Wednesday, March 28, 2012

An Interview with Cardinal De Paolis, Vatican Delegate to the Legionaries of Christ


The Spanish magazine Vida Nueva (n. 2794, 24.3.2012) published an interesting interview with Card. Velasio De Paolis about his views on the situation with the Legionaries of Christ. The article is in Spanish. Google translate will give those who don't understand Spanish a fair understanding of the content.

The Cardinal, entrusted with the reform of the troubled order by the Vatican, discusses hot topics like the recent appointment of a new vicar general of the Legion (replacing Fr. Luis Garza), whether or not he would advise a young person join the congregation, the exodus of the "Totus Tuus" group of consecrated women, and the controversy at the ZENIT agency which is owned by the Legionaries.

Was Maciel, "demon or a poor sinner"?

According to the Cardinal, theoretically this has already been answered.

"In the history of the church there have been founders who have not followed the right path. Why have we not yet completely buried Marcial Maciel?
We cannot deny that he is the founder, this is a historical fact. He's not called "father" any more and we have asked that his writings not be read in public.
Maciel's role should be analyzed calmly. He is most certainly not a good example - but, is he a demon or a poor sinner? If he were a demon, we could not save anything in the Legion. If he was a poor sinner, something good can be done. If we demonize Maciel, we make it difficult to understand the Legion. If we consider him a sinner, maybe we can understand.
Can we say that Maciel never sought to do any good? That he never tried to do something useful for the Church? The Legionaries have values such as obedience to the Church and respect for the doctrine which were inculcated by him, that cannot be denied.
Maciel made terrible misakes, but they are the result of human weakness rather than malice.
We can never justify the sexual abuse, ... we cannot condemn it enough, but it alone does not make him a demon rather than a sinner. ... Pope Benedict XVI has said that Maciel was an enigmatic figure. We are faced with the mystery of the human person, his responsibility, it is a mystery that we eludes us. It is a bottomless pit of sin and grace."

Most readers will know that Cardinal De Paolis has been much criticized for his slow approach to Legion reform. We don't often get a chance to hear his perspective, in his own words. For anyone interested in the Vatican approach to the Maciel controversy and to the Legionaries, this article is well worth a read.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vatican praises steps taken by Irish church

A few nights ago, I saw Aisling Walsh's heart-rending movie "Song for a Raggy Boy" for the first time. The film is based on the true story of a single teacher's courage to stand up against an untouchable prefect's sadistic disciplinary regime and other abuse in a Catholic Reformatory and Industrial School in 1939 Ireland. It is a sad and intensely moving documentary of troubled times in the Church. It is all the more depressing because it is true.

Today, I was heartened to read some brighter news.

The Vatican, in a report released today, told Irish bishops they had made excellent progress in enacting norms to protect children following decades of pedophile priest scandals. This seems to be the first time the Holy See has ever endorsed a local Church's efforts to fight priestly sex abuse.
A decade of work by Irish fact-finding commissions into the scandals produced four major reports documenting how bishops moved known pedophiles from one parish to another and to unwitting parishes abroad. Four high-ranking prelates chosen by the pope conducted the inquiry last year, including Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, who investigated Irish seminaries and religious institutions, and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, who examined the Dublin Diocese.
The scandals have seriously eroded the faith in Ireland.
In the report, the Vatican said its investigators saw for themselves "how much the shortcomings of the past" had caused an inadequate reaction "not least on the part of various bishops and religious superiors."
The report includes further recommendations to improve the preparation of priests for a life of celibacy and to overcome a loss of trust by lay people in their priests. It also calls for better screening of priestly candidates and for audits of personnel files of religious orders.
The Vatican praises the work of the Irish National Board for Safeguarding Children, the Irish church's own investigatory arm, in auditing bishops' adherence to the church's sex abuse norms. The report urges bishops and religious superiors to continue to provide the church-funded board with sufficient personnel and resources.
At a news conference in Dublin on Tuesday, the top Catholic official in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, welcomed the findings and repeated the church’s plea for forgiveness from victims.