Catholics wonder how a palpable fraud and sycophant like Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the disgraced founder of the reactionary religious order the Legionnaires could pull the wool over so many eyes in the Catholic church. When the serial priest pedophile and father of children was finally cast aside by Cardinal Ratzinger and described by the future pope as living “a wasted, twisted life”. He had done much damage to the John Paul ll papacy. The latter’s promotion of Macial as “an efficacious leader of youth” called into question the pope’s suspect judgment and gave a necessary rethink to his papacy, As if the shocking canonization of Josemaria Escriva didn’t. another papal sycophant who poured money into Rome and got a free get out jail card from Pope JP ll who made Opus dei a personal prelature.
The Polish pope had a narrow vision. He should have copied leo xll who when they asked him about his successful term as pope (1878-1903) replied that he was never afraid to promote those who disagreed with him. The Woytyla record proved just the opposite and stopped reform dead in its tracks. The Catholic Church is still suffering from too many lame appointments.
JP ll was a sharp guy but like all of us circumscribed by his environment, in his case a narrow Polish background. He failed to reform the church in this image, particularly in the more educated countries where Catholics had grown immeasurably in their theological sophistication. The real heroes of this period were those brave theologians and lay people who resisted his attempts to do an end run around Vatican ll.25 lost years. a massive failure of nerve.
The pope did find many idolators who cast their sails to his narrow vision. Many of these were promoted and in diocese after diocese, new papal automata cropped up in parishes and in the media. Like W.H. Auden’s Average Man , “When there was peace they were for peace and when there was war they went.” The same ones now are thrown into confusion as a new wind blows from Rome
It is hilarious to watch the right wingers like George Weigel try to skirt their previous endorsement of arch fraud Fr Marcial. In 2002 Weigel wrote
I have been deeply impressed by the work of the Legionaries of Christ in the United States, in Mexico, and in Rome.If Father Maciel and his charism as a founder are to be judged by the fruits of his work, those fruits are most impressive indeed.”
What were the fruits? Huge amounts of money which rolled into the Vatican, pay offs to cardinals who should have known better, a far right wing order which turned its back on the thrust of the Council and genuflected to anything to come out of Rome.
Jason Berry the great New Orleans journalist assiduously tracked the promoters of Marcial and his order. He wrote:
The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon, and CNN political analyst Bill Bennett were among them. Glendon, now a Harvard law professor, scoffed at “old slanders”.
Boy was she wrong.
To say that Weigel, Glendon and Neuhaus — who asserted Maciel’s innocence as “a moral certainty” — were duped is to overstate the obvious. Clearly, they were influenced by John Paul’s own personal support for Maciel. Neuhaus even stated that there was no doubt about Marcial’s innocence. It was “a moral certainty.”
Weigel as Berry pointed out consistently whitewashed JP ll’s blindness in the pedophilia crisis. His 992 page tome on Pope Woytyla totally avoided the issue.
The book ignores widely reported clergy abuse cases that rocked America and Ireland in the 1990s: the charges that brought down Covenant House founder Fr. Bruce Ritter; the resignation of Archbishop Robert Sanchez of Santa Fe, N.M., amid allegations from young women; the $119 million jury verdict against the Dallas diocese in 1997 that was a subject of great conversation in the Congregation for the Clergy, according to former priest Christopher Kunze, who worked there at the time. Were these not issues for the pope?
The former ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon was similarly duped:
“The recent revival of long discredited allegations against Father Maciel would come as a surprise were it not for the fact that the U.S. is currently experiencing a resurgence of anti-Catholicism. One would have thought that Father Neuhaus’s meticulous analysis of the evidence in First Things had put the matter to rest once and for all. As one who sat near Father Maciel for several weeks during the Synod for America, I simply cannot reconcile those old stories with the man’s radiant holiness.”