Former Legionary of Christ exorcist Fr. Damien Karras weighs in with a new commentary here. As is typical of his blog entries, he shares a lot of inside information, which can overwhelm at first. The whole piece is worth reading, however, allow me to pull out and comment upon just a few of his insights:
The Secretary General is on a whirlwind tour of LC centers spinning the yarn that there is a basis to the Legion that was not invented by the disgraced Founder and was never contaminated by his web of secrecy and falsehood.
One cannot help but think of the baptismal promises one makes every Easter: “Do you renounce Satan and all his evil works?”
Because of its ‘mystique’, the Legion can and should remain untouched by the scandal of its Founder’s life, the glaring questions about its internal structure and operations as a religious congregation and the lethal virus of doubt and distrust spreading silently through the ranks of its members.
This is my experience as well. The sense of “detachment” is a complaint I hear frequently from those on the inside. “Our superiors don’t live in the real world,” they tell me. “Their reaction to this scandal makes no sense.”
Actually, it does. And it speaks to the debate over the Legion of Christ (LC) and Regnum Christi’s (RC) charism. The detachment apparent among the movement’s superiors is not unlike the detachment lived by the founder. Remember that the spirituality preached by Fr. Maciel was severed from the life that he lived. Remember too that the Legion’s current superiors were handpicked by Fr. Maciel for their detachment; they themselves admit that they failed to notice his detachment from the doctrine that he preached. Thus Fr. Maciel imparted to his inner circle his detachment from what was real.
There’s an old saying in Catholic spirituality: “One cannot give what one has not received.” This is why the priest communes before the faithful during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He must first receive Christ before giving Him to the faithful.
Fr. Maciel’s detachment was not Catholicism. Ours is a very real religion, existing in the physical world. What separates man from the angels is that God bound our spirit with flesh, giving our bodies five real senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch). What separates us from non-Christians is our belief that God took on this flesh for Himself, real flesh from the womb of a real virgin. And what separates us as Catholics from our protestant brethren is that God continues to grace us through the sacraments, which are real and tangible acts of God’s love. Hence the reason we refer to the Eucharist as the Real Presence. Real bread and wine become the real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, giving us the opportunity to experience God through our physical senses.
To detach oneself from the real world, as Fr. Maciel and the Legion have done, is completely contrary to the spirit of Catholicism.
At the same time, a book recently distributed internally, ‘Cristo al Centro’, offers an anthology of Fr. Maciel’s writings and sayings – unindexed and sometimes slightly retouched – mixed with quotations from other, less dubious sources as a thinly disguised attempt to revindicate the Founder’s contribution to LC spirituality. Now we can quote the Founder without mentioning his name, read some of the things he said and wrote without that direct and oh-so-uncomfortable reference to his person. They’re already talking about revisiting the writings of Fr. Maciel some years down the road when all this ‘persecution’ has blown over…
It seems that every thousand years or so, the Church must wrestle with those Christians who profess secret knowledge. Gnosticism was the bane of the early Church, while the medieval Church faced controversy over the Knights Templar (who allegedly kept a double set of books and initiated new members through secret rites).
The Superior General has just sent an eighteen page letter meant, apparently, to motivate and strengthen the LCs in these difficult times. The meandering missive never even names the problems that are rocking the congregation to its core and basically offers three bits of advice to its confused, anguished and frustrated priests: pray, don’t read the newspapers and trust the superiors.
Thus Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, the Legion’s current General Director, continues to pass on what he received from Fr. Maciel. This cannot but speak to the debate over the Legion’s charism. The time has come for the LC/RC to get real.