Another excellent reflection by Deidre Mundy (aka Mouse at American Papist) on the whole Legion fiasco. This time she tackles the secretive nature of Maciel’s practices, as opposed to open nature of Catholic teaching. Here’s a pithy snippet:
I keep hearing that I can’t really understand RC/LC, because I’ve never been on the inside. And ex-members have blogged about secret books (some plagiarized!), books only available to members, books that were supposed to be kept hidden in back bedrooms or at retreat centers.
THIS IS NOT CATHOLICISM. We don’t have ‘secret teachings.’ There are no ‘secret books of the Benedictines.’ Heck, even the ‘secret archives’ of the Vatican aren’t really secret–they’re just poorly catalogued and you have to make an appointment to work with them (like most archives). Heck, even the ‘secret’ parts of the Mass aren’t secret. Anyone can get a Sacramentary and see the parts the priest is supposed to say silently.
Read Deidre’s entire post here. The whole ‘special knowledge from being on the inside’ reminds me of the Church’s struggle with gnosticism during the early centuries of the Church. It’s another good reason to…
SHUT. IT. DOWN.
I have had a habit of bringing the Mormon boys into my house too over the years. I think after the 20th visit or so, they crossed me off their list as a hopeless cause.
One thing that I always told them that became advice to myself this last year was this – “You can never know if you are living in the truth if you are not willing to read, discern and pray on someone else’s stuff.” I happily take their resources and I have educated myself on what Mormoms believe from the Mormon point of view and let them know that the reading confirmed to me that Mormonism is a cult and not the true Church.
I would give them a catechsim and books on apologetics. I knew that as missionaries they were not allowed to read other stuff and also had to show those books to their superiors who I have heard took them away. I was sad for their lack of openness in reading all that is out there, especially since I was willing to read their stuff. As Catholics, there are no secrets and we have the freedom to choose to read whatever we want.
In RC, there were secrets and we could not take the manual out of the center or leave our Team program lying around the church pew because someone would misunderstand it (we were told). We did not put the RC name on flyers in my early years because we were told that would confuse people and we wanted to be “person to person” with our recruiting and not brag about RC. (that did change over the years but it never made sense to me in the beginning).
When the scandal hit last year, I realized I had not read what others think of LC/RC. I only read and looked at the LC version of things. ReGAIN was a word and place you never went – you almost felt like you would be hit by lightening if you ventured to go on that site as an RC person.
I decided if I avoided reading others blogs and thoughts (out of charity or obedience or avoiding negative people or any other excuse the LC uses when it comes to going on the internet blogs) and did not want to discern for myself what I believed, than RC had a hold on me that was not healthy.
I now read many of the blogs. Some commentors I agree with and others I don’t, but I now freely discuss issues with my friends/priests and go before God in prayer with many different thoughts and opinions and He and I together decide what I believe.
Pete, A juxtaposition to highlight the deeper damage that Maciel has done.
“The larger scandal is that no one trusts the hierarchy — for anything: not guidance, not formation, not revelation of the truths of the faith”
Augustine (Contra Julian. iv, 3):
“every virtue not only has a contrary vice manifestly distinct from it… but also a sort of kindred vice, alike, not in truth but only in its deceitful appearance.
This is the ultimate scandal of the Legion. It’s “obedience” is a deceitful appearance that simultaneously obstructs and discredits true obedience and freedom.
The more the Legion binds its members the more they imagine that the Church is a command and control center in the image of the Legion.
This false notion of the Church Militant as a command and control center is the great scandal of the Legion.
“Rome hasn’t TOLD us, so business as usual”. “I’m waiting for Rome”. “I’m not leaving, because I am obedient”. “Whatever Rome want us to change we’ll change it” “Our charism is whatever Rome wants”
What could be more destructive to the authority of the Church than this mockery of it?
1) The Legion binds where the Church doesn’t.
2) Thoughtful freedom is replaced with the Legion’s whim.
3) The Legion hides from its members the freedom that is fundamental to the life of the Church.
4) The members see the Church in the image of the Legion.
5) The Legion’s obedience is like a blank check to a fictitious entity. Rome does not proscribe like the Legion does, so Maciel knew his imaginary check would never be cashed.
6) Maciel’s survivors imagine they are bound to implement what never existed.
7) Those outside the Legion conclude that this all proves that christian obedience is unhealthy.
Deming said “You can not inspect quality into the product; it is already there.” You can not obtain a charism by removing the “defects” of a system that was created to destroy what you are trying to create.
Fr. Berg provided an accurate diagnosis of a the juvenile mess that Maciel cultivated and left behind. What remains should be a half way house not an expanding operation:
…an unhealthy suppression of personal freedom (which is a far cry from the reasoned, discerned and freely exercised oblation of mind and will that the Holy Spirit genuinely inspires in the institution of religious obedience) and occasions unholy and unhealthy restrictions on personal conscience”.
Okay, I’m a little sorry but I think I’m going to play “devil’s advocate” here a little. Bear in mind that I have never been a part of RC and have no desire to defend any of the wrongs done by Maciel/LC/RC.
Aren’t there some “secrets” among Catholics? The ceremonies of the Knights of Columbus are pretty much kept secret, except from the Church heirarchy, I guess. But women and non-members aren’t let in on the ceremonies of the Knights and similar Catholic fraternal organizations. Years ago, I read that Opus Dei had special prayers which were not revealed to everyone, though granted that might have just been negative propaganda against them.
As for Mormons not reading Catholic books, didn’t our Church once have the Index of Forbidden Books? The Church said back in 1966, when the Index was discontinued, that it still maintains its “moral force” in that Catholics should not be reading certain books that could endanger their faith.
Just a few thoughts tossed out there. Feel free to prove me wrong, since I certainly could be wrong. :-)
Didn’t the LC sue some of the laity for making public some of their rules and writings?
I haven’t heard of any ohter Catholic group being so cut throat about their secrets.
Now I have heard of ex cult members being ostrasized by other cult members but it was not any Catholic group. That’s another topic.
Rosemarie – I don’t think you’re wrong. Indeed you bring up an excellent point – MM and the LC are by no means the first or the only ones to cultivate “secrecy” in the Church. Like you, I absolutely do not defend it and I think it will be blown away after the AV. In the early days, I think MMs secrecy had more to do with his perceived rivalry with Opus Dei and the Jesuits – he got carried away with the virtue of “Prudence” probably the result of his narcissistic need for total control.