Jo Flemings, who I read somewhere is a convert from protestantism and the Catholic mother of a large family – including one Legion apostolic and a Legion brother (seminarian), I believe – responded in the comments section of Bonum’s blog. She asked why the alleged victims don’t come forward and alert authorities. I believe her question is sincere, given that two of her sons are with the Legion if I have understood correctly. She is obviously a mother concerned about her children. This discussion cannot be easy on her. Especially since Bonum is now part of a profession where human lives literally depend upon one’s honesty and integrity. Thus one can presume his trustworthiness.
Then Aaron pipes in, with great charity and gentleness, to share his experience as an abuse victim while attending a Legion apostolic school. I have met Aaron personally. His eyes were those of every other victim of sexual abuse I have ever spoken with as a canon lawyer, except that there is not a hint of vengeance in him. What motivates him is concern for others who may find themselves in his situation. Thus Aaron states:
Jo, as a victim of sexual abuse in a legionary seminary I can tell you that all the external customs regarding purity that you mention – what they wear in bed etc are no protection nor indication that the children and young men cannot be taken advantage of.
They are powerless against abuse.
My own abuser came into my room one night when I was already in bed, while on major vacations and asked me if I was wearing underwear and when I said I was he said that that was unusual and that I shouldn’t wear underwear in bed in the future.
This happened after night prayers when we were all meant to be in silence, and I recorded this in the report I made to the Irish Police when I reported him some years later. […]
There is a culture of silence and non-criticism which is an internal as much as external culture in the Legion. This was created by Maciel to further protect himself and be abusive.
Your son CANNOT tell you how he feels or what is happening in his life. The very constitutions forbid this.
Your son HAS to show you a smile as PROOF OF HIS VOCATION.
Aaron’s entire comment is worth reading, which you can do by clicking here.
The conversation between Bonum and Jo then continues in this new thread.
Here are my own thoughts on what’s taking place:
– Both sides are fighting to protect their children. As long as this is case, while it is unfortunate that orthodox Catholic is being pitted against orthodox Catholic, the fighting will continue. After all, Church teaching is clear – parents are the primary educators (spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually) of their children. It is both a right and an obligation for parents to suitably protect their children. If the Legion’s charism is legitimately from Christ, then Jo is fighting for the vocation of her sons. If Maciel’s methodology was concocted to facilitate his abuse of young seminarians while living the high life, then Bonum is showing moral courage in trying to protect his brother (still a Legionary) and his children.
– There are only two ways to stop the fighting: Either the Holy Father intervenes directly and addresses the scandal suitably, and LC/RC cooperate with papal reforms in both letter and spirit; or LC/RC unilaterally and publicly impose a moratorium on new recruitment. One of the reasons orthodox Catholic parents outside LC/RC are pushing back so hard is that the movement continues to recruit, despite its methodology being under investigation by the Holy See.
– Although orthodox Catholics are being pitted against orthodox Catholics, there’s nothing to prevent us from showing each other charity in the debate. We need to protect our children. But we should also pray for mom and dad on the other side, and for their children. And we should be prepared to reconcile once the Holy Father intervenes with the results from the AV, assuming LC/RC cooperate fully with the results.