Maciel’s Shadow

Much is being made of the pope not meeting with Mexican abuse victims. Patricio Cerda, who works with victims, strikes a pessimistic tone:

In my opinion it is sad, on the one hand, because Benedict XVI is expected to be more than ‘politically correct’ – he is expected to be a true pastor. On the other hand, the cardinals have their own interests at stake, including the Primate of Mexico (Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera), who defended Maciel to the end. Those directly victimized by the founder do not want to become pawns in what amounts to nothing more than a media game.

Political correctness–the worst sense of that term–can run both ways. There’s a certain pc-strain in churchmen who want nothing more for this scandal of abuse and cover-up to go away. Why does it have to drag on past the obligatory fifteen minutes? This nipping at the heels might well devour good efforts in the new evangelization.

But rather than view the situation in defensive terms, the Church could look upon this as an opportunity. Rather than an annoyance, it presents an opening to develop an apostolate or reconciliation, prayer, and giving a good example of asking forgiveness. Maybe the time is no longer ripe for evangelization–at least as the cover-story initiative of Rome. Maybe it’s time for penitence, sacrifice, and contrition.

Think about it: If the pope can’t himself tour the world to the sex-abuse hotspots of Kansas City, Philadelphia, the Netherlands, and the Maciel compound, send some people who will. To heck with the lawyers and just meet simply with the victims. Apologize. Pray. Meet till the anger and betrayal is talked out. Send a bishop or two, too. Better for them to get out an actually minister to harmed people rather than hole up in an Italian basilica.

When helping the young miss clean up her room last week, we uncovered a photo my wife took of her with one of Kansas City’s accused priests. Her “favorite” priest. Until last summer. It was a happier time, but when demons were sub-surface–and who would know from looking at the smiles what lay beneath them?

With our daughter’s permission, I was considering sending the image to Bishop Finn. And adding a tale about a young person who, last year, was still talking about being an altar server. And who now, won’t pick up the MR3 sheet in the pew, and put all the bishop trading cards from NCYC in the trash with that other photo. One of my staff colleagues tried to console me with the thought that “It could also be the age.” And it could be. But I have enough doubt about it to be troubled. Anyway, the post idea is trashed for now–literally. The young miss was only disappointed she didn’t think about burning the photo before tossing it away.

It may yet be that Pope Benedict will carve out some time for victims in his trip to Mexico. He could do worse.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Church News, Ministry, sex abuse. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Maciel’s Shadow

  1. FrMichael says:

    The mismanagement (and IMHO moral cowardice) in handling the Legion only proves the corruption of segments of the Roman Curia and the fecklessness of Cardinal DePaolis. The situation certainly proves that the corruption of religious orders is not simply a progressive vice but an equal-opportunity social sin, just like on the diocesan side of things.

    • Jimmy Mac says:

      And where exactly did you get the idea that corruption of religious orders is a “progressive vice?”

  2. Jimmy Mac says:

    This is sheer unmitigated moral cowardice on the part of this pope and he should be ashamed of himself and roundly criticized for this cowardice.

  3. A direct, Papal Apology to the victims of Maciel is long overdue. Benedict XVI as head of the CDF, knew about the allegations against Maciel for at least 10 years, if not longer. How could he not? Here was Maciel, one of the largest, most recognizable fund-raisers in the Catholic Church, AND a personal friend of Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger knew that he was protected all the way to the top, to the Chair of Peter! We’re not talking children, who made allegations of sexual abuse against Maciel, we’re talking about credible, intelligent men, who rose to the tops of their professions, and who risked their earthly reputations by telling their painful stories of abuse! These are men, who should have been listened to by the Vatican, the Hierarchy, the Pope and the Legionnaires! Instead, they were ignored and denigrated, whenever possible! Now, on his trip to Mexico, the Pope will avoid them and the embarrassment they would make, at all costs! Is that what Christ would have done? Is that what a true, “Vicar of Christ on Earth” would do? I rather doubt it. And, I rather doubt that this will find its way into print!

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