Legionary brother talks about wound of Father Maciel’s transgressions

ROME — Legionaries of Christ Brother Daniel Turski drew a striking contrast between Blessed John Paul II and Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, the disgraced Legionaries founder, while asking a question after a talk by chastity author and speaker Christopher West.

Christopher West speak in front of an image of Blessed Pope John Paul II during a Theology of the Body conference at Regina Apostolorum University in Rome Nov. 11. (CNS/Paul Haring)

At a conference on the “Theology of the Body” today at the Legionary-run Regina Apostolorum University, in an auditorium full of Legionary brothers and priests, Turski held up the late Pope John Paul as a model of chastity in contrast to his order’s founder, Father Maciel, who who was discovered to have sexually abused seminarians and fathered children.

In responding to Turski, West encouraged the Legion to be honest about its weaknesses and not try to hide the wound of Father Maciel’s transgressions. “There is a new humility in you,” West said of the Legion, adding that he saw great hope for the Legion as “the army that will bring Theology of the Body to the world.”

I spoke with Brother Turski after he made his comment. He said he hadn’t planned to say it, but it came out spontaneously.

Speaking about the late pope and the Father Maciel, Turski told me, “One opened his wounded humanity to Christ, but another recognized his wound but hid it out of fear.”

Turski, a Canadian who entered the Legion in 2003, said that he was very struck when West pointed out that sexual desires are not meant to be repressed, but rather — through the virtue of chastity — lived in an appropriate manner.

“We’ve had the repression of what is wrong, but haven’t had the proper education of what is right,” Turski said of sexual formation in the Legionaries. He said that Father Maciel’s personal wound “has trickled down into chastity formation.”

Turski said there was plenty of talk about avoidance in his chastity formation, but he also said he saw the need for something West advocated in his talk: namely reverence. West had talked about reverence being the virtue that enables one to see the dignity of the person as one would see a beautiful flower he or she would not want to trample over.

Turski said he and his Legionary brothers talk among themselves about Father Maciel. A fellow Legionary brother also said this was not the first time that a Legionary such as Turski had publically acknowledged Father Maciel’s misdeeds.

Did Cardinal Bertone really ‘disown’ the document on economic reform?

UPDATED Monday, Nov. 14:  Vatican Secretariat of State reviewed and corrected the document ahead of publication; see sixth paragraph below.

VATICAN CITY — Our Italian colleague Sandro Magister, usually an insightful commentator on all things Vatican, stirred things up with a post last Thursday asserting that the Vatican’s Secretariat of State had “disowned” the recent document of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on reform of the global economic system.

Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, left, and Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George wait for Pope Benedict XVI to arrive on the South Lawn of the White House in 2008. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

He reported that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state, was blindsided by the publication of the document, and afterward issued a “binding order” against the release of any document by a Roman Curia office unless the text had been inspected and authorized by his office.

Sources we’ve spoken to offered a very different reading of the situation.

First, at the press conference presenting the document, Bishop Mario Toso, secretary of the justice and peace council, said the text had been “reviewed by the competent offices of the Secretariat of State” before publication.

Indeed, it would be very difficult to imagine that Cardinal Bertone was unaware of the document and its potential implications — for one thing, its release was announced five days ahead of time.

UPDATE: On Monday, one source said that in preparing the document, the Justice and Peace council had in fact worked closely with the Secretariat of State’s “Second Section,” which deals with foreign affairs, and that the Second Section had reviewed and corrected the text ahead of time — precisely because everyone knew it dealt with sensitive issues.

Second, sources said Cardinal Bertone did issue a recent instruction regarding the Secretariat of State’s role in releasing documents, but it had nothing to do with the Justice and Peace text on economic justice. Instead, they said, it was provoked by an unrelated mistake that occurred the same week — the premature release of Pope Benedict’s annual message on migration, which was posted briefly on a Vatican Web site, apparently before the Secretariat of State had seen it.

Cardinal Bertone’s order, they said, simply stipulated that any documents bearing the pope’s signature must be released through his office. The Justice and Peace document did not fall into that category, even though its content was reviewed by the Secretariat.

Third, the sources denied Magister’s report that Professor Leonardo Becchetti, a professor of economics at the University of Rome, was the main author of the document. Becchetti, who has been described by online critics as a socialist ideologue, had little or nothing to do with preparation of the text but was called in to help explain economic issues at the press conference.

Finally, Magister’s assertion that the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, had “torn to shreds” the Justice and Peace document deserves a closer look. What the newspaper ran was an article by Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican bank, that analyzed current economic problems. It did not once refer to the Justice and Peace document, and focused its criticism on the financial decisions that have led to the current crisis. To call it a “repudiation” of the Justice and Peace document is more than a stretch.

What our Vatican sources did say is that the Justice and Peace document, which called for the creation of a world political authority to regulate financial markets and rein in the “inequalities and distortions of capitalist development,” has indeed sparked discussion and debate inside the Vatican.

But that’s to be expected, they said. The council’s president, Cardinal Peter Turkson, and other officials made clear that this text was a proposal, not a prescription, and aimed to generate reflection and discussion. They also emphasized that it was not a document of the magisterium, or official church teaching, and that it expressed the position of the pontifical council, not the Holy See.

That doesn’t mean the document can be dismissed as insignificant, or that the conclusions of a pontifical council do not merit attention by Catholics. It would be good to keep in mind these words posted at the top of the Roman Curia web page, from the Second Vatican Council document Christus Dominus:

In exercising supreme, full, and immediate power in the universal Church, the Roman pontiff makes use of the departments of the Roman Curia which, therefore, perform their duties in his name and with his authority for the good of the churches and in the service of the sacred pastors.

Praying for the nation’s veterans, who put their lives on the line to ‘defend, protect our precious liberties’

Veterans participate in 2009 ceremony in Calverton, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

“We enjoy great freedoms in the United States. Let us never forget the men and women who have laid down their lives on the line to defend and protect our religious liberties,” Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, head of the U.S. Archdiocese of the Military Services, said in a prayer for Veterans Day released Nov. 10.

The annual Veterans Day observance “invites us to remember those killed in the line of duty, those still suffering the effects of their generous response in times of national need, and of course, everyone who has retired from active duty,” he continued.

“We cannot forget the sacrifices of so many. We sense an obligation to express our gratitude, and we certainly remember them in our prayers,” Archbishop Broglio added.

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said that today at “the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month of 2011, we will pause to honor America’s veterans and celebrate their contributions to our way of life. Few have given more to our nation than the men and women who have served in our armed forces in peace and war.” Check out his statement and a gallery of photos of members of the military serving over the years put together by the Department of Veterans Affairs.