Fear is not a charism

I received an interesting email from a reader, who like many readers wonders what one should do when one’s entire family is involved in RC. The reader kindly gave me permission to rewrite and blog it:

There are individuals and families who have been involved in RC for 10, 12, 15 years. Some families include mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and children – all RC. How does one objectively discern one’s path through this scandal when one’s own family members are diehard RCs. How does one dissent from the group? What does Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house look like when one decides to leave, or take a ‘time out’?

I can appreciate your tough situation. The best solution, in my opinion, is to speak the truth in charity. I won’t lie: your family may hate you for it, in which case you will hear back immediately. Or they may feel the same way you do, and are just waiting for someone to speak up because they’re scared they’re the only ones who feel this way. You would be surprised how many readers describe your situation when emailing me. Giselle and I have heard from several folks who, like you, are appalled by the Legion’s response thus far.
Many of your friends and family will object strenuously at first, but most will come around later if your words “have the ring of truth” to them. After all, who wants to associate openly with a liar, a fraud and a serial pervert? Would you let your daughter date Marcial Maciel? (What about your son?)
What holds the system together, as far as I can tell from reader response, is fear. Fear of a system that crushes dissent. Fear of loss of status and reputation within the movement and the parish. Fear of whisper campaigns. Fear of spending the next 15 minutes as Hans Kung when accused of going against Pope John Paul II because he approved a set of constitutions under the mistaken belief that a founder practiced what he preached. Fear of admitting one was wrong about Maciel’s victims who spoke the truth. Fear about being labeled judgmental (This is going to sound more harsh than what I intended, but it needs to be said: An unrepentant serial abuser and pedophile is not your moral superior. Neither are those who demand you not judge his actions, or those who continue to show him public gratitude while his victims wait for an apology and restitution of their good name. Nor are they your intellectual superiors, regardless of how many degrees they obtained from pontifical universities.) Fear of doing what is right.
Fear, however, is not a charism.
At least not one that comes from the Holy Spirit. Christ is the way, the truth and the life. He states clearly that the truth will set us free. If one fears speaking the truth in charity, then one is not listening to the Holy Spirit. And so the fear continues.
I recall interviewing Bishop Fred Henry for a pro-life publication last year. For American readers, His Excellency is a Canadian Bishop so outspoken for the truth that he makes Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz look timid in comparison. “I didn’t set out to be controversial when I was consecrated a bishop,” he told me on the record. “It just happened because I never feared to speak the truth. Why should we fear? The worst they can do to you is chop off your head. In which case, Christ says we win.”
In looking back at how this scandal has played out since February, Fr. Berg is the only Legion priest to survive with his credibility intact. The blogs parse every statement of every LC priest, looking for evidence of ambiguity and double-talk. The one exception is Fr. Berg, whose statements are taken at face value.
Why? Because from the beginning Fr. Berg did not fear to speak the truth in public. He may not have succeeded in reforming the Legion, but his fearless speaking of the truth in charity invigorated Regnum Christi members to demand better of Legion leadership, to demand the Holy See intervene with an apostolic visitation, to demand that the truth be made public.
If the Legion movement somehow manages to reform, it will be because Fr. Berg put truth before fear. And if the Legion disintegrates because its members dis-integrate, it will be because they put fear before truth. Nevertheless, Fr. Berg will still have survived with his reputation and the Westchester Institute intact – again because he put truth before fear
And so the best course of action, whether it be with one’s family, one’s section or one’s superiors, is to speak the truth openly and in charity. That and prayer to St. Joseph.