Most people who have followed this blog or read my book (Driving Straight on Crooked Lines) know that I do not consistently "praise" the Legion. On Holy Thursday, out of respect for the day and the celebration of Priesthood, I chose to write a list of 10 things I "like" about the Legion. Surely the Legionaries have had their fill of negative comments, over these past two years, many of them well deserved.
By and large, Legionaries are committed, zealous, well-trained young men who left all to follow Christ - not Fr. Maciel. They have happily made great personal sacrifices to abandon careers, marriage, family, and personal wealth to follow the Lord. So many of their avid detractors have not "put their money where their mouth is" as so many of these generous young men have. Hence, I still think it appropriate, to pause, offer them encouragement, and constructive criticism.... at least during the Easter Season.
I appreciate receiving comments on this blog and enjoy reading a larger volume of e-mail from readers who wish to opine. That's why, I am taking the time to comment on the 10-list from Anonymous. The original comments by Anonymous are in black, my remarks are in red. I thank Anonymous, in advance, for taking the time to comment here.
- The same group of macielista LCs hold positions of leadership and influence, including Fr Luis Garza, Fr Evaristo Sada, Fr Anthony Bannon, Fr Alvaro Corcuera.
True. As far as I can tell from what I remember of the Constitutions and etc., no changes will happen until the LC holds a scheduled General Chapter. I guess they could also convene an “Extraordinary” General Chapter. This means they need to have new leadership prepared, and capable of being elected (assuming the next Chapter is not “rigged”). They will also need to have finished the comprehensive revision of the Constitutions and other Vatican mandated chores. So, I suggest it’s a waste of energy expecting anything major to happen at least until about 2 years after the end of the Visitation. That’s the way the Vatican cookie crumbles whether we like it or not. Aside: do you honestly think Fr. Alvaro wants or enjoys the job he has? I don’t know the answer – but from what I remember of him, he must absolutely hate the position he is in! I thought Fr. Bannon was out of the hierarchical loop.
2. The good and holy priests existing within the Legion cannot and do not trust their leaders, yet have to live in obedience to these leaders.
Agreed. That’s what a vow of obedience (in any traditional congregation) means. The “new” leaders will have to earn their trust. All Legionaries need to re-examine and re-learn the concept of trust. (By the way, absence of trust is one of the great flaws in many corporations – it’s not specific just to the Legion.) Maciel, unfortunately, did not foster trust; he actively destroyed the notion. LC who remain (both Superiors and subjects) will have to learn the concept of trust. When they do, so many good things will happen for them.
3. The Legion has barely scratched the surface when it comes to apology and restitution to abuse victims.
Agreed. I have no idea why they are moving so slowly. My guess is there have to be major financial considerations involved. No doubt there are lawyers advising both the LC and the Vatican. I wish they would have made a humble request for forgiveness. I am pretty confident there is more to this than meets the eye. Maciel's victims are more numerous than those who were abused sexually. I've no doubt the Vatican (despite what anyone says) is calling the shots.
4. The Legion continues to lay all problems, scandal and suffering at the feet of the dead founder, and there is no accountability for harm that has been done by other LCs or the RC movement which has cause deep suffering and loss of faith for many.
I think it’s somewhat more nuanced than you state. Honestly, I believe all Legionaries (and RC members) are victims of Maciel’s manipulations, deceit and crimes. Most of them had no intention of being colluders or collaborators in deceit. I have to believe they are all suffering. Very few people had any idea of the “big picture” regarding the founder. He truly was a genius. The names of those who are accountable will become known. I’m not sure what we gain by learning the names immediately. Personally, I have a problem with so many of the founding Legionaries who apparently knew of the abuse but never came forward. They are still mute about the details – maybe they were abused too? Those who eventually came forward to tell us of their abuse did so when many of us had already left and when others became so involved that the accusers did not seem credible. It's easy (and very naive) to blame the current leadership for everything - but, in my opinion, they too were deceived. Each one in his own measure bought into the pre-existing Maciel myth handed on by their predecessors.
5. No one has ever come clean regarding the cover up of the founder's double life.
Disagree. The founder’s double life is now a matter of record, acknowledged in LC publications, web-sites, and events. No doubt specific people were aware of certain despicable aspects of the founder’s life. The problem is I think, very few people grasped the “big picture”. So there were lots of “little” cover ups. For instance, Maciel rarely stayed overnight at Legionary houses he visited. People just assumed that he said his prayers when he went to his hotel. (He wasn’t saying prayers in certain hotels…- intelligenti pauca -). Because of the myth, and the cult-control, people chose to look the other way or, better yet, not see what was happening under their noses. I think you have to have lived in a true cult-like environment to understand that. It's not "rational" from the outside. That's the point - no real rationality or critical thinking.
6. The RC consecrated continue to fall under the leadership of the Legion, these holy souls giving their lives to Christ are not yet treated with honesty, in terms of their status n the Church, the quality of their education, health care, and so on (yes, there is an ongoing visitation, which they had to ask for).
The point is there is an on-going visitation which they “asked for". Yes, the treatment of the 3GFs perturbed many Legionaries, including me. Bottom line, they were kept entirely isolated from most Legionary priests. I’m willing to give the Visitation a chance to right wrongs. I guess that’s the point of the investigation. If nothing happens, then I’ll be singing a different tune. The 3GFs are very aware of their “problems”. I suppose it’s reasonable to wait a few months until the reformation process concludes. By the way, in my time Legionaries had no health insurance, hardly ever visited their families, ate donated food (past expiration dates) and in many instances lived in very real poverty. That wasn't the side the 'public" saw. We were ridiculously idealistic, obsessed with being faithful to our "vocation" and I suppose, most Legionaries expected as much from the consecrated RC members.
7. The Legion continues dishonest practices, like inflating numbers (example: 70,000 RCs? Entire sections have been decimated, they should be truthful about the numbers and they are not)
I don’t have any access to the numbers so I can’t comment, although I don’t trust “the institution” either. Inflated numbers is the least of their problems.
8. The Legion continues to operate Apostolic Schools and to recruit young boys to these schools, despite reams of modern evidence for the value of growing up in a loving family life with a mother and a father in contributing to a healthy development.
Apostolic Schools were a fixture of Church life long before the Legion came along. They are still very common in the diocesan structure of many countries (Spain is a perfect example.) I don’t agree with them – although to be truthful, I have met many truly excellent priests who started out in Apostolic Schools
Many of the things we criticize about the Legion are actually more common in religious congregations than many Catholics are aware of. As an aside, the religious congregations of women in the US are undergoing a Vatican visitation. They are none too happy about it and not all are being "cooperative". The LC, at least for now, seem to be more accepting of needed reform.
9. The Legion has still not presented to its members or to RC a frank and factual explanation of the true history of the founder, his depraved double life, and the fictionalized accounts, such as the facts surrounding his death.
Agreed. The challenge ahead is to separate truth from fiction and not to tell any more lies. I suspect we have yet much to learn about the true dimensions of Maciel’s “double life”. However, we have enough information to make informed judgments. The Vatican already has. There needs to be a “pastoral” dimension to all of this if only to protect the innocent and abused. I’m as curious as the next guy, but I’ve already had my quota of sordid details and am in no rush to hear the remainder.
10. The Legion continues to characterize those that leave the Legion as cowards, and those that stay as heroic.
I have no personal evidence of this in the fairly recent past. In my time those who left were traitors, plain and simple. We were denigrated and calumniated at least by Maciel. Guys I have spoken to who have left (let’s say in the past two years) don’t seem to agree with your characterization and those who stay seem to be able to maintain a certain “friendship” with those who leave. That was a pleasant surprise for me. The Legion has been extraordinarily short-sighted and callous in its treatment of former Legionaries – especially of those who left the priesthood.
That said, my take is that not many former Legionaries frequent the few blogs “designed” for former LC/RC. Maybe I am wrong; but I think there are hundreds, if not thousands, of former LCs who left and went on with their lives. They don’t ventilate on blogs. In some few countries there seem to be robust groups of former LCs who get together with wives and children – some of them support the LC, others don’t. I wish that had been an option in my time.
Just in case you are new to this blog, let me assure you I am not a "supporter" of the Legion; I was totally used by Maciel for the best part of 20 years. When I left, after what most would have considered a "successful" career with the Legion, I asked him for a loan of a few thousand dollars to get started in my lay life. I had no credit, no funds, and I refused to "use" the excellent connections I had made as a Legionary. Maciel declined saying he did not want to set a precedent. That was the last (of very many) "straws" that broke this camel's back. With very minor and trivial exceptions no Legionary has officially reached out to me - no apologies, no thanks, no friendship, and no support. However, the Pope has explicitly declined to shut them down and has facilitated a "mandated" reform. The Legionaries who remain. to collaborate with this mandate, are victims too. That's why I seek to be cautiously constructive.
Thanks, again Anonymous, for your comments.