A young army captain ordered his training platoon to march 25 miles, shouldering full fighting gear and 100-pound rucksacks, on a blistering summer day. His commanding officer looked at him and said: “You’re marching with them.”
The commanding officer had little patience for officers who failed to appreciate the burdens of the average soldier under one’s command.
Which brings me to the Legion and its reported communication strategy of pray, pay and ignore the media. The media fog created by those in charge may help them avoid uncomfortable questions in the immediate aftermath; however, it’s a poor long-term strategy. It ignores the reality by which most rank-and-file RC members live – especially when these members are also being pressured to meet increased fundraising and recruiting goals. Where do Regnum Christi (RC) members recruit and fundraise? Well, from orthodox Catholics who are asking serious questions about the allegations, and who are appalled by the Legion’s vague answers.
Nor is it the reality lived by LC priests and RC consecrated RC on the ground – those who rub shoulders regularly with people outside the movement. And thus, like soldiers stranded in the battlefield, they begin making decisions that allow them to get by in the real world, ignoring the unrealistic orders of superiors. This is where the fog of war sets in.
It’s easier to coordinate a battle plan if you have clear chains of command leading up to one person. When you have lots of small groups making decisions on their own, the goal of each being simple survival rather than winning the war, confusion sets in. One group’s method of survival may contradict the next group, thus giving birth to conflict among those on the same side..
Why do I mention this? Well, if recent rumors are true, we are now seeing this happen in the LC/RC.
Late last week Fr. Maciel apologist (and Catholic.net founder) Lucrecia Rego, a high-profile RC member in Mexico, published a blog highly critical of those who believe and discuss the allegations against Fr. Maciel. You can read her blog entry here, in which she makes clear in her response to readers that she is defending Fr. Maciel. The Spanish version of Catholic.net also ran Lucrecia’s apologia here, which makes me believe that the LC/RC-affiliated Catholic.net is standing by Fr. Maciel. (Although I’m curious to see whether its English counterpart will run a translation.)
My Spanish isn’t strong, but Lucrecia’s argument seems to be that we cannot trust the allegations against Fr. Maciel unless we ourselves witnessed his heinous acts. To do otherwise is to gossip and backbite. Moreover, Lucrecia questions the existence of Fr. Maciel’s daughter. Okay, most of this has been standard Legion response thus far.
Except that Legion critics are now receiving reports of a different approach in the RC’s highly active Atlanta section. Reportedly, Fr. Maciel has been denounced there as “pure evil”. Giselle has the preliminary report here. If this report is true, then it suggests the chains of command are breaking down within the movement.
It’s no secret that American members have been the most critical of Fr. Maciel, as well as the Legion’s handling of this crisis, while the Mexicans have been the most supportive (although that too appears to be breaking down, judging from Lucrecia’s complaint that fellow Mexican RC are believing the allegations, and the fact Lucrecia felt the need to respond publicly). What we have here are two responses from LC/RC sources, each contradicting the other in order to appeal to their particular segment of the RC population. In short, it’s a matter of survival as the fog of war sets in.
Can such a communication strategy work in the long-term? As Our Lord says in the Gospels, a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.