Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The monk, the cow and the apology

Over the past couple weeks I've been debating back and forth, in the comboxes of several blogs, with former LC priest Jack Keogh. He's an Irishman who runs The Monk Who Stole the Cow blog. The name of his blog refers to a folk tale which is posted in the right margin of his blog.

Mr. Keogh is calling upon LC critics to show more charity toward those who remain in LC. Here's my take on the situation:

A monk and his abbot were passing through a poor farming village atop the cliffs of Ireland when they came across a humble cottage owned by an impoverished Catholic family with three children. Nevertheless, the family took the monk and abbot in for the night. The family shared with the religious what meager milk and cheese the family had, produced from a single cow. This was the only farm animal the family could afford, and they relied upon the cow for their subsistence. Nevertheless, despite their poverty, the family was happy, knowing God was with them and provided for their daily needs.

The following day, as the "good" religious left the village, the abbot ordered the monk to return to the cottage and push the cow off the cliff. The abbot was widely reputed for his "holiness" and claimed "never to have said no to the Holy Spirit." Therefore the monk obeyed as an ever-obedient co-founder. After all, being pushed off the cliff was the cow's vocation "from all of eternity."

About five years' later, at a village two counties over, villagers discovered that the abbot had a certain unnatural affection for cows. What the penitential books at the time referred to as "unspeakable" sins involving farm animals. Given that this was medieval times - not the modern era where folks are somewhat more civilized - the villagers responded by pushing the abbot over the cliff. But that's a story for another time...

The monk narrowly escaped the peasant uprising. He made his way back to the initial village under the cover of darkness. Seeing the cottage where he had stayed five years ago, and given the cold wet snow outside, he knocked on the door to request shelter and food for the night. He could not help but notice, as he waited for someone to answer the door, that the cottage was even more beaten up and weather-worn than he remembered it five years ago.

An older man answered in threadbare clothing. He had lost some weight, most of his hair, and his skin was wrinkled with worry. Yet the biggest change was in his eyes: Gone was the spark that had made the family happy, despite the poverty in which they found themselves.

"What do you want?" the old man grumbled.

"I'm a poor monk seeking food and shelter for the night," the monk said. "You hosted my abbot and me several years ago."

"Oh, you," said the poor man.

"Look, I have nothing to give. It seems that everywhere you went cows kept falling off cliffs," the peasant continued. "After our cow fell off the cliff, the baby died for lack of milk. This broke my wife's heart, and she died about a year later. She died angry at God for having taken away our baby after showing you and your abbot some Catholic hospitality."

"That's blasphemy!" the monk said. "Your wife should have been more charitable with God, not to mention forgiving of our abbot. Then God would have blessed her with the serenity not to give in to the sin of bitterness."

"Well she might have endured this crisis," said the farmer, "but for the fate of our middle son. See, he was over in the next village begging for moldy and half-rotten potatoes - of which we ate a steady diet after our cow died - when he witnessed you pushing another cow over the cliff. You did so at the urging of your abbot. Horrified, my son ran to the bishop's house only to catch your abbot offering the bishop a gift of freshly butchered steak."

"My son reported what he had seen to the bishop. But your abbot denied everything and both you and your abbot claimed my son was lying out of jealousy for your meal of steak and fresh milk. It was his word against yours. That of an impoverished young boy against two men of the cloth. So the bishop believed you. He reported everything to the Prince, who also believed you and the bishop. The Prince then ordered my son's cheeks branded with a red hot poker ending in the letter 'L' - a sign to all who come across him that he was a liar. Additionally, my family was ordered to turn over our remaining possessions - minus this cottage - to you and the abbot, as restitution for having accused you of pushing cows over cliffs. We never ReGAINED these possessions."

"Well let's not talk about past misunderstandings," said the monk. "Let's talk about happier things. How is your oldest daughter doing? The Abbot sensed God had called her from all of eternity to a vocation as Consecrated Wench. She would not say no to God, would she?"

"I don't know," said the farmer. "After speaking with other consecrated wenches who had left the village, she decided that a more merciful fate awaited her as a galley slave to Moorish pirates. Unlike your abbot, their lust is satisfied in the afterlife by 72 virgins. That's more than twenty but less than a hundred - in case you can't count. Anyway, it's just me left in this hut now."

"Well let me in and I will keep you company," said the monk. "It is your duty as a Christian to forgive."

"Let's make a deal," said the farmer. "I'll forgive you, and offer you room and board for the evening, if you apologize for pushing my cow over the cliff and the pain it caused my family."

"That's not fair!" said the monk. "I was only following orders."

"Those orders brought much evil on my family," said the farmer. "So you can freeze outside in the snow until you apologize."

"Okay," said the monk, whose was feeling the chill of the wind against his soaked habit. "I apologize for the abbott's 'unfortunate orders,' which I cannot explain, and the pain they're now causing me as I try to find room and board for the night."

"Well what about the living hell you caused my family?" said the peasant.

"How dare you act this uncharitably!" said the monk. "I know other peasants whose cows were pushed over cliffs and they don't describe their experience as 'living hell'."

"Oh look, here comes a follower of St. Ignatius. I wonder if he needs room and board?" said the peasant. "After all, it's cold and wet outside."

"Okay, you're twisting my arm. Although I am grateful for all the good my abbot passed on to me and others who received his charism, I... uh... apologize ... for whatever pain his unfortunate orders, which I find difficult to reconcile with the good I saw while following him from village to village, caused you and your family."

"A little better," said the peasant. "But what about the pain YOU caused our family by following his orders. What about the pain your lies caused my son in having him branded a liar when he reported the truth about you, your abbot and cows were falling over cliffs?"

"How dare you judge me!" said the monk. "Only God can judge. Where's your faith in the Church?"

"Behind you," said the peasant, pointing to the Jesuit walking up the alley to investigate the situation. "Fr. Ignatius, can I offer you room and board for the evening? It's a cold night out, I need good spiritual direction to overcome the spiritual pain that has cursed our family for the last five years, and this monk was just leaving."


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness.....SOOOOO FUNNY, so very very funny (yet sad of course). Tisk tisk LC priest Jack Keogh.

- THE_Br._Dan

Anonymous said...

meant FORMER LC priest....

They are to blame, they lied, they covered up.

Anonymous said...

Take that, MONKey!

Anonymous said...

Nothing exculpates the sinner from a sincere apology and reparation. I am a Legionary, and I demand the same from my Congregation and each one of her members, my brothers.

May God have mercy on each of you and grant you the grace to repent. But if you fail to correspond, then may God in his Justice visit you, and make an example of the whole sorry lot of whores that you have chosen to be! For if you do not repent, then you will have chosen fidelity to a pedophile in preference to fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Gospel! You will have gone insane, or bonded with evil, or both.

I call on each Legionary therefore to investigate for himself in publicly available books, and condemn the sins of Marcial Maciel; then to compare the "spirituality" plagiarized and otherwise concocted by him and those Legionaries complicit with and ensnared by MM. It must be reconsidered from scratch. This is a moral obligation: it is sinful not to reexamine the spirituality, given the many evils that have come from it.

Most of you know who I am. I am a brother who still loves you and wants to be able to respect you, but not if you reject Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

This is the Cross marked out for us. Like true men, embrace it.

"Edmond Ritter"

Anonymous said...

Very well stated!

Anonymous said...

You Go Edmond Ritter!!

Anonymous said...

Finally someone is calling this for what it is! Thanks ER!

Anonymous said...

ER, this is your best comment yet. I believe you are getting healthier every day. God bless!

Anonymous said...

I have been giving them time. Pray for them and for me. ER

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Pete Vere! I absolutely loved this. So very true and hilarious to boot.

Anonymous said...

What is your take on the AV, do you think the Holy See is already clear about what it is going to do? It seemed to me the pressure to finish up the reports was because it is ready to go to work. This of course I would take as a good sign.

The Monk said...

I added Pete's story and my "edits" to my blog. Don't go there unless you have a sense of humor.

I've been spending more time than usual on other blogs. One of them in particular I find educational... but frankly depressing. Redemption in any form does not seem to be an option. I don't condemn the bitterness - but I do find it contagious. This worries me. Here in Mexico I've met so many people who are realistic in their appraisals. Their deep faith gives them optimism which I find particularly gratifying. They see the bad and the imperfect but they leave MM to God's mercy and choose to continue with the good works. I'm resolved to resist the contagion of negative emotion. Life is too short.

The Monk said...

The Br. Dan - unlike so many, including your self, I haven't chosen to "hide" my identity. I have chosen to post under the pseudonym "The Monk." Feel free to address me by name - all I ask is that you reveal yours. Fair is fair! If not, address your comments to "the Monk."

Anonymous said...

My take on the AV? The Vatican knows everything and fine Legionaries -- yes, cynics, they exist -- are cooperating fully and enthusiastically with the visitators. I am optimistic that an eventual solution will be found to the Legionaries' crisis. I am not confident that we will all be satisfied. Especially since I know that parts of the solution, as in any open heart surgery, must be done out of public if it is to be done at all. Absolute transparency? C'mon folks, that we'll have only at the Last Judgment. (Did any one really appreciate Tiger Wood's confession on public media? Did it serve any purpose besides adding another stomach wrenching moment and lowering the level of public discourse?) Wounds have a modesty of their own that should be respected, and this as a mercy to the victims, that their wounds not be reopened anew. On the other hand, some sort of restitution real and concrete must be made to victims,especially with regard to the slanders we Legionaries propagated. Signs of authentic reform are expected, ESPECIALLY FROM US LEGIONARIES! I don't want to serve under lunatics. I think I am being reasonable.
I am quite far physically from the Legion now. But I remain in close contact with several fine Legionaries and with Mons. Versaldi, with whom I am often in contact. I believe that the Vatican will get to the bottom of things and sincerely respond to a difficult situation. That's my take. Pardon my vagueness. ER

Anonymous said...

Mr Monk: anonymity could be a sign of cowardice, such as the anonymity of the terrorist-murder-bomber. Anonymity can also cloak things that ought to be cloaked. One fine Legionary who I was in contact with recently told me he did not want to make any statements to the press because it might compromise the trust of others who had opened to him with their secret sorrows. Thanks to his discretion and that of the Visitators, many can talk with confidence. If all were to be put out in the lime light, it would be impossible to get to the bottom of things.

Sorrow has a modesty of its own that must be respected. Let brother Dan keep his anonymity. I too don't think there is much to be gained by disclosing who I am. The superiors know. That suffices for my purpose. ER

Anonymous said...

Oh come on The Monk....the LC has been nothing but NASTY to people who disagree. Talk to people that have been the subject of such nastiness and the Legion sues people to shut them up. What they have done is nothing short of grave grave grave sin. And you want me to give my name. Get real...you must still not realize the gravity of the Legion's misdeeds.

Anonymous said...

They were and are nasty to me. But you're probably right. I don't know ALL the nastiness they have done. But there's no undoing it. It is something we have to learn to deal with. ER

The Monk said...

ER - about Br. Dan: I have no problem at all with anonymity. All I ask is that he respect mine. I prefer on the com boxes to be referred to the Monk. You make a good analogy with "open heart" surgery. If anyone wants to know who I am, it's easy enough to find out. I'm by no means "totally" anonymous. Several LC in the process of leaving and/or discernment have contacted me personally as a result of my blog.

I got on in life. Indeed, I think I can say that I thrived despite and because of the Legion. I am not bitter. In the blogs there is much focus on the negative. I believe God writes straight on crooked lines. MM was an extraordinarily complex character. Describing him in exclusively negative terms does not cover the full spectrum of his personality and works. Don't let yourself become bitter. (I am not suggesting you are.) Emotional contagion is a powerful force. Bitterness is not healing. I wish you the best.

Pete Vere said...

Monk wrote: "Redemption in any form does not seem to be an option."

It depends what we're talking about, when we mention redemption. Redemption of people, priests, superiors who covered up for Maciel? Yes, I believe this is possible. Through Christ, redemption is always possible so long as one is alive and willing to repent. This is the lesson of the good thief on the cross.

However, there is a difference between personal redemption and institutional redemption. The question is not whether individual Legionaries can be redeemed, but whether redemption is possible for Legionaries as an institution.

At this point, based on my experiences with new ecclesiastical movements that required direct intervention on the part of the Church, I don't know. However, such redemption won't be possible without appropriate apology and restitution to victims - not only for Maciel's sins, but for the sins of those who covered up for him.

Anonymous said...


In all fairness to THE Br Dan, your name was used in the 1st sentence of this blog, and may have been the only way he would have known to address you.

Anonymous said...

The Monk - If anything, there is NOT ENOUGH outrage over what MM did and what the Legion flunkies did in response. Look what they put Paul Lennon et al through... Individuals can be redeemed but the group needs to be disbanded. And yes, your name was right there, I didn't have to look anything up or research it. But calling me out to name myself is such an LC type response. I have read what you have written an it is wishy washy at best. The response should be plain and simple, off with the Legion head, period.

Anonymous said...

Monk, if you only knew how evil RC members are to those who choose to leave the movement. Many Legionaries secretly assist this problem. I cannot begin to tell you the horrible mean and nasty things my brothers and sisters in Christ (in Christ) have said to me. I suppose I should get over it, huh? Some days, I pray to God that I die in my sleep because I don't think I can take one more day of the abuse. But then, I say "okay God. At least give me the strength." But you go right ahead. Think only of the good fruit (whatever that is). Who cares about the rest of the world.

Aaron said...

People post anonymously on these blogs for various reasons.

Primarily out of fear of retaliation from the LC. In some instance this fear is only founded on the fear that the LC instills about speaking ill of the Legion.

Some people still have loved ones in the LC and would not want anything to happen to them or to their relationship.

Others are still in the Legion or RC.

Others yet simply fear ostracisation in their parishes and communities where RC is strong.

Let no-one be coerced into using their own name.

It is not cowardice to use a pseudonym or post anonymously.

In the Regain court case the Legion demanded the identity and address of about ten posters on www.exlegionaries.com

Their identities were never revealed by Regain.

Anonymous said...

If the Monk is so concerned about his anonymity, he shouldn't write a blog, link to his blog, suggest people visit his blog, tell people he is writing a book, and do so at every LC related blog he can find. Just a suggestion.

Yes, I am anonymous, because the RC's in my world can hurt me. But that's ok,I'm sure God will write straight with their crooked lines too.

I've had it up to my eyeballs with the whole God writes straight cliche baloney. As far as I know, He writes straight with straight lines too. Let's celebrate that.

Anonymous said...

God may write straight with crooked lines but if you get out LC/RC your lines won't be crooked in the first place. The same reasoning the LC/RC is using could be used to continue to serve under Hitler. GET REAL!

- THE_Br._Dan

Anonymous said...

Moreover NOBODY NEEDS the LC/RC, period. Christ and the Church are more than enough. The LC/RC is not essential to anyone...not from eternity, not for the last 50 years, and certainly not from lunch earlier today. Get real and get out!

Anonymous said...

- THE_Br._Dan

The Monk said...

Just a quick thing about anonymity. Read what I said. I don't care who wants to be anonymous. I understand and respect it. Period. All I ask, for reasons not unlike those other posters have mentioned, I prefer - in these venues to be referred to as the Monk. I don't think it's too much to ask. I'm not upset with Br. Dan. I have no problem with his using my name in his comment - just, going forward call me the Monk.

Anonymous said...

OK Monk....at least you're not insisting being called "Jaime Alberto Gonzales"....or NP.

The Monk said...

Pete - I don't disagree with your comment here.

My take is that after the AV the Legion name will be changed, they will be given a different canonical structure, there will be a change of Leadership (with, as I've suggested before) fresh "outside" leadership.

How the majority of LC will react, if this happens, I don't know. I suspect their are two camps within. One of them is very supportive of current leadership.

MM was an extraordinarily complex individual - beyond our wildest imagination. The dust hasn't nearly settled. As in all things of this magnitude we may have to let history take its course before we render our "final" judgment.

I can't define MM exclusively by four or five adjectives describing what we know to be his dark side. He was more than his known vices.

"Confusion" is my dominant emotion.

I expect apologies - but IF I were advising the LC I'd suggest they watch their timing. There is too much money at stake - and too many who will want to jump on the restitution bandwagon. Full restitution is due the victims. The LC owes it to the real victims to figure out who is who.

As an aside, (OK, commenters, jump all over me!) I think AC is one of the victims. Time will tell. I'm not ready to savage him.

Anonymous said...

"MM was an extraordinarily complex individual - beyond our wildest imagination. The dust hasn't nearly settled. As in all things of this magnitude we may have to let history take its course before we render our "final" judgment."

- What the heck does that mean? What a bunch of nonsense Monk. No, we do not have to let history take it's course... Condemn MM for his acts or join him, its pretty simple. You're sitting on the fence and that is despicable. The fate of MM's soul is up to God alone, but condemn his acts, his manipulations, his evilness and let loose the chains that bind people to this disordered organization...or just shut the heck up since you too will be held accountable for leading people astray.

- THE_Br._Dan

Anonymous said...

Too many who will jump on the restitution bandwagon?

That is a despicable comment.

How dare you? It has NEVER been about the money.

If it was about money, they would have sued by now. They have a heck of a case.

Even if it was about money, I am sick that you would suggest that PRIESTS should cover their *sses to avoid lawsuit. I hope you never gave that sort of spiritual direction when you were a priest.

Let me remind you, the Legion called the victims liars. They have a duty to restore their names in a timely fashion. There is no moral duty to protect their assets.

Aaron said...

Monk you are right in many respects - and of course you have the right to be called by whatever name you desire - it it not as superficial a question of whims nor as deep a question of identity - we understand that our tag here or in other places has a meaning as much as we want it to.

Regarding compensation this is something that has pricked my mind.

On the one hand no amount of money will change what has happened to me, nor how it affects me. I understand that greatly. But on the other hand what has happened to me HAS affected my life greatly in monetary terms. My depression meant that I was unable to study and even work for a considerable time. And even now that I have recocvered so much - it feels a cheat that I am only perhaps beginning to live a free life at the age of 32 - shouldnt the years I lost be accounted for?

But again I have no intention of going to court and sueing the legion = my idea of justice thinks that they SHOULD know how they need to address my needs and my abuse and their negligence...

When I reported my abuse to the legion for the first time my primary concern was that my abuser would stop abusing.

My secondary concern was that the intergenerational aspect of the abuse would be addressed.

My tertiary concern was that the legion would help me heal and overcome my pains - the only monetary aspect of this was to pay for therapy.

I honestly believe i gave the legion every opportunity to do the right thing - they ignored me.

Yes, i went to the police - but only because the LC response to my allegations was inadequate.

It is telling that to this very day the Legion of Chist has NEVER admitted that Maciel sexually abused boys and young men, nor that other LC priests did likewise.

I need sincerity and conviction - not money.

Anonymous said...

Monk refuses to face the 'bitter' truth - he was part of an abusive cult for many years. He may have Stockholm syndrome. But rather than attempt to deal with the truth, the full truth, he wants to whitewash it. In his misguided thinking, he believes it is the right thing to do for whatever reason - a false peace of mind, alleged healing, an illusory higher ground.
Maciel was an insanely twisted, evil man. What we don't know is his degree, if any, of personal culpability. The group he founded is a twisted, harmful group and the Church NEEDS to end it. In my opinion, none of the members know what genuine religious life is and the RISKS of a 'refounding' outweigh any perceived benefits. Frankly, I think charity for the current members DEMANDS that they be released and sent home to recover their sanity and their lives.
Monk can play his trumpet tune 'it wasn't so bad and still isn't.' but I consider it a sign of his own twistedness still needing some unwinding.
- Monkey

Anonymous said...

Consider the following possible interpretation of Monk's version of the story: the monk who pushed the cow off the cliff is the Pope who will more than likely shut down the LC/RC (the cow). The fruit from the RC/LC members efforts to build up the Church while clinging to LC/RC are like the lot of the poor family that clung to the cow(LC/RC) for their lifeline. When our Holy Father "pushes their cow over the cliff" they will be forced to cling to Christ and he will then be able to use their efforts in a purer and more fruitful way. From Monk's version: " “You know Father, we used to have a cow. She kept us alive. We didn't own anything else. One day she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to start doing other things, develop skills we did not even know we had. We were forced to come up with new ways of doing things. It was the best thing that ever happened to us! We are now much better off than before.” I have experienced this in my own life. It is so much brighter outside of the movement. God has great plans for you, LC/RC members, that will be realized once you let go of the "cow" and let Christ, not the LC priests, be your hope!! I look forward to your release!!!