By A ReGAIN Friend
After ReGAIN posted the recent article on Cognitive Dissonance, a reader e-mailed us the following comment:
As the article (on cognitive dissonance) points out, this can easily happen in a group where pressure and self-righteous feelings around lofty goals make people abdicate their sense of responsibility and of critical judgment. Perhaps the supreme example of this was the Nazi party and its capacity to manipulate the highly intelligent German people to such a degree that they basically gave up thinking, especially in the face of terrible deeds committed against Jews, etc. There is a word of Greek origin for this called “synchretist”, which means “thinking with the crowd”. ( sin= with, cretein=think ).
One way the LC has gotten round its dilemma is through escapism: “We just keep as busy as we can, and doing the great work for Christ that we have been doing up to now; we don`t waste our time with idle gossip”. (This is what two or three friends from the Regnum Christi have told me). Of course !! It`s far easier to become absorbed in routine inertial activity (even though it may be good in itself) than to confront a horrific reality which may require someone to accept that most of his/her life was engaged in a very flawed institution and as a consequence will have to embark upon a new approach requiring big and very uncomfortable change.
Another tactic has been to modify the Master Narrative.
(Ex Legionaries) are familiar with the old Master Narrative but the new one goes something like this: “Our beloved founder, Marcial Maciel, inspired to launch a congregation imbued with a militaristic zeal to defend Christ`s message, encountered opposition from the start. Expelled from two seminaries by dark forces, who spread unfounded and unverified rumours about his behavior, he nonetheless prevailed in the face of adversity, albeit with significant effects to his health. In spite of great advances in carrying out his mission, the trials and tribulations continued, causing even greater physical stress which required heavy medication. All of this culminated in the betrayal of MM by a small coterie of ambitious underlings who made many false accusations, which have never been proved, and resulting in his expulsion from the order.
The Church finally reinstated him, and MM continued on for many years achieving even greater good works for the Lord, growing in followers and prestige all the while. Alas, unable to deter him from this great mission, the Evil One finally managed to pervert this great man in the last years of his life, a perversion which could also have been due to the heavy medication he needed most of his life as a consequence of his great physical suffering. Stories abound about misconduct in previous years, but have never really been proven. The greatness of our founder`s mission is manifest in the many great works and innumerable souls touched by his organization”. It may sound a little corny, but I think that’s more or less the new Master Narrative among many.
Until they get over this stuff and the cognitive dissonance, I think they will not really become a truly flexible, mature and self-sustaining organization, which does not need to rely on heavy internal controls and robotic conformity to survive and function well. Besides, by attempting to create spiritual elites with cultish secrecy I think they make Catholicism far less accessible to modern man, even to most Catholics.
Just thinking out loud……
We are grateful to our friend for his informative and thought provoking comments and we encourage others to send us comments on any of our articles.
The “Master Narrative” continues to evolve as the unfortunate truth unravels. The narrative was forced to undergo an abrupt change in 2009, when revelations about the founder’s secret life became public. The blow to Nuestro Padre’s image as the “Ideal Legionary” was softened as much as possible by emphasizing only one of the women in his life, painting him as an irresistible romantic figure, who got involved in a long standing relationship with her.
Within the Legion or Regnum Christi walls there was no discussion regarding the sordid details of their founderâ€
there was a forty year age difference between Father Maciel and his lover, Norma Hilda Banos, who was underage when they met.
Similarly, behind the walls, there was no mention or discussion about the other mother, Blanca Gutierrez, who according to the above NCR article met the Legionary founder in 1977, (who over years posed as an international detective for oil companies) when he was 56 and she was 19 years old.
After some of the revelations became public in 2009, there were various attempts to rationalize the saintly image of the founder with the shocking facts. For a while, there was an incredible explanation that some of the more naÃ¯ve members believed. Their leader had received a blow to his head that had mysteriously knocked his moral values out of him. To outsiders who were aware of Nuestro Padre’s history that included multiple credible sexual abuse claims going back at least as far as the early 1940’s, the bonk on the head explanation seemed totally ridiculous.
Within the closed environment, where everyone around you is a “believer” in the Master Narrative, it becomes uncomfortable and virtually impossible to question the “party line.” In their denial mode, they “knew” absolutely that their saintly founder was innocent of any sexual abuse so they automatically believed that anyone who claimed to have been abused must be a liar.
Fr. Maciel’s followers are uniformly willing to admit to outsiders in a very general way that their founder was guilty of leading an immoral life. After the Vatican communique in 2010 they could no longer deny this fact. However, for many, their comprehension of his misdeeds is limited to the (hidden) Master Narrative that allows them to believe that he remained a saint in spite of any evidence to the contrary and the Holy Spirit was able to work through him to achieve something wonderful for God and His Church.
The doublethink lives on.