I am taking Aaron's latest comment (with a little editing) as a new jumping off point, since it ties in with the staggering hypocrisy inherent to the latest scandal: The Legion's enthusiastic promotion of a priest (a moral theologian who writes about knowing right from wrong) while knowing that he was engaged in grave sin. He knew it, they knew it, and the Papal Delegate knew it -- and yet his visibility remained until called out by the secular media.
I believe very strongly - and have for a long time - that LCs are seriously deformed.
Their conscience is compromised, and this has very serious consequences: LCs idea of right and wrong is all contained in books and it is all goverend by the LC maxim: with permission you can do anything.
They infer that something is wrong simply because it is done without permission.
There is an abdication of the individual in deciding whether something is moral or not: the answer is to be found sometimes in a book -- but usually through the decision of a superior.
As a superior you get to decide what is right and wrong for your subjects, this relativistic decision making also allows you to permit yourself exceptions.
I am finding it hard to express clearly what is wrong, but basically the LC breaks that part of us that knows between right and wrong, that part we - dare i say it - feel even as kids...
In that regard there is no such thing as a good LC. Everybody's conscience is compromised.
When we leave the Legion we can still have an element of this - indeed it is hard to fix. That is why some exlcs may seem insensitive, or perhaps desensitised.
Empathy and sympathy are difficult, and sometimes faked, other times simply numbly ignored.
Hopefully the real world, and regaining family ties etc help restore this deformation, but it is difficult and not automatic.
I know an exLC who would listen to my sympathetically, and then go on holiday with my abuser, enjoying his company.
I suspect that some exLC have no hesitation in reporting back to former superiors what they see or hear that may affect the Legion - the habit of spying/reporting etc is hard to shake off - we feel our egos rewarded. They don't care if this means a huge betrayal of trust, in fact the juicier the betrayal the more important they will feel.
The Legion of christ does not simply take advantage of its members, it changes them. It has a very terrible sense of morality: the ends ALWAYS justify the means, anything can be done with permission.
This is obvious with Thomas Williams. That he had affairs and a child is little biscuits compared to his profile. The only problem here is that he GOT CAUGHT.
I'm sure there was probably relief that he was not fiddling with the boys... it may have been a indication of even greater confidence...
WHEN will it be shut?
Amen to the last. I can speak to sharing this sense even from being a rank-and-file RC member. Any rumbling of conscience was quelled with reminders of the pope's approval -- and whether true or not, that papal endorsement was given to any number of particular initiatives, which we were to promote and support no matter what.
Even along the way, the L/R membership has looked to the Magisterium to lead them -- with the appointment of a delegate understood to be a "sign of support," and with the ongoing reform being sold as a reason to stay. This is the point that I tried to make (however lamely) at the end of the interview, when the woman asked why the Pope won't shut this group down. I tried to explain that even if the Church never shut down the Legion (which would be disappointing) it cannot shut down our common sense:
- just because it exists, we don't have to remain in it;
- just because they continue to recruit doesn't mean we need to hand over our children;
- just because various pastors give them authority doesn't mean we have to join their apostolates (or refrain from speaking out in truth);
- just because they say they are reforming doesn't mean we cannot criticise them;
- just because they remind us of ongoing approval doesn't mean we have to like the group;
- just because they profess charity doesn't mean we approve of their behaviour;
- just because superiors offer guidance doesn't mean it needs to be followed (when it contradicts what remains of conscience);
- just because a Legion writes a book on morality doesn't mean it's a reliable guide.
I think all readers have pondered obedience and Magisterial limitations over the years -- so that our understanding has greatly matured in a Catholic sense (I know that I have, in order to salvage my faith!) This shallow, lock-step conformity has passed itself off as Catholicism for decades, when it has been nothing but a charade. God reigns, the Church is true, and we cherish the deposit of faith -- but authentic human freedom allows for us to shred this nonsense and to look for a better use of human reason, which God gave us so that we might serve him in dignity.
To that end, we must call out the Legion for its deformation of conscience, and beg the Church -- with or without the help of the Papal Delegate -- to bring this group into conformity with the Truth.