Sunday, May 30, 2010

Starting over

I have modified the content of my blog to reflect what I originally set out to do: make you part of my journey and share some insights into why I’m leaving. I in no way want to express any bitterness, because I harbor none.

I am grateful, and I sincerely mean what I say, grateful to so many saintly priests and brothers I have had the honor of working with.

I in no way repent of having entered the legion and am grateful for becoming the priest I am today.

I am saddened by the suffering caused to Legionaries and the Movement member due to the life of Fr Marcial Maciel.

I am sincerely sorry and ask forgiveness of those under my care who because of me, or the advice I gave them during those years when we thought Fr Maciel was innocent, may have felt deceived, betrayed or shaken in their faith. Forgive me. I will never stop praying for you.

I repeat, and I stress my sincerity: I hold no grudges neither toward Fr Maciel, nor my present or past superiors, nor any member of the Legion or the Movement past or present.

I have begun preparing a post that will help you understand how I live without grudges. Look for it. It will be called “Luke 23:34”

=======UPDATE 6/1/2010======

Thank you for your comments. For those who commented on anger or other negative sentiments, I will respond in a post called "Luke 23:34". But for now, I don't deny experiencing negative sentiments. What I am trying to show is my way of dealing with them.

Why I'm Leaving the Legion of Christ (Part 2)

This is part two of “Why I am Leaving the Legionaries of Christ”.
To read part 1, click here.

Breach of Confidence

The 2007 film “Breach”, a dramatization of the Robert Hanssen espionage case, has striking resemblances to the current knowledge of Fr Marcial Maciel. Though the screenwriters largely fictionalized Hanssen’s relationship with Eric O’Neill and other aspects, their portrayal of Hanssen as a devout catholic exemplifies how a person can mask his intentions in a colossal breach of confidence, essentially what has been called “the worst intelligence disaster in US history”.

What may become the worst scandal in Church history unfolding before our eyes, I believe is fundamentally a scandal of breach of confidence.

Confidentiality (at times unjustly called secrecy in journalism for greater impact) is a fundamental element in professional life. Even journalists use it to protect their sources. Physicians, lawyers, clerics and others are bound to keep information revealed to them confidential as a means to aiding that person. Let’s just face it: we are often ashamed to speak about some physical ailments, not to mention our sinful tendencies. We trust these professionals will not betray our trust.

Ordained priests in the Catholic Church are bound to confidentiality in the sacrament of Reconciliation and Spiritual Direction, though not in the same degree. A transgression against the confidentiality or Seal of Confession carries an automatic (latae sententiae) penalty: excommunication for the priest who breaks the seal (See number 1388 of the Code of Canon Law). A spiritual director is bound to confidentiality, and should make this clear from the very first direction. Nevertheless, a spiritual director who knows of violations of civil law in the context of Spiritual Direction is obliged to report crimes to the civil authorities. Otherwise, he may become an accomplice to the crime. This obligation does not apply to crimes a priest hears in confession.

When a person seeks spiritual direction, he assumes confidentiality unless the director specifically states otherwise. It is a common understanding just as one trusts the confidentiality of a lawyer, physician or other professional. A breach of this confidence could seriously damage a soul and separate him, not only from the spiritual director, but the one he represents, especially if the director is a priest.

There came a moment when I realized that what I said in spiritual direction years ago influenced how my subsequent superiors dealt with me, the decisions they made, the apostolates I was given. This has had a two-fold effect on me: I lost confidence in my superiors (and they in me), and I am constantly frustrated in my apostolates.

Why I'm Leaving the Legion of Christ (Part 1)

An outsider looking in

The reasons behind my decision to leave the Legion of Christ are many. If there were just one reason I would be the first to admit to being rash. It has been a long time coming and many are the contributing factors. Of these factors the most enduring has been a sense being an outsider.
For years I felt as though I was part of the family, I knew everyone, I knew the way of life and practiced it to the best of my ability. But there was something wrong. Interiorly I wasn’t rejecting anything: I embraced it all and loved it.
So often I felt like an outsider looking in.
As time went by the feeling grew. I tried my best to identify the cause and deal with it. I sought help in confession and spiritual direction, and I believe the advice I was given was good: was my prayer life going well? Was I interiorly rejecting something? Was I toying with temptation? I sincerely examined myself and redoubled my efforts. But that thing was still there.
It is only recently that I have been able to give the thing a name: suspicion.
Suspicion, not in the paranoical sense of “their out to get me”. Suspicion in the sense some things I heard could not be true. I’ll give one example, but there are others. It was well known to us, and explained from the beginning that Fr Maciel would travel alone from time to time and take sums of money for his acts of charity. This first time I heard this I was suspicios. If someone you knows disappears for a week or two and no one knows where he has been, then comes back, business as usual, wouldn’t you be suspicious?
All my suspicions had their explanation, but for me were never resolved. I don’t claim to be a suspicios person. I don’s suspect everyone around me us up to no good. But if I see something wrong I point it out. And if I find out I was wrong, I admit it.
Turns out my suspicions weren’t wrong after all.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How you must be suffering

A number of people have said they are praying for me because my decision to leave the legion must be causing a great deal of personal suffering. Quite the opposite is true. The years spent trying to live my vocation sincerely and being treated like otherwise were the greatest suffering. Now that I have turned my gaze to serving Christ exclusively, my suffering is that of souls. Isn’t that what being a priest is all about?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Clown - El Payaso

One of the recurring themes in Fr Marcial Maciel's talks and letters was authenticity, being sincere, not putting on masks. Hypocrisy, he would say, being one thing on the outside and another on the inside, could cause mental disorders. He said that no one can hide forever, that internal strife and division will eventually manifest itself externally. Some people develop nervous ticks, others breakdown altogether.
I remember being in a conference with Fr Marciel in Rome. This theme came up. He said someone had played a song for him that he enjoyed, and he wanted to play it for us. It was called “Payaso” (the clown) by Javier Solis. Let me just transcribe the verse for you and then I’ll make my point.
“Payaso, soy un triste payaso
que oculto mi fracaso
con risas y alegrías
que me llenan de espanto

“Payaso, soy un triste payaso
que en medio de la noche
me pierdo en la penumbra
con mi risa y mi llanto”

A Clown, I’m a sad clown
who hides his failure
with laughter and happiness
that surprise even me.

A Clown, I’m a sad clown
who in the middle of the night
I lose myself in the darkness
with my laughing and weeping
(This is my poor translation. If anyone has a better one, pass it on.)

Now I really wonder if Fr Maciel was sending up a smoke signal, like the criminal who wants to get caught. After a number of years the crime is not enough: he starts leaving a paper trail, and that makes it more thrilling. He doesn’t really want to get caught, but the sense of having someone hot on your tail is invigorating.

I am in no way trying to cover for him: I find his way of life appalling, if not horrifying. But I wonder how he kept it up for so long without cracking.

There was a time I think he cracked. It was in the mid-nineties. He had come back from a trip (we never knew where he travelled to). He had strange red blemishes on his cheeks, not abrasions, but more like hemorrhages. He said he had gone through a crisis, he had asked himself if it was worth living amid so much suffering and persecution.

My first impression was that he was hiding something. I admit I always had my suspicions. It was no secret that Fr Maciel would travel alone at times and take sums of money with him. We were told it was for his many acts of charity, a virtue he learned from his mother. The first time I heard this, it didn’t sit well with me. But then again, when you saw him and listened to him, how could this man be doing something wrong?

I guess I’m saying we all wear masks from time to time. I let mine fall not too long ago. For this I have been somewhat of an outcast in the ranks of the legion. I try to be as sincere as possible when I’m dealing with people and in my homilies, and that has made all the difference.

Saturday, May 15, 2010