Monday, February 09, 2009

More on the Legion of Christ

George Weigel has a great piece about it on the First Things website here.

The following ideas have been coming to my mind as I think about this terrible crisis.

1. First, I feel for the individual members of the Legion and Regnum Christi who were betrayed by Maciel. His sins are not their fault. Still, the Legion as an institution needs to deal with the effects of those sins and crimes.

2. At a minimum, this calls for not only an apology to all of Maciel's victims, but to reparation in whatever ways are possible. This would include paying for therapy for the victims and/or making some other kind of compensation.

3. Name the sin. The official statement from the Legion so far talked of Maciel's "failures." This is a euphemism. A failure can be something insignificant, like breaking the rule of silence or failing to hand in a receipt for toothpaste. As Fr Berg said in his excellent letter, it is very likely that the other allegations against Maciel are also true. Those are the allegations that he sexually abused boys. Many were minors at the time. If he had been charged with a crime, it would have been "rape of a child." The first step in coming to terms with what Maciel did is to call it what it is. No more euphemisms or vague statements about it.

4. Some comments in various blogs dealing with this say things like "God forgives," or "do not judge lest you be judged," etc. All of that is beside the point. God forgives the repentant sinner (and we have to hope Maciel did indeed repent; only God knows what the state of his soul was), but certain sins also carry an obligation of restitution. Stole something? You have to pay it back. Lied about someone? You have to make it right. The list goes on.
The point is that even if Maciel repented before he died and God forgave him, as we should hope happened, his crimes are not so easily erased. People are still suffering the effects of his abuse. The Legion as a corporate person has an obligation to help them in whatever way it can.

5. Maciel's position as a founder of a religious order makes this case very unusual and actually totally bizarre. The question that keeps running through my mind is this: how can the Church allow to stand a "charism" of a group founded by a child molester? The reports about Maciel seem to indicate that he engaged in such molesting for years. If his crimes had been known, the Church would have defrocked him if canon law was being applied. Maciel presented himself in a false light to the Vatican when he sought approval for his order. That duplicity has to be taken into account. This is my own opinion, and I realize others may disagree, but I don't believe that Church approval gained through deceit makes a charism legitimate in the Church. By this I'm not suggesting that the sincere members of the Legion are at fault in any way; they've been deceived too. If the Church allows the order to stand as it is, it will be a black mark on the holiness of the Church that will give its enemies plentiful fodder for years to come.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.

The Thomas Peter's has recapped a healing Mass he attended in which Fr. Alvaro attended.

Have you read the post of Thomas and as a sister, do you find the prayer they prayed after mass odd? (Since the Legion and the Movement will be vigorous and will flourish as long as the spirit of our founder is present and active in our lives and behavior)

It seems really strange to me. I was wondering as a religious if these prayers, specifically mentioning the founder in this way, was common that you know of?

Sr. Lorraine said...

Hi Opey,

Thank you for your comment. You raise a good point. I'll put a response in a separate blog post since it might go longer than a comment box note.
God bless you!