Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict's resignation and the Legion

The announcement this morning that Pope Benedict XVI would be resigning at the end of the month caught me, as well as the Church and the world, by surprise. It didn't upset me in any way, for the Church is always in the hands of the Holy Spirit. The transition process will start, less the normal mourning period when a pontiff passes away, and before long there will be a new Pope.

The period between the death of a pope, and in this case the resignation of a pope, is called "sede vacante", empty see. During that period the governing of the Church basically is put on hold. The bishops and cardinals that have been named as heads of the Congregations, Dicastaries, Institutes, etc, cease to hold their possitions. Their secretaries continue to take care of the most immediate issue until a new Pope is named. 

In this case, I am wondering what will happen to Cardinal Velasio de Paolis who, since July of 2010 has been the Papal Delegate overeeing the reform of the Legionaries of Christ? Since he is the delegate of Pope Benedict XVI, does his authority over the Legion end on February 28? It would seem so. But in the interim, will the legionaries take action to change things on their own? 

This we may not ever know. There is really little we know about what is really going on inside the Legion. We don't know all the details of the reform, or if there has been a substantial reform of the internal governance of the Legion. The abuses in the Legion can all be attibuted to the superiors. This same body of superiors, for the most part, the same ones in place after Marcial Maciel died, surely have the same mentality they did before Pope Benedict iniciated the Pastoral Visitation and the reform process. I may be wrong, but I don't have any proof to the contrary. The Legion would do a great service to the Church to spell out clearly what has been done and what still remains to be done, and how they will conduct themselves during this period of Sede Vacante.

===UPDATE - 2/20/2013

Fr Sylvester Heereman of the Legionaries of Christ has sent a farewell Letter to the Holy Father. Here is a link to the letter: It is filled with all the same lingo that is characteristic of the Legionaries: promise of unwavering fidelity, gratitude for all the Holy Father has done for the Legion. They do express their saddness at his resignation. I still think there is a bit of joy behind the tears. That's my opinion, probably unfounded.

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