Monday, May 3, 2010

Legionaries of Christ: a leading indicator of Church renewal?

The Legionaries of Christ responded to the May 1, 2010 Vatican statement saying "The Legionaries thank the Holy Father and embrace his provisions with faith and obedience. We appreciate the hard work and dedication of the apostolic visitators. And we are grateful for the prayers of so many people of good will who have supported us at this time."

Meanwhile, The Irish Times reports that Irish born Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, "may be appointed as the special Vatican “delegate” who will lead a “commission of studies” into the discredited Catholic Order the Legionaries of Christ, Vatican sources have suggested." Bishop Farrell is a close aide to Cardinal Walter Kasper at Christian Unity, and is a member of the Legionaries.

Brain's brother, Kevin, a former Legionary, is now Bishop of Dallas. (Kevin gets several mentions in my memoir - like me, he served as a driver during his Legionary career. We shared adventures together. Brian and I attended the same high school in Dublin - he joined the Legion in 1961.)

My reaction to the Vatican statement is positive - the Pope is essentially ordering a “re-founding’ of the Legion. This is the opportunity for Legionaries to focus on their vocation to religious life and the priesthood, unshackling themselves from the pernicious influence of the founder. My assumption is that Legionaries will gladly collaborate and implement the Holy See’s guidance. I believe that this initial Vatican statement will be profoundly liberating for them. I know it was for me.

This is an important moment for the Church - finally, decisive, unambiguous intervention by the Vatican and the opportunity for a new and dynamic congregation to humbly discover its genuine mission - which for too long was obfuscated by the founder’s entrepreneurial focus on methodology. The result could be closer to the Congregation I thought I was joining, way back in 1962,  freed from the deformations introduced by Fr. Maciel. I am not about to “sign up” again - but I wish them well. What happens with the Legion could well be a leading indicator of the Church's ability to cleanse and renew itself as it emerges from decades of abuse scandals.


Mary A. said...

My brother is a Legion priest for almost 20 years and I know that for him personally the news has been devastating. He gave up so much to be a Priest in the Legion and he truly believed in it. I guess it makes me sad to see so many people demonizing RC and Legion Priests because there are many good people still involved in that movement who have good formation in the faith. It really bothers me when I see the press demonize the Catholic church for a few bad apples. I guess I enjoyed your blog because it's fair in it's assessment. I wish that more people could understand that there are many legion priests who really believe in what they were following and are very upset at the way things were handled.

Anon out of RC said...

Mary - Is your brother devastated by the Pope's communique this weekend? I was hoping that it would free the conscience, heart and soul of so many wonderful LC priests who came with good intentions to serve the Lord. Seems like the devastation should be about Maciel and how the leaders handled it by not being forthright with their congregation and the RC. It was the second betrayal for me that was too much to bear.

The Pope has now set the record straight that Maciel was a fraud and the order needs to start from scratch. Hopefully your brother was following Christ and not Maciel so now he is stripped of the evil methodology and can heal and go about serving the Church in freedom and love. If they "really believed in what they were following" and it was Maciel and his methodology - than they will have alot of healing to do. This whole scandal has helped me refocus my eyes on Christ and no human being.

I send my prayers to your family for peace, healing and a new zeal to serve the Church free of Maciel's methodology.

non-RC Catholic said...

My Brother is a young, but important Legionary Priest, and as of this post still wholeheartedly believes Fr. Maciel was a great man who made a few big mistakes, but still is to be loved, admired, and emulated; also he maintains that all the antagonism of the Legion right now is from haters outside who are enemies to the Church as a whole. He sees the Legion as "his spouse" and will fight anyone who slanders her spotless reputation.

non-RC Catholic said...

Mary A.
I strongly agree with you that there are many, many good Legionary Priests. However, their judgement and critical thinking skills have been infested with preconceptions and ideologies that come from, and lead to cultish tendencies that have been (and will continue to be) capitalized upon by a corrupt administration. I sincerely hope the Legion is dissolved, but in a manner that brings them safely to where they need to be, and can flourish and grow!!

The Monk said...

Non-RC Catholic @ 2:02PM -
Thanks for sharing the commentary about your LC brother. I am both surprised and disappointed to hear it. As you may know, I have not been very close to the LC for years. However, as a result of the publication of my book, several LC both young and "old" have contacted me. Interestingly, they all say they like the book - none of them have any major disagreements. From their comments and phone calls I would have said the LC seems to be "at peace" with the awful realities of the founder. Indeed the older ones suggest that they are "over it" and want to get on with their lives and the "re-foundation" (my word, not theirs). The younger, mostly American group accept the revelations about the founder and resent the ambiguous and tardy statements by the LC leadership and the Vatican. They can't understand why they were not immediately informed when the allegations were accepted as true. Hence, I'm surprised to hear that a young priest still reveres MM. The trouble is, Legionaries don't know much about how their colleagues are thinking and, of course, it is not at all easy to come to terms with the discovery that the founder indeed had "feet of clay". Give him time and understanding - there is such a culture of defending the "organization". However, I do think the tide has turned. What I can't understand - or condone - is why the Vatican is taking so long to name the "Delegate". How long will they leave the LC hanging in the wind? As far as I can tell, what the LC most desire is for the Delegate to come on board ASAP.