Friday, September 25, 2009

Mixed signals

Observers of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi continue to watch the unfolding situation with a certain amount of uneasiness, it seems to me. The continuing revelations about Father Maciel's way of life, that we are now, apparently, talking about "children" in the plural who were fathered by Maciel, and the growing belief that at least some highly-placed Legion officials must have known all about Fr. Maciel's shortcomings have disheartened many former supporters of the Legion; in addition, some are still waiting for an unequivocal apology to the victims of Maciel and for a sign that the Legion really does intend to change things, going forward.

That's why some of the recent things to come out of the Legion have been less than helpful. I'm late to these; this first is from September 10, but I think it illustrates some of the disordered thinking that continues to go on behind the scenes in many places. From the Life-after-rc blog:
NEWSFLASH: The women in a certain [formerly thriving] section were just visited by their new priest. In addition to the other introductory information he passed along, he praised them for their fidelity, sadly noting that much of the RC leadership had defected out of sheer pride. They were there when everything was good, when the accolades were rolling in, when the limelight was on them. Once the road got a little rocky, they threw in the towel -- since they don't know how to deal with crosses.
The phenomenon called "blaming the victim" is an indication that something is pathologically wrong with the person or institution doing this. If a parent, for instance, physically abuses a child he or she may blame the child for "making" the parent lash out; this becomes a deep-seated thing, and has to be eradicated by counseling and therapy for both the victim and the warped adult who has come to believe that he or she is powerless to stop the abuse (because it's really the child's fault, etc.). Unfortunately, the tendency to blame the victim is reported by so many former Legion members that it's almost possible to suspect that the Legion sees it as a feature, not a bug; that is, the notion that anyone who leaves, criticizes, speaks or acts against, or otherwise impedes the Legion is by definition unworthy of this "great mission" is quite possibly, from inside the Legion, viewed as a strength.

How? Well, clearly God has only chosen a select few for the Legion, but sometimes unworthy people join RC or enter the seminary. How good of God, then, to reveal to all the unworthiness of the false! And such an easy revelation--anyone who does not accept, unquestioningly and at all times, the Legion way, or who criticizes it or any person in the Legion, has by that very act shown that he or she is not worthy of the Legion.

The example above, if accurately recollected by the person who heard it, shows that most unfortunately this mentality continues. Rather than looking inward and realizing that the shame and scandal caused by Maciel's own actions was driving more and more people away from the Legion, it would seem that some in the Legion are still blaming the ones who leave--this time for inordinate pride and the inability to handle suffering. Apparently the notion that those who left might be motivated by simple prudence isn't being considered.

More mixed signals from the Legion, and from a direct source, can be seen in this CNS article from September 22:
Father Jose Cardenas, the director of the Legionaries of Christ in Chile, has lamented the recent revelations about the order’s founder, Father Marcial Maciel, as well as the “pain and confusion caused in the Church and in society.” [...]

“As our general director has already done, we ask forgiveness of all those who have been affected, and likewise, we lament the pain and confusion caused in the Church and in society,” Father Cardenas continued. [...]

Father Cardenas expressed thanks for the spiritual support the order has received from the Chilean bishops, clergy and the laity, which has helped them to look towards the future with hope.

“Father Maciel was instrumental in beginning the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement in the Church, and therefore we must be thankful. But it is also evident that he cannot be an example to us in these unfortunate events,” he said.

“This does not exempt us from discerning and conserving the good we have received from him as our founder. It is a good time to confirm our conviction that Jesus Christ is our center, our guide and our model,” he added.
Let's look at that again; actually, read the whole article if you can. The beginning seems like an apology; not a really strong one, maybe, but an apology anyway. However, soon we're back in mixed-signal territory: The Legion is "thankful" for Fr. Maciel. But he can't be an example "in these unfortunate events." And yet the Legion should still be "discerning and conserving the good (they) have received from him as (their) founder." Is there any more euphemistic way to refer to their founder's proclivity for having affairs with women, fathering children, possibly abusing seminarians, all while taking money raised for his Legion to spend on his own sinful and hypocritical way of living, than calling these things "unfortunate events"?

Observers of the Legion are noting these things; hopefully, those officially investigating the Legion are noticing them as well. At the very least, they don't bode well for the Legion's future: at a time when they ought to be giving one clear message repudiating the vast evil done by Father Maciel and humbly seeking forgiveness of those inside and outside the Legion, that sort of clarity and unequivocal speaking remains elusive. Instead, we keep hearing the same mixed messages, of the sort the Legion has seemingly perfected over the years, which twist the uncomfortable truth inside out, blame the critics and naysayers, and appear to be refusing to consider that the fault lines carved by Maciel's sins run deep underneath the Legion's whole foundation, and that they remain in imminent danger of collapse.

1 comment:

Dino said...

Well, the Nazis made the trains run on time. Now about that bit of unpleasantness with the ovens...