Lessons from the Maciel matter

Lessons from the Maciel matter

The National Catholic Reporter offers an editorial on the Maciel affair, in which it, not surprisingly, casts doubt on the recent categorical statements from the Legionaries of Christ that there is nothing at all to the claims of abuse. NCR’s editors have their own ideological axes to grind and have no reason to love Maciel or the Legion.

They do make some points, though. It is true that if Maciel fell under the Dallas policy, he would not be in active ministry today. But then, the Dallas policy only applies to the US and Maciel is not a US priest. Different policies are in effect elsewhere. Yet, it is also true that there is a group of US priests who are outside the reach of the Dallas policy, too: US bishops. The law does not apply to them.

What it shows is that we need a universal policy for the Church, a just and equitable policy that applies to all bishops and priests, that respects the rights of priests and alleged victims. I have my problems with the Dallas policy, so I don’t think that’s the model. But we need something.

As for NCR’s other concerns, I think there may be merit. Whether there is a basis for the allegations against Maciel and the Legion or not, what this whole episode has shown is that Vatican politics still plays a role in abuse matters, that there is a lack of communication overall, and that for an institution devoted to the Truth, we have a difficult time finding it and conveying it.

Another article in NCR, by Jason Berry, a reporter who has been on the Scandals for years and focusing on Maciel lately, follows up on the Maciel matterand asks some lingering questions. There is a definite anti-LC scent to the article so you should probably read what is there with a grain of salt. Is it a sin to be a good fundraiser? Is obedience and secrecy in and of itself wrong? Not in the abstract, but in these specific cases, I don’t know. It would depend on the accuracy of Berry’s characterizations of the situation. I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli