www.driving One of the central themes developed on some blogs over the past several years is that Maciel was never a well-intentioned soul who turned down the wrong path; rather, he was a con-man from the start, utilizing the Church and the priesthood to gain access to money, power, adulation, an easy life, and boys (for sex).
Recently, I was asked my opinion of the above"diagnosis" to which I replied:
Truth be told I think a comprehensive analysis of Fr. Maciel's behavior is way beyond my pay grade.
Much of the early "analysis" of Maciel is tinted with understandable hatred and revulsion for the man - crystallized somewhat in Espinosa's book ("El Legionario") which sets up the diagnosis referred to in the first paragraph.
I got to know Marcial Maciel's mother, brothers, sisters, and extended family quite well - I even met the nanny who cared for him as a child in Cotija. They didn't seem like the sort of family that would produce a born pervert and con-man. But then you have the whole nature vs nurture debacle. It doesn't seem like anyone else in his family, who grew up in the same environment, shared in any of his dysfunctional traits.
No doubt we are born with inherent, genetic personality traits which, for better or worse, are nurtured by our environment. And of course, we have free will and are subject to the workings of sanctifying grace in our soul.
Bottom line, for me, Maciel in his totality is a mystery - we may never understand him because we don't have the ability to know the depths of another person's soul.
I've tried to describe the confluence of a dysfunctional personality, susceptible followers and a conducive environment ("How the Mighty Fail") which, I think, goes a long way towards explaining the "Maciel phenomenon." But it is only a partial explanation. For those who suggest such analysis might be an exercise in futility, I submit it is necessary to identify and prevent similar behavior in the future.
About 4% of the world's population seem to be born without the evolutionary drive to "bond" with other humans in order to survive. (More on this when I continue with "How the Mighty Fail.") They can be described as "people without a conscience." I don't know if Fr. Marcial Maciel completely fits the description - however, in my estimation, and as I describe him in my book "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines," he was a narcissistic, charismatic type who, for the most part, did not seem to care for a personal "other."
If indeed he inherited disturbing personality traits, I think a good case can be made to explain how they could have gotten out of hand in the environment in which he grew up - especially with regard to his ambivalent relationship with his father and the credible stories of his early abuse by ranch hands in his native Cotija in Michocan, Mexico.
So, my take is that he grew up with an orientation towards manipulation of others in order to fulfill his own unmet needs. I don't believe he necessarily set out on a "deliberate," freely chosen path of perversion. However, as happens for all of us, one "little" decision built upon another and at a fairly early age he had gotten himself into quite a moral mess. He was far too intelligent not to be acutely aware of the dichotomy between his teaching and his personal behavior. I suppose he chose not to care (rationalizing his conduct however he could) and freely continued to pursue his choices until he became a monster of his own creation.
While his behavior is the antithesis of everything I would want for myself, I recognize that potentially "there but for the grace of God go I." Every day I am faced with small choices between good and evil and every day I pray for the grace to make the right choices.
So many who rightfully condemn Maciel never knew him. For those who did, it's quite awful to have "known" his charm and apparent love of God and the Church and it is extraordinarily humbling to accept how little we know about "the heart of man" and the tenuous distinctions between good and evil in our own lives.