“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – Jesus, (John 8:32)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life” – Jesus, (John 14:6)
Both of Our Lord’s sayings come to mind as I ponder recent revelations concerning Fr. Maciel. What’s damaging to the Legion is not the revelations themselves. Reasonable people, Catholic or not, have long ago concluded Fr. Maciel was a fraud and a scoundrel. So what’s damaging to the Legion is that they were not more forthcoming with the truth about their founder, or with an apology to his numerous victims.
In a word, the scandal here is the coverup. The attempted coverup, for so many years, is why the Legion appears so helpless as the facts unfold.
Two autumns ago, while camouflaged in the Northern Ontario wilderness waiting for a bear to sniff out day-old doughnuts at the foot of the tree-stand, I read a report of a true exorcism. It had taken place around the turn of the 20th Century. I believe the report was written by a priest who played a role in the exorcism.
The possessed was like most LC/RC members I have met during my lifetime. She was a devout Catholic, she prayed her rosary regularly, and she had a strong desire to receive the sacraments and grow in holiness. But something stood in the way of her spiritual growth.
That something was a devil (ironically, when pushed by the priest to name himself, I believe the devil claimed to be the Legion who Christ confronted in the Gospels) along with the condemned soul of the possessed’s father. The latter was an immoral scoundrel in life, who had attempted to rape his own daughter. When she rebuffed his incestuous advances, he cursed her to the devil. And upon his death he joined the devil in his daughter’s possession. Thus even in death the father continued to impede his daughter’s relationship with Christ.
Why do I mention this? Besides the obvious metaphor, another important bit of information was revealed during the actual exorcism. The exorcist began casting out devil and demon, but they entrenched themselves even more strongly in the woman’s body. They then made it known that they wouldn’t leave without a fight. Thus they attempted to sow discord among the exorcist and his human assistants by blurting out their past sins.
Shocked, one of the assistants asked the devil why he hadn’t mentioned a major sin in the assistant’s life. Apparently the sin was known in the community.The devil resisted answering the question, if I recall correctly, until the exorcist ordered him to do so in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Because you have confessed it before the priest and received absolution,” the devil said. “Those sins are cut off to me.”
In other words, we may bear temporal consequences for our sins even after confessing them, but they are cut off to the devil. The evil one can only hold power over us through that evil in our lives that remains unconfessed before God. Thus Christ really is the truth, and truth really will set you free.
Now analogies can only carry so far, and I would be a fool to claim that every member of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi is possessed by the devil. Heck, it would be just as foolish for me to claim the majority (or even a large minority) are possessed. However, although far from an expert in demonology and exorcism, I believe the Legion of Christ as an entity may be haunted by a demon. This demon may be spiritual, or it may be psychological, or perhaps it is both. I’m not an expert, I don’t know.
But this demon is Fr. Maciel. As long as the truth of his sins remains hidden, the devil will continue to hold a certain power over the Legion and Regnum Christi, working the evil of Fr. Maciel’s sins in the shadows, and impeding the spiritual growth of the Fr. Maciel’s spiritual children.
There is but one means to expel this demon: Embrace the truth and make it known. Renounce Fr. Maciel, his sins, and his influence over the movement. (And part of this process must include an apology to Fr. Maciel’s victims, along with offers of restitution.) Embrace the truth, embrace Christ who is the truth, and use the truth to bring freedom to countless members of LC/RC seeking sincerely to serve Christ.