Day 9 – Divine Mercy Novena for LC/RC victims

Christ is risen! Alleluia! Truly He is risen!
Today is Easter Saturday, the ninth day of the Divine Mercy Novena. I would invite you to join me in praying this powerful novena for Aaron, Jose Barba, Juan Vaca, Bonum’s buddy in the hospital, and all other victims of LC/RC sexual abuse. If you did not make the first day, don’t worry about it. Join in anyway. God will honor your prayers for this intention.

AP picks up Maciel incest allegations

The Associated Press has now picked up, in English, the latest scandal alleging Maciel sexually molested his son and adopted step-son:

During a radio interview Wednesday, Lara Gutierrez charged that Maciel, who died in 2008 at age 87, sexually abused one of his two sons with her as well as a son she had from a previous relationship. The sons, now adults named Jose Raul and Omar, said the abuse went on for years.

Click here to read the whole report.
If your stomach still isn’t turning, Giselle offers an additional update at Life-After-RC:

More from a friend who speaks Spanish. First son recounts his abuse starting at age seven (including photos, for Maciel to keep as mementos). It got so bad that he became sexually confused and asked his dad if he could see a psychiatrist. MM says he knew a really good one in Spain and sends him over (to stay with “Auntie Norma” the other wife) and he begins counseling.

As a canonist, I’m trying to look at this latest revelation as dispassionately as I can. As a Catholic, I trust Pope Benedict to do the right thing with the AV. But as a parent to children in the same age range as Maciel’s when the LC founder began to abuse them, I have only one reaction: SHUT. IT. DOWN.

‘I wasted the best years of my life on a fraud.’

I received the following testimony from a young lady who spent several years as a Regnum Christi consecrated. Her experience speaks for itself, as one shared by many consecrated now grappling with the truth about Fr. Maciel. She has kindly allowed me to share it with Catholic Light readers on condition that her identity remain anonymous:

Moving Through the Bitterness
When I left the consecrated life of Regnum Christi several years ago, I promised myself one thing — I wouldn’t let myself get bitter.
I don’t know why, but it always kind of bothered me how former Regnum Christi members, or brothers leaving the Legion, would dedicate themselves to constructing Internet Web sites that spewed hatred about how the movement and Father Maciel ruined their lives. I guess to me it showed a certain amount of immaturity. I mean, we all make our own decisions in life. We can’t blame others for the paths we take that didn’t turn out as we planned.
While I decided I needed to take a break from the RC scene and find myself, I never officially left the movement, and I never allowed myself to regret the years I spent as a consecrated member of the movement. Those were the best years of my life, I would tell myself and others.
During my post-RC years, every once in a while I’d run into a Legionary, or one of those super-star Regnum Christi members (there are certain members who are truly famous in RC circles), and I’d want to get involved again. I should really get back into the swing of things, I thought. I should join a team or help out an apostolate. I wanted to be in the thick of things. It is, after all, my family! No matter what happens in my life, they will always be there for me, and I’ll be there for them.
Then 2006 happened, and Father Maciel was asked to retire to a life of penance. He’s innocent, I thought. This is just like the persecution he’d always prayed for; Father Maciel is being asked to give the ultimate sacrifice — to die in complete and utter ignominy.
But after 2006, something interesting happened. A veil started to be lifted little by little from before my eyes. I couldn’t explain it at the time, but small aspects about the Legion or RC and its members — things that I always just took in stride — would start to grate on me.
I’d see loyal RC members be assigned to important apostolic posts that they weren’t prepared for just because the Legion knew that in a pinch, they could count on them, and it would annoy me. I’d meet up with an old RC friend of mine who couldn’t bring herself to say anything bad about the Legion or Father Maciel, and I’d come away with a bad taste in my mouth. I’d catch up with an ex-consecrated member of the movement and listen to her experience inside the Third Degree (that’s what the consecrated branch of RC is known as), and wonder why her experience could be so different from mine. I’d look for more information on Father Maciel’s case on the Legion Web site, and only find vocation stories, and wish the Legion would be more transparent.
And then there was a close friend of mine — also a fallen-away RC member, and although she had never been consecrated, she had been involved in RC apostolates for years — and together we’d talk for hours about the Legion and our experiences in RC. We’d go over the good times and the bad times, and convince ourselves at the very end that there was more good than bad. Every organization is going to have some bad elements — it’s just human. Even the Church has bad apples. We can’t be surprised that at some level there is nepotism, favoritism, corruption, etc…
Coincidentally, both of us were having serious doubts about our faith. Both of us were depressed, disillusioned with life and where our paths had brought us. Both of us were angry that the best and most productive years of our lives were behind us, and we didn’t take advantage of them the best we could. We were passing through the most existential of existential crises, and we both refused to believe that all of this could have had something to do with RC and our experiences in it.
Then Father Maciel died. I was sad, but I prayed for him and I tried to see things in a “supernatural light.” (Did you know this is a virtue? It’s the ability to see all events through the light of faith. It’s easy to do, but only if you are able to suspend your reason and critical thinking skills).
I was a little taken back, however, when I read that he died in Florida. I don’t imagine retiring in Florida is what Benedict XVI had in mind when he suggested prayer and penance, but I let it go, as I let so many things go.
But what I couldn’t let go was this feeling that my life wasn’t where it should have been. What I couldn’t let go was that before meeting RC, I had this path I wanted to follow, and I took a detour — almost a decade-long if you count the years it has taken me to come to grips with my experiences. What I couldn’t let go was that I couldn’t go back. I lost a decade of my life, and I couldn’t go back. Your late 20s and early 30s are the most pivotal of your professional and social life, and mine were gone — lost.
And now, as I’m reading about Father Maciel’s love child, and prescriptive drug addiction, and his possible other children, and how he used Legion money to fund his philandering, and how the Legion hierarchy is spinning the truth in order to keep the “mystique” alive, I’m seeing things so clearly. And I’m angry, and I’m disillusioned, and I’m depressed, and, oh yeah, I’m bitter.
I’m bitter because I believed all the lies. I’m bitter because I wasted the best years of my life on a fraud. I’m bitter because people I trusted, people I looked to for guidance, people I admired, lied to me — lied right to my face. They told me stories about what a good man Maciel was, what a saint he was. They taught me to see life through a “supernatural light.” They convinced me that I was doing God’s will, that I had been blessed by God with such a beautiful vocation. They brainwashed me. They used me. And then when I was of no use to them, they threw me away. And then, I thanked them.
I’m bitter because I was loyal. I’m bitter because I wouldn’t let myself turn against them, I refused to see all the red flags that are so obvious to me now. I’m bitter because the movement and those involved in it meant more to me than I meant to the movement. I’m bitter because, in the end, I lost. I lost years, I lost dignity, I lost my way.
As I see it, my anger and bitterness — what I most wanted to avoid — is actually my way out. I’m passing through the grieving process. I’m grieving my lost years, and my lost innocence. No longer the naive 20-something, so eager to do God’s will and ready to sacrifice everything for the cause of Christ, I find myself almost an entire decade older, and an entirely different person. Holier? I wouldn’t say that. Smarter? Tons. Wiser? Time will tell. Ready to move on? You have no idea.

Defending Fr. Maciel from Damnatio memoriae

When the Fr. Maciel story first broke, I went on record publicly stating that the Legion of Christ (LC) and Regnum Christi (RC) could continue without renouncing its founder. I assumed at the time, based upon the American reaction of Fr. Thomas Berg, Tom Hoopes, Jay Dunlap and others of like mind, that the LC/RC would renounce the founder’s example (which is different than renouncing the founder), apologize to his victims and offer them restitution. And to their credit many of the movement’s American membership followed Fr. Berg’s example in doing so.
What I did not expect (at least after the first month) is for the movement’s upper echelons to try and carry on “business as usual”. After all, their modus operandi is what landed the LC/RC in so much scalding tequila to begin with. Which is why I puzzle at this recent Spanish-language interview with Lucrecia Rego, the founder of and a high-profile Regnum Christi member from Mexico. She remains one of Fr. Maciel’s most ardent apologists, having declared herself “Maciel’s other [spiritual] daughter” when the scandal first broke.
Life After RC has posted an unofficial translation here, of which I found the following excerpt troubling for two reasons: 1) It offers us a glimpse into the mindset of some of the movement’s higher echelons; 2) In attempting to defend Fr. Maciel, the interview confirmed my gut feeling that the LC/RC can only survive as a Catholic institution by completely renouncing their founder.
Anyway, read the following and draw your own conclusions:

What’s your opinion on the performance of the current leaders: Alvaro Corcuera, Luis Garza, Evaristo Sada? Do you agree with their having treacherously hidden these truths, deceiving the legionaries, and becoming accomplices themselves of the sins of the founder?
Lucrecia – To accuse the Fathers of such things is nonsense. No one is obliged to reveal another person’s sins. On the contrary, they would’ve been traitors had they revealed them. The fact that they kept it secret is a sign not of complicity, but of their faithfulness, fondness and respect. There’s nothing to complain to them about.
Jesus Christ gravely condemned the sin of scandal. Don’t you consider it scandalous that Fr. Maciel, being a priest, had a daughter, and that he then diverted vast sums of money from the Legion to provide for her?

Lucrecia – First of all, I must say that I find the whole story of the alleged daughter of Nuestro Padre to be quite implausible. An elderly many of 68… it’s very difficult at that age to even be capable of having a sexual relationship.
But let’s suppose it’s true… that, yes, the woman seduced him and was able to achieve (who knows by what means) said relationship and conception. Following this supposition, we cannot know the degree of culpability of neither the woman nor the priest because we don’t know the circumstances. Thus, there’s no scandal, because we don’t even know if the act meets the conditions to be a sin (full knowledge and full consent).
About the “large sums of money” that is said Fr. Maciel gave the mother of the girl… the press has mentioned the amounts of $5,000 to $10,000, which Fr. Maciel carried with him now and then. Are 10,000 dollars given now and then a scandalous amount to provide for a family? Absolutely not. It’s barely enough to ensure that the child (who has no guilt in the story) gets clothing, a home, food, and an education in a place that is dignified and decent. What we do know is that Nuestro Padre worked much for the Legion and that, humanly speaking, he had every right (as laborer and director of an enterprise) to dispose of some money for his personal expenses (in this case, providing for this implausible family).

Fr. Maciel’s apologists will tell us not to judge Fr. Maciel, citing Our Lord’s injunction in the Gospel of St. Matthew, but Lucrecia appears to have judged the mother of Fr. Maciel’s daughter either a liar or a seductress. This is as far from Fr. Berg’s reaction (even before leaving) as one can get. And while we’re on the topic of Fr. Berg, Lucrecia also sends some charity his way:

Fr. Thomas Berg has declared that the Legion must renounce its founder in order to survive. What do you think of these statements?
Lucrecia – What can I tell you? Fr. Thomas is free to express his opinion, and I am no one to judge him. It saddens me, yes, that he’d express himself in such manner about Our Father Founder and of our current directors, because he, having been 23 years in the Legion, is who he is only thanks to the Legion, which wouldn’t exist had Fr. Maciel not founded it. I think he should show some gratitude, regardless of how disappointed he might feel.

What we see here in my opinion is the movement’s institutionalization of Fr. Maciel’s narcissism. It’s not the Holy Spirit, the Church or the intercession of St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother that made Fr. Berg who he is. Neither the saints nor the Church’s teaching. It’s Fr. Maciel and the Legion, this high-profile RC member asserts. Was it in Fr. Maciel’s name that the bishop laid hands on Fr. Berg and raised him to holy orders? You get the point. Everything still centers around Fr. Maciel and the LC/RC, and the LC/RC only insofar as they center around Fr. Maciel. Outside of Maciel’s reach no salvation. Lost vocation, sure damnation.
This is why the LC/RC must sever themselves completely from Fr. Maciel. Since the Legion likes to invoke catchy Latin phrases, Roman military imagery, and thoughts of subjection to Rome, give serious consideration to the ancient Roman practice of damnatio memoriae.