Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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.


Anonymous said...

"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."

Are you referring to Giselle at Life after RC or Pete Vere or other ExLC sites or do you mean someone else? I see their motive as the opposite of what you say - with a goal to build up the Church and Papacy with truth and ensuring that a very flawed methodology does not continue to hurt many faithful Catholics

The Monk said...

Anonymous -
No, I am not referring to any one particular blog or to ExLC sites - although I must say I find it interesting that you would single them out.

Take a journey through the non-ExLC blogs commenting on the scandals in the Catholic Church which mention Maciel and the Legionaries. I think you'll find many of them use both the proven and unproven allegations to vilify the Church, the Papacy, Priests and the Laity in general. God knows there is fair game for sincere criticism. I'm not sure that criticism for the sake of criticism is helpful. And the many people who have an anti-Church agenda are perfectly entitled to use the obvious failings to make their points. I guess bloggers don't have to be "fair and balanced" in their comments on the news. That's OK. I suspect you may agree that the media, in general, has something of an anti-Catholic bias which is, more often than not, picked up and amplified in the blogs.

In a real sense the media has done the Church a favor by helping expose appalling situations that had been hidden for too long. But I think it naive to think that much of the commentary is not driven by ulterior motives.

As far as I am concerned, Maciel and his perfidious ways have been "exposed." I am willing to await the outcome of the Apostolic Visitation and whatever efforts the LC makes to comply. With regards to the particular bloggers you mention, I think it's fair to wonder how they and their readers will react if the Vatican does not shut the Legion down? You could make a cogent argument for trusting the voice of the faithful more than the Pope - but I'm not there yet. I still believe, despite everything, that he is Petrus, the Rock.

On a very personal level I absolutely abhor and condemn the awful things MM (and whoever aided and abetted him) did. But I guess I still feel empathy - even loyalty - to the good LC people who still remain. Most of them are good priests and committed seminarians with flaws like the rest of us. They - and their families - are, right now, caught in a major dilemma. Although they have never reached out in any significant way to those of us who left,I'm not willing to throw stones at them just yet. Let those without sin be the first ones to do so, as the Man said.

RC said...

There is something definitely creepy about reading Gisele's blog. All that prurient wallowing in evil makes you want to take a shower after reading it. Same for the worse of Vere.

You don't get that feeling from reading Catholic News Service on the same subject.

The Monk said...

Here's an observation that makes sense to me from the spiritual and psychological perspective:

"The fullness of healing, of course, can only come when the victims finally feel capable of saying “I forgive you…” That moment -which cannot be compelled and does not mean forgetting- is the moment when a victim takes his life back. When a victim says, “I forgive you,” she confers her own power over the entire situation, and controls it. It is transformative; it brings a victim into his or her Royal Priesthood.

Forgiveness, I have learned, is essential to healing; without it one is held in a stagnant pool of misery. Forgiving is how you reclaim yourself and move on. Until you can forgive, the incident -whatever it is- owns you.

And it made me think of this:

There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down and hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; life goes on
You keep carrin’ that anger, it’ll eat you inside

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

It cannot be compelled, but perhaps contrition speeds it.*

And it heals."

You can see the original at Elizabeth Scalia's blog ( ) She is a superb commentator and knows of whence she speaks