“Christ is My Life” is a book that purports to be an interview with Marciel Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi lay apostolic Movement. The “interview” was conducted by Jesus Colina, the director of the Zenit news agency, and the disclosure that Colina was previously a Legionary, currently a member of Regnum Christi, and affiliated with an RC apostolate is missing; this is certainly troubling from a professional and ethical point of view. Regardless, as such it was published by Sophia Press in 2003 and claimed to be the fastest selling book of its kind in decades. (Another missing detail in that regard is the fact that the Legion itself was the largest purchaser of the tome for the sake of gifts to members and benefactors.)
Sophia Press is known to be a sophisticated and highly-regarded publisher, the source for much loved titles from Dietrich von Hildebrand, Romano Guardini, and Mary Reed Newland; so it was distressing for many ex-members of the Movement to see its promotion of this particular book, the details of which were highly contested by those who knew Marciel Maciel decades ago.
Finally, more than a year after the communiqué from the Vatican concerning the founder, John Barger was asked about this title and his plans for it in the future. He kindly responded:
“So long as the Vatican failed to condemn Fr. Maciel and even, under John Paul II, continued to honor him, we deemed it licit to publish and sell Fr. Maciel’s book, Christ is My Life, which, in our judgment, contained much wisdom.
Then, on May 19, 2006, the Vatican invited Fr. Maciel to relinquish any form of public ministry.
Because, as I said, we have no desire to second-guess the Pope in this matter or in any other, or to substitute our judgment for that of the Vatican, the instant I learned of this decision, we ceased to sell Christ is My Life, and have not printed or sold any copies of it since that day.”
The staff of Regain was quite gratified to read those words, knowing the fidelity of Mr. Barger to the Holy See and understanding that it may have cost him dearly if indeed the book was the best seller that the Legion always claimed it to be. In this sense, Sophia Press is to be greatly commended for not splitting hairs when it came to the meaning of the communiqué. Despite financial hardship, the decision by the Vatican was to be honored in spirit and letter â€“ something the Legion itself has not itself done.*
For those who wish to show their gratitude for the decision of Sophia Press to forgo selling this book, donations can be made here:
To the Reverend Father Marcial Maciel Degollado
Superior General of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ
1. I am pleased to unite myself spiritually to the joy and to the thanksgiving that from you, Reverend Father, and from the hearts of all the members of this religious family rise up to God, source of all good, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the priestly ordination that was conferred upon you November 26, 1944, in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City. On that day was completed the journey of formation for the priesthood, initiated by you at 16 with the dream of giving rise to priests totally dedicated to the proclamation of the Gospel and the moral and social uplifting of the poorest and most marginalized brothers. This project of love of Christ, fidelity to the Church, and service to man was able to be realized with the birth in Mexico City on January 3, 1941, of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, whose Constitutions were, later, approved definitively by me in the year 1983.
2. Your 60 years of priestly life, Reverend Father, have been characterized by significant spiritual and missionary fecundity with different apostolic works and activities such as the Regnum Christi Movement, the network of schools called ‘Mano Amiga’ [Helping Hand], the numerous educational and charitable institutions — present today in 16 countries of the five continents — whose objective is to promote the values of the family and the human person, [and] university centers of study and formation. And, what to say, moreover, of the apostolate of the priests Legionaries of Christ as well as the commitment of the whole congregation in favor of the integral formation of future diocesan priests, particularly through the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, and the two Mater Ecclesiae international seminaries of Rome and Sao Paulo in Brazil?
I cannot, of course, forget the service that you have rendered in these years to the Holy See, which has made use — on several occasions and in different ways — of your generous and competent collaboration, whether on the occasion of some of my apostolic trips, or in the activity of organizations of the Roman Curia.
3. The profound inspiration which has guided your educational, cultural and pastoral action — an inspiration that you have transmitted as a precious treasure to the religious family you founded — has been the constant concern for an integral promotion of the person, and especially as regards the human formation that, as I had the opportunity to write in the postsynodal apostolic exhortation “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” “when it is carried out in the context of an anthropology which is open to the full truth regarding the human person, leads to and finds its completion in spiritual formation” (No. 45).
Reverend Father, the joyful recollection of your 60th anniversary of priestly ordination falls during the Year of the Eucharist. This providential coincidence constitutes an invitation to meditate upon the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Christian community and especially in the formation of future priests and in their subsequent dedication to ordained ministry. This is what I underlined in the previously cited document, recalling “the essential importance of the Eucharist for the priest’s life and ministry and, as a result, in the spiritual formation of candidates for the priesthood” (No. 48).
4. For all these reasons I am happy to join in with the canticle of praise and of thanksgiving to the Lord that rises up from many hearts for the “great things” (cf. Luke 1:49) that the grace of God has accomplished in these 60 years of your intense, generous and fruitful priestly ministry.
As I invoke a renewed outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that your priesthood may continue to bear abundant good fruits, I entrust you, dear Father Maciel, to the heavenly protection of the Virgin Mary, Mother of priests, and I send you affectionately a special apostolic blessing, which I willingly extend to all the Legionaries of Christ, to the members of the Regnum Christi Movement, and to all who participate in the jubilee celebration.
From the Vatican, November 24, 2004
Joannes Paulus II
By Archbishop Luis M. MartÃnez
Late Primate of Mexico
B. Herder Book Company, 1962
Translation of JesÃºs
By Luis M. MartÃnez
Editorial La Cruz
Mexico City, 1947
When the first edition of Jesus appeared in 1940, the Catholic periodical, La Cruz, acclaimed it as the author’s masterpiece, comparable to the writings of Monsignor Gay, Pere Lacordaire, and Dom Marmion in solid doctrine, penetrating unction, profound, authentic mysticism and elevated style; a book belonging to those works that never grow old or die.
The personal notes of Archbishop Martinez reveal his own reaction to the book review. Regarding my latest book, Jesus, La Cruz states that it is my masterpiece. This delights me, not on account of the praise but since Jesus is the Beloved of my soul, it is a great satisfaction that what I have written of Him should be my masterpiece.
Archbishop Mari?nez became a bishop in 1923 and lived through some of the most turbulent years in the History of Mexico. His social views were considered quite liberal and he was fully aware of the adaptation to modern times. He was the author of numerous books on the spiritual life, usually emphasizing one of the three following themes: The Holy Spirit, Jesus and Charity. Three of his works, in addition to Jesus, were translated into English.
He became Primate of Mexico in 1951 and died in Mexico City in 1956.
The Legion of Christ has just announced on their website that a new book, Christ is My Life, which purports to be an interview with Marcial Maciel is “far and away the fastest-selling book in the Catholic market today”
A Swiss Cheese Riddled with Holes
Book Review and Commentary on Christ is My Life, Interview with Marcial Maciel by Jesus Colina
“The psychoanalyst’s question facing a psychotic text is: ‘what should I do with it?’ which means, as far as psychoanalytical discourse is concerned, ‘what should I say about it?’ (…) Lacan states that the psychoanalyst should serve as a secretary to the alienated. But this does not mean that he should simply be ready to take notes. To be a secretary to the alienated is also to do what Freud did: introduce the subject.”
(Eric Laurent, La psychose dans le texte)
“The essence of evil is its unredeemed ambiguity (…) Evil pretends to be a contemporary, an equal and a twin brother of Goodness.”
(Emmanuel Levinas, Humanisme de l’autre homme)
ENCYCLOPEDIC FATHER MACIEL IN THE LIMELIGHT
And yet, to those who have heard things up close the enchanting music has a different sound. It must have been in 1953 that a young victim, frustrated by Senator McCarthy’s shameless public interrogation tactics, asked the evil persecutor during one of the last hearings- “Haven’t you any decency left, senator?” This came to mind after reading through all of Christ is my Life in the Spanish original.
For the book, far from an ‘interview’, is a collection of recipes gathered from other â€˜officialâ€ LC sources. The date of the publication (April 2003) demonstrates how it is another of Marcial Maciel’s ‘impersonations’, intended to counteract (exLC) Alejandro Espinosa’s devastating memoir, El Legionario. At the same time, it creates a gnawing sense of perplexity, distressing unease and increasing mistrust in the informed reader and many other Catholics, lay and clerical, who become acquainted with it.
For the book has taken good care to cover each and every one of the Founderâ€s and the Legionâ€s of “weak spots”. It justifies the Legionâ€s curriculum of studies for the priesthood, its sect-like praxis, the conveyor-belt robot-like formation of its members, the peculiar understanding of Evangelical poverty, the “secret vows to protect charity and humility”, the lack of respect for individual freedom and personal spiritual discernment, the premature vocational decision, the manipulation of spiritual direction, the “gospel Ã la carte”, the entrepreneurish use of “efficiency”, the long forgotten attention to the poor, and, the most ineffable topic here, “temptations”, “authenticity” (or lack of), and the Erick Fromm-like “being and having”.
The word “calumnies” appears on nine different pages, opportunely correlated with the concept of “pardon”. The word “chastity” appears only on two pages, and, -most amazingly- the word “conscience” shows up on no less than fourteen pages! “Culture”, surprisingly, is repeated on ten pages. “Contemplationâ€ and other concepts of inner life show up on fourteen pages. His Holiness Pope John Paul II, -this is a must! – gets a good ration: he is mentioned on no less than forty five pages. On the other hand, for the Legion of Christ, “a socially minded institution”, the word “workers” is mentioned much less: three times. “Women” are mentioned condescendingly on four pages. And, since everything had to be covered according to a pre-rehearsed program, already drafted in the sixth part (“A Vision of the Church”), the “journalist” at one point must suddenly exclaim: “But we have not talked about the bishops!”
Analyzing the content of the book, its structure, its disposition, the encompassing purpose of its one hundred and fifty two carefully numbered apologetic “answers” and the timely inclusion of important names of highly influential co-involved contemporary Vatican personalities is revealing. It becomes perfectly evident that the target readers are churchmen of high and medium rank, people knowledgeable in religious affairs, “traditional enemies of the LC”, the common legionaries of posterity, and also very specifically the Mexican bishops. How come? The Mexican bishops, through their spokesperson, Monsignor Abelardo Alvarado, have been pressing Marcial Maciel lately to respond formally to the increasing accumulated oral and written testimonies against him. Marcial Maciel’s first typical response was his argument “by dignified silence”, his usual stalling tactic. This is then followed by the choreographed visit of Maciel’s personal and official representative, Fr. Octavio Acevedo, LC, to the bishops’ spokesperson. On the coattails of the useless emissary follows this book of “interviews”, meant to answer all questions, without having to be specific, and avoiding the thorny ones.
The “interview” book (Madrid, FundaciÃ³n Logos Ed., April, 2003, 289 pages), is divided into eight parts preceded by a prologue supposedly written by JesÃºs Colina, the “interviewer”, who incidentally â€“caveat emptor- is A Regnum Christi member and the founder and director of the Legion’s Zenit Information Agency.
The first three parts of the bookâ€s eight are biographical dealing with Marcial Maciel’s childhood, his vocation, and the foundation of the Legion of Christ. The fourth part treats the Legion of Christ: its “charisma”, mission, and its members. The fifth part presents the Regnum Christi Movement. The sixth offers “A Vision on the Church”. The seventh returns to “personal experiences”, and the eighth offers a prospective on the world today and tomorrow.
Far from being a spontaneous encounter between the “journalist” and the founder and director general of the Legion of Christ, each part of the “interview” is divided into a series of obviously highly structured questions and desk-crafted reflective ‘answers’, both, quite evidently, written by one and the same person. Marcial Maciel has been for a very long time a pioneer in what the Spanish writer Vicente VerdÃº, in his recent book El estilo del mundo, calls “fiction capitalism”: an atmosphere where everything is subject to copy and imitation, where deceit and undeclared substitution play a central role. But, since undoubtedly their kingdom is indeed of this world, why should Marcial Maciel and the Legion of Christ be more honest than Enron or Xerox, Christie’s and Sotheby’s. And, speaking of publishing, why not try the strategy of New York Times reporter Jayson Blair who stole information from other journalists, invented statements and simulated notes dated in places where he had never been?
THE GREAT IMPERSONATOR
The book attributed to Marcial Maciel and the “journalist” as an “interview” seems to those of us familiar with the Great Deceiver and his tactics like one more of the impersonations he pulls off with extraordinary ease. We must admit: Marcial Maciel deserves the Pulitzer Prize for impersonation, mimicry and disguise, for he is as versatile in spiritual-looking matters as certain rock singers imitating better vocalists and musicians, with rhythms Ã la mode, surrounding chorus catch phrases, sensationalist limelight and all. He is the perfect actor, without ever having opened Stanislavski. To those of us who remember Saint Paul’s words: “Induimini Jesum Christum…” (‘Let us put on Jesus Christ’) they sound terribly ironical in this context. Marcial Maciel, perfect actor as he is, has paraphrased them as a title for his book, Christ is my Life, and unmistakably aimed them at those who do not know him well enough.
But Marcial Maciel overlooks the fact that -as Vittorio Gassman once remarked to Luciano Lucignani in a real interview- “theater is a dangerous profession (…) in the sense that it has to do with a kind of mental illness. It is a profession with components of pathological dimensions (â€¦). The actor, like the witch-doctor of primitive societies, is an individual with special powers, true or simulated (…) who has become the guide and the path on a risky journey, a voyage towards something that does not exist (…). The actor, or whoever makes this journey, runs the risk of fracturing his individual personality, exposing himself to schizophrenia (…). For, in fact, what is an actor? He is someone who by profession, by choice, by nature, function or whatever, lies continuously (…). The actor lies always, he is always ready to become, to become somebody, who wants and accepts to “be” somebody else (â€¦) Camouflage, garments and disguise are the tools of the actor’s profession.”
In the light of our past experiences the great performer, Marcial Maciel, who usually only sings “solos”, now, in this “interview” performs his longest duet ever, throwing in lots of falsettos; in more than one sense.
We think the “interview book”, the way it is fabricated, can only be possible because everything, particularly men, are mere instruments to Marcial Maciel. This is basic. “I like to move my men like checkers”, Marcial Maciel said one day. Once in CÃ³breces, Santander, Spain, in the Summer of 1952, he asked one of us to bring him a table game. So a game of chess was brought to him. He immediately said- “No, I want checkers!” And we saw how much he enjoyed gobbling up his opponent’s pieces, tongue in cheek, in a fast mode. And that is an example of how Marcial Maciel, who says he believes in long term preparation, at the same time expects and enjoys, tries and gets fast, expedient results. Which corresponds to a man who, as we sadly know, has been subject to hidden, personal, licit and illicit caprices for most of his life.
Concerning the spirit and intention of Marcial Maciel’s 289 pages “interview”, we think one could most accurately apply certain lines from one of Jorge Luis Borges’ Fictions, short stories: “… a long novel written in the first person, in which the narrator omits or deforms the facts and falls into contradictions which allow a few readers -but only a few- to occasionally decry an atrocious, sometimes totally false reality…”
In no part of the book are we told that JesÃºs Colina is an ex member of the Legion of Christ and now a Regnum Christi member. Or that the Zenit News Agency and the Logos Foundation are directly or indirectly financed, manned and run by Legion of Christ or Regnum Christi people; as indeed they are. The whole work is imbedded in ambivalence. Even visually: its front cover shows the ambiguous face of the androgynous Christ of Salvador DalÃ’s “Last Supper”, raising a finger of his right hand in a way that very narrowly falls short of an obscene gesture. Marcial Maciel most probably does not know that DalÃ chose his wife’s (Gala’s) face to portray Christ’s. He most surely does not know either that DalÃ titled one his paintings “The Great Masturbator”. Again it is the Legion of Christâ€s cult of the faÃ§ade, which, sooner or later, has betrayed Marcial Maciel so many times. But his goal was, as always, to promptly charm the non-thinking viewer; a spectator whom the Legion of Christ describes later, with a Robert Heilbronner title, as The true believer. This is the ‘true believer’ in manifold multiplied large amounts: for, after all, how many of today’s readers check numbers in this hasty world of ours?
Yes, as the ancient Latin writers would say, the book “redolet oleo”- “it smells of oil’, meaning here that it is not the true record of natural, personal, direct conversations, but rather the product of nocturnal desk homework. Thus not his own “oil” but somebody elseâ€s, under obedience, with the help of LC history files, MMâ€s letters, etc. A task probably imposed on someone like Fr. Javier GarcÃa, LC, who, most probably wrote it, thoroughly lectured as to its “necessity”. For MM could be described with Andrew Carnegieâ€s epitaph: “(Here lies) a man who knew how to group together men more capable than himself.” A man who, like Carnegie, knew that “the secret of success lies in the art of making other people work.”
The style of the book contradicts the claim of really reporting true spontaneous answers to free, open questions. And, yes, the content shows that “Marcial Maciel’s” letters, memoirs and other LC treasures are obviously and constantly being used and intermingled with quotations from pontifical documents. “How right Pope John Paul II was in writing the “Fides et Ratio” Encyclical Letter!”, and well-chosen long scriptural passages readily and impeccably quoted “by heart” in such an admirable way that, as is commonly known, was never ever one of Marcial Maciel’s fortes. Besides, earnestly speaking did MM ever once read the complete New Testament?
Another blunder: in the first part of the “interview”, taking advantage of certain poorly documented regional reports on the Church-state conflict in Mexico, Marcial Maciel promotes himself as a hero. He portrays himself at age seventeen (!) as the daring leader who enters the local government palace in Orizaba, Veracruz, to mediate between the government forces and an inflamed Catholic crowd… “I was asked to harangue ‘the masses’ from the government palace balcony and to persuade them to calm down and leave.” (page 30). What a consoling dream for the psychologically diminished Mexican adolescent who might have seen Mussolini declaim at the central balcony at Palazzo Venezia or the impressive Pius XI on the central loggia of Saint Peter’s Basilica in contemporary film documentaries! It is either pathetic or comical. I refer the reader to the daydreams of the funny character in The Double Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber. For the rest, simply stated, what a pity there is not one single witness! Maciel makes a vague reference to the doubtful â€˜proofâ€ of a bayonet wound scar. Unfortunately, nobody has ever seen the scar, not even those disciples who were exposed to some of the masterâ€s less noble parts.
Whatâ€s more, MM suffers total amnesia regarding his innumerable continuous acts of sexual abuse on the many boys he had taken away from their Catholic families “to lead them to the holiness of the priesthood, to save souls and fight Communism in Latin America.” He forgets that for years he performed his pedophile actions, scarcely a forty-minute walk from the Vatican, practically under the Popeâ€s very windows. He does not remember the time when in 1959, in Mexico Cityâ€s Quinta Pacelli Seminary, faced with the homosexual encounter of two seminarians, he ordered the immediate expulsion of “the active partner” while allowing “the passive partner” to stayâ€¦
Not a word is said about his life-long dependency on morphine. There is nary a memory of that day when the Spanish police followed him from San SebastiÃ¡n to Salamanca, or of the time when, completely passed out, he almost drowned in a hotel room bathtub in Morocco. MM seems to have forgotten the day when an Irish archbishop had to rescue him from the premises of the Dublin Police; they had detained him while he was under the effects of the drug a certain day in the early sixties. Obviously he has also committed to total oblivion the terrible predicament in which he put several of us, his own seminarians, when in Spain, Italy, France and even in the United States, he induced some of us to recklessly obtain morphine for him with tricks and lies.
Little reference is made to his use of money; not a word about his illegal transactions in the Spanish money black market of the forties, fifties and sixties. There is total silence about the multiple murky sources of the LCâ€s actual immense wealth.
MM “talks” of his personal friendship with Paul VI, but draws a blank regarding negative predictions about Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montiniâ€s chances as a possible Sovereign Pontiff during the Conclave that elected him Pope! Not a single phrase describes the circumstances in which the “secret vows” doctrine was pre?-dated precisely twenty-five days before his expulsion from Rome by the Vatican itself. The exile was imp;osed scarcely six months after Cardinal Valerio Valeri caught Maciel completely drugged out at the Salvator Mundi Clinic in Rome in April of the very same year 1956!
Talking of Lady Poverty, MM forgot to mention the time when in Tangiers, in 1957, he bought, for cash, an exclusive, deluxe, all electric, two tone Chrysler model of the year. He later chose to justify it as a personal present given to him by Josefita GÃ³mez Delfino, one of his devout benefactors from Caracas, Venezuela. Nor does he mention the Legionâ€s long tradition of elaborate LC gifts to powerful Vatican dignitaries Nothing is said of the apartment and automobile given to Argentinean Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Religious, who approved the public version, as opposed to the private/secret one, of the LC Constitutions. And what about the Mercedes Benz cars given as presents to high Vatican officials? Regarding Sister Humility, not a hint about the multimillionaire crypt the LC is building for The Founder under the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Via Aurelia Nuova. The building contractor happens to be the brother of an influential and prominent Cardinal.
How does the Founder fare as regards historical fairness and social sensitivity? Marcial Maciel “talks the talkâ€ regarding the Jews. Does he not remember the Hitler eulogy he enthusiastically wrote in one of his letters, snatched from the copier by Fr. Rafael ArumÃ LC in 1955 in Rome. His frequent praise of the “young members of the admirable Hitler Youth” was evident in the World War II documentaries shown to us repeated times at the School in CÃ³breces, Santander. Some of us also witnessed his very ironical, harsh criticism of the Jews in Lugo, Spain, in the early September 1957.
Regarding The Masterâ€s recent flood of deeply spiritual ideas, does he not remember how once he had to ask Brother Alfonso Samaniego,LC, to help him with outlines for his “spiritual talks”. In the early 50s it so happened that some Legionary philosophy and theology students from the Gregorian University began to feel queasy at the Inspired Oneâ€s evident lack of doctrine.
And what can be said about MMâ€s â€˜love of truthâ€ and his special knack for fabricating false letters? An inveterate artist: in 1946 Maciel fabricated and predated letters attributed to Jesuit Father Lucio Rodrigo and addressed to Carmelite Fr. Arcadio Larraona. Two years later the Great Forger produced letters attributed to Cardinal Joseph Spellman and addressed to the Jesuits in Comillas. Later, one, strangely undated, letter and another dated 1996, both attributed to bishop emeritus Polidoro Van Vliebergthe were sent to the Apostolic Delegate in Mexico, Monsignor Luigi Raimondi, and to the staff of the Hartford Courant. All of them possessing the same deceitful intention, pathetic style, incredibly shameless, arrogant self praise, and, to top it off, even the original typing on our old schoolâ€s Smith Corona number 12 and Remington manual typewriters to fake authenticity.
Those facts are etched in the memory of witnesses and have been collected, attested in duly signed revelations or videotaped testimonies of ex members of the Legion of Christ. They are safely held in bank security boxes for their presentation in due time. â€˜When the judgment opens, what was hidden will appearâ€
“Judex autem, cum sedebit, quidquid latet apparebitâ€¦”
On the other hand, during his â€˜interviewsâ€ the aggrieved Father never misses an opportunity to mention here and there how evil persons -usually religious ‘false brethren’- emerged along his life journey who always ‘misunderstood’ him, and gratuitously “defamed” him and “lied against” him. Didn’t he refer to the very same thing too in his letter from the city of Chihuahua, Mexico, on March 20th, 1953 and also on so many other occasions? But faced with these exact questions Marcial Maciel seems to skittishly scamper away like a cat on a hot tin roof.
Knowing Maciel’s personal modus operandi, and his creative gifts, one might predict right now that, if it suited him, he and his official spokesmen could very soon show ‘notarized letters’ to the public attesting to he “true authorship” of the “interview book”. The same previous experience with the man and his twisted manners allows us to foresee immediate denial and new lies of different sorts. Inveterate liars are quite resourceful.
Nevertheless, we should not disregard these “interviews” by simply stating we definitely suspect they never occurred, and change the topic. No! Because many people of good faith cannot distinguish truth from falsehood in cases like this. The book should rather be researched and studied as a double impersonation: that of someone -as we suspect, most likely, Fr. Javier Garcia LC- playing “the journalist” and ghost writer, and the other, that of Marcial Maciel himself, impersonating a saintly follower of Christ. “Christ is my Life”: a bold and offensive title for the life and thoughts of a man who, according to so many written revelations and oral testimonies, has betrayed the most elementary virtues. Christ had harsh words for the Scribes and Pharisees.
THE ‘JUXTAPOSITION PRINCIPLE’
Why all this farce? Independent readers, please consider the strength and â€˜economyâ€ of “the juxtaposition principle”. This is largely based on the lack of due analysis of carefully crafted images of someone or something that takes advantage of his or its appearance. Maciel identifies himself with men, groups, societies, institutions and objects whose nature, prestige the uncritical mind will associate him favorably. The favorable elements with which he associates himself are legion: a saintly uncle bishop, a Cristero War guerrilla fighter uncle, a former Secretary of Education as the main guest speaker at a dinner where MM is going to receive public recognition, a favorable photograph in which MM is being undeservedly embraced by His Holiness, a famous personal phrase that Pius XII never said to him in a meeting that never took place, the lecture given by a former government press director, whose portraits will look at you from the corridor walls of one LC university for entire months, the visit of an innocent member of the royalty exploited to the maximum in LC propaganda pamphlets, etc. Simply stated- it is a chameleon-like exercise metaphorized from the animal planet to the social and moral worlds. It is a practical principle, which requires no great intelligence or energy, and certainly no scruples, to apply, while in our undemanding, careless milieu it harvests apparently spectacular “results”. But clearly, for men who want to be more than worth their salt and really save their souls, it belongs to the land of pure opinion, not to the realm of true judgment. The final verdict from above is Godâ€s. Indeed, but we, while on this earth, as citizens, for our own social preservation, have the right, nay the duty, to judge. And responsible moral investigation should be conducted in an open, honest, well organized manner.
Some people will say that there are “great thinkers” in the Marcial Maciel camp and among Legion of Christ defenders. Embarrassingly enough, Benito Mussolini, too, had his Giovanni Gentile in his day. In fact, we must expect that the same way as the book we are commenting was created, likewise a chorus of well orchestrated, friendly, “independent” reviewers will very soon begin to be heard. Like dolphins around the triumphant vessel they will leap in praise of the “depth and amplitude of thought”, the “simple directness”, the “lucid patriarchal wisdom”, etc. of the never sufficiently praised Marcial Maciel.
This marvelous “juxtaposition principle” will be applied over and over again. The same also should be noted with the frequent mention of Vatican personalities, past and present, particularly the late Pope Paul VI, who, “even as a Pope, used to receive me whenever I asked him.”(!) (Page 184). This brings back Marcial Maciel’s most daring classic “naÃ¯ve” story. His self-cultivated legend tells how on his first trip to Rome in 1946, after a formal ceremony at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Pope Pius XII personally gave Maciel -then a obscure scarcely twenty-six year old priest- a private appointment just twenty four hours after bumping into him for the first time (page 50).
Readers should continue to consider the fruits of “the juxtaposition principle”: Christ said that “the children of Darkness are more astute than the children of Light”. In spite of his now internationally known crimes, MM has managed to survive thus far, not only without punishment but even with pomp and circumstance. And done so for a longer time than several infamous men of the past. They fell because of their many personal, hidden weaknesses, their injustice, for social reasons and historical conditions and for several important tactical mistakes of a varied nature. Their greatest mistake was, however: THEY DID NOT HIDE BEHIND THE CHURCH, THE ALTAR, OR THE POPE; this being the most productive juxtaposition of all!
And yet, the fact still remains that truth is stubborn by nature, and will come out eventually. To conclude this unorthodox review and commentary, and in order not to ‘appear’ less informed than Marcial Macielâ€s ghost writer, let me cite a recent speech by John C. Byrd, democratic senator for West Virginia and dean of the American Congress. The speech, which I invite you to read complete, begins with these words of ancient and perennial value:
“Truth, in spite of all the attempts to suffocate it, has the means to reaffirm itself. Distortion affects it only for a while. No matter to what extremes we, humans, go so as to obscure facts, to deceive our neighbors, truth always finds the way to get through the cracks and reemerge in the long run.”
In other words, and returning here to the opening subtitle of this book review and commentary: in the end truth manages to fill in all the holes of this Swiss cheese of questionable origin.