Healing, forgiveness and the Legion of Maciel

This entry expands upon a comment I wrote at Life-After-RC.com:
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.


  1. Does that mean that if someone hasn’t healed they haven’t forgiven, or is that a logical fallacy of some sort overlooking other possible causes for delay in healing?

  2. There are some wounds that never heal totally. They leave a scar or have maimed the individual in a certain way. Which is why, at a certain level, abuse victims will always live with some effects of the abuse they suffered. One cannot change what happened.
    However, forgiveness allows one to heal more quickly and more substantially. Not forgiving makes healing impossible. However, there may be other causes that delay or limit a victim’s healing after he or she has forgiven.
    Take, for instance, the mother who sent her sons to apostolic schools because the “holy” priests told her that her sons had a vocation from all eternity, that the vocation is precious, and that her sons would endanger their souls and vocations by not frequenting these special schools. Her sons returned home minus the Catholic faith.
    She may forgive the priests for spiritual manipulation and for imposing a pedophile’s methodology upon her sons, and this will facilitate her healing, but the loss of faith of her sons remains a wound.

  3. Actually I think if we akin this to real human tragedy, many of the characteristic run along the lines of mourning as well. There are two steps which are necessary for all healthy mourning.
    1) Closure- Accepting the whole truth of things for what they really are, this will lead to letting go (detachment); forgiveness (for faith driven people where evils have been committed); honest admissions of faults or fears (openess)
    2) New Beginnings- This is so very important. Without God revealing bits of that greater good for which he permits evil, and us giving ourselves to them. Like the 75 year old widow who now becomes a volunteer or spends more time with her grandchildren, or one who procured an abortion now promoting the pro-life message, new beginning. Without them we will not re-attach, this time even more deeply to the higher ideals in life, that a tragedy has tried to rob. With thes new beginnings, closure becomes complete. They permit a complete letting go of all that has been wrong or tragic.
    We can see the insanity of a re-pressed grieving process that LC leadership wishes to project, and are as a result doing more harm. They should have sought to denounce the founder as founder- seek pardon for all his evils, and start with a new foundation, a new patrimony that would not keep leading members back to this house of horrors. The project a false assurance of having moved beyond it, and no one is convinced, the signs noted above are just not there.
    There is a stagnation in confronting the issues of the past in the LC that, like any swamp, engenders every sort of vile thing. The events of MM have and will, since Feb ’09, sicken the souls of each member when they reach out for ideals incarnate in their history and authentic spirituality, and find unexpiated and unreconciled evils they have left to fester, without sincere remedy. A year ago 25 were on the fence, today 150, and tommorrow?
    I do believe the AV however will break up enough of the structures for more healing to occur inside, but they will not have the grace of experiencing it as a group, only as individuals in fragmented pockets, dispersed to the 4 corners of the ecclesial world.

  4. Trying to have meaningful dialogue with members/affiliates is very frustating. Even to apologize or offer foregiveness is often met by cult members/affiliates/leadership with a very disturbing response. Most people have probably tried and the results are simply more abuse. They do make it difficult to deal with them in a biblical, Catholic and straightforward way.

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