Second Impressions…

Last night, the Chapter Fathers came over to our house (the Center for Higher Studies) for mass. Originally, we had planned on celebrating the 49th anniversary of the Legion’s Decretum Laudis–the Decree of Praise, issued under Paul VI, which declared the Legion a congregation of Pontifical Right (i.e. having the potential to benefit more than just the diocese where the Legion was founded). Fr Eduardo was the principal celebrant, and in his homily, he mentioned that earlier that morning, the fathers hadn’t known that they would receive news from the Holy See regarding the confirmation of the election. In some way then, it was an interesting fact that the confirmation of the election coincided with this anniversary.

Prior to yesterday, I had only seen Fr Eduardo once or twice. Since he gave the homily, directed a few words of gratitude after the mass, and then made the rounds during dinner offering more personal greetings, I was able to define something of a first impression. He seems personable, like Fr Alvaro, yet slightly more reserved. He has a deliberate choice of words. At least from what I could see yesterday, I couldn’t discern whether he has much of a projecting vision for the Legion’s future. On the other hand, he clearly values the Legion’s collaboration with the lay movement, Regnum Christi: while describing the significance of the Decretum Laudis, he asserted that it applied not only to the Legion, but to Regnum Christi (inchoate at the time of the Decree). I don’t yet see him as an expert in communications, but on the other hand he will benefit from the current practices of Fr Sylvester Heereman, our ad-hoc general director during Fr Alvaro’s convalescence (Fr Sylvester seemed to bring a generally more straightforward approach to communication). I couldn’t form an impression regarding his style of governance, but given the favorable opinion of many fathers and brothers who have served under him in Mexico, it is likely to be respectful yet firm.

Later, I wondered if he is something of a compromise candidate. I know a fair number of Legionaries who wanted to place our apostolic charism at the forefront of this general chapter; Fr Eduardo (as yet–of course it is still early) doesn’t seem to represent that view. In particular, his election seems like a compromise in that rather than electing towards a rupture with the Legion’s oft-confusing past, the fathers elected someone who was a major superior for years under the founder, and has continued to be so afterwards. Nevertheless, the Holy See reserved the right to name the vicar general (Fr Jose Arrieta) and one of the general counselors (Fr Juan Sabadell), both of whom seem more inclined towards a charism-reform view. Naturally here again, time will have more to say on the matter.

Overall, I am glad that the Legion has elected a new government, and we continue to move forward in the rebuilding process.

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