The apostolic visit began on July 15, 2009. And the five bishop visitors fulfilled their mandate halfway through this month of March, with the delivery of their report to the Vatican authorities. They were Ricardo Watti Urquidi, bishop of Tepic in Mexico; Charles J. Chaput, archbishop of Denver; Giuseppe Versaldi, bishop of Alessandria; Ricardo Ezzato Andrello, archbishop of Concepción in Chile; and Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, bishop of Bilbao.
It will be the Vatican authorities who decide what to do. The three cardinals charged with the case are Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, William J. Levada, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, and Franc Rodé, prefect of the congregation for institutes of consecrated life.
But the last word will belong to Benedict XVI, the most prescient of all. Even before he was elected pope and when Maciel still had very powerful protectors in the Vatican, Joseph Ratzinger ordered an extensive investigation of the accusations against the founder of the Legionaries. And as pope, on May 19, 2006, he sentenced him to "a retired life of prayer and penance."
But that the current leaders of the Legionaries should be left at the head of the congregation is entirely unlikely. The more probable decision is that the Holy See will appoint a fully empowered commissioner of its own, and will set the guidelines for a thorough reform, including the replacement of the current leaders.
But rebuilding from the ground up a congregation still deeply influenced by its disgraced founder will be an arduous enterprise. [Magister then describes the insidious influence of Father Maciel.]
Over the eight months of the apostolic visit, this control was relaxed only in part. Some priests told the visitors about the things they believed were wrong. Others have left the congregation and been incardinated into the diocesan clergy. Others have continued to defend Maciel's legacy. Others feel lost. Still others, finally, have faith in the rebuilding on new foundations of a religious congregation that is part of their lives and that they continue to love.
Others may have faith in a rebuilding, but I don't unless two things happen.
1. All the top and mid-level men in the LC need to be removed from office.
2. The statutes and all the other handbooks and rulebooks handed down by Maciel need to be revised completely. If the LC wants to do it itself, under the direct supervision of the incoming commissioner, then the revisers need to be men who were NOT Maciel's top lieutenants and managers.
If Cardinal Ruini weren't already tapped by Vatican watchers to lead the alleged commission to Medjugorje, he'd be a great no-nonsense prelate to tackle this task.
Time and prayer will tell.