Some of my friends are still insisting that Maciel could have had a legitimate charism—that in one brief moment of grace in his sordid life, God could have given him the impetus to found a religious order.
I think they’re missing how charisms usually come about.
If you look at other orders, the charism doesn’t come to the founder in a lightening flash. He doesn’t wake up one morning and say “I’m going to found an order to serve the poor!” Charisms seem to develop organically, after many years of toil, after the founder is already trying to serve God in everything he does. [...]
The Legion’s account is topsy-turvy. They claim the charism can only be seen from the inside, even though usually charisms are clearer to those who are outside looking in. They claim Maciel received this charism from God in a moment of grace – that it doesn’t matter if he never lived it and it never led him to holiness, because the charism is still sound. [...]
Now that the truth’s out, it’s clear that the Legion is different from all orders that came before it. Not because they got a special charism in a special way, but because they have no charism and were founded by a child-molesting embezzler. There can be no charism. I can’t say it enough. There is no charism. There never was. Those who joined LC/RC were spiritually defrauded. They’re like people who bought into a non-existent timeshare development.
Do go and read the whole thing.
Deirdre is on to something that is startling to contemplate, but which must be faced. The case of Father Maciel is not the case of a man who began a life of holiness but fell away, nor is it the case of a man who sinned grievously but then repented and began anew. In either case a legitimate charism might still be theoretically possible.
Rather, Father Maciel's is the case of a man who lived a life of sin for decades, with no public sign of repentance at all--and for public sins, or sins which Maciel had to know would become public after his death, there must have been public penitence. Worse, the order he founded, with all its rules and ways, had the effect of facilitating his immoral lifestyle, so much so that some within the order still refuse to face the facts about their founder, preferring to brush it aside while firmly insisting upon an adherence to what they call "charity," but what actually means refusing to discuss openly and address openly the evils that are still being revealed.
If there is no charism, then there is no Legion. That is the reality of the situation which is becoming clearer with each passing hour, and each new horrible story of the founder's life of sin.