Legion vs. Canadians in U.S. clothing


As I mentioned earlier this week, I'm a fan of Mgr. Michael Palud's Journey of a young priest blog. Which makes sense given that we're both Canadian, canon lawyers and we both left movements that went awry from the Church. Because of his experience leaving a movement that melted down when its leader jumped the shark, and helping to found a new institute under a solid bishop, he brings some excellent spiritual advice to those affected by the Maciel scandal. Nevertheless, I had to chuckle at an observation he blogged this morning concerning the American reaction to this scandal:

What seems unrelated to this is the whole L.C. saga that continues. It is really an arena where life and death meet each other in a strange way. With it the incredible gamut of emotions that grip people in all these discussions. I am fascinated especially the way Americans react. Somehow, they don't react like the rest of the World. Perhaps it is because Canadians tend to be more flegmatic, or again because Canadians are, in a way, more akin to Europeans. I just don't know.

What strikes me in all these discussions in the Blogoshpere is that our American friends find it difficult to think out of their U.S. custom-made box. Sometimes, I believe, the heritage of the American Consitution, the Influence of Locke and Hume in the American psyche is stronger that we could admit. At any rate...I am in the deepend here and should just shut up.

I too noticed that Americans seemed much more outspoken than the rest of the Catholic world on this scandal, and said so back in February. The reason I believed this to be the case is that Americans are generally tolerant and hospitable people, but cannot tolerate two types of people: 1) Liars, and 2) Those who intentionally harm their children. The crux of the Maciel scandal is founder who lied to inflict harm upon children, then lied to cover it up. So the American reaction, in keeping with their character, is nothing short of nuclear when compared to that in the rest of the world.

Yet Monsignor also describes the Canadian reaction as more flegmatic. On the surface, he's right. Which is why several European friends, on both sides of the issue, have asked me to explain the American reaction and why the reaction next door in Canada seems to have been nothing but silence.

Here's where I must interject with a little secret. Canadians aren't any less angry than Americans, we're just a little more sneaky about how we express ourselves. We're a small part of the LC/RC's worldwide apostolate. What we think and how we react isn't going to be given the same weight as what Americans think and how they react. Which means our audience is a lot smaller. As Canadians, we know this. (Which is why most of you are reading this at Catholic Light, the American blog to which I belong, and not at my Canadian blog).

So instead of putting forward a Canadian response, we harness American technology, drop a 'u' here and there from our spelling, avoid mentioning geography, and join the American throng. We know that in America we can reach a wider audience and help shape a reaction that must be taken more seriously. Don't get me wrong; we don't lie or intentionally conceal the fact we're Canadian, we simply do nothing to correct the assumption that we must be American if we're this vocal in the American debate and have not identified ourselves as Canadian.

However, I know who a lot of these people are. We've corresponded privately or met in person. About half the English-speaking bloggers providing regular commentary on this scandal are Canadians using American blog-hosting technology (like me!) And while Americans outnumber us in the comments section, Canadians form a sizeable minority of regular and outspoken commentators. So the reaction on English-speaking blogs is not simply one of outspoken Americans vs. meek and docile Canadians (with Brits, Aussies and New Zealanders weighing in here and there). Rather it's outspoken Americans joined by a contingent of sneaky Canadians.


I'd venture to say it's a certain type of liar that Americans can't tolerate: the hypocrite. People who shove their holier-than-thou piety down our throats while living a life of debauchery and perversion drive us crazy.

And yes, the intentional harm of children we find unbearable, but we believe there is a special place in hell for those who sexually abuse our children.

So Maciel raises our ire because he did both---proclaimed himself a saint (remember the "I have never said no to God" quote) while molesting children (and womanizing, embezzling, abusing drugs, and so on). This we find to be a complete atrocity.

We DON'T think outside the box of outrage against crimes against children, and we have a hard time even stepping slightly out of the box to wrap our heads around cultures that aren't equally incensed by these abuses (or that simply would rather pretend these crimes aren't happening).

We know you sneaky Canadians are outraged right along with us, though, and I think it's safe to say we don't mind being known as the loudmouths around the world when it comes to issues of child molestation/corruption/cover-up, etc.

Kuddos Peter. You said everything only the way a Canadian would !

The American genius for creating voluntary associations may be a factor too: these institutions are very important to community life, but they become impossible if we cannot trust others' basic decency and honesty.

This Canadian has commented extensively. However, I avoid telling people that I am Canadian, because there are fewer Canadian sections. It is possible there are situations which are unique to this Canadian section. I sometimes feel limited to speaking generally along with the American discussion to avoid outing myself or this section. It isn't a matter of being "sneaky", but rather careful.

An example of differences - I do not chime in when American posters comment on matters of education, or "parish schools", or CCD. As Canadians, we have the option of public Catholic education.

Well, I guess I'm sneaky as well, being one of those Canadians -- though an uncharacteristly loud one. I toss out my 'u's proudly, though leaving the 'eh's' for verbal hints only. God bless American technology (and moral outrage at the child molesters). Interestingly, there is a difference between English-speaking Canadians and Americans (we'll not even try to understand the French :-) The former seem to be more docile to authority and organisational structures -- perhaps because they were part of the colonies longer than their Yankee neighbours?

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Pete Vere published on September 6, 2009 9:49 AM.

Losing my vocation was the previous entry in this blog.

On contacting victims - Is this how a family treats its children? is the next entry in this blog.

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