The latest sordid information about the sins of Marcial Maciel has me thinking about Fr. Frechette and his work in Haiti again. (Yes, I’m still thinking about that article—it was truly eye-opening. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.)
Father Frechette talks about sign and countersign – that when we witness great evil, we can respond by committing an act of great holiness. We can follow Christ’s teaching and shine a floodlight into the dark and evil places. Fr. Frechette did this when he and the sisters gave a Christian burial to the young man burned alive.
This is another place where the Legion is falling short. When faced with the evidence of Maciel’s crimes, they’re NOT providing a countersign. They’re not reaching out to the victims or engaging in public penance. Instead of shining a floodlight to illuminate the darkness, they’re trying to hide the crimes under a bushel basket.
“Don’t pay attention to that,” they tell us. “Look away. Focus on the good. Ignore the evil. You haven’t personally experienced it, so it’s not really there.”
As Christians, we’re supposed to let our light shine— when our countersigns light up the darkness, they show the world both the evil and the alternative. You can’t repent if you don’t acknowledge the sin; you can’t heal if you ignore the illness.
Right now, the Legion’s problems are like that old Tupperware in the back of your refrigerator. You know there’s something nasty in there. You know that when you open it and look inside, the smell will turn your stomach. So you shove it to the back, behind the milk and the eggs, and hope that it will miraculously clean itself up.
But of course it doesn’t. It festers. It blooms. An entire world of filth grows where once there was a sprinkling of mold. If the lid’s not on tight, it gets into the air and starts contaminating other food, even the walks of your refrigerator. Until you can steal your stomach, grab the bleach, and attack the problem, everything else is tainted.
This is where the Legion is right now. The rot is out of control, they need a countersign to fight the evil. Instead, they’re paralyzed, waiting for Rome to come in and save them—which is itself a sign of what’s wrong.