Thursday, 12 September 2002 16:57:33 -0500
From: ‘Richard John Neuhaus” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mr. Paul Lennon
Dear Mr. Lennon,
I thank you for your thoughtful response.
Not for the sake of argument, but because i would really like to understand: Why do you think the accusers have come forward at this time and in this way? If they had the access they seek in Rome, what would they say they think should be done with regard to Fr. Maciel and the LC, and why?
(The Rev.) Richard John Neuhaus
Dear Father Neuhaus:
Thanks for the continuing dialogue. Am I right in believing that your defense of Father Maciel in First Things was a response the Renner-Berry article in the NCR in December 2001 and was based on your limited knowledge of Father Maciel and the inner workings of the Legion?
I will attempt to answer the questions you raised my previous letter. I take the liberty of doing so because you have not published my previous critique of your article in your magazine. I believe the answers I try to formulate are already somehow present in the accusersâ€
I would also like to mention there is at least one important document that has not been translated into English and therefore not available to the English speaking public. It is an â€˜Open Letter to the Popeâ€
In following essay I stand corrected by the the ‘witnesses’ more precise knowledge of facts and circumstances.
I- WHY [DID THE ACCUSERS] WAIT UNTIL NOW?
Accusations against or rumors about Father Maciel and his sexual behavior towards junior seminarians were known inside the religious community since he was in Mexico City with the first group of students [c.1940]. Another cluster of accusations/rumors stem from the time he was in Comillas, Northern Spain with his boys [c.1947]. These recent accusations that have reached the press and TV refer to behavior in the Collegio Massimo in Rome in the early 50s and are different in the sense that witnesses have come forward and given sworn testimony.These are described by Alejandro Espinosa in clear and lurid detail in his recent book, El Legionario.
Just like any â€˜movementâ€
The investigation of Father Maciel and the Legion in 1955/56 and leading to the Vatican investigation did stem from his visible and unusual attraction for some of the junior seminarians and from other issues such as use of morphine, fund-raising and money… The Vatican â€˜visitorsâ€
Later, and at different times in the late 50s and early 60s, some â€˜accusersâ€
Juan Jose Vaca, an assertive type, is the one who probably demonstrated most awareness and courage in directly and formally demanding accountability. Despite having a prolonged sexual relationship with his superior and being MMâ€
Barba, for his part, made a â€˜goodâ€
Around the 90s the group must have started to gel when Barba and Vaca began making contact and discussing their efforts. Barba, for his part, in Mexico had started to write and approach ecclesiastical authorities. Barba was a personal friend of Amenabar who was ill at the Sanatorio Espanyol hospital in Mexico City. Amenabar told Barba about his abuse. There was a Mexican diocesan priest who heard Amenabarâ€
I believe the witnesses agreed to speak to the press when approached by the Courant reporter who had previously picked up on some unusual goings on in the Legionâ€
When Father Maciel was called â€˜a leader and defender of youthâ€
II- WHAT DID THEY EXPECT FROM THE VATICAN?
They wanted an independent investigation into the allegations. They accused Father Maciel of breaking several canons, of sexually abusing them and of absolving them after the abuse [â€˜absolutio complicisâ€
They wanted the Vatican to review the Constitutions and Traditions, to investigate and reform Legion practices. To have a â€˜cleanâ€
Many ex-Legionaries and ex-Regnum Christi wish: that Church Authorities examine and investigate the behavior of Father Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ, particularly the way it recruits, retains and controls members and later handles dissident and exiting members.
Because Father Maciel, the official church and the Vatican are stonewalling and avoiding accountability the victims are getting more and more frustrated and some of them have begun to write their individual memoirs as a last resort to redress their abuse before they die.
The testimonies of the eight living ex-members accusing Father Maciel of sexual assault must be read in the context of the founder’s charistmatic powers of persuasion and manipulation, and the Legion’s private vows of family secrecy, solidarity, and control. This control, during and after membership, limited the possibility of a conspiracy to a large extent. The youth, powerlessness and inexperience of the victims at the time of the abuse should also be taken into consideration.
J. Paul Lennon MA
FR. NEUHAUS’ ANSWER
circa 17/18 Septebmer, 2002
“Mr. J. Paul Lennon
Dear Mr. Lennon,
Thank you for your further responses to my questions.
You have given me much to think about, and I will be
(The Rev.) Richard John Neuhaus
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 16:49:19 -700 (PDT)
From: “J. Paul Lennon” <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: thanks
To: “Richard John Neuhaus” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I appreciate your interest, time and the honest dialoque. May the Holy Spirit guide us in these delicate matters. Don’t think that I never question my own intentions and honesty in these very serious matters, and when I realize that I am a small minority among many who have greaT respect for Father Maciel. I think you referred to him as ‘venerable’ or ‘revered’ or something. But I, like many others who had him on a pedestal, lost respect for him over a period of years based on his behavior. Don’t forget that I was ‘educated’ as a Legionary for many years with the teaching never to speak ill of others. Unfortunately, I can tell you that when Father Maciel ‘lets his guard down’ with an intimate ‘petite comite’ around the table, for instance, with a glass of Johnny Walker in his hand, he does not alway practice what he so lavishly preaches. There is much talk of ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’ of the Legion, and the ‘enemies’ are fair game, no matter who they are. Regarding the sexual abuse, when I hear my brothers’ testimonies I continue to feel sad and indignant. Maybe I give them too much credence, but that is where I am and who I am.
J.Paul Lennon, MA