Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stop Gossip: A Resolution for the New Year

On September 23, 2010, Rev. Gordon MacRae marked sixteen years in a cell in the New Hampshire State Prison. Father MacRae is 57 years old. The crimes for which he was accused and convicted are claimed to have occurred when he was between 25 and 30 years old. Brought with no evidence or corroboration whatsoever, the claims were accompanied by lawsuits settled by his Diocese for hundreds of thousands of dollars despite evidence of fraud.

Given the compelling story he has to tell, inasmuch as I can, I read his musings written from his jail cell and published on a blog called These Stone Walls. In his posting dated today, December 29, 2010, he concludes with the following New Year's resolution.  I'd like to make it my own and invite those who publicly discuss the debacle of Fr. Marcial Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ about which I have written ("Driving Straight on Crooked Lines") to read the full text of Fr. MacRae's article the conclusion of which I transcribe below:

"A New Year’s resolution is an opportunity for personal renewal and self-improvement. The quality of mercy in our Church has suffered much during the scandals of the last two decades. As priests and as Catholics, we have a spiritual responsibility for self-assessment. And self-assessment is exactly what I must do after these experiences with Geraldine and my priests’ support group. All that I described above makes me wonder how many times I also unknowingly set into motion a snippet of rumor or innuendo masked as hard news. I’d like to think I wouldn’t hurt a person’s reputation intentionally, but like most people I can excuse a multitude of my own sins while holding others accountable.

So my own New Year’s resolution is to practice truth in justice, to try holding to a higher standard what reaches the ears of others through me. I cannot control what anyone else says or does, but I can pluck the plank out of my own eye before pointing to the splinters in someone else’s eye.

So I resolve in 2011 to make myself a better person by not setting into motion news based on rumor, innuendo, and half-truths. If I have news to tell, I will first check its truthfulness, and then check my motivation for passing it along. If I fail in this – as will we all – I further resolve to view my failure as a sin for which I must seek Sacramental forgiveness and absolution."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Legion of Christ adopts new norms regarding founder Marcial Maciel

Share reports the Legionaries of Christ have divulged new norms regarding their founder, Fr. Maciel.
They were published Friday by the general director of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, Father Alvaro Corcuera, with the authorization of the pontifical delegate, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis.

• The Legionaries of Christ and its lay movement Regnum Christi will no longer refer to their founder as "Nuestro Padre," celebrate his birthday, or hang photos of him in their centers.
• In institutional writings, the way of referring to Father Maciel will be as 'founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi' or simply 'Fr Maciel.'" Among the Legionaries and members of Regnum Christi, it was general practice to refer to the founder as "Nuestro Padre" (our father).
• Photographs of the founder alone or with the Holy Father cannot be placed in Legionary or Regnum Christi centers
• Father Maciel's personal writings and talks will not be for sale in the congregation’s publishing houses, centers, and works of apostolate.
• Legionaries and consecrated members of Regnum Christi to keep a photograph among their personal belongings, and to read Father Maciel's writings or listen to his talks in private.
• The writings of Father Maciel may be used when giving talks and sermons, but without citing the author.
• Maciel’s priest's birthday, baptismal day, name day and priestly ordination anniversary "are not to be celebrated," and "the anniversary of his death, Jan. 30, will be a day dedicated especially to prayer."
• The burial place of Father Maciel, located in a cemetery in his native Cotija, Mexico, will be given the value that pertains to any Christian burial place, and will be treated as a place of prayer for the eternal repose of the deceased. In the same cemetery, members of Maciel's family are also buried, as are several Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi consecrated members.
• The retreat centers in Cotija will continue offering the same services, but a place for prayer, reparation, and expiation will be created there.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Carmen Aristegui publishes a book about Fr. Marcial Maciel

Carmen Aristegui, a well-known Mexican journalist, presented her new book at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday, November 28, 2010. The 296 page book is called "Marcial Maciel. Historia de un criminal" ("Marcial Maciel. History of a Criminal.")

The book, published by Grijalbo, an imprint of Random House Mondadori, documents the life of Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. The author uses material from her investigative reporting including interviews with some of Maciel's victims and accusers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pope Benedict speaks about sex abuse scandals in forthcoming book

Rome, Italy, Nov 3, 2010 / 02:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).-

Ignatius Press says that all people—believers and unbelievers—will be fascinated by the content of a new book, which documents "a lively, fast-paced, challenging, even entertaining exchange" between Pope Benedict XVI and the German journalist Peter Seewald. “Light of the World: The Pope, The Church and the Signs of The Times” is due for release on November 24.

The book not only presents Pope Benedict's thoughts on sexual abuse but also gives his answer about whether he thought about resigning over the scandals. The revelations of abuse resulted in some calling for the Pope to resign for his supposed inaction in the face of abuse when he served as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and later as Pope.

The Holy Father addresses other complicated questions within the Church today, such as the celibacy of priests, contraception, women priests, same-sex relationships, Communion for the divorced and remarried, Papal infallibility, the possibility of a Third Vatican Council and the question of whether or not genuine dialogue is possible with Islam.

Seewald’s first book interview with then Cardinal Ratzinger, “Salt of the Earth,” was published in 1996. I enjoyed it and found it helpful for understanding the future Pope’s mindset. This latest book, the first such since he was elected to the Papacy should make for an interesting read.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Critical thinking.. missing in action for the Legionaries of Christ

Just back from a series of fairly heavy duty business projects - hence I've not had time for the blog...

I published my memoirs ( in April of this year, telling the stories of  my 20 years with Fr. Maciel in the Legion of Christ, when he was just starting the "apostolate" in Mexico. Naturally, I've been following events pretty closely mostly to see how my former brothers would react to the Vatican intervention. I still believe most of the Legionary priests are exemplary and a great resource for the Church. That was my opinion when I was a Legionary and I'm not ready to change it - yet. For the moment I continue, cautiously, in the "realist" (meaning I recognize the serious deformations,seeking fairly radical changes, in the short rather than the longer term) camp, but not as optimistically as I once was.

Traditionally, in the Legion, the behavior that is most rewarded is blind, uncritical loyalty to the Legion's superiors and to the mission. There has always been a clear distinction between effective, charismatic types who recruit, fundraise and generally advance the pastoral objectives of the congregation. Superiors, on the other hand, were always chosen from the "integrated" types who could be trusted to obey without questioning. This may be true of other congregations but in the Legion, unquestioning loyalty is deeply ingrained into the DNA. This means they will obey the Pope - but it also means that "integrated" Legionaries do not trust outsiders or anyone who voices criticism. Indeed the more they are criticized the more they close ranks and fight back. In my time we could not conceive of being faithful to our vocations outside of the Legion. We believed in our “exceptionalism.” And then, as now, the rank-and-file had very limited and very controlled access to outside information

Those former Legionaries who broke the news of Fr. Maciel's abuse of minors assert - and I have no reason not to believe them - that many of their peers were either abused by the founder or knew of the abuse. For those many years that I refused to believe the stories of Maciel's "detractors" I realize that I relied heavily on the testimony of those "co-founders" who assured us that the malicious rumors were false. Theirs seemed to be a credible and convincing testimony. Most of us had no idea of the extent of the founder's misconduct which only came to light in the fairly recent past. In hindsight, knowing what I now know, some signs were there but they were by no means "obvious." Will those early co-founders come forward (at least internally) and tell their brothers the "real" story? I don't know enough about the dynamics of abuse to say if that is a possibility.

Current Legionary leadership must still be recovering from being "shell-shocked." If canonical procedures are to be followed, change can only come via a General Chapter - and that will take time. So expecting immediate change in the leadership is flogging a dead horse. Meanwhile, the Legion's public relations machine is woefully inadequate, a result I believe of how out of touch “integrated” Legionaries, and their supporters (Regnum Christi) are with the visceral reactions of concerned Catholics, especially in the United States. Witness how they managed, from a PR perspective, the recent departure of Fr. Santiago Oriel a very prominent and influential Spanish Legionary priest. I don’t at all underestimate the challenges they face and it’s easier to give advice from the sidelines – however, the Legionaries always seem to manage to give the impression that they do not need help. After all, they believe God is on their side. If they could only show some humility, transparency and genuine charity, they might realize how many people want them to survive, despite the odds. How they have treated former members does not bode well for their future. This for me has always been a benchmark of how deeply they are attached to the dysfunctional spirituality of the founder and how deeply ingrained his manipulative methodology still is in the thinking of the group.

For most Legionaries, they must feel – based on long training – they have nowhere to go. It is not easy to leave the Legion. Diocesan priesthood is not a viable alternative for most. Meanwhile, the patience of those who see the need for change, (the less “integrated” ones) is being severely tested. If they leave before meaningful change happens then the prognosis is not good.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Delegate to the Legionaries of Christ to be made Cardinal

Vatican City, October 14 .-  According to the Italian newspaper Il Foglio, the apostolic Delegate for the Legionaries of Christ,  Mons.Velasio De Paolis, will be part of the group of prelates who will be elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI on 20 November, 2010.

The other names mentioned by the newspaper are Domenico Bartolucci former director of the choir of the Sistine Chapel, Elio Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life,  Brandmüller Walter, former president of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, the archbishop of Washington, Donald William Wuerl, Reinhard Marx of Munich, Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka, Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw and Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Show us your heart

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.

John Paul II "Santo Subito" despite Fr. Marcial Maciel?

After a delay in the beatification process of John Paul II, Italian media reports that progress has picked up in the matter concerning a medical assessment of a supposed miracle performed by the late Polish pontiff.

The Italian Il Giornale daily informs that the beatification process of John Paul II is progressing due to a medical assessment of a supposed miracle performed by the late Polish pontiff.

The process appeared to be slowed down due to a number of factors, including the recent sex scandals that had arisen in the  Church, especially the case of the founder of the Legion of Christ, Mexican-born Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, who was found guilty of abuse and fathering at least one child. Fr. Maciel was supported by John Paul II, but eventually banished from active ministry by his successor, Benedict XVI.

According to Andrea Tornielli, a journalist specialising on the Vatican, "the materials presented in the [beatification] process, show that John Paul II did not know about the grave accusations against Maciel” Il Giornale suggest that the beatification process was not halted because of this singular case and, again quoting Tornielli says "the Commission may confirm the case in the coming weeks.”

Late in 2009, incumbent Pope Benedict XVI declared the “heroic virtues” of John Paul II, which led many to believe that the Polish Pope’s beatification might take place this year.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Roman rumor no longer roams

Vatican City: October 13, 2010: The congregation of the Legionaries of Christ denies that Fr. Luis Garza Medina, their vicar general, has submitted his resignation. Persistent rumors in Rome, repeated on several blogs, suggested he had resigned or had been forced to resign.

Notimex, a semi-official Mexican news agency says sources close to the Legion affirm "nothing has been decided and an immediate decision about Garza’s withdrawal from senior leadership is not expected.  They also affirm that Garza does not expect to be in his position forever."

Fr. Garza has been accused of knowing about the double life led by the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Marcial Maciel Degollado, which allegedly included the sexual abuse of children and fathering children with different women.

The Legionary priest has stated that he only became aware of these immoral acts after Maciel unexpectedly stepped down as Director General and after his death in January 2008.

The Legion of Christ is currently being supervised by an Apostolic Delegate Mons. Velasio De Paolis, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI. His primary mandates is to lead the reform of the religious institute.

Fr. Garza holds a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University, as well as a Master's degree in Philosophy and Theology and a Doctorate degree in Canon Law, both from the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome, Italy. He has been serving as Vicar General of the Legionaries of Christ since 1992, and has focused for many years on development and organizational issues.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What exactly is a "charism"?

A posting over at Regnum Christi Live discusses the topic of the "charism" of the Legionaries of Christ. How close is the "charism" tied to the personal life of the founder?

Last evening the CBS program “60 Minutes” aired a segment on Nelson Mandela’s forthcoming biography “Conversations with Myself.” Mandela lived his life for the fight of the plight of his people. He was a man of much wisdom; his memoir appears to be the most in-depth look into the real man and his thoughts while locked away all of those years. Apparently Mandela's book makes no effort to conceal the not insignificant personal failings of the former South African President. But this failings do not detract from his achievements.

I’m not at all suggesting any similarity or comparison with the founder of the Legionaries. However, relative to “charism” it seems to me that the discussion can get bogged down in semantics and canonical “definitions.” I guess the topic doesn't have to be so complicated - especially when it is discussed by those who see no other alternative other than to shut the Legion down. I don't think an organization's "charism" is entirely tied to the personality of the founder.

A “charism” is simply a term to describe the spiritual orientation and any special characteristics of the mission or values shown by a religious congregation as a result of the way they live their vows and the way they focus their activity.

Of course, a charism can be considered a gift from God to the Church for the world. It can be given to an individual or group to inspire the founding of a new religious family within the Church. This gift is enriched by all who are called to live it. It represents the particular way in which its members are called to follow Christ. Because all Christians seek to follow Christ, different charisms will have many elements in common, but the way in which these elements are emphasised gives each religious group its unique feel. So, yes, charisms - like brands? - are different one from another, but not so different that they do not share many elements common to other charisms.

I like to think of a charism of a congregation as what would remain if all written records were destroyed. The charism could be re-created through the testimony of its living members In that sense, it is simply the permanent heritage of a community, which includes the rule, mission, history, and traditions of a religious institute.

Viewed in this broader context, I think it entirely possible that whatever “charism” the Legionaries of Christ have is not necessarily centered, exclusively, on the life and teachings of the flawed founder. It’s more about the way the members define the way they live their vows and the way in which they undertake their work. This is a process, not necessarily finished. I don’t see any reason why whatever reform results from the Vatican intervention should not be part of the ultimate “charism.”

Until the Church decides there is no valid “charism” the Legionaries continue to be an “officially approved” religious congregation. This is something the members need to hold on to. Even though Papal approval doesn't mean an organization or an individual is necessarily without sin. As I’ve said before, I think it would help their relations with those following the debacle, if the Legionaries themselves gave some public sense they abhor the damage done by the founder to his sexual victims and to the Church and express more forcefully their recognition of their need for “reform,” resulting in a reformed understanding of what exactly the Lord calls them to within the Church. The Vatican hasn't helped that understanding by taking more than 13 years to intervene in such an egregious scandal. However, while the Vatican instigated reform process continues, I think it is fair to say the Legionaries' “charism” continues to evolve. After all, in Church time, it is still a very new congregation.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thirteen long years for the Legionaries of Christ

John Paul II became Pope on October 1978. He was the first non-Italian Pope since 1522. No doubt he was influential in the fall of communism, both in his native Poland and in all of Europe. During his pontificate he visited 129 countries thus becoming one of the most traveled leaders in history.  He wrote 14 Encyclicals dealing with faith, reason and morals. He beatified 1,340 people and canonized 483 saints, more than the combined total of prior Popes during the past five centuries.

He promoted new “movements” within the Church, including the Opus Dei, which he set up as a prelature. He canonized their founder, Josemaría Escrivá in 2002. He encouraged the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, the Neocatechumenal Way, and others.  He is one of the most influential world leaders of the 20th century.

During the four years that I remained in the Legion, after John Paul’s election, I felt immensely proud of our new leader. However, from a personal perspective, those last four years as a Legionary were amongst the most difficult in my life. As a result, I probably did not “enjoy” the Pope’s firm leadership as much as I might have under different circumstances.

Before the Second Vatican Council, few priests were ever granted release from their vows. After the Council, the Catholic Church faced an increasing number of applications from priests for ‘laicization.’ When John Paul stated at the beginning of his Pontificate in 1978, in the strongest possible terms, that he intended to uphold the tradition, dating back 16 centuries, that priests must be celibate, he also reaffirmed that only the Vatican has the power to release a priest from his vows. Little did I think, at the time, that just four years later I would be requesting release from my vows

My take on Pope John Paul was influenced by the fact that he grew up in the persecuted church in Poland. As an Irishman I could relate to what seemed to be his understanding that the survival of the Church required the monolithic union of the faithful against the “outside” persecutor. Although it didn’t bother me, the new Pope didn’t seem particularly open to debate or discussion within the Church. That attitude  fit right in with the culture of the Legion of Christ of which I was a member. Loyalty was more appreciated than intelligence or even pastoral skill. Some of the Pope’s critics have said his insistence on loyalty affected the quality of the Bishops and the clerical officials he appointed. He made it very clear he would be a forceful leader who would not tolerate dissent. The Legion and Fr. Maciel offered a perfect example of the unquestioning loyally he expected. The new Pope, an “outsider” to the Vatican bureaucracy seems to have trusted most those who overtly supported his approach. At the same time, he clearly did not trust voices of dissent.

During the time I studied in Rome, Paul VI was Pope. I had the privilege of meeting him on a couple of occasions when I worked for Cardinal Luigi Raimondi. Pope Paul impressed me as a very pastoral, caring person. After I left the Legion, I found out he received 32,357 requests from priests for laicization. Of these he granted 31,324 during his 15 years as Pope.  During the first six months of John Paul II’s pontificate, the Vatican received more than 300 petitions for laicization from individual priests. He didn’t grant one.

Although I’ve never checked the facts, I’m sure many of those priests just walked away without seeking a formal dispensation, as they did in the pre-Vatican II years. Frustrated peers of mine, who left after me, did just that.

However, when I was close to my decision to leave – before going to Gabon in Central West Africa - I told Fr. Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries and my Superior General,  I wouldn’t leave the Legion unless I could get a full dispensation. I recall telling him in Cheshire, CT I would’ve preferred remaining a priest even if I had to, “rot in some lunatic asylum as a result of a nervous breakdown.” He assured me my laicization wouldn’t be a problem, as he gave me his blessing to leave the Legion, and I began the process immediately on leaving Gabon. Although I eventually received my laicization and dispensation from vows, the process was marked by the renewed intransigence of the Vatican. I missed the pastoral approach of Pope Paul.

Perhaps too, John Paul’s enthusiastic leadership and demand for loyalty (which I applauded at the time) got in the way of his handling of the nascent clergy abuse scandal in the Church. In the case of Fr. Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries, I think it entirely possible that the Pope was not aware of the double life of his new-found Mexican friend. Was that because he didn’t want to know, made it difficult for others to tell him or because he assumed the loyal Maciel need to be protected from his “persecutors”?

We do know that Cardinal Ratzinger had a private audience with the Pope every Friday evening and also joined him for a luncheon discussion group every Tuesday. He says that he never had a “difference” in the strict sense of the word” with the Holy Father and that he “never refused the Pope anything.”  (cfr. “Salt of the Earth” by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.)  When Cardianl Ratzinger realized what was going on, why did he not intervene directly with the Pope? Or, if he did, why did John Paul not choose to act?

When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope, he acted swiftly, though not decisively, against Fr. Maciel. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that, because once the scandal “broke” most of the media attention was given to the victims of Maciel’s sexual abuse. Rightly so, because they had been disbelieved for so long.

But there is a second, much larger group of people who were used and hurt by Maciel. These are the hundreds of Legionary priests, and thousands of committed, idealistic, conservative Catholics who believed, as I did, that Maciel was a holy priest, loyal to and supported by the Vatican, as he led us to Christ, in a Legion officially “approved” by the Catholic Church.  He betrayed us all and turned out to be a sociopath who now  – according to the Vatican - lived "a life entirely without scruples and authentic religious feeling."

The Pope just can’t throw these people “under the bus.” Those who clamor for the suppression of the Legion, I think, don’t understand the dimensions and pastoral complexities of the problem. So, I support the current Pope’s attempts to first try to reform the congregation and free it from the dysfunctional influence of the founder. It would help if the Legionaries themselves gave some public sense they abhor the damage done by the founder to his sexual victims and to the Church and express more forcefully their recognition of their need for “reform.” I still don’t get why it took the Vatican 13 years to intervene.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fr. Oder, personal friend of Pope John Paul II says "beatification is at crucial moment"


.- During a visit to Spain this week, the postulator of Pope John Paul II’s cause for beatification noted that the process is currently at a crucial moment as miracles attributed to the late pontiff’s intercession are being investigated.

In an interview with the newspaper La Razon, Father Slawomir Oder said the process “has not been blocked” as some media reports have indicated. “The only thing I can say is that the canonical process must continue,” he said.

“We have reached the end of the first phase which deals with his heroism and virtues, and now we must initiate the process dealing with miracles. When it is finished, the Church will be able to lay out the process for his beatification,” the priest said.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The tip of an iceberg?

It seems to me that the LC/RC debacle is in some sense the "tip of an iceberg." And I'm not saying this to diminish the LC/RC challenge. In my lifetime, new forms of "religious" or "consecrated" life seem have to have emerged with Church approval. They don't fit the "traditional" models of religious life. Particularly in the case of the LC/RC and the Opus Dei, they were "approved" very quickly, as far as I can tell without a whole lot of scrutiny. The OD founder was canonized within a pretty unprecedented time-frame and process. This doesn't mean these and other new movements are bad or illegitimate. I'm just not sure the universal church quite understands them. They tend to be right of center, "traditionalist", very loyal to the Vatican, secretive, and very militant. As I wrote in my book about the Legion, I never heard about the Regnum Christi until several years after I joined the Legion. It was presented to us as something the founder always envisioned. Just struck me as peculiar he never mentioned it in all the many conversations we had with him when I first went to Mexico.

The RC idea "made sense" within the LC culture - but many of us took a while to get our heads around the concept of "consecrated" lay members. Since OD seemed to have the same structure and was a favorite of the Pope, I became more accepting of the RC idea.

As one who was entirely duped by Maciel, I find myself more questioning about these "new movements" and some of his contemporary founders.

In the specific case of the LC/RC, I believe there are excellent, generous people involved who joined an organization officially approved by the Church. Later, it turned out the founder was a fraud and the major superiors (including the Vatican) were slow to communicate the truth. The Vatican does not seem inclined to close LC/RC down or say that they no longer have a place. Rather the intent seems to be reform. Meanwhile the generous souls on the inside are caught between a rock and a hard place; I suspect many are still at the denial stage - which is easily understood in the context of the hero worshiping adulation we all afforded the founder together with our blind loyalty to the Pope. It's a big step forward for them to be able to admit the need for "culling."

I'm sure not everyone is clear yet about "what" needs to be culled. After all, as far as they all know, their rules, constitutions and status within the Church are all "approved" and "legitimate" despite the sins of the founder.

If that is the case, the only genuine reform will have to come from within the ranks of the dual organizations. For that to happen, all of the current members and candidates need to know the full story of the founder's duplicity and his manipulation or the Church "system." I understand the denial (without condoning it). Indeed I suppose they will have to go through all the stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. That's going to take some time. It seems to me that the most immediate job for the Vatican team is to facilitate and expedite that process. Indeed I believe that my book "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines" (I hope I am not being selfish here) would make very useful reading for the LC/RC as part of that process. So too would the book by Paul Lennon – except the title ("Our father who art in bed") doesn’t make it initially appealing. Both books show quite clearly how the seeds we hardly noticed when we joined, gradually came to fruition as the founder advanced in years. These experiences of those of us who actually lived with the founder can prepare them for “exposés”, harder to accept for those in denial, such as "Vows of Silence" and other other publications in Spanish.

As far as I can tell, the Delegate to the 3gf (consecrated women) group has full administrative functions. That leads me to believe the consecrated women are not undergoing a "visitation" but rather they are already in the process of being reformed. When I was a Legionary I think many of my peers were not comfortable with the little that we knew about the 3gf lifestyle or with the dysfunctional relationship between us and them. I'm sure we had reason to worry. Let's see what the Delegate, the LC and the 3g women themselves do about it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hot topics for the Legionaries of Christ?

A commenter over at the (Spanish language) Trastevere blog seems to have some good information on the current internal debate within the Legionaries of Christ. He suggests there are two levels of internal debate going on. One is the dialogue between the “major superiors” and the plebs. The other, much more animated, between Territorial Directors and the rank and file. He says the following are typical of the questions being frankly discussed with the local Territorial Directors who, he says, are very open with their responses.

I find it heartening to know this internal debate (about which we hear so very little) is apparently alive and well. I have roughly translated the topics which allegedly are "hot" right now within the ranks of the Legionaries. They include:

  • Finding the "truth in our history ("hacer la verdad en nuestra historia")
  • How to help the victims of abuse
  • How did we find ourselves being audited and subjected to a Vatican visitation without an official version of what happened?
  • How do we deal with superiors who may be still allied to the regime?
  • How were our finances managed during so many years?
  • Have we been living outside of canon law during all this time, not living with the appropriate jurisdictions?
  • What about the appointment of superiors who had not reached the age required by canon law?
  • What about Superiors who have held their posts for years, and years?
  • How can we participate in the change process?
  • How can we accept and obey the decisions of the Holy See - when some superiors question them or simply suggest that the Church sometimes makes mistakes?
I've always maintained that mutual trust amongst the members is vital for any organization to survive and thrive. In my opinion, the lack of trust within the Legion is an endemic problem. These questions are a beginning - they could never have been brought up in the not too distant past. Maybe they portend the start of a new experience for the members. I certainly hope so. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lost in Gabon

Gulliver at the Economist's buisness travel blog reports:

A CANADIAN man is suing Lufthansa for C$86,000 ($84,000), claiming the German airline flew him to the wrong African country in March. He says being “abandoned” for three days in Libreville, Gabon, instead of being delivered to his correct destination, Kinshasa in Congo, caused mental anguish. He’s asking for C$76,000 in general damages and C$10,000 in lost income for the mix-up, which saw him detained by police and placed in confinement for a day because he didn’t have a Gabonese entry visa.

Neither Gabon nor the adjoining Congo are great places to visit in March. The weather is hot, humid and the prolific mosquitoes certainly make their presence felt”.

This little vignette reminded me of my own experience arriving in Libreville, en route to Franceville in the interior of Gabon. I left New York with a one-way ticket to Gabon and $100 USD for travel expenses along the way. Here is how I describe it in "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines", the story of my time with the Legionaries of Christ:

A light rain fell as I descended the stairs from the plane and followed the other passengers across the tarmac, into the lackluster terminal building.
Whilst in line at the immigration desk, my Irish passport open at the ready, I noticed the presence of soldiers in camouflage dress. They stood in pairs, each one carrying an automatic weapon. The knot in my stomach tightened. Logically, I knew I had no reason to be afraid, but the soldiers reminded me of the term ‘trigger-happy.’ The few white people in the group of arriving passengers seemed out of place in the sea of native dark-skinned Africans. I fumbled with my belongings, not wanting to draw attention to myself.
The unfamiliar French language, laced with a dialect I did not understand, made me uncomfortable. Despite my fluency in Spanish and Italian, the thought of having to speak French for the next period in my life did not appeal.
As I waited to hand my papers to the bored-looking official at the immigration table, I worried the guards might lock me up in jail because of some stupid mistake caused by my French mispronunciation.

“Bon jour!” I said as I approached the desk. The unsmiling immigration official didn’t return my greeting. He motioned for my passport, and glanced at it perfunctorily.
“Work visa?”
“No,” I replied carefully, “I do not have a work visa.”
“Show me your return ticket,” he said.
I had arrived in Libreville on a one-way ticket. This seemed to be a problem.
“The Catholic Bishop of Franceville is expecting me.” I hoped this explanation might carry some weight. But the small, thin bureaucrat did not seem at all impressed.
“The Consul at the Gabonese Embassy in Washington D.C. said I don’t need a visa,” I continued, alarm beginning to rise.
 He looked at me blankly.
 “I’m a Catholic priest,” I added lamely.

The slight, impassive official beckoned to a couple of soldiers. He handed them my passport and said something I didn’t understand. The soldiers escorted me to a small office in the arrivals area.
“Sit down here and wait,” they instructed. They locked the door from the outside, and through a glass window, I could see them sit on rickety wooden chairs, machine guns on their laps, chatting to each other. I had no clue what was going to happen to me, and realized my Irish blarney and charm, which had saved my neck in other situations, might not work so well in Gabon.

At the time, I never thought of suing anyone - not that I would have won - but mine was a different mindset. But I can still empathize with the guy in the Economist story being placed in confinement for a day. And, of course, I stayed on in Gabon for substantially longer than he did....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Commissioners" named for Legionaries and Msgr. Velasio De Paolis

The names of the four commissioners who will assist the Papal Delegate to the Legion of Christ have been named. I can't find any "official" citation from the Vatican. However, the names - which had been speculated about for the past couple of days - have been made public. They are the same ones revealed in the leaks I mentioned in a prior post.

Bishop Brian Farrell, L.C. (Secretary for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity). Brian went to the same high school, in Dublin, as I did. He joined the Legion a year before me. He is a thoughtful and spiritual man who, because of his full time work at the Vatican and his legal obligation to the Pope as a Bishop, has had at least as much exposure to the universal Church as he has had to the LC. My hope is that he will use his personal experience, as a Legionary, to describe, interpret and translate the internal secretive Legionary culture for his colleagues. Brian's brother Kevin (who features in some of the escapades described in my memoirs about the Legion, "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines"),  left the Legion shortly after me. He worked as a diocesan priest in Washington, DC where he was consecrated Bishop. He is now the Bishop of Dallas, TX.

Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ (native of Rome, noted canonist and former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome)

Monsignor Mario Marchesi (Vicar General of the northern Italian diocese of Cremona and former professor of canon law at the Legionaries University Regina Apostolorum in Rome)

Monsignor Agostino Montan (a member of the religious congregation Josefino de Murialdo, professor of Canon law  at the Lateran University, Rome)

The special delegate to the consecrated women of the Regnum Christi Movement is:
Bishop Ricardo Blázquez, Archbishop of Valladolid, Spain since last April (formerly Bishop of Bilbao). Archbishop Blázquez was one of the "Apostolic Visitors" who audited the Legionaries.

It's an interesting team. An Irish Legionary Bishop, who has spent most of his life more immersed in the Vatican than in the daily life of the Legion; an academic Jesuit canonist, and two specialists in Canon law. No one from Mexico nor from the United States. I presume their first order of business will be  a total revision of the constitutions and rules of the Legion. That should be followed by a General Chapter which will accept the revisions and elect new leaders. (A General Chapter is convened for that very purpose - comprised of voting representatives from all regions of the congregation. Up now, the prior chapters were convened and controlled by the disgraced founder, Marcial Maciel).

For the sake of so many Legionary seminarians and priests - especially the younger ones - who, I am told are growing increasingly anxious because of the leadership void, and of course the thousands of lay people involved with the Regnum Christi and Legionary schools, I trust the Delegate and his "commissioners" will move expeditiously to right the ship of the Legion.

Bishop Blázquez, former president of the Spanish episcopal conference, should have a good understanding of daily life in the Legion following his experience of the Apostolic Visitation. He started his own priestly life in a minor seminary (Apostolic School in Legionary parlance). He is experienced in matters of doctrine and is well known to Pope Benedict because of his work at the Congregation for the Faith. The situation of the consecrated women in the Regnum Christi is perhaps the most poignant. Now they have the Delegate they requested. Let's hope that he moves quickly and pastorally to normalize their situation in the Church.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Legion of Christ:: "what’s good will be kept safe and what needs to go will be duly culled"

I am sure many Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi members are tired of the on-going analysis of their predicament in the wake of the revelations about the scandalous life of Marcial Maciel the disgraced founder.

Joan Kingsland over at the Regnum Christi blog, just penned some thoughts about the process of reform that is already underway. It seems only fair to give some time to her analysis. Here is my paraphrase of her comments where she compares what the Legion is going through to the culling of blueberries - separating the good berries from the rotten ones.

In his May 1st Vatican Communiqué, the Holy Father spoke of “the need to redefine the charism of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ”. He didn’t say the Legion has no charism at all, or that its charism is somehow up for grabs. Rather, right then and there he put his finger on the heart of the Legion’s charism by identifying its “true core, that of the ‘militia Christi’ that characterizes the apostolic and missionary activity of the Church.”

In his June 16 letter naming Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, CS, as his personal Delegate, the Holy Father words were slightly different, while maintaining his same line of thought. He spoke of “the need and urgency of a path of in-depth revision of the Institute’s charism”. Certainly an in-depth revision implies the serious matter of culling; but it’s with the aim of protecting and perfecting what’s already there, something good that underlies and inspires the entire process.
This sheds light on why the Legion and Regnum Christi Movement remain open to new members and to ordaining deacons and priests. You don’t revise what’s rotten: you simply throw it out.
 How is this “culling” (an analogy to picking blueberries) going to take place? Above all through an in-depth revision of the Legion’s Constitutions, hence the specific mission of the Delegate of the Holy Father. The July 9th decree, approved by the Holy Father and signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, specifies that “the paramount task of the Papal Delegate is to initiate, accompany and complete the revision of the Constitutions.” It makes sense that this is to be the pathway for the Legion’s renewal since the authentic tradition of an institute is “present in its rule, constitutions and statutes” (Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consacrata, n. 36). This same decree specifies that members at all levels of the Legion are to participate in the revision of the Constitutions. No doubt it will be challenging to consult so many people, but the results should be very enriching.
 The Pope’s fatherly interest and closeness to us along our current purifying pathway, provides great security and peace that what’s good will be kept safe and what needs to go will be duly culled.

I join Joan in praying that what’s good will be kept safe and what needs to go will be duly culled. And the sooner it happens, the better for everyone - especially LC & RC members who are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Archbishop de Paolis gets his helpers

Given the situation of the Legionaries of Christ, the casual outside observer could be forgiven that it is taking forever to see some "action" from Archbishop de Paolis, the Pope's delegate to the Legion. One of the missing pieces of the ongoing puzzle is the names of the four "commissioners" who are supposed to help him with his daunting task. I have it on good authority that they have just been appointed and that will be named publicly. I gave my word not to reveal the names. I'm a little surprised by one of them; the other three are more "obvious." My initial reaction is that all are eminently qualified.

Another piece of heartening news is that a vice-Delegate has been appointed for the group of third grade consecrated women.

Hopefully, the full details will be revealed publicly very, very soon. I'll be curious to check the veracity of my source! Most importantly, I'm hoping that Legionaries and the "third graders" will feel that the rescue operation is moving into a higher gear. For those on the inside, this is dragging on far too long.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Vatican "perplexed and astonished" at investigation of Bank

Based in Vatican City, the Vatican Bank was set up by Pope Pius XII in 1942. It has no branches, and operates as an offshore institution outside EU rules. It is headed by a professional banker overseen by commission of five cardinals. The bank has no shareholders. All profits set aside for charitable or religious works.

The Vatican Bank was last mired in scandal in 1982 when its governor Archbishop Paul Marcinkus was indicted over his involvement with the collapse of what was then Italy's largest private bank, Banco Ambrosiano. I met the Archbishop in Mexico City, when he stayed at the Centro Cultural Interamericano of the Legionaries of Christ with some friends en route to a scuba diving vacation in Cozumel.  Later, he was accused of having links with organized crime groups. He died in Arizona four years ago. The fallout from that scandal took a darker turn when two of its top executives, one of them its chairman, Roberto Calvi, was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge in London.

Now, the head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, according to a report on Italian state television RAI, is under investigation as part of a money-laundering inquiry, police sources say. According to the RAI report, no proof of money-laundering had emerged in the inquiry, but investigators said the Vatican Bank had failed to disclose information about banking operations as mandated by Italy’s 2007 law against money-laundering.

The inquiry was launched after two suspicious transactions were reported to tax police in Rome. Prosecutors seized 23m euros ($30m; £19m) from the bank's accounts with another smaller institution.

The Vatican said it was "perplexed and astonished", and expressed full confidence in Mr Tedeschi.

Tedeschi, 65, is a father of five, a devout Catholic and member of Opus Dei. He teaches financial ethics at a Catholic university in Milan. He has been in charge of the bank for a year, appointed by Pope Benedict. He was formerly head of Spanish bank Santander's Italian operations  Tedeschi has strongly denied allegations the bank broke anti-money laundering rules and sees news of the investigation into him and the bank as an attack on him, the institution and the Vatican.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bishops meet at Legionaries of Christ house in Rome

 "Distinctly Catholic," a blog by Michael Sean Winters at the "National Catholic Reporter" published a "post card" on September 13, 2010, from Bishop David M. O’Connell, newly ordained coadjutor bishop of Trenton, New Jersey, about the annual meeting of new bishops, which is currently being held in Rome:

The meeting of the new bishops of the world is taking place these days at the house of formation for the Legionaries of Christ, Regina Apostolorum, on the outskirts of Rome. Well over 100 recently ordained bishops have gathered together from all over the world at the invitation of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops to study and discuss the roles and responsibilities attached to episcopal service in the Catholic Church. The United States has the largest group in attendance with 25 bishops, two of whom were ordained only within the last week. The meetings will last until September 17.
Beginning with morning prayer and Mass each day at 7:30 am, the bishops are assisted by hundreds of seminarians belonging to the Legion. The facilities and grounds are spectacular and the Legionaires have been superb hosts. Meals are well prepared and served by members of the community who have demonstrated an uncanny ability to anticipate virtually every need.

You can read the full text at Postcard from Bishops meeting in Rome.

Given the circumstances surrounding the legionaries of Christ at this time, their house of formation is an interesting choice to host this meeting. It will be interesting to see if any other new bishops comment on their experience. I'm surprised at how little publicity this event has garnered.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Of Stolen Cows and Crooked Lines"

Deirdre Mundy writes at MommyWrites. She has occasionally argued with me on several blogs - she says, "if we'd been in the same pub, I would have leapt across the table to strangle him!" I didn't know she felt so strongly. As a result, I'm not sorry I haven't frequented any pubs in her neck of the woods! Deirdre has just written a review of "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines" which she posted on her blog. As I read it, I wondered when she'd unleash her fury. I prepared myself for the worst.

Actually, Deirdre has written a perceptive review. When my wife read it, she mentioned she agreed entirely with Deirdre's appraisal. High praise indeed! I've gone ahead and posted it with others on the book website. But because Deirdre and I have debated about the Legion, I thought I should go ahead and publish it here too. I appreciate her taking the time to read the book and write this review for which I thank her. I am cautiously optimistic that, should the occasion arise, it may now be safe for me to visit pubs in a certain part of the country....  Thanks Deirdre for your "fair and balanced" approach.

I’ve been arguing with Jack Keogh, otherwise known as “The Monk,” for months. We’ve butted heads on several blogs, we’ve disagreed vociferously, and on a few occasions, if we’d been in the same pub, I would have leapt across the table and tried to strangle him!

With that history, I wasn’t sure what I’d find when I opened “Driving Straight on Crooked Lines.” I think I was expecting a rousing defense of the Legion. Instead, Jack gave a fascinating, deeply personal account of what it was like to be a Legionary in the early days. His writing puts the reader behind his eyes and takes you along for the ride. In the end, his book answered a few important questions for me: What were they thinking? Why didn’t anyone see? Why would anyone have stayed? How do people decide to leave?

It seems like most accounts of Legion life have been written by melancholic introverts with a tendency toward extreme scruples. For these people, Legion life was Hell. The whole structure seemed to be set up to keep introverts miserable, subservient, and broken. Unfortunately, these accounts also repel many current LC and RC – it’s easy to write the authors off. “Well, of course the Legion was a bad experience for him. He was a bad fit! He should never have stayed! After all, it’s not like the door was locked!”

Jack Keogh was not introverted, melancholic, or overly scrupulous. He was an extrovert, set all afire in his quest to save Latin America from the communists. He was an optimist, and enjoyed most of his time in the Legion. He saw Maciel’s crushing lists of rules as mere guidelines, and broke them without guilt, treating punishments as the price to pay for having some fun.

And Jack did have fun. Lots of fun. As a driver, he didn’t have to spend much time in stifling community life. He traveled with Maciel, met heads of state and movie stars, and received glamorous assignments like turning around failing schools, working with cardinals, and establishing a Legion presence in a wealthy New York suburb. He took vacations, went to musicals, and entertained wealthy donors.

As I read, I got sucked in by all the travel, glamour and fun. I had to work to remember that, as the Vatican declared in its communiqué, Marcial Maciel had no religious sentiment or scruples. If I, an adult reading Monk’s memoir, found it so easy to be sucked into the exciting world of the early Legion, is it any wonder that so many boys were ensnared by Maciel’s order?

Still, even as Jack was having fun, there were hints of the revelations to come. Maciel repeatedly condones or recommends acts of dishonesty –For instance, lying about the contents of a lost suitcase to receive a bigger settlement. Or allowing the brothers to build a compartment in the bus so that they can smuggle electronics and alcohol across European borders. Why did they go along with his suggestions? It seems like their consciences were lulled to sleep by the knowledge that Maciel was a living saint. So obviously, these sins weren’t really sins, but simply God’s Providence helping the young congregation save money.

In between all the fun and busy-ness, Jack has doubts about the Legion. He begins to think of Maciel as a ‘slick operator,’ not a living saint, but a flawed man that God is using for great things. Jack has doubts about his call to the priesthood, and is on the verge of leaving several times. Yet whenever he’s about to return home to his family, there’s a new challenge or treat. Legion life becomes fun and exciting again and he doesn’t have time for all that difficult reflection and doubt. In a way, Maciel is almost Satanic, tempting Jack away from his vocation and a deeper relationship with God with pretty baubles – enjoyable but fleeting.

Jack is a golden boy in the Legion – loved, feted, coddled and treated as long as he is useful. Then the day comes when he’s no longer useful, and, like so many Legionaries before him, he’s exiled, ignored, and finally gone.

In the end, I think it was his early faith formation that helped him leave. Even though Jack enjoys himself in the Legion, he has a niggling sense that something’s not right – that the life he’s living isn’t really what religious life is supposed to be like, and that Maciel isn’t really what the founder of a congregation ought to be.

I found myself wondering about the other sort of Legionary—the sort who grew up in a Regnum Christi family, spent his formative years in K4J and Conquest and then went straight into Apostolic School at 12. How can a boy like that even understand what’s wrong with Maciel’s vision? If he’s been formed to be Maciel’s ideal apostle since pre-school, how can he hope to break free as an adult?

Jack was lucky – he had a loving family who was happy to welcome home the prodigal son. Because of his time as ‘Golden Boy,’ he had friends and connections on two continents. He was able to build a good life for himself outside of the Legion. At the same time, I finished the book feeling deeply sorry for him.

The Legion took twenty years of his life. Those are twenty years where he had almost no contact with his family – twenty years that opened a chasm between Jack and his brother, twenty years he couldn’t spend sharing his parents’ joys, and twenty years that his absence contributed to their sorrows.

I also mourned for the Church. As a boy, Jack had dreamed of being an Irish missionary priest and ministering to the sick in Africa. If only he’d tried his vocation with a different order, instead of with the Legionaries!

I’d heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in the early history of the Legion, to anyone who wonders why some Legionaries insist that the Legion was a good experience for them, and for any of my friends and acquaintances who still aren’t sure why people are so upset about the damage that the Legion and Regnum Christi have done to the Church.

One huge caveat – Jack does not tell his story straight through from beginning to end. He jumps around a lot, going forward and backwards in time. I found it helpful to make a timeline to keep track. Still, I enjoyed the book – Jack’s voice is unique among ex-legionary accounts, and he gives an excellent view into the founding of the Legion. I didn’t go into this book expecting to like it or to like Jack Keogh. (Honestly, I was ready to rip it apart before I began.) I finished it with a deeper understanding for how Maciel tempted the early Legionaries, and how even those who weren’t abused were seduced and used.

In a way, Jack’s tale is like the story of a young Irishman who is kidnapped by fairies and spends years dancing and eating and drinking under the hill- only to emerge decades later to find that he’s been frozen in time while the world has grown and changed- and the ‘gold’ given to him by the fairies turns out to be nothing but a pocket full of dried leaves.

While it might not be essential for understanding Maciel or the Legion, it’s helpful for understanding the Legionaries, where they’re coming from, and how they might get to where they need to go.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More on the Legionaries of Christ and the trapped Chilean miners

According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the Chilean government is now planning to rescue the 33 miners trapped in tunnels 700 metres underground in 60 days, rather than the previously announced 120, as fears grow for their health. Drilling on the main rescue tunnel is expected to begin today. The government is now organising two distinct rescue operations.

The main focus is a machine that bores straight down to 688m and creates a chimney-type duct that could be used to haul the miners out one by one in a rescue basket. A second drilling operation will attempt to intercept a mining tunnel at a depth of roughly 350m. The miners would then have to make their way through several miles of dark, muddy tunnels and meet the rescue drill at roughly the halfway point of their current depth of 688m.

The government on Sunday baptised the three bore hole tubes. "The first is 'Hope', the second 'Perseverance', the third 'The Hand of God,'" said Walter Herrera, the manager of Geotec, a firm which has been instrumental in the drilling. "It was almost impossible to get to the point where we are, we had many problems with [drill holes] deviating. It was God's will that guided us."While the government resolve technical problems, medical and mental health professionals must keep the miners occupied and happy. Signs of depression have been detected in some miners,

I’d also like to build on this "news" update and address those who asked about the analogy I made between the Legionaries of Christ and the trapped Chilean miners. What follows is a direct quote from a comment I left on an RC related blog.

Over the years, I’ve had to ask myself what I really think about the LC, especially in light of the awful behavior of the founder. Obviously, the answers come on many levels which a reader aptly characterizes as Peasant, Monk, and Cow (from the story about the "monk who stole the cow"  - see sidebar.) But let me say why I think the miner analogy came to me.

Leaving the LC was an extraordinarily difficult thing to do because, for me, it meant leaving the religious life and the priesthood. A very painful decision taken in the context of traditional Catholic family, loyalty to countless friends and acquaintances I felt I was “letting down” and, not least, the persistent brainwashing that to leave was to risk eternal condemnation. Maciel agreed that I had become aware of the “emperors’ absence of clothes” – he was actually very kind at the end – and sent me to Africa. Ever since I was a child I had wanted to work in Africa, with lepers. Of course, when I got there reality caught up with me and MM’s actions didn’t seem so very kind at all from the other side of the Equator. I left – and made darn sure I exited in good standing with the Church. Behind me, I left some great LC “brothers” (not really friends,) the only family I had lived with for 20 years.

They are the ones who remind me of the trapped miners. They are stuck in the bowels of a deep mine surrounded by an unstable geological structure. I am on the outside. It is very difficult for my peers – and any of them over a certain age – to leave, to “escape.” They are with the only family they have known, they trust their superiors, and many would not know “where” to go. The diocesan priesthood or another congregation is neither an obvious nor easy choice. Life in the Legion is a very hard act to follow. Those who haven’t digested all the facts of their situation still need to come to the full realization of what their beloved founder bequeathed them. Their emotions must be all over the place – anger, shame, revulsion, frustration, fear, sorrow and so many more. Nearly all of the legionaries I have known are good men who try hard to be holy and faithful priests. Of course they were manipulated by MM, and, in turn, participated in the system. But that is not why they joined nor did they choose to get caught up in the web he wove. Even though they have shunned all of their brothers (at least the ordained ones) who left, I find myself feeling sorry for them. It’s a mixture of sorrow and loyalty towards ones' dysfunctional family. I can’t paint them all with the “bad” brush because I know they are good men. Men who have left home, country, culture to work in the vineyard of the Lord, doing their best to live the Evangelical counsels (not particularly easy in this day and age.). I am sure there are “bad apples” in the group but I truly believe they are in the minority.

Because of the way they have been trained, I expect they will be totally “loyal” to the Pope’s delegate. Probably unquestioning – which, in my opinion, is not good. They will trust that the Delegate is a good man – but they have already been let down very badly by a man they revered even more. Like the miners, they will have to learn what real trust is all about. They will have to learn to think critically. They will have to learn to know each other and leave the “personal islands” that the founder designed for them. Deep down they will have to learn to trust the hierarchy – including the Pope. They should be angry with their superiors for not providing timely, full disclosure. Much as they love the papacy, they have to be asking themselves why the Vatican (including the current Pope) didn’t move faster and directly. I know for sure that senior Vatican cardinals (including Ratzinger) had enough information to demand action in 1982. That’s all pretty earth shattering stuff for guys that lived an unhealthily sheltered life. Many of them are in denial. Coming out into the glare of the sunshine will take time.

I’m not trying to persuade anyone of anything here. I’m perhaps trying to explain to myself why I seem to cause the perceptions I do on this blog [" being defensive of the legion of Christ"]. I note that the experience of having been an LC, and a priest, is completely different to those who were/are in the Regnum Christi, the Legion's lay movement. I suspect it’s a different sense of loyalty – Legionaries actually left our parents, siblings, and our world, to join a congregation, relinquishing the option to found our own families.

Twenty years of LC life later, and the same again of "lay" life, it’s devastating to know the awful secrets of the founder. I’ve been through all of the emotions I mentioned above including deep sadness. I can rail against the mine owners and operators, the “system,” the fraud, the lies, the collaborators, and the abuse.

I hate the fact that so many LC probably don’t feel trapped or in need of being rescued. That, for me, is the biggest part of the tragedy. Which is why I want them out of the mine, in the sunshine, with an opportunity to change, to grow, to serve the Church. They most definitely have not been kind to me and, humanely speaking, I think I have every right and reason to abandon them. I’m pretty sure many of them wouldn’t even want my “support.” That’s them, still trapped in a mine. As for me, sinner that I am, I just can’t bring myself to throw stones, at my dysfunctional ex-family, during the rescue operation. For what it’s worth, I don’t judge those who do. I get the anger, which I share. But I think I know how people feel, and react, when they are being stoned. Maybe that’s why I am “defensive” of them… at least until they get “out of the mine.”

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another book about Fr. Marcial Maciel founder of the Legionaries of Christ

 Several readers of my book "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: How an Irishman found his heart and almost lost his mind" compare it to another book, written by former Legionary Paul Lennon. Paul wrote a gracious review of mine on Amazon.  So, I'd like to publish here what I said about his book.

The same song on different instruments  May 25, 2010

Paul Lennon, in "Our Father Who Art in Bed" mentions two Legionary companions of his, a Spaniard and an Irishman. According to Paul, both were sent to Gabon in Central West Africa "to learn their lesson." I am the Irishman in question now writing a very belated review of Paul's book.

First I should say that although I read and enjoyed Paul's heart-wrenching memoir, I hated the title. Like Paul, I too had serious difficulties with Marcial Maciel the founder of the legionaries of Christ. Although my fellow Dubliner joined the legion a couple of years before me, he left shortly after I did. During our time in the congregation we sometimes existed in parallel universes - I was assigned to work with our most affluent supporters while Paul toiled in the heat and humidity of our missions in Chetumal, Mexico. Our careers overlapped for a short time in Mexico City, where Paul headed "The School of Faith." He didn't live in our community but he joined us most days for our midday meals. That's where I came to appreciate his intellect and his passion for the underdog and downtrodden. At that stage in our lives neither of us talked to each other about our doubts and nascent rebellion against the Legion.

After I published my memoir of my time in the Legion, Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: How an Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mind I re-read "Our Father who Art in Bed." I felt as if I were hearing my own song, played on a different instrument. Our experiences are very similar but told from very different perspectives. Unlike me, Paul actually met some of the victims of Maciel's abuse. Characteristically this "fired him up" - as it should have - and he became an ardent crusader against the abuses of the founder and the dysfunctional aspects of the congregation we both once wanted to love. Meanwhile, I was busy taking care of my new career, playing financial catch-up to support my growing family. Back in 1998 when Paul was meeting with some of the victims, I was quite oblivious to the awful allegations being made about Maciel. If I knew about them, I would not have believed them. Like Paul, I had no personal inkling at all of the level of Maciel's abuse while we were both in the Legion. I chose not to be part of Paul's crusade, hanging on to the positive aspects of my experience in the Legion. History, of course, has vindicated Paul's brave position. This makes his book even more gripping - he is the "naive and sentimental" poet recounting his life, unafraid to reveal the raw emotions he felt. "Driving" our community cars and buses was what distracted me in the Legion. For Paul, I think it was soccer. I was exposed to the debonair side of Maciel the brilliant entrepreneur. Paul was quicker to pick up on the Machiavellian manipulation.

Paul's book is a must read. Indeed, in a fantasy world if we could collate the different chapters in our books, I think the readers would get an even more complete picture of the disgraced fraud to whom we both showed so much loyalty. Meanwhile, to quote the American dentist who revised Paul's teeth, deprived of dental care for so many years in the Legion, saying, "You must come from very good stock!" I suggest the same can be said for his mind, his heart and his soul. His is a seminal book, based on real-life experiences. He could have called his book "Scoring goals on a bumpy pitch!" And then I would have no quibbles.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Building trust and the need for full ethical disclosure

The belief that “transparency results in responsibility and ethics” seems to be a new axiom for our time. Antonino Vaccaro and Joan Fontrodona, two ethics professors, writing in the Economist, argue that greater openness does not lead to better corporate governance. They say,

Today’s call for transparency is as simple as our mothers’ advice: lying is both bad and risky. In our complex corporate environment, failure to heed the spirit of this basic lesson—and taking comfort instead in sharing mountains of information as a means to ensure supposedly ethical behavior—leaves corporations and society exposed to lapses in responsibility and good citizenship.

They make a salient point, which I think offers useful guidance to the Legionaries of Christ in terms of their need to retain the trust of members and supporters - full, ethical disclosure is essential. The congregation has improved its communications with the outside world since I was a member, but still has lots of room for improvement. Heeding this advice, offered to the corporate world, ought to strengthen their resolve.

Full transparency is always associated with “data asphyxia” ....  It seems evident that a balance is required. But achieving that requires managers to construct a well thought out information strategy that takes account of quite a long list of economic, social and, yes, even ethical issues. Successfully addressing this ethical expectation is more than a source of competitive advantage; it is key to gaining the trust of employees, current and potential customers, partners, and even competitors. By the same token, attempts to hide potentially relevant information or, even worse, disclosing false or confusing information, could be catastrophic and companies in many sectors (from banking to biomedical) have experienced the heavy costs of being caught out in these dirty games

Solid advice, good for business and good for the Church.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fifty years of flashback. Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day weekend holiday in the USA. Time to reflect on the summer that, this year, seems to have come and gone more quickly than usual.

Here is a short video that provides a great flashback through the past half century. Turn up your speakers, sit back and enjoy a review of 50 years of history in less than 3 minutes! Thanks to Billy Joel and some guy from the University of Chicago with time to Google!

Happy Labor Day

Trapped Chilean miners and the Legionaries of Christ

When the rescuers asked Luis Urzua, the leader of the trapped Chilean miners what they needed he said, "That you rescue us as quickly as possible, and that you don't abandon us."  When I read that phrase and thought about the awful situation of the miners trapped deep below the earth, the Legionaries of Christ came to mind. The Legion has been on my mind because writing my book "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: how an Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mind," recalling my experiences with them, rekindled lots of deep memories.

The Legionaries of Christ have just undergone an audit (Apostolic Visitation) by the Vatican which mostly focused on the conduct of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado the founder. The examiners found “the very grave and objectively immoral actions of Father Maciel, confirmed by incontrovertible testimonies, in some cases constitute real crimes and manifest a life devoid of scruples and authentic religious meaning.” They went on to say, "This life was unknown to the great majority of the Legionaries, above all because of the system of relationships constructed by Father Maciel, who was able skillfully to create alibis for himself, to obtain trust, confidence and silence from those around him, and to reinforce his personal role as a charismatic founder.”

Another statement in the Vatican’s findings, comes to mind in light of the Chilean mine disaster: “the discovery and the knowledge of the truth concerning the founder gave rise among the members of the Legion to surprise, dismay and profound grief, which was clearly brought out by the Visitators.” Now, the Legionaries are faced with the need to redefine the charism of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, preserving its true nucleus, ….not be identified with the drive for efficiency at any cost.” They must “review the exercise of authority,” “preserve the enthusiasm of the young people’s faith, their missionary zeal and their apostolic dynamism, by means of adequate formation.” Disappointment regarding the founder could call into question their vocation and the nucleus of the charism that belongs to the Legionaries of Christ and is proper to them.

I expect that in their current situation, the vast majority of Legionaries must be asking the Church, like the leader of the trapped miners, “rescue us as quickly as possible, and don't abandon us.” To which the Holy Father responds that [he] “intends to reassure all the Legionaries and members of the Movement Regnum Christi that they will not be left in isolation: the Church firmly intends to accompany them and to help them along the path of purification that awaits them.”  Not unlike the trapped Chilean miners, the survival of the Legionaries, as a distinct religious congregation within the Catholic Church, will depend in large measure on their willingness to trust their “rescuers.” It will also require the “emergence” of new leaders with specific abilities for the job at hand. And, of course, they must have a very clear understanding of their situation and their need for “rescue.”

Chile has seen a boom over the past decade as rising copper prices filled the government's coffers and allowed it to ride out the global recession. Record copper prices also meant old mines with deteriorating infrastructure became valuable again. The Legion of Christ also experienced unprecedented growth and success in a very short period of time. The congregation found a “niche” where old-fashioned discipline and a strict understanding of the evangelical counsels combined with the ability to attract leaders and raise funds enabled them to recruit 800 priests and 2,500 major and minor seminarians, with houses in 22 countries. Regnum Christi has a membership of about 70,000 youths, adults, deacons and priests in more than 30 countries. It is said that charitable works make up about $50 million of the Legion's $650 million yearly budget. A network of twenty-one ‘Mano Amiga’ (Helping Hands) schools serve 13,000 poor children, whose parents pay about $20 a month in tuition. Regnum Christi members started, and continue, to drive many of Mexico's leading charitable efforts, such as an extraordinarily successful Telethon for disadvantaged children, and a supermarket program where customers round their bill up, to donate money for a national food bank. In El Salvador, the Congregation built entire small towns for disaster victims, complete with schools, churches and medical facilities. I know that the President of at least one country is a member of Regnum Christi.

Now the Legionaries, in a sense, are trapped, awaiting the outcome of the Church’s rescue mission with which they will need to collaborate in a great sense of trust.  Like the situation of the miners some facets of the rescue are within their control. But the key to their survival is also in the hands of “outside” rescuers.

The 33 Chilean miners were trapped on 5 August by a massive collapse in the roof of the San Jose mine, located outside the northern Chilean city of Copiapó. The miners have already endured an amount of time trapped underground unprecedented in modern memory. The San Jose mine had been closed twice for safety violations and multiple fatalities. Fr. Maciel, the founder of the Legion, was accused of violations in the 1950s of which he was exonerated - under circumstances, which in the light of what we now know, must be considered dubious.

For two weeks, a series of probes has tunneled hundreds of meters trying to find the refuge where the miners were thought to be gathered. They repeatedly missed their mark, and officials began blaming the mine for not operating with updated maps or modern safety equipment.

The miners are stuck 700 meters (2,300 feet) below the surface waiting for a drilling machine that to excavate up to 20 meters (65 feet) per day -- and for the initial shaft being drilled to be doubled in diameter to permit each one to be pulled up. The escape tunnel will be about 26 inches (66 centimeters) wide — the diameter of a typical bicycle wheel — and stretch for more than 2,200 feet (688 meters) through solid rock. Miners will have to be no more than 35 inches (90 centimeters) around the waist to make it out of the tunnel.

Some mining experts believe it could take less than the estimated four months to dig the rescue tunnel. If drilling goes as planned the survivors will then face the ordeal of squeezing into a tubular, metal cage for three hours as they are slowly pulled up one at a time. Meanwhile, water, food and other supplies are being dropped through three fist-sized shafts drilled to the men. Authorities have started vaccinating the trapped men against tetanus, diphtheria, flu and pneumonia to prevent outbreaks of disease.

Many concerned onlookers of the Legion’s dilemmas are hoping for swift resolution. For the naysayers who advocate the suppression of the congregation, too much time has passed already. My take is that the process of healing the congregation from the dastardly effects of the founder’s conduct will take time.

Among the first things to happen in such dire predicaments has already happened in the mine. The miners appointed leaders among themselves. This process is referred to as “emergent leadership.” In times of crisis a person’s rank or official standing has less to do with leadership than competence does. The person with the “right” competencies for the job at hand emerges from the group.

Other normal, everyday leadership attributes such as popularity, likeability, and powers of persuasion are replaced by competence for the particular task. The most competent people lead.  One of the greatest challenges faced by the Legionaries is that – in my estimation – individual Legionaries do not know each other. Each man is an island, cut off from the deepest thoughts and feelings of his peers. This does not facilitate the process of "emergent" leadership. Maybe as they now endure feelings of claustrophobia and being "trapped" they will force themselves to leave their individual islands and break with the awful culture that isolated them, from each other and the outside world.

Just a couple of days ago, a former colleague of mine, whom I had not been in touch with for almost 40 years since he left the Legion, read my book and decided to call me. He said, “What if, when you and I were 25, we could have sat down, had a beer and told each other what we really thought about our life in the Legion?” He concluded that we would probably have left. I added, “Or we would have rebelled and demanded the necessary changes.” But Legionaries don’t talk to each other. That’s a huge, endemic challenge they need to remedy before they can hope to achieve change.

On the psychological level, the miners have to deal with physical misery, separation from the outside world (especially their families), uncertainty and ambiguity about the future. Not unlike the Legionaries predicament. In this situation, the concept of “trust” is especially important. For instance, if the miners do not perceive the rescuers as to be entirely forthcoming, they could lose their trust. This could produce the disastrous consequence of uniting the trapped men against the people running the rescue operation. Too little information from leaders who are not physically present causes discontent and distrust.

It is absolutely vital that the authorities on the outside do not lose the trust of the miners trapped a half mile below ground. I would suggest there is a parallel with the Legionaries. The miners are all poor, and the company that owns the mine is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. So the miners are worried about the safety and well-being of their loved ones, and are powerless to help. They only have a very general idea of how long the rescue may take. The rescue team isn't ready to let families talk directly with the miners yet.  To survive, they will need to trust each other, their immediate leaders and the “distant” leaders on the outside.

I don’t want to force the analogy of the Legion and the trapped miners. But as I read the news stories about the predicaments of both groups I find myself making connections. In both instances, trust, communication and adjustment to the indications of the “outsiders,” and the need for emergent leadership strike me as interesting parallels. Obviously, there is no real comparison with men who are trapped a half mile below the surface of the earth. However, I suspect many men feel “trapped” in the Legion. Leaving the congregation is not as simple an option as it might seem to people who have not experienced religious life. Neither is transition to the diocesan priesthood or to another Congregation. Most, I think, will want to redefine and fix whatever it was that attracted them in the first place. Then it will take a huge amount of prayer and trust to fight the feelings of claustrophobia as they claw their way along whatever rescue tunnel they and the Vatican come up with. To do this, they will have to learn to talk to each other and discover the notion of "trust."

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Legionaries of Christ: Management Consulting

Many of us have lost our faith in large institutions. People feel manipulated and used by their employers. They don't feel any better about their elected representatives. This malaise, increasingly spills over into faith-based organizations.

Most religious congregations would concur that democracies are good and totalitarian systems are bad. Yet, in a way, some have tolerated dictatorships. This is just as true in the corporate world of business. The people at the top often do not have enough information to know what needs to be done.

Of course, there are no guarantees that any organization, religious or otherwise, will continue to thrive into the future. There are myriad ways to go wrong and not even the best laid management plans or (Vatican) oversight can protect from all of them. But still, just maybe, there are alternatives to religious management models that owe as much to ancient military command and control models as they do to a spiritual understanding of the vow of obedience.

As a member of the Legionaries of Christ in the early part of my career, I learned a good deal about leadership and management which has served me well in the latter part of my career both in terms of what works and what is grossly dysfunctional.

As a management consultant, I have to stay abreast of the latest, global approach to management and leadership. Not too long ago, I was reading some ideas from Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies. I decided to paraphrase and adapt an article by Professor Gary Hamel and see if Nayar's ideas could work in the religious environment.

I wondered what might ensue, if I were to apply some of Nayar’s management approaches to the Legionaries of Christ, especially as they grapple with the necessity to move away form the dysfunctional aspects of the methodology bequeathed to them by their founder. Here is what I came up with:

The world has become too complex for the Superior General to play the role of “visionary-in-chief.” Instead, the Superior General must become a “management architect”—someone who continually asks, “What are the principles and processes that can help us surface the best ideas and unleash the talents of every Legionary of Christ?”

Today, as never before, the Church needs leaders who refuse to be seduced by the fatal allure of the familiar.

Is it really is possible to change the management DNA in a religious congregation, approved by the Church and established more than 50 years ago? If so, how can it be done?  Legacy management practices, complicated by a dysfunctional understanding of the (religious) vow of obedience,  reflexively perpetuate the past—by over-weighting the views of long-tenured superiors, by valuing conformance more highly than creativity and by turning tired religious practices into sacred truths.

As Gary Hamel says, “Everybody knows there are downsides to management-as-usual, but are they any alternatives? We can dream about religious congregations where subjects eagerly challenge their superiors, where honesty trumps deference and where the pyramid has been turned upside down—but then again, we can also dream about world peace and cold fusion. That doesn’t mean they’re achievable.”

This sort of skepticism is understandable. After all, the technology of management varies little from religious order to religious order. It is therefore easy to assume that the governing status quo is also the best and only way to operate. This means that while there may be other ways of planning, coordinating and controlling, there aren’t any better ways—at least not for Congregation that must contend with demanding pastoral needs and professed religious.

Dogma often masquerades as truth, and that we are often comforted by the deception. There are many who would prefer a lazy ramble along the gentle contours of the tried-and-true conformity to the Evangelical counsels rather than taking a fresh look at how they might be practiced in ways that might be unproven and different.

“We must destroy the concept of the Superior General. The notion of the ‘visionary,’ the ‘captain of the ship’ is bankrupt. We are telling the religious, ‘You are at least as important as your superior. Pastoral “value” is created between the religious and the souls entrusted to his care. It is the Superior’s job to enable innovation at that level of interaction. Obedience based on “command-and-control” does not foster innovation.

Revolutions don’t usually start with the traditional Church hierarchy. But I think there is space for a model of obedience that feels more like a community than a bureaucracy and operates more like a democracy than a hierarchy.

Suppose the Legion of Christ was to forthright in analyzing the Congregations shortcomings, allowing, if needed brutally frank exchanges.

Suppose the Legionaries agreed that, fundamentally, they are “a service business.”  In a service business, it is first-level religious, not the superiors who play the most critical roles in creating “pastoral value.” The contemporary religious world is filled with people who have knotty spiritual and ethical challenges. When these people come to a particular Congregation of priests they are most likely to be helped by faithful, creative and highly engaged religious. The “value zone” lies at the intersection of religious and the people entrusted to their care. That is why it is vital for the “front-line religious” to have input into the decision making processes.

The top-down hierarchical management model favors those with hierarchical power rather than those who deliver pastoral care – the very place where “pastoral value” is created. Many religious congregations’ management processes are more attuned to the needs of control-obsessed superiors than of pastoral-obsessed religious. The archaic pyramid shackles the professed religious and keeps them from contributing all they can in the ways they might long to. A younger, tech-savvy generation of religious has grown up on the web where they learned to collaboration and to distrust hierarchy.

Think for a moment of a religious management philosophy based on the principle of “reverse accountability.” Superiors should be accountable to those in the “pastoral value zone,” just as religious who profess the vow of obedience were accountable to their superiors.

Suppose all religious had access to the basic financial data of the congregation. It is hard to feel empowered if your superior has all the data and you have very little.  Front-line religious would have positive proof that the Congregation was willing to trust them with strategic information. “Need to know” would be transformed into “right to know.” In such an environment, misappropriation of finances would be substantially more difficult.

Suppose the leadership team were to create a forum (it could be online) and encourage the religious to ask tough questions and offer honest feedback. Nothing censored – every post displayed for the entire religious order to see. Apart from the benefits of commitment to transparency and as way to hold superiors accountable, such a forum could provide an early warning system for critical issues facing the religious order.

Suppose the Superior General had a section on the forum where he could solicit advice on the crucial issues he was wrestling with. Religious would be more accountable on the “pastoral-level” but they would also feel a sense of responsibility for tackling the big thorny issues that faced senior leadership.

Suppose the Legion had a web-based “Internal Service Desk” where any religious could open a “pastoral service ticket.” They would do this if they had a complaint with an internal service group (travel, procurement, school management & etc.). Once opened, the ticket could only be closed by the concerned religious, once their issue had been resolved.  If the issues are not resolved within 24 hours, the ticket gets escalated up the line. Possible benefits: staff departments would be more accountable to those in the “pastoral-value zone.”  Everyone’s concerns handled quickly and efficiently, regardless of rank. A host of new data would be generated to improve internal policies.

Just about every religious order has its own feedback process. Nevertheless, these processes don’t usually focus explicitly on how superiors are affecting those in the “pastoral value zone.” A religious fearful of retaliation will often pull his punches when reviewing their superior. Feedback that only comes from one’s immediate colleagues tends to reinforce long-standing organization silos. If a religious could rate the performance of any superior whose decisions impact their lives, anonymously, and these reviews could be seen by anyone who submitted a review, superiors would be challenged to be more responsive and exercise their authority judiciously.

Suppose the congregation’s planning process incorporated an online, peer-based evaluation process. The result could be a torrent of advice and counsel.

Pastoral-Level Councils. The goal here would be to help religious connect with team members who shared similar interests and passions. Supported by a web-based platform, the new initiative could spawn a host of communities around cultural, recreational and pastoral issues. These loosely structured teams would be a critical source of new ideas and strategic insights. When one of the councils reaches a consensus around a particular recommendation, it is transferred to a dedicated group that pushes the idea towards execution. There would, of course, still be a hierarchy, but its role would be greatly diminished.

Read Professor Hamel's full article, unadulterated by my paraphrasing here