Monday, February 09, 2009

Feet of clay

The news has apparently been confirmed that the founder of the Legionairies of Christ, Fr. Marcial Maciel, led a double life -- he had a mistress, fathered a child, and may even have molested seminarians. I watched an interview on EWTN this morning on Raymond Arroyo's program with two young LC priests who were obviously taking the news very hard.

They correctly said that the only leader that any order should concentrate on is Christ. But they also said that Fr. Maciel's picture was being removed from many LC locations where it had been placed, and that the entire body of his writings was now under scrutiny.

I suppose that's a normal and healthy reaction: revulsion and suspicion. But it would be a shame if the final result was the wholesale tossing out of Fr. Maciel's work and writings.

Honestly, do we do this with other moral teachers? When it came out that Martin Luther King had an adulterous affair, did we take down all his pictures? Did we throw his "I have a dream" speech out of our schools? Did we stop publishing "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"?

No. We recognized that every human being, even the apparently most inspiring, have feet of clay, and we continue to value their good works even as we shake our heads at their bad works. And that's the same way Fr. Maciel, and his life's work, should be judged.

The Christian way.