Thursday, May 12, 2005

the skinny on the legion

I've had all sorts of trouble with my broadband company the past two days. Service has been spotty at best. Couldn't post, couldn't answer mail. Have checked with my neighbors here in the barrio and they are all in agreement: "Comcast es lo peor que hay!!!"

With that off my chest, I return to my thoughts on the Fr. Maciel/Legion of Christ thing that is starting to bubble again in the media.

Here's a picture of Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC at ordination at a priestly ordination ceremony back in 1991. Both have aged considerably since then, but remain young at heart.

Anyway, about seven years ago Fr. Maciel's accusers were at their most vociferous and it seemed to play well with certain media outlets who were still basking in the heat generated by the priest abuse scandals in USA and elsewhere. The canonical case went nowhere fast and, other than the books that were published - all with pretty similar versions of the same stuff (I've read them all, cover to cover) - there hasn't been much action until now that the case has apparently been revived.

Can't see the future, can't speak in tongues, can't hardly get out of my own way, so I don't pretend to predict where this is all going to go. (Unlike La Jornada, a Mexican rag, that ran a story on Tuesday, May 10, claiming to have it all figured out...) But I WILL say the following in response to all those who have asked me what I think about the whole mess:

  1. I have known Fr.Maciel personally since I was 13 years old. I have lived with him months at a time repeatedly over the last thirty years in all kinds of circumstances. I have been in his close company and observed the man carefully when his defenses were at their lowest... I have NEVER, not once, ever, had the slightest suspicion regarding his moral probity. Not a word, not a gesture, not a single solitary scrap of evidence that would induce me in the least to give credence to the accusations that have been leveled against him. Quite the contrary. He has been a mentor, a true friend and an impeccable model of virtue and priestly commitment at all times.

    I realize that my knowledge of and my frank admiration for the man do not constitute scientific proof of his innocence. Indeed, both those who argue his guilt and those who defend his integrity have only their testimony to offer. But given the choice between a judgement based on my personal experience of Fr. Maciel during the last 30 years or the dubious imputations of nine aged and possibly bitter individuals, I would clearly choose the former. In a heartbeat. Anything else would be dishonest.

  2. Fr. Maciel's accusers and the media people who put the wind in their sails cite the Vatican's unwillingness to pursue the matter as a sign of his guilt. Might not less tainted minds construe this rather as an indication of innocence? I mean, if the accusers themselves have sought out canonical authority as a reliable judge in this matter why such knee-jerk inconformity with the results thus far? Fr. Maciel has undergone more than his share of investigations during his long journey as founder of the Legion. His story is anything but a mystery to the ecclesiastical powers-that-be. If the case against him has not progressed further, might it not lack the merits to do so?

    The plaintiffs and the journalists they enlist allege that Church authority is in cahoots with the wiley Fr. Maciel and would prefer to cover up his wrongdoing. Why present the case in the first place, then? If both judge and accused are on board in the conspiracy, what hope of justice?

    There's not a whole lot of logic here, as far as I can tell. But, sadly, that's probably beside the point. Perhaps these folks won't be satisfied until a guilty verdict is issued no matter who the judge is. If not the Vatican, well, maybe the Hartford Courant or the Boston Globe or the NY Times or La Jornada...

(sorry, still have more to say on this, but I'm beat. will pick it up again tomorrow. peace.)