George Weigel argues that a papal delegate should be appointed to audit the Legionnaires and Regnum Christi. This is a rather drastic step, but, I think, a necessary one. An excerpt:
Assuming, as we can and must, that this remains the Holy See’s intention, it must now move without delay to address the accelerating train-wreck-heading-toward-the-cliff that the Legion and Regnum Christi have become over the past ten days, as credible reports appeared in the blogosphere that Fr. Maciel had lived a life of sexual and financial scandal, probably for decades.
The reports have emanated from those who had been advised of the Legion’s own investigation of Maciel, but there is still no formal statement from the leadership of the Legion as to what its internal investigations have uncovered. There has been no full disclosure of what is known about Fr. Maciel’s corruptions. There has been no disclosure as to the nature and extent of the web of deceit he must have spun within the Legion of Christ, and beyond. And there has been no public recognition of what faithful, orthodox, morally upright Legionary priests believe have been grave corruptions of the institutional culture of their community.
The letter from Fr. Alvaro Corcuera to the faithful of Regnum Christi, distributed last week and immediately available online, was completely inadequate in naming these sins for what they were. Public statements by Legion spokesmen in Rome and in America have been just as bad, due largely to failures by Legion leadership and to an institutionalized culture of defensiveness.
Two courageous Legionary priests, Fr. Thomas Berg and Fr. Richard Gill, have issued personal statements that face the facts as we know them, while not shying away from their implications in respect of any assessment of Fr. Maciel. Another Legionary priest, Fr. Thomas Williams, manfully confronted the truth of this wickedness on EWTN this past Friday night. Fathers Berg, Gill, and Williams have also conceded, admirably, their own failures to see through the web of deceit spun by Fr. Maciel. Their words reconfirm what those of us who have benefitted from the friendship of Legionary priests have known for years—there is great good here, as there is among the faithful members of Regnum Christi.
The question now is, how shall that good be saved?
It can only be saved if there is full, public disclosure of Fr. Maciel’s perfidies and if there is a root-and-branch examination of possible complicity in those perfidies within the Legion of Christ. That examination must be combined with a brutally frank analysis of the institutional culture in which those perfidies and that complicity unfolded. Only after that kind of moral and institutional audit has been conducted, and has been seen publicly to be a clean audit, can the Legion of Christ, and the broader Church, face the questions of the Legion’s future—which are, candidly, open questions:
• Can the good that has come from the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi be disentangled from the person and legacy of Fr. Maciel?
• Can the Legion be reformed from within, after those complicit in the Maciel web of deceit have been dismissed?
• Must the Legion be dissolved, with perhaps a core group of incontestably honest former Legionaries re-forming a religious congregation dedicated to the ideals that have been fouled by Fr. Maciel’s sins and by a manifestly wounded institutional culture?
None of these questions can be thoughtfully or prayerfully answered until there is a full audit.
And, as the flailings and failures of the past ten days have made clear, that audit cannot be conducted by the Legion leadership, which is likely beset by a maelstrom of internal and external pressures. It must be mandated by the pope, and it must be conducted by someone responsible to the pope alone—not responsible to the relevant parts of the Vatican bureaucracy, not responsible to the cardinal secretary of state, but responsible to the pope alone. There is simply no other way open to an accounting that will be both scrupulously honest and publicly credible.
To take an image from corporate law, the Legion of Christ must be immediately put into receivership: A personal delegate, appointed by the pope, must be empowered to take over the governance of the Legion of Christ and to conduct the moral and institutional audit required. The papal delegate would be instructed to report his findings, both interim and final, to the pope alone, and he would be instructed to make recommendations (again, to the pope alone) addressing the possible futures, including dissolution or dissolution-and-reconstitution, of the Legion.
Read the rest here.
Update: Here is an open letter from Dr. Germain Grisez, proposing the “orderly termination of the existing Institute, election of a small group to serve as founders of its replacement, and the preparation of an entirely new and reformed body of particular law for the new institute.” This is a more dramatic proposal, but it warrants serious consideration. Thanks to commenter Mark DeFrancisis for posting the text in the comments.