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.

  • Reluctant as I am to admit agreement with NC Reporter editors, the editorial does reflect much of what I have been thinking. This case needs to be resolved! It is a matter of justice – outside the realm of internal Vatican politics. It cannot be swept under the carpet any longer.

    To do so is not serving the Truth, the Church, the Legion, Fr. Maciel or his accusers.

    I still have hope that it will be pursued and resolved and ITH priests and bishops.

  • Is it a sin to be a good fundraiser?

    Yes, when being a good fundraiser means that you whitewash and tolerate things which are not good so as to protect your fundraising.  Money is not the final object of a Catholic organization—ANY Catholic organization.  “You cannot serve God and Mammon.”

    On secrecy—one of the main reasons Rome has persistently condemned the Masonic Lodge is secrecy.  So is there something wrong with it?  Depends upon what it is being used for, doesn’t it?

  • Except that’s not what I said. By itself, fundraising is not a sin. It is the attached conditions that make it sinful. The same with secrecy. After all the Knights of Columbus have secret ceremonies, but that doesn’t make them nefarious.

    These things alone are not sinful. That’s my point.

  • Catholic fundraising techniques are a particular sore point with me because my mailbox is jammed most days with more requests than I could possibly fulfill in two lifetimes, and its making me cynical.

    Frankly, my name on most of those lists is a mystery.  I can only conclude some group to whom I’ve sent a contribution has sold their mailing list.  Some days I get two mailings from the same organization, both addressed to me, but using two variations of my name indicating they have gotten the information from other organizations to which I have contributed. 

    I have to throw the appeals in the wastebasket before my husband sees them or there will be “comments” about the Church that I just don’t want to hear.

    For years I’ve sent contributions to Focus on the Family.  Never have I gotten solicitations from other organizations that could possibly have come from Focus.  Dobson always prided the organization on the fact that they never sold their mailing list to any other organization.  I can say the same thing about the Spiritual Counterfeits Project and Radio Bible Class.  These are all Protestant organizations.

    So is fundraising sinful in itself?…Let’s just say it is in a grey area.

  • If you’ve subscribed to any Catholic magazines (and here’s my partial list, over the years: Crisis, First Things, CW News, Inside the Vatican, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, America, Adoremus, the Tablet (UK) – or bought any books from Catholic publishing houses, your name tends to get on many mailing lists that solicit contributions, etc.

    I don’t see anything terribly wrong with this … except I do dislike the practice of enclosing medals, ‘holy pictures,’ crosses, etc. which make me (at least) reluctant to throw this stuff in the trash.

  • On the point francis raised “what if you lived in a country whose civil authorities were either very corrupt or anti-Church? This might just open up the Church to attacks by the State, and do nothing to help actual victims.”

    First of all, this doesn’t apply to Fr Maciel for two reasons: the statue of limitations and the governments in question are not anti-Church.

    To discuss the general case, the Church lacks the authority to punish these crimes as they are crimes in civil law.  That’s for the civil government.  It’s regrettable, but if you’ve got a Caesar, Hitler or a Castro in charge—you have to submit the predator priest to the court with jurisdiction.  Justice for the victim and the protection of society are more important than the public image of the Church.