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.

1 comment:

poman said...

Interesting parallels here. A big difference between CLM and LC is that Germain did not found the movement, while Maciel did. Not a minor difference, in my opinion, but still an unfortunate situation. I am unfamiliar with CLM, but they must be stunned and in shock. I hope they do learn from the LC experiences thus far(both good and bad). They certainly need our prayers.

Something about "there, but for the grace of god........" comes to mind.