Thursday, May 13, 2010

Where would you buy your Miracle Widgets?

Whew! Choir practice over, back home, and ready to blog--and hopefully to make up a bit for the rather lame attempts at blogging which have been the hallmark of this blog this week. (See, this is why I don't put ads on my blog or try to make any money here--I couldn't handle the emails demanding refunds).

First up: Life-after-RC raises a provocative question: should Regnum Christi cease to exist? The argument:

The Regnum Christi Movement was founded by Marcial Maciel many decades ago as a lay association of his Legion of Christ, and it has served as a fund-raising and recruiting arm for his congregation. Its spirituality echoed that of the Legion, being "contemplative and conquering," although its mission was packaged in various ways over the years. [...]

The areas of apostolate have been focused on youth programs, schools, families and mass media apostolates -- each specifically designed to draw potential recruits into the houses of formation, which house boys and girls as young as eleven in some places. In retrospect, the calculation of MM's creation makes perfect sense, because it centres on the impressionable young, distracts the parents into intense apostolic work, slips in high-pressured recruiting tactics in all interactions, and papers over its outer image in the media outlets it either has created or infiltrated.

Very few would argue with the past reputation of the group, at least those who have accurately sized up the founder and pieced together why he needed such a lay group to undergird his duplicity with the clergy. Where the remaining argument lies is in the future: Can this group continue to exist as a vibrant and full-fledged member of the wider Mystical Body?

My reasons for concluding in the negative are as follows (in no particular order):

  • This group was hatched from the mind of a depraved pervert with depraved and perverse motives. The communique noted that Maciel was devoid of religious sentiment -- he didn't have a confused sense, or a crooked sense, or a mixed bag of religious sentiment, but d. e. v. o. i. d. That's harsh. Thus anything that appeared to be religious was not. That requires slow, deliberate meditation to really understand.
  • This group existed for decades to both prop up a scam, but also to give cover to it. The genuine good will of the members who were innocent of duplicity were the poster children for the religious sentiment that was lacking in the founder. They helped him to fool the world, they carried forward the scam by confusing outsiders who knew them to be sincere, generous and full of authentic religious sentiment.
Go and read the whole list; I've copied the first two items because to me they contain the crux of the argument in favor of disbanding Regnum Christi.

In the secular world, if a "front company" (let's call it Miracle Widget) is formed by a con man solely to trick the credulous into thinking that the company in question is a legitimate business and a good opportunity for them to invest, there wouldn't be any question as to what to do about the front company if the con were exposed. No one would argue, "But wait! These people are good people--they were told to make widgets and they made widgets. Granted, their widgets are merely adequate, for the most part, and are exactly like the widgets sold by legitimate companies. Granted, their widgets served as the cover which the con-artist founder used to keep the company growing, and his fraud hidden. Granted, too, that the very name "Miracle Widget" has now become synonymous with that sort of fraud, deceit, illicit employee-poaching from legitimate companies, corporate espionage, kickbacks to regulators, patent violations, and even child abuse--there's still something worth preserving here! We just have to figure out a way to erase all the bad that the con-artist founder did, focus on making widgets, and everything will be fine."

If someone inside my fictional "Miracle Widget" front company were to say that, most people would either be angry, or laugh, or shake their heads in frustration at the level of denial being displayed. But in a sense that's what most of the people in RC apostolates have been saying since the revelations about Maciel's secret life first began to break: that they aren't responsible for Maciel, that the Movement and Regnum Christi are bigger and more important that one man (albeit the founder), that they really do good work (even though non-RC groups do much the same work, and in some cases non-RC apostolates were taken over by RC groups), and that once everyone has moved past Maciel and his flaws, the everyday business of building the Kingdom--one Miracle Widget at a time--can proceed.

Since the Vatican statement on the Legion was released, though, it's hard to see how that argument can possibly endure. As Giselle of Life-after-RC has written above, the Vatican has said that the founder of the Legion was devoid of religious sentiment. For the ordained members of the Legion, that's a nightmare to have to come to terms with--but for the unordained lay followers it is both catastrophe and devastation. The priests, after all, are priests. Whether the order in which they were ordained must be so greatly reformed that the end results will not resemble the original order in the slightest, or whether the order will eventually cease to exist altogether, those who were ordained will be priests forever. In obedience to their priestly vocation, not necessarily their Legion vocation, they will, if they are willing to act in good faith and with humility and prayer, accept whatever Rome dictates and work with Rome to fix things--or, perhaps, they will leave the order, another legitimate option. In any case their priesthood is modeled after Jesus Christ, and so they may seek to reflect Him in their priestly lives regardless of what happens to the Legion.

But for the lay members, the disturbing reality is that they voluntarily chose to follow a path, a methodology, and a way of living that was set up by a sexually deviant con man whom the Vatican has declared to have been devoid of religious sentiment. Some of them have made vows or promises, while others--though how many, I don't know--may have a looser bond with the Regnum Christi movement; but they are not formally committed to the religious life (even, as I understand it, in the case of the so-called "consecrated" women). All of them, most of them unknowingly, helped to "cover" for Maciel and his sins and crimes--the refrain, "The founder must be good! Look at all the good work these apostolates are doing!" is one that was heard over and over again during Maciel's life. And all of them participated in, if I may use the phrase, the "great work of the Legion and Regnum Christi,"--that is, they participated in fundraising and recruitment to the LC/RC.

At this juncture, there would seem to be no legitimate need for Regnum Christi to recruit anybody to join the Legion of Christ. The order, like it or not, is facing disarray of a kind that is hard even to contemplate. The papal envoy, whomever he may be, may, in fact, order a moratorium on recruitment at some date not very distant in the future; it would be a wise, just, and sensible move.

And if there is no legitimate reason for recruitment, there's not much of a reason for fundraising, either. The Legion's present holdings could be converted into funds to maintain the present numbers of Legion priests, assuming that the vast majority have not left the Legion within the next five years. The only legitimate reason I can think of for fundraising would be if the Regnum Christi apostolates were to raise money for Maciel's children and for his other victims, to provide them with counseling and other healing aids, and as a simple matter of justice.

In fact, if the papal envoy were to declare that from now on the purpose of every Regnum Christi chapter or apostolate etc. were to dedicate themselves via prayer, fasting, and good works to the victims of clerical sexual abuse, I think there would be a good reason for Regnum Christi to continue. Otherwise--well, I'd rather get my widgets from companies other than Miracle Widget; wouldn't you?

5 comments:

eulogos said...

If the priests still have their priestly vocation, the lay people still have their baptismal vocation, to follow Christ.
Christ remains true and they can still look to Him, lean on Him, rest in Him.

As for the name and the structure, like you I think it should all go. I think corporate cultures are pretty difficult to change. But I am not the one to decide.

Susan Peterson

Beth said...

At the very least there needs to be a stop placed on new members or new vows. There should be no expanding of this group until they get some psychological help for all the members that have been brainwashed and deceived for decades reciting MM writings and mantra's about building the Legion and the spirit of the movement.

MicheleQ said...

Oh what a big mess this is! Dh and I saw red flags early on and distanced ourselves from much that was LC and RC but there was enough contact that I still feel very angry about all of this.

Thanks Erin for your continuing analysis of the situation. I am finding many people are tired of talking about it but it's not over there's still a lot that needs to happen. Personally I think it all needs to be dissolved but I know that's a very painful proposition for many, and I realize it's just not that simple since there are people's whose livelihood is completely wrapped up in some sort of LC related apostolate.

TROLL said...

Ahem! ...These people are good people--they were told to make widgets and they made widgets. Granted, their widgets are merely adequate, for the most part, and are exactly like the widgets sold by legitimate companies. Granted, their widgets served as the cover which the con-artist founder used to keep the company growing, and his fraud hidden. Granted, too, that the very name "Miracle Widget" has now become synonymous with that sort of fraud, deceit, illicit employee-poaching from legitimate companies, corporate espionage, kickbacks to regulators, patent violations, and even child abuse--there's still something worth preserving here! We just have to figure out a way to erase all the bad that the con-artist founder did, focus on making widgets, and everything will be fine."...

umm...their widgets are are exactly like the widgets sold by legitimate companies. So if they get rid of the bad, why can't they go on making them?

Take a real-word example: clothing made in some 3rd world sweat shop. As long as there is exploitation, the boycott makes sense. But if there is no exploitation, why would you continue to boycott them, and risk buying the same thing from a corrupt corporation that was just as bad as the previous one, but minus the reforms?

Or take coffee. If a plantation changes to become fair trade coffee, would you refuse to buy it?

There are weaknesses in the analogy, or in the argument, or in both...

Anonymous said...

Wow, Troll, you just proved once again how seriously flawed the thinking of the "good people " are. Are you for real? The spiritual abuse of souls can hardly be compared to "goods " being sold. When will you understand that it was the Chruch's Goods to begin with and they've been tainted, poisoned, and it is deadly to the end. Only with the church reclaiming and healing what truly belongs to Her, can anything that was originally "good" survive.