The 33 Chilean miners have been safely rescued. Chile has come alive in the eyes of its citizens and of the world.
The global recession hit this South American nation hard. The country is still emerging from the shadows of its dictator Augusto Pinochet who ruled from 1974 to 1990. Chileans still struggle with economic imbalances and political divisions. The successful rescue of the miners came at a critical time in the wake of the devastating earthquake during the bicentennial celebrations. The dramatic rescue turned the potential for disaster into national and international celebration as more than a billion people around the world watched the events unfold on TV.
As I watched the coverage, I was moved by the cultural values of the Chilean people: their strong focus on family values, sustaining and transformational spiritual and religious belief, and a sense of community which takes precedence over the abilities of individuals.
Because I had seen an analogy between the trapped miners and the Legionaries of Christ I found myself thinking about them as I watched the celebration of the rescue. The Legion is still in the throes of revision as the Pope’s Delegate sorts out what is what, aided by five Vatican appointed commissioners. Meanwhile, whether they are conscious of it or not, the vast majority of Legionaries are still trapped in the dark cavern polluted by their Founder Fr. Marcial Maciel.
I’ve noted before that the most worrying aspect of this phase, at least in my opinion, is that collectively the Legionaries do not externalize any sense of being “trapped.” Consequently, there is not much sense of the need for rescue. They have much to learn from the saga of the Chilean miners.
Despite the cohesion of the group of miners, during the rescue we got some sense of them as distinct individuals. We empathized with their predicament. We cheered for them to be safe and well. I and so many others, also want the Legionaries to emerge safe and well. But they make it hard to root for them because… well, because they seem to want to give the impression that everything is fine and under control. Their current circumstances – the result of decades of manipulation and fraud by the Founder – can all be explained away as part of the Divine plan for them. That seems to be the way they want to play it. Nothing to worry about. Everything will be fine. The Vatican is on the case and all is well. Stoic discipline in the face of adversity. I was like that once. Now I know it’s not enough. Perhaps that’s why I subtitled my memoirs “How an Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mind.”
The Chilean people, their President, the miners and the rescuers have shown us their heart and the whole world has embraced and supported them. Therein lies a lesson for the Legionaries. If only they could react, find their heart, putting aside their happy-face masks, sooner rather than later we would be celebrating their rebirth, just as we are doing with the miners.