Monday, March 29, 2010

Will Legion of Christ leadership obey the Vatican?

Sandro Magistro, avid commentator on all things related to the Legionaries of Christ and their disgraced founder Fr. Marcial Maciel, suggests that real renewal will be impossible for the Legionaries as long as the current leadership remains in power. I suspect Sandro is just restating the obvious - and I am not sure what, if any, new information he has to suggest the leadership will not easily relinquish control. In general, he is usually well informed. My understanding is that the most expected outcome of the Apostolic Visitation will involve a change in leadership. Here is a portion of Sandro's comments - you can see the complete text here.

ROME, March 29, 2010 – At the end of April, the five bishops who have completed the apostolic visit among the Legionaries of Christ as ordered by the Holy See will present to the Vatican authorities the contents of their reports, delivered in mid-March.

A previous, long-ago apostolic visit among the Legionaries, between 1956 and 1959, ended with absolution.

This time, however, everything gives the impression that will not be the case again.

It is likely that the Vatican authorities will put the Legion under the command of an external commissioner endowed with full powers.

And he will have to be obeyed by the current heads of the congregation, who are the real obstacle to any movement toward renewal, no matter how slight.

But this leadership group is anything but resigned to giving way.

Freed from the annoyance of the visitors, and not yet subjected to the command of the commissioner, during this interim period which they are hoping will last for "several months" they are doing everything they can to consolidate their power and win the support of the majority of the 800 priests of the Legion, and of the other religious and lay members.

On March 25, during the annual meeting in Rome of the territorial directors with the director general and his council, they released a statement in which for the first time they publicly describe one by one and "reprove" the sinful actions of their founder, Marcial Maciel (1920-2008), ask forgiveness from the victims, and affirm that they can "no longer look to his person as a model of Christian or priestly life."

But how trustworthy is this distancing of the Legion's leaders from their founder, and in particular from the "sudden revelation" – or so they say – of his misdeeds?


Anonymous said...

Someone posting on life-after-rc suggested that some of Sandro's factual errors in his piece mean that he doesn't have a Legion source for his information. You say you knew Fr Alvaro Corcuera, and you probably knew some of the other LC superiors. What is your take on their ability to reform based on that knowledge?

The Monk said...

I agree - Sandro's information is rambling. I've also seen other comments on life-after-rc related to that particular posting that are factually incorrect - no big deal. For instance, Michael Ryan did not found the Alpha Omega Centers in Mexico in the 1970's, nor was he any more of a friend of the Maciel family than any other LC of his generation (Michael and I joined together in 1962; he is a great priest.)

As an aside, I would note that the Maciel family have suffered greatly through this whole ordeal. I don't have the impression that the LC has reached out to them as much as I think they should.

Fr. Alvaro was interviewed (for the first time) on national Mexican TV (Televisa) last week. The interviewer was Viviana Alazraki. I didn't see the full interview by friends of mine did. They tell me that Fr. Alvaro (understandably I feel) seemed nervous. He affirmed that the LC will faithfully follow Vatican instructions.

You ask me for my take - I think they will reform; loyalty to the Pope is too much a part of LC training for it not to trump everything else. It will not be easy in part because the vast majority of the LC are as blown away by the revelations about their founder as the rest of us. When you have spent more than 20 years in a Congregation, it's not easy to get your head around such stunning revelations.

Luis Garza is the business brain - suffice it to say for now that he has been personally hurt by this scandal in ways that most observers (including Sandro), do not know.

Anonymous said...

Valentina, not Viviana.
Yes, I do hope Luis Garza has been 'personally hurt'. At least as much as his victims.