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The Catholic Church doesn't need the Legionaries of Christ
Multiple investigations of impropriety and misconduct fail to provide the 'profound re-evaluation' mandated by the Vatican
- Fr Thomas V. Berg, New York
- United States
- June 22, 2012
His appointment followed upon a close scrutiny of all Legionary houses of formation and apostolateâ€”a â€ścanonical visitationâ€ťâ€”conducted by a team of bishops appointed by the Pope.
The visitation was mandated by Benedict after the congregationâ€™s major superiors admitted in early 2009 that Maciel had lived a morally depraved double life, fathering at least a daughter and perhaps other children from at least one mistress, and sexually abusing young seminarians.
After twenty-three years as a Legionary, I discerned that it was best for me to abandon the congregation in 2009. Since the naming of De Paolis, I have watched and waited for needed reform. Now, two years later, I have decided to lift my silence to express my deep disappointment as well as my profound concern for the fine young men and dedicated priests who still compose the Legion.
In point of fact, the Legionaries are not some centuries-old and long-cherished religious family, deserving of every ounce of the Churchâ€™s energies to salvage it. The Legionâ€™s seventy-one years of existence are immersed in controversy. Serious questions have been raised about the various â€śapprovalsâ€ť of the Legion in the 1940â€™s on account of Macielâ€™s duplicity.
The Legion also escaped extinction under dubious circumstances after a Vatican investigation of Maciel in the 1950â€™s. I have held for quite some time that it would have been best for the Legionaries and the Church had Benedict opted to suppress the congregation. That he did not do.
We have rather been witnesses of two years of stalled reform. Part of this must be attributed to Legionâ€™s papal delegate, Cardinal de Paolis. A long-time Vatican bureaucrat and canonist who does not speak Spanish, the Legionâ€™s official language, de Paolisâ€™s has made two decisions which, over time, may well prove to be the congregationâ€™s final undoing.
First, he has chosen to leave multiple longtime and close collaborators of Maciel in positions of governance in the congregation. Second, and more disturbing, the Cardinal has chosen to forego a thorough and independent investigation into whether any present or former members of the congregation knowingly abetted Maciel.
Meanwhile, De Paolisâ€™s approach to the â€śprocess of profound re-evaluationâ€ť has been to institute a series of group dialogues amongst Legionaries about the current constitutions, to task a small commission of Legionary priests (some of Macielâ€™s closest collaborators) to â€śre-writeâ€ť the text of the Legionâ€™s constitutions, and to prepare the groundwork for a general chapter of the congregation sometime in the next twenty-four to thirty-six months.
Current members more open to radical renewal believe that the most likely result of such a process will be little more than superficial and cosmetic changes to norms and disciplineâ€”a far cry from the sweeping changes to the internal culture of the congregation so urgently needed.
Full Story: The Legion's Scandal of Stalled Reform
Source: First Things