For the past few days, I have been holding off on commenting and posting anything concerning the recent letter from two of the three territorial directors of the Legion of Christ to Regnum Christi members in the United States, and parts of Canada. Of course, I had initial reactions to the letter, but I wanted to let everyone express their opinions before giving my own on this matter.
The letter comes at a time when even more news has come from Mexico concerning some of Maciel’s children and their legal case. Some financial information was revealed by the Mexican attorney, Jose Bonilla. The particular article that Bonilla wrote was criticized by some, since he called for anyone with more information to contact him. But Bonilla is a wise public relations man, and both civil and criminal cases are often more about public relations than they are about in court strategy. Time will tell if Bonilla’s particular strategy will pay off.
My first reflection on the now infamous letter from Reilly and Marti has to do with the why and the why now of this missive. Even the casual observer of the Legion will know that the Legion of Christ is a highly centralized group: any decision, sometimes even seemingly minor ones, are vetted by the General Direction in Rome, Italy. And certainly any media releases are reviewed, and often written in Rome and then published under the signature of the Territorial Directors. (As I have mentioned often in the past, Scott Reilly is certainly not intellectually capable of doing something of this nature on his own and Julio Marti is not a native English speaker.)
Another interesting part of the “why” observation has to do with the fact that this letter was limited to only two territories in the United States (including parts of Canada), and, to the best of my knowledge, has not appeared officially in other countries. For some reason, the major superiors in Rome felt that there was some underlying problem specific to these two areas in the United States/Canada that warranted such a letter. Unfortunately, this tells me that the intentions, motivations, and expressions of sorrow and apology in the letter are less than totally sincere. Sincerity would have merited a much wider announcement, and not one so narrowly targeted.
Why now? The timeline, as with most things concerning the Legion is somewhat cloudy. Legion officials, and sometimes the exact same officials have hinted at in some instances, and definitively declared in others, that major superiors knew of Maciel’s behavior and siring of illegitimate sons and daughters at different times. However, the letter implies pretty strongly that these facts were known by Legion superiors in early 2005, when Maciel retired as Director General of the Legion of Christ. There are several testimonies now to the fact that at least one of Maciel’s sexual partners and at least one of his grown children were present near the time of his death. Persons present at the time have said publicly that Maciel’s attendants (Legionaries of Christ and Consecrated Members of the Regnum Christi) who were there at his bedside knew the identities of these persons. The question is why now after nearly five years is there a letter which finally acknowledges some of the sordid facts?
Some have postulated that the timing is due to the Apostolic Investigation. Others have guessed that it might be due to the revelations of Jose Bonilla in Mexico. But there has to be something that makes the timing apropos in the United States/Canada and in these two territories. Do special situations exist? I think that a clue can be found in the content of the letter. There seems to be no obvious and logical reason in the stream of content of the letter for mentioning what the Legion would call defections from the Congregation and the Movement. The very fact that the letter tries to minimize this occurrence indicates that there is more to it than the Legion is willing to admit publicly.
I do not pretend to have more information than the other brilliant sources that are now out there, but please do remember that Exlcblogger has never let his readers down, and has always had the facts, even when others claimed them to be outlandish.
Stay tuned for more reflections on the content of the letter.