Since the previous thread was becoming unwieldy (and most of the real wisdom was in the combox) I'll synthesise what seemed to be the salient points. First on Praesidium. From their site, this is their mission:
Our root cause analyses of more than 400 cases of abuse in organizations revealed that prevention requires action in eleven operations. These operations make up The Tri-Guard Safety System™ Safety Equation. The Safety Equation provides the formula for determining the exposures in your program operations and how to correct them. For some of our clients we work directly on-site to implement the complete Tri-Guard Safety System™. For others we provide workshops, web-based training, and risk management consultation. In the event of an incident or allegation, we provide immediate investigation assistance and crisis management. We also prepare press releases and work directly with the media. Should an incident lead to litigation, we provide complete litigation support and expert witness.
We know that managing risks in religious organizations requires sensitivity. Risk management must not interfere with the mission of the organization or with the intimate, sanctioned relationships between its members and clergy. At Praesidium, we work with churches of all faiths, religious orders, dioceses, and youth-ministries to set standards that ensure safety. We can help you balance your risk management needs with the sanctity of your mission.
Fair enough. One can never guarantee safety, but minimising known risks is a good step. So what do we know about what has been addressed thus far?
- The premise seems to be that the leaders of these organisations want to keep them pure of abuse -- thus leaders are key. BUT, what about groups where the goals of the leaders themselves are suspect, who have a history of protecting abusers, acting duplicitously, and spinning false narratives? When their credibility is on the line, there is only so much Praesidium can do;
- Aaron notes that his case and that of another Irishman were not handled successfully, and contact with Praesidium was a dead end since the abusers in question were not Americans;
- Praesidium's mission is to screen for abusers and predators, while teaching children in age-appropriate language about safe boundaries. This doesn't touch the spiritual side of the Legion, nor does it deal with grooming that can take place in intense, all-male situations;
- Canon Law indicates that the superior in the Congregation will determine whether an accusation has merit, and despite the deplorable track record of the Legion, complicity in these cases has never been addressed -- in fact, the same superiors from the Maciel era are in place now;
- The "private vows" were supposedly approved by the Congregation for Religious, and have since been rescinded, but there has been no investigation into how their existence for over 60 years formed the current Legionaries;
- The man that the Legion is willing to acknowledge as problemmatic (Fr Izquierdo) was Novice Master for years; how could his proclivities NOT have affected those under his influence, and what was the collaboration between him and the abuser who put him in that delicate position? That has never been addressed, and so many of the men who remain in the Legion were formed by him;
- Furthermore, the Legion's statement concerning Fr Izquierdo are inaccurate. They say they first heard charges against him in 2005 and then restricted his contact with young people. Regain has noted charges as early as 2002, and claims he was still in contact with young people as late as 2008;
- Another man of influence, Fr Williams, rector of the Legion seminary in Rome, was guilty of grave duplicity while publicly representing both the Legion and the Church in the media. What impact did his actions have on those he was forming? This is another serious problem left unaddressed by Cardinal dePaolis;
- Aaron relates the following: "Another LC priest, many years a Novice Master, was accused in recent years of two serious allegations: giving pornography to a minor and physically ejecting a vicitm of Maciel from the Novitiate after the victim told him what had happened, packing his bags and sending him home. When these allegations were made in recent years, the response was exactly the same as the Izquierdo one: Fr. X is too old and ill now, he's on death's door and has to be near a hospital."
- There are other credible charges not included in the initial number which have yet to be ajudicated, so we have not seen the last of scandalous headlines and broken lives.
Few victims have been approached by the Legion, and fewer still have had serious offers of restitution. Nothing this side of the veil will restore what "the swarming locusts have eaten" (Joel 2:25), especially when the Legion brags that their "one per-cent" deviency rate is pretty average.
Ultimately, the major deficiency on Cardinal dePaolis' watch has been the refusal to investigate how the Legion came to defraud so many, and practically how this Perfect Storm came to be:
- who lifted the sanction against Maciel when he was initially under investigation;
- who approved the Constitutions;
- who allowed numerous versions of Constitutions to coexist;
- who allowed statutes and norms to be applied without approval;
- who covered for Legion abusers when the accusations arrived at the Congregations for Clergy and Religious Life;
- who turned a blind eye to novice masters and seminary personnel who abused men;
- who turned a blind eye to superiors ignoring the rules applied to all the others;
- who turned a blind eye to formation personnel who shared private information about directees;
- who turned a blind eye when some men were preferred and others marginalised and berated;
- who turned a blind eye to Maciel when he broke all the rules, disappeared for great lengths of time, and made "mini-me's" out of his hand-picked superiors.
The Legion is nowhere close to reform, since it refuses the helpful introspection that discovers the dangerous toxins within. The only introspection that continues year in and year out is the absorption in their own suffering, rather than that of the real victims and the wider Church that was conned. We cannot lose sight of the fact that this congregation was started by a scheming pedophile, managed by several who imitated his worst habits, sheltered by telegenic members who had access to influential media outlets, and whose ranks are filled with those who were either ignorant of the truth, ignorant of the demands of authentic freedom, or ignorant of how damaging their organisation was and is to the overall mission of the Church. Scandalous then and now, on every level, from every angle.
UPDATE: Curious article at La Stampa claiming that the Legion will be divided into three autonomous parts. Curious, because it's a "mixed bag" of commentary. Running now, but will add more soon.
Francis is revolutionizing the Legion of Christ. Vatican Insider has learnt that the Legion plans to announce the order’s complete restructuring at its Extraordinary General Chapter in Rome, in a month’s time. “All the work carried out so far is oriented towards making each group that is inspired by the spiritual kingship of Christ, autonomous,” members of the Curia have stated.
The Legion is to be split into three sections: laity, consecrated persons and priests. Each of the Legion’s three branches will have “full autonomy in the organisation and choice of its leaders and internal roles.” The common reference to Christ’s kingship will translate into various “forms of collaboration” between the three groups which will, nevertheless, be completely independent from each another.