Monday, June 27, 2011

Leaders need to know when to step down

In a report date stamped he Vicar General of the Legion of Christ, Fr. Luis Garza, confirmed to  CNA/EWTN News that the order’s leaders are likely to step down at their next General Chapter meeting, which could be held as early as 2013.

“My hope is that we can continue serving the Church with the same enthusiasm, or even more, and with the same dedication but at the same time purifying all that was wrong and that we definitely need to change,” said Fr. Garza of the Vatican review process. “Religious life, as you know, has vows and you need to abide by obedience, by poverty, by chastity. So if you move away from those principles, virtues and vows then you destroy religious life.”  He is also quoted as saying "“The fear, of course, is that due to our lack of prayer and to the idea of not being faithful to a charism that we’ve received, (we) could produce changes that are not according to what God would want and God’s plans.” The latter remark seems to refer to some discussion about the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience professed by all religious., including the Legionaries The context is not clear from the article.

Before the next General Chapter can be convened the on-going revision of the LC's constitutions needs to be completed. This means that the Chapter may not take place until 2013, at the earliest. It is also possible that it might be delayed until 2015.

Fr. Richard Gill, a former US Legionary now working in the archdiocese of New York, is also quoted. "By failing to remove major superiors, or at least some of them, Cardinal De Paolis failed to send to the whole Legion a clear signal that the manner in which the current superiors handled the revelations about Maciel was completely unacceptable."

I find myself in agreement with Fr. Gill's quoted remarks. The Legion may not be able to afford to wait another two or three years to change leadership by means of the General Chapter. Fr. Gill says "the future of the Legionaries depends as much on having good leadership as it does on having good constitutions."

Meanwhile, Fr. Garza says he and the rest of the Legion’s leadership will step down immediately if asked to do so by Cardinal De Paolis. So far they have not been asked to do so. Neither, though, have they tendered their resignations. But the vicar general agrees with Fr. Gill that the future of the Legion lies in good new leadership. “It’s not that, in a sense, I believe that I can do anything special or different from anybody else," he says. "The Legion has a lot of very good men to really follow this process and bring the Legion to betterment to better serve the Church.”

From the above, I deduce that the decision to keep current (top level)  Legionary superiors  in place must be attributed to Cardinal De Paolis. Either he is in charge or he isn't....

Legionary schools: contrasting opinions

Over at the Red Cardigan Blog "And sometimes tea", I came across a posting date Wednesday June 22nd, 2011, entitled "A Legion Affiliated School: Advice to a Reader (input welcome!)".

Red analyzes the reader's letter and highlights three areas of concern about  the unidentified school:

1. Cost

2. Level of Legion involvement

3. Too perfect

4. Physical correction

She concludes with a request - " I'm especially interested to hear what those who have experience with the Legion, particularly Legion-run or Legion-affiliated schools, have to say."

Readers of this blog know that I was very involved with the "Irish Institutes" of Mexico City and Monterrey (Mexico) which were set-up under the direct guidance of the Legion's founder, Marcial Maciel. With the except of point #4 "Physical correction", over the years I heard similar objections. So, my interest was piqued and I read the ensuing comments.

As far as I could tell only three respondents had personal experience with LC schools. One of them claimed "to have helped start the first LC school in Texas... can state with absolute certainty that anyplace is better than the LC...the list of abuses, even criminal abuses, that goes on in the Legionary schools is staggering."  Wow! That seemed a bit over the top to me.

Only one commenter seems to have actually attended a Legion-run school.

I myself studied all my life in a LC school and from my own experience (and that of my siblings and classmates) I found the educational model rather positive... Despite all the negative comments I’ve read. I talk to you from my own experience of being a student at their schools, from first grade to 12th grade. 

Another comment suggested

Why not ask giselle, over at Life after RC? I know you'll get a negative response, but she - as well as her readers - might be able to give you more exact reasons why. I know there are readers there who worked for LC schools; I bet they can give you harder facts, instead of generalized warnings.

In general, readers responses were negative about LC-run schools. However during my time as a Legionary in Mexico I got to know hundreds of families who were by and large very happy with the education their children received in Legionary schools. LC graduates have, by now, a long history of acceptance into some of the best post-graduate college programs in the world. It seems to me that a majority of the graduates send their own children to LC/RC schools. Of course, I could write a long list of what is "wrong" with LC schools. But anyone familiar with the world of education could do the same about practically any any educational system because, in the heel of the hunt, we want a system that conforms to our personal and family values.

So, I posted the following comment on Red's blog:

.... I am a former LC who helped start the first "Irish Institute" school in Mexico City (1966) and later another one in Monterrey. For many years I was closely involved with the Anahuac University in Mexico City. Eventually, after ordination, I served as principal at the Irish Institute (Mexico).

I wrote a book about my experiences ("Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: How an Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mind", available on Amazon.) I mention this, not for crass commercial purposes, but because I think the book provides some valuable insight into the evolution of LC schools.

Back in the sixties, our [LC] credo was: parents should choose a school that is most in accordance with their family values; our education should include the whole person and not be limited to "technical skills;" LC schools should excel in performance, have the best teachers and prepare our students for the business of life.

Maciel had creative, valuable and entrepreneurial insights. However, the educational "system" was totally refined by the lay teachers (not RC) hired in the early years. We brought a group of top notch Chilean educators to Mexico (after the Allende debacle) who helped refine all LC educational systems. At that time it was against the law in Mexico to teach religion; clerical garb was forbidden and no religious symbols were allowed. Schools were set up as private companies in order to avoid expropriation by the lay, anti-clerical state. Mexican elementary education then - as in many other countries - did not focus so much on "critical thinking." In my experience, students from the LC schools that I knew did extraordinary well and went on to the very best universities in the world.

Then the laws changed in Mexico and RC was founded. In the States the LC attracted extremely conservative (by my standards) Catholics which lead both it, and RC towards a very traditional and conservative approach to the Faith. Of course schools were expected to encourage priestly vocations (later to RC) and the recruiting aspect became quite pronounced. In my time, only a relatively small percentage of students ended up as committed RC members and even fewer as priests.

In sum, I think there is another side to LC/RC education as is depicted in this thread. It is not as bad as portrayed (in my experience) and it offers a host of redeeming features for committed Catholics. Kids do get an excellent, well rounded education, very different from our public school model. (This is not a criticism of public schools - where I sent my 4 kids.)

The main concern at the moment is the internal turmoil within the Congregation as they try to come to terms with the awful scandal of the founder and the need to undertake significant reforms. I don't think these reforms will need to address their approach to education. Most reform relates to internal governance and a healthier understanding of the evangelical counsels. The vast majority of LCs are excellent, well-intentioned men caught up in a situation not of their own choosing. In my international travels I meet many former students of LC schools and the majority seem to look back fondly on their experience. Apart from all the considerations mentioned in other comments, I would check out the "spirit" of the school with other parents and trust my intuition - with the caveat that the LC is now going through difficult difficult times which must have consequences on their short-term performance. Maciel's influence on the LC schools philosophy was not, I think, substantially flawed. His problems were deeper and in another realm. Hope this helps!

My comment generated a response which reads in part

I too was involved with the Legion and in your "history" you conveniently ignore the fact that Legion, from the beginning, was a cult of personality founded by Maciel to serve his raging, out of control narcissistic need for validation and adulation.  Everything the Legion touched was directed towards one end, that is, to add to the numbers of slavish followers of this monster. Church law, rubrics, personal dignity, honesty, and commandments were routinely ignored, broken, and flaunted in service of Maciel and his needs.

This last response is not entirely untrue (much of it referenced in my book) - however, generalizing about the many hundreds of good Legionary priests and seminarians who believed in the good works they were doing and whose daily work was largely unaffected by the scandals of the founder is quite an exaggeration. Not to mention the numbers of intelligent and committed Catholics who choose to collaborate with the LC (and the reform process) while continuing to avail of LC schools and universities which are not quite as bad, in my view, as the naysayers would have us believe.

The Legion is in dire need of reform - and, so far, the process is underway albeit slowly. There is much to criticize. And the founder was a monster. However, Pope Benedict insists he believes the Congregation can be "fixed" and I suppose he doesn't want to lose the educational network created by the LC. Time will tell.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"The Legion is an large ironclad warship for the Church"

Here is a letter of encouragement a Jesuit priest, Father Jorge Loring, published on the Religión en Libertad Blog.

Fr Loring SJ, was born in Barcelona, Spain and was ordained when he was thirty-three.. His book "To save yourself" has sold more than a million copies in Spain, not to mention the Mexican, Peruvian and Chilean editions. He has also written a book about the Holy Shroud.

dated June 16, 2011

To my Legionary friends:

 We have all suffered a great deal with the crisis of the Legionaries of Christ. But the Legion is a large ironclad warship of the Church in the battle for the evangelization of the world, and we can not allow it to go under.

Many religious orders have gone through crisis and overcome them.

But the reforms have been made those who remain, not those who have left.

Sometimes people do not fulfill their duties properly, but people come and go and the INSTITUTION must persevere with our support and collaboration.

No doubt that those who have left have done so with good intentions and honestly.

But it  my opinion that more can be achieved from inside rather from outside the congregation.

It is not impossible to return.

With very best wishes,
Jorge Loring S.I.

A Gregorian University initiative, blessed by the Vatican

According to Vatican commentator Paolo Rodari on his blog “palazzoapostolico,” this coming Saturday, Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, Charles J. Scicluna the promoter of justice for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Father Francois Xavier Dumortier, rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, are scheduled to announce a new Gregorian University initiative, supported by the Vatican, entitled “Towards Healing and Renewal.” The initiative will be launched in February of 2012. The objective is to provide "a comprehensive response to the problem of sexual abuse and the protection of the vulnerable."

The program will involve experts from Virtus, a North American program designed to prevent abuse. Together with Father Hans Zollner, Dean of the Institute of Psychology and Head of the Preparatory Committee of the symposium and Monsignor Klaus Peter Franzl, from the Archdiocese of Monaco of Bavaria they will work to  build "a new center of multilingual e-learning, available to church leaders, to provide information, disseminate resources and best practices in order to respond to the problem."

The title for the program is the same as the one used by the Bishops of Ireland in their reply to Pope Benedict’s letter to them concerning clergy abuse. Apparently, the Pope is closely following this development. In the Irish Bishop’s letter the title "Towards healing and renewal" was meant to signify “ to look for ways to heal the wounds as far as possible: praying for the victims, listening to their stories, providing spiritual support, building a secure future for children in the church, renewal of dioceses, religious congregations and society, and support economic structures that deal with prevention and protection of minors.” If this is what the Gregorian hopes to convey by choosing this title, the effort will be much appreciated.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Due process and the presumption of innocence

Father Gordon MacRae writes a blog called “These Stone Walls.” He deals with a side of the clergy sex abuse scandal that the major media refuses to provide, I have quoted from him before on this blog; I find his writing to be informative, thoughtful, and inspiring.

In the midst of the furor and righteous anger provoked by sex abuses perpetrated by clergy I think it worthwhile to visit These Stone Walls in order to reconsider if need be the one-sided hysteria we have heard in the media for the past two decades. I am not suggesting this in order to deny the existence or the gravity of the crimes committed by many members of the clergy, including the founder of the Legion of Christ who I write of in “The Monk Who Stole The Cow.” Nor is it my intent to deny the claims of his victims.

Rather, I think the case of Fr. MacRae should give us pause to reflect on the untold “other side” of the reality of contemporary celibate priesthood. As William Donohue, Ph.D., President of the Catholic League for Religious & Civil Rights has said, “There is no segment of the American population with less civil liberties protection than the average American Catholic priest.” (NBC’s “TODAY,” 10/13/05.)

In his most recent post, Sex, Lies, and Videotape: Lessons from the Duke University Rape Case,
Fr. Gordon says, “The cold, hard fact is that many of those who accused priests have surfed the wave to commit fraud and larceny. There is no crime for which more guilty men never face justice, and there is no crime for which more innocent men are falsely accused and wrongly convicted.”

This point was made in a recent comment on his blog from a police officer of over 25 years who wrote that she has “dealt with more false allegations of sexual abuse than real cases.” This shouldn’t be news to anyone. But it is a point we shouldn’t forget.

Vatican Cardinals discuss Relgious Life

According to a leading Vatican journalist, Andrea Tornielli, writing in "La Stampa," Pope Benedict XVI convened a special meeting of the leaders of the Roman Curia on June 13 to discuss several concerns about religious life.

At the meeting, the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, brought up the subject of the obedience due to the founders of Religious Congregations. In discussing the excesses that should be avoided in religious communities, the Church leaders reportedly emphasized that the commitment to a religious congregation or movement should never work against the unity of the universal Church, the authority of the teaching Magisterium, or the conscience of the individual member.

The conversation on this point appears to reflect the painful lessons learned from the crisis within the Legion of Christ. In addition to encouraging adulation of their founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel, the Legionaries also followed the rigid system of discipline imposed by the Founder, which included a private vow never to criticize a superior.  This vow, suppressed by Pope Benedict, effectively curtailed any criticism of Fr. Maciel’s actions facilitating his ability to lead a double life. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Don't shoot the messengers

The Legionaries of Christ in a very real sense are still working their way through an organizational disaster.

By now the leadership and the Vatican overseers know that the current situation is not the result of a series of random acts and decisions of Father Maciel, the Founder.  Indeed looking back just a few years we can see a pattern of predictable behavior.

Several people raised red flags – the result however seems to have been an internal lack of action and an attitude of “shooting the messengers.” Some of the messengers alleged sexual abuse by Fr. Maciel and unbelievably – from today’s vantage point – not only were they not believed, they were reproached and shunned for making the allegations.

As the Legion regroups and endeavors to recover, is there a lesson to be learned that can help them avoid similar situations in the future? Should the new leadership that will eventually emerge to lead the group past the scandals and into a brighter future be aware of some basic operating principles that might help them avoid future organizational disasters?

  1. Here are some basic suggestions gleaned from the way enlightened corporations try to avoid “scandals.’ Don’t ignore the warning signals: treat internal and external complaints with the respect they deserve. It doesn’t matter if they are anonymous. Check out the issues – but do not ignore them hoping they will go away.
  2. Create a trusting environment where colleagues can share their concern and fears. Knowledge is power – but only if it is shared. Most people don’t want to cause “trouble” and hence they do not share vital information. Fr. Maciel by means of the Private Vow whereby Legionaries promised never to criticize superiors, ensured that pertinent information was neutralized. That particular Vow is no longer made by Legionaries – but it has to be replaced by an environment where people feel accountable and are willing to share what they learn.
  3. All Legionaries need to share a core value which in English we refer to as “personal accountability.” (It’s not easily translated into Spanish.)  This means that all members must be believe that identifying problems and bringing them forward to the “team” and hierarchy is as important as any other obligation they may have. In the business world this relates to everything from quality control, to safety procedures, to financial processes and to customer service. The same applies in a Religious Congregation.  Members need to be sure their concerns will be taken seriously, that they will not be covered up or ignored and that they will not be reprimanTrustded or ostracized for bringing them up.
  4. It is up to the leadership to support these principles and to guarantee respect, follow up, and commitment. 
Basic principles indeed - but not so easy to implement in a Congregation where there has been an absence of trust among the members, and a tradition of secrecy and denial where tradition of “shooting the messengers.”

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fr. Maciel's daughter is married.

Norma Hilda Rivas Baños, the daughter of Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legion of Christ, was married on Friday, June 10, 2011, in Madrid, Spain. The groom was Juan María Piñero, a former Legionary novice

The wedding took place at the church of the "Salesas Reales" in Madrid. Two priests - Fr. Francisco Javier Martín Bautista and Fr. Jordi Girau Reverter neither of whom are members of the Legionaries of Christ - officiated at the ceremony.

No major superior from the Legionaries of Christ was in attendance although Reforma, a Mexican newspaper, reports that one person wearing typical Legionary clerical garb was sighted at the ceremony. The event brought together about 120 guests. The couple met at the Legion's Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Legionaries as Diocesan Priests

My last post about the departure of Juan Pedro Oriol from the Legionaries of Christ generated some comments and a fair amount of personal mail.

Legionaries who have been patiently hoping the process of reform will be successful are losing hope according to some inside sources. The perceived lack of urgency and transparency of the Apostolic Delegate Cardinal Velasio de Paolis and senior Legionary leadership resisting loss of control do little to allay the fears of those who have begun to doubt. Despite this, a few Legionaries have told me that they are still cautiously optimistic about the reform based on direct comments they have heard from the Vatican advisers.  Meanwhile, the slow but steady exodus of Legionaries from the Congregation continues.

While on a very recent business trip out of the States, I had a chat with a well informed LC source. I mentioned my perception of the difficulties that many Legionaries might face as they transition to the diocesan clergy. My friend agreed and reported that several former Legionary priests are beginning to face serious adjustment issues in their new ministry. To be fair, my friend was not speaking of adjustment in the United States - and I should not have generalized our comments in my prior posting.

Meanwhile, a respected former Legionary who has (recently) transitioned to a major archdiocese in the United States wrote to me to offer a corrective to my "speculation" regarding ex-LC priests. I am happy to quote his comment:

"I'm in touch with most of the 27 or so Americans who have left since the '09 revelations and others of recent years. All seem to be happy, well adjusted diocesan priests doing really very good work. One or two have had a problem with a diocese, but I'd say those are not Legion related, but personal matters. In fact, I'd suggest a better thesis would be that ex-LCs make very good diocesan priests, for whatever reasons. I know that some  folks like to think we are all in need of serious deprogramming and are dangerous until that gets done, but it is just not the case. In my diocese, ex-LC priests have been warmly embraced and given good ministerial opportunities. In another diocese, two were made pastors already. In another major city, several were welcomed there and are thriving."

Candidly, that is very good news. I have no reason to doubt the veracity or sincerity of my correspondent and I am genuinely happy for those good men who have managed the transition. In the light of the above mentioned “corrective” and the comments left on my last post, I’d like to offer some further clarification to my earlier remarks.

When I left the Legion in 1982, I believe that transition to the diocesan priesthood by ex-LCs was extremely rare and very difficult. Legionaries were trained to believe that we were specifically called to the Legion. There was no realistic space for a change of vocational plan. I've commented extensively on this in "Driving Straight on Crooked Lines: How an Irishman found his heart and nearly lost his mind." Furthermore, the Legion actively discouraged incardination into the diocesan clergy and, in cases that I know of, worked administratively to impede the process. Stories of how Frs. Cuena and Hermann (among the early defections) were not doing well outside the Legion abounded.

  • During my time as a Legionary in New York, I spent most of my summers preaching to raise money for the Society of the Propagation of the Faith. This meant that I visited dozens of parishes within a six hour drive of New York City, staying at the parish Rectories from Friday night through late Sunday afternoon. Some of the parishes were in big cities, others in summer resorts and in rural towns. My abiding memory is of the absence of community I experienced. By and large the priests did not eat together; they did not pray together, they seemed to spend most of their time isolated in their rooms (each with his own TV). Socializing took place with friends, not with other priests in their rectory. Despite the enormous flaws I saw in the Legion, I couldn’t imagine myself living such a “lonely” life.
  •  Some of my peers left the Legion shortly after me. Three of them worked in the same diocese albeit in different parishes. They shared my perception of diocesan life, but they adapted and survived (one out of three) by socializing and supporting each other. They were all shocked by their first experience of widespread alcoholism and homosexuality among their priest companions. (I’m not suggesting that this is the norm – but I remember how foreign all this seemed to us at the time.)
  •  For reasons I do not fully understand, “younger” Legionaries seem to be wired differently to those of my generation. This is often commented amongst my peers. Perhaps it is because they never actually knew Maciel and they bought the myth without any chance to validate it with his person? Maybe they were more mature when they entered; they were certainly more conservative than my group. I suspect that the rigor of academic training declined for some once the Legion controlled its own university. It’s possible that early “discipline” relaxed as the congregation expanded to different countries, allowing the internal culture to become more diverse. Hence it is possible that newer generations, less "integrated" by Maciel's standards (most especially in the US,) may find it easier to transition to the diocesan lifestyle.
  •  By and large, Legionaries are not trained for parish work. We were groomed for “high performance” ministries, with an emphasis on productivity over pastoral care. I don’t agree completely with those who suggest Legionaries consider themselves to be better trained or to be intellectually superior to other priests. We did consider ourselves to be more committed, more dedicated to the notion of giving every waking moment to Christ – a legacy of Maciel’s insistence on effectiveness. Many Legionaries work very effectively in the poverty and chaos of mission territory parishes; they have the support of Legionary communities and of peers who live the same rules and life style. In order to relate to diocesan clergy, in a new post-Legion assignment, I think many Legionaries would need to undergo a major adjustment in their “attitude.”  The scandalous revelations of the double life of the founder which for some has served to get them in touch with "reality," will go a long way to helping them feel more empathy and understanding of their brother priests.
  •  As I’ve mentioned above, successful transition to diocesan life in the United States is definitely possible. I think that far less options are available to former Legionaries living in non-English speaking countries. Mexico is a perfect example. The transition to diocesan life there I would think is nigh impossible for a man with Legionary training. When former Legionaries have consulted me about transition, I’ve suggested that they be careful about the diocese they choose to seek admittance to. And I think they do better if they can manage to relocate to a parish close to their original home. Family closeness can provide invaluable support for men undergoing dramatic change and who are leaving their “Legionary family” for the first time. Legionaries who joined the Congregation after high school or college will probably fare better than those who have been members since they were 10 or 11 years old. How “easy” can it be for a man who has lived the Legionary lifestyle from the time he was 10 till he is 26 or 27 to transition to the diocesan clergy?
  •  In many parishes, Legionaries can find downright “hostility” towards the model of Legionary priesthood. They will encounter pastors, colleagues, and fellow religious men and women who do not like them, their style, and their perceived “attitude”. All Legionaries have been trained in Rome; their experience of liturgical celebration is based on the Vatican and the rules and norms of the Legion. They are not comfortable with the normal messiness of mundane parish life. Many of us who left the Legion were amazed to discover our levels of emotional immaturity. We had to learn to accept ourselves as flawed human beings and to put aside our perpetual, obsessive, quest for perfection. It is not easy for everyone to leave a regulated life of rules where every waking moment is planned to embrace the entrepreneurial life of a pastor without the support of a religious community. Many former LCs have gravitated towards work with Hispanic parishioners where they find a familiar sense of piety and shared cultural values. 
  •  Legionaries are also trained in a disciplined life of prayer. They have their own private chapels no matter how small the Legionary residence. They are used to weekly spiritual direction and confession. They are used to giving an account of their every action. They judge their effectiveness based on the number and quality of their recruits to Regnum Christi and to their seminaries. The vestments they use for liturgical services are perfectly uniform, simple, and elegant. They may not be “friends” with their peers but they do not need to explain themselves or their intentions to them. They feel like they belong to something greater than themselves. Most of them, unconsciously and without malice, have had experience of living a life of ambivalent morals. They preach charity, humility, evangelical simplicity. Then they no longer communicate with their brothers who leave the congregation, they disassociate from their families, they focus on the wealthy and powerful and – often – they project an image of pride and superiority. They felt called to be “co-founders” creating institutes of higher learning, missions, family ministry, and fundraising amongst the elite. If they felt called to diocesan life, I don’t think they would have joined the Legion in the first place.
  •  Unlike diocesan priests, Legionaries have professed vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in a religious congregation, called to emulate the life of Christ though the practice of the evangelical counsels. Along the way the healthy ones may have realized that their overall understanding of obedience has been psychologically dysfunctional. Maciel introduced an unhealthy, misogynistic notion of chastity wherein women were the source of temptation. Poverty meant using everything necessary and owning nothing. Moving on from this slightly deformed experience of religious life to the “non-religious” world of a diocese is of course possible. But it is not necessarily easy.
  •  Finally, Legionaries that I know who have made successful transitions went through periods of great rebellion concerning their former life. They began to – understandably – obsess about the cult-like aspects of their former congregation. Some found therapy to be necessary and beneficial. Add to this the trauma of the revelations about the founder – the resentment, the anger, (hopefully) empathy for the victims of his sexual abuse, and a pervasive sense of loss and guilt. For those who choose to leave, at this stage, those sentiments must be compounded by a further sense of resentment towards some of their companions, the major superiors and the Vatican itself. If the reforms were more quickly implemented then they might not have felt the need to leave. It is easy to empathize with their feelings and the loneliness they must feel as they jump from the ship (built by a man condemned by the Vatican), abandoning their companion sailors who may forever judge their motivations.

Offhand, I can easily count more than a dozen former peers of mine who have transitioned successfully to the diocesan clergy. All of them are based in the United States and Ireland. They seem to be happy and to live fulfilling lives. Because of the factors I have mentioned above, I still think the transition is a daunting task. It’s probably easier in the US (lots of different dioceses to choose from) and perhaps in Ireland where they can be close to family.

I suppose the moral of the story is that we, parishioners, ought to be reaching out to our clergy to offer them our appreciation, thanks, and support. Being a priest today is no easy task. From a human perspective it is already a lonely and challenging life. Frankly, I don’t think most of our clergy – including Legionaries – get enough human support from their congregations which are quick to judge them, criticizing their sermons (often with very good reason!), the size of their automobiles and their lifestyles. If any of what I have written above is true, Legionary priests who chose to seek incardination in  our dioceses will need all the support they can get. Conversely, they also have a lot to offer.