More Trouble for the Legion

The AP released the news, hopped on by just about every Catholic outlet in the world over the past twenty-four hours, that the curia is pondering a small stack of dossiers in its possession:

(T)he Legion (of Christ) confirmed it had referred seven cases of alleged abuse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that investigates sex crimes. All but one involves alleged abuse dating from decades ago; one case involves recent events.

More from the Legion’s statement:

While the priests are under investigation, their access to children has been restricted.

I wonder how strict the restriction is. I hope orthodoxically strict, as in a far sight better than Bishop Finn’s solution.

As bad as the crimes of individual predators may be, the seemingly-inevitable cover-up is far worse:

The scandal of Maciel and the Legion ranks as one of the worst of the 20th-century Catholic Church, since he was held up as a model for the faithful by Pope John Paul II. The orthodox order, which has about 900 priests around the world, was praised for attracting both money and vocations to the priesthood.

Documentation from Vatican archives, however, has shown that as early as the 1950s, the Vatican had evidence that he was a drug addict and pedophile.

Only in 2006 did the Vatican sanction Maciel to a lifetime of penance and prayer for his crimes. He died in 2008 and a year later the Legion admitted he had fathered three children with two different women and had abused his seminarians.

The Vatican took over the Legion in 2010 and is pushing through a process of reform.

Even conservative Catholics in the blogosphere are suggesting words like “suppression” in connection with the Legion. Of course, they’re also swimming in dozens of vocations to cloistered life, so they also say the same thing about the LCWR. On the former suppression, I’m a skeptic, and here ‘s why:

Maybe it lets the Legion off too easily. There’s probably little hope of imposing a new charism on the community. But suppose its ministries were re-ordered to focus on advocacy for victims, and rooting out scandal within the Church. Suppose its fundraising prowess and stockpiles of resources were placed at the service of victims and their legal counsel. And dioceses that were found to offend and might find other ministries devalued through no fault of their own. Suppose the founder were held up as an example of don’t-do-this. From John Paul II’s 2001 address:

In a secularized world such as our own, built in large part on neglect of transcendent truths and values, the faith of many of our brothers and sisters is sorely tried. Because of this, there is a need today more than ever for a confident proclamation of the Gospel which, casting aside all crippling fears, announces with intellectual depth and with courage the truth about God, about (people), about the world.

Let’s be clear that a sign of neglect of these values is in the cronyism, materialism, and secrecy that often accompanies the cover-up of predation in the Church. Preaching the truth, speaking the truth: these are charism the Church needs. Why not let the LC continue if they would re-order their efforts at this? Otherwise, perhaps the whole thing should be erased.

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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, Commentary, Politics, sex abuse. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to More Trouble for the Legion

  1. Jimmy Mac says:

    They’ll be kept alive so long as there is the possibility of money coming from them. When that ends, sayonnara, baby.

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