Giselle has posted an unofficial translation of Fr. Alvaro’s letter reportedly sent to LC priests and RC consecrated. You can read the translation here. Like Giselle’s reader Don, I suspect this may be the letter referred to in August by LC priest (and blogging internal critic) Fr. Damian Karras. Even if it isn’t, Father’s following criticism still sums it up best:
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.
Trust the superiors? Like we all trusted Fr. Maciel, our Superior General, for nearly 70 years?
For my own part, I feel a lot more pity for LC Director General Fr. Alvaro after reading this letter. I kept think back to that passage from Lord of the Rings where Gandalf says to Frodo:
Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.
I suppose there are many similarities between Maciel and Sauron, between the founder’s methodology and the Ring of Power. Like Gollum, Fr. Alvaro strikes me in this letter as someone who once was like us, but who having under the spell and influence of his precious, is eager to hold on at any cost. Hopefully I’m wrong.
Regardless, we don’t know what role remains for Fr. Alvaro as the scandal unfolds. Especially if rumors in the Mexican media pan out of a power struggle between Fr. Alvaro and his Vicar General Fr. Garza, who also served as vicar general for Maciel. My heart tells me Fr. Alvaro can still play an important role in the movement’s meltdown, whether for good or for ill.
Having said that, I discern a lack of confidence in the letter attributed to Fr. Alvaro. The Legion and Regnum Christi follow a military motif. But as any current and former military can tell you, soldiers expect communications to be concise and to the point. So too do sailors and marines. (Air Force are a bit of an exception, but even they get to the point once the meandering threatens to cut into their coffee break.)
The Jesuits operate much the same way. I attended a Jesuit college for my undergrad. One of my visiting professors during graduate studies in canon law was a Jesuit. I have worked with Jesuits in the canon law profession. Their communication is always precise and concise. Essays are limited to one page only. Anything longer and they stop reading. Anything longer and they wonder whether you know what you’re talking about, or grasped the central point.
The Legion is capable of pointed and focused communication. It is capable of such under Fr. Alvaro’s leadership. A good example is the order’s response in 2006 when the Holy See invited Fr. Maciel to retire to a life of prayer and penance.
In contrast, the more recent letter goes on for several pages without identifying what necessitated the letter. In so doing Fr. Alvaro’s letter communicates three things, in my opinion: A lack of self-confidence in his leadership, a lack of confidence in the priests and consecrated to whom the letter is addressed, and a lack of confidence in the message the letter attempts to convey. And a general who lacks confidence cannot inspire it in his soldiers. I don’t know what Fr. Alvaro is talking about in his letter. Does he?
Giselle’s reader Jane put the letter’s word count at 8,555. That’s 8,553 words too many, in my opinion. What’s needed is a simple “I’m sorry” to Maciel’s victims. Fr. Alvaro, this is the only message that will restore confidence in your leadership.
Which brings me to this quote from Fr. Alvaro’s letter:
Believe me that I would give my life, or whatever it would take, so as to soften the cross of each one, and that I feel very unworthy of being able to offer you my whole life and renew to you my gratitude, support and brotherly closeness.
Nobody is asking Fr. Alvaro to give up his life. We’re simply asking him to apologize publicly to Maciel’s victims. It’s a debt of justice owed to those who were victimized at the hands of Maciel, then victimized again by having their reputations shredded when they came forward with the truth. Yet this is the one course of action Fr. Alvaro keeps avoiding. Why?