|The real charism of the Legion|
Finally the Vatican admits the Legion of Christ needs a new identity. One can only hope this new identity will involve more than just tweaking the packaging or changing the logo. I have followed the Legion story since 1998 when Gerald Renner and Jason Berry first wrote about Marcial Maciel and the Legion in the Hartford Courant. As the years have passed, I have watched the carefully constructed facade (product identity) of the Legion come crashing down. I also came to the conclusion the only charism the Legion had was not spiritual, it was psychological. The Legion institutionalized the defense mechanism 'denial' and made practicing it part of their constitution. The Vatican has been engaged in the same 'charism' about this group for decades. JPII even went so far as to throw Maciel's personal secretary, Fr Raphael Moreno out of his office when the secretary wanted to spill his guts about Maciel. JPII did not want to hear him and would not believe him. I guess one could define JPII's level of denial as infallibly wrong. Anyway, the Vatican has now come to the conclusion that it might make more sense to rethink the Legion's reason for existence before it approves a new constitution written by the old leadership who surrounded Maciel.....and like good Legionnaires, 'knew nothing'.
Vatican says disgraced Legion of Christ needs a new identityVATICAN CITY -- The disgraced Legion of Christ religious order needs to rethink its identity before going forward with its internal reform, the papal envoy in charge of the group's overhaul told priests and lay members in a letter published Wednesday.
Cardinal Velasio De Paolis was appointed in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI to oversee the order's reform after revelations that its founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, had lived a double life, abusing children and fathering a son. (He fathered more than one child and sexually abused his sons.)
Macial had enjoyed iconic status in the Legion, with strong suspicions that its leaders had been at least partly aware of his actions.
De Paolis writes that the troubled groups' various branches, which include priests, religious and laypeople, need "a common platform" to "regulate reciprocal relations ... according to the identity proper to each group."
This "joint reflection on the identity and mission" of the order, said Fr. Andreas Schoeggl, a Legion spokesman, needs to precede the final revision of the order's internal rules, which has been ongoing for the last two years and was the main goal of the pope's taking over of the order.
The papal delegate's letter sees the light after several observers have criticized the slow pace of reform inside the Legion. (Cardinal De Paolis has been dithering for two years, and more than 'several' observers think this is because of the Legion's finances, specifically the holding company known as Integer.)
On June 22, Fr. Thomas V. Berg, a former Legionary, wrote on the conservative blog First Things about "The Legion's Scandal of Stalled Reform." According to Berg, "the Legion's superiors ... have fostered a culture of institutional opposition to the radical reform that is truly required."
Schoeggl denied this, saying reform "proceeds with a constant pace" and that there is "absolutely no intention" of returning to the past.
Still, new scandals have buffeted the Legion in recent weeks. Its most famous priest, Fr. Thomas Williams, admitted fathering a child, while his superiors acknowledged covering up for him for years. And this week, dozens of women who attended a Legion high school in Wakefield, R.I., accused school officials of abuse and deception, according to a letter sent to the Vatican that was obtained by The Associated Press.
"For any errors made by our order in the past, we do apologize," Margarita Martinez, director of the Immaculate Conception Academy told the AP. "We are sorry these young women have suffered and been harmed in any way."
I keep wondering why Pope Benedict doesn't finish what he started and disband or suppress the Legion and Regnum Christi. Is there some lesson here that we still haven't got and so the Legion hangs on and on and on in a perpetual state of limbo? Is the plan to let the Legion die a slow death by attrition as Fr Thomas Berg writes in his blog piece for First Things. The cynic in me thinks the reform of the Legion will drag on as long as wealthy donors in Mexico and elsewhere want their children in Legion schools.....wealthy donors like Carlos Slim. I found it interesting that in Fr Berg's essay, he fails to mention the Legion money and donor list because while other congregations like the Franciscans minister to the poor, the new outfits like the Legion and Opus Dei minister to the wealthy. It's beginning to look more and more like this group of Catholics is to be the bedrock of the remnant which will save Catholicism from the very vocal educated lay proletariat and those radical feminists in the LCWR.
Or perhaps the lesson still to be learned from the Legion debacle isn't one the Vatican needs, it's one the laity needs. It could be the laity needs to understand putting their faith and trust in anyone or anything other than their own faith understanding is not just a recipe for personal disaster, it's being complicit in enabling those personal disasters. It's about being able to recognize a cult when one sees and experiences it. And last, but certainly not least, it's about learning how the defense mechanism denial works and why it is so powerful. Jesus thought this lesson was so important he made a point to let Peter know before hand that Peter would deny Him not once, but three times. Peter obliged and did deny Jesus three times. He did it for the same reason we all do it, to save our lives whether that be our physical or psychological lives, or as in this particular case of the Legion, an institutional life. In the long run denial never works. Ask Penn State.