 1958 may account for why Maciel was never held to the stipulated restrictions on his ministry. After Maciel’s reinstatement, Ferreira left the Legion to serve in the archdiocese of Morelia (Michoacán) Mexico until he died in 2001. Domínguez transferred to Maynooth seminary in Dublin, in fall 1957 also left the Legion, eventually married, and lived in Los Angeles. Lagoa, at 80 in 2001, and Arumí, at 79 in 2006, both died as Legionary priests. In 2003 Maciel eulogized Lagoa as “close to me in the great trials and tribulations of the Legion: he remained faithful, unmoved, and he unconditionally bore witness to his love for Christ by fulfilling his mission.”

The investigators of today’s visitation – not yet named officially, but reported to be Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.; Alessandria, Italy Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi; Tepic, Mexico Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi, M.Sp.S; and Gregorian University Rector Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J. — may wish to apply the lessons of history as they begin their work. And if fifty years ago the Vatican ignored the conclusions of its first visitator and missed the chance to abbreviate Father Maciel’s damaging career, it may well consider the consequences for the future of doing a superficial job of dealing with the Legionaries now, though the second visitation will doubtless be held more accountable than the first.

How the first visitation ended is itself an issue for the second. High Vatican officials were among those who enabled Father Maciel’s double life by annulling the recommendations of Anastasio in February 1957 and Mozzicarelli in September 1958. Since 1997, when Berry and Renner began to report the efforts of Vaca, Barba, and others to bring Maciel to justice for the abuse they covered up for him under duress forty years before, the Legionaries relied repeatedly in his public defense on what they claimed was his Vatican clearing after thorough investigation.

Addressing the first visitation with Jesús Colina in Christ is my Life, Maciel spoke untruthfully when he said, “no official written document ever reached me.” He wrote a resignation. Or when he said, “I was denied any possibility of defense.” or “the accusations [were] amply proven false.” González in 2002 managed confirmation from the then Discalced Carmelite superior general that Fathers Anastasio and Benjamin did serve as apostolic visitators in 1956-8. Colina, director of the Legionary affiliated Zenit news service, was journalist less enterprising when in the interview he allowed Maciel to refer to Bontempi and Polidoro, his supporters, as the “two visitators.” For emphasis Maciel noted that in 2003 Polidoro was (at 94) still alive. (He would live to be 97 and died in 2006.) In a letter to the Hartford Courant December 20, 1996, according to Berry and Renner, the Legionaries stated falsely that visitator Anastasio had died, though he lived until June 21, 1998, to age 84.

That Pope Benedict abolished the private Legionary vow of charity in 2007, 50 years after Anastasio’s recommendation, does not in itself guarantee that the visitators will hear the whole truth when interviewing Legionaries. The March 31 words of current Legionary General Director Álvaro Corcuera did promise welcome and cooperation to the visitation, but the two Legionary camps that have emerged since the revelation of Maciel’s daughter on February 3, the “full disclosure” group and the “carry on with the charism” group, are clearly the successors of the camps of 50 years ago, the small “cooperate with the Vatican” group and the loyal “circle the wagons and lie” group. There has not so far been much, let alone full, disclosure. Committed curial Legionary supporters Cardinals Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Angelo Sodano, Secretary Emeritus of State and Dean of the College of Cardinals, are the successors in our day of Pizzardo et al.

Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, a Legionary critic, who himself served as an apostolic visitator of Catholic seminaries in America from 2005 to 2008 in an interview with National Catholic Reporter in April could not say he was confident that the Legionaries would cooperate fully with the visitation. “It depends on so many individuals being open, because it just takes a few to try to block it and to mislead,” he said.

To know history is to realize that Maciel’s fraudulence was already spelled out to Church authorities more than fifty years ago: the double life, excessive time spent with benefactresses, sexual abuse, coercive vocational pressure, cult of personality, arrogant superiority to the Church, financial irregularities, fanaticized members who need deprogramming. It is to recognize that many tropes in defense of Maciel are also more than fifty years old: it looks too good to be bad, it’s a new cross to bear, Maciel was unconscious or ill when he did it, judge the tree by its fruits.

History demonstrates what long institutional experience the Legionaries have of cultivating complaisant churchmen and resisting ecclesiastical oversight, covering up for their mysterious, charismatic founder, and justifying their institutional survival with effective fundraising and other goods mixed with bad. The visitators will have to be on their guard. What apostolic visitator Anastasio wrote in January 1958 remains true: “The problem of this visitation is precisely to try to avoid the passion pro and con. At least for now it’s necessary to prescind from personalities and judge deeds with a strictly juridical criterion.”

Posted by Cassandra Jones at 1:55 PM 5 comments

The first apostolic visitation of the Legionaries of Christ: a timeline

(Drawn from Fernando M. González Los Legionarios de Cristo; testimonios y documentos inéditos(Mexico City: Tusquets Editores 2006))24 August 1954 Legionary Brother Federico Domínguez, prefect of studies of the Legionary apostolic school in Mexico City, reports Maciel’s shortcomings in a long letter to Rev. Francisco Orozco Lomelí, vicar general of the Mexico City archdiocese: Maciel doesn’t follow the religious rule, disrespects confidentiality in matters of conscience, uses “lies, distortions, exaggerations,” and acts as if “the ends justify the means.” He lacks the spirit of religious poverty, travels first class, eats luxurious food rather than that prepared for the community, spends more time in the houses of women donors than in his own religious houses. He considers his desire for sexual gratification to be a urological problem. He gives himself narcotic injections and carefully conceals it. “Under the effect of the drugs, he makes magnificent plans of apostolate and talks publicly about the private defects of those he is with. This is understood by the religious who don’t know what is going on as a proof of Father Maciel’s ‘spiritual clairvoyance.’”3 January 1956 Legionary novice master Father Rafael Arumí finds Maciel in a stupor in the Legionary house in Rome and summons from Mexico Father Luis Ferreira Correa, rector of the apostolic school at Tlalpan in Mexico City and Legionary vicar general. The crisis lasts for days. Arumí, Ferreira, and Father Antonio Lagoa consider Maciel’s replacement as superior and how to deal with the scandal.

28 January 1956 Franciscan Callisto Lopinot, a consultor to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, writes to the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious that he knows from a Catholic doctor in Rome (Walter Behrens) that Father Maciel is addicted to narcotics.

February 1956 Cardinal Valerio Valeri, prefect of the Vatican Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, approves the new name “Legionaries of Christ.”

spring 1956 Valeri sees Maciel in poor condition detoxing in Salvator Mundi Hospital in Rome in the presence of Juan Vaca.

summer 1956 By June at least four Mexican bishops know at least something about the Maciel problem, the archbishops of Mexico City, Morelia, and Yucatan and the bishop of Cuernavaca.

14 August 1956 Cuernavaca Bishop Sergio Méndez Arceo writes to Arcadio Larraona, Secretary of the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, recommending Maciel’s removal and an investigation of three charges: “devious and lying behavior, use of narcotic drugs, acts of sodomy with boys of the congregation.”

23 August 1956 Legionary Father Luis Ferreira Correa, rector of the apostolic school at Tlalpan in Mexico City and Legionary vicar general, reports in a long letter to Rev. Francisco Orozco Lomelí, vicar general of the Mexico City archdiocese, a number of cases of Maciel’s “impurely touching” apostolic school boys and his explanation that he was in pain and must have been unconscious. He reports the story of Maciel’s drug crisis in Rome in early January, specifying Dolantin, Sedol, and Demerol, and tells of Maciel’s lies and evasions and his theory of a urological problem that requires emission of semen.

31 August 1956 Mexico City Archbishop Miguel Darío Miranda writes to Arcadio Larraona agreeing that “immediate intervention is necessary” in the Maciel case and reiterating the charges: “sins against the sixth commandment committed with members of the congregation,” drug addiction, and mendacity to achieve his ends.

August or September 1956 Maciel asks Legionary José Domínguez, Federico’s brother, to help draft an official fourth religious vow, never to criticize a superior and to report those who do.

15 September 1956 Maciel in a long letter addressed to all the Legionaries of the Front of Mexico explains the “second private vow”:

The vow in question is a formal commitment contracted with God which consists in: First, not expressing externally, in any way, either orally, in writing, or by physical gestures, anything which might result in the detriment of the person or the AUTHORITY of the Superior. Secondly, notifying your Superior as a soon as possible if you should realize that another member of the Institute has faulted against the vow thus understood…

The Private Vow has as its specific purpose the safeguarding of the criterion and principle of authority in the Legion and the making of a more efficacious government through the absolute ADHERENCE to the Superior as authority and as a person in order to ultimately obtain a compact and internal union as Christ ardently desired in the last supper: ‘That they all may be one… (John 17.21)’…

The Private Vow guards against all external criticism, not only [of] acts of government and authority of the Superior but also his entire human personality: temperament, character, physical, intellectual and moral defects and his way of proceeding in any area outside the exercise of his authority. Consequently the Superior MUST SIMPLY BE RESPECTED regardless of any negative aspect whatsoever.

Maciel intends the fruits of the vow to be the “COMPACT UNION between Superiors and subjects,” “THE PRACTICE OF CHARITY,” and “SELF DOMINION.”

I am well aware that because of the strong conflicting forces of our nature it is not an easy vow to fulfill. But it is Christ who has wished to inspire this providential means in his Legion and who will give strength to each and every one who makes it up and who forms its ranks so that this vow may be held in esteem and fulfilled as something that truly constitutes the heart of the Legion.

20 September 1956 Larraona sends the documentation to Domenico Tardini, Secretary of the Roman Curia, suggesting the Pope be informed and that Maciel step down and find help.

21 September Msgr. Sapinelli, an official of the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, asks Angelo Dell’Acqua, a deputy at the Secretariat of State, to send back to the Apostolic Delegation in Mexico City Maciel’s suspension as superior general. The document is signed by Cardinal Valeri. The relaying of Maciel’s suspension through the Apostolic Delegation in Mexico, as Larraona had asked, sidesteps Giuseppe Pizzardo, Secretary of the Holy Office, a Maciel friend.

3 October Maciel, having arrived in Rome by October 1, writes Cardinal Valeri, respectfully accepting suspension by the Congregation and exile to Spain, “with absolute submission and unconditional compliance,” and agreeing “to go to a clinic, suspended for that time from the exercise of my responsibility of superior general of the Institute,” though claiming good health and declaring himself the victim of calumny.

Legionary administration is taken up by Legionary Fathers Lagoa, Arumí, and Ferreira, as vicar general, assisted by Brother Domínguez.

10 October Maciel gives a tearful farewell speech to the congregation: “The Legion is said to be a good work, but what is the chance that the Legion, the tree, the branches, and the fruits are good, but I, the trunk, am evil? What sense is there in that?”

13 October Cardinal Valeri appoints as apostolic visitator Anastasio (of the Holy Rosary) Ballestrero, general superior of the Discalced Carmelites.

October 1956 to February 1957 Anastasio investigates of the Legionary College in Rome, assisted by Discalced Carmelite vicar general, Benjamin (of the Holy Trinity) Lachaert.

first week of December 1956 Discalced Carmelite Father Ippolito (of the Holy Family) visits the Legionary apostolic school in Ontaneda (Santander) Spain.

11 February 1957 Anastasio reports, concluding the Legion was “juridical chaos” with structures in violation of canon law and spiritually fragile; its young members had been “fanaticized” by the founder; “but it is substantially healthy and well-intentioned and offers hope insofar as it can be freed from fanaticism. Which seems doubtful.” He recommends: return Legionary headquarters and schools to Mexico from Rome and Spain; allow the Legion new members only at the discretion of the Holy See; add Mexican episcopal oversight; name an appropriate new superior from outside the institute; revise the Constitutions radically, abolishing the idiosyncratic Legionary vows. “Maciel must be removed from office as fundamentally responsible for the many serious juridical irregularities and administrative abuses. Silence about the rest appears prudent for internal and external reasons, at least for the moment.”

10 July 1957 Cardinal Valeri names Nepomucenum rector Msgr. Alfredo Bontempi and Franciscan missionary to Chile Polidoro van Vlierberghe as apostolic visitators for Rome and Mexico and Spain. Polidoro adopts Maciel’s versions of events.

15 January 1958 Anastasio criticizes Polidoro’s perspective to Larraona, but does not prevail. He writes, “The problem of this visitation is precisely to try to avoid the passion pro and con. At least for now it’s necessary to prescind from personalities and judge deeds with a strictly juridical criterion.”

24 January 1958 Bontempi tells the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious that he is impressed by the Legionary “spirit of piety” and has told Arumí that his report will reflect favorably on the founder because “the tree is known by its fruits.”

10 September 1958 Redemptorist Domenico Mozicarelli, an official at the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious, proposes the compromise that concludes Maciel case: leave to Valeri when eventually to restore Maciel, reserve the right to further visitations, appoint to the congregation the counsel general and financial officer required by canon law, and forbid Maciel from giving spiritual direction, hearing confession, or having access to the internal forum of members of the congregation.

9 October 1958 Pope Pius XII dies.

13 October 1958 Congregation of the Affairs of Religious writes Cardinal Clemente Micara, vicar general of Rome, reinstating Maciel on the terms of the Mozzicarelli compromise.

28 October Pope John XXIII is elected.

6 February 1959 Cardinal Micara writes Maciel, reinstating him.

19 June 2003 Legionary Father Antonio Lagoa, administrator of the Legion during the years of the apostolic visitation, who had died 5 September 2001 at 80, is eulogized by Maciel as “close to me in the great trials and tribulations of the Legion: he remained faithful, unmoved, and he unconditionally bore witness to his love for Christ by fulfilling his mission.”

Posted by Cassandra Jones at 1:44 PM 2 comments

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The visitation so far: the four Legionary visitators

I have been collating web gleanings and have posted sketches of the four reported Legionary visitators: Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Alessandria Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi, Tepic Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi, M.Sp.S., and Gregorian Rector Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S. J.Some observations:While closing Gateway Academy High School in Missouri last month, Legionary Territorial Director Father Scott Reilly, according to exlcblog, said, “there are two kinds of visitation, one high and one low. We are under the low one.” Whatever this may have meant, the group of reportedly assembling Legionary apostolic visitators could hardly be more high-powered or well-chosen. On paper, spectacular. Three bishops and the Gregorian rector. Three religious, including Watty, himself a member of a Mexican order founded in the 20th century, and a diocesan. Accomplished scholars, senior canon lawyers. Expertise in psychology and education. Benedict may have a plan.Those who hope for real investigation of the Legionaries, not a whitewash, and real consideration of reform or even re-foundation might well feel cheered by the appointment of such a substantial group. None of them has been close to the Legion. Chaput provided haven for three unhappy Legionaries leaving the congregation. Elements of the visitation form a bit of a mob, actually, with Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, who stepped over Legionary supporter Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, to announce the visitation. Bertone made Versaldi his vicar general while bishop of Vercelli. Ghirlanda and Bertone have been colleagues on several Vatican congregations. Versaldi and Ghirlanda are Gregorian colleagues. The Denver group of former Legionaries has Gregorian degrees.

It is sometimes suggested that the Jesuit connection to the visitation itself spells trouble for the Legion, but those who evoke the evil Jesuit perpetuate an unfair stereotype of which twentieth century conservative movementarians have been overly fond. Father Maciel himself complained of scheming Jesuits, but this is not to be credited any more than anything else he might have said.

Yet the names of the visitators have still not been announced officially, though reportedly they have been confirmed journalistically by Vatican sources. To Mexican press, as reported June 6 by La Journada and El Universal, two Legionary spokesmen, Javier Bravo, Legionary communications director for Mexico, and Osvaldo Moreno, stated that they have received no official word about when the visitation will begin or who the visitators will be. Until we know for sure who the visitators are and what, if anything, they will be doing, the word “transparency” used by Bertone in his March 10 letter announcing the visitation seems only a cruel sop thrown to Americans whom European ecclesiastics consider addled by democratic innovations like open courts and sunshine laws. There has been plenty of unofficial word. On the other hand, any thorough investigation of a worldwide congregation with branches of religious men, women, and laypersons is a massive project that will require some preparation.

For all their qualifications in religious life and formation, canon law, psychology, and education, none of the prospective visitators is a forensic accountant. If the visitation is now underway in some sense without the named visitators, it may be that the finances of Father Maciel personally and the Legion generally are now being audited as a necessary preliminary. Vatican visitors were said to have arrived at Legionary headquarters in Rome in early March, around the date of Bertone’s letter.

Nor is any of the prospective visitators a woman. This needs to be corrected if it signals unconcern for the welfare of the consecrated women of Regnum Christi, whose issues, such as their canonical status, their formation, the allegations of inadequate education and woman on woman abuse among them, should not continue to be overshadowed.

A woman, Mother Mary Clare Millea, superior of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is heading another current apostolic visitation, that of orders of American religious women. Her visitation has, by contrast, been transparent and briskly paced, though it is a project larger even than that of investigating the Legionaries and she is the sole leader. Mother Millea was officially appointed December 22, 2008 by Cardinal Rodé. The visitation was announced at a press conference in Washington, January 30, 2009 and its first phase by news release February 20. Millea’s May 19 letter gave information about timetable and procedure, which she expects to take a minimum of 2½ years. One can see documents and get news about that visitation on apostolicvisitation.org. One can join an apostolic visitation facebook group. By contrast, the Legionary visitation was officially decided upon March 10 and announced March 31. More than three months later we have heard only officially unconfirmed press leaks of the visitators’ names.

It may be that the same Vatican forces that protected and enabled Father Maciel for decades and even now are hoping to obstruct the apostolic visitation of the Legionaries are causing delay more than any desire for care and thoroughness. For all their qualifications, will the putative visitators be brave and independent enough to explore the two investigative frontiers that stretch beyond the tedious specifics of Father Maciel’s private life? One, the distasteful rumors that the Legion all along has been the instrument of a group of wealthy Mexican families, and two, the distasteful rumors that some in the Vatican were complicit with the Legion and do not want themselves to be exposed by the visitation. Such rumors corrode the very human credibility of the Church, as has the response to the pedophilia scandal generally, and a creditable visitation must confront them for the good of the Church.

Those who fear a whitewash of the Legionaries rather than a real investigation do have reason:

=Though properly concerned with the canonical legal rights of abusive priests and the need for bishops to be pastors and not police, Bertone and Ghirlanda in May 2002 opposed the American bishops’ policy of disclosure, giving canonical reasons for keeping scandal private. Ghirlanda argued that parishes need not be informed when an abusive priest is moved there. The instance of Jeremiah Spillane, the Legionary priest transitioning into the diocese of Venice, Florida caught trying to seduce a 13-year-old boy in 1997, would provide the visitation with a case study of the matter.

=The language in Bertone’s March 10 letter (“I am pleased to remember that many people benefit from the works of education and apostolate which the Legionaries of Christ carry out…”) signaled Legionary survival from the start.

=Not even a churchman as senior as Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, when asked on April 3 by John Allen, could say he was confident that the Legionaries would cooperate fully with the visitation. “It depends on so many individuals being open, because it just takes a few to try to block it and to mislead,” he said.

=Though there has been some consolidation (in May both the closure of Gateway Academy High School in Missouri and a round of layoffs of media and development employees and benefits trimmings), there has also been some expansion (an agreement to acquire Southern Catholic College, the cornerstone blessing of the Magdala retreat center in Galilee). The Legionaries are certainly proceeding as if the visitation is no threat to their future.

Life-after-rc’s Visitation thread reports that members of Regnum Christi are being told to think the visitation is a sign of Benedict’s approval, that it means no serious consequences, that it will help them be more who they already are. Well, to be fair, the same euphemisms have also explained the women’s apostolic visitation: it is a “positive effort to support and promote congregations.” Relying on a traditional theological view that says the approval of a religious order by the Church is an infallibly rendered judgment, they are confident that they cannot be re-founded or reformed and Legionary formators are happy to repeat to their seminarians Cardinal Rodé’s infamous, “if you deviate from your charism, I’ll kill you.”

=Last month, on his trip to Israel, Pope Benedict held a meeting at the Pontifical Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, care of which John Paul gave the Legionaries in 2004 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Father Maciel’s ordination, and on May 11 blessed the cornerstone of a Legionary initiative, an extension of the center, the Magdala Center in Galilee. Legionary general director Father Alvaro Corcuera used a May 15 letter from Jerusalem to Regnum Christi members about his experience of the occasion to flatter Benedict and claim papal and curial support. Overall it documents the current Legionary tone of voice:

The first day of [Benedict’s] pilgrimage, with exemplary self-giving and dedication, here at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center he met with several Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders. He gave a message of unity and humility. His words strengthened people’s hearts, showing them that God is not a God of division, but of union. God is a loving Father who loves his children tenderly.

On that occasion God gave us a special grace… The Pope was very friendly; he blessed the cornerstone and was kind enough to give the gift of a beautiful tabernacle to this center, which belongs to the Holy See… Here, in person, we were able to pledge him our prayers, fidelity, and closeness. I told him that we were praying in a very special way at this time of his trip.

…On Thursday night, we went to Gethsemane to celebrate Mass and do our Eucharistic Hour, offering them for the intentions of the Church, the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, so that we will be what God wants us to be, and to thank him for the gift of our vocation. At Mass we read the text of Scripture that says that by his wounds we are healed (cf. Is. 53:5). Christ took off his cloak to cover us. When times come in which we want to say that we are unable to go on and we ask him if it is possible to take away the cup, Christ answers with an embrace. He draws us to his heart and tells us he loves us. What problem cannot be overcome when he holds us in his arms? It is our calling to welcome everyone without distinctions, and to be apostles of the good, of Christ’s embrace. To be apostles of the good, of everything that fills the soul with peace. How right the apostle St James is when he says that the man who does not sin with his tongue is a perfect man! (cf. James 3:2). And the fact is, when we are with Christ only good things come from our heart and our lips, bringing Christ’s authentic peace to everyone, without envy, rancor, or words that rob people of the marvelous gift of peace.

As we finished our Eucharistic Hour a married couple came up. It was providential. A group of pilgrims had arrived and were beginning their prayer. They told me that they were from Mexico, they were in Regnum Christi and they loved every day more the vocation God gave them, because it had helped them to discover Christ’s love and follow him more closely. What most impressed me is that they were the parents of a girl, full of God, who suffered an accident that left her unable to walk. Instead of resentment, I found nothing but love, a spirit of faith, prayer, zeal for souls, charity, kindness and self-giving. They told me that their vocation was to preach Christ, that they loved the Movement because they had discovered the one thing that we men and women need. How thankful we must be for so much love from God! The doctors had told them that their daughter would never be able to walk, and yet they told me that it is Christ who gives health, grace, love. And the daughter is starting to walk, but what is most important is that she is racing toward holiness.

…..Today, Friday morning, God gave us the grace of celebrating the Eucharist with the cardinals, bishops, and the Papal entourage, here in the Notre Dame Center. The consecrated women were present, and filled our hearts with their fervor and songs. The Gospel of the day was the one that sets the course for this second chapter in our history: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn. 15:12). That is the center of our life and what God is asking of us! This is our vocation, and our mission is to carry out this stage, living these words of Christ.

…..Mary’s closeness fills us with peace and fortitude. Humanly, we are aware of our weaknesses; however, Mary shows us that God carries out his works and his marvels, such as those we experience every day, in humility. How grateful we are to God for the charism we have received, into which we have to penetrate more deeply every day: knowing, living, and sharing God’s merciful love! We have all experienced its fruitfulness in our lives and so we are deeply grateful to him for it. May he grant us the grace of keeping and transmitting it faithfully. This is a time to explore deeply the one thing that is important so as to fill ourselves with Christ, and live and help others to live his commandment of love: this is how people will tell who we are.

In their press conference Javier Bravo and Osvaldo Moreno further demonstrated Legionary under-visitation spin. Bravo claimed that post-scandal defections from the Legion are few; that, with Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity, they are still the among the fastest growing congregations in the church; that “the charism of the Legionaries [the word they use to allude to their irreformable approval] comes from the model of the imitation of Christ. Father Maciel with his nature and his reality, with many successes, but also with his faults, was only an instrument. The congregation does not follow Father Maciel, but the model of Christ. The priests who are ordained do not seek to be like Father Maciel, they are following Christ.” The spokesmen echoed the language of Bertone’s March letter: “Even if he was the founder, the educational, social, and religious work goes beyond the figure of that priest.”

It is in a way comforting that when Legionary spokesmen mislead it is so easy to recognize. Bravo claims the Legionaries don’t need their founder as a model in the same breath he refers to Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity. But if they no longer take Maciel as a model, that is indeed authentic reform. The First Legionary General Chapter, for example, held in 1980 that “it has been ordained by God that the person and life or Our Father Founder cannot be separated from the life and spirituality of the Legion (469)” and that “the writings and conferences of Nuestro Padre should constitute, along with the Gospel of Christ, the principal source of inspiration… (184.1)”

The Legionaries act as if they can proceed without having to admit publicly or accept the consequences of anything. And they will get away with it if the visitation proves a whitewash. But it’s one thing for Benedict to send mixed signals, ordering a visitation one day and blessing a Legionary cornerstone the next, and another for him to allow the Legionaries, trying to maintain their statistical place as the Church’s foremost recruiters, to accept a new year’s class of apostolic school students, co-workers, novices, and vow takers before the questions of the visitation are settled.

Repeated statements, as by Bravo and Moreno, of “shock y dolor” at the February revelation dull the memory of how some Legionary superiors knew about it already by the summer of 2008 or how even Bravo himself, according to Proceso, said that the Legionaries knew the Vatican knew about it all even before Maciel died in January 2008. Bishops, theologians, recently former Legionary priests, concerned parents, all might prefer radical supervision or resolution before new classes are admitted, but their outrage will eventually cease to crash on the rock of Church administration.

Whether it is Father Reilly in St. Louis or Father Corcuera in Jerusalem, the Legionaries, all soothing, publicly downplay the possibility of hazard in the visitation. It’s unnerving to hear Legionary spokesmen, supposedly Catholic, defiantly paraphrase Nietzsche, as did Bravo when he said, “what doesn’t kill you makes you better.” (“Lo que no te mata te hace major.”) Legionaries whistle in the dark and claim it’s the music of the Holy Spirit. But maybe it’s just the music of Kanye West:

(Work it harder, make it better)
N-n-now that that don’t kill me
(Do it faster, makes us stronger)
Can only make me stronger…

Posted by Cassandra Jones at 11:03 AM 0 comments

Friday, June 12, 2009

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. (Order of Friars Minor Capuchin)
Archbishop of DenverArchbishop Chaput is 64, born September 26, 1944 in Concordia, Kansas. Through his mother, a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, the second Native American ordained bishop in the United States and the first Native American archbishop. Discrete Pittsburgh Steelers fan.1965 joins the Capuchins, 1968 solemn religious profession, 1970 ordained priest.

1967 BA in philosophy, St. Fidelis College Seminary, Herman, Pennsylvania. 1968-9 studies psychology, Catholic University. 1970 MA in Religious Education, Capuchin College in Washington DC. 1971 MA in theology, University of San Francisco.

1971-1974 instructor in theology and spiritual director at St. Fidelis. 1974-1977 executive secretary and director of communications, Capuchin Province of St. Augustine in Pittsburgh. 1977 pastor in Thornton, Colorado and vicar provincial for the Capuchin Province of Mid-America, secretary and treasurer for the province from 1980, chief executive and provincial minister from 1983.

1988 appointed bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota.
1997 appointed archbishop of Denver, Colorado.

Bios: Catholic hierarchy Denver archdiocesan website

Archbishop Chaput is well known as outspokenly orthodox, particularly on pro-life, and a supporter of Pope John Paul. He has been a vocal opponent of American Catholics’ voting for pro-choice politicians and publicly criticized Notre Dame’s conferring an honorary degree on President Obama last month. He has energetically supported archdiocesan initiatives in the spirit of John Paul’s new evangelization.

In a radio interview with conservative evangelical Hugh Hewitt on August 20, 2008, he spoke about his archdiocese:
“…we’ve been blessed here. You know, the Holy Father came here for World Youth Day 15 years ago, and that really regenerated the spirit of the Church here. The diocese has about 525,000 Catholics at the northern part of Colorado. We have about 300 priests working here. Just nine years ago, we began a new seminary. Actually, we have two seminaries here. And I think in the last eleven years, we probably ordained 60 or so priests from that seminary for our own diocese and for other dioceses. So we’ve been blessed with vocations for the priesthood. We have a seminary, I think, that starts next week, and I think we expect it to be more than a full house. There’s a lot of new movements here among the laity, a lot of lay leadership. We have a new group called Endow, which is about promoting the thought of Pope John Paul II regarding the dignity of women, so it’s kind of a women’s support group that does wonderful work. We have Focus Fellowship of Catholic University Students, which is the Catholic version of Campus Crusade. We have a new graduate school of theology for the laity called the Yusen Augustine Institute, and we have our two new seminaries. So those are just some of the more obvious activities that are going on here. So we have a lot of enthusiasm for the faith.”

On the clerical sexual abuse scandal he said in the interview:
“… the Church is rightly accused of not acting earlier, not speaking out clearly, and not acting clearly on the issue of the abuse of children. And I think we have to accept the criticism when it’s true. But why would that then be a reason for us not to act, or to be slow to act, or not to be vocal about damaging things that are going on today? You know, it’s a common technique used by those who don’t like what we say, to shove our sins in our face, and we should repent from those sins and be sorry for them. But the fact that we’ve been sinful shouldn’t give up permission to neglect our responsibilities, and therefore be sinful again today. So the Church should repent, and it’s always the place to begin, to be sorry for what we’ve done wrong. But if that paralyzes us, we’ll just repeat another wrong in another context and another time.”

On his politics he said:
“…people sometimes pigeonhole me as a conservative, and I hope what I am is a Catholic. And I preach the Gospel honestly without compromise, and that cuts to the right and to the left, because the truth is supposed to set all of us free from our parties and from our prejudices or whatever. So I think people who want to follow the Gospel will offend people on all sides of the political spectrum.”

Chaput last year published “ Render Unto Caesar: Serving The Nation By Living Our Catholic Beliefs In Political Life ” (2008) about integrating religious faith and public life.

About the book he said in the interview:
“… two reasons why I wrote the book. One is some Catholic political folks asked me to, people who ran for office, and were having struggles because of that. But more importantly, I’ve grown tired of so many people in our culture saying to believers that they ought to be quiet, that there’s no place in the public square for the voice of faith. I wanted to make a distinction between separation of Church and state, and separating our faith from our politics. You can embrace the concept of separation of Church and state, but that’s not at all the same thing as separating our faith from our actions, from our political actions.

…our engagement in the world around us, whether it be political in that broad sense, or in a more narrow sense political, is about loving our neighbor. That’s why it’s foolish for Catholics to think they can enter into the political world without bringing their faith with them, because we’re required by our faith to engage the world so that human dignity will be supported, and the common good will be served. It’s a more complicated way of just saying we have to love our neighbors as ourselves. And God commands us to do that, so we just can’t work towards our personal salvation, or you know, just wait for God to save us. God also throws us back into relationship with our neighbors if we truly love Him.

…to tell a believer that he must be silent in public is like telling a married man he must pretend to be single when he’s at work. And if he does that, he won’t be married very long, because he’ll find somebody else, or his wife will be very disappointed in the fact that he doesn’t love her publicly. And I think our relationship with God is a relationship as a spousal love. You know, He loves the Church as a bridegroom loves his bride, and that it’s important for us to let people know that, not in a way that’s in their face or offensive, but then also to live out the consequences of that, which is to love our neighbor. We can’t say we love God who we can’t see if we don’t love our neighbor who we do see. And that’s political life. Political life is about loving our neighbor.

I think people deliberately misrepresent where we stand in order to scare other people about us. I know that Catholics are even cowered by that kind of talk, you know, that we hear the phrase separation of Church and state, and that attracts us, because we know that our country has been strong because it hasn’t had an established religion, or an established church. And so we ourselves hesitate when people accuse us of mingling Church and state. But again, I want to make that distinction – faith and politics is not the same as Church and state. I wholeheartedly embrace separation of Church and state. I don’t want the state to tell the Church what to do, and the Church isn’t about the business of telling the state what to do. But the Church is busy about telling our members to be good citizens, and to work in the public square to create an atmosphere that serves the common good, and protects human dignity.”

On American Catholics’ voting for pro-choice politicians Chaput wrote in “Render Unto Caesar”:
“My friends often ask me if Catholics in genuinely good conscience can vote for a pro-choice candidate. The answer is I couldn’t. Supporting a right to choose abortion simply masks and evades what abortion really is, the deliberate killing of innocent life. I know of nothing that can morally offset that kind of evil… One of the pillars of Catholic thought is this – don’t deliberately kill the innocent, and don’t collude in allowing it. We sin if we support candidates because they support a false right to abortion. We sin if we support pro-choice candidates without a truly proportionate reason for doing so, that is a reason grave enough to outweigh our obligation to end the killing of the unborn. And what would a proportionate reason look like? It would be a reason we could, with an honest heart, expect the unborn victims of abortion to accept when we meet them and need to explain our actions as we someday will.”

and said in the interview:
“…it’s hard for me to come to the conclusion there are proportionate reasons. But here’s a case where I’m certain there would be. If you have two candidates running for the same office, they’re the only choices, both of them are pro-choice, but one is much better on the other issues than the other. I think that you can choose the lesser of two evils with a clear conscience. You don’t have to. You can decide not to vote, or you can vote for a third person who couldn’t be elected. But in those circumstances, you would be voting for a pro-choice candidate, but not because the person is pro-choice, but because the alternative is a worse situation. I also know that, and this is the second point, I know many good Catholics who have given a lot of serious thought to the abortion issue, and will still vote for a candidate who is pro-choice. They’ll try to discourage that person from holding that position, they’ll work really hard within their party to get the party to change its platform if it’s pro-abortion. But they’ve kind of examined all the issues, and weighed them together, and still feel that in a particular situation, that the candidate that they are going to vote for who is pro-choice is a better of the two. And the Church, you know, says you can do that if you have a truly proportionate reason. And I hope they work hard at it, and I don’t always understand how they arrive at their conclusion. It’s hard to imagine in my mind anything worse than the destruction of more than a million unborn children in our country every year through abortion. But I think that sincere people really do arrive at those conclusions sometimes.”

Chaput’s words here were in dialogue with those of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a memo on denying Holy Communion to pro-choice politicians sent to Washington Archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and made public in July 2004:

“A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

Archbishop Chaput in 1999 established a new seminary in Denver, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, dedicated to rigorous, orthodox training in the spirit of Pope John Paul. The seminary is affiliated with the theology faculty of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

Archbishop Chaput has long had firsthand information about the Legionaries. Some ten years ago he received into his archdiocese three former Legionary priests: Revs. Philip Larrey, Jorge Rodriguez, and Donal Leonard. The three were motivated scholars, had had a part in the founding in 1993 of the Pontifical Legionary university in Rome, the Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, but reportedly came into conflict with the leadership of the order, including Father Maciel himself, for not binding themselves tightly enough to the congregation’s rules of life. Chaput took them in, according to Paul Lennon , to benefit from their pastoral expertise in Spanish language and Hispanic culture and because he believed they were good men mistreated by the Legionary system.

Larrey holds a licentiate and doctorate in philosophy (1994) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was dean of the faculty of philosophy at Regina Apostolorum. His scholarly interests include the philosophy of science and the history of Christianity. Currently he teaches philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome and the University of California Education Abroad Program Rome Study Center.

Rodriguez holds a licentiate in philosophy and doctorate in theology from the Gregorian and was dean of the faculty of philosophy at Regina Apostolorum. Currently he is vice rector of the Denver archdiocesan seminary St. John Vianney.

Leonard holds a doctorate in philosophy, taught philosophy of religion at Regina Apostolorum, and currently teaches philosophy part time at St. John Vianney. His interests include myth (his doctoral thesis was on Joseph Campbell) and new age and non-Christian religions.

Chaput’s having taken in a group of unhappy Legionaries reminds one of how Cardinal Archbishop James Hickey in the mid-1980s made Washington, DC a haven for departing Legionary Fathers Peter Cronin; Declan Murphy; Paul Lennon, later of ReGain eminence; and Kevin Farrell. Bishop Farrell, ordained a priest in 1978, had been a Legionary priest for 15 years before coming to DC in 1984. He was appointed auxiliary bishop there in 2001 and bishop of Dallas in 2007, another source for the visitation of authoritative firsthand experience of the Legionaries.

Archbishop Chaput is another heavyweight appointment to the apostolic visitation: prominent, energetic, decisive, even a bishop close enough to the situation to have received departing Legionaries and kept them in academic positions in his own seminary. What did they tell him about Father Maciel and life in the Legion? Has he been entirely unconcerned up to now?

Will a conservative be willing to discipline conservatives? The Legionaries and Regnum Christi have been staunch pro-life allies. If Chaput dislikes Catholic public silence about abortion out of misguided politeness, does he dislike conservative distaste for holding the Legionaries accountable out of a misguided desire for keeping ideological alignment? Does loyalty to the memory of Pope John Paul require polite silence about his having privileged a sexual predator as a new evangelizer?

Does Chaput agree with Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O’Brien that “this is not about orthodoxy. It is about respect for human dignity for each of [the Legion’s] members.”?

Perhaps the sexual and spiritual abuse of religious is itself a pro-life issue of a sort, to the contrary the resistance of conservatives to the “seamless garment” image on the grounds that its misuse can trivialize the greater evil.

Posted by Cassandra Jones at 12:11 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pseudonymous blogger outed

Reduced by circumstance to pseudonymous blogging and burdened with the consequent self-loathing for my cowardice, I was as buoyed as terrified by yesterday’s discussion in the New York Times’ Opinionator on the outing of Publius. I would ask the enemies plotting to out me to consider the words of Jonathan Adler: “pseudonymous blogging can enrich the academic and policy blogosphere. While it enables some to hurl reckless charges and gross epithets, it also facilitates the engagement of more individuals in on-line discussion and debate. There are many understandable reasons why intelligent and knowledgeable people in various fields are reluctant to blog under their own name. Adopting a pseudonym is not necessarily a cowardly or sinister act.” I point out that I have never myself hurled reckless charges or gross epithets.
Posted by Cassandra Jones at 8:24 AM 0 comments

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rev. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S. J.

Rev. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J. (Society of Jesus)
Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian UniversityRev. Ghirlanda is 66, born July 5, 1942 in Rome. 1966 doctorate in Jurisprudence from La Sapienza University in Rome. Works in personnel for Fiat while in college. 1966 enters the Society of Jesus, 1973 ordained a priest.Degrees from the Gregorian: 1973 bachelor’s in theology, 1975 licentiate in canon law, 1978 doctorate in canon law. From 1975 teaches canon law at the Gregorian, 1995-2004 dean of the faculty of canon law.

September 2004 appointed by John Paul rector of the Gregorian and reappointed by Benedict in 2007.

1993-2003 judge of the Roman Rota. Consultor of: Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (from 1987), the Pontifical Council for the Laity (from 1990), the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (from 1993), the Congregation for the Clergy (from 1997), the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (from 1997), the Congregation for Bishops (from 1999), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (from 2003).

Gregorian newsletter bio March 2008 interview in Osservatore Romano

Rev. Ghirlanda has a huge bibliography of many books and more than 100 articles. His interests include how canon law relates to Church structure and life, how it applies to lay persons, religious, seminarians, associations, the hierarchy. He co-authored a 1983 commentary “De christifidelibus” on canons 204-207, which introduce and codify in law the theological question, who are the members of the Church? He edited a 1994 volume “Punti fondamentali sulla vita consacrata” (“Fundamentals of consecrated life”).

Rev. Ghirlanda caused controversy in May 2002, a time when American bishops were preparing to vote on policy to address the clerical pedophilia scandal. As dean of the canon law faculty at the Gregorian, in Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuit bi-weekly journal, semi-official because reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State, he published “Doveri e diritti implicati nei case di abusi perpetrati da chierici” (“Duties and rights involved in the cases of abuse perpetrated by clerics,” May 19, 2002, 341–353). Ghirlanda wrote, according to the summary in the New York Times that:

–Catholic bishops should not turn over allegations or records of sexual abuse by priests to the civil authorities,

–a priest who is reassigned to a new parish after being treated because of a history of sexual abuse should not have his ”good reputation” ruined by having his background revealed to the new parish and that it would be better simply not to place the priest in a new parish if the bishop lacks confidence about the priest,

–though American bishops have been sued in civil court for failing to remove abusive priests, “from a canonical point of view, the bishop or religious superior is neither morally nor legally responsible for a criminal act committed by one of his clerics,” but that if a bishop knew of accusations and failed to investigate, or if he failed to remove a known abuser from the ministry, then under canon law he would have some legal and moral responsibility.

The Times summary continues:
“[Ghirlanda’s] article takes issue with another practice that has become common for American bishops handling accusations of sexual abuse by priests. For more than 15 years, the bishops have been sending accused priests to clinics to be evaluated by therapists and to undergo treatment. Father Ghirlanda wrote that an accused priest should not be forced to take psychological tests because it is a violation of his right to privacy under canon law.

Father Ghirlanda, who is also an appeals court judge and a consultant to several Vatican agencies, said that under canon law a bishop is not responsible for the missteps of his priests. He wrote that the church was not like a corporation, and the relationship of bishop to priest was not that of employer to employee.”

The Jesuit journal America reported on Ghirlanda’s article:
“Recent statements… have underscored reservations in Rome over the direction U.S. bishops are taking as they formulate a national policy on clerical sex abuse. In particular, [Roman] officials believe it would be wrong to oblige bishops to report all sex abuse allegations to civil authorities, a policy that has been adopted by an increasing number of U.S. dioceses.

For these canon law specialists [like Ghirlanda], the crux of the issue is that bishops should be functioning as pastors, not policemen. They believe that when bishops start acting as reporting agents for the state, they compromise their own pastoral goals—one of which is to retrieve an errant priest and rehabilitate him spiritually.

[Ghirlanda] said bishops—unless clearly negligent in investigating and correcting abuse situations—generally are not morally or legally responsible for the actions of their priests. Although he was speaking from the perspective of church law, his point underlined Vatican perplexity over the U.S. legal system and the fact that dioceses have been sued because of the actions of a single cleric.

Father Ghirlanda also cautioned on three procedural matters: that it was not good pastoral practice to notify civil authorities of all priestly sex abuse accusations; that psychological testing should not be required of suspected clerical abusers; and that if he reassigns a past abuser to active ministry, a bishop should not tell parishioners of the past abuse.

Father Ghirlanda said the question of notifying civil authorities risks confusing the church’s investigative role with that of the state. “My position is this: If a bishop is questioned [by the state] he should respond. If he is not questioned, he should not report,” he said. Instead, he said, the bishop who receives a report of clerical sex abuse should conduct his own investigation, if necessary removing the accused priest quietly and temporarily from ministry. The bishop’s investigation should be undertaken with concern for the victim and the church community, but also for the accused priest, he said. “Even if a priest is guilty, the bishop remains the pastor of that priest.””

The US bishops did not accept Ghirlanda’s position. The San Francisco Chronicle reported May 19, 2002:

“Catholic bishops in the United States say they intend to continue turning over to secular authorities the names of priests accused of child sexual abuse, despite [the article by Ghirlanda].

“The bishops are determined to make sure that they don’t have people who would abuse children in the priesthood,” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the associate director of communications for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The church needs to be a safe environment for all Catholics, especially for children, and the bishops will do what has to be done to make sure it is a safe environment.”

Ghirlanda’s positions fly in the face of the general practice in the United States. Many bishops use psychological testing to evaluate priests, and virtually all seminaries in the United States require psychological testing of applicants. Most states — including California — require clergy to report allegations of child abuse to state officials for investigation, and Walsh said bishops adhere to those requirements.”

At their June 2002 meeting in Dallas the US bishops did vote to require themselves to report allegations of sexual abuse by their priests to civil authorities.

Ghirlanda’s article seemed part of a concerted Vatican effort to discourage the American bishops from adopting this policy. As summarized by Garry Wills in the New York Review of Books, August 15, 2002:

“To understand the risk involved in the Dallas strategy, one must recall the drumbeat of signals coming from Rome urging the bishops not to “give in” to the press or to prosecutors seeking to punish priests:

In February, Tarcisio Bertone, the close associate of (and occasional spokesperson for) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [[secretary of the Congregation at the time, now the Vatican Secretary of State, the one who announced the apostolic visitation of the Legionaries in March 2009]], told the magazine 30 Giorni that the civil authority has no right to demand that a bishop turn over his own priest.

On April 23, [Pope John Paul] urged the United States cardinals in Rome to remember that offending priests may experience “the force of Christian conversion, that radical determination to turn from sin and return to God, which reaches the depths of the human soul and can work an uncommon alteration.”

On April 29, Archbishop Julian Herranz, head of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, [[now retired, made cardinal in 2003, of Opus Dei]] addressing the Catholic University of Milan, said that the press in America had prodded bishops into making unwarranted settlements against the Church, which has no obligation to turn priests over to the secular authorities.

On May 16, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, often mentioned as a candidate for the papacy, at a press conference in Rome, compared the treatment of Cardinal Law to Communist trials, Decius’s persecution of Christians, and the tactics of Hitler and Stalin. He said he would be prepared to go to jail rather than harm one of his priests, and that priests should be pastors, not agents of the CIA or FBI.

On May 19, Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a Jesuit canon law expert and judge on a Vatican court, the Signatura Apostolica, wrote in Civiltà Cattolica that any priest’s privacy should not be invaded by a requirement to take psychological testing, and that a bishop who is convinced that an offending priest has reformed may assign him to a new parish without telling those at his new post.

On June 1, the Jesuit priest Giovanni Marchesi wrote in Civiltà Cattolica that the Pope had shown courage in publicly addressing the pedophile problem, and that the press had taken unfair advantage of his openness to indulge in “a morbid and scandal-mongering inquisitiveness.” The press was trying to get even, said Father Marchesi, for the Pope’s criticism of the Gulf War, rather than addressing real problems in the world, like the crisis in the Middle East.

On June 10, a favorite of the Pope, recently made a cardinal by him, the Jesuit Avery Dulles, warned the bishops not to take positions in Dallas that the Pope would just have to reverse. Dulles is not a bishop, so he did not have a vote in Dallas, but he was allowed to sit on the floor by courtesy of the bishops, and he rose to attack the Charter before the bishops voted on it—he opposed the broad definition of sexual abuse, the “adversarial” relationship the Charter would create between bishops and priests, the “unconscionable” requirement to report allegations to civil authorities, and the willingness to open diocesan files even “without legal compulsion.””

Conservatives too responded to Ghirlanda’s article:

Leon Podles , author and blogger on sex abuse in the Church, wrote on May 18, 2002:

“Children who have been abused will often become self-destructive, even to the point of suicide. If a parish is not told that a priest has committed sexual abuse, parents have no way of knowing that a child’s erratic behavior may be a sign that he has been abused. Ghirlanda places a priest’s right to a good reputation, even when it is undeserved, above the safety of children.

Ghirlanda and Herranz reveal that a clericalist mentality is present at the highest levels of the church; the laity are unimportant, the priest is everything. His rights to a career and an undeserved good reputation are to be upheld, even at the cost of children’s innocence and sometimes even their lives (remember the suicides). This poisonous clericalism is enough to make a Protestant of a Breton peasant — and it may lead to a rupture in the American church, if Catholic parents realize that the Vatican and bishops disregard the safety of their children.”

Canon law professor Edward Peters wrote on May 30, 2002:

“The claim that bishops and religious superiors are neither morally nor judicially responsible for acts of their clergy seems difficult to reconcile with Canon 128 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law that states: “Whoever unlawfully causes harm to another by a juridical act, or indeed by any other act which is deceitful or culpable (actu dolo vel culpa posito), is obliged to repair the damage done. (British trans.)” The Americans render the operative phrase “with malice or negligence”. Either way, the canon (one, incidentally, that greatly expands the scope of ecclesiastical liability for malfeasance in office over its 1917 Code counterpart, Canon 1681) is a clear enunciation of the obligation of persons in the Church (there being no exemption for bishops in this regard) to make good harms unlawfully caused as a result of their actions or omissions.

The pertinent claim is that the some bishops (not all, but at least some) placed priests known to them to be pederasts or homosexually active in positions wherein they could and did sexually abuse minors. A man who knows his hound snaps at children must not allow such an animal to run free through the neighborhood…

Of course, in these dark days, some wish to impose to a “strict liability” standard on bishops in all priestly sex abuse cases, holding bishops financially responsible for harms caused by their priests notwithstanding the bishop’s lack of knowledge of the danger. This is wrong and unjust. Others, in cases of some genuine liability on the part of the bishop, wish to exaggerate that liability out of anger or greed. This is opportunism. Both approaches should be rejected.

But I believe it is a mistake to make the blanket claim that there is no canonical basis for episcopal liability for harms arising from priestly misconduct. There is a basis for such liability in canon law. Only a fair, case-by-case, examination of the facts will determine whether such liability is warranted in a given case, and if so, how much compensation should be awarded.”

George Weigel wrote in 2004 in “The Courage to Be Catholic” (127-8) that it was “no sin against charity” to call Ghirlanda’s positions “legalistic.” They were evidence of “a cast of mind in the Vatican that Americans find hard to understand, and that in fact makes it difficult for officials of the Holy See to come to grips with problems like the crisis of 2002 in the US… If current canon law is admirable in its assumption of innocence and in its concern to protect priests from the arbitrary exercise of ecclesiastical power, current canon law as interpreted by Father Ghirlanda and those like him is manifestly inadequate to deal with the problem of clergy sexual abuse. Something has to change.”

Another Ghirlanda Civiltà Cattolica article, “Gli Omosessuali e L’ammizzione Al Sacerdozio; Gli Aspetti Canonici” (“Homosexuals and admission to the Priesthood, Some Canonical Aspects” March 3, 2007, 436 – 449) made news in March 2007. If Ghirlanda in 2002 cautioned bishops who asked for psychological evaluation of a pedophile priest about the priest’s canonical rights, he saw a role for it in implementing the 2005 “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies.” According to a CNS summary of the article, he said that “in applying the Vatican’s directive against admission of homosexuals to the priesthood, seminary authorities should make use of psychological sciences to distinguish between ‘deep-seated’ and transitory homosexual tendencies… the use of psychology was a complex but necessary means of establishing the true nature of homosexual traits…. Psychological evaluations alone can never substitute for the informed decisions of bishops and seminary authorities, but such testing must be taken into serious consideration.”

Rev. Ghirlanda is among the most senior canon lawyers in the Church and indeed, as rector of the Gregorian, among the most senior scholars. As such, he is a spectacular appointment to an apostolic visitation that might well consider thorny canonical issues relating to a congregation and movement with a membership of men religious, consecrated women, and lay persons, and assess the academic competence of a congregation aspiring to teach and conduct many schools and universities.

At the same time, no one cheered by Cardinal Bertone’s use of the word “transparency” in his letter announcing the apostolic visitation in March is entirely happy to remember his and Ghirlanda’s signaling Vatican opposition to American bishops’ policy in May 2002.

Ghirlanda’s legal views on protecting the good name of pedophile priests in the end proved unpersuasive to the bishops and a range of Americans both conservative and liberal, who were content to see bishops cooperate with civil authorities in the matter of child abuse. Was Ghirlanda merely advocating proper due process for the accused? If so, let’s have due process in all aspects of the apostolic visitation. Will he be advocate for Legionary malefactors and for keeping their deeds private and discrete as preliminary to their carrying on with as little interruption as possible? If so, let’s have a complementary advocate on the visitation for the spiritual and physical victims of Legionary malefaction, who may well be among those who think that the Legionaries require thoroughgoing re-foundation. If George Weigel felt Ghirlanda’s interpretations of canon law “manifestly inadequate” to the crisis of 2002, will they prove adequate to the Legionary crisis of 2009, which involves not only sexual impropriety, but financial and spiritual impropriety as well?

The move of an abusive priest to a new assignment without informing those involved is itself an issue for the visitation in the US possibly to face. In 1995, a Legionary priest, Jeremiah M. Spillane, was transferring out of the Legion and into the diocese of Venice, Florida. According to the Tampa Tribune, he was recommended to the diocese as “a priest in good standing… Father Spillane has… manifested no behavioral problems that would indicate he might deal with minors in an inappropriate manner.” He was assigned to a church and high school in Sarasota, Florida.

In February 1997 he was arrested for attempting to commit a lewd or lascivious act and seduction of a child by computer, after arranging over the internet to meet a 13-year-old boy for sex, though this turned out to be a police sting. Spillane pleaded no contest to the charges and was ordered into a sex offender program. Spillane remains on the Florida list of convicted sex offenders .

Legionary Father Owen Kearns expressed public shock at these events, but it was never clear how Spillane could have progressed so quickly in the techniques of predation in his comparatively short time away from the Legion.

Posted by Cassandra Jones at 5:39 PM 0 comments

Irish timeline additions

Thanks to the eminent Paul Lennon for contributing to the Legionary timeline some early Irish Legionary history from 1961 to 1971, drawn from his personal experience and his 2008 memoir “Our Father, Who Art in Bed.”
Posted by Cassandra Jones at 4:47 PM 2 comments

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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.

Archbishop Edwin O’Brien on Marcial Maciel [http://www.catholicreview.org/subpages/storyworldnew-new.aspx?action=5703]

Archbishop O’Brien raises concerns about Legion of Christ

By George P. Matysek Jr.

The Catholic Review

Concerned that the Legion of Christ stifles the free will of its members and lacks transparency, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien told the religious order’s director general that he cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone join the Legion or Regnum Christi, its affiliated lay movement. In the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Legion of Christ is affiliated with Woodmont Academy in Cooksville. Regnum Christi is also active in several parishes. The archbishop’s action came in the wake of revelations that Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legion of Christ, fathered a daughter while serving as leader of the international religious order. Pope Benedict XVI had previously removed the Mexican priest from public ministry in 2006, asking him to lead a life of prayer and penance after Father Maciel faced allegations of sexual abuse of seminarians and financial irregularities. “It seems to me and many others that this was a man with an entrepreneurial genius who, by systematic deception and duplicity, used our faith to manipulate others for his own selfish ends,” Archbishop O’Brien told The Catholic Review in a telephone interview following his Feb. 20 Rome meeting with Father Alvaro Corcuera, director general of the Legion. “Father Maciel deserves our prayers, as every Christian who dies does, that he’ll be forgiven and we leave the final judgment to God as to what his life and death amounted to,” Archbishop O’Brien said. Saying that the Legion’s founder “leaves many victims in his wake,” the archbishop called for the “full disclosure of his activities and those who are complicit in them or knew of them and of those who are still refusing to offer disclosure.” He added that the finances of the order should be opened to “objective scrutiny.” Archbishop O’Brien said he has grave concerns that the Legion fosters a “cult of personality” focused on Father Maciel. “While it’s difficult to get a hold of official documents,” Archbishop O’Brien said, “it’s clear that from the first moment a person joins the Legion, efforts seem to be made to program each one and to gain full control of his behavior, of all information he receives, of his thinking and emotions.” The archbishop said many members who leave the order suffer “deep psychological distress for dependency and need prolonged counseling akin to deprogramming.” Saying that “I know that there are good priests in the movement” and acknowledging that Legion members are in full accord with the theological teachings of the church, the archbishop also said some of the practices of the movement are unhealthy. “This is not about orthodoxy,” he said. “It is about respect for human dignity for each of its members.” The archbishop noted that he has heard reports that the movement claims that the first duty of a Legionary is to love the Legion. Such policies subject a person’s use of reason not to one’s own judgment, Archbishop O’Brien said, but to a spiritual director. “It’s been said that the founder is alone called ‘nuestro padre’ (‘our father’) and that no one else can have that title,” Archbishop O’Brien said. “All are bound to identify with him in his spirit, his mind, his mission and in his life. This would suggest that the very basis of the Legion movement should be reviewed from start to finish.” Scott Brown, executive director of the Woodmont Academy, declined to comment and referred questions to Jim Fair, a U.S. spokesman for the Legion who said that revelations about Father Maciel have been a “great shock” and “great disappointment” to members, but that the order has achieved “very positive things” for the church. “We’re processing that mystery, that the Holy Spirit could use what was very clearly a flawed instrument to do good,” Mr. Fair said. “The Holy Spirit does that with all of us. We think it did it with Father Maciel. So while this is certainly disappointing, we have a charism that is approved by the church and we’ll continue to work on behalf of the church on our various apostolic works.” The spokesman said the Legion is interested in working with the Vatican to address concerns about the movement. “We’ll be double-checking our policies and procedures to ensure that we’re in a good position to ensure the integrity of the group,” he said. Mr. Fair said he hoped the Legion will be able to prove to Archbishop O’Brien that “we have some value that would help his ministries and the archdiocese.” Last summer, Archbishop O’Brien was on the verge of asking the Legion and Regnum Christi to leave the archdiocese. He wrote a June letter to the order’s leader asking that a liaison be appointed who would inform the archbishop of all of the Legion’s activities within the archdiocese. He also asked for more transparency of Regnum Christi programs and for the order to stop giving spiritual direction to minors. “As far as we can judge, they are responding well to our requests,” Archbishop O’Brien told The Catholic Review, “but these larger questions are looming ever more threateningly.” Father Maciel founded the Legion of Christ in 1941. He died Jan. 30, 2008, at the age of 87.

Paul McMullen contributed to this story.

Feb 25, 2009


Nathan O’Halloran: “Jesuit Obedience and the Legionaries of Christ” [http://underachindolea.blogspot.com/2009/02/jesuit-obedience-and-legionaries-of.html]


Jesuit Obedience and the Legionaries of Christ

Although many people on many different blogs have weighed in about the Legionaries of Christ and their current crisis, I thought I would throw in a few Jesuit reflections that come to mind.

Meaning what. Well, before entering the Society of Jesus, I was told by many at my alma mater that I should instead enter the Legion. Why? Well, because they are the new Jesuits of course. They are the real Jesuits, what the Jesuits used to be, what the Jesuits were meant to be. I heard this from no less than priests from the Legion. It struck me as a bit odd and arrogant, and had the cumulative effect of pushing me far away from them. My own suspicions were confirmed when they were thrown off campus and not invited back to Franciscan University of Steubenville. But for a while, to criticize the Legion was to criticize orthodoxy for many, since the two terms were considered synonymous. This annoyed me to no end, but it was unavoidable. If I didn’t like them, it was probably because I could not follow their rigorous lifestyle.

I won’t go into the many wounded individuals I have met who left the Legion or RC and continue to struggle to live normal lives. My point here is different. Many told me that I should join the Legion rather than the Jesuits because they practiced the true form of Jesuit obedience. Ignatius told Jesuits to pride themselves on their observance above all of obedience. This vow, he said, separates us from other orders. We live a strict form of obedience. And so I was told by Legionaries, since this form of obedience is best found in Ignatius’ letter to Simon Rodrigues, SJ living at the time in Portugal, and since many Jesuits these days notoriously do not follow such a notion of obedience, therefore, Jesuits no longer know how to live obedience.

A couple of distinctions are in order. Yes, there are several high profile Jesuits who do or did not live obedience very well. Robert Drinan, SJ, former congressman, is one of those. No doubt about that. And his disobedience to Rome and his own order is to be rejected as an example of a proper living out of Jesuit obedience.

Next, the well known letter on obedience to Simon Rodrigues was precisely that: a letter. It was written to a Jesuit in Portugal who was at the time living in the king’s court and nurturing a rather devoted following of Jesuits. Ignatius was attempting to bring him under reign, trying to curb his sumptuous living and his predilection to get his way. We learn: Rodrigues’ method of government had erred on the side of mildness and softness, with the result that, when he was removed, these subjects refused obedience to any other superior than himself or one appointed by him. And so his letter is written with very strong language. Some famous quotes include: But he who aims at making an entire and perfect oblation of himself besides his will must offer his understanding [which is a further and the highest degree of obedience], not only willing, but thinking the same as the Superior, submitting his own judgment to his, so far as a devout will can bend the understanding. Therefore, each Jesuit is to submit his “judgment which must approve the command of the Superior, in so far [as has been said] as it can, through the energy of the will, bring itself to this.”

After talking to several ex-Legionaries, I began to understand that a.) this was the only item on the topic of obedience from Ignatius that they ever read, and b.) they read it in excerpts, as I was told by an ex-Legionary. Ignatius is careful to mention twice above the proviso “in so far as it can.” He understands that the will can only bend the intellect so much. Each Jesuit must do his best.

But he can do more than just his best. Another part of the letter mentions something called Representation. In spite of this, you should feel free to propose a difficulty should something occur to you different from his opinion, provided you pray and it seems to you in God’s presence that you ought to make the representation to the Superior.

This was a part of the letter that many Legionaries apparently never saw. They received their instructions under their door in letter form, and were not allowed to discuss their assignments. This, coupled with their well known Vow of Charity by which they were never allowed to criticize or even second guess a superior created, as we know now, a very poisonous atmosphere.

Jesuit obedience is not blind. It has as its pre-requisite a praying, discerning man in conversation with his provincial. Ignatius allowed for a man to Represent up to three times to his superior before submitting himself. A regular Account of Conscience also provides a Jesuit ample chance to share about his own personal prayer and discernment. There is a reason that all young Jesuits spend 30 days of prayer learning how to discern spirits, and that reason is not so that they can never do it again in their lives.

Rather, this discernment is written into the very core of Jesuit obedience. It is for good reason that GC 35 quoted a famous letter that Ignatius wrote to a Jesuit appointed patriarch of Ethiopia. In the letter he states: All this is proposed under the heading of advice. The patriarch should not consider himself obliged to comply with it. Rather, he should be guided by discreta caritas, taking into account the circumstances of the moment and the unction of the Holy Spirit which should be his principal guide in everything.

But this is not an isolated letter. One only need to read the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus — or re-read them as I am doing now (and finding lots of wonderful things too!) — to find repeated over and over again a common Ignatian phrase, stated in various ways: according to persons, places and circumstances; as circumstances permit, etc. All over the Constitutions, one finds Ignatius making constant provision for circumstances, places, persons. While he is writing the rules, he wants there to be the requisite flexibility for individual Jesuits to use their own discreet charity and discernment in specific cases.

To bring this all back around then, did the Legion just sort of go wrong? Did they have most things right and just mess a few things up? I feel like going back to those people in college who told me that the Legionaries had it right and demanding that they now look at the present situation, caused in large part precisely because they misunderstood Ignatian obedience. As a Legionary, one could not represent, could not discern, could not manifest. And so within this atmosphere, the poison spread. This is not a situation where for the most part, they have an intact spirituality, with all the “good parts” of Jesuit life — as I was so often told. Where are all those people who said those things now? I wish they would come out and admit they were wrong. Admit that Ignatius knew what he was talking about and did not need to be modified t be even stricter than he ever intended to be. “Strict” is actually not even the question. Rather, psychologically destructive. Ignatius was a good psychologist, a reader of men’s hearts and minds. He knew better than to propose an obedience that the Legionaries impose. And wisely so.

I’m not going to ask people to stop criticizing the Jesuits. That is healthy, and we learn a lot from it. But if all those “orthodox” people out there had been willing to criticize the Legion more, maybe we would have uncovered this stuff a lot earlier. Tom Hoopes of the Register has done a noble thing by apologizing. The Legionaries themselves, well, my thinking right now is that of a colleague at work: Rome should make them a group devoted exclusively to caring for the sexually abused.

But that aside, let’s remember not to cut off bits and pieces of a spirituality that we like. The “good parts” by themselves are only parts, not the whole. The whole is a rich spirituality that cannot be gleaned from one letter. It must be pulled together from the writings and the lives of a whole religious family, the Society of Jesus.

A good quote to end with from the GC 35 document on obedience:

37. We encourage Jesuits in formation to grow in the spirituality of obedience and in availability for placing their lives and freedom at the service of the mission of Christ throughout the stages of formation. It will be good for them to take advantage of the opportunities for self-abnegation that community life, constant and rigorous dedication to studies, and other aspects of their experience will doubtless provide. Self-abnegation, “the fruit of our joy at the approach of the Kingdom and the result of a progressive identification with Christ,” is a virtue Jesuits need if they are going to take on the sometimes difficult demands of obedience.

38. We encourage formators to help Jesuits in formation understand and live the mystical source of obedience: an unconditional love for the Lord which will bring them to a desire to serve him in fulfilling the Father’s will. We ask formators to help Jesuits in formation become progressively aware of the demands of a life of obedience: transparency with superiors, esteem for the account of conscience, the responsible exercise of personal initiative, and a spirit of discernment which accepts the decisions of the superior with good grace.

39. The spirituality and tradition of the Society require that Jesuits in formation and their formators be filled with a spirit of obedience to the pope as something essential to the mission and identity of the Society. Jesuit spiritual and ecclesial formation should emphasize availability for mission and “the proper attitude we ought to have in the Church” established by the Thirty-Fourth General Congregation.

Nathan O’Halloran, SJ

Posted by Nathan O’Halloran, SJ / Mason Slidell at 2:56 PM


Diogenes on Maciel [Catholic Culture Commentary: Off the Record: “The Legion of Christ and its founder”]

The Legion of Christ and its founder

Posted Feb. 17, 2009 8:47 AM || by Diogenes

Commentary: Off the Record: “The Legion of Christ & its founder”

What do we know about the misbehavior of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, deceased founder of the Legion of Christ? In strict terms: nothing. In part this is the fault of the Holy See, whose 2006 communiqué did not specify the wrongs in response to which it “invited” Maciel to “a reserved life of prayer and penance.” In part it is the fault of the Legion of Christ, which issues assertions about Maciel while withholding the evidence on which the assertions are grounded. In place of publicly verifiable data — such as checkable documents and signed testimony — we have coy and ambiguous declarations based on informal confidential investigations. This is not knowledge. In early February the Legion’s spokesman Fr. Paolo Scarafoni announced that Maciel had sired an illegitimate daughter, now in her twenties. The CNS story reports, “Asked how the Legionaries came to know about her, Father Scarafoni said, ‘Frankly, I cannot say and it is not opportune to discuss this further, also because there are people involved’ who deserve privacy.” This is a transparent falsehood. Scarafoni was in reality communicating “Frankly, I cannot be frank about this matter.” Tactical mendacity of this kind is beloved of Roman churchmen (think of the Jesuit General’s claim that there is no conflict between the Society and the Holy See); it is not intended to be credible, but it serves as a kind of No Trespassing sign, warning outsiders that further inquiry along a given line will not be tolerated. Granted, however, that we don’t and can’t know whether Maciel’s paternity is better founded than any other claim the Legion has made about him, the remarks that follow will assume that this minimal admission is true. Maciel deserves to be reviled by the Legionaries of Christ. By “deserves” I mean his revilement is a debt of justice owed all Catholics by the Legion. This is not on account of Maciel’s sin of sexual weakness, nor even on account of the sin of denying his sexual weakness. The fact of the matter is that Maciel was publicly accused of specific sexual crimes, and that out of moral cowardice he enlisted honorable men and women to mortgage their own reputations in defense of his lie. The lie was the lie of Maciel’s personal sanctity, which Maciel knew to be a myth, and which the fact of his bastard child (putting aside the more squalid accusations) proves that he knew. To the villainy of sacrificing the reputations of others, Maciel added the grotesque and blasphemous claim that the Holy See’s sanctions were an answer to his own prayer to share more deeply in the passion of Christ, as an innocent victim made to bear the burden of false judgment in reparation for the sins of mankind. The Legion cannot share Catholic reverence for the Passion and fail to repudiate Maciel’s cynicism in portraying himself as the Suffering Servant. Yet the LC leadership persists in allotting Maciel a role of (somewhat tarnished) honor: praising with faint damns, and suggesting that his spiritual patrimony remains valuable in spite of his personal life. This won’t work. Many of the greatest saints were repentant sinners. Yet not only did Maciel (as far as is known) go to his death without repenting, but he used wholesome Christian spirituality as a tool in the deception of others. Think of the Soviet mole Kim Philby: while he worked in the UK’s SIS and Foreign Office, his articulate patriotism may have inspired those he duped to a deeper love of country. Yet once he was unmasked as a spy, and after his patriotism was revealed as a contrived distraction from his real treachery, even those who were moved to genuine loyalty by his speeches would not continue to feed on them. And note: Philby’s patriotic words would provoke the most shame and disgust precisely in the persons who found those words truest. Or consider a woman whose husband ingeniously hid his infidelities from her for many years. Once she realized she had been deceived, the gifts he brought back from his business trips would be understood to have been instruments in that deception. Far from cherishing the jewelry he gave her, she’d feel that the diamonds now mocked the affection and fidelity they symbolized. By the same token, Maciel’s addresses will be spiritually kosher — he was after all a highly successful deceiver. But those addresses dishonor the very truths they expound, and it’s impossible that they can cause anything but distress and confusion in those who attempt to nourish themselves on them. To repeat: the fact that he was a flawed priest is not the reason for repudiating Maciel. The Mexican priest-protagonist of Graham Greene’s novel The Power and the Glory was enfeebled by lust and alcoholism and despised by those he served; yet, because of his concern for souls, he kept himself in the arena of danger and died a martyr. Maciel presents Greene’s image flipped on its head: he was a Mexican priest with an internationally cultivated reputation for sanctity. He lived surrounded and cosseted by admirers, and yet in reality he held divine retribution so lightly that he went to his deathbed without undeceiving those he’d taken in, leaving behind him shattered consciences and wobbly faith. When I speak of the Legion’s duty of revilement, I do not mean they should issue so many pages of rhetorical denunciation of Maciel’s sexual iniquities. What is required is an unambiguous admission that Maciel deceitfully made use of holy things and holy words in order to dupe honest and pious persons into taking false positions — sometimes slandering others in the process — in order to reinforce the legend of his own sanctity. Since Maciel’s treachery was sacrilegious in its means and in its effect, he should posthumously be repudiated as a model of priesthood and of Christian life. What is said above is predicated on the minimalist assumption that Maciel’s siring of a bastard daughter is the only canonical lapse that can held against him. Yet he stood accused of sins much more serious, including the sin of absolutio complicis — i.e., of sacramentally absolving one’s own partner in sexual wrongdoing. The Legion’s leadership professes improbably comprehensive ignorance of Maciel’s misdeeds, but even if they are in fact in the dark about Maciel’s guilt in this area, they surely must understand that abuse of the sacrament of confession moves the debate over Maciel’s priesthood onto an entirely different level than a failure in sexual continence. True, we don’t expect Newsweek or NPR to focus on the gravity of abusing a sacrament, because for them sacraments are simply ceremonies. But we would expect orthodox Catholic priests to grasp the importance of the charge. Knowing what they now claim to know about Maciel’s sexual delinquency, can the Legion confidently dismiss the accusation of abuse of the confessional? And if they can’t dismiss it out of hand, how can they fail to address it, even obliquely, in their statements? How can they keep up the public patter of his “flawed priesthood” without the certainty — the certainty — that there are not souls out there that need concrete sacramental help, souls whose access to the sacraments Maciel may have blocked by his villainy? The Legion leadership’s piecemeal public disclosure broadens rather than narrows the general speculation about the extent of Maciel’s crimes. Today and for the foreseeable future they’re in the “half of the lies they tell about me aren’t true” position. They have only themselves to blame. Whereas St. Augustine said, “God does not need my lie,” the Legion’s officialdom appears to base its strategy of teaspoon by teaspoon revelations on the contrary conviction: “God needs our falsehood, and yours as well.” Yet what are we to make of the Legionaries who aren’t superiors and who remain under a vow of obedience to those who are? Are they complicit in the actions of their superiors simply by remaining bound by their vows? If Maciel has real victims whose urgent spiritual needs are being ignored or dismissed by the leadership, can the Legionaries who would wish to address those needs act on their own to do so? If not, what is the course an honorable man would take, and how might the Holy See make it possible for him to act in conformity with a well-formed conscience while remaining a religious in good standing? Many persons of good will associated with the Legion and Regnum Christi have called for prayers for Maciel’s victims. This is entirely proper. But if you were a victim of Maciel, and had been denounced as a slanderer for accusing him, and that denunciation had never been unsaid, would you feel spiritually buoyed by the promise of prayers offered on your behalf?

Commentary: Off the Record: “The Legion of Christ & its founder”