Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stop Gossip: A Resolution for the New Year

On September 23, 2010, Rev. Gordon MacRae marked sixteen years in a cell in the New Hampshire State Prison. Father MacRae is 57 years old. The crimes for which he was accused and convicted are claimed to have occurred when he was between 25 and 30 years old. Brought with no evidence or corroboration whatsoever, the claims were accompanied by lawsuits settled by his Diocese for hundreds of thousands of dollars despite evidence of fraud.

Given the compelling story he has to tell, inasmuch as I can, I read his musings written from his jail cell and published on a blog called These Stone Walls. In his posting dated today, December 29, 2010, he concludes with the following New Year's resolution.  I'd like to make it my own and invite those who publicly discuss the debacle of Fr. Marcial Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ about which I have written ("Driving Straight on Crooked Lines") to read the full text of Fr. MacRae's article the conclusion of which I transcribe below:

"A New Year’s resolution is an opportunity for personal renewal and self-improvement. The quality of mercy in our Church has suffered much during the scandals of the last two decades. As priests and as Catholics, we have a spiritual responsibility for self-assessment. And self-assessment is exactly what I must do after these experiences with Geraldine and my priests’ support group. All that I described above makes me wonder how many times I also unknowingly set into motion a snippet of rumor or innuendo masked as hard news. I’d like to think I wouldn’t hurt a person’s reputation intentionally, but like most people I can excuse a multitude of my own sins while holding others accountable.

So my own New Year’s resolution is to practice truth in justice, to try holding to a higher standard what reaches the ears of others through me. I cannot control what anyone else says or does, but I can pluck the plank out of my own eye before pointing to the splinters in someone else’s eye.

So I resolve in 2011 to make myself a better person by not setting into motion news based on rumor, innuendo, and half-truths. If I have news to tell, I will first check its truthfulness, and then check my motivation for passing it along. If I fail in this – as will we all – I further resolve to view my failure as a sin for which I must seek Sacramental forgiveness and absolution."


Anonymous said...

While I agree with the impulse, and the importance of not accusing just men wrongly,and the sinfulness of so doing, I hope that this will not blunt your witness in this difficult situation where many of us are trying to discern the Truth. We need fair voices on the Web. The sins of speech are a very great temptation for many, and if the only alternative voices we hear are those that paint the picture black unremittingly and without mercy, we shall all be the worse for it. The Legion is incapable of allowing for open discussion on its sites, which is a great pity, because unless one does so, the air can never be cleared. However, this makes yours that maintains a fairness in attitude even more important.

If you want to let this go, however, I will understand and thank you for a job well done.

The Monk said...

Thanks for the comment. I agree with you - Fr. MacRae's message resonated with me because often I see comments about the LC that seem to be based on speculation and unsubstantiated gossip. Obviously, as I think you suggest, the LC does not help because they so often revert to a "Fortress Legion" mentality, creating the perception of denial. I understand how hard it must be for them - but their PR efforts leave a lot to be desired at least from a US perspective.

On the other hand, the naysayers seem to want to paint everything black. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.