Friday, April 30, 2010

No Vatican decision yet on the Legionaries of Christ

Rome Reports, a TV News Agency has provided an update on today's meeting of the Vatican "Visitors" to the  Legionaries of Christ.

According to the bulletin, the Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi S.J., explained that a specific decision concerning the future of the Legionaries of Christ would be made within a few days after the pope reviews and reflects on the conclusions of the report.

The second in command of the Legionaries of Christ, Luis Garza Medina, vicar general of the order, highlighted that “they are ready to accept with obedience any decision from the Vatican.”

Legionaries Vicar General makes a statement just before Pope meets with experts

Rev. Luis Garza Medina,Vicar General of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement gave an interview yesterday to Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper.

Fr. Garza said he did not know before 2006 that founder Rev. Marcial Maciel had fathered a child. He also said cases of sexual abuse by priests should be referred to civil law enforcement.

Garza said he only realized the accusations surrounding Maciel were true in 2006, when the Vatican sentenced Maciel to a "reserved life of penance and prayer." "It seemed impossible, the behavior of the founder seemed impeccable," Garza Medina told La Repubblica. "With the investigation finished, I verified the paternity that was attributed to Father Maciel; at which point it was clear that the accusations were well-founded."

Asked how even Maciel’s closest advisers — including himself — could have been kept in the dark, the Legionaries’ vicar general said: "It was difficult to understand that there were such immoral and aberrant actions on his part."

In Thursday’s interview, Fr. Garza laughed at the estimated net worth of the Legion which, according to Sandro Magister in the Italian newsweekly L’Espresso, is said to  be some €25 billion ($33 billion).  Garza said such estimates were "false." He said any profits that are made are immediately reinvested or put in pensions or medical care funds for its members. "In 2009, our activities in all the world produced about $40 million, which was reinvested," he said.

The case against Maciel has created something of a “perfect storm” for the Legion. Because of the worldwide scandal of clergy abuse the Pope will need to show that he is serious about rooting out clerical sex abuse and being more transparent. In this scenario the Maciel case will be closely watched as the Vatican faces pressure to aggressively confront abuse.

This morning, Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly took part in a meeting at the Vatican over the fate of the Legionaries. Five Vatican representatives were reporting back after their investigation ("Apostolic Visitation”) into the conservative congregation, which was ordered last year by the pope. The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Benedict had decided to stop by the meeting to greet participants and make an appearance. He said he did not expect the pope to attend the whole session.

A statement is expected at the end of the meeting later today.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mexico's Irish Institute: the equestrian team and the saga of Mexico's first Olympic gold.

At the London Olympics, held in 1948, Mexican General Humberto Mariles led Mexico's equestrians to victory - they won two gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. In the process they defeated highly regarded European competitors.

Rider Raul Uriza won silver at the "Grand Pix of Nations" event. I met Colonel Uriza when I helped start the Irish Institute, a prestigious school for boys, in Mexico City in 1966. Fr. Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, sought to add as much added value as possible to the new school, located at the fringes of some of the most luxurious suburbs of Mexico's capital.  He came up with the novel idea of creating a riding school on what was then a vacant grassy lot in front of the Irish Institute. 

Fr. Gregorio Lopez, a Spanish Legionary from Burgos, was charged with doing a deal with a local stable. Every day, the stable hands brought about 15 horses to the Irish Institute's manege - surrounded by a hastily erected white picket fence. It was Fr. Gregorio's idea to invite Colonel Uriza to direct the lessons.

On gala occasions, the young riders from the Irish Institute wore their dark green school blazers, white jodphurs and black riding boots with brown leather tops creating eye-catching publicity for the Legion's new school in Mexico.

I got to know Raul Uriza quite well - although I always addressed him as "Colonel." He was an affable, easy going man with a wiry athletic build. He told me a little about the Mexican odyssey at the London Olympics.

In early January 1948, at the Club Hipico Frances in the capital, General Mariles discovered a sorrel-colored, one-eyed horse called "Earring" (Arete) - after his first ride, the General fell in love with the stallion. When time came for the General to organize Mexico's team for the Olympics and for the preparatory competitions leading up to the games in London, he ran afoul of then Mexican President Miguel Aleman. The President sought to cancel the European tour saying "there is no way you can win riding those cart-horses and a one-eyed stallion."

Despite the Presidential order, General Mariles set out with his team to Galveston, Texas, where they caught a ship bound to Italy. When they arrived to Rome, the Mexican ambassador was waiting for them with an arrest warrant - charging the team with disobeying military orders, desertion, embezzlement and misuse of public funds. The General refused to return to Mexico. Meanwhile, he had invited Pope Pius XII to come watch the team the day after they arrived. The Pope accepted - and by so doing may have saved Mariles career.

The Mexican team came in third at the Concorso Ippico Internazionale. This win persuaded President Aleman to calm down.

At the London Olympics, General Mariles rode the one-eyed "Arete to win the gold medal. In addition to Colonel Uriza's silver the Mexican team also won the gold in the team jumping event.

Colonel Uriza always had an impish smile despite the tough discipline he demanded from his equestrian students at the Irish Institute. He and I often chatted, standing by the fence, watching the young riders. Invariably, in the dry season, I would end up with my double-breasted (Legionary style) suit covered in dust, happy to have heard the stories of the unassuming Colonel who had participated in such an epic saga on the road to Mexico's first Olympic gold medal.

Benedict XVI will meet Apostolic Visitators of Legionaries of Christ

Yesterday, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, the Vatican spokesman announced the five episcopal visitators to the Legionaries of Christ will meet tomorrow, Friday April 30 to make their initial presentation and proposals for the religious congregation.

Since his death, the extent of Fr Maciel’s behavior began to unfold: it emerged that he had fathered at least one child, that he had had multiple identities and that he had abused minor seminarians. All of this was confirmed in a communique issued by the Legionaries.

Fr Lombardi said there were no specific decisions expected about the congregation yet, saying that the Holy Father would make them at a later date “after careful study and reflection on the findings of the visitation”.

A brief press statement will be released after the meeting.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Modern mission on Mexico City's doorstep

A friend of mine, CFO at a multinational manufacturing corporation, participated, with his family – including a two year old – on a Regnum Christi organized mission to Malinalco, just outside Mexico City. He told me it’s an annual affair taking place from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

This year, a group of about 60 Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, and South Africans joined forces with him and about 40 Mexicans to serve the town’s parish and people.

Since the Malinalco family mission is ongoing from year to year, the missionaries’ work is long-term and committed, and they have had the chance to form relationships with the local people. Those who have been involved in the mission longest are keenly sensitive to their role as servants, not as tourists or spectators. They feel that Malinalco is their town too, and they care about how its local people are doing.

My friend referred me to a new blog complete with narrative and photos.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Anti Catholic Media

Over the weekend a friend sent me a compilation of three postings by Legionary of Christ blogger Fr. Jorge Enrique Mújica, LC. The resulting article, in Spanish, is too long for me to translate here. It's a worthwhile read if you know Spanish.

Fr.Mújica, obviously put a lot of work into his research on media reactions to Pope Benedict XVI. He makes a cogent, well documented case showing the widespread instances of falsehoods, downright calumnies, fantasies and invention used to discredit the image of Pope Benedict XVI. He concludes by noting that despite the media attacks Pope Benedict has successfully led the Church for five years - a Church that is now more than 2,000 years old. Fr. Mújica, documents and refutes media falsehoods without spending too much time analyzing the causes.

I was wondering what to say about the above referenced article when, this morning, I came across a powerful posting by Joseph Bottum, contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and editor of First Things. In his commentary, Mr. Bottum writes: "For almost 500 years now, Catholicism has been an available answer, a mystical key, to that deep, childish, and existentially compelling question: Why aren’t we there yet? Why is progress still unfinished? Why is promise still unfulfilled? Why aren’t we perfect? Why aren’t we changed?"

His answers to those questions are well worth a read. Here are some paragraphs that I found meaningful:
"We worked so hard, and still the change in human nature didn’t come. Still heaven didn’t get built on earth. Evil must have intervened, and since the past is the evil against which progress fights, what more obvious villain than the Catholic Church, that last-surviving remnant of the ancient darkness?
Welcome to the Year of Our Lord 2010. Welcome to our own odd hysteria.
The best sign of such hysterical moments may be the difficulty of anything sane or sensible being heard in them. As Newsweek noted on April 8, the surveys and studies over the past 30 years show “little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue.” Nonetheless, in 2002, after the last set of revelations, “a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found that 64 percent” of Americans “thought Catholic priests ‘frequently’ abused children.”
The scandal has two parts, which need to be distinguished. The first part—the more evil, disgusting part—is over, thank God. Every sufficiently large group has a small percentage of members with sick sexual desires. By their very calling, Christian ministers ought to have a lower percentage. For a variety of reasons, however, Catholics suffered through a corruption of their priests, centered around 1975, with the clergy’s percentage of sexual predators reaching new and vile levels.
The Church now has in place stringent child-protection procedures, and even with obsession over the scandals raging in Europe, almost all the cover-ups now being discussed, real and imagined, are more than a decade old. Besides, the younger priests, formed in the light of John Paul II’s papacy, seem vastly more faithful to Catholic spiritual practice and moral teaching.
Still, the second part of the scandal remains, for it involves not the mostly dead criminals but the living institution. The bishops who ruled over those corrupt priests in the 1970s and 1980s catastrophically failed to act when they needed to. Some of this came from the short-sighted and anti-theological advice that dominated Catholic institutional thinking in that era. The lawyers told the bishops, as lawyers do, never to admit anything, and the psychologists told them not to be so medieval.
 There’s an irony when the 2009 Murphy Report, the official Irish investigation, noted, “The Church authorities failed to implement most of their own canon-law rules” on defrocking and trying priests. From the 1950s through the 1970s, those same Church authorities were blamed for having the old canon-law rules, which lacked compassion and didn’t recognize the psychiatric profession’s supposed advances in curing pedophilia. And so, instead of being defrocked, guilty priests were often sent off to treatment facilities and, once pronounced cured, were reassigned.
The bishops of the time don’t get off that easy, however. Lawyers and psychologists contributed to the mess, but the much larger portion of the failures came simply from the bishops’ desire to avoid bad publicity and, like military officers, to protect the men in their unit when those men get themselves into trouble. For these episcopal failures, every Catholic is now paying—in nearly $3 billion of American donations lost in court judgments, in suspicion of their pastors, and in deep shame.
Everyone is working, whether deliberately or not, to keep the hysteria alive. Abortion supporters have seized on the news as a way to damage the pro-life movement, and proponents of the recent American health care bill are using it to punish their opponents for giving them trouble during the congressional vote. The tattered figures of old anti-Catholic Protestantism—in isolated Bible churches of the fever-swamp right and isolated Episcopal chanceries of the fever-swamp left—feel newly empowered. Feminists, homosexual activists, therapists, talk-show hosts, plaintiff’s attorneys: The scandals are a hobbyhorse all the world hopes to ride to victory.
 The current hysteria over the Catholic sex-abuse scandal derives at least in part from the same source that fed the panic over rape at preschools and day care centers 20 years ago. These are, in this one respect, two chapters of a single story—the story of a culture whose views of sexuality put its children at risk.
That risk is real. Our contemporary understandings of sex are a jumble of contradictions and insanities, and the young are among those paying the price. The news reports about the Catholic scandals have purchase on us precisely because they echo down the canyons of our cultural anxiety. And to account for that anxiety—to localize and personalize its causes—Catholicism is far more useful than outlandish charges of Satanism ever were.
For some of the commentators on the current scandals, any stick is a good one if you can poke it at religion. Most people, however, are just looking for an explanation. They worked so hard to build the life the contemporary world demands, and still they are anxious. They rejected the sexual strictures of the past, just as they were taught to do, and still their children are in danger.
There must be a reason for the unfulfilled promise of modern sex and modern life. There must be a mystical, magical key that will unlock the door to paradise. Why have we been thwarted? Why aren’t we there yet?
The Catholic Church, of course. That’s the answer.
Fr. Jorge Enrique Mújica's and Mr. Bottum's commentaries complement each other. They separate the hysteria from the facts - without denying the facts. Because corruption permeates our world, it needs an explanation and a response. As in all modernizing movements, someone in despair eventually stumbles on the answer: "We have been thwarted by the Catholic Church."

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Legionaries of Christ will obey whatever the Pope says"

The five bishops who have carried out the operational phase of the Apostolic Visitation on the Legion of Christ are about to deliver their reports to Rome. From Spain, Vida Nueva reports that Fr. Maria Jesus Delgado, the head of the Legionaries of Christ in Spain, says the congregation is willing to "everything the Pope may indicate" including a curator or even dissolution of the Congregation."

The following excerpts from the interview are my rough translation from the original Spanish.

In the interview, the head of the Legion in Spain says the Legionaries are going through a very difficult time; pain and suffering is running deep. "Silent tears are being shed." He goes on to say that the Apostolic Visitation is a grace form God “We needed it, like a breath of fresh air in a troubled time. Our basic attitude has been an immense gratitude to the Pope and the Visitors. In Spain it has been Ricardo Blazquez, who has spent time with us, living and praying with us. He knows us as we are.”.

When asked “there is talk of a cardinal as a commissioner for the congregation. Are you ready for that?” Fr. Delgado replied: “One of the principles of our spirituality is the love for the Church and the Pope, it is not just theoretical, but practical, and involves obedience to all instructions, including the wishes of the Holy Father. Yes there is openness and a willingness to totally accept whatever the Pope indicates.”

Another possibility is the dissolution of the Congregation. Do you foresee that happening? “As a possibility, anything is possible. But, I do not think it will happen. However the Pope has a free hand to intervene in the manner it deems appropriate.”

How could Fr. Maciel conceal his 'double life' for so many years, despite the rumors, accusations and even research?  “We have asked ourselves this so many times – not just because of media inquiries. It is very difficult to understand when you have not lived inside. We are talking about the founder, for whom we had enormous respect…. I never got any bad example from him and it’s hard to be suspicious when you have seen nothing to make you doubt. He had a blank check, total confidence. I am sure that high percentage of us knew nothing – the founder was very private about his persona life.

Could someone have known? "hat’s possible. If someone did know, they are in a difficult situation. We should not pre-judge, but we will have to decide if it is known, what policy to follow."

Are you aware that from now on more is going to be demanded of the Legion not only in the social milieu but in the Church? “Yes, more will be demanded of us and perhaps also we will be better liked. We must accept and adopt a commitment to greater holiness of life. And we must show that through our witness, our example and our holiness."

More information at No. 2704 New Life. If you are a subscriber, see the full interview here.

Charismatic Leaders

One of the lessons I have learned is how the obscured, ‘dark side’ of a leader’s personality can undermine the worthwhile goals he or she wants to achieve.

If you aspire to be a leader, you have a responsibility to discover which traits contribute to the dark side of your personality - usually more apparent in times of frustration and stress.

When an organization begins to revolve around its charismatic leader, it signifies that all is not well. ‘Kharisma’ is a Greek word translated as ‘blessed by God.’ It is compelling charm that may inspire loyalty and fascination. Not easy to identify initially, because charisma, in a sense, only exists in the follower’s perception. Does the leader exude charisma, or do the followers and organization construct it around them?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How the Irish Institute in Mexico got its name

The musical souls of two nations, Ireland and Mexico, are movingly brought together in the latest album from the renowned traditional Irish musical group "The Chieftains." The album features Ry Cooder, Los Tigres del Norte, Lila Downs, Linda Rondstad and more. I've already ordered my copy and can't wait to hear it!

The story of the Sn Patricios is linked to when I helped start the Irish Institue in Mexico City, way back in 1966. The founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Maciel was very familiar with the story - a story which most Irish people at that time were unaware of. We named the street outside the school "The Batallion of Saint Patrick" and the link between Irish and Mexican history helped the "Irish Institute" get its name.

The St. Patrick Battalion (El Batallón de San Patricio) was a unique unit of the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. The unit consisted of several hundred soldiers, who’d deserted the U.S. Army, because they believed they had more in common with the Mexicans. I had never heard of them during my schooling in Ireland. After defecting, they fought on the Mexican side in five major battles. Unofficially, the group was called the Irish Volunteers, or the “Colorados” (red guards) because of the many redheaded and ruddy-complexioned men in it. They’re considered heroes in Mexico because of their exemplary performance on the battlefield. They were ultimately defeated, suffering severe casualties at the Battle of Churubusco, which was the Mexican army’s Waterloo. General and President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who commanded the Mexican forces, stated afterwards, “if I could have commanded a few hundred more men like the San Patricios, Mexico would have won the battle.

Toyota and the Legionaries of Christ: Was growth the wrong priority?

Back in February I saw some minor analogies between Toyota's handling of the quality scandals and the Legionaries management of the Marcial Maciel scandal. On April 14, a comment appeared in the Wall Street Journal's ongoing reporting of the Toyota crisis. Again, I couldn't help but see another parallel with the Legion.

When I was in the Legion "growth," "expansion," and "recruitment" became our imperatives. Understandable, given our militant nature. However, back in those early days I worried that our drive to expand would negatively affect our spirituality. For a while, in the United States, I fretted that our new recruits were far more right of center than the Congregation I had joined in Ireland back in  1962.

No doubt much of the critical reporting on Toyota is being driven by rival automakers seeking to weaken the company by undermining the public's perception. The same can be said for many of the relentless critical onslaughts on Fr. Maciel and the Legionaries which seem to me to have the ulterior motive of undermining the Catholic Church and the Papacy. Surely, there is lots of room for outraged and deserved criticism - but I don't think for a moment that it is all well-intentioned. Back to the WSJ. Here is the comment that provoked this post:

Like so many big companies before, in its relentless drive to become the world’s largest auto maker, Toyota’s management took its eye off the ball. In other words, growth became its priority, while the unique aspects of its culture and operational competencies responsible for its success to this point, became secondary.

Suspension, Defrocking, Laicization and the New York Times

I just saw the following letter on the Just B16 blog It is a letter sent by Seton University school of law professor John Coverdale to the New York Times. The NYT did not publish the letter.

"Like many other people, I have felt in recent weeks that some news outlets have unfairly targeted Pope Benedict XVI in connection with sexual abuse by priests.
In part this is a question of emphasis, with daily coverage of what may or may not have been minor mistakes in judgment decades ago and almost no attention to the major efforts Pope Benedict has made to remedy what is undeniably a horrible situation.
With some frequency, however, I have observed what strikes me as deliberate distortion of the facts in order to put Pope Benedict in a bad light. I would like to call your attention to what seems to me a clear example of this sort of partisan journalism: Laurie Goodstein and Michael Luo’s article “Pope Put Off Move to Punish Abusive Priest” published on the front page of the New York Times on April 10, 2010. The story is so wrong that it is hard to believe it is not animated by the anti-Catholic animus that the New York Times and other media outlets deny harboring.
Canonical procedure punishes priests who have violated Church law in serious ways by “suspending” them from exercising their ministry. This is sometimes referred to as “defrocking.” (According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary to “defrock” is to deprive of the right to exercise the functions of an office. )
A priest who has been suspended may request that he be released from his vows of celibacy and other obligations as a priest. If granted, this petition to be “laicized” would leave the former priest free to marry. Laicization (which is altogether different from defrocking and which may apply to a priest who has committed no crime but simply wishes to leave the priesthood) is not further punishment. It is something a priest who has already been punished by being suspended might well desire, as do some priests who have committed no crime and who have not been suspended..
The priest who is the subject of the article had already been punished by being suspended long before his case reached Rome. He asked to be laicized. Cardinal Ratzinger delayed his laicization not his “defrocking” as the article incorrectly says. He had been defrocked years earlier when he was suspended from the ministry. All of this is clear without reference to outside sources to anyone who knows something about Church procedure and reads the article with sufficient care. It is anything but clear, however, to a normal reader.
 My complaint here is not that the article misuses the word “defrock” but rather that by so doing it strongly suggests to readers that Cardinal Ratzinger delayed the priest’s removal from the ministry. Delaying laicization had nothing to do with allowing him to continue exercising the ministry, from which he had already been suspended.
Not only does the article fail to make these distinctions, it positively misstate the facts. Its title is “Pope Put off Move to Punish Abusive Priest.” [italics added] It describes Cardinal Ratzinger’s decision as involving whether the abusive priest “should be forced from the priesthood” [italics added]. Even a moderately careful journalist would have to notice that all of this is incompatible with the fact (reported in the second paragraph of the article) that the priest himself had asked for what Cardinal Ratziner delayed.
Had the facts been reported accurately, the article would have said that the priest was promptly punished by being removed from the ministry for his crimes, but that when he asked to be reduced to the lay state, which would have given him the right to marry within the Church, Cardinal Ratzinger delayed granting the petition. That, of course, would hardly have merited front page treatment, much less a headline accusing the Pope of “Putt[ing] off Move to Punish Abusive Priest.”
The second half of the article reports that the priest later worked as a volunteer in the youth ministry of his former parish. This is obviously regrettable and should not have happened, but he was not acting as a priest (youth ministers are laymen, not priests).
 A careful reader who was not misled by the inaccuracies in the first part of the article would, of course, realize that his volunteering as a youth minister had no factual or legal connection with Cardinal Ratzinger’s delaying the grant of laicization. The article does not say in so many words that it did, but an average reader might well conclude that there was some connection when he is told that “while the bishop was pressing Cardinal Ratzinger to defrock Mr. Kiesle, the priest began volunteering in the youth ministry of one of his former parishes.”
Any one of these errors might be due to carelessness, but their cumulative effect, coupled with the decision to make this front page news accompanied by a two column photo of Cardinal Raztinger’s signature, strongly suggests to me that something worse than carelessness is involved. I urge you to look into whether some major news outlets have indeed been engaged in a campaign to vilify the Pope and into whether their desire to do so has caused them to slip below minimum standards of professional journalism"

And Peter Wept. Pope Benedict XVI in Malta

Italy's La Stampa reports the reaction of Lawrence Grech, one of Malta's victims of clergy sex abuse to his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.

I've translated some of his statements:

"I saw the Pope weep from emotion and I felt myself freed from a great weight."

"I didn't expect excuses from the Pope but I saw in him and in the bishop of Malta the humility of a Church which in that moment represented the whole problem of the modern Church."

"He put his hand on the head of each one of the participants in the meeting, blessing them.  I felt myself freed and relieved of a great weight."

"For a long time I didn’t go to Mass any more and I had lost faith, but now I feel myself a convinced Catholic."

"This was the greatest gift I have ever received, after the birth of my daughter"

Pope John Paul II and the Fr. Marcial Maciel scandal


George Weigel has spent more than two decades studying the life of John Paul II. Weigel prepared a major study of the life, thought, and action of Pope John Paul II. Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II was published to international acclaim in the Fall of 1999.

 Today he writes in his column in the Denver Catholic Register,  "it seems to me utterly implausible that the late pope’s (John Paul II) failure to read Marcial Maciel correctly had anything to do with money."  The allegations of abuse about the founder of the Legionaries of Christ were known during John Paul’s time.  The Pope did not believe them; he may have thought them the by-product of tawdry Mexican politics (politics politics and ecclesiastical politics.)"

"It was virtually inevitable that the media firestorm over Benedict XVI’s handling of sexually abusive clerics—even if the insinuations against the Pope were unsubstantiated and unfair—would spill backwards toward the late John Paul II. It was also inevitable that the point of attack would be John Paul’s endorsement of the work of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a religious congregation that enjoyed considerable papal favor during John Paul’s pontificate. 

Since John Paul II died, it has become clear that Maciel led a double-life of moral dissolution for decades, fathering out-of-wedlock children, sexually abusing seminarians, and violating the sacrament of penance. . In the last months of John Paul’s life, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger re-opened an investigation into Maciel’s affairs; in 2006 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “invited” Maciel, no longer head of the Legionaries, to a “reserved life of prayer and penance” with no public ministry. This amounted to ecclesiastical house arrest; Maciel died in 2008.

When the extraordinary range of Maciel’s perfidies became known, Benedict XVI ordered an apostolic visitation of the Legionaries, which has been completed. Strong measures, one hopes, will now be taken to address Maciel’s sins and crimes, to deal with anyone in the Legion who may have aided him in his double-life, and to save the good that can be saved from the Legion and its lay affiliate organization, Regnum Christi. That salvage job will require a definitive break with the past, and with the Maciel mythology that was a large part of his power.

Some Catholics may find it shocking that envelopes of cash were left in the papal apartment. But the fact is that a great many people give money to the pope: visiting bishops, heads of religious orders, Catholic organizations, etc. As John Paul died with virtually no worldly goods, no plausible charge can be made that he personally benefited from Maciel’s “generosity”; and as these things work, the money was likely given to the late Pope’s secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz, now cardinal archbishop of Cracow. Dziwisz often gave cash to poor bishops and others he sensed were in financial need; perhaps some of Maciel’s money went in this direction. 

The immediate temptation, to which Ross Douthat unhappily succumbed in the April 12 New York Times, is to conclude that these monetary gifts “explain” John Paul II’s support for the Legionaries of Christ and for Maciel. Prudent analysts will resist that temptation. John Paul and Dziwisz were badly deceived by Maciel. So were many other people, including hundreds of high-ranking churchmen, his own religious community, a lot of very wealthy and presumably astute Mexicans and Americans—in fact, people all over the world. 

Nobody ever “bought” Karol Wojtyla with money, in which he had zero interest since his days as a manual laborer in Nazi-occupied Cracow.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger politely and firmly declined Maciel’s gifts; whatever effect Maciel’s money may have had on others in the Roman Curia ought to be investigated as the apostolic visitation of the Legion of Christ is brought to a conclusion.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Weigel’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Phone: 303-715-3215.
To access the complete archive of George Weigel's columns, please visit

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Church of Scoundrels and Saints

I took the following quotation direct from Outside the Asylum by Tony Layne.
"To be connected with the church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child-molesters, murderers, adulterers and hypocrites of every description.

"It also, at the same time, identifies you with saints and the finest persons of heroic soul of every time, country, race, and gender.

"To be a member of the church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves."

-- Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I., The Holy Longing
Outside the asylum makes a good point about Vatican management systems:

    First, the sheer size of the Church—around one billion people around the globe, in 2,795 dioceses as of 2008—makes it difficult for the Pope or any cardinal prefect to know what’s going on in any given see.
·         Second, the Vatican has barely 1,500 people in its direct employ to operate the ministries and functions it does have … and it perpetually operates close to or in the red. An executive structure along the lines of the US government would require at least three-fifths of the population of Rome (2.7 million people in 2009) to run it. While John XXIII, when asked how many people worked at the Vatican, supposedly joked, “Oh, about half,” the truth is that they’re horribly understaffed for those operations they do directly oversee, and are in no financial condition to expand their operations.
·         Third, the relative freedom local ordinaries enjoy to act in local matters means that they have no real need to report everything that goes on within their bailiwicks. Indeed, local prelates have resented and occasionally resisted the Vatican’s few attempts to micromanage specific crises, complaining—not without either justice or hypocrisy—that “those guys in Rome don’t really know the situation here”.

This last point—the relative paucity of communication between the Vatican and the local chanceries—contributes significantly to the common perception, even among Catholics, that the Church hierarchy operates in secrecy. Rather, it stumbles along blindly, as a man suffering from neuropathy, whose limbs send mixed and partial messages to his brain, while he strains under an oversized and overstuffed burden.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beyond Scandal: lessons we can learn from the case of Fr. Marcial Maciel

During my assignment as a Legionary of Christ in New York I was privileged to be invited to deliver many retreats and sometimes to be a “co-presenter” at religious workshops. At one such workshop in Greenwich, CT my co-presenter was none other than the renowned, internationally known, priest and author Henri Nouwen.  Fr. Nouwen started his presentation by saying "For years I was upset by distractions in my work until I realized the distractions were my real work!" Serendipitously I can across this quote the other day. One thing led to another and I ended up stumbling upon an article, published in 2002 by Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.

Because I have just published my memoir "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: How an Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mind" about my experiences with Fr. Maciel, I've been more curious than usual about the current state of affairs, including the scandal of clergy sex abuse in the Church.

I read Fr. Rolheiser's article in its entirety and found helpful, enlightening and consoling in the context of some of the revelations that have come to light about Fr. Marcial Maciel the Founder of the Legionaries of Christ and the lay movement Regnum Christi. The following is just an abbreviated excerpt. Please take the time to read the full article – I hope that you find it useful and, ultimately encouraging.

This is a dark night of the soul which is meant, like every dark night of the soul, to stretch the heart. To be stretched is always painful and our normal impulse is always to do something to end the pain, to make it go away. But the pain won't go away until we learn the lesson that it's meant to teach us. Pain of the heart never leaves us until "we get it", get what it is meant to teach us, and get stretched in the way it's meant to stretch us. This pain will stay with the church until we learn what we are meant to learn from it.

It's too easy and too simplistic to blame the media for this crisis. They are not the problem; in fact, they are rendering us, the world and the church, a great service, irrespective of how painful this is. The press is not the villain - Don't kill the weatherman for reporting bad weather!  Granted that sometimes their coverage hasn't been fair, but that's ultimately not the issue. Beneath it all, the substance is true.

For the most part, until this crisis came along, Roman Catholicism in North America enjoyed a wonderful history of trust with its people.  And then this scandal comes along, creating the biggest crisis of soul and crisis of credibility that the North American church has faced in its young history. This is, in effect, a "dark night of the soul" for us and, like most dark nights of the soul, wounds expectedly and at a particularly vulnerable part of ourselves.

Because of the way the issue has constellated, it's too easy for us to identify the word pedophilia simplistically with priests and with the bishops' less-than-stellar history of handling its clergy who are accused of it. That's not to excuse priests, but contextualizing this in terms of its prevalence in the culture keeps us aware that priests are less than .01 per-cent of this massive problem. In fact, statistically, this disease is marginally lower among the clergy and vowed religious than it is among the population at large.

Pedophilia is not a celibate disease, not a gay disease, not a married disease, not a man's disease, nor a woman's disease. It's a disease, pure and simple, and, like alcoholism, it cuts across all boundaries, affecting alike clergy and lay, men and women, gay and straight, married and celibate. Like alcohol, it plays no favorites. It's a sickness and not a question of somebody who is celibate not having proper willpower or of somebody who doesn't have sex acting out because of that deprivation.

A comparison can be made to alcoholism: If we could roll the clock back 60 or 70 years, we would see that society then had no understanding of alcoholism as a disease. It naively thought that the problem was simply a failure of willpower: "Why don't they just stop drinking?" Now we recognize that it's a sickness and must be understood and treated as such.

This naive understanding of the nature of the disease is one of the reasons bishops made some mistakes early on. Unaware of the real and deep nature of this as an illness, they believed the perpetrator when he said, "I'll never do it again." The perpetrator was sincere in saying that and they were sincere in believing it, but, as we know now, that's not a responsible statement and there's a dangerous naïveté in believing it because in most cases there's little chance that the pedophile is not going to do it again.

What causes pedophilia? While there is now division over a former axiom that held that "every abuser was first abused", everyone agrees that pedophilia is caused by some massive trauma in childhood. In many, perhaps most, cases the perpetrators were themselves sexually abused as children. Whatever the trauma he or she experienced, the consensus is that it was massively deep and this is part of the very nature of the disease. Pedophilia is an awful disease - but something awful has caused it. Every year we learn more about the devastating nature of sexual abuse. It's the worst kind of "soul-violence" on the planet. Nothing approximates it. And because devastating trauma, especially the trauma of being sexually abused, can be buried so deeply in one's memory, when perpetrators act out they often bury the memories of their actions equally as deeply, giving them incredible denial mechanisms. I've seen a pedophile pass two lie-detector tests in a row. This makes it hard, and in many cases impossible, to treat the disease.

A pedophile is someone who is attracted to a child who has not yet reached puberty. A normal adult is not sexually attracted to a pre-pubescent child. So why is a pedophile attracted to a child? The literature within this area tells us that a reason for that attraction, perhaps the main reason, is not to do with sex itself but with the trauma the perpetrator experienced as a child, namely, his or her pathological attraction is to the child that was lost in the pedophile’s own early childhood trauma. His or her own trauma killed the child in them.  Simplistically put, the pathological sexual attraction to children exists in the pedophile because the pedophile has had his or her own childhood stolen from them.

We may never in any way understate the utter devastation of soul that is caused in the victim of pedophilia. There is no greater form of soul-violence on this planet. Nothing so scars, violates, and unravels the soul - literally pulls it apart - as does sexual abuse.

What do victims want from us?

When victims are asked what we as a church, especially as the official church, can give them, they invariably name several things:

1. - An honest acknowledgment that somebody else is sick (which is important for their own healing). Since generally the perpetrator is not going to do that, the bishop, the provincial, the pope, whoever, must do it. Someone who represents the church must say to the victim: "We hurt you, we were wrong, and we are sorry!" There has to be an honest acknowledgment and apology which may not be a rationalization or half-apology. Today this is made difficult because of legal ramifications. There's tremendous tension today in the church, in chancery offices and elsewhere, between compassion and the Bible, between what we're called to do by Jesus and what our lawyers tell us to do.

2. - Victims also ask another thing of us: "Don't be afraid of our anger!" On some previous occasions when I've addressed public groups on this topic, I first phoned a number of victims and asked them what they wanted me to say. Always one of their responses was: "Tell them not to be afraid of our anger!" By and large, I don't think we have heard that.

This is a dark night of the soul which is meant, like every dark night of the soul, to stretch the heart. To be stretched is always painful and our normal impulse is always to do something to end the pain, to make it go away. But the pain won't go away until we learn the lesson that it's meant to teach us. Pain of the heart never leaves us until "we get it", get what it is meant to teach us, and get stretched in the way it's meant to stretch us. This pain will stay with the church until we learn what we are meant to learn from it.
If you have found the above excerpt helpful, I urge you to take the time to read the full article.

Legionaries of Christ demand media retraction in Spain

Spero News this morning reports on a demand for media retraction made by the Legionaries of Christ in Spain. Responding to allegations made in an interview published yesterday (April 12) by the Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, the regional director of the Legionaries of Christ in Spain, Father María Jesús Delgado, has sent a letter to the paper's editor, calling for a correction to be published. The interview, which was printed in a supplement entitled, “Chronicle of the Legionaries of Christ,” was incorrect in more than one respect, claims the Legionary. The Legion's response is being widely commented on in Spanish media. The original of Fr. Delgado's letter can be read here, in Spanish.
The following is an excerpt from the Spero News report:

As a religious congregation of the Catholic Church, I can assure you that we are acting, and will act, with the utmost awareness of our mission to serve men and to responsibly fulfill our civil and ecclesial duties in the management of our institutions.

We will soon discuss with our attorneys if such responsible management also demands that we take legal action against slanderous publications such as this article. There is no doubt the lamentable events, which we have recently reported about the life of our founder, are grotesque, however, we are also determined to deal decisively with this reality and in close collaboration with the Holy See (see our statement of March 25, 2010).

We look to the future with great confidence. I have no doubt about what our task is: to build our lives on the rock of Peter, with the strength of the Risen Christ and the help of many people of good will.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Legionaries of Christ former Novitiate in Orange, CT up for sale

The Legionaries of Christ’s first home in the United States was in the Milford borough of Woodmont, Connecticut in 1965. The Congregation relocated to Orange, CT in 1971. Currently, the Legionaries of Christ has 800 priests and 2,600 seminarians worldwide. When the Legionaries purchased the facilities in nearby Cheshire, CT the property in Orange became largely redundant.

The Novitiate in Orange, situated on Connecticut's route 34 not far from Yale University, was the first Legion property I knew in the United States, en route to my assignment in New York in 1976. I had a sense of foreboding about the Novitiate which I mention in my memoir "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines" scheduled to be available on May 1st:

The Irish Institute in Mexico City was where I would have wanted to spend my priestly ministry, if I’d had a choice, and I envied David’s assignment. The months spent training him were a tantalizing taste of what might have been. It was the place where I felt most at home as a Legionary.

During my fifteen years training, I had come to expect my ministry would be in Mexico, or somewhere in Latin America. Mexico was like home for me - I loved the people and the country. Other than my immediate family, Mexico was where the people I most cared about lived.

David, for his part, spent much of his Legionary life preparing to work as a priest in the United States. I know how much he loved New York and I don’t think he was thrilled to be assigned to Mexico. Our vows of Obedience trumped personal preferences. I departed Mexico City, with sadness, just before Christmas.

Fr. Alfonso Samaniego, the Legion’s Regional Director in Mexico, came with me on the flight to New York’s Kennedy airport. Alfonso was having a Christmas break from his work in Mexico City and he confided in me on our flight. “I’m thrilled to be going to the States for Christmas, but I hate the idea of staying at the novitiate.”  The plan was for us to join a small group of US novices spending Christmas in Orange, Connecticut. It was nice to feel Alfonso was talking to me as a peer.

“What’s the problem with staying at the novitiate?” I asked.
“You will see for yourself. It is hard to relax there.”
I replied, “Let me tell you, I’m not happy to be coming to the States at all. I hate leaving Mexico.”He gave me a knowing look.“Well, at least you will get to see your friend Declan again.” I think he shared my sense of misery.

The prospect of meeting Declan and his Legionary colleagues from Washington D.C. was the only positive I could dwell on as we drove up interstate 95 to Connecticut. We went to the same school in Dublin. He influenced my decision to join the Legion because he was an outgoing character and always exuded a great joy for life. He was good at sports, played the piano, and he was popular and fun. Even though he was a year ahead of me, I thought if he could adjust to the Legion then so could I.

We arrived at the novitiate in the early evening. I remember being impressed with the length of the winding driveway. To our left, as we entered, I caught a glimpse of a small run down house. It appeared abandoned and didn’t blend well with the surroundings. The black asphalt driveway snaked up a gentle hill bordered on each side by roughly mown fields. Mature trees sheltered the property from the busy traffic on the main road. The main house perched at the top.

Fr. Anthony Bannon greeted us in the hallway. I believe this was the first time I’d met him, because he joined a couple of years after me. The house was a family dwelling, large enough to accommodate the first group of American novices. It had some of the qualities of a typical New England home – white shingles on the outside, wooden window frames, hardwood floors, and a creaky stairway with wooden banisters. It reminded me of Hazelbrook House in Ireland, where I had started my own novitiate.

Fr. Anthony was attentive. “Welcome to our novitiate,” he said. “I’ll show you to your room Fr. Alfonso.”
My gut reaction to Fr. Anthony was ambivalent. His wire-rimmed glasses accentuated the sense of austerity he projected. He was not quite as tall as I, but his frame looked like he could be made of steel. He was trim, efficient and to the point. I found him welcoming, but not warm.
“Jack,” I thought to myself, “give the guy a chance. This is not Mexico, get used to it.” I picked up my suitcase asking, “Do I follow you Fr. Anthony? Which way is my room?”
He was halfway up the stairs and turned to look over his shoulder.
 “No, Fr. Keogh, you will be staying in our guest house, with the Fathers from Washington.”
I didn’t like his style, although I couldn’t put my finger on why. I think I realized he was a stickler for the rules. However, I would have to be able to get along with him, since he was my new superior. I was already hoping my time in the US would be short
Somebody drove me back down to the ‘guest accommodations,’ which were, of course, situated in the small, dilapidated house. Gripping my suitcase, I walked inside. It was cold outside and I welcomed the warmth as I entered, but the house was shabby and depressing. The hallway smelled musty, and already, I didn’t like the place.

This morning's New Haven Register reports:
ORANGE — The one-time U.S. headquarters for the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative order of the Catholic Church that has come under fire after its founder had fathered a child and allegedly molested seminarians, has been vacated and is on the market, town leaders confirmed.

Friday, April 9, 2010

How much did John Paul II know about Fr. Marcial Maciel?

As a result of the recently published investigative report by the National Catholic Reporter on the Legion of Christ's finances and influence peddling at the Vatican there is much discussion about how widespread clergy abuse is and about how the Vatican has reacted.

Andrew Sullivan writes:

Benedict XVI knew all of this. To his credit, he was clearly troubled by it, and never accepted its compromising money. But given the authority to pursue Maciel in 2001, Ratzinger held off for four years until Maciel’s protector, John Paul II, was incapacitated and near death. Which means to say: Ratzinger knew what had gone on, and allowed a clear molester and bigamist to remain a pillar of John Paul II’s church for years.

To which E.D. Kain responds:

I think it is far more likely that Ratzinger acted as quickly and as prudently as he could given the many obstacles preventing any swift action against Maciel. Some things simply take time, especially in an organization such as the Church, and with the sort of protections afforded Maciel by John Paul II under the influence of his advisors. Far from a reason to continue to call for Benedict’s resignation, this information should illuminate just how thankful we should all be that Ratzinger became pope. Indeed, many resignations are in order, but Benedict’s is not one of them.)

I've wondered how Pope John Paul II who seemed like a pretty hard-line, straight-shooter to me, would have covered up for Fr. Maciel. Do we know for sure he had a complete understanding of the facts? A lot of new information has emerged in just the past few years. If it is fair to say, as Kain does, "Ratzinger acted as quickly and as prudently as he could given the many obstacles preventing any swift action against Maciel. Some things simply take time, especially in an organization such as the Church..." why can we not apply the same reasoning to John Paul II's apparent lack of action?

Did Fr. Maciel's friends in high places help keep the information from the Holy Father? Did Cardinal Ratzinger discuss what he knew with John Paul - and, if he did, did John Paul refuse to act? Or had he figured out a "more prudent way" to act - by agreeing to hand off the problem to his successor? I'd like to have a better understanding of this before joining those who would throw JP II under the bus.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Don't Waste the Legion of Christ Crisis

Today Tiger Woods tees off at the Masters Golf Tournament. The Economist asks if he will emerge with added lustre from his own debacle. According to the Economist, "There is nothing Americans like more than a redemption story—particularly when the man being redeemed is supremely good at his job."

The key to a successful relaunch after a crisis lies in making a cool-headed assessment of how much the scandal damages an organization. If it involves life and limb, and if it has spread beyond specific areas or divisions so that it affects the entire corporate brand, then companies are well advised to go into collective overdrive.

If the answer is not, then a company can experiment with more nuanced responses - such as dumping a damaged product or cutting off a rogue division.

Successful organizations know how to manage a crisis. In fact the Economist article details the methodology:

First, the boss needs to take charge. This means sidelining corporate cluck-cluckers such as lawyers (who worry that any admission of guilt will lead to lawsuits) or financial officers (who obsess about the bottom line).

It also means putting the survival of the company above personal considerations (Leaders may need to step down after the crisis.) Many of the most damaging crises, by contrast, have resulted from foot-dragging at the top. 

"Foot dragging at the top." Think of Toyota (I've mentioned this case before.) Think the Legionaries of Christ and the Fr. Maciel scandal. Think the Vatican.

The Economist proposes a second rule:

Cisis-racked firms should redouble their focus on their customers. One former aide to George Bush junior, David Frum, tells the story of another, Karen Hughes, who sees a small plane towing a banner reading, “Jill, please come back. I am nothing without you. Jack.” Her response is, “Wrong message. It’s too much about you, not enough about her.”
Foot-dragging is not exclusive to the Vatican, the hierarchy or the Legionaries of Christ. I've learned in the  corporate world that endless talking about how to fix the problem doesn't solve anything. Implementation, execution, is what is needed. Larry Bossidy, former CEO of Allied Signal wrote a classic, with Ron Caran about implementation: "Execution : The Discipline of Getting Things Done." The book would make good reading at the most senior levels of the Legion and the Vatican.

Putting an execution culture in place is  hard. It is a question of knowing how to link people, strategy and operations together. It is a discipline that in order to work presupposes the leader's ability to select and appraise the right people for the job. This is a task that Bossidy says should never be delegated. The leader has to implement and personally supervise these processes.

Running a business, a congregation or a Church is not about articulating a vision and leaving the implementation to others. Nothing new here. Except sometimes we forget that the Church has a lot to learn about how to manage a crisis from the corporate world. Maybe even from Tiger Woods.

Legionaries of Christ: Leadership challenge

I was a legionary from 1962 - 1982, when the congregation was really just getting off the ground. During that time and despite close collaboration with Fr. Marcial Maciel, the founder, I never saw anything to make me suspicious of the awful things we now know about him. I’ve checked with many of my peers (ex LCs) and they all share this perception. This must sound hard to believe in the light of what we now know. However, that’s why I am forgiving of those who openly defended Maciel before the facts were proven. Was I aware of his flaws and him manipulation before I left? Sure. But I honestly never saw anything nor heard any credible rumor to alert me to what I now know.

Whatever demons drove the man must have gone into overdrive from the early 1980s onward - maybe the fact that he was allegedly abused as a young child, plus the combination of a narcissistic personality combined with his charisma and the adulation of his followers led him to believe that he was beyond good and evil. May the Lord have mercy on him. His victims are Legion.

I fear that the legion debacle may be just the tip of the iceberg. The Vatican has never been immune to influence peddling (what government/politician is not?) It does not have 21st century management systems in place and its ability to manage public relations is woefully deficient.

There remains an underlying clericalism in the Vatican and the Church despite the winds of change ushered in by Vatican II. This clericalism is something of a tribal mentality, common to many religions, an urge to protect our own against the “world.”

In the early days at least Maciel saw the imperative of getting “lay” people more involved in the workings of the Church. He talked of the “people of God journeying together towards the Father.” The vision seemed right, the implementation obviously wrong. But through Regnum Christ, the lay movement of the Legion, tens of thousands of committed lay people are now involved on a level unheard of before Vatican II.

Bottom line, to remedy what ails us we need to move away from the “clerical” model that has plagued our Church. It is no longer enough to blame the Pope, the Bishops and the clergy. If the Maciel scandal helps the Church face these huge issues, then he may have served a useful purpose after all. The challenge facing Pope Benedict is one of leadership. May the winds of the Spirit be at his back.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Marcial Maciel's sex and money scandal threatens the Vatican

Cardinal Ratzinger’s comment together with the “look” on his face when he was confronted by ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross some time ago caught my attention. Ross was trying to get a comment from Pope Benedict about the Maciel case. The future Pope slapped Ross on the hand and said “come to me when the time is right.”

I lived and studied in Rome for six years and had some access to the inner workings of the Vatican when I served as an aide de camp for a Cardinal, former Apostolic Delegate to the USA. That ‘look” on Cardinal Ratzinger’s face said it all – but neither it nor the Cardinal’s words generated as much comment as the slap on the wrist.  At the time, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith headed by Cardinal Ratzinger for two decades was the Vatican bureaucracy entrusted by Pope John Paul II (in 2001)  to handle clergy abuse cases. The future Pope listened to what the U.S. bishops had to say and seems to have acquired a better grasp of the magnitude of the problems before many of his Vatican peers. Time will tell if he set up the necessary management processes to begin to implement solutions.

Now that he is Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Ratzinger is faced with the challenge of managing a crisis whose time has come. The case of Fr. Marcial Maciel the disgraced founder of the Legionaries of Christ has the potential for morphing from “Legiongate” to “Vaticangate.” We know Pope Benedict is a brilliant theologian and is regarded as a tough-minded disciplinarian. His challenge now is one of transformational leadership.

Despite the fact that the clergy abuse scandal exploded in the United States some twenty years ago it is not clear that the Vatican has the needed infrastructure to process reports of abuse. The abuse scandal looks to be compounded by the liberal National Catholic Reporter’s account of Fr. Maciel’s money management and the corruption of top Vatican officials. Damian Thompson of the Telegraph headlines today’s blog “A vast sex and money scandal threatens the Vatican. But, once again, Ratzinger emerges as the campaigner against 'filth'.”

This campaign will be waged in the world of donor relations, legal exposure and crisis management.
As Rachel Donadio points out in today’s NYT, the Vatican is an ancient institution struggling with modernity despite the fact that the liberalizing Second Vatican Council in the 1960s was supposed to update the church’s relation to the world. I recall the reaction of the late Cardinal Eduardo Pironio whom I am privileged to have counted as a friend, when he first came to the Vatican to head the Congregation for Religious. He was quite flabbergasted at the lack of computers or business-like management systems in the Vatican. He wondered, bitterly, how there could be any realistic control of finances, audits and etc. without the tools used in the corporate world. It was total culture shock for him, coming from Argentina. Like the current Pontiff, had to make do with the workings of a lethargic and highly politicized bureaucracy created in the 16th century to contend with the Protestant Reformation and the discovery of the New World. Donadio makes the salient point “By some lights, it is still grappling with both.”

In terms of influence peddling, it seemed to me that the Vatican did not operate in ways notably different to multinational corporations, and national governments including our own US Congress. The Vatican was not immune to lobbyists some of whom wore religious habits. Meanwhile the management systems, such as they are, have more in common with a small town bureaucracy than with a major global Church.  And if Pope Benedict is to campaign and lead effectively he needs better public relations support than he has on up to now.

NCR’s report makes the financial angle seem so sinister - and it probably is. It's hard to believe that Maciel started these practices in Rome but he certainly perfected them. The level of politics, intrigue and malicious gossip that I saw in the Vatican (totally independent of the Legion of Christ) always intrigued me - perhaps because initially I had such an innocent idea of what it was all about. Sometimes I delivered those Christmas baskets, mentioned in the reporting, to appreciative and influential Cardinals. It didn’t seem like bribery at the time. In fact, I think gestures of appreciation and support at Christmas was quite common in the corporate and political world. Did Fr. Maciel contribute larger amounts of money for more sinister purposes? I have no reason to believe he did not.

Was it all bribery? Yes - except euphemistically it was called by other names. Was it all malicious? I don't think so. Did Maciel use his extraordinary ability to influence people by using corporate giving? Absolutely. Knowing what we now know, it was indeed sinister. However, it’s worth mentioning that during the twenty years I knew the man I never saw any indication of his being a drug addict or that he had abused young seminarians.

I have no reason to disbelieve the awful revelations about him. I’m sure that whatever was deviant in his personality must have evolved in unimaginable ways from the mid-1980s until his death. It seems to me that he was in control of those baser impulses at least from the 1960’s until the mid-80s. Maybe he got his start when he was allegedly abused as a child on his father’s ranch. That evolution remains a terrible mystery. Those Legionaries (not exclusively current Legionary Superiors) who lived or knew of Maciel’s early misdeeds and covered for him betrayed those of us who didn’t suspect. I would feel angrier with them if I didn’t know what a superb manipulator Maciel was. His victims are indeed Legion.

As Pope Benedict wages his campaign he will need all our support. Clergy abuse and potential financial scandals constitute a heavy cross for a frail and shy theologian, albeit one who counts on Christ’s promise to be his rock. The young men in Legionary seminaries and the vast majority of good Legionary priests need prayerful and emotional support too. I can’t imagine what it must be like for them in their less busy moments when they actually have time to think. Priests in general have to be going through an awful time as the Pope figures out how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New York's Archbishop Dolan defends the Pope

New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan strongly defended Pope Benedict against charges the pontiff helped cover up cases of child abuse, winning a standing ovation from parishioners who heard his remarks at Palm Sunday Mass. In a moving analogy he compared the current situation facing Pope Benedict XVI to the" unjust accusations, shouts of the mob, and scourging at the pillar"

"No one has been more vigorous in cleansing the Church of the effects of this sickening sin than the man we now call Pope Benedict XVI. The dramatic progress that the Catholic Church in the United States has made —  documented again just last week by the report made by independent forensic auditors — could never have happened without the insistence and support of the very man now being daily crowned with thorns by groundless innuendo.

"Does the Church and her Pastor, Pope Benedict XVI, need intense scrutiny and just criticism for tragic horrors long past?

"Yes! He himself has asked for it, encouraging complete honesty, at the same time expressing contrition, and urging a thorough cleansing.

"All we ask is that it be fair, and that the Catholic Church not be singled-out for a horror that has cursed every culture, religion, organization, institution, school, agency, and family in the world."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries of Christ. What will happen?

In response to a comment of mine on another blog, I mentioned that I’ve already stated what I think may be the result of the Apostolic Visitation which has just come to a close on the Legionaries of Christ. However, I don't think I've stated those view here and I would like to rectify that omission with this post. The Legion and the Church is still reeling from the revelations about the now disgraced founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel.

First, let me state categorically that I have absolutely no “inside knowledge.” What I think may happen is purely my own conjecture based on what I experienced as a Legionary and my conversations with friends who follow the latest goings on more assiduously than I.

Once the Vatican digests the exhaustive findings of the Apostolic Visitors I would not be surprised if the Pope’s recommendations to the Legion include the following:

1. Current senior Legionary leadership will be asked to step down

2. New leadership will be appointed from outside the Congregation

3. An extraordinary general chapter will be convened

4. The rules and constitutions of the congregations will be revised and adjusted

5. The understanding of the vow of obedience will be revised

6. The canonical status of the congregation my be modified (it may no longer be classified as a “religious congregation”)

7. Systems will be put in place – if more are needed – to guarantee transparency in all operations

If some or all of the above happens, the question becomes “will the Legionaries accept the mandated changes?”  My guess is that they will. Loyalty to the Vicar of Christ is in the Legionary D.N.A. and supersedes all other loyalties. Nothing that any senior Legionary has said (that I am aware of) gives me any reason to think otherwise. Indeed, I’ve been told Fr. Alvaro Corcuera has unequivocally stated that they will do whatever the Pope says.

Have I any particular suggestions for what else should happen?  No. That’s above my pay-grade as they say.  Legionaries would be smart - and charitable! - to set up a new process and structure to help members who leave the Legion. An alumni association of former Legionaries (at least going forward) is also way overdue. There are excellent models for this in other congregations where former members and their families can meet and mingle with the current priests and seminarians.

For twenty years the Legion was my family. The problem is, as my perception has been painfully confirmed, it was a dysfunctional family. I know I don’t have to be a victim of my upbringing. Although a dysfunctional family can crush self-esteem, create personal confusion, and wreck relationships, the distortion of natural instincts can be reversed.

The problems with the Legion have clearly and painfully brought to light what is not good in this religious congregation of priests. In ways that we are not perhaps totally aware of, the Legion debacle reflects some underlying problems within the Catholic Church.

With the right new structures, goodwill and support in place, the knowledge of what ails the Legion can inspire the congregation and its members to set themselves free to become the holy and enthusiastic priests they want to be thereby creating a life they can love. The good men who left all for Christ deserve this chance.  It most certainly will not be easy.  That is why they need prayers and support. In many ways, I suggest the same is true for the greater Catholic Church.

The Church is teetering on a precipice at least in the English speaking world.  The Holy Father and the Vatican bureaucracy would do well to learn from the good the Legion has done and learn even more from what went wrong.  The Legion, like so many male clerical institutions, operated in many ways like a tribe. The tribe seeks to protect itself from outsiders. The tribal approach has to be changed, radically. That is particularly obvious in the case of the Legion. It has not been so obvious, until recently, about the workings of the Vatican. To my mind, the Vatican and the hierarchy traditionally have upheld a tribal mentality that is not entirely dissimilar – we wash our own dirty laundry, we know what is best, we will do everything possible to avoid scandal, we are above secular authorities.

The Church in the United States has learned, painfully, how to deal with clergy abuse. New structures are in place and upheld. Ireland is still learning. Awareness is spreading in Europe. God only knows what remains to be revealed in other parts of the world including Africa and Latin America. The case of Fr. Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ is an almost perfect case-study for the pressing need to make deep and significant changes. The Vatican would do well to emulate the US approach to abusive clergy and would do even better to revisit in a very serious way what Pope John XXIII called “aggiornamento.”  He urged the Church to adapt to contemporary challenges. The symbol for “aggiornamento” became the opened window of his papal apartment, and the blast of fresh air rushing in. I think it's time for the Vatican and the Bishops of the world to open the windows and let in a blast of fresh Spring air.

Easter Monday: Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican

In 1973, Easter Sunday fell on April 22. Spring was in full bloom, Easter is an especially beautiful season in Rome. My parents came to visit me when I was studying in Rome. Because of my work with Cardinal Luigi Raimondi, I was very familiar with the Vatican. The following is an excerpt from my memoir "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines" - but it's really just an excuse to celebrate Easter Monday by inviting you to take a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel. If you know the chapel this tour will bring back fond memories. If you don't, you are in for a treat! The virtual tour may take a minute to load - but it's worth the wait.

“Thank you kindly,” he responded. “Now, come, follow me.”
We headed down the silent corridor behind the old man.
“How long would you like to be in the Chapel?” he asked.
“One hour would be fine.”
“You can have forty-five minutes,” he said. “Let me turn on the lights.” Then he opened a side door and ushered us into the Sistine Chapel. “I’ll lock the door behind you, and come to let you out.”

There is nothing more breathtaking in Rome than the place where the Cardinals elect the Pope. The vaulted ceiling painted by Michelangelo whilst lying on his back, dominates the space. It is the largest surface ever painted by an artist. Pope Sixtus IV commissioned the architect Giovanni Del Dolci to build the chapel between 1475 and 1583. It’s a precious gallery of Italian Renaissance paintings. The premier painters of the fifteenth century, including; Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio (Michelangelo’s teacher), Signorelli, and Cosimo Rosselli all contributed to the illustrated parallel histories of the Old and New Testaments, depicted on the walls. The Sistine Chapel evokes Solomon's Temple of the Old Testament. A marble screen divides the chapel into two parts - one side used to be for the members of the Papal Chapel, within the sanctuary near the altar, and the other for the pilgrims and townsfolk without.

After we had spent about thirty minutes in the chapel, my father said, “Jack, do you think it is all right for us to be here?”
“Of course, it’s all right.” I replied. “We didn’t sneak in - This is a special favor from the custodian.”
My father worried about security. “This is a priceless treasure,” he said, “I find it hard to believe we’ve been left here on our own.”
“Relax and enjoy it Dad,” I said. “Few people ever get this privilege. If anyone deserves it, you do.”

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Fruits of the Spirit:" New direction for post Easter living

Pope Benedict's reference to St. Paul's description of the "fruits of the spirit" which are guidelines for the paschal direction of our lives caught my attention. Here is a paragraph from the Easter Vigil homily  at St. Peter's Basilica on Holy Saturday 3, April 2010. I registered Holy Saturday as the publication date for my memoir "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: How an Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mind."

Then, in the practice of the early Church, the one to be baptized turned towards the east – the symbol of light, the symbol of the newly rising sun of history, the symbol of Christ. The candidate for baptism determines the new direction of his life: faith in the Trinitarian God to whom he entrusts himself. Thus it is God who clothes us in the garment of light, the garment of life. Paul calls these new “garments” “fruits of the spirit”, and he describes them as follows: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22).

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Joy cannot be commanded. It can only be given. The risen Lord gives us joy: true life.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Now is the time for saints. How will you respond?

I just read this homily written by Father Roger Landry in 2002. It was delivered on Feb. 3, at Espirito Santo, a parish in Fall River, Mass. Fr. Landry makes many of the points I would like to mention on this Holy Saturday, so I am reproducing his homily here in its entirety, with his permission. Fr. Landry is pastor of St. Anthony's Parish in New Bedford, MA, and executive editor of The Anchor, the weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Fall River.

A Crisis of Saints, By Fr. Roger Landry
April 2002
Copyright © 2002 Fr. Roger J. Landry

Headlines were captured in February by the tragic reports that as many as seventy priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, allegedly have abused young people whom they were consecrated to serve. In the wake this news, allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have sprung up nationwide. It is a huge scandal, one that many people who dislike the Catholic Church because of its moral teachings are using to claim that the Church is hypocritical and that they were right all along. Many people have come up to priests like myself to talk about it. I imagine many others have wanted to but have refrained out of respect or from not wanting to bring up bad news.

We need to tackle the issue head-on. Catholics have a right to it from their clergy. We cannot pretend it doesn't exist, and I would like to discuss what our response as faithful Catholics should be to this terrible situation.

The Judas syndrome

The first thing we need to do is to understand this scandal from the perspective of our faith in the Lord. Before he chose his first disciples, Jesus went up the mountain to pray all night (Luke 6:12). He had many followers at the time. He talked to his Father in prayer about whom he should choose to be his twelve apostles-the twelve whom he would form intimately, the twelve whom he would send out to preach the good news in his name. He gave them power to cast out demons. He gave them power to cure the sick. They watched him work countless miracles. They themselves worked countless others in his name.

Yet one of them turned out to be a traitor. One who had followed the Lord-who had seen him walk on water and raise people from the dead and forgive sinners, one whose feet the Lord had washed-betrayed him. The gospels tells us that Judas allowed Satan to enter into him and then sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver, handing him over by faking a gesture of love. "Judas," Jesus said to him in the garden of Gethsemane, "would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?" (Luke 24:48).

Jesus didn't choose Judas to betray him. But Judas was always free, and he used his freedom to allow Satan to enter into him, and by his betrayal Jesus was crucified and executed. But God foresaw this evil and used it to accomplish the ultimate good: the redemption of the world.

The point is, sometimes God's chosen ones betray him. That is a fact that we have to confront. If the early Christians had focused only on the scandal caused by Judas, the Church would have been finished before it even started to grow. Instead they recognized that you don't judge a movement by those who don't live it but by those who do. Rather than focusing on the betrayer, they focused on the other eleven on account of whose work, preaching, miracles, and love for Christ we are here today. It is on account of the other eleven-all of whom except John were martyred for Christ and for the gospel they proclaimed-that we ever heard the saving word of God, that we ever received the sacraments of eternal life.

We are confronted by the same scandalous reality today. We can focus on those who have betrayed the Lord, those who abused rather than loved the people whom they were called to serve. Or we can focus, as did the early Church, on those who have remained faithful, those priests who are still offering their lives to serve Christ and you out of love. The secular media almost never focuses on the good "eleven," the ones whom Jesus has chosen who remain faithful, who live lives of quiet holiness. But we the Church must keep the terrible scandal that we are witnessing in its true and full perspective.

Great saints of scandal born

Unfortunately, scandal is nothing new for the Church. There have been many times through the ages when things were much worse off than they are now. The history of the Church is like a cosine curve with many ups and downs. At the times when the Church hits its low points God raises up tremendous saints to bring the Church back to its real mission. It's almost as if in those times of darkness the light of Christ shines ever more brightly. I would like to focus on a couple of saints whom God raised up in such difficult times, because their wisdom can guide us during our own difficult time.

Francis de Sales came along after the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was not principally about theology-although theological differences came later-but about morals. Martin Luther, an Augustinian priest, lived during the reign of perhaps the most notorious pope in history, Alexander VI. This pope never taught anything against the faith-the Holy Spirit prevented that-but he was a wicked man. He had nine children from six different concubines. He put out contracts on the lives of those he considered his enemies.

Luther, like everyone, must have wondered how God could allow a wicked man to be the visible head of his Church. All types of moral problems confronted Luther even in his own country of Germany. Priests were living in open relationships with women. Some made exaggerated claims about indulgences. There was terrible immorality among lay Catholics. Luther was scandalized, as anyone who loved God should have been. He allowed the scandal to drive him from the Church.

Eventually God raised up many saints to combat this erroneous solution and to bring people back to the Church Christ founded. Francis de Sales was one of them. At the risk of his life he went through Switzerland, where the Calvinists were popular, preaching the gospel with truth and love. Several times on his travels he was beaten and left for dead.

Someone once asked him to address the situation of the scandal caused by so many of his brother priests. What Francis de Sales said is as important for us today as it was then. He did not pull any punches. He said, "While those who give scandal are guilty of the spiritual equivalent of murder [i.e., destroying other people's faith in God by their terrible example], those who take scandal-who allow scandals to destroy their faith-are guilty of spiritual suicide." They are guilty, he said, of cutting off their life with Christ by abandoning the source of life in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. He went among the people in Switzerland trying to prevent their committing spiritual suicide on account of the scandals. As a priest today I would say the same thing to you.

What should our reaction be then? Another saint who lived in a difficult time also can help us. Francis of Assisi lived in the thirteenth century, which was a time of terrible immorality in central Italy. Priests were setting horrible examples. Lay immorality was terrible, too. Francis himself while a young man gave scandal to others by his carefree ways. But eventually he was converted back to the Lord, founded the Franciscans, helped God rebuild his Church, and became one of the great saints of all time.

There is a story told of Francis of Assisi that sticks in my mind from one of the biographies I read as a seminarian. Once one of the brothers in the order of Friars Minor who was sensitive to scandal asked him, "Brother Francis, what would you do if you knew that a priest celebrating Mass had three concubines on the side?" Francis replied, "When it came time for Holy Communion, I would go to receive the sacred body of my Lord from the priest's anointed hands."

Francis was getting at a tremendous truth of the faith and a tremendous gift of the Lord: God has made the sacraments "priest-proof." No matter how holy or wicked a priest is, provided he has the intention to do what the Church does, then Christ himself acts through the priest, just as he acted through Judas when Judas ministered as an apostle. So whether Pope John Paul II or a priest on death row for a felony consecrates the bread and wine, it is Christ himself who acts to gives us his own body and blood. Francis was saying he was not going to let the wickedness or immorality of the priest lead him (Francis) to commit spiritual suicide.

Christ can work still and does work still even through the most sinful priest. And thank God! If we were dependent on the priest's personal holiness, we would be in trouble. Though they are chosen by God from among men, priests are tempted and fall into sin just like anyone else. But of course God knew that from the beginning. Eleven of the first twelve apostles scattered when Christ was arrested, but they came back.

The only authentic response

There has been a lot of talk in the media about what the response of the Church ought to be to these scandalous deeds. Does the Church have to do a better job in making sure no one with a predisposition toward pedophilia gets ordained? Absolutely. But that is not enough.

Does the Church have to do a better job in handling cases when they are reported? Absolutely. Though the Church's procedures for handling these cases are much better today than they were twenty years ago, they can always be improved. But even that is not enough.

Do we have to do more to support the victims of such abuse? Yes we do, both out of justice and out of love. But not even that is adequate. Cardinal Bernard Law has persuaded many of the medical school deans in Boston to work on establishing a center for the prevention of child abuse, which is something we should all support. But that by itself is not sufficient.

The only adequate response to this terrible scandal, the only fully Catholic response-as Francis of Assisi recognized in the 1200s, as Francis de Sales recognized in the 1600s, and as countless other saints have recognized in every century-is holiness. Every crisis that the Church faces, every crisis that the world faces, is a crisis of saints. Holiness is crucial because it is the real face of the Church.

There are always people-a priest meets them regularly, and you probably know several of them-who use excuses for why they don't practice the faith, why they commit spiritual suicide. It may be that a nun was mean to them when they were nine or that they find the teaching of the Church on a particular issue too burdensome. There are many people these days who say, "Why should I practice the faith, why should I go to church? The Church can't be true if God's so-called chosen ones can do the types of things we've been reading about!"

This scandal is a scaffold on which some will try to hang their justification for not practicing the faith. That is why personal holiness is so important. Such people need to find in all of us a reason for faith, a reason for hope, a reason for responding with love to the love of the Lord. The beatitudes in Christ's Sermon on the Mount are a recipe for holiness. We all need to live them more.

Do priests have to become holier? They sure do. Do religious brothers and sisters have to become holier and give ever-greater witness to God and heaven? Absolutely. All people in the Church have the vocation to be holy, and this crisis is a wake-up call.

It's a tough time to be a priest today. It's a tough time to be a Catholic today. But it's also a great time to be a priest and a great time to be a Catholic. Jesus says, "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven" (Matt. 5:11-12).

I have been experiencing that beatitude firsthand, as have other priests I know. Earlier this week I had finished my exercise at a local gym and was coming out of the locker room dressed in my black clerical garb. Upon seeing me, a mother hurriedly moved her children out of the way and shielded them from me as I was passing. She glared at me as I passed, and when I was far enough away she finally relaxed and let her children go-as if I would have attacked them in the middle of the afternoon at a health club!

But while we all might have to suffer such insults and even slander on account of Christ, we should indeed rejoice. It's a great time to be a Christian, because this is a time in which God really needs us to show his true face. In bygone days in America, the Church was respected. Priests were respected. The Church had a reputation for holiness and goodness. Not so at the moment.

The Church will never fail

For almost three years of my life in the early 1990s, while in my car I listened to nothing but tapes by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, one of the greatest Catholic preachers in American history. On a couple of his tapes for priests' retreats, Bishop Sheen said that he preferred to live in times when the Church has suffered rather than thrived, when the Church had to struggle, when the Church had to go against the culture. It was a time for real men and real women to stand up and be counted. "Even dead bodies can float downstream," he said, pointing that many people can coast when the Church is respected, "but it takes a real man, a real woman, to swim against the current."

How true that is. It takes a real man or a real woman to stand up against the current that is flowing against the Church. It takes a real man or a real woman to recognize that when you are resisting the flood of criticism, you are safest when you stay attached to the Rock on whom Christ built his Church. This is one of those times. It's a great time to be a Christian.

Some people are predicting that the Church is in for a rough time, and maybe it is. But the Church will survive because the Lord will make sure it survives. One of the greatest comeback lines in history was uttered two hundred years ago. As his armies were swallowing up the countries of Europe, French emperor Napoleon is reported to have said to Church officials, "Je détruirai votre église" ("I will destroy your Church")." When informed of the emperor's words, Ercole Cardinal Consalvi, one of the great statesmen of the papal court, replied, "He will never succeed. We have not managed to do it ourselves!" If bad popes, immoral priests, and countless sinners in the Church hadn't succeeded in destroying the Church from within, Cardinal Consalvi was saying, how did Napoleon think he was going to do it from without?

The Cardinal was pointing to a crucial truth: Christ will never allow his Church to fail. He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church (Matt. 16:18); that the barque of Peter, the Church sailing through time to its eternal port in heaven, will never capsize-not because those in the boat won't do everything sinfully possible to overturn it but because Christ, who is captain of the boat, will never allow it to happen.

The magnitude of the current scandal might be such that some will find it difficult to trust priests in the same way as in the past. That is regrettable, though it might not be a completely bad thing. Yet you must never lose trust in Christ! It is his Church. After Judas's death the eleven apostles convened; the Holy Spirit chose Matthias to take Judas's place, and he proclaimed the gospel faithfully until he was martyred for it. In the same way today, even if some of those the Lord chose have betrayed him, he will call others who will be faithful, who will serve you with the love with which you deserve to be served.

This is a time in which all of us need to focus ever more on holiness. We are called to be saints, and how much our society needs to see this beautiful, radiant face of the Church! You are part of the solution-a crucial part. And as you go forward in Mass to receive from the priest's anointed hands the sacred body of your Lord, ask Christ to fill you with a real desire for sanctity, a real desire to show his true face.

One of the reasons I am a priest today is because when I younger I was under-impressed with some of the priests I knew. I watched them celebrate Mass and with little reverence drop the body of the Lord onto the paten, as if they were handling something of small value rather than the Creator and Savior of all, rather than my Creator and Savior. I remember praying, "Lord, please let me become a priest, so I can treat you like you deserve!" It kindled in me a great fire to serve the Lord.

Maybe this scandal can kindle in you the same thing. If you choose, this scandal can lead you down to the path of spiritual suicide. But it should inspire you to say finally to God, "I want to become a saint so that I and the Church can give your name the glory it deserves, so that others might find in you the love and the salvation that I have found."

Jesus is with us, as he promised, until the end of time. He is still in the boat. Just as out of Judas's betrayal he achieved the greatest victory in the universe-our salvation through his passion, death and resurrection-so out of this new scandal he may bring, wants to bring, a new rebirth of holiness, a new Acts of the Apostles for the twenty-first century, with each of us-and that includes you-playing a starring role. Now is the time for real men and women of the Church to stand up. Now is the time for saints. How will you respond?