Thursday, September 29, 2011

The muddied waters since the death of Maciel


In an exclusive interview from Rome with Catholic News Agency, Jesus Colina the Spanish journalist who founded Zenith  the Vatican based news agency in 1997, explained the details behind his departure. 
Zenith is a non-profit international news agency comprising a team of professionals and volunteers whose stated objective is to inform about the "world seen from Rome," with professionalism and faithfulness to the truth. It is promoted by the religious congregation of the Legionaries of Christ; two Legionary priests offer consultation services and collaborate in writing the "Analysis" and "Liturgy" columns. 
Colina co-authored a book with Maciel, entitled (in Spanish) "Marcial Maciel: Christ My Life."

The journalist's remarks in the interview provide an interesting perspective from which to evaluate the muddied waters of the Legion of Christ's ongoing response to the awful facts which came to light about their founder. The scandal led to a formal condemnation of Maciel by the Holy See in 2006.

Here are the highlights from the interview with Mr. Colina:
  • Father Oscar Nader LC,( Chairman of the Board of Zenit) thinks Colina does not offer a clear idea of the institutional identity of Zenit that the Legionaries of Christ wish to communicate from now on.
  • This is the culmination of a gradual mutual loss of trust which began several years ago. 
  • The manner in which the Legion of Christ hid the information about Fr. Marcial Maciel, which was discovered bit by bit by the press, led to the breakdown of trust.
  • Despite the statement issued by the Holy See in 2006, the Legion continued to present Fr. Maciel as a role model, even at his death and after his death, maintaining this myth of sanctity that the congregation had promoted during his life.
  • Since the Vatican statement was issued calling on Fr. Maciel to retire and to publicly acknowledge his lies and crimes, the impression was spread among the religious and those close to the Legionaries that the Pope had unjustly punished him.
  •  Zenit staff asked the board to establish a totally separate and transparent management in order to guarantee independence in response to any accusations. In practice this has not been done.  Colina is morally convinced that the money received from readers goes directly to Zenit, but he cannot demonstrate this formally and administratively.
  • His continuous complaints about this situation led the superiors of the Legionaries to also lose trust in him.  When he proposed allowing other Catholic entities to have a seat on the board of Zenit, in order to address these questions and provide for an editorial future and greater ecclesial representation, not only was the proposal ignored, it led to his firing as well.
  • He never had any doubts about Fr. Maciel until the Vatican published the statement calling on him to retire to a life of prayer and penance.
  •  "The Maciel case and its understandably tragic consequences cannot blur the human, spiritual and professional adventure experienced by those lucky enough to spend their lives offering news coverage of the life of the Pope and the Holy See." "All this depth and holiness cannot be clouded by Fr. Maciel’s lies." 
  • "Honestly I know many priests and seminarians of the Legionaries of Christ and I consider them to be authentic Christians and, in a certain sense, martyrs of the situation they are confronting with so much love for Christ and the Church."


Anonymous said...

I applaud Mr. Colina for his efforts on behalf of journalistic integrity at Zenit. I pray he does not become discouraged by these events. It is hard to be a lone voice for honesty, especially when you are trying to make these representations to priests of all people. I can understand his desire to hang in there so long, and I also understand he had to stand firm, even at the expense of leaving a job he has loved and where he has worked faithfully and diligently. Once again, shame on the Legion leadership who simply could not do the right thing. Another dependable servant is jettisoned for his integrity.

Robert Badger said...

I, too, am happy to see Mr Colina speak out. I trust that he is coming to terms with the role he played in Maciel's autohagiography. So many people were unwitting victims of the man. The worst are those who knowing the truth about Maciel, still continued to lionize him. The stories Maciel spun about himself are fascinating, or at least they were to me, mostly because of my long interest in 20th century Mexican history. However, the real life of Maciel is more sordid and disturbing than even the most sordid Mexican telenovela. I shall pray for Mr Colina and his recovery.