Friday, February 25, 2011

Movie "The Rite" and its connection to Legionaries college in Rome

In 2004, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith requested that all Catholic dioceses appoint an official exorcist. Coincidentally, the Regina Apostolorum College, run by the Legionaries of Christ, opened a course for the training of exorcists that year.

“Regina Apostolorum,” was erected by the Congregation for Catholic Education on September 15, 1993. On July 11, 1998, John Paul II granted status of a Pontifical University and on September 3, 2004 it received the final decree of canonical status.

The movie "The Rite" is based on a book by an AP reporter named Matt Baglio, a non-practicing Catholic. Always on the  look out for a good story, the reporter enrolled himself in the four-month course at the Legionaries college entitled, “Exorcism and the Prayer of Liberation.” He wondered, “What kind of priest takes a course in exorcism?” “Are there any priests out there who still believe in the existence of the devil?”

One of his classmates was Fr Gary Thomas, a parish priest from San Jose California. Fr. Thomas was 50 years old at the time. The story of his real life experience as an "exorcist-in-training" is loosely followed in the movie. Fr. Thomas has praised the film for its "positive portrayal of the Church" and for its "witness to the power of faith." The movie, features Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and newcomer Irishman Colin O’Donoghue. Hopkins is a professed Christian, and O'Donoghue is a practicing Catholic who serves as a lector at his parish in Dublin.

Fr. Thomas also said that the intensely creepy trailers for the film are “deceptive” in the sense that they make it look like a “horror movie,” which he says is inaccurate.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Legionaries of Christ begin revision of constitutions and examine finances.

The Legion of Christ provides an update on the ongoing revision of the Congregation in a bulletin from Rome, dated February 22, 2011. The highlights are as follows:

The papal delegate for the Legionaries of Christ, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, C.S., has created a commission for the study and revision of the congregation’s financial situation. The commission has a consultative function and will report to the papal delegate and the general director with their respective councilors. The commission will define its own work program and a calendar to complete its task which is to study the administrative area of the congregation so as to give definitive answers to the questions and concerns that have been raised, and to see what improvements may be necessary..

The financial commission will be led by Archbishop Domenico Calcagno, secretary of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, and will also include: Msgr. Mario Marchesi, one of the papal delegate’s four councilors; Dr. Rosino Antonio Morelli, who works with the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; Fr. Eduardo Vigneaux, LC, general administrator of the Legion of Christ; and Fr Alberto Simán, LC, who works in the general secretariat of the Legion of Christ.

Meanwhile, the Legion also announced that this past January 31, Legionary Superiors from Mexico had a series of meetings with Fr Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J., councilor of the papal delegate, at the Anáhuac University of Mayab in Mérida, in the Mexican state of Yucatán. The superiors from Atlanta, Brazil, Chile, New York, and Venezuela met with him in the same city on February 4.

Fr Ghirlanda presented the process for revising the Legionary constitutions, and informed the superiors about the details of the territorial commission that will assist in the process.

The Europe based Superiors met in Rome on January 28, for the same purpose, with with the papal delegate, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, and his councilors, Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J., and Fr Agostino Montan, C.S.I. Bishop Brian Farrell, LC, was also present at the final meetings.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Marcial Maciel, the story of a criminal" a new book by Carmen Aristegui

"Marcial Maciel, Historia de un criminal" (Marcial Maciel, the story of a criminal) by Carmen Aristegui, is published by Grijalbo, an imprint of Random House Mondadori.  So far, the book is only available in Spanish.

Carmen Aristegui is a 47 year old Mexican journalist, graduated from Mexico’s UNAM University. She anchors the news program Aristegui at CNN in Spanish, and until recently did the morning news program on MVS Newsradio in Mexico City. She is a recognized expert on Mexican politics and is the recipient of prestigious awards for journalism. I have seen many of her TV shows. For the better part of the last 10 years she has been pursuing the case of Fr. Marcial Maciel, the Founder of the Legionaries of Christ. She helped break the story of a Mexican woman, Blanca Lara, and her three sons Omar, Raúl and Christian González. Lara said she was 19 when she met Maciel, who was then 57, and that for 20 years she had a relationship with the priest, who went by the name "Raúl Rivas" and told her he was a private detective and worked for the CIA, which explained why he travelled so much. She alleges that two of the children are Maciel’s. Furthermore, the children allege they were abused by their father.

The Maciel myth finally began to unravel in 1997, when the Hartford Courant (a daily newspaper in the U.S. state of Connecticut) reported that eight former seminarians had accused Maciel of sexually abusing them years earlier in the 1950s. Some members of this group of now elderly former Legionaries have appeared on Aristegui’s TV and radio shows.

Marcial Maciel” focuses mostly on the allegations of sexual abuse and the impact of the ensuing scandal on the Catholic Church. The author uses material from her investigative reporting including interviews, analysis and clandestine recordings of Fr. Luis Garza, the Vicar General of the Legionaries.

The story of Fr. Maciel’s sexual abuse, hypocrisy, and fraudulent spirituality in high places is already well documented. On May 1, 2010, following a formal investigation of Fr. Maciel and the Legionaries, the Vatican declared,

“The Apostolic Visitation was able to ascertain that the behavior of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado has caused serious consequences in the life and structure of the Legion, so much so, to require a journey of profound re-evaluation. The serious and objectively immoral behavior of Fr. Maciel, supported by incontrovertible evidence, at times constitutes real crimes, and manifests a life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious feeling. The large majority of Legionaries were unaware of that life, particularly because of the system of relations created by Fr. Maciel, who had skillfully managed to build up an alibi, to gain the trust, confidence and surrounding silence and strengthen his role as a charismatic founder.”

Although Aristegui’s book reveals little or nothing new about the scandal, she seems to have two (explicit) motivations for writing her book. The first is to recognize the “moral victory” achieved by the former seminarians who told the story of their abuse by Maciel which led to the Vatican pronouncement. The second she attributes to the impact the Gonzalez Lara testimony had on her.

In 295 pages the author presents 17 interviews. Four of them are with the abused former seminarians who denounced Maciel. Their testimonies, once again, make for an unsettling read even though they add little new, or different, information to that already reported in the press and provided by Jason Berry in “Vows of Silence.” The interviews suggest it was Jose Barba who organized and led the group that came together to denounce Maciel and Jose Antonio Perez who established contact with Jason Berry.

In addition to the recounting of the details of the sexual abuse to which they were subjected all of them seem to agree that Maciel had to have had accomplices within the Legion and within the Church hierarchy. While Aristegui’s interview questions are fairly straightforward, she does demonstrate a pattern of leading questions and she makes no effort to hide the fact that she would like to attribute far more blame to Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI for their involvement in the scandal.

Miguel Diaz is also interviewed. Initially, he supported the allegations of abuse and then retracted his testimony. I knew him well and, despite the passage of time, I can still hear his “voice” in his responses as he explains why he retracted. In a nutshell, he does not deny that some seminarians were abused although his estimate of the number is more conservative. He was asked by Maciel to reconsider his testimony and, he says, he did so because of the overall impact of Maciel on his life. He continues to claim that personally he was not sexually abused and reiterates that he received more good than bad from the Founder for whom he still feels a sense of loyalty.

Juan Jose Vaca is another of the interviewees I knew well when I was in the Legion. In fact, I remember teaching him to drive when he was responsible for recruiting children for the Legionary’s Apostolic School in Spain. It is still painful to read of his suffering about which I knew nothing while we worked together. Juan Jose, myself, and an ordained priest, Fr. Angel de la Torre lived and worked in close proximity during the three months I served as their driver as they recruited vocations in the north of Spain.

The remaining chapters of the book are devoted to interviews with Jeff Andersen, Alberto Athie (a former diocesan priest in Mexico), Bernardo Barranco, Jason Berry, Roberto Blancarte, Flora Garza Barragan, Fr. Luis Garza Medina, LC (based on clandestine recordings), Fernando Gonzalez, The Gonzalez Lara family, and Lucila Servitje.

Attorney Andersen represents the Gonzalez Lara children in a lawsuit he has brought against the Legion of Christ in Connecticut. Other than the fact that I’ve seen him quoted elsewhere as having allegedly vowed to “sue the sh–” out of the Catholic Church “everywhere,” it is not immediately obvious why he should be involved in a case that to a layman’s perspective appears to be of Mexican jurisdiction. He would apparently like nothing more than to put the present Pope on trial in the United States since, he implies, both the Vatican hierarchy, and the current Legionary superiors did not protect children from the ravages of Fr. Maciel. In the interview, he suggests he has access to documents which prove this allegation. In a sense, the interview with the US attorney sets the “tone” for the rest of the book which tends to use the Maciel case to indict John Paul II and Pope Benedict..

Roberto Blancarte is a Mexican sociologist and historian specializing in the role of “laypersons” in society. He served as an advisor in the Mexican Embassy to the Holy See from 1995 – 1998. Personally I found the interview with him the most helpful. He provides a balanced and enlightened view of the role of the hierarchy in the scandal and of the relationship between the Legion of Christ and Mexican society. With regard to the former, he believes the Vatican doesn’t understand the structural problems behind the clergy abuse scandals. As to the latter, he believes that the mission of the Legion needs to be redefined in order to move away from an unhealthy alliance with the rich and powerful captains of Mexican industry, especially those from Monterrey. He believes that those Legionaries who opt for a radical transformation of the Congregation will run into a bureaucratic machine which will make change very difficult. I found Blancarte’s analysis and perspective to be refreshing and useful.

Lucila Servitje is the daughter of a powerful Mexican industrialist, owner of the Bimbo Group. Mr. Servitje pulled his company’s advertising from Mexico’s Channel 40 when they transmitted a negative report on Fr. Maciel, back in 1997. Ms. Servitje is theologian with a strong bent towards liberation theology. She expounds on some of her theological ideas with regard to the role of Fr. Maciel and the measures the Legion might take to move on from the scandal. However, I suspect her main reason for accepting the interview was to state, strongly, that her father and her immediate family did not know Fr. Maciel personally and that they were not amongst his supporters.

Two interviews are related to the life and death of a good friend of mine, Fr. Juan Manuel Fernández Amenábar. Neither of them add anything new to the “facts” that are already in the public domain – Amenábar died in a prestigious Mexican hospital having choked on his food while struggling with the effects of a stroke. At the time of his death he was no longer a Legionary and had been married for several years. Alberto Athié is a former Mexican priest who left the priesthood upon experiencing the hierarchy’s negative response to an alleged near death-bed confession made to him by Fr. Amenábar in which he claimed to have been abused by Fr. Maciel. Andrea González is a Mexican woman who claims to have been very close to Amenábar during his last months in hospital and whose interview corroborates and expands on Mr. Athié’s account. I must say I struggle to accept the totality of their testimony about my friend. I wasn’t there for the events they relate – but their account differs in worrisome ways from the version given to me by trusted lay people, mutual friends of Fr. Amenábar and me and who were frequent visitors during his hospital stay. My friend is dead and gone. What matters is that in his final illness he was abandoned by the Legionaries and by the Founder Fr. Maciel, whom he enthusiastically served with notable and contagious joie de vivre during the 17 years I knew him in the Legion. We reconnected and remained friends for a further 13 years after we both left the Congregation. I still miss him.

The transcription of clandestine recorded conferences delivered by the Legion’s current Vicar General, Fr. Luis Garza Medina offers no new or surprising tid-bits of information. Fr. Garza basically reveals how he and his companions were shocked to discover the details of the double life of Fr. Maciel, and how they attempted to deal with and manage the “news” internally and externally.

In conclusion, “Marcial Maciel, the story of a criminal” adds little new information to the sordid facts already revealed about the double-life of the Founder of the Legionaries of Christ. What the book achieves is to bring together in one volume the essential details of Fr. Maciel’s abuse of children, and his manipulation of both friends and foes, while providing a largely unsympathetic view of the Catholic hierarchy together with a pessimistic prognosis for the survival of the Legion of Christ. It is a sad story that many, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, will find disturbing. Aristegui’s interviews reveal the raw emotions of the abused and the views of her guests who – some more knowledgeably than others – analyze the causes and effects of Fr. Maciel’s behavior on Mexico and the Catholic Church. Overall it is a book, given the author’s interest in the subject, that had to be written. Although some might question her motives, Aristegui does a good job of recounting, once again, a story that Catholics and supporters of the Legion, ignore at their peril.

"A Message to Garcia" Work, Ethics, Loyalty and Obedience

ELBERT HUBBARD penned his classic essay, "A Message to Garcia" in one hour after a dinnertime discussion with his family. At dinner, Hubbard's son, Bert, claimed that the true hero of a particular Spanish-American war battle was Rowan -- a messenger who braved death by carrying a note behind the lines to Garcia, the leader of the insurgents. Hubbard readily admitted that he had little interest in the actual facts of the episode. His point in writing the essay was to sermonize about work ethics and obedience.

The essay originally ran in Hubbard's magazine, The Philistine, in February, 1899. Inspired by its message, George Daniels of the New York Central Railroad asked permission to reprint and distribute 500,000 copies. Prince Hilakoff, Director of Russian Railways, read one of Daniel's reprints and had it translated into Russian. A Message to Garcia was distributed to every one of his railroad employees.

The Russian military then picked up the ball: each Russian soldier sent to the Japanese front was given a copy. The Japanese found the essay in the possession of the Russian prisoners and subsequently had it translated into Japanese. On an order of the Mikado, a copy was given to each member of the Japanese government.

Ultimately, forty million copies of A Message To Garcia were published. 

A Message to Garcia, By Elbert Hubbard

In all this Cuban business there is one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion. When war broke out between Spain & the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba- no one knew where. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his cooperation, and quickly.

What to do!

Some one said to the President, "There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan will find Garcia for you, if anybody can."

Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How "the fellow by the name of Rowan" took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, & in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia, are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.

The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, "Where is he at?" By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing- "Carry a message to Garcia!"

General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias.

No man, who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average man- the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it. Slip-shod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, & half-hearted work seem the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook, or threat, he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or mayhap, God in His goodness performs a miracle, & sends him an Angel of Light for an assistant. You, reader, put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office- six clerks are within call.

Summon any one and make this request: "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio".

Will the clerk quietly say, "Yes, sir," and go do the task?

On your life, he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye and ask one or more of the following questions:

Who was he?

Which encyclopedia?

Where is the encyclopedia?

Was I hired for that?

Don’t you mean Bismarck?

What’s the matter with Charlie doing it?

Is he dead?

Is there any hurry?

Shan’t I bring you the book and let you look it up yourself?

What do you want to know for?

And I will lay you ten to one that after you have answered the questions, and explained how to find the information, and why you want it, the clerk will go off and get one of the other clerks to help him try to find Garcia- and then come back and tell you there is no such man. Of course I may lose my bet, but according to the Law of Average, I will not.

Now if you are wise you will not bother to explain to your "assistant" that Correggio is indexed under the C’s, not in the K’s, but you will smile sweetly and say, "Never mind," and go look it up yourself.

And this incapacity for independent action, this moral stupidity, this infirmity of the will, this unwillingness to cheerfully catch hold and lift, are the things that put pure Socialism so far into the future. If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of their effort is for all? A first-mate with knotted club seems necessary; and the dread of getting "the bounce" Saturday night, holds many a worker to his place.

Advertise for a stenographer, and nine out of ten who apply, can neither spell nor punctuate- and do not think it necessary to.

Can such a one write a letter to Garcia?

"You see that bookkeeper," said the foreman to me in a large factory.

"Yes, what about him?"

"Well he’s a fine accountant, but if I’d send him up town on an errand, he might accomplish the errand all right, and on the other hand, might stop at four saloons on the way, and when he got to Main Street, would forget what he had been sent for."

Can such a man be entrusted to carry a message to Garcia?

We have recently been hearing much maudlin sympathy expressed for the "downtrodden denizen of the sweat-shop" and the "homeless wanderer searching for honest employment," & with it all often go many hard words for the men in power.

Nothing is said about the employer who grows old before his time in a vain attempt to get frowsy ne’er-do-wells to do intelligent work; and his long patient striving with "help" that does nothing but loaf when his back is turned. In every store and factory there is a constant weeding-out process going on. The employer is constantly sending away "help" that have shown their incapacity to further the interests of the business, and others are being taken on. No matter how good times are, this sorting continues, only if times are hard and work is scarce, the sorting is done finer- but out and forever out, the incompetent and unworthy go.

It is the survival of the fittest. Self-interest prompts every employer to keep the best- those who can carry a message to Garcia.

I know one man of really brilliant parts who has not the ability to manage a business of his own, and yet who is absolutely worthless to any one else, because he carries with him constantly the insane suspicion that his employer is oppressing, or intending to oppress him. He cannot give orders; and he will not receive them. Should a message be given him to take to Garcia, his answer would probably be, "Take it yourself."

Tonight this man walks the streets looking for work, the wind whistling through his threadbare coat. No one who knows him dare employ him, for he is a regular fire-brand of discontent. He is impervious to reason, and the only thing that can impress him is the toe of a thick-soled No. 9 boot.

Of course I know that one so morally deformed is no less to be pitied than a physical cripple; but in our pitying, let us drop a tear, too, for the men who are striving to carry on a great enterprise, whose working hours are not limited by the whistle, and whose hair is fast turning white through the struggle to hold in line dowdy indifference, slip-shod imbecility, and the heartless ingratitude, which, but for their enterprise, would be both hungry & homeless.

Have I put the matter too strongly? Possibly I have; but when all the world has gone a-slumming I wish to speak a word of sympathy for the man who succeeds- the man who, against great odds has directed the efforts of others, and having succeeded, finds there’s nothing in it: nothing but bare board and clothes.

I have carried a dinner pail & worked for day’s wages, and I have also been an employer of labor, and I know there is something to be said on both sides. There is no excellence, per se, in poverty; rags are no recommendation; & all employers are not rapacious and high-handed, any more than all poor men are virtuous.

My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the "boss" is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly take the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets "laid off," nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village- in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries out for such: he is needed, & needed badly- the man who can carry a message to Garcia.

Elbert Hubbard was a renowned philosopher, author, editor and lecturer of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1895, he founded the Roycrofters, a semi-communal community of artists and craftspeople, in East Aurora, NY. He and his wife were lost at sea, May 7, 1915, while traveling to England aboard the ill-fated Lusitania.

Andrew Summers Rowan was an American Army officer and graduate of West Point class of 1881. After his service in the Spanish American War, he served in the Philippines and posts in the United States, retiring in 1909. He died in 1943.

Calixco y Inigues Garcia was a Cuban revolutionist and a leader in the Cuban insurrection against Spain (Ten Years War 1868-78). He was captured and imprisoned for his activities until its end in 1878. After his release he was again arrested. In 1895, he came to the United States and as the leader of the Cuban Insurgents, played an important role in the United States war with Spain. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1898 while there as part of a committee to discuss Cuban affairs with President McKinley.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bless me Father for .... I have sinned


According to its U.S. producers, "Confession: A Roman Catholic App" is
"designed to be used in the confessional, and is the perfect aid for every penitent. With a personalized examination of conscience for each user, password protected profiles, and a step-by-step guide to the sacrament, this app invites Catholics to prayerfully prepare for and participate in the Rite of Penance. 

Individuals who have been away from the sacrament for some time will find Confession: A Roman Catholic App to be a useful and inviting tool.designed to help iPhone users prepare for confession.
The Indiana-based company, Little iApps LLC, says its app is the first to receive an imprimatur, or official permission for publication, from a Catholic bishop-- in this case, Bishop Kevin C. Rhodes of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The text of the app was developed in collaboration with Father Thomas Weinandy, OFM, executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices, and Father Dan Scheidt, pastor of Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Mishawaka, Ind.

The App features a custom examination of conscience based upon age, sex, and vocation (single, married, priest, or religious) and the user has the ability to add sins not listed in the "standard" examination of conscience.

Meanwhile, the penance project has a similar app for Android phones.

As far as I can tell, neither App promises space in the Cloud..... therein lies a great marketing opportunity for Google.

Personally, I believe God uses a Blackberry, because it uses an encrypted military-grade security platform and can be used on almost every carrier in Heaven and on earth (over 475 of them.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Marcial Maciel. "There, but for the grace of God, go I"

www.driving One of the central themes developed on some blogs over the past several years is that Maciel was never a well-intentioned soul who turned down the wrong path; rather, he was a con-man from the start, utilizing the Church and the priesthood to gain access to money, power, adulation, an easy life, and boys (for sex).

Recently, I was asked my opinion of the above"diagnosis" to which I replied:

Truth be told I think a comprehensive analysis of Fr. Maciel's behavior is way beyond my pay grade.

Much of the early "analysis" of Maciel is tinted with understandable hatred and revulsion for the man - crystallized somewhat in Espinosa's book ("El Legionario") which sets up the diagnosis referred to in the first paragraph.

I got to know Marcial Maciel's mother, brothers, sisters, and extended family quite well - I even met the nanny who cared for him as a child in Cotija. They didn't seem like the sort of family that would produce a born pervert and con-man. But then you have the whole nature vs nurture debacle. It doesn't seem like anyone else in his family, who grew up in the same environment, shared in any of his dysfunctional traits.

No doubt we are born with inherent, genetic personality traits which, for better or worse, are nurtured by our environment. And of course, we have free will and are subject to the workings of sanctifying grace in our soul.
Bottom line, for me, Maciel in his totality is a mystery - we may never understand him because we don't have the ability to know the depths of another person's soul.

I've tried to describe the confluence of a dysfunctional personality, susceptible followers and a conducive environment ("How the Mighty Fail") which, I think, goes a long way towards explaining the "Maciel phenomenon." But it is only a partial explanation. For those who suggest such analysis might be an exercise in futility, I submit it is necessary to identify and prevent similar behavior in the future.

About 4% of the world's population seem to be born without the evolutionary drive to "bond" with other humans in order to survive. (More on this when I continue with "How the Mighty Fail.")  They can be described as "people without a conscience." I don't know if Fr. Marcial Maciel completely fits the description - however, in my estimation, and as I describe him in my book "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines," he was a narcissistic, charismatic type who, for the most part, did not seem to care for a personal "other."

If indeed he inherited disturbing personality traits, I think a good case can be made to explain how they could have gotten out of hand in the environment in which he grew up - especially with regard to his ambivalent relationship with his father and the credible stories of his early abuse by ranch hands in his native Cotija in Michocan, Mexico.

 So, my take is that he grew up with an orientation towards manipulation of others in order to fulfill his own unmet needs. I don't believe he necessarily set out on a "deliberate," freely chosen path of perversion. However, as happens for all of us, one "little" decision built upon another and at a fairly early age he had gotten himself into quite a moral mess. He was far too intelligent not to be acutely aware of the dichotomy between his teaching and his personal behavior. I suppose he chose not to care (rationalizing his conduct however he could) and freely continued to pursue his choices until he became a monster of his own creation.

While his behavior is the antithesis of everything I would want for myself, I recognize that potentially "there but for the grace of God go I." Every day I am faced with small choices between good and evil and every day I pray for the grace to make the right choices.

So many who rightfully condemn Maciel never knew him. For those who did, it's quite awful to have "known" his charm and apparent love of God and the Church and it is extraordinarily humbling to accept how little we know about "the heart of man" and the tenuous distinctions between good and evil in our own lives.

Friday, February 4, 2011

How the Mighty Fail: Marcial Maciel has company - Germain Doig.

The Christian Life Movement  (Sodalitium Christianae Vitae) is an international association of the faithful that was recognized by the Holy See in 1994.  It was  founded by Luis Fernando Figari, a "consecrated layman,  on 8 December 1971 and by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on July 8, 1997. The Sodality began in Peru and is composed of priests and consecrated laymen. Their apostolate is focused towards the poor, young people, culture, and the family.  It has members in 25 countries around the world, and considers itself to be "the largest ecclesial movement born in the Americas."

The Communications Office of the CLM, has just published a statement at the conclusion of the General Assembly, convened to elect new officers. The statement concerns the former Vicar General of the CLM, Germain Doig, who passed away on February 13, 2001.

The statement says, in part:

"In June 2008 we received a testimonial revealing sexual misconduct by Doig at odds with the life of a lay Christian and a consecrated Member of the Sodality....  After the initial shock, pain and confusion, because this double life was unknown to us, a committee of officers of our community began an investigation during which it received two additional testimonies... none of the testimonies involve the abuse of children....  The people who have provided testimony requested anonymity. Therefore, this process has been conducted in the strictest confidentiality....

The knowledge of the facts led us primarily to assist those affected, to reconcile the wounds they may have, both spiritual and psychological....  and because of the consistency and credibility of the testimonies.. we have communicated these facts to various church officials, members of the Sodality and spiritual family....   We want to make clear that these behaviors are contrary to our Christian vocation and our commitments to God...  not only can they have no place in our community but they must be condemned and rejected with energy, clarity and transparency... As a community we also declare that we cannot consider Germain Doig as an exemplary person. Today we entrust him to the merciful heart of God.... Given this painful situation, we humbly ask you to join us to offer prayers for all those affected and their families and so that those who are part of this community may always live up to the ideals of faith, hope and charity. "

Doig developed an impressive social and pastoral body work that led the Sodality (CVM) to a presence on five continents. The Sodality was approved by the Vatican in 1997. His companions and followers considered him a great Christian model. So much so that, after his death, research on his life and work began in order to commence the process of beatification. Many Bishops believed Doig was an exemplary person. However the first allegations of misconduct surfaced during this investigation. 

An investigative commission soon discovered Doig's "exemplary" life included "moral misconduct." apparently including  sexual abuse. As might be expected, these discoveries caused a major crisis within one of the fastest growing Catholic movements in Latin America in recent times.

In December, the Superior General, Figari, left his post and retired to an honorary position. At the time the reason given  was that the change was due to illness. Sources close to him say it was due to his being overcome by the shock of knowing the terrible guilt of his friend.

On Jan. 25 the general council elected Eduardo Regal as their new superior. He already controlled much of the institution. He is left to deal with the crisis.

By December 2010 the Sodality had closed down all internet sites setup to promote the beatification and memory of Germain Doig. The Sodality informed the Vatican of the situation and started to communicate the facts to the members and the public in an effort to control and mitigate the damage.

It remains to be seen whether the Sodality can learn from the Legion of Christ's example in the light of the revelations of the double life of their founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, ... or whether the Legion can learn a thing or tow from the Sodality in terms of damage control.

Either way, this latest case is another unfortunate blemish on the Catholic Church in Latin America.

José Martínez de Velasco at the Trastevere Blog, wrote about the CVM in a magazine called "Reinado Social" back in 2004. The article and the author's blog comments are worth reading. It would seem there were lots of troubling signs about the genesis of the orthodox CVM that were ignored, perhaps because of the reputation, orthodoxy and charisma of the founder and his early collaborators.

I'm not sure if Germain Doig and the CVM constitute another case study for "How The Mighty Fail." But there are clear parallels with allegations of brain washing and mind control made against both organizations. I don't know enough about the SVC (Latin initials) organization to see if the "Toxic Triangle" phenomenon applies to them. It might make for an interesting study....  in terms of learning to better identify the "early  warning signs:" of the emergence of toxic leaders.