More On Fanaticism

"We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn."   (Matthew 11:17)

The following prognosis for the Legion of Christ could have been written by a reviewer hoping against hope in 2006 or 2010:
It's young members had been 'fanaticized' by the founder, “but it is substantially healthy and well-intentioned and offers hope insofar as it can be freed from fanaticism. Which seems doubtful.”
But it was actually written by the first Apostolic Visitor to the Legion in 1957. His doubt was well-founded. The men Maciel groomed refused to respond to the problems at the heart of the Legion.

Half a century later the  leaders of the Legion only had excuses to offer. How could they have noticed that he never walked the talk? How could they have seen any of the countless red flags? How could anyone blame them for publicly maintaining his innocence until 2009 given that he was cleared in the 1950s?

The myth that he was cleared in the 1950s only serves to underline their complete and enduring failure to respond seriously to the three investigations. By refusing to let go of Maciel's writings, rules, norms, and methods the leadership made their dismissal critical.

First investigation: No freedom from fanaticism 

Cassandra Jones
On October 13 [1956] Valeri appointed as apostolic visitator Anastasio (of the Holy Rosary) Ballestrero, general superior of the Discalced Carmelites... archbishop of Bari in 1973 and of Turin in 1977 and a cardinal made by Pope John Paul II in 1979...

Even from exile, Maciel managed a “mischievous presence” to his institute, in Alejandro Espinosa’s phrase. He would secretly meet Legionaries once a month on the outskirts of Rome or in a bus and joke, “I’m on a bus, not on Roman soil. I’m not disobedient!” The administration of Lagoa and Arumí served in some respects as a dodge for Maciel to continue to run the congregation...

Anastasio did not develop evidence about drug and sex abuse sufficient to render judgment. But in four months he nevertheless learned enough to reach harsh conclusions in his report, dated February 11, 1957. In the report, he recognized that the seminarians were reticent, uncomfortable, and coached and that he hadn’t gotten the full truth. The institute was 'juridical chaos' with structures in violation of canon law and spiritually fragile. Its young members had been 'fanaticized' by the founder, “but it is substantially healthy and well-intentioned and offers hope insofar as it can be freed from fanaticism. Which seems doubtful.”

Anastasio therefore recommended: return Legionary headquarters and schools to Mexico from Rome and Spain; allow the Legion new members only at the discretion of the Holy See; add Mexican episcopal oversight; forbid new initiatives; name an appropriate new superior from outside the institute; revise the Constitutions radically, abolishing the idiosyncratic Legionary vows. 'Maciel must be removed from office as fundamentally and solely responsible for the many serious juridical irregularities and administrative abuses. Silence about the rest appears prudent for internal and external reasons, at least for the moment.'

Anastasio had worked briskly, taking time from administering his own order, filed his report, asked to be relieved, and must have thought that the work was done. But two new and less critical apostolic visitators succeeded him (for what reason is unclear) and they neutralized his recommendations.
Second investigation: Half measures in the face of fanaticism

Franklin D. Roosevelt:
"No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it"
Cassandra Jones
Though a 1964 curial summary of earlier documents noted that “the conclusions [of the 2nd investigation] don’t appear to correspond to the logic of the facts,” the Maciel case was concluded along the lines of a compromise proposed on September 10, 1958, by Redemptorist Domenico Mozzicarelli, an official in the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious who dealt with apostolic visitations. Even if Maciel’s removal seemed advisable, the Legion was built on his “mysterious” personality and no new superior could replace his “heroic mysticism” or his ability to fundraise. Because of “its great good mixed with bad” the institute should continue. A smoldering wick should not be quenched. So a compromise: leave to Valeri when to eventually restore Maciel, reserve the right to further visitations, appoint the counsel general and financial officer required by canon law, and absolutely forbid Maciel from giving spiritual direction, much less hearing confession, or otherwise intruding on the internal forum of members of the congregation.

It has never been clear why the reinstatement of Maciel was issued in the papal interregnum or why it fell to Micara, Cardinal Vicar General of Rome from 1951 to his death at 85 in 1965, to deliver it, or why he delayed it for four months. In any event, another curial summary from 1962 states that in settling the Maciel matter the Congregation of the Affairs of Religious could not go further than the Mozzicarelli compromise because of the "“recommendations and interventions of high persons.” ... The discontinuity in Vatican administration in October 1958 may account for why Maciel was never held to the stipulated restrictions on his ministry.
Third investigation: Drinking the dregs of fanaticism

At the root of this failure to accept the truth and move on is a prolonged formation that systematically exploited the natural weaknesses that avoid real honesty with self.

Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:
"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.
At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-that One is God. May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon".