Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Devil of a Dilemma

A couple of months ago I had dinner (my treat in an expensive restaurant picked by guest) with a former peer of mine who is still a Legionary of Christ. He is mightily respected in his field. It was fun catching up for the first time in 27 years.

After dinner, he drove me back to my hotel. I asked, "Fr. X, how are you doing. I mean how are you really doing in the face of all these terrible revelations about Fr. Maciel?" He thought for a long minute, looking in to the distance. Then he turned to me and said, "Jack, when the founder was alive, the devil tried to destroy the Legion. Now that the founder is dead, the devil is trying to destroy us again." We said goodbye. I am still pondering his reply. He doesn't think he is wrong. And I don't think he is entirely right. That's the makings of a dilemma!

1 comment:

Frank I said...

Jack –

There is something about Fr. X’s statement which I find problematic, particularly with regard to blaming the devil for the Legion’s troubles. To be fair, I have no insight into the mind of your friend, or the context of the broader conversation between the both of you. However, a recurrent theme in Legion history is that somebody or something (the devil, the local bishop, the Jesuits, the early victims going public with their story, etc) is attacking the Legion. Even back to the first visitation in the 50’s, the early seminarians were advised to lie to papal representatives because they were “enemies of God who were out to get Maciel.” (quote attributed to Juan Vaca, Hartford Courant, 2/23/97)

Does the devil tempt and deceive? Yes. But we humans can get into all manner of problems and trouble due to our own poor choices. Fact is, Maciel cooperated with evil. There is a large body of evidence indicating that from day one, Maciel set up the Legion for power, access to boys, a luxurious lifestyle, and to serve his own megalomania. Recall that he was booted from 2 seminaries and that there are very early accounts of his sexually predatory behavior on boys.

Rather than worry how the devil attacks the Legion, I think a more accurate reading of this is that the devil used the Legion as an instrument with which to attack the Church. While that is no statement against you or the many good individuals who became involved with the Legion or Regnum over the years in their desire to serve God, some of Maciel’s closest collaborators bought into, and perpetuated, this evil and deceit. Fr. X’s statement minimizes the accountability that current Legion leadership needs to take for itself and Maciel, an accountability that Maciel dodged during his lifetime.