Those who hope for real investigation of the Legionaries, not a whitewash, and real consideration of reform or even re-foundation might well feel cheered by the appointment of such a substantial group. None of them has been close to the Legion. Chaput provided haven for three unhappy Legionaries leaving the congregation. Elements of the visitation form a bit of a mob, actually, with Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, who stepped over Legionary supporter Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, to announce the visitation. Bertone made Versaldi his vicar general while bishop of Vercelli. Ghirlanda and Bertone have been colleagues on several Vatican congregations. Versaldi and Ghirlanda are Gregorian colleagues. The Denver group of former Legionaries has Gregorian degrees.
It is sometimes suggested that the Jesuit connection to the visitation itself spells trouble for the Legion, but those who evoke the evil Jesuit perpetuate an unfair stereotype of which twentieth century conservative movementarians have been overly fond. Father Maciel himself complained of scheming Jesuits, but this is not to be credited any more than anything else he might have said.
For all their qualifications in religious life and formation, canon law, psychology, and education, none of the prospective visitators is a forensic accountant. If the visitation is now underway in some sense without the named visitators, it may be that the finances of Father Maciel personally and the Legion generally are now being audited as a necessary preliminary. Vatican visitors were said to have arrived at Legionary headquarters in Rome in early March, around the date of Bertone’s letter.
Nor is any of the prospective visitators a woman. This needs to be corrected if it signals unconcern for the welfare of the consecrated women of Regnum Christi, whose issues, such as their canonical status, their formation, the allegations of inadequate education and woman on woman abuse among them, should not continue to be overshadowed.
In their press conference Javier Bravo and Osvaldo Moreno further demonstrated Legionary under-visitation spin. Bravo claimed that post-scandal defections from the Legion are few; that, with Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity, they are still the among the fastest growing congregations in the church; that “the charism of the Legionaries [the word they use to allude to their irreformable approval] comes from the model of the imitation of Christ. Father Maciel with his nature and his reality, with many successes, but also with his faults, was only an instrument. The congregation does not follow Father Maciel, but the model of Christ. The priests who are ordained do not seek to be like Father Maciel, they are following Christ.” The spokesmen echoed the language of Bertone’s March letter: “Even if he was the founder, the educational, social, and religious work goes beyond the figure of that priest.”
It is in a way comforting that when Legionary spokesmen mislead it is so easy to recognize. Bravo claims the Legionaries don’t need their founder as a model in the same breath he refers to Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity. But if they no longer take Maciel as a model, that is indeed authentic reform. The First Legionary General Chapter, for example, held in 1980 that “it has been ordained by God that the person and life or Our Father Founder cannot be separated from the life and spirituality of the Legion (469)” and that “the writings and conferences of Nuestro Padre should constitute, along with the Gospel of Christ, the principal source of inspiration… (184.1)”
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Some Words of Warning from Cassandra
Some bits a pieces from a long analysis by Cassandra which you can find here.