Monday, May 18, 2009

Hey! How'd Obama get cake?

Dirty Faces, Bloody Feet, and a Mouthful of Cake

So, as all of you know, Obama went to Notre Dame, got an honorary degree, and gave the commencement address, the entirety of which caused a medium-level ruckus and led to thirty-odd arrests.

The whole event was actually pretty cool. It brought a lot of issues to the table and finally convinced me to start commenting on current affairs.

Dirty Faces

These belong to the Holy Cross fathers/Notre Dame board of directors that orchestrated this event. I understand academic debate and openness but if the university calls itself Catholic out of one side of its mouth—a religion in which abortion is titled an 'intrinsic evil'—and invites a pro-choice speaker to give the most important speech of the year out of the other; something is clearly amiss.

The Catholic Church does not 'prefer' that abortions not take place. They see it as the taking of innocent human lives. Whether or not you agree, I think the inconsistency should be evident.

Bloody Feet

These belong to all those who found it appropriate to disruptively protest the President's appearance. Not included in this group are those students who attended the commencement wearing 'baby feet' pins or white flowers in silent protest.

The bloody feet belong to the thirty-odd people who were thrown in jail or those who interrupted Obama's speech with shouts such as "Stop killing our children." And they are bloody because they shot themselves.

It absolutely blows my mind that people think demonstrations such as those seen over the weekend will have an impact on public opinion, the university, or Mr. Obama himself. Apparently, the blood foots forgot to check the nation's pulse before they swung into action, or anytime during the last thirty years.

Ok, quiz time: What do Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama have in common?
Easy: The ability to speak to and inspire a majority of the nation. (I know, Mr. Reagan is dead, but the cases are really hard to match otherwise.)

Misters Reagan and Obama command the attention of the nation because they can connect to her people. They feel the country's pulse, meet her where she is, and attempt to move her in the direction laid down by their personal ideologies.

The Blood Foots fail. I don't care if they stand up for unborn babies. They sound radical, insensitive, and completely out of touch with their intended audience. In order to communicate with the modern world, it is first necessary to understand where the world is coming from.

Mouthful of Cake

Ha ha, Mr. Obama got that.

Let's continue where that last rant left off.

The President told a little story in his commencement address. It dealt with a meeting between all the members of the Civil Rights Commission tasked with coming up with a common approach to civil rights legislation. They couldn't meet in the segregated South so Fr. Ted, a former president of Notre Dame, had them up to Notre Dame's "retreat" in Wisconsin. Once there, they discovered a common love of fishing. They fished awhile, broke the ice, got to talking, and hammered out the points.

At face value, the anecdote may ring slightly trite but the message is of vital importance. It is impossible to dialogue without the presence of common ground. Neither I nor the President asked anyone to compromise their beliefs. He himself declared that "at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable". And what he did ask is that we stop "demonizing" one another and attempt to engage in dialogue.

And damn it, I don't care if you think the President was insincere. His words are still of immense value. The story he told about his decision to change the phrasing of his stance on abortion after a doctor wrote to tell him it was inflammatory is a sign of great hope for me.

Yesterday and today, millions of Americans are reading about President Obama's speech. The score should be obvious: Obama 1: Pro-Life America 0. The problem is inconsistency. As an impartial observer, I would look at yesterday's events, see one side confidently delivering its message while the other side snarled angrily, and I would say "how can those crazy people be right..." The pro-life cause will only move forward when the goodness of its message matches the goodness of its delivery.

Perhaps the first step is to admit that the President gave a great speech yesterday.

He took the cake.

The Blue Anchor: Vol I;1

Friday, May 1, 2009

Newest Letter about Father Maciel

Thy Kingdom Come!



September 1, 2009

To Regnum Christi Members and Friends
Atlanta and New York Territories

Dear friends in Christ,

In Atlanta, we recently enjoyed a visit from our General Director, Father Alvaro Corcuera. He celebrated Mass for Regnum Christi members and friends at the Pinecrest Academy chapel. During his homily he touched on important points in reference to the difficulties we have all experienced during these past months, shedding light upon them from the Gospel. He invited us to discover God’s mysterious design also within the realities we are living, which we never would have expected to experience. It was an intense moment of prayer and unity, gathered around Christ.

He has also traveled to Cheshire, Connecticut, to preside over the ceremony of the profession of vows of a group of novices and religious on August 29. With this important step, these brothers continue their path to the priesthood in the Legion of Christ, at the service of the Church, by dedicating themselves to a mission that “is of fundamental importance and is worth devoting oneself to with broadmindedness and an unsullied heart…” (Letter of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to Father Alvaro Corcuera, March 10, 2009).

We are grateful to God for the gift of his leadership, full of Christian prudence and charity. We are confident that the Lord assists him with his grace in the difficult task he has at this time.

With this letter we would like to share with you some of the thoughts and recommendations that he has been offering to members of the Legion of Christ and consecrated members of Regnum Christi through his talks, homilies and letters over these past months. We are sure they can also be of help to you.

We also hope to remedy some of our shortcomings in communication –for which we are sorry–, so that together we can continue walking what will surely be a long path of healing and reconciliation with those who have been hurt by the misdeeds of Father Maciel.

As priests, our hearts go out to all those who have been harmed or scandalized by his actions. To all we extend a special apology on behalf of the Legion and our General Director, Father Alvaro Corcuera, who has, in fact, begun to reach out personally and in private to those he knows may have suffered most, offering his heartfelt apology and consolation, and will continue to do so. As he wrote in his March 29 letter: “We are deeply saddened and sorry, and we sincerely ask for forgiveness from God and from those who have been hurt through this.” We also regret that our inability to detect, and thus accept and remedy, Father Maciel’s failings has caused even more suffering.

In the recent past, after Father Marcial Maciel had retired, we came to know that he had had a relationship with a woman and fathered a child. Even more recently, there have been allegations of other relationships and other children. Given the partial nature of the information available and the impossibility to evaluate immediately and in a definitive manner these complex allegations, the Legion of Christ cannot, at this time, make a statement regarding them.

All this leads us to value even more the wisdom and pastoral approach of the Holy See concerning the allegations of past sexual abuse against Father Maciel that had surfaced. As it as stated in the communiqué published on May 19, 2006, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith investigated these issues and invited him to a reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing all public ministry.

As an institution, as a family and as individuals, this unexpected turn of events has been traumatic. Being weak humans, even if reacting with Christian virtue, many of us have gone through experiences of shock, anger, disbelief, denial and fear, both humanly and spiritually. These emotions, the vast tangle of information, supposition, speculation and opinion, the different cultural sensitivities, and the Christian duty not to publicize the sins of others, have made it difficult to publish the sort of direct statement that many expected of us.

Added to this, is the fact that we did not know the whole truth, we may not know it yet, and new information may well continue to come to light. What we do learn, we will address, respecting the privacy of those who request it of us.

As Legionaries, consecrated members of Regnum Christi and Regnum Christi members of all walks of life, we too have been experiencing a deep struggle. We are all wounded by this news, and need the comfort and support of each other. We want to thank all those who have understood the depth of our suffering, and offered their understanding and kindness. As we have just mentioned, we wish to be close to anyone who has suffered in any way, and at the same time ask them to live the Christian virtue of pardon from the depth of their hearts.

  1. This brings us to a key point in relation to you, our friends. It is clear that all these facts lead us to think about the past, the present and the future. Many of you have rightly asked if the Legion has made or will make changes in its life. Yes…we have, we are and we will. Some examples:

    • One of the questions that come to mind refers to the “safe environment and child protection” measures in our communities and apostolates. Our Constitutions, other norms and many elements of our discipline have always helped us to be particularly careful in the dealing with minors. More recently we are in the process of accreditation by Praesidium, a risk management organization now helping a great number of religious institutions in North America. Praesidium is conducting a full review of our internal rules and policies, as well as our training of all those who deal with minors. They will shortly be conducting on-site visitation of several of our institutions to verify that what is on paper is being applied. There are twenty-five accreditation standards to meet, covering the areas of prevention, response and supervision. Here in the U.S. we have also set up an external review board so that in the event of allegations of sexual abuse, we have the advantage of “outside eyes” to weigh the evidence, issues and provide us with recommendations. Praesidium accreditation is being promoted by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, which links all the male religious orders in this country.

      We also fully comply with all diocesan standards, which vary from place to place.

    • On the financial side, for a long time now we have had yearly audits done by outside accounting firms. We could not have acquired the loans we needed to purchase our seminaries and found the many works of apostolate undertaken during these years without systems in place of strict accountability and responsible financial management. In recent years, due to the growth of our operations, we have put in place a still more professional system of business management through the services of Integer Group. Staffed by lay professionals, Integer has further improved our operating and management processes to ensure the integrity of all our operations.

    • A further area of adjustment which has begun and continues in process is the way we refer to Father Maciel in the Legion and Regnum Christi. While we cannot deny that Father Maciel was our founder and did much good, neither can we deny the reality of what has recently come to light and his grave human failings. We have taken progressive steps to make sure that there is no inappropriate reference to Father Maciel (we have, for example, removed pictures of him from our center; we have extensively edited our websites; we are in the process of reviewing new editions of other writings, brochures, etc.). All this has led us to what is most essential: to center our life, even more, in Jesus Christ.

      This is an ongoing and difficult process given the need to discern his person from the solid Catholic doctrine that he transmitted and the legitimate institutional aspects of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christ. This discernment is not something that can be done lightly or overnight. Father Alvaro has and will seek the advice and guidance of learned and prudent men of the Church to enlighten this difficult question seeking not to lose God’s gifts to the Legion and Regnum Christi.

  2. We are also receiving enormous help from the Church, especially from the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to whom we are truly grateful.

    • You know that he has mandated an Apostolic Visitation of the Legion. Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput of Denver has been appointed as Visitor for the Legion in the United States and Canada. Archbishop Chaput will visit our seminaries and religious houses, see our life up close and interview whomever he wants. His mandate will be to question, probe and assess with depth and objectivity. Legionaries are free to speak and write to him with all their comments and questions. He sets his own timetable and the points he wishes to probe, and he will present his findings and recommendations directly to the Holy See.

      For the moment, the Legion cannot make any specific statements regarding the content or development of the Visitation, since this would interfere with the work of the Visitors.

    • Questions and comments have also been raised regarding the “private vow of charity” that was professed in the Legion. The rationale of this vow was to ensure that the grievances one could have with his superior were brought to those who could resolve them and thus avoid irresponsible criticism or internal factions that degrade unity. This vow had been in place since 1957 and was approved by the Church. Pope Benedict XVI, who has the power to bind and loose, asked the Legion to remove it, which we did two years ago.

    • In the past two years, also following the indications we received from the Holy Father, we changed our general practice of superiors being the spiritual directors of their subjects. This practice was based on one of the century-old monastic traditions that view the superior as Spiritual Father and Mentor of his community. We are seeing positive fruits from this change of practice.

    • There also have been changes in the Legion regarding sacramental confession. In the past, members were free to go to the Ordinary or Extraordinary confessors (assigned by the General Director for each community). They were also free to go to any other Catholic priest with faculties for confession. Members often asked to go to confession with their own superiors.

      Following the instructions of the Holy See, today superiors are no longer habitual confessors for those under their authority.

    • We would finally like to mention that our general director is in frequent contact with our superiors in the Holy See and also with the Apostolic Visitors to speak about these and other complex issues.
These are some of the significant steps the Legion of Christ has taken. And as we said, we expect more will come in time, with judgment and prudence.

Understandably, in the midst of the present circumstances there have been a few of our members who have felt that they can serve God better by separating themselves from the Legion and Regnum Christi; others have opted temporarily to step aside to see and evaluate, waiting also to see the outcome of the Visitation. The vast majority has opted to continue doing as much good as they can from where they are, knowing that our time here on earth is limited, and trusting that with the guidance of the Church whatever needs to be corrected in time, and whatever is good will be confirmed. Each one has made his or her choice before God, moved by their love for him and their desire to serve him to the best of their ability, and for no other consideration. Let us have great Christian understanding and respect for all. Each of us must presume the best and purest intention in the other, pray for each other, and recognize that each one of us suffers and recovers in different ways and at different times.

As Father Álvaro told us in his homily, in Cheshire, St. John Chrysostom teaches us five ways to reach reconciliation: asking for pardon, forgiving others, prayer, almsgiving and humility (cf. ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Homilies, PG 49, 263-264). Let us ask the Lord to grant us the grace to walk this path, inasmuch as each one of us needs it, for his greater glory.

Loving, serving, and building together –that has been our life in the Legion and Regnum Christi. As tragic as the failings of our founder are, they should not cause us to diminish our efforts to bring souls to Christ, and to serve him and the Church selflessly in all our brothers and sisters.

You have worked so hard to create apostolates, build schools, run youth clubs, form people in the Catholic faith – and those efforts are good and real. Let nothing distract you from loving and serving God in your neighbor. We enter now into a new chapter of our history which must be focused on the pursuit of holiness and love for souls.

May we take inspiration from our Blessed Mother who “meditated all these things in her heart” (cf. Lk 2:51). She will lead us along the path of God’s will and help us to respond as she did: “May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

May Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians inspire us during these challenging times:
    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
You remain in our prayers, and we depend on yours.

Yours in Christ our Lord,

Fr Scott Reilly, LC
Territorial director
Atlanta Territory

Fr Julio Martí, LC
Territorial director
New York Territory