Its name is Legion

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Can the Vatican heal itself of its Legionaries’ disease? The report by the investigating bishops has some very tough words on deceased founder Marcial Maciel Degollado (“a life devoid of scruple and of genuine religious sentiment”), along with pointed but unspecific language indicating that he had protectors who enabled him do his evil unmolested. No doubt the Legion of Christ’s rules and regulations will receive a thorough shake-up. What remains unclear is how far the regimen will go to deal with the protection racketeers.

Vatican sleuth Sandro Magister believes that the heads of director general Álvaro Corcuera and vicar general Luís Garza Medina will roll for sure. But what of capo di cardinali Angelo Sodano? Will Maciel’s defender-in-chief pay a price, after having been accorded that prime time Easter slot to defend Pope Benedict? And what of the many others who, if Jason Berry is right, benefited from tangentopoli, Maciel style?

The highest ranking casualty thus far appears to be Pope John Paul II, whose canonization process has gone from santo subito to santo più tardi and maybe even to non santo mai. Over at On Faith, Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.–who has not forgotten how in 1981 JPII appointed a pontifical delegate for the Society of Jesus during the illness of its superior general in the belief that the Jesuits were insufficiently loyal–brings the hammer down:

John Paul trusted those who cheered him and tried to crush those who
questioned his ideas or actions. This led him to trust Maciel and
distrust questioning Jesuits…

Having grown up in a persecuted church where unity was a matter of
survival, John Paul could not accept open debate and discussion in the
church. Loyalty was more important than intelligence or pastoral skill.
As a result, the quality of bishops appointed under him declined, as did
the competence of people working in the Vatican.

This is not to downplay John Paul’s important role in world affairs.
He was much more important to the peaceful fall of Communism than Ronald
Reagan. He also did more to improve Catholic relations with Jews than
any pope in history.

But the sad truth is that while he was good for the world, he was bad
for the church.