Spanish Legionary head on post-Maciel future

The Legionaries of Christ are "of Christ" and not "of Maciel", Fr Jesús María Delgado, regional head of the Legionaries of Christ in Spain, has told the religious news site Religión Digital in an upbeat interview. "We will do whatever the Church tells us", he says, in reference to the decision by the Vatican to appoint an external head to oversee the restructuring of the Legion following the revelations of its founder's double life as a philanderer, abuser, and drug addict (see my previous post). And if that means the current Legionary heads resigning, he says, so be it.

He gives an interesting insight into the challenges the Legionaries faced as the dark truths about Maciel came to light -- and why they chose to say nothing or take refuge in denials. He says (my trans):


From the beginning we have tried to tell the truth in such a way that the members could absorb that truth and not expire in the process. When we discovered that Fr Maciel was not who we thought he was, as well as the tremendous personal impact we suffered, we understood that it was our obligation to tell the rest of the family what we ourselves were uncovering. How to tell that, to whom, and when, were very difficult decisions. Our aim was that the truth should be known. But our aim was also not to harm people further, with a crude or violent attitude, or spreading news that we did not know with complete certainty. Some say we were wrong, that we should have understood that we are not a family, we are a large institution, and that we should have held a large press conference with all the international media, instead of enduring this ongoing, drip-drip humiliation. I think it's very difficult to know what would have been best and now it's impossible to change it. What's done is done. Now that we know the truth our action is geared to consoling and giving hope, because our mission, which is to transmit the love of Christ, requires it. Certainly we're not spending this time licking our wounds and lamenting before God, but we are carrying on serving Christ and men, announcing the Good News.

Fr Delgado also suggests that the Legion will emerge stronger, purer, and more humble from its purgation.

The first thing is that we did not choose this. We did not consciously seek to have a founder who has behaved the way [Maciel] did. The second is that God knows why He has allowed what happened to happen, and He will indicate to us how we can remedy it and heal the wounds, with the help of our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. One only grows through crises and mistakes. We have the hope that, through all this, we will emerge more mature, better prepared to evangelise, more humanly able to understand our own weaknesses and those of others, and more humble, in order better to serve.

On the Legion's future, he adds:

I would like the Legionaries of Christ to emerge stronger from this harsh test, because I am convinced that it is a work of God and called to do great good. I would like that all this adversity we are suffering help us to mature, to be better. Being better means being more humble and so to transmit the love of Christ for our neighbours, because that is what we are here for. I would like it that all this can be done together with those who have suffered, with [Maciel's] victims, because there cannot be justice except with them -- with their recongition, with their healing, and, if God and they desire it, with their forgiveness. That is the future I would like to see.




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Leo Zanchettin
7 years 9 months ago
Fr. Delgado's reasons why the LC leadership chose the drip-drip approach is revealing. "Some say we were wrong, that we should have understood that we are not a family, we are a large institution." Well, there are pros and cons-and limits- to the "family" model for a religious order. You can call yourself a family to the extent that you identify with each other and are striving to love each other as deeply as a family does. But the leaders of the order can take that metaphor too far, adopting for themselves a patronizing view of their "children." "No, they're too immature to be told the full truth. We know what's best for them-they don't." It says a lot about the formation of the men in the Legion when their superiors can't trust them to handle unsettling truths in a grown-up, measured manner. 
Carolyn Disco
7 years 9 months ago
Jesús María Delgado, 45, is one of the ''territorial directors'' of the Legion (for Spain), a top position, identified by Sandro Magister in March as among the nomenklatura, in “extremely close” association with Maciel while he lived.
Magister says there can be no real renewal as long as those like Delgado remain in power.  
“… but this leadership group is anything but resigned to giving way.
  “Freed from the annoyance of the visitors, and not yet subjected to the command of the commissioner, during this interim period which they are hoping will last for ''several months'' they are doing everything they can to consolidate their power and win the support of the majority of the 800 priests of the Legion, and of the other religious and lay members.
On March 25, during the annual meeting in Rome of the territorial directors with the director general and his council, they released a statement in which for the first time they publicly describe one by one and ''reprove'' the sinful actions of their founder, Marcial Maciel (1920-2008), ask forgiveness from the victims…”
But how trustworthy is this distancing of the Legion's leaders from their founder, and in particular from the ''sudden revelation'' – or so they say – of his misdeeds?” It’s a seamy history going back to 1992 when the nomenklatura consolidated its power. They are the “diehard faithful.”
Delgado’s article is self-serving spin designed to reinforce his hold on power. His ignorance of the real Maciel is suspicious in the extreme. Wanting to tell the truth? Really now!  For part of a power structure that supposedly cares about those Maciel molested, he might acknowledge the Legion’s vicious response to them:
“They don’t say anything about all the harm, about how they treated us like liars,” said Juan Vaca, a professor of sociology and psychology at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. “I have my dreams completely shattered.”
Carolyn Disco
7 years 9 months ago
I was trying to find the part of Maciel's constitution that referred to the need to recruit handsome, clean cut men to the order. Delgado fits the bill perfectly. A little too smooth and slick; skilled PR for the interim period before the naming of a new head of the Legion. As I reread Delgado's words, what blather.
Maciel's wording about good looks was more elegantly phrased than my version, but oh my, the focus is quite revealing. All the better to solicit funds from those rich, lonely widows, in the supposed name of transmitting the love of Christ.
Stephen Murray
7 years 9 months ago
Creeps for Christ.


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