Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish: There aren't a thousand blades. There aren't even two hundred. I've counted.
Lord Varys: Heh. I'm sure you have. Ugly old thing.
Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish: It has a certain appeal. ..
Lord Varys: I did what I did for the good of the realm.
Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish: The realm. Do you know what the realm is? It's the thousand blades of Aegon's enemies, a story we agree to tell each other over and over, until we forget that it's a lie.
Lord Varys: But what do we have left, once we abandon the lie? Chaos? A gaping pit waiting to swallow us all.
A behind-the-scenes conversation from the General Chapter of the Legion of Christ?
No. But you’re close.
Season 3, episode 6 of Game of Thrones. Arch-frenemies Varys and Baelish stand contemplating the Throne of Power, symbol of the kingdom they both serve and thrive in, though often at odds with each other. What they have in common is their understanding of the lie… the lie that has taken on a life of its own and to which their personal fortunes are inextricably linked. The realm (the lie) must survive at all costs, regardless of what dark alliances must be made, what moral boundaries must be crossed, what abuse of authority must be invoked… no matter how many hapless subjects of the realm must be sacrificed for its continued permanence. The alternative, ‘chaos’, is simply not an option.
The roles of General Director and General Administrator are arguably the two most important and powerful in the Congregation. By the very nature of each office, they are the two players who know where all the bodies are buried… so to speak. Their access to matters of personnel and finances is uninhibited by checks and balances and their decisions go virtually unquestioned. They hold the keys to the kingdom.
Let the Vatican make whatever symbolic appointments it chooses. Let Vicars and Counsellors rain from on high. Let the so-called ‘reform minded’ rattle their ineffective sabers to the waning applause of the yet hopeful. The true guardians of the realm and keepers of all its secrets must be tried warriors, personally invested in the survival of the Legion, whatever the cost.
Little wonder then that the General Chapter has chosen for these positions two men who could very well have been the choice of the much maligned Founder, were he still among the living.
“Por una gracia especial del Espíritu Santo, desde muy joven edad, sabía yo lo que tenía que pedir en oración a Dios para la continuidad y crecimiento de la Legión: ¡Señor, dame hombres de gobierno!”
(P. Marcial Maciel)
Both Fr. Robles Gil and Fr. Cárdenas are cut from the same mold. Personally recruited, groomed and empowered by Fr. Maciel their history of proximity and service to the Founder should not be understated or underestimated. They both were members of Maciel’s inner circle of minions, called upon for those tasks of personal importance to the Founder, who relied on their loyalty and capacity to get the job done according to his specifications. From their mentor and master they have inherited that reptilian instinct for survival that makes them perfect choices for their respective posts in the Legion’s leadership.
In their privileged roles throughout the years, they have both embodied the managerial style of authority so favored by the Founder. With subtle disdain for the men under their command, they divide their ‘subjects’ into two basic categories: assets and liabilities. The assets are promoted and doted on for as long as they are useful and the liabilities are marginalized or assigned to irrelevant duties until they give up out of frustration or resign themselves to their lot on the Legionary food chain. All LCs eventually become painfully aware of how quickly one can go from being an asset to being a liability as the shifting sands of the Legion’s unpredictable priorities move under their feet.
In choosing Fr. Robles Gil as the new Director General the Chapter participants have decided that it is to the Legion’s advantage to protect their remaining interests, especially in Mexico, rather than pursue the dangerous prize of true reform. Where did Fr. Robles Gil acquire whatever abilities the Chapter deemed him to possess for the role of Director General? From whom did he learn how to govern the Legion of Christ? What will his point of reference be when he makes the decisions that will affect the lives of the priests and religious under his orders? The disciple cannot be expected to do other than he has learned from his master.
Fr. Cardenas is a hollow little man who uses authority as a shield and expertly maneuvers others to do his dirty work. He is especially suited to the post of Administrator, as he will fit comfortably into the secret world of the Legion’s finances controlled by Fr. Garza and his like-minded Regiomontano accomplices of Integer. There are signs that Fr. Garza would like nothing more than to wrap up the grace period he was given to reshuffle the LC economy with no external scrutiny or interference and slink off into the golden sunset of his choosing. The General Administrators of the recent past did not meet the criteria that would have gained them access to Fr. Garza’s confidence, but the providential election of Fr. Cardenas opens a window of opportunity and possibly, if Fr. Garza so desires, escape. Fr. Cardenas, also from Monterrey, thrives on the power that comes with buying and selling, wheeling and dealing, rubbing elbows with the real players behind the scenes. He is well-instructed in the dark arts of the Legion’s financial alchemy and immune to the queasiness that can be brought on by scruples, transparency and forthrightness. His election as Administrator by the Chapter solidly reinforces the agenda of “back to normal” so candidly enunciated by the Legion’s new General Director shortly after his election.
Despite all its platitudes, vacant apologies and sanctimonious self-affirmation, at the end of the day what has the General Chapter of the Legion really accomplished? In his most recent interview, even Cardinal De Paolis prevaricated when asked about the success of the Legion’s reform. No resounding endorsement, no unambiguous embrace of the Chapter’s decisions and elections, no guarantees that the Legion would ever become anything other than what it’s always been… Could it be that after three years of dealing with the Legion he has privately concluded that reform is a loss cause?
The good Cardinal may be on to something…