Jason Berry has a good, comprehensive piece in the Reporter, which both quantifies the financial free fall of the Legion and reminds us that the older Legionaries are simply unable to unspin their minds when it comes to Maciel. First the sell-off:
[T]he downsizing in other parts of the world has been extensive. The Legion has:
- Sold a 10-acre portion of its 25-acre center in Orange, Conn., the site of the order's original headquarters in America, for $800,000.
- Closed the University of Sacramento in July 2011 for lack of funds. When the school opened in California in 2005, the order planned for it to become its flagship college in America.
- Closed Gateway Academy, a prep school outside St. Louis, at the end of the 2011 school year, citing "diminished financial capacity of the Legion of Christ."
- Closed seminaries in Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Canada, two novitiates in Ireland and another in Spain, because of funding problems and people leaving the Legion and Regnum Christi, according to a March 23, 2014 report in the Mexican daily Milenio.
- Sold six properties in Spain, according to Milenio, and two schools north of Madrid merged to operate on the same campus.
For a religious order with global reach, the Legion is small. It has 800 priests and about 2,400 seminarians. At its peak, in 2004, the annual operating budget of $650 million covered the network of schools, seminaries and colleges in Latin America, North America and Europe.
And then for examples of the way that Maciel is still misunderstood by some Legionaries, this is the copy that Fr John Solana provided for the pamphlet on the Magdala Centre:
The priest speaks his heart: "Marcial Maciel's initials are also MM, just like Mary Magdalene. She had a problematic past before her deliverance, so there's a parallel. Our world has double standards when it comes to morals. Some people have a formal, public display and then the real life they live behind the scenes.
"But when we accuse someone else and we are quick to stone him, we must remember that we all have problems and defects. With modern communications so out of control, it is easy to kill someone's reputation without even investigating about the truth. We should be quieter and less condemning."
Um, I'm not sure why Maciel would even come into the question of the Centre -- the pilgrimage site is about faith, about walking in the footsteps of Christ, of understanding sin and redemption. This reminds me of the tweets and emails that Barack Obama sends out on all special occasions: anniversaries of great historical events, commemorations, congratulatory notes, and reminders. No matter what the occasion, there is a picture of the president. Pearl Harbour Day? Obama. Fourth of July? Obama. Liberation of Auschwitz? Obama. Super Bowl? Obama. World Cup? Obama. End of Ramadan? Obama.
In like wise, bringing Maciel into a reflection on Mary Magdalene is bizarre -- first, the congregation (as hosts) should shrink into the background. It's about the pilgrims and the place. And secondly, with their particular past, Maciel is a distraction, and in this case -- true to form -- his disciples are bringing back not only a bad memory, but the particular way in which Maciel cast himself as Christ with Pope Benedict playing Pontius Pilate.
For the record, there was a thorough investigation; there was no deliverance -- despite the offer of confession and an exorcist at the deathbed. Please let this go. It's bad enough that the Church insists that the Legion ought to exist and limp forward for the sake of saving [someone's?] face. But let the pilgrims visit the Holy Land without diatribes about the injustice to the Legion.
And when the pamphlets run out and need restocking, maybe someone ought to rethink the title, "He really loved women." Bad form when the priest mentioned inside had a handful of natural children.