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I will say that there are some good things said in this, imo, but this really jumped out at me and not in a good way: We want to thank all those who have understood the depth of our suffering, and offered their understanding and kindness. As we have just mentioned, we wish to be close to anyone who has suffered in any way, and at the same time ask them to live the Christian virtue of pardon from the depth of their hearts.

Also, I really am not sure that the 'vast majority' of people have stayed. I wonder if that is verifiable.

He also defends the rational behind the "vow of charity", while admitting that Benedict told them to do away with it. If it wasn't problematic, why did Benedict want the practice ended? I also find the reference to the "few" who have left in contrast with the "vast majority" who remain to be interesting. I wonder what the numbers really are.

As lengthy and carefully worded, this letter purports to be, I get an image of a battered, bruised and deeply physically wounded person with someone beside him, frenetically plastering band-aids.

When you were not taught first aid, and band-aids are all that was given to you in the medicine cabinet because the abuser needed room for his drugs, it's what you use until the ambulance arrives.

The important thing here is that the person applying the band-aids is finally admitting that it isn't "only a flesh wound" and that an ambulance needed to be called.

This seems so wordy; they just go on and on, which of course is how manipulative people talk. The more words they use, the greater the chance to deflect blame and spin people's opinions.

They should have just simply and specifically stated what they did wrong, and then humbly begged forgiveness.

Then they should have told us how they're going to make reparation.

I notice a change in admitting that the Apostolic Visitation is an investigation, and not just a chance for the Holy See to show the LC how much they are loved.

His statements about financial accountability are straight B.S. "For a long time now we have had yearly audits done by outside accounting firms." If that is so, then these firms need to be fired immediately for failing to catch the fact that millions have been channeled to support Norma & Norma.

"In the recent past, after Father Marcial Maciel had retired, we came to know that he had had a relationship with a woman and fathered a child." This seems to admit that they knew about this while MM was still alive, and yet continued to place him on a pedestal and allow him access to an unlimited expense account, while knowingly encouraging the institutional libeling of the accusers.

Having gotten away with what they were doing for decades, we cannot expect the Legion to recognize all their questionable practices and fix them overnight. So I can forgive them for being wordy and trying to cover all their bases.

However, there's some real substance to this letter, as I note here:

http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/archives/2009/09/an-encouraging.html

I remember the story Immaculee Ilibagiza tells of her night of anger, when a small infant was brutally left to wild dogs, her heart hardened and anger seemed uncontrollable. She complained about the need to be compassionate with enemies- but she said, it was a child, a child. Then one deep piecing light from came God to free her from the rage: "But they are all my children."

You cannot pick and choose who you will give mercy too, mercy is not an option but a command of Christ- if you do not give it will be denied you, you cannot hide behind your subjective sense of "justice" to avoid confronting your own anger. Moreover the hardness of heart expressed in these comments I find is more akin to the role the Devil plays as the accuser in scripture, working and never satisfied with any effort of ours to remedy evil, until that non-christian sense of justice claims its ultimate death blow.

I just finished reading your analysis Pete, and I agree with you. This is the first substantial communication that we have seen from them, and we can take it as a positive sign that they are (at least now) taking it seriously. If we use this as an opportunity to kick them while they're down they are more likely to retrench. As you said, let's see if they can now put their words into action.

Friend says: "Moreover the hardness of heart expressed in these comments I find is more akin to the role the Devil plays as the accuser in scripture, working and never satisfied with any effort of ours to remedy evil, until that non-christian sense of justice claims its ultimate death blow."

Specifically what comments show a hardness of heart?

Thanks!

Which lies are we supposed to believe, the ones told to us at the start of all of this, the ones told to us a couple of months ago which contradict the first ones, or the ones now which continue to contradict what has been said before?
Do they really believe all their own lies?

Also interesting to note is that this is the first time we have seen confirmation about the changes mandated by B16. For years they denied that there even was a private vow, then they admitted its existence but justified it, now they admit they removed it upon orders from Pope Benedict (who has the power to bind and loose). I would like to know that they have been instructed to no longer treat it as still internally binding.

I find it fascinating that they would still justify having superiors in the role as spiritual director ("based on one of the century-old monastic traditions") in spite of the fact that this practice is forbidden by canon law.

HH, one test I try and go by as a canon lawyer when evaluating the credibility of contradictory evidence is the Stephen King test: "How would a normal person react to this abnormally horrific situation?"

Which is why I never bought into Legion happy talk of "serenity" when this scandal first broke. God is the author of human emotions. He gave them to us for a reason. A normal person would not feel "serene" at discovering one's mentor a fraud.

On the other hand, I can understand completely the wide range of emotions expressed by these two LC priests. I can also understand why someone in their situation would issue a verbose statement that is not as focused as one normally expects from a PR statement.

It may not be polished to a professional standard, it may not be perfect, it may still contain some of the Legion's blind spots, but it is real in the sense that it describes how a normal person thrust into their situation would react.

In fact, given the Legion's track record of how they have responded in the past to alleged victims, I would be more suspicious if this letter had been polished, perfect and completely devoid of the Legion's past blind spots.

Don, maybe I'm being gentle in my reading, but I saw it not as justification for the practice, but more as explanation as to why nobody within the Legion questioned the practice in the past.

That being said, there is one point where I feel the Legion is open to fair criticism, and I'm about to add it to my preliminary analysis. It concerns the statement that they have tried to contact the victims of Fr. Maciel's duplicity.

We know the Legion has contacted the RC membership, that it was in touch with Maciel's daughter Norma, and that Fr. Anton spoke with at least one victim, but what about those former priests and seminarians who initially brought forward the allegations in public?

Up until now they deny having been contacted by the Legion. So was there an effort to contact them? If so, when, where and how?

If not, does the Legion intend to contact them? And if the answer is yes, when, where and how?

This is a point I think current RC members need to press the Legion on.

Amazing. You can't make this stuff up:

"As we have just mentioned, we wish to be close to anyone who has suffered in any way, *and at the same time ask them to live the Christian virtue of pardon from the depth of their hearts.*"

They really don't have a clue. They have absolutely no business continuing their posture of being the spiritual "Yodas," so to speak, to the rest of us. They have no business passing out spiritual advice to ANYONE regarding how they should respond to any of this. It's like, if my uncle molests my son and my aunt gives me lofty spiritual advice on how she expects me to deal with it. Really?

And it doesn't get more passive aggressive than this:

"The vast majority has opted to continue doing as much good as they can from where they are, knowing that our time here on earth is limited, and trusting that with the guidance of the Church whatever needs to be corrected in time, and whatever is good will be confirmed."

Ah, yes. This is precisely how they keep their poor members on the hook for so very long. The implication is that if you are going to use your precious, finite life well, you will heroically stick with us and have trust.

I'm not going to waste time pointing out what could, in some alternate universe, be considered "good" or "positive" in this letter--because all that is alarmingly bad, all that is manipulative and evil is still right there, staring us all in the face.

Good does not dilute evil. Evil must be eradicated.

They are still eerily passing themselves off as Yodas, while the rest of us just hear the mechanical breathing of Darth Vader. Ugh. Maciel's spirit is alive and well.

I really pity them.

Don says that Pope Benedict ordered the Legion to remove the private vow while Plain old Catholic states that BXVI told them to do away with it. Correct. However, in the text of the above letter it reads: Pope Benedict XVI ... asked the Legion to remove it. The letter makes it sound like the Holy Father submitted a request and the Legion graciously complied. This is why everything the Legion says is meticulously parsed by its critics!

Friend, as for our "hardness of hearts", the Legion's critics are more than willing to forgive but the LC is not asking the right people for forgiveness. Giselle reiterates that none of the victims have been contacted yet.

I also get the feeling that much of the letter is in response to the material discussed here on blogs like Life-After-RC recently. If the chatter wasn't so voluminous, I'm sceptical there would be any letter at all.

Thank you, SS. Comments like yours make me realise I'm not completely off the beam for reacting so badly. There is an enormous, vivid backdrop to these words which cannot be seen on the page but has been lived in the hearts of victims and dupes over the decades. Again, thanks.

giselle, you are not off the beam. Not one whit. It really takes living through something like this (I was never a member, but I've had other life experiences) to say, nope, sorry, it smells rotten because IT IS rotten. I don't have to check it out from 100 angles to confirm it's rotten. I'm not obligated to soften my words and say it's sort of rotten, or redeemably rotten.

Rotten doesn't just wake up, one fine day, unrotten.

There's a reason Michael drop kicked Satan right out of heaven.

Of course we pray and sacrifice (like your novena, etc.) for these fellow Christians who we want to be in heaven with us, and who we ardently desire turn their lives around so they can live God's true plan for them.

But evil is evil. If I'm sitting with a crack addict I don't pretend (for her sake) that just because she managed to comb her hair and brush her teeth that morning, her life is on an upswing. I take the damn pipe away and try to get her some help.

I, and I'm sure many other RC members, truly appreciate the detailed communication that this letter provides (finally, something substantive. For those not receiving it outright, you should know it is 5+ pages long). Although approximately 6 months late in arriving, I agree with Pete Vere that this is definitely a step in the right direction. The reference to the few who have left or have stepped aside temporarily is unusually candid (membership declines are never discussed in the movement), with none of the silly "if you feel you are not strong enough" references Fr. A gave a few weeks ago.

That being said, I'm wondering to what extent the recent realization of compromised membership numbers and the very real possibility of future litigation w/r/t MM's children and financial fraud have suddenly prompted this level of candor and open communication. I realize that's being a bit cynical, esp. as Fr. Scott and Fr. Julio urge all to "presume the best and purest intention in the other", but it's a natural thought given the long wait we've all had to endure to get something this straightforward from the LC. It does seem to be a change in overall strategy, at least here in the US. It would appear that their previous "damage control" strategies have fallen flat, the news is turning out to be much worse than previously imagined (or can't be covered up as effectively as originally thought), and the real commitment of the US membership is likely much lower than they are letting on. I wish I could respond to this communication more positively, but I feel an honest assessment is in order, esp. as we are dealing, fundamentally, with issues of honesty in the first place.

SS, keeping in mind that six months ago Fr. Anton was attempting to use his status as a moral theologian to lecture people about charity on the AmP blog when they expressed outrage over this scandal, I think it's significant that the Legion is now asking for charity rather than demand it. Certainly they're much less strident.

Paul, a pope would typically "invite" an institute to do something before ordering them to do so. Much like the Holy See invited Fr. Maciel to retire to a life of prayer and penance. One will typically accept the invitation if they know what is good for them. Nevertheless, one is free to refuse the invitation.

However, this can lead to stronger action down the road. For example, Fr. Maciel avoided the possibility of conviction in a canonical trial and a return to the lay state in accepting the Holy See's invitation.

On the other hand, the Legion is facing a much larger scandal right now than it would have faced had it accepted the Holy See's 2006 invitation to separate themselves from the work of the founder.

Tedious, tedious cant. Remember how Maciel's son said that Maciel was able to sweet talk his family after they found out he had a double life? This is the institutional Maciel trying frantically to patch things up with the institutional 'children' upon discovering his fraud.

I don't think that Pope Benedict only "invited" them to change their constitutions (even if such an invitation is seen as a precursor to a stronger move.) The constitutions can only be changed by a General Chapter or by the Holy See. Since there was no General Chapter, it must have been changed by direction of Pope Benedict personally. In addition, the the mention of the Pope's power to bind and loosen suggests a control, not merely a suggestion.

"On the other hand, the Legion is facing a much larger scandal right now than it would have faced had it accepted the Holy See's 2006 invitation to separate themselves from the work of the founder."

Bingo. And yet it's clear from this letter that at this point the LC only intends to remove "inappropriate references to Fr. Maciel". They are only now "discern(ing) his person from the solid Catholic doctrine that he transmitted and the legitimate institutional aspects of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi."

So by their own admission and from other references to the Communique in this letter they are now (finally) doing what they should have done 3+ years ago. Only now, there's been such significant damage to the reputation of the LC that even assuming the Holy See's continued recognition it's not clear they can practically survive.

It might just be too little, too late.

Pete, I wouldn't want to squash any glimmer of genuine good that a single individual, or the group as a whole, might manage to put forth.

What I disagree with entirely is any idea that these glimmers are any kind of deep and genuine indication that the institution will be reformed.

I think they are so far past the point of, as an institution, being reformed. They are not capable, in my opinion, as an institution, of "doing good." Their foundation, modes of operation, and entire raison d'etre, is corrupt.

The fact that the most they can do, over months (years, if you count everything) is take minute baby steps is alarming and scary.

We are talking about moral theologians, spiritual directors, philosophers, men who are supposed to be the beacons of light for everyone else.

The degree of their malformation, and their grave inability to act with any kind of substantive plan of action, is appalling.

It's the death knell tolling for them.

We are counting minute acts of what-seems-like-it-could-be-virtue on their part because they have given us absolutely nothing else to work with.

It's classic passive aggressive behaviour to drag your feet in such a way that everyone is relieved and appreciative when you finally do one-hundredth of what you should have been doing all along.

I'm sorry, but I am not buying any of this. Pete, I respect and really appreciate the analysis you've offered over these past months, as well as the charity with which you have expressed your thoughts, but I think this is simply more vintage LC/RC spin and they absolutely know the (desired) effect these words will have on their members.

One clear indication of their sincerity (or lack thereof) is this: on the one hand they admit they have problems and are incapable of fixing them, which is why they need help. On the other, they continue business as usual with recruitment into the apostolic schools and seminaries. If they were sincere, don't you think they tell folks, "listen, we have some issues we're trying to figure out with the help of our Holy Father. It would probably be best to wait until we figure these things out before entering..."

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