Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Friday, February 06, 2009

Re Maciel and the Legion: why doing the truth in charity is so hard

[first post today]

As the Legion continues to flounder for a coherent response to the Maciel revelations (none of which revelations has yet been specifically admitted by Legion leadership), wide-spread and long-standing frustration is, I think, building into anger, which will next (and probably already has in some fora) spill over into verbal violence and hatred. I had that sequence in mind when I asked earlier that only my opinions be attributed to me, but I'm sure that others who are trying to think and speak clearly in this mess feel as I do.

Anyway, I want to suggest two reasons why "doing the truth in charity" in regard to the Legion crisis (even if Legion leaders were "getting it", which they demonstrably aren't) is so difficult.

First. The truth that needs to be done here is brutal, and I think it's going to get worse. It is never easy to learn of and confront a horrible reality and, as portraits of Maciel have to be removed Legion school lunchrooms all over the world, we have every reason to believe that more disclosures about their Founder, some ranker than the ones already public, are coming, and that the complicity of some or many in the Legion is going to emerge. In short, one could scarcely imagine a harder truth to do than the truth about Maciel and his associates in the Legion.

Second. My point concerning charity is harder to describe: briefly, we all live in an age of pervasive hypersensitivities. Doubtless in reaction to past times when many truly were not sensitive enough of others' feelings, reputations, situations, etc., today, even the slightest criticisms of another are quick to be 'personalized', and anything like 'plain taking' about one's conduct is reacted to as if the ancestry of one's mother had been publicly impugned. We can't help it; we've been steeped in "sensitivity awareness" and monitored by "sensitivity police" for several decades now. As a result, I fear that, among other things, many people have lost what Chesterton described as the ability to distinguish between an (objective and frank) argument and a (personal, ill-motivated) quarrel. Today, arguments against the Legion are routinely perceived as being quarrels with Legionaries.

To all this add that even those trying to operate within the parameters above are inevitably going to violate those standards themselves and one sees better just how deeply difficult it is to try to talk sense in the middle of a chaos of this magnitude.

In the end, other than to point out this double-obstacle confronting those who are trying to do the truth in charity here, I'm not sure what else to do, except to go on making the arguments against the Legion's conduct and structure that I think, for the welfare of all involved, need to be made, and to suffer suspicions in some circles that I am really exploiting the "failings of Maciel" to quarrel with Legionaries.