Friday, January 8, 2010
Religion Story of the Decade?
Gary Stern offers suggestions on the Relgion Story of the Decade, and suggests the abuse scandal. While commenting on fading interest while the situation seems to remain unchanged, Stern offers an example:
Even [Hartford's Trinity College Religion professor Mark] Silk doesn’t mention the surest proof that the scandal has faded from public consciousness: the lack of media coverage given the demise of the Legionaries of Christ.
In a small nutshell: Pope John Paul II was enamored with the Legionaries, a fast-growing, very traditional Catholic order of priests that was founded in 1941 in Mexico by Marcial Maciel. The pope ignored allegations by about a dozen former seminarians that Maciel had sexually abused them.
In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI publicaly retired Maciel from ministry, without saying why. But it was obvious.
This past February, the Legion itself disclosed that Maciel had fathered children and lived a “double life.” The Vatican is now investigating the order.
The whole story is set out in journalist Jason Berry’s video “Vows of Silence.”
One can argue that the tale of Maciel and the Legionaries is a microcosm of the larger sex-abuse scandal. Allegations of abuse were made and the church—in this case, the POPE—either looked the other way or ignored the evidence. What did he know? When did he know it?
I keep wondering whether the Maciel case will affect John Paul’s otherwise glowing reputation as the late pontiff zooms toward sainthood. It sure seems to be a dark stain on his pontificate. But hardly anyone knows about it.
The religion story of the decade still inspires curiosity, but no more.