Monday, May 16, 2005

the elusive truth

Went to the circus Saturday night and enjoyed it immensely. I was given a terrific seat on ground level to see the 135th edition of the Ringling Brothers Greatest Show on Earth. That's probably hyperbole, but it is certainly a spectacle that leaves little to be desired. Seeing all the families - grandparents, parents and kids - so obviously thrilled and enthralled was easily as rewarding as the show itself. Don't miss it if you have the opportunity to go.

There's a wonderful story in yesterday's Hartford Courant told by a 12 year old boy who accompanied his father to take part in the humanitarian relief effort underway at the Derej camp in Darfur, Sudan. Micah's Journal is the frank and moving narration of a child's experience among the world's sorriest victims of devastation and genocide. He is Catholic, part of a team of Catholic volunteers, who went to great lengths to make a foreign people's suffering and loss his own.

In times when kids often seem to get lost trying to imitate the likes of 50 Cent or Paris Hilton, when the ultimate dream of so many is to become an American Idol, when getting breast implants or body piercings has become the noblest of causes... ok, I guess I've made my point.

Good for you, Micah. You've made us proud and put us to shame.

The New Oxford Review runs an article this month on the controversy that envelopes Fr. Marcial Maciel and the Legion of Christ. In it, Cecilia Martin, author of Confusion in the Pews, asks, "Is the Legion truly the hope of the Church, or a Machiavellian deception that threatens it? The question begs for an answer."

Who will, ultimately, give that answer?

In all instances where a public figure is accused of abuse, he or she is, quite frankly, guilty until proven innocent. Even if eventually exonerated, the same media that so avidly detailed and expounded upon the allegations rarely shows the same eagerness in clearing the name of the accused.

Fr. Maciel has been accused of abuse that supposedly occurred forty years ago. If the case against him continues to gather steam, it can only end in a bitter draw: his word against his complainants', the word of those who defend his integrity against the word of those who distain his hipocrisy...

His accusers claim they seek only justice and the satisfaction of seeing their cause validated publicly. But someone obviously has an axe to grind. Organizations like ReGain and others who have championed the crusade of the nine accusers decry an endless litany of offenses committed by the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi that, even if true, have little or nothing to do with the case of Fr. Maciel. Their websites and discussion pages do not tire of rehashing old stories and speculating on future travesties.

The Legion has responded to the brunt of the accusations. But to an extent, the damage has been done. Fr. Maciel's credibility rests on the sanctity of his life and his undeniable record of service to the Church. The accusers hope to discredit his reputation and, if possible, undermine the foundations of the work born from Fr. Maciel's life.

Like I say, I have no idea how it will all turn out. But I suspect the Gospel will once again ring true. "God's wisdom is vindicated by all who accept it." (Lk 7,35)