Folks, I am writing with as much charity and integrity as I can as another bizarre chapter unfolds in the Land of the Legion. Rumblings began last week about how the Legionaries were gathered in bits and bobs to inform them that the founder was indeed guilty of "certain accusations." The rank and file were told in various places -- some on retreat, others in special meetings. There are some consistent details about the Official Explanation that are trickling in:
- Maciel fathered a child who is now in her early 20's;
- Maciel offered some money illicitly to his own family;
- The current head, Alvaro Corcuera, entertaining his own suspicions, demanded that the case be reopened several years ago; (Please note that this is not true!
- The health of the Legion depends on denouncing him as founder and moving on.
So what to make of this? What do we already know?
- Maciel had numerous accusations against him for paedophilia, beginning with his earliest recruits (none of whome were ever ordained);
- Early companions of Maciel recount several affairs with women with details reaching back to the 1950's;
- Maciel has been accused of extensive drug problems;
- The Methodology was evidently an effective tool for isolating and neutralising all criticism;
- The rank and file were recruited for their connexions, money, and sincere zeal for souls.
- Whatever their select recruits brought with them to the Movement would redound to the success of the Methodology.
Holy boldness seemed to be a clever mask for very unholy activity and it has confused wide swaths within the Church. The complete innocence of the rank-and-file has led many to dismiss troubling claims, and to this day folks think that their sincere efforts to "build the Kingdom" should cause the sad details of years past to be effectively swept under the rug.
If these new revelations are to be believed (and we still await a Legion announcement) then we must conclude that the upper echelon is comprised of pathological liars. Why would they say something so obviously untrue about the investigation?
It was Cardinal Ratzinger himself who reopened the investigation while he was head of the CDF. We await a clarification about the Legion putting forth this stunning claim in the impending announcement -- but realise also a feeble attempt to do two things simultaneously:
1. to minimise the defects of the founder to something more palatable. (I think the nicely-heeled ladies in any suburban bridge club wouldn't mind discussing a little indiscretion of the sort admitted, and even admit to dropping a few cheques in the mail for the sake of the cherubic young seminarian who asked.)
2. to then take that sordid little tale and send it off into the wilderness as a convenient scapegoat.
The first problem is that the founder's persona has been central to all seminarians and priests since the inception of the Legion. One cannot underestimate the damage to those who were inspired by the heroic sagas -- whether true or not. Can you just snip him out of the family photo and carry one?
The second problem is that the Legion's continuing efforts at damage control indicate that they are complicit in constructing a set of smoke and mirrors that cannot be sustained. Their obfuscation and manic control of the members' minds over this manner is beyond unhealthy. It has all the markings of a cult.