VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has ordered an apostolic visitation of the institutions of the Legionaries of Christ following disclosures of sexual impropriety by the order's late founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado.I think an apostolic visitation is just what is needed in this situation. There is, however, a curious detail in the CNS article, which was noted by Thomas Peters yesterday:
The announcement of the unusual investigation was posted on the Web site of the Legionaries of Christ March 31, along with the text of a letter informing the Legionaries of the pope's decision.
The letter, written by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the pope wanted to help the Legionaries of Christ deal with its present problems with "truth and transparency." It said the visitation would be carried out by "a team of prelates," who were not identified.
Apostolic visitation is a form of internal church investigation ordered by a pope and undertaken by his delegate or delegates. The pope sets the jurisdiction and powers of the visitation, which usually ends with the submission of a report to the Holy See.
Cardinal Bertone's one-page letter, dated March 10, was addressed to Father Alvaro Corcuera, director general of the Legionaries and its lay association, Regnum Christi.As Peters points out: "Why did it take three weeks after the Legion knew an apostolic visitation would be taking place for them to notify their members? Why was this statement clearly delayed for so long?"
I very much hope that one of the things the apostolic visitors will investigate is the Legion's habit--it really must be called a habit at this point--of keeping things secret as long as possible, even from their own members. That sort of knee-jerk reaction in favor of secrecy doesn't help people outside the Legion to see any changes from the climate of concealment that let Fr. Maciel get away with unspeakable behavior for so long.