This entry expands upon a comment I wrote at
A friend of mine is a spiritual director to Catholic professionals who work with abuse victims. My friend once asked a directee why some victims manage to move on with their lives, while others are stuck with the horror of what was done to them. The directee told my friend: “Those who heal and move on are those who find the ability to forgive.”
It’s not easy. Sometimes one must forgive more than once before one can receive God’s healing. Often one must also learn that forgiving one’s abuser is not the same thing as making oneself a doormat for the abuser or allowing the abuse to continue. Nor does it mean that one jettisons one’s quest for human justice, or throws caution to the wind. Which is why another friend of mine, a Catholic mother of many sons and some daughters in between, has forgiven Fr. Maciel and the Legionary priests who imposed their methodology on her older sons in the Legion’s apostolic schools. However, she will not send her younger sons to these schools, nor will she allow her daughters any further contact with LC/RC-sponsored apostolates.
Nevertheless, the road to healing lay through forgiveness. We need to pray for all of Maciel and the movement’s victims. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit – for the sake of these victims, for the sake of their healing – grants them the grace to forgive. We must encourage the victims to hold the movement accountable, to continue their quest for natural justice, but to do so in a spirit of Christian forgiveness – for their sake, not Maciel’s or the movement’s. This is the only way victims can break the bonds the movement holds over them.
Likewise, I would also ask LC/RC, both current and former, to personally ask forgiveness from those you wounded in the name of the movement, whether you did so intentionally or not. This includes spouses, children, other Catholics in the parish and the movement. You may receive a cold or angry response initially, but by asking forgiveness you show true charity of souls, since you make it easier for the person to forgive, heal and move on in life.
Similarly, I would encourage you who feel victimized by LC/RC to contact those in the LC/RC who you feel victimized you by the movement’s methodology – whether it be whisper campaigns, shunning, spiritual manipulation to put apostolate before family, being recruited into thinking ill of Maciel’s victims or covering up for his abuse, being misled about the true meaning of Maciel’s invitation to retire, etc. – and tell them that you forgive them, regardless of whether these individuals feel they have wronged you or not. Do NOT, however, allow yourselves to be drawn into debate over the rightness or wrongness of LC/RC methodology, or entertain temptation to go back, or agree to drop the pursuit of natural justice. Simply tell the members you forgive them.
As St. Paul says in Romans 12: 19-21: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Likewise, LC/RC charity will be overcome by true Christian charity.