Monday, September 26, 2011

A new TV program about Maciel


Thanks to Google TV I was able to watch the 30 minute Milenio program live on the big screen. Here are some quick reactions:

The trailers and teasers promised more than the program delivered. Borderline "much ado about nothing' as so often happens in the wake of somewhat sensational promos.
Overall, nothing new was revealed other than photos of the deceased founder. I wonder who took these photos and for what purpose, why they were released (and by whom) to the media. Showing them, without any  reference other than to suggest that those people who were there post-mortem knowingly protected Maciel and his misdeeds, was in poor taste.
The visuals were mostly a collage of existing photos and video - one short vintage sequence I particularly noticed had Maciel speaking flanked on either side by two Legionaries for whom I have great respect: Fr. David Owen (my peer and a great friend when I was LC) and Fr. Carlos Zancajo an outstanding priest, spiritual advisor and outspoken superior. (Fr. Zancajo seems to have disappeared from the LC radar - I'm told he is in Venezuela...It was nice to see him, if only fleetingly.)  The image of Maciel speaking is dubbed with something he said at a different time.
The (relatively) long preliminary interview with Barba provided sought-after shock value as, once again, we were treated to a portion of the interview where he describes in detail his first sexual molestation by Maciel.
Nelly Ramirez acquitted herself well - her comments were fair, balanced and brave. The program seemed to be a prelude to the forthcoming relaunch of her book, in Spain.
One takeaway is a succinct chronology of milestones related to the Maciel scandal:

1997:  Ex Legionaries of Christ reported sexual abuse by Marcial Maciel on Mexico's CNI-Canal 40 TV.
1998:  Attorney Martha Wegan gives the Vatican the case file.
2006:  The complaint is filed at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
2009:   Fr. Alvaro Corcuera LC acknowledge the crimes of Father Maciel.
2010, February: Fr. Luis Garza LC apologizes to victims of Maciel.
2010, March: The order publicly acknowledges in writing the abuses of its founder and condemns his behavior.

The broadcast probably served to affirm the Mexican mainstream media's willingness to discuss the Legionaries on prime-time TV; since the debacle about the 1997 Canal 40 program and the pressure brought to bear on the station by LC supporters, Mexican TV has veered away from the Maciel scandal.presumably for fear of repercussions.
The program, not unreasonably I suppose, presented a one-dimensional view of the Congregation. No mention was made of the significant apostolates the Legionaries have organized in Mexico and throughout the world. 
The focus was entirely on Maciel's crimes, the suggestion of collusion by the major superiors and that he allegedly died unrepentant. When the broadcast somewhat abruptly came to an end after 30 minutes I found myself expecting another 30 minutes of conclusions, suggestions, allegations or whatever. I wondered it in part it  was not a gambit to attract ratings and audience.
Anyone familiar with the Legionaries learned nothing new. Those - in Mexico - who do not know anything about them probably were not overly interested. Others probably got an overview of the scandal with hardly any context of Maciel's undeniable "achievements" - schools, universities, clinics, outreach, missions, recruitment,  influence, and fundraising.
All in all, it was a reasonably fair and balanced presentation. Ciro Gomez is an excellent, respected, mostly impartial (I think) journalist and Milenio is a fairly mainstream news outlet.

Tonight's Mexico's Milenio TV will air a presentation (@ 9:30 PM and repeated at 23:30 PM, (Mexico City time) that will surely generate more questions than answers. It's called "The Kingdom of Marcial Maciel" and it promises to show never before seen images of the last days of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

The program, "El Reino de Marcial Maciel" claims that Maciel travelled the world with his wife and daughter, supported by Legionary Superiors who, years later, would claim to have been surprised by the news that he had a family and was leading a double life.

The program will include the opinions of Nelly Ramírez Mota Velasco who will make a formal presentation of her book "The Kindgom of Marcial Maciel" this coming Thursday at the Miguel Angel de Quevedo branch of theh Gandhi bookstore in Mexico City at 7:00 PM.

As far as I can tell, the program will be available streaming live at

The TV trailer already released on the Milenio site (also available on Youtube)   presents Maciel deathbed scenes. This teaser has me wondering how the media got access to such intimate photographs. No doubt the program will add lots of fuel to the fire of the Maciel scandal. I just hope it also provides - or provokes - some straightforward answers, especially from the Legionaries themselves.


Anonymous said...

In any montage of photos, one can wonder what was faked, and what was the genuine article. It is easy to stage photos, or to alter them on a computer. You can mix the real and the faked in a montage with no one the wiser. I would keep an open skepticism and not assume an attitude of credulity in the face of such sensationalism.

Sunshine said...

Who needs to fake anything to sensationalize the scandalous details of the Legion of Maciel? I keep an open skepticism towards the guys who lied and deceived so many for so long.

Anonymous said...

Dear Monk,
You say nothing new was revealed. Better to say nothing new was revealed to YOU. But as an ExLC, you've followed the Legion mess, and so of course you have stayed current. The benefit of this program, imo, is that it reached a new audience, and with a far greater reach than select blogs can achieve. I have no faith in the ability of LC superiors to live in the truth; negative press to an ever-expanding audience may force some sort of movement out of the Legion's (or the delegate's!) inertia.

Anonymous said...

Here is a new development that has arisen out of the "old news". I think this is a favorable result of airing old facts - someone with some authority is expressing outrage. Baby steps, but progress!

Robert Badger said...

I, too, was happy to hear comments of outrage from the Mexican bishops' conference. Granted, those comments were very late in coming. Something is better than nothing, I suppose.

Is Maciel the Leo Taxil of the 20th and 21st centuries? Taxil was a 19th century French atheist and anticlericalist who "converted" to Catholicism. He toured about France denouncing the evils of Freemasonry. He said to known someone named Diana Vaughn who escaped from the devil-worshipping Paladin cult. He was received in audience by Leo XIII and his anti-Masonic books were very popular among Catholics at the time. Eventually, Taxil admitted it was all lies and he had be escorted out of the hall by the police.

I sometimes wonder whether Maciel even believed in Catholicism. He could talk to the talk. I remember being impressed by some passages in Christ Is My Life, the autohagiographical interviews of Maciel done by Jesus Colina.