The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Southern Catholic College Closes - LC Connection

In yesterday's post I addressed the establishment and growth of so many new Catholic colleges in recent years, and the fact that virtually all are dedicated to the magisterial teachings of the Church. They have been a true blessing to Catholic higher education. One such school, which I intentionally did not mention yesterday because it closed its doors quite suddenly last month, was Southern Catholic College, located in Dawsonville, Georgia. Southern Catholic was a school that seemed to have as bright a future as those I mentioned yesterday, but it made one tragic mistake: it allowed the Legion of Christ to purchase it last year.

As the scandal within the Legion of Christ continues unabated, the fallout spreads by affecting more and more innocent people. As I'm sure anyone who reads this blog knows, the Legion of Christ, whose clergy are known as the Legionaries of Christ, has been rocked by the almost unbelievable duplicity and evil acts committed by its founder, the late Marcial Maciel. I won't go into detail about his activities that seemed to span the gamut of immoral behavior because, to be honest, it disgusts me even to think about it. How sad this must be for the many good, young priests and seminarians who became Legionaries to take on the challenges of the New Evangelization called for by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Pray for them. And equally disheartened are those many good people who were taken in by this charlatan as he manipulated them for his own personal financial gain and to further his depraved lifestyle. And sadder still that everyone who mattered, including those surrounding the founder, took so long to recognize him for what he was. Their lapdog-like devotion to this man went far beyond the usual respect shown within religious orders toward their founders. Something was seriously wrong within the Legion (and I believe it still is).

Marcial Maciel has left the world and now faces eternity, yet his evil legacy remains. Part of this legacy came down hard on Southern Catholic College last month. For some reason I do not understand, the Legion purchased the college in 2009, while it was undergoing a serious Apostolic Visitation and investigation by the Holy See. The purchase should never have happened. I realize the college was in financial difficulty and probably considered the Legion to be their savior, but one would think they would have cast a bigger net in search of help. As a result, with the Legion soon to be directed by a special delegate assigned by the Holy Father, and with their finances in a shambles, they decided to close Southern Catholic last month while the students were on spring break. They were all notified via email on April 6. How exceedingly pastoral of the administration! The president, Fr. Shawn Aaron, LC, did meet with students and faculty about a week later to explain the school's closure. Part of his comments were captured on video, presumably by a student in the audience.

And while the students' lives will be disrupted, consider how difficult this will be for the faculty, many of whom no doubt gave up other positions just to be able to teach at a school like Southern Catholic. (Reportedly, they will receive one-month's pay.) Interestingly, if you visit the college's website you would think it's business as usual. How odd.

I hope and pray that something can be done to resurrect the college under new and different leadership. As for the Legion, and its lay apostolate, Regnum Christi, I'm not convinced it can be salvaged. I think its problems are too systemic, too ingrained, for it to survive as the Legion of Christ. For an interesting take on the necessary steps to handle the Legion's problems, read George Weigel's latest column (May 5) in First Things. And here's a video report out of Rome (May 3) on the Vatican's most recent decisions regarding the Legion:

What a burden we sinful men and women place on the Church. What a burden the Holy Father must bear as he leads us through this time of purification. For more on the Pope's burden, written by one of my favorite deacon's, Keith Fournier, click here.

Pray for the Church and our Holy Father.

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