Father Juan Maria Solana, the Legionary priest who is in charge of the Magdala Center in the Holy Land raised a few eyebrows recently when he chose to make a comparison between Mary Magdalene and the Legionary founder, Marcial Maciel. The National Catholic Reporter published an article by Jason Berry at http://ncronline.org/news/global/roll-holy-land-legion-compares-maciel-magdalene.
Based on the article, the Legion is conducting a major fund raising drive to develop the complex, that includes newly discovered ruins of a synagogue where Jesus may have visited. Benefactors have already contributed $ 40 million of a total $ 100 million required to complete the complex.
Jason Berry points out that as they collect millions of dollars for this project, the Legion has been selling off assets including seminaries, schools, universities in different countries since their disgraced founder’s exposure as a sexual predator and a fraud.
In a pamphlet for the Magdala Center, Father Solana, LC included the following statements:
Marcial Maciel’s initials are also MM, just like Mary Magdalene. She had a problematic past before her deliverance, so there’s a parallel. Our world has double standards when it comes to morals. Some people have a formal, public display and then the real life they live behind the scenes.
But when we accuse someone else and we are quick to stone him, we must remember that we all have problems and defects. With modern communications so out of control, it is easy to kill someone’s reputation without even investigating about the truth. We should be quieter and less condemning.
Many people who are familiar with the Legionaries of Christ reacted in disbelief that the Legion would try to whitewash their founder’s history by comparing him to a saint, who was close to Jesus and His disciples and shocked with the ignorant manner that they referred to Mary Magdalene’s
It is almost universally agreed today that characterizations of Mary Magdalene in Western Christianity as a repentant prostitute or loose woman are unfounded
and that the
seven demons that she was freed from in scriptures may refer to a complex illness, not necessarily to any form of sinfulness
The inclusion of such a comparison demonstrates that in spite of some efforts to reform the Legion, many on the inside still don’t seem to understand that their founder remained unrepentant throughout his life, reportedly refusing the sacraments when he died, with an exorcist present.
Had Saint Mary Magdalene actually had a sin filled life before she met Jesus, there still would be no point in comparing her to Father Marcial Maciel. Whatever Saint Mary Magdalene’s past life had been, she became one of of Our Lord’s most devout followers. Father Maciel in comparison, in a blasphemous manner suggested that he was like Jesus because he too was falsely persecuted, while he used religion to gain power money and sex from minors in his care.
Perhaps Father Solana is not aware that the Vatican made the following statement on their website after extensive investigations:
incontrovertible evidence has confirmed, sometimes resulted in actual crimes, and manifests a life devoid of scruple and of genuine religious sentiment. Does Father Solana still question the Vatican’s findings and is he now suggesting that they should have been less condemning?
Had Fr. Maciel at some point repented of his past and attempted to make amends, he might have earned some credibility and possibly become a new creation in Christ. Unfortunately, the evidence of his life indicates that he did not have such a change in heart. ReGAIN takes no joy in mentioning this but we find it hard to stomach any Legionary priest at this stage implying that he was harshly judged.
Perhaps the Legion leaders can find better ways to promote themselves, rather than making nonsensical comparisons of their disgraced founder to holy people who happened to have the same initials as him.
On August 28, Father Solana later made an apology as reported in the National Catholic Reporter. http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/legionaries-christ-apologize-maciel-magdalene-parallel and later added:
I was trying to make a point about compassion and forgiveness in light of the Legion’s history, but realize now that my words were awkward and suggest a reverence for our founder that we clearly reject. Again, I’m sorry for any hurt this has caused, he said.
We expect that Father Solana wrote what he believes, i.e. that his founder was judged harshly. The wording of the pamphlet and of Father Solana’s weak and forced apology indicate a lack of understanding of basic Christianity 101, regarding forgiveness and repentance, a lack of awareness of the facts and a lack of sensitivity towards the many victims of the Legionary founder.