Monday, June 14, 2010

What explains the success of the Legionaries of Christ?

I think the Vatican understands that the Legionaries of Christ and the members of Regnum Christi have done, and continue to do, a great deal of good. The Congregation, despite the disgraced founder, has been a conduit of saving grace for many thousands of adherents not precisely because of the work of Maciel but rather despite his reprehensible human flaws. They have achieved phenomenal success in varied apostolic endeavors during a relatively short period of time. The good they have done is from God and not from the founder.

Legionaries since very early on, guided by the entrepreneurial genius of Maciel the founder, learned to work with the best the Catholic Church had to offer – idealistic young men who wanted to be priests, generous young women willing to serve the Church, orthodox Catholic couples seeking a superior Christian education for their children. All of them dissatisfied, to some degree, by the lack of opportunity, organization, talent, and enthusiasm they found in their local parishes and schools.

Maciel the founder believed that Legionaries had much to learn from Communist recruitment techniques and motivational practices. He urged them to work harder and longer than the enemies of the Church. His message focused more on how to get things done. Slowly and imperceptibly methodology became more important than spirituality. For members, the how and why were one and the same.

The founder did a masterful job of keeping his vices secret and his double life diligently hidden from scrutiny. He encouraged his Legionaries and their recruits to preach and practice a totally orthodox spirituality founded on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and loyalty to the Holy See.  Thankfully, neither the Legion nor the Regnum Christi Movement replicated the duplicity or the personal vices of the founder of which, for the most part,  they were unaware.

However, Maciel’s thinking and double life has sullied the methodology he bequeathed and has deformed the formation of the consciences of the members. The soon-to-be-appointed (Fall, 2010) Vatican delegate who will oversee the re-foundation of the Legion will be faced with the task of helping Legionaries and their adherents untangle Maciel’s twisted thinking from all that is orthodox in their formation. Thankfully, the Legionaries seem to be on-board with this task, promising obedient compliance with the Vatican clean up.


Anonymous said...

Hello Jack,

As an active RC member I've read your blog with considerable interest. There are certainly many different takes on the current situation, the Vatican's response, and the Legion's actions. I've certainly appreciated your response, one I consider very honest and balanced.

I am curious to pick your brain about your experience in out of the Legion. So many priests had mostly positive experiences in the order, but many did not. And some of those that did not, including yourself, had seemingly really bad experiences with Fr. Maciel. It is fairly clear now that he was quite good at hiding his vices, as you put it.

Many people seem to discount people's positive experiences of Maciel since all they see is the terrible side of him. I contend that he was a master at keeping up the "good face" for the majority of the time, but at times this facade slipped, and those are the bad experiences people had with him, and probably that was when the "real Maciel" came forth. If so, it would seem logical (at least if I was in his position) to remove/force out these people who saw the real him.

But the others who never saw this were truly duped by a masterful man. Their experiences of the good things he did were genuine, even if he was not. No wonder the negative stories others told were hard, if not impossible, to believe.

What are your thoughts on this. I admit I haven't read all your posts, so perhaps you;ve addressed this already. If so I apologize. I jsut think many people lack the understanding of the complexity of Maciel's deceptoin and the effect on everyone's experiences. If we could have a bit more compassion and mercy, I think we could make some real progress in fixing things and moving forward (even if that means shutting everything down). As it is there seems to be alot of knee jerk reactions and complete mistrust.

The Monk said...

Thanks for your comment and question Anonymous. I wrote a reply - but it's too long for this combox! So, I'll go ahead and post it on the blog - I guess I'll call it something like "Reactions to Fr. Maciel." Let me know what you think!