The visitor has a pretty complete set of faculties to deal with the situation, but I imagine that at some point he’ll make recommendations to the congregation. I’m sure the dicastery will want to stay informed.
As you know, a house of cards has been constructed in the media and elsewhere to portray Benedict XVI as somehow uncaring or soft on clerical sexual misconduct, but it has to answer the point that one of the first things he did as pope was to deal with Maciel. That action spoke volumes, because I had been in Rome and I saw the incredible clout Maciel had. The fact that Benedict did it, and did it quickly, was a clear signal that the pope is serious about correcting this thing.
Theologically and spiritually, I think the Legionaries face enormous challenges, given how much religious life tends to stress the person and the inspiration of the founder.
Are you aware of any precedent for these kinds of revelations about a founder?
No, I know of no other experience like this. Theologically and even affectively, it’s a massive blow, given the regard that people in religious communities have for their founder. In the Redemptorists, we often talk about St. Alphonsus Liguori as “Our Holy Father,” and I know the Dominicans talk the same way about Dominic, or the Brothers of the Christian Schools the same way about Jean-Baptiste de La Salle. I honestly don’t know what you do about it. I know there’s support for the Legionaries in Rome, so it will be interesting to see how this is done. I certainly don’t feel any schadenfreude about what’s happening … I know it’s terribly painful.