Rorate Caeli

On Groupthink and False Obedience

Sandro Magister's latest newsletter has an exclusive interview with Fr. Thomas Berg, formerly of the Legionaries of Christ and now a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, and director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person.
The interview has the following passages on the groupthink, false obedience and unhealthy exclusivism that has been inculcated into the minds of not a few Legionaries. As should be easily realized, these passages apply not only to the LC, but to many other major ecclesial movements and religious societies, some of which have the same inability to self-examine and to admit error, sometimes condemning even well-meaning and constructive criticism.
As someone who has friends in the Regnum Christi and who is aware of the good that God has drawn out from the works of the LC and RC, it is my humble prayer that the LC and RC -- and the other movements in the Church that now suffer from similar problems -- will move to a spirituality more in accord with the mind and tradition of the Catholic Church.
Q: What would be your suggestions to the five visitors?
A: I will limit myself to one overall suggestion: help the Legionaries to engage in an honest and objective self-critique. What I have found most unsettling of late is the kind of group-think that has settled in among the Legionaries: "We really don't think there is anything wrong with the internal culture of the Legion, but if the Holy See tells us to change things, we will." The docility to the Holy See, though laudable and correct, masks a huge internal flaw: the Legion's corporate inability to engage in a healthy self-critique. This is no time for a business as usual approach, but that has been the impression one generally gets from the Legionaries over the past five months of the crisis. That inability to see and honestly recognize the flaws and errors that so many people outside the Legion are able to see speaks volumes. The Legionaries should be reminded that it is not the task of the Holy See to reform the Legion. The Legion will only be genuinely reformed when it reforms itself from within. But that can only begin with a self-examination that arises from within the Legion and owns up to the Legion's errors.
***
Q: What are the issues you think should change in the internal culture of the Legion, especially related to the recently suppressed "vow of charity", meaning the vow not to criticize one's superiors?
A: At the core of serious problems in the internal culture of the congregation is a mistaken understanding and living of the theological principle - in itself valid - that God's will is made manifest to the religious through his superior. The Legionary seminarian is erroneously led to foster a hyper-focusing on internal "dependence" on the superior for virtually every one of his intentional acts (either explicitly or in virtue of some norm or permission received, or presumed or habitual permissions). This is not in harmony with the tradition of religious life in the Church, nor is it theologically or psychologically sound. It entails rather an unhealthy suppression of personal freedom (which is a far cry from the reasoned, discerned and freely exercised oblation of mind and will that the Holy Spirit genuinely inspires in the institution of religious obedience) and occasions unholy and unhealthy restrictions on personal conscience.
Furthermore, Legionary norms regarding "reporting to," "informing," "communication with," and "dependence on" superiors constitute a system of control and conformity which now must be considered highly suspect given what we know about Fr. Maciel. They furthermore engender a simplistic, and humanly and theologically impoverished notion of God's will (its discernment and manifestation) that breeds personal immaturity.
More seriously, the lived manner in which Legionaries practice obedience is laced with the kind of unquestioning submission which allowed the cult of personality to emerge around the figure of Maciel in the first place and covered for his misdeeds. Legionary seminarians are essentially trained to suspend reason in their obedience and to seek a total internal conformity with all the norms, and to withstand any internal impulse to examine or critique the norms or the indications of superiors. Granted, the primary motivation behind such living of obedience is the ideal of total "immolation" of oneself for the love of Christ as embodied in the relentless living of all norms and indications of the superiors. This "immolation" of intellect and will is at the heart of the "holocaust" that the Legionary is invited to live for love of Christ and the Church. While the motivation is valid, and generations of Legionaries have pursued this in good faith, in the long run it not only proves profoundly problematic, but also explains the negative personality change which many, if not most, Legionaries undergo over time: the shallowness of their emotional expression, the lack of empathy and inability to relate normally to others in so many contexts, the general sense of their being "out of touch," etc. Only exceptionally do Legionary priests move beyond this, but only thanks to the multiple talents and human gifts they brought with them to the Legion.
Q: What elements do you find more disturbing and in need of special attention from the visitors?
A: Just to name a couple. Why, for example, were approximately 25 Legionary priests convoked yet again - as groups are every year - to a two-month long "spiritual renewal" at the Legion's center for spirituality in Cotija, Michoacan Mexico, housed in the very house (now retreat center and museum) that Fr. Maciel grew up in? Why there? Why in Cotija? Why now?
Why, furthermore, has the Legion continued to engage in vocation work? Now? In these circumstances? It would be a very honest gesture for the Legion of Christ to simply call a halt to all vocational work at least for the duration of the canonical visitation, and even better until it finally gets its house in order.
And one of my deepest concerns is that current Legionary seminarians are not presently in a position to adequately discern what Christ is calling them to do. And this is because they are systematically deprived of the kind of information they not only have a right to know but a fundamental need to know: a complete presentation of the basic facts of Fr. Maciel's double life; the understanding that the religious life, with its norms and internal discipline, they have come to live is deeply problematic and in need of thorough scrutiny and review; a thorough presentation of the reasonable criticisms that have been leveled against the Legion and Regnum Christi; and an honest admission on the part of the major superiors of the Legion's errors. We should all find it deeply disturbing that most Legionary seminarians - and the same can be said of consecrated members of Regnum Christi - to this day live their daily lives largely unaware of most of these things, shielded as they are from virtually all negative information about the Legion and Regnum Christi. Consequently, they lack the requisite interior freedom to genuinely discern God's calling in their lives at present. This is something to which the visitors need to pay careful attention.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Group think" exists in many religious orders male and female.

Anonymous said...

.....and always did, as we saw in the Irish Religious Orders and their manner of running homes and institutions.The Groupthink within the Orders spread into Irish life and society and the institutions of the state.

RZL - Radio Zone Libre said...

+


Laudetur Iesus Christus !


Interessting suggestions for the LC ...

Semper laudetur !

RZL - Radio Zone Libre

www.rzl.fr.fm


+

Ygnacia said...

"They furthermore engender a simplistic, and humanly and theologically impoverished notion of God's will (its discernment and manifestation) that breeds personal immaturity..."immolation" of intellect and will is at the heart of the "holocaust" that the Legionary is invited to live for love of Christ and the Church....in the long run it not only proves profoundly problematic, but also explains the negative personality change which many, if not most, Legionaries undergo over time: the shallowness of their emotional expression, the lack of empathy and inability to relate normally to others in so many contexts, the general sense of their being "out of touch," etc."

Yes, perfectly put. And I submit that part of the reason why so many priests and religious went 'hog wild' after V2 is because of this very mindset. The 'submission' was external, it was what they were 'supposed to do'. So when the external limits were 'lifted' as it were, they had little internal spiritual maturity, and not a small amount resentment, and so rebelled and flew the opposite direction from what they had followed before.

I have a friend that is a LC priest now, and sadly I have seen a change in him, that very 'shallowness of emotional expression' mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Well, Ygnacia, I do not know the LCs, but I have knowledge of the pre-VII religious. I have a lot of opinions on the subject due to personal experience and having read many, many histories of the religious orders in the U.S.A.

Bottom line: Not much has really changed. In fact, I'll go so far as to say the the Church as a whole is run the same way. Subject your mind and reasoning to us; we'll tell you what to think.

As for the religious orders, they still have no maturity. They are out of touch in many ways. I see now the wisdom of the Church always having just cloistered orders. I think that active orders are hard to balance. Most of them place too much emphasis on how educated they are - that was their downfall. That and "broad-mindedness." The more liberal ones have squandered their predecessors patrimony. Like someone who has inherited his father's hard earned billions and blows it all in one generation.

Our poor Church has a multitude of problems; this is only one of them.

Delphina

Peter Porter said...

The tragedy of the Legionaries of Christ is the effect that the revelations of Marcial Maciel's perfidy will have on the many young men who generously joined the Order and who have been betrayed by his sin. Given that the Legionaries are entirely pervaded by his teaching, example and spirituality it is going to be difficult to dissociate connections with him. His books are marvels of lucidity, good analysis and thinking that few traditional Catholics will disavow. Yet the man himself was rotten to the core and exemplified the worst case of the compartmentalized mind. Parts of the Legionaries rule appear now to have been enforced to cover his own misdeeds and prevent the truth from emerging. Yet these abandoned young men remain and the spiritual and psychological consequences for them are grave. We should all pray that they do not lose faith but are able to fulfill their priesthood productively elsewhere.

As for Marcial Maciel, the damage he has done to the Church is so grave that it will cast a long shadow on orthodoxy and tradition that plays into the hands of Church's enemies and gives them good reason to continue their activity in undermining the Church. But none will have do so as successfully as him, poor creep.

Anonymous said...

I marvel at the commenat

by Anonymous
13 July, 2009 17:30

which is full of hatred for the Catholic Faith.

New Catholic, where are you?

Br. Alexis Bugnolo

Moretben said...

...a huge internal flaw: ... corporate inability to engage in a healthy self-critique.

SSPX, anybody? One could add "an inability to distinguish between their response to "the crisis" and "the teaching of the Church" - or "Traditional Catholicism", come to that.

(...retires to savour howls of group-thinking, self-criticism-averse outrage...)

Jordanes said...

Comment moderation at Rorate Caeli is currently set up to allow “free” commenting on the day of a new weblog post, but moderation is enabled for all blog posts older than a day. This means we will occasionally have to go in and delete inappropriate comments that are posted on the first day. The offensive anti-Catholic comment mentioned above certainly would never have been approved by any of Rorate’s moderators, and those who would post such comments here are kindly informed that such attacks on the Catholic faith are unwelcome and will not be tolerated.

Steve said...

Moretben,

You obviously know nothing of the Society. Accusing them of mindless obedience to authority is truly a laughable assertion.

What came to mind more than anything was Opus Dei, minus the part about the founder's indiscretions. The Legion only had the wrongness of its spirituality exposed because its founder screwed up royally. Fr. Escriva has been canonized so Opus Dei's blind obedience, not only of priests but also lay members, flies under the radar and therefore is much more dangerous.

And with the amount of coin the contribute to Rome, rest assured they will not be "visited" anytime soon.

Even if Fr. Maciel had conducted himself like a saint, his order's rule was screwed up, just like Opus Dei. Except, to my knowledge, Regnum Christi members did not become lay mules turning over all their money and their souls to lay superiors.

French Toast said...

Before I read the comments I also immediately thought that there could be similarities drawn between the mentality described and certain aspects of attitudes within the SSPX. So, I guess I must agree with "Moretben". The problem, Steve, is not "mindless obedience to authority" but rather, as Moretben said, a "corporate inability to engage in healthy self-critique." Personally, I would have characterized it as a type of knee-jerk reaction that always self-justifies. This is the result of a long-standing habit of criticism of authority and over-emphasis of the principle of epikeia. We are human, after all, and hence when we make habits of what is extraordinary, we end up with a tendency not to fit into what is needed at the ordinary level. More simply put: the SSPX does have some fairly significant internal management issues.

Joe B said...

It's an inverted world. SSPX is filled with those who have criticisms of Rome, but they get the mindless obedience tag. And SSPX has management problems.

What about the mindless obedience of those who stay with Rome just because of obedience? No discernment there, just blind obedience. Not knocking obedience, just trying to point out SSPX adherents should not be considered to be mindless robots by any means, at least not in the context of this discussion. They're the ones who have 'rebelled against management'.

And you think SSPX has management problems?

Jordanes said...

Except, to my knowledge, Regnum Christi members did not become lay mules turning over all their money and their souls to lay superiors. ***

To be precise, it is only Opus Dei numeraries who turn over their salaries to lay superiors, not the other levels of Opus Dei members and associates. But I’m not all that familiar with Opus Dei and can’t comment on whether or not it has a healthy spirituality or rather has a “screwed up” rule that encourages blind obedience. Still, Opus Dei does seem to have a well-earned reputation for secretiveness, which tends to set off alarms.

Moretben said...

Steve

I spent 25 years as an SSPX-associated Catholic layman; but you need no such qualifications to understand that "SSPX" and "self-criticism" don't belong in the same sentence. You and Joe B. just went out of your way to make the point for me.

Steve said...

Joe B nailed it.

Those Conciliarists outside the Society who defend every post conciliar novelty, now accuse the Society of lacking the ability to "self-critique". This is funny. It really boils down to the accusation that Society adherents are too blind to see that they are wrong. They all seem to have uniform beliefs and defend those beliefs consistently. Why it must be groupthink!

It's no more groupthink than the Pre-Conciliar Popes teaching was groupthink. It's called the truth and the ability to reason free and clear of modernist principles.

The irony here is that a great number of Society adherents journeyed there out of the Novus Ordo and it is precisely because they chose to think for themselves and actually get educated on the crisis that they voluntarily sought out Society Masses.

To accuse the Society of the madness going on in the Legion, is laughable to anyone who has any experience with Society Chapel-goers and priests. They are very independent minded individuals who happen, by choice, to all hold to the same core Catholic beliefs the Church has held to for centuries.

The robots of the Legion pledged their free will to erring men instead of Christ and the Catholic faith. If the Society wanted to do this then they would have merely said the New Mass and had a much easier road.

The Legion robots may have done it with the best of intentions, but it doesn't take away the harm. The mentality of these "ultra-obedient" orders and movements breeds this dangerous un-Catholic mindset.

Opus Dei, The Legion, etc. are all based on, in essence, worshiping the organization. They are churches within the Church. Following the organization, whether it be the Legion or the Opus IS following Christ and it IS following the Church in their eyes.
They are also built on a cult of personality of the founder. The founder is raised to a demi-god status and all of his writings are treated like holy writ.


These organizations then become parasites on the true Body of Christ. They attach themselves to It to invoke Its authority but yet give orders of their own making and not those of the Church. Hence you come up with all of these odd, domineering, clandestine, and weird practices that have come to light over the years in these organizations.

But the $ they throw at Rome shields them and the damage they have done to souls. Only Fr. Maciel's indiscretions have brought about this investigation and only now is Rome FINALLY seeing the idiocy and mind-control that was passed off for true Catholicism right under their noses with their full endorsement for decades.

Similarly the complaints of violations of privacy, mind control, manipulation, secrecy have been made by countless Catholic families against Opus Dei, enough that there are support networks for former members. But Opus Dei was lucky enough to have a founder who didn't molest children and lived a fairly pious life. Barring some terrible scandal Rome will never do an investigation of their main $ source (Opus Dei) and so the insanity will continue under the radar. It is truly a travesty.

Opus Dei's Catholic masonry, idolization of work, and naturalism combined with their unbridled support for ecumenism and religious liberty only further add to the danger.

What's worse is that their by the book presentation of the NO Mass attracts unwary conservative Catholics to their group and before they know it the pressure is on to conform to the "correct" brand of Catholicism, their brand.

Steve said...

Moretben,

Sounds like sour-grapes more than anything. In my experience SSPX laymen are some of the most independent minded Catholics I've ever met.

That my response somehow "confirms" your stance simply goes to show how erroneous it was in the first place.

The Society fail to see they are wrong therefore they are all brainwashed?

I could leave my Chapel tomorrow and tell everyone to go kiss it. It would be a lot easier too as I could just go shake my tambourine a the local NO church and not have to deal with the constant challenging of my beliefs.

I'm there voluntarily because I believe they are following the right course. Not one Society priest or layman has forced me into thinking a certain way.

I have experience with these Novus Ordo "conservative" entities and it is an entirely different feel. There is a pressure present and a group, lockstep, blind obedience mindset present that I have never experienced in the SSPX. I pray you never have to experience it.

Anonymous said...

From what I have heard out of the mouths of the SSPX leadership (such as Fellay and Williamson), self-criticism, at least at THEIR level, is rather common. Whether this translates into internal action is something about which I cannot speak. Although, it seems sedevacantism is something deeply frowned upon in the Society.

The problem with the statement:

...a huge internal flaw: ... corporate inability to engage in a healthy self-critique.

SSPX, anybody? One could add "an inability to distinguish between their response to "the crisis" and "the teaching of the Church" - or "Traditional Catholicism", come to that.


Is that it assumes a priori that the SSPX is wrong. Such a position is untenable and intellectually dishonest. Given, at least potentially, that Archbishop Lefebvre was right about the council, all sorts of things about the SSPX become highly explainable without resorting to pejorative comparisons with Fr. Maciel's crowd.

Let us embrace an open discussion about the SSPX's position. It really is that important.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you're right. There's an entire subculture in the Church. It's eerie.

Anonymous said...

One more thought: Has anyone else here noticed the increasing inability of people to face the reality of a situation?

Long-Skirts said...

Steve said:

"Sounds like sour-grapes more than anything. In my experience SSPX laymen are some of the most independent minded Catholics I've ever met"

...and those "laymen" and SSPX Priests are willing to give us mothers the WHOLE FAITH not JUST the Latin Mass, which is good but a rival good to God's as He wants the WHOLE FAITH to grow from the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass and that means schools, convents, schools, monasteries, schools, seminaries, school...oh, and did I say SCHOOLS!

FATIMA
SINGS

We battle for Mass,
Daily it’s said.
We battle for schools,
Where God is not dead.

We battle for books
Published and read.
We battle for peace
Retreats are priest led.

We battle to shield
Motherhoods’ plight
To let her nurse child
At home day and night.

We battle for men,
Who quietly fight,
Support them in prayer
To lead us to right.

We battle for truth,
Professed in the Creed,
Say “NO” to the wolves
Who twist it indeed.

We battle for grace
We drink it like mead
It quenches our thirst
Refreshed so to heed…

All that is said
By wolves wearing rings
Corrupting the facts
With traditional slings.

But triumph is coming
Heart Immaculate brings,
‘Cause the war isn’t over…
Till FATIMA sings!!

Jordanes said...

"A founder who didn't molest children and lived a fairly pious life" seems a most inappropriate (to say the least) way to describe a canonised saint, whatever flaws there may be in the religious movement he established.

Also, what is "Catholic masonry"?

M.A. said...

"One more thought: Has anyone else here noticed the increasing inability of people to face the reality of a situation?"

Do you mean the ones who believe we are in the "Springtime of the Church"? Or those who, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, believe the proper consecration of Russia has been made?

Anonymous said...

Look,

I don't go to SSPX chapels regularly, but nearly everying on the SSPX community of laypeople do follow "group think".

But this is now sour grapes rant, as I fully support the doctrinal position of the Society. Its there moral behavior in response to things done "without their permission" and "in criticism of them."

You know, it is possible to be doctrinally correct and morally flawed: case in point Maciel Maciel...

Adeodatus said...

Opus Dei is evidently hated by rad-trads because Opus Dei men are obedient and loyal Catholics who support the Pope and the teachings of the Church. This is of course unacceptable to those who seek to undermine the authority of the Church and discredit the Pope.

True Catholics believe in loyalty and obedience. Rad-trads are aesthetes who care only for fancy language and frilly outfits... apostolic authority and the mission of the Church in the world apparently mean little to them.

Anonymous said...

Adeodatus,

Name 1 conciliar pope who believed in Loyalty and Obedience to Christ, to Scripture, to Tradition, and to the Infallible councils prior to Vatican II?

I cannot think of one, personally...

wheatforparadise said...

Adeodatus, you should tone down your vitriol against the SSPX. Your comments amount to an unfair caricature.

Moretben said...

Steve et al

Romano Guardini observed that "until one has suffered from the Church, one has not yet suffered with Christ". Does all this self-justificatory aggressiveness, all the messenger-shooting and "whataboutery" (How dare you criticise us! Whatabout XYZ" - the favourite deflecting tactic of the radical left when I was young), all this reflexive waggon-circling, put you in mind of the good thief or the other one? That's all.

The question here is not in any case about whether the Society is right or wrong in its response to "the crisis" (my own view of the SSPX "narrative", is equally irrelevant), but whether its adherents tend increasingly to exhibit much of the "groupthinking" mentality associated with these other "new movements". There's enough on this thread, I think, for a dispassionate observer to draw his own conclusions. A quick trawl of the Trad forums (where he'll also get the flavour of the Williamson personality cult) will make up the deficit.

Anonymous said...

Moretben,

As a former SSPX seminarian, I have to admit that to an extent, I agree with you.

The problem, is of course, the counter-reformation culture of the Latin church, in which obedience was exaggerated to the extent that it ceased to be a virtue, and became a vice (which Satan was able to make good use of in the wake of Vatican II).

However, for the sake of completeness, the creepiness of Eastern Orthodox theological group-think should be mentioned. HOw else to explain the irrational and malicious distortion of the teachings of the fathers, exposed by such people as James Likoudis? It's a phenomenon that can only be understood in terms of a blind tribalism...

Moretben said...

Dear ex-SSPX Anon,

The "higher Whataboutery", is it? ;o)

Mr Likoudis I remember as a gifted and very readable polemicist; no doubt his work on Orthodox patristics is more than usually valuable; no doubt we can all fall on one another like wolves until the crack of doom.

Moretben said...

...in pursuit of "completeness", of a kind...

Jordanes said...

Name 1 conciliar pope who believed in Loyalty and Obedience to Christ, to Scripture, to Tradition, and to the Infallible councils prior to Vatican II? ***

Oh, that's easy. Their names are John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.

Anonymous said...

Jordannes,

Let's Start with J23: cite for me any justification of his encyclical in which he says it is ok to be a member of the Communist Party.

Padre Pio said it was a mortal sin to be a member of the Communist Party. He worked many miracles to prove that he was with God. J23 in his life worked none. P. Pio was canonized. They both cannot be correct.

Jordanes said...

Still having trouble spelling my screen name, Annonnymousse?

Let's Start with J23: cite for me any justification of his encyclical in which he says it is ok to be a member of the Communist Party. ***

There was no such encyclical. Where are you getting your information? Blessed John XXIII wrote only eight encyclicals. In those encyclicals, he mentioned Communism only once, in Mater et Magistra 34, which says, “Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism. The reason is that Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which is bounded by time and takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being. Since, therefore, it proposes a form of social organization which aims solely at production, it places too severe a restraint on human liberty, at the same time flouting the true notion of social authority.”

John XXIII also approved a decree of the Holy Office, dated 4 April 1959, declaring that it is sinful for any Catholic to vote for any candidate known to belong to the Communist Party or known to support Communism. How it could be objectively sinful to vote for a Communist Party member, but not be objectively sinful to belong to the Communist Party, entirely escapes me. If you have any evidence that John XXIII wrote a papal encyclical saying it is okay to be a Communist Party member, you are morally obligated to provide it right away. If you cannot, you must retract your calumny and libel. This isn’t a game, Annonnymousse.

Padre Pio said it was a mortal sin to be a member of the Communist Party. He worked many miracles to prove that he was with God. J23 in his life worked none. P. Pio was canonized. They both cannot be correct. ***

Miracles do nothing to prove that a saint’s opinion is correct. They only prove that a saint was graced by God to be an instrument of wonders that bring Him glory. It doesn’t matter what St. Pio said. He’s not the authority here. What matters is that THE CHURCH said it was objectively a mortal sin to be a member of the Community Party. I’m not aware of any evidence that Blessed John XXIII contradicted what the Church had previously taught on that subject. I would be absolutely shocked if you had evidence of a ninth encyclical of John XXIII saying what you claim it says.

By the way, even if you were right about John XXIII and Communist Party membership, that wouldn’t prove that he didn’t believe in loyalty and obedience to Christ, to Scripture, to Tradition, and to the Infallible councils prior to Vatican II. It would only prove that he wasn’t perfectly loyal and obedient.

wheatforparadise said...

By the way, even if you were right about John XXIII and Communist Party membership, that wouldn’t prove that he didn’t believe in loyalty and obedience to Christ, to Scripture, to Tradition, and to the Infallible councils prior to Vatican II. It would only prove that he wasn’t perfectly loyal and obedient.

As none of us are. :-)

Anonymous said...

M.A.: Both

Adeodatus: Who are you? You sound like one of those EWTN/Catholic Answers folks. "Rad trads"!!! Really!!

M.A. said...

"Anonymous said...

M.A.: Both

Adeodatus: Who are you? You sound like one of those EWTN/Catholic Answers folks. "Rad trads"!!! Really!!

14 July, 2009 17:51"
***************************************
Explain yourself, sir. Why are you mentioning me in your post? What does < M.A.:Both > mean? What do I have to do with Adeodatus???

Jordanes said...

M.A., he is simply answering your two questions that you asked him in your above comment of 14 July, 2009 02:41. Then, after answering your two questions with the word "Both," he turned and addressed Adeodatus. What you have to do with Adeodatus is that you and he have posted comments here, and Anonymous has posted responses to both of you.

M.A. said...

Whew, Jordanes! What a relief to know he wasn't putting me in the same camp as Adeodatus! ;-D

If 'anon' would have given a name, he would not have caused me such consternation. :-)

Mark said...

"the shallowness of their emotional expression, the lack of empathy and inability to relate normally to others in so many contexts, the general sense of their being 'out of touch,'"

Wow!!!! This article clearly articulates all the points I have been trying to make about the problem of Institutionalization among the clergy for some time.

I am a traditionalist, and usually other traditionalists get really angry or defensive when one brings up these issues. But I guess directing the critique at Neocon groups like the Legion and Opus Dei makes it more palatable to trads.

I dont know about the SSPX. I could see it going either way with them. Their situation with Rome suggests a certain independent spirit and non-hyper-obedience...at the same time, their "Tridentine" and Legitimist authoritarian origins might suggest an undercurrent of the same sort of "militaristic" thing.

But I dont know. I dont have any contact with the SSPX. I will say, however, that in certain other traditionalist groups with which I have much contact...I have been troubled by seeing the same thing in seminaries and such.

The way seminarians are kept shielded from information (to the point of reading their mail, or limiting phone-calls and email and newspapers) is very creepy.

The flat affects and social awkwardness of many also has disturbed me, and I wonder if it was caused by the Institutionalizing tactics, or if places like that simply attract men who were already like that in the first place.

I also think it needs to be considered, dare I say it, that many things we consider traditional and distinctively Catholic about the Latin priesthood and religious life (celibacy, cassocks, habits, tonsures) are things characteristic of Institutionalization. Celibate, sex-segregated groups with uniform clothes and haircuts...are all also features of, you know, prisons, armies, and all Total Institutions. Designed to break down individual identity and resocialize the individual in the mind of the Institution, very often also characterized by authoritarianism and secrecy.

This counter-reformation jesuitical "military bureaucracy" model of the clergy and religious is a fundamental structural problem with the church today, and the solution cannot be reduced to simply rooting out the bad. The same attitudes the ensured orthodox up through the 50's...were just as easy to turn into enforced-heresy, enforced-bad-liturgy, and child-abuse cover-ups.

Orthodoxy and obedience is obviously not enough (as the Legion demonstrates), in such an intra-institutional environment they can be the occasion for problems as much as heresy and liberal disobedience, because the problem is more structural. Merely rooting out "the heretics" or "the gays" or whatever...isnt enough. There needs to be more transparency, more personal freedom for seminarians and priests, a better social support network, and a concerted effort to attract "normal" guys and maybe deconstruct some of the Institutionalizing dynamics that lead to these mindsets.