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Encountering Evil: What Do You Do? | Catholic Life

Encountering Evil: What Do You Do?

I don’t mention the Catholic sex abuse scandal much on my blog for a very simple reason: I grew up in New England and went to college in the Archdiocese of Boston right after Cardinal Se├ín became archbishop. Everything that had to be processed had to be processed years ago, and there is little that could arise in the way of scandal that I have not already considered. I am saddened by further revelations of abuse, but I am not surprised and they do not require new thought or action on my part. I am sorry, and that is all. Mostly.

But the fact that I know what I think about scandal does not mean that I am somehow free from dealing with evil in the Church. As an active Catholic I cannot escape problems, and it is my job to do what I can to help eradicate evil in my little sphere.

On our way to Michigan a few weeks ago, Josh and I stopped at a Catholic bookstore to pick up a booklet. I pointed out the Liturgy of the Hours section to Josh since I was familiar with the store, and then left him to his favorite activity of book-browsing while I went to adoration. Once we were on our way Josh tiredly told me that he had seen a “Maciel” among the authors. Josh was not certain that it was Marcial Maciel since he had avoided looking at the book for confirmation so as to not be responsible for addressing the situation at the start of a long road trip.

On our way back we returned to the bookstore to make certain that our fears were unfounded. The store was still closed, so I went back a few days later. It turned out that it was not just any book by Maciel. There were two copies of Christ is My Life. From what I could tell it was intended to be more hagiography than biography.

I waited until I was the only customer in the store and approached the clerk. I asked her to bring the two books to the attention of the manager for removal. She informed me that she was the manager, and so I told her that the Vatican had clearly denounced Maciel as an evil man. She indicated that she would get rid of the books, but expressed surprise that I should find something wrong with a book published by Sophia.I pointed out that the book was published in 2003 when many still saw Maciel as a Saint, despite evidence to the contrary. I told her that I did not expect her to remove the books based on my request alone, but asked that she look into the matter for herself. She assured me that she would, and placed the books below the counter.

I went to adoration again but was upset enough about how hard it is to end the “good name” of an evil man that I knew I would need to read to focus on anything else. I turned to the adoration chapel bookshelves sparse contents and soon savored the irony of reading Saint Josemaria Escriva for respite from evil “conservatives.”

I have also stopped visiting a popular website funded by the Legionaries. The current atmosphere allows people to continue with their view of Maciel as morally ambiguous. “Yes, he did bad things, but that is because the devil always tempts those who do God’s work.” I am not concerned that my click-throughs will give them more than a penny or two in revenue, but it is important to me that I not contribute to an atmosphere of acting as if evil and manipulation through money are of minor importance and inconsequential in forming a group’s identity.

Talking to bookstore managers and not visiting certain websites are a few of the very small ways that I deal with Catholic scandal in my daily life.

What do you do when you encounter evil? If you’re Catholic, what suggestions do you have for me for helping to clean up our Church? If you’re not Catholic, what do you do when you find evil in your church or other organization in which you are deeply involved?

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8 Responses to “Encountering Evil: What Do You Do?”

  1. Trena 04. Jun, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    Love the new blog and I hope you are able to keep up with both. I added this one to my Google Reader.

    I just wanted to say that I had no idea that he was ‘blacklisted’ from the church recently and you have taught me that I really need to be up on my recent events when it comes to Catholism. How do you do it? Keep up with everything Catholic and such? Gosh you are a great advocate for the church.

    • Rae 07. Jun, 2010 at 6:56 pm #


      One of the things that concerns me about people maintaining such close ties to Maciel’s work is that average Catholics are allowed to continue with the impression that everything was fine!

  2. Michelle 04. Jun, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    Glad you mentioned this blog today. I am going to follow you here, too. :)

    • Rae 07. Jun, 2010 at 6:56 pm #


  3. Mrs C 04. Jun, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    I think prayer is important.

    • Rae 07. Jun, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

      Most important.

  4. Fran Rossi Szpylczyn 04. Jun, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    I think that you did a really good thing in that bookstore.

  5. Rebecca 05. Jun, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    I think what you did here – shared what you knew, with access to the background, so as to educate others is the perfect place to start.

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