Pope Benedict XVI will appoint an apostolic delegate to govern and reform the Legionaries of Christ (LC), the Vatican announced on May 1, and “a commission of study of the order’s constitution.” It will in addition appoint a “Visitor” to guide the consecrated members of Regnum Christi (RC).
The actions result from a year-long Apostolic Visitation [investigation] which was provoked not only by reports that LC founder Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado fathered perhaps six children, his cult-like leadership and sexual abuse of subordinates and others. But also by the Legion leadership’s history of aggressive cover-up, including legal actions to silence former members and suppress documents.
The Vatican said:
The extremely grave and objectively immoral behavior of Fr. Maciel, which has been confirmed by irrefutable testimony, takes the form of true crimes and demonstrates a private life without scruples or authentic religious sentiment. That life was hidden from the great majority of Legionaries, above all because of a system of relationships constructed by Fr. Maciel, who was adept at creating alibis for himself and winning the trust, confidence and silence of those around him, reinforcing his role as a charismatic founder.
By discrediting and pushing away those who doubted the correctness of his behavior, as well as through a mistaken desire not to undercut the good the Legion was doing, they created a mechanism of defense around [Maciel] that made him immune to attack for a long time, consequently making an awareness of his real life extremely difficult.
Yet the “sincere zeal of the majority of the Legionaries” survives and is to be preserved — a goal which echoes through three key points of clarity:”
a) The necessity to redefine the charism of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, preserving the true nucleus, that of being a “Militia Christi,” which distinguishes the apostolic and missionary action of the Church, and which is not identified with efficiency at any cost;
b) The necessity to review the exercise of authority, which must be connected to truth, in order to respect conscience and to develop it in light of the Gospel as authentic ecclesial service;
c) The necessity to preserve the enthusiasm of the faith of the young, the missionary zeal, the apostolic dynamism, through an adequate formation. In fact, delusion about the founder could call into question the vocation, and that nucleus of a charism, which belongs to the Legionaries of Christ and is rightfully theirs.
All of this requires, the Vatican said, that the order embark on “a path of profound revision.”
Whose substance remains profoundly unclear.
Her vow to serve the poor brought her to the support of health reform at a critical juncture, writing, “The time is now for health reform.” And answering the tide of false claims that health reform was a path to publicly funded abortion:
The insurance reforms will make the lives of millions more secure, and their coverage more affordable. The reforms will eventually make affordable health insurance available to 31 million of the 47 million Americans currently without coverage.
CHA has a major concern on life issues. We said there could not be any federal funding for abortions and there had to be strong funding for maternity care, especially for vulnerable women. The bill now being considered allows people buying insurance through an exchange to use federal dollars in the form of tax credits and their own dollars to buy a policy that covers their health care. If they choose a policy with abortion coverage, then they must write a separate personal check for the cost of that coverage.
Among the true things Time proclaimed:
Undeterred by her critics, she refused to back down as she fought for reforms that would include prenatal and maternity care and coverage for uninsured children. She fought for those who couldn’t fight for themselves.
We turn to the Jesuit magazine America for a practical glimpse of the modesty with which she lives her vows of poverty. Michael Sean Winters writes of the president of the nation’s largest not-for-profit network of health care facilities:
Sister Carol then showed me the sisters’ living quarters. She, like all the other nuns, had a small room, like a dorm room, with a small bed, a small desk and one comfortable chair, a devotional book on the table beside it. There was a closet holding half a dozen habits and blouses. This was certainly not how most hospital executives lived. Sister Carol’s supreme confidence in discussing any and all aspects of health care management was matched by a complete absence of pride or protocol. You only had to watch her for five minutes as she interacted with the hospital staff to realize that she was as down-to-earth as she was competent, as solicitous of others as she was unafraid to make a decision on her own.
She was also one of some 60 leaders of women religious, representing 59,000 Catholic Sisters, who broke with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to support passage of the Senate health reform bill.
Her clear voice remains an unwavering, truthful answer to those who seek continuously to smear the law as an inroad for immorality, rather than the triumph of Christian charity that it is.