Many commentators on the Legion meltdown have noted that the American reaction was the most explosive. Actually, the American reaction was more of a ‘Critics of the Legion from across the world, recognizing the American organizational genius and the potential to reach a wider audience, converged on the American Papist blog where much hearty discussion ensued with Legion apologists’ reaction. But let’s just call it the American reaction for simplicity’s sake.
What made the American reaction so nuclear, besides the worldwide audience, were several factors:
– The seriousness of the revelations concerning Fr. Maciel
– The fact Legion apologists were forced to defend their movement in a setting where they did not outnumber their critics 10-to-1.
– The fact both sides converged on the same battlefield, namely American Papist.
The first point is obvious. As far as the second point, gang-style argument doesn’t work when the other side has equal numbers, which suddenly forces you to think about what you’re saying. (I got the impression during the debate that this was the first time many LC/RC members had given serious thought to their practices and methodology. For example, how many of you reading this blog, when the scandal first broke, thought this was only about Maciel and did not extend to the LC/RC movement as a whole?) Stock answers and conversation stoppers don’t go over as well when several sets of eyes are looking at them. As for the third point, blogging as a medium lends itself to the free exchange of ideas.
What I find interesting since the release of the Spanish letter to RC faithful is that all three conditions appear now in the Spanish-speaking world. Hispanics are not stupid. They’ve noticed the discrepancy between the U.S. letter to RC and the Spanish letter, in which the latter avoids direct mention of minor seminarians who first brought forward allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of Maciel.
Following the Spanish-language blogs today, the intensity and number of responses have gone AmP. And they include commentary from both sides. The main battlefield appears to be Jose Martinez’s El Trastevere, which has covered this story for some time. But check out the number and outrage expressed in the responses to this entry reproducing the Spanish letter.
Also take a good look at this spin-off entry, where Martinez challenges Spain’s RC director over the discrepancy concerning alleged abuse victims between American and Spanish versions of the letter. Reader comments are not as numerous as those of the parent entry (although that could change overnight). However, this second entry confirms that the issue has touched a nerve in the Spanish-speaking world, and that the reaction is not uniquely American.
On a side-note I found interesting, Spanish-speaking Legion apologists are presenting many of the same arguments that their American counterparts have long since jettisoned. In large part because these arguments were refuted convincingly during the AmP debates. So I encourage Spanish-speaking readers to make their way over there and share the knowledge they gained during the English-language debate. The American reaction has the potential to go Espanol.