We've flogged many ideas here concerning the Legion, which is the point of the blog -- to distinguish those areas in which the methodology is failing to be Catholic or even charitable. Last night, a question arose in the combox about TW's purported plan to return to ministry after a year's hiatus, perhaps in a diocese. The point of the query was to understand why this would be different than other clergy who had converted, bringing family members with them.
Canonist Pete Vere responded:
It would depend upon several factors:
First, does he desire to remain in the clerical state, or will he discern a call to return to the lay state (perhaps to be with and marry the mother of his daughter, assuming she is free to marry)?
Second, is there a diocese willing to take him in, whether permanently or on a temporary/probationary basis?
Third, is he free to leave LC and/or resume the practice of his priesthood? Cardinal De Paolis, Fr. AC or another lawful superior might have some concerns that lead to restrictions being imposed on Fr. TW.
Where will Fr. TW's physical health be in a year's time?
There are simply too many potential variables to speculate at this time.
Additionally, there's a big difference between a married non-Catholic minister who is received into the Catholic Church and subsequently receives Catholic ordination, and a validly-ordained Catholic priest under vow/promise of chastity/celibacy who conceives a child through an illicit extra-marital relationship.
In the first scenario, the former episcopal priest is presumed to have conceived his children lawfully within a valid marriage. The fact he was received into and subsequently ordained in the Catholic Church likely means that he was never Catholic in the past (or left as a child with his parents or guardian), meaning he was not subject to canon law or a vow/promise of celibacy/chastity at the time of the conception of children.
Therefore, there is no scandal involved with the former episcopal priest since it's pretty much assumed that married couples make love, which leads to the conception of children. In fact, openness to to lovemaking open to the conception and raising of offspring is a requirement for the valid exchange of marital consent (c.f. canon 1055). In fact, I would argue that by loading up RC parents with apostolate that takes them out of the home and away from the family for many hours a week, the movement may have undermined this fundamental of the marital relationship.
This allows us to revisit the troubling issue of priorities, which we all struggled with when not under strict obedience (such as in the Legion or "consecrated" houses). Those who had families were always pressured to give more to "the Kingdom" by hosting events, starting clubs, attending reflections and retreats, and mining friends and family for vocations. Thus, we had to choose between family life and the "vocation" to Regnum Christi. Of course, they could be combined if we had children who were eligible for the clubs, making a sort of two-fer: spending time with kids while fulfilling a commitment to the Movement. Otherwise, we were heaving food at them, exhorting them to be good, and running out the door.
Obviously, Dicken's character, Mrs Jellyby, comes to mind [Bleak House-go to 4:30 mark] who is so consumed with the poor starving babies in Africa that she neglects her own children -- and causing her own to "wish Africa was dead." But beyond the harried housewives in RC, it would seem that the same disordered priorities were exercised by the superiors of the Legion.
While realising that many of us are suffering from TW Fatigue, we will boil down the latest revelations to three main points:
- Nobody can judge Fr Williams soul, but there are those in authority who are charged with judging his actions--and we pray for their discernment;
- The primary wrong about which members of the Church are legitimately angry is the duplicity through which those in authority covered up a grave breach of trust;
- The secondary concern is related to the Movement's inherent flaw through which member's are encouraged to neglect their legitimate duties in lieu of L/R priorities.
To wit, Fr Williams said: "I foolishly thought that I had left this sin in my past, and that I could make up for some of the wrong I had done by doing the greatest good possible with the gifts God has given me."
This statement has been parsed already on many levels, but as an illustration of the third point, consider what he believed "the greatest good possible" to be. Not the quiet duty to family and integrity, which would require humility and oblation, but visible preaching and vaunted teaching. Where could have have gotten such an idea?