Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beyond the Pale

I've had some exchanges with Pete Vere most recently with regard to his comments about Maciel's alleged "final impenitence."
 He says: "To answer Monk's question, is it beyond the pale to speculate about Maciel's visible actions alleged on his death bed?  I would agree if  Maciel was merely a lone individual acting out his perverse fantasies - or nightmares, when one looks at the situation through the eyes of his victims.
However, Maciel was the founder of a large religious order and its lay auxiliary. He offered the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christ his (not His) methodology as a sure means of holiness and path to eternal salvation. Let's assume, for the sake of the argument, that LC and RC are reporting accurate membership numbers. That's 72,000 souls who have staked their eternal fate on the spiritual path revealed to them by Maciel."

I guess my objection to Pete's line of reasoning is when he states "Maciel's visible actions alleged on his death bed."   "Alleged" by whom? The only report I've seen is from a Spanish newspaper called "El Mundo." That's not sufficient, in my judgment, to propagate what is essentially a rumor - especially with the "pondus" attributed to Pete's profession as Canon Lawyer.

Pete gets he right when he states later on: "Of course nobody but God is competent to judge Maciel's eternal destination. And given that Maciel's canonization is unlikely in the future, we will never know in this lifetime where he ended up in the next."

I agree with him when he urges us to "pray that he made his peace with God in his final moments. More importantly, let us pray that his victims make their peace with God before going on to the next life."

With regard to "72,000 souls who have staked their eternal fate on the spiritual path revealed to them by Maciel" I think he is completely off the mark. In my experience with RC members I think it's gross overstatement to suggest that they "stake their souls" on Maciel's spiritual path.

What I am saying here is not to be construed as a defense of Maciel, the Legion or the Regnum Christi. I am as repulsed by MM's repugnant behavior as anyone. While the AV is still underway, and until I hear their results and recommendations I prefer to hold my fire. Despite my disagreements with the LC, as I write, they are still considered a bona fide religious congregation in the Catholic Church. Even though they were never there for me, after I left, I fail to see what good can be achieved by me ripping them asunder before all the facts about them are in. That's not the same as defending them. I believe they will be "re-founded" with a new name, constitution, outside governance and canonical structure. Maybe they can survive.  I am not sure how many souls have been lost to their "methodology." Perhaps Pete does? Meanwhile, I do think we can negatively impact an already super-sensitive situation in the Church with intemperate remarks. And we need to pray for the men and women of the LC/RC.

Marcial Maciel is a different kettle of fish. I have enough "facts" and personal experience to condemn him and repudiate his behavior. But propagating allegations about his "final impenitence" is still beyond the pale.


Anonymous said...

I agree that Pete knows he can negatively impact on the situation. That is what he is gunning for with all he's got. But sometimes I wonder if this "throwing stones" might not compromise Pete's own future as a canon lawyer. When someone jumps into the mudhole just to fling some around, that person is not going to emerge smelling like a rose or as anyone's possible knight in shining armour. Pete is using MM's bad behaviour to justify his own. And creating his own reputation/salvation in the process. Too bad.

Keep up the good work in being a sane voice in all of this.

Anonymous said...

Monk, I hope you aren't responding by "gunning for Pete", which is certainly how it is beginning to appear.

As a wounded ex RC, and a close follower of the ongoing LC scandal, I have appealed to PV on many occasions to make sense of some of this, and I know others have as well. He may not be fulfilling a service to you, but he is for me.

In addition to this, wrt to the matter of final impenitence on the part of MM, the Legion could easily respond with a short clarification of the details of MM's death. They had no trouble "setting the record straight" by publicizing a letter regarding MM's sons, so we know they can speak publicly when it suits them.

Is the rumor of final impenitence false? I would be relieved to see a public statement setting the record straight. I made certain promises to this outfit, and it's frightening to consider the possibility of something demonic at work in the founder's life. Did I open the door to something truly evil with my "yes"?

The Monk said...

Anonymous - I take your point! Thanks. Any clarification we can get is helpful! I suppose I've always considered myself something of a "wounded healer." Maybe that's why I think it important not to wound anyone else while we do our healing. I have great sympathy for those still in the LC/RC - it has to be a very tough time for them. So I am not "gunning for PV." (Hope he is not gunning for me!)

WRT final impenitence, I wouldn't worry about it. For starters, at this stage it's no more than an unsubstantiated rumor. There are lots of explanations and clarifications the LC could/should offer. My guess is they have been told to shut up until the AV recommendations are made. Right now there is too much smoke.

I don't believe (for what my opinion is worth) that you opened any personal door to evil with your "yes." Your "yes" was to the Lord.

I bid you peace and suggest the way to heal those painful memories is through forgiveness. Let's see what the AV recommends.

Anonymous said...

Yep, there's that admonition to forgive. i wonder, Monk, do you ever admonish the Legion to do something right? Like take back their words, calling mm's victims liars? Or do you save all your moral posturing for Legion critics?

The Monk said...

Anonymous - seems to me there is more moral posturing in your post than in mine!

Talk to any reputable psychologist or mental health professional and I think you'll find that he/she will agree with me about forgiveness. Otherwise the wounds continue to fester. Don't know if that is your case; if it is you might give the forgiveness approach a try.

And yes, I have given my advice to the LC. Whether they listen or not is a separate issue! I don't really expect anything while the AV is going on. If I were them I'd keep my mouth shut until the recommendations/findings come out - but I haven't told them that. Meanwhile, the only person I can change is myself...

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why you think I haven't forgiven, or who I haven't forgiven. I did all my forgiving long ago.

Maybe what you mean is "stop talking about it", which is not the same as "please forgive". Unfortunately, I find myself in a position where, I believe I have made a clean break from the movement. I left, I didn't make a big fuss or influence others to see things my way, I spoke with the appropriate LC and RCs to tell them my reasons.

But I can't just move to a new city or a new parish, though I often wish I could. These people are in my world and particularly in my parish, and they're recruiting. Should I say "not my problem" or should I do what I can to spare others the difficulties I have experienced? My parish is also becoming increasingly divided over the presence of lc/rc.

I feel a responsibility to participate in the discussion, and to stay informed. The Legion is not forthcoming with information. Where else, then, can I get answers? I'm intelligent enough to know whether a news source is credible. When fresh revelations come out, they can be discussed, even as hypotheticals. Even the Time magazine article from last week alluded to the presence of an exorcist at mm's bedside, so to consider the possibility is not really beyond the pale, imo.

It's easy for you to say wait for the Vatican, trust the Vatican. However, if the Vatican says "the Legion is all good" and nothing much changes, I won't be confident that the negative experiences of the lc/rc won't go on. That's not "unforgiveness", that's prudence, imo. At that point, I probably will move to a different parish, and accept those friendships as lost.

I certainly want the best for the lc/rc, and I would like broken friendships restored. I want peace in my parish. That's not unforgiveness, that's love.

But if I have to walk away from my parish, I probably will "stop talking about it".

The Monk said...

Anonymous - thanks for your candid comment. I agree with everything you say. I'm not at all suggesting you have not forgiven - sorry if I gave you that impression. Apart from the specific parish dimension, you and I might seem to have some shared emotions - reactions.

Maybe I did mean "stop talking about it." Thanks for helping me see that. Let me revise that "message." It's not what I wanted to say and I have no right to suggest it.

I guess I find some forums only seem to foster negative emotions and energy. No talk of forgiveness, redemption or the possibility of a new start. Although I visit them (I am somewhat new to the whole combox phenomenon) I must admit that, personally, I don't think they help me. Emotions are far more contagious than we think. Every now and again I have to withdraw a little because I find myself affected by what I perceive to be "negative energy."

Maybe it's a generational thing. I totally understand the need to vent, to ask questions, and to share experiences. That I find helpful. Where I feel more ambivalent is when imo the discussions seem to fall into the range of "therapy." Again, I respect that. It's when the negativity (I do not mean that judgmentally) is shared, mutually encouraged and becomes contagious without any obvious "positive" or healing influence it doesn't help me.

Maybe, as a result, "battle lines" get drawn between supporters, people on the fence and open critics. A little bit like the current situation between conservatives and liberals in our government. No real dialogue. No forward progress. The LC/RC retreat. The others attack. Positions harden. Nobody is happy with the outcomes.

I saw this in the North - South Ireland conflict when I used to work there on conflict resolution. When both communities there eventually managed to learn to look in the same direction good things happened. Trust developed. Energy that went into fighting began to flow towards new beginnings.

This is getting sort of long so I'll quite here. Take it as my feeble self-reflection on a rainy Saturday morning. I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. Just "thinking out loud" in response to your helpful message.