The pending canonical visitation may be a Pentecost of sorts for the LC. A promising wind is blowing and I can only pray that it will shake the whole house to the foundations. Hopefully the cowering disciples will shake off their fear and indifference and give into the mighty impulse of truth and transparency.
The PTB will smile bravely and offer the usual platitudes about what a blessing the Vatican intervention is and how willingly the institution will collaborate...But it is up to the rank and file to seize this opportunity, this open forum that the Spirit has initiated, and speak from the heart. The legitimacy of the continued existence of our religious family is on the line. The future of our congregation and its works of apostolate, the credibility of our vocation as LCs depend on what we do now.
Do not wait to be called. Demand to be heard.
Recently the Superior General wrote us a long, sentimental letter about his trip to the Holy Land as part of the entourage of Pope Benedict on his historic visit. Instead of waxing poetic on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, perhaps a straight forward, no-spin letter about something that actually matters to the members of the congregation might be in order.
I suggest a letter about the tremendous historical event we are about to experience: the visitation.
What is a visitation? Why is the LC being submitted to this extraordinary canonical process now? What precise finality does the visitation seek? How can we prepare for it? How can we all participate in it? Who can we write to? Who can we speak to?
Certainly the shredders on Via Aurelia have been churning fast and furious since the ball of twine began to unravel, making new revelations more unlikely.
The visitation is about us, the LC and its inner workings... everything from silly norms of urbanity to finances, from the competence of its superiors to the freedom of conscience of its members...If this is the moment of truth, it is also the moment of grace.
A Legionary priest, working in a women’s center of RC in South America, recently responded to the anguished questions of the Movement’s members about the fraudulent life of Fr. Maciel by saying, in short, that “as a man he had his shortcomings, we should not be judgmental and we should look to the good that has come from the Legion in its works”.
That’s like saying that Caligula had his ‘quirks’... or that Amy Winehouse has her occasional ‘bad hair day’.
If we are to believe that Fr. Maciel was somehow a ‘flawed saint’ or simply ‘an imperfect instrument of God’, how do we defend the fact that he perpetuated the lie of his double life and drew so many ingenuous, enthusiastic followers into a spider’s web of wanton deception that lasted till his death?
He chose to lie and he slaved tirelessly to inflate an image of sanctity, of inspiration, of leadership and of relevance for the Church throughout his entire despicable career. He diligently hid his secret life from the acting LC superiors over the years so that the realistic appearance of the illusion he was spinning would be flawless.
It is the lie that kills me.
I know he was a sexual predator. I know he was morally corrupt. I know he duped, popes, bishops, authorities both civil and ecclesiastic.
But the lie that he seduced me with and with which he held me compliantly captive for thirty years smolders in my gut, invades my dreams and sullies my experience as a priest.
His was a masterful and heartless betrayal of that which was noblest in us.
We are all damned fools and the sorry, hapless remnant of a vicious fairy tale.
He has made cynics of us all.