Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Propos "Thomas Williams Agonistes"

 Thomas Williams

This blog is in response to concern expressed by a former Legionary of Christ, now active diocesan priest, to the article that appeared today in Crisis Magazine. Both his and my comments can best be understood in the context of the article by Austin Ruse, a former "follower" of the famous Fr. Thomas Williams, LC. who went through a "crisis of faith in Fr. Thomas" -the blogger's phrase- after Fr. Thomas revealed he had a son and had kept it secret for years, and is now "coping" with the reappearance of Thomas Williams, "avec femme" in the public eye.

I will not pretend to summarize the indignation of my good active priest friend. Here is what he commented to the article

I just read the Thomas Williams article.  I am very disappointed that you would even waste the time and the space to print such an article.  I was with the Legionaries of Christ for 21 years.  I know Thomas Williams.  What about all of the good priests that left the Legion or even the ones that are still in that mess, that are faithful and hard working?  Why not do an article about the faithful priests that are hard working and productive for the Church, but they have been screwed over by the Legion and even screwed over and over again by the institutional Church?  Your article is ridiculous and narcissistic.  How the hell does an article like this help young teens and college guys discern a vocation to the Catholic priesthood? 

And the blogger's personal response.
Well, I too was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in the Legion of Christ left the order; and four years later left the active Catholic priesthood. By the grace of God I did not leave to take care of a son or -to put things more honestly- to be responsible and live the married life with the woman I would have been in love with.  From what I gathered from the narrative the Legion of Christ superiors -and Fr. Williams himself until he was told to do otherwise by then Archbishop De Paolis- held the following priorities:
  1. Protect the good name of the priest; cover up his double life, etc. 
  2. Only later, when it was pointed out, think of the child that will grow up fatherless unless.... In the Williams case there is mention that the child has Down's Syndrome which would make him more worthy of our compassion -which compassion could encompass the parents as well to some degree.
  3. In third place, "the woman" (Often we blame her for the priest's "fall). Traditionally, she got very little consideration from the Catholic hierarchy or from the faithful.  In this case the woman got more consideration because she happened to be well known in Rome and was the daughter of a very famous Catholic intellectual and defender of Orthodoxy, Legion of Christ supporter, US representative before the Holy See, rich and famous, Mary Ann Glendon.
I was never a famous Legionary of Christ priest. I was not as photogenic as Fr. Williams and did not have a TV ministry or cuddle up to the rich and famous (The Legion's specific apostolate)
I began my pastoral ministry on the Missions -the only ones the Legion really has- in Quintana Roo, Mexico for four year as pastor of the proletariat Divine Providence parish in Chetumal. The trip to the Missions had been prescribed for me, abruptly interrupting my MA in school psychology and administration, by the ever-wise and benevolent Fr. Marcial Maciel. However, God being God transformed that "punishment" into the beginning of my recovery from Major Depressive Disorder and my further distancing from the "Spirit and Mystique of the Legion" created by Fr. Marcial Maciel...

For more, read the memoir, available on and Kindle

[Blogger may return to this at a more reasonable hour]


  1. The Ruse article "Agonistes" has suddenly disappeared from the Crisis Magazine website with no explanation.

  2. I was looking to see what others posted because this ability to hate the sin and love the sinner is Jesus.... It seems Crisis magazine doesn't have Faith and Grace enough to tackle the real issues... The ones skin deep... Heart deep. We are living in a time of fierce and global war on Christianity.... We got here by not being able to challenge or hold each other accountable along the way... My only Hope is Jesus and in his parable of the Prodigal son... Why would we believe that God cannot use a repentant sinner? Are we not all sinners.... It is Pur Grace for those who have not fallen as far as Agonistes.... If you have fallen, like St. Peter, St. Paul, st. Mary Magdalene, you walk with the scars and wounds of your sins and with a depth of Gratitude for God's mercy. There is this clique in the Church, that holds sacrimoniously to their non-fall from Grace in a disgraceful Pharisaical condemnation way toward all of the rest of the Church. And might I say, few are at all nice or fun to be around!

    1. Dear Mother of Two,
      thanks for your commentary. It is hard to know what we want to say using this medium when we are obliged to be brief and there can be much emotion. I personally have little qualms about God using Thomas Williams to do good or spread the Gospel. It is harder for me to think or believe the same regarding Fr. Marcial Maciel, the Founder of the Legion. - who never seems to have repented. And I am still struggling with a charism coming through a Pedophile and Psychopath. But now they are telling us that the charism comes directly from the Holy Spirit to the order. The plot gets curiouser and curiouser....