I want all interested parties to understand how the Legion operates. A particular priest of the congregation has posted a threat on this American Papist discussion thread. (The main post is irrelevant because it just mentions the timing of a forthcoming statement.) Father Jose Anton, LC writes:
Please, accept a warm greeting from Rome. You are asking the full disclosure of Fr. Maciel's wrongdoings. Why? It is Christian charity and human justice not to publicly parade other's sins, which means committing the sin of detraction (cf. Code of Canon Law, 220; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2477, 2488-89). There is also a point worth making about detraction and its gravity. Detraction not only destroys the good name of another, but it also damages still others if they are led into complicity in that defamation and thus further the scandal. It’s therefore a triple sin. The first damage is already very grave, but the second and third are also very serious. “Detraction in a general sense is a mortal sin, as being a violation of the virtue not only of charity but also of justice”, unless “the subject-matter of the accusation may be so inconspicuous or, everything considered, so little capable of doing serious hurt” (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia). “Never look upon the sin of detraction as a venial one, or think it has not power to kill the soul.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost). So, what you are asking is to commit a mortal sin.
Should we disclose publicly the reasons why you were invited to leave the Congregation? Why so much bitterness with us? We treated you in a very human and Christian way.
God bless! Please keep us in your prayers.
Where to begin with the audacity of this threat?
- The Legion is quick to point out the sin of detraction against others, but has called the original accusers names for years, undermining their credibility, their character and their motivations. Even with the "revelation" that MM was no saint, there has been no apology to these men;
- This priest is neither Glenn's confessor nor spiritual director, so he should not be privy to any of his private conversations nor his moral struggles;
- Even if he had conversations with Glenn on these topics, he would never be able to discuss them with anyone -- especially not using innuendo on a public discussion board;
- Glenn's personal life, faith journey, etc. has absolutely no bearing on the current discussion about whether a paedophile should be allowed to form priests or whether a person with narcissistic personality disorder is a capable instrument to pass on a legitimate charism in the Catholic Church;
- Father Jose has given a classic example of what makes an ad hominem attack, which is to attempt to indict the person rather than respond to his arguments;
- Furthermore, the LC/RC readers who witnessed this attack supported him afterwards, because they interpreted his words as an act of charity: admonishing a sinner.
Can people please open their eyes enough to see the nature of this methodology and what it brings its adherents to do? Can anyone distinguish between the cries of victims asking the world to stop honouring a dishonourable man and the people who say that calling attention to his sins is sinful?
My head is beginning to spin with the realisation of how the best and the brightest have been so malformed as to call black white and white black. Father Jose has just shown himself to be a priest so compromised that he will betray the sacraments and the commandments in order to protect a man who has defrauded the very Church he claimed to serve.
Thankfully, Nathaniel Peters gets it:
Concern for the Church, her sacraments, and Maciel’s victims demands a forthright, full disclosure of whether or not these accusations are true—a disclosure as vigorous as the defenses of Maciel once were. The Legion needs it, the Church needs it, and, most of all, Maciel’s accusers need it. Offerings of prayers and support, while good, are not enough. As Diogenes concludes, “If you were a victim of Maciel, and had been denounced as a slanderer for accusing him, and that denunciation had never been unsaid, would you feel spiritually buoyed by the promise of prayers offered on your behalf?”
So does Archbishop O'Brien of Baltimore:
“It seems to me and many others
that this was a man with an entrepreneurial genius who, by systematic
deception and duplicity, used our faith to manipulate others for his
own selfish ends,” Archbishop O’Brien told The Catholic Review in a
telephone interview following his Feb. 20 Rome meeting with Father
Alvaro Corcuera, director general of the Legion.
Saying that the Legion’s founder “leaves many victims in his wake,” the archbishop called for the “full disclosure of his activities and those who are complicit in them or knew of them and of those who are still refusing to offer disclosure.”
He added that the finances of the order should be opened to “objective scrutiny.”
UPDATE: I am adding Pete Vere's response to Fr Jose's words here, because the original comment is no longer available on the AP site. It is essential to see how the Legionary misrepresented the canon he cited, in addition to using charity in a self-serving and myopic way.
Fr. Anton wrote (then deleted): "You are asking the full disclosure
of Fr. Maciel's wrongdoings. Why? It is Christian charity and human
justice not to publicly parade other's sins, which means committing the
sin of detraction (cf. Code of Canon Law, 220; Catechism of the
Catholic Church, 2477, 2488-89)."
With all due respect for your priesthood - and please keep in mind that I consider myself a concerned friend of the LC/RC movement - canon 220 is clear: "Can. 220 No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy" (emphasis mine).
The key word here is "illegitimately," meaning that one is harming the reputation of another for no good reason, or violating the privacy of another for no good reason.
Nevertheless, in the current situation several legitimate reasons present themselves to justify harm to the good reputation formerly enjoyed by Fr. Maciel.
The first is justice. By branding his accusers liars when they came forward with serious allegations, Fr. Maciel harmed the good reputation of those who are now believed to be his victims, by asserting falsehood about what now seems more probable to have been the truth. Justice requires that the good name of the victims be restored.
The second concerns the public good. As noted in canon 223, rights are exercised within the context - and in view of - the common good. Many loyal Catholics have entrusted their children and young people to LC/RC apolostolates, schools and seminaries. They have a right to assurance that these apostolates are free from the influences of Fr. Maciel's sins.
Canon 793 clearly establishes parents as primary educators of their children, as both their right and obligation, and canon 795 establishes this education as "physical, moral, and intellectual" as well as social. If Fr. Maciel's sins are systemic to the ecclesiastical structures he built, then parents have a right (and not only a right but an obligation) to inquire, ask questions, and receive pertinent information, in order to assess how best to fulfill their role as primary educators of their children.
So while a full disclosure of Fr. Maciel's wrongdoings may harm his reputation, there are many legitimate reasons for doing so in this context.
UPDATE II: for the sake of full disclosure, Fr Anton later removed the threat and apologised, but must be noted that this is the second time that that exact threat has been tried on Glenn. (The first time was here.) That's why I'm highly skeptical of the sincerity of the apology, which had obviously backfired. One must consider that critics of the Legion (or even those who simply wish to discuss their experiences with the Movement) still hide more often than not behind screen names or psuedonyms, which indicates that the likelihood of retribution for negative remarks is still on people's minds. This threat was therefore retracted, but the fear obviously remains.