Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Legion Meets the Block?

Two months since the apostolic visitation of the Legionaries of Christ formally began, reports are beginning to surface of the inquest's likely result.

Both famed for its prolific recruitment efforts and criticized for its "methodology" of gaining and keeping members, the Holy See announced its intervention into the 3,200-member community in March after reports emerged of further moral and fiscal improprieties on the part of the Legion's disgraced founder, the late Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado. An especial favorite of Pope John Paul II, the Mexican-born cleric was effectively removed from ministry in 2006 at the close of a Roman investigation jump-started by decades of allegations that Maciel had sexually abused male LC novices.

In the months following his death early last year, additional disclosures confirmed by the Legion indicated that Maciel had a mistress, with whom he fathered at least one child.

But that's what's been... for what's possibly to come, America mag's Austen Ivereigh reports:
The result of Rome's investigation into the Legionaries of Christ will result in either the dissolution or the re-founding of the order, according to sources close to the Legionaries in Spain....

Dissolution would mean the houses, universities and other properties of the Legionaries would pass into the hands of the dioceses where they are located. A new institute could then be founded....

According to a former Legionary quoted by the Spanish religious journalist Jose Vidal, the ordinary priests and members of Regnum Christi [the LC lay apostolate] want a root-and-branch reform -- if necessary, by means of a dissolution -- in order to give a new institute a fighting chance. But the order's leaders are fighting a defensive rearguard action, arguing that they knew nothing of the double life led by Maciel, and were therefore neither accomplices in his abuses nor did they attempt to cover them up.

While the leaders admit that Maciel had a mistress and a child, and are keen to distance themselves and the order from him, they are treading carefully, aware that no order has ever survived the repudiation of its founder.
Assigned by region, five prelates have been tasked by the Vatican with overseeing the order's worldwide visitation, its North American leg led by Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput OFM Cap.

In a letter to its members earlier this month, the heads of the Legion's US branch apologized for the suffering caused by the revelations, noting a significant rollback of the heroic, blameless light in which Maciel had long been cast as one of many "area[s] of adjustment" being made in the aftermath of the revelations and to satisfy the concerns of the Holy See.