Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dangerous loyalty and women

Over at Life-after-RC, Giselle has a post up about the Legion's so-called "consecrated women" that got me thinking:

This site is gut-wrenching for a variety of reaons, not the least that each one of these girls/women struggled mightily in her soul to be as selfless and generous as humanly possible with God. Unfortunately, each one did it under the direction of an unscrupulous and highly manipulative congregation which has treated their gift of self abominably. For starters:

  • they are not really consecrated;
  • they have no canonical protections;
  • the long list of rules they adhere to were not approved;
  • the congregation they obey is in serious trouble with the Church;
  • the wealth of said congregation has been shuffled and hidden so that they have to beg for soap and toothbrushes;
  • they are subject to an impending visitation of their own shortly; [....]
(Link in original--E.M.)
I've also read, at Life-after-LC and elsewhere, about how many women of Regnum Christi are still (at least by appearances) fiercely loyal to the Legion and Regnum Christi. They still send their children to Legion schools, participate in multiple apostolates, and dismiss the fact that the whole thing was started by a sexually deviant con man who was declared by the Vatican to be devoid of religious sentiment as a minor problem they will have to "move beyond" as they bravely face the misunderstandings and criticisms pointed at them.

While we could chalk this up to that difficulty all of us have with admitting we were wrong about someone or something, I think in the case of women there's an added wrinkle, which is this: many women have a capacity for loyalty that goes beyond reason or sense, and that makes it very easy for them to be manipulated by the unscrupulous.

We see that dynamic all the time in the case of battered women. Beaten or abused by husbands or boyfriends, these women will often refuse to press charges, insist that the bruises were their own fault, welcome the abuser back into their lives again and again, and stubbornly resist the efforts of family or friends to help them get out of the situation. Some of these women, true, are poor, uneducated, and desperate, and they tend to adopt a twisted logic that says that as long as the abuser is a "good provider" he is not really so bad; but other women are neither poor nor without options, yet they will put up with the same sorts of things, and remain committed and loyal to the one who is hurting them.

And for every one women who meets the above description, there are probably dozens more who put up with serious emotional abuse from a husband or boyfriend. They accept belittling, ridicule, questioning of their every decision, control over finances/friendships, emotional distance, and the like, and make excuses for it (e.g., "He's just traditional/old fashioned; he was brought up to think women ought to be X or behave like Y, he's just concerned about me, etc.").

Based on the multiple relationships he had with women, we can see that Maciel was very good at manipulating them. He appears to have understood just how to appeal to women, whether he was making them his mistresses, flattering them for substantial donations to his "Movement," or using them as docile and obedient covers for his hideous way of life.

Maciel may be dead, and his scandals exposed. But just how good he was at commanding the unthinking and even dangerous loyalty of women can be seen in those women who are still defending the Legion and Regnum Christi with every fiber of their beings.


Kindred Spirit said...

This organization has long had all of the hallmarks of a cult. These poor women have been brainwashed and need deprogramming much more than they need material goods. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, pray for them, that their eyes may be opened to the truth.

Anonymous said...

Much in the same way that we see demoralized people without a sense of their own self fasten themselves to someone or something that seems socially acceptable, this too is the hideousness of mindless religiosity. This 'fountain of fools' is often what politicians tap into to promulgate their causes.

Beth said...

It is good to hear someone speaking up about the truth of this issue. I feel profoundly sad for all those involved and who continue to be deceived.

What choice do the consecrated women have? If this is all they have known for 10 or 20 yrs where else do they have to go? They most likely have no skills to support themselves. They many have been alienated from their families. They are dependant mentally, physically and spiritually on the movement.

I am hoping the church addresses this issue and provides of means to leave the movement for those who do not have a choice. Catholics who continue to support this group have lost my respect.

TROLL said...

I don't think that you are alloting enough credit to free will, Erin. Children reach the age of consent when they are seven (according to the Jesuits), and many Consecrated were much older than that.

Brainwashing is an easy way to describe someone's radical religious choice when you do not agree with it. A lot of the criticism of de-programming runs along that line.

Adults bear their responsibility for their own actions. And while they may capitulate under pressure,they are still responsible for doing so.

Anonymous said...

I see this kind of "programming" being condoned and even encouraged by the Vatican. For example, Opus Dei uses similar tactics, and the Vatican seems quite happy with that.